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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all had good Thanksgiving Day celebrations and are now loafing about, recovering from the after-effects.

As usual, the Family Robbo packed up and went to see my brother and his down in North Carolina.  Brother managed to crock his back a few days ago, which meant that we didn’t go for our usual “Black Friday” hike and also that Ol’ Robbo found himself the Official Lifter Of The Heavy Things as far as dinner preparation went, but a good time was had by all.  Just a few observations:

♦  There really not being enough room at my brother’s house for ten adults and a small boy, we stayed at a hotel while down there. It’s a brand-new place, having still been under construction when we went last year.  It is astonishing to observe that, nearly one-fifth of the way through the 21st Century, there are still interior decorators who believe avocado green is a good idea.

♦  What with not hiking yesterday, we instead flopped in front of college football all afternoon.  I really thought Virginia Tech was going to beat the gentlemen of T.J. State, but the Hokies fell apart in the last ten minutes or so and blew it.  Too bad.  (My nephew attends Tech, so the whole family was rooting for them.  Clemson and South Carolina play today and I’ve a niece at each.  The family dynamic over that one is….somewhat more complicated.)

♦  Ol’ Robbo really dislikes those X-mas car commercials in which one spouse surprises the other with a new car with a big bow on top or, even worse, with a his n’ hers matching pair.  I could never, ever contemplate making that kind of financial commitment without consulting Mrs. R first.  (There is also a smarmy-elite feel to those things – $50 grand? Walking around money! – which I would think more likely to generate seething envy in the mind of the average teevee viewer than anything else, but what does Ol’ Robbo know.)

♦  I was cajoled into reading The Monster At The End Of This Book (starring lovable, furry, old Grover) to our youngest guest, my 4 y.o. great-nephew.  It’s been quite some time since I used to read this to the Gels, and I’m not sure the boy is totally clear on who Grover actually is.  But I was pleased to find that I can still do the shrill, hysterical voice, wave my hands around in panic, and generally behave quite silly, and whatever the boy’s Sesame Street-foo, he enjoyed the performance.

♦  Ol’ Robbo wanted to get an early jump on the longish drive back to Port Swiller Manor today, so last evening he said to all the Gels, “Be ready to go by 5:45 AM.”  This morning they were……ready to go by 5:45 AM.  Amazing what a smooth start will do for a trip.  And fortunately, the traffic was really not bad at all, so we got home in very good time.

Well, that was Thanksgiving 2019, that was.  Advent starts tomorrow and once again Ol’ Robbo finds himself having left it late to see whether he has a sufficient supply of purple ribbon and candles.  Better go check on that…..

UPDATE:  Huzzay, huzzah, my fellow port swillers! We found out last night that Youngest has been accepted early decision by Miami of Ohio!!  As regular friends of the decanter may recall, she went out to tour the place last summah and fell in love on first sight, so she put in her E.D. application this fall.  We’ve been on pins and needles ever since.  (She wrote an amazingly quirky and clever personal essay about her education to date which I’m pretty sure is what got her in.)

So far as Ol’ Robbo is concerned, Miami is a perfectly decent school full of perfectly decent people in an absolutely beautiful spot.  (Distinguished alums include Peej O’Rourke, World Champion Nationals’ right-fielder Adam “Mighty Mouse” Eaton, and a cousin of mine from my great-grandmother’s family.)  Ironically, it’s greatest rival is Ohio University, where Robbo’s parents met as undergrads.

So go…..a, lessee…..REDHAWKS!!



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo probably won’t be able to get at his keyboard for the next few days, so I’ll go ahead and wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving now.

Remember,  It is not, as the SJW mob would have it, about celebrating Indian exploitation, nor is it a platform for hectoring your troglodyte relatives about impeaching Trump.  Further, it isn’t simply a marker for the start of the shopping season as Big Retail would like you to believe.

Images courtesy of the Roman Catholic Boys for Art

No, cheesy pin-up art aside,  Thanksgiving is first, last, and always about gratitude, something not very fashionable these days, but absolutely vital to a healthy soul.  Make sure to take the time to meditate on this and to be truly thankful for who and what you have, and not to stew in envy over what you don’t have.

See you on the other side!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Both the Elder Gels are home from college for Thanksgiving Break now, bringing the roster at Port Swiller Manor back up to full strength for the first time in months.  We’ll see how long the peace can be maintained.

Over the weekend Eldest and I were chatting of this and that when the topic came round to chess.  “Did you know,” she said, “that the Queen was originally restricted to moving only a single space at a time?  The rule changed because of the rise of powerful queens like Catherine of Aragon during the Renaissance.”

I must admit that I had never heard of this, so this evening I hied me to the innertoobs, where everything is true, and found that at least somebody has put forth an argument that this was, in fact, the case.

There actually are a couple different articles on line, but they all seem to go back to a single source, one Marilyn Yalom’s Birth of the Chess Queen: A History (2001).  I’ve no idea if the argument that this fundamental change in the game of royal warfare was indeed made in recognition of the likes of Elizabeth I and Isabella of Castile, but it’s at least plausible as well as highly interesting.  Plus, it would seem to kick the stuffing out of the notion that all wymmnz in the West were treated like doormats and chattels before 1968.

Has any friend of the decanter ever read this book?  I’m somewhat curious about the argument, but at the same time I don’t want to repeat the mistake I made in wasting several valuable hours, based on a brother-in-law’s recommendation, reading a hopeless trainwreck of a book about how the Chinese actually discovered and colonized the Americas in the 1450’s.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

So Ol’ Robbo sees this article this morning: W&L Students Demand Right To Strip George Washington And Robert E. Lee From Their Diplomas.

As regular friends of the decanter know, Ol’ Robbo did his undergrad studies at The People’s Glorious Soviet Of Middletown, CT, a hard left outlier back in the mid 80’s.  After that, I specifically chose Dubyanell for law school because it was then such a conservative school and I wanted to get back some of the traditional college experience of which I felt I’d missed out at Wes, and because I so loved the rich history of the place.

Well, the school obviously has gone to Stalinist hell now.  Not another dime do they get from me, even the nominal amounts I’ve been giving just to pump their class participation rates.  I know this is just a student petition, but even if it gets turned down, I guarantee you the very name of the school is going to change within the next couple years.

When my office moved to a new building a couple months ago, I brought my diplomas home.  I’ve had little inclination to go through the bother of taking them in to the new place, but now I find myself more tempted to do so, just to put Ol’ George and Bobby Lee up on the wall in defiance.

A glass of wine with the Puppy-Blender.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has had occasion from time to time to note that there is something about his person that seems irresistibly attractive to cats and to crazy people.

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in Philly’s 30th Street Station waiting for the train to whisk me back to Ol’ Virginny and squinting vacantly into the middle distance when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was an older fellah sitting next to me who I’d half-seen out of the corner of my eye busy about something for some little time.

“Excuse me,” he said.  “Could you turn and look this way for a moment?  I’m sketching you.”

He did, indeed, have a pad in one hand a couple pencils in the other.

“Sketching me?” I said.

“Yes.  See, I used to be homeless and I started sketching people’s portraits for food.  I’m not homeless anymore, so I do it now because I enjoy it and to help out other homeless.  When I’m done, you can decide whether you want to help, too.”

Having got a look at the Robbo face full on, he started up again, in the meantime delivering a rolling monologue. He proved to be quite the raconteur.

He talked about his life and hard times.  He showed me his artificial leg (the real one apparently having been run over by a car).  He joked about Philly cheesesteaks. (“I’ve eaten around a million of them but never knew Philly was famous for them.”)  He talked about who he chose to sketch.  (“Never women eating by themselves.  It makes them nervous.”)   He offered words of wisdom.  (“Are you married? When you get home, tell your wife she’s beautiful.  Then ask her if she knows she’s beautiful.”  He said this several times.)  He kept calling me “pretty boy” (but said that he was the original “pretty boy”) and, when he found out what I do for a living, cracked several lawyer jokes.

For my part, I went along with it.  (He posed no threat.  What was I going to do?  Stand up, yell “Good day, Sir!” and march off in a huff?)  I insisted on an exact count of the number of cheesesteaks he’d eaten.  I said even a rube like me from the sticks had long known Philly’s reputation.  I topped his lawyer jokes with my own and said they were all funny because they’re all true.  He was delighted and said he was surprised that somebody who looked so stone-faced could banter back like that.  (Well I can, you know.  And no, I’m not always scowling.  As I said above, it’s squinting.)

As he was winding up, he said, “Okay.  What are you going to do when you get home tonight?”

“Tell my wife she’s beautiful,” I said.

“And what else?”

“Ask her if she knows she’s beautiful.”


“Yes,” I said.  “And then I’m going to tell her to make me a sammich.”

He burst out laughing.  “Man, you’re funnier than I am!”

I wound up giving him some money.  He seemed legit, and indeed had a short article about himself from one of the local rags.  (He’s here, too.  Scroll down to the fourth bio.)  In the middle of things, a bum came up to panhandle him.  He said he’d buy the guy some food in a moment, but he wouldn’t give the guy any money.  The guy went away disgruntled.  And even if it was just a hustle, he’d obviously worked hard at it and given it real entertainment value.  Further, he was extremely polite and personable, and I enjoyed chatting with him.  So it was worth it either way.

Oh, and the sketch?  He put it in a clear plastic folder and gave it to me.  I replicate it here for your consideration with the sole caveat that it looks absolutely nothing like me.  Enjoy!


Portrait Of Robbo. Or Not.


“Aw, Hell……”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Once again the Babylon Bee proves its status as Americas’ new paper of record:  Chick-Fil-A Trades Adoring Christian Fans For Outrage Mob That Won’t Be Appeased Until Their Every Demand Is Met.

From what Ol’ Robbo can figure out, there are actually several layers of reasoning to the CFA Foundation’s decision to redirect portions of its charity giving, some of which may actually be legitimate in terms of producing more beneficial results.  But the way nooz of this move broke was an absolute P.R. train-wreck, and the resultant popular perception correspondingly disastrous from a culture war point of view:  Whether CFA actually caved to the SJW cry-bullies in moving away from funding the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, many people on both sides sure as heck think it did.  The result is going to be an enormous loss of good will among CFA’s Christian supporters, but there’s not going to be any corresponding gain in such good will on the other side.  When the cry-bullies smell blood, they only push harder.  And I don’t think any amount of post hoc damage control spin is going to have much effect on either of these camps.

As far as the Family Robbo is concerned, we’ve been patrons of CFA since long before any of this culture war stuff erupted because we think the food is tasty and we like the fact that the service is almost invariably polite and efficient., the stores almost always spotlessly clean.  So for now, we’ll most likely keep on chikin’in.  That changes, we’re gone.

(And having written this post, now Ol’ Robbo is all hungry again……)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo got an especially heartfelt chuckle from this article:  Scholars Now Believe Saul Threw Spear At David For Playing Christmas Music Well Before Thanksgiving.

It’s from the Bee so it’s satire, of course.  Or is it?

I haven’t heard any X-mas tunes yet (nor have I seen, for example, reindeer antlers or Rudolph noses on any cars) but they’re coming.  Oh, yes, they’re certainly coming.


As I’ve mentioned here before, the local classickal station starts inserting “holiday” musick into its rotation right after Thanksgiving.  At first, these insertions are fairly sporatic, and I always fall into the trap of thinking maybe it won’t be so bad this year.  But they inevitably crank it up to eleven, and by the time Christmas Eve actually rolls around and the stuff is nonstop, the only feeling the umpteenth airing of “O Holy Night” or “The Holly and the Ivy” raises in my soul is the urge to grab a machete and run amok.  (On the other hand, it takes but a single airing of “If Bach Had Written Jingle-Bells” to make me start smashing the furniture.)

As a matter of fact, I’m considering some Advent abstinences this year.  I usually give up musick for Lent, so perhaps I’ll do the same thing.  As well as being a good spiritual exercise, it might help the ol’ blood pressure, too.

Supplemental greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo rarely does double posts on Saturdays, but my muse provoked me to offer up second helpings this evening in re various DVD’s I’ve watched over the past couple days, baseball season now being over and done.

Know what remains a perpetual delight to me? “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure“.  I’ve watched it umpteen times over the years, both in videotape and now as part of my DVD library, and its loose, good-natured, non-serious tone never grows old.  One of my favorite bits of dialogue:

Bill:  You ditched Napoleon?  Deacon! Do you realize you’ve stranded one of history’s greatest leaders in San Dimas?

Deacon:  He was a dick!

The original Bill and Ted became a cult classic, largely because it didn’t take itself seriously.  The sequel tried too hard to capitalize on this success, largely IMHO because the suits got hold of it, and to me was a dud as a result.  I understand they’re trying for the hat trick now.  Eh, it could go either way.  I’d love if they could recapture the original goofy spirit, but I’m also doubtful.

On another comedic note, I have come to the conclusion on my second viewing that “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” simply isn’t funny.  Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, I know.  But it just. doesn’t. click.  Sorry.

Speaking of Cary, though, this evening Ol’ Robbo indulged himself in “North By Northwest“, probably his very favorite Hitchcock.  The presence of a young and talented Eve Marie Saint may or may not be part of the appeal.  Certainly the fact that I love the theme musick is.

Incidentally, to show what an ignoramus Ol’ Robbo actually is, it was only within the last few weeks that I became aware that the title of this movie was a direct nod to Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

Hamlet: “I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.”

– Act 2, Scene 2

Makes a lot of sense when you think about it, given that the whole damn plot of the film is built on concentric circles of confusion, play-acting and deceit.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Is there some kind of postal regulation that gives a mail carrier the discretion not to serve a box if, in his opinion, it doesn’t meet a given set of safety and anchoring requirements?  Ol’ Robbo is inclined to think there must be, as it’s the only reason that comes to mind to explain why Port Swiller Manor has been boycotted the past couple days by our mailman.  (The only other reason I could think of is that we’ve become victims of the “cancel culture”, but there’s nothing visible outside to give us away as potential targets, and I doubt if the USPS is organized or competent enough to carry out such a campaign on a systemic level.)

What happened was this:  A few weeks back, our box got clipped again for the umpteenth time since we’ve lived here.  The snowplows often get it, but we have our fair share of “clear conditions” hits, too.  One wouldn’t think this likely, since the road is quite straight with a modest uphill grade, but people manage it nonetheless.

This particular strike revealed that the wooden base that sits athwart the crossbars and on which the box is anchored has rotted out over time.  Not having the time to attend to it properly, I just wedged it all back together.  Since then, it’s been disintegrating steadily, and a couple days ago I was reduced to just setting the box atop the wreckage.

I suppose this was just too much for postie.  Not only has he not delivered our mail the past two days, he hasn’t picked up our outgoing stuff either.  (The neighbors confirm they haven’t had any issues.)  He might at least have told us, you know.  Or perhaps slapped a “condemned” sticker on the box.

Anyhoo, all this prompted Ol’ Robbo to get off his duff and fix the damn thing properly this morning.  This entailed ripping out all the rotten stuff, digging some fresh lumber out of the workshop, measuring, sawing, and hammering.  I must say that there is a certain keen enjoyment in successfully completing a job like this (and without getting hit by a car myself).  And, if I may say so, that mailbox ain’t going nowhere now.

At least until the next time somebody hits it.

UPDATE:  My surmise seems to have been correct.  The box was full of the usual bills, catalogues, and college solicitations this afternoon when I got home. Evidently, the postal gods have been appeased.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I suppose it’s axiomatic almost to the point of banality to say that teevee commercials are, on the whole, annoying.  But every now and again, one comes along which, for me, goes beyond the merely irritating and instead provokes genuine ire.

An example of this is a current ad running for (I think) Volkswagen.  It features a hipster high school kid walking home from school.  He’s ear-budded and has his face buried in his iThingy.  As he strides along, various people are forced to get out of his way.  The climax of the ad comes when a neighborhood mom is trying to back out of her driveway as the kid comes up.  She doesn’t see him, but some new anti-collision sensor does and hits the brakes for her. The kid never once looks up but just keeps walking.

It’s that last part that gets me fuming.  Had there been any kind of acknowledgement by the kid that he was acting dumb – a double take, a small wave, a mouthed “sorry” – it wouldn’t have been so bad.  But he remains wrapped up in his own little world throughout.  The arrogance of the thing is breath-taking.

So rather than being impressed by Volkswagen’s new whizz-bang safety tech, I find myself wishing the kid would get hit, and serve his narcissistic idiot self right.  It seems the young people today are more and more indifferent to, not to say contemptuous of, the idea that stupid behavior leads to bad consequences.  This ad just seems to reinforce that mentality.

Oh, and I hate the musick, too.



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November 2019