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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo found himself unexpectedly released from having to go to a “Meet the Coaches” evening at Youngest’s high school this evening in connection with softball.  (The season starts Thursday if we don’t get snowed out.  May as well be playing at Progressive Field, amirite?) So with a bit of unmortgaged time on my hands, why not a little this and that?

♦  Despite the cold weather, Spring Break is actually upon us.  Middle Gel’s started this weekend.  Although she had no prior experience, she joined a scuba club at her school this past fall.  A group of them (including herself) drove down to the Florida Keys last night to do some diving this week.  Ol’ Robbo is envious.  Meanwhile, Eldest comes home Friday and basically plans to chill for a week.  That’s not so bad, either.

♦  When Ol’ Robbo was in college, Spring Break meant Spring Training for the rowing teams.  Somehow or other, the women’s crew always went to Florida, but the men’s stayed on campus at The People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT.  Connecticut.  In March.  The ice hadn’t finished coming down the river at that point, so the town had not yet put in the floating docks off which we launched.  This meant that we had to wade out into the water to put the boats in and take them back out.  And, of course, we had to take off our shoes and socks, and roll up our tights/sweats above our knees to do so.  I like to think it was character-building.  (And truth be told, I preferred rowing in the cold to rowing in the heat and humidity.)

♦  It’s also tax-prep time.  For the last few years, this has meant for us gathering up all the statements, receipts, and the like we could find and shoving them off on our accountant.  Somehow, this makes Ol’ Robbo feel almost like an adult.

♦  And, of course, we have Ash Wednesday this week. Ol’ Robbo likes to go to early morning Mass, receive the ashes, and then breeze about his office all day as if everything is perfectly normal.  Drives my lefty colleagues batty, especially as they don’t dare say or do anything.  Jesus railed against the hypocrites who stood on the street corners and proclaimed their piousness, but I’ll bet He gets a kick out of my modest subversiveness.

♦  And speaking of All Things Spring, let me say again that, the more I contemplate my beloved 2019 Nationals, the happier I get.

♦  Today, by the bye, is the birthday of Antonio Vivaldi, born this day in 1678.  He’s credited with composing some 500 concerti.  There’s an old musicians’ joke that he really only wrote two, but wrote each one 250 times.  Nyuck, nyuck.  As with all jokes, there’s a certain grain of truth here.  Vivaldi was the musick director for a convent school, and a lot of the concerti he wrote were for its students.  He fooled about with various orchestrations, no doubt influenced in part by the ever-changing talent pool available to him, but is it small wonder that he repeatedly borrowed from himself to generate fresh renditions?

♦ Finally, and to lurch violently in a completely different direction, Ol’ Robbo found himself watching “Quest for Fire” last evening.  Heaven alone knows what possessed me to toss it in the Netflix queue back when, but I’ve developed a rule that once I order a DVD, like Angel Eyes, I always see the job through.**  Let’s just say that, as far as cave-man movies go, this is no “1 Million Years B.C.” and that Rae Dawn Chong, nekked in blue-grey body paint, has nothing, nothing, on Raquel Welch in a leather bikini.

So there you are.


**If you don’t get this reference………






Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel was successful in her tryouts this week for the JV softball team.  She essentially hadn’t picked up a glove since little league, but she did a camp earlier this year and found that she still has her skilz. I don’t see any good reason why she shouldn’t make varsity next year if she sticks to it.  Not a bad way to finish high school, I think.

Ol’ Robbo is going to enjoy going to the games and doing the whole “team parent” thing again.  Every time I drive past the gels’ old little league field, I always get a little wistful for the days when I was coaching them myself.

Truth be told, I’m also rather glad she got tired of swimming, as swim meets are deadly dull affairs if you’re not actually competing yourself.  (You sit for what seems like hours on end between heats that last just a few seconds.  And half the time you can’t even recognize your own kid because they’re all capped and goggled up.)

Play ball!




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Since Ol’ Robbo got his householder rant out of the way last evening, I thought I’d do a little extra.  If you haven’t seen it, there’s a good roundup on Governor Northam, the Virginia Infanticide Bill, and the Dark Side over at the Puppy-Blender’s place this morning.  Note in particular Wretchard the Cat’s thoughts in the update.  I mention them not only because I think he raises a terribly valid point about normalizing evil, but also because it gives Ol’ Robbo the apropos opportunity to flaunt again the only verse of Alexander Pope that I can quote off the top of my head:

Vice is a monster of such frightful mien

That to be hated needs but be seen.

But seen too oft, familiar with her face, 

First we endure, then pity, then embrace. 

Of course, They Might Be Giants put it rather more succinctly in their lyric, “Can’t shake the Devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding”.

For what it’s worth, Mrs. Robbo, who is a generally middle of the road, non-politickal sort of person, is appalled and disgusted by the whole bizznay, both the hyper-radical abortion move and the one-sided, out of control PC witch-hunt.  (At this point, I don’t think Northam’s out, but what do I know.)  To the extent she represents the much ballyhooed “suburban women’s vote”, the thing may represent a tremendous over-reach on the part of the Radical Left and will come back to bite them.  I hope and pray she’s correct.

MORE: A rare Saturday Ewok sighting with some of the latest.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is no canonical lawyer, so it’s strictly from a lay perspective that I automatically assumed Gov. Cuomo’s behavior in not only promoting, pushing, and signing New York’s barbarous new abortion law, but also in doing an end zone sack-dance about its passage, would make him eligible for Holy Mother Church’s ban-hammer.

Well, Father Z has a post up this week with thoughts from an actual canon lawyer on the subject that is worth your time if you’re interested in the issue.  As with all things both legal and ecclesiastic, it’s subtler and more complicated than you would think.

My broader question is how people like Cuomo can live with themselves.  But I’m not sure I really want to know the answer.

UPDATE:  In the spirit of lighting a single candle, I’ll mention that I half-expected that we’d get a Mass setting by Mozart today, since today is his birthday.  Instead, though, we got one by Giovanni Battista Casali (1715-1792), of whom I’d never heard before.  It had a definite lyric quality to it, which the Wiki entry says is due to his work in opera.  Wiki also mentions his use of dissonance, but I’m not sure if the examples I heard of this were deliberate or whether somebody in the schola just went off the rails once or twice.  (When there are only eight or ten singers, it’s sometimes hard to tell.)

Also, for what it’s worth, there has definitely been an influx of new faces over the past few weeks, which always heartens me.  Build the Orthodox and they will come.

For those friends of the decanter who are following Robbo’s library reorganization, I’m happy to report that it. is. done.

I’m pretty pleased with the results, too.  They’re all almost in some kind of order now.

In case you were wondering, I also did a count of the volumes both in the library and in the basement: 1,574, although this admittedly includes about twenty-five duplicates, the children’s books I mentioned below, and the twenty or so law books I kept from school but of which I will never, ever have any use.

The good news?  With my rearrangements, I’ve got room on the library shelves for even more!  [Insert Sideshow Bob laugh here.]

In poking about these past two days, I cannot account for only two books that I know for a fact I own:  Treasure Island and KidnappedCatriona is still on the shelf, however, so if there is a Robert Louis Stevenson thief around here, they’re a pretty knowledgeable and discerning one, for whom I find myself owing a certain grudging respect.  (If you’re not a RLS fan, Catriona is the sequel to Kidnapped.  The latter was terrific, the former a complete dud.)

Next stop?  Reorganizing my CD collection!

Well, friends of the decanter, as promised yesterday, and mostly because it seemed a good way to spend some time with the Elder Gels before they go back to school, Ol’ Robbo betook himself to go see “Aquaman” with them this afternoon.  Eldest duly took us to her favorite theatre, one which features ridiculously comfortable leather recliner loungers with footrests, plus a bar out front.

This, by the bye, was the first time I can recall setting foot in a movie theatre since “The King’s Speech”.  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t get out much. (UPDATE: I’m reminded that I did see one other film in a theatre since then, Steve Carell’s 2013 “The Way, Way Back“.  I obviously blocked the memory because I thought this such an awful film.  If there’s one thing Ol’ Robbo can’t stand, it’s stories about people behaving badly and then whinging about it.  (Yeah, I’m looking at you, “Sideways”.)

As I noted previously, I’m not a comic book (oops, I mean “graphic novel”) movie guy, so I have very little to compare this one against and no real frame of reference.  For all that, I found myself rather enjoying it.  Jason Momoa in the title role is charming as hell and makes Aquaman somebody you’d want to like.  (For any Nats fans out there, he sort of looks like Bryce Harper but with Anthony Rendon’s smile.) Nicole Kidman is only two years younger than me but she still looks pretty good (even though I don’t think her costumes flattered her all that much).  Willem Dafoe had his usual creepy child-molester stare.  Patrick Wilson I recognized from, I’m ashamed to say, “The A-Team”.  (Shut up.)  I don’t know who Amber Heard, Aquaman’s love interest, is, but she did nothing for me.  (Aside from her tinny acting, she had this weird “Little Mermaid” look to her that was quite off-putting.)

As for the story, I won’t spoil it.  There’s some posturing about how land-dwellers are polluting the seas so terribly and must be chastised, but it becomes clear that this is mostly cover for good, old-fashioned palace intrigue within the Atlantian Royal House.  There’s also a subplot about the origins of Aquaman’s arch-enemy, Black Manta.  (Has anybody decried this as racist yet?)  The thing had over the top and cliched moments of drama, passion, sadness, etc., etc., but it wasn’t dark at all.  Lots of light and color, plus a good-humored undertone and wise-cracking that kept bubbling up, mostly, as I say, through Momoa.

The screenplay seems to help itself liberally from any number of other films – Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, nods to A Perfect Storm and Jaws, etc.

I remarked to the Gels on the way out that there ought to be an international convention limiting the amount of CGI that can go into any one film.  This one had vast schools (too vast, IMHO) of every kind of undersea creature you could think of (or not), even including sharks with freakin’ lasers on their heads and the obligatory kraken. It also has squadrons of undersea warships straight out of the fevered braims of George Lucas.  In the end, Ol’ Robbo got kind of lost as to who was fighting who.

Anyhoo, although I probably wouldn’t bother seeing it again, it proved to be a fun way to spend a couple hours with the Gels and I’m glad I went.  Say three and a half out of five glasses.

And now, because the movie begins with the meeting of Aquaman’s parents, an Atlantian woman and a human man,  I’m going to indulge myself in some real man-meets-mermaid musick that’s been running in my head ever since:





Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy New Year!

We wound up having rather a larger New Year’s Eve to-do at Port Swiller Manor than Ol’ Robbo had been expecting, Mrs. R slyly waiting until the last minute to mention all the people she had invited over.  Fortunately, we rang in the new year on Greenwich Mean Time, meaning we popped the corks at 7:00 pm local.  As mentioned below, Ol’ Robbo has been in the clutches of a really nasty cold he picked up last week, and in bed throughout the weekend, but I was nonetheless able to clean myself up, put on something of a smile, and hobnob for a few hours in the early evening.  Then I went back to bed.  Yee Haw.

And so we enter 2019.  I won’t make any specific predictions about it, but I’m guessing in general that it’s going to be even more insane than 2018 was.  And following on that, my chief resolution is not to let the insanity get to me, but to treat it with the cheerful contempt that it deserves.  (My iPhone committed suicide the other day, so I haven’t even really been looking at headlines.  It’s been heavenly.)  UPDATE:  I am speaking here about the World In General, of course.  Closer to home, I’ve had no real complaints and some true gratification.  Hopefully, that trend will continue, too.

Meanwhile, today is the first day that Ol’ Robbo was supposed to be back down the office after his Christmas hols.  I’ve no idea how long Uncle will continue to dispense with my services, but at least it will be a while before I need to start considering Domino’s pizza delivery routes.  In the meantime, I couldn’t help noticing that Mrs. R has put together what amounts to a furlough “honey-do” list.  I’m sure I’ll have more on that because one of the tasks involves reorganizing my library and initial skirmishing indicates that Mrs. R and I have very different views on what that actually entails.

And speaking of insanity, Mrs. Robbo’s EZPass stopped working some weeks back, meaning we were running tollbooths without paying.  Recently, we received a polite letter from the toll authority telling us that they’d been charging our account manually, but to cut it out.  When Mrs. R called them and explained the circumstances, they said that the transponder had failed and that they would ship another one.  They also told us that when we throw the old one away send the old one back (no doubt so they can keep a Permanent Record on our travels) we should be sure to wrap it in tinfoil first.  I am never going to make a joke about tinfoil hats ever again, because this advice convinces me that people who wear them may be on to something.

Anyhoo, here we go round again.

**One of the very few Kinks songs I actually know, but I’ve always liked it.

UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of the “honey-do” list, my first task for tomorrow just now dropped down on me:  Youngest’s new computer desk just arrived at the front door.  (It was her main Christmas present by request.)  Now comes plainly back to my mind my airy assertion that I could assemble it myself when Mrs. R was ordering it a couple weeks back.  I peeked into the box just now and there are many, many bits and pieces.  Better brew an extra-large pot of kawfee in the morning because this thing is going to take a while.

UPDATE TROIS:  Ol’ Robbo went to move the desk box this morning and immediately broke into a dizzy sweat.  Mercifully, Mrs. R suggested that since I’ve not got my strength back yet, I should leave it for now. “Instead,” she said, “You can hang up a couple of pictures in the basement stairwell.  I’ve left them out for you.  You can choose where to put them because you’re so good at that sort of thing.”

This is what’s known as the Great Trap.  If I could hang them once and be done with it, I wouldn’t mind.  But I’m certain sure that wherever I put them, Mrs. R will want them moved.





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will recall Ol’ Robbo’s mention the other day that Youngest Gel was starting her Driver’s Ed road work?

Well, she passed.  She gets her license tomorrow and it goes into effect Saturday.

Ol’ Robbo is pretty sure he’s not quite ready for this…..


** The album cover seemed particularly appropriate.  She makes that face a lot.

UPDATE:  An conversation.

Youngest: So where is my car?

Self:  So where is your GPA?

Check. Mate.

For the moment, anyway…….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

When I first saw this the other day I thought it was a parody, but evidently not: PETA Wants You To Stop Saying “Bring Home The Bacon” and Other Anti-Animal Phrases. 

Yes, yes they really do.

“Words matter,” PETA tweeted Tuesday. “And as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations.”

The animal rights organization then included a color-coded chart with what they view as offensive phrases on the left in red and what they view as acceptable substitutions on the right in green.

In lieu of “kill two birds with one stone,” how about saying “feed two birds with one scone”? Instead of “bring home the bacon,” try “bring home the bagels.”

Bless their hearts.

Two thoughts come immediately to mind.

First?  Ol’ Robbo lerves him the history of the English language in all of its manifestations, including both etymology and these sorts of idioms.  PETA’s scolding simply makes me roll about in such history even more.  (God send the atheists don’t get the parallel idea of scrubbing all Biblical references and idioms out of the language.  Do you have any idea how many there are? I’ll give you a hint: A lot.)

Second? Bacon.  Mmmmmm……..Bacon.  Crispy.  Flavorful.  Bacon.  Mmmmmm………

You’ll have to go to the tweet link to see the chart itself because I’ve not the blog-fu to transport it over here, but from the article you get the general idea.

So should “a murder of crows” be changed to “an indaba of crows”?

And what says PETA to Benedick’s musing on the power of musick in Much Ado About Nothing: “Is it not strange that sheep’s guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies?”

Finally, show of hands, please, among PETA members who support this toddler-grade Orwellian Doublethink and who also support unlimited abortion.  All of you? I suspected as much.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo’s braim just doesn’t want to let go of this one.

Here at Port Swiller Manor, logistics for what one would think even the simplest of forays very often quickly become insanely complicated.  (Because women.  There, I said it.)  I refer to such scenarios – much to my family’s ire – as “dog and pony” shows.  Guess I have to stop that now.  (Not.)

Tennyson’s line about Nature being “red in tooth and claw” should now read “Nature is colorful”.

“Dog in the manger” should now read “Veggie-dog”.

“Let the cat out of the bag” should read “Don’t put a cat in a bag in the first place, you hater!

“Horse-trading” equals slavery, so that’s right out.

The Cowardly Lion will now be the Differently-Couraged Lion.

Similarly, the Horse of a Different Color becomes Rainbow Horse.

And of course, the great Groucho Marx joke will be slightly modified: “Last night I shot** an elephant in my pajamas.  How it got in my pajamas I’ll never know, but I respect its choice.”  (Hooray for Captain Spaulding! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!)

** With a camera, you monsters!





Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Although in the New Calendar this is Christ the King Sunday in the Catholic Church, in the Old Calendar which we follow at our Traditional Latin Mass, it’s simply the final Sunday after Pentecost.  (In the Old Calendar, Christ the King is the last Sunday in October.) In either case, today marks the end of the Liturgical Year and we’re now squared away to begin a new one with the start of Advent next Sunday.

Our Padre today was talking about the end of the fiscal year in the biznay world, a time at which the accountants crunch the numbers to determine profits and losses, and to see just how the biznay “did” over the prior year.  He suggested a parallel examination of our own personal faith – what did we do over the year that brought us closer to God? What did we do that pushed us farther away? What changes are we going to make this coming year to improve our balance sheet?

Pretty good food for thought.  And, at least in my case, a pretty good argument for corporate austerity going into the New Year.

Since it’s Sunday, Ol’ Robbo will use the opportunity to wish you all a belated happy St. Cecilia’s Day.  (Her Feast is actually November 22, which happened to be Thanksgiving Day this year.)

Because Ol’ Robbo is so fond of musick, St. Cecilia (patroness thereof) is probably my favorite of the lot, and certainly has the most workaday role in my life: I keep a Donatello relief of her on top of my piano, and when I start using bad language in frustration over my feeble playing, I turn to her for aid in asking pardon.  I also thank her for her assistance on those rare occasions when I feel I’ve done justice to a particular piece.

And speaking of musick, I am here to tell you that as of today, Sunday, November 25, 2018, Ol’ Robbo is already sick to death of the X-Mas musick playing in the grocery stores, in teevee commercials, and already on the Local Classickal Station.  For those of you requesting an extra side of curmudgeonry in Ol’ Robbo’s “holiday season” posting this year, your order is ready for pick-up.



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