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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Recently, ol’ Robbo has been making his way through the extra features of the Netflix copy of “Young Frankenstein“, one of my perpetual favorites.  Among said extras are a set of outtakes, a feature that, should ol’ Robbo ever become Emperor of the World, would be mandatory for all movie distributions.

Anyhoo, while watching said outtakes, I was again reminded of one of Robbo’s Iron Rules:  There is nothing, nothing, funnier than watching people trying not to laugh.  I don’t know why, but there it is.

Now, I will go out on a limb here, reputation-wise, to support my assertion.  One of Robbo’s guilty pleasures is the movie “Porky’s“.  Not because of the T&A.  Not because of the crudity.  Instead, because the people who put this movie together get this Rule.  I give you, as Exhibit A, the scene in the principal’s office (back-story probably not required):

There are several more such scenes, equally crude I’ll allow, but also as effective.

As I say, I don’t know why this sort of thing is teh funny.  All I know is that, well, it is.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Wednesday!

Just a little something for the Middle Gel.  It’s become something of a (bad) joke between us:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  As noted below, ol’ Robbo is back from his latest travels.  A few random thoughts, firstly travel-related:

♦   Going through airport security, I was submitted both times to the full TSA Grope Special.  In each instance, they claimed that they needed to check out something on the front of my pants picked up by the body scan.   Hey, Einsteins!  It’s called a “fly” and it’s made of metal!  (Either that or the rosary I always carry in my pocket is radioactive and left some kind of signature after I pulled it out.)  Baysterds didn’t even give me flowers or buy me breakfast afterwards.

♦   Perhaps in my bemusement over getting an unexpected hand in my crotch, or perhaps because I hadn’t yet had any coffee, on my way out Wednesday morning I managed to lose my driver’s license going through security at Reagan National.  Unfortunately, I didn’t discover this loss until I got to the car rental counter at my final destination.   Not being able to get a car proved to be a nuisance, but at least one that I was able to work round via taxis and bumming rides from people.

♦   The good news is that the airport folks not only found my license, they also called about it and then mailed it to me with a very polite cover letter.  I got it back this evening.

♦  By the bye, Ol’ Robbo has resolved that he is never again going to fly on Ash Wednesday with the expectation that he will get to Mass at the other end.  Even when I plan it all out in advance, I’m so frazzled by the time I arrive that I just can’t make myself do it, especially, as noted above, when I don’t have wheels of my own.

♦  Oddly enough, in all my years this was the first time I’ve ever flown Southwest.  I must say that their open-seat boarding policy confused me mightily at first.  On further consideration, it still doesn’t make that much sense to me:  All the early boarders naturally are going to take up the aisle and window seats.  When the tail of the line (the despised “Group C”) comes on board, there’s still going to be a lot of confusion and aisle-crowding as they seek to insert themselves into the middle seats.  I don’t see how this is superior to assigned seating with more controlled boarding groups.   (Oh, and I put Southwest’s policy of offering to put you among the “Group A” borders for an extra fee at the same contemptible level as Disney’s policy of letting you pay more to jump to the head of the ride line.)

♦  Oh, and this trip was to Texas, where regular friends of the decanter know ol’ Robbo spent the bulk of his misspent yoot.  It’s remarkable how much at ease you can put a Texan of a certain age you’re interviewing by saying, “Oh, sure I remember Cody Carlson from high school!  He was just a year ahead of me!”

And a few non-travel thoughts:

♦  Remember when we were all told that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” and that we should “Question Authority”?  Me, too.  Good times, good times.  I certainly prefer it to “Shut your whore mouthes, you rubes!”

♦  Per my previous dose of random below,  teh youngest gel got her braces slapped on today.  I have to admit that I can barely suppress my amusement at the way all her “s’s” have transmogrified into “th’s”.   And the Middle Gel, who got hers off last fall, evidently couldn’t suppress her urge to taunt her younger sister over what’s in store for her the next two years.

♦   Meanwhile, it looks as if Mrs. R and I are headed up to Harrisburg, PA this weekend to check out a used Honda CR-V for the Eldest.  It’s two years old, single owner, 30K miles, clean bill of health, moderate whistles and bells, balance of extended warranty and a pretty reasonable price.

♦  Braces and another car, all in the same week.  Siiiigh.  I suppose I could set up as a cocaine wholesaler.  Or perhaps run guns.

♦  Of course, we’re now in Lent.  I plan to do a considerable amount of new reading, and have already started in on a series of sermons by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, recently recommended to me by a member of a Catholic FB group where I like to hang out.   However, while I am delving into the serious stuff, I am also permitting myself to take breaks with lighter reading fare, so long as it has some Christian-based theme or sensibility.  As a practical matter, this means the fiction of Chesterton and C.S. Lewis.  At the moment, I am running through the former’s Father Brown mysteries.

Guinnes Father BrownI have the ability sometimes when reading to hear in my mind specific voices for specific characters.  In the case of Father Brown, I derive infinite satisfaction from imagining his voice (and his appearance and movements) to be that of Sir Alec Guinness.  I’ve never actually seen his portrayal of the padre, but it is evident, almost obvious to me that he was absolutely perfect for the part.  (Without looking it up, I recall reading somewhere that his work on this project was one of the key factors behind Guinness’s swim across the Tiber.)

♦  Finally, my latest Star Trek: TOS comment (which may be the last until after Easter):  The Corbomite Maneuver.   A classic.  First totally space-based episode.  First battle of wits between ship’s commanders.  First gratuitous shirtless Jim Kirk shot.  And to this day my brother and I refer to adult beverages as “tranya”.

KingcakeGreetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Mardi Gras!  (I hope you all behave yourselves.)

Ol’ Robbo will be flying out on biznay tomorrow.  This will be the second time I’ve done so on Ash Wednesday.  The first time was back in 2006, the spring after Hurricane Katrina had flattened Noo Orleans, and my destination was Mobile, Alabama.

I was unaware of it until I visited Mobile the first time, but the city maintains the claim that it was the first to organize a Mardi Gras celebration and that Noo Orleans was a mere usurper of the tradition.  (Rayther like the ongoing squabble over who held the first Thanksgiving.  The local lawyer with whom I was working was quite sniffy about it.)  And since Noo Orleans was still a mess that year, many people who would have gone there went to Mobile, instead.  

By the time I got there on the Wednesday, downtown was an absolute cesspool, covered in trash and smelling to high heaven of beer, vomit and pee despite a very strong and blustery wind. 

I don’t think there’s any danger of the same sort of thing happening this time, as I am headed to a completely different kind of place. 

220px-Viola_tricolor_LC0041Greetings, my fellow port swillers and a good Quinquagesima Sunday to you!  A balmy six degrees above zero with a howling northwest wind were waiting for ol’ Robbo this morning when he went out to clear off the snow dumped by last evening’s squalls on the Port Swiller driveway.  Although the sky was clear and the sun out, these conditions did not encourage me to dawdle at my work.

Ol’ Robbo had another of his bizarro dream specials last evening.  The story shifted around a lot, but at its climax I found that I was Lt. Worf and I had just discovered irrefutable proof that the proprietress of an English seaside hotel had attempted to poison my friends and me by putting arsenic in our tea.

However, as I swept through the door of her office in a towering wrath and prepared to deliver my devastating J’accuse!, I suddenly realized the absurdity of the situation and burst into laughter.  Indeed, I laughed so hard that I woke myself up, and even kept laughing for a few moments after I was awake.

This happens to me every now and again and is without a doubt one of the most delightful sensations I know.  I like to think of it as an echo of the joy one must experience in Heaven.

stvalentine4Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy St. Valentine’s Day!

No, I don’t mean the overly-commercialized, morally debauched one with which we are assaulted more fiercely every year by the shock troops of the so-called popular culture.  I mean the one that reminds us real love, inspired by God, is far better and beyond any of that.

One of the traditions (albeit, a disputed one) concerning the origin of St. Valentine’s feast day is that it was an attempt by the early Church to provide a wholesome alternative to the old pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia, which was essentially a three day orgy held in mid-February.

Curious, if chilling, that the circle seems to be coming back around, what with the rise of the New Gnosticism and increasing warning from the pulpit that we of the Church need to prepare ourselves for possible persecution and even martyrdom, not at the hands of foreign terrorists but at those of our own domestic “betters”.

Well anyway, here’s a more positive fact to leave with you:  Saint Valentine is the patron, among other things, of beekeepers.  I couldn’t find a satisfying explanation for this except on what appears to be a druidism website, which I’m not about to link here, but I still think it’s neat.

Saint Valentine, ora pro nobis.

UPDATE:  Dave Barry’s review of Fifty Shades (the book), which I seem to have missed at the time.  Hy. Larious.  (A glass of wine with Carl Eric Scott over at NRO, who has a nice post on this whole biznay and the proper, balanced attitude toward it which includes large quotes from C.S. Lewis.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, I don’t know if this counts as an attack of bad luck or not, but it wasn’t until after ol’ Robbo got to his office this morning that he discovered he was supposed to have today off.  D’oh!  However, now that he’s back home at Port Swiller Manor, a few odds and ends for you:

♦   Idly flipping through an alumni magazine, I came across this opening paragraph:  “When I was growing up and a student at [Skool], the word “disruptive” would have had negative connotations.  Disruptive people were troublemakers: they acted in unruly and disorderly ways.  Now its meaning in business and technology has taken a 360-degree turn.  Being disruptive signifies creating innovations that improve the existing order, typically in unexpected ways.”

Sigh.

Growing up in Texas, I heard a lot of Aggie jokes.  One of my favorites (well, among those suitable to a family-friendly blog) was about the two Aggies who get caught in a violent thunderstorm while flying a small plane to College Station.  As the plane gets tossed about, one of the Aggies turns to the other and yells, “Let’s do a 360 and get the hell out of here!”

♦  Michael Strain has a note on Dee Cee bike lanes and the law of unintended consequences.  All that he says is very true, but I still prefer having the damned cyclists off to one side instead of clogging up the travel lanes, which they do constantly and, IMHO, deliberately.  Arrogant wankers, the lot of ‘em.

♦   It would seem that I’m a real man.  Good to know. Which reminds me:  When I went in for my physical last week and was chatting with my doc, I mentioned that all the gels are teenagers now.  She immediately said, “Wow, do you need a man cave!”  So the next time Mrs. Robbo gives me any grief about hiding out here, I’ve got my “Doctor’s orders” defense nicely teed up.

♦  Because it’s gotten to be a thing here, two more Star Trek:TOS episodes -

Miri” – An adult-killing plague caused by scientists trying to prevent aging.  First use of the Alt-Earth scheme, although the crew seems surprisingly unsurprised to find an exact duplicate of early 60’s Earth at the other end of the Galaxy.  Also the first use of the gang of feral kids and their special words (“grups and onlies”) theme.  And I believe the first instance of Bones saying something snide about Spock’s green blood. The title character was played by Kim Darby, who was also Mattie Ross in the John Wayne version of “True Grit” where she was, unfortunately, rayther a weak link with her gosh-darn perkiness.  (Hailee Stenfield, OTOH, gets Mattie absolutely bang right in the remake, a movie I would love if the Coen brothers hadn’t felt compelled to muck about with the plot.)

hillDagger of the Mind” – Supposedly enlightened warden of a penal colony turns out to be a maniac playing God with his prisoners’ minds.  James Gregory, the warden, will always be Inspector Luger to me, no matter what movie or show he’s in.  And Marianna Hill, as a member of the Enterprise’s medical staff, is quite the cupcake.  (Which see.)

I’m finding these shows to be pretty well-written, each setting up a discrete dilemma and then deftly solving it, although the assumptions and values displayed therein seem almost archaic 50 years on and are proving to be a stark and sobering reminder of how far we’ve slid into the pit as a culture.

♦  Oh, speaking of which, I suppose tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  Feh.

♦   Finally, I’m having entirely too much fun being enigmatic about whether or not eldest gel gets a car for her upcoming 17th birthday.  MWAAAA-HAHAHA!!!!! 

Whelp, that’s it for the moment.  Here’s hoping it’s going to be warmer this weekend wherever you are than it will be here!

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the dearth of posts the last couple days.  Mrs. Robbo recently has discovered the supposed* joys of Downton Abbey and is furiously catching up with things via computer streaming, thus tossing ol’ Robbo out of his recently-won man cave and forcing him to be content for his evening entertainment down in the basement with DVD’s of old Star Trek: TOS episodes.**

Aaaanyhoo, in case any of you missed it, I present what is easily the best “Hitler Rants” take on the Brian Williams Chopper Whopper story that I’ve seen so far.  (And believe me, I’ve seen a few.)  Enjoy:

Heh.  Ol’ Robbo admits to being rayther a fan of the whole “Hitler Rants” meme.  There are zillions of low-quality efforts, it’s true.  On the other hand, there are some that are damned clever, both in paying attention to the language and movement of the original “Downfall” scenes and in coming up with clever and pointed substitute subtitles capturing a genuine, informed point.  This one, in my opinion, is of the latter set.  (UPDATE:  I should say that, if you haven’t seen the original “Downfall” from which the parody arose, you really ought to.  A very, very good movie, superbly acted.  Probably a big part of why the parodies are so funny.)

Speaking of which, I was rayther saddened that nobody (at least so far as I could tell) has come up with a good Hitler Rant about Left Shark.  Oh, well.  On the other hand, the eldest gel forwarded me a funny Left Shark snark:

Left Sharknado

Heh, again, although not quite as funny as my favorite entry into the canon:

are you not (The Mothe won’t get this one.  Mom, go here.)

I love it when somebody crosses the meme streams.

* I say “supposed” because, although I know the series is very popular and I confess I’ve not watched a single episode, I am deeply, deeply suspicious of its Edwardian bona fides.   Thirty or forty years ago, one could trust period dramas to be more or less historically accurate.  These days? Not so much.

** Let’s go ahead and continue the Robbo non-geek geekery here.  In the past few days, I’ve re-watched for the first time in many years the following episodes of Star Trek: TOS:

The Naked Time” – A virus picked up on an alien planet has the effect of rendering crew members of the Enterprise drunk, thereby revealing their inner selves via the principle of “In vino veritas” and at the same time almost plowing the ship straight into the planet around which she was orbiting.    Eh, even when I first saw this as a young boy, I began to have questions about Mr. Sulu. IYKWIMAITYD.

The Enemy Within” – The first “transporter malfunction” plot and the first split-personality Kirk story.  Also, there’s a meme floating about that Bones McCoy never actually says his iconic line, “He’s dead, Jim” in the series.  Yes, yes he did.  Here.  When the split-personality horned dog doesn’t survive the rebeam through the transporter.

Mudd’s Women” – The first appearance of Falstaff-knock off, Harry Mudd.  Eh, some good stuff about inner beauty, I suppose.

What Are Little Girls Made Of?” – Now we’re getting somewhere.  A cautionary tale about progressivist dystopias, it also features the first Red-Shirt deaths and the first seriously  skimpily-clad alien babe.  It was also the second split-Kirk story, albeit the fake one being an android.  Ol’ Robbo would have been around seven or eight when he first was this episode, but even then I recall thinking that Majel Barrett was a piece of all right.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Let me start this post by assuring you again that ol’ Robbo is not a geek!

Having said that, on a whim a few weeks back I tossed Star Trek: TOS into the ol’ Netflix queue.  The first of them showed up in the Port Swiller mailbox this afternoon.

Ol’ Robbo’s first encounter with ST:TOS was in elementary school in the mid 70’s, where he watched it in reruns on weekday afternoons in the school cafeteria while waiting of the bus to show up.  Suffice to say, he was enamored of the whole space-exploration genre in general and of the adventures of Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise in particular.  Hey, you can’t blame a kid for dreaming of the stars.

I watched the series again in high school, when it ran on a late night weekend scify program on one of our local broadcast stations, (obviously, I didn’t date much back then.) and enjoyed it again, with much the same reaction.

Anyhoo, this is the first time I’m going through the series as anything approaching an adult.  And the new perspective, well, interests me.

I watched the first two episodes of Season One this evening, “The Man Trap” and “Charlie X”.

As to “The Man Trap”:  I had not before realized that this was the very first episode.  Back in the day, the salt monster scared the willies out of me.  Now? Well, I rayther see her way of thinking.  If I had suction claws, I’d be all over the local supply, too.  Indeed, I like the cut of her jib and would subscribe to her newsletter.

As to “Charlie X”:  Jesus. Mary. Joseph.  My own dealings with  a dumbass, headstrong 17 y.o. (but I repeat myself) have been bad enough.  Were she equipped with cosmic powers?  Yeek!   As Count Floyd would say, “Really scary, huh kids?”

So there’s that.  More observations as the series progresses.

Oh, I should mention also that the Netflix DVD’s are of the cleaned-up series, not the original broadcast.  Frankly, I think this is cheating.  Not quite akin to the whole Han Shot First thing, but of the same nature.

 

uss enterpriseGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

My post below touching on the Star Trek movie I happened to have chosen to watch the evening I unexpectedly met Mrs. Robbo generated a fair bit of “wow, how did you dodge that bullet” commentary with respect to my choice, so I thought I would follow up with a completely gratuitous post summarizing my opinion of the franchise as a whole.

Mind you, I am NOT a “Trekkie”.  Yes, along with many others of my age, in my misspent yoot I spent a lot of weekday afternoons watching and loving reruns of the original series.  Yes, certain words and phrases from the series have made it into the Robbo lexicon.  Yes, I built a model or two of the Enterprise.  (For what it’s worth, I also had models of the Galactica, a Colonial Viper, an X-Wing and a TIE-Fighter.  I also built 1/48 scale models of most of the Allied fighters and bombers of WWII and hung them from my bedroom ceiling.) Yes, I was excited that the teevee series made it on to the big screen.  And yes, I know all about the Kobayashi Maru test.

But that’s it.  Totes serially.  I never owned a costume.  I never sought an autograph.  I never went to a convention.  I have never owned a “Star Fleet Academy” rear-window decal.  I never sought to learn how to speak Klingon.  And I never, ever, believed that the United Federation of Planets was any kind of political model for the real world.

I’m normal.  NORMAL,  I tell you!

Which is all to say that the following rankings are both completely subjective and probably shallow and  ill-informed as well.  I don’t care.

Anyhoo, here we go:

The Original Series Movies

1stStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  A no-brainer, amirite?  A perfectly balanced film bringing out all the TOS tropes while also encapsulating the glories of space travel (the scene where the Enterprise leaves space dock always chokes me up) and setting up a classic submarine chess match between Kirk and Khan.  I like this film so much that I don’t even snicker at Scotty’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” on the pipes toward the end.  Without looking it up, I believe that even the late Prog New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael described it as “wonderful, dumb fun”.

2nd (tie)Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Two very different films with two very different sets of strengths and weaknesses which balance each other out in my mind.  ST4-TVH has a lot of anti-Reagan platitudes and hippy-dippy nature cant, but it holds up in terms of the chemistry among the main characters.  ST6-TUC would have been a much better film, but it spends too much time in dry, tedious Sherlock Holmes-like questing for clues surrounding its central mystery. (I say nothing of the fact that its main theme musick was a complete rip-off of “Mars, the Bringer of War” from Gustov Holst’s The Planets.)

4th (tie)Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.  Two films that, in my mind at least, shared the same fatal flaw in that both were so arch about themselves and the Universe they portrayed as to cross the border into camp.   The plot of STIII-SFS was reasonably sound and could have been done quite well, but was squandered in its execution – the whole disabling of the Excelsior, for example.  STV-TFF, on the other hand, while also carrying a not-unreasonable plot, was just….well, bad all around.

6thStar Trek: The Motion Picture.  Yep, sucked.  By golly, unless you weren’t there yourself, you don’t know the disappointment felt by a 14 y.o. boy of my previous Trek experience when this dog of a film hit the big screen, Bald Babe notwithstanding.  Personally, I blame Jimmy Carter.

The Next Generation Movies

Before getting to the films, I will say that I hated the first season or two of ST:TNG on teevee because it bent all over itself to show how politically correct it was:  Psychiatric counselor (in homespun body suit) on the bridge; Model U.N. -type captain; nary a shot fired in anger;  constant apologies for Mankind’s perceived past transgressions against Mother Universe.   However, after a while, the show seemed to calm down and turn its attention to teh stars out there instead of gazing at its own navel. (Well, okay, there was a good bit of the multiple personalities of Data and the, ah,  doings of Riker on the holideck, but you know what I mean.)

Anyhoo, I never cared as much about any of the TNG films as I did of teh TOS ones, probably because I never totally accepted the TNG premise.  Nonetheless, here we go:

1stStar Trek TNG: First Contact.  I always thought the Borg, the ultimate sci-fi manifestation of Collective Progressivism,  was the single greatest idea to come out of the minds of the TNG writers, however ironically.   I also liked the film’s easy treatment of the personalities and relationships that had evolved among the TNG Enterprise’s crew over the prior teevee seasons.  Instead of having to prove themselves, the characters seemed to be having fun.

2ndStar Trek TNG: Generations.  Weeeeell, it was okay, and I suppose a reasonably good hand-over, although I always laugh at the scene in which Kirk is cooking an omelet and directing Picard to fetch him various spices.  What bothers me is TMW – Too Much Whoopie.  (I could never stand her Guinan character.)

3rd (tie) – Star Trek TNG:  Insurrection and Star Trek TNG: Nemesis.  Whelp, I admit I don’t recall much of either film.  One had to do with a planet of Enlightened Vegan, Free-Range Baby-boom Volvo Drivers.  The other had to do with some kind of Evil Picard Clone doing Bad Things.  Frankly, it was all pretty dull.

Reboot Movies

I gather that there are two: Star Trek and Stark Trek Into Darkness.  I’ve seen neither and I spit on both.  Want your own story? Write your own damned story!

 

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