Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, Ol’ Robbo sometimes refills his bird feeders while still in his robe and jammies.  So what? I figure it might make the lady next door’s morning (or at least give her a good laugh).

This time of year my big feeder usually runs out some time mid-week, but since I don’t wish to bankrupt myself on seed, I refrain from refilling it until Saturday morning.  It always interests me to see how long it takes for the first bird to come back in once the feeder is reloaded.  The time seems to vary – anything from a couple minutes to an hour or two – but once the first bird makes its appearance, the mob inevitably shows up in very short order.

The one thing I do notice is that the first bird in is almost inevitably a chickadee.  I’ve heard tell that these birds are quite intelligent and even trainable.  I wonder if the local crew over the years has gained some sort of sense of when it’s time to all go round to Robbo’s place.

UPDATE:  By the bye, when Alexandra Occasional-Cortex’s New Green Gulag Deal reduces all us kulaks to a starvation-level existence, who’s going to feed all those birds then? Huh? Huh?


**Okay, it’s really a birdwatching post, but this is the middle of February, after all, and there isn’t really anything to be done in the yard.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo tries to approach driving in general, and commuting in particular, in a charitable frame of mind.  I believe this is especially important in traffic hellholes like Northern Virginia and Downtown Dee Cee.

I don’t cut people off.  I don’t yell and gesture.  I (mostly) don’t tailgate.  At mergers and when the curb lane is cut off by a parked car, I always make a point of letting the next driver in ahead of me.  In short, I try to be a nice guy and a good Christian.

And when people in front of me  don’t notice the light has turned green because they’re too engrossed with fiddling with their iThingy?  Even here, for a first offense I limit myself to a restrained little tap on the horn.  A veritable “Ahem, um, excuse me…”

But when the same woman does the same not-notice-the-light-is-green-because-iThingy-thing for three successive lights in a row?  Yeah, I’m leaning on that horn long and hard with both elbows.  More like “@(*#$&#@(*$&#*(&$!!!”

I hope the message got across this evening, but I’m somewhat doubtful.

St. Christopher is the patron saint of drivers.  I’m pretty sure he’s perfectly comfortable with putting in a good word for me with the Old Man over this.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo watched a couple of WWII movies this week that I thought well worth a mention.

The first, which ran on TCM, was “Battleground” (1949), about the 101st Airborne pinned down at Bastogne.  I knew I’d seen it before, because I remembered Ricardo Montalban being in it.  However, having watched the “Band of Brothers” series multiple times since then, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that Tom Hanks and his screenwriters have seen it too, as there is much which seems to reappear in the BoB treatment of the siege.  A solid flick.

The second, which I got from Netflix, was “The Train” (1964).  Burt Lancaster is a French railwayman who, along with his Resistance pals, seeks to thwart a Nazi plot to steal a load of French Master paintings and ship them out of Paris by rail just before the Allies move in.  (Funnily, the first paintings shown being fingered by the Krauts were by Gauguin.  My reaction was, “Hey, take ’em.”) I had not seen this film before (although one sequence in which a British Spitfire tries to catch and destroy a locomotive before it can get to a tunnel and hide seems oddly familiar), and had no real expectations one way or the other.  Well, my friends, setting aside the fact that Lancaster didn’t even bother trying to adopt a French accent but instead grunted his lines in good ol’ ‘Murican, I found this film to be terrific.  It’s chock-a-block with intrigue, suspense, and action.  The Nazis are suitably villainous, the French pragmatic, cynical, but patriotic.  The special effects are quite good.  And there’s not a single ounce of superfluous fat in the screenplay.  (Oh, and I read that Lancaster does all his own stunts.)  Highly recommended.

Speaking of Netflix and old movies, I assume you all saw the recent article about the academic who argues Dick Van Dyke’s soot-covered chimney-sweep mug in “Mary Poppins” is somehow raaaaaacist?  It’s complete horse hockey, of course, and I doubt even the academic xerself believes it, but this is a perfect example of the cultural Marxist assault on the Western canon: Make an assertion, however ridiculous or outrageous, and stick to it through force of will until your target crumbles.  I’ve read elsewhere that Netflix itself will succumb (perhaps even willingly) to this assault and destroy its library of DVD classics, leaving its clients with no choice but streaming of politically correct modern claptrap.

In the last year or two, Ol’ Robbo has started collecting DVD copies of movies that have come under the censorial gaze of the modern Committee of Public Safety, including such classicks as “Gone With The Wind”, “Blazing Saddles”, and “Animal House”.  It is arguable that films like these contain material that is antithetical to the current Neo-Jacobin sensibilities (to which Ol’ Robbo would reply, “Fine. Don’t watch them, then.”).  But to attack something as innocent as “Mary Poppins” on completely bogus grounds? That’s escalating the liquidation to an alarming extent.  And I doubt if my wallet is large enough to provide sanctuary for all that many refugees from this kind of purge.

(Nonetheless yes, I’m already preparing a secret hidey-hole in which to store my collection for when the Ogpu come round looking for it. Ssssshhhhh!!!!!)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo didn’t watch the SOTU this evening: I’ll leave it to my trusted politickal sources to suss that one out.

Instead, I relate a conversation:

Youngest: Dad, when do I get a car?

Self: We don’t “get” cars, my dear, we “buy” them. That costs money. And you have to earn it.

Youngest: Okay, when do we “buy” me a car?

Self: How’s your GPA? And I see that summah camp work crew application still not filled out….

Youngest: Oh, funny thing! I was going to do that this evening. (Grabs pen, proceeds to write….) So, about that car?

Self: So, about that GPA?

My friends, I can’t help but say that for once Ol’ Robbo is feeling the power.

For some reason, the scene put me in mind of what I had thought was another Geico commercial, but on review turns out to be a State Farm wannabe. Still funny and apropos.  (Imagine me as the guy in the waders, and a set of keys on the end of the line.):


MADMEN UPDATE:  I got thinking (again) about the broader subject of insurance company advertising.  (Don’t ask me why, it’s just something I think about from time to time.) Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another sector that consistently generates such clever and funny ads.  I suppose when you haven’t got an eye-grabbing product to flaunt in and of itself, you need to rely much more heavily on the sales pitch to sell it.

I mean, think about it:  This whole State Farm series including the one above was generally pretty funny, as was their middle-of-the-night-phone-call one (“She sounds hideous”).  Geico routinely hits it out of the park with their gecko, their cavemen, their rhetorical “Could switching to Geico…” series.  Farmers struck gold when they got veteran (and very good) actor J.K. Simmons to do the “seen a thing or two” line.   Allstate’s Mayhem series is darkly amusing, too.  (On the other hand, I find their “Are you in good hands?” series with Dennis Haysbert a bit flat.  They could score bigly on this if they could manage to insert one “Jobu” reference.)  Heck, even though I don’t care for “Flo” all that much and I despise her soyboy sidekick Jimmy, I still find the Progressive commercials mildly amusing.  (Granted, the one where she visits her deadbeat twin sister is outright funny.)

On the other hand, I find the Liberty Mutual series unappealing.  It started with the weird millennial gal who named her car “Brad” and goes on with various people whining about how some other insurance company are being big, fat meanies about making them whole, even when the accident is their fault.  In this, I think Liberty is unique.  Probably with good reason:  I don’t believe disgruntled spite is really a winning marketing plan.  (Unless, of course, you’re going for that slice of the demographic whose whole world view is based on disgruntled spite against their parents, their employers, the “System”, the “Man”.  But how many Bernie-bot Starbucks baristas can afford a car?)

Anyhoo, I think it’s all both interesting and (mostly) entertaining.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had been planning to post this week about the closing of Dee Cee’s “Newseum” for want of revenues, but Ace beat me to it todayDarn that furry little Ewok!

I drive past the place every day.  For years, the sight always irked me.  Now? Since news of its imminent closure broke, my shadenboner has been interfering with my ability to downshift as I turn off Constitution on to 6th Street.

(In all fairness, this isn’t the only museum that sets my teeth on edge.  I often walk past the Spy Museum, for instance.  That place is a first class tourist trap and everything about it screams “Buy All The Things!”)

But back to the Newseum, I guess there just weren’t enough people willing to shell out 25 bucks a head to view the Press’s monuments to its own agitprop.  Go figure.

As a matter of fact, I’ve really no beef with press partisanship in and of itself.  That’s been a constant since the very beginning, and the opening up of the Interwebz has made such bias easily checkable.  What I do object to is the MSM’s continued collective insistence – and haughty, condescending insistence at that – that it is a totally unbiased, neutral, watchdog championing us rubes, even when we’re too stupid to understand what’s best for our own good.  Want to be hacks? Be hacks.  (Or “Democratic operatives with bylines” as the Puppy-Blender likes to say.)  But be honest about it.

Did Ol’ Robbo ever mention here that he worked for the lone conservative student newspaper at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT back in the day?  Yep, I drew politickal cartoons.  One of my most effective (I think) was a caricature of Dan Rather on television sitting at his news desk.  It was entitled “Mr. Rather’s Neighborhood” and Gunga-Dan was staring out with a big smile on his face and saying, “Hi, boys and girls! Can you say ‘It’s all Reagan’s fault?’ Sure! I knew you could!”

I can’t remember if that was the one that inspired a classmate to declare that he was going to find me and break my nose the night Mondale got buried.  I’m inclined to think it was.  (Nothing happened, by the bye.  He was so drunk he passed out before he could find me.)

I wonder if I dug out a copy and sent it to the Newseum whether they’d put it on display?  Actually, I don’t much wonder because I know the answer already.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Today is the Feast of St. Blaise, so after Mass today we stayed late for the Blessing of the Throats.  Ol’ Robbo just loves these little grace notes of the Church.

On a different note, I begin to suspect that my Padre is a secret friend of the decanter because his homily today was mighty close to what I’ve been saying about the New York and Virginia infanticide laws.

FINISHING THE THOUGHT UPDATE:  I was under a time constraint earlier, imposed by the doggeh who wanted to go walkies.

I mentioned the Blessing to Mrs. R this afternoon when I got home.  She said, “Whatever makes you happy” but her eyes said “Popery!”  She seems to have no problem with the Blessing of the Animals (which is a logistical nightmare to me) so I fail to see why she should stick on side over this one.

On that front, Ol’ Robbo has started accompanying the family again on Sunday mornings to his Former Episcopal Church, mostly to ride herd and make sure that they actually go. (The timing is such that I can loiter around at coffee hour after the Palie service and then make my way over to my parish for Mass.)  Mrs. R and I had previously had a difference of opinion about my sitting and staring at the ceiling as she and the Gels made their way forward to the altar rail for the “Great Thanksgiving”.  Now, I go up with them, but simply cross my arms and quietly refuse the bread and wine.  The clergyperson gives me a blessing instead and all is well.

I ran this programme by my spiritual advisor to make sure I wasn’t doing anything bad.  He didn’t object, but instead noted the rather Herculean task I’d set for myself.  But I’m the husband and father here: What else is there that I could do?


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Since Ol’ Robbo got his householder rant out of the way last evening, I thought I’d do a little extra.  If you haven’t seen it, there’s a good roundup on Governor Northam, the Virginia Infanticide Bill, and the Dark Side over at the Puppy-Blender’s place this morning.  Note in particular Wretchard the Cat’s thoughts in the update.  I mention them not only because I think he raises a terribly valid point about normalizing evil, but also because it gives Ol’ Robbo the apropos opportunity to flaunt again the only verse of Alexander Pope that I can quote off the top of my head:

Vice is a monster of such frightful mien

That to be hated needs but be seen.

But seen too oft, familiar with her face, 

First we endure, then pity, then embrace. 

Of course, They Might Be Giants put it rather more succinctly in their lyric, “Can’t shake the Devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding”.

For what it’s worth, Mrs. Robbo, who is a generally middle of the road, non-politickal sort of person, is appalled and disgusted by the whole bizznay, both the hyper-radical abortion move and the one-sided, out of control PC witch-hunt.  (At this point, I don’t think Northam’s out, but what do I know.)  To the extent she represents the much ballyhooed “suburban women’s vote”, the thing may represent a tremendous over-reach on the part of the Radical Left and will come back to bite them.  I hope and pray she’s correct.

MORE: A rare Saturday Ewok sighting with some of the latest.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Want to know how to get the weekend off to a really terrific start? Burst water pipe for the win!

Ol’ Robbo was drowsily reading his Anthony Powell in front of the fire late this afternoon after having taken the puppeh for her walk in the snow when I realized that I was hearing water running somewhere.  At first I thought it was the dishwasher or maybe Youngest running a load of laundry (she’s very good about this), but quickly ascertained this wasn’t the case.

Suddenly I had a horrid suspicion, subsequently confirmed when I went down the basement and discovered my study an inch deep in the stuff.

I don’t know yet because the plumber hasn’t got here (and may not until tomorrow), but I’m pretty sure from both signs and location that it’s the pipe that runs out to the external faucet under the back porch.  It runs down from the floor above behind a wall exposed to the north.  Don’t tell Ol’ Robbo he should have drained and shut off that pipe before winter hit, because there is no separate shut off for it.  We’ve had various plumbing issues over time to be sure, but in 18+ years of residence at Port Swiller Manor, this is our first weather-related rupture.

Damn you, Polar Vortex! Damn you to heeeeelllllll………

So now we don’t have any water since I cut off the main as soon as I realized what was going on, and may not until the plumber finally shows up (perhaps tonight, more probably some time tomorrow).  It’s just as well Ol’ Robbo drinks port instead of the stuff. OTOH, the potty situation may get…tricky.  Thank Heaven there are only three of us in residence at the moment instead of five.

HOWARD DEAN-LIKE “YEEEARGH!!!” INDUCING UPDATE:  Whelp, the plumber did get here this evening.   (My Plumber, by the bye.  We’ve used them before and they seem to be good people.)  I explained the situation, showed him the clues, and let him at it.  After he’d cut into the drywall for a bit, I suddenly heard him start to laugh.  You know that shut off valve I said didn’t exist?  Oh, it existed, all right, although cleverly walled up by the fellahs who redid the basement for us many years ago.  Not only that, there was no burst pipe.  Instead, the pipe had simply broken away from the valve.  Yeeeeeaargh!!!

So the plumber put in a new ball valve and recommended (needlessly, I may say) that when we close up the drywall, we put an access panel over it.  Ya think?

The good news is that although the repair was pricey enough, it wasn’t half as bad as it might have been.  (Plus, Mrs. R’s snow-out (see post below) proved beneficial because she found we could get a 10% teacher’s discount.  I’d never have thought of that had I been left on my own.)  Nonetheless, even though our water has been restored and the damn dog has stopped barking, I think I’ll stick with port tonight.  I feel that I’ve earned it.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As a bounce-back from this week’s Virginia infanticide Debacle, which is now in the rake-handle-to-the-face-of-the-Left stage, how about a little of this and that?

♦  It’s snowing around Port Swiller Manor at the moment, and Youngest is out running errands in it.  (Needless to say, school is cancelled today per the county’s “one flake” policy.)  When I expressed some misgivings about this, she said, “But Dad, I need the experience, right?”  Yes, yes she does.  That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t worry.

♦  Ol’ Robbo recently had a birthday.  I’m now 54.  That puts me in my “mid-50’s” now, right? And have I officially hit middle age?  Red Ferrari and leggy young blonds, here I come! (Not.) Reminds me again of a favorite Basil Fawlty internal dialogue:


What was that?

That was your life, mate.

Oh, that’s nice.  Do I get another?

Sorry, mate.

♦  How about some micro-movie reviews?

The Big Country (1958) – I first saw this on teevee when I was about 12 or so.  It was the movie that made me first fall in love with westerns, mostly because of the beautiful scenery.  The story itself is about Easterner Gregory Peck finding himself in the middle of a bitter fight over water rights.  I never understood the appeal of Peck, who to me always seemed so wooden.  Whenever I put this to the Mothe, who thought he was yummy, she’d always say, “You haven’t the genes, dear boy.  You haven’t the genes.”  It also stars the equally unappealing to me Jean Simmons, who always seemed like such a rabbit.  Charlton Heston struts his stuff and Burl Ives is a thoroughly creepy contender in the fight.

Gung Ho! (1943) – Pure WWII propaganda based on a 1942 Marine raid on the Japanese-held island of Makin in the Gilberts.  There’s not much to say about it, except that it stars Randolph Scott and a young Robert Mitchum, who is one of Ol’ Robbo’s favorite actors.

In Which We Serve (1942) – Another WWII film, written and directed by, and starring Noel Coward.  Survivors of a Brit destroyer sunk by the Luftwaffe off Crete think on their past lives as they cling to a life raft.  It’s actually pretty well done.  I wrote the other day about my misgivings over John Wayne’s decision to stick to his acting instead of signing up for the war.  Coward tried to sign on, but was specifically told by Churchill that he’d do more good sticking to entertainment.  The Nazis wanted to kill him at any rate.

♦ Is the Super Bowl this weekend?  I doubt I’ll watch.  OTOH, pitchers and catchers report in two weeks, so it isn’t that long until the real sports season begins! (UPDATE UNO:  Let me make clear that I’m not “boycotting” in support of Colin Kaepernick or anything.  I just don’t give much of a damn.  And the Pats are more or less a lock anyway since Belicheck signed his soul away to Satan.)

♦  Oh, and tomorrow is Candlemas, but it’s also Groundhog Day.  A fun fact about Robbo: I have never made it through the Bill Murray movie of that name without dozing off.  I don’t know why – time and place, possibly – but it’s true.  I’ve absolutely nothing against it, you understand, but to this day I don’t know how it actually ends.

UPDATE DEUX:  Well, we actually got a couple inches of snow after all.  Perfect for taking the puppeh on a long walk round the neighborhood.  On the other hand, Mrs. Robbo’s overnight school outing to the Murrland Science Center got cancelled, so now she’s more or less kicking her heals.  When Mrs. R has a lot of energy and nothing in particular upon which to focus it, it’s best to slide quietly out of the way and hide.





Because I’m kind of speechless…..


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