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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Remember that all-important flu shot, the stonewalling of which precipitated such a domestic crisis at Port Swiller Manor a month ago?

Yeah, well after all the sturm und drang THAT magick pinprick really worked out well.  Ol’ Robbo wound up having a pretty decent bout of it this week after all, even missing a couple days of work.

I’m on the back side of it now, thankfully.  The fever and blinding headache are all gone, but I’ve still got the nose of W.C. Fields, the cough of a three-pack-a-day guy, and the voice of Sam Elliot.

Couple that with the fact that it’s a bachelor weekend for me and that it’s supposed to rain all afternoon and I’m sure all you friends of the decanter will agree that there’s nothing for it but to make this a robe and jammies day and say to hell with the yard.

Not that there’s much to do – a little mulching here, a few sticks to pick up there – but that can wait until next weekend.  The bottomless cup of coffee, the large stack of books, and the fireplace are the thing for me today.

(By the bye, I am not going to hesitate for a second faking the flu shot the next time Mrs. R gets after me about it.)

UPDATE:  Since this is basically a content-free post, I invite you all to nip over to this thoughtful article on Science and Religion at Yard Sale of the Mind.  It discusses at length the brainwashing of the yoots these days through crypto-Marxist academic pandering to “Muh Feelz”, a subject of keen interest to Ol’ Robbo.  One line particularly caught my attention on a personal level:

I love adolescence. Having had 4 of our kids pass from childhood to adulthood, and having one 14 year old now, I can say that one of my greatest joys as a dad has been witnessing the intellects of my own children awaken.

Bumpers all around and three times three!  I thank God Almighty that I seem to have been able to steer my own Gels through this passage successfully.  This came to mind yesterday when I was chatting with Eldest.  Apparently she finally got fed up with some snowflake in her history class who was virtue-signaling about Cortez’s treatment of the Aztecs and said loudly and coldly that our own feelings about it didn’t matter a damn and that the only way to interpret the Conquistadores historickally was in the context of late 15th and early 16th Century Spanish politicks, including the Reconquista, the Inquisition, and the developing imperial economy.  “How the hell do you think they’d treat the Aztecs?” she said.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I was not aware of this until my brother**  mentioned it this past weekend, but Amherst College, a chief rival of Ol’ Robbo’s own People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT,*** recently dumped its unofficial mascot of the “Lord Jeffs” and instead adopted….the Mammoths?

The selection board said people who suggested mammoths noted they are “impressive,” ”stupendous and monumental,” and “near mythic.” [Ed. – They’re also long-extinct.]

Backers also noted the school’s natural history museum houses a mammoth skeleton discovered by Amherst professor Frederick Brewster Loomis and brought to the college in 1925.

The process started in January 2016 when school trustees decided the school’s unofficial nickname, Lord Jeffs, was inappropriate in part because the 18th century British Gen. Jeffery Amherst suggested giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans.

A quick visit to the skewl’s website reveals that Lord Jeffrey’s name has now been removed from the campus inn, too.

I expect the skewl will have to change its own name, in the end, if it wishes to be consistent.

Cor lumme, stone the crows.

I’m going to go a bit geeky here, but bear with me:  The smallpox blankets idea is to be found in Amherst’s correspondence with Col. Henri Bouquet, his most prominent field commander, during the height of Pontiac’s Rebellion (which was largely sparked by Amherst’s own ham-fisted incompetence).  At the time, garrison after garrison of British troops was being wiped out on the frontiers and the colonial administration was in something close to panic.  I’m pretty sure that Amherst was just venting in frustration.  At any rate, nothing ever came of the idea.

I’m also going to suggest that in a rational, adult world, it would be pretty well understood that the “Lord Jeffs” mascot is a nod to the skewl’s historickal roots, and not in any way an endorsement of germ warfare against Indians. ****

But of course, we don’t live in a rational, adult world.  Instead, the zeitgeist is dominated by the very worst traits of adolescence and toddlerhood, coupled with an apparent belief that we can simply wipe the historickal slate blank and start afresh, an idea straight out of Jacobinism.


“Elite education” is an oxymoron these days.  It’s no longer a matter of classical liberalism, but instead has descended to nothing more than post-modernist, cultural-Marxist brainwashing.

And it can all be yours for the low, low price of a quarter-million over four years!

Speaking of Indians and mascot changes, Mrs. Robbo’s grandfather attended Dartmouth back in the day when their mascot was still the Indians.  We still have a pillow needlepointed by his wife which features an Indian leaning up against a big “D” with a cask of rum on his shoulder.  I’m very sure that when some form of the Chinese Social Credit System is implemented here (note that I say “when”, not “if”), that will cost us some major points.

** My brother attended Hamilton College.  They’re still the Continentals, but I predicted this is probably next.  Because reasons.

*** Wesleyan’s mascot is the Cardinals.  So far as I know, it always has been.  There’s probably a religious joke there, considering that it was founded as a Methodee school, but I doubt anyone there nowadays would get it.

**** This is the same argument for rejecting the pogroms against Generals Washington and Lee at Dubyunell.  The school kinda, sorta beat this off this past summah, but I’ve got a baaaad feeling that was only the first wave and that it will fold under additional assault.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope all you friends of the decanter had a happy – or at least an uninteresting in the Chinese curse sense –  Thanksgiving.  I can certainly say that the Family Robbo’s was one of the best I can remember: Thirteen of us sat down to dinner on Thursday, and it was a positive joy to see the Gels, along with my nephew and two elder nieces, really taking their places as the next adult generation of the family.  No harsh words, since every single one of us except my elder cousin and my four-year-old grand-nephew (it’s a long story) are more or less of the same socio-politickal frame of mind.  Instead, lots of rapid-fire banter and general jollity.  Plus, they all ate like wolves.

A few odds and ends:

♦  As they have for many years now, Robbo’s brother and SiL hosted.  Brother likes to roast his turkey on the grill, so we two always wind up spending several hours outside on T-Day afternoon, fiddling with the coals, adding wood chips now and again, worrying about whether the thermometer is giving accurate readings, and generally kibitzing.  (The adult beverages, of course, may be taken as a given.)  This year he did such a good job of it that Ol’ Robbo is beginning to think about doing his Christmas roast beef the same way.

♦ I notice that hotels seem to take great liberty with the use of the word “suites” in their names.  To me, a two bed double is a two bed double, whether it has a small reception area attached to it or not.  “Suite” means separate bedrooms.  I had to share with Mrs. R and the two Younger Gels this year.  (Eldest goes to school nearby and just stayed in her dorm.)  They’re all slobs.

♦  Another tradition Brother and I have is to go hiking on the Friday after T-Day, in part to work off our overindulgences of the day before, in part to flee the madness that is “Black Friday”.  This year, however, it was much colder and danker than we had anticipated.  We took one look at the sky, said, “Nah, Brah”, and instead spent all afternoon watching college football.  First was the Texas-Kansas game, about which we cared not much except for a residual fondness for the Longhorns from our misspent yoots in Texas.  Second was the Virginia Tech-UVA game, about which we cared a great deal since my nephew is a junior at Tech.  Woah, what a game.

And all the Hoos in Hooville went boo-hoo-hoo!

♦  Speaking of traditions, the other day Ol’ Robbo had seen a clip for the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special featuring the Peanuts gang all around the table and said to himself, “Self, I see that Franklin is sitting all alone on one side.  Perhaps somebody will yell RAAAAAYCIIISSS!!!”  I was only joking, but evidently in the Brave New Dystopia, nothing is funny.

Sigh.  On the drive home this morning, Mrs. R was rattling off talking points about how Charles Shultz was, in fact, quite enlightened about race relations for his time, how he insisted on having Franklin in the show despite others’ objections, and how one has to look at these things in context.

“You’re wasting your time, you know,” I said.  “For the people screeching, this is about the will to power.  You can’t reason or argue with it.  It consists totally of ego and emotion and has no goal other than destroying absolutely everything outside of itself.”

♦  Actually, the character I’d hate getting stuck next to is Pigpen.  Blech.

♦  And speaking of the drive home, it simply poured all the way from west-central North Carolina to Northern Virginia.  Middle Gel had driven herself to the Feast from the Tidewater area on Wednesday, and the whole way home today I was thanking Heaven that at least all this muck is supposed to blow out overnight and that the Gel would have a nice day to get herself back to school tomorrow.  It was only a short while ago that I learned the stinker had herself lit out this morning to go stay with her roommate (who lives near campus) overnight and thereby save herself the slog tomorrow when traffic gets bad.  So what am I gonna do with all this pent up worry?

Anyhoo, a good time was had by all, everyone is back where they ought to be, and Ol’ Robbo has the indulgence of another full week before I need to get myself in an Advent frame of mind.



** Words of Wisdom from the Old Gentleman in reference to work and career.

Eldest is taking a course on non-profit biznay this semester, as she toys with minoring in same.

Her current assignment is to interview somebody who works in the non-profit sector, asking them questions about motivation, mission, oversight, etc., etc.

Naturally, the Gel picked Mrs. R as an interviewee, since the latter has been a private school Montessori teacher for better than 20 years now.

Ol’ Robbo overheard bits and pieces of the interview this evening (at least Mrs. R’s part of it) and had to smile.  Back in the earlies, Mrs. R was such a zealous acolyte of the Montessori method, easily able to enthuse about it for hours on end, that I frequently twitted her about her devotion to St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.  (She never, ever, thought that was s’damn funny, by the bye.)

Now? Well, I won’t say she’s fallen into apostasy, or even agnosticism.  I will say that she sounds…tired.  Like 20+ years tired.

I mean no criticism.  Indeed, I think this perfectly natural.  Hence the quote of the Old Gentleman’s wisdom in the title.  Indeed, it’s the ones who don’t burn out who give Ol’ Robbo the most pause.

As for myself, Ol’ Robbo passed the bar in 1991, so you can do the math.  I never had any “passion” about practicing law, but simply recognized that my talents for reading, writing, and argument made the profession  a natural one for me.  Maybe I wasn’t a young zealot, but on the other hand, I’m really not feeling any burnout at this point.

This is why I have always loved the quote from “Lawrence of Arabia” in which, Prince Faisal says, “With Major Lawrence, mercy is a passion.  With me, it is merely good manners.  You may judge which is the more reliable motive.”

(By the bye, I think Eldest is ultimately going to wind up in law school herself.  She has a real gift for legal and evidentiary analysis – from what I could hear this evening, she was basically taking a deposition like a pro.  And given her rayther Cromwellian personality, she’d make a terrifying district attorney.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was chatting with Eldest this afternoon (she calls me most days) and she got to fuming about some of the kids in her pre-Columbian American history class.  They’re just beginning on the Spanish contact with the Incas and there are those who wish to signal their virtue by making clear from the get-go that they think the Spanish bad and the Incas good.

The Gel can’t stand this sort of thing.

“It’s not a matter of whether this was good or bad….it happened!  Just learn about it and keep your fashionable pieties to yourselves!  And anyway, why is it so hard for these people to understand that most of human history – throughout the world -is simply a question of which tribe has the bigger sticks?   Hell, if the Incas had been the ones with the ships and guns, they’d have been over in Spain doing the same damned thing!”

I can’t imagine where she picked up this attitude.

*Whistles, stares off into the distance*



Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Veterans’ Day!

A glass of wine with all those who have served (which I suspect includes a few friends of the decanter and/or their relations).

Of course, this is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.  I must say that I don’t care much for all that “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” stuff.  To me, it’s too much like Sam Elliot’s line in “Gettysburg” about “men in tall hats and gold watch-fobs thumping their chests and saying what a brave charge it was”.

The fact of the matter is that the War could have ended a lot earlier if anyone had paid any attention to poor, dear Blessed Karl of Austria who, upon his accession to the throne, frantically tried to bring about a peace.  Alas, that rat-bastard Woodrow Wilson and his hard-liner pals wouldn’t take anything less than total annihilation of the Central Powers, the War dragged on another year of slaughter, the Bolsheviks seized control in Russia, and Germany was left ripe for the rise of Nazism.  All so that rat-bastard Wilson (I just love typing that) could indulge his progressivist authoritarian pipe-dream of bringing about the Brave New World both in Europe and at home.

And of course, we’re still very much paying for it.  Feh.

I mentioned the other day that I was reading Stephen Sears’ Chancellorsville.  From there, I went on to reread Glenn Tucker’s High Tide at Gettysburg.  As with the Sears book, it’s been a few years since I last dipped into this, and I’d forgotten how much like a bravura college lecture it reads – matter of fact narrative punctured with florid atmospheric word-paintings and asides about personalities.  Tucker doesn’t take sides but is sympathetic to both, which probably means he’d be guilty of wrong think these days.

From there, I set myself to revisit a task which I feel honor-bound to complete even though it’s very difficult, that is to finally finish reading James Longstreet’s From Manassas to Appomattox.  Old Pete may have been many things, but a good writer was definitely not one of them.  This book is amazingly dull and plodding, and seems uplifted by some nugget of opinion or observation only every ten pages or so.  But it is Old Pete, a man who was there.  Also, I dislike intensely the idea of not finishing a book once I’ve picked it up.

So that’s that.  A cold, gray day today, perfect for a blanket, a pot of coffee, and plodding.

UPDATE: Okay, I just finished the chapters devoted to Gettysburg, and things are actually starting to get good.  Particularly in the last one, Old Pete goes into a tirade against those critics who claimed or inferred that he lost the battle, and goes on to argue that it was, in fact, all Lee’s fault for not listening to his suggestion that the Rebs wheel round to the right.  Heh, indeed.

UPDATE DEUX:  Well, we’re in full self-justification territory now.  After departing Lee post-Gettysburg, he’s gone on to kick Braxton Bragg in the nuts over Chickamauga  and Chattanooga (which, if you’re a Southern sympathizer, is probably warranted), and to argue that his fart-assing about the wilds of East Tennessee over the winter of 1863-64 was the Single Most Important Strategic Thing for the Confederacy, if only Richmond had been paying attention.  (He doesn’t help his case by reprinting a number of communications from Sam Grant that basically say, “Yeah, Longstreet’s in East Tennessee. He’s harmless. I’m headed for Georgia.”)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been down the past day or so with some kind of stomach bug.  In my opinion, there is no worse combination than feeling hungry, nauseous, and stopped up all at the same time.  Bleh.

I mention this not out of self-pity, but so that I can raise a glass to Sleepy Beth, who, in commenting on my recent post griping about Mrs. R hustling me into getting the flu shot, said, “Oh, you may *think* her “I told you so” has been nullified, but you’re likely wrong. Instead, if you get sick, it’ll be the “Just think how bad it could have been if you didn’t get your flu shot.”

Damme if that isn’t exactly what Mrs. R said this morning.  Cheers, Ma’am!

Anyhoo, to while away the time, I’ve picked up Stephen W. Sears’ Chancellorsville (As of now, it’s late afternoon on May 2 and Jackson is about to launch his flank attack on hapless Otis Howard.)  While I’ve read it several times before, it’s been a few years, and I’m finding the book crisp, clear, and insightful in ways I’d forgotten.

I’m also finding myself entertaining a question, buried deep down in the recesses of my braims but nonetheless clearly present: What if Hooker WINS this time?

I’m not talking about Alt History and its useless yet pleasant debates about What Might Have Been.  I mean that as I read this book about this particular factual occurrence, part of my mind is given over to the slim possibility that the words on the page might somehow be different than they were before.

This fancy isn’t reserved for historickal works either.  I frequently experience the same thing when rereading a piece of fiction, too.  (To give but a single example, I’m always afraid that Théoden, upon seeing the siege of Minas Tirith, really might turn around and slink off into the hills.)  And as I think about it, I also get the same sensation when re-watching a favorite movie.  (Curiously, I never, ever think a piece of musick is going to suddenly go off in some different direction the Nth time I hear it.)

On the one hand, this sensation annoys and slightly worries me, since it’s pretty close to somebody or other’s definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

On the other, Ol’ Robbo has the habit of reading and watching his favorites many, many times (else they wouldn’t be favorites), and it does keep things fresh and entertaining.

Well, you can call it willful suspension of disbelief or else creeping madness.  (The Old Gentleman used to make snide comments about “fuzzy-headed English majors” and the Mothe often flat-out told me I’m a loony.) I suppose if it confines itself to reading for pleasure, it’s harmless enough.  If I show signs of trying to apply it in Real Life (“That red light is actually green; I now identify as a fourteen year old girl”), then somebody please summon those nice young men in their clean white coats.



A Window On The Past

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening, Ol’ Robbo got to spend some quality time in front of the firepit.  Youngest Gel and her friend came out for a bit and made a few s’mores, but I mostly had the patio to myself.  (Although I had spoken here on Saturday of breaking into the Laphroaig, since last night was a work night, I contented myself with sticking to the vino.)

Ol’ Robbo simply loves to sit and stare into a fire, particularly when it’s outdoors.  The Mothe used to accuse me of being a pyromaniac.  There’s probably something to this, but the real satisfaction is at a much deeper (and more wholesome) level.

It comes when considering that people have been staring into exactly the same flames practically since the dawn of Mankind.  This link across the complete arc of human history, when one is in the right mood, can produce downright shivers of awe.

Then I begin to muse about random people along that arc and to wonder what went through their minds as they sat there by the fire: Shepherds watching their flocks by night; the Roman garrison at Hadrian’s Wall; John Bates and his friends the night before Agincourt; a Forty-Niner camped along the Arkansas River.  The possibilities are positively endless.

Just lovely.

On the other hand, this evening was the first commute home in darkness.  Not so lovely.  It usually takes the evening rush a week or two to get adjusted to the time change, and it didn’t help that we’ve have a cloudy, foggy, drizzly day here so it was really quite dark.  Many, many unforced errors along the way, like a baseball team early in the season.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Cold and rainy at Port Swiller Manor this morning, and Ol’ Robbo has absolutely no good reason to go outside.  (I’ll be pulling the ferns and hostas off the porch for the winter later, but that can wait.)

Instead, I’m wallowing in a little nostalgia.

Remember the Golden Years of the Blogsphere when somebody would get hold of a meme, play it, and then flip it around to a bunch of other folks who would play in turn, everybody linking and commenting together?

Good times.  Good times.

Well, even thought those days are over (I often feel like I’m only talking to myself here), Ol’ Robbo is going to indulge himself in a little fun by playing with this Merriam-Webster gizmo (found at the Puppy-Blender’s) that shows what words were “introduced” the year one was born.

Some examples from Anno Domini 1965:

Alley-oop – This surprised me until I read farther that M-W only dates the word here in the context of basketball.

Chill factor – M-W seems to relate this to the concept of “wind chill”. I’m pretty sure its slang use is of much more recent vintage.

Domino Theory – A nice historickal reference, given that we already had a military presence in Vietnam at that point, but I’m a little surprised it didn’t go back to Korea.  Often sneered at, but to my mind a credible fear.

Hippie – Gorram hippies.  My uncle was one.  Long hair, tie-dye, the works.  To him, the Brave New World was all about free pot and free sex, and I still remember the yelling matches between him and my parents back in the early 70’s over that sumbitch Nixon.  He broke off contact with the Old Gentleman after my grandmother died in the mid-90’s, and the last I heard of him he was a part-time bartender and sleeping on a buddy’s sofa.

Lava lamp – See above.  I think my uncle had one.  (I know he had a water bed.)  Duuuuude…….

Postfeminist – This surprises me a bit, given that the concept of “feminism” goes back at least to the 19th Century.  You’d think somebody would have come up with a “post-” theory earlier than the 60’s.  (Fun fact: My Gels look at the current state of “feminism” with horror and revulsion.)

Unawesome – I have never heard anyone use this word and don’t believe it actually exists.

White Hat – I don’t believe this one.  The “White Hat” was a device used in Westerns going back much earlier than that.  Somebody must have been using the term then, too.

Yorkie-poo – Yorkie-poo?  Ol’ Robbo hates Yorkies and dislikes poodles, too, so this is really the worst of both worlds.

So there you are.  Lots of others, mostly of a technical or corporate-speak variety.  G’wan over and play yourselves, and in the meantime feel free to get off my lawn.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Just to follow up on my post immediately below, Ol’ Robbo did watch the 1982 made-for-teevee version of “Ivanhoe” last evening and found it perfectly enjoyable in a blandish way.

I can’t remember the last time I saw it, but I had forgotten that it had a pretty heavy-hitting cast which included James Mason, Michael Hordern (an old favorite of mine), Julian Glover, Rebecca Hussey (who was a thing at the time), John Rhys-Davies, and Sam Neill (and what hasn’t he been in?).

As for Anthony Andrews in the title role, well, if Colin Firth can play a battle-hardened Roman general in a movie I absolutely deny tossing into my queue every now and again (and deny even further that it has anything to do with the presence of a shmokin’ hot Indian actress), I suppose Andrews can be a silly English kniggit, too.

I say it’s blandish because although the jousts and the climactic storming of the castle are pretty cool, the rest of it just sort of putters along without a whole lot of drama or chemistry.  (I recall that the 1952 movie with Robert Taylor, Liz Taylor, and Joan Fontaine had a lot more fireworks to it.)

And as I only read the book once about eleventy-billion years ago, I have no idea how faithful this version is to Sir Walter’s original.

I’ll only say also that sob stories about how mean the Normans were to the Saxons amuse me to a certain extent, since the Saxons had been doing the same damned thing (and worse) to the Britons for hundreds of years prior.  The biter bit, as it were.


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