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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are again and I still haven’t got much. This coming week is crunch time down to the virtual office, after which I hope to ease off a bit and then actually take a much-needed vaycay.

As a matter of fact, we were planning to go on up ta Maine this year. Ol’ Robbo hasn’t been back there in four years now due to one thing and another and thought it would be very relaxing to revisit the old haunts. But you know? The logistics started getting complicated and the expenses started getting more expensive and it suddenly occurred to me that I was just too tired to do that much work in order to relax. So we cancelled. (There were no hard feelings amongst the wimminfolk, since the trip was primarily for my benefit anyway.) I will probably just potter about the house and maybe do a few day trips. Tubing on the Shenandoah has been mentioned already.

Speaking of such things, Mrs. R and the Younger Gels return from Wyoming this evening (which see below). I learned last night that Middle Gel isn’t even staying over, but must immediately hop in her car and head back to school because she has work tomorrow morning. I was a bit staggered by this and had to remind myself that I was 21 once upon a time, too.

It’s just as well that Mrs. R’s coming home because Decanter Dog has been missing her mommy and is on something close to a hunger strike. As much as she likes the rest of us, DD absolutely clings to Mrs. R. I’m told this is often the case with rescue dogs, that they’ll latch on to one person in particular. In Mommy’s absence, DD has spent the last few days doing nothing but sighing heavily and giving me the reproachful stink-eye.

Speaking of hunger, Ol’ Robbo paid a visit to the grocery store yesterday to pick himself up a nice steak for din-dins. Good golly almighty! Inflation? What inflation?

I went for a walk yesterday but hadn’t got far before a pack of wild Delta Variants came boiling around the corner, howling and slavering. I had to turn and run for it, feeling like a serf being pursued across the Russian Steppe by starving wolves. True story.

I keed, of course, but the renewed panic has got us concerned about Youngest. As much as we and she like her school, we’re not paying through the nose for another year of “virtual” learning. If they decide to pull that stunt again, she’ll probably wind up transferring to saner pastures. So far there hasn’t been any noise made, but we’re watching the situation somewhat apprehensively.

Whelp, that’s enough for now, I b’leive. Oh, one other completely unrelated item (because it’s my blog and I’ll bore if I want to). I recently got my Criterion Collection copy of “Red River”, the great John Wayne/Howard Hawks western. It’s always been a favorite of mine, but there’s one thing that bugs me every time I watch it: Montgomery Clift and John Ireland play the two slick, young gunslingers working for the Duke on the great cattle-drive. Toward the beginning of the film it’s foreshadowed (hell, Walter Brennan even says it) that eventually they’ll have to go against each other, just to see who’s the best. But it never happens. There’s even a place for it when the two become interested in the same girl, but it never happens. You just don’t tee up something like this and then not follow through on it – that’s just bad writing. So sayeth Robbo.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

First, how about a spot of color?

This is my prairie cup-flower. Cheery thing, isn’t it?

They’re native to central and western Missourah and other parts of the Plains. However, this one was a present from Mrs. R’s brother-in-law, a cutting from one he spotted it in a roadside ditch in the Boston area, dug up, and put in his own garden. (How it got to Eastern Massachusetts I can’t imagine, but I bet its arms were tired!) It’s been happy enough here in Virginny over the years but even at about 6 1/2 feet it seems somewhat short this season, prolly because of the lack of rain.

And yes, it continues quite dry here. So much so, in fact, that I even made a start at trying to grub out some of the moss that plagues my front yard. The stuff comes out, but even dead and dry it’s a mug’s game to try and remove. Plus I can’t help thinking I’m only spreading spores all over the place anyway. I gave up after about twenty minutes. (Even as I type this, however, the sky is starting to turn somewhat ominous. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll catch a break. UPDATE: In fact, we got about a forty-five minute downpour out of it. Not as beneficial as a good, slow soaker, but every little helps, right?)

I’ve mentioned here from time to time my next-door neighbors’ adventure in putting in a vegetable garden this year. Well yesterday Mrs. Neighbor appeared at our front door bearing a bowl full of cucumbers and tomaters from said garden. It was a lovely thing to do. We got chatting and I asked her about Little Bunny Foo-Foo and his pals that I often see cavorting near their crop. She said the rabbits weren’t a problem, but the woodchucks have been playing merry hell. They’ve recently had to strengthen their defensive fortifications so much that the plots resemble not so much gardens as redoubts. I confessed that was why I pretty much confine myself to flower species the critters don’t much care about.

On a completely different subject, I see where teh Cleveland sports-ball team has announced it’s renaming itself after a leftist British newspaper. (I confess I don’t much see the connection.) Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember being reassured when Chief Wahoo was disappeared that this was as far as the club planned to go. Good thing I already have my “Wild Thing” edition DVD of “Major League”. Mayhaps I’ll watch it this evening just because.

Finally, a forewarning that blogging may be pretty light round here the next week or two, as a looming court hearing for work likely will kybosh already is kyboshing Ol’ Robbo’s leisure time and turning him into Busy Bee. And not Commodus from “Gladiator” murmuring “busy…little…bees”, but instead Hamilton Swan from “Best In Show” shouting, “Where is Busy Bee? Where is Busy BEE!! Whaddaya mean it’s not here?!! You go find Busy Bee RIGHT NOW!!!”

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yep, the continued string of hot, sticky days here has got Ol’ Robbo firmly in its grip. I recognize the signs.

Mrs. R has gone off up to Connect-ti-cutt to visit her folks for a few days. She messaged me, “Got here safely – only one near-miss in the Bronx!” That’ll wake you up in a hurry.

(We’ve always taken the GW Bridge and teh Cross-Bronx when headed north. The Tappen-Zee may be safer and easer but I just can’t stand the idea of going all the way up and around like that.)

I mentioned cable yesterday. Apart from the odd TCM offering and AccuWeather, the only two channels I watch at all are H&I for “Star Trek” reruns and INSP for old westerns. I noticed that these channels seem to run an inordinate number of commercials for hair-restorers, testosterone boosters, and hearing aids. “Heh,” I said to myself, “Just what sort of person do they imagine is watching…….Hey! Wait a minute!!

Oh, I suppose it’s Bastille Day. Those who wish to wipe out the past and start over at Year One should keep in mind how that little drama eventually played out.

I dunno whether the falling of the big maple in our back yard has anything to do with it, perhaps shifting territories or something, but I now have a problem with pileated woodpeckers attacking the porch supports. I confess I don’t yet know quite what to do about this.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got at the moment.

UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo used to be able to put his head down and just power through when he didn’t have time to eat all day. I find I really just can’t do that anymore.

Also, I would like to find the person who invented “Track Changes” and cause them some harm.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t have that much to say. Again. It’s getting to be that time of year. [Ed. – When has that ever stopped you before?] Quiet, you.

I gather Major League Baseball’s All-Star game is to be played this evening. Ol’ Robbo hasn’t watched a game since the Nats won the Series back in 2019. Last year I was disgusted with the COVID response and “experimental” rules changes. This year I’m disgusted with MBL’s decision to get fully involved in politicks. I haven’t gone so far as to chuck all my Nats’ team gear, but I look on it all now as a memento of the Before Times instead of active boosterism.

Sometimes our cable actually pays for itself. Last evening I caught “The Most Dangerous Game” (1932) on TCM. It’s a short, tight thriller about a crazed Russian nobleman (who for Flashman fans could easily have been Count Ignatieff’s grandson) who hunts shipwrecked castaways on his South Pacific island for sport. In this case, it’s Joel McRae and Fay Wray whom he pursues through the jungle, the latter in an ever-increasingly tattered and damp gown. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Is there nothing it can’t do? Coffee consumption linked to lower risk of COVID-19 infection. Ol’ Robbo otter be downright bulletproof.

Oh, and utterly random observation: I’d never owned a long-haired cat until we got Decanter Kitten last year. I’m amazed at how much fur she sheds in this hot weather. Her tail is about a third the thickness it was over the winter. (And somehow, we’re managing to vacuum up more fur than ever could possibly have been on her in the first place.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been suffering from a case of the woozles the past couple days after his lengthy Saturday lumberjacking efforts and has not felt much inspiration to post, but I’m feeling better now. (Mrs. R duly chided me about “over-doing it” but if I don’t take care of these things, who will?)

Eldest Gel has decided that because Ol’ Robbo is interested in early English history he needs to read the collected works of George R.R. Martin.*** This comes up every time we discuss said history, which is rayther a lot since we’re both, in fact, interested in it. (And let me say here how grateful I am to have a kid with such interest in this wretched day and age.)

The argument usually goes like this:

We start with some specific topic. Hadrian’s Wall, Hengist and Horsa, the Battle of Baden Mount, the Conquest, Richard II and Bolingbroke, Richard III, etc.

At some point, Eldest interjects, “Dad! You’ve just got to read George R.R. Martin!”

“But why?” I say.

“Because he draws so much of his ‘Game of Thrones’ material from this same stuff!”

“But it’s fantasy. I don’t like fantasy. I’d rather read the history itself or else reality-based historical fiction. If I want to read dramatic treatments of, say, the War of the Roses, I’m pretty sure Shakespeare did a better job. And have you read Rosemary Sutcliff?”

“Whaddaya mean you don’t like fantasy? You read Tolkien and Lewis, don’t you? You’re a Star Trek nerd, aren’t you?”

“Tolkien and Lewis are the exceptions to the rule – I don’t read anybody else. And no, dammit, I’m not a nerd!”

Mmmmm, hmmmm…...Anyway, you need to read George R.R. Martin.”

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Ol’ Robbo has no plans to read George R.R. Martin.

***Oddly enough, she agrees with me that the tee-vee series appears to be basically Dungeons & Dragons with bits of gratuitous porn thrown in and is not worth watching.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t got round to mentioning it yet, but the fireflies (or lightning bugs, if you prefer***) have been back out at Port Swiller Manor for about a week or ten days now.

Lightning bugs (or fireflies, if you prefer) are definitely Ol’ Robbo’s favorite insects.

I understand that this isn’t exactly a competitive bracket, most bugs being either annoying, disgusting,**** or (in the case of yellow-jackets, paper hornets, and scorpions which with I’ve had encounters) painful. But whereas I casually like, say, butterflies, crickets, and certain of the less-scary spiders, I really like fireflies, and their reappearance in early to mid-June in these parts always makes me very happy. Which is why I make a point of adding this same post year after year even when I’ve got nothing original to say about the matter.

I recall somebody here years ago, when Ol’ Robbo had a wider readership, saying there were no lightning bugs in their neck of the woods, somewhere in the Great Plains, I b’lieve. I still remember thinking what a shame that was. Subsequent poking about on the innerwebz suggests that they aren’t altogether unknown west of the Mississippi, but that they are much rarer there, particularly in the Upper Midwest. We certainly had them in the South Texas of my misspent yoot (I used to catch them and release them in my bedroom) and I positively saw some a few years back along the banks of the North Platte in Casper, Wyoming. But I gather there just aren’t the galaxy-like swarms we can get here in the East.

As I say, that’s a shame, because on a warm, still, summah evening, still dripping from the thunderstorms that rolled through earlier, when the little beasties fill the trees in their hundreds and thousands, flickering away in miniature answer to the real lightning still visible off to the south and east? Well, regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo doesn’t go in for the schmaltz much here, but that’s magic, that is.

*** I’ve no idea what the breakout is between people who say “firefly” and people who say “lightning bug”. Are they regionalisms? I grew up hearing both, but even though I lived in the South, my family were Yankees.

****Speaking of disgusting bugs, the Brood X cicada swarm is definitely winding down its appearance. Good riddance, says I.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy early weekend!

We’re forecast to have a sunny and hot one here, which is why Ol’ Robbo resolved last evening that it’s time for the annual porch cleaning. The only way to do a really thorough job is to shove everything to one side, scrub the other, let it dry, move everything over again (pausing first to scrub down the furniture), and repeat. And I don’t have a power-washer available so have to rely on hose, mop, and a bucket of suds. It’s a tedious job but very satisfying. (I’ve actually been having dreams about finally getting all the caked up pollen off the screens.)

Suds in the Bucket” is a great Sara Evans song, by the bye. And along those lines, I understand that this weekend is the six-month “anniversary”*** of Middle Gel’s walking out with her Young Man. (All together now: “Aaaw…….”) She asked me not long ago why I don’t post more about them here. The fact is that I really don’t know the boyfriend that well, having only met him the once when they were here for Easter Dinner. Also, as I told her, it’s one thing to write about the adorable episodes of one’s small children, but it’s something altogether different to write about the private biznay of a grown woman and I’m not really comfortable with it. That said, the fellah seems grounded, intelligent, and respectful of the Gel and doesn’t appear to be a politickal loon, plus it’s evident that the two are coo-coo-for-coco-puffs fond of each other, so at this point that’s good enough for me.

*** The pedantic fiend rises within Ol’ Robbo when the word “anniversary” is so casually applied to a period of months.

Speaking of politicks, the last time my Establishment Lib cousin visited us, she couldn’t resist signaling her virtue by proclaiming loudly that there was “nobody in the world” she trusted more than Dr. Fauci. Now that the depths of his perfidy in the whole Wuhan Lab fiasco are starting to leak out even in the Mainstream Media, I am sorely tempted to ask her innocently if she’d care to modify that position. (I know what she’d say: “Oh, I knew it all along!”) Aggshully, Ol’ Robbo did know it all along, the bio-weapon nature of the research, the backdoor U.S. funding, the cover-up, all of it. (And for what it’s worth, while I still believe the release from the lab was an accident, I also believe that its potential usefulness by the Powers was quickly recognized and seized upon. What was it ol’ Rahm Emmanuel once said about never letting a crisis go to waste?) But when the information first became available (well over a year ago), it was dismissed by my Betters as the stuff of tinfoil-hat right-wing fantasy. Mmmm-hmmm….

Skepticism of worldly things is merely experience put into practice. I don’t understand why so many people have such a problem grasping this.

Well, enough of all that. Ol’ Robbo is pleased that his new copy of John Wayne’s “The Cowboys” (1972) has arrived and he plans to watch it this evening. I honestly don’t care that much for most of the Duke’s later movies, as they tend to suffer from the same trends that were contaminating the movie industry as a whole in the later Sixties and early Seventies, but this one manages largely to get around all that and is a solid and satisfying adventure story. (And it always amuses me to think that Robert Carradine, who plays the oldest of the “cowboys” eventually wound up becoming Lewis. “NERDS!!“)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

While exercising, Ol’ Robbo recently has taken to wearing a bandana on his head pirate-fashion in order to help keep the sweat out of his eyes.

When she first saw me with the thing, Eldest Gel laughed heartily and said, “Hey, it’s Prison Mike!”

I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of either pretending to understand what she meant or else confessing not to, but instead maintained an imperturbable air and resolved to go look it up later when she wasn’t around. I just now remembered to do so:


I see now why she thinks my practice so durn funny. Smart-ass.

In defense of missing the meme, I will just say that I never really watched “The Office” because Carell’s character was way too close to a real-life guy I used to work with for me to be able to enjoy the show.

As to dealing with flippant daughters, well, there are days when I could shake King Lear’s hand and tell him I know exactly how he felt.

Shiver Me Timbers UPDATE: So thinking on it, I found myself asking myself, “Tom, who are your favorite more recent Entertainment Industry pirates?”

To which I answered, “Self, I’m going to go with Steve the Pirate and the Dread Pirate Roberts. Cap’n Jack Sparrow finishes exactly….nowhere.” (You may look up the references yourselves if you need to.)

That said, allow Ol’ Robbo to again put in a plug for the Charlton Heston teevee moovie adaptation of R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Regular friends of the decanter will know how generally dismissive Ol’ Robbo is about screen adaptations of favorite books, but really, this one is teh goods.

N’yar, Jim Lad!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo and I were chatting this evening of this and that past experience when we suddenly realized (or possibly re-realized) that we had both seen David Cassidy star in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Royal Theater, Broadway, in 1983. There’s no good reason to believe that we were both at the same actual performance, but then again there’s no good reason to believe we were not. (It ran from March to September. I must have been there in June. Mrs. R can’t recall when she was.)

This nugget might not mean all that much in and of itself until you know that at the time I was a high school senior in the South Texas of my misspent yoot. My Latin club was headed to the national competitions held that year in Rochester, NY, and had stopped off in the City on the way to do a little sightseeing. Mrs. R was a young middle-schooler living in Connecticut and frequently coming in to town with her parents on weekends. It would be another seven years before we actually met…….in Virginny.

Factor all that in and the odds go up a bit.

Funny old thing, Life, innit.

UPDATE: Speaking of Latin, I see where Princeton is removing the requirement to take Latin or Greek from its Classics Major. (Sorry, no linky.) If ancient languages are now considered hateful and hurtful, why not abolish the entire Classics Department itself? I suppose that’s next. Ah, Modern Academia: $100K a year to argue how many grievances can dance on the head of a pin.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mention of “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” in the update to the post below reminded Ol’ Robbo of a fun fact he’s been harboring at the back of his braims for a bit now.

Just bear with me here.

First, you have to be somewhat familiar with the comedy “Airplane!” Remember in the airport scene when the tower crews are introducing themselves to each other? In one of his characteristic outbursts, Johnny exclaims, “Me John – Big Tree!”

That joke meant little or nothing to Ol’ Robbo for a very long time, just a piece of random silliness. BUT, here’s the thing: There really was an actor named Chief John Big Tree. He had a lot of bit parts in old westerns, but he also got a couple of credits, including for “Yellow Ribbon” where he has a scene with the Duke.

I call that pretty neat. So Johnny is still just being silly, but at least there’s some context to his silliness.

Now some of you may have known this already, others not. I bring it up simply because I only recently groked it. Share and enjoy!

(What, would you rather I post about the garbage news about the garbage behavior of garbage people?)

In a totally different piece of moovie news, I understand that Middle Gel is taking her Young Man to go see a theatrical performance of “Top Gun“. (She tells me it’s been newly remastered.) Now that I think about it, Ol’ Robbo is a leetle staggered at just how old that movie actually is now. In my personal timeline, it still goes in the category of films made “Oh, a few years ago, I guess.” Yikes.

The Gel has never seen the film before. I’m not sure about her Young Man. I’ll be interested to hear what she thinks. Certainly if there was ever a woman I knew who would get a kick out of watching fighter jets hurtle across the sky, it would be she. On the other hand, that film was pure Reagan Era. How relatable is that to the yoot of the garbage times into which we’ve descended?

(To be fair, I’ve never had the urge to add “Top Gun” to my own collection, although I’ll watch it now and again when it turns up on cable. I dislike Tom Cruise pretty intensely and I’ve never understood the Kelly McGillis thing. But I like the coo-el fighter jets, too.)

UPDATE: The Gel (a regular reader here, incidentally) reports: “Top Gun was pretty dang cool. They were playing it in the movie theater what has the fancy sound system so it was incredibly loud but I think that added to all the cool jet scenes.” Heh, I figured as much. (“I feel the need for speed” is her driving mantra, by the bye, which is probably a reason why she liked the film. When I do the math on her departure and arrival times coming and going from school, it can make me feel quite faint sometimes. **Glares through Innertoobs at Middle Gel**)

Oh, and Young Man evidently had seen the film before but a long time ago. A good time was had by all, so I understand.


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July 2021