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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, as Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats are about to lose a series against the Cards even as I type, it is plainly evident that this season is now O-ficially over.

Dammit.

What a disappointment! I wasn’t quite fool enough to believe the pre-season hype that this was Our Year to Win It All as a matter of Destiny.  I always thought that it would be a fight that we might win or lose in the end.  But at least it would be exciting and down to the wire, given our recent history and current talent.

But I never dreamed that this year’s team would be a struggling, mediocre, fading non-entity in mid-August.

The “agony of defeat” I can endure.

The “agony of not even getting in the game”? Not so much.

Feh.

 

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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are at the All-Star Break, a week of pure media spectacle which has never had any appeal for Ol’ Robbo.  Indeed, even though the festivities are being held this year at Nats Park and Middle Gel had been after me for a long time about getting tickets to the game itself, I simply have/had no desire to go.  Indeed, I probably won’t even bother watching it on the teevee.

In fact, the only really good thing about this week to me is that it gets my beloved Nats off their feet for a few days and maybe gives them the opportunity to figure out just what the hell is going on with their season. With a final win over the Mets this past Sunday, they staggered into the break at 48-48 and in third place – hardly what we were hoping for back in April, when many folk predicted we were finally going to go deep in the playoffs and even had a shot at taking all the marbles.

Yes, we’ve been plagued by a lot of injuries this first half, but that goes with the territory.  From what I’ve seen, we’ve just been sloppy and unfocused, making stupid mistakes, leaving runners stranded all over the bags, and just seemingly not “hungry for it” as my old crew coach used to say.  I think often of the line by that old southern radio announcer in “Bull Durham”: “Ah dunno whut these boys are thinkin’ bout, but it shore ain’t baseball!”

Watching all this has been very, very painful so far this season.

Anyhoo, with 60-something games left and no sign of collapse yet by either the Braves or the Phils, we sure as heck better come screaming out of the gates next week if we hope to have a shot at the division title even a wildcard berth this year.  And if we don’t make it, somebody bring me the head of Dave Martinez!

Grrrr….…

And speaking of “Bull Durham”, obligatory:

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo found himself down to the lanes late this afternoon as part of a little summah intern festivity thrown by our office.  (Actually, I haven’t the faintest idea who any of our interns are, but a friend of mine was in charge of organization and she sweet-talked me into coming along in order to boost the participation numbers.)

Friends of the decanter may be slightly surprised, given my snooty patrician airs here, but the fact of the matter is that Ol’ Robbo was a tolerably competent casual bowler back in the day, consistently scoring in the upper 100’s and now and again breaking 200.  This is largely due to the fact that I ducked a whole six-week Hobbesian high school gym period by signing up for a bowling class when I was a junior, and also because my friends and I back then used to hit the lanes on the weekends fairly consistently.

Alas, that was nearly 40 years ago, and I have only been to the lanes a handful of times since, most recently (so far as I can recall), with the Gels a few years ago.  The result? I only managed a score in the high 80’s today.  As I flubbed first ball after first ball and only managed to save something from the wreckage each frame on the second, I spent most of the time getting angrier and angrier with myself for my feeble performance.  At least I managed to avoid descending into foul-mouthed tirades, which is what usually happens when I reach the frustration stage with my more private dilettante efforts at the keyboard or now and again on the links.  (Just as well, as a burst of temper, especially given that Ol’ Robbo has the reputation around his office as the quiet one who keeps to himself, probably would have landed me in a world of HR hurt.)

Yes, I know the primary purpose of the outing was supposed to be social, not competitive, but I can’t help myself with these things.  If you’re going to do it at all, dammit, then do it well.

 

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friends of the decanter will recall Ol’ Robbo’s struggles over the past few days with a recalcitrant air-conditioner? Whelp, the service people were back out this morning and are now diagnosing a shot motor. The good news is that the thing itself is still under warranty.  The bad news is that we are going to have to pay for the labor of switching it out.  The worse news is that we have no A/C at Port Swiller Manor until tomorrow afternoon, and it is plenty hot around these parts.  (Fortunately, it’s still a fairly dry heat. The old saying about humidity may be a trite cliché, but that doesn’t make it untrue.)

Anyhoo, Ol’ Robbo is sitting under the porch fans this evening, patiently waiting for Eldest to quit the basement and go to bed so that he can scurry down to its relatively freezerish precinct, and thought he would kill the time by throwing together a few odds and ends.

♦  I saw an item today wherein an Israeli company has announced it is setting out to put a spacecraft down on the Moon.  This delights Ol’ Robbo on many levels.  Mazel tov! 

♦  That reminds me that Ol’ Robbo donated some money to buy pizzas for the IDF during one of the Intifadas way back in ’03 or ’04.  I’m still getting solicitations from the local Jewish Defense League to this day.

♦ And speaking of transportation technology, if I haven’t said it here before (well, even if I have), I’m going to say it now:  Ol’ Robbo will never, ever, get into a “driverless” car.  Period. Full stop.  End of story.  I don’t mind all the bells and whistles that alert you to traffic in your blind spot or whatnot, but I’ll be damned if I ever let a machine take actual command.

♦  And speaking of cars, Middle Gel called me from the VW dealership this afternoon with the announcement that one of her headlights had been whacked somehow and needed to be replaced at a fairly hefty cost.  I don’t quite get the latter part of the news, because I’ve replaced both headlights on La Wrangler myself for no expense other than the cost of the part and one or two skinned knuckles.  Is there any good reason I couldn’t have got the relevant headlight part for the Gel’s car and done it myself? Or has German engineering successfully eliminated the self-help option?

♦  Also touching on cars, Ol’ Robbo got caught in the traffic-jam caused by Marine One lifting off from the White House lawn this morning, taking President Trump out to Andrews AFB for his trip to Europe.  (They shut down Constitution Avenue between 16th and 17th for such comings and goings.) I’ve had this happen probably half a dozen times over the past few years.  It’s always a pain in the backside, but it’s also pretty cool to see the Presidential party on their way hither and yon.

♦  And speaking of which, Ol’ Robbo usually steers clear of politicks here, but I have to note that I heard a bit on this afternoon’s NPR top o’ the hour nooz digest in which some environmental lobbyist was whinging about The Donald’s pick of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to take Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court.  The lobbyist had his panties in a twist over the idea that, get this, Kavanaugh believes laws should be made by Congress and not by unaccountable Executive Branch bureaucrats!!

The horror.  THE HORROR!!

Oh, who the hell am I kidding? BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

♦  Touching on the summah heat again, we just would pick this week to start a bed of young pachysandra out front, wouldn’t we? No rain in the forecast for at least another ten days.  (Fortunately, I was able to strategically place a soaker hose uphill from the bed, and find that if I simply leave it on long enough, gravity takes care of spreading the water all about.)

♦  The pachys, by the bye, are part of the new arrangement for diverting rain-water Ol’ Robbo mentioned t’other day.  The landscapers have been busy this week putting in the new rock bed/run-off channels, and I’m happy to say that I am pleased with the results so far.  We shall see, of course, what actually happens the next time we get le deluge.

Whelp, that’s about enough for now.  Ol’ Robbo is headed for the basement now, most probably to see if his Beloved Nats are working themselves farther out of playoff contention.  (What a disappointing year so far.  I mentioned jumping on the Fire Dave Martinez bandwagon the other day? Well, despite their taking three out of four against the Fish this week,  I ‘ve still got my Nike Vertical Leap shoes on just in case.)

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Independence Day!

A very quiet one this year for Ol’ Robbo.  Middle Gel is the only other family member home at the moment.  Our big plan for this afternoon is to go over to Bed, Bath, And Whatevs and buy all her college dorm stuff, which will be a nice little time together.  Afterwards, she may or may not be going with some of her friends to see the big downtown fireworks display.  (As so often seems to be the case with teenagers, the plan at this point is “I have no idea”.)

In the meantime, Ol’ Robbo will be content to sip an adult beverage or two and, if the weather isn’t too beastly, perhaps sit out on the porch and listen to the rumble and bump of neighbors letting fly with their own home displays.

Two completely un-related but apropos thoughts for the day:

First, Ol’ Robbo doesn’t buy into the “Second Civil War” talk I see here and there on the webz these days.  Instead, I see a mirror of the late ’60’s, only this time with twitter.  A small, but very noisy gang of radicals has abandoned their “For the Children” pretense, ripped off their masks, and exposed themselves for what they really are.  Most normal people are, I think, repelled by such things, which is why we got Nixon in ’68 and ’72, Reagan in ’80 and ’84, and Trump in ’16 and (most probably) ’20.  The Hard Left seems to go through these periodic meltdowns, which ironically is probably what has saved us from them these past 100 years or so.

Second, is there a “Fire Dave Martinez” bandwagon yet? Cos’ if there is, I’m feeling the increased urge to jump on board.  This is not where Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats ought to be right now.

Anyhoo, have a safe and pleasant holiday, and God bless America!

UPDATE: A delightful trip to BB&B.  It turns out Ol’ Robbo had never actually been there before and was thinking instead of the local TJMaxx, which is a rather ratty, depressing place.  This, instead, was enormous, well-stocked, and staffed by very friendly people who seemed delighted to be helping the Gel get together her school things.  We tricked her out in sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and the like, but she’s holding off on some of the other more purely decorative things until she can coordinate with her roommate who is bringing what.

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!

 

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……

 

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