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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Middle Gel is the usual babysitter for Mrs. Robbo’s 5 y.o. God-son.  However, because the Gel and her school choir left this morning on a spring break trip to Noo Yawk City and therefor was unavailable, Mrs. R stepped up to take care of the boy in her place so that his parents could go out and catch a concert this evening.

Although Ol’ Robbo was generally successful in avoiding having to join in on such caretaking, he did manage to stumble into the library just as Mrs. R was pulling out one of the books the boy had brought along with him, The Monster At The End Of This Book It features the lovably cowardly Grover from Sesame Street, who becomes increasingly frantic at the turn of every page as he contemplates having to face said Monster.  Only at the end does he realize that it is, in fact, his own self.  Har, har.

Ol’ Robbo read this book many, many times to the Gels back in the day.  One of my (alas, unprofitable) talents is the ability to mimic voices.  And if I may say so, I do a pretty durn good Grover.  Unfortunately, however, it involves a kind of shrieking trill high up in the throat that, after a bit, gets pretty painful.   For a while there, I came to positively dread having to do it, especially when all of them were young enough that I would sometimes have to read it three times in one evening.

“Oh,” said Mrs. R tonight,  “Let’s get Uncle Robbo to read this to you.  He does it so very well!”

Well, what could I do but dust off the vocal chords and have at it.  This is what happens when you get a reputation.

Frankly, I think the boy was a bit alarumed by my histrionic shrieking at first, but after a few minutes he began to enjoy himself, and toward the end of the book was positively demanding that I “turn the page” just to see Grover’s next level of panic.

So I suppose I’ve still got it.

Nice to know, since I realize that the prospect of reading this same damned book to grandchildren is, if not immanent (God forbid),  at least on the  horizon.

On the other hand, my throat distinctly hurts again.  Nothing for it but an extra (purely medicinal, of course) glass of wine, eh?







“Fighting Joe” Hooker

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Did you all perchance see this article over the weekend via the Puppy-Blender?

Sign Referencing Civil War Hero Is Sexual Harassment, Says Massachusetts Lawmaker: Rep. Michelle DuBois wants to remove a statehouse sign that reads “General Hooker Entrance” because it is an affront to “women’s dignity”.


She has been calling for the removal of a statehouse sign that reads “General Hooker Entrance” (so inscribed because it stands opposite a statue of General Hooker), which she described as an affront to “women’s dignity.”

“Female staffers don’t use that entrance because the sign is offensive to them,” DuBois told WBZ-TV this week.

If you’re trying to do the math to reconcile No-Different-Than-Men Grrrrrrlz with this kind of fainting-couch nonsense, don’t bother.  This is pure mau-mauing and is all about the Will to Power.  Logic and consistency – and even Real World consequences – have nothing to do with it.

Oh, my actual favorite part of the article?

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that Hooker had famously defeated Confederate General Robert E. Lee in battle, when it’s really the other way around. (We should have paid more attention to those Ken Burns documentaries after all.) The opening paragraph has been edited to remove this reference.

Yeah, not so much.  Hooker was a good, steady corps commander.  He fought well and bravely in the Peninsula Campaign, at Fredericksburg, and at Antietam, and swept the Confederate left flank away at Lookout Mountain during the Battle of Chattanooga.  Kinda got his clock cleaned when he went toe to toe with Lee, however.

Nonetheless, Ol’ Robbo is of the school that Hooker’s strategy as commander of the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville to pull a sneak flank move on Lee was positively brilliant, and even once that was exposed – and despite Jackson’s own flank attack – he could have carried the day had he not been wounded (concussed) when a shell hit his HQ.  The man became disoriented and lost his nerve, and should have been relieved.  (Meade, Reynolds, and Hancock, all still held in reserve at that point, were screaming to be let loose at the Confederates.  It would have made all the difference.)   In this, I would strongly recommend Stephen Sears’ Chancellorsville for a lucid and fascinating description of the campaign.  (Ken Burns? Feh.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Motivated by all the buzz I’ve read about it in the corners of the innerwebs where I lurk, Ol’ Robbo recently went out and bought himself a copy of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life, An Antidote To Chaos.  Curiously enough, without either of us knowing it, at exactly the same time that I was picking up my hardback copy from the devil’s website, Mrs. R was downloading a copy onto her iThingy.  Go figure.

Not that I usually read this sort of thing, of course.  And I certainly wouldn’t bother with a “Rules for Life” book by somebody like, say, Oprah, or Joel Osteen, or Phil Donahue.  But the word I got was that Peterson is sharp, articulate, and causing all the right Lefty heads to explode, so I decided to check him out.  (The back of the book contains blurbs of praise from Camille Paglia, Howard Bloom, and National Review.)


The “Rules” themselves are what I would have considered to be simple common sense:  Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.  Respect yourself.  Respect others.  Respect tradition. (Here he restates the principle of Chesterton’s Fence without apparently realizing it).  Discipline the kids when they need it.  Do your damn laundry.  That sort of thing.  I guess what Peterson brings to the table is his unpacking of these things and getting at their roots.  In this, he covers a lot of intersecting topics such as behavioral evolution (I’ll never look at a lobster the same way again), clinical psychology, the biological differences between male and female, personal biography, and social development – on both the individual and societal levels.

Another big topic which dances in and out of his discussion is religion, and specifically Christianity.  (He also discusses the Old Testament and refers here and there to parallels within Buddhism, Taoism, and Ancient Egyptian mythology.  There is no mention whatever of Islam.)  Here, I have to admit that he puzzles me a bit, because for all of his praise of the Christian ethic (and there is a tremendous amount here), I can’t quite figure out if he actually, you know, is one.

For one thing, he makes some odd assertions.  He quotes the “Gospel” of Thomas.  He makes a gratuitous reference to Christ’s “androgyny” that seems immaterial.  He talks about the 19th Century Church’s “belief” in faith without works, which I’m pretty sure was isolated to a few Calvinist sects.  (At least it was never part of HMC’s teachings so far as I know.)

For another, he consistently refers to Christ as an “Archetype”.  That’s mythology-speak.  He also discusses Christianity largely in terms of psychological constructs, instead of terms of the relationship between us and a separate, independent God who exists whether we believe in Him or not.  (Nietzsche can go piss up a rope.)  Also, when he writes of the (false) dichotomy between Faith and Science, I can’t tell if he’s merely reporting it, or falls somewhat into the trap himself.

On the other hand, his description of the Logos, the Word of God, is fantastic, as are his thoughts on suffering, sacrifice and what some people call “servant leadership”.  Also, Bishop Robert Barron has been enthusing about him.  So maybe I’m just missing something here.

Another thing Peterson is absolutely fantastic on is the problem of Evil.  He calls it “denial of Being”, which is another way of describing Satan’s “Non serviam!”  It amounts to the complete and utter rejection of nothing less than Creation itself.  In his discussion, he quotes not only Milton’s Lucifer, but also those psychopaths who shot up Sandy Hook and Columbine.  I thank God that I simply cannot fathom that level of depravity.

Anyway, I like what I’ve read, even though I must confess that I rather galloped through it (which may explain some of my questions).  It’s well worth going back and reading more slowly on a chapter by chapter basis.  Unfortunately, and for Heaven’s sake don’t take this the wrong way, as much as I like the book, I’m fairly certain that it won’t get that much play with those who need it more than I do.  My soul is far, far from perfect, but I’m reasonably sure I’m at least headed in the right general direction.  The question is, how do you get the lazy, the shiftless, the narcissistic, or the outright psychotic to sit down and both read and absorb this wisdom?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Without looking it up, I believe it was Chesterton who said something to the effect that insanity could be defined as repeatedly doing exactly the same thing but expecting different results.  Ol’ Robbo found himself thinking about this as he watched “Red Tails” on cable last evening.  It’s one of those movies I’ll generally stop on if I’m flipping through the teevee channels and can’t find anything else.

Somehow, each time I find myself hoping it’s better than I remember it being.  After all, the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII are a noble and uplifting subject.  And yet, every time I’m  disappointed anew.  The movie is just plain bad: cardboard characters, completely predictable and clichéd dialogue, and CGI Mustangs doing unpossible things.

A pity.

But maybe…just maybe….next time…….

Anyhoo a few notes on some other historickal movies that have come through my Netflix queue of late:

Drums Along the Mohawk” (1939)- Upstate New York settlers fighting off the Iroquois during the Revolutionary War.  It’s funny: I’ve seen this film probably three or four times, but couldn’t remember a single thing about it from previous viewings.  This time around I decided I really don’t care for it very much, despite the presence of the lovely and talented Claudette Colbert.  Too much “Ye Olde” about it, I guess.  Also, I’ve decided once and for all that the only costume genre Henry Fonda had any business being in was Westerns.  (I was reminded of his role as Pierre in that bizarre adaptation of “War and Peace“.  In speaking of Napoleon’s armies, even all dolled up as a Russian noble, he may as well have been talking of the Comanche.)

The Howards of Virginia” (1940) – Now this one was new to me and I actually quite liked it.  Another Revolutionary War film in which young up-and-coming frontiersman Cary Grant plucks Martha Scott out of Tidewater Society (under her brother Cedric Hardwicke’s nose) and builds her an estate out in the Shenandoah.  As the political situation collapses, trouble ensues.  It seemed Grant couldn’t decide whether to stick with an Irish accent or not, but otherwise I thought it a good story well acted.  (A lot of the exteriors were filmed at Colonial Williamsburg not long after it had been rescued and refurbished.)

Beau Geste” (1939)- With Gary Cooper in the title role.  I’ve been wanting to see this for years, and it was well worth it.  P.C. Wren’s convoluted story-lines and rich dialogue could never be completely replicated on the screen, but I thought the movie did a fine job in presenting the story.  (And on that front, I’ve now really got to track down “The Desert Song” and watch it.)

Ivanhoe” (1952)- The tale of knightly strife between Saxons and Normans under Wicked King John.  A pretty good  chain-mail story (although I confess I haven’t read Scott in years and years).  And how’d you like to be Robert Taylor  with a young Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine fighting over you!  Tough life, eh?  This film reminded me that I want to go back and have a look at the Anthony Andrews tee-vee version, which I haven’t seen in 35-odd years but have a vague recollection was pretty well done, too.

Caesar and Cleopatra” (1945) – I’ll tell you truly, friends – Ol’ Robbo could watch Claude Rains all day and every day.  And even though Vivian Leigh was quite off her rocker, she’s still mighty easy on the eyes.  (OTOH, I am now firmly convinced that Stewart Granger was nothing more than beefcake.  Even when playing the large-living Apollodorus, he couldn’t really act that much.)  Finally, while there are many things about Mr. G.B. Shaw which Ol’ Robbo finds objectionable, I will give it to the man that he wielded a mighty witty pen.

Oh, I’m also reminded that yesterday was the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo.  Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t noticed either of the major screen treatments running on cable this week.  (Perhaps they did when we were without power over the weekend.)  I haven’t seen the John Wayne version in years and need to toss it in the queue.  Of course, that was mostly the Dook being the Dook, but is that such a bad thing?  Some time fairly recently I also actually tried the 2004 version and was pleasantly surprised in that it wasn’t half as awful as I dreaded: I doubt seriously whether there was much room for Billy Bob Thornton’s ironic self-awareness on the frontier in 1836, but otherwise I thought it was a reasonably fair treatment.  (And yes, the real Col. Travis was something of a preening twit.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As you might gather from the posts immediately below, Ol’ Robbo was hither and yon on biznay this week.  A remarkably stressful trip, given that it was only two nights and the work itself was relatively straight-forward.  For one thing, the stormy weather seemed to chase me all over the place, especially while I was in the air.  For another, owing to various factors including my inability to eat while flying and a counted-on lunch break that never happened, between Tuesday evening and this morning I managed to get only two full meals.

I am now quite wiped out.  Ol’ Robbo ain’t as young as he used to be.

Anyhoo, just a few things:

♦  Ol’ Robbo is fascinated by this Florida shootings biznay.  Not the horror of the massacre itself so much, but the meta-issue behind it regarding the relationship between the governed and governing in a representational democracy in which sovereignty is derived from the consent of the People.  If the Government for whatever reason either can’t or won’t uphold its duty (in this case) to ensure domestic tranquility – and it appears from what I’ve seen that there was a complete top-to-bottom failure to both prevent and limit the scope of the killings – at what point does it become not only the People’s right (which is inherent) but its responsibility to say “Enough is enough.  Your services are no longer required and your authority is revoked.  We’ll do it ourselves.”

♦  Or, if I may borrow a favorite expression from our long-haired hippie friends, “Power to the People, man!”  (Depends on who’s ox is being gored and who’s doing the goring, don’t it?)

♦  Oh, and as long as I’m at it, the gun-grabbers on the Left and their establishment media buddies can take their fake Children’s Crusade and stuff it.

♦  There! If all that doesn’t get me a bullet in the back of my head when the Socialist Justice Wanker Revolution comes, I don’t know what will!

♦  And finally on that note, I’d also mention that after many years of opposition due to a vague fear of firearms, Mrs. Robbo has now come around and said that she thinks it actually would be a good idea if I saw to arming up Port Swiller Manor.

♦  On a completely different note, to which the title of this post is tied, it’s a warmish and foggy day here at Port Swiller Manor, not much in keeping with late February weather round these parts.  I noticed this morning that the maples are already starting to blossom and the daffodils are coming up.  I seem to recall a similar “False Spring” last year, after which it turned cold again  (although I believe it was a bit later).  Barring a late-season nor’easter, looks like we’re going to be spared any serious snowfall again this year, too.  Somehow, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t mind very much.

♦  This weekend is the spring theatre production down to Eldest Gel’s school.  As I may have mentioned before, they’re doing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.  Eldest is serving as an assistant stage manager.  She’s enjoyed doing the work, but in her opinion the play itself is not half so clever or funny as it thinks it is.  I’ve never seen it on stage although I have seen the movie, and I rather tend to agree with her.  (Pretentious? Moi?)

Well, that’s enough for now.  Ol’ Robbo’s off to get some more kawfeh and then settle down in his favorite chair to watch the bird feeders for a while.  Very restful occupation when one needs to recharge.


I’m Robbo the Port Swiller and I approve this painting.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the decanter no doubt read the story this week about the kerfluffle over the Manchester Art Gallery temporarily removing John William Waterhouse’s “Hylas and the Nymphs” from display?  (Apparently, it’s back up now.)

It is a painting that shows pubescent, naked nymphs tempting a handsome young man to his doom, but is it an erotic Victorian fantasy too far, and one which, in the current climate, is unsuitable and offensive to modern audiences?

Manchester Art Gallery has asked the question after removing John William Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs, one of the most recognisable of the pre-Raphaelite paintings, from its walls. Postcards of the painting will be removed from sale in the shop.

The painting was taken down on Friday and replaced with a notice explaining that a temporary space had been left “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection”.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute!  I thought that the purpose of art nowadays is to be “unsuitable and offensive”! I thought such untouchable examples of artistic expression such as the “Piss Christ”, that Madonna made of elephant dung, and the photography of Robert Maplethorpe were supposed to shake us stuffy, close-minded bourgeois mouth-breathers out of our comfort zones.   Double-standard we much?

But then, of course, consistency is not a hobgoblin with which Cultural Marxism concerns itself very much.  Power first.  Principles later.

The article is from the Guardian,  which seems to take the line that summarily disappearing a piece of art is not censorship, because in a museum, for example, things get switched in and out all the time for a lot of different reasons.  Well that may be true, but if you’re saying you’re removing it because it might be too offensive, then yeah, you’re censoring it.  (Speaking of which, I see where a school district in Minnesota is yanking Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird from its reading list because of badspeak.  What the heck happened to the principled liberals like Nat Hentoff who used to speak out against this sort of nonsense? Off the top of my head, Camille Paglia is about the only one who still puts up a fight.)

By the bye, in Ol’ Robbo’s experience, language such as “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artwork”  when used by Leftists invariably translates into “shut up and get in line, kulak”.

Of course, if the Manchester Gallery decide in good conscience that they simply can’t keep this Waterhouse, Ol’ Robbo would be perfectly happy to take it off their hands.

UPDATE:  The lovely and talented Mary Katharine Ham takes many of Ol’ Robbo’s points about both the Manchester flap and the Minnesota book-banning, and turns them into a battle-cry.  Mmmmm…..MKH mentioned the old Llama Butchers by name in a video back in the day (which I couldn’t possibly find now).  Nice that she’s evidently paying attention to Ol’ Robbo even after all this time.  A glass of Madeira, M’dear?

Her greater point, which I think is an important one, is that when people actually push back against this web of unreality, it buckles, since it is built on a web of fantasy and lies.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo just got done watching the yootube video of this afternoon’s successful launch of the Falcon Heavy from Cape Canaveral.

Mind status:  Blown.

Seriously, I am astounded by the take off and landing of the main rocket plus its two boosters.  I’m old enough to remember watching the later Apollo missions to the moon, and of course to follow all the shuttle missions, but (and here you may throw the cliché flag if you wish), this one seems like something right out of science fiction.

And that it’s a private company that is pioneering this stuff is doubly gratifying.  I know Elon Musk is getting all kinds of sweet, sweet gub’mint money, but a) he’s ponying up himself, too, and b) this kind of thing is definitely worth it.

Indeed, I’ve long thought that NASA ought to step out of the way and let private adventurers set forth on projects such as colonizing the moon, sending an expedition to Mars, and mining asteroids.  Seems to me that this is a significant step in that process.

Oh, and speaking of such things, today’s launch reminds me that I must be the only person on the planet who remembers a short-lived Andy Griffith teevee series from 1979 called “Salvage-1“.  In it, Griffith’s character develops a scheme and the technical know-how to send a rocket (called “Vulture-1” I believe) to the moon to pick up all the junk left behind by the Apollo program (which he intends to sell back on Earth at a tidy profit).  Even back then, at the tender age of 14, Ol’ Robbo found himself thinking that private enterprise was the way to go when it came to conquering the final frontier.

Finally, as you probably know, the payload sent up today was one of Musk’s Tesla Roadsters, with a manikin in a space suit at the wheel.  If you go to the video linked above, at one point you’ll see a shot of the car and driver.  On the dashboard is a small screen with the words “Don’t Panic” displayed on it.  I about fell out of my chair laughing.

** Spot the reference.  And I’ll be impressed as hell if you get it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are in February already, and it’s living up to its reputation this year.  (As it happens, the sky is clear today but it’s too damn cold to do much outside.)

Because the mind of Ol’ Robbo works the way it does, whenever I come to contemplate the fact of February, I always think of the scene in Act 2 of the Pirates of Penzance where the Pirate King explains to young Frederick the paradox of his (Frederick) having been born on February 29 in a Leap Year:

For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve no desire to be disloyal,
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February, twenty-eight

days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence — I shouldn’t be surprised if it were owing

to the agency of an ill-natured fairy —
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year,

on the twenty-ninth of February.
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you’re
only five and a little bit over !

(Is this a leap year, by the bye? I haven’t looked it up.)

Anyhoo, I find myself in the Port Swiller library, laptop on lap, cat on arm of chair, thinking of this and that.

♦  I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about FISA-gate.  I won’t say anything about it here even though I’ve been following the whole biznay quite intently.  What’s that lyric from the Sting song? “At the stillpoint of destruction/ At the center of the fury/ All the angels, all the devils/  (Something, something) can’t you see?” A leetle too close for comfort.  I will just reiterate in general my philosophy that, even though I work in it, I consider government to be a necessary evil, not a religion.  This sort of thing is what happens when others feel differently.

♦   Speaking of religion, as Candlemas was yesterday, I took down and put away the last of the Christmas decorations this morning – specifically the crèche in the front hall and the wreaths on the front doors.  Mrs. Robbo managed to restrain herself from making cracks about how tired she was of looking at them until just the other day.  I think this is a compromise I can live with.

♦   In the Absurdity Department, I learn that Daisy, the Port Swiller Special Needs Dog, has been banned from the groomers.  They say she shakes and gibbers so much that it takes them far too long to finish with her.  So we’re investing in an electric trimmer and will have a go at doing it ourselves.  Anybody know anything about how to cut a dog’s hair?

♦   I am slowly – very slowly – working up the energy to finally getting around to reorganizing my library, which is presently quite a-jumble. Ol’ Robbo simply can’t bear the idea of actually getting rid of books – even those he has no intention of ever reading again – but it recently occurred to me that there is room in the basement where I can, as it were, circular-file them, leaving the library shelves upstairs free for repacking (and adding to).  So, once I summon enough energy, downstairs will go such volumes as the histories of commie-bastard Eric Hobsbawm (left over from college) and fellow-travelers Will and Ariel Durant (picked up at a garage sale when I was young and didn’t know any better); the novels of Hemingway and Steinbeck; the Dee Cee “Insider” books by people like Ken Starr and David Bois that the Old Gentleman continually sent me but I never read, and the like.  The choice of what to retire will be delicious.

♦   Oh, there is one book I’m throwing away:  Lisa Birnbach’s True Prep. Her original Preppy Handbook from back in the early 80’s was amusing (I still have it), but this updated version, capturing as it does the depth of narcissism into which the current so-called “Elite” have slid since then, is horrifying.

♦   And finally, speaking of narcissism, Ol’ Robbo has no intention of watching the Sooper Bowl this year.  Not that I’ve paid very much attention to pro ball since Marino retired, but I usually still tune into the SB for the sheer spectacle.  Not this time.  (Besides, I think a Pats win is pretty much a foregone conclusion.)  No matter:  Only eleven more days until pitchers and catchers report!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

One of Ol’ Robbo’s little delights in life is noticing links and gunnegshuns among things that, at first sight, don’t appear to have that much in common.  This came to me today regarding several books I have just finished or am currently reading.

To wit:

First, I may have mentioned it already but a week or two ago I finished The Horse Soldiers by Harold Sinclair.  It’s a fictional dramatization of Grierson’s Raid, a Union cavalry expedition through the heart of Mississippi in 1863 during Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign, and is the basis of the John Wayne movie of the same name (which I re-watch frequently).

Second, at my brother’s behest, I read Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, which tells the story of the great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, largely through the eyes of Isaac Cline, the resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau who lived through the thing.  (Pretty good book. The science was fascinating and the depictions of carnage horrifying.  I was less impressed with the author’s attempts to get into the head of the man Cline himself.)




Third, as should not be any surprise to regular friends of the decanter who know that recently Ol’ Robbo has been reading novelisations of the French and Indian War, I’ve started off on my latest re-reading of Volume One of Francis Parkman’s great France and England in North America and am currently in the midst of the third book of that set, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West.

Now, anyone want to know what the Three Degrees of Separation are here?  Well, I’ll tell you:

First, the fictional hero of The Horse Soldiers is one Colonel Marlowe.  Marlowe is (very) loosely based on the real life Col. Benjamin Grierson.  Grierson, who had been a professional musician and band-master before the War, took the unusual step of staying in the Regular Army afterwards, much to the distain of the West Point crowd.  Among his other post-War assignments, Grierson served for a while as commander of Fort Concho in what was then the frontier town of San Angelo, Texas (where he was a great proponent of the so-called “Buffalo Soldiers”, again, much to the distain of his fellow officers).

This Fort Concho becomes the second literary link, because it just so happens that Isaac Cline was posted there in the early days of his meteorological training program with the Army Signal Corp (albeit not when Grierson was in command, but a few years later).

The third link comes in to play because, although Isaacs’ Storm is primarily about the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, it also touches on Indianola, Texas, an up-and-coming 19th Century port farther southwest along the Texas Gulf Coast that got hammered by a pair of hurricanes in 1875 and 1886 and, as a result, was pretty much abandoned.  Now Indianola is (there are still a few houses there) located on Matagorda Bay, which is the same bay in which the great René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s attempt to sail up the Mississippi eventually foundered in 1685, and on the shores of which he established his ill-fated French colony before meeting his untimely death at the hands of mutineers in East Texas while going for help on foot.  Matagorda Bay also happens to be the water in which Ol’ Robbo did all of his salt-water fishing in his misspent yoot (at Pass Cavallo, largely, at which point La Salle came ashore and not very far from the resting place of his expedition’s sunken supply ship La Belle, as it turns out), so that makes it all the more personal for me.

So there you have it, you see?  Grierson to Cline to La Salle.

(This, by the bye, is an example of why Ol’ Robbo doesn’t get invited to many parties.  Seems pretty exclusive and hurtful, now that I think about it.  Aren’t we bores people too?  Why do you have to be so borephobic, you haters?)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo mentioned below that he had been reading Charles Portis’s Masters of Atlantis yesterday.  Portis wrote five novels altogether, and it’s a habit of mine that once I get it into my head to read one of them, I’ve got to read the other four in rapid succession.  This happens probably two or three times a year (this time through triggered by my cousin’s mention of his True Grit at Christmas dinner) and is something of a testament to how much I enjoy his writing. (Norwood is a pleasant afternoon’s read.  The sausage-flipping scene always caused the Mothe to have hysterics.  My favorite book of the group is probably The Dog of the South.)

Anyhoo, having finished up MOA, I immediately leapt over to Portis’s novel Gringos.  It’s a story about a group of American ex-pats in the Yucatan, several of whom are involved with the somewhat shadier side of Mayan archeology and artifacts.  (I have a theory that its protagonist, Jimmy Burns, is a somewhat autobiographical character, by the bye.)

Perhaps because immigration reform is causing so much tongue-swallowing among the talking heads these days, a particular little fact nugget in the book jumped out at me this time around, namely Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution.

Article 33 states:

“The Federal Executive shall have the exclusive power to compel any foreigner whose remaining he may deem inexpedient to abandon the national territory immediately and without the necessity of previous legal action.”

It also states:

“Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.”

In other words, the President of Mexico can throw out any foreigner at any time and for any reason and without any due process.

Ol’ Robbo just thinks it’s interesting, given the hysterics over the proposition that U.S. immigration should be controlled by equitable rule of law, that such a genuinely arbitrary and capricious regime exists just across the border and that I wouldn’t even know about it except for the fact that I like the novels of Charles Portis.

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