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On behalf of the Roman Catholic Boys for Art,** here’s wishing you all a safe and joyous Thanksgiving Day!

For Ol’ Robbo’s part, I may learn of some potentially exciting news at our celebration but will say no more about it now so as not to fall flat on my face crank up anticipation too much.

I’ll let you know on the other side!

**In accordance with the RCBfA bylaws, the pumpkin (pictured above) is, technically, a fruit. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Well, once again Ol’ Robbo hopes you all had a happy Thanksgiving. We certainly did.

So far as the mystery nooz goes, I am glad I did not speak ahead of myself after all. You see, my nephew and his Young Lady are pretty much certain to get engaged some time soon. What had been spread about was rumor that an actual Announcement was to be made when all of us gathered together. This proved to be groundless. In fact, my nephew was really rayther annoyed when he learned of all the gossip that had been flying around. Heh.

In the meanwhile, all the usual pleasant things happened at the Robbo Family shindig. My brother roasts his bird out on the bar-b every year and this time got it absolutely bang-right. As Gravy Captain, my contribution to the feast was made better directly as a result of his triumph. As for overall tone, everyone was in good spirits and there was plenty of festive jollity.

I suppose the only down side this year was that Ol’ Robbo, in order not to be a spoil-sport, agreed to watch the World Cup match between the U.S. and England yesterday. Other people may genuinely like it but soccer leaves me cold. The fact that after 90 minutes this match ended in a nil-nil tie only deepened the chill for me. On the other hand, it was an excuse to sit about and indulge in more food and drink, so it had that going for it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Veterans’ Day!

Ol’ Robbo is not going to comment on the events from earlier this week, in part because this isn’t really a politickal blog, in part because we don’t even actually know for sure what happened, and in part because if I paid any attention to all the spin being furiously spun my neck would snap. We shall see. We shall see.

In the meanwhile, we’re getting a good bit of rain today from what’s left of Hurricane Nicole, soaking all the leaves that are down and guaranteeing that Ol’ Robbo is going to have a bad time cleaning them up tomorrow. (And I need to make major gains tomorrow because starting Sunday the temperature is going to drop right off, making yardwork that much more unpleasant.) Heigh-ho.

Last evening Ol’ Robbo re-watched “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940), the delightful little romantic comedy with Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullivan, and the Great and Powerful Oz (aka Frank Morgan). I’d only seen it once before and remembered there was something or other about it that I had bookmarked in my brain, but was surprised when Morgan turned up. “Oh, that’s what it was!” I said to myself. Fortunately, I said it internally. I’m one of those people who love to cross-reference actors while watching a movie. (“Oh, yes, he was so-and-so in such-and-such.”) Mrs. R is one of many who can’t stand people like me when it comes to this habit, so I do my best to suppress it when she’s around. It can be hard sometimes.

Well I suppose this turned out to be a pretty random post after all. My apologies. I’ve been wicked busy with work lately and haven’t had much time or energy to focus on anything else.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, you know what to do. Ol’ Robbo found himself in a deeply skeptical mood when he awoke this morning, but we shall see. (I’m not so skeptical about the tallies themselves, but rayther whether any meaningful change will come about as a result.)

In the meantime, some randomness.


I have not o-fficially congratulated the Houston Astros yet on their World Series victory. In all the celebration, I was stunned to learn that this was manager Dusty Baker’s first. He’s been around so long that I just assumed he’d got a ring before. By the bye, when he managed Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals, I used to fret endlessly about the toothpick he invariably sucked and chewed on during the games, just waiting for him to get the durn thing stuck in his throat. I see he’s still at it. And I still fret.

And yes, I partook of Bryce Harper’s tears and yes, they were delicious.


Major Appliance Pro-Tip: Do not buy a top-loading washing machine that doesn’t have a central pillar. It’s true that you can fit more into an open basket, but the thing gets out of balance way too easily. At least ours does.


Alas, Ol’ Robbo missed the Blood-Moon eclipse this morning. I’m informed there won’t be another for three years. Somehow I will find the resolve to push through until then. Courage.


How about some more useless movie trivia? I caught “Valley of the Kings” (1954) on TCM the other evening. Robert Taylor is a sort of turn-of-the-century Indiana Jones, except he’s fighting looters instead of Nazis, and rather that hunting for some magickal thingumabob, is simply trying to find archeological evidence to support the Old Testament story of Joseph in Egypt. Not a bad film with lots of “on location” shots, but what capped it off for me was to find Leon Askin (aka General Burkhalter from “Hogan’s Heroes”) in a supporting role. Such sightings of old favorites out of context amuse me. It’s not unlike when one was a kid and spotted one’s elementary school teacher in the grocery store for the first time. “Wait, what’s she doing here??”


Well, time to strap in. As much as I detest politicks, I also can’t help watching them somewhat obsessively. See you on the other side.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

On behalf of the Roman Catholic Boys for Art, here’s wishing you all a Happy Halloween!

It’ll be a quiet one here in the neighborhood. I don’t see much by way of “decoration” this year and there’s a respectable chance of rain this evening (the first I can recall in many years). On the other hand, some of the Karens tried to “vote” to move trick-or-treating to this past Saturday because this is a school night. They failed. Heh.

As for Port Swiller Manor itself, our street is a sort of neighborhood peninsula which gets almost no through-traffic. In past years, it was only kids from houses right around us who visited and they’re almost all grown up now. Ol’ Robbo isn’t even bothering with a jack-o-lantern, although I believe Mrs. R got in some candy Just In Case.

As for myself, I shall celebrate in what is now my usual fashion by hiding in the basement and re-watching “Young Frankenstein” for the umteenth time. What knockers!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo learns, via the weather guys on his FacePlant feed, that a sequel to the movie “Twister” (1996) is in the works.

My first reaction was that Bill Paxton and Philip Seymour Hoffman are both dead, and Helen Hunt is way too old to be running around in a t-shirt and sports bra. Why not let things be.

There doesn’t appear to be much information on the retread, er, update yet. IMDB only has a plot summary:

Twenty years ago, scientists achieved the impossible. They collected a full data set from the inside of a monster F5 tornado. Through the application of this data, they were able to create Antheia, an advanced early warning system. With this information, thousands of lives have been saved and populations have grown comfortably under the watchful eye of their protector. However, whilst science has become complacent, mother nature has continued to evolve…

If by “evolve” the plot does not spell out that “populations” have brought this New Terror on themselves via anthropogenic glowbull enwarmening, and that “science has become complacent” because it was bought off by Big Energy, Ol’ Robbo will personally go down to the Capitol, strip off all his clothes, and sing “I’m a Little Tea Cup” complete with choreography.

I’ve seen the original more times than I care to admit but I honestly have no interest in this one.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Just a few thoughts from Ol’ Robbo’s bachelor weekend viewings:

“Dodge City” (1939) – From Netflix. My first viewing and most likely my last. It’s not a bad story, mind you, but I’m sorry, I just can’t accept Errol Flynn as a cowboy/gunman. He’s too, for lack of a better word, pretty. UPDATE: Perhaps “stylized” is the better word. He can get away with it in swashbucklers because that’s mostly fantasy for the audience. But there are just too many genuinely tough cowboy characters out there for him to succeed they same way in this genre.

Red River” (1948) – From my collection. A very, very good movie with one major flaw. Chekhov once wrote, “One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off. It’s wrong to make promises you don’t mean to keep.” (He said the same thing in a couple other forms, too.) When Montgomery Clift and John Ireland, rival gun-slicks, first meet, it’s foreshadowed that eventually they’ll have to fight it out between them. Walter Brennan even says so explicitly. Yet nothing ever comes of it.

The Train” (1964) – Another Netflix rental. Why is it that I like Burt Lancaster so much in this film but have been disappointed by everything else of his I’ve ever seen? I suppose it’s just a function of character and directing. And I love how the film gets around everybody else having a German or French accent while Burt talks in good ol’ ‘Murican by simply ignoring it.

So there you have it.

UPDATED DEUX: So what shows up in my mailbox today from Netflix but another Flynn western – “San Antonio” (1945). Guess I’ll watch it to see if he’s a little more believable this time.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Being exiled from the Port Swiller Manor basement and its electronic entertainments for the time being, Ol’ Robbo took his DVD player with him and successfully hooked it up to the flat screen in one of the Gels’ bedrooms. That’s a pretty good achievement, given my lack of technological chops.

However, I had to get ambitious. For reasons beyond me, the picture wasn’t formatting for the full screen but instead was rayther squashed up. In trying to correct this, I seem to have turned on the closed-captioning and damme if I can figure out how to turn it off again.

I swear I found the right button on the DVD remote. I swear I found the “cc” function and turned it to “off”. Indeed, I went round the world of the “audio” functions, at one point even turning the soundtrack into dubbed French. And yet, here we still are.

Part of me wonders if this is not the DVD player itself but instead some sort of built-in, nefarious do-gooderism of the Gel’s screen. So far, I haven’t managed to figure out the “functions” on that thing.

Ah, well.

As it happens, Ol’ Robbo watched “Blazing Saddles” last evening. I have to admit that hearing “I Get A Kick Out Of You” in canned French was amusing, as were some of the attempted captions. I don’t know how that’s done these days but took a malignant pleasure in the thought of some snerp cringing away over his earphones and keyboard. (If I’m wrong about this, don’t tell me.)

While on the subject, I will just say here that when I try to watch Brooks movies as movies, I’m disappointed. When I get it in my head that they’re really just series of gags and one-liners strung together, I find them much more entertaining. The only exception to this rule, in my humble opinion, is “Young Frankenstein” (which I always watch on Halloween) and I believe Gene Wilder wrote most of that.

Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo noticed that Mass was quite a bit fuller today than it has been for a long time. When I swam the Tiber fifteen years ago, my parish was the only one in the diocese (or, indeed, the entire region) that celebrated the Latin Mass regularly. The place was usually mobbed. Since then, the practice had been established in many other parishes, causing our numbers to drop as folks doubtless went closer to home. Now that the practice has been kyboshed in all but (I think) six parishes, I suppose folks are circling back round to us. If they can find us, that is. One of the terms of our continued sufferance is that the Latin Mass time can’t be printed or otherwise distributed. You have to come look it up in the vestibule.

Anyhoo, it’s nice to see so many new faces.

And on a completely different note (hence the post title), Ol’ Robbo would be negligent in his duty as a blogger if I did not pass along this piece of awesome wrapped in awesome and covered with awesome sauce, which a friend noted on FacePlant. Yes, it’s the Nakatomi Hans Gruber Advent Calendar:

After all, “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie!

Order yours today so in time to be ready for the season!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo unexpectedly finds himself at the front end of a four day weekend, having forgot all about Columbus Day until late yesterday afternoon. I do not complain.


It’s just as well because in the “slowly then all at once” category we’re now informed that all the permits have been granted and the engineers can start in on our basement next week. This will involve Ol’ Robbo moving a bunch of furniture out of the way and also disconnecting the sink and potty in the downstairs loo. (And me with my back still hurting from hauling Eldest’s dresser down the stairs earlier this week.)


Did you see where the USDA is launching a “People’s Garden” initiative? At present, participation is voluntary. At the next stage, it doubtless will be mandatory. Know what the term “People’s” always reminds Ol’ Robbo of? I’ve only sat all the way through “Dr. Zhivago” the one time because after the seven hundredth reprise of “Lara’s Theme”, my ears started to bleed. But I still recall the scene where the Doctor finds his house has been commandeered by the Bolshies in the name of the “People”. “But I am the People, too!” he exclaims.

Pro-tip: Wherever Collectivism rears its head, no you’re not.


And speaking of the Russians, they told me that if I voted for the Bad Orange Man we would find ourselves on the brink of nuclear war – and they were right!


Well, on a much more mundane note, Ol’ Robbo strung a new set of bistro lights around the Port Swiller Manor back porch this week, replacing the old strings of Christmas tree mini-lights which were aging and darkening in batches. With this move I am much pleased – not only are they neater looking, they throw just enough light for me to read by when it’s dark out. And as the days draw ever more in, this becomes all the more important. (And by the bye, yes, we are still “falling back” to Standard Time this year – on November 6. Bleh. I tried to do a bit of research on where the move to finally kill clock-changing stands, but as with most things gubmint-related, it seems to have become something of a muddle.)


And just what is Ol’ Robbo reading at the moment, you ask? Well, he’s deep into his Francis Parkman. It’s 1689, the Iroquois are posed to wipe New France off the map, and Count Frontenac is on his way back to Quebec to save its bacon. Exciting “skin of their teeth” stuff. Ol’ Robbo is reminded again of an old blog post somewhere touting Catholic halloween costumes, one of which was a Jesuit Missionary. “Just add Hurons!” read the caption. I larfed and larfed (and still do).


Well, with that I suppose I should be about things. Although, as I say, I have a long weekend, that’s only from my paying job.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Has Ol’ Robbo mentioned recently how much he dislikes Tuesdays? Because I dislike Tuesdays. They’re the veritable hole in the week.

That said, why not make this one a little better with some light nonsense.

Ol’ Robbo is here to tell you that the Bloomington, Indiana housing market is insane. It isn’t even mid-September yet and already the elder Gels have got their “sign your lease for next year RIGHT NOW or you’re out because we’ve got a waiting list of 2000 kids” notices. It’s a wonder they ever got their digs in the first place. College towns.

Speaking of waiting, we’re still on stand-bye for the big Port Swiller Manor basement renovation. The job itself will only take about two weeks, so I am told. The big drag is jumping through all the obligatory bureaucratic hoops to get the necessary county permits before they can start. (Does this surprise anybody?) The project manager is trying to accelerate the process by alleging Mrs. R’s intense dislike of mold constitutes a medical priority, but so far it doesn’t seem to be cutting much ice.

Ol’ Robbo is sometimes a bit leery about returning to old pleasures for fear they might not be quite what he remembers, so I was particularly pleased when Mrs. R and I sat down to watch the first half dozen episodes of “Cheers” the other evening. Although a yuge fan back in the day, I hadn’t seen it in Heaven-knows how many years, and yet it is as fresh and funny now as it ever was.

Finally, Ol’ Robbo is pleased to say that he has found a kind of inner peace with his beloved Washington Nationals. Yes, we’re within eight games of a triple-digit loss record this year, but now all the dust has settled and the team is basically a bunch of kids coming up out of the minors, and I’m looking on it as a sort of early spring training and can enjoy watching again. What else is there to say except,



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December 2022