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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.)


“Adorazione Dei Pastori” – Antonio da Correggio (1530)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

      • Luke 2:1-20

A very merry Christmas to all friends of the decanter!  God bless you all!  Bumpers all round and gunn’ls under! Here’s three times three and no heel taps!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

There’s a throwaway bit in the movie “The Italian Job” in which Mahky-Mahk is playing a little one-on-one basketball with one of his crime team members.  As he sets up to drive on the basket, he asks the guy, “You ready? You ready?”

He then makes a feint but immediately backs up, laughingly saying, “You’re not ready.”

I feel the very same way about Christmas from both a temporal and a religious aspect.

I’m not ready.

Prayers that tomorrow’s scrambles make me ready. Both ways.

UPDATE:  I should have made it clearer that the source of my unreadiness was a dose the Holiday Blues. (Yes, I still am not quite over the loss of the Mothe.)  Tough to get out of bed this morning, but I did it.  I’ve been pretty busy since then and it seems to help.

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!

Well, the big oak out front has left a mess in the yard, so Ol’ Robbo needs to get out his rake today.  I feel no obligation to do so, however, until it stops raining later on.

In the meantime, 2+2 will never equal 5 no matter how much our lords and masters insist otherwise, and the words “Hilary Clinton”, “youthful”, and “radiant” will never, ever belong in the same sentence.

I’ve never understood this Botox biznay.  Every single person I can think of who’s had this kind of cosmetic treatment winds up simply looking like a freak.  I also object in general to the notion of trying to hide aging instead of treating it with dignity and respect.

Whole thing reminds me of Katherine Helmond’s character in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.  I would remind people once again that the film was supposed to be a dystopian satire, not a how-to guide.

Go figure.

A glass of wine with the Puppy Blender.

UPDATE:  For those of you keeping track, leaves successfully rounded up despite the fact that they were very wet.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As I’m sure will surprise no one gathered round the decanter, Ol’ Robbo is delighted at the drubbing Boris Johnson and the Tories handed Labour and the rest of the Loony Left in yesterday’s UK Parliamentary elections.  Ol’ Robbo is strongly pro-Brexit.  The older I get, the more I detest the idea of globalism in its various manifestations and the corresponding loss of national, local, and, for that matter, individual sovereignty.  Indeed, the EU and other such organizations are nothing more than the Bearded-Spock Universe antithesis of subsidiarity, a principle to which I am deeply attached.

However, Ol’ Robbo is too tired for philosophical analysis of this latest brush war in the eternal struggle between collectivist authoritarianism and individual autonomy.  Instead, at the forefront of my  braims this evening is a timely Python skit that never seems to get old.  Enjoy!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Since, as predicted, Ol’ Robbo’s reminiscences regarding his misspent yoot in the Texas Hill Country immediately below seem to have gone over like a lead balloon, how’s about he doubles down with a little Virginia Piedmont pedantry?

I was re-watching “The Howards of Virginia” (1940) last evening.  It’s really not a bad flick: Cary Grant as a Virginny frontiersman orphaned as a boy by Braddock’s Defeat who somehow or other grows up with Tom Jefferson, marries into Tidewater society, and has his life torn apart by the conflicting currents of the Revolution.

Anyhoo, the very beginning of the movie features a map of Colonial Virginia in which Albemarle and Amherst Counties abut one another.  This caught the Robbo attention because they don’t these days.  Nelson County sits in between them.  I’ve been driving up and down Rte. 29 among them for thirty years and know the terrain very, very well.  (It is said or used to be, by the bye, that when the moon comes over the mountain in Nelson County, it comes in quart jars. **Cue banjo musick**)

So I looked it up.  Turns out Nelson County was created out of northern Amherst County in 1807.  Amherst County itself was created out of southern Albemarle County in 1761.  (Albemarle, in turn, was created in 1744.)  Since Braddock’s Defeat occurred in 1755, then, that map wasn’t entirely accurate, at least for the beginning of the film.

But then again, the whole thing was shot in southern California on locations that look nothing on earth like Amherst, Albemarle, or the Shenandoah Valley (where the Howards take up residence) so I suppose I can let such a minor discrepancy pass.  **Flexes Nerd-Fu Powers**

Incidentally, the Albemarle County Sheriff’s Department has the distinction of being the only law-enforcement body to ever actually issue Ol’ Robbo an in-person speeding ticket.  (Photo traps don’t count.)  They popped me late on an evening way back in October, 1991 as I was making my way back from visiting Mrs. R at Sweet Briar to my then-apartment in The People’s Republic of Charlottesville.  However, I came mighty close to getting tagged in nearby Madison County a few weeks ago when we went to visit Eldest at Sweet Briar, as I sailed straight into an ambush going well over 10+ the speed limit.  However, the cop couldn’t pull out until the fellah behind me had passed him.  The fellah behind me was speeding, too, so the cop snagged him instead of me. Fortunately, Mrs. R was asleep in the seat next to me and missed the whole thing.  I never would have heard the end of it otherwise.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo probably won’t be able to get at his keyboard for the next few days, so I’ll go ahead and wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving now.

Remember,  It is not, as the SJW mob would have it, about celebrating Indian exploitation, nor is it a platform for hectoring your troglodyte relatives about impeaching Trump.  Further, it isn’t simply a marker for the start of the shopping season as Big Retail would like you to believe.

Images courtesy of the Roman Catholic Boys for Art

No, cheesy pin-up art aside,  Thanksgiving is first, last, and always about gratitude, something not very fashionable these days, but absolutely vital to a healthy soul.  Make sure to take the time to meditate on this and to be truly thankful for who and what you have, and not to stew in envy over what you don’t have.

See you on the other side!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has had occasion from time to time to note that there is something about his person that seems irresistibly attractive to cats and to crazy people.

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in Philly’s 30th Street Station waiting for the train to whisk me back to Ol’ Virginny and squinting vacantly into the middle distance when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was an older fellah sitting next to me who I’d half-seen out of the corner of my eye busy about something for some little time.

“Excuse me,” he said.  “Could you turn and look this way for a moment?  I’m sketching you.”

He did, indeed, have a pad in one hand a couple pencils in the other.

“Sketching me?” I said.

“Yes.  See, I used to be homeless and I started sketching people’s portraits for food.  I’m not homeless anymore, so I do it now because I enjoy it and to help out other homeless.  When I’m done, you can decide whether you want to help, too.”

Having got a look at the Robbo face full on, he started up again, in the meantime delivering a rolling monologue. He proved to be quite the raconteur.

He talked about his life and hard times.  He showed me his artificial leg (the real one apparently having been run over by a car).  He joked about Philly cheesesteaks. (“I’ve eaten around a million of them but never knew Philly was famous for them.”)  He talked about who he chose to sketch.  (“Never women eating by themselves.  It makes them nervous.”)   He offered words of wisdom.  (“Are you married? When you get home, tell your wife she’s beautiful.  Then ask her if she knows she’s beautiful.”  He said this several times.)  He kept calling me “pretty boy” (but said that he was the original “pretty boy”) and, when he found out what I do for a living, cracked several lawyer jokes.

For my part, I went along with it.  (He posed no threat.  What was I going to do?  Stand up, yell “Good day, Sir!” and march off in a huff?)  I insisted on an exact count of the number of cheesesteaks he’d eaten.  I said even a rube like me from the sticks had long known Philly’s reputation.  I topped his lawyer jokes with my own and said they were all funny because they’re all true.  He was delighted and said he was surprised that somebody who looked so stone-faced could banter back like that.  (Well I can, you know.  And no, I’m not always scowling.  As I said above, it’s squinting.)

As he was winding up, he said, “Okay.  What are you going to do when you get home tonight?”

“Tell my wife she’s beautiful,” I said.

“And what else?”

“Ask her if she knows she’s beautiful.”


“Yes,” I said.  “And then I’m going to tell her to make me a sammich.”

He burst out laughing.  “Man, you’re funnier than I am!”

I wound up giving him some money.  He seemed legit, and indeed had a short article about himself from one of the local rags.  (He’s here, too.  Scroll down to the fourth bio.)  In the middle of things, a bum came up to panhandle him.  He said he’d buy the guy some food in a moment, but he wouldn’t give the guy any money.  The guy went away disgruntled.  And even if it was just a hustle, he’d obviously worked hard at it and given it real entertainment value.  Further, he was extremely polite and personable, and I enjoyed chatting with him.  So it was worth it either way.

Oh, and the sketch?  He put it in a clear plastic folder and gave it to me.  I replicate it here for your consideration with the sole caveat that it looks absolutely nothing like me.  Enjoy!


Portrait Of Robbo. Or Not.


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.



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