Ol’ Robbo generally confines himself to two posts a weekend, gardening on Saturdays and God-stuff on Sundays, but I think this weekend merits a dividend:

Today is May the Fifth, Cinco de Mayo.  An obscure (to Americans, at least) date in the history of Mexico’s path to independence, now transmogrified by Big Alcohol into an excuse for blatant debauchery much on the level of New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day.

Yesterday, however, was May the Fourth.  An ordinary date now transmogrified by Big Hollywood via a horrible “Star Wars” clinch into something rapidly approaching a new secular holiday.

You may decide for yourselves which one Ol’ Robbo finds more repulsive.

 

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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I believe I mentioned the other day that Eldest decided to come home for reading days before her finals in order to drop off a load of her junk.

She and I got talking last evening about a History of Judaism** class she’s taking this semester.  The Rabbi who teaches it claims to be a Conservative.  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t know much about the strains and gradations of American Judaism these days, but from some of the things the Gel tells me have come out of this one’s mouth, there’s no real difference between Conservatives and Reformed anymore.  The Gel is still trying to wrap her brain around the idea that modern American Judaism is mostly cultural, not religious.

Anyhoo, the Gel told me about a discussion the class had concerning Abraham’s haggling with God over the fate of Sodom.  In the end, according to the Rabbi, Abraham was trying to “hold God to a Higher Standard”.  This is code language Ol’ Robbo has heard in many other forms from time to time and loosely translates into, “I’d worship a God only if xhe was more like Me.”

The Gel was having none of it.

“What are you talking about?” she said. “God is omniscient, omnipotent, and timeless! Nobody could challenge Him to be ‘higher’ because He’s already the Highest!  Abraham was looking for mercy and maybe thought he could change God’s mind, but he didn’t have the slightest chance because God’s mind doesn’t change.”

To her credit, the Rabbi has got used to the Gel calling her out on things and doesn’t punish her for it.  She acknowledged that yes, the Gel’s viewpoint was at least a valid one.

Sigh.…Do none of these people who think they can out-God God read Job anymore?

In the same conversation with me, by the bye, the Gel roundly damned Humanism, said the term “The Enlightenment” is a wholesale fraud, criticized another history professor for making the class study the Battle of the Wabash to show the United States Army “wasn’t perfect” (“Where the hell did he get that strawman?” she said), and generally condemned anyone who applies 21st Century sensibilities to historickal facts (in this case, American colonization of the Ohio Valley) as idiots.

That’s my Gel!

 

**Mrs. R’s family, on her father’s side, are Sephardic Jews who can trace their ancestry all the way back to getting chucked out of Spain during the Inquisition.  This fact has always intrigued Eldest Gel and has largely shaped her academic interests.  Most of her studies have focused on religious history, particularly in Renaissance Europe, and she’s spent much of her time trying to uncake the mud of Modernist interpretation to get at it.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is sitting on the back porch this dank morning, enjoying an early cup of cofeve and contemplating the day’s chores.  The grass has reached the stage where it really could stand to be cut twice a week, it’s growing so fast, so skipping even the once a week cut is not an option.  Alas, it rained last night (indeed, it’s still sort of drizzling now), so this is going to be an irksome job today.

Ol’ Robbo’s push mower has an optional rear-mounted clippings bag.  I never use the thing because you have to stop about every five minutes to empty it, but instead am content to just let the clippings mulch back into the turf.  This works fine most of the time, but when it’s wet out like this I have to stop about every five minutes anyway in order to dig all the clippings out of the blade well where they’ve got all jammed up.  Most annoying.  (I’m also convinced that one of these days I’m going to slip and fall and accidentally shiv myself with the weed-sticker I keep in my back pocket for this purpose.)

Speaking of mower blades, in true middle-aged fashion my brother and I got talking about them when he and his family were here for Easter. It turns out he has a rather elaborate system of switching out his – while one is in use, the other is off being re-sharpened.  I gather he switches them fairly frequently, too.  I’ve never done this in my life, and my immediate thought was that it would be a waste of money.  Am I, in my ignorance, violating some provision of the Guy Code here?  I can’t say I’ve noticed anything particularly wrong with the cut I get but now I’m starting to feel a bit paranoid.

Well, enough of both rambling and cofeve.  As the Constable of France says to his colleagues in Act III of Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt, “Now is the time to arm.  Come, shall we about it?”

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was interested to read over at the Puppy-Blender’s again today the report that Louis Farrakhan had been banned from FacePlant and Twatter, originally and hilariously as a “right-winger”, but latterly identified merely as an “extremist” once the derisive guffawing got too loud.

I mention this because back in the day of my academic career at The People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT, one of the campus militant groups invited Farrakhan to come speak.  All hell broke loose:  Lots of other organizations demanded that the invitation be rescinded; there was a persistent rumor that the Jewish Defense League planned to bomb the offices of the student newspaper; and a couple days prior to the speech there was a notable uptick in the visible presence of both campus security and town cops.

And of course a protest was organized to take place outside the venue where Farrakhan was speaking.

Now Dear Ol’ Wes was renowned back in the day for what Ol’ Robbo more than once referred to as the “Protest de Jure“.  The kids were always out demonstrating about one thing or another, Apartheid all the way through zoo abuse, to the point where I literally saw hall-mates of mine get into arguments over what day it was, what protest it was, and what was the appropriate costume/signage.  Indeed, as cartoonist to the campus conservative newspaper, I even went so far at one point as to propose a generic protest placard – readily amendable at the last second – to avoid these awkward situations.

That’s Ol’ Robbo – always trying to help! (It didn’t go over very well.)

Anyhoo, what marked the anti-Farrakhan protest different from all the other eleventy-billion gripe-fests that occurred during Ol’ Robbo’s time as a student was the fact that I actually attended this one.

Yep, marched, sat, listened to a bunch of speeches, marched back.  (No, I did not chant.)

Mind you, Ol’ Robbo didn’t participate because he thought Farrakhan should not have been allowed to speak in the first place, as so many of my fellow protesters evidently did.  No, I turned up simply to show my poor opinion of the things that came out of Farrakhan’s mouth (and still do).  He has the right to rave, I have the right to say he’s raving.

I thought that was what free expression was all about,  Silly me, at least in the eyes of our Social Media overlords.

Speaking of Ol’ Wes, friends of the decanter may be interested to know that the most recent passenger to climb into the Donk 2020 Presidential Hopeful Clown Car, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, was a classmate of mine there.  I didn’t know him back in the day, and only became aware of his name when the alum magazine glommed on to his Colorado senate election campaign a few years back and started puffing him.  This evening, I went so far as to pull out our old yearbook and look him up.  The face is vaguely familiar, but I still got nothing.

I’d assume that in the unlikely event Bennet wins in ’20, a request from Ol’ Robbo based on our undergrad ties for an appointment to an ambassadorship – to, say, the Vatican or the Court of St. James – would more than likely fall on deaf ears.  Eh.

 

***Classic Blues Brothers reference actually based on The Skokie Affair, required reading in Con Law, at least back in my day.  I hate Illinois Nazis, too.  But to be frank, Elwood had no biznay running them off that bridge.

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No doubt such a group as you friends of the decanter will be heartened by this story: Beer, Wine, and Chocolate Are Key to Living a Long Life, Study Says.

Working with more than 68,000 participants, [Warsaw University’s Professor Joanna] Kaluza and a team of scientists found that those with diets rich in fruit and vegetables, as well as beer, wine, and chocolate, which have anti-inflammatory properties, were up to 20 percent less likely to die prematurely [of heart disease and cancer] than those who ate a lot of red meat, sugary sodas, and processed foods.

“It is known that fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, red wine, beer, and chocolate are rich in antioxidants,” Kaluza told Metro.

What would we do without studies?

As a matter of fact, Ol’ Robbo’s own diet cuts almost perfectly at right angles across these statements.  Coffee and wine are basically the alpha and omega of my dietary day.  On the other hand, I’m not really a beer drinker (it makes me feel bloaty), and I have no sweet-tooth whatsoever (so avoid both chocolate and soda).  Meanwhile, I am a dedicated carnivore, am mildly indifferent to fruits (except pineapple, which I loathe), and am very picky about vegetables (read: nothing beyond a green salad and an artichoke every now and again).  I dunno what “processed foods” actually means, but I suppose I eat some of them, too.   Result? So far into my now firmly middle age, neither my waistline nor my weight have changed very much since my college days, and although my doc has tsk-tsk’d at me about these dietary confessions, she’s never yet been able to pin specific medical consequences to them.   So there.

Indeed, Ol’ Robbo has long suspected that the real allocation of overall health and longevity is, in fact, genetically-based.  Diet, exercise, mental well-being – in fact the whole concept embodied in the old tag mens sana in corpore sano – are important, of course, and can’t be ignored, but I suspect that their impact (beyond outright abusive behavior) is mostly at what one might call the margins:  If you’re pre-programmed to last somewhere between 75 and 85 years, attention to these things may land you at the top of that range, but it won’t really help you hit your century.  For contra-examples, consider these stories that turn up every now and again of somebody who smokes cigars prodigiously, knocks back whiskey every day, and lives to be 115.

Go figure.

At any rate, a glass of wine with the Puppy-Blender, from whom I lifted this story, although I actually find objectionable his oft-repeated enthusiasm for the notion of extending human life through Science!  Where he sees good in technological breakthroughs that could extend the average lifespan to 150 years or even preserve each of our “essences” indefinitely, all I see is the devil shouting at God, “Non serviam!”   We all die to this life, whether we like it or not.  Properly centered in Faith, we shouldn’t mind it.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo should clarify re that last bit that I am neither talking smack because I happen to be in good health at the moment nor am I suggesting cancers and other illnesses should not be fought vigorously.  God alone knows how I’ll react if and when I get that call from the doc’s assistant telling me I need to come in for a “talk”.  Instead, I’m objecting to the broader notion of significantly changing our natural parameters, or even outrunning Death altogether, through science and technology.  This includes everything from artificially growing “spare” parts to downloading our consciousness into some sort of computer bank to sticking our heads in jars a la “Futurama”.

Also, I meant to mention that J.R.R. Tolkien thought this idea important enough to touch on it in his writings.  In The Simarillion, Man’s natural death originally was called “the Gift of Eru ” but Morgoth, through lies and whispers, convinced Men it was an evil thing, so it became know as “the Curse of Eru”.  This served to diminish Men’s character and to estrange them from both Eru Himself and from the apparently immortal Elves.  Both the Kings of Numenor and then later (in the back story to The Lord of the Rings) those of Gondor became so obsessed with escaping it that they caused their own ruin.  Of course, Middle Earth, as Tolkien insisted, is not an allegory, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t weave his own worldview into it both in theme (as here) and specific actions. (It’s no coincidence, for example, that the Ring goes into the Fire on March 25.)

And speaking of Ol’ J.R.R., I understand there’s a new biopic coming out about him, but I also understand (at least from FacePlant sources) that it contains virtually no reference whatsoever to his deeply-held Catholic Faith.  How anyone could expect to truly understand his character formation and development without exploring that aspect of it, I simply can’t imagine.  Of course, the keyword in that sentence is “truly”, so there you go.  Unless somebody convinces me otherwise, I do not plan to see it.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

With the arrival of spring and its legions of tourons in Your Nation’s Capital also has come the reappearance of the ice cream truck fleet.  For whatever reason, it seems to Ol’ Robbo that there are more of them parked around town this year than previously.  (Actually,  more food trucks in general.  I dunno if this is due to a relaxation in regulations or a booming market or some combination of both.)

I know several of them within my immediate vicinity and can follow their movements from one spot to another by their signature tunes blaring out over their loudspeakers, much the way I follow birds from the porch of Port Swiller Manor.  There’s one that plays “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.  Another seems to be trying to corner the high-brow market with a selection from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”.  A third offers up an old song called “Red Wing” which I happen to know only because The Dook and Lee Marvin give a drunken (and historickally impossible) rendition of it in “The Comancheros“, a favorite movie of mine.  And then there’s the one that plays  a portion of Joplin’s “The Entertainer”, which frankly makes me grind my teeth in memory of every kiddie piano recital in which I was made to participate during my misspent yoot.  (I never learned it myself – the Joplin piece I studied was the “Maple Leaf Rag” – but some other kid always, always played it. And poorly, too.)

I hear all of these (and others) both during my lunchtime walks and also as I slog out of the City during my afternoon commute.  And what I can’t help wondering is this:  Even a few moments of listening to the same ten second loop of blaring, metallic, synthesized musick over and over and over and over again makes me start to twitch.  How the heck do the fellahs who run these trucks stand hours of it without flipping out?

I suppose they just manage to blot it all out, somehow.  (What are the pot laws in Dee Cee these days? Pretty lax if I’m not mistaken.)  Pretty sure I wouldn’t make it through my first day without suddenly seizing an ice-cream scoop and running amok up and down the Mall, laying into everyone I could reach.

UPDATE: Speaking of ice cream brings to the surface an amusing (to me, at any rate) recollection from my time at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT.  I had the same roommate my junior and senior years.  In many respects, we could not have been more opposite.  I was a conservative, Christian, traditionalist jock from South Texas.  He was a 90-pound Jewish liberal from Jersey.  (Our arguments over Jim Morrison, for example, were epic.  Roommate: “He was a visionary genius!”  Self: “He was a goddam hippy punk!”)

What made it work was the fact that we had very, very similar senses of humor.  He put me on to Firesign Theatre, for example, which I find quite clever and amusing even if it is hippy stream-of-consciousness drug humor. In return, I broadened his Monty Python exposure.  One of our favorite practices was to buy the Weekly World News and to cut up and rearrange the headlines, thus making them even stranger than the originals.  These we would tape to our hall door for the benefit of our hallmates.  (I lived on a very radical leftist hall.  They never could quite decide what to make of me, in large part because of things like this.)

More to the point, the only class we ever took together was a basic Macro Econ class.  It was taught by a native-Polish prof who studied in Britain.  Where other econ profs used the word “widgets” to describe a basic unit of production, this prof used “ice cream”, I suppose in an effort to engage our fleeting attention.  In order to get around the problem of breaking that commodity down into individual units, he would say “ice creams“.   My roommate and I both noticed this and both found it funny, especially as served up in a plummy Brit accent.  It got to the point that if we accidentally made eye-contact in class when the prof offered it up, we’d both break down in helpless giggles.

Ah, yoot.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Quasimodo Sunday!

Ol’ Robbo was particularly touched by today’s Collect (Old Calendar):

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui paschalia festa peregimus; haec, te largiente, moribus et vita teneamus.

(Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who have celebrated the Paschal Feast, may, by Thy bounty, retain its fruits in our daily habits, and behavior.)

I had been thinking again about such things just this morning.  By the end of Lent and a rather heavy lode of fasts and abstinences he took on, Ol’ Robbo felt that he was getting the Holy Ghost’s signal quite a bit more clearly than he has for some time now. I fear that slipping back into my old routines (and I have to slip somewhat because I couldn’t keep that up indefinitely), it’ll start getting fuzzier again like the signal from my clock-radio, which you have to adjust just so if you expect to hear anything coherent, and which keeps going out of alignment all by itself.

Not that I’m expecting Bose-quality clarity, of course, but I don’t want to eat static.

And as it’s also Divine Mercy Sunday, the Padre gave a very good homily about the importance to Christian Faith of forgiving others which I wish I could get my siblings to hear.  It also hit home because they had a falling out when the Mothe died and haven’t spoken to each other since, and my understanding of the situation is that neither one is willing to budge until the other first admits that They Were Wrong.  I find the whole biznay to be petty and vindictive, not to mention anguishing, especially given that the Mothe’s will contained a codicil which specifically said “Don’t Fight!”  But so far nobody is paying much attention to my efforts at peace-making.  (Just have to keep trying, I suppose.)

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A crisp, clear, blustery day today at Port Swiller Manor, which for some mysterious reason feels more like September than April – a patent absurdity when you consider the tons of pollen and legions of maple seed pods I had to clear off the driveway this morning.

Another patent absurdity is the tornado warning which Youngest tells me was inflicted on her school yesterday afternoon when the thundershowers came through.  According to her, they were all hustled into the halls and made to sit there for about 45 minutes.  What nonsense: None of the cells Ol’ Robbo saw (and the school is within about five miles of here) looked anything like severe as they came over.  Prudence is one thing, pusillanimity another.

And speaking of pusillanimity, Ol’ Robbo stumbled across a grass snake as he was messing about in the garden, the first he’s seen in several years.  In fact, I nearly stepped on it. The rational part of my mind said, “Perfectly harmless, good for pest control, more afraid of you than you are of it, etc…..”  The irrational (and majority) part said, “AIIIEE!!! Snake! Run awaaaayyy!!”  No doubt a Freudian psychiatrist would tell me I’ve got unresolved daddy issues, while a Modernist would tell me I’m a homophobe.  I don’t care, I just really hate snakes.  Brrrrr……

Odd that I should have seen it today and right out in the open, because Easter Monday found me deep in tiger country, hacking back the forsythias to within about a foot of the ground, and there was no sign of it then.  I also lavished them with a heavy feeding of phosphate-rich fertilizer.  We’ll see if that has any measurable effect on their bloom next spring.

Meanwhile, the peonies are all heavy in bud (complete with those little ants that like to swarm all over them) and ought to be opening in the next week or two.  Perhaps I’ll post some pics.  When they broke ground this year, several of the plants came up in perfect circles of stems with bald spots in the center, a clear indicator that I’m finally going to have to dig the damn things up and separate out their root masses this fall, a task I’ve been putting off for years.

I’m still fretting about the jasmine, which don’t look outright dead exactly, but which sure don’t look all that enthusiastic about joining in the spring spirit.  I know from experience that they get going late, especially on the edge of growing territory where we are, but still I fret.

On the other hand, Mrs. R has been putting in yeoman’s work tending to the pachysandra bed out in the front ditch, and I see that we actually lost quite a lot fewer of them than I had originally feared.  (All the casualties were within a couple of feet of the street itself and I’m guessing the winter’s road salt was probably too much for them.) We only planted them late last summah so they’re still pretty widely spread out, but hopefully they’ll start to fill in this year.  My general impression of packy is that once it gets itself established, it’s practically indestructible.

And speaking of such, I’m seeing a lot of Virginia creeper spreading around this year.  I don’t understand some people’s objection to this vine.  It’s fast-growing, produces beautiful five-bladed leaves that turn a smashing red in the fall, and doesn’t tear into cement like ivy does.  I encourage it to grow wherever it isn’t going to interfere with something else.

I put the hummingbird feeder up this week, not that I expect any immediate visitors but more by way of an advanced invitation.  I am reasonably certain that we’ve had the same hen come in for several years now, and last year two others appeared as well.  (They spent most of the summah squabbling with each other.  Hummers are very territorial.)

Well, Ol’ Robbo must be off to do some makeshift repair on his Weber.  One of the brackets holding up the grill has rusted out and fallen off so I’m going to try and jury-rig a bit of coat-hanger by way of replacement.  Fortunately, this is something that Mrs. Robbo would not notice in a million years, so there’s no danger that she’ll fuss at me about it.  (I am of the use-it-up/wear-it-out school of thought, she much less so.  You should hear some of the disagreements we have over the state of some of my clothes, for example.)

UPDATE:  The jury-rig worked out perfectly, especially as I was using an extra-heavy piece of hanger. (Not a word to the Missus, please!)  Also, our landscaper guy dropped by for a visit.  We’re getting him to do a little rock work for us, but it’s always a slippery slope to stroll around the yard and say, “And how much do you think it would run to do this project, or this project, or this project……”  We’re actually pretty good about staying within a realistic budget for the yard, but at least it’s fun to stare at the estimates he comes up with for our more lavish fancies and drool a little bit.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is patting himself on the back this morning because he actually made the effort to go out and cut the Port Swiller Manor grass last evening after work ahead of today’s forecast showers and thunderstorms.  So Ma Nature is free to throw her weight around all she likes this afternoon as far as I’m concerned.  (Not that she will now, of course, the fickle hussy.  I’ve heard exactly one clap of thunder this entire spring so far.)  Also, as we’re still in the Octave of Easter, today is a Bacon Friday for me.  So Ol’ Robbo is in a pretty durn good mood overall.  With that in mind, how about a bit o’ random?

♦  Not that I touch on politicks much here, but I must say I’m a bit surprised that Creepy Uncle Joe Biden decided to throw his hat in the ring for the Donks’ ’20 nom.  I suppose the Establishment figured he’s their best hope, as She Who Must Not Be Named will shortly be radioactive and there’s not much else available on the bench.  I’d be even more surprised if he actually gets it, as the Jacobins seem to have completely hijacked the Party and will eat him alive.  (My guess at this point would be an eventual ticket composed of some combination of Crazy Uncle Bernie and Kamala [nickname not repeatable on a family blog] Harris. In sane times, we’d be looking at another McGovern/Mondale-level blow out, but I’m not so sanguine about that just yet.)

♦  Speaking of benches, Ol’ Robbo is bitterly disappointed that his beloved Nationals are finishing up April as a .500 club.  This is troubling both because the NL East is so competitive this year that every game is probably going to count come September, and also because we seem to be picking right back up with the same mediocrity we displayed all of last year.  Is it too early to set my hair on fire and call for the sacking of Dave Martinez?

♦ How are the Gels, you may ask? Doing well, thankee.  Middle Gel is in the thick of freshman finals right now, and later will be going back for “May-mester” to take statistics, a task I do not envy her.  Eldest is just finishing up junior year classes and will be coming home next week to drop off a load of junk before heading back for her own exams.  As for Youngest, the college search is ramping up this spring.  We’re mostly looking in-state, but we’ve also got our eye on Miami of Ohio.  Want some fun facts about the place? My great-grandmother’s family lived in the area of Oxford, Ohio from about 1800 until the mid-1950’s.  In fact, a couple of them were alums of the school, I believe.  They had a house in town that was eventually bough and torn down by the University as part of its expansion.  They also owned a mill outside of town along Four-Mile Creek that served as a stop on the Underground Railroad until the end of the War.  (They were stout Scots-Presbyterian Abolitionists, the lot of them.)  The Mothe always insisted that Great-Granma ‘Rilla was crazy as a loon and that it was her family’s blood which gave all of us descendants our own peculiar taint, but the history is pretty neat nonetheless.

♦  Speaking of gels, did you see the article about the Scottish Maritime Museum being bullied by vandals into ceasing to refer to ships as “she”?  That reminds me of one of my very favorite lines from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, where Spock says simply and elegantly as the Enterprise clears moorings, “Take her out, Mr. Saavik.”  Oh, and I suppose you also heard about Kate Smith being unpersoned by the Yankees?  If Ol’ Robbo ever found himself in Yankee Stadium – not that I’m likely to – I’d be belting out “God Bless America” at the top of my lungs during the 7th Inning Stretch, and be damned to these thugs and bullies.  Oh, and while I’m at it, a trio of Murrland Congress-critters is now trying to get rid of the statue of Robert E. Lee at Antietam.  Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember when airbrushing people out of history was the study of Kremlinologists and was considered a Bad Thing.  I’m also old enough to remember when Orwell’s “1984” was considered a cautionary tale and not a how-to manual.

Anyhoo, enough of that.  As I say, I’m in a good mood today, so how is it that three out of my four bits of random are so cranky?  Well, you’ve got to keep your eyes open and your wits about you these days, but at the same time, illegitimi non carborundum.  (They hate that, by the way, bless their hearts!)

And now I’m off to go see about some of that bacon.  Sweet, sweet, delicious bacon……………

UPDATE:  Well, Ma is coming through, it would seem.  The first of the afternoon t-showers just rolled through and it looks like another one will be here in just a few minutes.  So I’m about up to seven claps of thunder on the year so far.  Now if Ma really likes us, she might just rain out Youngest’s softball game tonight, not because I don’t want to see her play, but because I’m so comfy where I am right now….

 

 

 

 

Give It A Ride

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is too lazy to track it down now, but I recall somewhere in the last month or two posting about the prospect of reading (for the first time) Mr. H.G. Wells’s novella** “The Time Machine“.

I was spurred to do so largely out of curiosity as to whether the fairly recent movie treatment, which I’ve seen a few times and which has some pretty nifty CGI effects, bears any real resemblance to the original book.

Well, I actually bestirred myself to order the book from the devil’s website, and the other afternoon I sat down and read it.  (**I call it a novella because it’s surprisingly short and can be finished in a couple hours.)

The answer to my query regarding the movie’s similarity to the book so far as the plot and characterization goes, which I could have guessed anyway, is “very little”.  To give but one example:  In the movie, the Eloi are a sort of New Age wise hippies.  In the book, they’re childish cattle.  Similarly, in the movie the Morlocks are basically orcs on steroids.  In the book, they’re more a mob of evil lemurs.  And there’s no place in the book for Jeremy Irons’ debauched, perverted Morlock Overlord.

Feh.

But as for the book itself, I was really quite pleased.  Wells was evidently a story-teller of some giftedness.  His plot is clean, his narration crisp, and his imagination quite vivid.  And so far as he may have been trying to push a class-struggle socialist theme (re the evolution of the Eloi and Morlocks from the Haves and Have-Nots of “capitalism”***), it bothered me not in the least, as he seems more or less forced to admit that socio-economic constructs may channel human nature, but they’ll never change it, as that idiot Marx seemed to think possible.  (*** I put “capitalism” in quotes because that’s a Marxist term.  I prefer “free-market economics” myself.)  In this, I think both God and Darwin smile.  And G.K. Chesterton.

Anyhoo, a highly-entertaining story and one worthy for a place on my Adventures shelf, albeit in the extremely slim scifi section.  My next project may be to push that back some and try a little Jules Verne.  As far as I can recollect, I believe I’ve never actually read one of his.

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