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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

WHO put the “bop” in the bop-she-bop-she-bop?

WHO put the “ram” in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?

The world wonders.

Ol’ Robbo apologizes.  As mentioned below, I’ve a trial coming up eftsoons.  We’re scheduled to go on up to Maine on hols almost immediately afterwards, in large part to visit the Mothe, whose health has declined rather significantly this year, but there is some small but hideous chance that said trial will interfere with said trip.

I find myself…somewhat stressed by the possibilities of both legal combat and familial disruption, and thus prone to such apparently inane lines of thought.

UPDATE:  As I typed, Middle Gel got home from an evening out with a gentleman friend seeing the latest Spider-Man reboot and going out to dinner.  She mentioned that she had wasabi, which immediately brought to Ol’ Robbo’s mind a Budweiser advertising meme that flared and died before she was even born.  Those of you old enough will recall it, I’m sure:

The rest of you? Lawn. Off.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is currently making his way for the umpteenth time through the Flashman Papers (yes, I know I should be expanding my horizons elsewhere) and it suddenly occurred to him that he had never heard Flash Harry’s favorite song, “Drink Puppy Drink” by George Whyte-Melville.

Whelp, through the magic of YooToob, to look it up (at least in its regimental version) was the work of an instant.  Probably not much like the single-finger-on-the-keyboard version Flashy performed while enduring the tender embraces of Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar, but I pass it on just in case you’re interested.  Enjoy!

And here, in case you’re further interested, are what this site says are the lyrics to the song:

Now here’s to the fox with his ass beneath the rocks,
Here’s to the line that we follow.
And here’s to every hound with his nose upon the ground,
And a-merrily we whoop and we holloa!

Chorus (after each verse):
So drink, puppy, drink, let ev’ry puppy drink
That’s old enough to lap and to swallow;
For he’ll grow into an hound,
And we’ll pass the bottle ’round,
And merrily we’ll whoop and we’ll holloa.

Now here’s to the horse and the rider too, of course,
Here’s to the rally to the hunt, boys;
And here’s to every friend that can struggle to the end,
And here’s to the tally-ho in front, boys.

Now here’s to the gap and the timber that we rap,
Here’s to the white thorn, and the black, too;
And here’s to the pace that puts life into the chase,
And the fence that gives a moment for the pack, too.

Now the pack is staunch and true, now they come from scent to view,
And it’s worth the risk to life, limb and neck, boys;
To see them drive and stoop until they finish with ‘Whoop’,
Forty minutes on the grass without a check, boys.

A glass of wine, indeed.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I believe that after all these years (almost 14 by my count) of blogging, today marks an historick first, insofar as I am posting today for the very first time from the immense comfort of my hammock on the back porch of Port Swiller Manor.

I must say, I could seriously get used to this.   (Indeed, one of the Four Things which Ol’ Robbo hopes to do when and if he is ever able to retire is to turn his attention to more serious writing.  If I’m not mistaken, none other than William Makepeace Thackeray is said to have done his very best work while similarly lounging in his hammock, so you never know!)

And what are the Four Things, you ask? Well, as I say, one of them is serious writing.  Another is to reform my garden from a butterfly-bush wilderness into an orderly, civilized set of flower beds.  The third is to actually sit down and work up some piano musick to performance level, instead of forever sight-reading.  Finally, I want to take up golf again, which I haven’t seriously played in 25 years.

So there you are.

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends for you:

♦  We had a very cool and wet spring in the neighborhood this year, with a resultant lushness that I haven’t seen in quite some time.  Indeed, so much so that the hedge of hollies which we planted along the sidewalk out front some years ago have positively exploded.  T’other day, Ol’ Robbo came home to find a piece of paper taped to his mailbox.  Its gist was that the hollies were sticking branches out over the sidewalk and could we please cut them back.  It was signed, “Your friendly neighbors.”

I’ll give them that the trees needed pruning (which I did yesterday), but there is something about the passive-aggressive nature of this “friendly” notice that really irritates Ol’ Robbo.  Indeed, I was half-tempted to scrawl “Balls to you!” on the thing and just leave it there.

Ah, well, at least it was a tad better than the little snirp who, once or twice over the years, has actually hacked down some of my branches and simply left them lying all over the sidewalk.  I caught him at it once, and it was only the gray hairs on his head that kept me from taking a horsewhip to him.

♦  Speaking of horsewhips, Ol’ Robbo realizes more and more what a bye he got with the Eldest Gel not being at all interested in dating when she was in high school.  Suddenly it seems both of the younger Gels have romantic irons in the fire, and Ol’ Robbo’s stomach muscles are tightening accordingly.  (Actually, the Youngest’s is a very polite and sensible young man, who I think I like.  She’s so besotted with him that she’s actually going to try and take honors chemistry next year because he is.  Gawd!)

♦  And speaking of the Younger Gels, it’s off to Bible-Thumper Camp tomorrow morning.  This will be Middle Gel’s tenth year and Youngest’s eighth.  (Right now, all of Robbo’s wymminz are in the kitchen, squabbling over a trip to Tarzhay to pick up last-second supplies.  Why does everything have to be so complicated?  Ol’ Robbo is feigning deafness.)

♦  Oh, and have I said it lately?

LET’S GO, NATS!!!

Whelp, that’s about it for now.  Another advantage of hammock-blogging, now that the Gels have left on their equipment-run, is that I can simply hit the power button, close my laptop, and go nappy-byes.

As I say, I could get used to this.  Zzzzzzz………

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy St. Pat’s Day!

Ol’ Robbo doesn’t think very much of this “holiday”, given that in its modern, secular form, it seems to be not much more than an excuse for the young people to get thoroughly blotto. It also emphasizes the trivialization of many ancient and important cultural and religious symbols in much the same way that the modern Halloween does.

For all that, I completely forgot what day it was this morning and grabbed a green sweater quite at random.

I felt like an idiot all day.

So now for a bit of Irish random:

– Ol’ Robbo cannot abide either corned beef OR cabbage.

– Despite the title of this post, I know absolutely nothing about Irish whiskey. To the extent I touch the hard stuff anymore, I remain a single-malt scotch man (Laphroig by preference).

– On the other hand, I DO know a thing or two about stout. Mostly, that it should not be quaffed when the outside temperature is anything over about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

– “The Commitments”, the story of one man’s attempt to bring soul music to Dublin, remains one of my very favorite movies. Fookin’ deadly!

– Leprechauns. They’re not cute and cuddly, they won’t enhance your breakfast cereal experience, and God help you if you ever do somehow stumble across their horde of treasure. One of my favorite short stories encapsulating the actual terror associated with “Thim People” is “The Happy Despatch” by Patrick O’Brian. (Yes, THAT Patrick O’Brian. You’ll find it in his book “The Rendezvous and Other Stories”.)

– One of my favorite collections of short stories that really digs down into the “true” Irish character is, of course, “The Irish R.M.” by E. O. Somerville and Martin Ross, a pair of Anglo-Irish ladies writing in the early 20th Century. They are surprisingly sympathetic to the natives.

– One Irishman surprisingly NOT sympathetic to his countrymen was the playwrite John Synge. Writing about the same people at about the same time as Somerville and Ross, he was brutal in his depictions of their backwardness. Ol’ Robbo was in a college production of his “Playboy of the Western World” and actually took lessons to get the brogue right. As my eldest gel is discovering, ANY play is fun to do, but this one was pretty brutal in its depictions. (Small wonder the audience rioted when it debuted in Dublin in 1901, or whenever it was.)

– Whelp, that’s about it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe I’ll go listen to a Chieftans CD. Just because.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I can’t link it here because I’m on my phone, but I see via Drudge that the Grammies are tonight and that some of the “stars” plan to “get political”.

Bless their hearts.

Friends of the decanter will already know that Ol’ Robbo has never had any truck with celebrity worship, nor given a wet slap about what some entertainer may think about things. But it seems to me that more and more people are beginning to come round to this same way of thinking, especially now that the totalitarian left has abandoned any pretense that it isn’t fighting a flat-out civil war against Middle America.

I could be mistaken, of course, but if my income depended on ticket or CD sales, I’d probably want to think carefully about who I’m alienating with my virtue-signaling.

BTW, watched “Hail, Caesar” last evening. Meh. The Coen Brothers have definitely done some good films, but they’ve served up some stinkers, too.

Nilus and Friends: Courtesy of the Vatican Museum

Nilus and Friends: Courtesy of the Vatican Museum

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was making his way through his morning tasks down the office early yesterday when the phone rang.  It was the Eldest, still at home for a couple more weeks from college (and kicking her heels because for some reason she’s not getting the hours at her job she had been anticipating).

Daaaad,” she said, ” Our potty [meaning the Gels’ collective loo upstairs] is overflowing!  There’s water all over teh floor and it’s starting to stain the ceiling in the breakfast room below!”

I closed my eyes wearily.

Why is it overflowing?  Have you tried plunging it?”

“I don’t know why! And yes, I tried.  It’s no good!”

I heaved a sigh wearily.  (I may say that I’ve been dealing with a tummy bug off and on the past couple days and don’t have much extra energy.)

Fine….I’ll deal with it when I get home,” I said.

“But it’s all over the place!” she exclaimed.

“I said I’ll deal with it when I get home,” I replied.

Well.

The good news?  The Gel her own self had “dealt with it” long before I actually got home.  She bailed out the bowl.  She plunged the potty vigorously until the obstruction finally cleared itself.  She threw towels down all over the place.  She put pots and bowls down in the brekkers room to catch le deluge.  (After she had called me, the water broke through the ceiling and started pouring down.)  She even commandeered every fan in the house in order to help dry things out.

By the time I actually got home, no more immediate work was necessary.

I must say that I am quite proud of the Eldest for stepping up and dealing with things on her own.

I must also say that I am disappointed, although not really surprised, that nobody has owned up to their complicity in causing the crisis in the first place.  Oh, I know perfectly well what happened:  In two words?  Teenaged.  Gels.  Let us just say that somebody tried to flush something that had no biznay being flushed despite my repeated warnings and leave it at that.

Of course, I asked each of them individually what they knew of the facts.  Of course, I also got three individual variations on the theme of “I dindu nuthin”.

The breakfast room ceiling is now a yuge mess.  All the paint and drywall has fallen away along a large seam and brownish water stains spread out along both sides.  “You see that?” I pointed out to them all, “That’s the result of your collective having not done anything.  And that is going to cost us a boatlad of money to fix!  You’ll just have to look at it until we can budget away the dosh.  I hope you’re happy.”

I often think of W.S. Gilbert’s lines from The Pirates of Penzance about  “the felicity of unbounded domesticity”.   If he was being sarcastic, I’d be happy to pour him a bumper of port.  If he was being serious, I’d happily kick him in the Ball’s Pond Road.  Yes I would.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yesterday or the day before, the Moron Horde over at Ace’s place were grumbling about teh various “holiday” concerts their publick skewls were putting on this week and said concerts’ near total lack of anything approach, you know, Christmas pieces.

Oddly, enough, Middle Gel’s concert happened to be this week.  And even more oddly, it was very much chock-a-block with genuine seasonal musick – both religious and secular carols, and a great big Vivaldi setting of the “Gloria” which, thanks to YooToob, I can actually post here:

Middle Gel is second from the left on the top riser.  (Go ahead and tell me why a girl no taller than 5’3” gets put back there.)  And – starting at around the 8:00 mark – she’s the one on the right for the “Laudamus Te” duet.  (The sound quality isn’t the greatest, but I know the Mothe will like to see this.)

Looking over the programme, I also noticed a curious little disclaimer:

The County Public Schools Music Program of Studies requires the performance of literature that is both sacred and secular.  A balance of music selected and performed from among historical and contemporary composers, genres, and periods is achieved through the course of a year’s instruction and not within any individual concert.

I believe that’s the system’s polite way of telling potential lawsuit-happy trouble-makers to go pound sand.  Good on them, says I!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I don’t know why, since they do it every year, but ol’ Robbo was surprised and shocked this morning at hearing the first bits of Christmas musick being played on the local classickal station.

Indeed, my exact words were, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no!!”

As I say, it’s the same pattern: They start by doing a little “Christmas” fill-in at the top or bottom of the hour the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Gradually, they add more and more such musick to the playlist.  By the week of Christmas itself, the stuff is wall-to-wall and one is heartily, thoroughly, totally sick of it.

And on December 26?  Zilch. Nothing. Nada.  Back to regular programming as if nothing had ever happened.

Feh.

As I grow older and crankier, I resist this whole biznay more and more.  As of yesterday, it’s Advent, dammit, ADVENT!  (Happy Liturgical New Year, by the way!)  Christmas does not start until the evening of December 24th.  Furthermore, it doesn’t end until January 6 (or February 2, if you really want to kick it).

As a matter of fact, Advent is one of my favorite seasons of the year, combining as it does a certain Lent-like repentance with an excitement over the impending arrival on earth of our Lord.  Thus, yesterday ol’ Robbo duly put up wreaths on the front doors of Port Swiller Manor swathed in purple ribbon and also built an appropriate Advent table wreath.

Sigh.  I know, I know.  The whole modern “Christmas Season” is just a secular, commercial-driven co-opting of the Christian tradition (well, at least of its more surface-y traits).  And every year, it’s more about the co-opting and less about the tradition.  (See, for example, the gradual displacement of the greeting “Merry Christmas!” with the much more anodyne and meaningless “Happy Holidays!”  Try the former at work and you’ll find yourself hauled up in front of HR for hate speech.)

Need I point out that Scrooge did have at least something of a point?  Bah, humbug!

The good news is that the Gels get this as well.  Indeed, Eldest has taken to spending the period between Thanksgiving and the Real Christmas saying to everyone, “Merry Xmas!

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sad news:  Middle Gel tipped me off this evening to the the death of Annie Schmidt.

Who, you might ask?

Well, she was the daughter of Jon Schmidt, one of the founders of the Piano Guys.  She’d been out on a solo hike in the Oregon wilderness and had gone missing about a month ago.  According to the story, her remains were found at the bottom of a cliff and her death attributed to blunt force head injuries.  Bottom line: she fell.

I had originally been inclined to say something here about the foolishness of solo hiking, but pace.  There is nothing, from what I know, worse than surviving your own child and I’ve no reason to add to that burden.

I bring this up because, again, Who, you might ask?  Well, the Piano Guys are the Gel’s favorite musickal group.  She’s got several signed CD’s from them and has seen them at least three times in concert the past few years.  (I went with her to the last one at Wolf Trap last summah.)  The PG’s really aren’t my thing, but on the other hand they’re a heck of a lot better than Miley Cyrus’s “twerking” or your average Boy Band or Gansta Rappa that most of teh kids seem to follow these days.

A sample of their mishmash of classickal and modernsky:

Also, in their stage show, they are unabashedly religious (Mormon, I’ll grant you, but still….).  In this day and age, it is quite refreshing.

Anyhoo, as teh Gel herself admits, as sad as the nooz is, at least the family now has closure, which I suppose is something.  (As I say, I hope never, ever, to have to go through such a process myself.)

Greetings, my fellow port swiller and Happy Halloween! (Ol’ Robbo is posting this a day early because tomorrow night he plans to ignore the doorbell, hide in the basement, and watch “Young Frankenstein”.

Jack-O, the semi-inebriated, good-enough-for-gub'mint-work Official Port Swiller Lantern for 2016

Jack-O, the semi-inebriated, good-enough-for-gub’mint-work Official Port Swiller Lantern for 2016

Meet Jack-O.  As ol’ Robbo has mentioned here many times before, he is rigidly orthodox when it comes to carving pun’kins.  Triangles for eyes and nose.  Period.  Mouth? Well, the number of teeth Jack-O winds up with is pretty much a function of my patience.  The Mothe wanted me to do fangs this year, but I settled on blunts.  On the other hand, I put in rayther more than I usually do, so there’s that.  (Pro Tip: a flathead screwdriver does very nicely in small areas if you can’t find your Exacto knife.)  These fancy-shmancy carving “kits”?  Feh.

Now, want to see something really scary, huh kids?  Via the College Fix comes the University of Texas’ 29-point checklist on offensive costumes.  I know this is a trend in many schools around the country this year, but I picked UT in part because Mrs. Robbo brought this particular article to my attention, and in part because this is Texas fer cryin’ out loud!

You can go read the pamphlet itself, but the CF article summarizes the general idea:

“Have we consulted with ‘experts?’ Is it educational?” the guide advises students in the event they decide to portray a culture. Such “experts” include “community leaders or faculty.”

Students should also be careful to avoid “utilizing generic store-bought costumes” that may not be fully “authentic” if the theme is cultural, the guide says. It suggests hosting a “non-social event” if students want to “educate” each other about a culture.

It lists 11 separate “harmful” themes, including any “generalized representation” of Asian culture or “Indigenous” cultures, such as “Cowboys and Indians,” as well as “tropical” or “fiesta.”

The guide provides mixed messages when it comes to cultures associated with white people. “Harmful” themes include “Golf Pros & Tennis Hoes,” “Trailer Trash” and “Chicks and Hicks,” but the guide approvingly cites “Catalina Yacht Mixer or ‘Preppy’” in a section on suggested themes that also includes “Rep Your Favorite Team” and “Alphabet Theme.”

(Ya know, by any traditional meaning of the term, ol’ Robbo is a “Preppy”.  Just who the hell do these people think they are, encouraging my personal subculture to be appropriated?)

By the time you get finished tap-dancing through this minefield, what the hell is the point anymore?  And if some Socialist Juicebox Wanker decides they want to come gunning for you anyway, they’ll find some source of outrage, even if you’re just standing there in a bedsheet with a couple eyes cut out of it.

What a stupid, stupid time to be alive.

(Twenty-mumble years ago when I was in law school, I went to three different Halloween parties.  The first year, I went as Judge Learned Hand, my costume being a black robe and a cardboard hand cutout on my head.  (That’s a 1L geek joke, btw.)  Third year, Mrs. Robbo and I went as the Miser Brothers.  (Won Best Couples Costume, IIRC.)  Second year? I went in a costume that would guarantee me a one-way ticket to the camps if I wore it today.  Nobody back then said a single thing other than, “Who is that?”)

"Intruder alert! Intruder alert!"

“Intruder alert! Intruder alert!”

UPDATE:  As of about 9:30 pm, ol’ Robbo is about to go out and extinguish Jack’s candle and call it an evening.  So far as I heard, we only had one trick-or-treater tonight.  Geographically speaking, we’re a neighborhood outlier (or, as I like to put it, on the wrong side of the tracks), and nobody has ever bothered to come round here who doesn’t actually live on our street.  Over the past couple years, most of the kids in our immediate vicinity have, like our own brood, got too old for door-to-door Halloween, and our sole visitor was a little girl who just moved in a couple months ago.  Just as well, as our idiot dog Daisy the Derp, easily the most stupid dog I have ever owned, has become increasingly cranky about unauthorized people, animals, and noises, and it took me about 20 minutes to calm her down after this one encounter.

UPDATE DEUX:  I mentioned above my plan to watch “Young Frankenstein” this evening.  Didn’t actually happen.  Instead, I found myself catching bits of  “The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horrors” marathon on FFX.  Eh.  The episodes I watched were from fairly recent seasons.  Fact of the matter is that the franchise isn’t nearly as funny as it was, oh, 15 years ago.  Nonetheless, it can still produce a quality zinger every now and again.

Anyhoo, I bring this up because one of the skits was a tribute to Hitchcock and used what is easily my favorite theme from all of his movies, the one to “North By Northwest”.  Enjoy!

 

UPDATE TROIS:  Okay, as long as I’m at it, a gratuitous foundation to my “Really scary, huh kids?” reference above.  Either you know SCTV or you don’t:

 

 

 

 

 

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