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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In case you’re interested, Dave Barry’s “2019 Year In Review” is up on the innerwebz and is, as usual, worth a read and a couple chuckles.  (I won’t link it here because I just had about a 45 minute fight with the Miami Herald’s webpage in which it kept trying to force-feed me cookies and froze up my laptop something fierce.)

I mention the article mostly as an excuse to note that I’ve always liked Barry’s humor, and also to express my admiration for the fact that he seems to have managed to maintain a light-hearted, balanced approach here, even in the face of the current uber-poisonous politickal atmosphere.  (In fact, said atmosphere is the butt of most of his jokes this time around.)

Indeed, my only real complaint about this latest installment of his annual summation is that he makes no mention of Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals’ win of the World Series.  But then again, Barry is a Marlins fan, so no doubt has simply blotted any thoughts of baseball whatever from his conscious mind.  I’ll allow it.

Oh, one thing I won’t allow:  As we all know, Wednesday is January 1, 2020.  2020 is not the first year of the next decade.  It is, instead, the last year of this decade.  Those failing to recognize this will be set upon by rabid honey-badgers.

Anyhoo, Ol’ Robbo will be pretty tied up over the next 48 hours, so I’ll take this opportunity to wish each of you a very Happy New Year!!

I’ll see you on the other side.

UPDATE:  Here’s the Barry column from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which doesn’t seem to be as predatory a site.  Because I’m a giver.  Enjoy!

UPDATE DEUX:  Link fixed, not that anybody apparently noticed.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all had good Thanksgiving Day celebrations and are now loafing about, recovering from the after-effects.

As usual, the Family Robbo packed up and went to see my brother and his down in North Carolina.  Brother managed to crock his back a few days ago, which meant that we didn’t go for our usual “Black Friday” hike and also that Ol’ Robbo found himself the Official Lifter Of The Heavy Things as far as dinner preparation went, but a good time was had by all.  Just a few observations:

♦  There really not being enough room at my brother’s house for ten adults and a small boy, we stayed at a hotel while down there. It’s a brand-new place, having still been under construction when we went last year.  It is astonishing to observe that, nearly one-fifth of the way through the 21st Century, there are still interior decorators who believe avocado green is a good idea.

♦  What with not hiking yesterday, we instead flopped in front of college football all afternoon.  I really thought Virginia Tech was going to beat the gentlemen of T.J. State, but the Hokies fell apart in the last ten minutes or so and blew it.  Too bad.  (My nephew attends Tech, so the whole family was rooting for them.  Clemson and South Carolina play today and I’ve a niece at each.  The family dynamic over that one is….somewhat more complicated.)

♦  Ol’ Robbo really dislikes those X-mas car commercials in which one spouse surprises the other with a new car with a big bow on top or, even worse, with a his n’ hers matching pair.  I could never, ever contemplate making that kind of financial commitment without consulting Mrs. R first.  (There is also a smarmy-elite feel to those things – $50 grand? Walking around money! – which I would think more likely to generate seething envy in the mind of the average teevee viewer than anything else, but what does Ol’ Robbo know.)

♦  I was cajoled into reading The Monster At The End Of This Book (starring lovable, furry, old Grover) to our youngest guest, my 4 y.o. great-nephew.  It’s been quite some time since I used to read this to the Gels, and I’m not sure the boy is totally clear on who Grover actually is.  But I was pleased to find that I can still do the shrill, hysterical voice, wave my hands around in panic, and generally behave quite silly, and whatever the boy’s Sesame Street-foo, he enjoyed the performance.

♦  Ol’ Robbo wanted to get an early jump on the longish drive back to Port Swiller Manor today, so last evening he said to all the Gels, “Be ready to go by 5:45 AM.”  This morning they were……ready to go by 5:45 AM.  Amazing what a smooth start will do for a trip.  And fortunately, the traffic was really not bad at all, so we got home in very good time.

Well, that was Thanksgiving 2019, that was.  Advent starts tomorrow and once again Ol’ Robbo finds himself having left it late to see whether he has a sufficient supply of purple ribbon and candles.  Better go check on that…..

UPDATE:  Huzzay, huzzah, my fellow port swillers! We found out last night that Youngest has been accepted early decision by Miami of Ohio!!  As regular friends of the decanter may recall, she went out to tour the place last summah and fell in love on first sight, so she put in her E.D. application this fall.  We’ve been on pins and needles ever since.  (She wrote an amazingly quirky and clever personal essay about her education to date which I’m pretty sure is what got her in.)

So far as Ol’ Robbo is concerned, Miami is a perfectly decent school full of perfectly decent people in an absolutely beautiful spot.  (Distinguished alums include Peej O’Rourke, World Champion Nationals’ right-fielder Adam “Mighty Mouse” Eaton, and a cousin of mine from my great-grandmother’s family.)  Ironically, it’s greatest rival is Ohio University, where Robbo’s parents met as undergrads.

So go…..a, lessee…..REDHAWKS!!



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ah, the joy of early nightfall.  Not only do I have to drive home in the dark (which I hate because I don’t see so well at night), I also up my odds of getting kilt by oncoming traffic when fetching the mail upon my arrival at Port Swiller Manor.

Anyhoo, a few odds and ends:

♦  Ol’ Robbo watched his beloved Nationals visit the White House yesterday afternoon (via Yootoob).  What fun everyone seemed to have!  I thought the Marine Corp Band playing “Baby Shark” particularly funny.  As for Kurt Suzuki whipping out a MAGA hat? I understand the Twitter Mob are swallowing their tongues over that.  Had he flipped off the President, of course, they’d have cheered him to the welkin.  Nuts to them and bless him.  (And what a class act Ryan Zimmerman is, too.)

♦  Last evening’s Star Trek: TOS episode was “All Our Yesterdays“.  It featured a young and delicious Mariette Hartley in a skimpy cave-woman outfit.  Ol’ Robbo had quite the crush on Ms. Hartley back in the day. [Ed. – Who the heck didn’t you have a crush on?  Quiet, you.]  She seemed to do an awful lot of “special guest” appearances on teevee shows in the 70’s and 80’s, all of which were quite delightful to my impressionable, er, mind.

♦  For dins this evening, Ol’ Robbo made himself an omelet stuffed with pecorino romano cheese.  Nobody else I know seems to like this idea, but I would strongly recommend you give it a try.  And an added twist?  Mash up a clove of garlic into the eggs before you pour them into the pan.  I would not recommend this for a date night, but in every other circumstance I think you would enjoy it.

♦  Speaking of dins and the dark, this is the time of year when outdoor grilling becomes a problem because my patio is not well-lit.  I need to find some kind of free-standing light that I can park next the grill.  Anyone have any suggestions?

♦  Regular friends of the decanter may recall that Ol’ Robbo’s doc recently put him on blood pressure medicine.  Valsartan, to be exact.  I seem to be suffering most of the side-effects about which the Mayo Clinic and others warn.  Is this really worth it? (I have a follow-up appointment with the doc in a couple weeks and intend to make much of this.)

Well, enough for now.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I’m slapping up this post as a place-holder just as the game is starting.  Honestly, no matter what the outcome tonight, Ol’ Robbo is tremendously proud of his beloved Nats.  Never, even as late as yesterday, did I imagine we’d get this far this year.

Back later.  Going to go watch with Middle Gel, who’s home for a day or two.  In the meantime, what else is there to say exept:

GO, NATS!!!!!!

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo hasn’t had a chance to update until now.  I was far too, um, tired squiffy last evening to give any coherent reaction.  So let me just go ahead and get this off my chest:

NATS WIN!!!!!!



What a truly amazing and high-quality series it was, capping off a truly amazing playoff run which came as a complete shock to just about everybody, I think.  And a tip of the cap to the Astros, who played a heck of a series themselves.  This was seven games of almost perfectly matched teams, and we just happened to have done a slight bit better when we needed to.  I know they’re disappointed, but they have no reason to be ashamed.

And a glass of wine with all y’all for your kind words of support.  Old-timers here will know that Ol’ Robbo has been an enthusiastic fan of the Nats since they first came to town in 2005, and I’ve stuck with them through a lot of lean times – the series of 100+ loss seasons, the “Natnals” fiasco, the post-season self-destruction.  It’s good to finally savor going all the way.

Speaking of such things, I noticed a fair number of people walking about Your Nation’s Capital today in Nats gear.  Most of it looked suspiciously new.  I don’t mind Johnny-come-latelies, because everybody has to start somewhere.  I will mind it if they drop off again the next time we hit a flat patch.  (Which, of course, we will.)

By the bye, it was utterly enjoyable to watch the game with Middle Gel, who has become quite the fan herself.  And because we were “bonding”, Mrs. Robbo couldn’t say word one of criticism about us yelling at the teevee.  Ha!

Well.  What else is there to say except:

Pitchers and catchers report in three and a half months!

Ol’ Robbo would be remiss without congratulating the Spacemen of Houston for defeating the Yankees and making their way to the World Series.

I confess that I really haven’t followed the ‘Stros at all.  (I’m very much Division-centric in my tracking habits.)  My only exposure is that every time stat graphics are put up for this or that category, they always seem to include some monster number or other for Houston.  (Recently I saw their run-differential number and about fell out of my chair.)  I gather that they’re a pure powerhouse kind of team.

Whelp, it’s gonna be interesting.  From what I’ve seen, pretty much everybody has Robbo’s beloved Nats as the underdogs.  But nobody seems to be suggesting an outright blowout.  So we’ve got that going for us.

An interesting dynamic:  If the Yankees had won, I believe we would have seen a lot of nation-wide rallying behind the Nats in a David and Goliath (or for you kids, Luke and Vader) story line.  I don’t get that same vibe going into the Nats/Astros series.  Like the Dallas Cowboys before them, the Astros have been reaching for an “America’s Team” identity.  The Nats?  Well, although there’s nothing the slightest bit politickal about the team or its fans, we do come from the Swamp, which is – to put it delicately – less than popular these days.   Also, most of the national coverage I’ve seen of the playoffs so far emphasizes the mistakes the Dodgers and Cardinals made in losing, not the effort or talent behind the Nats’ victories.  So I’m guessing the majority of MLB fans who actually care one way or the other will probably be rooting for the boys from Houston.

We shall see what happens.

UPDATE:  Well, well, well!  Robbo’s beloved Nats returning after taking the first two off the ‘Stros in their own park was the very last thing Ol’ Robbo expected.  Is it just possible that they might finally start getting some national recognition and respect?  (Even now, most of the chatter seems to be about how the ‘Stros lost,  rather than how we won.)

Thank Heaven today is a travel day.  I stayed up to watch both games (plus all the post-game stuff) which meant not getting to bed until well past midnight two nights in a row.  Since I have to get up shortly after 5 ack emma for work, you can well imagine that I’m running pretty much on fumes at the moment.  And speaking of watching, Ol’ Robbo will admit that during the regular season Mrs. R has certain grounds for legitimate complaint about my hollering at the teevee.  I think, however, that I ought to get a special dispensation under the current circumstances.

Well, we’ll see what happens going forward.  No way will I provoke the Baseball Gods by getting cocky.  Instead, I will maintain a guarded optimism.  If we can keep playing the way we have, I think we at least have a real shot.

What else is there to say, except


Is it okay for Ol’ Robbo to start getting excited?  Because I’m starting to get excited.

GO, NATS!!!!


UPDATE: WHOOOOOOO!!!!! World Series, here we come!!!!

Is it possible Robbo’s beloved Nats will finally get some respect?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Before taking the deep plunge into the NLCS (*smacks lips, repeats*), how about a few odds and ends?

♦  Going back to the Metro after about an eight year hiatus, I notice that the number of people milling about the platforms with their noses buried in their iThingies has increased exponentially.  We hates that. Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

♦  Speaking of which, I saw a young lady in my rear-view mirror last evening.  In one hand she held her iThingy.  In the other, a snack.  How the heck was she steering?

♦   Speaking of young ladies, Ol’ Robbo takes satisfaction in the fact that St. Greta of the How DARE You did not cop the Nobel Peace Prize this year.  Not that the NPP actually means anything, but still.  We take these little victories against the Madness whenever we can.

♦  Speaking of madness, I saw an amusing headline over to YahooNooz this morning (not linking because Yahoo has gone insane) that some WNBA player was angry at the lack of respect being shown to their finals.  Ol’ Robbo frequently forgets that the WNBA even exists.  As for the NBA, pretty alarming how beholden they turn out to be to the ChiComs, no?  Thank Heaven pro baseball has largely avoided politization, at least so far.  I’ve never cared about basketball anyway, but it would be a real blow to have to give up MLB.

♦  Speaking of living the Counter-Culture Life, Ol’ Robbo caught Apocalypto on the cables last evening.  (I think somebody was doing a little Columbus Day trolling.)  Eldest had recommended it to me and I found it quite fascinating, the ending quite shiver-making.  I’ve no idea how accurately it portrays the pre-Columbian Maya and this is Mel Gibson after all, but from what I do know I would guess it isn’t far off.  Noble Savages they were not.

♦  And speaking of movies, Ol’ Robbo has been on a Shakespeare kick recently.  I’ve been reworking my way through the old Age of Kings series (how can one not like Sean Connery as Hotspur facing off against Robert Hardy’s Prince Hal?), and the other day watched the late-70’s Beeb production of As You Like It featuring the young Helen Mirren.  (Not quite the shmokin’ hot Excalibur Helen Mirren of a couple years later, but this is Shakespeare, not shlock.)  Those late 70’s/early 80’s Beeb productions tend to be hit or miss, but this is one of the better ones.

Whelp, that’s enough for now.  A four day weekend for Ol’ Robbo.  I need to run some errands this morning and get in nacho supplies for tonight’s NLCS opener (*smacks lips again*).  Tomorrow will be a genuine fall yardwork day.  And I believe Middle Gel is coming home for a visit Sunday.  Good times.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has been hesitant to say anything about his beloved Nats going up against the Dodgers in the NLDS series.

But now that it goes to Game 5, I will say this:  From here on out, however far we get or we don’t get, my Nats have nailed the flag to the mast.  If they go down Wednesday, or at any point thereafter, they go down with pride and honor.

What else is there to say, except

GO, NATS!!!!


**Which I hate. Bad on the liver. Bad on the marriage.


Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2019 Washington Nationals.  Going to the NLCS for the first time in modern history after a season Ol’ Robbo thought early on to be DOA.  What can one possibly say?

But for all that?  I actually missed the game.  In my defense, lemme explain.  First, Ol’ Robbo was unusually tired last evening.  Second, on days like today when I go into the office, I have to be up by about 5:15 ack emma.  Third, when I checked the score before going to bed, it was the middle innings with the Dodgers up 3-0, and I reckoned I was seeing our doom fast approaching.   So yes, I said “bag it” and toddled off.

My first indication that Something might have happened came when I got up in the wee hours this morning.  Looking at my phone, I saw that Middle Gel – who I knew was going to watch the game – had tried to call me around Midnight.  Summoning up the innertoobs, I quickly got the Glad News.  I’ve been re-watching Howie’s blast off and on all day.

So on we go into uncharted waters.  What might happen I can’t possibly guess.  I will say this:  I’m happier that we’re facing the Cards than I would have been had we gone up against the Braves, who got under our skin toward the end of the regular season.

Anyhoo, Game One tomorrow night, and forget about anything else for the next week or so.  I asked above what can one possibly say? Just this:

GO, NATS!!!!!!












Wildcard sudden death tonight against the Brew Crew,  What else is there to say, except

GO, NATS!!!!!


UPDATE: And now…We DANCE!!

UPDATE DEUX:  Aside from the local coverage, all Ol’ Robbo is seeing today is not how the Nats won, but how the Crew lost.  I tell ya, we don’t get no respect!  Look, even if Grisham had fielded that ball cleanly, two runs would have scored, tying the game, and we’d have had runners at 1st and 3rd with two outs.  I’d back my Nats in a tie game in the 8th Inning against anybody at the moment.  We. Won.

Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!  (I didn’t get a ‘Harumph!‘ out of that guy!)

As for the NLDS against the Dodgers?  Well, Ol’ Robbo is so proud of his Nats for overcoming a rough season start and for finally winning a playoff elimination round, that so far as I’m concerned we’re playing with House money now. If we do somehow upset LA, great.  If not, I won’t lose any sleep.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s has been hard-pressed to find any bloggy inspiration this week, mostly because his allergies have been playing merry hob with him.  (I understand there’s a lot of ragweed in the air at the moment round here.)  But I’ll give it a try.

♦  First, a glass of wine to Robbo’s beloved Washington Nationals who, despite digging themselves a horrible hole in the first two months of the season, managed to fight their way back and clinch a wildcard berth this week.  (I watched the clinch Tuesday night and was later severely rebuked for my, um, enthusiasm.  The ladies of Port Swiller Manor do not appreciate me yelling at the teevee late in the evening.  Sad.)  I’ll be perfectly honest:  I don’t believe we’ll get very far in the post-season simply because our bullpen is still so shaky.  But I’m nonetheless proud that we made it to October ball at all.  (And that includes kudos for Manager Dave Martinez, whose head I admit having called for during the early slump.)  And as for the future? What can one say except GO, NATS!!!

♦  One of the factors fueling the pollen issue I mention above is the fact that we really haven’t had any rain in several weeks now.  I don’t think anyone’s using the “D” word yet, but I did feel compelled to drag my soaker hose out to the pachysandra bed this week.  The lawn, on the other hand, can go to hell.

♦  Youngest Gel starts training for a side-gig over at Starbucks next week.  I generally avoid giving any money to Starbucks because, well, Starbucks.  But I’ve no qualms at all about taking money from them.  (The Gel took the initiative to get a job on her own, by the bye.  We’re very proud of her for that.)

♦  As for all the headlines?  Res ipsa loquitur.  I think what stops the Neo-Maoists from totally implementing their Great Leap Forward here at the moment is that we’re neither Chinese peasants nor Russian serfs, and cannot be so easily brainwashed or buffaloed.  Of course they’re trying to change that through the schools (and open boarders, and gun confiscation), but again, I don’t think they’re quite there.  Yet.  I’m not worried about my kids.  I am worried about my grandkids.

Well, perhaps that’s enough for now.  Ol’ Robbo has to get himself to the store, as I am cooking dinner for Mrs. R’s ‘rents, who are passing through town on their semi-annual migration along the Eastern Seaboard.  Fortunately, they really seem to like the way I grill salmon.

UPDATE:  The salmon was a success.  The In-laws heaped great praise upon it and, more to the point, they ate all of it.

It’s funny because I don’t do anything special.  I simply coat the filets with olive oil and cook them over charcoal in a Weber fish basket.  To the extent there’s any art involved, it consists of making sure they’re cooked all the way through (the thought of underdone fish revolts me) without scorching them.  It’s just a question of turning them about and flipping them from time to time and not getting them too close to the hottest part of the coals.

What’s even funnier is that I personally loathe fish unless it’s fried.  (And even then, it’s not my favorite.)  But in keeping with my mackeral snapper practices, I pulled a spicy shrimp BBQ recipe off the innertoobs at random which turned out to be pretty durn good.  I pass it along (with my personal modifications) for your consideration:

First, the coating:

Garlic – the recipe calls for one clove only, Vasili,** but this is nonsense.  I used the majority of a head.  In the Robbo lexicon, there is no such phrase as “too much garlic”.

1 teaspoon course salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used four – see my comment above re garlic)

Mash up the garlic (I used a press) and add all the other ingredients.  Beat into a paste.

The recipe says this is enough for 2 1/2 pounds of shrimp, which I think is wildly optimistic.  But then I like my coatings heavy.  I found these amounts just enough to cover half a pound.

Next, the preparation and cooking:

The recipe also says to “toss” the coating with the shrimp, but that’s messy.  Instead, I skewered the shrimp flat-wise and painted the paste on both sides with a brush.  I also let it all marinate for about two hours.

Then, grill on the barbie until cooked all the way through.  When I marinated the skewers, I did so in a disposable aluminum baking pan.  When ready to cook, I simply put the pan on the grill.  The heat is distributed very evenly, the shrimp stay moist, and clean-up is a breeze.

Serve on a bed of rice.

Enjoy!  But do not count on being kissed by your spouse afterwards.  (See my comment above re garlic.)


** Spot the reference




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