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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A day late, I know, but R.I.P. Gene Wilder, dead at 83.  Wilder was a superb comic actor and, from every account I’ve ever read, a thoroughly good man.

“Young Frankenstein” is one of my very favorite movies and certainly my most favorite Mel Brooks movie.  This is primarily due to the writing, in which I believe Wilder had a significant hand.  (Well, okay, the outstanding cast, too.)  The trouble with most Brooks comedies is that they tend to start wandering, devolving into sledge-hammer slapstick or getting too cutesy.  (The latter is my main problem with “Blazing Saddles”.  Of course, it has a lot of good material in it, but it can’t stay in character, and by the end has gone completely haywire.)  Not so with Y.F. – even with all the silly little asides, it holds true to the genre it parodies right the way through.  As I say, I believe Wilder should be given credit for this.

It also occurred to me that I haven’t seen “Willie Wonka” in quite a long time, so I tossed that into the ol’ Netflix queue just now.  I’ve often wondered how that film compares to the Roald Dahl book.  (On principle, I’ve never seen the Johnny Depp remake bye the by.)  Certainly it is old-fashioned in its rayther strict morality and quite out of date.  The kidz are all Mike TeeVees and Veruca Salts now, and any suggestion that parents are responsible for such spoiled rotten brats would probably get one sent to the Camps.

(Mention of Wonka reminds me of a little throwaway bit in the movie of interest to musick-lovers.  At one point, Wonka plays a little tune on a “musical lock” in order to open a door (into the fizzy-lifting water room, I believe).  Mrs. TeeVee leans over to Grampa Joe and smugly mutters “Rachmaninoff”.   Of course, the tune is nothing of the sort but is instead the opening couple of bars from the overture to Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”.  Wonka gives Mrs. TeeVee the smallest part of a condescending glance before moving on.   I’ve often wondered what percentage of the audience the writers expected to get that bit.  Significantly higher back when the movie came out than now, I’d bet.)

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Finally, finally, for the first time since about mid-May, ol’ Robbo is once again posting over the family Mac in the comfort and convenience of his basement lair.

The power! THE POWER!! THE POOOOWERRRR!!!!

Mwahahahaha…..

So just a small sample of this and that to get back into the feel of things:

♦   Regular friends of the decanter may be wondering how the Eldest is doing her first week of college?  Well, as to be expected, the barometer has swung pretty wildly between “Stormy” and “Set Fair” as she begins to internalize just what she’s got herself into.  She reports that she took her first road trip over to Hamster-Squidney Friday evening and hated it. “Nothing but beer and pot,” was her dismissive summary.  (Scots Presbyterian roots run deep.)  Somehow or other, this rejection doesn’t bother ol’ Robbo very much.

♦  Do you know what a “tiguan” is?  Neither did ol’ Robbo.  Neither did the Volkswagen salesman from whom we bought a used one yesterday for the Middle Gel, who will be a high school junior this year.  He thought it had something to do with wind.  Turns out that it was just the idea of some German marketing-wallah who thought it would be hip to blend together the words “tiger” and “iguana”.  I’ve no idea why.

♦  In case you missed it, Tom Wolfe has a new book coming out entitled The Kingdom of Speech.  From the ad copy over at the devil’s website, it doesn’t sound like another one of his sledge-hammer social satires, but instead something of a more academic nature:

Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey that is sure to arouse widespread debate. THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH is a captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech–not evolution–is responsible for humanity’s complex societies and achievements.

From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in the Kingdom of Speech.

Whatever you want to call it, I plan to pick up a copy.

Well, that’s enough to start.  As I mentioned below, ol’ Robbo is starting his summah hols, and since I’m not planning on going anywhere, I’ll probably spend a fair bit of time flittering about on the innertoobs, catching up with a bunch of blogs I haven’t been able to conveniently get too in my forced exile.

In the meantime, I’m off to Netflix to charge up the ol’ queue, which has been dry as a bone for about a month.  See you soon!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As of this afternoon, Ol’ Robbo finally got to start his summah vacation.

Two (three?) weeks ago, I had planned to join the family, along with the family of the Former Llama Military Correspondent, at beautiful Smith Mountain Lake in Ol’ Virginny, but was compelled instead to fly out to a court hearing in the Mountain West.

So much for that.

I also considered taking last week off, but again got kyboshed by court biznay.

Grrrrr..,.

Finally, though, I drew the line. I’m taking next week off, dammit, and that’s that. Perhaps it was the crazed look in my eye, but nobody down the office objected.

I’ve known I was worn out this past month, but I perhaps didn’t realize just how much until I came home early to Port Swiller Manor this afternoon and immediately fell asleep.

So what does Ol’ Robbo plan to do with himself until after Labor Day? Oh, the fun never ends! Monday, I finally get my contacts updated. (The eye-strain lately has been something fierce.  Probably should not be driving.). I also plan to whack back the forsythia to encourage better blooms next spring. And if I’m REALLY feeling wild, there’s probably an oil change in the near future.

Woo. Hoo.

As for posting, the long saga of the Port Swiller man cave floor ended this morning, so Ol’ Robbo will be re-connecting the House iMac tomorrow and can finally say goodbye to this iPhone thumb-blogging nonsense. Expect….blather.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo thought he’d take a break from gratuitous college freshman posting (the Gel has got the home-sickness, so it would be tedious anyway) to vent about something else:

One of the small consolations of commuting to and from the Imperial City is the fact that the place usually turns into a ghost town in the dead of August. Ordinarily, what is normally an hour-plus trip each way for me is cut in half during the Dog Days.

Not so much this year.

Yes, traffic is down summat, but nowhere near as much as usual. And that’s pretty hard cheese on a fellah who has no A/C in his car.

I assume it’s all due to the massive disruptions in Your Nation’s Capital’s metro system service necessitated by the fact that said system has been allowed to go completely to hell and the new administrators realized they had no choice but an emergency series of closures and reduced schedules.

Meh.

The good news is that Ol’ Robbo FINALLY gets his twice-work-related-delayed summah hols next week.

The bad news is that the logjam is going to get a lot worse when all the drones are back in town after Labor Day.

Heigh-ho.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Talked to the Eldest Gel this evening for the first time since we left her at college Friday.

All is well, except she was griping about some intervention/indoctrination film the class was made to watch. It seemed to have had something to do with keeping an eye out for other wymens at frat parties, in order to protect them from marauding sexual predators.

From what she told me, her post-film conversation with her advisor went something like this:

Gel: “So the point of this film was that if you see your drunk classmate getting dragged away by some frat boy so he can ravage her, here are the steps to take to break it all up?”

Advisor: “Well, yes, that’s right.”

Gel: “Fair enough. So where is the film telling us girls not to be idiots and get drunk at frat parties in the first place?”

Advisor: “Well, um, that’s not part of this training…..”

Gel: “Well, why not? Shouldn’t that be the starting point?”

Advisor: “You’re pretty independent-minded, aren’t you?”

As Admiral Greer said to Ryan in “The Hunt For Red October” , “I said to speak your mind, Jack, but Jesus!”

We shall see what happens.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers.

Whelp, it’s the Eldest’s last day at home (we hope!) so I ducked work and took her out to lunch, just the two of us.

After lunch, we started loading up the cars. You’d think we were invading Normandy. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy, or because the kids weren’t so indulged back then, or because I was flying from Texas to Connecticut, but I remember making due with a foot locker (which we shipped and which I still use to store Christmas tree decorations) and a couple duffle bags. (And yes, you can get off my lawn) I certainly didn’t transfer my whole room, which is what we seem to be doing now.

At least I was able to put the kibosh on the giant beanbag chair, since it wouldn’t fit in the car anyway.

Be interesting to see how much stuff we wind up bringing back for lack of space.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is thumb-posting from the back porch of Port Swiller Manor this evening, the better to enjoy the lovely thunderstorm that just rolled through (well, is still rolling, in fact), after several infuriating days of near misses. It’s about damn time we got even a spot of temporary relief from the wretched Dog Days pattern we’ve been in over the past couple weeks. The only thing that keeps Ol’ Robbo going at this time of year is the knowledge that we can expect the first legitimate pre-fall cool front some time in the first or second week of September. Otherwise, I’d have no real choice but to grab a machete and run amok.

(* Name the singer. This should be a gimme.)

Anyhoo, as regular friends of the decanter know, this weekend is the big college drop off for the Eldest Gel, an event I am finding myself approaching with an admixture of relief, apprehension, disbelief, and denial.

Part of the disbelief is over the speed with which her high school years seem to have flown by after what was an agonizingly long younger period. How does one account for that? It can’t just be the kid’s personality or one ‘s relationship with them, since I’m getting the same feeling with the Middle Gel, who will be a HS junior, as well as the Youngest, who will be a freshman, and they are all wildly different from each other. The phenomenon is much more tectonic than that.

Perhaps I’m just really finally beginning to feel my own advancing age.

Whatever. Fortunately (or not), we seem to have got caught up in the last-second “What do I pack and what have we forgotten and What the Hell is going on?” Boogaloo for me to spend TOO much time over early middle aged navel-gazing. Next few days should prove veeeery interesting! More as events unfold.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol ‘Robbo was trying just now to thumb-blog a new post on his I-thingy about the pathos which is modern Olympic tee-vee coverage and which I refuse to watch, when said I- thingy ate my effort.  Grrrr……

I was doing so while half- watching “The Matrix” on BBC America for no especially good reason.  When I looked up from my failed post, I suddenly realized I was looking at a commercial for a new Beeb series, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”.

No, no, no, no, and bloody damn-all, no!

Douglas Adams’ novel of the same name is, IMHO, probably his best work, but it was almost entirely a one-off thing.  ( The sequel, “The Long, Dark, Tea-Time Of The Soul”, was a distinct let-down.  This is characteristic of Adams, who had a genius for innovation, but less talent for follow-up.). How anyone thinks they can carry on the spirit and vivacity of the source where even Adams himself couldn’t is beyond me.

(Besides, the fellah playing Gently is all wrong- not nearly slovenly enough.)

i suppose this is just one thing more I will not watch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’Robbo spent the bulk of today traveling to and from the wilds of southwestern Pennsylvania, there retrieving the Middle Gel from camp. (She and the Youngest did their usual term earlier in the summah, but she had gone back for a second term to work on the kitchen crew.)

As I tooled along I-70, something occurred to me: Back in the day, the standard was “slower traffic keep right” and the general rule was “lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way”. Oh, sure, there were those who ignored this, but at least it was the expectation.

Not so much, anymore. People seem to float all over the lot, driving at any damned speed and oblivious of all around them.

What happened? Were these old-fashioned, common sense measures suddenly deemed “speedist”? The outworn privilege of an acceleration-centric patriarchy? Is it now a thought crime not to respect whatever speed the other driver now identifies with? Am I just a hater?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

This post is sort of a follow-on to the one below because it’s about another thing I often ponder while going walkies in Your Nation’s Capital.

Despite the fact that I studied him in school back in the day, I can only quote one small snippet of Alexander Pope off the top of my head:

Vice is a monster of such frightful mien, that to be hated needs but to be seen.  But seen too oft, familiar with her face, first we endure, then pity, then embrace.

As it happens, this is apropos to any number of topics these days, but I find myself remembering it mostly when my walk takes me by the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I’ve said here somewhere before that I thought the thing was hideous and I still do.  Further, I think its placement right next door to and in plain sight of the Washington Monument is an exercise in aesthetic bird-flipping akin to the decision of that rat-bastard Francois Mitterrand (another raging narcissist, btw) to let I.M. Pei drop his beastly pyramid right on the doorstep of the Louvre.

However, more and more lately I’ve found myself thinking that if one scores the thing not in absolute terms but on the scale of Smithsonian architecture, it’s not quite as bad as all that.  Still bad, as I say, but not as bad.

I mean, consider some of the other offerings.  Air & Space and American History are both blocks and slabs of 60’s Soviet Modernski.  American Indian looks like Jabba the Hutt’s lair on Tatooine.  The Hirshhorn is a giant hat box.  And the Castle itself is that kind of twee red-brick Neo-Gothic that gets mocked by writers like Waugh and Wodehouse and for some reason makes me think of Queen Victoria pretending to be a Highland shepherdess.

Indeed, the only two museums on the Mall I actually like are the West Building of the National Gallery and Natural History, both of which feature clean, elegant, Neo-Classical designs.  If I wielded the great Pen and Phone of Executive Overreach, I’d raze all the others and rebuild them along these lines.

Of course, that’s not going to happen.  (Well, the razing part might, given the current world situation, but that’s not exactly the same thing.)

As for the new AA Museum, they’ve planted a bunch of young trees around it.  All I can hope is that as the shrubbery grows and fills in, it’ll mellow the thing’s starkness somewhat.

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