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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I notice there’s been a real drop in traffic here in the past week or so. Has Ol’ Robbo become that much of a crashing bore?

Anyhoo, here we are.

So how many masks at a time are we up to now? Ol’ Robbo loses count. I saw somewhere yesterday (perhaps the Bee) that Herr Doktor Fauci is now recommending wearing the whole box. Heh. (My elder cousin recently declaimed that there’s nobody in the world she trusts more than Fauci. Me? I think he’s a bureaucratic weasel concerned with nothing more than blowing with the prevailing politickal winds and covering his backside.)

Mrs. R is on the phone with her father at the moment and from the sound of it he’s explaining (in excruciating detail) the whole hedge funds short-sell stock market fubar that has dominated the nooz this week. Frankly, Ol’ Robbo finds the idea of some Wall Street Masters of the Universe being pantsed by a mob of basement-dwelling nerds to be hysterically funny. (Eldest Gel, who shares my sentiment, just now made an interesting point: While her Poppy no doubt understands the actual money mechanics of the thing very well, he’s probably clueless about the wider, social, insiders vs. outsiders, aspect of it all because he’s too old to really “get” the Innertoobs, memes, GameStop and gamers, the 4Chan types, and the like. I think she’s probably right.)

On a different note, It looks as if the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor may see its first legitimate snowfall in the past couple years, starting tomorrow evening morning. The last forecast I saw was predicting maybe four inches half a foot altogether here, and I’m beginning to sense that panic which engulfs this area every time the white stuff threatens. I went out to the hardware store this morning to stock up on birdseed and the place was already making bank on snow shovels and ice melt. (I also hit Total Bev, so there’s plenty of grog in the house to weather the storm. I prolly should have gone to the grocery store across the street, too, but I didn’t have enough of a grocery list formed in my braims to do so. I’ll no doubt pay for that later.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see where today is the 35th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

Since the shuttle explosion has become one of those “Where were you?” moments, I’ll go ahead and contribute my two cents: I was a junior in college at the time. As I recall I was walking to class among a stream of other students when rumor started circulating up and down the line that Something Had Happened. I don’t recall that I actually saw any video footage of the thing until some time later. (For you kids out there, media wasn’t anywhere near as ubiquitous back then as it is now. One actually had to seek out a stationary screen rayther than having half a dozen devices about one’s person blaring the news 24/7.)

Like everybody else, I was shocked and saddened at the time and later angered as word got out about the criminal negligence and stupidity that led up to the loss. But I also remember thinking, “Well, there are things that need to be fixed and reformed, but let’s just fix and reform them and get on with it.”

One of the few bright spots in these otherwise wretched times is the recent series of advancements made in private space exploration. Whatever else one might think of Elon Musk, SpaceX has made the field exciting and visionary again. So far, it seems they’ve managed one miracle after another. But sooner or later, something is going to go wrong and people will die. That is just a harsh reality. What I wonder now is whether, having become such a risk-adverse society, we will have enough collective fortitude left to be able to say “Get on with it” again when that happens.

(Full Disclosure: When I say exciting and visionary, I am speaking strictly from an armchair point of view. Ain’t no way Ol’ Robbo would ever go into space himself.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s muse seems to have stepped out again, leaving me wanting for bloggy inspiration. So here’s just a little filler.

This is our first week of having both Younger Gels away at school and Eldest, although living at home, working full time. Mrs. R and I have started calling ourselves semi-empty nesters. It’s an odd sensation.

Speaking of Eldest working, Ol’ Robbo was actually pleased that last night’s Storm of the Century of the Week proved such a flop, as I didn’t need to get up and go clear off the driveway for her. So I got that going for me.

(If and when Mrs. R and I actually go back to our respective workplaces on a regular basis, I wonder how Decanter Dog and the kittehs will react? They’ve got awful used to having us around all the time.)

I’m not much of a film noir guy, but I found myself watching “Criss Cross” (1949) last evening and enjoying it muchly. Burt Lancaster always strikes me as a rougher, more earthy version of Charlton Heston. And Yvonne de Carlo? Say no more! The only strange part was seeing Dan Duryea as the mobster bad guy. I know him mostly as Waco Johnny Dean from “Winchester ’73”, so transposing him from the Desert Southwest to Los Angeleeze took a bit of doing.

Well, there you have it. Better than nothing. Or is it?

Video et Taceo

Actual Substantive UPDATE: Was chatting with Middle Gel this evening. She’s just been appointed leader of her soprano section in her school’s concert choir for this semester. Regular friends of the decanter will recall that Ol’ Robbo used to post fairly often about the Gel’s singing. I think she kind of got burned out on it her first year of college when she was considering it as a major. I’m happy to report that she seems to have struck just the right level where she can now thoroughly enjoy it without all the stress and strain.

Anyhoo, she mentioned that they were going to be singing some Morten Lauridsen this semester. Who, you might ask? Well, that’s what I said, too. The Gel tells me his O Magna Mysterium is her very favorite piece.

Check it out for yourselves. It’s certainly lovely, in my opinion, however I’m more partial to the intricacies and sharpness of the Renaissance and Baroque. On the other hand, the Gel knows a hell of a lot more about these matters than I do, so maybe Ol’ Robbo is talking through his musickal hat here.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Father went on a tear in his homily today about Certain Persons (he named no names, but said he was thinking of more than one individual) who felt they could cry up their Catholic backgrounds as credible cover for engaging in very non-Catholic behavior on the politickal stage. He also railed against priests and bishops who encouraged such two-facedness. In the end, though, he warned that most of us can only pray such Certain Persons realized the error of their ways and repent. We must not descend into hatred ourselves.

And on that note, he also went into the broader subject of the simple, awful, unavoidable, eternal choice each of us faces: Heaven or hell. And what exactly were each of us doing in our own lives to work toward the former and avoid the latter? Huh? Huh?

Scared the willies out of Ol’ Robbo, I can tellz ya.

I suppose he was starting the gear-up towards Ash Wednesday. Not until I looked it up yesterday did I realize Lent starts so early this year. St. Augustine’s Confessions and St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life in depth for me this time. That message came through loud and clear today.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo helped Youngest take some boxes over to the UPS store last evening to ship off to campus, to which she returns tomorrow for the spring semester.

In this, I was a mere pack mule. The Gel had bought the boxes herself, packed, taped, and labeled them, and completed the shipping transaction as I simply stood by. I was pleased by how calmly and efficiently she handled the biznay, but at the same time felt slightly alarmed because part of my braim still sees her about three years old with spaghetti sauce smeared all over her face and arms.

As for the boxes themselves, she claims they’re filled mostly with clothes, but to Ol’ Robbo it felt like I was hauling lead ingots. My knee is seriously twinging this morning.

Leavin’ On A Jet Plane UPDATE: Whelp, the Gel made it safely back to Ahia. I drove her out to the airport myself this morning and then hovered around to make sure she had her ticket and checked her bags. One of them was my own large suitcase. (I hope I don’t have any extended biznay trips in the next four or five months.) She’d absolutely stuffed it, too, to the point where I worried it would be too heavy to be allowed on board. As it was, we got socked for a considerable amount of dash. As I hoisted the thing out of the back of Mrs. R’s Honda Juggernaut, I said, “What have you got in here? Are you trying to smuggle the dog back to campus or something?” She thought that was very funny.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had one of his patented bizarre dreams last evening.

In it, I found myself back at The People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT. As I went into my old dorm, I found the hallway filled with people dressed up as caricatures of the more prominent current politickal figures, with masks, wigs, and outlandish costumes. They were all engaged in some kind of antimasque, throwing themselves up and down the hall with wild abandon, singing and shouting a lot of nonsense.

Next thing I knew, I was in the gym, where a pick-up basketball game was in progress with teams of about 20 players per side. They were all wearing flu masks, but had all cut holes in them so they could breath properly. I recall thinking what a pack of hypocrites they all were.

And then, as they say, I woke up.

The zeitgeist doesn’t usually penetrate that far into Ol’ Robbo’s subconscious. I guess I’m more worried about things than I realized. That, or the spicy chicken wrap I had for dins wreaked greater havoc than I thought it would.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was watching “Time Bandits” last evening. I hadn’t seen it in quite some time, even though I own it.

Anyhoo, I got a quiet, gallows-humor laugh by slightly updating in my braims Evil’s plan for taking over the world:

Evil: “When I have the map, I will be free, and the world will be different, because I have understanding of….digital watches. And soon I shall have understanding of video cassette recorders and car telephones. And when I have understanding of them, I shall have understanding of computers. And when I have understanding of computers, [I shall have understanding of social media. And when I have understanding of social media], I shall be the Supreme Being!”

Flows pretty well, no?

Fortunately, Ol’ Robbo never descended into the fever swamp that is Tweeter. As for FacePlant, I’ve recently been mulling finally deleting my account but probably won’t a) because it’s still useful for keeping up with friends and family and b) because deleting it won’t erase my history anyway, not that I recall ever posting anything particularly flashy there.

As for this place? Well, I doubt seriously that WP has an army of lackeys scanning 20-hit-per-day blogs for wrongthink (yet). Instead, I reckon it’ll work the other way round: Ol’ Robbo will get picked up for something else, and my decanter-related bloviations will merely be added as further evidence in my social credit show trial. Eh.

Useless Movie Trivia UPDATE: Friends of the decanter who enjoy this sort of thing will be pleased to know that when watching “Time Bandits” this time around, Ol’ Robbo had a realization: Remember in the movie Robin Hood’s gang? And the incomprehensible soccer-hooligan leader and teh fellah who translated all his ravings into concise English? Well, I suddenly remembered where I’d seen the translator fellah before. He’s Neil McCarthy (not that I knew this before I looked it up), and he played Pvt. Thomas in “Zulu” – the one who kept sneaking off to the corral to check up on the newborn calf (and whose failure to properly secure the gate of the corral set in motion the cattle stampede that held up a Zulu charge). This epiphany made Ol’ Robbo quite happy. (Fortunately – or not, depending on your view – I was watching alone and therefore unable to share my thoughts with inflict my observation on anyone else.)

(I often wonder, by the bye, how Terry Gilliam managed to pull such heavyweights as Sean Connery, Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, and Shelley Duvall into doing bit parts for this film. The Python connections explain some casting, but by no means all.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had to make a run down to FedEx today for work.

Aside from hitting the grocery/hardware store on Saturday and Mass on Sunday, I almost never leave Port Swiller Manor since the lockdown began, so you’d think I’d look on this errand as something of a treat.

Maybe early on, but these days, even on weekends, I sometimes find myself struggling to force myself to get out of the house. Once I’m actually oot and aboot, all is well. But mustering the energy to take that first step can be a real test of willpower.

Is this a recognized phenomenon, or am I just a loony?

*** A reference to Ol’ Robbo’s favorite non-famous modern author.

UPDATE: Just to close the loop here, the author to whom I refer is Charles Portis. “Escape Velocity” is the name given to a collection of his shorter works, but it’s also a reference to a line in one of his novels, “The Dog of the South”.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo caught Zoltan Korda’s 1939 version of “The Four Feathers” on TCM last evening. This made me quite happy, as I’d never seen it before and it’s been sitting on my “not currently available” Netflix queue for eons. It’s a pretty decent film, although the history nerd in me was puzzled by the complete lack of British machine guns at the Battle of Omdurman, where I believe they actually played a very dominant role. Eh.

Anyhoo, inspired, I nipped off to the devil’s website and picked up the novel by A.E.W. Mason on which the film is based. (As friends of the decanter know, Ol’ Robbo has a soft spot for Edwardian adventure stories.) I’ll let you know what I think.

(Remember, friends, illegitimi non carborundum!)

UPDATE: Speaking of movies, Robbo and his ladies actually had a Family Movie Night the other evening. However appealing they are in theory, in practice Family Movie Nights are few and far between at Port Swiller Manor. There are two reasons for this.

First, coming up with something everybody actually wants to see is an excruciating process, given that we all seem to have wildly divergent tastes. In the past, we have spent literally hours throwing out suggestions, counter-suggestions, objections, and complaints, more than once exhausting ourselves to the point where we have simply given up on the idea. And every time we open up such a debate, the question of why Ol’ Robbo has never seen “The Shawshank Redemption” and, furthermore, doesn’t want to, invariably comes up. I always feel like Kramer refusing to wear the ribbon.

(FWIW, we settled on “Dodgeball” this time. I own it. Stupid, yes, crude in part, certainly. But very funny. Everyone larfed more than once.)

Second, even when we reach a consensus regarding what to watch, we then have to face the fact that there is also a distinct familial split over how to watch. Eldest and I are what you might call “running commentary” viewers: We like to chat about the cast-members and their various connections and other works, and to quip about different aspects of the production. Mrs. R, on the other hand, can’t stand such small-talk and wants to focus solely on the make-believe world in front of her. I try to remember this and to be respectful, but almost inevitably start up the gab without even realizing it. Tensions can sometimes get a bit high. (In cold weather, I still feel a twinge in my ribcage where Mrs. R violently elbowed me when I started snickering over “Love, Actually”.)

So you can understand why these occasions are so rare.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the dearth of posties this week. Ol’ Robbo has been busy getting back into the swing of things at work after his Christmas week hols languor.

Anyhoo, how about a little domestic this and that?

The big nooz is that Eldest has got herself her first full-time post-graduate job! She’ll be starting shortly as a teacher’s assistant at a Montessori school. (Not Mrs. Robbo’s, but another one aways up the road.) The idea of following Mrs. R as an acolyte of St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method has been bubbling around in her brain for a bit. This job will allow her to get her hands dirty, so to speak, and decide whether she wants to go back and get full certification. (If she does, the school might even help her out financially.)

Middle Gel is back on campus this week. She was home for no more than a flying visit over the hols, then went with her scuba club down to Flariduh on a dive trip. The thought of her driving non-stop from the Virginny Tidewater all the way to the Keys (taking turns at the wheel with others, of course), and then driving back, is both alarming and exhausting. One never stops being a parent no matter how old they get.

And speaking of flying, Youngest has her ticket to go back to school in a couple weeks, Ol’ Robbo having finally and firmly put his foot down that no, she was not going to drive across the Appalachians in the middle of winter, dammit. Here’s hoping she has more actual in-person classes this semester. (She only had one last term, a bio lab.)

Suddenly, the possibility of achieving empty-nest status has reappeared on the horizon.

Meanwhile, today was taking down decorations day here at Port Swiller Manor, although I plan to keep my creche out until February 2nd. I am happy to report that none of the tree ornaments managed to smash themselves this year, even though I detected two stowaways just as I was about to hoik the tree up out of its base. We now commence our annual tradition of continually finding leftover pine needles up through Labor Day.


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January 2021