Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope you all remembered to move your clocks back last evening in accordance with whichever kind of “Official Time” we’re now shifting to (I can never remember which is Daylight Savings and which is Standard).

The most immediate effect at Port Swiller Manor was that Ol’ Robbo did his first “blind grilling” of the season this evening.  There’s no direct light on the Port Swiller patio, only a bit of ambient light coming down from the porch and the library windows above.  So determining when Mrs. R’s feesh  or my own steak is done is really more a matter of dead reckoning than anything else. (Don’t worry; I’m a professional.)

Of course, the time change also means that starting tomorrow, Ol’ Robbo’s evening commute goes completely dark.  In one sense, this is a Good Thing, in that it means there are fewer cyclists and pedestrians wandering heedlessly across my path in that self-centered way of theirs.  In another, though, it’s a Bad Thing, in that those who do wander thusly are a heck of a lot harder to spot.  (I pass over several crosswalks heavily used by students at one of the downtown universities.  Half the time, they don’t even bother to look.  Damned kids.)

And of course, we’re about six or seven weeks out from the winter solstice, which means that even though I now get an extra hour of light for my morning commute, soon that one will be reduced to darkness as well.   (And my doc wonders why I have a Vitamin D deficiency!)

This time of year is always a bit disconcerting, because commuting between the Swamp and the Port Swiller neighborhood, I can no longer really notice what’s going on around me, and it’s only if I happen to be out driving about, say, on a weekend, that I get to “catch up” as it were in the “Yikes, when did they knock that house down?”  or the “Oh, so that’s the roadkill the stink is coming from!” sense.

(Oh, and speaking of clocks and commuting, the one clock I never change is the one in La Wrangler.  The dealer set it for me when I bought her back in April, 2003, and I haven’t touched it since.  As of now, it’s an hour (and three minutes) fast, and will stay that way until we switch over again.  For some reason, this irritates the hell out of my family.  Heh.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

*Assumes Andy Rooney voice* – Ever have one of those moments when you suddenly realize how fast life is actually moving?

I was thinking about that early this morning after I heard Middle Gel slip out of the house and drive off.  She’s going to an all-district choir audition today, and then later is off to a Young Life weekend retreat somewhere out in the country.  I won’t see her again until late tomorrow evening.

Then again, last weekend when she was home from college, I helped Eldest rehearse a mock video job interview for her public speaking class and realized that’s going to be the real deal before I know it.

And then again, again, yesterday I had to put my foot down with the Youngest and say I didn’t care whether there was a guestroom or not, or who else was going to be there, she was not staying overnight at her boyfriend’s house because Nice Young Ladies Don’t Do That Sort Of Thing, so stop asking!

To cap it all off, the Mothe would have been 83 today.  Ol’ Robbo is still pretty shaken up about losing her.  Ironically, though, because of that loss, the Port Swiller Manor mortgage goes bye-bye today.

To quote a favorite soliloquy:  “Vrooom! What was that?  That was your life, mate.  Oh, that’s nice – do I get another?  Sorry, mate.”

Oh, well.  Back to the world of dreams….

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Now that his beloved Nationals’ season has ended in another first round playoff humiliation, Ol’ Robbo has turned his attention back to his Netflix movie queue.   By happenstance, over the last few days I’ve seen a couple of new-to-me movies, my quick thoughts on which I offer for your consideration:

“Hell To Eternity” (1960):  Evidently based on the real-life story of Guy Gabaldon, it tells the tale of a young boy orphaned in East Los Angeles by the Depression who is adopted by an immigrant Japanese family.  When WWII breaks out, Guy joins the Marines, and because of his bilingualism, is instrumental in capturing numerous prisoners during the American invasion of Saipan.

The movie’s kind of uneven.  The early yoot set up is a bit hokey, and there’s a long Hawaiian shore-leave section that goes absolutely nowhere.  On the other hand, the emphasis on America as a melting pot instead of a (Balkanized, poisonous) fruit salad is very good (although the movie doesn’t duck the thorny issue of Japanese internment camps), and the scene in which Guy gets his adopted mother’s blessing to go fight Imperial Japanese troops is pretty moving.  Also, there are some good close-quarter ground combat scenes.

Jeffrey Hunter, who I suppose I ought to know but don’t, plays Guy.  Most of the rest of the cast is fairly unremarkable, but I chuckled over the fact that one of Guy’s brothers is played by a young George “Oh, My!” Takei. (UPDATE: As lynx-eyed commenters note, yes, I do know Hunter a bit, even if I didn’t realize it.  Shoulda checked IMDB first, I suppose.  Turns out he also had a bit part in “The Longest Day”, but then, who didn’t?)

The Bounty” (1984):  Another retelling of the mutiny by Fletcher Christian and a large part of the crew of HMAV Bounty against the harsh Captain Bligh.  A source I usually trust had dismissed this movie as historickally accurate, but not very entertaining.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to disagree strongly with the latter half of this assessment: Ol’ Robbo thought the movie very well done, indeed, with gorgeous camera work, intelligent period detail, and a plot that hummed along at a very good pace.

Anthony Hopkins gets Bligh’s difficult personality down nicely.  And Mel Gibson plays Christian (accurately and very well) as something of a ne’er-do-well who simply goes native in Tahiti.  (As an aside, what is it with Mel’s need to indulge in on-screen masochism in every single one of his films?  In this one, we see a shot of him having a gasping conversation with Hopkins while having a very large tattoo pounded into his lower back.)  The film also features such heavy-weights as Olivier, Edward Fox, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Liam Neeson.

One of Ol’ Robbo’s pet peeves is the unwarranted maligning of Captain Bligh in popular culture, largely due to Charles Laughton’s entertaining but damn near libelous caricature of him (“MIS-tuh CHRIS-tian!”) in the old 1935 version, with Clarke Gable playing Christian as the noble hero.  Bah!

Incidentally, one of Ol’ Robbo’s favorite authors, George MacDonald Fraser, wrote a book called The Hollywood History of the World:  From One Million Years B.C. to Apocalypse Now, in which he discusses Tinseltown’s treatment of various historickal epochs: The Ancient World: Knights and Barbarians: Tudors and Sea-Dogs: Romance and Royalty: Rule, Britannia; New World, Old West; and, The Violent [20th] Century.  Ol’ Robbo, rereading this book, recently had the brilliant idea to flip through the index and add every single reference available to his Netflix queue.  I’ve now got about eighty films marked down, many of which I haven’t seen before.  I’ll post my thoughts on them as I work my way through much the same way as I’ve done here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Ol’ Robbo is off to watch an old favorite of an “historickal” film, that classic Errol Flynn swashbuckler, “The Sea Hawk” (1940).  Dashing English buccaneers and eeeevil Spanish Dons.  What more could one want?  Oh, and Flora Robson, as Good Queen Bess, is a perfect example of someone who nobody could honestly say is physically beautiful, but nonetheless carries herself with a spirit and a humor that she is  downright attractive.  (Yes, “she has a great personality” is an ugly-covering cliché, but there is a great deal of truth in it, as I’m sure most, if not all, friends of the decanter have discovered from personal experience.  If you don’t understand, you’re probably too young to be sipping port here anyway, so vamoose! )

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, another Halloween is upon us.

As regular friends of the decanter know, Ol’ Robbo is not at all fond of this “holiday”.

Indeed, this year, I didn’t even bother to carve a jack-o-lantern, even though this is one of the very few aspects of the day that I’ve always really rather enjoyed, as I see it as a vestige of the original spirit of the day and not the product of the nasty modern secular/commercial virus which has infected this and just about every other holiday (with the possible exceptions of the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving) in this wretched day and age.  (So long as we’re talking three triangles and a toothy grin, and none of this fancy-shmancy “pumpkin art” stuff, mind you).   We have a pumpkin, but it remains un-lobotomized and faceless on the front porch, and will stay there in such condition probably until the beginning of Advent.

Not that it matters much.  What with where Port Swiller Manor lies in relation to the rest of the neighborhood, we get very, very little traffic here.  Even our next door neighbors, who have three small kids, general go off to the trick or trunk at the local church.  UPDATE: Of course as I typed this, some kiddies showed up at the door!

Also, of course, the Gels have outgrown the day, so there’s nothing much in it for us now.  Indeed, the only nod paid was by Youngest Gel, who went to school in a home-made Waluigi costume that consisted of nothing more than a long-sleeved purple shirt and a set of “overalls” jury-rigged from her jeans and a pair of suspenders she borrowed from me.  Truth be told, she looked rather fetching.

Fortunately, tomorrow is All Saints Day, one of Ol’ Robbo’s very favorites in the entire calendar.  So I will spend the balance of this evening hiding, and looking forward to a better day in the morning.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A lovely Saturday at Port Swiller Manor today.  The weather’s supposed to break tomorrow, but for now porch-sitting and dinner grilling is the order of things.

The leaves are starting to come down, but fortunately not in such numbers that I can’t simply run them over and mulch them in as I mow the lawn.  That’s an image that has always given Ol’ Robbo an immense amount of satisfaction, by the bye; the clean, green swath through the dapple of oranges and browns.  I also love the smell when leaf mulch gets up on to the mower chassis and starts to smoke.

So on the one hand, Mrs. Robbo went down to Flahrduh to visit her parents and grandmother (who just turned 94) this weekend, while on the other the Eldest Gel came home from school for a little R&R after finishing up her midterms.  She and I and the Youngest sat around for about an hour this morning, companionably trading observations and anecdotes about the insanity of the world around us.

Ol’ Robbo was pleased that the Gels were so chummy with each other:  For a long time, the Eldest thought the Youngest so social, flighty and frivolous that it was only a matter of time before she turned up one day with a pierced nose, tats all over, a biker boyfriend, and/or a head full of SJW Cultural Marxist propaganda.  And out of a spirit of what can only be called divilment, the Youngest loved to jerk on the Eldest’s very short chain.  As a result, there was a period of almost continual feuding between them.  Fortunately, while the Youngest remains extremely social, and does in fact have a Young Man (a very good kid, by the bye, who is causing ol’ Robbo little or no anxiety),  she is increasingly showing the skepticism and common sense with which Mrs. R and I have spent all this time trying to equip her for dealing with Life.

Skepticism (about worldly things) and common sense.  To that, I’d also add Faith (in Godly things), although we’re still working on that one.  (Middle Gel is the only one of the three who I would describe as explicitly Christian, in that I know she spends a lot of time thinking about it.   The other two have the Spirit in them as well, not very far down below the surface, but still not as consciously developed.)  And what is both remarkable and gratifying is how strong an armor this combination is proving to be as they navigate the pitfalls of this wretched world, whether it be peer-pressure, academic brainwashing, or media assault.  There are still many things on my Dad Card for me to worry about, but that any of them will turn out dupes, snowflakes,  or wrong ‘uns is not one of them.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo went in for his annual (actually, it’s been a bit over two years) physical yesterday afternoon.

Seems I’m still in reasonable shape.  Within five pounds of my college weight, no major organ problems, bones fine, etc., etc.  On the other hand, I do have a few small issues.  My blood-pressure and cholesterol are a bit elevated and I seem to have a few vitamin deficiencies.  Not exactly E. Henry Thripshaw’s Disease-level worries, but Stuff Relatively Sedate Men In Early Middle Age have to deal with.  I’m supposed to go back next week to “consult” about these things.


However, the high point of the visit was when my Doc surprised me by earnestly suggesting I really ought to cut back on my wine and coffee drinking (neither of which, IMHO, is particularly excessive).  She’s my age, and evidently several of her friends of our vintage have up and died recently from various causes.  I think this has rather spooked her.

I held my tongue at the time, and waited until I was back in the parking lot before I let out a Wayne Campbellish, “Shyeah, right!”

I mean, really!

I didn’t think much more of it until I got the fancy-shmancy electronic copy of her examination report today and saw that she’d actually put this stuff down in writing.  Now that it’s on my Permanent Record, I’m toast.  I can just imagine, when mandatory single-payer and its inevitable health-care rationing become Things, being face-to-face with a Dinsdale Piranha-like administrator.  As he looks through my file, he’ll say, “Oi, you’ve been a naughty boy, Clement!”  And when I tell him my name’s not Clement, he’ll split me nostrils open, saw off me leg and pull me liver out.  Then he’ll lose his temper and nail my head to the floor.

At first, yeah.

Oh, the other high point was that when Doc came in, I noticed she was carrying a syringe with her.

“Now,” she said, “You requested a flu shot, right?”

“No,” I said, somewhat bewildered, “I never requested a flu shot.”

“Oh,” she said, “Well, it says here that you did.”

Then I recalled that Mrs. Robbo had casually mentioned getting a call from the Doc’s office confirming my appointment a couple days ago, and that Mrs. R had done the confirming for me.

“Newman!” I blurted out.

I should say that Mrs. R and I have what amounts to a tradition of squabbling about flu shots each Fall.  I don’t want one: I hate needles, believe that the inoculation is at best a hit-or-miss affair anyway, and would rather run the risk of having to tough it out should I become infected.  She thinks otherwise.

So when I got home and she asked me how the visit went, I simply smiled coldly and said, “Nice try.”

UPDATE:  And per the title of this post, obligatory:



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is going to go out on a limb here and suggest the kind of fellah who voluntarily takes a course on how to “unlearn” his “toxic masculinity”……probably really doesn’t need to.

If you know what I mean.

And I think you do.

Ya know, when Ol’ Robbo was growing up, the Mothe pounded into his head a set of very, very firm rules about how boys were supposed to treat girls.  Boys were supposed to be respectful and courteous, and honor girls for what they are.  Boys absolutely did not hit girls (read: Robbo’s sistah) for any reason whatsoever unless pushed to it in the utmost straits of self-defense.  Boys did not impose themselves on girls in any way, shape, or form, nor did they take advantage of their own size or strength in order to override girls’ wishes.

The Mothe called this course of behavior “being a Gentleman”.

In college, though, Ol’ Robbo was taught that “being a Gentleman” is wrong, wrong, wrong.  Because such a code admits that there are differences between men and women.  Because admitting such differences reinforces the Patriarchy.  Because putting women on pedestals. Because condescending.  Because virgin/whore complex.  Because shut up!

Despite this attempted indoctrination, Ol’ Robbo never forgot the Mothe’s teachings and has conducted himself accordingly over the years.  Mrs. Robbo, the Gels, and all of my female friends and colleagues – even the Socialist Juice-box Wanker types – may be delusional, but they seem to appreciate this.

So, what exactly is the practical difference between “unlearning toxic masculinity” and  “being a Gentleman”?

The answer, of course, is “none at all”.

But that is not what all this is about.  “Being a Gentleman” (and its forefather “Chivalry”) is all about taking masculinity and channeling it to good purpose.  What’s going on now is an outright attempt to destroy masculinity altogether.

Ol’ Robbo will simply nod his head courteously and murmur, “No, thank you.”



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Just done mowing the yard here at Port Swiller Manor and wondering how many more times this year I’ll need to do so.  Twice at the most, I reckon.  At the moment, there’s a large flock of robins out back going over the trimmings.  We generally have a few hanging around all year, but I think this is probably a migratory bunch on their way from hither to yon.  Certainly the hummingbirds seem to have packed up and left.

Anyhoo, Ol’ Robbo’s lawn-mowing turned out to be a Sunday chore this week because we spent most of yesterday visiting my godparents, who live about an hour away from us.  Uncle and I had a long talk about the Mothe – he’d known her nearly 60 years – and I’ve been feeling a good deal better since.

Meanwhile, on a completely random note, for some mysterious reason the shopping cart I was pushing around the store today in search of this evening’s din-din components kept building up a static charge:  I could feel my hair pringling and got my fingers zapped every time they moved off the plastic bar onto the bare metal.  Very strange.  Perhaps Black Lectroids were trying to contact me?  That would explain the voice in my head that keeps saying, “Hallo! Mah nem is Jon Pahrker!”

In the World of Baseball, congratulations to the Astros for holding off the Yankees in the ALCS.  I don’t think a Yankees/Dodgers series would have appealed to many folks outside their respective markets, but I imagine now the ‘Stros will be the favorites of the rest of the country.

Whelp, that’s about it.  Five o’clock and time for a glass of sherry!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, Autumn has definitely arrived in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor, with mild days and cool, crisp evenings.  It is very much Ol’ Robbo’s favorite season, even when it gets colder and rainy.

For some reason I’ve never completely fathomed, it also puts me in mind to revisit my studies of North American colonialism in general, and the French and Indian War in particular.  Arcane knowledge, some might say, particularly in this day and age of goddam Cultural Marxism where history began fifteen minutes ago, but Ol’ Robbo continues to be of the opinion that one cannot understand America as a concept without understanding her Revolutionary beginnings, and one cannot understand the Revolution without also understanding the Colonial roots from which it sprang.  (And speaking of the Colonial Era, did I ever mention here that my geneology-obsessed cousin recently discovered that ancestors of ours were killed and captured during Shawnee raids on the Virginia frontier in 1759 and 1763?  Hard cheese for them, of course, but pretty durn cool in retrospect.)

Anyhoo, it is always around this time of year that I pull my Francis Parkman off the shelf and delve into his massive opus on the struggle between France and Britain in North America.  This year, I had also been considering revisiting the great Fred Anderson (I have his Crucible of War and A People’s Army), since I haven’t read him in a while.

So imagine my serendipitous delight when I unexpectedly received in the mail from long-time friend of the decanter Old Dominion Tory this week a copy of Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monogahela and the Road to Revolution by David Preston, a new-to-Robbo author, but I doubt ODT would recommend him if he was a wrong ‘un.

Poor old General Braddock – hopelessly out of his depth in the tactics of frontier fighting, bushwhacked, receiving a painful and fatal wound, then being buried ignominiously in the middle of the road the remainder of his army retreated over so as not to be dug up and scalped by the Indians.  And all for the sake of Pittsburgh.  I think about that a lot when I’m driving the Gels back and forth to summah camp out in southwestern Pennsylvania.

I’m looking forward to reading this book bigly.

** Spot the reference.

UPDATE:  Poking around on the devil’s website, Ol’ Robbo also found a book authored by Preston entitled The Texture of Contact: European and Indian Settler Communities on the Frontiers of Iroquoia, 1667-1783 (The Iroquoians and Their World), which of course I immediately had to scoop up as well.   (Ol’ Robbo is the worst sort of impulse-buyer when it comes to books.  I suppose there are worse vices.)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

In re HarveyWeinsteinGate,  I understand Captain Renault is shocked, shocked, that there is sexual predation in Big Entertainment.

There’s really not much else to say.  I believe this sort of thing is, in fact, Standard Operating Procedure in Gomorrah on the Pacific, that everybody out there knows it is, that it’s been going on forever, that the predators are not just men, and that the victims* are not just women or just adults.

My only real questions are why Weinstein in particular got tagged for it, and why now?

I doubt, in the end, that this will be enough to bring down fire and brimstone on Tinseltown, nor that it will change the inmates’ collective belief that they are our betters Because Celebrity, but it’s nice to think it might.

* I use the word “victims” very loosely here.  I’ve little doubt the Hollywood casting couches have seen everything from rape to de facto prostitution.  It’s all nasty.



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