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(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.

Later.

 

 

 

 

I

 

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……

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo can only assume that his flat-lined viewer hits over the weekend means that friends of the decanter are giving up teh blogs for Lent.  I certainly hope this is the reason: The alternative – that I have become a crashing bore – is a highly unsavory notion.

Anyhoo, I’m sticking around this year although I plan to go dark for Holy Week.

Ol’ Robbo’s biggest sacrifice for Lent these past few years has been musick – both listening to it and playing it myself.  You might not think that is much, but then you don’t know my usual routine. Throughout my day – waking up, commuting, down the office – I listen to the local classickal station more or less continually.  In the evenings, at least outside baseball season, I usually toddle on down to my study to browse through my own CD library and assemble a playlist.  And I like to kill an hour or two here and there banging away at my beat-up old Kawaii upright.  (As an aside, one of my long-term goals is to replace this instrument – which I’ve played since I was a small child – with a baby grand.  I also plan to chuck my current dilettante sight-reading and actually get back into serious study.)

Take all that away and there’s suddenly a very large and very silent hole.  The good thing is that when I realize I’m hearing nothing, as happens multiple times during the course of the day, I don’t find myself saying, “Self, I really wish I could turn the radio on right now.”  Instead, I remind myself why I’m hearing only silence, and take the opportunity to do a little more Lenten introspection.   Plus, on Sundays, like today, the musick is just that much sweeter.  I was pounding away at some Haydn sonatas at the keyboard this afternoon, horribly out of practice but laughing for pure joy. 

I find it to be a very manageable and beneficial programme.  Manageability is key.  If you set your sights too high and fail, you usually wind up chucking the whole thing in disgust and despair.  That’s why I stopped trying to cut out coffee and wine, although I do chip away at moderating the latter.  As a friend of mine put it, “You’re a middle-aged husband and father at the height of your career and you’re dealing with teenagers.  You need these things just to function.  Wait until you’re retired and they’re gone before you start pressing that kind of denial.”

This makes sense to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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