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Well, it’s the first full day of Spring 2015, and ol’ Robbo would love to be out in the grounds this morning doing yard work. However, it’s still awfully soggy out there from yesterday’s snow and it’s still pretty chilly and Robbo isn’t quite the young man he used to be, so instead I am parked in front of the keyboard with a cup of kawfee. (I am looking out the window, however.)
♦ Speaking of kawfee, the G-Man has an excellent take on Starbucks’ plan to have its baristas hector their customers over race relations. (I don’t much go to Starbucks anymore because of the cost.) As Jonah correctly notes, it’s not the subject matter itself but instead the creeping politicization of every corner of public life, something I have been bewailing for years. (Who was it who talked about the fundamental right just to be left alone?) Anyhoo, for all the publicity, I’m guessing that any actual attempts to indoctrinate caffeine-starved customers at seven ack emma will go…..poorly.
♦ And speaking of indoctrination, when She Who Must Not Be Named starts talking about adult camps – even if she’s joking, even if she says “fun” camps, even if she’s just drunk – I get a cold, cold chill down my spine.
♦ Speaking of spring, I should note again that this is a March Madness-Free Blog®. I’ve no interest in basketball, whatsoever. And while I can understand the whole school spirit thing, my education was all at Division III institutions (NESCAC and ODAC) and it just isn’t the same thing.
♦ OTOH, I didn’t realize until the other day that this is the 10th season of Robbo’s Beloved Nats in Dee Cee. Where does the time go?
♦ Oh, speaking of schools, may I trumpet here the fact that my nephew has just been accepted to Virginia Tech? I don’t know if he’s going, since it’s damned expensive for out-of-staters and he has another program lined up also, but I’m still pretty proud of him.
♦ And speaking of school, I have managed to convince the Eldest that Woodrow Wilson was personally responsible for the disastrous end of WWI and the rise of both Lenin and the Communists, and Hitler and the Nazis. I think my work is done here.
♦ Reread GKC’s The Man Who Was Thursday this week. This has to be the single craziest adventure story I know. And I love it.
♦ Speaking of reading, got a subscription plea in the mail this week from “Teen Vogue”. Gawd. It was addressed to “Miss To The Port Swiller Family”, came in a violently pink envelope and even promised a student discount. Thanks, but no.
♦ Also got a solicitation from the local publick teevee station threatening that if I don’t slip it some coin, it won’t be able to bring All New Episodes of Downton Abbey. Well, I’ve never watched it, nor do I intend to, so this would be no great loss. Back in my misspent yoot, I used to love period dramas, but what with all of the rampant politicization going on these days (which see above), I simply don’t trust ‘em for historickal accuracy anymore.
♦ OH! Speaking of art and history, do not forget that today is the 330th anniversary of the birth of the Greatest Musickal Genius of all time! Be sure and listen to some of his output today if you can. (Teh Middle Gel and her cohort are in the middle of rehearsals for a presentation of his St. John Passion down the Cathedral next weekend.)
Well, I hear the stirring of various gels, so I suppose I ought to leave off here and go reassert my paternalistic hegemony. Or something.
UPDATE: Mid-afternoon and sunny. I went out and discovered new growth buds all over the clematis on the side of the garage. (It faces southwest and is sheltered, and thus is always the first thing to get busy in springtime.) Happy, happy, happy!
Speaking of signs of spring, I see that Scott’s is starting to run their grass-seed/feed ads. I don’t mind the Scots fellah they use, but it’s too bad they couldn’t have done a deal with Groundskeeper Willie:
UPDATE DEUX: Looks like all the foundation plants we put in out front last summah after repairs to teh flooded basement also made it. And my climbing rose by the front door is about ready to explode. It’s an improved Blaze, and after it was done blooming last summah I cut it back to about four feet or so. It seemed to like this and I even got a few second-growth flowers.
UPDATE TROIS: Wow – We have a knockout rose in a bucket inside a large ceramic pot on the upstairs landing to the back porch that I thought was absolute toast this winter, being in such an exposed position. It’s taken some battle damage, but the thing’s actually got growth buds on it.
UPDATE QUATRE: Juuust warm enough to have dinner on the porch in celebration of the day. Very nice.
I won’t go into a detailed analysis of my beloved Nationals in this post, except to say that I believe we are fielding a very, very strong team this year and have our best shot yet of making it deep into the post-season, perhaps even going All The Way. (N.B. to the baseball gods – I said “perhaps”!) As far as solid predictions go, I will state that I believe we will take 95+ games and win the Division pretty handily, especially as the Braves and the Phils are both in flame-out mode this season, while the Mets and the Fish are still building.
No, the thing I wanted to highlight here was the appearance of Danny Espinosa when he arrived in camp. Danny is, and always has been, an excellent fielding second baseman but a mediocre (at best) switch-hitting batter. This year, fighting for a bench position, he has finally agreed to stop trying to hit lefty, and to concentrate on his right-handed swing. He also pledged to devote a great deal of training time to his swing mechanics. To mark his resolve, he showed up looking like this:
All I can say in response is to paraphrase Wash: “Man walks down the street in that ‘stash, people know he’s not afraid of anything.”
Anyhoo, in all seriousness, I wish Danny the best of luck. For all the heartburn he’s caused me at the plate, I still like him a lot.
And with that, what else is there to say except
Yep, not much else to say. Not that I really pay any attention to professional football anymore (I haven’t watched a single game this year), but Ol’ Robbo still heartily loathes the Pats and plans to watch the Sooper Bowl this evening primarily to see them lose.
UPDATE: Grrrrrrrr…….So close and yet so far. Perhaps this is a message to me that I should not think in such terms.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
By now, most friends of the decanter (by which I mean everyone except teh Mothe) will know that the New England Patriots professional football team seems to have been caught out illegally deflating footballs during the course of last weekend’s rout of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC title game, thereby ensuring the Pats’ advancement to the Sooper Bowel a week from Sunday. (For teh Mothe, a softer ball is easier to catch, especially in the cold.)
For my part, I totally believe the Pats used such subterfuge in order to give themselves any and every advantage they could get. Why?
First, because ol’ Robbo has been a fan of the Miami Dolphins – who share membership in the AFC East with the Pats – since his misspent yoot¹, and has felt nothing but fury in recent years as the Pats have taken up their dominant position in that division (and been complete A**-holes about it²) and the ‘Fins have hovered somewhere between mediocrity and pathos since Marino retired.
Second, because Bill Belichick, the Pats’ coach, is a fellow alum of Robbo’s of the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT, a radical prog institution on which I spit these days³ and whose alums, with very limited exceptions (i.e., some of those with whom I rowed crew), I would not trust any farther than I can throw.
Anyhoo, there’s been much debate about all this – and what ought to be the fallout – over the past few days, but I was particularly intrigued by The Head Ewok’s take on it this evening:
I’m not a huge moralist when it comes to cheating. I accept that many athletes cheat, such that a dark bit of wisdom has become popular: If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.
But here’s the thing: If cheating is a part of sports, so is not getting caught.
By getting caught, the Patriots have failed at cheating — even if you want to credit cheating as “clever play” or “aggressive competitiveness.” Even if you want to cynically count cheating as the Winner’s Edge, The Patriots still failed at it, and should therefore suffer the consequences of failure.
Which is disqualification.
See, ol’ Robbo, being the stuffy moralist that he is, thinks the Pats ought to get the ban hammer because they cheated. Ace, on the other hand, thinks they ought to get it because they got caught. In other words, I think he’s applying a Darwin Awards analysis to the situation.
I can’t say that I agree with him completely, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
New England delenda est.
¹ When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I bought and read the book Griese/Csonka: The Miami Dolphins’ One-Two Punch. Good times.
² What the hell is it about Boston sports teams? Back in the day when the Sawx struggled, I had nothing but admiration for the franchise and their die-hard fans. And I cheered heartily when they came back from the brink of destruction to win the ’04 Series. Since then, however, they and their fans have been complete jerks.
³ Even though I stuck it out myself and a) through careful course selection earned a very good English major and, b) seriously honed my debating skills and personal values through my immersion in the moon bat left, I completely refuse to subject teh Gels to the same treatment, especially as the price tag these days is north of $60K per year, all of which would come out of my pocket.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that apparently Tom Brady, the Pats’ QB, held a press conference over the whole biznay yesterday afternoon (I didn’t see it) and managed to suggest that, what with the world going up in flames (and, I myself might add, the collapse of Judeo-Christian morality and Constitutional republicanism here at home), the MSM really ought to find something better to do than worry about deflated balls. Yes, but this is deliberate. Bread, circuses. Some assembly required.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo dragged himself out of bed and got dressed at the usual zero-dark thirty this morning without first checking for the latest school/gubmint announcements. Two hour delays all around due to potential icing. D’OH!
So now that I’ve got some unexpected time on my hands, a few thoughts for your consideration:
♦ While on the weather front, I don’t think there’s any worse winter task than trying to hammer ice off the driveway that’s been driven over multiple times. I spent about five or six hours the other day clearing up such a mess and the clang! clang! clang! of the shovel is still ringing in my ears.
♦ I also took down the Christmas tree this weekend. Ol’ Robbo rayther prides himself on his skill both at finding rogue ornaments trying to hide themselves away in the branches and in timing the cut-off of the water supply so that the tree will be nice and light (i.e., dead) when he hoists it out of its base and flings it into teh woods behind the house.
♦ On the other hand, despite having resolved (as I do every year) to coil them up neatly, once again I simply flung all the strings of lights into their bag in one big tangle. Just as I do every year, I will come to regret this round about the end of Advent.
♦ By the bye, I have also learned over the years to simply resign myself to teh fact that I’m going to keep finding pine needles in the house until, oh, about the 4th of July or so. Saves a lot of aggravation. Oooommmmm………
♦ Speaking of over the years, it’s Birthday Season at Port Swiller Manor: Middle Gel turned 15 last week, Youngest Gel turns 13 this week and yours truly hits the big 5-0 later this month. (More on the last at the appropriate time.) How is it that while every school kid knows (or used to know, at any rate) all about the force of acceleration as a body falls toward earth, nobody talks about the force of acceleration as a body falls forward through time? Ride’s getting wilder.
♦ Anyhoo, Middle Gel had a group of friends over for a party/sleep over this past weekend. All went well, as they were spirited but polite. Youngest is having her own little horde in next weekend. I’m already stockpiling supplies so I can hide out until it all blows over.
♦ Speaking of school kids, part of me has to laugh grimly when I read the headlines these days because they pretty much confirm the arguments I used to make against progressivist utopianism 30 years ago when I was an undergrad at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT. Of course, back then I figured I was just dealing with a bunch of idiot college kids who, once they were mugged by reality, would change their thinking. Evidently not. Or not yet, anyway.
♦ I would not recommend the movie “The Wild Bunch“, despite its fine cast. Something about the feel of westerns from the late 60’s/early 70’s has always bothered me and it overwhelms this one. Even the Duke’s later films such as “The Cowboys” and “The Shootist” have that feel about them to some extent (although I like most of them anyway). I wish I could describe what it is, exactly. All I know is that I don’t like it.
♦ Whelp, I supposed I had ought to go get a kawfee. Keep safe this nasty, wintry day and remember: Pitchers and catchers report in under six weeks. Woo Hoo!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo flew home from Vegas late last night and BOY are his arms tired! (Ba-dump-da!) Somehow or other he thought he was going to get today to rest and recover from what really was a pretty grueling week, but instead has spent the bulk of the morning and early afternoon attending to all matter of tasks about Port Swiller Manor that seem to have stood still since his departure. Heigh-ho.
Anyhoo, a few minutes off allows me to jot down some notes from my latest excursion:
* I don’t have much to say about Vegas itself. As regular friends of the decanter will hardly be surprised to read, that sort of thing simply isn’t ol’ Robbo’s speed. We stayed at one of the older hotel/casinos downtown because it was within walking distance of where we needed to go. It was clean enough and all, and the food was actually quite decent, but it had a definite air of the second-string compared to the flashier places down on the Strip. The clientele seemed to match: A mixed bag of the elderly, foreigners and families (who the hell brings an infant, or any child for that matter, to a casino?), most of whom looked decidedly working-class. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. My point is simply that they didn’t exactly look like high-rollers.)
My first morning, just after my flight had got in, I found myself in the elevator with a young sportsman – tatted to the nines and already well advanced in some sort of intoxication despite the earliness of the hour- who decided he was going to show his doormat of a girlfriend what a wag he was by embarrassing her in front of the stuck-up square from Back East. He started by pressing all the floor buttons and then relapsed into literal “potty” talk, adopting the manner of a four-year-old.
I was so tired that I simply ignored him. As for teh girlfriend, she was quite embarrassed. I hope she kicked him in the nuts and left him forever after that.
* Oh, the one other thing. The city was pretty disgusting, but the desert surrounding it was truly beautiful in its particular, harsh way. (I felt the same thing a couple years ago when I had to travel to Phoenix and Tucson.)
* As for the traveling bit, I can honestly say that I am getting better and better about dealing with flying. I’ll never actually enjoy it, of course, but I no longer feel that the only thing keeping the plane aloft is my clenched stomach muscles.
* Speaking of the flights, this was the first time I can remember for years and years that the pilots felt compelled to act as tour guides. Back in the day, they were always noting waypoints and interesting landmarks, but then they seemed to stop some time in the 80’s. (Which was just as well to me because my reaction whenever they started nattering was, “Shut up and fly the damned plane!”) On both legs this time, however, there they were on the intercom pointing out Grand Canyons, Castle Rocks and the like.
* Also speaking of the flight, thank YOU, US Air! When I asked for some wine on the way home last evening, the steward Johnny pulled out a genuine half-bot of Pinot Noir, something else I hadn’t seen on a plane for years and years. Yeah, I had to pay 15 bucks for it, but on a 4 hour flight? Totally worth it.
* Robbo’s usual method of whiling away the time on a flight is to do crosswords. This time around, I couldn’t help noticing some truly ridiculous clues/entries. For example, lib politicks had to rear its ugly head in the form of a 3-letter word for “Pro assault weapons org.” (NRA, of course, being the correct, albeit false, answer.) For another, the same “B” was used for “Ba’al” going down and “Bar Mitzvah” going across. (Did the author have any idea how grotesquely tacky this is? The clue for Ba’al was “Semitic nature god”. Never mind that he was actually a devil who demanded child-sacrifice.) A third clue employed the word “Gringolandia”, which I’d never seen before, to describe the United States. Racist we much?
Mind you, this wasn’t Pravda on the Hudson, this was a simple Kollector’s Krosswords magazine. Is there no escape?
* Speaking of escapes, Robbo was delighted to escape the ubiquitous blarings of Airport CNN this time around. The tee-vees weren’t working when he left National on Monday morning and the Las Vegas airport doesn’t seem to have them at all (most likely because they want you to pay attention to their slot machines instead).
*Finally, speaking of tee vee, ol’ Robbo was able to catch Game 7 of the World Series and stuck it out to the end. Robbo was rayther disappointed that the Giants won, given that they had offed his beloved Nats in teh first round of the playoffs. However, he did get a small piece of consolation in the fact that the series-winning RBI came off the (broken) bat of none other than Mike “Beast-mode” Morse, who played for the Nats a couple years ago and was (and is) immensely popular here. You’re not going to get as much attention as you deserve in the shadow of all the hype over Bumgardner’s pitching, but Well done, Mikey!
Whelp, there you have it for now. Back to the salt mines!
** A double reference. I never did get the Bugs Bunny joke, which is the first. The second will be instantly obvious to fellow Morons and meaningless to anyone else.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, on further reflection ol’ Robbo doesn’t have much to say about his beloved Nats’ elimination in teh first round of the playoffs. He could point out that each of our three losses to the Giants was by a single run and that two of them arguably were the direct result of rookie manager pitching decision mistakes (the first one questionable, the second one insane). He also could point out that the Nats had the best National League record during the regular season, and could argue that a team’s results over 162 games are far more demonstrative of its quality than said team’s results over any four games. But nobody would listen. All anybody cares about post-season (and, arguably, for any given season) is who advances and who goes home. At this point? I really don’t even care anymore, but am thinking ahead to what is likely to happen over the off-season and into next spring. (My prediction? Not much. LaRoche is likely done at 1st so that we can bring Ryan Zimmerman back into the starting lineup, Soriano is gone, but most of the rest of the team stays, I think, pretty much as it is. Oh, and I’m calling it Right Now: We win next year.)
Regular friends of the decanter will tolerate ol’ Robbo going through the math here because they understand that this is only the second post-season venture in his nearly 50 years in which he’s had a genuine vested interest. (I grew up in a non-baseball town and could never consider myself more than an interested sympathizer for any team until the Nats came to Dee Cee in ’05. How lucky are the Gels, by the bye, that they get to experience all of this in their yoot.) I must say that I find the experience…….bittersweet.
Anyhoo, it’s over and done and I now can turn my attention to other things, such as the fact that the Great Post-Flood Port Swiller Manor Basement Renovation of 2014 is almost complete! (A mere two months after the original disaster, but who’s counting?) Flooring (Pergo or its equivalent) went in yesterday, baseboards were tacked on today and now pretty much all that’s left is the bathroom fixtures and some wiring. In fact, the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his lovely family are coming in this weekend for an overnight stay and I had been fretting the past week or so about where on earth we were going to put them all. Thanks to this week’s work, the basement is now at least habitable. This gives ol’ Robbo a happy.
If you’d like me to post pics of the finished product, let me know. (I’ve never been able to decide whether that sort of thing is looked on favorably by readers or is considered showing away.)
Final observation: Last evening I watched Enemy at the Gates, the 2001 dramatization of the duel between a Russian and a German sniper (based somewhat, I believe, on “actual events”) during the Battle of Stalingrad, that I almost automatically think of as Saving Private Ivan. I’ve seen this movie maybe three or four times and still cannot quite put my finger on what makes it an okay flick but not really a good one (even though it features the lovely and talented Rachel Weisz, which fact alone ought to carry it).
One positive thing I forget each time and am delighted to rediscover is Bob Hoskins as Khrushchev. I love how he continually refers to Stalin as “duh Boss”. This is exactly right. Uncle Joe was as much as or even more of a thug than was Hitler. Appallingly, the typical Modern, to the extent they have even heard of WWII, thinks the Soviets and the Nazis were diametric opposites. The truth, of course, is the reverse. Fascism and Communism (and, I may add, Progressivism and, for that matter, the Mafia) are close cousins, all of which argue for the sacrifice of individual freedoms to the alter of collective, centralized authority and for the elimination of said individuals who either can’t or won’t comport with the Plan.
This reminds me that I’ve never read Solzhenitsyn but have been meaning to the past few years. Any friends of the decanter have any suggestions on the best place to start? Ol’ Robbo would appreciate such tips greatly. From what I gather, it’s not so much of a stretch to call the man a Saint. And yet, after all he’d been through under the Soviet regime and all the effort he had put forth to speak (if I may) Truth to Power, he is these days a hissing and a byword among those who claim to champion liberalism. (This is just one of the million and one reasons, or perhaps more accurately one of the million and one pieces of evidence of the general reason, why ol’ Robbo detests Leftists.)
The Gels and I caught the last half of the game via the Middle Gel’s laptop while sitting around the kitchen table. A good time was had by all even though I’m still dubious about this .eu website streaming the feed and half expected the NSA to knock at the front door.
Anyhoo, what a great (and to me surprising) move by Matt Williams to put Drew Storen in to close! After Saturday night’s blown save, I worried that poor Drew’s confidence might be completely shattered. Good on Matt to get him right back on the horse. (I was also impressed in general that Williams didn’t panic and start tinkering with the line-up.)
So. We live another day. Deep breath and on to tomorrow. What else is there to say except
**Spot the quote.
UPDATE: Maxy got it:
I will confess that I don’t plan to stay up this evening to watch Game 4 but will wait until the morning to find out whether my beloved Nats are bringing the series back home. Fact of the matter is that during the week I get up at 4:45 ack emma, as I am point man for the whole Port Swiller Family morning routine, and I simply can’t deal with West Coast games and expect to function.
I will say that no matter what happens tonight (and without any intent to cause affront to the baseball gods I will say that I am not entirely un-optimistic), I am damn proud of the boys for not rolling over yesterday as they so easily could have done. That’s what makes champions. So, what else is there to say except
Ol’ Robbo is extremely disappointed that his beloved Nats dropped their first game against the Giants yesterday. Frankly, he’s also quite worried. You see, for the second game later this afternoon the Giants are sending Tim Hudson. He gave the Giants their only two wins against the Nats during the regular season and he’s also a wily old veteran with lots of post-season experience.
On the other hand, Hudson talked some smack against the Nats earlier this week, something generally frowned upon by the baseball gods. Perhaps they’ll express their displeasure tonight.
We’ll see. All I can say is that I think this evening’s game IS the post-season: If we go out to San Francisco two games in the hole, I simply can’t see us scrapping back to win the next three straight.
UPDATE: Heartbreaker. The realist in me says that’s the season right there. Dayum, do I love/hate October baseball!
Incidentally, teh Eldest Gel and I watched the game (well, until the 12th anyway) on her laptop via a Brit (I think) live-stream of the Fox Sports feed interspersed with a lot of rugby football commercials. It might have been legitimate, except that the site name was something like “draculanet.eu”.
“How did you ever find this,” I asked her.
“DA-AAD!!” she replied, “This is what kids do!”
Whippersnapper. Get off my lawn.
Well, as to the trip out west, what else is there to say except
Bumpers all round for Robbo’s beloved Nationals, who not only won their final game of the regular season this afternoon, but did so via the mighty arm of Jordan Zimmerman, who threw the first no-hitter of the franchise’s latest permutation. And the final out was recorded in spectacular fashion by rookie outfielder Steven Souza, Jr. Click on over to see the clip. You won’t regret it.
What a finish.
So the Nats won a total of 96 games this year and are spiking as they go forward into the playoffs. Out of curiosity, ol’ Robbo tracked down his predictions for the team made back in March. Here you go:
On the basis of nothing but my gut, I will predict this: Robbo’s beloved Nats win something between 90 and 95 games during the season and take teh NL East championship. (Suck it, Atlanta!) We will, by hook and crook, scuff our way through to bagging the NL Championship and will go to the Series. What we do there? I just don’t know. So, there.
As it turns out, I was actually a bit too conservative. And we didn’t scruff our way in, we steamrolled.
Next stop, October. What is there to say except
UPDATE: Oh, hells, Momma ain’t gonna click through. Here you go: