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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A four-day weekend for Ol’ Robbo, and a mostly-bachelor one at that:   Mrs. R went down to Flahrdah yesterday to visit her parents; the Elder Gels are both back at school; and Youngest spends most of her time at home asleep these days.

So after waiting on Decanter Dog to finish up her biznay out in the yard early this morning I simply went back to bed….because I could.

Ha, ha, ha.

My plan, apart from attending to a few chores about Port Swiller Manor, is simply to take my mind off the hook for a few days.  I’ve started my umpteenth circumnavigation of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.  I’ve got “It Happened One Night” and “The Dirty Dozen” from Netflix.  My sight-reading at the keyboard is on one of its periodic upticks.  I am largely set for food and drink.  And I’ve got puppeh and kitteh to loaf with me.

So let the Impeachment Circus churn on.  Let my villainous Governor try to provoke a shoot-out in Richmond in order to justify even more draconian anti-2nd Amendment measures.  Let the line between the insanity of current events and the Babylon Bee’s satire grow ever hazier.  It’ll all still be there next Tuesday.  For now, I don’t care.


For you musick-loving friends of the decanter, this short video (I assume it’s an excerpt from a longer program) turned up in my yootoob feed a day or two ago:

Right at the end of the clip Johann Sebastian is hugged by a younger man who I’m pretty sure is meant to be his son, C.P.E. Bach, who was one of Frederick’s court composers.  It has long been my understanding that the theme which Frederick gives Old Bach in this bit, a pretty fiendish one, was most likely concocted by C.P.E., and that the whole thing was meant to be an elaborate practical joke to put the Old Man on the spot and spike him.  This is one of those little pieces of trivia which Ol’ Robbo chooses to believe whether it has any actual basis in fact or not.

(Old Bach, of course, eventually turned it into The Musical Offering, which frankly interests me more from an intellectual standpoint than an aesthetic one.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is a bit late with his condolences, but nonetheless wanted to raise a glass in tribute to Neil Innes, who died the other day at the age of 75.  Rest in peace.

The article I link here refers to Innes as the “Seventh” (Monty) Python.  I’m not sure I’d agree with that.  Terry Gilliam was obviously the sixth, but Carol Cleveland is, to me, the seventh.  Innes, depending on your scoring criteria, probably has a claim for the eighth spot, although I think Connie Booth also has a legitimate argument for that position.  In the end, of course, it’s all meaningless, but the exercise in trotting out comparative contributions is a pleasant one.

On the other hand, Innes is the absolute co-captain, along with Eric Idle, of the Rutles, the mockumentary/parody of the Beatles that reached something mighty close to pure genius.  Put it this way: I still sing the Rutles send-ups.  I don’t much sing the Beatles originals.  (“Walkie-Talkie Man says ‘allo, allo, allo’/ With his ballerina boots you can tell he’s always on his toes…..”)

Anyhoo, the news gives Ol’ Robbo an excuse to repost a yootoob of one of my very favorite Innes bits, the closing credits background from my absolute favorite Python episode.  I love everything about this bit – the grainy texture of the film, the cheesy period song, the disconnect of the singer’s sentiment with the obviously bored WAAF, and, of course, the totally cool Hawkers Hurricane sitting behind them.  Enjoy!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy New Year!

As we have done so since we were all in school together, Mrs. Robbo and I met up with the Former Llama Military Correspondent, his lovely bride, and their family to see in the new year.  This time, it was our turn to travel down to the secured grounds of Fort LMC, there to spend the afternoon and evening sipping adult beverages, nibbling on snacks, catching up, and only turning on the teevee for about five minutes to see the Ball drop in Times Square.  (I’m not sure why we even did this.  The teevee festivities were perfectly vulgar, and the crowd in Times Square nothing more than an advertising bonanza for Planet Fitness, who evidently don’t know how to spell “judgment” in American English.)  Said five minutes aside, a good time was had by all,

But speaking of balls and planets and whatnot, Ol’ Robbo was fascinated this week by the news that the star Betelgeuse is acting bizarre and raising speculation of an impending supernova.  How seriously fantastic would it be to see that?

I say “impending”, but of course Betelgeuse is (without looking it up) something like 600-odd light years away from Earth, so whatever we’re about to see happen actually already happened a looooong time ago.  We were batting this idea around the Port Swiller dinner table the other evening, and I think I raised some eyebrows among the Gels.  Certainly when one sits down and starts to really think about the magnitude of interstellar distances, one can make oneself quite dizzy.  Indeed, think about it too much and you’ll be overcome by a strong desire to turn on all the lights, jump into bed, and pull the covers over your head.  Ask me how I know.

Anyhoo, now Ol’ Robbo is eager to go out after dark and have a look at the constellation Orion to see if he can notice for himself any change in the appearance of his left shoulder.


***Spot the reference.  You don’t get credit for this one because it’s too easy, or should be.


Just because it’s been running through my head all day now.

I ran the teevee series off again some time in the past year or so and found it to be quite enjoyable in the nerdy, low-budget, early-80’s Beeb way.  And because I got thinking about it again, I pulled out the books this afternoon, which I have not read in some time.  I’ve been chuckling for hours.  (I think I piqued Middle Gel’s interest doing so.  I hope she gives them a try, as I think they’d be right up her alley.)

Oh, and I may have mentioned it here before, but the more recent moovie treatment?  In Robbo’s World it simply doesn’t exist.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the Family Robbo is still trying to adjust itself to our Christmas Morning fiasco.  The roast beef dinner that I was going to fix for that evening? I’m cooking it tonight.

As you can imagine, Death and the Eternal were much on my mind at Mass today.  (It wasn’t just the cat.  Regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo has been dealing with another outbreak of the blues over the Mothe, as well.)  Fortunately, the musickal selections were particularly inspiring.  They included:

  • The Mass setting itself, which was the Missa “O Magnum Mysterium” by Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)
  • A motet also entitled “O Magnum Mysterium” by Victoria, sung after the Offertory Chant
  • Another motet, “Hodie Nobis Caelorum Rex” by Giovanni Maria Nanino (1543-1607), sung after the Communion Chant
  • Verbum Caro Factum Est” by Giovanni Croce (1557-1609), also sung after the Communion Chant, and
  • A traditional French carol, “Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle“, sung at the end of the Mass, that is to say after the Last Gospel.

It was all ravishing.

It’s through musick (primarily Renaissance and Baroque) that Ol’ Robbo imagines he feels the essence of Heaven, if you will.  I like to think that the best of what we produce here on Earth is inspired by and a faint echo of what the Eternal will be like.  I certainly hope it’s true and, of course, that I will get to find out some day.

Anyway, it had an immensely tonic effect on me.

UPDATE:  Delayed Christmas Dinner was a success.  I absolutely nailed the roast, the microwave-steamed asparagus came out very well, and these days I can  do popovers in my sleep.  The only dud was my gravy.  In past years, I’ve more or less winged it with decent, if not spectacular, results.  This year I looked up a formula on the innertoobs which produced a glop that tasted like flour-flavored paste.  Never trust the innertoobs.

But more importantly, my wimmin-folk and I had a delightful conversation, which I even managed to steer around to the subjects of God’s omnipotence, the Genesis Creation story, what possible reasons He could have had for creating and then wiping out the dinosaurs, and the matter of free will.  Eldest even got in a crack about how He, Him, and His are God’s preferred pronouns, and how dare anybody question His choices.  Heh, indeed.

Good times.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself hiding in the Port Swiller Manor basement this Saturday morning, calming an hysterical Decanter Dog as the maids give the upstairs a pre-holiday going over.  What better time for a little Seasonal Random?

♦  I was compelled to put up the Tree last Sunday.  If I actually had any say in this house, it wouldn’t get decorated until Christmas Eve itself, but I’m just the “Hey, you!” around here and ten days out is about the best compromise I can usually swing.  At least I’m able to insist on purple ribbon on the front door wreaths until such time and keeping the Creche Child-less until I get home from Midnight Mass.

♦  I was flipping through the pile of X-mas cards this morning and noticed two things:  First, not a single one of them might be styled “religious” in any sense of the word.  The vast majority are of the family photo montage variety, with one or two Santas thrown in.  (To be fair, we sent the family sort ourselves this year.  As usual, I had resolved to do a separate set of Christian cards myself, and as usual, I never got around to it.)  Second, the ratio of “Just who the heck are these people?” cards seems unusually high this year.

♦  Middle Gel and I went to her old high school’s Winter Choral Concert Thursday evening.  She wound up sitting with a bunch of her alumni chums while Ol’ Robbo loitered around in the background, but it was still a lot of fun, as the singing is always high quality and the offering is always a good balance of the serious (e.g., a Vivaldi Magnificat) and the silly (e.g., a boys’ a cappella rendering of the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”, complete with zany choreography.)  They have a nice tradition of always ending this concert with the same piece, a medley of “Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” (both of which I actually like, even though they’re modern and secular).  The director invites all the choir alums in the audience to come up on stage and join in.  There was an enormous number of them this year for some reason.

♦  Speaking of Middle Gel, she and Mrs. R are off this afternoon to some town down on the Northern Neck where this same director had asked the Gel to join with a professional sextet to do a Lessons and Carols service at the local church tomorrow.  (One of his regular sopranos couldn’t make it.)  I thought it was very nice that he thought of her, and she’s even getting paid for it!

♦  Speaking of pay, Eldest bagged a job taking care of a couple dogs for the next two weeks or so.  It’s kind of astounding what kind of coin a gig like that can generate in these parts, and I find myself pondering whether I went into the wrong biznay myself after all.

♦  We do not have much planned this year in terms of festivities.  “A few people in for Christmas Eve drinks” threatened at one point to mushroom into something hideously complicated, but I put the kybosh on that one.  Christmas Dinner will only be the immediate family plus my older cousin.  She’s a card-carrying Globalist.  She’s also an atheist and a liberal elitist.  We sort of horrify her, but family loyalty wins out. and she pretty much behaves herself.  She won’t dare say anything about the Impeachment, for example, but I guarantee she’s going to get a jab in about Brexit.

Whelp, the dog continues to have hysterics, so perhaps despite the fact that it’s freezing out, Ol’ Robbo better go take her for walkies.

UPDATE:  The Lessons and Carols service went very well, and the Gel’s old choir director already has invited her to do next year’s service.  The Gel had taken this semester off from singing because she had a lot of other things on her plate (read: a killer bio class), but I got the sense that between the Thursday high school concert and this she’s been rediscovering how much she likes performing.  She’ll be doing her school choir again next semester.  She’s never going to be a Met headliner, but I don’t doubt that eventually she’ll find some kind of pro or semi-pro gig or gigs like this one that will satisfy this itch for her.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo got an especially heartfelt chuckle from this article:  Scholars Now Believe Saul Threw Spear At David For Playing Christmas Music Well Before Thanksgiving.

It’s from the Bee so it’s satire, of course.  Or is it?

I haven’t heard any X-mas tunes yet (nor have I seen, for example, reindeer antlers or Rudolph noses on any cars) but they’re coming.  Oh, yes, they’re certainly coming.


As I’ve mentioned here before, the local classickal station starts inserting “holiday” musick into its rotation right after Thanksgiving.  At first, these insertions are fairly sporatic, and I always fall into the trap of thinking maybe it won’t be so bad this year.  But they inevitably crank it up to eleven, and by the time Christmas Eve actually rolls around and the stuff is nonstop, the only feeling the umpteenth airing of “O Holy Night” or “The Holly and the Ivy” raises in my soul is the urge to grab a machete and run amok.  (On the other hand, it takes but a single airing of “If Bach Had Written Jingle-Bells” to make me start smashing the furniture.)

As a matter of fact, I’m considering some Advent abstinences this year.  I usually give up musick for Lent, so perhaps I’ll do the same thing.  As well as being a good spiritual exercise, it might help the ol’ blood pressure, too.

Supplemental greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo rarely does double posts on Saturdays, but my muse provoked me to offer up second helpings this evening in re various DVD’s I’ve watched over the past couple days, baseball season now being over and done.

Know what remains a perpetual delight to me? “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure“.  I’ve watched it umpteen times over the years, both in videotape and now as part of my DVD library, and its loose, good-natured, non-serious tone never grows old.  One of my favorite bits of dialogue:

Bill:  You ditched Napoleon?  Deacon! Do you realize you’ve stranded one of history’s greatest leaders in San Dimas?

Deacon:  He was a dick!

The original Bill and Ted became a cult classic, largely because it didn’t take itself seriously.  The sequel tried too hard to capitalize on this success, largely IMHO because the suits got hold of it, and to me was a dud as a result.  I understand they’re trying for the hat trick now.  Eh, it could go either way.  I’d love if they could recapture the original goofy spirit, but I’m also doubtful.

On another comedic note, I have come to the conclusion on my second viewing that “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” simply isn’t funny.  Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, I know.  But it just. doesn’t. click.  Sorry.

Speaking of Cary, though, this evening Ol’ Robbo indulged himself in “North By Northwest“, probably his very favorite Hitchcock.  The presence of a young and talented Eve Marie Saint may or may not be part of the appeal.  Certainly the fact that I love the theme musick is.

Incidentally, to show what an ignoramus Ol’ Robbo actually is, it was only within the last few weeks that I became aware that the title of this movie was a direct nod to Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

Hamlet: “I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.”

– Act 2, Scene 2

Makes a lot of sense when you think about it, given that the whole damn plot of the film is built on concentric circles of confusion, play-acting and deceit.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I suppose it’s axiomatic almost to the point of banality to say that teevee commercials are, on the whole, annoying.  But every now and again, one comes along which, for me, goes beyond the merely irritating and instead provokes genuine ire.

An example of this is a current ad running for (I think) Volkswagen.  It features a hipster high school kid walking home from school.  He’s ear-budded and has his face buried in his iThingy.  As he strides along, various people are forced to get out of his way.  The climax of the ad comes when a neighborhood mom is trying to back out of her driveway as the kid comes up.  She doesn’t see him, but some new anti-collision sensor does and hits the brakes for her. The kid never once looks up but just keeps walking.

It’s that last part that gets me fuming.  Had there been any kind of acknowledgement by the kid that he was acting dumb – a double take, a small wave, a mouthed “sorry” – it wouldn’t have been so bad.  But he remains wrapped up in his own little world throughout.  The arrogance of the thing is breath-taking.

So rather than being impressed by Volkswagen’s new whizz-bang safety tech, I find myself wishing the kid would get hit, and serve his narcissistic idiot self right.  It seems the young people today are more and more indifferent to, not to say contemptuous of, the idea that stupid behavior leads to bad consequences.  This ad just seems to reinforce that mentality.

Oh, and I hate the musick, too.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The Robbo eye was caught by this little article today:  Recognition of favorite songs almost instant, researchers find.

A snippet:

It happens to everyone: A familiar song comes on the radio, and suddenly you recall every note and every word.

Now, new research has pinpointed exactly how long it takes people to recognize that favorite tune — just 0.1 to 0.3 seconds.

Read the rest, as “they” say.

I’d say this is quite accurate.  As regular friends of the decanter know, Ol’ Robbo listens constantly to the local classickal station during the day (only turning it off during the top-o-the-hour NPR nooz updates with a gratifying “Shut up!“), and I find that it only takes me a bar or two of a piece I know in order for me to recognize it.  (And it doesn’t matter whether I like the piece or not.)

Here’s the funny thing.  I am, without boasting about it, very musickal.  Mrs. R and my brother, on the other hand, are both tone-deaf.  Yet I’ve noticed that they recognize songs they know quite quickly, too.  So whatever the imprinting mechanism, it must be distinct from musickal “talent”.  I dunno what that means, if anything, but there it is.

A glass of wine with the Puppy-Blender.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ah, the joy of early nightfall.  Not only do I have to drive home in the dark (which I hate because I don’t see so well at night), I also up my odds of getting kilt by oncoming traffic when fetching the mail upon my arrival at Port Swiller Manor.

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends:

♦  Ol’ Robbo watched his beloved Nationals visit the White House yesterday afternoon (via Yootoob).  What fun everyone seemed to have!  I thought the Marine Corp Band playing “Baby Shark” particularly funny.  As for Kurt Suzuki whipping out a MAGA hat? I understand the Twitter Mob are swallowing their tongues over that.  Had he flipped off the President, of course, they’d have cheered him to the welkin.  Nuts to them and bless him.  (And what a class act Ryan Zimmerman is, too.)

♦  Last evening’s Star Trek: TOS episode was “All Our Yesterdays“.  It featured a young and delicious Mariette Hartley in a skimpy cave-woman outfit.  Ol’ Robbo had quite the crush on Ms. Hartley back in the day. [Ed. – Who the heck didn’t you have a crush on?  Quiet, you.]  She seemed to do an awful lot of “special guest” appearances on teevee shows in the 70’s and 80’s, all of which were quite delightful to my impressionable, er, mind.

♦  For dins this evening, Ol’ Robbo made himself an omelet stuffed with pecorino romano cheese.  Nobody else I know seems to like this idea, but I would strongly recommend you give it a try.  And an added twist?  Mash up a clove of garlic into the eggs before you pour them into the pan.  I would not recommend this for a date night, but in every other circumstance I think you would enjoy it.

♦  Speaking of dins and the dark, this is the time of year when outdoor grilling becomes a problem because my patio is not well-lit.  I need to find some kind of free-standing light that I can park next the grill.  Anyone have any suggestions?

♦  Regular friends of the decanter may recall that Ol’ Robbo’s doc recently put him on blood pressure medicine.  Valsartan, to be exact.  I seem to be suffering most of the side-effects about which the Mayo Clinic and others warn.  Is this really worth it? (I have a follow-up appointment with the doc in a couple weeks and intend to make much of this.)

Well, enough for now.



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