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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.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Back in the day when Ol’ Robbo’s daughters were little, he had no compunction about putting up posts about their trials, tribulations, growth, and development.

These days? Well, regular friends of the decanter will know that all three of them are pretty much grown up.  Ol’ Robbo finds himself confronted with real ethical issues about posting on anything that might impinge on their privacy.  Which is a pity, since the Gels’ Progress is the chief focus of my interest these days.

So I have to pick and choose very carefully.

With all that in mind, I feel it’s safe enough to note that Youngest (the high school senior) started her part-time gig as a Starbucks barista this week.  Ol’ Robbo was a bit surprised.  Apparently, newbie employee training lasts a good three weeks, and includes all kinds of courses on coffee appreciation, as well as technical proficiency, and the usual H.R. bumf.  I had had a vague notion, based on my own entry-level service jobs back in the day, that she’d just have been thrown into the mix and told to learn on the fly.  Apparently not.

Go figure.

Anyhoo, the gel has never been a coffee drinker herself.  Be interesting to see if this experience reinforces that, or if as a result she comes over to join me on the Dark Side.  (Coffee is the alpha of my day.  Who here can guess at the omega? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)

Also, as far as her employer goes, let me reiterate that although I avoid giving them money whenever I can, I’ve no problem taking money from them in these circumstances.

And while on the subject, how about a little Bach?  Never mind the text of this bit, which has to do with metaphors about cats and mice, the bottom line of this cantata is “Coffee is Da Bomb”:



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.




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