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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Over at the Puppy-Blender’s place, Stephen Green quotes at length an article by Arthur Chrenkoff that is well worth cut-and-paste emphasis here:

The Millennials can’t remember very much – and they don’t learn very much either. It’s easy being hot for socialism or communism when you actually have a very little idea of what it is and what it did throughout the 20th century. And the Ys have that ignorance in spades; one third of them think that George W Bush killed more people than Stalin and 42 per cent have never heard of Mao – but over 70 per cent agree with Bernie Sanders. Some research suggests that only 15 per cent actually have a correct understanding of socialism. It’s not just politics; the Millennials are the most woefully undereducated and miseducated generation in a very long time. To be fair, that’s not strictly their fault; that attaches itself again to their Boomer grandparents who have been in charge of our failing education systems during this time. Combine the modern indoctrination-cum-dumbification taking place in schools and universities with the attention span-killing impact of information technology and social media, and you have a barely literate cohort, which is simply not equipped with the necessary mental tools to learn about the real world even if they wanted to.

Yep.  Ol’ Robbo would only add that this is no accident, but a deliberate campaign by Leftists in Academia to turn the next generation into mindless, easily-manipulated zombies.  And no, I don’t need any tinfoil, thank you.  I know all about the Frankfurt School and the Gramscian Long March through the Institutions.

To think that I was naïve enough at one point to believe that when the Soviet Union collapsed, our troubles would be over.

It has been my number one mission in life to save my own children from this brainwashing, and I like to think I have been somewhat successful at ensuring they are both analytically sound thinkers as well as knowledgeable about actual history.  To give an example, they’ve all got the figures of the slaughters caused by the “great” 20th Century despots – Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. – at their fingertips.  And they all recognize that Bernie Sanders (or Wilson or FDR, for that matter) – style “Progressivism” is just another variant of collectivist authoritarianism sprung from the same root as the “-Isms” championed by these monsters.

Indeed, Ol’ Robbo is chuckling to himself because Eldest told me yesterday that she got into a dust-up with her religion professor over whether the Nazis were socialists. “What part of ‘National Socialist Workers’ Party’ did she not understand?” the Gel exclaimed indignantly.  She gets that there are subtle variations among the different collectivist creeds, but she also gets the modern meme of Hitler = Fascist = Right-Wing = Republican, and rejects it whole-heartedly.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had been planning to post this week about the closing of Dee Cee’s “Newseum” for want of revenues, but Ace beat me to it todayDarn that furry little Ewok!

I drive past the place every day.  For years, the sight always irked me.  Now? Since news of its imminent closure broke, my shadenboner has been interfering with my ability to downshift as I turn off Constitution on to 6th Street.

(In all fairness, this isn’t the only museum that sets my teeth on edge.  I often walk past the Spy Museum, for instance.  That place is a first class tourist trap and everything about it screams “Buy All The Things!”)

But back to the Newseum, I guess there just weren’t enough people willing to shell out 25 bucks a head to view the Press’s monuments to its own agitprop.  Go figure.

As a matter of fact, I’ve really no beef with press partisanship in and of itself.  That’s been a constant since the very beginning, and the opening up of the Interwebz has made such bias easily checkable.  What I do object to is the MSM’s continued collective insistence – and haughty, condescending insistence at that – that it is a totally unbiased, neutral, watchdog championing us rubes, even when we’re too stupid to understand what’s best for our own good.  Want to be hacks? Be hacks.  (Or “Democratic operatives with bylines” as the Puppy-Blender likes to say.)  But be honest about it.

Did Ol’ Robbo ever mention here that he worked for the lone conservative student newspaper at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT back in the day?  Yep, I drew politickal cartoons.  One of my most effective (I think) was a caricature of Dan Rather on television sitting at his news desk.  It was entitled “Mr. Rather’s Neighborhood” and Gunga-Dan was staring out with a big smile on his face and saying, “Hi, boys and girls! Can you say ‘It’s all Reagan’s fault?’ Sure! I knew you could!”

I can’t remember if that was the one that inspired a classmate to declare that he was going to find me and break my nose the night Mondale got buried.  I’m inclined to think it was.  (Nothing happened, by the bye.  He was so drunk he passed out before he could find me.)

I wonder if I dug out a copy and sent it to the Newseum whether they’d put it on display?  Actually, I don’t much wonder because I know the answer already.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As a bounce-back from this week’s Virginia infanticide Debacle, which is now in the rake-handle-to-the-face-of-the-Left stage, how about a little of this and that?

♦  It’s snowing around Port Swiller Manor at the moment, and Youngest is out running errands in it.  (Needless to say, school is cancelled today per the county’s “one flake” policy.)  When I expressed some misgivings about this, she said, “But Dad, I need the experience, right?”  Yes, yes she does.  That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t worry.

♦  Ol’ Robbo recently had a birthday.  I’m now 54.  That puts me in my “mid-50’s” now, right? And have I officially hit middle age?  Red Ferrari and leggy young blonds, here I come! (Not.) Reminds me again of a favorite Basil Fawlty internal dialogue:


What was that?

That was your life, mate.

Oh, that’s nice.  Do I get another?

Sorry, mate.

♦  How about some micro-movie reviews?

The Big Country (1958) – I first saw this on teevee when I was about 12 or so.  It was the movie that made me first fall in love with westerns, mostly because of the beautiful scenery.  The story itself is about Easterner Gregory Peck finding himself in the middle of a bitter fight over water rights.  I never understood the appeal of Peck, who to me always seemed so wooden.  Whenever I put this to the Mothe, who thought he was yummy, she’d always say, “You haven’t the genes, dear boy.  You haven’t the genes.”  It also stars the equally unappealing to me Jean Simmons, who always seemed like such a rabbit.  Charlton Heston struts his stuff and Burl Ives is a thoroughly creepy contender in the fight.

Gung Ho! (1943) – Pure WWII propaganda based on a 1942 Marine raid on the Japanese-held island of Makin in the Gilberts.  There’s not much to say about it, except that it stars Randolph Scott and a young Robert Mitchum, who is one of Ol’ Robbo’s favorite actors.

In Which We Serve (1942) – Another WWII film, written and directed by, and starring Noel Coward.  Survivors of a Brit destroyer sunk by the Luftwaffe off Crete think on their past lives as they cling to a life raft.  It’s actually pretty well done.  I wrote the other day about my misgivings over John Wayne’s decision to stick to his acting instead of signing up for the war.  Coward tried to sign on, but was specifically told by Churchill that he’d do more good sticking to entertainment.  The Nazis wanted to kill him at any rate.

♦ Is the Super Bowl this weekend?  I doubt I’ll watch.  OTOH, pitchers and catchers report in two weeks, so it isn’t that long until the real sports season begins! (UPDATE UNO:  Let me make clear that I’m not “boycotting” in support of Colin Kaepernick or anything.  I just don’t give much of a damn.  And the Pats are more or less a lock anyway since Belicheck signed his soul away to Satan.)

♦  Oh, and tomorrow is Candlemas, but it’s also Groundhog Day.  A fun fact about Robbo: I have never made it through the Bill Murray movie of that name without dozing off.  I don’t know why – time and place, possibly – but it’s true.  I’ve absolutely nothing against it, you understand, but to this day I don’t know how it actually ends.

UPDATE DEUX:  Well, we actually got a couple inches of snow after all.  Perfect for taking the puppeh on a long walk round the neighborhood.  On the other hand, Mrs. Robbo’s overnight school outing to the Murrland Science Center got cancelled, so now she’s more or less kicking her heals.  When Mrs. R has a lot of energy and nothing in particular upon which to focus it, it’s best to slide quietly out of the way and hide.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is rereading, as he does every two or three years or so, Anthony Powell’s four-movement novel cycle, A Dance to the Music of Time.

I won’t go into an opinion or analysis of Mr. Pole’s monumental narrative fugue here (except to say that I appreciate it more with each rereading).  Instead, I raise a discrete literary point that touches on a question that has burned at the back of the Robbo braims for a long time.

In The Valley of Bones, which is the first novel of the third “movement” of the quartet, reference is made by one of the characters to a collection of children’s short stories and poems by Rudyard Kipling called Puck of Pook’s Hill.  I had been unaware of this collection heretofore, so on spotting this reference, I immediately dashed over to the devil’s website to order a copy.  (And before you start sneering at Ol’ Robbo ordering children’s stories, I will state that “children’s” literature of the early 20th Century is far more intelligent and grounded than most of what passes for “adult” literature in the early 21st Century.  We live in a Tinsel Age.  So there.)

Anyhoo, while perusing the content of Kipling’s work, Ol’ Robbo started to get excited in particular about a chapter entitled “The Knights of the Joyous Venture” about a Danish long-ship that makes a raid down the coast of Africa.

I got excited about this because I hoped that at last, at last, I’d finally stumbled across the source of a reference in one of the novels of Mr. Evelyn Waugh (A Handful of Dust, I think), to a story of a Viking long-boat that shows up under the walls of Constantinople.

Alas, after reading the synopsis, it seems this isn’t the source.

Garn!  I’m looking forward to expanding my Kipling activities. But  I’m still frustrated that I haven’t found the source for the Norse visit to the seat of the Byzantine Empire.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s Netflix queue has been running on a John Wayne theme this week, so if you’re a snowflake or soiboi triggered by toxic masculinity, I highly advise that you DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS POST.

The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) – The Duke as Marine Sergeant Stryker, hammering raw recruits into lean, mean, fighting machines.  Forty years later, his character would be written as a sadistic psychopath driving the innocent to insanity, but here his harsh methods pay off and help clear the Japs off Mt. Suribachi.  There’s really not much to the movie except that the actual WWII Pacific combat footage incorporated into it is pretty interesting.  Oh, and John Agar is one of the privates the Duke puts straight.  He married Shirley Temple.  All three of them are in Fort Apache, just about her last movie, and fortunately long past her tap-dancing cutesy-pie stage.  Which see:

The Fighting Seabees (1944) – The Duke as Wedge Donovan, construction company owner, who works with the Navy to forge his crew into a combat unit.  I will say honestly that I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the Duke’s WWII movies, since he didn’t actually enlist in the service himself at the time because he didn’t want to disrupt his career.  (Compare this with Juh-Juh-Juh-Jimmy Stewart, who did put his career on hiatus and became a decorated combat bomber pilot.)  Again, there’s not that much to the film, although it does feature Susan Hayward, who looks rather like a grown up Shirley Temple.

The High and the Mighty (1954) – The grand-daddy of air disaster flicks. The Duke is an out-to-pasture co-pilot, who has to take command of a passenger flight from Hawaii to San Francisco after engine trouble develops and pilot Robert Stack flips out.  In the meanwhile, the various passengers’ stories are told.  It’s pure cheese, plus it’s so completely “50’s” in its sensibilities (everyone smokes, the stewardess bemoans her single life, comments which would constitute verbal sexual harassment these days are rampant), that the average SJW snowflake would run shrieking from the room after the first five minutes. I just smile.

I mention Robert Stack because he, of course, was also in Airplane! (1980), the movie that hy-lariously and effectively put the bullet in the back of the head of the air-disaster genre.  I got curious because several of the passengers in THATM looked somewhat familiar, but, alas, none of them (so far as I can tell) were also in Airplane!  I did discover that Carl Switzer, who played Alfalfa in the old “Our Gang” series, had a bit part.  And the third officer, William Campbell, was easily recognizable to fans of “Star Trek: TOS” as Trelane from “The Squire of Gothos”.

That’s Ol’ Robbo: Doing the nerd work so you don’t have to.  And don’t call me “Shirley”.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was watching “Star Trek: TOS” on the teevee last evening (it was the Tholian Web episode) when a commercial came on for some kind of telephone plan aimed at the middle-aged and seniors.  The basic theme was “I’ve reached an age where I know what I like and I don’t need to change!”

Thank Heaven my wallet wasn’t anywhere within reach, because with a message like that I’d have bought nearly anything they were flogging!

Oh, and speaking of change, Ol’ Robbo is chuckling this morning over a story that the SJW shrills are demanding that a black actress play Cleopatra in a retread of the Taylor/Burton movie.  Well, it’s all Greek to me but I understand the Ptolemies called and want their identity back.  Heh.

Ooh, speaking of Cleopatra, today is Roman Empire Day, as on this date in 27 B.C., Octavian, having squashed all his political rivals once and for all, was granted the title Augustus by the Roman Senate, thereby establishing the Empire.  Hail, Caesar!


Robbo’s Potential Son-In-Law?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the Decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo mentioning the other day that Middle Gel was going through rush this weekend?  Well, mission accomplished:  She was accepted into Delta Gamma this afternoon.  The chapter at her school seems to be very big on charitable works, which is just nuts to her, so it seems like a good fit.

There was a “Bid Day” to-do earlier this evening in which all the sororities lined up around one end of the gym.  The newbies appeared at the other end in squads, and on cue sprinted across to join up with their respective houses.  In one of those only-possible-in-the-21st-Century twists, the whole thing was broadcast on the campus teevee station, and Mrs. R and I watched via Facebook.  There was much screaming and cheering, but we did at least get a glimpse of Middle Gel being taken in by her new sisters.

Back when Ol’ Robbo was in law school at Dubyanell, I recall that the DG motto was “Catch the Wave”.  Fortunately, they seem to have dropped that, as the local wags used to parody it rather brutally.  (Yes, even worse than what was said of Delta Delta Delta:  “Can’t get a date by Eight? Tri-Delt!”)

By the bye, did I ever mention here that I was kinda, sorta in a frat in my misspent undergrad days at The People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT?  Yes, indeedy:  Alpha Delta Phi.

I say “kinda, sorta” because while I was inducted right enough, the chapter there was in a state of open rebellion against the national HQ in that it, along with four others, had arbitrarily gone co-ed.  At the time, Ol’ Robbo was, if not exactly sympathetic, at least intrigued by the question from a sort of states’ rights versus federalism standpoint.  (Also, the house itself was pretty awesome.  And the parties?  Those files, my friends, are sealed.)

I didn’t keep up with things after I graduated, but I b’lieve the chapter’s charter eventually was revoked.  Certainly the old Alpha Delt house on campus is now designated as an eating club.  So I honestly don’t know if I’m technically a member anymore or not.  (I’ve never received a single piece of mail asking me to pony up some coin in all these years, so I’m guessing the answer is “not”.)

Not that it matters all that much.  Besides, while I gave my pin to Mrs. R when we got to dating seriously, she promptly lost it somewhere on the grounds of Sweet Briar College.

Heigh-ho.  But I hope the Gel has lots of fun and builds up some good long-term relationships.

(The pic of Belushi ties into all this, incidentally, because I believe “Animal House” actually was based on the Alpha Delt house at Dartmouth.  Mrs. R’s grandfather was a “Drunken DKE” there back in the day, but that’s another story.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo is still kicking his heals and spinning his wheels as the Furlough Life continues.  I missed the President’s address last evening, having become engrossed in a Florence King story and losing track of time, but from the synopsis given me by Eldest Gel, it was calm and dignified, and he neither swallowed his tongue, set his hair on fire, nor declared dictatorial powers as many of his enemies were hoping.  So there’s that.

Meanwhile, how about a little random?

♦  Yes, Eldest is still home on break.  Her semester starts next week.  At the moment we’re trying to decide the best day for her to head back to North Carolina, as it looks like a snow storm is rolling in.  (Ironically, she got out of NC just before that pre-Christmas blizzard hit there.)  I was fussing a bit over her seeming cavalier attitude to a reading assignment for her first day of class when she suddenly said, “Dad, I’m a Dean’s List student.  I get things done on time, okay?”  Okay.

♦  Meanwhile, Middle Gel went back last weekend.  She starts rush tomorrow.  It’s a very short, low-key affair at her school.  Indeed, Greek Life as a whole is nothing like some of the big university horror stories of which I’ve heard.  Nonetheless, we’ve pushed it pretty hard for the sake of the networking.  The Mothe’s old sorority has a good house on campus and it would be nice for sentimental reasons if the Gel joins it.

♦  Flipping from Venus to Mars, I saw recently where the American Psychology Association has decided that masculinity is, get this, bad.  I suppose my reaction is that I don’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys what the APA thinks.  Whatever these credentialed groups might have been worth in the past, they’ve long been infiltrated by the cultural Marxists and permanently poisoned.  (Indeed, Ol’ Robbo himself was only a member of the ABA for about six months after passing the bar before he got so disgusted with its abortion politicks that he quit.  Waste of six months’ dues.)

♦  Speaking of masculinity, I’ve recently reread the memoirs of five Civil War commanders:  Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Longstreet, and Custer (although he wrote about post-War Indian campaigns only).  I think this was just my second reading of Sherman – I’d forgotten how lucid and articulate he is.  I’d also forgotten how feistily he slammed those who’d claimed he lost his mind at one point, and how he never forgave Secretary of War Stanton for trying to throw him under the political bus for a misunderstanding about the terms of surrender of Joe Johnston’s Army.  As for the others, Sam Grant is modest and matter of fact.  Sheridan’s work is really just a vanity piece.  Longstreet is plodding and full of recrimination.  Custer, of course, is just a romantic loon.  Pity ol’ Bobby Lee never published – that would have been fascinating.

♦   And speaking of fascination and the art of war, Youngest Gel and her partner are busily putting the finishing touches on their physics class project of constructing a working catapult (actually something more like a scorpio, I believe).  I haven’t seen the thing yet, but I hope I can be around for its field-testing.  I smile about this project because I still remember walking around the neighborhood with the two Elder Gels on Halloween shortly after we first moved into Port Swiller Manor eighteen years ago, the one being towed in a Red Flyer wagon, the other harnessed in her Baby Bjorn.  As we passed one house, a high school girl and her dad were out on their driveway putting the finishing touches on her catapult for the same physics class Youngest is now taking.  I never imagined then that I would see things come full circle.

♦  Did I mention, by the bye, that Middle Gel turns 19 this week, Youngest turns 17 next week, and Eldest turns 21 in March?  Time sure does march by quickly, don’t she?




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Please be advised that this blog has been deemed an essential service by the Fed’ral Gubmint and will remain open during the current shutdown.

Thank you.

Ol’ Robbo was out yesterday afternoon dealing with the latest crop of fallen leaves.  We have a single large oak out front.  Unlike the maples, which throw their entire compliment in a relatively short time, this oak drops its leaves only gradually and can take as long as five or six weeks to get done.  This is annoying not only because it looks sloppy, but also because said leaves are large and perfect for clogging field drains.

Speaking of which, as I was treading gently across the lawn, I simply could not believe how completely saturated with rain it was.  When a freakish little monsoon hit later in the afternoon, the water simply and literally rolled right down the hill.  Made me think of the Mud March.

Not much else to tell except for the fact that as I sit here I can see among other denizens four separate pairs of cardinals hanging around the feeder.  Is that a sufficient quorum to elect a new Pope?

UPDATE: Of tangential relationship, Self and the Elder Gels decorated the Christmas Tree this afternoon while pom-poming along to “The Nutcracker”.  Good times.

UPDATE DEUX: NOVA Curmudgeon’s comment prompted me to look up the meaning of “marcesent”.  Per Wiki:

Marcescence is the retention of dead plant organs that normally are shed.  Trees transfer water and sap from the roots to the leaves through their vascular cells, but in some trees as autumn begins, the veins carrying the sap slowly close until a layer of cells called the abscission layer completely closes off the vein allowing the tree to rid itself of the leaf. Leaf marcescence is most often seen on juvenile plants and may disappear as the tree matures. It also may not affect the entire tree; sometimes leaves persist only on scattered branches.  Marcescence is most obvious in deciduous trees that retain leaves through the winter. Several trees normally have marcescent leaves such as oak (Quercus),  beech (Fagus) and hornbeam (Carpinus), or marcescent stipules as in some but not all species of willows (Salix).  All oak trees may display foliage marcescence, even species that are known to fully drop leaves when the tree is mature. Marcescent leaves of pin oak (Quercus palustris) complete development of their abscission layer in the spring.   The base of the petiole remains alive over the winter. Many other trees may have marcescent leaves in seasons where an early freeze kills the leaves before the abscission layer develops or completes development. Diseases or pests can also kill leaves before they can develop an abscission layer.  Marcescent leaves may be retained indefinitely and do not break off until mechanical forces (wind for instance) cause the dry and brittle petioles to snap.

Makes sense.

All this talk of oaks leads Ol’ Robbo’s addled braims back to the South Texas of his misspent yoot.  There we had live oaks, which had small, rounded leaves and didn’t drop them in the fall or winter, but only when the new leaves came out.  I remember that the wood was heavy and long-burning, and that one didn’t put oak logs on the fire until it was firmly established.  (One started with juniper kindling and mesquite logs.)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A steady rain here in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.  I believe I heard on the radio last evening that with this additional dump, 2018 becomes the wettest year on record in these parts.

I blame ManBearPig.

Anyhoo, other than filling up the bird-feeders (which Ol’ Robbo is not too proud to do in his robe and jammies), plus looking out every now and again to make sure leaves haven’t clogged up the field drain out front and flooded the driveway, I’ve got nothing today.

As it happens, Netflix sent me “Lawrence of Arabia” this week.  I’m considering tucking myself in under a blanket and watching it, although that’s really the sort of thing that’s best done when you have the house to yourself.  In the meantime, I’ll get back to rereading my Bruce Catton.  Right now, Grant is still hung up trying to figure out a way to get his army below Vicksburg.


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