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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

At this point, Ol’ Robbo is going to hold off setting his hair on fire regarding the dread coronavirus which seems to be occupying a largish percentage of the headlines.

It’s not that I don’t think prudent measures should be taken whenever some communicable disease appears on the scene.  Rayther, it’s that I’ve lived long enough and seen enough pandemic scare-mongering (SARS, swine flu, Ebola, AIDs, etc.), that I’ve grown cynical about it all.  When the bodies start piling up in the streets, then I’ll reach for the lighter fluid.

UPDATE:  A little apropos bit from one of my very favorite movies:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was mildly amused at the pearl-clutching amongst the likes of George (“Mr. Sulu”) Takei that OrangeManBad stole the design of the new logo for the United States Space Force directly from “Star Trek”.

These folks are aware that Gene Roddenberry stole the name of the U.S.S. Enterprise and all the other starships in her class from WWII-era United States Navy aircraft-carriers.  Aren’t they?

Seems to me to be a reasonable trade-off.

I think the design is pretty cool, too.

Oh, and speaking of “Star Trek”, and yes there is a link, tonight is the 30th anniversary of my meeting Mrs. R.

That evening, I had planned to go over to my friend’s apartment and borrow his VCR to watch a “Star Trek” movie.  My friend’s girlfriend wanted to come over the mountains to Dubyanell from Sweet Briar, but she didn’t have a car, so she persuaded Mrs. R to give her a ride on the promise of introducing Mrs. R to me.

I really wasn’t much interested when the idea was first pitched to me, having had a perfectly lame blind date the night before, but said that if she (Mrs. R) wanted to come and watch the movie with me, that was fine.

Well, she turned up and the rest is history.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Robert Burns Day!

As my mother used to say, “Ah, Rabbie Burns, the National Poet of Scotland…..The only Poet of Scotland.”

(The Mothe’s people were from Bohemia and the Sudetenland.  The Old Gentleman’s family were pure Scots-Irish.  They clashed from time to time about comparative tribal contributions to Western Civilization.  Life was colorful growing up.)

I turned out more Austro-Hungarian than Scots in outlook, I think, but one thing definitely stamped into my genes is a liking for Pipe Musick.***  Let’s have a little to celebrate the day:

On the other hands, this blog remains a No Haggis Zone.

Hoots!  Toots!

**Here’s the full poem.

***The story goes that the Irish invented the bagpipes in the 11th Century and gave them to the Scots.  And the Scots still haven’t caught on to the joke!


**Sam Kinison voice**


Youngest Gel turned 18 a few days ago.  She wanted to have a sleepover party last weekend, but since she and I were home alone, I scotched the idea.

Turns out the party is tonight, instead!

Basement full of teenagers….the dog going ballistic…..Ol’ Robbo’s entrenched routine shot to hell…..



UPDATE DEUX:  They’re in the basement, blasting Kanye.  Ol’ Robbo is on station in the library directly above, since several of the Gel’s young men are here.  I feel obligated to stay at my post until they go away.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It occurred to Ol’ Robbo whilst watching teevee and its inevitable commercial advertising this evening to ask:  Is there really a market of consumers who think, “Oh! The Sooper Bowl is coming up! My screen isn’t nearly big enough! I must upgrade to accommodate!!”

If so, I weep.  Fools and money, yadda, yadda, yadda.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it was Neil Innes a couple weeks ago, and by now I’m sure word has already flown round the decanter of the death of Monty Python’s Terry Jones,

Somehow or other, Ol’ Robbo either missed or forgot about the news that Jones had been diagnosed with a form of dementia a few years back.  Evidently, this was what did him in.

All the remaining Pythons are roughly the same age, so I expect we’re going to hear of more of them checking out sooner rather than later.

A curious thing about his Flying Circus days is that Jones seemed to do roles involving either taking off his clothes or dressing in drag rather more than any of his associates.  Make of that what you will.  He also strikes me as the perpetual supporting character.  Flipping rapidly through the files in my brains, I really can’t think of many skits in which he was the stand-out lead.

I believe he directed or co-directed all three of the Python films.  (Ol’ Robbo still loves “Holy Grail” after all these years.  And I think the “religious controversy” over “Life of Brian” is silly.  But despite my allusion to it in the title to this post, I simply do not much like “Meaning of Life” because it’s so savage and bitter.  Mrs. R’s very first exposure to Python was the live organ transplant scene and she’s point-blank refused to ever have anything to do with Python since.  A sad gulf.)

His movie “Erik the Viking” is always worth tossing into the Netflix queue.

On the other hand, I also tried to watch a series he did on Medieval History – which I believe he studied at University – but found it rather condescending and laced with what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery”.

All in all, however, a funny, talented man, and a sad loss.



Greetings again, fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is delighted that the big 2nd Amendment Rally down in Richmond today went off without incident.  To be honest, I had had some very real concerns that trouble would develop,  and that our despicable Governor (whether he was in on planning such trouble or not) would take advantage of it to push for even more draconian gun laws.

Sucks to you, Mr. Northam.

I may be very Pollyanna-ish in this, but I refuse to believe the Great Commonwealth of Virginny has been altogether lost to Leftist assimilation.  It’s very true that we are a purple-to-blue state, but I believe that most of that is due to the Big Gub’mint voters of the Dee Cee burbs.  So far as I can tell, these people, or some percentage of them at any rate, are Democrat Establishment types, not social justice warriors.  A freak combination of factors put a lot of the latter into federal and state office in ’18 and ’19.  I would not be surprised if there weren’t something of a backlash this year.

Of course, it would help if the GOP had some kind of intelligent and enthusiastic presence.  Yeah, I know.

As far as guns themselves go?  Well, Ol’ Robbo learned to shoot when he was seven**, so there is no mystique about them to me, and I can at least approach the 2nd Amendment arguments, pro and con, about an armed citizenry, from a rational perspective.

On the other hand, my impression of most leftist foot-soldier types***  is that they approach it from a purely emotional standpoint.  (One colleague summed up her opposition to gun ownership on the grounds that they’re “icky”.)

Indeed, I’ve often said that there is nothing more dangerous to him- or herself than a liberal with a gun.  They fear them, they hate them, and therefore they don’t understand them.

My favorite anecdote illustrating this point:

Back in law school, we had a professor named Judy M.  She was a typical New England, Volvo-driving leftist, and was widely-known as “Punch-n’-Judy” because she was a neurotic twit.

Punch-n’-Judy taught a professional responsibility course which I and the Former Llama Military Correspondent took together.

One day the topic of discussion was “What do you do when a client comes into your office and says, ‘I just killed a guy, you gotta help me!'”

Punch-n’-Judy decided to illustrate this lesson with a handgun.  To this day, I don’t know if it was real.  I do know that it looked terribly realistic.

Because this was a largish class, it was held in one of the school’s big classrooms, an amphitheater arrangement with semi-circles of seats and desktops rising steadily away from the podium.

To emphasize her point, Punch-n’-Judy, down in the well of the classroom, picked up her pistol and started waiving it about enthusiastically, basically as an extension of her hand, and completely oblivious to the fact that the gorram barrel of the thing kept traversing up and down, over and across her students.

The temperature rose markedly.  Out of the corners of my eyes, I could see my classmates squirming down in their seats.  I squirmed, too.

Finally, the Former Llama Military Correspondent stood up, walked down to the front of the class, quietly removed the gun from Punch-n’-Judy’s hand, and said, “I think that’s enough.”

She just stared.

The class itself let out a collective sigh of relief.

Just so.

Anyhoo, as I say, I’m glad things went well today.


** My baptism, under the Old Gentleman’s guidance, was the traditional .22 shooting at tin cans on fence posts.  The next summah, I graduated to a Remington .222 at the rifle-range and was hunting with same that fall.  I learned  shotguns in my early teens and became a tolerably good skeet shooter, although I was never much of a wing-shot because of my rotten eyes.  To this day, I’ve never fired a pistol, although I would like to learn.  I also earnestly urge the Gels to learn this skill when they are legally able and will gladly spring for the cost of arming them up.

*** I distinguish the foot-soldier types.  They’re useful idiots.  The masterminds see the bigger picture:  A disarmed society can be manipulated that much more easily.  Which is why we have the 2nd Amendment in the first place.  (Duh!)  At a party once, I heard a feller, and older anti-gun Brit gent, praise German disarmament measures from the ’30’s.  Losing my cool, I actually said, “Those were the fookin’ Nazis, you idjit!!”  I fear we didn’t make friends.





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening Ol’ Robbo watched “Hell Is For Heroes” (1962).  It’s a WWII movie in which a small company of GI’s have to fool the Germans into believing their force is much larger than it actually is in order to keep the Krauts from punching through their section of the line.

Turns out the film is, well, less than memorable.  It wasn’t actually bad, but nothing about it – plot, character development, dialogue – really grabbed my interest.

As a matter of fact, what caused me to drop the thing in my Netflix queue in the first place was the cast:  Steve McQueen plays the glowering cynic orchestrating the big sham.  (Alas, there’s none of the sly humor that underlies so many of his really great roles.)  He’s supported by the likes of James Colburn, Fess Parker, and Bobby Darin.  I found myself disappointed that the film didn’t make more of this bunch.

On the other hand, the film also introduces to the screen the young Bob Newhart.  And damme if his big scene doesn’t feature one of his patented telephone routines!

Those of you old enough that I need not tell you to get off my lawn will appreciate that.

And seeing Ol’ Bob reminds me that I do not believe I have ever seen “Catch-22“.  Somehow I got it in my head years and years ago that this was a truly bad movie, but some comments I saw somewhere recently suggest otherwise.  I suppose it’s worth a dekko.  (Oh, I just checked my queue and see that it’s already at the top.  Guess I was thinking the same thing when I loaded the thing up some months back.  Great minds and all that, right?)




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The latest Storm of the Century of the Week left a dusting of snow at Port Swiller Manor this morning, with more supposedly coming later on this afternoon.

It’s a very curious thing:  Decanter Dog positively loathes rain, and will almost literally cross her legs and hold herself in all day rather than going out into the wet.  But with snow?  She reverts to pure puppydom and demands to be let out every ten minutes just to run about in it.  Having had all my previous dog-ownership experience in the South Texas of my misspent yoot,  I’ve no idea if this is a kink particular to her or if it is a more general doggeh thing.

In anticipation of the snow, I filled up the bird feeders yesterday.  As I look out the window now, I count among others eight, that’s eight, pairs of cardinals.  “Let’s all go round to Robbo’s” is the catch-phrase of the local avian population.  Especially during winter, I have to fight myself sometimes about rationing the feed and sticking to my rule about only filling the feeders once a week.  If I caved in, the little welfare-cheats would bankrupt me.

On the vegetation front, I also notice buds on the camellia immediately outside the window, as well as buds on the maple nearest the house.  And the daffodils are already starting to come up. Too bad, I guess.  We haven’t really had any extended cold spells yet this year but we’re about to enter our first.

And it’s funny.  As I say, we haven’t had anything like a hard winter yet, but I can’t remember ever being this impatient this early in the year to get the whole damn thing over with and get on with spring.  That feeling doesn’t usually hit until some time toward the end of February.  (Now that I think on it, this might be because this is the first winter at my new office.  It’s a longer commute, which means I’m spending more time travelling in the dark.)

Oh, well.

Now if you’ll all excuse me, the dog wants to be let out again……

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A four-day weekend for Ol’ Robbo, and a mostly-bachelor one at that:   Mrs. R went down to Flahrdah yesterday to visit her parents; the Elder Gels are both back at school; and Youngest spends most of her time at home asleep these days.

So after waiting on Decanter Dog to finish up her biznay out in the yard early this morning I simply went back to bed….because I could.

Ha, ha, ha.

My plan, apart from attending to a few chores about Port Swiller Manor, is simply to take my mind off the hook for a few days.  I’ve started my umpteenth circumnavigation of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.  I’ve got “It Happened One Night” and “The Dirty Dozen” from Netflix.  My sight-reading at the keyboard is on one of its periodic upticks.  I am largely set for food and drink.  And I’ve got puppeh and kitteh to loaf with me.

So let the Impeachment Circus churn on.  Let my villainous Governor try to provoke a shoot-out in Richmond in order to justify even more draconian anti-2nd Amendment measures.  Let the line between the insanity of current events and the Babylon Bee’s satire grow ever hazier.  It’ll all still be there next Tuesday.  For now, I don’t care.


For you musick-loving friends of the decanter, this short video (I assume it’s an excerpt from a longer program) turned up in my yootoob feed a day or two ago:

Right at the end of the clip Johann Sebastian is hugged by a younger man who I’m pretty sure is meant to be his son, C.P.E. Bach, who was one of Frederick’s court composers.  It has long been my understanding that the theme which Frederick gives Old Bach in this bit, a pretty fiendish one, was most likely concocted by C.P.E., and that the whole thing was meant to be an elaborate practical joke to put the Old Man on the spot and spike him.  This is one of those little pieces of trivia which Ol’ Robbo chooses to believe whether it has any actual basis in fact or not.

(Old Bach, of course, eventually turned it into The Musical Offering, which frankly interests me more from an intellectual standpoint than an aesthetic one.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo apologizes for the dearth of posts this week.  There seems to be some kind of connectivity issue between his laptop and the innnertoobs.  Sometimes I get right in, sometimes it acts as if there is no such place.  Being a Luddite, I don’t have the faintest idea where the problem lies.  And I’ve been tired enough the past couple evenings not to have the patience to keep retrying.


I haven’t really had anything to say anyway, so maybe it’s just as well I haven’t had a reliable platform on which not to say it.

If that makes sense.

Anyhoo, I assume whoever is in charge of such things will eventually find teh gremlins fouling up the system and expunge them.  Hopefully by then I’ll have a speech worthy of my little electronic stump.

In the meantime, the port stands by your elbow, so fill up again and pass it to the left.  Cheers!





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January 2020