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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It fell on Ol’ Robbo to take Youngest Gel to swim practice this morning.  It’s in the low 70’s and raining on-again/off-again.

Gel: “OhMyGod, it is so freezing! I can’t believe they’re making us swim in this!”

Self: “You know…”

Gel: “I mean, the last time it was like this? My ears were ringing, it was so cold!”

Self: “You know, when….”

Gel: “I am so serious! I mean, it’s practically snowing!”

Self: “You know, when I…”

Gel: “And the pool isn’t even heated!”

Self: “You know, when I was a kid….”

Gel: “Wait…is this when you were in college?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel: “And you were rowing crew?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel: “And there was ice on the river?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel:  “And you had to wade in up to your thighs barefoot?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel: “And there was ice in your hair?”

Self: “Yes, but…”

Gel:  “I’ve heard it before.”

Self:  “Well, it’s true, you know. That’s cold, so you can just suck it up, buttercup.”

Dang kids!  Now they’re taking my Life Lessons right out of my mouth before I can even tell ’em!

 

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Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Flag Day!  (The Stars and Stripes fly at Port Swiller Manor 24/7/365, by the bye,  and have done so since 9/11.)

On his daily walk down the National Mall today, Ol’ Robbo saw a sight that made him smile.  It was a young man in camo and a MAGA hat. He had both a large United States flag and a large President Trump flag on a pole.  He was trotting along, weaving in and out of various groups of people, and politely and quietly saying, “Happy Flag Day! God bless the USA! Happy Birthday, President Trump! Happy Birthday, United States Army!”  I also heard him tell somebody that his plan was to loop back and forth between the White House and the Capital for as long as he could.  He did not look crazy, only cheerfully enthusiastic.  From what I could see, the people were generally happy to see him and responded in kind – several got him to pose for pictures with them.  It was very refreshing, indeed.

On a completely different note, I also noticed that construction has begun on the infrastructure for this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and that the two feature “folk” lands this year are Armenia and Catalonia.

I know virtually nothing about Armenia except that the Church is very ancient there and the Ottomans tried to wipe them all out during WWI but we’re not supposed to talk about that because reasons.

As for Catalonia, the region has been a thorn of separatist trouble in the side of Madrid ever since Ferdinand and Isabella cobbled the kingdom together after the Reconquesta, but again I don’t know very much about the culchah other than what I’ve gleaned from Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.

I wondered if there was some particular reason for picking these two places, some “preservation of autonomy in the face of outside pressure” kind of thing, so I ambled over to the Festival website but couldn’t find any statement explaining it.   So for all I know, the organizers may just have thrown darts at a map on the wall.

And speaking of such things, I gather the World Cup soccer tournament has started up.  Ol’ Robbo isn’t going to bother following it.  Soccer, as a sport, does not interest me in the least.  And as to the WC in particular, I associate it very closely (and perhaps, I admit, unjustly) with people who enthuse over the idea of One World global governance (as well as the metric system and Esperanto), which I loathe and despise.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo would be remiss in failing to raise a bumper to the Washington Capitals in honor of their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.  Well done, gentlemen!

As I remarked a couple days ago, I really don’t follow hockey at all. (There are banners all over downtown with pictures of the Caps players. I haven’t the faintest idea who most of them are.)  Also, I loathe band-wagoning.  So I won’t pretend to be swept up in the #ALLCAPS mania I’ve seen around here this week. (I only twigged to that slogan yesterday, by the bye.) Nonetheless, it’s nice to see such a joyful and unifying victory in a town that is at daggers drawn about practically everything else.

Speaking to a sport in which I do take a tremendous interest, I like to think that this triumph will also put a little extra wind in the sails of Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals.  To even an casual observer like me, the Caps have had a real monkey on their backs in recent years, perpetually making the playoffs and perpetually collapsing.  Similarly, the Nats have won the NL East four out of the last six years but have been completely skunked in post-season play.  With this example before them, perhaps the Boys of Summah will find that little extra psychological edge.  Similarly with the fans.  One championship will make them that much more hungry for another one, and perhaps a little extra enthusiasm from the Tenth Man will do the trick.  It certainly can’t hurt.

(By the bye, you will note that I am speaking strictly of clinical psychology here and in terms of purely objective speculation.  I do not in any way mean to provoke the Baseball Gods with any whiff of hubris, presumption, or naming of calls. Bas! Bas! Bas! Taboo! °°)

**Circles thrice, tosses salt over shoulder**

Anyhoo, as I say, well done indeed!

°° Spot the quote.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A bit late, perhaps, but Ol’ Robbo would like to raise his glass to the Washington Capitals for making the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, after being left playoffs bridesmaids seemingly for the last umpteen years now.  Well played, gentlemen, and best of luck!

I have to confess, though, that hockey really has never meant much of anything to me.  After all, I grew up in South Texas.  Back in those days – before this absurdist trend of placing franchises in cities like Vegas and Tampa Bay which I would quickly quash if I were Emperor – it was very much an alien, northern sport, and so simply never established itself in my developing braims.  I don’t dislike it (as I do basketball), I’ve just really got nothing one way or another.

Nonetheless, as I say, it’s nice that the boys made it and I hope they take it all.

Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals (who are getting back into form, by the bye) have been getting into the rah-rah swing of things, too, wearing caps and jerseys and doing the pro-Cap P.R. biznay.  On the one hand, a lot of this seems to be genuine camaraderie and good will, which Ol’ Robbo quite likes.  On the other hand, there are some who seem to be suggesting that if the Hockey Gods have allowed the Caps into the Stanley Cup for the first time this year, perhaps this is an indication that the Baseball Gods also will let the Nats finally win their first post-season series.  To me, this is deeply troubling.  Sports Gods (all of them) are fickle and capricious, and the fastest way to get them to turn against you is to in any way make them believe that you think they “owe” you any kind of action one way or another.  (And don’t tell me it’s all just fun and games.  Baseball Gods are real.  And dangerous.)  I wish these people would just cut this kind of talk right out.

Indeed, let’s just sit back, relax, and concentrate on the contests at hand.  And if I may say it even as an admitted non-hockey guy:

GO, CAPS!!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo currently is enjoying a lovely Monday evening on the Port Swiller back porch.  The air is still and heady with the fragrance of the wisteria that opened this week (and Ol’ Robbo has a lot of wisteria in his back yard).  The temperature is just right in the mid-70’s. The catbird is riffing away in the nearby branches.  Ol’ Robbo has a nice glass of wine at his elbow.  And since I haven’t yet toddled off to the basement to turn on the Nats game, I have no knowledge of whether or not they’re winning or losing yet, so anything is still possible.  (I call this period of uncertainty before I pick up the game – typically in about the 5th inning – “Schrödinger’s Box-Score”.)

So what better time to set down my thoughts about some of the movies that have recently come through my Netflix queue, right?  Here we go:

Shane“(1953) – Ol’ Robbo has seen this before several times, but each time I seem to have forgotten what a God-Almighty annoying film it is.  “Shane? What are you going to do, Shane? Shane? Can I come with you, Shane? Oh, Shane, do be careful….Shane!”  There are the seeds of an extremely lethal drinking game there.

Also, as much a fan as I am of Jean Arthur, she was a bit too long in the tooth by then to be making goo-goo eyes at Alan Ladd.

Still, it does have Jack Palance as the psychotic gun-slick.  Ol’ Robbo’s first experience of Palance was his guest appearance in one of the very first episodes of “Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century” in 1979, in which he played some sort of Messianic villain.  I recall asking the Mothe about him then and her giving me a rayther dismissive reply, but since then I’ve come to enjoy what I can only call his exuberant eeevil on screen.

Nonetheless, I have made a mental note that I really, really don’t need to see “Shane” again.

One Million Years, B.C.” (1966) – I’ve seen clips of it before, but never the whole thing at once. Yes, I watched it primarily because it features Rachel Welch in a fur bikini.  Shut up.  For what it’s worth, Ol’ Robbo thinks Ms. Welch was one of the single loveliest beauties ever to grace the screen.

Funnily, as I was watching, I couldn’t help recalling the Mothe’s summation of the book Clan of the Cave Bear, which she somehow got roped into reading for one of her book clubs one time: “Woman tames fire, Woman has roll in the hay.  Woman domesticates horse, Woman has roll in the hay.  Woman discovers principles of agriculture, Woman has roll in the hay. Woman founds civilization, Woman has roll in the hay.”

The Prince and the Showgirl” (1957) – See below.  And especially see ODT’s link in the comments. “Here’s to Puh-resident Taft” is another standard line of Ol’ Robbo’s misspent yoot.

The Prince and the Pauper” (1937) – Just exactly how many movies are there altogether in which Errol Flynn goes toe to toe with Claude Rains? (Not that I’m complaining, you understand.)  This one – based on the Sam Clemens story – was okay, I suppose, except that I found the twin boys who played the young Edward VI and the street rat to be rayther annoying.  And damme if that wasn’t Alan Hale, Sr., as the captain of the palace guard.  Have you ever stopped to consider just how much he and his son look alike?  Every time I watch one of these Flynn films (and Hale, Sr. seems to be in just about all of them), I keep expecting to hear the interjection, “GILLIGAN!”

Scaramouche” (1952) – (“Will you do the fandango?” Heh.)  Love and revenge shortly before the French Revolution, a very formulaic (and ultimately dull) swashbuckler.  I’m sorry, but as the Mothe would have said, I just don’t have the genes to think much of Stewart Granger.  Also, I didn’t care for the way the film portrayed Marie Antoinette as a debased social schemer.  And no, the presence of Janet Leigh was not enough to save it for me.  It contains a famous six minute-long swordfight, which I’m glad I saw, but I don’t think I’d bother again.

And sitting in the bowl on the kitchen counter? “The Seven Samurai” (1954). Ol’ Robbo has seen this once before and really enjoyed it, but it’s three and a half freakin’ hours long.  Last time I watched it was on an afternoon back in the earlies before we had kids when I’d pulled an all-nighter at work the day before, it was raining out, and Mrs. R was out of town.  I don’t want to try again unless and until I can block out a similar un-mortgaged period of time (and also one in which I’m not likely to doze off), so I’ve a sneaking feeling already that I’m eventually going to return it without watching.

Whelp, speaking of which, I suppose it’s time to go collapse those uncertainty waves and see how the Nats are actually doing this evening……

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A quiet Saturday morning here at Port Swiller Manor, as I am giving mowing the yard a miss this week so to encourage it to seed itself.  (If I have to suffer from all this grass pollen, I may as well take the benefits, too.) So a few things:

♦  Robbo was made to be social last evening, as we attended a drinks and dinner thing for one of Mrs. R’s ladies’ clubs.   One of the things I hate about parties is the fact that all the ambient music and babble makes it very difficult for me to follow what people are saying to me, thus making conversation extremely hard work.  I think there’s a term for this kind of deafness – something like aural overload – and for the first time I found myself seriously thinking I really ought to look into hearing aid options.  (My lawn:  You may get off it immediately.)

I also dislike intensely people my age who act like they’re about 21.  Then again, when Ol’ Robbo was 21, he got criticized for acting like he was in his 50’s, so I suppose there’s some kind of cosmic harmony there.

♦  Speaking of the Young People and pop culchah, regular friends of the decanter will not be a-tall surprised that Mr. Kanye West, as an entertainer, means little or nothing to Ol’ Robbo, even though I have a general idea of how big an influence he has on others.  But I am appalled at the level of venom and the nakedness of the “Get your ass back on the plantation, boy!” response to his daring to say positive things about The Donald.  I hope that’s an eye-opener for other people, too.

♦  And speaking of such things, good on that girl who wore the Chinese prom dress for (politely) telling her on-line cry-bully cultural-appropriation critics to stuff it.

♦  And speaking of The Donald, I do not give a single, solitary damn about Stormy Daniels.

♦  So what do we make of the sudden thaw in Korean relations?  I believe the Norks are suddenly feeling very vulnerable what with the (I believe confirmed) literal collapse of the mountain that was holding their nuclear testing facilities, but I’ve also an idea that we have been leaning on the Chinese to real in Lil’ Kim and make him play nice.  Will something come of it?  Who knows, but when I was growing up I assumed that East and West Germany would be forever separated, so there’s that.

♦  And speaking of international relations, did you see where Saudi Arabia and the Vatican struck a deal about building Christian churches in the KSA?  Pretty cool.  I think Prince Whatshisname is sincere about his push for reform, even if it’s only to maintain his own head.  (I also think he and the Israelis are deep in a scheme to wipe out the mutual threat from Iran, but that’s a different matter.)

The times.  They be interesting.

♦  Those of you who feared Ol’ Robbo was going to self-immolate in panic over his beloved Nats may stand down for now, as the team has won 6 straight, is back over .500 and is within striking distance of 1st place in the NL East.  More importantly, from what I’ve seen, they’re really beginning to mesh and hum, and it’s becoming an actual pleasure to watch them again.  GO NATS!

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo certainly didn’t expect his beloved Nationals to be in this position at the end of April.  Half our starting line-up are out with injuries, as are half the bench players substituting for them.  We still aren’t getting runs consistently, our bullpen is suspect, and I still just don’t see the spark yet.

Result? We’re in another four-game (to date) losing streak, we’re 10-14 on the year and only the miserable Marlins are behind us in the NL East.

Is it time for Robbo to set fire to his hair and run screaming in circles?  Because it’s beginning to feel as if it’s time for Robbo to set fire to his hair and run screaming in circles.

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!

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