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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My name is Robbo and I’m an eeedjit.

It is a custom at Port Swiller Manor that ol’ Robbo cooks the family dinners on weekends, in part because I enjoy doing it, in part because of the unspoken understanding that I am a better cook than Mrs. R.  This is not boasting or belittling, merely a product of circumstances:  Both of my parents cooked (the Mothe is a superb chef and the Old Gentleman could hold his own) while neither of Mrs. R’s does (heating up pre-made meals from Stew Leonard’s does not count).  As a result, I picked up a basic understanding of kitcheny things in my misspent yoot and she simply didn’t.  (And let me say here that I am somewhat Sam Gamgee-like in my knowledge: Within my own 20 mile geographical equivalent limited range, I am very competent, but I cheerfully acknowledge that I am ignorant of almost everything beyond it.)

Anyhoo, in honor of Eldest’s return from college, this evening I was cooking up a shrimp and prosciutto pasta dish to which she is much addicted, but which we rarely have, given that it comes out to about eleventy-billion calories per forkful and leaves one wreaking of garlic and shallots for about 48 hours.

Because Mrs. R has professed to vegetarianism since the last time we had this dish, I decided to sauté the prosciutto separately from the other ingredients in order that everyone could enjoy it one way or another.  To this end, I set out a separate pan of olive oil on one of the back burners to heat up.

What with my family’s infuriating habit of vanishing in the hour before din-dins, leaving me to deal with things by myself, ol’ Robbo once again gave his usual impression of Basil Fawlty, simultaneously trying to cook the main dish, prep the salad, set the table, set out appropriate condiments, and get drinks.  As I scrambled about, I lost track of the need to do up the proshute.

Suddenly remembering that the oil was more than hot and that the pasta and main sauce were about ready to go, I grabbed the bowl of cut up proshute and flung it into the pan.

That, as they say, tore it.

The proshute hit the pan, the pan splash hot oil onto the gas burner, and up she went with a most impressive shwoooosh!  

The pan was on one of the back burners, by the bye, which means it was directly in front of the splashboard and directly under the cabinet overhang.  They were rayther quickly engulfed in flame.

It’s an interesting thing:  Ol’ Robbo has never really stopped to think about whether he is brave or not.  The number of times I’ve had to face a real instantaneous crisis decision in my life, I’m happy to say, has been really rayther small.  Well, for what it’s worth, in this instance (without thinking but not without some pretty lurid language) I immediately reached into the fireball and bare-handedly snatched the pan away from the burner.

The fire quickly went down and out, the remaining oil in the pan sloshed about a bit over the range and adjoining counter.  I didn’t even get singed.

Crisis averted.  Laus Deo.

Of course, I had a mess on my hands: olive oil everywhere and a blackened backsplash and cabinet door.  Windex (that Wonder Product)  seems to have done the job for the vast majority of the discoloration.  To the extent that Mrs. R chooses to quibble about the remaining scorching, it is my intent to argue that such things give a kitchen real character (as opposed to those pristine ones featured in the snootier real-estate magazines in which you know to the very depth of your being that nobody, nobody, has ever really cooked anything).

Oh, for what it’s worth, everyone seemed to like the meal.

UPDATE:  “Reeking of garlic and shallots” of course, not “wreaking”.  You know, like the famous scene in “Casablanca” where Peter Lorre is nailed by Captain Renault’s men and screams at Bogart, “Reek! Help me! Reeeeeeeeeeek!!!

Yeesh.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel called ol’ Robbo this afternoon to crow a bit about the draft staging of “Romeo and Juliet” she’s been working on for her Lit class.

The assignment was to come up with a creative way to re-stage the play in a form that modern audiences (and here, read “ignorant cretans”) could better appreciate.

The Gel really rather despises “R&J”, considering it to be an over-hyped story about a couple of idiot teenagers whose hormones cause them to get tangled in a ridiculous Rube Goldberg-esque  elopement plan concocted by a crackpot friar which only succeeds in getting a lot of people killed.  (She may or may not have formed this opinion from listening to ol’ Robbo, but I deny any and all responsibility.)  Apparently, she’s been sparring with the prof over this for the past week or two because he thinks the play is dreamy.  (He also, apparently, thinks “Shakespeare In Love” is a wonderful film, if that gives you any indication.)

Anyhoo, to express her opinion, the Gel decided to rework the dialogue and add stage directions to put the whole thing in an Evil Clown context.

For example, the encounter between the rival gangs of bully-boys in Act 1, Scene I, in her version, now reads:

GREGORY
‘Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou
hadst been poor John. Draw thy tool! here comes
two of the house of the Montagues.
SAMPSON
My naked weapon is out: quarrel, I will back thee.
GREGORY
How! turn thy back and run?
SAMPSON
Fear me not.
GREGORY
No, marry; I fear thee!
SAMPSON
Let us take the law of our sides; let them begin.
GREGORY
I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as
they list.
SAMPSON
Nay, as they dare. I will honk my nose at them;
which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.

Enter ABRAHAM and BALTHASAR

ABRAHAM
Do you honk your nose at us, sir?
SAMPSON
I do honk my nose, sir.
ABRAHAM
Do you honk your nose at us, sir?
SAMPSON
[Aside to GREGORY] Is the law of our side, if I say
“Whacka-whacka”?
GREGORY
No.
SAMPSON
No, sir, I do not honk my nose at you, sir, but I
honk my nose, sir. [Honks]
GREGORY
Do you quarrel, sir?
ABRAHAM
Quarrel sir! no, sir. [Honks]
SAMPSON
If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.
ABRAHAM
No better.
SAMPSON
Well, sir.
GREGORY
Say ‘better:’ here comes one of my master’s kinsmen.
SAMPSON
Yes, better, sir. [Honks]
ABRAHAM
You lie! [Blows party favor]
SAMPSON
Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy swashing blow.

They fight with balloon swords, beating each other about the head, and with seltzer bottles.

And in the scene in Act 3 where Romeo pinks Tybalt, the Gel envisions, Tybalt wearing one of those flower-squirt contraptions.  As he falls, blood comes streaming out of it.  She also speaks of cream pies, clown-car entrances and Romeo expiring to the sound of a slide-whistle.

I have to confess that when she told me, I laughed out loud.

Part of the assignment was to submit a paragraph or so explaining why the treatment is relevant.  My young smart-ass got round that by citing the recent outbreak of evil clown sightings which seems to be sweeping the country.

Anyhoo, she got her rough draft back from the prof today.  He actually thought it very clever and funny and was good enough, after all the grief she’s given him, to say so in his written comments/suggestions.

Heh.  Apples and trees, I suppose.  Back in high school, ol’ Robbo wrote a short parody of “Macbeth” called “The Drunk of Dunsinane”.  It was a reworking of the porter’s monologue from Act 2.  While the porter is gassing on, Macbeth, himself several fathoms under, is trying to sneak back into the castle after an evening out with the boys.  He finally tears himself away from the porter, only to find Lady M standing on the stairs with a frying pan and a cold glare.   My English teacher thought it pretty damn funny.  (Wish I’d saved a copy.)

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, with last week’s unseasonable heat round here, ol’ Robbo found himself out this morning mowing the Port Swiller Manor lawn, hopefully  for the last time this year.  (In what may be a little bit of wishful thinking, I let the mower run down to empty the gas tank at any rate.)  The grass, in addition to being fairly high, also had a layer of early leaves covering part of it.  Why is there so much pleasure in running a mower over leaves?  Is it the smell (especially when the fragments start to singe on the inside of the blade chamber)?  Is it the visual pleasure of cutting a nice, sharp, green path through the sea of yellows and oranges?  Maybe it’s both.  In any event, I most definitely enjoy it.

Yes, the leaves are starting to fall, and I had to haul one load down from the end of the driveway today, but we really haven’t got started yet.  As regular friends of the decanter may recall, my main autumnal task is dealing with a row of three silver maples and an oak (all about 40 ft tall) that overshadow the sidewalk fronting P.S.M.  The row runs from northwest to southeast and the maples never drop all their leaves at the same time, but rather in order from NW to SE.  I think it has something to do with exposure – as one tree denudes, the next in line is subject to more wind.  The oak spreads out the cleanup job even longer, because it won’t drop all at once, but instead takes its sweet, sweet, time, often several weeks longer than the maples.  Generally, it takes me about four Saturdays through November and early December to finally get things squared away.

Anyhoo, this year we did a goodish bit of landscaping out front which is going to have an impact on make more laborious the way I go about moving all those leaves (a process that involves rake, blower, wheelbarrow and tarp).  I find the technical questions of the most efficient way to compensate to be interesting and challenging, but nobody else around here seems to have much sympathy:  Yard work (and things like trash removal) is strictly Ol’ Dad’s problem because Ol’ Dad is a man, and only men should have to do it.  (Yes, Mrs. R taught the gels that.  It was the same thing in my own misspent yoot:  My brother and I were out slaving away for the Old Gentleman every weekend, while Sistah spent all her time in her room listening to Adam Ant records.  It was (and is) infuriating.)

Speaking of technical questions, I went ahead and ordered rolls of burlap and bubble wrap from the devil’s website pursuant to the plan to winterize the boxwood urns I mentioned a couple weeks ago.  Between the random items and the eccentric assortment of books and musick I get from those people, I’m hoping one day to cause their marketing algorithms to suffer a complete nervous breakdown.  (I don’t doubt, though, that when I go check my Facebook feed, ads for wrapping materials will already be there.  This, I don’t like.)

I mentioned the heat up above.  It was 85 degrees here on Thursday.  Today we’ll top out in the mid-50’s with a strong NW wind.  I love this sort of thing.  Curiously, it’s autumn days like these that always make me want to reread Tolkien, especially the Fellowship of the Ring, since Frodo and his party set out on their adventure about this time of year and Tolkien pays such close attention to the shifting weather as they travel from the Shire to Rivendell.  Years ago I read a paper somewhere on the innertoobs that presented a meteorological analysis of Tolkien’s weather pattern descriptions for this trip and found that they were absolutely sound for the time of year and the part of England with which Tolkien was most familiar.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, ol’ Robbo just got back from visiting the Eldest Gel for Parents’ Weekend at SBC.  All in all, quite the interesting experience.

The other day, the Gel requested and required, in her straightforward way, that Mrs. R and I try not to make conspicuous fools of ourselves while visiting.  Overall?  I’d say we were roughly 60% compliant with that request order.  (At least we didn’t bring baby photos to show the Gel’s friends.)  Our first fault – which I should have spotted and more forcefully deterred – was that Mrs. R kept forgetting that she was a visiting parent and not a visiting alumna, so she spent large amounts of time glad-handing faculty, administration, and other students, trying to set up networks, offer suggestions, and generally rallying to the flag.  All worthy endeavors, of course, but there’s a time and a place for everything.  When Mrs. R was going at Maximum Shmooze, I could see faint puffs of smoke coming out of the Gel’s ears.  (Not just because Mom Wouldn’t Stop Yakking, but also, I believe, because there’s a kind of territorial thing developing here:  The Gel has so quickly taken to the place that she now assumes it’s her turf and that Mrs. R is an intruder.)

Also, Mrs. R indulged in her favorite pastime of trying to jam Too Many Events into Too Little Time (something which has driven me absolutely batty the last quarter century).  This culminated in an ill-advised late movie date with the Gel after her theatre production was finished last evening, leaving the Gel an extremely irritable zombie this morning.   I’m not so sure it wouldn’t have been better for all involved if we hadn’t simply slipped off for home after the show instead of staying for brunch today.  (The production of “The Trojan Women” was, by the bye, quite well done for all my critique in the linked post.  Great leads, well-staged, and pretty gruesome all around.)

Ah, well.

A few other things:

The Gel may have been an irritable zombie this morning, but so was Ol’ Robbo.  This was because last night was the second night in a row in which I got virtually no rest.  Now, long-time friends of the decanter may recall that Ol’ Robbo does not do well sleeping in beds other than his own in the first place (e.g., on travel), but this was somewhat worse.  For one thing, there was something going on with the pipes at the inn where we stayed.  Do you remember that sound the sabotaged reactor plant made in “The Hunt For Red October” that forced the crew of the October to shut it  down? That metallic ka-clang! ka-clang! ka-clang!?  We got that, off and on, all night.  For another, this weekend happens to have been Homecoming at the Younger Gels’ high school.  We had allowed them to stay and go to the game and dance provided that  they stayed with approved friends and that we worked out security understandings and arrangements with said friends’ parents ahead of time.  So last evening, we couldn’t even think about going to bed until we had received confirmation from home that the Younger Gels were safe, sound, and not in requirement of bail money.

(The above paragraph is, by the bye, an apologetic explanation to long-time friend of the decanter Old Dominion Tory for why I didn’t appear at his church for Mass this morning.  I had thought to tool over the mountains, in part because ODT’s church was one of the nearer available options, in part because we’ve been blog-friends for years on end but had never met in person.   But I was so wiped out that I simply couldn’t get myself up in time.  Mea culpa!)

The Gel’s operating procedure during most of our visit was to deal with us until she’d had about enough and then dismiss us until she was ready to reengage.  This left some time on our hands, so yesterday Mrs. R and I decided to walk round the campus on the traditional loop known as “The Dairy”.  It’s a farm road that, starting behind the performing arts theater, passes over some fields, climbs up the backside of Monument Hill, passes through the stables, and then dips down into the dell where the graphic arts program is housed in the buildings and barn that used to hold the working dairy back in the day – hence the name – before climbing back up toward the main campus.  (The Dairy – which supplied fresh milk and ice cream to the dining hall when Mrs. R was there – was forced to close in the early 90’s because of the added costs associated with complying with strict new EPA regulations championed by AlGore.  Of course, Big Dairy – cosy with the gubmint – could afford to swallow such regs while all the little operations like SBC’s were run out of the market, so from the point of view of both the Bureaucracy and the Major Players, everybody won.  And that, boys and girls, is what we call Crony Capitalism or, to put it more succinctly, Fascism.)  The loop is something in the neighborhood of three miles all the way around.  (The Gel walks it at least twice a day.)

Anyhoo, as we tramped along outbound across the fields, I suddenly stopped.

“What is it?” said Mrs. Robbo.

“You’re going to think I’m completely mad,” I replied, “But I’d swear I heard the skirl of bagpipes coming down the wind.”

We continued walking.  A few moments later, I stopped again.

“Yes?” said Mrs. R.

“I heard it again!” I answered.  “Are the Campbells coming?”

A few more yards and there could be no doubt:  Somewhere up ahead, a piper was doing his thing.

As we tramped along up the hill and the musick got clearer, I couldn’t help feeling a certain chill, even a romantic urge.  (My father’s family is almost purebred Scots, you know.  It must be something in the blood.)

Eventually, we tramped up to the top of Monument Hill and there he was, a Lone Piper (albeit in t-shirt and jeans) solemnly striding back and forth and puffing away.  At first I had thought it was some kind of honorary tribute to the spirit of the school embodied in the Monument.  However, as the fellah kept starting and stopping and repeating certain phrases, I realized he was just practicing, and probably doing so at such a remote location because he couldna’ do it anywheer else fer yon dozy knippits who dinnah unnerstan teh pipes!

Made my day, however.

The other get-rid-of-parents activity in which Ol’ Robbo participated was the fly-casting clinic held by a couple of profs down by the boat house.  Now, the Old Gentleman taught me how to fly-fish when I was a kid, but I haven’t picked up a fly-rod in twenty years and wanted to see if I still have the touch.  Well, my friends, it seems that I do.  However, I also have something that I didn’t have back in the day:  A maximum pitch-count.

So there you have it.  Mrs. Robbo and I are home again after a reasonably entertaining weekend, the Younger Gels are safe and sound, and the Eldest can breath a sigh of relief and unclench.

UPDATE:  For your delectation:

 

Although I’m mighty-near purebred Scots on my father’s side, my family were not true Highlanders, having held lands primarily slightly south of the line between Glasgow and Edinburgh, so I dinna know where we stood re pacification and relations with the Brits.  But I know ye ne kin trust the bludy Campbells!

troy_sack_19232_mdGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo may or may not have mentioned it here already, but Eldest Gel is participating in her school’s fall theatre production (which we will be going to see in the near future).  They’re doing “The Trojan Women” by Euripides.  The Gel is one of the Chorus, so she spends the entire production on stage.

It so happens that Ol’ Robbo read this particular play many years ago, and that it stuck somewhat to his braims because it was Euripides’s commentary on Athens’ savage treatment of the little colony of Melos in the run up to the Peloponnesian War.  (The Melian Dialogue, as set out by ol’ Thick-Sides, was a study of mine several times during the course of my undergrad and graduate education.  The last time was in a rhetoric class I took my third year of law school.  For the final, I argued that the episode illustrated the limitations of persuasive argument insofar as it didn’t matter buppkiss how well the Melians stated their case for being excused service in the War since the Athenians were holding a metaphorical gun to their heads.  Realpolitik, so to speak.  My prof was not amused.)

Anyhoo, in the course of a chat this afternoon, I asked the Gel something or other about the dialogue between Poseidon and Athena that opens the play.

“The what?” she said.

“Poseidon and Athena.  You know, where they discuss the appropriate punishment of the Greek army because, during the sack of Troy, Cassandra is dragged away from a statue of Athena and raped by one of the Greek commanders.”

Huh? That’s not in the play.  It’s all about Queen Hecuba of Troy and her family and what happens to them when they’re prisoners.  What are you talking about?”

“Yes, that’s the main body, but Poseidon and Athena come first.  She’s outraged over the violation of her sanctuary by the Greeks and is seeking appropriate vengeance.”

“Well, it’s not in the version we’re doing…..”

“Crimminy, it must have been cut from your script.  But that’s the whole point!  The Ancient Greeks, actually (I believe) stumbling across the Seven Deadly Sins without realizing it, were keenly aware that violation of taboos (like sanctuary) tended to bring about Divine Retribution.  Euripides was using the Greeks’ beastliness to the Trojans as a warning to his contemporaries not to let the war against Sparta get out of hand.  And later on, Thucydides and others ascribed the eventual crushing of Athens by Sparta as the Divine result of Athens’ exceeding the proper bounds of civilized warfare, specifically including its treatment of Melos.”

“Well, how was the play a warning?”

“Because a number of the Greek leaders at Troy eventually came to very nasty ends because of their behavior there, specifically including their treatment of Queen Hecuba and her surviving family.  For example, Agamemnon was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra when he returned to Mycene because he brought along Cassandra as a slave-concubine.”

“Well, there’s nothing about that in the play.”

“No, but any member of Euripides’ audience would be perfectly acquainted with Homeric tradition and would know that already.  Didn’t anyone explain any of this?”

“No.  All we know is that we’re a group of “refugees” being maltreated by the Patriarchy or someone because they’re mean.  Your explanation is a lot more interesting.”

Yeah, it is.  Sigh.  But why get into all this  yucky objective Eternal Verities and God-talk in a 2500+ year old historickal context when you can reduce the point to one about non-sectarian feelz over Hatey McHate-Hates who Hate?  And wymmyn?

Incidentally, they’re doing the show in modern dress.  The Gel also told me that her costume makes her look so much like Little Orphan Annie that she went around rehearsal this afternoon singing “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” until she was summarily told to shut it.

Heh.

** Spot the quote

 

Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich? from the Symphoniae sacrae III by Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672).

(“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?
It will become hard for you
to kick against the thorns.” – Acts 9:4-5)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A cool and rainy Saturday here at Port Swiller Manor means ol’ Robbo really can’t hide in the yard as usual, but instead has been dragooned into getting the house cleaned up for a stay by the Former Llama Military Correspondent, who will be in town this weekend for the Army Ten-Miler.  (At the moment, I’m waiting on the sheets in the washing machine.)

Anyhoo, I first heard this piece thirty-mumble years ago in a college musick class and was deeply impressed by it.  Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t take in the compositional facts of the piece and somehow got it into my head that it was something out of Handel.  After that, I lost touch with it completely.

However, I am currently reading Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner and came across a discussion of Schutz’s influence on Bach that contained a detailed description of this piece.  I immediately recognized it and happily scurried off to yootoobz to indulge myself.  It’s far more moving  – and indeed, awe-inspiring – than I remember even from back in the day.  (Well, it ought to be, oughten it?  Something wrong with me otherwise.)

I haven’t made up my mind about whether or not I like Gardiner’s book yet, by the bye.  It is very informative about Bach’s life and influences, but so far the narrative has a somewhat uneven quality about it, with a tendency to go back and forth between dense analysis and flighty by-the-ways.  Also, Gardiner’s ego keeps bubbling up – we don’t refer to him ’round here as “John Eliot Full-Of-Himself” for nothing, you know.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Filched from Wiki

Filched from Wiki

As I’m sure some of the more history-nerdy friends of the decanter are aware, today is the 445th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, the pivotal Renaissance sea battle in which a combined fleet of Spanish, Venitian, and Papal warships beat the living daylights out of a far larger Ottoman fleet, thereby saving the Med from a Muslim takeover.

In honor of the day, I recently started reading Niccolo Capponi’s Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto.  These days, most people (who have actually even heard of the battle, that is)  seem to believe that the “miracle” associated with Lepanto was the actual victory itself.  Me?  Reading this book about the hot mess that was 16th Century European politicks, I think the real miracle was that the Spanish, the Venitians, the Genoans, and the Holy See managed to cobble together a fleet in teh first place, and that said fleet was able to operate efficiently and cooperatively. (Capponi is very cynical about the horse-trading surrounding this combination.  To his credit, though, he is unflinching in his respect for St. Pius V, the Pope who put it all together.)

And largely based on this victory, today is also the Feast of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  On his lunchtime walk, ol’ Robbo stumbled across a group of somewhere between 150 and 175 people praying the Rosary.  It was gratifying to toss in a couple decades myself as I circled round them.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s been rayther a long time since ol’ Robbo has reported one of his signature bizzarro dreams here.  Well, guess what? That drought is over.

It seems I found myself in a long, long procession or pilgrimage of people, a surprising number of whom I actually know in real life or via the innertoobs.   They seemed to be searching for The Way or The Light or some sort of Answer.  It became clear to me after a time, however, that there was nothing holy about what I was seeing, and that it was, in fact, some kind of cult of personality presided over by an evil spirit.  (The people themselves, however, were not evil, just deluded.  Don’t ask me how I knew these things.  I just did.)

It seemed that every now and then a dissenter would be singled out in a kind of cat-and-mouse game played by the forces of evil.  The dissenter would be put to an impromptu show trial and then carted off to the executioner for torture and/or beheading.

It also seemed that there was some kind of underground movement that sought to save such dissenters.  Apparently, it was very good at getting them away from the captors but didn’t really have a clue as to what to do with them afterwards, and the freed dissenters typically were re-caught.

At some point in my dream, the scene shifted from a broad, rolling upland to the interior of an impossibly large railroad car.  As I stood in the crowd, I suddenly realized that people were quietly slipping away from my sides and that all at once I was quite alone.  I found myself facing a woman lounging on a sofa.  I don’t think she was the actual guiding force of the cult, but believed she was one of the senior lieutenants.  I don’t remember what she or I said specifically, but the upshot was that I was accused of Crimes Against The Body and sentenced to death.

I then found myself in a field, apparently awaiting execution.  There was a group of people near me who seemed to be praying.  I asked them if I could borrow a Bible.  One of the group immediately handed me what turned out to be a missal instead of a Bible.  But he also (accidentally, I think) handed me a wallet, which I immediately turned over the wrong way, spilling out all the contents.  I hastily tried to gather up a large number of credit cards, paper receipts and cash, and was much distressed that I couldn’t seem to get them all back into the wallet.  I don’t recall how the affair ended.

Next, I found it was Time.  A group of people gathered around me and started hustling me off to the place of execution.  Some of them were taunting me, but others slipped in close and muttered things like, “We’ll get you out,” “We haven’t got a plan yet, but we’re working on it,” “Just keep your eyes open and watch for opportunities,”  and the like.  Curiously, I found I had no faith that they could spring me, but also was not greatly distressed about it.  My overall feeling was of calm resignation.

I arrived at the execution spot, where I understood I was to have my head chopped off.  It was just an open place in the field with a square marked off in yellow paint.  Apparently, somebody had forgotten to build a proper platform, so there was going to be another delay while they sorted things out.  Meanwhile, a major league umpire was standing nearby, kicking his heals as he waited to officiate.  For some reason, St. Thomas More suddenly wandered into my braims, so I sidled up to the ump and said, “I understand this axe-man is a seasoned pro.  Well, I’m just rookie meat.  So will you please be generous with the strike zone?”

And then, as they say, I woke up.

(The only part of this dream I can explain in absolutely concrete terms is the presence of the fuming ump.  The Family Robbo went to see our beloved Nationals play last evening and there was an almost two hour rain delay before the game began.  The rest seems to be a bad mash-up of Msrg. Robert Hugh Benson’s The Lord of the World and Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil“.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A day late, I know, but R.I.P. Gene Wilder, dead at 83.  Wilder was a superb comic actor and, from every account I’ve ever read, a thoroughly good man.

“Young Frankenstein” is one of my very favorite movies and certainly my most favorite Mel Brooks movie.  This is primarily due to the writing, in which I believe Wilder had a significant hand.  (Well, okay, the outstanding cast, too.)  The trouble with most Brooks comedies is that they tend to start wandering, devolving into sledge-hammer slapstick or getting too cutesy.  (The latter is my main problem with “Blazing Saddles”.  Of course, it has a lot of good material in it, but it can’t stay in character, and by the end has gone completely haywire.)  Not so with Y.F. – even with all the silly little asides, it holds true to the genre it parodies right the way through.  As I say, I believe Wilder should be given credit for this.

It also occurred to me that I haven’t seen “Willie Wonka” in quite a long time, so I tossed that into the ol’ Netflix queue just now.  I’ve often wondered how that film compares to the Roald Dahl book.  (On principle, I’ve never seen the Johnny Depp remake bye the by.)  Certainly it is old-fashioned in its rayther strict morality and quite out of date.  The kidz are all Mike TeeVees and Veruca Salts now, and any suggestion that parents are responsible for such spoiled rotten brats would probably get one sent to the Camps.

(Mention of Wonka reminds me of a little throwaway bit in the movie of interest to musick-lovers.  At one point, Wonka plays a little tune on a “musical lock” in order to open a door (into the fizzy-lifting water room, I believe).  Mrs. TeeVee leans over to Grampa Joe and smugly mutters “Rachmaninoff”.   Of course, the tune is nothing of the sort but is instead the opening couple of bars from the overture to Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”.  Wonka gives Mrs. TeeVee the smallest part of a condescending glance before moving on.   I’ve often wondered what percentage of the audience the writers expected to get that bit.  Significantly higher back when the movie came out than now, I’d bet.)

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Finally, finally, for the first time since about mid-May, ol’ Robbo is once again posting over the family Mac in the comfort and convenience of his basement lair.

The power! THE POWER!! THE POOOOWERRRR!!!!

Mwahahahaha…..

So just a small sample of this and that to get back into the feel of things:

♦   Regular friends of the decanter may be wondering how the Eldest is doing her first week of college?  Well, as to be expected, the barometer has swung pretty wildly between “Stormy” and “Set Fair” as she begins to internalize just what she’s got herself into.  She reports that she took her first road trip over to Hamster-Squidney Friday evening and hated it. “Nothing but beer and pot,” was her dismissive summary.  (Scots Presbyterian roots run deep.)  Somehow or other, this rejection doesn’t bother ol’ Robbo very much.

♦  Do you know what a “tiguan” is?  Neither did ol’ Robbo.  Neither did the Volkswagen salesman from whom we bought a used one yesterday for the Middle Gel, who will be a high school junior this year.  He thought it had something to do with wind.  Turns out that it was just the idea of some German marketing-wallah who thought it would be hip to blend together the words “tiger” and “iguana”.  I’ve no idea why.

♦  In case you missed it, Tom Wolfe has a new book coming out entitled The Kingdom of Speech.  From the ad copy over at the devil’s website, it doesn’t sound like another one of his sledge-hammer social satires, but instead something of a more academic nature:

Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey that is sure to arouse widespread debate. THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH is a captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech–not evolution–is responsible for humanity’s complex societies and achievements.

From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in the Kingdom of Speech.

Whatever you want to call it, I plan to pick up a copy.

Well, that’s enough to start.  As I mentioned below, ol’ Robbo is starting his summah hols, and since I’m not planning on going anywhere, I’ll probably spend a fair bit of time flittering about on the innertoobs, catching up with a bunch of blogs I haven’t been able to conveniently get too in my forced exile.

In the meantime, I’m off to Netflix to charge up the ol’ queue, which has been dry as a bone for about a month.  See you soon!

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