Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was frowsting over a cup of coffee in his favorite chair in the Port Swiller library early Saturday morning when he noticed that the goldfinches at the thistle feeder directly outside the window were beginning to show the first faint signs of their yellow summah plumage.  With gardener’s logic, I realized that my plans to spend the day doing nothing suddenly were kaput, and that I had to get out and chop back the butterfly bush which so dominates the Port Swiller garden.  (Very long time friends of the decanter will recall that I refer to these bushes as Kong and the Konglings.  For those of you who don’t recall, the original Kong was a very, very small and frail seedling that I cultivated in the Port Swiller basement something like thirteen years ago.  Somehow or other, it survived not only its incubation, but its transplanting into the garden.  Since then, when all my other original cultivational experiments have withered away, it not only has thrived, but has multiplied copiously.)

A couple hours of hacking and hauling later, I stood looking at the results.  I can’t put it any better than did the Eldest Gel who, shouting over from the rope swing, said, “Hey, Dad! It looks like a forest fire swept over your garden! Haw, haw!”

Everybody’s a comedian these days.

Give it another couple months, the jungle will close right back in and will be filled with birds and butterflies, as has been my intent the past few years.  I am mulling over some plans to make the whole thing somewhat more formal, but not yet.  Not yet.

Speaking of which, remember the Great Panic over the imminent dooooom of the Monarch Butterflies because Globull Warmeninzs? Well, maybe not so much.  Funny, it’s almost as if Nature has the capacity to sort things out for herself or something.

On a different note, last evening Ol’ Robbo watched Radio Days for, I’m fairly certain, the first time.  A pleasant little tribute by Woody Allen to his WWII-era yoot in Rockaway, Lon Gyland.  In fact, Robbo’s father-in-law grew up somewhere in Brooklyn a few years later himself, so there was a lot about this movie that I definitely got.  The biggest thing, though, was the epiphany that this was Julie Kavner.  Marge Simpson before she was Marge Simpson, although the voice and the humor were plainly there already.  Very zaftig, if you know what I mean.  (‘Course, the movie came out in ’87, the year I graduated from college, which is a damned sobering idea.)

On another note, I also read Cary Elwes’s book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride.  If you’re a Princess Bride fan (and if you’re not, what the hell’s wrong with you?), it’s a moderately interesting read:  A goodish bit of behind-the-scenes backstory and trivia, but in my opinion somewhat too much, er, glad-handing.  Were I Emperor, the Superlative  Abuses Squad would have been down on Elwes with billy clubs and handcuffs before he got half way through his first paragraph.

But….You don’t pen a 30th anniversary book in order to trash the thing that’s keeping you in royalties, so who am I to second guess?

One legit sour note to the book: Elwes, in speaking of fan enthusiasm, relates the story of some young thing who had recently had “As You Wish” tattooed on the back of her neck and asked Elwes to autograph below the tattoo with a sharpie.  I ask you, friends, just how pathetic an image is that?  And what do you do if you’re in the position of being asked to sign, and therefore approve, such a thing?

Well.  All I can say is that I am very thankful I have not pledged my personal worth in this world on the altar of celebrity.

On a more positive note, in keeping with the whole Princess Bride theme, ol’ Robbo just got a new coffee cup with bears the legend: “Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You drank my coffee.  Prepare to die.”

Now that, my friends, is teh funny.  Except I’m not kidding…….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I didn’t get the chance yesterday to mention that the Eldest Gel marched down to our local polling place and cast her very first electoral vote as part of this cycle’s Sooper Tuesday brouhaha.  She doesn’t actually turn 18 for another couple weeks, but because she’ll be old enough for the general, the local rules allowed her to also vote in the primary.

Somehow this makes me feel even older than did her getting her driver’s license or her college acceptance, I don’t know why.

The gel is immensely pleased with herself, as she rightly should be, and is tremendously keen on keeping up with all the campaigns and trying to prognosticate the eventual outcome.  Based on my own bitter experience, I keep warning her that there’s a hell of a time to go until November and that if she doesn’t watch herself she’ll burn out on it all long before then.

And speaking of burn out, I am just about through with the nonsense I keep seeing posted on nooz and opinion sites, usually trustworthy blogs, and FaceBook, even by people who I would have thought knew better than that.  To borrow a line from Mal Reynolds, the days of my not taking social media seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As is still his wont sometimes these days, ol’ Robbo tagged along with the family this past Sunday morning to his former Episcopal Church pour encourager les autres, where he was chagrined to observe that the youngest gel had discovered one can put one’s head in one’s arms across the back of the pew in front and look deep in prayer while, in reality, grabbing a quick snooze.

Anyhoo, after the service, I found myself sitting in on the adult ed hour downstairs in the parish hall.  The topic this week was the Sabbath – what it means and how to observe it, the presentation being made by some visiting cleric.

Well, as it turns out, the woman giving teh presentation – despite claiming to be a priest – quickly asserted that she had no intention whatever of discussing the theological aspects of the Sabbath, i.e., its place in the relationship between God and Man.  Instead, she spent the better part of the hour serving up a combination of common sense time management and New Age spiritual gibberish about aligning the circles of one’s inner being in order to release the Seventh Chackra, or something like that.  In other words, the lecture was really about self-worship.  (On reflection, I’m rayther glad she didn’t tackle real theology.  I probably would have got quite upset.  This was a lot easier simply to ignore.)

Eventually, in order to emphasize her theme about self-alignment, she served up a story about a South American tribe that, when it traveled, would walk for four days and then, no matter where it was, simply stop for a day before continuing.  When asked why they did this, they replied, “We stop in order to give our spirits the chance to catch up.”

The audience, or at least certain parts of it, ate it up.  I heard any number of those little mmm‘s and ahh‘s of wonder and affirmation from around the room, a virtue-signalling technique that I hate almost as much as the knowing, ironic chuckle the same sort of people let out whenever some oddity of their own church’s tradition is discussed.  (Such vocalizations, in my observation, are two parts preening and three parts sheer, gut-wrenching ignorance.)

But ah, the South American Tribe!  Jolly Jean Jacque Rousseau’s Noble Savage is alive and well in the Amazon Basin, imparting wisdom to anyone willing to take the time to listen.  I started musing about what other stories of South American Tribes could be served up and swallowed without question:

  • There was the South American Tribe who were so attuned to Nature that they could hold conversations with not only the animals but also with the trees.  The trees being Really Old could pass on all sorts of accumulated observation and wisdom.
  • There was the other South American Tribe who worked out Pi to its final decimal place using nothing but a complex series of finger movements.  Even their children could do it, although it would take a Westerner three whole lifetimes to become sophisticated enough to understand their technique.
  • There was the other, other South American Tribe who became such experts at peyote-fueled meditation that they could actually alter the atomic structures of their bodies and pass straight through rocks.
  • Finally, there was the South American Tribe who, through eons of studying the stars, were able to accurately predict the winning number in every single Power Ball drawing.

Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.

The whole thing reminded me once again of the line attributed by some to Chesterton (although I’ve never actually been able to locate it) to the effect that when people stop believing in God, the trouble is not that they believe nothing but that they’ll believe anything.

(Speaking of GKC, I am currently rereading his Everlasting Man.  Unfortunately, I bought my edition from one of those fly-by-night publishers and the font can’t be much larger than about 8 or 9 points.  Very headache-inducing.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Because my post on Netflix loading seemed to be such a hit the other day, I thought I’d fire off another one this evening.  (Remind me to write an essay soon on the frustration of having so many meatier current events on which I could comment but for the fact that I might lose my job for doing so, thus my self-sensoring confinement to this kind of personal trivia.  Not that Bob and the boys from NSA aren’t building up some useful data for my appearance before the Committee for Public Safety even from posts like this one.)

Are you ready?  Well here is the next wave of additions:

My Cousin Vinny – I have actually been at more than one legal clinic in which the prosecutor’s opening statement at the trial (even though Vinny called it total BS) was shown as an example of how such a presentation is supposed to be done.  I love the resurrection of Fred Gwynne’s career that came from this flick.

Lethal Weapon 4 – The best of the bunch, IMHO, mostly because I think they finally got the balance of humor and action right.

The Gods Must Be Crazy – Because of what was said in the comments on the previous thread.  We’ll see what happens.

Breaker Morant – One of my all-time favorites, although I gather that the “real” Morant, so far as anyone knows anything about him, wasn’t quite the Renaissance Gentleman portrayed by Edward Woodward.

The Simpsons Movie – Oh, I dunno.  Why not?

The Alamo – The one made a few years ago with Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett.  The film was came up among the Moron Horde over at Ace’s place the other day and got a surprisingly sympathetic hearing.  Personally, I’ve never seen it before and was intrigued.

The Lion In Winter – Because classic.  I once wrote a skit in high school in which the family were ordered to attend therapy together.  My English teacher described it as “very dry and witty”.

Hamlet – the 1990 version starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close, among others.  Mostly to get the nasty taste of Ken Branagh’s try out of my mouth.  I’ve a vague memory that it really isn’t all that bad, although I have a hard time understanding why Mel didn’t simply head-butt Claudius and take him out without all that needless moping and sulking around.  I mean, it’s Mel Gibson, for Pete’s sake!

Noises Off – Backstage pandemonium as a theatre production gradually goes to pieces.  Mrs. R and I saw a fantastic stage version of this show many years ago.  IIRC, the movie sort of runs out of steam toward the end, but it still has some good laughs.

Quark – The Series – Short-lived late 70’s spoof of Star Trek starring Richard Benjamin as the captain of a galactic garbage scow.  I re-watched this within the last 10 years and found it held up really surprisingly well.  And oh, those twins……

Love At First Bite – Haven’t seen this in quite a long time.  “Children of the Night!  Shut up!”

Thank You For Smoking – I simply cannot recall whether I have seen this movie.  I’ve certainly read the book, along with most of Chris Buckley’s other satires.

30 Seconds Over Tokyo – With Spencer Tracy.  I have an informal rule of thumb that I always toss at least one WWII movie in when loading up the queue.

M*A*S*H – The movie, which I find hysterically funny for the most part.  The only dud is Robert Duvall’s Frank Burns (who is actually an amalgam of two separate characters from the memoir on which the movie was based).  Liberals trying to make fun of conservatives never get it right and always slip into Clang! Clang! Clang! caricature mode by default.   (God damned Army…..)  I also tossed in the disk featuring bonus materials this time.

So, all told, I now have about 40 films in my queue, together with another 23 in the dreaded “saved” category, which basically translates into “hell if we know when we’ll get it to you or even if we actually have it, but feel free to go on hoping).  I said below that these would keep me occupied until Opening Day, but I’m now thinking that they may well last me until the all-star break.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Usually it’s another month or so before ol’ Robbo has to deal with thunderstorms on his drive home in the evening but today’s possibly-tornado-packing big boomer caught him just as he was crossing the Potomac.   Wicked pissah of a storm.  It was as I crawled along the bridge in the midst of the tempest that the thought came back to me that a rag top on a car is absolutely no protection whatsoever against lightning strikes.

Road closures all over the neighborhood forced me to tack widely around before I could finally get back to Port Swiller Manor, there only to discover that the power was out and the driveway was an inland sea due to the drains all being plugged by debris.

Ah, well.  Just like Helen Hunt back in the day, tt’s the wonder of nature, baybee!

Yeah, I think I’ll toss that movie into the Netflix queue now that I’m thinking about it.

(By the bye, did anyone else get that creepy National Alert System announcement earlier in the afternoon?  I heard it on the radio, but I gather it was simultaneously flashed out over other broadcast systems as well.

Jayson Is In The House!

Jayson Is In The House!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, spring training 2016 is now officially underway and ol’ Robbo is starting to get seriously excited about Opening Day, which, for his beloved Nationals, is set for April 4 on the road in Atlanta.

While in past years I have made fearless predictions regarding the Nats’ prospects for the season, this time I find myself shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head in ambivalent silence.  There are so many unknown and unknowable variables in the mix – new manager, some new position players, new starter rotation, new bullpen combinations – that I simply haven’t the faintest idea what’s going to happen over the summah.

Most of the prognostications I’ve read so far predict that the Mets are going to take the division again, with the Nats hovering somewhere just behind them.  I’m not so sure about that because I think the Mets’ reputation is somewhat overblown.  Yes, they made the Series last fall.  But they played well above themselves last year, especially at the end of the season, in what I still think was something of an adrenaline-fueled fluke.  I’m not a’tall sure they can repeat that.  Also, the Nats beat themselves last season, what with injuries, bad managing and general malaise, playing below themselves.  If the team gets itself together, it’ll roll all over the Mets. (And the rest of the div.  Get outa here, Miami!)

Of course, as I mention above, that’s a mighty big “if”.

I shrug my shoulders once again.  What else can one say except

GO, NATS!!!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

 

As friends of the decanter may know, ol’ Robbo remains a devotee of Netflix’s DVD service.  I have long found it very satisfying to load up the ol’ queue, forget about what I put in it, and then be pleasantly surprised by the stream of envelopes coming through the mailbox.  I tend to do this loading in bursts of between 20 and 30 titles at a go and then letting them run out before recharging the list.

While I usually do my loading just off the cuff, today I decided to try a slightly different experiment by keeping a small notepad with me all day and jotting down films that occurred to me from time to time.  Here’s what I came up with:

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension – Because wherever you go, there you are.

Impromptu – A, well, highly romanticized version of the meeting and falling in love of Frederic Chopin and the poetess George Sand.  It’s one of those Merchant/Ivory-inspired period pieces and really pretty good, especially as it shows what a lot of shites Franz Liszt and his pals were.

Flash Gordon – Because sometimes you just have to go for the worst.  Also because Queen did the soundtrack.

Dodgeball – Because sometimes you just have to go for teh stoopid.

The Ref – I meant to watch this around Christmas but didn’t get the chance.  Always enjoyed Dennis Leary’s brand of brutal Irish humor.

Lost In La Mancha – Documentary about the collapse of Terry Gilliam’s effort to film a Don Quixote movie (which I believe he’s still trying to do).  Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at movie-making in general and Gilliam-style movie-making in particular.

Topsy-Turvy – Gilbert and Sullivan attempting to save their partnership.  This is one of the Mothe’s favorites.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – I don’t know why I don’t own this.  Best of the series IMHO. “You call this archeology?”

The Freshman – Matthew Broderick and Marlon Brando, who is damned funny lampooning himself.  Plus Bert Parkes singing “Tequila”. What’s not to love?

Eric the Viking – One of the smaller Python offshoots, but it has its moments.

Jabberwocky – Ditto.

Sharknado 3: O, Hell No – See Dodgeball above.

Lost in Translation – Bill Murray really is a superb actor, all the goofball stuff aside.  You watch this movie just to see the subtle changes in his expressions.

The Dam Busters – Because Lancasters with bouncing bombs vs. Nazis, that’s why!

Casablanca – I don’t know why I don’t own this, either.

Battleship – Well, because Liam Neeson action movie, I guess.

Analyze This – Robert De Niro is even funnier lampooning himself than is Brando.  And scarier.

Star Trek: First Contact – Best of the TNG movies, as far as I’m concerned.

The Last Valley – One of those very long Omar Sharif movies from the late 60’s/70’s.  In this one, he’s a student fleeing the ravages of the 30 Years’ War and winds up running into Michael Caine and a band of soldiers in an as yet unplundered remote village.  There they bond and wind up holding the place in defense against other marauding bands.  It has a sort of Seven Samurai feel about it in this.

I also attempted to watch Ed Wood, the movie about the guy who made Plan 9 From Outer Space, but the DVD was cracked.  I sent it back, of course, but is it worth asking for a new copy?  Unlike all of the movies listed above, I’ve never seen this one.  (I’m like that, preferring to watch films over and over again and only now and again introducing a new one to the rotation.)

Between these and what I’ve already got in my queue, I reckon I’m good to go until Opening Day of baseball season at least.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was sitting quietly last evening and reading Anthony Powell’s autobiography To Keep The Ball Rolling (amazing how small and interconnected the Brit art world was back in the day) when the Eldest Gel came into the library, mischief written all over her face.

“Hey, Dad!” she said, “What do you think of what Pope Francis said about The Donald and immigration today?”

“I wish he hadn’t,” I replied.  “He tends to shoot his mouth off without considering the likely results.  Nothing good can come of this kind of high-profile spat, especially once the media get their claws into it.”

“And about what he said about condoms and disease prevention?”

“Again, he’d have been better off not speaking off the cuff like that.”

“Not a good day for the Pope, eh?”

“No, probably not.”

“And on top of all those abuse scandals, too, no?”

“Look, was their something in particular you wanted?” I said sharply, “Or are you just here to mess about with me?”

“Oh, my, aren’t WE grumpy tonight!  I guess you miss your glass of wine during Lent, don’t you.  Too bad you have to wait so long to get back to drinking again.”

And with that, having given the dog an extra pat in order to show her unconcern, she strolled off.

Grrrrrrrr…….

There’s a line from the breviary hymn of St. Ambrose “Jam lucis ordo sidere” (which I recite as part of my morning prayers) that the 1962 Missal translates as, “And by spare use of meat and drink/our rebel passions to control.”  I can’t help wondering if this might not be an error.  In my normal state, I would have laughed down from lazy eyelids at the gel’s obvious attempt to bait me.  However, on my tenth day of giving up the grape?  It was all I could do to prevent myself from laying hands on her neck.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was able to get out for his accustomed lunch time walk today after being denied such pleasure earlier this week due to snow and rain.  As I hoofed along, it seemed to me that there was a faint but real hint that spring might not be all that far off.  You know how round about the second half of August you suddenly realize that the light has changed and that how ever awful summah still is, it is definitely coming to an end?  Well, I think I saw the same thing in reverse today.  Also, I noticed that people seemed to be moving about with a bit more jauntiness in their step.

Of course, ol’ Robbo is in the Mid-Atlantic.  Your mileage may vary depending on where you are, but sooner or later the same sort of thing happens even way up tah Maine.  (Mid-June, in fact, according to the Mothe.)

Anyhoo, it was a good feeling.  Snowzilla apart, we really haven’t had anything like a nasty winter round here this year, but I can’t remember one I’ve been more eager to get behind me.

Probably a sign of age.

Nonetheless, bring it on.

Oh, and pitchers and catchers report tomorrow.  How sweet is that?

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo awoke this morning to find moderate to heavy snow coming down around Port Swiller Manor.  Although “they” have been predicting this storm for some time now, there had been little consensus on what we’d actually get out of it.  Now that it’s here, we seem to be looking at 3 to 5 inches, turning to ice and sleet later on this afternoon and evening.  (There is some wailing and gnashing of teeth among the chillrens that a perfectly good snow is being thrown away on what’s already a school holiday, but I’m thinking they may at least get a delay out of it tomorrow.  Lazy swine.)

In other words, a perfect Pajama Day, you might say.  Except that ol’ Robbo can’t stand the idea of staying in his jammies all day long.  Gives me a distinct case of the heebie-jeebies.  Even if I do nothing more the rest of today than frowst in front of the fire with a good book and a bottomless cup o’ joe – a distinct possibility – I still feel the need to get cleaned up and get dressed first.  Always been like that.  Don’t know why, but there it is.

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