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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo left this morning to go visit her parents for a couple days, teh younger gels are off at summah camp and I hardly ever see the eldest anymore, so this weekend is effectively just your host and his menagerie.  Woo Hoo!

♦   Thanks to what was a pretty strong consensus here, I ordered a new set of headphones for my musickal evenings this morning.  Thankee muchly for your recommendations.  It only took me two months to get around to it.  Procrastinate we much?

♦    Speaking of electronics, I find myself hating smartphones more and more.   I especially despise the zombie-like way everyone seems to stare at them, oblivious to their surroundings.

♦    I see where Phil Austin, who played Nick Danger for Firesign Theater, died this week.  My college roommate first put me on to these guys and I wound up buying a couple of their albums.  True, it’s dirty hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor, but it was still pretty durn funny.  (I say “was” because I had cassette tapes, now long gone, and it must be close to twenty years since I last listened to them.)

♦  I also see where the Vegas odds-makers are betting Robbo’s beloved Nationals are going to win it all this year.   I dunno, but since we just got done sweeping both the Bucs and the Braves, I’m starting to get excited.  [Insert obligatory “Great kid, but don’t get cocky” here.]  We’re supposed to start a series against the despicable Phillies this evening, but I don’t know if the weather is going to cooperate.

♦  Fence guy is coming tomorrow to slap up some wire on the fence in the Port Swiller backyard, thereby allowing us to literally let Daisy off the leash on occasion (under supervision, of course, in case she proves a digger).  We decided against the whole Invisible Fence thing because of the price and the complexity and because I’m unwilling to try training her on it when she’s already so skittish around me.  The squirrels and the woodchucks are in for a nasty surprise.

♦   Speaking of the back yard, ol’ Robbo demonstrated his apparent genius for stumbling across yellow jacket nests yet again the other evening.  I was throwing up a tarp against a corner of the house where we think water is getting into the basement again and thumped down a paving stone literally within two inches of one of their burrows.  Fortunately, a storm was rolling in and it was already quite dark, so even though I disturbed them, they only came out sluggishly and I got away without being stung this time.

Well, also speaking of the back yard, time to go mow it before the rain rolls in.  Whatever terrible nooz comes out today, I’m not going to let it ruin things for me.  Don’t you let it, either.

UPDATE: Done and done.  Everything’s mown, trimmed and blown so it can rain now ’til its eyes bubble for all I care.  And, Eldest Gel, who has been working all week at her church’s vacation bible school, is bringing me home an egg, cheese and bagel sammich.  FTW!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening ol’ Robbo went down the Cathedral to take part in the annual end-of-year choir pot-luck and concert, an event he has come to thoroughly enjoy.  After the meal, more or less, the boys and girls put on performances of various pieces they’ve worked up (sometimes at the last minute), some serious and some silly.

For one of her entries, teh Middle Gel, along with two of her mates, served up this lovely setting of the Ave Maria by Jaques Arcadelt (1507-1568).  No, I’d never heard of him, either, since my knowledge of Renaissance musick really only centers around the great English composers of the period.  It’s only when you get to Monteverdi that I start picking up on Continentals.  Anyhoo, here’s what Wiki has to say about him:

Jacques Arcadelt (also Jacob Arcadelt; c. 1507 – 14 October 1568) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music. Although he also wrote sacred vocal music, he was one of the most famous of the early composers of madrigals; his first book of madrigals, published within a decade of the appearance of the earliest examples of the form, was the most widely printed collection of madrigals of the entire era. In addition to his work as a madrigalist, and distinguishing him from the other prominent early composers of madrigals – Philippe Verdelot and Costanzo Festa – he was equally prolific and adept at composing chansons, particularly late in his career when he lived in Paris.

Arcadelt was the most influential member of the early phase of madrigal composition, the “classic” phase; it was through Arcadelt’s publications, more than those of any other composer, that the madrigal became known outside of Italy. Later composers considered Arcadelt’s style to represent an ideal; later reprints of his first madrigal book were often used for teaching, with reprints appearing more than a century after its original publication.

So there you are.  The Gel, by the way, took the top soprano part and sang divinely as per usual.  (She has a cold, poor thing, and was not much satisfied with her performance, but I thought it very good.)

UPDATE:  I see where the video has been blocked. Well, you’ll just have to be on your honor to go over to YooToob and look it up for yourselves.  Remember, this material will be on the final.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo took the Eldest Gel down to the County’s Juvenile Court this afternoon – and don’t think I didn’t milk that statement for all it was worth – in order to formally receive her driver’s license at the hands of one of the judges there.  (She’s had a temporary license for about three months now since completing her driver’s ed course, but this is the real deal.)

It was a reasonably nice and apropos little ceremony designed to hammer into the little bastids’ collective (there were about fifty kids) braims the fact that driving is both a privilege and a responsibility and that, broadly speaking, they don’t know jack about it yet.

First, we got shown a musick video of some kid consumed in grief because he’d just killed another young driver through his  own negligence.  “Why did this happen to me?” he kept lamenting through the rain, to which the obvious answers were a) um, because you go drunk and got behind the wheel? and b) you just killed an innocent girl and all you can think of is yourself?  The gel informed me that she’d already seen this video about a dozen times, so I’m thinking it had probably reached saturation point with most of the rest of the audience as well.  As for myself, I kept half-expecting the singer to suddenly look up and ask, “What does the fox say?”

Next, we had a little lecture from a gruff old Sarge’, in which he imparted a lot of stern words of what amounted to basic common sense.  There’s been a lot of ballyhoo recently about militarized thug cops, but this fellah was obviously one of the Good Guys.  My impression was that his wisdom was well-received.  (I learned a new term from him, by the way – “steaking”.  It seems certain kids in our area like to skip school, drive to Philadelphia, eat a cheesesteak for lunch, scootch home before school’s out and show the receipt for the sammich to their little friends to prove their roguishness.   The fact that they would voluntarily go anywhere within 100 miles of Philly to me shows their obvious immaturity.)

Then the judge gave us a little anecdote about the niece of a friend of hers who had been killed on the road the night before she was to go off to college.  Her point to the Li’l Darlins was that their decisions on the road impacted not just their own precious snowflake selves, but also everyone around them – family, friends, community, etc.   She also mentioned the fact that under Virginny law, Mom and Dad have the power to yank the youngling’s license at any point they feel it is necessary, and the Commonwealth will back them to the hilt.   I liked that last part especially.

After this, there was a bit of an anticlimax.  The judge said ‘bye and vanished, and the clerks started dealing out licenses and, well, that was pretty much it.

So here we are.  One down, two to go.  The Middle Gel can get her learner’s permit some time this summah, I believe, and seems hell-bent on doing so.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

augustus-pp-statueThose friends of the decanter who have some passing familiarity with antiquity and the arts will quickly recognize this sculpture as the Augustus of Prima Porta, a likely posthumous and somewhat artificially-hulkified tribute to the first, and arguably greatest, of the Roman Emperors.  The piece is one of the two or three most recognizable bits of sculpture to come down to us from classickal civilization.   (In fact, I had a framed poster of it on my walls all through high school and college.)

Recently, it came to ol’ Robbo’s attention that a “street artist” calling himself “Gaia” has incorporated an image of this statue into a big mural that adorns one end of some new Mediterranean restaurant in Dee Cee called Pinea.  (You can go here to check the thing out.  I won’t try to repaste it here because of copyright, and besides, I’m sure the restaurant people wouldn’t mind the clicks.  For those of you who don’t make the jump, suffice to say ol’ Octavian is depicted in vibrant colors with a string of citrus slices around his neck and various items of Italian cuisine in the background.  Childish, but ultimately harmless, and at least it ties in with the place.)

Ol’ Robbo only happens to have learned about this work because of a monthly glossy called “Modern Luxury DC” that shows up, quite un-asked for, in the Port Swiller mailbox.  This mag purports to be the arbiter hipsterium of Your Nation’s Capital, carrying a variety of articles about coo-el new art exhibits, designer clothing, fashionable watering holes, “edgy” architecture, and up-and-coming Bright Young Things and Politicos.  (To give but one example of the latter, the latest issue featured an article on Mother’s Day with a photo of the current First Lady and her children.  The headline reads “Queen Mother”.   Note to Modern Luxury DC: Yeah, about that? No.)

Anyhoo, each issue of said mag goes straight to the basket in the downstairs loo, where Robbo flips through it just to keep up with exactly how awful things are out there in HipsterLand, until he is thoroughly disgusted and tosses it.  Perusing the latest, I came across an “On the Scene” item about the unveiling of “Gaia’s” new mural at a private cocktail party (which see the link above).  And what did “Modern Luxury DC” have to say about this piece of art?  “The new mural features a 14.5 foot tall Roman soldier.”

A “Roman soldier”, eh?  As I say above, the Prima Porta is a famous icon depicting one of the greatest figures of classickal history.  And all this hipster-doofus rag can come up with to describe it is “a Roman soldier“?

Cor lumme, stone the crows.

This got me wondering how they would treat some other giants of the cultural and politickal history on which their Neo-Tinsel Age is built:

An Early SparksNotes Contributor

An Early SparksNotes Contributor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Musician.  His Stare Is Kind Of Micro-Aggressive.

Some Musician. His Stare Is Kind Of Micro-Aggressive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Short, French Dude From History Class

The Short, French Dude From History Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps I over-react, but is there nobody, nobody in the chain from artist to writer to editor who could do any better than “a Roman soldier”?

It’s bad enough that these people don’t know what they’re talking about, but I fear that they also just don’t care, which is much, much worse.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This evening, teh Middle Gel and her choir-mates are down the Kennedy Center, participating in a production of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

I say “participating in” instead of “performing” because the main load is being carried by the Choral Arts Society of Washington.  The Cathedral Choir has only about two minutes’ aggregate singing time, spending the other sixty-eight or so minutes of the thing kicking their heels.   Hey, it’s good publicity.  And it is the Kennedy Center, after all.

To those friends of the decanter who are wondering why ol’ Robbo isn’t there to see the Gel, but instead has fobbed the job off on Mrs. R, I will say that, aside from the O, Fortuna bit,*  which I admit to have a certain rousing energy and the use of which I enjoyed in the movie Excalibur, I really don’t care for the rest of the piece.  As the Middle Gel herself astutely remarked, it sounds like video game musick.  No wonder the Nazis were so fond of the piece.

Interestingly, over the years I have noticed that most other non-singers don’t much like the piece, while many, many singers actually quite enjoy it.  Perhaps it’s more fun to perform then to hear.

Anyhoo, whatever else, I’m sure Teh Gel and her mates will do credit to themselves.

* Fun fact:  I was discussing O, Fortuna with teh Gel this afternoon and mentioned that I was pretty sure John Williams ripped off those clashing opening chords for the climactic fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.  Her response? “Well, what hasn’t John Williams ripped off?”

Heh, that’s my gel.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Late this afternoon, teh Youngest (now 13) decided to amuse herself by tie-dying a t-shirt.  Unfortunately, she “forgot” to don gloves before getting down to biznay.  The result, even after multiple washings with various soaps and alcohol-based cleansers, is that her hands look like they were worked over with a crowbar.

If you don’t hear from ol’ Robbo for a while, it’ll be because the gel’s school will have flipped out tomorrow morning when she shows up, and sicced Child Protective Services on me.

Honest, officer, I didn’t do nufkink.

Sigh……

(Actually, this tune is not quite apropos, because she’s really quite smart.  Indeed, I’m reasonably sure she pulls this sort of stunt just for the attention.  But it’s close enough and I happen to like it.)

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo settled down to listen to some musick this evening, only to discover that his 25+ year old set of Sony headphones have gone duff.  (Something within the right lobe has broken loose.  It’s not that I can’t hear from that side, but the component keeps sliding around.  Difficult to appreciate a Haydn Mass when it’s permeated by a set of chunks and bangs not contained in the original score.)

So….Any friends of the decanter have any recommendations re a new set of ‘phones?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It seems that the Gels’ latest “What a Dinosaur ol’ Dad Is” meme is to make fun of the fact that I still carry around a Motorola flip phone which I must have had, oh, at least eight or ten years now.

Until they started this line of ragging, ol’ Robbo hadn’t even known it was a thing, since I hardly ever use my phone.  In fact, the only reason I even have one at all is for use while commuting in case of emergency or change of itinerary sent out from Port Swiller HQ.  Truth be told, I don’t even know my own cell number.

In response to the question of why I don’t upgrade, I also note:

a) that I don’t want to turn into one of the legion of zombies I see walking about with their eyes locked on their iThingies, and

b) even if I wanted to, from what I understand of our Verizon plan, Mrs. R and the gels have been helping themselves to my upgrades all this time, so I have not even been given the opportunity.

Anyhoo, I bring all this up because I had a dream last night that I was supposed to pick up Jon “Horseface” Carry at the Denver airport but, because I didn’t have my phone on, I had missed the instructions.  Somehow, as I scrambled about trying to get ready and wondering why I had to fetch him, I could hear his voice muttering in the background about “incompetence” and “shoddy service” and “I can’t believe this”.  Yeah, John.  You should talk.

I then further discovered that not only was I late to pick up Kerry at the Denver airport, it was also Thanksgiving Day; I had a house full of family, all of them already sitting expectantly at the table; and that I hadn’t even turned on the oven yet.  I found myself feverishly looking at the instructions on the turkey wrapping, trying to find out the correct oven setting.  The only number I could find was 500°F, which, even in my dream, I knew was way too high for a bird.

Finally, I looked up at my guests and said, “Um, this is going to take a while.”

And then I woke up.

UPDATE: Apropos, I saw this somewhere the other day.  Pretty funny because true:

 

 

 

A glass of wine with those friends of the decanter who have an ear for good music!

Haydn ConcertiThe local classickal station’s CD pick of the week. this week is a collection of Papa Haydn’s keyboard sonatas and concerti.

From what I have heard the past couple days, I would heartily recommend to those friends of the decanter who are interested in such things that you pick up this particular CD.  (I know I will.) The performances by Anne-Marie McDermott at the ivories are crisp, yet witty and sensible, qualities of which ol’ Papa, I am sure,  would have approved most heartily, since they mirrored his own character.

Also, from a strictly selfish point of view, I play most of the solo keyboard pieces myself (on a strictly hack amateur sight-reader, nobody else within hearing distance basis, of course) and it’s nice to see them get some exposure.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Got our tax docs back from the accountant wallahs this evening.  For the past umpteen years, we’ve always expected a modest refund.  This year, it would seem we actually owe a not-inconsiderable wodge of dosh.  Grrrrrrr…….

This is the thing.  It’s not so much the amount of the check itself, it’s the perception of value for money.  I could write a whole damn book on this subject, but in short, I don’t think we’re getting all that much.  Double grrrrrr……

Speaking of owing reminds me of an episode back in the early days of married life, 20-odd years ago.  What with one thing and another, I had been slow about putting together our returns, and the upshot was that Mrs. R and I had to make a run for the closest open Postal Service facility on the evening of April 15th in order to get our return properly post-marked.

There was a blazing thunderstorm and torrential rain that evening.  Nonetheless, the anti-tax protesters were out in force at the mail center and I tooted my horn in solidarity with them most enthusiastically.  (I love the idea, by the way, of scheduling elections round about the same time as taxes are due.  Goes right to the whole value-for-money thing.)

Anyhoo, we got the forms into the mail well before midnight, with much grumbling, and started on our way back to our apartment.  Coming up on an important intersection, we found that there had been an accident and that the cops were on the scene to direct traffic around the mess.

I will never forget this.  Having just had Uncle take a big bite out of my not-very-considerable income, I was sitting in a downpour, lightning all over the place, when I suddenly became aware of a County policeman knocking on my windshield with his flashlight and pointing at my inspection sticker.  It had expired the month before.

Ol’ Robbo is not and has never been an Ayn Rand libertarian type.  But at that moment, I wanted to cold-cock the cop, strip him of his weapons and equipment, and light out for the hills.

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