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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……”

 

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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.

Sigh.

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:

GO, NATS!!!

 

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:

GO, NATS!!!

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.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last fall (I believe), the Family Robbo won a set of primo tickets to a Nationals game from an auction at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method – about seven or eight rows right behind the Nats’ dugout and a parking pass.  Ol’ Robbo was looking mighty forward to going to the game.

Whelp, that game was today.  And it was a sweet, sweet win.

Alas, Ol’ Robbo didn’t wind up going after all.  Because he is head honcho on one side in a trial coming up in a couple weeks with a wicked pre-trial schedule in front of it, he instead found himself spending most of the day moodily pouring over deposition transcripts and other legal falderal.  (And if you don’t hear much from me between now and August, now you know why.)

At least it was a genuinely pleasant day in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor – warm, but not too hot, quite dry, and comfortable enough that I could sit out and do my work on the porch.  Also, Middle Gel (who did go to the game, along with Mrs. R and a couple of family friends),  was sweet enough to give me the Nats tee-shirt she snagged when they were being thrown into the stands.

So I got that going for me….

Anyhoo,  a few things:

♦ One break I took was to go to Mass, of course.  We had a guest priest today, a padre from somewhere else in the Diocese.  He mentioned that he had a brother who is a Brother at Clear Creak Abbey out in the Diocese of Tulsa.  Co-incidentally, ever since I swam the Tiber, I have bought rosaries, books, CDs, and calendars from this abbey, but I don’t recall that I have ever explicitly plugged it here.  For those of you who are interested, consider it plugged now.

♦ Another, somewhat more earthy break was to fool with the Port Swiller Manor clothes-dryer, which after 17 years of service suddenly is producing no heat whatsoever, although it still tumbles and blows air.  My suspicion is that we have been less than diligent about clearing out the overflow from the lint trap and that some accumulation of same has probably shorted out the heating element.  (Mrs. R is going to see if we can get this replaced before we go plunking down dosh on a new dryer.)  Anyhoo, this afternoon found Ol’ Robbo digging around in the space below the lint trap slot with an old coat-hanger (surely there’s a better way to do this?), and dredging up all kinds of things.  In addition to the accumulated lint, I discovered a $5 bill, another $5 in loose change, several hair twisties, a couple lost earrings, innumerable old “Hi, My Name Is…” nametags, and a pair of miniature keys to what I believe was an old locket.  I would not have been the least surprised to find the bones of Piltdown Man in there, too. UPDATE: Mrs. R had a repair guy out today. It was just the thermostat.  He replaced it and cleaned the whole thing out.  MUCH cheaper than plunking for a new one.  Ol’ Robbo is happy.

♦  Regular friends of the decanter will recall that Ol’ Robbo had a duff steering damper replaced on La Wrangler a couple weeks ago in order to alleviate a bad case of the “death wobble”.  Whelp, as I feared, the fix appears to be more of a Band-Aid than anything else.  The wobble is gone, to be sure, but I can still feel the front wheels fighting with each other.  Also, in the past couple days, the right front has begun making an ominous howling noise that is definitely linked to rotation velocity.  I believe an alignment check is in order, but I now fear that the fellah who recommended the damper replacement may not have actually checked the rest of the steering mechanism.  I don’t want a ball-joint going as I swing down the G-Dub some fine morning, thereby flipping me into the Potomac.

♦  In re culchah-related matters, I’ve been on a bit of a John Wayne toot this weekend, watching back-to-back, “Hondo” and “The Comancheros“, two of my favorites.  (I confess that I also have “The High and the Mighty” at home.  It’s pure cheese, but I like to think that Robert Stack was gamely parodying his performance in it years later when he did “Airplane!“.)

Whelp, that’s about all that occurs to me at the moment and is suitable for discussion over the Stilton and walnuts.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I believe that after all these years (almost 14 by my count) of blogging, today marks an historick first, insofar as I am posting today for the very first time from the immense comfort of my hammock on the back porch of Port Swiller Manor.

I must say, I could seriously get used to this.   (Indeed, one of the Four Things which Ol’ Robbo hopes to do when and if he is ever able to retire is to turn his attention to more serious writing.  If I’m not mistaken, none other than William Makepeace Thackeray is said to have done his very best work while similarly lounging in his hammock, so you never know!)

And what are the Four Things, you ask? Well, as I say, one of them is serious writing.  Another is to reform my garden from a butterfly-bush wilderness into an orderly, civilized set of flower beds.  The third is to actually sit down and work up some piano musick to performance level, instead of forever sight-reading.  Finally, I want to take up golf again, which I haven’t seriously played in 25 years.

So there you are.

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends for you:

♦  We had a very cool and wet spring in the neighborhood this year, with a resultant lushness that I haven’t seen in quite some time.  Indeed, so much so that the hedge of hollies which we planted along the sidewalk out front some years ago have positively exploded.  T’other day, Ol’ Robbo came home to find a piece of paper taped to his mailbox.  Its gist was that the hollies were sticking branches out over the sidewalk and could we please cut them back.  It was signed, “Your friendly neighbors.”

I’ll give them that the trees needed pruning (which I did yesterday), but there is something about the passive-aggressive nature of this “friendly” notice that really irritates Ol’ Robbo.  Indeed, I was half-tempted to scrawl “Balls to you!” on the thing and just leave it there.

Ah, well, at least it was a tad better than the little snirp who, once or twice over the years, has actually hacked down some of my branches and simply left them lying all over the sidewalk.  I caught him at it once, and it was only the gray hairs on his head that kept me from taking a horsewhip to him.

♦  Speaking of horsewhips, Ol’ Robbo realizes more and more what a bye he got with the Eldest Gel not being at all interested in dating when she was in high school.  Suddenly it seems both of the younger Gels have romantic irons in the fire, and Ol’ Robbo’s stomach muscles are tightening accordingly.  (Actually, the Youngest’s is a very polite and sensible young man, who I think I like.  She’s so besotted with him that she’s actually going to try and take honors chemistry next year because he is.  Gawd!)

♦  And speaking of the Younger Gels, it’s off to Bible-Thumper Camp tomorrow morning.  This will be Middle Gel’s tenth year and Youngest’s eighth.  (Right now, all of Robbo’s wymminz are in the kitchen, squabbling over a trip to Tarzhay to pick up last-second supplies.  Why does everything have to be so complicated?  Ol’ Robbo is feigning deafness.)

♦  Oh, and have I said it lately?

LET’S GO, NATS!!!

Whelp, that’s about it for now.  Another advantage of hammock-blogging, now that the Gels have left on their equipment-run, is that I can simply hit the power button, close my laptop, and go nappy-byes.

As I say, I could get used to this.  Zzzzzzz………

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is out on the porch this pleasant Saturday evening, lap-top in, er, lap, glass of wine at his elbow, watching the sunlight gradually withdraw from the sky.

A few idle thoughts for you:

♦   Eldest Gel called me at work yesterday morning, positively fuming.  “DAD!” she said, “I just got my latest paycheck and…..WHAT THE HELL IS IT WITH ALL THESE DAMNED TAXES?!!!”

Because I am what I am, I immediately remembered that line from one of the first episodes of “Friends” when Jennifer Aniston’s spoiled-rich-girl-tossed-into-street character gets her first coffee shop paycheck: “Who is this FICA guy? And why does he get my money?”

Also because I am who I am, I responded by quoting the paycheck gal from “Raising Arizona”: “The gubmint do take a bite, don’t she!”

This wasn’t exactly a Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus thing for her, as she’s already deeply suspicious of the State, but her long-standing theories are now being backed up by experience.

♦ Middle Gel and I caught the end of our beloved Nationals’ third straight win against the hapless Mets earlier this evening.  The team were wearing these weird, sky-blue hats and socks and whatnot.  The Mets, and the umps for that matter, also had various sky-blue accessories.  Everyone seemed to be wearing ribbons, too. Puzzled, the Gel looked it up on the innertoobs: apparently this is some sort of Fathers’ Day Weekend tribute.

Ol’ Robbo dearly wishes the MLB would just cut this sort of thing out.  This is baseball, for Pete’s sake, not the Virtue Signalers’ Club.  Furthermore, some of these stunts go well into subject matters on which, shall we say, not everyone actually agrees, even though it’s politically incorrect to say so.   Knock off the ribbon-bullying and stick to the game, says I!

(Oh, and while Ol’ Robbo is handing down directives, get rid of the damned DH rule, too!)

UPDATE:  Gratuitous on-point first attempt at posting YooToob clip from my laptop:

 

 

♦  Finally, Youngest Gel, some time this past wintah, bought tickets to go see her favorite band, 21 Pilots, play a concert in Columbus, Ohio this week.

The problem? Said Gel didn’t bother to coordinate with anyone about a) whether she was actually allowed to go, or b) if she was, how she was actually going to get there.  In typical Youngest Child mentality, she figured she’d present the concert as a fait accompli, and rely on our scrambling to find a way to make it happen.

Gel is now having a sadz because she finally realizes that we’re not going to accommodate her.  (Sorry, no.  I wouldn’t let Eldest Gel drive you that far even if she wanted to, which she doesn’t.)

Next battle? When year-long insufficient GPA warning meets passionate desire to get learner’s permit.

The tears.  They’re……delicious.

Am I a very bad man?  I think so.  I think so.

UPDATE DEUX:  Sun now long gone, I see the fireflies are out this evening.  First time I’ve seem them this year.  Ol’ Robbo dearly loves him some fireflies.  They’re so….shiny.

 

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