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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Although ol’ Robbo, having taken care of this past week’s necessary Saturday morning yard work ’round Port Swiller Manor quickly and efficiently, looked forward to a very delightfully (and unusually) cool,  late-August afternoon in the hammock with a glass full of ice and a Flashman story, instead I found myself dragooned by teh Eldest Gel into going bowling with her.

Apparently, I don’t bond with said EG enough, DAD! And I need to take advantages of these invitations, DAD! Before she goes off to college next year, DAD! Because if I refuse she will come away with no other thoughts about me except my coldness and how to deep-six me in a retirement home for the minimal cost to herself, DAD!

To which my reply has always been, in so many words, “Shut up.”

Nonetheless, I went.

Pricking my memory very hard, I cannot recall than I have bowled since high school.  Back then, not only did I go down to the lanes with my friends on Saturday afternoons fairly regularly, I actually once took a semester course in the game in order to avoid the Lord of the Flies locker room of my school’s gym.  As I recall, at my peak I was bowling somewhere in the 200 range.

The Gel didn’t know any of this history.  Thus, when I stepped up to my very first frame and bowled a perfect strike, she was, shall we say, perturbed.

Heh.  Almost made the whole thing worth it.

Of course, although I got a subsequent smattering of strikes and spares,  I couldn’t keep it up.  My hands have since become arthritic.  I wrenched something in my rights forearm kaiaking on vacation a couple weeks ago.  Because I don’t dance, my pelvic muscles aren’t used to the stretches and strains of the proper bowling delivery.  And don’t ask about my rowing-blown knees.  By the third game, I was well over my pitch-count limit and was tossing nothing but junk.  And for the last couple days, I’ve been hobbling.

Nonetheless, I can report that I beat teh Gel, two games out of three, despite the fact that she was using the gutter rails.  Of course, some of this might have had to do with the fact that her own delivery is something closer to a baseball submarine pitch than to an orthodox bowl.  So there’s that.

I will say also that bowling alleys ain’t what they were back in my day, at least some of them.  This one was one of those jazzed up kinds with lots of black-light, laser lighting, thumping “music”, automatic scoring, and big screen teevees featuring ESPN and teh kiddy channelz.  As the Gel warned, watching SpongeBob and listening to Katy Perry at the same time is a most, um, disturbing thing.

No, as I sat through all the noise, I couldn’t help thinking of teh Good Old Days:

Heh.  Even now I still use “Buh-dee” on a regular basis.

Teh Younger Gels were away this week, visiting their cousins up in Bah-ston.  Upon their return, they heard all about what I was up to with EG.  Guess what they want to do next weekend.

Not sure I’ll be healed in time for it.

 

 

 

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

There’s a moment in one of my favorite movie musickals, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, in which the braggart soldier is just about out of patience at the delay in the appearance of the virgin bride for which he’d payed and for whom he’d come to collect, and the slave in chief of the house in which said soldier (wrongly) believes the girl to be is starting to freak out:

Hysterium:  Uh, Whu, Um, Oh…

Pseudolus: Calm…….

Hysteriun: Buh, Whu, Uh…….

Pseudolus: Caaalm……

Hysterium: Buh, Uh, Whu….

Pseudolus: CALM yourself! I’ll tell you when it’s time to panic.

Miles Gloriosus: Bring me that girl at once or you all shall perish!

Pseudolus:  It’s time…..

I find myself fighting mighty hard against going all Hysterium myself as I contemplate the current situation of my beloved Nationals.  Four games back of the Mets and playing, shall we say, distinctly ho-hum ball.  Yeah, I didn’t really expect to win this week against Kershaw and Greinke, but we’ve dropped a bunch of games recently that we should have won, largely due to poor bullpen management and underperforming run production.

I remind myself that we are facing, this week, probably the last really hard series of the season, taking on the Dodgers and teh Giants at their respective parks.  I recently read somewhere or other that our last six weeks’ schedule is, given the records of our opponents, one of the easiest in the league.

I remind myself that we still haven’t played a game this season with our entire starting squad owing to injuries and that, even though Zimmerman, Werth and Rendon have recently returned, it’s going to take them a while to get up to peak form.  (And as I write, I don’t yet know anything about the latest injury to Harper.)

I remind myself that the Mets have a very, very young starting rotation and also that, well, they’re the Mets, and that although they are currently hot, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to fall apart.

Nonetheless, I see where the knives are beginning to come out for Manager Matt Williams and I’m not so sure that I can resist the temptation to take up the call for his scalp myself.

Man, I love this game but I also really hate it.

Well, what else is there to say except

GO, NATS!!!

 

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo just watched his beloved Nats snap a four game losing streak in a riveting performance against the D-backs of Arizona.

Let me be clear about something here: Anyone who thinks our great National Pastime is “boring” is, how shall I put it, a complete idiot.

Indeed, my liver and my vocabulary would be in considerably better shape if baseball was, in fact, as boring as said idiots claim, so I make this charge completely free of bias.

That is all.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As of 5:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, ol’ Robbo’s summah hols officially began.  (I say “officially” because at least in spirit I had already left the office at the beginning of the week, doing nothing much more than sorting things between that which I could ignore until I get back and that which I could ignore full stop.)  Tomorrow we go to meet up with the Former Llama Military Correspondent and his family at a lake house on which we’re going snacks, there to loaf about, perhaps kayak a bit, play some croquet and badminton, and drink large quantities of adult beverages.

We tried this a couple years ago down in the Outer Banks and I can’t say I enjoyed it very much.  The “house” there was actually a condo built right smack in the middle of a zillion other condos.  It was too small for the ten of us and the whole area was far, far too crowded for Robbo’s taste.  This year we’ve got a real house, set on its own on a little point of land with a dock and a small beach, so I’m hoping it will be genuinely relaxing.

“Say, Robbo, don’t you usually go up tah Maine and stare at the bay?” I hear some of you asking.  Well, yes, we did for many years, but I’m afraid that’s about over.  The cottage is crumbling and, not being very efficient slumlords or investment wizards, we just don’t generate the kind of dosh necessary to really fix it up or, better yet, knock it down and start over.  So it’s on the market.  (If any of you are interested, ignore that part about crumbling.)  Also, I just don’t think Mrs. R and the gels really liked it very much – they are of the school of holiday-making that requires stimulation and entertainment, two things you’re just not going to find in Midcoast Maine.  I’m sure gonna miss it, though.

Anyhoo, I probably won’t be around here very much for the next week, so for your consideration I present some few thoughts still idling round my otherwise rapidly stagnating braim:

♦   I must say that I continue to delight in watching Gozer the Gozarian Teh Donald flip the bird at the MSM (or, as the Puppy-Blender likes to call them, “Democratic operatives with bylines”) and cause the GOP Establishment to soil its collective undies.  The GOPe has absolutely nobody to blame for all this than themselves.  While the Donks have gone national socialist, the GOP has gone Vichy despite being elected specifically to stop the drift lurch left.  Teh Donald is simply filling the void where we fools thought the Establishment would stand and fight.  To hell with them.  (Oh, and here’s a pro tip, GOPe:  Don’t call us stupid.)

♦  Speaking of such things, I see where Berke Breathed has resurrected Bloom County.  Good on him and I hope he keeps it up.  I’m curious to see how well he gets on.  Although he’s something of a lefty, B.C. was never of the same self-rightious un-funny smarminess as Doonesbury and Breathed wasn’t afraid to go after twits on his side of the fence from time to time.   However, that was back in the 80’s and 90’s, before the advent of the Social Justice Warrior cadre.  Wonder what will happen the first time he takes a swipe at one of their sacred cows.  (Small point of trivia: Breathed went to college with my high school Latin teacher.)

♦  What can ol’ Robbo say of his beloved Nationals except thank God the rest of the N.L. East is so awful this year.   In case you haven’t been following things, our trouble is injuries: better than half of our starters are out at the moment.  And while the bench guys have been doing as well as anyone could possibly hope, there’s a reason they’re bench guys after all.   During the game last evening, F.P. Santangelo (the Nats’ teevee color guy) said the team reminded him of the Memphis Belle – banged up, shot up, but still leading.  I chuckled appreciatively at that little bit of historickal allusion.

♦  Following up on our bear-sighting of this week, I was out mowing in the little clearing behind the back fence this morning (keeping an eye peeled over my shoulder, you may be sure) when I suddenly stepped in the answer to the rhetorical question about bears and woods.  Yes.  Yes, they do.

♦  The Family Robbo has been obsessed over the past couple weeks with playing a board game called Colorku, which seems to be Sudoku involving colored balls instead of numbers.  Being a crossword snob, I never got into sudoku myself so have no real interest in this game either, but anything that gets the gels off their damned iThingies is just fine with me.

Whelp, I suppose I had ought to go and see about packing.  Or at least thinking about packing.  Or possibly thinking about when it will be time to start thinking about packing.  Or something.   Meanwhile, you all know the drill:  Decanter and walnuts are on the table and the Stilton is on the sideboard.  Swill till your eyes bubble and I’ll be back later.

UPDATE:  Forgot to mention that no, Daisy dog does not accompany us.  Instead, she’s off this afternoon to a sort of free-range kennel we found.  It’s a big farm of so many acres and they basically just let the dogs run around all day and bring ’em inside at night.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Mrs. Robbo left this morning to go visit her parents for a couple days, teh younger gels are off at summah camp and I hardly ever see the eldest anymore, so this weekend is effectively just your host and his menagerie.  Woo Hoo!

♦   Thanks to what was a pretty strong consensus here, I ordered a new set of headphones for my musickal evenings this morning.  Thankee muchly for your recommendations.  It only took me two months to get around to it.  Procrastinate we much?

♦    Speaking of electronics, I find myself hating smartphones more and more.   I especially despise the zombie-like way everyone seems to stare at them, oblivious to their surroundings.

♦    I see where Phil Austin, who played Nick Danger for Firesign Theater, died this week.  My college roommate first put me on to these guys and I wound up buying a couple of their albums.  True, it’s dirty hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor, but it was still pretty durn funny.  (I say “was” because I had cassette tapes, now long gone, and it must be close to twenty years since I last listened to them.)

♦  I also see where the Vegas odds-makers are betting Robbo’s beloved Nationals are going to win it all this year.   I dunno, but since we just got done sweeping both the Bucs and the Braves, I’m starting to get excited.  [Insert obligatory “Great kid, but don’t get cocky” here.]  We’re supposed to start a series against the despicable Phillies this evening, but I don’t know if the weather is going to cooperate.

♦  Fence guy is coming tomorrow to slap up some wire on the fence in the Port Swiller backyard, thereby allowing us to literally let Daisy off the leash on occasion (under supervision, of course, in case she proves a digger).  We decided against the whole Invisible Fence thing because of the price and the complexity and because I’m unwilling to try training her on it when she’s already so skittish around me.  The squirrels and the woodchucks are in for a nasty surprise.

♦   Speaking of the back yard, ol’ Robbo demonstrated his apparent genius for stumbling across yellow jacket nests yet again the other evening.  I was throwing up a tarp against a corner of the house where we think water is getting into the basement again and thumped down a paving stone literally within two inches of one of their burrows.  Fortunately, a storm was rolling in and it was already quite dark, so even though I disturbed them, they only came out sluggishly and I got away without being stung this time.

Well, also speaking of the back yard, time to go mow it before the rain rolls in.  Whatever terrible nooz comes out today, I’m not going to let it ruin things for me.  Don’t you let it, either.

UPDATE: Done and done.  Everything’s mown, trimmed and blown so it can rain now ’til its eyes bubble for all I care.  And, Eldest Gel, who has been working all week at her church’s vacation bible school, is bringing me home an egg, cheese and bagel sammich.  FTW!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

For those of you who do not follow ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals, I should preface this post by noting that the Nats have a lot of new faces in their bullpen this year and, as of the first week of June, are still trying to figure out who are going to be their go-to set up men in the 7th and 8th, ahead of Drew Storen in the 9th.

JanssenAmong the mix of said faces is Casey Janssen, a pitcher with the Blue Jays of Toronto for some years before coming over to Dee Cee this year.  He had some injuries, and has only recently started to appear in our games on a more regular basis.

The few times I’ve seen Janssen whilst watching games on tee-vee, I’ve found myself saying, “Self, who is this guy? Wait! I know! Something to do with heresy…..Arianism? No.  Manichaeism?  No.  Wait! Now I remember! Jansenism!

(I will not even attempt to summarize Jansenism here.  Suffice to say that it is a heresy focused on the fault line between free will and predestination.)

Anyhoo, that’s what I use in order to remember him.  Crossing streams, I know.  However, should he make a good name for himself pitching, that problem goes away.

UPDATE: Oh, I forgot to mention this.  After thinking it over, I have self-identifed as Napoleon.  In future, I expect all of you friends of the decanter to address me as “Sire“.  See to it.

UPDATE DEUX:  Most friends of the decanter probably will pick up on the Monty Python riff in the title of this post.  (Well, I hope you will.)  I should note here that I think this sketch was far funnier in record form than it was in the original tee-vee series.  Ol’ Robbo has long-standing opinions on the effectiveness of various Python bits.  Some worked best on film, some worked best in studio, some worked best in audio.  It all had to do with timing,  inflection, and chemistry.  Not sure that I can come up with a grand unification theory to explain all my opinions, but they’re definite nonetheless.  Go ahead and ask me about a given sketch and I’ll give you my analysis.  Go on, I dare you.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats are off this evening,  so it looks like I’ll be dipping back into the Netflix queue.  Next up is “Bridge on the River Kwai”.  Heck of a long film, but I find that if you fast-forward through the bits where William Holden is standing around looking moody, the thing is more manageable.

In the meantime, I see that there has been some crowing and gnashing of teeth (depending on your point of view) over a Gallup poll out this week that purports to show that the country is shifting left on many moral issues.  The poll has been being conducted annually since 1999 and claims that this year, for the first time, social liberals and social conservatives are “at parity”.

Frankly, I don’t think I buy this.  On the one hand, I believe there’s no question that what I might call Left-libertinism has become more and more fashionable in recent years thanks to the cheerleading from the gub’mint, the academy, the MSM and Hollywood.  On the other, though, I can’t help wondering if the supposed decline in the number of people holding conservative social values isn’t really a decline in willingness to answer pollster questions about such values.  In an interview this week, Marco Rubio said that mainstream Christianity is on the verge of being tagged as “hate speech”.  Whether this is a correct assessment or not (and, FWIW, I think it is), my observation suggests that a good many people believe it and are simply clamming up.

Personally, I never answer polls or surveys, nor do I discuss moral or politickal issues with anyone outside my family or close, trusted friends.  Long-time friends of the decanter will know that, even in more-or-less bloggy anonymity, I have cut back steadily on commentary about such matters here since 2008, and that this place is nothing like the flesh-flying-out-the-windows-inconveniencing-the-passers-by air of the ol’ Llama Central before that.   That’s no accident.  Prudence, i.e., the protection of my family from harassment, calls for it.   On the other hand, I, of course, strive to keep the candle lit and on a candlestick to give light to all within Port Swiller Manor.  Eh, what can you do?

The punch line, to which I turn for comfort repeatedly, is that Truth is Truth no matter what fashion or the law says, and that it will prevail in the end.  You can’t take the sky from me.

Now, off to the movies….

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers! And a blessed Easter to you all – He has risen, indeed!

I would wax more about the Resurrection here, except that it is late and I would not do it justice.  Suffice to say for the moment that ol’ Robbo had a very…substantive Lent and a pretty, well,  satisfying Triduum.  Also, the God-awful nooz of the last few weeks reminds me again of a famous quote from Francis, Cardinal George a couple years ago that has been partially reposted much lately:

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

Indeed, it certainly seems more and more likely, given the temporary power surge of what I have come to call the Hipster Brownshirts.  But mark the rest of the quote:

His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization as the church has done so often in human history.”

Yeppers.  In hoc signo vinces!

Anyhoo, more on all that later.  In the meantime, even though Robbo’s beloved Nats dropped their season opener this afternoon, I can’t help but celebrating Opening Day of the single most perfect game in the history of the world with what is now a classic tribute:

Enjoy!  And play ball!

 

 

 

primaveraGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s the first full day of Spring 2015, and ol’ Robbo would love to be out in the grounds this morning doing yard work.  However, it’s still awfully soggy out there from yesterday’s snow and it’s still pretty chilly and Robbo isn’t quite the young man he used to be, so instead I am parked in front of the keyboard with a cup of kawfee.  (I am looking out the window, however.)

♦   Speaking of kawfee, the G-Man has an excellent take on Starbucks’ plan to have its baristas hector their customers over race relations.  (I don’t much go to Starbucks anymore because of the cost.)  As Jonah correctly notes, it’s not the subject matter itself but instead the creeping politicization of every corner of public life, something I have been bewailing for years.  (Who was it who talked about the fundamental right just to be left alone?)  Anyhoo, for all the publicity,  I’m guessing that any actual attempts to indoctrinate caffeine-starved customers at seven ack emma will go…..poorly.

♦   And speaking of indoctrination, when She Who Must Not Be Named starts talking about adult camps – even if she’s joking, even if she says “fun” camps, even if she’s just drunk – I get a cold, cold chill down my spine.

♦  Speaking of spring, I should note again that this is a March Madness-Free Blog®.  I’ve no interest in basketball, whatsoever.  And while I can understand the whole school spirit thing, my education was all at Division III institutions (NESCAC and ODAC) and it just isn’t the same thing.

♦   OTOH, I didn’t realize until the other day that this is the 10th season of Robbo’s Beloved Nats in Dee Cee.  Where does the time go?

♦  Oh, speaking of schools, may I trumpet here the fact that my nephew has just been accepted to Virginia Tech?  I don’t know if he’s going, since it’s damned expensive for out-of-staters and he has another program lined up also, but I’m still pretty proud of him.

♦   And speaking of school,  I have managed to convince the Eldest that Woodrow Wilson was personally responsible for the disastrous end of WWI and the rise of both Lenin and the Communists, and Hitler and the Nazis.   I think my work is done here.

♦  Reread GKC’s The Man Who Was Thursday this week.  This has to be the single craziest adventure story I know.  And I love it.

♦  Speaking of reading, got a subscription plea in the mail this week from “Teen Vogue”.  Gawd.  It was addressed to “Miss To The Port Swiller Family”, came in a violently pink envelope and even promised a student discount.  Thanks, but no.

♦   Also got a solicitation from the local publick teevee station threatening that if I don’t slip it some coin, it won’t be able to bring All New Episodes of Downton Abbey.  Well, I’ve never watched it, nor do I intend to, so this would be no great loss.   Back in my misspent yoot, I used to love period dramas, but what with all of the rampant politicization going on these days (which see above), I simply don’t trust ’em for historickal accuracy anymore.

♦  OH! Speaking of art and history, do not forget that today is the 330th anniversary of the birth of the Greatest Musickal Genius of all time!  Be sure and listen to some of his output today if you can.  (Teh Middle Gel and her cohort are in the middle of rehearsals for a presentation of his St. John Passion down the Cathedral next weekend.)

Well, I hear the stirring of various gels, so I suppose I ought to leave off here and go reassert my paternalistic hegemony.  Or something.

UPDATE:  Mid-afternoon and sunny.  I went out and discovered new growth buds all over the clematis on the side of the garage. (It faces southwest and is sheltered, and thus is always the first thing to get busy in springtime.)  Happy, happy, happy!

Speaking of signs of spring, I see that Scott’s is starting to run their grass-seed/feed ads.  I don’t mind the Scots fellah they use, but it’s too bad they couldn’t have done a deal with Groundskeeper Willie:

UPDATE DEUX:  Looks like all the foundation plants we put in out front last summah after repairs to teh flooded basement also made it.  And my climbing rose by the front door is about ready to explode.  It’s an improved Blaze, and after it was done blooming last summah I cut it back to about four feet or so.  It seemed to like this and I even got a few second-growth flowers.

UPDATE TROIS:  Wow – We have a knockout rose in a bucket inside a large ceramic pot on the upstairs landing to the back porch that I thought was absolute toast this winter, being in such an exposed position.  It’s taken some battle damage, but the thing’s actually got growth buds on it.

UPDATE QUATRE:  Juuust warm enough to have dinner on the porch in celebration of the day.   Very nice.

Washington-Nationals1Those friends of the decanter who are of the better sort are well aware that Spring Training is well underway and that it’s just about a month now until Opening Day.  Ol’ Robbo. Can’t. Wait.

I won’t go into a detailed analysis of my beloved Nationals in this post, except to say that I believe we are fielding a very, very strong team this year and have our best shot yet of making it deep into the post-season, perhaps even going All The Way.  (N.B. to the baseball gods – I said “perhaps”!)  As far as solid predictions go, I will state that I believe we will take 95+ games and win the Division pretty handily, especially as the Braves and the Phils are both in flame-out mode this season, while the Mets and the Fish are still building.

No, the thing I wanted to highlight here was the appearance of Danny Espinosa when he arrived in camp.  Danny is, and always has been, an excellent fielding second baseman but a mediocre (at best) switch-hitting batter.  This year, fighting for a bench position, he has finally agreed to stop trying to hit lefty, and to concentrate on his right-handed swing.  He also pledged to devote a great deal of training time to his swing mechanics.  To mark his resolve, he showed up looking like this:

espinosa stache

All I can say in response is to paraphrase Wash:  “Man walks down the street in that ‘stash, people know he’s not afraid of anything.”

Anyhoo, in all seriousness, I wish Danny the best of luck.  For all the heartburn he’s caused me at the plate, I still like him a lot.

And with that, what else is there to say except

GO, NATS!!!

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