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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

How nice it is that we’re getting back to the time of year when the sun is actually up before I get to the office and not quite down before I leave.

As I observe every year at about this time, it gives one juuuust enough hope to keep on pushing through the rest of February.  For some reason, however, as a harbinger of Spring I cherish it even more this year than usual.

Oh, and what do we make of the fact that Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, and Pitchers and Catchers reporting….all fall on the same date this year?

Walking out of Mass yesterday, a friend of mine mentioned this to me.

“Cosmic,” I replied, “Real cosmic, man!”

‘Cos it’s true.

UPDATE:  Of course, the downside of this time of year is that you get many more idjits cruising about in the dusk with their headlights off.  Why is it that a statistically-improbable subset of said idjits always seem to drive black, grey, and other dark-colored cars?  And so far as I know, there is no universally-acknowledged hand-signal that translates to, “Turn your bloody lights on, ya idjit!”




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo may already have mentioned the unlikeliness of his bothering with the Winter Olympics this year.  From what I have read here and there already, it seems that I have chosen wisely, for the Games (or at least the media coverage thereof) apparently are being dominated by SJW snowflake-snits and virtue-signaling, and the teevee ads are just as bad.  (Did I really read correctly that one ad involves a boy who wants a doll being compared to a handicapped person learning to walk?)  Feh! I’ve better things to do with my time.  [Ed. – You mean like yelling at clouds via WordPress?  Quiet, you.]

I got thinking about what kind of coverage I’d arrange if I were King of the World.  First, I’d make it a subscription-based or pay-per-view service, and eliminate all commercials.  Second, I would run it on the C-SPAN principle: straight audio and visual feed of the events, including the local public address system;  simple block-letter intros identifying each event;  a scroll at the bottom of the screen giving results and perhaps medal counts; an occasional cut to the schedule of upcoming events.  That’s it.  No “analysis”, no “human interest” stories, no Bob Costas, none of that.

It would be good to be the King.

The other thing I’d do is move back to the old practice of holding the Summer and Winter games the same year.  Back in the days of Robbo’s misspent yoot, having to wait for every fourth year made the Games a Really Big Deal.  These two year cycles just seem to make it all somehow ordinary and everyday.

Yes, it would be really good to be the King.

UPDATE:  And now the sister of one of the most savage dictators on the planet suddenly becomes an SJW darling?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are in February already, and it’s living up to its reputation this year.  (As it happens, the sky is clear today but it’s too damn cold to do much outside.)

Because the mind of Ol’ Robbo works the way it does, whenever I come to contemplate the fact of February, I always think of the scene in Act 2 of the Pirates of Penzance where the Pirate King explains to young Frederick the paradox of his (Frederick) having been born on February 29 in a Leap Year:

For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve no desire to be disloyal,
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February, twenty-eight

days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence — I shouldn’t be surprised if it were owing

to the agency of an ill-natured fairy —
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year,

on the twenty-ninth of February.
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you’re
only five and a little bit over !

(Is this a leap year, by the bye? I haven’t looked it up.)

Anyhoo, I find myself in the Port Swiller library, laptop on lap, cat on arm of chair, thinking of this and that.

♦  I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about FISA-gate.  I won’t say anything about it here even though I’ve been following the whole biznay quite intently.  What’s that lyric from the Sting song? “At the stillpoint of destruction/ At the center of the fury/ All the angels, all the devils/  (Something, something) can’t you see?” A leetle too close for comfort.  I will just reiterate in general my philosophy that, even though I work in it, I consider government to be a necessary evil, not a religion.  This sort of thing is what happens when others feel differently.

♦   Speaking of religion, as Candlemas was yesterday, I took down and put away the last of the Christmas decorations this morning – specifically the crèche in the front hall and the wreaths on the front doors.  Mrs. Robbo managed to restrain herself from making cracks about how tired she was of looking at them until just the other day.  I think this is a compromise I can live with.

♦   In the Absurdity Department, I learn that Daisy, the Port Swiller Special Needs Dog, has been banned from the groomers.  They say she shakes and gibbers so much that it takes them far too long to finish with her.  So we’re investing in an electric trimmer and will have a go at doing it ourselves.  Anybody know anything about how to cut a dog’s hair?

♦   I am slowly – very slowly – working up the energy to finally getting around to reorganizing my library, which is presently quite a-jumble. Ol’ Robbo simply can’t bear the idea of actually getting rid of books – even those he has no intention of ever reading again – but it recently occurred to me that there is room in the basement where I can, as it were, circular-file them, leaving the library shelves upstairs free for repacking (and adding to).  So, once I summon enough energy, downstairs will go such volumes as the histories of commie-bastard Eric Hobsbawm (left over from college) and fellow-travelers Will and Ariel Durant (picked up at a garage sale when I was young and didn’t know any better); the novels of Hemingway and Steinbeck; the Dee Cee “Insider” books by people like Ken Starr and David Bois that the Old Gentleman continually sent me but I never read, and the like.  The choice of what to retire will be delicious.

♦   Oh, there is one book I’m throwing away:  Lisa Birnbach’s True Prep. Her original Preppy Handbook from back in the early 80’s was amusing (I still have it), but this updated version, capturing as it does the depth of narcissism into which the current so-called “Elite” have slid since then, is horrifying.

♦   And finally, speaking of narcissism, Ol’ Robbo has no intention of watching the Sooper Bowl this year.  Not that I’ve paid very much attention to pro ball since Marino retired, but I usually still tune into the SB for the sheer spectacle.  Not this time.  (Besides, I think a Pats win is pretty much a foregone conclusion.)  No matter:  Only eleven more days until pitchers and catchers report!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo just learned that Youngest Gel, now a high school sophomore, made varsity swim team again this year.  It’s always gratifying to see one of your kids achieve something genuinely solid as a result of her own self-motivated hard work.  Woo Hoo!

Swim meets, by the bye, are a very moderate entertainment for those of us stuck in the bleachers.  The kid is only in the water for a few seconds at a time, with loooong intervals between each of her competitions, and what with everyone wearing the same suit, goggles, and cap, most of the time I can’t even tell which one she is.

Nonetheless,  I am still very pleased and proud (as is she).

** Yeah, yeah, I know.  But I’ve got a blog and there you are.  Just wait – in a few years I’m likely to start posts with the sentence “Let me tell you about my grandchildren……”


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Just done mowing the yard here at Port Swiller Manor and wondering how many more times this year I’ll need to do so.  Twice at the most, I reckon.  At the moment, there’s a large flock of robins out back going over the trimmings.  We generally have a few hanging around all year, but I think this is probably a migratory bunch on their way from hither to yon.  Certainly the hummingbirds seem to have packed up and left.

Anyhoo, Ol’ Robbo’s lawn-mowing turned out to be a Sunday chore this week because we spent most of yesterday visiting my godparents, who live about an hour away from us.  Uncle and I had a long talk about the Mothe – he’d known her nearly 60 years – and I’ve been feeling a good deal better since.

Meanwhile, on a completely random note, for some mysterious reason the shopping cart I was pushing around the store today in search of this evening’s din-din components kept building up a static charge:  I could feel my hair pringling and got my fingers zapped every time they moved off the plastic bar onto the bare metal.  Very strange.  Perhaps Black Lectroids were trying to contact me?  That would explain the voice in my head that keeps saying, “Hallo! Mah nem is Jon Pahrker!”

In the World of Baseball, congratulations to the Astros for holding off the Yankees in the ALCS.  I don’t think a Yankees/Dodgers series would have appealed to many folks outside their respective markets, but I imagine now the ‘Stros will be the favorites of the rest of the country.

Whelp, that’s about it.  Five o’clock and time for a glass of sherry!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, what can I say?  Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals went to Game 5 of the NLDS, and all I got was this lousy hangover!

It was a truly weird and unfortunate season-ender.  Weird because of such things as Mad Max melting down and Wieters getting a catcher interference call and a bat to the head on the same swing.  Unfortunate because, given a whole bunch of different factors, this was probably our best shot for a while.  Also because of all the “Nats still aren’t ready for Prime Time” tisk-tisking out in Baseball Pundit Land which I’m sure we will have to endure.


As a matter of fact, Ol’ Robbo hadn’t much confidence going into this series in the first place, simply because I didn’t really think the Baseball Gods would allow us to beat both the Odd-Year Curse and the Post-Season Oh-fer at the same time.  What the BG’s giveth, the BG’s taketh away.

Which reminds Ol’ Robbo of an anecdote I may have told here before.  As long-time friends of the decanter may recall, Eldest Gel spent 7th and 8th grades in parochial school.  One time while we were chatting with the padre, she decided, in typical 8th Grader fashion, to try and spike Ol’ Robbo.

Father,” she suddenly exclaimed, “My dad says there are Baseball Gods!”

The padre, who is an avid fan himself and also knew exactly what the Gel was trying to do, without batting an eye said, “Of course there are Baseball Gods.”

The look on Eldest’s face at that response?  Priceless.

Anyhoo, there we are.

Going forward? Well, Ol’ Robbo is probably inclined to back the Astros, who I’ve had a feeling for quite some time are likely going to win it all anyway. On the other hand, I’ve no real animus toward either the Cubbies or the Dodgers. (Of course, my loathing of the Yankees goes without saying.)

Double sigh.

What else is there to say, now, except:

Pitchers and catchers report in four months! 




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is reminded again this evening of his love/hate relationship with October Baseball, as his beloved Nationals, behind the dominant pitching of Strasburg and the very first franchise post-season grand slam courtesy of Michael A. Tater, crush the Cubbies 5-0 at Wrigley, avoid ignominious elimination,  and send the division playoffs to Game 5 tomorrow night back home at Nats Park.

I say “love/hate” because the emotional tides are so damn strong that they leave me, literally, physically exhausted after each game.  When we lose, I find myself in a thoroughly filthy temper (indeed, enough to send me to the confessional Saturday).  When we win? Euphoria.

Does that seem right to you?

Anyhoo, we play for all the marbles tomorrow night.  What else is there to say, except:



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Fortunately for Ol’ Robbo’s blood pressure, Game Four of the Nats/Cubs series (with the latter up 2-1) was postponed this evening due to rain.  I didn’t think I could stand to watch had the game gone forward.

Ol’ Robbo is sometimes haunted by apprehensions that he isn’t really a very good father, but this postponement gave him some cause for reassurance in at least one respect:  Both of the Younger Gels independently came to him this evening to argue about the merits of sticking with the planned fourth arm in our rotation versus bringing back our ace.  Surely that counts for something, am I right?

Anyhoo, and violently switching subjects:

Ol’ Robbo, as regular friends of the decanter know, is an enormous fan of the author George Macdonald Fraser.  One of Fraser’s books, written in the late 80’s, is The Hollywood History of The World, in which he compares historickal costume dramas with the “reality” of the periods they purport to represent.  The book is split up into seven sections:  The Ancient World; Knights and Barbarians; Tudors and Sea Dogs; Romance and Royalty; Rule Britannia; New World, Old West; and The Violent [20th] Century.  Ol’ Robbo has been re-reading it this week.

I don’t think this is one of GMF’s best works, as it covers an awful lot of ground at what I think is a pretty superficial pace, but it does throw out a delightful lot of references.  So, given an evening’s reprieve from the tortures of October Ball, Ol’ Robbo was seized with the idea of opening up this book to its index and dialing up Netflix in order to toss as many of GMF’s references into his queue as possible.  I’m at 90+ films in reserve now, and am pretty sure this is a record.  (Whoever at the NSA has Ol’ Robbo’s file no doubt will have kittens tomorrow morning as a result.)

You know what? GMF’s movie list stretches back to the early 30’s, but a surprising number of his cites are still available, even if some of them are only in the “save” category, which means that the odds of my seeing them are pretty slim.

On the other hand, some of them, as you might imagine, Ol’ Robbo has seen already, some many times.  But others will be new to me and I will post about them here.

Curiously enough, when I got this idea, I was already working through a patch of WWII historickal films, all of which get a nod from GMF.  Here, then, are some very brief reviews:

Sahara” (1943) – I’ve seen it before, but it stands up very well as a nice, tight, film.  An American tank is cut off from the retreat from Tobruk in 1942 and has to make it’s way across the North African desert alone.  Humphrey Bogart is the tank commander, aided by a young Lloyd Bridges and Dan Duryea, the fellah who played Waco Johnny Dean in Winchester ’73 and who, once, you’ve seen him, you’ll never fail to recognize.  Along the way, they pick up an RAMC medico and a couple of tommies, a Sudanese scout and his Italian prisoner, and a Luftwaffe pilot.  Together, they have to navigate between water holes, and also fend off the German unit coming after them.   Good stuff.

A Walk In The Sun (1945) – I cannot recommend.  It tells the story of an American platoon going ashore in Italy.  Unlike in Sahara, I found the characters to be wooden and clichéd.  The pace may very well have matched actual combat conditions, but it didn’t translate well to the screen.  Oh, and there’s a ballad.  Ol’ Robbo hates ballads.

The Desert Fox” (1951) – I also can’t recommend.  Although James Mason is rightly cast as Erwin Rommel (whom I respect as a principled warrior, by the bye), I think the movie tries to do too much in too little time, short-changing Rommel’s skillfulness in fighting in North Africa, his frustration in trying to hold the Atlantic Wall, and his (questionable) complicity in the attempted assassination of Hitler.

Well, there we are.  Game Four? (Sigh.) Bring it on.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those two or three of you who forgather here over the decanter and walnuts on a regular basis, I’d just like to give you advanced warning that Ol’ Robbo may not be around much over the next few days, as his attention will be taken up with the first round of the MLB playoffs in which his beloved Nationals are set to take on the CubbiesLET’S GO, NATS!

However, before I plunge into the battle, I’d just like to say a word here about TeeVee coverage of same and how terrible and disturbing Ol’ Robbo thinks it is that, having come this far, I am suddenly robbed of my usual broadcasters and instead must be subjected to the likes of Joe Buck and others at Fox and MLB Network.  (2017 saw the Nats’ fourth pennant in six years – cough, cough – so I’ve plenty of experience now.)

I mean, regular season Nats games are covered on MASN (the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) by Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo.  This is the day-in, day-out routine for six months and 162 games.  These guys travel all over the country with the team.  They talk to the players and coaches (and management) every day.  They’re invested, if you will.  I will even go so far as to say (God help me), that they are part of the Nationals “Family”.

So how fair is it for them that after all this they’re suddenly replaced in the booth for October Ball by a parcel of folks who don’t give a rat’s ass about the team one way or another?  (And by the bye, I’ve got no problem whatsoever with a broadcaster showing bias in favor of his home team.)

And how jarring is it for Ol’ Robbo, who prizes routine and consistency and loyalty above most other things, to suddenly find a bunch of strangers opining about His Team?  (What the hell do they know or care, for instance, about beloved team nicknames like “Tony Two-Bags” Rendon or Michael A. “Tater“?)

It seems to me [pounds the table] that any team which makes the playoffs ought to be allowed to carry coverage of the games on both the national networks and its own home network.

Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!

Sigh.  Whelp, I know that my feeble voice isn’t going to sway the big money boys, and that things are what they are.  So what else is there to say, except:


UPDATE:  Okay,  the series is being carried on TBS, not Fox.  And it’s really not so bad:  I’d rather listen to Ron Darling than Joe Buck any day.  But my point still stands.

Meanwhile,  Ol’ Robbo is reminded of his love/hate relationship with October Baseball.  As of this update, the series stands tied at 1-1 after the Nats’ Bats finally awaken in spectacular fashion late in Game 2.  Looks like I picked a hell of a week to quit drinking. [Reaches for decanter. Guzzles.]

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo hasn’t paid any attention to professional football for some years now, but I can’t help noticing that this “taking a knee” thing during the National Anthem seems suddenly to be escalating, and that The Donald is calling out the NFL for it.

Have the players (and owners) actually thought this thing through?  Do they really believe that their core audience wants to see football politicized like this?  Or that the average fan has the slightest bit of sympathy for the disrespectful faux-virtue-signaling of guys paid millions of dollars to play a game?  Are they so supremely confident in their market that they feel they can flip it the bird with impunity?

I certainly don’t think so, and I don’t think the Donald does, either.  And the vaporings of the MSM aside, I think his message for these guys to stop acting like assholes resonates mightily among a majority of people.  As the saying goes, you want more Trump?  Because this is how you get more Trump.

Anyhoo, I just hope this idiocy doesn’t spread into the MLB.  I did see where one guy on the A’s pulled it the other day, but hopefully that was a one-off.

UPDATE:  Good Lord – the lone Pittsburgh Steeler who stood up to this nonsense, an Army Ranger with three tours in Afghanistan to his credit, has now been forced to kowtow to the Machine.

UPDATED DEUX:  Greetings again, my fellow port swillers!  Ol’ Robbo heard the fellah in the office next door this morning comparing the Knee-Taker Brigade to Rosa Parks.  Figure that one out if you will.  Oh, and NPR told me this evening that The Donald is a complete awful because he’s wasting his time fighting this out on the Innertoobs while the people of Puerto Rico (pronounced “PWAIR-to REEEK-o“) are starving to death due to lack of White House assistance, IOW that Maria is the Donald’s Katrina.  Whelp, it turns out the island’s governor didn’t get the talking point.

I’ll be very, very interested to see how public opinion breaks on all this over the coming days.

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