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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The times.  They be interesting.

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



Georges de La Tour – St. Joseph the Carpenter

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Feast of St. Joseph the Worker!

As he was making his way home this evening, Ol’ Robbo found himself comparing and contrasting the Christian view – emphasized on this Feast Day – of the sanctity and dignity of honest labor that adheres to each individual with the arbitrary, faceless, collectivist, archetypal pawn that is the “worker” of Marxist political doctrine.  The two simply couldn’t be more different.  Jesus loves each and every one of us personally.  Under Marxism, you’re just nameless cannon-fodder.  (BTW, I really hate the word “worker” for precisely this reason.)

And speaking of which, I gather that either yesterday or the day before (I refuse to look it up) was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, the man whose crackpot Utopian theories were directly responsible for the deaths of 100+ million people and the denigration and enslavement of how many 100 millions more.

Heck of a job, Marxy.

And yet there are still those who praise the bastard, arguing that Marxism will work this time, swearsies, if only we get the Right People in place and give them the proper amount of power, which is to say, all of it.  Some of them, I suspect, are simply naïve.  Others know perfectly well that the whole thing is a crock, but recognize it as a vehicle by which they pursue their will to power.

I’m always reminded of what Peej O’Rourke wrote (long before he contracted Trump Derangement Syndrome):  “Communists worship Satan.  Socialists believe perdition is a good system run by bad people.  And Liberals think we should all go to hell because it’s warm there in the winters.”

Anyhoo, as a husband, father, and principal bread-winner, over the years I have become more and more fond of St. Joseph.  When Ol’ Robbo swam the Tiber ten years ago, I took as my patrons Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the former because he was a convert himself and the latter because of his enormous intellectual defense of the Faith.  I still turn to them, but for ordinary, everyday, hands-on practical living?  Give me Joe.  (I’ve even got a “Prayer to St. Joseph Over A Difficult Problem”  – lifted from Father Z some time back – tacked to my bulletin board at work.)

St. Joseph, ora pro nobis!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy St. George’s Day!

(And happy….eh…454th – if my math is correct – birthday of Will Shakespeare, too!)

Of course, Ol’ Robbo is neither blind nor a fool, and knows that the Britain of which he has always been such a fan has virtually ceased to exist, overwhelmed by foreign invasion and suicidal self-doubt.  Similarly, he knows that Shakespeare’s genius is practically an alien language to the Young People these days.

Nonetheless, Ol’ Robbo prefers to light single candles rayther than to curse the darkness.  So I will put aside my gloom and ask you all to charge your glasses, gunn’ls under, and raise them to St. George and the Bard with three times three and no heel taps!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt you’ve seen by now that The New Yorker has decided to take a slap at Chick-Fil-A for daring to expand its footprint in the City and further spreading its Christian cooties all over the place?   “Creepy infiltration” the author calls it.  Why?

And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company’s charitable wing to fund anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage.

You know, it’s a damned shame what happened to The New Yorker.  My parents subscribed for years and years, and when I went off to college I took out my own subscription as well.  There was always that insular, Manhattanite, soft-liberal air about it, but this very rarely interfered with the high-quality writing, as it was still then somewhat tied to Reality.  And in those days, the magazine was still capable of laughing at itself over this attitude. (I have a framed print of a New Yorker cartoon from the 70’s in the downstairs loo.  A long-haired yoot is speeding away from a grand country house in a sports car.  His mother and grandmother are sitting out on the terrace watching him go.  The mother is saying to the grandmother, “It’s all right, Mother.  When the boy says society is rotten, he doesn’t mean Southampton.”)

But Tina Brown took over in the early 90’s and immediately turned the magazine politickal (I recall her slobbering all over the Clintons) and “edgy”, and it’s been veering harder left ever since.  (Or so I gather.  I let my subscription run out after putting up with her for a year or two. I did see the cover art featuring “Sesame Street’s” Ernie and Bert cuddling after the Supremes handed down their gay marriage decision.)  And here we are.

As I say, a damned shame.

As for CFA, the article admits that it’s selling sammiches like gang-busters in the City, so evidently not all Noo Yawkers are bothered by its –eek!– “pervasive Christian traditionalism”.

Closer to home, CFA has been the Port Swiller go-to fast food place for years and years.  The food is consistently yummy, the service consistently efficient and pleasant, even under trying circumstances.  (We once stopped at one in Charlottesville the day of the UVA/Virginia Tech game.  It was a sea of people, but it was the most patient, good-natured, and tolerant sea of people I’ve ever seen, and the staff were absolute heroes.)  And nobody has ever quizzed me on my sexual politicks or demanded to share their personal witness before handing over my order.  (Compare that with Starbucks’ short-lived attempt to have their baristas mix it up with customers over racial politicks. Feh!)

After the SJW sturmtruppen tried to organize a boycott of CFA over its owners’ Christianity a few years back, a boycott that blew up in their faces bigly, we took to calling the place “Hate-Fil-A” in mockery (of the SJW’s, that is).  We still refer to “Hate-sammiches”, “Hate-shakes”, and “Fries of Intolerance”.  Eldest Gel and I also have a long-standing joke:  Whenever she comes home from picking up a meal there, she says, “Do you know what those intolerant bastards did? They told me to have a nice day!  Who the hell do they think they are?”

And now, darn it, Ol’ Robbo is hungry for a Hate-sammich, but it’s Sunday and CFA isn’t open.  Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel is taking a 300-level seminar on Medieval Law this semester.  The other day, she called me up cackling with glee over a research paper she’s going to be doing to basically finish out the next couple weeks.  I’m not altogether completely clear on what the general parameters of the paper are supposed to be, but they have something to do with selecting and examining an instance of the treatment of women under one or more legal codes of the period.

Why was the gel so gleeful?  Well, apparently all the other students in her class immediately zoomed in on examples of Muh Oppression.  The Gel can’t stand this sort of thing, so she decided to spike the lot of them by exploring a period of Papal Succession (previously unknown to me) in the middle of the 10th Century known as the Saeculum Obscurumor the “Rule of the Harlots”.  Per Wiki:

The saeculum obscurum was first named and identified as a period of papal immorality by the Italian cardinal and historian Caesar Baronius in his Annales Ecclesiastici in the sixteenth century.  Baronius’ primary source for his history of this period was a contemporary writer, Bishop Liutprand of Cremona. Baronius himself was writing during the Counter-Reformation, a period of heightened sensitivity to clerical corruption. His characterisation of the early 10th-century papacy was perpetuated by Protestant authors. The terms Pornocracy (German: Pornokratie, from Greek pornokratiā, “rule of prostitutes”), Hetaerocracy (“government of mistresses”) and the Rule of the Harlots (German: Hurenregiment) were coined by Protestant German theologians in the nineteenth century.

What it amounted to, so I gather, was that several extremely powerful women of the Theophylacti family of Rome used a combination of, eh, feminine wiles and legal arcanae to appoint and control a number of 10th Century Popes.

I should make clear that the Gel’s delight does not arise from the light in which it places Holy Mother Church during that period, but rayther because this is an example of actual history that goes against the Current Narrative.  She’s just like that.  (Can’t imagine where she got it.)

Speaking of which, I suppose I can announce here that the Gel is actually transferring schools at the end of this semester.  As much as she found Sweet Briar to be an excellent incubator as she got her academic feet under her, she decided that it is just too small, socially speaking, and that she wanted someplace bigger and (so I gather) with boys.  So she’s moving over to High Point University this fall as a Junior.

I must say that I’m extremely proud of the Gel.  She told me a couple months ago that she wanted a change and I didn’t fight her on it. “However,” I said, “This is your pigeon.  You’re 20 years old.  You want it to happen? You make it happen.  You deal with the consequences.”  And she did.  She did all the application essays and paperwork herself, looked up an old high school friend of hers who goes to HPU to get the lay of the land and insider-baseball tips, and then arranged and drove down on her own to do an on-campus interview and tour.  She’s also done all the subsequent stuff regarding acceptance, housing, and so-forth.

And what of High Point?  Whelp, it’s a private school of about 5000 kids, located half an hour from my brother’s house.  The President is a self-made immigrant gazillionaire who seems bent on combining a traditional liberal arts curriculum with courses on character and dealing with the Real World.   I’ve done a good bit of poking around on-line about the place, and there seems to be a definite split in opinion – people either love it or hate it, although the “hate” seems to center mainly around the unorthodox methods in which the President manages to raise and pour money into the place.  Curiously, we’ve come across one stat that suggests the place is attractive to kids who also look at CNU, where Middle Gel starts in the fall.  Of those who get into both, there seems to be about a 50-50 split.  They both, from what I can tell, seem to be part of the up-and-coming wave of schools snapping up good kids put off by the outrageous expense and Cultural Marxism offered by the so-called elite academies these days.

We shall see.

[Ed. – Sorry?]

‘Ooh, ah like a nice tune, ‘yer forced too!

[Ed. – Then you can go on posting?]

Most certainly.  And now, my fellow port swillers, greetings!

Ol’ Robbo didn’t do all that well this past Lent with heightened prayer, meditation, and reading, but he did do a very good job in sacrifice by giving up all musick for the 40 days, apart from an hour or so on Sundays , and sticking to it.

You have to understand that for me, musick is a near-constant presence in my normal life.  I keep the radio on in the car and in my office all day.  I frequently listen to CD’s in the evenings.  I put in a few hours tickling the ivories on the weekends.  Cutting all that out produces a real, well, silence, and is a …SHUT THAT BLOODY BOUZOUKI UP!

[Ed. – Told you.]

A real but manageable penance.

Now that it’s Easter Week, of course, I’m indulging myself to the fullest and enjoying it all the more so for having abstained these past weeks.

He is risen, indeed, two, three…..


(By the bye, the Python sketch on which I’ve been riffing in this post is an excellent example of one they did better on record (the Matching Tie and Handkerchief Album, if I recall correctly) than on tee-vee.  That’s an endlessly fascinating topic of conversation in and of itself – which sketches worked best in which mediums and why.

Well I’m fascinated by it.  And remember, if you enjoy the topic half as much as I do, then I enjoy it twice as much as you.  Ha, ha!

[Ed. – Cue the 16-ton weight!])

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In case you missed it, George Washington University (annual cost $72K),  is offering an “event” this Easter Week entitled “Christian Privilege: But Our Founding Fathers Were All Christian, Right?!”

Say what?

How do Christians in the USA experience life in an easier way than non-Christians? Even with the separation of Church and State, are there places where Christians have built-in advantages over non-Christians? How do we celebrate Christian identities and acknowledge that Christians receive unmerited perks from institutions and systems all across our country? Let’s reflect upon ways we can live up to our personal and national values that make room for all religious and secular identities on an equal playing field.  All are welcome!

Well, at least they’re out in the open about their bigotry.  “How do we celebrate Christian identities and acknowledge that Christians receive unmerited perks…?”  Short answer: We don’t.  Something’s got to go and I’ll give you two guesses what it is.

Is it really “easy” to be a Christian these days?  Ol’ Robbo certainly doesn’t find this to be the case.  Anywhere outside my family and my church community, I have to keep my head down and my mouth shut most of the time.

By the bye, somebody at GWU needs to brush up on their history.  Most of the “Founding Fathers” were lukewarm Christians at best.  A number of them – including Washington, Jefferson, and Madison – were Deists, people who accepted that some kind of Divine Power set up the Universe, but who thought (to one extent or another) that the whole biznay of Jesus, with His “miracles” and His claims to be God and His “death and resurrection”, was a lot of hooey.  See, e.g., the “Jefferson Bible“.   (I believe there was one Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.  I also believe there were also one or two prominent Jews among the Founders.)

Let’s have a look at some of the “Learning Objectives” of this “event”:

  • Participants will be able to describe what is meant by privilege overall and white privilege specifically.
  • Participants will be able to describe the role of denial when it comes to white privilege.
  • Participants will be able to differentiate between equality and equity.

Ah, there you go.

When Ol’ Robbo was an undergrad at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown back in the day, he accidentally stumbled one time into a session of something called “Crit/Self-Crit“.  Within about 30 seconds or so, I realized that it was nothing more than an exercise in forced self-loathing.  That’s all this really is, at least as far as any “White Christian” idiot enough to actually attend.  (And, of course, an exercise in grievance-mongering for anyone else.)

Thank Heaven Ol’ Robbo is immune to this sort of nonsense.  (Oops! Is it privileged for me to say that?)

A glass of wine with The College Fix via The Ewok.


Raphael – Resurrection of Christ

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is going to be busy for the next few days and unlikely to get time for gratuitous dallying over the decanter, so I thought I would go ahead and wish you all a very happy Easter now.  Yes, it’s Holy Thursday as I type this, but transporting forward, He is risen, indeed!  Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Frankly, however, Holy Week has turned out to be something of a dud for Ol’ Robbo.  I’d had all sorts of plans to really go in for the Triduum, especially as Mrs. R and the Gels are in Flariduh for spring break, but when push came to shove, I found I only really have the energy to manage purely obligatory church attendance this year.  (I’m not even planning to go to the Vigil Mass Saturday night, which I’ve always done in memory of the fact that I was received into HMC at that Mass ten years ago.)

Similarly, we are hosting Easter Dinner, which will involve my brother and his family plus my elderly cousin.  Originally, I was looking forward to concocting a combination of rack of lamb and interesting accompaniments (which I still haven’t nailed down, apart from grilled asparagus).  Now, I’m rayther dreading it all.

Why is this, you may ask?  Well, I think it all goes back to still grieving over the loss of the Mothe in August.   The same dragging enervation, which had gradually dried up last fall, suddenly reappeared around Christmas and flattened me.  (I couldn’t manage Midnight Mass, as much as I adore it.)  It wore away again as the new year progressed, but caught me again a couple weeks ago when I was reflecting on the 11th anniversary of the Old Gentleman’s death.  Now, seemingly, here we are again.

When the blue devils got to me at Christmas, I consulted my parish Padre about them.  He basically said yeah, the first year after you lose Mom is rough; that the feeling will bubble up again on holidays and important dates like birthdays; and that it’s all perfectly natural so don’t worry about it.

I’m telling myself that again now.

Basta!  The melancholy may drain me at the more surface-y levels, but I’m also grateful for the profound strength of Faith that is buoying me deeper down.  So I say again to all of you:  Happy Easter!  He is risen, indeed! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!




Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Motivated by all the buzz I’ve read about it in the corners of the innerwebs where I lurk, Ol’ Robbo recently went out and bought himself a copy of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life, An Antidote To Chaos.  Curiously enough, without either of us knowing it, at exactly the same time that I was picking up my hardback copy from the devil’s website, Mrs. R was downloading a copy onto her iThingy.  Go figure.

Not that I usually read this sort of thing, of course.  And I certainly wouldn’t bother with a “Rules for Life” book by somebody like, say, Oprah, or Joel Osteen, or Phil Donahue.  But the word I got was that Peterson is sharp, articulate, and causing all the right Lefty heads to explode, so I decided to check him out.  (The back of the book contains blurbs of praise from Camille Paglia, Howard Bloom, and National Review.)


The “Rules” themselves are what I would have considered to be simple common sense:  Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.  Respect yourself.  Respect others.  Respect tradition. (Here he restates the principle of Chesterton’s Fence without apparently realizing it).  Discipline the kids when they need it.  Do your damn laundry.  That sort of thing.  I guess what Peterson brings to the table is his unpacking of these things and getting at their roots.  In this, he covers a lot of intersecting topics such as behavioral evolution (I’ll never look at a lobster the same way again), clinical psychology, the biological differences between male and female, personal biography, and social development – on both the individual and societal levels.

Another big topic which dances in and out of his discussion is religion, and specifically Christianity.  (He also discusses the Old Testament and refers here and there to parallels within Buddhism, Taoism, and Ancient Egyptian mythology.  There is no mention whatever of Islam.)  Here, I have to admit that he puzzles me a bit, because for all of his praise of the Christian ethic (and there is a tremendous amount here), I can’t quite figure out if he actually, you know, is one.

For one thing, he makes some odd assertions.  He quotes the “Gospel” of Thomas.  He makes a gratuitous reference to Christ’s “androgyny” that seems immaterial.  He talks about the 19th Century Church’s “belief” in faith without works, which I’m pretty sure was isolated to a few Calvinist sects.  (At least it was never part of HMC’s teachings so far as I know.)

For another, he consistently refers to Christ as an “Archetype”.  That’s mythology-speak.  He also discusses Christianity largely in terms of psychological constructs, instead of terms of the relationship between us and a separate, independent God who exists whether we believe in Him or not.  (Nietzsche can go piss up a rope.)  Also, when he writes of the (false) dichotomy between Faith and Science, I can’t tell if he’s merely reporting it, or falls somewhat into the trap himself.

On the other hand, his description of the Logos, the Word of God, is fantastic, as are his thoughts on suffering, sacrifice and what some people call “servant leadership”.  Also, Bishop Robert Barron has been enthusing about him.  So maybe I’m just missing something here.

Another thing Peterson is absolutely fantastic on is the problem of Evil.  He calls it “denial of Being”, which is another way of describing Satan’s “Non serviam!”  It amounts to the complete and utter rejection of nothing less than Creation itself.  In his discussion, he quotes not only Milton’s Lucifer, but also those psychopaths who shot up Sandy Hook and Columbine.  I thank God that I simply cannot fathom that level of depravity.

Anyway, I like what I’ve read, even though I must confess that I rather galloped through it (which may explain some of my questions).  It’s well worth going back and reading more slowly on a chapter by chapter basis.  Unfortunately, and for Heaven’s sake don’t take this the wrong way, as much as I like the book, I’m fairly certain that it won’t get that much play with those who need it more than I do.  My soul is far, far from perfect, but I’m reasonably sure I’m at least headed in the right general direction.  The question is, how do you get the lazy, the shiftless, the narcissistic, or the outright psychotic to sit down and both read and absorb this wisdom?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo mentioned recently that Eldest Gel has decided to minor in musickal theatre.  (She’s been bitten hard by the acting bug and has loved every minute of the four stage productions she’s been involved with so far.  How this has happened with a girl of such Cromwellian sensibilities is quite beyond me.)

To this end, the Gel’s taking a course this semester about the history of musickals, in which the prep work seems to be watching a classick movie version and being ready to come to class and talk about it.  (Rest assured: for her history major she’s taking plenty of traditional classes, including a seminar this semester on various medieval legal codes.  I don’t begrudge her the occasional “fun” class like this one in the least.)

Anyhoo, this evening she called me up:

“Dad!  I’m supposed to watch Jesus Christ Superstar tonight for my class.  Have you seen it?”

“No, but I know what it is.”


“The ‘Long-Haired Hippy Crap’ Gospel.”

“Aw, man!  Is it blasphemous?”

“It’s from about 1970 and it’s hippies.  So yes, very probably.”

“Aw, maaaaan!  Well, I suppose I’d better watch it, if for no other reason than to argue what’s wrong with it to the idiots in my class.”

That’s the spirit! You go get ’em!”

And that’s my Gel!

UPDATE:  Talked to her again post-viewing.

“So…what did you think?”

“Man, I was all set to hate it but the music.  I mean, 70’s rock! That’s my thing!  I really liked it.  Wish the words were different, though.”

She went on to complain about Jesus being a wimp and Judas being too reasonable and sympathetic.

“And what’s the deal with Mary Magdalene?  You’d think she and Jesus were lovers or something.”

The name Dan Brown popped into my head, but I damped it back down.  It would have taken an hour to explain things and I was supposed to be working.

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