You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘What Would Basil Fawlty Do?’ category.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A four-day weekend for Ol’ Robbo, and a mostly-bachelor one at that:   Mrs. R went down to Flahrdah yesterday to visit her parents; the Elder Gels are both back at school; and Youngest spends most of her time at home asleep these days.

So after waiting on Decanter Dog to finish up her biznay out in the yard early this morning I simply went back to bed….because I could.

Ha, ha, ha.

My plan, apart from attending to a few chores about Port Swiller Manor, is simply to take my mind off the hook for a few days.  I’ve started my umpteenth circumnavigation of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.  I’ve got “It Happened One Night” and “The Dirty Dozen” from Netflix.  My sight-reading at the keyboard is on one of its periodic upticks.  I am largely set for food and drink.  And I’ve got puppeh and kitteh to loaf with me.

So let the Impeachment Circus churn on.  Let my villainous Governor try to provoke a shoot-out in Richmond in order to justify even more draconian anti-2nd Amendment measures.  Let the line between the insanity of current events and the Babylon Bee’s satire grow ever hazier.  It’ll all still be there next Tuesday.  For now, I don’t care.


For you musick-loving friends of the decanter, this short video (I assume it’s an excerpt from a longer program) turned up in my yootoob feed a day or two ago:

Right at the end of the clip Johann Sebastian is hugged by a younger man who I’m pretty sure is meant to be his son, C.P.E. Bach, who was one of Frederick’s court composers.  It has long been my understanding that the theme which Frederick gives Old Bach in this bit, a pretty fiendish one, was most likely concocted by C.P.E., and that the whole thing was meant to be an elaborate practical joke to put the Old Man on the spot and spike him.  This is one of those little pieces of trivia which Ol’ Robbo chooses to believe whether it has any actual basis in fact or not.

(Old Bach, of course, eventually turned it into The Musical Offering, which frankly interests me more from an intellectual standpoint than an aesthetic one.)

Greetings my fellow port swillers!

The Elder Gels head back to kollij these next two days after winter breaks lasting roughly a month.

Of course this meant that both of them left it till today to go get their oil changed.  And of course both of them insisted that Ol’ Dad go along to ensure that they did not get rooked by Jiffy Lube into buying needless and expensive extra services.   (Actually, this was charitable, considering Ol’ Dad himself is footing the bill.)  And of course they couldn’t both go at the same time because reasons.

So guess where Ol’ Robbo spent a large chunk of his day today.

Good times.  Good times.

Not.  Jiffy Lube seems to have developed their own teevee network much like that featured at many gas station pumps these days.  Like GSTV, it’s absolutely filled with the most God-awful pablum.  And like GSTV, there appears to be no way to turn it off.




Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy New Year!

As we have done so since we were all in school together, Mrs. Robbo and I met up with the Former Llama Military Correspondent, his lovely bride, and their family to see in the new year.  This time, it was our turn to travel down to the secured grounds of Fort LMC, there to spend the afternoon and evening sipping adult beverages, nibbling on snacks, catching up, and only turning on the teevee for about five minutes to see the Ball drop in Times Square.  (I’m not sure why we even did this.  The teevee festivities were perfectly vulgar, and the crowd in Times Square nothing more than an advertising bonanza for Planet Fitness, who evidently don’t know how to spell “judgment” in American English.)  Said five minutes aside, a good time was had by all,

But speaking of balls and planets and whatnot, Ol’ Robbo was fascinated this week by the news that the star Betelgeuse is acting bizarre and raising speculation of an impending supernova.  How seriously fantastic would it be to see that?

I say “impending”, but of course Betelgeuse is (without looking it up) something like 600-odd light years away from Earth, so whatever we’re about to see happen actually already happened a looooong time ago.  We were batting this idea around the Port Swiller dinner table the other evening, and I think I raised some eyebrows among the Gels.  Certainly when one sits down and starts to really think about the magnitude of interstellar distances, one can make oneself quite dizzy.  Indeed, think about it too much and you’ll be overcome by a strong desire to turn on all the lights, jump into bed, and pull the covers over your head.  Ask me how I know.

Anyhoo, now Ol’ Robbo is eager to go out after dark and have a look at the constellation Orion to see if he can notice for himself any change in the appearance of his left shoulder.


***Spot the reference.  You don’t get credit for this one because it’s too easy, or should be.


Just because it’s been running through my head all day now.

I ran the teevee series off again some time in the past year or so and found it to be quite enjoyable in the nerdy, low-budget, early-80’s Beeb way.  And because I got thinking about it again, I pulled out the books this afternoon, which I have not read in some time.  I’ve been chuckling for hours.  (I think I piqued Middle Gel’s interest doing so.  I hope she gives them a try, as I think they’d be right up her alley.)

Oh, and I may have mentioned it here before, but the more recent moovie treatment?  In Robbo’s World it simply doesn’t exist.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, the Family Robbo is still trying to adjust itself to our Christmas Morning fiasco.  The roast beef dinner that I was going to fix for that evening? I’m cooking it tonight.

As you can imagine, Death and the Eternal were much on my mind at Mass today.  (It wasn’t just the cat.  Regular friends of the decanter will know that Ol’ Robbo has been dealing with another outbreak of the blues over the Mothe, as well.)  Fortunately, the musickal selections were particularly inspiring.  They included:

  • The Mass setting itself, which was the Missa “O Magnum Mysterium” by Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)
  • A motet also entitled “O Magnum Mysterium” by Victoria, sung after the Offertory Chant
  • Another motet, “Hodie Nobis Caelorum Rex” by Giovanni Maria Nanino (1543-1607), sung after the Communion Chant
  • Verbum Caro Factum Est” by Giovanni Croce (1557-1609), also sung after the Communion Chant, and
  • A traditional French carol, “Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle“, sung at the end of the Mass, that is to say after the Last Gospel.

It was all ravishing.

It’s through musick (primarily Renaissance and Baroque) that Ol’ Robbo imagines he feels the essence of Heaven, if you will.  I like to think that the best of what we produce here on Earth is inspired by and a faint echo of what the Eternal will be like.  I certainly hope it’s true and, of course, that I will get to find out some day.

Anyway, it had an immensely tonic effect on me.

UPDATE:  Delayed Christmas Dinner was a success.  I absolutely nailed the roast, the microwave-steamed asparagus came out very well, and these days I can  do popovers in my sleep.  The only dud was my gravy.  In past years, I’ve more or less winged it with decent, if not spectacular, results.  This year I looked up a formula on the innertoobs which produced a glop that tasted like flour-flavored paste.  Never trust the innertoobs.

But more importantly, my wimmin-folk and I had a delightful conversation, which I even managed to steer around to the subjects of God’s omnipotence, the Genesis Creation story, what possible reasons He could have had for creating and then wiping out the dinosaurs, and the matter of free will.  Eldest even got in a crack about how He, Him, and His are God’s preferred pronouns, and how dare anybody question His choices.  Heh, indeed.

Good times.


“We Can Haz Naps?”

Friends, it grieves Ol’ Robbo to have to report that this turned out to be the worst Christmas our family has ever had.  This is because on Christmas Morning Middle Gel discovered our cat Ginger lying dead in the basement, stone-cold and stiff as a board.  She was only six.

She had had some gland-blockage problems a couple weeks ago, but we took her into the vet’s and they gave her meds and a lotion to rub on her bum.  She seemed to respond well, and although she was still having some litterbox issues, she seemed quite happy, playing as usual and with a good appetite.  And indeed, when we had friends over for drinks on Christmas Eve, she came into the room and circulated as was her wont.

I didn’t realize what was going on until I got out of the shower and heard wailing downstairs. To me, the sight of Mrs. R and the Gels crying their eyes out was just as harsh as the sight of poor Ginger herself.

After standing about in shock for a bit, I eventually collected myself and found a sheet and a box.  The two elder Gels and I then took her to the vet for disposal.  (They have a communal site in an apple orchard where they scatter the ashes.)  We also got an impression of her front pawprints.

As you can imagine, we cancelled everything else for the day.

I didn’t ask for an autopsy.  From research on-line, my suspicion is that Ginger probably had heart-disease.  Maybe the extra straining in the litter box set it off, maybe not.  What I do know from the way we found her was that it happened very, very quickly.  Also, as I note, she had not been exhibiting any other signs of illness or wasting away.  Had we spotted anything out of the ordinary, of course we would have done something about it.

Sigh……Unfortunately, this is the very worst part of having pets, and is absolutely unescapable.  But it’s doubly-hard this time because she was so young and the thing was so unexpected.  At least we have the consolation of knowing that she was a happy cat who had a very good life, and that she likely never felt a thing when it happened.

Rest in peace.

UPDATE:  I switched the photo to one I like better.  Ginger is on the left with her cousin, Fiona.  Although they grew up together, so far Fiona is not weirding out, although I’m convinced she knows Something Has Happened.  Decanter Dog, on the other hand, to whom the kittehs were practically invisible, could not care less.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

There’s a throwaway bit in the movie “The Italian Job” in which Mahky-Mahk is playing a little one-on-one basketball with one of his crime team members.  As he sets up to drive on the basket, he asks the guy, “You ready? You ready?”

He then makes a feint but immediately backs up, laughingly saying, “You’re not ready.”

I feel the very same way about Christmas from both a temporal and a religious aspect.

I’m not ready.

Prayers that tomorrow’s scrambles make me ready. Both ways.

UPDATE:  I should have made it clearer that the source of my unreadiness was a dose the Holiday Blues. (Yes, I still am not quite over the loss of the Mothe.)  Tough to get out of bed this morning, but I did it.  I’ve been pretty busy since then and it seems to help.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself hiding in the Port Swiller Manor basement this Saturday morning, calming an hysterical Decanter Dog as the maids give the upstairs a pre-holiday going over.  What better time for a little Seasonal Random?

♦  I was compelled to put up the Tree last Sunday.  If I actually had any say in this house, it wouldn’t get decorated until Christmas Eve itself, but I’m just the “Hey, you!” around here and ten days out is about the best compromise I can usually swing.  At least I’m able to insist on purple ribbon on the front door wreaths until such time and keeping the Creche Child-less until I get home from Midnight Mass.

♦  I was flipping through the pile of X-mas cards this morning and noticed two things:  First, not a single one of them might be styled “religious” in any sense of the word.  The vast majority are of the family photo montage variety, with one or two Santas thrown in.  (To be fair, we sent the family sort ourselves this year.  As usual, I had resolved to do a separate set of Christian cards myself, and as usual, I never got around to it.)  Second, the ratio of “Just who the heck are these people?” cards seems unusually high this year.

♦  Middle Gel and I went to her old high school’s Winter Choral Concert Thursday evening.  She wound up sitting with a bunch of her alumni chums while Ol’ Robbo loitered around in the background, but it was still a lot of fun, as the singing is always high quality and the offering is always a good balance of the serious (e.g., a Vivaldi Magnificat) and the silly (e.g., a boys’ a cappella rendering of the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”, complete with zany choreography.)  They have a nice tradition of always ending this concert with the same piece, a medley of “Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” (both of which I actually like, even though they’re modern and secular).  The director invites all the choir alums in the audience to come up on stage and join in.  There was an enormous number of them this year for some reason.

♦  Speaking of Middle Gel, she and Mrs. R are off this afternoon to some town down on the Northern Neck where this same director had asked the Gel to join with a professional sextet to do a Lessons and Carols service at the local church tomorrow.  (One of his regular sopranos couldn’t make it.)  I thought it was very nice that he thought of her, and she’s even getting paid for it!

♦  Speaking of pay, Eldest bagged a job taking care of a couple dogs for the next two weeks or so.  It’s kind of astounding what kind of coin a gig like that can generate in these parts, and I find myself pondering whether I went into the wrong biznay myself after all.

♦  We do not have much planned this year in terms of festivities.  “A few people in for Christmas Eve drinks” threatened at one point to mushroom into something hideously complicated, but I put the kybosh on that one.  Christmas Dinner will only be the immediate family plus my older cousin.  She’s a card-carrying Globalist.  She’s also an atheist and a liberal elitist.  We sort of horrify her, but family loyalty wins out. and she pretty much behaves herself.  She won’t dare say anything about the Impeachment, for example, but I guarantee she’s going to get a jab in about Brexit.

Whelp, the dog continues to have hysterics, so perhaps despite the fact that it’s freezing out, Ol’ Robbo better go take her for walkies.

UPDATE:  The Lessons and Carols service went very well, and the Gel’s old choir director already has invited her to do next year’s service.  The Gel had taken this semester off from singing because she had a lot of other things on her plate (read: a killer bio class), but I got the sense that between the Thursday high school concert and this she’s been rediscovering how much she likes performing.  She’ll be doing her school choir again next semester.  She’s never going to be a Met headliner, but I don’t doubt that eventually she’ll find some kind of pro or semi-pro gig or gigs like this one that will satisfy this itch for her.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A light snowfall overnight here at Port Swiller Manor, with a “wintery mix” still coming down early this morning.

Normally, our local school district panics at the first sign of a snowflake, but today we didn’t even get a delay.  This despite the fact that both counties immediately to the west of us closed down their schools entirely.

Youngest Gel was livid.  And as she stumped out to her car with an ice-scraper, I’m sure she was even more embittered by the knowledge that her elder sisters, both of whom got home for winter break this weekend, were fast asleep still and not likely to fall out of bed until very late in the morning. (In fact, that’s exactly when they did fall out.)

I kept chuckling about this to myself all day.  But then I’m a bad man.

Ol’ Robbo was poking about in the fridge this evening in preparation for cooking up Sunday din-dins (breaded pork chops for Youngest and Self, feesh for Mrs. R), when he came across a pizza box that Youngest had brought home from somewhere or other.  The box lid reads as follows (and I swear I’m not making this up):



Is a Fresh Start

Is a Second Chance

Unites Communities

Has Someone’s Back

Helps Those In Need

Stands For Inclusivity

Feeds and Nourishes


Cor lumme, stone the crows.  Do these people ever shut up?  (And I’m going to guess that the bit about “inclusivity” does not refer just to weirdos who put pineapple on their pizza.)

Of course, I’m really not going out on a limb in surmising that such an advertising campaign isn’t aimed at stuffy old fogies like me who the SJW types would sooner send to the gulag.  As for Youngest? Well, she spent a good part of dinner ranting about the unsustainability of long-term federal entitlement programs, so you may judge for yourselves.  I doubt if she even noticed the box lid.

I haven’t yet asked her about the quality of the actual pizza itself which, of course, is the only thing that really matters.


** Narrator’s voice: It is a pizza box.

UPDATE: Ol’ Robbo got noodling on a little thought-experiment.  I roll my eyes at this sort of progressivist virtue-signaling, but if the pizza is actually good, I probably wouldn’t care that much.  So what would happen if, say, Chik-Fil-A started printing Gospel passages on its napkins?  Imma guess the reaction from the other side would be somewhat……different.

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!!




Blog Stats

  • 468,571 hits
January 2020
« Dec