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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo thought his updated remark below on his objection to gambling commercials on the teevee perhaps bears a little more fleshing out.***

You see, although I think gambling is pernicious and would rather such ads didn’t run, I can’t quite bring myself to say that they ought to be banned, not in a free society, anyway, because before you can answer the question of what ought or ought not to be allowed, you first have to ask the question who gets to decide?

I think that question becomes eminently more important these days, given how polarized society has become and how weaponized media and even our very language. (Wrong pronoun? Off with xer head!) Also, all the talk on social media about censoring “misinformation” or “disinformation”, plus the nooz of DHS’s semi-shadowy Ministry of Truth (which is far from dead, by the bye) fills Ol’ Robbo with misgivings. I sure as heck doesn’t want some politickally correct Carrie Nation coming after me for wrongthink.

Twenty years ago I’d simply have favored banning gambling ads without giving it much more thought. The times, though, they have changed, and if for no other reason than the protection of my very own ability to express myself, I take a more libertarian view about such things. So as far as such ads go, then, I’ll just grumble a bit here but otherwise ignore ’em.

The lovely and talented Sleepy Beth mentions in the comments having to deal with kids being exposed to objectionable ads, which brings to mind an anecdote from my own past. Ol’ Robbo gave up on watching pro football in the early 2000’s, in part because the Dolphins sank into obscurity after the retirement of Dan Marino, but also because the Gels were beginning to achieve awareness at the time and I had no desire whatever to have to explain the Viagra commercials to them. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

***I have a colleague at work who, when she means “flesh out”, instead says “flush out”. I find this endlessly amusing.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Scanning the headlines, once again Ol’ Robbo finds himself presented with the choice of saying either too much or too little. Think I’ll go with little.

Happy Bloomsday to any James Joyce fans out there. (Personally, I could never fathom the fellah, but to each his own, I suppose.)

As Ol’ Robbo was listlessly watching his Nats lose yet another one last evening, the announcers got into a discussion of famous side-winder pitchers (because the reliever on the mound at the time is one) and the name of Joel Horlen came up. This made Ol’ Robbo smile because I lived round the corner from him in my misspent yoot and his son was a classmate of mine in school. Small world.

And speaking of throwing arms, I am informed that the vast majority of parrots** are left-handed. Scientists don’t know why.

And speaking of nature, I am now being informed rayther breathlessly by the local park authority to be on the lookout for an invasion of wayleaf basketgrass. Evidently, one of their ecologists was poking about in the parkland behind our fence and discovered some. Fortunately, a glance around the Port Swiller Manor demesne shows we’re still secure from this particular threat. I wish, however, the park authority would do something about the mystery invasive Asian vine I flagged two years ago, because that stuff is all over the place now.

** No word on whether this includes the famous Norwegian Blue.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention before but speaking of watching ball games, I don’t recall when all those sportsbook adverts started running on teevee but I wish they wouldn’t. I can’t really justify it philosophically, I suppose, except that I find gambling pernicious and especially apt to hurt those who can least afford it. (Ditto state lotteries and casinos running ads.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Gah, here we are again. (Monday morning, that is.) At least this particular D-Day anniversary is cool and dry. It is often not so much the case around here.


I got a notice in the mail this weekend that Port Swiller Manor has been redistricted for purposes of state and federal representation. A function, no doubt, of the booming population growth round here. There’s really not much to say about it – I just find the idea mildly interesting and of slight historickal value.

Meanwhile, gas at the station down the street from me has now hit $4.95 a gallon. I fully expect to rocket over the five buck line this week. Yay.

Speaking of ways Uncle seeks to make you miserable, it seems my office is starting to fuss about boosters again. I took the first stupid shots because I had to but I’ve never got a booster. Evidently, this is not “correct” behavior. I also seem to have misplaced my stupid vaccination papers. Meh. Think I’ll just lay low and see if this one blows over on its own.

Finally, my in-laws are scheduled to arrive some time this afternoon for a week’s stay in the area (NOT in the house) on their migration north. They’re good people, but when they’re around life gets…..complicated. Brace for impact.

Off to find more kawfee…..

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that I hung out my porch bug-zapper this weekend. I’m probably a very bad person for saying so, but the thwap! of the little beasties meeting their Maker gives me much satisfaction.

UPDATE DEUX: By the bye, Ol’ Robbo hasn’t paid that much attention to the Jubilee Celebration over in Britain except to scan the photos that a friend is rayther compulsively putting up on FacePlant, but I will say God bless Queen Elizabeth. Also, I am more and more convinced that William and Kate are the genuine article and unlikely to slide down the slippery slope of celebrity trash as I once feared.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was idly surfing the teevee last evening when he stumbled upon PBS’s “Nova” program. I used to watch this when I was a nerdy kid, but hadn’t seen it for many, many years.

The subject of this particular episode was footprints, both human and animal, that have been discovered in the desert around White Sands, New Mexico. The prints date back to the last Ice Age, 13- to 15,000 years ago when the area held a vast lake with lots of muddy margins, and include mastodon, native camel, and giant sloth. From the very beginning, the program asked why these prehistoric species all vanished and whether Man had anything to do with it.

The first part of the program proved surprisingly informative. Some footprint-archeologist Johnny wandered about, pointing at various different sets of tracks and trying to piece together the movements they might have represented, including an apparent encounter or near-encounter between a human and a sloth.

But then, the program just couldn’t resist. On stage appeared a Pueblo woman and a fellah who claimed to be Choctaw, although I had very deep doubts. (The Choctaw were native to the Southeast anyway.) They started gassing on about their heritage, and the fellah went so far as to say, “These tracks prove that my peoples have been here since time immemorial!”

No, buddy, they prove that humans were at that spot 15,000 years ago. In historickal terms, that’s a blink of an eye. Man simply is not indigenous to the Western Hemisphere.

Then the narrator took up with, “When Europeans first arrived in the Americas, they…..”

That’s when I turned it off. I know a trap when I smell one.

However, I never did learn whether the program would go so far as to link prehistoric animal extinction to human activity, a position which I would think would trip all sorts of outrage alarums these days, or whether it somehow managed to make it all Columbus’s fault after all. (I honestly don’t know if there’s a link, as I’ve never actually studied the matter. From the comfort of my armchair, I’m inclined to think hunting might have been a contributing factor but perhaps not a decisive one.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo sees that Congress is holding hearings on UFO’s today.

Your tax money at work. I suppose the bright side is that this silliness keeps them out of other mischief, at least for the moment.

For the record, Ol’ Robbo has no problem whatsoever with the notion that Life might exist on other worlds. But that it’s figured out a way to come here and is busy sneaking about in our atmosphere? Well, no.

UFO’s were a “thing” in my misspent yoot (along with “Nessie” and the New Ice Age) but gradually fizzled out as an item of interest over time. Perhaps they’re being resurrected now in aid of the whole One World global-government movement: I recall the Old Gentleman once arguing that the only thing that would every eliminate nationalism would be alien contact, wherein we would cease to say “I am an American” and instead say “I am an Earthling”. You can see how that would be appealing to the authoritarian collectivist mind.

So maybe this particular bit of mischief is not so benign after all.

UPDATE: I have just been informed by DHS that this post constitutes “mal-information”. Please to disregard.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Would it surprise friends of the decanter to learn that Sean Connery, of all people, was once in a Western? And not only that, but that his co-stars included Brigitte Bardot and veteran Brit character-actor Jack Hawkins? It did Ol’ Robbo. (Although, upon reflection and given “Zardoz”, I’m not really sure why.)

The film is called “Shalako” (1968). A hunting party of 1880’s European aristos inadvertently wanders into Apache territory with predictable results. Connery, a loner scout, stumbles across them and attempts to save their bacon. Considering that the whole genre was pretty much petering out by then, it’s really not all that bad a film, although Ol’ Robbo feels no need to see it again.

The film starts with a long written prologue cataloging examples of real-life Euros who visited the West in the earlies, I suppose by way of explaining why a bunch of thnobs would be wandering around the New Mexican desert. Ol’ Robbo was disappointed to see that Flash Harry was not included in this list, and can only assume that the relevant volume of the Flashman Papers was not yet available at the time the film was made. (One’s mind boggles at the thought of Flashy coming across Bardot.)

And speaking of which, did you know that Audrey Hepburn, of all people, was also in a Western? Yes, with Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy, and Lillian Gish! It’s called “The Unforgiven” (1960). A frontier community under attack by the local Kiowas begins to turn ugly when rumor surfaces that Hepburn, one family’s adopted daughter, might actually be an Indian herself. It’s been a bit of time since Ol’ Robbo watched it, but my impression again was that it wasn’t bad. That one I might have to review to confirm my opinion. (I really want to like Lancaster more than I do because I think “The Train” (1964) is one of the Truly Great Films. Alas, I’ve been disappointed with him in pretty much everything else.)

** A glass of wine with Alan Jackson.

Non-Sequitur UPDATE: Not that it has anything to do with movies, but Ol’ Robbo just wanted to mention here that he’s almost positive he spotted a bald eagle yesterday afternoon. High and far off, but too big to be a hawk and definitely not a vulture, and I think I could just make out its head. They’re in the river valley but we’re about a mile off so they almost never get this far out. I think I’ve seen one maybe twice in all our years here. Neat.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The start of a very soggy weekend here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.

Ol’ Robbo was sitting over his first cuppa covfefe this morning, idly watching the bird-feeder, when much to his surprise he realized that what he at first thought to be a bluebird hopping about in the wisteria was, in fact, a male indigo bunting. Even though my Peterson’s Field Guide says they summah all over the East, in my nearly twenty-two years living in the Manor, I have never seen one here before. Huzzay!

Yes, I know this is a very, very small matter amidst all the Sturm und Drang engulfing the country, but maybe that makes my simple delight in spotting a new guest to the feeder all that more important. Lighting single candles and all that…..

At any rate, I at least thought it to be blog-worthy. Share and enjoy.

Incidentally, the sighting brought to mind memories of my parents. When the Old Gentleman first retired and was at the height of his golf phase, they lived for about ten years on the Carolina coast, where their feeder was frequented by painted buntings, a cousin of the indigo. “P-B’s” we used to call them, and they were far and away the House Favorite. We’re way too far north for P-B’s here, but the parallel immediately struck my mind.

Oh, I looked up from the keyboard just now and he’s back. Hopefully, he’ll stick around.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, yes, it’s May the Fourth. Anybody who adds “be with you” to that over the decanter is highly likely to be pelted with walnut shells and propelled face-first into the Stilton.

Honestly, the joke was kinda, sorta, maybe-slightly-almost amusing the very first time. But to turn it into some kind of quasi-religious holiday? Well, Ol’ Robbo’s got a God already, thank you very much.

I was twelve when the first Star Wars installment hit the theatres, and I still recall the sense of absolute wonderment at that opening scene of the rebel blockade-runner being chased down by the imperial destroyer simply because there had never ever been anything remotely like it on screen before. Admittedly, it still gives me a bit of a chill all these years later. (But I also remember the first time I showed it to the Gels, who themselves had been exposed to much better special effects all their lives. Their reaction? “Meh.”)

I also remember Gene Shalit, the film critic, who believe it or not is still apparently alive, praising SW because the plot was simple and at times light-hearted, in contrast to most of the rest of science-fiction on offer at the time. (Think 2001-A Space Odyssey.)

But then what happened? Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me summarize: The franchise went Full Wagner. (Never go Full Wagner.)*** And here we are, forty-five years later, with a bloated, politicized, faux-religious yet immensely empty, steaming heap of artistic garbage, with a brainwashed, wallet-hoovered, yo-yo fan-base who think that May the Fourth is a Thing.

As you may gather, this irritates Ol’ Robbo not a little.

***If you don’t spot the first riff, shame on you. If you do spot the second, well done indeed!

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

I hope all friends of the decanter will join me this festive day in donning your candy-ass monkey suits, dialing “Quando, Quando, Quando” up to eleven on your 8-tracks, and remembering not to “go changing”.

Ah, me.

Ol’ Robbo floats this joke every year on this day, and even though it invariably lays an egg, I still enjoy it myself.

In part, I love to pay tribute to a truly great movie that is immensely funny, eminently quotable (which see), has a fantastic soundtrack (which resurrected several careers and introduced a whole new generation to R&B), and has, in its themes of charity and redemption, a surprisingly strong Catholic underpinning. (“Boys, you got to learn not to talk to nuns like that.”) (Which see.)

In other part, I also love to spit on the modern “Environmental Movement”. Make no mistake: Ol’ Robbo believes in responsible stewardship as much as anybody else. But what goes on now in the name of “Green” is a cheat and a swindle and (shall I say it?) a blasphemy, a program based on politicks, not science, and designed for no other reason than to empower and enrich those in on it, and to shackle and enslave us peons who aren’t. (That this is also Lenin’s birthday is, to me, no accident. That one of the co-founders of “Earth Day” murdered his girlfriend and composted her body in his apartment closet is, shall we say, par for the course. Green on the outside, red on the inside. And you know who else was a keen environmentalist (and a strict vegetarian, and an ardent dog-lover?)) But don’t you dare question anything: the science, the costs, the liberties surrendered, etc. You just take that filthy, unreliable, dangerous public transportation back to your browned-out, unheated, stack-a-prole hovel and appreciate your soy rations while Your Betters jet off to Davos to discuss Deep Things before disbursing to their seaside mansions to wine and dine their cronies dropping by in fleets of SUVs. PAH!! As the Puppy-Blender likes to say, when the people who keep telling me there’s a crisis start acting like there’s a crisis, then maybe I’ll start to listen. In the meantime, they can sit the fook down and shut the fook up.

Ah. That felt good.

As regular friends of the decanter will know, Middle Gel is spooling up to go into a career in environmental management, finishing up her undergrad degree on it in a couple weeks and heading off to grad school in the fall for same. Ol’ Robbo has ranted and raved on the above themes to her for years and years and (I hope) instilled in her the necessary sense of balance and skepticism to allow her to do some real good while avoiding both the Scylla of rainbows and unicorn-farts idealism and the Charybdis of graft and corruption-fueled totalitarianism. I will say that if anybody can pull off such a delicate balance, she can. (If not, I hope she goes with the graft and corruption. That way, when I’m reduced to beggary, at least I’ll have a seaside mansion where I can go stay.)

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

Yes, HRH Elizabeth II turns 96 today. Huzzay! Huzzah!

When I think of all the poor woman has seen and endured in her long life, both public and private, I shudder.

When I think of the way she has handled it, at least in public**, with grace, calm, and dignity, I am filled with pride and affection. This is the bearing of a true Queen. ****

As they used to say in the Philosophy Department of the University of Wallamaloo, she’s a good Sheila, Bruce, and not a’tall stuck up!

So, Mr. Vice, the Queen!

**Robbo runs round to the other side of his desk**

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Queen! And God bless her!

** For all Ol’ Robbo knows, in private she might smash the furniture, beat the servants, and kick the dogs. I wouldn’t blame her.

**** Ol’ Robbo, although increasingly populist in outlook, remains a Constitutional Monarchist at heart. It’s the politicos and bureaucrats for whom I have nothing but loathing and contempt.


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July 2022