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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

With the rain pattering steadily on the roof of Port Swiller Manor and the dog snoring comfortably at the foot of the bed, it was mighty hard for Ol’ Robbo and Mrs. R to stagger to their collective feet this morning.  The thing lead Mrs. R to ask an interesting question:  Do rainy days like this have the same kind of soporific effect on dogs as they do on people?

Frankly, I’ve no real idea.  I’ve never noticed it with the cats, but then again cats sleep about 20+ hours per day anyway.  Dogs? As I say, I dunno.  But I’ll bet it’s possible.

sbc sealGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo ran the Eldest Gel down to Sweet Briar College yesterday for an “accepted applicants weekend” fandango.  (Sorry, Mothe, this is why I didn’t have the chance to call you per the usual.)

I’m not sure which was the stranger experience: Seeing teh Eldest taking her first steps into a wider academic universe as a bona fide collegiate newbie, or running into a couple of faculty again who I knew 25 or so years ago when I was a law student at Dubyanell dating Mrs. R in her undergrad days at SBC.

One thing I am sure of: As part of the weekend, we took a campus tour.  The smells (of the dorms, the academic buildings, of the grounds) haven’t changed a single bit.

And this, to me, is a Good Thing.

Holla, Holla, Holla!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, one thing you can say about spring weather in the great Commonwealth of Virginny is that it is reliably schizophrenic.  Last weekend saw snow flurries at Port Swiller Manor.  This weekend, La Wrangler goes topless and we eat dinner on the porch.

Speaking of cars, this week the Middle Gel (yes, the Middle Gel) is doing her behind-the-wheel training.  By next Tuesday, she most likely will have her driver’s license.

Yeek.

I say this not so much because I worry about her driving, but because this is another one of those milestones that shows just how fast time is moving and how soon the lot of them will be up and out of the house.   Their formative years seemed to drag on forever sometimes.  Once they hit high school, however, life just seems to go to flank speed.

And speaking of driving and ups and outs, back on Holy Saturday the three of them spent the morning helping out at the Easter egg roll at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church.  Mid-afternoon, as I was fooling about with something or other in the kitchen, they all suddenly congregated in the front hall.

“Bye, Dad,” they said with elaborate casualness.

“Bye? Um…where are you going?” I asked.

“King’s Dominion.”

(King’s Dominion is about 75 miles from here, all of it interstate.)

“Whuh?  Ruh? Is it even open this early?” I stammered.

“Oh, yes, it opened yesterday.”

“Well, when are you coming back?”

“We’re going to leave at 8:00 pm.”

“You do know tomorrow is Easter and that we need to get up especially early, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes.  We promise we will.”

Well.  Ol’ Robbo was torn.  On the one hand, I reminded myself that when I was the Eldest Gel’s age back in San Antonio, my parents let me drive myself down to the beach (about 150 miles) and up to Austin (about 80 miles).  I also didn’t want to discourage them doing something as sisters, since they usually don’t hang out together.  On the other, I-95 is a nasty piece of highway.  Also, I envisioned all kinds of trouble getting them out of bed in the morning if they were going to get home that late.

Muttering something about putting all one’s eggs in the same basket, I decided in the end not to make a fuss.

Happily, it all worked out.  When I got home late that night from the Vigil Mass, I found the car in the driveway and all of them up in bed.  And in the morning, much to my surprise, all three of them got up, got dressed, and were ready to head out before I had to say a single word.  And on top of all that, they behaved themselves both at church and at brunch afterward.  Easter Miracle, indeed.

UPDATE: Driving test successfully passed, license issued.  She’s already done her first “because I can” solo run, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This post is sort of a follow-on to the one below because it’s about another thing I often ponder while going walkies in Your Nation’s Capital.

Despite the fact that I studied him in school back in the day, I can only quote one small snippet of Alexander Pope off the top of my head:

Vice is a monster of such frightful mien, that to be hated needs but to be seen.  But seen too oft, familiar with her face, first we endure, then pity, then embrace.

As it happens, this is apropos to any number of topics these days, but I find myself remembering it mostly when my walk takes me by the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I’ve said here somewhere before that I thought the thing was hideous and I still do.  Further, I think its placement right next door to and in plain sight of the Washington Monument is an exercise in aesthetic bird-flipping akin to the decision of that rat-bastard Francois Mitterrand (another raging narcissist, btw) to let I.M. Pei drop his beastly pyramid right on the doorstep of the Louvre.

However, more and more lately I’ve found myself thinking that if one scores the thing not in absolute terms but on the scale of Smithsonian architecture, it’s not quite as bad as all that.  Still bad, as I say, but not as bad.

I mean, consider some of the other offerings.  Air & Space and American History are both blocks and slabs of 60’s Soviet Modernski.  American Indian looks like Jabba the Hutt’s lair on Tatooine.  The Hirshhorn is a giant hat box.  And the Castle itself is that kind of twee red-brick Neo-Gothic that gets mocked by writers like Waugh and Wodehouse and for some reason makes me think of Queen Victoria pretending to be a Highland shepherdess.

Indeed, the only two museums on the Mall I actually like are the West Building of the National Gallery and Natural History, both of which feature clean, elegant, Neo-Classical designs.  If I wielded the great Pen and Phone of Executive Overreach, I’d raze all the others and rebuild them along these lines.

Of course, that’s not going to happen.  (Well, the razing part might, given the current world situation, but that’s not exactly the same thing.)

As for the new AA Museum, they’ve planted a bunch of young trees around it.  All I can hope is that as the shrubbery grows and fills in, it’ll mellow the thing’s starkness somewhat.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for being away from the decanter.  I hope it didn’t run dry?  It wasn’t until the Mothe gently reminded me of it yesterday that I realized how long it had been since I last posted.  Nothing to worry about, I do assure you.   Just a combination of busy Real Life and lack of inspiration.

Nonetheless, when your 80 year old mother tells you to post, you post.  Inspired or otherwise.

I may or may not have mentioned before that my primary source of exercise these days is a brisk lunchtime walk.  For about the past year and a half or so, I have been accustomed to doing a loop around the National Mall that takes me as far as 14th Street to the west (just in front of the Washington Monument) and to the Grant Memorial to the east.  Combined with the distance to and from my building and throwing in a few doubling backs and cross-overs, it comes in just under 3.5 miles altogether, a perfectly respectable distance, I believe.  My legs ache pleasantly by the time I’m done, my heart-rate is mildly elevated but not red-lining, and there is enough of an endorphin release that I start feeling jumpy and irritable when I’ve skipped it for a day or two.  For a fellah of 51 years with nothing to prove to anybody, I think this is quite sufficient.

Anyhoo, as I made the circuit today, I found myself musing again over the fact that for somebody who deliberately shuns attention, I’ll bet I’m in an awful lot of touron photographs by now.  On data sticks and FB pages, in photo albums and stand-alone frames, all over the country and, indeed, the world (what with all the foreign tourons), I’m sure there are many pics of people standing in front of the Capitol or the statue of Sam Grant, or using that silly trick of perspective to pretend they’re holding up or leaning against the Washington Monument, that also feature ol’ Robbo stumping along in the background and scowling squinting at nothing in particular.

I find this idea grimly amusing.

Pursuing it a bit further, I sometimes wonder whether anyone has ever remarked of me,  “Who is that guy? And why does he look so crabby?”

As I say, I generally shun attention, but when I think about this I find myself hearing the siren song of Vanity, wondering whether it is just possible that somehow, somewhere, I might be Dee Cee vacation photography’s version of Hazel Frederick.

I also find myself snickering.

As I march past them, this probably worries the tourons more than my squinting.

 

 

joe-garagiolaGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

R.I.P., Joe Garagiola, who died today at age 90.

Perhaps I date myself, but ol’ Robbo remembers very fondly the major league ball games Joe called for NBC back in the late 70’s along with color man Tony Kubek.  I’d played a couple years of little league before that, but listening to Garagiola and Kubek on those lazy summah Saturday afternoons definitely was the primary source of that still, small voice in the back of my head that said, “Ya know? There’s something to this whole baseball ethos…”

Thank Heaven, I’ve never lost it.

God bless, Joe.  “Hit ’em where they ain’t.”*

 

* Spot the quote.

 

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, today is a big milestone around Port Swiller Manor in that the Eldest Gel hits the big 1-8.  Very hard to believe.  To celebrate, she and Mrs. Robbo are off to some spa for a couple nights to do whatever it is teh wimmins do at spas.

I am amazed at how quickly, after a somewhat stormy adolescence, the Gel is coming together as a “young adult”.  Getting her driver’s license and having to deal with the rollercoaster of admission to a college that, at one point, seemed like it wasn’t going to exist anymore certainly gave her means by which to hone her sense of responsibility.  Also, I’ve noticed that our acquisition of teh doggeh last summah really helped her to learn not to be so self-centered, but to instead be more sympathetic and outward looking.  Frankly, I used to worry about her a great deal.  Not so much anymore.

Of course, the Gel was born ornery and cantankerous, and I’ve an idea she’s always going to be that way.  This isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.  Indeed, it makes her largely immune to the herd mentality and P.C. brainwashing so prevalent in the so-called “culture” at the moment.  She’s never going to be Miss Popularity, but then again, she’s never going to be anybody’s fool, either.

We were chatting this afternoon and she mentioned that they’re taking up the study of Existentialism in her English class.  Her comment on it? “What a bunch of long-haired hippy crap!” (Eric Cartman couldn’t have put it better himself.)  Sounds about right to me.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies to those two or three of you who still linger over the decanter and the Stilton for my lack of posting this past week.  Mostly, it’s been a matter of lack of opportunity because of real life logistics.  Also, to be perfectly frank, many of the thoughts that have wandered across my braims regarding the current State of Things in the last few days probably would not be prudent fodder for broadcast on these here innertoobs, given my current employment status.   After all, Daddy still needs his paycheck IYKWIMAITYD.

Suffice to say, SMOD, where art thou?

Anyhoo, a completely unrelated question:

I’ve watched Die Hard 3 numerous times now.  It’s my favorite of the series, largely because of the chemistry between Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson.  (I also like the depraved villainy of Jeremy Irons.)  But here’s the thing: To this day, I cannot understand the trick involving the 3 and 5 gallon jugs of water used to defuse the bomb in the park.  I like to think I’m a reasonably logical fellah, but I have viewed that scene again and again and paid close attention to the dialogue, and I still Do. Not. Get. It.

Any Friends of the Decanter care to ‘splain this thing to me?

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was frowsting over a cup of coffee in his favorite chair in the Port Swiller library early Saturday morning when he noticed that the goldfinches at the thistle feeder directly outside the window were beginning to show the first faint signs of their yellow summah plumage.  With gardener’s logic, I realized that my plans to spend the day doing nothing suddenly were kaput, and that I had to get out and chop back the butterfly bush which so dominates the Port Swiller garden.  (Very long time friends of the decanter will recall that I refer to these bushes as Kong and the Konglings.  For those of you who don’t recall, the original Kong was a very, very small and frail seedling that I cultivated in the Port Swiller basement something like thirteen years ago.  Somehow or other, it survived not only its incubation, but its transplanting into the garden.  Since then, when all my other original cultivational experiments have withered away, it not only has thrived, but has multiplied copiously.)

A couple hours of hacking and hauling later, I stood looking at the results.  I can’t put it any better than did the Eldest Gel who, shouting over from the rope swing, said, “Hey, Dad! It looks like a forest fire swept over your garden! Haw, haw!”

Everybody’s a comedian these days.

Give it another couple months, the jungle will close right back in and will be filled with birds and butterflies, as has been my intent the past few years.  I am mulling over some plans to make the whole thing somewhat more formal, but not yet.  Not yet.

Speaking of which, remember the Great Panic over the imminent dooooom of the Monarch Butterflies because Globull Warmeninzs? Well, maybe not so much.  Funny, it’s almost as if Nature has the capacity to sort things out for herself or something.

On a different note, last evening Ol’ Robbo watched Radio Days for, I’m fairly certain, the first time.  A pleasant little tribute by Woody Allen to his WWII-era yoot in Rockaway, Lon Gyland.  In fact, Robbo’s father-in-law grew up somewhere in Brooklyn a few years later himself, so there was a lot about this movie that I definitely got.  The biggest thing, though, was the epiphany that this was Julie Kavner.  Marge Simpson before she was Marge Simpson, although the voice and the humor were plainly there already.  Very zaftig, if you know what I mean.  (‘Course, the movie came out in ’87, the year I graduated from college, which is a damned sobering idea.)

On another note, I also read Cary Elwes’s book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride.  If you’re a Princess Bride fan (and if you’re not, what the hell’s wrong with you?), it’s a moderately interesting read:  A goodish bit of behind-the-scenes backstory and trivia, but in my opinion somewhat too much, er, glad-handing.  Were I Emperor, the Superlative  Abuses Squad would have been down on Elwes with billy clubs and handcuffs before he got half way through his first paragraph.

But….You don’t pen a 30th anniversary book in order to trash the thing that’s keeping you in royalties, so who am I to second guess?

One legit sour note to the book: Elwes, in speaking of fan enthusiasm, relates the story of some young thing who had recently had “As You Wish” tattooed on the back of her neck and asked Elwes to autograph below the tattoo with a sharpie.  I ask you, friends, just how pathetic an image is that?  And what do you do if you’re in the position of being asked to sign, and therefore approve, such a thing?

Well.  All I can say is that I am very thankful I have not pledged my personal worth in this world on the altar of celebrity.

On a more positive note, in keeping with the whole Princess Bride theme, ol’ Robbo just got a new coffee cup with bears the legend: “Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You drank my coffee.  Prepare to die.”

Now that, my friends, is teh funny.  Except I’m not kidding…….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Because my post on Netflix loading seemed to be such a hit the other day, I thought I’d fire off another one this evening.  (Remind me to write an essay soon on the frustration of having so many meatier current events on which I could comment but for the fact that I might lose my job for doing so, thus my self-sensoring confinement to this kind of personal trivia.  Not that Bob and the boys from NSA aren’t building up some useful data for my appearance before the Committee for Public Safety even from posts like this one.)

Are you ready?  Well here is the next wave of additions:

My Cousin Vinny – I have actually been at more than one legal clinic in which the prosecutor’s opening statement at the trial (even though Vinny called it total BS) was shown as an example of how such a presentation is supposed to be done.  I love the resurrection of Fred Gwynne’s career that came from this flick.

Lethal Weapon 4 – The best of the bunch, IMHO, mostly because I think they finally got the balance of humor and action right.

The Gods Must Be Crazy – Because of what was said in the comments on the previous thread.  We’ll see what happens.

Breaker Morant – One of my all-time favorites, although I gather that the “real” Morant, so far as anyone knows anything about him, wasn’t quite the Renaissance Gentleman portrayed by Edward Woodward.

The Simpsons Movie – Oh, I dunno.  Why not?

The Alamo – The one made a few years ago with Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett.  The film was came up among the Moron Horde over at Ace’s place the other day and got a surprisingly sympathetic hearing.  Personally, I’ve never seen it before and was intrigued.

The Lion In Winter – Because classic.  I once wrote a skit in high school in which the family were ordered to attend therapy together.  My English teacher described it as “very dry and witty”.

Hamlet – the 1990 version starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close, among others.  Mostly to get the nasty taste of Ken Branagh’s try out of my mouth.  I’ve a vague memory that it really isn’t all that bad, although I have a hard time understanding why Mel didn’t simply head-butt Claudius and take him out without all that needless moping and sulking around.  I mean, it’s Mel Gibson, for Pete’s sake!

Noises Off – Backstage pandemonium as a theatre production gradually goes to pieces.  Mrs. R and I saw a fantastic stage version of this show many years ago.  IIRC, the movie sort of runs out of steam toward the end, but it still has some good laughs.

Quark – The Series – Short-lived late 70’s spoof of Star Trek starring Richard Benjamin as the captain of a galactic garbage scow.  I re-watched this within the last 10 years and found it held up really surprisingly well.  And oh, those twins……

Love At First Bite – Haven’t seen this in quite a long time.  “Children of the Night!  Shut up!”

Thank You For Smoking – I simply cannot recall whether I have seen this movie.  I’ve certainly read the book, along with most of Chris Buckley’s other satires.

30 Seconds Over Tokyo – With Spencer Tracy.  I have an informal rule of thumb that I always toss at least one WWII movie in when loading up the queue.

M*A*S*H – The movie, which I find hysterically funny for the most part.  The only dud is Robert Duvall’s Frank Burns (who is actually an amalgam of two separate characters from the memoir on which the movie was based).  Liberals trying to make fun of conservatives never get it right and always slip into Clang! Clang! Clang! caricature mode by default.   (God damned Army…..)  I also tossed in the disk featuring bonus materials this time.

So, all told, I now have about 40 films in my queue, together with another 23 in the dreaded “saved” category, which basically translates into “hell if we know when we’ll get it to you or even if we actually have it, but feel free to go on hoping).  I said below that these would keep me occupied until Opening Day, but I’m now thinking that they may well last me until the all-star break.

 

 

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