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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was saddened to see the news of the death of “Cars” frontman Ric Ocasek  yesterday.

Not that I was a yuge fan of The Cars, but even Ol’ Robbo had their first album, as did practically every other teenager in the late 70’s/early 80’s, and it’s always a bit of a jolt to see a piece of one’s misspent yoot pass through the veil.

I also post about this because one of the strangest things I ever beheld – it might have been when I was dragged to Disney World in 2005 – was a video of Ocasek singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Ay” accompanied by cartoon birds.   I remember thinking at the time that the guy must really have needed the money.

Nonetheless, rest in peace.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Much against every fiber of his better judgment and overcome by curiosity, Ol’ Robbo actually let himself watch the new trailer for the movie “Cats“.

According to ancient myth, Pandora opened the forbidden box and released all the evils into the world.  I opened the Yootoob and unleashed on my braim a collection of CGI-enhanced abominations it will never now be able to unsee.

Once Pandora acted, Hope remained left in her box.  All Robbo got were some stinky clumps of litter.

Jesus. Mary. Joseph.

I always though the stage “Cats” was bad enough.  Being compelled to watch an Andrew Lloyd Webber production to me is something akin to being forced to chug a 55-gallon drum of bubble-gum flavored cough syrup.  I simply thought it couldn’t get any worse.

This is.

I saw the thing, incidentally, over at the Hitler Rants Parodies reaction (which is why I saw it, as I do like those things so), and I think Mein Failüre has a salient point.  The original musical premiered back in 1981.  In those days, the line between reality and imagination was much more clearly defined, and the vast majority of people (who go in for that sort of drek) could enjoy the show while recognizing at the same time that It. Was. Being. Put. On. By. People. In. Cat. Suits.  I fear with the current state of insanity into which we seem to have plunged as a culture, coupled with the whiz-bang techno-animation, that a lot of folk will look at this train wreck, like it, and decide that they are cats as well, and furthermore demand that the rest of us respect this.

Think Ol’ Robbo is exaggerating? Wait for it.

So the normalization of “furries” will kick up another notch.  Deliberate Hollywood social engineering?  Or the by-product of another tired retread by an industry out of ideas.  I’d probably say that we should embrace the power of “and” here.

Anyhoo, I’ve seen enough already to send me close enough to the edge of insanity for my taste, so won’t look on it again.

By the bye, anybody got any tuna?  I’m kinda hungry.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo might have added that, the newest abomination aside, his ire at the whole damn franchise runs miles deep.  This is because one of his cherished memories (ack!) from his misspent yoot was the Mothe’s bedtime readings from Mr. T.S. Eliot’s original materials.  “The Old Gumbie Cat”, “The Rum-Tum Tugger”, and “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” remain implanted in the lumber rooms of my mind even today.

Indeed, so much did these poems impress Ol’ Robbo that he made a point of naming the third cat of his adult life (after Bertie and Jeeves, our original pair), Jennyanydots (shortened to Jenny for everyday use).  Friends of the decanter have no idea how aggravated I got having to explain to people that no, no, no, her name had nothing to do with A.L. Bloody Webber, but instead with the poem.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As of this October, the Family Robbo will have occupied Port Swiller Manor for 19 years.  It’s a modest two-story brick colonial with a walk-out basement, plus a standard four-room-plus-front-hall downstairs and four bedrooms upstairs.

Myself, I’ve always thought the first floor layout to be just fine: Living room, library, dining room, kitchen. (My only gripe is that the kitchen, designed in the early 70’s when the place was built, is really not much more than a glorified galley, reminiscent of a time when folks didn’t do all that much serious cooking.  Preparing a meal more elaborate than a roast, Yorkshire pud, and two veg, particularly given how blasted picky my family is, requires logistical calculations worthy of the Overlord landings.  But I can live with that.)

Mrs. Robbo is of a very different mind.  Every now and again she is seized with the desire to Do Something with the downstairs, something that invariably involves knocking out one or more walls.

Now if there’s one thing Ol’ Robbo loathes more than anything else architecture-wise,  it’s an open floorplan.  To me, a proper house should be clearly compartmentalized.  I simply don’t want, for example, to sit in my library and stare straight into the kitchen.

I say so to Mrs. R whenever she gets this expansionist itch.

“Oh,” she says, “But at least I want a bigger kitchen!  One with two ovens and a bigger fridge and an island in the middle!”

“Why?” I ask.  “You don’t cook.”  (She doesn’t.)

“Well, but I might!” she always answers.

Yeah, no.  (And I’ve no problem with that.  She is who she is.)

But because Mrs. R brings these things up, Ol’ Robbo finds himself almost involuntarily playing What If games, at least as far as the kitchen goes.  As a matter of fact, I actually do have a plan half-mapped out in my head.  The problem is that it is also associated with a reconfiguration of one whole end of the house, including the garage, the building of an in-law/ guest suite (which we’ve often discussed) over it, the transmogrification of the laundry room and pantries, and the relocation of the washing machine and drier to the basement.

Doable, but at a price far beyond anything we could hope to swallow for the foreseeable future, what with having at least two gels in college for the next four years.  And besides, once Ol’ Robbo goes under the sod or we otherwise sell the place, what with the current trend in our neck of Northern Virginny, the odds are that the buyers would simply knock the place down altogether and build a new McMansion afresh.  So why sink capital into the place we don’t absolutely need or want to?

That’s Ol’ Robbo’s trump card for sticking to the status quo, and by golly I’m going to play it for all it’s worth.

Obligatory musickal selection:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, another Robbo Family tradition played out today, as Mrs. R and I carted Youngest Gel off to two weeks at Bible-Thumper Camp.  This is the Gel’s tenth year there as a camper and she’ll go back for another two week stint in August as a member of the kitchen crew.  (She also intends to set the Port Swiller Family record by going back next year for her eleventh, possibly as a team captain, thus doing down Middle Gel, who chose to spend the summah of her senior year in high school at the Young Life camp up to Upstate New York.)

I use the “Bible-Thumper” moniker here in completely good-natured jest.  The camp is unabashedly Christian in its mission and activities, is run by Evangelicals and is staffed by college kids from places like Liberty University and Grove City College.  As what’s left of our so-called culture hurtles ever more swiftly into the abyss, Ol’ Robbo isn’t going to let a few theological disputes between them and the Old Religion prevent him from welcoming these folks as allies. (The camp motto is: God First, Others Second, I’m Third.)  Plus, after all these years, not one of the Gels has reported any snake-handling sessions there….

I keed.  I keed!

On the other hand, as always, a stream of “Christian Rock” was blaring over the loudspeakers over to the main assembly area.   Theology aside, from a purely aesthetic point of view, Ol’ Robbo has always found this particular musickal genre pretty vile.  What I say is, if Gregorian Chant is good enough for me, it’s good enough for these young whipper-snappers!

Lawn.  Off.



(Betcha didn’t know Ol’ Robbo even knew this song, now did you.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In response to the post below, regular friend of the decanter Tubbs asks: “I take it that you have no time for the Delmarva beach haunts?”

This is correct.   Ol’ Robbo has never been to Ocean City or Rehoboth or Bethany, nor to any of the various beaches along the Jersey shore, and he has no desire to do so, either.  You may call me unreasonably biased and cynical, but I sense both overcrowding and massive expense even from afar.

Ditto Virginia Beach, for that matter.  We have very dear friends there who we often visit, but it’s usually during the off-season.  I think I’ve been to the actual beach there once, and felt distinctly “meh” about it.

The Outer Banks I simply loathe.  Even if you can find one of the more remote houses, with a single access road for the whole damn place you’re at the mercy of the traffic at all times.

During my misspent yoot in Texas, I visited South Padre and Port Aransas a few times but don’t remember much.  And my first real driving adventure was a long day trip down to North Padre with my high school girlfriend.  (I don’t recall much of the beach itself, as I was otherwise occupied at the time.)

Where else? Well, Hilton Head, which is simply not all that attractive.  In Florida I’ve seen the sands at Vero Beach and Jupiter.

Turning farther north, I’ve been on beaches on both the Sound side and the ocean side of Lawn Guyland, and once spent a mosquito-plagued evening at Good Harbor Beach on Cape Ann, Mass.

But apart from Bermuda, which is in a class by itself, to me the perfect stretch of sand is Popham Beach up to Maine. Sure, it’s miles from nowhere, the water’s only about 50 degrees even at the height of summah and fogs can roll in without warning, but it’s very pretty and relatively uncrowded, and the people who do turn up tend to behave very nicely.  I only hope I can get back there some time in the not-so-distant future.

(And lest you think Ol’ Robbo is just being a Yankee snob about this, I may say that I wouldn’t go to Old Orchard Beach if you paid me.)

Alas, no beach trips in store for me this summah.  Our family hols will consist of a visit to the In-laws.  True, they live on the water in Connecticut and there is what could nominally be termed a beach in front of their house, but I find it isn’t worth the bother and that it’s far more comfortable simply to gaze out at the Sound from the comfort of their house.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the local classickal station is at it again with their semi-annual pledge drive.  Each time this comes around, Ol’ Robbo finds himself cringing just a little bit more.  Why?  Because every single time, not only do they use exactly the same format, they also use exactly the same language: the same scripted hooey about “community” and “the Arts” and “therapy”; the same pre-recorded plugs for promotional gift CD’s; even the same listener commentary (most of which is inane).   You’d think that after years and years of this they might try something different, especially as they’re always on about not making this or that pledge goal.

To be absolutely fair, Ol’ Robbo tried to think up some alternative fundraiser ideas himself, but really didn’t get much further than a model based on Python’s Blackmail Sketch.  Yes, it would be mighty effective, especially here in the Swamp, but somehow I don’t think the station’s board would be much interested.

By the bye, I’ve been slipping them some coin for years and years.  If I find out that some of this is leaking over to their teevee operations, especially as PBS is going full-on SJW with the kidz, I may have to rethink that very hard.  (Not saying they can’t do it, just saying I won’t voluntarily pay for it.)

And speaking of musick and money, Ol’ Robbo learned this week from comments over at AoSHQ that there exists a director’s cut of the movie “Amadeus” that contains a scene in which Constanze offers to prostitute herself to Salieri in order to get some badly-needed readies for the Mozarts.  I never much liked the movie anyway since it plays so very fast and loose with the actual facts of Mozart’s life, but this is positively obscene.

One fellow Moron said yes, the movie is inaccurate, but it’s telling the story from Salieri’s point of view and he was lying and delusional.  First, that’s a slander on Salieri.  Second, I don’t think it comes across that way from the screenplay, since there are many scene outside of Salieri’s scope of vision.  And third, for a large chunk of the audience, the movie is the reality, as it’s the only source of biographical information about Wolfgang to which they’ve likely ever been exposed or will be.

Another said well the fact was that Mozart was a true genius and wound up in a pauper’s grave and that wasn’t right.  Well, it wasn’t lack of appreciation that put Wolfgang in a pauper’s grave, but his wife who, as a new widow with two small sons and almost no assets, had to be as thrifty as possible.  (Besides, this practice was quite common in Vienna at the time.)  And why hadn’t his musickal genius brought the family greater fortune while Wolfgang was still alive?  Because as a businessman and professional, he was an absolute idiot, with neither the patience nor the foresight to put down roots, pay his dues, bide his time, build up a body of goodwill, or seize real opportunities when they presented themselves.  (Ol’ Robbo often wonders what might have happened had Mozart gone to London along with Papa Haydn, as Peter Salomon so wanted him to do.)  That’s why.

Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!

[Ed. – I didn’t get a “Harumph!’ from that guy over there.]

UPDATE: Oh, by the bye, in my younger days, I’d have finished this post with the YooToob of “Rock Me, Amadeus”.  I like to think I’ve outgrown that now.  Instead, I direct your attention over to Friend of the Decanter Zoopraxiscope Don, who reports that tomorrow is World Fiddle Day and provides some toe-tapping samples to get us in the mood.  A glass of wine with you!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Sorry, but my Muse is absolutely, stonily silent this evening.  Several ideas have popped into the Robbo braims, including thoughts on radical environmentalist headlines this week and their relationship to Gnosticism; the end last evening of Youngest’s school softball season; and today’s birthday anniversary of Johannes Brahms.  Try as I might to woo her assistance, however, she’s just not having anything to do with translating them into coherent posts.  (Hell, it’s taken me twenty minutes to suss out just this paragraph!)

Blame pollen, I guess.

I suppose I’ll go and see what new ways my beloved Nationals can find to lose ball games.  That’ll free up my tongue, probably, although not in ways suitable to a family blog.








Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

With the arrival of spring and its legions of tourons in Your Nation’s Capital also has come the reappearance of the ice cream truck fleet.  For whatever reason, it seems to Ol’ Robbo that there are more of them parked around town this year than previously.  (Actually,  more food trucks in general.  I dunno if this is due to a relaxation in regulations or a booming market or some combination of both.)

I know several of them within my immediate vicinity and can follow their movements from one spot to another by their signature tunes blaring out over their loudspeakers, much the way I follow birds from the porch of Port Swiller Manor.  There’s one that plays “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.  Another seems to be trying to corner the high-brow market with a selection from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”.  A third offers up an old song called “Red Wing” which I happen to know only because The Dook and Lee Marvin give a drunken (and historickally impossible) rendition of it in “The Comancheros“, a favorite movie of mine.  And then there’s the one that plays  a portion of Joplin’s “The Entertainer”, which frankly makes me grind my teeth in memory of every kiddie piano recital in which I was made to participate during my misspent yoot.  (I never learned it myself – the Joplin piece I studied was the “Maple Leaf Rag” – but some other kid always, always played it. And poorly, too.)

I hear all of these (and others) both during my lunchtime walks and also as I slog out of the City during my afternoon commute.  And what I can’t help wondering is this:  Even a few moments of listening to the same ten second loop of blaring, metallic, synthesized musick over and over and over and over again makes me start to twitch.  How the heck do the fellahs who run these trucks stand hours of it without flipping out?

I suppose they just manage to blot it all out, somehow.  (What are the pot laws in Dee Cee these days? Pretty lax if I’m not mistaken.)  Pretty sure I wouldn’t make it through my first day without suddenly seizing an ice-cream scoop and running amok up and down the Mall, laying into everyone I could reach.

UPDATE: Speaking of ice cream brings to the surface an amusing (to me, at any rate) recollection from my time at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT.  I had the same roommate my junior and senior years.  In many respects, we could not have been more opposite.  I was a conservative, Christian, traditionalist jock from South Texas.  He was a 90-pound Jewish liberal from Jersey.  (Our arguments over Jim Morrison, for example, were epic.  Roommate: “He was a visionary genius!”  Self: “He was a goddam hippy punk!”)

What made it work was the fact that we had very, very similar senses of humor.  He put me on to Firesign Theatre, for example, which I find quite clever and amusing even if it is hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor. In return, I broadened his Monty Python exposure.  One of our favorite practices was to buy the Weekly World News and to cut up and rearrange the headlines, thus making them even stranger than the originals.  These we would tape to our hall door for the benefit of our hallmates.  (I lived on a very radical leftist hall.  They never could quite decide what to make of me, in large part because of things like this.)

More to the point, the only class we ever took together was a basic Macro Econ class.  It was taught by a native-Polish prof who studied in Britain.  Where other econ profs used the word “widgets” to describe a basic unit of production, this prof used “ice cream”, I suppose in an effort to engage our fleeting attention.  In order to get around the problem of breaking that commodity down into individual units, he would say “ice creams“.   My roommate and I both noticed this and both found it funny, especially as served up in a plummy Brit accent.  It got to the point that if we accidentally made eye-contact in class when the prof offered it up, we’d both break down in helpless giggles.

Ah, yoot.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No particular theological insights this week, I’m afraid.

Today’s Mass setting was by Michael Haydn, little brother to Papa, and was good enough to make me think it might have been one of the compositions that his friend Mozart “helped” with when Michael was too blotto to make a deadline.

Only other thing of note today is that I managed to take a toss on the sidewalk heading out afterward, landing on the backs of my hands and one knee, all of which got scraped up reasonably thoroughly.  (I felt a hell of a fool when an officious young whippersnapper came rushing up and asked if I needed assistance.)  Alas, I couldn’t even claim stigmata, as all the bleeding is in the wrong spots.  My fingers are still too stiff for me to tickle the ivories this afternoon, too, which is a pity because I was looking forward to it.

Sheesh, I figured I had another thirty years before I had to worry about randomly keeling over like that.

UPDATE: In answer to the flood of concerned inquiry I’ve already received, no, no, Robbo is not suffering an onset of Lewy body dementia, which is what did the Mothe in.  That was just a rather darkish joke.  Actually, I simply moved to the side of the sidewalk in order to make room for somebody coming the other way (the selfsame officious young whippersnapper, in fact), and lost my footing along the edge.

Also, my fingers loosened up later on this afternoon enough so that I could play through a few of Papa Haydn’s piano sonatas after all.  The mistakes I made (and their name is Legion) were due solely to my rusty sight-reading, not to my injuries.

So all is well.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As promised (or threatened) below, Ol’ Robbo has a bit of this and that bouncing around inside his braims at the moment:

♦  As I meant to mention, yesterday was the anniversary of the birth of the great Johann Sebastian Bach in 1685.  Robbo considers ol’ Johnny Bach to be the single greatest musickal genius in history, and I’ll fight anybody in the octagon who says otherwise.

♦  This reminds me that I need to go back and have another go at Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach: Music In The Castle of Heaven.  I started it some time in the last year or two but found I wasn’t in the mood for JEG’s blend of wandered history, sight-seeing, and ego.  He also makes mention of a scene from the movie “Amadeus“.  Surely Gardener knows that this movie contained virtually not a single accurate biographical fact about Mozart?

♦  Another writer who appreciated Bach was the late Douglas Adams.  His Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – his best book IMHO, although the ending still puzzles me – contains a long, drawn out, back-handed compliment to the Master.  This lets me rant again about what has always frustrated me about Adams, namely his ability to see God’s thumbprints all over the Universe but refusal to acknowledge what he was looking at.  The book speaks wonderfully to the intersection of mathematics, musick, and the natural order of things.  Did Adams suppose this intersection a mere accident?

♦  Speaking of Adams, I re-watched the Beeb’s old Hitchhiker’s Guide series recently.  I hadn’t seen it in quite some time and found it really rather good, if you can get past the shoe-string budget special effects.  I refuse to see the more recent movie version of the story, as I consider it to be heretical. UPDATE:  Oh, and it’s on Ol’ Robbo’s “bucket list” as the kids like to say that I will someday dress up as Zaphod Beeblebrox for a Halloween party.

♦  Also speaking of movies, I see where a third Bill & Ted installment is in the works, “Bill & Ted Get The Early-Bird Special” or whatever.  I dunno…..I love the original (in fact I own it) for its good-natured dopiness and modest ambitions.  The second one tried way too hard for my taste.  This one?  I assume it’s a complete vanity job for Winter and Reeves, so I hope they’re just going to have fun with it.

Why is it there’s nothing out these days except reboots, sequels, and comic book movies?  (I know the answer, actually.)

♦  I watched “Cool Hand Luke” the other evening.  Now there’s a movie for you, even if I don’t care that much for Paul Newman.  ‘Preciatin’ over here, boss!

♦  One thing I don’t appreciate is the sudden call from the Left to destroy the rules surrounding Presidential elections – national popular vote, abolition of the Electoral College, lowering the voting age, and so on. Of course, it’s all part of the plan to bring about collectivist totalitarianism (and I’m not being hyperbolic here but dead serious), but I wonder why now.  Is it because they think they’ve reached a threshold of ignorance, envy, and greed (to say nothing of fraud) amongst the voters that warrants putting these things in play?  Or is it a panicked Hail Mary response to the set-backs they’ve received from OrangeManBad and a perception that their powers have about peeked for the next generation?  I hope for the latter but fear the former.

♦  Oh, and thank Heaven I do not, never have, and never intend to have a Twitter account.  Pure. Crazy. Poison.

So that’s that.  After a thunder and hail storm rolled through here late this afternoon, Port Swiller Manor ought to get a pretty good look at that big Full Moon this evening.  Think I’ll go look for it……


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