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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo caught a bit of the Georgia vs. TCU championship game last evening. Ouch.

My general philosophy regarding college football, which I watch from time to time on a very casual basis, is to cheer for a team with which I have a family connection. Otherwise, I generally find myself rooting for the underdog or whoever is behind when I tune in.

As it happens, I’ve a niece in grad school at Georgia (who is herself a yuge football fan) so have been generally pleased (when I think about it at all) at the Bulldogs’ success. On the other hand, I can’t help smiling at the Horned Frogs’ success this year, which I gather has been something of a fluke. (Certainly TCU is not a name normally associated with championship-caliber ball.)

So overall, I guess I wanted Georgia to win.

However, as I watched, I couldn’t help thinking of that scene in “The Matrix” where the bad guy is dancing about the ship, killing off his colleagues by unplugging their helpless bodies from the interface (or whatever it is). One, just before her death, mutters, “Not like this…..Not like this…..”

That’s rather how I felt. Second look at the mercy rule?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hopes all you friends of the decanter had/are continuing to have a joyous Christmastide! Because it is in my nature to do exactly the same thing over and over again each holiday, I have been able over the years to generate qualitative statistics regarding my own celebration. Overall, I’d say this year’s has been average to above-average (so far). Some highlights for your consideration.


Musickal Musings: Early Christmas Eve, I duly went along with the fam to Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church. They had a wind quartet to accompany the choir this year, and a pretty good one at that. During the musick before the service proper began, this quartet played a Canzone by Giovanni Gabrieli which Ol’ Robbo does not recall ever having heard before but is now prepared to swear Aaron Copeland stole lock, stock, and barrel for his “Appalachian Spring”. The theme was unmistakable.

They also played a “La Folia” by Arcangelo Corelli, which I also had not heard before. I know Vivaldi’s Folia pretty well and myself play the very short one Handel worked into one of his keyboard suites. If ever I take to composition in any way, one of my first projects would be to try and do one of my own. Nevertheless, it seemed to me an odd choice to include in a Christmas ceremony.

The difference in opinion regarding the musick of John Rutter between Ol’ Robbo and Middle Gel, while amiable, remains irreconcilable. I can only surmise that there is some pleasure in actually singing it for choristers such as herself that is lost on those of us who only listen.


Worship: Alas, Ol’ Robbo did not make Midnight Mass at his own church this year. I knew this was a foregone conclusion very early on Christmas Eve as my eyes were already swelling shut by 7:30 pm. A major problem with being the only Catholic in my family is that I have no support to help me get to finish lines like this and when I stumble, I fall. Oh, well.


Christmas Morning: Ol’ Robbo was well pleased at the care and consideration the Gels put in this year choosing gifts for each other. Mrs. R and I must have been doing at least something right after all.


Christmas Dinner: You would think that after all these years of getting his roast beef with Yorkshire pud and two veg down pat, Ol’ Robbo might unclench a little bit about the biznay, but you would be wrong. I spent most of last week fussing and fuming and worrying, running over and over again the itinerary of what goes on or in which cooking platform when, repeating it all anew Christmas afternoon convinced that Something was Missing, only to turn out a great performance once again. Because of or in spite of such clenching, I don’t know, but it’s exhausting.

I say “great performance” with all due modesty. A marker was that there really weren’t many leftovers at all.


Company: In addition to my widowed cousin, the past couple years we’ve more or less adopted some friends of ours for holiday dinners. It’s always a bit delicate because He, at any rate, is one of those people who read articles from Slate like “How to Talk to Your Backwards Uncle about Democratic Socialism” or “Ten Worst Climate Crimes of 2022”, and one must take care not to give him an opening to go off on a politickal screed. (I know for a fact that She scolds him heavily beforehand to behave himself, but sometimes he slips his leash anyway.) This year, in spite of our care, he somehow got on the topic of WW2 Japanese interment camps and how they demonstrate that the American Dream is a Big Lie. Ol’ Robbo, despite having consumed a goodish amount of vino, did not take the bait. (Not that I defend the internments themselves, you understand, but his premise was ridiculous.) Instead, at a pause I simply remarked to the table in general that of course our system has its flaws, as does every other human system because all humans are themselves inherently flawed and no power under Heaven will ever change that. Then I abruptly switched the discussion to the dismal prospects of Robbo’s Beloved Nationals, always a safe topic. His look of bafflement at being headed off was most satisfying. Heh.

As I walked my cousin out to her car later, she said, “I’m a Democrat, but that was too far left even for me.”


Apres le Deluge: Psychologists no doubt have a word for it, but Ol’ Robbo takes a very keen enjoyment in cleaning up and locking down from Christmas Dins before going to bed, however late, so that when he wakes up next morning…..everything’s already done. Thus, I spent Boxing Day mostly flat on my back and see how you like it. Last evening, it was Domino’s and “Home Alone 2”, which I’ve never seen before. (Spoiler: It’s exactly the same as the first one, except set in New York City and with twice as many pratfalls.)

And so, another one in the books. We will be hosting the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his family for New Year’s Eve, but that’s a very relaxed, no-worries event and Ol’ Robbo can spend the rest of his vacay this week not having to think too much about it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo admits that he was genuinely horrified to learn late yesterday that Trea Turner, arguably the best shortstop in all baseball, has signed an eleven year deal with the Philthies.

It’s bad enough that I watched him grow up as a player only to have my Nationals squander him away like so many other superstars. But when, like Bryce Harper, he winds up with a career-cementing deal in Philly? That especially hurts.

There’s been a lot of combination happy-talk/scolding coming out of the front office lately regarding Ol’ Robbo’s beloved but hapless Nats. On the one hand, it’s “Ooh, we’ve got some great prospects coming up, just you wait!” On the other, it’s “Hey, just think of all those titles and pennants we brought you last decade, you ingrates!”

Ol’ Robbo never made it past little league softball in his own managerial career, but even I know that this kind of roller-coaster is unhealthy for a franchise.** Maybe if we learned to hang on to a few folks not named Zimmerman over the long term, things would even out somewhat.

Ah, well. What else is there to do but say


** I have in front of me my favorite kawfee mug, which features the Nats’ 2019 World Series-winning roster. Of the twenty-five names on it, all but three (including Trea) are now gone. And of the three remaining, pitchers Strasburg and Corbin are useless and center-fielder Robles is probably gone before the next spring training. Humph!

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!

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!

I suppose it’s not unreasonable that if Ol’ Robbo wants anybody to actually read this blog, he at least ought to write something. Alas, I’ve been quite busy this week and have had little time or energy for anything else. So, what’s up?

Halloween this year (which see below) was a bust. It rained and we had no visitors at all. Mrs. R now speaks of reemploying the candy we got in for use in the Gels’ Christmas stockings. (Which reminds me that we are now less than three weeks from Thanksgiving, which further reminds me that Youngest will be returning from Australia some time in the next two weeks. It boggles my mind that time has gone by so fast.)

Ol’ Robbo saw that somebody has published an article in The Atlantic suggesting that we should all just move on past the combination of hysteria and totalitarianism that was the Governing Class response to the Coof madness, and that “amnesty” be granted to our so-called leaders for the decisions that were made. In the words of “Futurama’s” Bender Rodriguez, “Bite my shiny metal ass!”

Speaking of which, Tuesday is nearly upon us. I understand there’s to be a Blood Moon that evening. (CORRECTION: I learn the eclipse will be viewable on the East Coast early in the morning, starting around 5:15 A.M. or so.) Alas, the only issue on my ballot this year is the election of our local Congress-critter, and we recently got redistricted to a seat where my vote is not going to make the slightest difference. (I’m still doing it, nonetheless.)

On another front, Ol’ Robbo has tried to engage himself in the World Series but it’s just not working out. I loathe the Philthies in a general way, of course, but just don’t care enough about the Astros to make it worthwhile. One thing, though, I wanted to say about the teevee coverage: I hate letting cameramen run about on the field during the game, as when somebody homers. I also think interviewing players in the dugout in the middle of the game is thoroughly obnoxious. Stop this immediately!

On a brighter note in the Wide World of Sports, I see Mid-American Conference football is back on ESPN! As a MAC-daddy, I find keen enjoyment in watching the lowliest of Division I teams going at it. I believe Youngest’s Red Hawks have a televised game next Wednesday evening. I’m planning to bring lots of popcorn.

Well, I suppose that’s enough for now. Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Virginia, I guess there really is a Santa Claus. Those of you following the great Port Swiller Manor basement saga may recall Ol’ Robbo mentioning, with deep cynicism, that we were going to try and wangle a little dosh out of our insurance policy to make up for some of the costs of the water damage and repair. Well, we got the word yesterday that not only are they coming through, they’re ponying up far, far beyond any amount I thought at all possible. I have no earthly idea of the whys and wherefores, but there it is. Huzzay, huzzah!

I say “we”, but as a matter of fact the credit for this victory goes entirely to Mrs. Robbo, as she was the one who filed the claim and kept after it. Myself, I probably wouldn’t even have bothered trying.


So, it’s the Astros and the Phillies in the Series, eh? Ol’ Robbo can’t say that he is positively rooting for one team or the other. In thinking it over, the only skin in the game I can find is the preference not to see Bryce Harper get a ring. Is that petty and shallow of me? I think so. I think so.

Still, I suppose “Go Astros”.


UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo meant to mention that Mrs. R and the elder Gels reported back on the wine festival they went to this past weekend. Turns out it was Halloween themed and there were “pairings” of wine and candy. I don’t mean bubbly and chocolate, I mean sweet whites with Starbursts and such!

What the heck do people think sometimes? This is how Rome fell.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In case you friends of the decanter have not been following, Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats suffered their 100th loss of the season last evening in a mercifully short game against the Braves**. I’m not quite certain, because the rules keep getting loosier and goosier, but I think this mathematically eliminates us from playoff contention this year.


I blame the team’s Lucifer-like plunge from heroes to zeroes over the past two years completely on skin-flint Ownership. Fortunately, it looks like the Lerner family is bailing and we should have a new set of the Big Money Boys going into next year. I hope this lot actually means it.

In the meantime, what else is there to say except


**Speaking of whom, did you see where the White House chose the occasion of the team’s visit to call for it to change its name? I just can’t even….

UPDATE: Oh, in case you’re interested, Ol’ Robbo is likely to be pulling for the Mets in October. I’d like to see Mad Max Scherzer get another Series win, just for old times’ sake.

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,


Greetings, my fellow port swillers and an early welcome to the weekend! It’s about dang time.

Several days down to the office this week. Ol’ Robbo is here to tell you that the Dee Cee Metro, which once prided itself on its cleanliness, has gone completely to pot recently. The cars are downright filthy now, and I come out of the system feeling perfectly contaminated. I can only suppose they don’t have enough folks to keep up with the maintenance anymore.

For those of you following the Port Swiller Manor basement saga, we had the engineer back out the other evening to finalize the bracing and waterproofing project and sign the papers. Gulp. Mrs. R was practically dancing with frustration and had the poor fellah awash in embarrassment and profuse with apologies, and doing his best to reduce the pain as much as possible. But, alas, we have no real choice in this biznay. The one bit of bright side, at least from Ol’ Robbo’s point of view, was Mrs. R’s determination that if we’re paying that kind of jack, they can take out the drywall and framing themselves.

For those of you following the Gels’ Big Adventures, the elder two seem to have settled in quite nicely at school and sound genuinely enthusiastic about their new classes. Eldest had been fretting and fussing all summah about the what, how, and where of life at a new school in a new town, asking a lot of questions which I assured her she would answer for herself within a couple of days of getting there. Which she has. It’s almost as if Ol’ Dad was prophetic. Meanwhile, Middle Gel immediately went out and adopted a kitten. Because she could. I had managed to make her confine herself to a hamster when she was an undergrad, but she’s out of my clutches now. Of course, not a word to our cats at home about this. (What’s going to happen when she comes home on break remains to be seen.) Meanwhile, we hear from Youngest Down Under every now and again. The other day she sent a picture of herself at a Brisbane rugby game. She was wearing a Washington Nationals jersey. Because she’s that kind of nut. “Well, I needed something red for our team!” she said. (Apparently, whatever the club she’s following seem to be about as inept as the Nats this year. They got crushed at the game she attended.)

Whelp, Ol’ Robbo needs to be about what I like to call my non-paying job about the house. We’re actually hosting a small dinner party this weekend (I can’t remember the last time we did this) and there are a thousand and one things to do to tidy the place up.


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January 2023