You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Literary Musings’ category.

For those friends of the decanter who are following Robbo’s library reorganization, I’m happy to report that it. is. done.

I’m pretty pleased with the results, too.  They’re all almost in some kind of order now.

In case you were wondering, I also did a count of the volumes both in the library and in the basement: 1,574, although this admittedly includes about twenty-five duplicates, the children’s books I mentioned below, and the twenty or so law books I kept from school but of which I will never, ever have any use.

The good news?  With my rearrangements, I’ve got room on the library shelves for even more!  [Insert Sideshow Bob laugh here.]

In poking about these past two days, I cannot account for only two books that I know for a fact I own:  Treasure Island and KidnappedCatriona is still on the shelf, however, so if there is a Robert Louis Stevenson thief around here, they’re a pretty knowledgeable and discerning one, for whom I find myself owing a certain grudging respect.  (If you’re not a RLS fan, Catriona is the sequel to Kidnapped.  The latter was terrific, the former a complete dud.)

Next stop?  Reorganizing my CD collection!

Advertisements

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I’m undertaking the long-overdue reorganization of the Port Swiller Manor library today.  It’s turning out to be something of a cross between herding cats and trying to get the toothpaste back into the tube.  A few observations:

♦  I moved a number of socio-politickal authors down to the basement since IMHO they have revealed themselves not as principled conservatives but as Establishmentarian hacks.  These include George Will, Peggy Noonan, and Jonah Goldberg.  Bill Buckley gets to stay upstairs, as do Roger Kimball, Mark Steyn, Florence King, and Theodore Dalrymple. Peej O’Rourke has lost his mind in the past few years, but his older stuff is still entertaining enough that I’m giving him a bye.  (But he goes next to Dave Barry now.) And of course, I’m keeping the standards such as Adam Smith, Burke, F.A. Hayek, Kirk, and Solzhenitsyn.

♦  The only book I’m actually throwing away is Lisa Birnbaum’s True Prep, a so-called “update” of her Official Preppy Handbook.  It’s just a too-depressingly accurate description of the new “Power Elite” and how truly awful they are.

♦  I always knew that Mrs. R likes Georgette Heyer novels.  I never knew she has twenty-four of them, however.

♦  I have shelves on opposite sides of the room and try to keep hard history on one side while putting fiction, philosophy, religion, and the like on the other.  What do you do when the same author writes both?  I have all of Evelyn Waugh’s fiction plus his autobiography, so that one’s easy.  But my collection of Buckley is split about fifty-fifty between his social commentary and his whodunnits, together with his Nearer My God, as well.

♦ I had forgotten my little collection of autobiographies of Olivier, Gielgud, and Guinness (the last of whom wrote at least three of them).

♦  I came across a book called The Ghosts of Antietam by John M. Grissmar.  I have no earthly idea how I got it, even though the author actually autographed it to me!  It’s an alt history take on the Civil War.  I have absolutely no interest in such things.  It’s one thing to ponder how unlikely what actually happened can be based on the bazillion variables involved.  It’s something else entirely to speculate on what might have been, and to me a waste of time.  (If one of you actually sent it, my apologies.)

♦  I knew that when the thought of placing together Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson (who wrote Catholic apologetics and the single most frightening novel I’ve ever read) with his brother E.F. Benson (who is now remembered for his light comedies about the British Upper Crust) caused me to burst into maniacal laughter, it was probably time to call it a day.

The room looks like a bomb burst in it, but I promised an aghast Mrs. Robbo just now that it’s not as bad as it seems and I’ve got a plan all worked out.

Yeah, right.

UPDATE:

♦  I mentioned the Heyer to Mrs. R.  She laughed a bit shame-facedly and said it had “just been a phase”.  They go in the basement, too.  (She does all her reading on her iThingy these days anyway, something I could never get used to.)

♦  Of course, we all have our foibles.  I cheerfully admit that Bernard Cornwell is awful, but I read his Sharpe series anyway.  Ditto Jeff Shaara and the Civil War cycle he lifted from his father’s original idea.

♦  Tom Clancy was an insurance salesman from Murrland who made bank because he could describe modern military machinations lucidly.  When he wandered away from those and attempted to develop characters, his writing was almost painfully awful.  Consequently, the only two books of his I ever cared for were Red Storm Rising and The Hunt For Red October.  Both of those seem to be missing from my shelves.  Instead, I seem to have a “Tom Clancy” novel called Point of Contact, which was written by somebody else.  I’ve no intention of reading it, so out it goes.  The question is whether I enjoy the two former books enough to justify reordering them if I can’t find them here.

♦  Somewhat similarly, although I enjoy Derik Robinson’s RAF novels, I can’t seem to find what I consider to be his best, Piece of Cake.  I still have Goshawk Squadron (which is too relentlessly brutal) and A Good Clean Fight (which is too damn long),

♦ The shelf of children’s books is also going to the basement.  When Mrs. R and I agreed on that, both of us thought “for grandchildren”.  How strange a feeling.

♦  What you might call my “Swashbuckling” collection has really bloomed of late.  I just rediscovered that I’d recently bought The Scarlet Pimpernel.  It’s a gray and gloomy day today and the temptation to just start reading this and tell the library to go hang itself is…..strong.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The dog doesn’t seem much interested in her lunchtime walkies today, so Ol’ Robbo has some time on his hands before he needs to go pick up Youngest from school.  How about a little of this and that?

♦  Youngest actually turns seventeen this week.  Seven. Teen.  It seems like just yesterday that she was sitting in her highchair, covering her face and hair with spaghetti sauce and banana.  (In those days, food was as much a fashion statement as a form of nourishment to her.  Used to drive me bonkers.  Curiously, she is now far and away the neatest of the three.  Go figure.)  As she’s the back marker, we find that each of these milestones seems to put a little more fugit in the tempus.

♦  Eldest went back to school yesterday.  I think this must have been the return weekend for a lot of kids because she and I went over to Jiffy Lube Friday afternoon and it seemed to be “Get Your College Kid’s Oil Changed” Day.

♦   Since Ol’ Robbo is in the midst of growing out his experimental furlough beard, it looks like Gillette picked absolutely the wrong time to tell me that my masculinity is evil. There seems to be something of an uptick in this sort of thing of late, at least within the fever swamp that is social media.  The shrills claim they’re protesting against “toxic” masculinity, whatever that is, but it seems to me that what they really mean is all masculinity, and that the goal is to reduce us guys to pajama boys or what C.S. Lewis called “men without chests”.  Well, they are invited to stuff it.  Alan Alda might still be interested in buying their razors, but I won’t.

♦  Speaking of stuffing it, there’s a certain element on the Right which is taking the line that they’re happy about the federal furlough because all we employees of Uncle somehow “deserve” it.  Eldest tells me Coulter was saying that the other day, and I’ve also seen it among some of the commenters and co-bloggers over at Ace’s place.  I wish they’d cut it out, as it’s both tin-eared and untrue.  Yes, there’s plenty of civil service deadwood.  There are also lefty zealots who try to use the law as a Trojan Horse to push their post-modernist agenda.  But there are also those of us who work hard, who believe the law is to be enforced as it’s written not as we wish it, and who see gub’mint as a necessary evil and not as a cult of worship.  Just saying.

♦  I plan tomorrow to finally getting around to reorganizing my library.  It’s become thoroughly ahoo mostly due to Mrs. R, who has an infuriating habit of putting books back just anywhere and also moving things around so she can shove more photos and doodads on the shelves.  I’ve decided that the first thing to do is to cull my collection somewhat, removing a bunch of outdated 80’s and 90’s socio-politickal analysis plus the Dee Cee “insider” books the Old Gentleman used to send me but I never read for lack of interest.  I simply cannot abide ever throwing a book away because you just never know when you might want to read it, but I can at least banish them to the bookcases in the basement.  With the extra room, I can then reorder things as they ought to be while at the same time preserving Mrs. R’s treasured space.  (We were talking about this the other evening and she actually suggested that from now on every time I buy a new book I should remove an old one.  I just squinted at her.)

Well, teh dog is now giving me “The Look”, so I suppose I should harness her up and head her out.

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

Meanwhile, how about a little random?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Twelfth Night!

Not that Port Swiller Manor indulges in anything like revelry to mark the Eve of the Epiphany, since Ol’ Robbo is really the only one round here who pays much attention to that sort of thing, but I intend to raise a glass or two at any rate.

One custom I have taken to in recent years is the chalking of the door.  I do this on the sly, lest Mrs. Robbo raise objections on grounds of either unsightliness or hocus-pocus.  I can’t pray at her, so to speak, but I can and do certainly pray for her (and the Gels, of course).

Anyhoo, have a merry evening.  But if anybody advises you to wear yellow stockings and crossed garters, YOU. SAY. NO.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy New Year!

We wound up having rather a larger New Year’s Eve to-do at Port Swiller Manor than Ol’ Robbo had been expecting, Mrs. R slyly waiting until the last minute to mention all the people she had invited over.  Fortunately, we rang in the new year on Greenwich Mean Time, meaning we popped the corks at 7:00 pm local.  As mentioned below, Ol’ Robbo has been in the clutches of a really nasty cold he picked up last week, and in bed throughout the weekend, but I was nonetheless able to clean myself up, put on something of a smile, and hobnob for a few hours in the early evening.  Then I went back to bed.  Yee Haw.

And so we enter 2019.  I won’t make any specific predictions about it, but I’m guessing in general that it’s going to be even more insane than 2018 was.  And following on that, my chief resolution is not to let the insanity get to me, but to treat it with the cheerful contempt that it deserves.  (My iPhone committed suicide the other day, so I haven’t even really been looking at headlines.  It’s been heavenly.)  UPDATE:  I am speaking here about the World In General, of course.  Closer to home, I’ve had no real complaints and some true gratification.  Hopefully, that trend will continue, too.

Meanwhile, today is the first day that Ol’ Robbo was supposed to be back down the office after his Christmas hols.  I’ve no idea how long Uncle will continue to dispense with my services, but at least it will be a while before I need to start considering Domino’s pizza delivery routes.  In the meantime, I couldn’t help noticing that Mrs. R has put together what amounts to a furlough “honey-do” list.  I’m sure I’ll have more on that because one of the tasks involves reorganizing my library and initial skirmishing indicates that Mrs. R and I have very different views on what that actually entails.

And speaking of insanity, Mrs. Robbo’s EZPass stopped working some weeks back, meaning we were running tollbooths without paying.  Recently, we received a polite letter from the toll authority telling us that they’d been charging our account manually, but to cut it out.  When Mrs. R called them and explained the circumstances, they said that the transponder had failed and that they would ship another one.  They also told us that when we throw the old one away send the old one back (no doubt so they can keep a Permanent Record on our travels) we should be sure to wrap it in tinfoil first.  I am never going to make a joke about tinfoil hats ever again, because this advice convinces me that people who wear them may be on to something.

Anyhoo, here we go round again.

**One of the very few Kinks songs I actually know, but I’ve always liked it.

UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of the “honey-do” list, my first task for tomorrow just now dropped down on me:  Youngest’s new computer desk just arrived at the front door.  (It was her main Christmas present by request.)  Now comes plainly back to my mind my airy assertion that I could assemble it myself when Mrs. R was ordering it a couple weeks back.  I peeked into the box just now and there are many, many bits and pieces.  Better brew an extra-large pot of kawfee in the morning because this thing is going to take a while.

UPDATE TROIS:  Ol’ Robbo went to move the desk box this morning and immediately broke into a dizzy sweat.  Mercifully, Mrs. R suggested that since I’ve not got my strength back yet, I should leave it for now. “Instead,” she said, “You can hang up a couple of pictures in the basement stairwell.  I’ve left them out for you.  You can choose where to put them because you’re so good at that sort of thing.”

This is what’s known as the Great Trap.  If I could hang them once and be done with it, I wouldn’t mind.  But I’m certain sure that wherever I put them, Mrs. R will want them moved.

 

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all continue to have a joyful and prayerful Christmastide.  Don’t forget that it doesn’t actually end until The Epiphany, January 6.  Ol’ Robbo will be checking up to see if anyone is sneakily taking down ornaments prematurely.

As for Christmas Eve/Day itself, things around Port Swiller Manor proved to be quiet.  It’s nice having all the Gels home for a bit, and was especially nice to see them all in church together on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, Ol’ Robbo found he didn’t have the energy to stay up for Midnight Mass this year, so I crawled out of bed early on Christmas Morning to hit the early Mass.  I then scuttled home thinking I would be met with impatience and censorious looks plus itchy fingers on bows and ribbons only to discover that all the Gels were….still asleep!  My, have the times changed.

Christmas Dinner was the usual roast beef and Yorkshire pud plus two veg, except that when I went to the store Christmas Eve I discovered they had not a single stalk of asparagus in the place.  We had to give peas a chance instead.  We were joined as usual by my cousin, an elderly widow who lives out in the Shenandoah.  As usual, being a member of the Enlightened Secular Progressivist Brigade in good standing, she was both puzzled and somewhat alarmed by some of the traditionalist views thrown out by the Gels on various subjects, but happily we did not descend into actual politickal debate, heated or otherwise.

We then packed up the Honda Juggernaut and drove down to Wintergreen to meet up with by brother and his family for a couple nights.  We rented a big house with a nice view not in the resort itself but a little farther along the ridge line.  Since Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been on skis since high school, and since the weather was pretty dank, I forbore from any actual snow-related activities, although one afternoon my brother and I hiked up a pretty steep hill on the Appalachian Trail in order to take in the view and pat ourselves on the backs that we didn’t give up until we reached the summit.  Otherwise, I watched a lot of college football.  Also, although I’m not really a beer guy myself, I can heartily recommend a visit to the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company if you ever find yourself in the area.  (The link only goes to the Wiki entry.  Sorry, but I can’t seem to raise the homepage at the moment.)

And speaking of hiking, I came away from our relatively high-up jaunt hacking like a three-pack-a-day guy, with a clogged throat and burning lungs.  Two days later and I’m still at it.  In fact, they were the same damned symptoms with which I came down after physically exerting myself on the High Prairie out in Wyoming a year or two ago, symptoms so bad that I drew a mild, humorous rebuke from a federal judge because I couldn’t keep them under control in his courtroom. Evidently, there is some gunnegshun between high-altitude workouts and this kind of respiratory ailment.  Bleh.

As for the rest, we’ll take it easy the next day or two and then start preparing for some light entertaining for New Year’s.  The Former Llama Military Correspondent and his family will be staying over, as usual, plus we have a few other guests tentatively scheduled to drop by for “London New Year”, meaning we can get rid of them relatively early on in the evening.

After that?  Well, that rather depends on what Uncle does about his budget reconciliation.  This coming week may see the long-meditated grand reorganization of Ol’ Robbo’s library if I find I have sufficient time on my hands.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

I blame ManBearPig.

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

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

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it seems The Weekly Standard has slid beneath the waves.

Lynx-eyed friends of the decanter may have noticed that Ol’ Robbo threw TWS off his blogroll (along with NRO, The Telegraph, and several other nooz and opinion sites) some time ago.

If the election of OrangeManBad has done nothing else, it has ripped the masks completely off the Establishment “Conservatives”, revealing them for the uniparty corporate globalists that they really are, with their allegiance pledged to the power structure instead of to the people on whom it is imposed.

Feh.  I’ve got a goodish number of books from back in the day by Beltway types such as George Will, Peggy Noonan, Jonah Goldberg, and TWS’s own Matt LaBash. I used to look up to such people as champions against Leviathan, but the past two years have really opened my eyes.

(Not that I’ll toss their books, since Ol’ Robbo cannot abide tossing books, but at least I’ll banish them to my “Not likely to read again” shelves.)

Anyhoo, good riddance.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

When I first saw this the other day I thought it was a parody, but evidently not: PETA Wants You To Stop Saying “Bring Home The Bacon” and Other Anti-Animal Phrases. 

Yes, yes they really do.

“Words matter,” PETA tweeted Tuesday. “And as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations.”

The animal rights organization then included a color-coded chart with what they view as offensive phrases on the left in red and what they view as acceptable substitutions on the right in green.

In lieu of “kill two birds with one stone,” how about saying “feed two birds with one scone”? Instead of “bring home the bacon,” try “bring home the bagels.”

Bless their hearts.

Two thoughts come immediately to mind.

First?  Ol’ Robbo lerves him the history of the English language in all of its manifestations, including both etymology and these sorts of idioms.  PETA’s scolding simply makes me roll about in such history even more.  (God send the atheists don’t get the parallel idea of scrubbing all Biblical references and idioms out of the language.  Do you have any idea how many there are? I’ll give you a hint: A lot.)

Second? Bacon.  Mmmmmm……..Bacon.  Crispy.  Flavorful.  Bacon.  Mmmmmm………

You’ll have to go to the tweet link to see the chart itself because I’ve not the blog-fu to transport it over here, but from the article you get the general idea.

So should “a murder of crows” be changed to “an indaba of crows”?

And what says PETA to Benedick’s musing on the power of musick in Much Ado About Nothing: “Is it not strange that sheep’s guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies?”

Finally, show of hands, please, among PETA members who support this toddler-grade Orwellian Doublethink and who also support unlimited abortion.  All of you? I suspected as much.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo’s braim just doesn’t want to let go of this one.

Here at Port Swiller Manor, logistics for what one would think even the simplest of forays very often quickly become insanely complicated.  (Because women.  There, I said it.)  I refer to such scenarios – much to my family’s ire – as “dog and pony” shows.  Guess I have to stop that now.  (Not.)

Tennyson’s line about Nature being “red in tooth and claw” should now read “Nature is colorful”.

“Dog in the manger” should now read “Veggie-dog”.

“Let the cat out of the bag” should read “Don’t put a cat in a bag in the first place, you hater!

“Horse-trading” equals slavery, so that’s right out.

The Cowardly Lion will now be the Differently-Couraged Lion.

Similarly, the Horse of a Different Color becomes Rainbow Horse.

And of course, the great Groucho Marx joke will be slightly modified: “Last night I shot** an elephant in my pajamas.  How it got in my pajamas I’ll never know, but I respect its choice.”  (Hooray for Captain Spaulding! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!)

** With a camera, you monsters!

 

 

 

 

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 455,941 hits
January 2019
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
Advertisements