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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.

 

 

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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!])

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo mentioned recently that Eldest Gel has decided to minor in musickal theatre.  (She’s been bitten hard by the acting bug and has loved every minute of the four stage productions she’s been involved with so far.  How this has happened with a girl of such Cromwellian sensibilities is quite beyond me.)

To this end, the Gel’s taking a course this semester about the history of musickals, in which the prep work seems to be watching a classick movie version and being ready to come to class and talk about it.  (Rest assured: for her history major she’s taking plenty of traditional classes, including a seminar this semester on various medieval legal codes.  I don’t begrudge her the occasional “fun” class like this one in the least.)

Anyhoo, this evening she called me up:

“Dad!  I’m supposed to watch Jesus Christ Superstar tonight for my class.  Have you seen it?”

“No, but I know what it is.”

“What?”

“The ‘Long-Haired Hippy Crap’ Gospel.”

“Aw, man!  Is it blasphemous?”

“It’s from about 1970 and it’s hippies.  So yes, very probably.”

“Aw, maaaaan!  Well, I suppose I’d better watch it, if for no other reason than to argue what’s wrong with it to the idiots in my class.”

That’s the spirit! You go get ’em!”

And that’s my Gel!

UPDATE:  Talked to her again post-viewing.

“So…what did you think?”

“Man, I was all set to hate it but the music.  I mean, 70’s rock! That’s my thing!  I really liked it.  Wish the words were different, though.”

She went on to complain about Jesus being a wimp and Judas being too reasonable and sympathetic.

“And what’s the deal with Mary Magdalene?  You’d think she and Jesus were lovers or something.”

The name Dan Brown popped into my head, but I damped it back down.  It would have taken an hour to explain things and I was supposed to be working.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are in February already, and it’s living up to its reputation this year.  (As it happens, the sky is clear today but it’s too damn cold to do much outside.)

Because the mind of Ol’ Robbo works the way it does, whenever I come to contemplate the fact of February, I always think of the scene in Act 2 of the Pirates of Penzance where the Pirate King explains to young Frederick the paradox of his (Frederick) having been born on February 29 in a Leap Year:

For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve no desire to be disloyal,
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February, twenty-eight

days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence — I shouldn’t be surprised if it were owing

to the agency of an ill-natured fairy —
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year,

on the twenty-ninth of February.
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you’re
only five and a little bit over !

(Is this a leap year, by the bye? I haven’t looked it up.)

Anyhoo, I find myself in the Port Swiller library, laptop on lap, cat on arm of chair, thinking of this and that.

♦  I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about FISA-gate.  I won’t say anything about it here even though I’ve been following the whole biznay quite intently.  What’s that lyric from the Sting song? “At the stillpoint of destruction/ At the center of the fury/ All the angels, all the devils/  (Something, something) can’t you see?” A leetle too close for comfort.  I will just reiterate in general my philosophy that, even though I work in it, I consider government to be a necessary evil, not a religion.  This sort of thing is what happens when others feel differently.

♦   Speaking of religion, as Candlemas was yesterday, I took down and put away the last of the Christmas decorations this morning – specifically the crèche in the front hall and the wreaths on the front doors.  Mrs. Robbo managed to restrain herself from making cracks about how tired she was of looking at them until just the other day.  I think this is a compromise I can live with.

♦   In the Absurdity Department, I learn that Daisy, the Port Swiller Special Needs Dog, has been banned from the groomers.  They say she shakes and gibbers so much that it takes them far too long to finish with her.  So we’re investing in an electric trimmer and will have a go at doing it ourselves.  Anybody know anything about how to cut a dog’s hair?

♦   I am slowly – very slowly – working up the energy to finally getting around to reorganizing my library, which is presently quite a-jumble. Ol’ Robbo simply can’t bear the idea of actually getting rid of books – even those he has no intention of ever reading again – but it recently occurred to me that there is room in the basement where I can, as it were, circular-file them, leaving the library shelves upstairs free for repacking (and adding to).  So, once I summon enough energy, downstairs will go such volumes as the histories of commie-bastard Eric Hobsbawm (left over from college) and fellow-travelers Will and Ariel Durant (picked up at a garage sale when I was young and didn’t know any better); the novels of Hemingway and Steinbeck; the Dee Cee “Insider” books by people like Ken Starr and David Bois that the Old Gentleman continually sent me but I never read, and the like.  The choice of what to retire will be delicious.

♦   Oh, there is one book I’m throwing away:  Lisa Birnbach’s True Prep. Her original Preppy Handbook from back in the early 80’s was amusing (I still have it), but this updated version, capturing as it does the depth of narcissism into which the current so-called “Elite” have slid since then, is horrifying.

♦   And finally, speaking of narcissism, Ol’ Robbo has no intention of watching the Sooper Bowl this year.  Not that I’ve paid very much attention to pro ball since Marino retired, but I usually still tune into the SB for the sheer spectacle.  Not this time.  (Besides, I think a Pats win is pretty much a foregone conclusion.)  No matter:  Only eleven more days until pitchers and catchers report!

Happy Birthday, Franz Schubert, born this day in 1797.

Schubert will never be my favorite composer, but I do nonetheless still like listening to him, especially his chamber works and keyboard pieces.  (I’ve never heard them, but I’m told his lieder are outstanding, too.)

I’ve never tried to play any Schubert myself.  Someday, however, perhaps when I’m retired, I’d like to take a whack at this, which I really do enjoy:

And because it’s his birthday, I can’t resist repeating here the Mothe’s longstanding joke about Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C-major, known as “the Great”.  She’d take on a mock-Irish accent and say, “Da Great, is it now?  Weel, I dunno about dat.  But it saretently is Da Large!”

Cracks me up still.

(Because the piece is so very long and repetitive, d’you see.  Well, I think it’s funny…)

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening Ol’ Robbo caught most of Chimes at Midnight over on TCM, which I’ve never seen before.  Orson Welles basically lifts all the Prince Hal/Sir John Falstaff bits out of Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2.  It’s actually a pretty good film, even though the sound quality was such that half the lines were less than intelligible.  Welles makes quite the credible Falstaff, although since he’s playing a drunken old letch, it really wasn’t much of a stretch for him.  John Gielgud, who I’d watch in anything, was satisfying as Henry IV.  And there were plenty of familiar faces among the secondary characters.  Perhaps my very favorite geek moment was realizing that Andrew Faulds, who played Westmorland, was the Roman officer who brought back the runaway Pseudolus to the house of Senex early on in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.  “Citizens! We caught your runaway slave, and now he dares challenge our right to execute him!”  (When I watch movies, I like to point these sorts of things out.  Mrs. R cannot stand this practice. We don’t watch many movies together anymore.)

I may have to toss this one in the Nexflix queue and take another look.

And speaking of said queue, up this evening is The Return of the Pink Panther, which I haven’t seen in years.  Another of those movies that couldn’t possibly be made today. (“CATO!”)  Be back later……

UPDATE: What fun! I don’t think I’d seen it since I was a teenager, but somehow I remembered all the sight-gags and prat-falls perfectly.  And Herbert Lom really should have been arrested for being that slyly funny.

You know one thing I dislike about The Pink Panther? The theme musick.  And I’ll tell you why: That theme is a favorite of piano teachers to use on beginner students, especially the youngest.  I suppose the reasoning is that it is an easily-recognizable and popular tune, and that this will encourage the little darlin’s to practice.  In any event, I’ve been forced to endure it many, many times at recitals.  And every time, the kiddies make the same damned mistake – they go blazing through the first line of the melody and then crash and burn on the first chord progression in the left hand.

Every. Damn. Time.

After awhile, it’s enough to make you start twitching like Chief Inspector Dreyfus.

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