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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!

The schadenfreude Ol’ Robbo is seeing (and, admittedly, enjoying) on the innerwebz over the U.S. wimminz soccer team unexpectedly getting hammered by the Swedes yesterday*** reminds me that there are, in fact, Olympic Games going on.


Although keenly excited by the Games when I was a younker, I gave up on them when NBC took over the coverage in the mid-80’s and switched from actually, you know, showing the competition to wall-to-wall “human interest” stories. Bag that.****

My favorite “coverage” moment was the Miracle On Ice at Lake Placid in 1980. For reasons which I do not recollect, ABC tape-delayed showing the Game itself, but was carrying on with live coverage beforehand. The announcers were attempting to be poker-faced, but people in the background were running about in joyous frenzy, so no matter how hard the network tried to maintain the suspense, we already knew Something Big had happened.

Good times.

***I actually don’t doubt that they’ll come back and take the Gold because that’s the Narrative.

****I’m sure there are alternate sources where I could find more pristine competition coverage, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t care enough to bother looking for them.

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 may or may not have mentioned here before that Youngest Gel had joined her school’s sailing club this past year. She’s enjoyed it immensely. For one thing, she has a bit of experience already, having sailed Sunfish at her summah camp for years and years, so she’s quickly picked up on the skills and technique. For another, it seems to be quite the genial and lively group, and exactly the sort of people she was hoping to meet by getting off the East Coast. They even have a club softball team on which teh Gel plays.

Anyhoo, it’s a legit group. Not only do they sail out of their own boathouse, they also go round the regional regatta circuit. Yesterday, the Gel received the schedule for September and October and I found myself glancing idly at the various named meets. Most of them were pretty bland: Ohio State has the “Buckeye Invite” while Illinois has the “U of I Regatta”. However, looking down the list, I saw that Indiana University will be proudly hosting the “Hoosier Mama”.

That joke and its variants are probably as old as the State itself but I’d not been expecting it and laughed heartily.

By the bye, from what the Gel tells me, these meets seem pretty true to the tradition of Jack Tar ashore. Apparently, the form is for all the teams to get together the night before and party like maniacs, sailing the next day in, shall we say, a somewhat subdued condition. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me but then again it’s been a looooong time since I was a kollege kid myself. (In fact, rowing crew we weren’t allowed to drink at all during race season but I couldn’t imagine even wanting to the night before a regatta. We had plenty of reasons to lose our lunches already.) Nonetheless, a good time seems to be had by all.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama for winning this year’s Masters Tournament.

I have no idea who he is.

In fact, scanning the final results, I have no idea who the vast majority of the players are. Phil Mickelson, Freddy Couples, maybe one or two others. That’s about it.

I used to watch professional golf quite a bit back in the day, but it’s an immensely time-consuming practice and, well, my time hasn’t really been that much my own for some years now. Hopefully somewhere in the not so distant future I will again have the opportunity to spend a long, lazy afternoon watching a tournament.

Or play myself. One of my retirement goals has always been to pick the game back up. I smacked a ball around the course a bit in my yoot but it must be fifteen years anyway since the last time I picked up a club.

UPDATE: Golly, this post went over like a lead balloon!

I suppose it’s just proof that, unless you have some connection with the game yourself, watching pro golf on the teevee is excruciatingly dull.

I’m the same way with tennis. I don’t play, so have no interest whatever in catching any of the tournaments. Mrs. R, on the other hand, who has been a keen player all her life, gobbles them up.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

On a sudden whim, Ol’ Robbo popped in his DVD of “Major League” last evening. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this movie over the years, but it remains perennially fresh. (Although these days I tend to fast-forward through the Tom Berenger/Rene Russo bits.)

It occurred to me this morning that this whim might have been sparked by the fact that, at least in the Sane Years, pitchers and catchers would be reporting to camp right about now. I don’t know about this year because I haven’t followed things at all. I’ve no idea who is or isn’t on the Nationals’ roster, what the schedule is, what “experimental” tinkerings with last fake season’s rules are carrying forward to this year (DH’s in the National League are the work of the devil), what chance of actually seeing a game live, none of it. Nor do I especially care. So long as the game is plagued by fashionable politickal posturing and bogus pandemic restrictions, I will stay away from it. Sadly, I don’t think it will ever again be what it once was.

But back to the moovie. Now that the Cleveland Baseball Team has un-personed Chief Wahoo, I am especially happy that I have this film firmly preserved in DVD form, lest it be purged for wrongthink. This is one of the main reasons I stay firmly away from all streaming services, e-books, and other electronic platform entertainment and information systems. The only way they’ll physically be able to take my copy (or my other incorrect books and movies) away is when the goons ransack Port Swiller Manor while Ol’ Robbo is being subjected to his struggle session by the neighborhood Block Captain.

And speaking of baseball, since Mrs. R and I both have the day off today, we decided to take Decanter Dog over to the river for a ramble along the bluffs and cliffs. As the park is a national one subject to fed’rul regulations, the signs were up all over the place insisting that masks be worn at all times. The connection is that the only extra mask Mrs. R had in her car that I could use was a Nats one. In view of my opinions above, I put it on….reluctantly. That, and the fact of the pure ridiculousness of the requirement in the first place. It’s a chilly day here and the place was practically empty, the fresh, healthy air in abundance. But who are we mere peons to question the wisdom of our Betters? (As a matter of fact, especially since the damn thing kept fogging up my glasses, I mostly kept it on my chin, only pulling it up when we came near somebody who looked like they’d cause a stink about it.)

Despite all that, we had a nice ramble. Some of the trails along the cliffs overlooking the rapids and waterfalls are quite steep and rocky, but Decanter Dog seems to have a real talent for picking her way along them. (Sort of like Sam Gamgee’s pony, Poor Bill.) But she also displays a distinct desire to get as close to the edge as possible. I can handle her well enough, but I sometimes worry that one of these days she’s suddenly going to throw herself and one of my wimmin-folk into the watery depths.

Why D-Dog seems so fascinated with the wet mystifies me, by the bye, because she absolutely hates a bath, which is what she got as soon as we came home, given all the mud she splashed her way through. And it can’t be just the swirling currents of the river that hold such an attraction. She does exactly the same thing when we walk around the little pond in our neighborhood. If left to her own will, she’d stare into it for hours. But that’s a dog’s braim for you: dense, dark, inexplicable.

Almost, if not quite, as bad as the braims of our Betters.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was delighted this morning to spot a goldfinch at the feeder that was already beginning to sport some yellow coloring round about its throat. I gather the dread Polar Vortex is going to give us a hammering next week, but this early sign of approaching spring pleases me nonetheless. What with getting out so little, I’m feeling the cabin fever somewhat more keenly this year than most.

Speaking of such things, by the time Ol’ Robbo decided last year that he wanted to put in a new clematis, all the nurseries and online catalogues were already cleaned out of them. So today, I got off my duff and pre-ordered a white Henryi from Burpee. (It’s been years since I bought anything from them and I was a bit flustered to see that they already had all my contact information ready to go on the form.)

Now that Youngest is back at school, it falls upon me to give her car some exercise once a week. I discovered this morning that the rotter had left her gas tank almost empty. Also, although I may have seen it before and forgotten, I saw again that she had scraped certain letters off the CARMAX logo on the back so that it now reads “ARM”. Ol’ Robbo didn’t raise himself any sheep.

I had forgotten about the Super Bowl until I got to the store and saw the displays out. (I didn’t even know who was playing.) Ol’ Robbo has pretty much ignored pro football since Dan Marino retired 20 years ago. This year, between the shamdemic and politickalization, I find myself actively hostile to all forms of SportsBall. Blog rants and boycotts on my part are hardly going to bring the NFL to its knees, of course, but it’s what I can do so I’m doing it.

I mentioned rereading my Evelyn Waugh in the post below. In addition to the novels, I went right the way through his complete short stories this time, including “Basil Seal Rides Again”, his last work, which I had never read before. What a deliciously nasty little story, and true to the Basil Seal form! Interestingly, I see where Waugh dedicated it to Ian Fleming’s wife, Ann. I wonder if there’s some sort of inside joke there, since Seal is as thoroughly lacking in ethics as is James Bond, for which Fleming got a good bit of critical guff.

Whelp, time to see if Decanter Dog wants to go walkies……

Sunday UPDATE: Ah, Virginny!

Have you ever had the experience of being told repeatedly that it was going to snow, disbelieving such predictions, and then awakening next morning in genuine surprise that it was, you know, actually snowing?

Well, that was the case this morning with Ol’ Robbo.

It was coming down so heavily that I stayed home and caught Mass online. But by midday it had pretty much melted, leading this afternoon’s walkies through the woods with Decanter Dog a real Mud March in the fullest Burnsidean sense of the term.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo used to listen, from time to time, to a radio program called “What Do You Know?” It was a sort of general-knowledge quiz show. Anyhoo, the moderator would open with a short monologue that he would finish up with this question, to which the audience replied, “Not much! You?”

I’m sort of in “Not much! You?” mode at the moment.

Last evening saw Port Swiller Manor revelry over Youngest Gel’s completion of her first semester of college. (Only $$$even more to go!) The gel herself celebrated with a glass of some girly-drink Ol’ Robbo wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole no matter what his thirst. I actually haven’t seen much of her since she got home, since she’s been mostly a) buried in studying, or b) asleep. Perhaps that will change now. Or perhaps she’ll just sleep more.

A work friend with whom I talk a lot of baseball sent me a note this morning that Robbo’s formerly-beloved Washington Nationals are starting to bleed players: Adam “Mighty Mouse” Eaton and Michael A. Taylor gone; Howie Kendrick and Shawn “Doctor” Doolittle in free-agency. I find myself caring considerably less than I would have done a year ago.

Speaking of work, Ol’ Robbo has professional training all day today. Such sessions are always excruciating when in person. What they’re going to be like via Zoom I can’t even imagine.

Which reminds me that I need to clean out my coffee-maker. Isn’t there some formula for that involving vinegar? (Told you: Not much!)

And speaking of which, I need to go get another cuppa before the torture session starts. Perhaps I’ll be back later with more thoughts…..

STORM OF THE CENTURY OF THE WEEK UPDATE: First snow of the season happening right now! (Well, flurries at any rate.) So at least I’ve got that going for me.

UPDATE DEUX: Today I have learned there’s no place to hide in a four-person Zoom breakout session.

UPDATE DREI: I reached the point today where I decided it’s time to finally break down and buy a new pair of jeans. I pretty much only own one pair at a time, and wear them until they’re literally falling apart. My current pair has just crossed the threshold where I can’t in good conscience appear in them in public anymore, although I can fend off Mrs. R’s desire to toss them by arguing they’re still good enough for yardwork. (Not much! You?)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

There are, no doubt, those among the friends of the decanter who say to themselves from time to time, “Self, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t seem to post about Current Events these days the way he used to.”  Said friends would be correct: In recent years, I have deliberately layed off such postings, not out of timidity but as a matter of prudence.  The plain truth is that I need my buried-in-the-Swamp job, particularly as we still have Gels in kollej.  Yes, no more than twenty people read this blog on a regular basis, but how idiotic would it be if some politickally nekultury observation of mine was picked up by chance and flipped over to the attack dogs of the Neo-Jacobins.  I couldn’t do that to the family.

Let none of this mislead you into thinking Ol’ Robbo isn’t paying very, very close attention to what’s going on.  I am.  But in the words of Queen Elizabeth I, “I see and say nothing”.

Anyhoo, all that by the way.  On with the This N’ That!

♦  Mrs. R has been grumbling recently.  Unlike the two Elder Gels, who called and call home from kollej quite frequently, Youngest is proving to be rayther taciturn.  The few times Mrs. R has been able to raise her, she seemingly is in the middle of something or other, or is on her way to some place or other.  Part of me smiles at what is obviously a pretty clear case of cord-cutting.  Part of me also sympathizes with Mrs. R’s justification that if we’re shelling out this much dosh for the Gel’s schooling, we’ve a right to monitor what we’re paying for to ensure we’re getting the bang for our (many) bucks.

♦  Friends of the Decanter may recall Ol’ Robbo posting about watching the movie “She” and his determination to follow up by reading the H. Rider Haggard novel on which it was based?  Well, I’ve done so.  It’s a good story, although of course far different than the movie version, and I fully intend to read the sequel as well.  One thing that occurred to me was this:  All Haggard I’ve ever read has been set in first-person narrative.  It strikes me that this is a real literary trap:  How does the author (in this case) manage to distinguish the voice of Allen Quatarmain, the hero of many of Haggard’s books, from that of Horace Holly, the voice of the “She” series?  Granted, I’m still fairly new to these works, but at the moment I can’t quite fathom the difference.  You know who was superb at differentiating first-person narrative voices?  Charles Portis, that’s who.  (And I see on looking him up that he died earlier this year.  R.I.P.)

♦  One of the few positives of the current plague lockdown is that Ol’ Robbo has had much more time to exercise.  And with all due modesty, I can say that I’m in the best physical shape I’ve been for some years.  I’ve developed a weekly routine that alternates between treadmill-with-weights and the ol’ rowing machine.  (Robbo had a much-loved t-shirt during his kollej rowing days that read “Put an Erg on the Water and it Sinks”.)  I never was and never will be a muscle dude – I haven’t the frame for it – but I’ve got pretty durn toned in my forced house arrest, if I do say so myself.  Also, at my last annual checkup, my doctor fussed at me about my blood pressure.  I look forward to spiking her good and hard when I next see her.  (“Give up wine”, she said.  Forsooth!!)

♦  Those of you keeping track will be interested to know that the new Decanter-Kitteh, who we’ve had for about four or five weeks now, still hasn’t cottoned on to Ol’ Robbo.  She doesn’t mind being in the same room with me, but if I make any sudden motion or otherwise try to be friendly, she scurries away.  Eh.

♦  To wrap it all up, I made mention of kitteh’s anti-Robbo aversion to Youngest when I texted her the other day.  Her response?  “Heyoooo!! I miss you and kitteh and everyone else!  Good news: I have not gotten any tattoos yet!”  That’s my Gel.

UPDATE:  A little more I meant to add:

♦  A bump in temperature the past day or two ahead of a cool front coming in this evening.  This is the time of the year when Ol’ Robbo is constantly having to fiddle with the thermostat, alternating between the A/C and the heat.  But for some reason I always forget until the inmates start complaining.

♦  Although I didn’t watch a single game all season, I broke down and had a peak at my Nationals’ stats this morning, only to find they went 26-34 and tied for last place.  I would simply point out that 60 games in last year we were in mighty close to the same position, and look what happened after that!  I’ll say it again:  This season Does Not Count.

♦  Ol’ Robbo is informed that today is National Coffee Day.  Feh.  In Robbo World, every day is Coffee Day.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

By now I imagine most friends of the decanter have heard that Dr. Fauci his own self is going to throw out the first pitch at the Nationals’ home opener tomorrow.  (It’s good to be one of the Very Important People.)

You’ve probably also seen that MLB has decided to get mixed up in the current politicks.

As I believe I mentioned here when the news was announced originally, Ol’ Robbo was already of the opinion that this season simply doesn’t count.  It’s too short and the rules of play have been messed about too much.  Nonetheless, I thought I might at least watch a game or two now and again.  But now?  I think I’ll go find something else with which to amuse myself.

By the bye, I linked that second article primarily because the photo takes in a view of the stands.  The stands are fully of cardboard cut-outs of “fans”.  The cardboard cut-outs of the “fans” are “socially-distanced”.

Think about that for a second.

Socially-distanced cardboard fans.

What in God’s name have we come to?

Well, what else is there to say except, “See. You. Later.”



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July 2021