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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finally got around to watching “Dunkirk” last evening after it bobbed up in his Netflix queue.

Overall, I guess I liked the movie, although it certainly didn’t live up to some of the hype I’d heard about it when it first came out in theatres.**  I loved the cinematography, and was pleased that the CGI effects were kept to a bare minimum.

But there were some things that bugged me about it, too, both in terms of craftsmanship and in terms of historickal presentation. May I share them with you?  Well, here goes.  First, however, even though I imagine just about every friend of the decanter has already seen the thing anyway, blogging rules require that I issue a:

**SPOILER ALERT** **SPOILER ALERT** **SPOILER ALERT**

There.

(And no, the spoiler is not that the British Expeditionary Force gets off the beach.)

First, I was rather surprised at the lack of any real exposition or backstory at the beginning.  I mean, one minute blank screen, the next a group of Tommies getting shot at.  And the next, the sole survivor of the squad trying to find a place on the ships. We never learn a single thing about him (not even his name, I think).  Ditto for the Spitfire pilots and the man and his son driving their boat across the Channel who are the centerpieces of the other two interwoven stories here.  You and I, who know something about history, can take all this in, but what is the average young victim of our public education system supposed to make of it?  Also, so far as character development went, yes, they’re all protagonists because they’re Brits, but besides that why am I supposed to feel any particular attachment to them?  There’s nothing to connect with. (This is the same problem I have with “Rogue One”, by the bye.)

Second, it took Ol’ Robbo a while to figure out the whole “one week/one day/one hour” biznay and that those were the lengths of the three different plot lines the movie was weaving together to build to the final scene.  And once I did figure it out, I found it frankly irritating: A day and a night and another day with our Tommy and then the story cuts back to the same damn dogfight we were watching earlier.  Yes, the final point where all the lines merged was a good one, but it seemed to me an obnoxious way to go about getting there.  Also, it didn’t seem to me that anyone was paying much attention to continuity – even taking into account the leaps in time, I couldn’t help noticing that the weather seemed to be changing an awful lot.

Third, I’m no expert on the Evacuation, but it seems to me that the movie’s suggestion that the Royal Navy bugged out and left the rescue largely to the private craft, and that London didn’t really expect many of the BEF to get away anyway, is…..incorrect.  IIRC, there were something between 40 and 60 British destroyers on hand, of which about 10% were sunk and twice as many damaged, and that they continued to aid the operation the entire time.  And of the 400K soldiers who set out with the BEF, I think they took off something in the neighborhood of 330K, the other 70K being casualties for the entire operation, not just the evacuation.

Also, I thought the air-battle portion was a bit thin.  I know the story’s POV was mostly confined to the two Spitfire pilots mentioned above, but each side lost something like 150 planes in the battle.  I don’t think the Heinkels were stooging over one at a time, nor the Stukas in groups of three, when they attacked the beaches, nor were the Spits attacking them in similar numbers.

So there you are.  I’d probably watch “Dunkirk” again if I came across it on cable, but I don’t feel any particular need to make an additional effort.

(Incidentally, the fact that the Brits were able to get so many men away under the Luftwaffe’s onslaught lends credence to the theory I’ve seen in Derek Robinson’s Piece of Cake and elsewhere that Hitler did not try to invade Britain because the Royal Navy still controlled the invasion route and he knew the Luftwaffe could not beat them on its own.  I will at least say that such theory makes sense to me, even if I don’t completely buy into it.)

** You know what’s really beginning to irritate me? When people say that they saw a movie “in theatres”.  No you didn’t – you saw it in a theatre.  “In theatres” is just marketing talk, but it’s slipped into conversational form.  Grr….

UPDATE: Speaking of movies, I know what it was I wanted to mention here.  A week or two ago, Eldest Gel and I watched “Tropic Thunder” together.  (I hadn’t seen it before but she has it more or less memorized.)  Anyhoo, Robert Downey, Jr.’s riff on Russell Crowe was about the funniest durn thing I’ve seen in a long time.  To paraphrase the old New Yorker’s review of the Marx Brothers’ “Night At The Opera”, it was doing to Russell Crowe what ought to be done to Russell Crowe.  And why Crowe didn’t hunt down Downey and beat the daylights out of him for it, I really don’t know.

Heh, indeed.

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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Did you all see the story this week that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name has been removed from a children’s literary award because of double-plus ungood wrong-think?

Yes, the new name of the award will be “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” because that show contained correct views of the 19th Century frontier, including the voice-over in the radio commercials from years back (which Ol’ Robbo is not making up) where the beta-boy says in a sing-song, Mr. Rogers voice., “It’s the wonderful diversity that makes this place so special!”

Just you wait.  It’s only a matter of time before the Kennedy Center disappears its Mark Twain Humor Award on similar grounds. (“How dare they give a prize named after a man who used that word in his writings?”)

UPDATE:  Speaking of frontier writers never likely to have a children’s book award named after them, I’m currently re-reading John C. Cremony’s Life Among the Apaches.  Cremony was part of the 1850 Border Commission sent to sort out the line between the United States and Mexico after the war.  Since he was apparently the only member of the party who could speak Spanish, he became the main mouthpiece between them and the Apaches of New Mexico and Arizona.  He published his observations in 1868.

Cremony is a major source for George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman and the Redskins, since the first part of that story has Flashy in the southwest in 1849/50 and dealing extensively with Mangus Colorado, James Gallatin, and other figures of the time and place.  Through Flashy’s mouth, GMF has this to say about post hoc armchair virtue-signaling:

I know the heathen, and their oppressors, pretty well, you see, and the folly of sitting smug in judgment years after, stuffed with piety and ignorance and book-learned bias.  Humanity is beastly and stupid, aye, and helpless, and there’s an end to it. And that’s as true for Crazy Horse as it was for Custer – and they’re both long gone, thank God.  But I draw the line at the likes of anthropological half-truthers; oh, there’s a deal in what they say, right enough – but it’s only one side of the tale, and when I hear it puffed out with all that righteous certainty, as though every white man was a villain and every redskin a saint, and the fools swallow it and feel suitably guilty…well, it can get my goat, especially when I’ve got a drink in me and my kidneys are creaking.

Indeed.

Since the post immediately below is of a somewhat juvenile nature, let Ol’ Uncle Robbo balance things out a bit by offering a double-knock this evening.

I just finished re-reading Thackeray’s Vanity Fair for, I believe, the third time.  I’ve enjoyed it more and more each time, not so much for the Dobbins/Amelia plot which I find tarsome, but for the other major thread.

So, Gentlemen, if given a “choice” (if you know what I mean, and I think you do), which Brit literary femme fatale would you go with:  Rebecca Sharp, Brenda Last, or Pamela Widmerpool?

(Ladies, feel free to weigh in on these three, too!)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo and the Missus just got home from celebrating our 25th anniversary in Bermuda.  My friends, all I can say is that it is a delightful, delightful place.

Friends of the decanter will remember that Ol’ Robbo asked some time last week about things to do and see in the place.  In the end, however, by enthusiastic mutual consent, we wound up simply loafing about for three days.  Uncle Robbo did remember to bring back a few snaps for your entertainment, however.  On reviewing them, I believe you will concur that our decision was a wise one.

We stayed at a private club at Coral Beach, located on the south side of the island at roughly the midpoint.  Here is the view from our balcony:

Room With A View

We ate breakfast here each morning, and by the time we left had collected quite the following of sparrows and kiskadees (a bird Ol’ Robbo had not seen before) through tossing breadcrumbs out on to the floor.  With a full pot of java and that kind of view, why wouldn’t I linger over it?

At night, we left the double-doors open (but not the screens) so as to catch the sound of the waves crashing and the wind rustling in the palms.  The other thing we heard all night was about a bajillion tree frogs, many of which had a call that sounded like a high-pitched sonar “ping”.  Frankly, Ol’ Robbo slept very badly all three nights, but that’s because I always do so when away from home.  I could have taped this particular cacophony and made bank selling it as a soporific.

Eventually, though, we’d toddle down to the beach.  The first thing I must say is that I have never seen sea water quite like this – so clear and so luminously blue.  The second is that for all the talk of “pink” Bermudian sand (and our beach is supposed to be one of the pinkest), you’ve really got to catch it at the right time of day and without a lot of footprints and tiretracks churning it up in order to get this notion.

Life’s A Beach

Anyhoo, as I say, we’d toddle down to the beach after brekkers.  Each day, we’d set up shop under an umbrella and alternate between reading, dozing, plunging into the water (where we saw numerous schools of young Jack Permit fish fooling about), walking laps (the entire beach is about half a mile or so from end to end), and getting the nice man at the bar to bring us G&T’s and Pimm’s Cup.  Tough life.  Tough life.  (Yes, we talked about marriage stuff, too, but I won’t bore you with what is, after all, confidential.)

Actually, it was truly tough in one respect:  Ol’ Robbo, even as he types, is suffering from being thoroughly cooked by the sun.  I tried spraying on sunblock, but evidently my skills are suboptimal, because I’ve come out looking piebald, like Ransom in Perelandra.

By the bye, and still keeping on the topic of the beach, the whole time we were there, we got to watch pairs and groups of the iconic Bermuda Longtail fly up and down the shore.  An intensely beautiful tropicbird that I, of course, have not seen before. I can well see why so much of the local artwork incorporates images of this bird.

The place we were staying is set at the top of a forty foot cliff overlooking the ocean.  (Right at the top are the restored remains of an English gun emplacement from the earliest colonial times.  Idiot Robbo had forgot all about the fact that Bermuda was first settled in 1609 by Jamestown colonists under George Somers after their ship was driven ashore during a hurricane.)  During the day, as I say, we were able to get refreshments down on the beach.  In the evenings, we dined up at the top of the escarpment.

All in all, as I say, delightful.

A few random additional thoughts and observations:

♦  The Bermudians, as a rule, at least so far as I observed, seem to be friendly without fawning.  They were all of them cordial, but one was always aware of a polite but firm barrier.  I’ve no problem with that.

♦  The place is very cramped, and space is at a premium.  The roads are narrow, shoulderless, and wound about, and it’s small wonder that the island-wide speed limit is only 25 mph.  Between that and driving on the left side, Ol’ Robbo would have quickly gone insane behind the wheel had he attempted it.

♦  The place also is as expensive as hell, largely because everything has to be imported.  I’m still gulping a bit about the total damage done from our trip (not that it wasn’t completely worth it).

♦ I had not realized that the only substantial water supply on the island is rainfall, so that each resident is responsible for catching and storing as much said rain as possible via roofs and tanks.

♦  Somebody remarked here previously that landing at Bermuda was like landing on an aircraft carrier.  I dunno about that, since I don’t look out the window until the rubber meets the tarmac, but I can tell you that because of that comment, and because the flight out was rather bumpy, Ol’ Robbo found himself repeatedly muttering under his breath, “Next time, Jack, write a goddam memo!” **

** A nifty-gifty of a spotable quote.

Anyhoo, long story short, we had a lovely time and will definitely go back if and when we can.

UPDATE: My apologies if any friend of the decanter feels this post is a bit too Robin Leach-ish.  Ol’ Robbo did not in any way wish to appear as if sticking on dog about “Champaign wishes and caviar dreams” here.  This was the first vacay Mrs. R and I spent together alone and in some style in God-knows how many years and we worked like dammit to plan, save, and wangle so that we could enjoy it without worry.

By the bye and speaking of which, my favorite Robin Leach quote? “There was one room in her house that was always kept locked.  It was….the garage.”  Anybody spot the quote?

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For whatever reason, perhaps because the summah heat has set in and my intellect is correspondingly evaporating, Ol’ Robbo has started whipping through Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series again.

I may provoke some ire over the decanter and walnuts here, but I’m going to say it anyway: By golly, is this stuff trash.

So why do I read it?  Because I’m a (casual) student of the Napoleonic Wars and I enjoy what I believe to be Cornwell’s gift for accurately explaining and describing the purely military side of things, from strategic objectives to logistics to tactical maneuverings to the nitty-gritty of hand-to-hand combat.

But as for the rest? Aw, Jeez.  The characters are cardboard bordering on caricature, the dialogue is preposterous, Sharpe’s up-from-the-gutter story is clang, clang, clang, and the love interests come and go like Bond Girls.

For what it’s worth, I have nearly identical opinions – both good and bad – about the novels of Tom Clancy, which I also read from time to time, although I don’t really venture much beyond Clear and Present Danger.  Also Jeff Shaara, Derek Robinson and, for that matter, C.S. Forester and Charles Kingsley.

On the other hand, I have no such misgivings about reading and rereading similarly-themed works by the likes of Patrick O’Brian, George MacDonald Fraser, P.C. Wren, Erskine Childers, Conan Doyle, and Rider Haggard.  (Yes, I know one of you is going to mention John Buchan, but I still haven’t read him yet.  And of course, Kipling is beyond question. )  One of these days, I’ll put my mind to analyzing the differences.

Anyhoo, getting back to the Sharpe stories, I savor the battle scenes, cringe at the personal interest stuff, and feel vaguely ashamed about it all afterwards.  And yet, as I say, I keep coming back.

Who are some of your secret or not-so-secret favorite trash authors?

UPDATE: Of, I forgot.  The other evening as I was reading one of the Sharpe books, Eldest Gel came in the room and asked me about it.

“Oh,” I said, “It’s historickal fiction about the Napoleonic Wars.”

She looked at me cock-eyed and exclaimed, “Who on Earth else but you would read something like that?”

Kids these days.  Even mine.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry for the lack of posting the past few days (and maybe the next few, too).  It’s High School Graduation Week here at Port Swiller Manor and unlike her elder sister, who shunned as much of the hoopla as possible, Middle Gel is intent on taking in as many of the activities as she can.  So we had an academic achievement awards ceremony yesterday, I think there’s a parents’ breakfast tomorrow (which I am missing because work), the Big Shoo is Thursday, the school choir has its own awards picnic Friday, and Mrs. R and I are co-hosting the Gel’s  graduation party with another couple on Saturday (not at our house, thank God).

Plus, the Port Swiller In-Laws rolled into town Sunday and are staying for the week.  So there’s that.

Busy times.

Anyhoo, all that aside, I just wanted to note that I saw my first firefly of the season last evening.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned here more than once how fond I am of fireflies and of watching them fool about on the edge of the woods on these warm and humid spring evenings.    Sometimes, when it’s very still, I even fancy I can hear a faint *phah* every time one of them lights off.

Always makes me happy.

Ace was talking about “news fatigue” this afternoon, the 24/7 bombardment of outraged shrieking by politickal pundits and talking heads and how so many people are increasingly sick and tired of it all.  He asks the Moron Horde how they cope with it in their various ways.

Me? Well, one method is to sit on the porch in the evening and look for the fireflies.  Another is to watch the clouds (we may get a thundershower this evening).  A third is to contemplate the trees in their yearly cycles.  A fourth is to read a piece of fiction or listen to some musick.  And of course, all of these involve not watching or listening to the MSM.

See how easy that is?  And I haven’t even got to God or Family yet.

One specific act of defiance:  The local classickal station runs three-minute NPR nooz updates at the top of the hour.  Although I listen to the station all day down the office, I’ve got into the habit of shutting it off for those three minutes, just to preserve my blood-pressure.

That, too, is pretty easy.

Really, they can only get you in the end if you let them.

Or perhaps I should say, “[They] can’t take the sky from me.” **

 

** I hope footnotes are not required for the references.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This morning as he blearily scanned the headlines over his first cuppa, Ol’ Robbo’s eye was caught by an article from the Beeb about “the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean” and what a hell of a time it’s having environmentally after having been smacked by a cyclone the other day.

If you had asked me, “Robbo, what is the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean?'” just a few days ago, I confess I wouldn’t have had the slightest idea.  (Probably would have guessed Rodrigues just at random because there are turtles there.)

But by one of those serendipitous little coincidences, it just so happens that I had come across the answer earlier this week as I was poking about on the innertoobs: It’s the Island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen, of which I had never actually heard before.

And why on earth was Robbo looking up this particular piece of information?  Because I had just re-read Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief, which is set on the fictional island of Azania (also off the coast of Yemen), and I became interested in trying to figure out if Waugh’s creation had a real basis.

Alas, no, at least not physically.  The map Mr. Wu himself provided with his novel shows Socotra to the north of the much larger Azania, but a quick check of the real map shows that there is nothing directly south of it except a whoooole lot of water.

On the other hand, there apparently are some similarities between the two in terms of flora and fauna, as well as cultural and racial history.  (Waugh’s description of the mix of primitive tribal paganism, Nestorian Christianity, and decayed Islam, overlaid on a mixed population of African and Arab, with a few scourings from the Levant, seems to echo what is said of Socotra.)  Also the general lack of interest by the Western Powers once Aden was established as a British stronghold.

So perhaps the novel’s primitive, ungovernable territory to which poor, misguided, Oxford-educated Emperor Seth attempts to bring utopian Progressivism, aided and abetted by that arch ne’er-do-well, Basil Seal, is not such pure fiction after all.  But whatever Mr. Wu had in mind, as I say, it’s serendipitous that I should have been poking around in it just before this story came to my attention.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has noticed that the current eruption of the Kilauea Volcano seems no longer to be grabbing headlines for the moment.  I gather that, having done some damage (and what idiot builds next to an active volcano?), the lava has established its primary path to the sea and is busily heading that way without bothering anybody else.

When we were all gathered together the other day, somebody in the Port Swiller Manor household referred to this eruption in the context of the Pacific Rim of Fire.  Ol’ Robbo couldn’t allow this.

“Not so,” says I. “The Hawaiian Islands sit over a volcanic hotspot – a stationary thin point in the Earth’s lower crust – right smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Plate.  This, in fact, isn’t a tectonic thing, but a different phenomenon altogether.”

At which point the family’s collective “toxic nerd alert” alarum seems to have gone off, as suddenly Ol’ Robbo found himself talking solely to one of the cats, who was asleep anyway.

Hmpph!

Nonetheless, the geography of Hawaii does, in fact, have a tangential connection with plate tectonics, in that it neatly maps out the drift of the Pacific Plate over this particular hotspot.  As you can see from just looking at an ordinary map, the chain runs from southeast to northwest, the islands getting progressively smaller as you go along.  This is because the Plate itself is drifting northwest:  As long as some bit of it is over the hotspot, that bit is subject to volcanic island formation and growth.  Once the islands drift away from the hotspot, they start to erode.  Eventually, the Big Island, which is now the active one, particularly on its southeast side, will slide away from the hotspot and start to crumble and shrink as well, while yet another one eventually rises up southeast of it.

Pretty neat, eh?

And want to hear something even neater?  Go look at Google-Earth on “satellite view” setting:  Not only will you see the Hawaiian chain continue trailing away to the northwest under water, eventually you’ll see it hook sharply north and trail all the way up nearly to far eastern Russia.  That north-south section – the remnant of long-ago passage over the very same hotspot – is known as the Emperor Seamounts, and shows that the Pacific Plate at one point was drifting due north before taking a turn northwest.

And don’t just take my word for this: John McPhee writes at some length about it (and provides an illustrative map) in his Annals of the Former World, which Ol’ Robbo plugs here from time to time (and, I guess, is plugging again), and which I cannot recommend too enthusiastically.  I don’t pretend to understand it at more than a surface level, but the makings of the Earth – from plate tectonics to continental drift, volcanic hotspots to glacial gougings, erosion to geologically-driven shifts in weather patterns – never ceases to amaze and delight me.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo currently is enjoying a lovely Monday evening on the Port Swiller back porch.  The air is still and heady with the fragrance of the wisteria that opened this week (and Ol’ Robbo has a lot of wisteria in his back yard).  The temperature is just right in the mid-70’s. The catbird is riffing away in the nearby branches.  Ol’ Robbo has a nice glass of wine at his elbow.  And since I haven’t yet toddled off to the basement to turn on the Nats game, I have no knowledge of whether or not they’re winning or losing yet, so anything is still possible.  (I call this period of uncertainty before I pick up the game – typically in about the 5th inning – “Schrödinger’s Box-Score”.)

So what better time to set down my thoughts about some of the movies that have recently come through my Netflix queue, right?  Here we go:

Shane“(1953) – Ol’ Robbo has seen this before several times, but each time I seem to have forgotten what a God-Almighty annoying film it is.  “Shane? What are you going to do, Shane? Shane? Can I come with you, Shane? Oh, Shane, do be careful….Shane!”  There are the seeds of an extremely lethal drinking game there.

Also, as much a fan as I am of Jean Arthur, she was a bit too long in the tooth by then to be making goo-goo eyes at Alan Ladd.

Still, it does have Jack Palance as the psychotic gun-slick.  Ol’ Robbo’s first experience of Palance was his guest appearance in one of the very first episodes of “Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century” in 1979, in which he played some sort of Messianic villain.  I recall asking the Mothe about him then and her giving me a rayther dismissive reply, but since then I’ve come to enjoy what I can only call his exuberant eeevil on screen.

Nonetheless, I have made a mental note that I really, really don’t need to see “Shane” again.

One Million Years, B.C.” (1966) – I’ve seen clips of it before, but never the whole thing at once. Yes, I watched it primarily because it features Rachel Welch in a fur bikini.  Shut up.  For what it’s worth, Ol’ Robbo thinks Ms. Welch was one of the single loveliest beauties ever to grace the screen.

Funnily, as I was watching, I couldn’t help recalling the Mothe’s summation of the book Clan of the Cave Bear, which she somehow got roped into reading for one of her book clubs one time: “Woman tames fire, Woman has roll in the hay.  Woman domesticates horse, Woman has roll in the hay.  Woman discovers principles of agriculture, Woman has roll in the hay. Woman founds civilization, Woman has roll in the hay.”

The Prince and the Showgirl” (1957) – See below.  And especially see ODT’s link in the comments. “Here’s to Puh-resident Taft” is another standard line of Ol’ Robbo’s misspent yoot.

The Prince and the Pauper” (1937) – Just exactly how many movies are there altogether in which Errol Flynn goes toe to toe with Claude Rains? (Not that I’m complaining, you understand.)  This one – based on the Sam Clemens story – was okay, I suppose, except that I found the twin boys who played the young Edward VI and the street rat to be rayther annoying.  And damme if that wasn’t Alan Hale, Sr., as the captain of the palace guard.  Have you ever stopped to consider just how much he and his son look alike?  Every time I watch one of these Flynn films (and Hale, Sr. seems to be in just about all of them), I keep expecting to hear the interjection, “GILLIGAN!”

Scaramouche” (1952) – (“Will you do the fandango?” Heh.)  Love and revenge shortly before the French Revolution, a very formulaic (and ultimately dull) swashbuckler.  I’m sorry, but as the Mothe would have said, I just don’t have the genes to think much of Stewart Granger.  Also, I didn’t care for the way the film portrayed Marie Antoinette as a debased social schemer.  And no, the presence of Janet Leigh was not enough to save it for me.  It contains a famous six minute-long swordfight, which I’m glad I saw, but I don’t think I’d bother again.

And sitting in the bowl on the kitchen counter? “The Seven Samurai” (1954). Ol’ Robbo has seen this once before and really enjoyed it, but it’s three and a half freakin’ hours long.  Last time I watched it was on an afternoon back in the earlies before we had kids when I’d pulled an all-nighter at work the day before, it was raining out, and Mrs. R was out of town.  I don’t want to try again unless and until I can block out a similar un-mortgaged period of time (and also one in which I’m not likely to doze off), so I’ve a sneaking feeling already that I’m eventually going to return it without watching.

Whelp, speaking of which, I suppose it’s time to go collapse those uncertainty waves and see how the Nats are actually doing this evening……

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s finally done: After what Ol’ Robbo considered to be far too much fuss and bother (and in my books, any fuss and bother is far too much), and a mere two months along, the Port Swiller Manor generator is all hooked up and good to go.

Yes, once we finally coordinated with Washington Gas about getting somebody out to install a “bigger” meter out front and inspect the hookup out back, the generator-wallah was out yesterday to test-fire our newest home-improvement gadget.  Sounded just like a lawnmower.  Musick to Ol’ Robbo’s ears.*

So now, knowing what resources I’ve got as my back, I feel completely confident that the next time the Storm of the Century of the Week bears down on Port Swiller Manor, I can stand outside in my robe, shake my fists at the heavens, and cry, “BLOW, winds, and ker-ACK thy cheeks!”**

I may even stick straws in my hair.  You know – just to get in the proper mood.

On second thought…..better not, what with daughters and all.  Wouldn’t want any would-be Gonerils and Regans to get any funny ideas.

Anyhoo, we’re in the midst of quite the stormy spell, so perhaps we’ll get to put the thing to use rather sooner than later.

 

* Ol’ Robbo loves the sound of a mower in the distance, especially when I can smell the new-cut grass.  Conversely, back in college I often heard the sound of the leaf-vacuums during fall classes.  To this day, whenever I hear one I start to doze off.

** Did I ever relate this story before?  Sophomore year in college, I was dating a fellow Brit-Lit shark.  For Thanksgiving, I and a couple other fellahs were invited by another classmate down to their home in Darien, CT for dinner.  On the way back to the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, up I-95 to I-91, it poured buckets the whole way.  Pitch black, zero visibility, construction all over the place, and ill-tempered 18-wheeler drivers.  Ol’ Robbo was quite frightened, perhaps more-so because I was a passenger and not the driver.  In any event, I arrived back on campus thoroughly exhausted, only to discover that my G.F. had left a message to go see her as soon as possible.

Alarmed, I raced over to her room and found her surrounded by candles and in tears.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Oh,” she replied.  “I’m re-reading King Lear.  And it’s all so…...tragic!”

“Good night,” I said coldly.

It was right about then that I realized that Diane Chambers, although theoretically good, was in practical life disastrous.

 

 

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