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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

One of Ol’ Robbo’s greatest domestic pet peeves is the Gels’ collective cavalier attitude toward cleaning up their damned dishes.  Time after time I seem to come home to a sink full of plates, bowls, cutlery, and glassware, much of it still caked with the remains of whatever meal it had held.  (This is when the dishes actually make it to the sink.  Eldest, in particular, has a horrid habit of collecting them in her room.)  And when they do manage to put their things in the dishwasher, they rarely rinse them off and, further, seem to pay no attention whatever to arranging them properly, instead tossing them in any old way. (And yes, there is a science to proper dishwasher loading, dammit.)  Sometimes I stamp and curse and call them out to clean up their mess.  Sometimes, out of pure moral exhaustion, I just do the bloody things myself.

Similarly, the two Elder Gels, when it comes to maintaining their rooms, are, to put it clinically, complete slobs.  (Youngest, curiously, always keeps hers in a state of Spartan neatness that would pass any inspection.  I’ve no idea why, but I’m not complaining.)

I was thinking about this in light of the fact that the two Elder Gels are off to college this weekend.  The Mothe used to say that the best cure for the slovenly habits of one’s misspent yoot was the ire of one’s college roommates, and I’m inclined to agree.**

Eldest will be in a four-girl suite.  As befits her upper-classman status, she’ll have her own bedroom, but will share a kitchen and living room with the other three.

Middle, as a fresher, will be packed into a five-gel double.  She and her roommate will share one bedroom, while three other gels will share the other.  All five will share a common bathroom.

In both cases, there will be very little room for domestic slothiness.  My hope is that where paternal authority has come up short, peer-pressure will do the trick.  Indeed, I wish I could be a fly on the wall – just as a matter of schadenfreude – when one of them gets called out by her roommates, as I’m sure will happen at some point.

Serves ’em right, too.


**I first experienced this myself when I sublet a room in an apartment with some friends the summah of my junior year at The People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown.  Words…were spoken about certain of Ol’ Robbo’s then kitchen and bathroom usages.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Not directly related to gardening, but Ol’ Robbo spotted the hen hummingbird at the feeder today for the first time since much earlier in the summah, when I had seen quite a bit of her.  This makes me wonder if Port Swiller Manor is possibly just a way-station for her on her migrations there and back again.  (I am assuming here that this is the same bird, which I’m pretty sure it is. I’m also assuming that if she were around more often, I’d have spotted her, of which I’m also pretty sure.)

And speaking of birds, I was over to the local hardware store this afternoon picking up more seed for my local flock.  I buy it in twenty-pound bags.  When I got up to pay, the young thing behind the register asked me if I needed any help getting it out to my car.


I haven’t shaved this week and it’s true that my beard comes in mostly white, but I don’t think I look quite that feeble.

(The owner of this store hires only pretty young gels to work the registers, by the bye, the perv. A couple weeks ago, one of them recognized my name from my credit card – it turns out she and Youngest Gel had gone to middle school together.)

UPDATE: Turns out there are two hummers – I saw them squabbling with each other at the feeder this morning.  Doesn’t necessarily invalidate my assumptions, but makes the question a bit more interesting.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, I suppose this is the last day of Ol’ Robbo’s bachelor stay-at-home week, as the ladies of the house start returning to Port Swiller Manor tomorrow.  Some odds and ends, then:

♦  I really wanted to devote this week to getting back into some serious exercise, and I’m happy to report that I’ve been good about it. I’ve been alternating daily between an hour’s routine on the treadmill that involves hand-weights as well, and a half-hour on the rowing machine.  Not only have I felt an immediate effect in muscle-tone, I’m also rediscovering the sweet, sweet rush known to endorphin junkies.  The big challenge will be maintaining this once I go back to work. (It’s tough to keep motivated after an hour’s hot commute home in the evening.)

♦  Related, I suppose, I finally broke down and bought some new khakis and dress shirts for the office.  I really dislike clothes-shopping for some reason and generally wear my old things until they disintegrate or else Mrs. R gets disgusted and throws them away behind my back.  (This what I might call “disgust event horizon” has been a topic of some occasional controversy between us over the years.)

♦  I’ve also spent a good bit of time this week reading.  Currently I am a little over half way through Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire by Hugh Thomas, kindly sent to me by long-time friend of the decanter Old Dominion Tory.  It goes far deeper into the Spanish conquests in the Americas (and elsewhere) than Ol’ Robbo has previously studied, discussing in considerable (I should at times say too much) detail not just the voyages of people like Columbus and Magellan, and the routes of the conquistadores such as Balboa, Ponce de Leon, and Cortez, but also the treatment of the natives, the bureaucracy of Caribbean colonization, its relationship to Old Spain, and the historickal context of the whole shebang.  (Fun fact: Mrs. Robbo’s father’s family were Sephardic Jews who were chucked out of Spain during the Inquisition.) And much to his credit, although Thomas is a modern author, he lays it all out pretty objectively: There is very, very little 21st Century virtue-signaling.

And that’s about it for this week, apart from watching movies and ballgames (and, of course, ministering to attention-craving cats and dog).  Next weekend the Elder Gels are off to college, so Ol’ Robbo really wanted nothing more than to relax and take a deep, long breath, so to speak, before that happens.

Oh, I should add that I have paid almost no attention to the nooz this week, not even to most of my go-to blogs like Ace and Insty. It’s been mighty refreshing!



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Through the delightful randomness of the way I toss DVD’s into my Netflix queue and things get mixed up through delays and whatnot, I had an interesting pairing of new-to-me films this week.

First up was “Joan of Arc” (1948).  I am reasonably certain that the historickal St. Joan looked absolutely nothing like Ingrid Bergman.  But as the Pirate King from “Penzance” says of his band’s objection to having major generals as fathers-in-law, “We waive this point; we do not press it; we look over it.”  Heh. And Jose Ferrer was delightfully weak and weasel-like as the Dauphin.  The politickal machinations were well spelled out, and the battle scenes were quite exciting.  Altogether a pretty good film.

Next was “Wonder Woman” (2017).  I’m sorry, but this one left me absolutely cold. (I had tossed it in the queue simply out of curiosity.)  Gal Gadot, although no Lynda Carter, is certainly lovely and talented, but about the story I found myself giving not a single toss.  I also disliked extremely the feeling that I was being manipulated in advance to buy into the inevitable sequels.  Some people, including members of my family, like the modern era of comic book movies.  I guess I just don’t.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening, Ol’ Robbo watched an early ’80’s Beeb production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

This particular version – and I’ve never seen a good one on screen although I’ve seen several good stage productions – is pretty meh.   The Beeb’s attempts at Ye Faerie Lande sound and light effects are distracting without being effective, and there’s a wee bit too much grabby-hands going on between Oberon and Puck.  On the other hand, the Rude Mechanicals are pretty amusing, and it does feature the shmokin’ young Helen Mirren as Titania, so by law cannot be a complete loss.

Anyhoo, I found myself chuckling with delight over a passage I had not fully appreciated before.   As you recall, Helena, in the story, is besotted with Demetrius, who himself doesn’t care much for her one way or the other.  In throwing herself at him as he tries to elude her, at one point she pleads:

And even for that [Demetrius’s scorn] do I love you the more. I am your spaniel. And, Demetrius, The more you beat me, I will fawn on you. Use me but as your spaniel—spurn me, strike me, Neglect me, lose me. Only give me leave, Unworthy as I am, to follow you. What worser place can I beg in your love—

As it happened, the Port Swiller family spaniel was right beside me on the sofa when Helena spoke this line, even then eagerly seeking attention at any price her own self.

Hence my amusement.

Ours is the first spaniel I’ve ever really known.  Her passive-aggressive fawning is a standing family joke.  (As is her limited intelligence – the cats are far smarter than she is.) Evidently she’s not unique to her breed in this, or Ol’ Will never would have gone with the metaphor.  I appreciate it all the more now from my own experiences.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This past Sunday marked the first anniversary of the death of my mother.

As regular friends of the decanter might have noticed, losing the Mothe hit Ol’ Robbo very hard indeed, as we were extremely close.  (It was nothing like this when the Old Gentleman shuffled off eleven years ago, as we were more distant.)  Also, the circumstances were such that I didn’t get a chance to have that last talk with her that I’d been counting on.  As a result, I’ve spent a good chunk of the last year in a state of grief bordering, I suppose, on clinical depression – withdrawn, disinterested, physically exhausted, all that sort of thing.  It was more or less constant at first, and although by this spring it became a more occasional thing, when the blue devils hit, they still hit hard.

Mrs. R suggested a few times that I ought to go “see somebody”, but I always resisted.  In the first place, I already knew perfectly well what the trouble was.  In the second, I knew that any trick-cyclist I consulted would probably try to put me on happy pills, and Ol’ Robbo wants none of that, thank you very much.  (I prefer to deal with my sorrows the old-fashioned way – by drowning them.)

No, instead I relied on what both my godfather (who deals with geriatric issues in his medical practice) and my priest (who lost his mother two or three years ago) said: Grief is perfectly natural, the first year is the hardest, and things will get better. “Time, the Great Healer” and all that.

Nonetheless, I felt a distinct dread as the anniversary approached that I’d be wracked by a fresh outburst.

But you know what?  As the day progressed, I instead started getting the unexpected feeling that a corner had finally been turned. I hate the expression “move on”, but I could really feel something inside saying that I had mourned long enough and that it was now okay to allow myself to get back into the swing of things.  And I did just that: I prayed harder at Mass than I have in a long time; I spent the afternoon terrifying myself by reading Karl Keating; I had a really good workout on the treadmill; and then in the evening I watched an opera on DVD (Mozart’s “Abduction” – a Covent Gardens performance with Solti conducting and Kurt Moll thoroughly chewing up the part of Osmin) for the first time in I don’t know how long.

Does this mean the blue devils are gone for good? Probably not.  But I really do feel that the worst of it is finally over.

It’s a good thing, too, not just for me but for the Family Robbo as well.  It certainly hasn’t been easy for Mrs. R and the Gels to have me moping about all this time, and they’ve certainly had their work cut out for them by trying to be supportive while keeping their distance (I am a querulous patient when ill and generally wish to be left alone).  Hopefully, they can now put aside their worrying about me.

Anyhoo, here we are.  (Sorry to spout.  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t generally like to use this place to spill his guts but I just felt I had to get this one out there.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo found an odd spam comment in his filter this morning that read, in part, “Janice rolled her eyes and groaned, fought to regulate her temper then stabbed her forefinger at Musica.”

By a remarkable coincidence, I had just been groaning, fighting to regulate my temper, and stabbing my finger, too, although I was stabbing it at my checkbook as I completed putting together amended tax returns for 2016.  (It turns out somebody had muffed a withholding on a payout, and Uncle spotted the discrepancy.)

Anyhoo, once the returns were sealed up, I toddled over to our local branch post office to mail them out.  It features one of those touch-screen do-it-yourself scale and stamp-generator contraptions, and when I had finished weighing things and buying the postage, its screen lit up with the words, “Thank you.  It has been a pleasure serving you today.”

Who knew the USPO had contracted with the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation?  (I wouldn’t have been the least surprised if it had murmured “Share and Enjoy” as it spit out my stamps.)  At least it didn’t try to serve me a small plastic cup containing a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

Still irked at having Uncle dip his hand into the Robbo pockets again, I said, “Go stick your head in a pig.”

The fellah in line behind me looked…..distinctly alarmed.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo learned this morning that this week marks the 40th anniversary of the original release of “Animal House“.

I must admit that I’ve never thought it an especially good movie, but of course I love all the iconic lines that have survived the test of time and made their way into the cultural vocabulary.

Well, welcome to 2018 and the Neo-Jacobin attempt to establish the new Reign of Terror.  Legal Insurrection has an article up reporting that the SJW Committee for Public Safety are now gunning for AH.  I can’t cut and paste the excerpts from the articles cited by LI, but the general tone is “OMG, how can anyone watch such blatant celebration of alcoholism, sexism, toxic masculinity, yadda-yadda-yadda, in this day and age?  And what kind of example does it set?  We should all throw this movie in the trash! REEEEEE!!!!

Ol’ Robbo has a modest proposal:  Don’t like it? Don’t watch it.  But leave me the hell alone.  After all, I have never suggested the censoring of your modern homages to pedophilia, rape/bondage fantasies, or pornographic Dungeons and Dragons, as much as they disgust me.

But of course, that assumes a mere difference in artistic sensibilities.  And as I mentioned in the post below about Civil War reenactors, this is really about the biznay of control.  In the end, the SJW’s don’t really give that much of a damn about the underlying substance.  Instead, they’re all about the Will to Power.  And doing away with wrong-think – in this case, juvenile party-hardy wrong-think – is very much a part of that.

Well, as I say, I never thought “Animal House” was all that great a movie.  But when I read this article, I was immediately prompted to skitter over to the Devil’s Website and buy a copy of the DVD.  While I was at it, I also picked up Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles“.  Again, this is a movie that I don’t think is all that great as a whole (it has nothing on “Young Frankenstein“, which is pure Gene Wilder genius), but which contains numerous individual grains of comedy gold.  It’s also another movie that could never be made today, and which is sure to raise the ire of the SJW’s.  I also picked up the series of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries.  These all happen to be gems, but again are likely to run foul of the New Jacobinism.

Better to get the disks in-house before they’re suddenly disappeared in the night.

(A glass of wine with J.J. Sefton manning the Morning Report over at AoSHQ.  Which report, by the bye, has become my go-to morning nooz round-up.  I haven’t looked at Drudge in months and months.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter may have seen this NYTimes article on the Decline of the Civil War Reenactor.  (The pics that accompany the article are pretty neat.)

Enthusiasm for this sort of thing peaked in the 90’s, but apparently has been tailing off since then.  Shifting demographics and distracting alternate forms of entertainment are mentioned, but it’s pretty clear that the New Woke Jacobinism is at the heart of things:

The military details are meticulously researched and recreated down to the stitching of a uniform, but the broader social and political realities of the Civil War — the profound struggle over slavery and emancipation, racism and equality, citizenship and disenfranchisement — are largely confined to the margins.

Still, those issues can’t be ignored. After a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, where demonstrators wore swastikas and carried Confederate flags, and where an anti-racist protester named Heather Heyer was killed, at least two smaller Civil War re-enactments were canceled. That the battle flag Confederate re-enactors carry is still used as a means of intimidation makes it hard to defend as a purely historical object, independent of its racist implications.

Hard to defend if you have the intellectual capacity of a five-year-old and rely for guidance solely on Muh Feels, that is.

I’ve never done this sort of thing myself, although I’ve watched a few reenactments. (Indeed, I accidentally almost got caught between the lines at a reenactment of the Battle of Droop Mountain one time when I thought I was just going there to hike.)  But it seems to me that if somebody is going to invest that much time, energy, and money into such a hobby, one is probably also going to find oneself thinking about “the broader social and political realities of the Civil war” – the article cites no data to support its assertion to the contrary.  If you’re going to go to the trouble and expense of decking yourself out as, say, an authentic, dirt-poor, foot soldier in the 10th Alabama, you’re probably also going to try and get into that fellah’s head – the real one, not the one assigned to him by some smarmy 21st Century NYTimes soy-boy.

But of course, that’s not what this is about. The New Woke Jacobinism is not interested in the complications, partial justifications, or nuances that make up historickal realities.  Instead, it deals in absolutes.  And wrong-think, including historickal wrong-think, is not to be studied or put in context, or otherwise allowed to exist in any form whatsoever, but is to be completely eradicated.

Because the New Woke Jacobinism is all about control, not about truth.


Incidentally, it wasn’t like that even until very recently.  I have Tony Horwitz’s Confederates In The Attic, which explores race relations and includes several chapters on Southern Heritage and the Civil War Reenactment movement.  It is perfectly clear that Horwitz does not agree with some of the attitudes and justifications he finds, but he at least has the honesty to delve down into the roots of said attitudes, to frankly admit that the issues generally are a lot more complicated than an absolutist position can accommodate or even comprehend, and to recognize that you can’t deal with history that you don’t like simply by trying to erase it.  For that, I respect him greatly even where I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions.  (I find the same thing in his other books I own, including Blue Latitudes and A Voyage Long and Strange.)

(And no, Ol’ Robbo is not a Southern Apologist.  My people were Scots Presbyterian Abolitionists.  The family ran a station on the Underground Railroad in southwestern Ohio, and my great-grandfather was a lieutenant in an Ohio artillery battery that fought in the Atlanta Campaign.  So, there.)

And speaking of such things, Eldest was telling me yesterday about some people who are claiming that Charlemagne never really existed but was an invention of the  Church and the Holy Roman Emperors?  To her credit, the Gel said, “There’s even written documentation related to Charlemagne from the goddam Chinese, for Pete’s sake!” Heh.

A glass of wine with The Puppy Blender!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Our Maximum Leader, in his meatspace manifestation, tagged Ol’ Robbo on FacePlant the other day with a literary meme.  Says my liege:

I was recently challenged….to post the covers of 7 books I love. These photos are to be without reviews, explanation, or other comments. Like [my challenger], I will post my covers in one go. Also, like [my challenger], I will break the rules in a number of ways. I am going to post 8 covers rather than 7.

He then invited me to play along.

Well, as I remarked in a post below, I really don’t bother with FacePlant much anymore, except to check out all the vacation, graduation, and college move-in pics posted by family and friends.  Also, to be honest, I wouldn’t even know how to post photos on FB in a way that wouldn’t take years to accomplish.

So I thought I would transplant the meme over here, where I have a better grasp of the technology and also a bit more room to express myself.  Although I may incur the Royal Displeasure and a one-way ticket to the Tower for doing so, I am also going to include some brief commentary along with my choices.

Finally, I would hasten to point out that these are not necessarily my eight favorite books (the instructions don’t call for that, and anyway I don’t think I could winnow down such a narrow list), or even necessarily my favorite books by these particular authors.  Instead, they are eight books that I have read over and over through the years and keep coming back to because I get that much more entertainment and insight from them at each visit.

Ready?  In no particular order, then:

France and England In North America, Volumes 1 & 2 by Francis Parkman.  Colonial history from the very beginning of French and British exploration (with a side of Spanish activity in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, most of it pretty bloody) up to the withdrawal of the French after their loss of the Seven Years’ War.

The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse.  It and Right Ho, Jeeves rank, to me, as the very best of the Bertie and Jeeves stories.  Also, a pro tip about Plum:  His peak years ran from around 1933 through the 1940’s.  If you’re looking to jump in, start there.  The earlier schoolboy stuff is an acquired taste, and the later stuff tends to run to retreads.

The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.  Even apart from his military achievements, I just like Old Sam.  So modest, and yet so determined.  One of the truly greatest contributions Samuel Clemens ever made to books was to persuade Grant to write his memoirs even as he was dying of throat cancer.  (Not only did said persuasion give us this book, it also provided for the financial comfort of Julia Grant after Sam’s passing.)

H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O’Brian. I’ve read the whole Aubrey/Maturin series many times, but this book (the third) is where I think POB really hit his stride.  (I enjoy all of the books following, up to and including The Wine-Dark Sea.  After that, it seems that POB started sickening of the whole biznay, as the later novels become much darker and more bitter – as well as more formulaic.  I rarely read past WDS anymore.)

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis.  The third of the so-called Ransom Space Trilogy,  Lewis’s foray into science-fiction.  It seems most apropos these days, since it explores at great length (through the workings of the N.I.C.E.) the diabolical underpinnings of all exercises in totalitarianism, including those which claim to seek the Public Good.

The Dog of the South by Charles Portis.  I agree with those critics who argue that Portis is the most infuriatingly under-appreciated American author ever.  Portis wrote five novels altogether (including True Grit, which is unique in the canon because of its historickal setting, whereas the others take place in the 1950’s through 70’s). Each one is my favorite while I’m reading it, but I think this one has to top the lot when I stand away.

The Sword of Honor trilogy by Evelyn Waugh.  I will only say here – and there is so much more I could say -that I find the whole episode of Apthorpe and the “thunder-box” in Men At Arms, the first book, to be one of the funniest sequences I know of. “Biffed” indeed.  Also, I’ve always wanted to write a paper exploring the development of Waugh’s anti-heroes, from Paul Pennyfeather in his first novel through William Boot, poor old Tony Last, and culminating in Guy Crouchback in this series.

The Complete McAuslan by George MacDonald Fraser.  Semi-fictional humorous (and sometimes more serious) stories of GMF’s service as an officer in a Highland Regiment posted to North Africa just after WWII.  I like his smut-as-cover-to-indulge-Victorian-military-history Flashman Papers series very much too, of course, but I think these are actually better written.  (McAuslan is described as “the dirtiest soldier in the world” and a “Tartan Caliban”.)

So there you have it.

Comments are, of course, more than welcome.  Those of you with blogs of your own? Consider yourselves tagged.  (And yes, I will be checking!)

UPDATE:  Sorry, this post crashed about half-way through composition and I lost several direct linkies in the titles.  When I went back to try and edit them, WordPress went hinky on me.  Rather than lose the whole post, I just bolded them.  I reckon if you’re interested enough, you can always look up the titles for yourselves.


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