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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all had a very pleasant Thanksgiving weekend. Owing to You Know What, ours was very quiet.

Ol’ Robbo finds himself without a great deal to say at the moment. So I’ll just go with one item apropos to the start of Advent:

Have you seen the Vatican’s Nativity for this year?

I know it’s 2020 and all, and after everything else that’s happened this year I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but really?

I’m sure my Betters will tell me that I am hopelessly narrow-minded, and wrong, wrong, wrong for being put off by this thing. Nonetheless, I am.

I suppose I should just be grateful that Papa Frankie didn’t slip Pachamama into the scene somewhere.

UPDATE: Speaking of general weirdness, Ol’ Robbo stumbled upon a truly bizarre film the other evening, “7 Faces of Dr. Lao” (1964). A travelling circus comes to an Old West town, bringing with it strange creatures and persons, all presided over by the mysterious Dr. Lao, who also gives magic displays and a series of life lessons. The Doctor and six other characters are all played by Tony Randall, of all people. (I believe the host said that the multi-role bit was originally designed for Peter Sellers, who liked to do that sort of thing, but that the plan fell through.)

As I say, the film was bizarre. It was also pretty cheesy. But what was outright astonishing was that TCM even aired it, given that the Doctor as played by Randall was straight out of Central Stereotyping. I wonder if TCM got an earful for it from the Permanently Indignant brigade?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Thanksgiving!

All is well here at Port Swiller Manor even though we are of course disappointed that the current cower in place rules prevent us from visiting my brother’s family this year. I find myself very sharply divided, yet not at all conflicted, between rendering thanks unto God while rendering disgust and loathing unto Caesar and his minions.

For all that, I am determined to make something of the celebration and am looking forward to cooking up a nice dins later. As somebody here recommended, I’m going with Cornish game hen, coupled with the simplest of side dishes (herbed mashed potatoes, stuffing with and without sausage, asparagus, and mac-cheese as a backstop). My theory is that if the Gels put up their noses at the chicken (in a recipe I’ve never tried before), they can at least load up on the others, plus the pie, of course.

Speaking of which, Ol’ Robbo was actually very fortunate in getting the last couple of game hens at the groc store the other day. The meat department lady told me they’ve been flying off the shelves this year. (So to speak.) On the other hand, the cases were absolutely stuffed with turkeys. Big ones, too. I honestly don’t know if Kommissar Northam slapped maximum occupancy restrictions on family gatherings here in the Commonwealth, but the store evidently wasn’t betting on it.

Anyhoo, I hope all of you friends of the decanter have a happy and joyous (and thankful) day today. I’ll see you on the other side.

Post-Food Coma UPDATE: A lovely dinner. It’s good to have all the Gels home.

As for the food, Ol’ Robbo has mentioned here before that the Port Swiller Manor kitchen is really not much more than a moderately souped-up galley and has nothing of the gerrrrr-may about it. Thus, putting together multiple multi-step dishes becomes a distinct logistical challenge. It’s a real joy to me to successfully navigate my way through and have everything appear at table at the same time. So far as the game hen went, the recipe (basically a honey-glaze) turned out rayther more pedestrian than what I originally wanted, but was accepted without complaint. The mashed ‘taters were a distinct success.

As for family time with said Gels, we got into a wide-ranging discussion of film versions of Shakespeare in general, and the many cinematic crimes of Kenneth Branagh in particular. Youngest is enamored of his “Hamlet” because of its lavish production values. Me? As outstanding an actor as he is, I think giving Branagh directorial control is (to borrow from Peej O’Rourke) like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenager.

Good times. Good times.

UPDATE DEUX: Oh, by the bye, the Gels swore they saw a nooz story about a grocery chain that required customers purchasing Thanksgiving turkeys to sign a written declaration that they would not be feeding more than eight persons with it. Evidently, this was not a creation of the Babylon Bee, but I can’t seem to find it. I’d have liked somebody to try that with me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, having run out of excuses for avoiding it, Ol’ Robbo bit the bullet yesterday and painted the Port Swiller Manor living room, finishing up this morning. Regular friends of the decanter will know that this was part of the project to transmogrify a formal space which for years has gone almost unused into another comfy room in which to read, chat, or stare out the window contemplating the cosmos. And as soon as I can find another strong back to help me, I’ll be moving my desk into a corner of it as well.

It’s been years since Ol’ Robbo’s last painting project, and I suppose the novelty helped slightly in dealing with all the tedium that goes with it: the moving of things about, the discovery of just how dirty the room really was, the taping up, the aches of constantly climbing up and down ladders with buckets o’ paint, etc., etc. Having done the job, I’m not in any hurry to do another one anytime soon. (Fortunately, there’s no need.)

Of course, I’m not actually, you know, done-done. There’s molding all round the ceiling and the two doorways, as well as a chair-rail that circles the room, and of course the tape didn’t stop all the paint from getting on them. So once I catch my breath (say….maybe next spring?), I’ll have to go back round and touch up. Honestly, I don’t know why I bother wasting all that time on taping in the first place: It would be just as efficient to free-hand it, which is now what I have to do anyway.

Anyhoo, I must say that the overall transformation has worked out well, in fact probably too well, in that both Mrs. R and Eldest said, “Say, can we put a teevee in there now?”

To which I replied, “No. Way. Jo. Se.”

A teevee right out, front and center, from which there is no escaping the noise is a pure abomination to me, one that has in fact become much worse the older I get. Putting one in the living room would not only make it, er, unliveable, it would also ruin any chance of sitting in the library next door in peace. No, thankee.

Besides, we have a perfectly serviceable teevee down in the basement already, and Mrs. R has one all to herself in our bedroom. And the Gels seem to watch stuff on their laptops, anyhow. Why on earth would we need another?

Ol’ Robbo is generally pretty easy-going in the matter of authority over his family, but I will assert my right of paterfamilias to stamp this out if necessary. I think they know it, too.

On a completely different note, Ol’ Robbo set up a little portable greenhouse on the porch today, in which we’re going to see if we can winter over the four ferns that live most of the year in baskets there. I look on this more as an interesting little experiment than anything else. If we can keep them going, great. If not, well, lesson learned. Personally, I give it about a 50/50 chance, largely dependent on what kind of winter Ma Nature has in store for us. It’s been pretty mild the last couple years and I think they’d be fine with that. A real stinker (for which we’re overdue), probably not so much. We’ll see.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ongoing house arrest seems to be getting to Ol’ Robbo, because I had a dream last night that I went back to my office, which I haven’t actually seen since March 12.

In the dream, the exterior of the building looked as it really does, but for some reason the interior looked like the halls of the Gels’ high school. As I wandered along, I met one of my colleagues, who said he had got me “dibs” on an interior room. “Why would I want that when I already have a nice window office?” I said.

When I got to my own digs, I discovered that two construction foremen had spread all their material and equipment around, even hanging blueprints and maps up on the walls. “How long are you going to be here?” I asked. “Oh, about a year and a half,” they said.

I then went next door to complain to my chief. “Oh, they always do that,” was her only reply.

Since I obviously couldn’t work in my office, I decided I might as well just go home again. As I was leaving the building, however, I thought maybe I should go round the halls one more time to say hello, just in case anybody I knew was there. As I was turning back, I woke up.

Complicating things was the fact that during the entire course of the dream I was holding a large, grey cat, a British Shorthair, in fact. I held it in one arm like a small child. It, in turn, had a paw draped round my neck and its head laid on my shoulder. I was constantly worried that somebody would ask me the cat’s name, as I just couldn’t quite remember what it was. Fortunately, nobody did.

It was only as I was starting to rise to the surface of consciousness that I remembered the cat’s name was, in fact, Sedgwick, after the famous Civil War general. (If and when we ever get another male cat, I may keep this in mind.)

So there you have it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

By now, you’ve probably seen the picture of this year’s Rockefeller Center X-mas tree? From several angles it looks like a larger version of the one Charlie Brown bought.

Yes, as so many others have already said, “2020, man”.

I dunno. Perhaps whoever is in charge reckoned that with everyone under house arrest, nobody would see it.

On the other hand, perhaps they figured Antifa will probably burn it down anyway, so why bother?

Or perhaps it’s simply a sign of contempt on the part of our Betters. Whaddaya gonna do about it, kulak?

In any event, I can’t say I’m particularly surprised.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees that Slow Joe is proposing a massive student loan debt forgiveness program. Oh, goody.

Ya’ know, Mrs. R and I are fortunate enough to be able to put the Gels through school ourselves. (Undergrad, anyway. We’ve made plain that if they want to go on to grad school, that’s their affair.) To do so, we aren’t exactly poking through other people’s trash looking for bread crusts, but by the time all the monthly budgetary numbers are crunched, we’re pretty much just treading water for the next few years. It can be frustrating. (“We live here but we don’t live here,” Mrs. R said not long ago.) But we think it the right thing to do.

How much easier and more pleasant it would have been to let the Gels run up massive debts on the assumption that Uncle would eventually erase them, meanwhile living the life of Riley ourselves.

Evidently, we’re chumps.

And now we get to pay for other kids’ schooling, too? Say, if my tax money is going to bail out some kid’s student debt, do I get a vote on his major?

Ha, ha, ha!


UPDATE: I should have mentioned here that the Puppy-Blender often argues for including the schools as co-signers on any student loan. I think this is an excellent idea and the best way to reform the whole damn racket. Force Higher Ed to have some skin in teh game and watch costs fall and useless classes weeded out of the curriculum.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Not much to report from Port Swiller Manor at the moment. [Ed. – When has that ever stopped you before?] But here we go:

****Ol’ Robbo has fallen into the habit of watching old “Star Trek” reruns. The shows currently are heavily peppered with Medicare ads. Some of them feature Broadway Joe Namath as spokesman. Somehow, that seems perfectly natural. But others feature Dorothy Hamill. Dorothy Hamill? Yikes!

****The other evening, I stumbled across “The Kentuckian” (1955) starring Burt Lancaster. I found it tedious and uninspiring, and only stuck with it because I wanted to see the part with Oliver Hardy. It was only toward the very end that I realized I was thinking of “The Fighting Kentuckian” (1949) with John Wayne. D’oh!

****And speaking of films, I remember seeing teh Steven Spielberg WWII comedy “1941” when it came out in 1979. Even as a high school student, I thought it rather lame, caught somewhere in between “Airplane!” and “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!” and undecided which it wanted to be. Prompted by a comment I saw somewhere recently, I decided to try it again. Forty years later, I have exactly the same opinion of it. I don’t need to see it again. (And I know “Airplane!” came out in 1980. But I’m sure and certain that I saw it before “1941”.)

****In non-entertainment nooz, our first frost is coming this week. This year we’re going to try keeping the porch ferns in a small, portable greenhouse. We’ll see how that goes.

****Regular friends of the decanter may recall my posting about Youngest’s car refusing to start. The good nooz is that it turned out just to be the battery. (I was concerned it might be something else because there was enough juice to run the electronics but the starter was completely dead.) The bad news is that the door seals are bad and water has got inside. Resealing is too expensive an option right now, so I’m just going to buy a tarp.

****Speaking of which, how the heck did Thanksgiving get here so quickly? Both the Younger Gels come home next week and I’d better get cracking on planning out that dinner instanter! (Youngest will be home until January. Middle Gel goes back to campus for exams.)

****Finally, I haven’t anything useful to say about Current Events, except that I have a feeling that folks on our side of the aisle obsessed with icky personalities instead of honest-to-goodness achievements are in for a very rude, very powerful shock when the Jacobins take control. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I doubt it.

UPDATE: I see where mine host WordPress is getting into the deplatforming for wrong-think gig now. So far, at least, Ol’ Robbo remains confident that he is entirely too small a fish to bother frying and that he can continue to sit hunched over the decanter muttering, “snugglebunnies, snugglebunnies, snugglebunnies” in relative safety.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo came out of Mass this afternoon to find the above little token planted on the hood of La Wrangler.

I’ve been what?

This evening, while waiting for my potato pancakes to go golden, I nipped over to the innertoobs to try and make sense of this.

Apparently, it’s a thing:

Jeep owners buy little rubber ducks, write messages on them, and leave them on or in other Jeeps as a way to spread some smiles.

The Jeep Ducking craze is now popular in the U.S., but according to the Massachusetts-based Taunton Daily Gazette, it was started in Ontario by Allison Parliament, a Canadian woman, because of an experience that wasn’t in typical polite-Canadian style.

The short version of the story is that Mizz Parliament got some rayther ugly flak from a fellow-Canadian owing to her car having Alabama license plates because she works there. Apparently, she decided to fight back by instituting these little acts of random kindness. (By the bye, don’t let yourself be hoorawed by that “typical polite-Canadian style” stuff. They can be right shites when they want to be.)

Anyhoo, I was flattered that somebody thought of me and, yes, it did make me smile.

Funnily enough, I had been thinking about La Wrangler as I walked out the door, because I discovered while going through my pockets as Father read out the parish announcements that I had accidentally left my keys on the dashboard. D’oh!

I immediately thought of that crack by Chesterton about the danger of leaving an umbrella at the back of a Catholic Church (as opposed to a Methodist one).**** Forcing myself to recall that I hardly live in a tough neighborhood, I resisted the temptation to dash out and check, and put it (mostly) out of my mind for the rest of the Mass.


And while I didn’t really expect her to be gone when I came out, I certainly didn’t expect to find a duck on her, either.

2020, man.

*** I hope I don’t even have to send up the quote-spotting signal on this one.

**** The reference (I couldn’t fine the original quote in a bite-sized form) is toward the end of an article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, but the whole piece is worth a reread. It’s good stuff.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My name is Robbo and I’m an idjit.

I spent something over six hours today working on the leaves in the Port Swiller Manor front yard and the sidewalk and ditch out by the road (home of Mrs. R’s beloved pachysandra bed, which is filling in very nicely).

I did so on a completely empty stomach (my regulation breakfast of two cups of kawfee not counting). I also did so without wearing one of those back-support thingees I’ve been telling myself for years I need to get.

The result? To quote Dr. Smith, “The pain, William! Oh, the pain! The pain!”

There are no wide-open spaces involved in this project. The house side of the sidewalk is lined by a thick hedge of holly. The street side features the four trees (three maples and an oak) from which all the leaves descend. The trees are circled by low stone walls which, in turn, are linked by a low retaining wall to keep the ditch from flooding into the yard. The ditch itself is now mostly covered in pachysandra, which runs up the slope almost to the street itself.

The practical upshot of all of this is that one has to remove the leaves sectionally. This involves blasting a patch of them with the blower up out of the ditch, across the wall and onto the sidewalk. There, I rake them into a suitably-sized pile, shovel them onto a small tarp, throw the full tarp over my shoulder (“like a Continental Soldier”) and march it down the hill to the woods behind the back fence, there to deposit the load in a suitably discrete place.

This doesn’t sound like all that much, and especially when the leaves are fairly dry (which they were today), it isn’t. I’d guestimate that the heaviest loads are maybe 30 pounds or so. But when one repeats the process twenty or thirty times – as stated on an empty stomach and with no muscular support – the fact that one is firmly in one’s mid-50’s now and no longer a kid by any stretch of the imagination becomes, well, painfully apparent.

I mentioned all this to Mrs. R.

“Then get a brace,” she said, “And for Heaven’s sake eat something!”

Such comfort, especially as I had cleaned out her pachy bed without her even having to ask me to do it. (Perhaps that’s why? Wimminz.)

Speaking of which, I see by the clock that in another forty-five minutes half hour or so I will be able to take a drop of liquid comfort (purely medicinal, of course), to be followed an hour later by a noice steak which is just about done thawing out. I think I can hold out till then.

I shudder to think how I’m going to feel in the morning, however.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention. It was a lovely day here today and a number of people were out walking the paths in the woods behind Port Swiller Manor. I saw no fewer than three such persons walking along…..and staring at their fershlugginer phones!

I mean, c’mon!

Ol’ Robbo is now considering finding himself a bear suit and maybe laying a few ambushes on such people. Just to learn ’em.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening Ol’ Robbo and Eldest Gel got into a conversation about the so-called “Mandela Effect” and specifically how it might be exemplified by the wide-spread belief that the children’s book series The Berenstain Bears was originally titled The Berenstein Bears. The Gel’s theory, which she apparently picked up on the innertoobs somewhere, is that the name change actually was a signal that we had all fallen into an alternate universe (not the Bearded-Spock one, unfortunately).

Alas, now I can’t get the thing out of my braims. We used to own about a dozen different BB books, a couple from quite early in the series, and one part of my mind is now madly trying to recreate a picture of their covers to check if there ever was a “Berenstein” version.

The worst part of it is that Ol’ Robbo always hated the Berenstain Bears, and sagged wearily every time one of the Gels demanded one of their stories at bedtime. The artwork always irritated me, and the fubsy stories even more so.

And now they’re back. Where’d I put that brain bleach?


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November 2020