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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Through the delightful randomness of the way I toss DVD’s into my Netflix queue and things get mixed up through delays and whatnot, I had an interesting pairing of new-to-me films this week.

First up was “Joan of Arc” (1948).  I am reasonably certain that the historickal St. Joan looked absolutely nothing like Ingrid Bergman.  But as the Pirate King from “Penzance” says of his band’s objection to having major generals as fathers-in-law, “We waive this point; we do not press it; we look over it.”  Heh. And Jose Ferrer was delightfully weak and weasel-like as the Dauphin.  The politickal machinations were well spelled out, and the battle scenes were quite exciting.  Altogether a pretty good film.

Next was “Wonder Woman” (2017).  I’m sorry, but this one left me absolutely cold. (I had tossed it in the queue simply out of curiosity.)  Gal Gadot, although no Lynda Carter, is certainly lovely and talented, but about the story I found myself giving not a single toss.  I also disliked extremely the feeling that I was being manipulated in advance to buy into the inevitable sequels.  Some people, including members of my family, like the modern era of comic book movies.  I guess I just don’t.

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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This past Sunday marked the first anniversary of the death of my mother.

As regular friends of the decanter might have noticed, losing the Mothe hit Ol’ Robbo very hard indeed, as we were extremely close.  (It was nothing like this when the Old Gentleman shuffled off eleven years ago, as we were more distant.)  Also, the circumstances were such that I didn’t get a chance to have that last talk with her that I’d been counting on.  As a result, I’ve spent a good chunk of the last year in a state of grief bordering, I suppose, on clinical depression – withdrawn, disinterested, physically exhausted, all that sort of thing.  It was more or less constant at first, and although by this spring it became a more occasional thing, when the blue devils hit, they still hit hard.

Mrs. R suggested a few times that I ought to go “see somebody”, but I always resisted.  In the first place, I already knew perfectly well what the trouble was.  In the second, I knew that any trick-cyclist I consulted would probably try to put me on happy pills, and Ol’ Robbo wants none of that, thank you very much.  (I prefer to deal with my sorrows the old-fashioned way – by drowning them.)

No, instead I relied on what both my godfather (who deals with geriatric issues in his medical practice) and my priest (who lost his mother two or three years ago) said: Grief is perfectly natural, the first year is the hardest, and things will get better. “Time, the Great Healer” and all that.

Nonetheless, I felt a distinct dread as the anniversary approached that I’d be wracked by a fresh outburst.

But you know what?  As the day progressed, I instead started getting the unexpected feeling that a corner had finally been turned. I hate the expression “move on”, but I could really feel something inside saying that I had mourned long enough and that it was now okay to allow myself to get back into the swing of things.  And I did just that: I prayed harder at Mass than I have in a long time; I spent the afternoon terrifying myself by reading Karl Keating; I had a really good workout on the treadmill; and then in the evening I watched an opera on DVD (Mozart’s “Abduction” – a Covent Gardens performance with Solti conducting and Kurt Moll thoroughly chewing up the part of Osmin) for the first time in I don’t know how long.

Does this mean the blue devils are gone for good? Probably not.  But I really do feel that the worst of it is finally over.

It’s a good thing, too, not just for me but for the Family Robbo as well.  It certainly hasn’t been easy for Mrs. R and the Gels to have me moping about all this time, and they’ve certainly had their work cut out for them by trying to be supportive while keeping their distance (I am a querulous patient when ill and generally wish to be left alone).  Hopefully, they can now put aside their worrying about me.

Anyhoo, here we are.  (Sorry to spout.  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t generally like to use this place to spill his guts but I just felt I had to get this one out there.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The household inventory of Port Swiller Manor, at least on paper, contains about a dozen bath towels.  A spot audit this evening, however, produced no more than one of them present and accounted for, and that one already damp when Robbo jumped in the shower.

Of course I questioned the Gels afterwards as to whether they were possibly taking multiple towels and squirreling them away in obscure corners of their closets rather than hanging them up and reusing them until they needed to be washed.  And of course I was met with stout denials and even incredulity that the question should have been posed in the first place.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of our towels remain MIA.  So, where are they?

I have a couple of working theories:

♦  A wormhole in space.  Somewhere in our galaxy, there is a planet devoted totally to the comfort and maintenance of towels, reachable via tiny and secret interstellar portals.  From time to time, towels from our world and others simply slip quietly away to enjoy this happy Towel Eden. (A glass of wine with Douglas Adams.)

♦  The Underpants Gnomes have decided to diversify. (Step 1: Take towels. Step 2: ? Step 3: Profit!)

♦  Big Cotton has finally come up with a biochemical agent that causes their fibers to disintegrate after a short period of time, reducing a towel to nothing more than a small pile of dust and forcing their customers to buy more.  (I believe Big Cutlery has made a similar breakthrough since our forks and spoons disappear on a regular basis as well.)

Well, if the Gels profess their innocence in the matter, it has to be one of these alternatives, right?  What was it Sherlock Holmes said?  Once you eliminate the impossible, the improbable, however unlikely, must be the answer.

Grrrrr……

**  Yes, I’ll bet that was an easy one.

 

Vought F4U Corsair, courtesy of Wiki

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Quite some time ago, perhaps a year or more, Ol’ Robbo tossed the teevee series “Black Sheep Squadron” (1976-78) into his Netflix queue.  My request immediately went to the “Oh, we can’t find that right now” bin, and I reckoned I’d never actually ever see it.

Whelp, surprise surprise, “BSS” suddenly rose to the surface this week, so instead of watching the All Star Game last evening, about which I cared little or nothing per my post below, I instead checked out the, er, pilot episode.

I loved this show when I was a kid (I was 16 when it first aired) and was curious to see if it still had any of the old appeal now that I am so much older and (debatably) wiser.

Well, I think it does based on what I’ve seen so far.  For one thing, I enjoyed hearing the theme musick again, ( I remembered it perfectly even after forty years or so.  This is not a brag, just a thing with me.) For another, I again enjoyed Robert Conrad as the no-nonsense tough-guy Pappy Boyington character. (Show of hands for those who remember Conrad’s later I-dare-you-to-knock-this-battery-off-my-shoulder commercials.) I was further delighted to discover that John Larroquette was one of the squadron regulars. (Back in the day, how was I or anyone else to know who he was?) And while the dynamics and tensions among the flyboys, and between the squadron and the brass, were pretty predictable, even formulaic, the writing seems pretty good, too.

Also, in the past few years Ol’ Robbo has read Pappy Boyington’s autobiography on which the series is based, and I now see (as I couldn’t have back then) how the writers evidently have tried to incorporate his style and tone (which, frankly, are quite rough) into the screenplay.  I appreciate that effort.

But for me, the real enjoyment now is still what it was back then: Watching a bunch of Vought F4U Corsairs being put through their paces.  What a handsome aircraft!  That extra-long cowling and those gull wings just radiate power and force.  I’d argue that the P-51 Mustang was probably the best all-around American fighter plane of WWII, but I still put the Corsair in a class by itself.

Even though I tossed the whole series into my queue, I’m non-committal about sitting through all of it.  But I’ll at least check out the next few episodes that I have in hand, and I’m very glad I was able to circle back and confirm one of the good memories of my misspent yoot.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

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

Busy times.

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

Always makes me happy.

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

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

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

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

That, too, is pretty easy.

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

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

 

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

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those friends of the decanter who have a taste for Royal Navy history will of course remember that today is the anniversary of the Glorious First of June.  Confusion to the Jacobins!

In token, Ol’ Robbo decided to dial up a performance of this favorite shanty of Nelson’s Navy:

If you care to follow along, the lyrics:

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish ladies, (alt: “…to Spanish ladies”)
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain; (alt: “…to ladies of Spain;”)
     For we have received orders (alt: “…’re under orders”)
     For to sail to old England,
But we hope in a short time to see you again. (alt: “And we may ne’er see you fair ladies again.”)

(Chorus)
We’ll rant and we’ll roar, like true British sailors,
We’ll rant and we’ll roar across the salt seas; (alt: “We’ll range and we’ll roam all on the salt seas;”)
     Until we strike soundings
     In the Channel of old England,
From Ushant to Scilly ’tis thirty-five leagues. (alt: “34” or “45”.)

Then we hove our ship to, with the wind at the sou’west, my boys, (alt: “We hove our ship to, with the wind from sou’west, boys,”)
Then we hove our ship to, for to strike soundings clear; (alt: “…deep soundings to take;” “…for to make soundings clear;”)
     Then we filled the main topsail (alt: “‘Twas 45 (or 55) fathoms with a white sandy bottom”)
     And bore right away, my boys, (alt: “So we squared our main yard”)
And straight up the Channel of old England did steer. (alt: “And up channel did make.” or “…did steer”)

So the first land we made, it is called the Deadman, (alt: “The first land we sighted was callèd the Dodman”)
Next Ram Head, off Plymouth, Start, Portland, and the Wight; (alt: “Next Rame Head off Plymouth, Start, Portland, and Wight;”)
     We sailèd by Beachy, (alt: “We sailed by Beachy / by Fairlight and Dover”)
     By Fairly and Dungeness,
And then bore away for the South Foreland light. (alt: “Until we brought to for…” or “And then we bore up for…”)

Now the signal it was made for the grand fleet to anchor (alt: “Then the signal was made…”)
All in the Downs that night for to meet; (alt: “…that night for to lie;”)
     Then stand by your stoppers, (alt: “Let go your shank painter, / Let go your cat stopper”)
     See clear your shank painters,
Hawl all your clew garnets, stick out tacks and sheets. (alt: “Haul up your clewgarnets, let tack and sheets fly”)

Now let every man take off his full bumper, (alt: “Now let ev’ry man drink off his full bumper,”)
Let every man take off his full bowl; (alt: “And let ev’ry man drink off his full glass;”)
     For we will be jolly (alt: “We’ll drink and be jolly”)
     And drown melancholy,
With a health to each jovial and true hearted soul. (alt: “And here’s to the health of each true-hearted lass.”)

Ol’ Robbo loves the nautical jargon, but I get an especial nerdy delight from the litany of geographical points as the ship sails up the Channel.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sad news today about the death of Tom Wolfe at age 88.

I’ve got a good many of his essays and all of his novels, and while at times I think some of his plots and characters a bit overblown, the underlying satire is consistently deadly.  May I call him late 20th Century America’s Evelyn Waugh? Yes, I’ll go ahead and do that.

Coincidentally, I had been mulling a Wolfe post this week anyway because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein – a man I thoroughly loathe on many levels – including the musickal – and the local classickal radio station is already in full (if you’ll pardon the expression) knob-gobbling mode.  I had thought of mentioning Wolfe’s famous essay “Radical Chic” about the Maestro and his wife hosting a loft party for the Black Panthers, which was a fundamental part of the shaping of Ol’ Robbo’s politickal sensibilities back when he was a teenager.  (I’ve no use for Limousine Liberalism whatsoever.)

Wolfe, by the bye, was a graduate of Dubyunell and quite active as an alum.  Indeed, he gave the graduation speech for my class at the law school back in ’91.  It was a brutal take-down of P.C-ism and its (then) close ally, multiculturalism.  The grads, who as a class were pretty conservative, ate it up.  The faculty, who were considerably more lefty, were mortified.  Good times.

I say that multiculturalism was an ally of political correctness back then.  Funny how it isn’t any more:  What was once encouraged as the shelving of one’s own nativist preferences in exploration of other points of view, tastes, and experiences, has recently morphed – at least in the eyes of the Politically Correct – into the sin of “cultural appropriation” and is now strictly verboten.  (If Wolfe ever addressed this morphing in any of his more recent writing, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t know about it.  But I’m sure he was aware of it.)

Anyhoo, he’s now beyond these petty earthly tribalisms and hopefully on his way to a Better Place.  Godspeed.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo got to experience his first late-day squall line of the year this evening, as he raced (and lost to) a band of thunderstorms bearing down on Port Swiller Manor from the northwest during his afternoon commute.  I’d been tracking the thing on radar all afternoon, and figured it would be a damn near-run thing.  As it happens, I took the metro today, and when I emerged at my home station and scanned the horizon, I still believed I had time enough in hand.  But when I came out of Total Bev after making a stop for supplies and saw a gorgeous (and awe-inspiring) wall cloud looming, I realized I had miscalculated:  The last twenty minutes of my drive home (with all side panels off La Wrangler) were in pitch-darkness, driving rain, and howling wind.  And Ol’ Robbo bore a certain resemblance to the proverbial drowned rat once he finally scootched into the Port Swiller Manor garage.

No mind. It’s only water after all, and I was already hot and sweaty and nasty from hoofing it to the metro anyways.

It’s now later in the evening, and as I type, I’m sitting on the Port Swiller back porch, listening to the dripping all about me and the rumble (still) of thunder off in the distance.  As Mr. Rabbitt croons, I do rightly love this.

UPDATE: The Puppy-Blender links to the Capitol Weather Gang’s round up of the Thunderstorm of the Century of the Week. After-the-Fact analysis?  Meh.

Which reminds me, though, that the installation of the Port Swiller Manor back-up generator is nearly complete.  (I had no idea it would be so complicated.) The Washington Gas wallah was out last week to install a new, bigger, gas meter, and this morning his mate appeared to check the meter and confirm the linkage of the gas line to the generator.  So far as I understand it, the last step is for the generator people to come out and test-run the thing. Get ‘er done, says I.)

 

 

(Obligatory.  Incidentally, this is my very favorite album of theirs.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo spent a goodish bit of time today dealing with CPA’s to get the various Port Swiller tax returns filed.  (In addition to the ones for Self and Mrs. R, I also had to deal with both the Eldest Gel’s and the Mothe’s estate this year.)

I won’t go into detail, of course, but what with one thing and another I got reamed pretty hard when all was said and done.  Indeed, this evening I feel rayther like Rob Lowe’s Benjamin Oliver character after his encounter with Officer Koharski at the end of “Wayne’s World”.   How odd it was, then, that after a long, gratuitous tirade about what a horrible, bad, idiotic old meany Trump is, my regular CPA then immediately turned around and said, “Oh, by the way, under the new tax rules, you’ll do a lot better next year.”

Do these people even listen to themselves anymore?  Or is all this venom-spitting totally reflexive?

 

[Ed. – Sorry?]

‘Ooh, ah like a nice tune, ‘yer forced too!

[Ed. – Then you can go on posting?]

Most certainly.  And now, my fellow port swillers, greetings!

Ol’ Robbo didn’t do all that well this past Lent with heightened prayer, meditation, and reading, but he did do a very good job in sacrifice by giving up all musick for the 40 days, apart from an hour or so on Sundays , and sticking to it.

You have to understand that for me, musick is a near-constant presence in my normal life.  I keep the radio on in the car and in my office all day.  I frequently listen to CD’s in the evenings.  I put in a few hours tickling the ivories on the weekends.  Cutting all that out produces a real, well, silence, and is a …SHUT THAT BLOODY BOUZOUKI UP!

[Ed. – Told you.]

A real but manageable penance.

Now that it’s Easter Week, of course, I’m indulging myself to the fullest and enjoying it all the more so for having abstained these past weeks.

He is risen, indeed, two, three…..

 

(By the bye, the Python sketch on which I’ve been riffing in this post is an excellent example of one they did better on record (the Matching Tie and Handkerchief Album, if I recall correctly) than on tee-vee.  That’s an endlessly fascinating topic of conversation in and of itself – which sketches worked best in which mediums and why.

Well I’m fascinated by it.  And remember, if you enjoy the topic half as much as I do, then I enjoy it twice as much as you.  Ha, ha!

[Ed. – Cue the 16-ton weight!])

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