Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are in February already, and it’s living up to its reputation this year.  (As it happens, the sky is clear today but it’s too damn cold to do much outside.)

Because the mind of Ol’ Robbo works the way it does, whenever I come to contemplate the fact of February, I always think of the scene in Act 2 of the Pirates of Penzance where the Pirate King explains to young Frederick the paradox of his (Frederick) having been born on February 29 in a Leap Year:

For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve no desire to be disloyal,
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February, twenty-eight

days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence — I shouldn’t be surprised if it were owing

to the agency of an ill-natured fairy —
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year,

on the twenty-ninth of February.
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you’re
only five and a little bit over !

(Is this a leap year, by the bye? I haven’t looked it up.)

Anyhoo, I find myself in the Port Swiller library, laptop on lap, cat on arm of chair, thinking of this and that.

♦  I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about FISA-gate.  I won’t say anything about it here even though I’ve been following the whole biznay quite intently.  What’s that lyric from the Sting song? “At the stillpoint of destruction/ At the center of the fury/ All the angels, all the devils/  (Something, something) can’t you see?” A leetle too close for comfort.  I will just reiterate in general my philosophy that, even though I work in it, I consider government to be a necessary evil, not a religion.  This sort of thing is what happens when others feel differently.

♦   Speaking of religion, as Candlemas was yesterday, I took down and put away the last of the Christmas decorations this morning – specifically the crèche in the front hall and the wreaths on the front doors.  Mrs. Robbo managed to restrain herself from making cracks about how tired she was of looking at them until just the other day.  I think this is a compromise I can live with.

♦   In the Absurdity Department, I learn that Daisy, the Port Swiller Special Needs Dog, has been banned from the groomers.  They say she shakes and gibbers so much that it takes them far too long to finish with her.  So we’re investing in an electric trimmer and will have a go at doing it ourselves.  Anybody know anything about how to cut a dog’s hair?

♦   I am slowly – very slowly – working up the energy to finally getting around to reorganizing my library, which is presently quite a-jumble. Ol’ Robbo simply can’t bear the idea of actually getting rid of books – even those he has no intention of ever reading again – but it recently occurred to me that there is room in the basement where I can, as it were, circular-file them, leaving the library shelves upstairs free for repacking (and adding to).  So, once I summon enough energy, downstairs will go such volumes as the histories of commie-bastard Eric Hobsbawm (left over from college) and fellow-travelers Will and Ariel Durant (picked up at a garage sale when I was young and didn’t know any better); the novels of Hemingway and Steinbeck; the Dee Cee “Insider” books by people like Ken Starr and David Bois that the Old Gentleman continually sent me but I never read, and the like.  The choice of what to retire will be delicious.

♦   Oh, there is one book I’m throwing away:  Lisa Birnbach’s True Prep. Her original Preppy Handbook from back in the early 80’s was amusing (I still have it), but this updated version, capturing as it does the depth of narcissism into which the current so-called “Elite” have slid since then, is horrifying.

♦   And finally, speaking of narcissism, Ol’ Robbo has no intention of watching the Sooper Bowl this year.  Not that I’ve paid very much attention to pro ball since Marino retired, but I usually still tune into the SB for the sheer spectacle.  Not this time.  (Besides, I think a Pats win is pretty much a foregone conclusion.)  No matter:  Only eleven more days until pitchers and catchers report!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

An interesting article over to Legal Insurrection on surviving the death of the blogsphere, which death the author attributes to suffocation by way of other social media platforms which have substituted the former free-wheeling, good-timing outlet of opinion with something more dour, miserable, and at times hysterical.

Personally, I’ve never twittered, nor had any interest in doing so.  I am also seriously considering getting rid of my facebook account simply because I can’t really say anything on it worth saying.  (Probably the only thing that stops me is the genuine value I get out of a couple of closed groups devoted to religion and literature.)

But yeah, I remember the Good Old Days.  (Do you know that Ol’ Robbo has been blogging since November of 2003?  Yes, indeed – first with the old Llama Crew, and from behind the decanter here since July of 2008.)  It was all so interactive and creative back then, with lots of us small fish meeting up through random linkage and comments, and eventually building little bloggy families.  Even though most of my fellows have hung it up now, I still keep the links to their old sites up in fond remembrance, more as mementos to the past than anything else.

Nowadays, of course, it’s quite different.  I can’t recall the last time anybody linked one of my posts.  Fifty views is a good day for me, as opposed to the 500-odd we used to get back in the day.  If WordPress is to be believed, there are about 30 of you who follow this blog, and I get very, very little outside traffic.

But you know what?  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t really care.  After all, this is a hobby, not something I’m dependent on for a living.  (Thank Heaven!) It’s a place where I can come and just toss things off at random as they come welling to the surface of my alleged brain, plus get in a little practice at writing.  And even though my voice is absolutely miniscule in the greater scheme of things, I like to think that I’m still making at least some impact on some people, even if just a few.

So here’s a glass of wine with you all!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Over at Puppy-Blender HQ today, Ol’ Robbo noticed this article:  Americans who practice yoga ‘contribute to white supremacy’, claims Michigan State University professor.

Well, of course they do!

Take it away, Professor:

The authors wrote: “This modern day trend of cultural appropriation of yoga is a continuation of white supremacy and colonialism, maintaining the pattern of white people consuming the stuff of culture that is convenient and portable, while ignoring the well-being and liberation of Indian people.

Yes, you know how we’re over there stealing all the yoga, bundling it into job-lots, and shipping it out in yuge container ships, leaving a huge Yoga Deficit on the Subcontinent.

By the bye, “ignoring the well-being and liberation of Indian people”?  Really? It was the British who established the conditions allowing for modern-day democracy in India.  And put a stop to the tradition of burning widows to death on their deceased husbands’ funeral pyres.  Just saying.  (And to be fair, I doubt very seriously whether Lord William Bentinck practiced yoga himself.)

“While the (mis)appropriation of yoga may not be a life-threatening racism, it is a part of systemic racism nonetheless, and it is important to ask, what are the impetuses for this cultural ‘grabbing’?”

How about because people are attracted to it?  Ol’ Robbo is old enough to remember when this sort of thing was called “multi-culturalism” and was considered a sign of Enlightenment on the Left.  Not quite sure when it became such Double-Unplus BadThink.

Incidentally, know what the two most popular sports are in India? Soccer and cricket.  Where did the Indians “grab” those?  And what were their impetuses?

To continue:

“When ‘Western’ yoga teachers train other practitioners to relate to yoga only on a physical level, without exploring the history, roots, complexity, and philosophy, they are perpetuating the re-colonisation of it by diluting its true depth and meaning.”

But the authors did argue that practitioners can “reduce harm” by engaging with yoga in a “decolonising way”. 

She wrote: “They can be aware of the history, roots, and magnitude of the practice and give credit where credit is due. Humility, respect, and reverence go a long way.

See, this is all she actually needed to say (and I actually agree with the sentiment), and she could have said it much more plainly: Be respectful.  And learn why the hell it is you’re doing what you’re doing.  Ol’ Robbo has never been to a yoga class, but it seems to me that it wouldn’t be that difficult for an instructor to say, “Here’s the tradition and Symbolic Meaning behind this particular knot into which you’re tying yourself….”

In fact, seems to me it would be rayther interesting.  If I ever did yoga, that is.  Which I won’t.

But then we get to what I suspect is the real heart of the matter:

“Additionally, there is a responsibility to explore issues around access. The cost of Western yoga classes can be prohibitive for low to middle-income people. This often includes people of colour, including recent immigrants, such as Indian women to whom this practice rightfully belongs.”

Shorter version:  Gimme a dollar.  You know, I’m mostly Scots.  There are plenty of golf courses around here that I can’t really afford to play on anything like a regular basis.  What about my access?

(BTW, cost to attend MSU for out-of-staters? 50K per yearAaaaand, “International students may have additional fees and expenses.”)

Happy Birthday, Franz Schubert, born this day in 1797.

Schubert will never be my favorite composer, but I do nonetheless still like listening to him, especially his chamber works and keyboard pieces.  (I’ve never heard them, but I’m told his lieder are outstanding, too.)

I’ve never tried to play any Schubert myself.  Someday, however, perhaps when I’m retired, I’d like to take a whack at this, which I really do enjoy:

And because it’s his birthday, I can’t resist repeating here the Mothe’s longstanding joke about Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C-major, known as “the Great”.  She’d take on a mock-Irish accent and say, “Da Great, is it now?  Weel, I dunno about dat.  But it saretently is Da Large!”

Cracks me up still.

(Because the piece is so very long and repetitive, d’you see.  Well, I think it’s funny…)


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see in the gnus today an article that the Cleveland Indians are phasing out their beloved mascot, Chief Wahoo.

Fortunately, I already own a DVD copy of Major League, so at least that image can’t be completely disappeared from history.  I also own a hat from a game I went to when I was in town doing depositions back in 2009.  (I also have a Travis Hafner bobble-head from that game.)

I’d insert here a paragraph about mascots as sources of pride, not derision,  and the standard “What about the drunken leprechaun of Notre Dame or the Boston Celtics or the San Diego Padres, etc,, etc.”, but I’ll save my pixels because of course this whole biznay has nothing to do with actual grievances and everything to do with Cultural Marxist mau-mau politicks.  (I gather MLB put the hurt on Cleveland because it’s hosting the 2019 All Star Game and, wull, it’s be a shame if somefin happened to their franchise to prevent that, woodnit?


Curiously enough, the first little league softball team Ol’ Robbo managed when the gels were coming up was given Cleveland as their MLB “affiliate”.  We got Indians’ hats and color-coordinated uniforms.  The team took to it to the extent of spreading war paint on their faces and yelling war whoops every time they took the field.  I did nothing to discourage this and, indeed, promoted it as an instrument of team unity.

I suppose this means that, when Ol’ Robbo is sent to the Reeducation Camps, his chocolate ration will be increased from 20 grams to 15 grams.

Double Feh.

Chief Wahoo! Live free! Die well!

UPDATE:  Oh, my prophetic soul! Via the Puppy-Blender, we’re down to this: ESPN Host: Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish Mascot Is Offensive, Needs to Change.  I didn’t actually click over and read the article, because I don’t have to.   The mau-mau script never changes.

However, if, indeed, begun the Mascot Wars have, I want to go ahead and nominate this guy for the top of the proscription list:

Mr. “Met”

I mean, he triggers me nine ways to Sunday.  Look at him.  Big, complacent, white face just screams out “non-woke”.  And the arms raised up in classic rapey, hegemonic fashion?  C’mon!  Plus, I hear he likes to abuse small, furry animals….right out there on the 1st Base line.  (Well, okay, I suppose that last bit probably wouldn’t bother the SJW crowd, but I still think it’s icky.)

Plus, he’s not going to have much to cheer about this year anyway, since Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats are going to beat the rest of the NL East with the Pain Stick all season. (Woo, hoo, hoo!  *Ducks*)



Get a little action in!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Rayther than clogging up the post below with additional updates (which see – and you’ll need to for this post to make any sense), I’ll start a new one this evening to state that the other, other operation – thanks to additional negotiations between Mrs. R and his mother – is now for Middle Gel’s friend to catch an Uber ride to the airport tomorrow morning.  All I have to do is make sure he’s up in time.

Yes, this means I don’t have to drive an hour and a half round-trip in the rain, but at the same time I find it highly irritating.

First, a bit of background: Mrs. R has been away in Flarduh for some time tending to her dying grandmother and is scheduled to arrive home tomorrow.  In the meantime, Eldest, although home from school, is hanging out this evening with her best friend from high school.  Middle Gel and her visitor friend are down in the basement playing Mario Cart and watching trashy superhero movies.  Youngest, who dumped her boyfriend yesterday, says she vants to be alooone, but I can nonetheless hear her in her room yackiting on the phone with her friends.

So earlier this evening, banished from his accustomed haunts and deprived of any companionship except Daisy, the Special Needs Dog and the occasional cat or three, Ol’ Robbo settled down in his bedroom with his laptop, a Dave Barry book, and a glass of wine.  And he had just been laughing himself silly over Hitler Rants parodies on Yootube and Dave’s take on cyberspace when Mrs. R and Middle Gel dropped the bombshell about Ol’ Robbo having to take her friend to BWI at Oh Dark Thirty.  (Again, which see update below.)

After fuming for a few minutes, I said to myself, “Self? Fine! We’ll do it.  Quit whining, suck it up, and prepare.”

And frankly, that should have been that.  I issued general instructions to those involved and then started getting ready for an early bedtime.

Then the phone rang.

It was Mrs. Robbo.  As I say above, she’d been talking with friend’s mother and there was now a change of plan:  He’s taking an Uber tomorrow so I don’t have to drive him.

Now you would think that Ol’ Robbo would be happy in that he is no longer saddled with having to do the drive and you’d be correct to an extent.  At the same time, though, this kind of chopping and changing and last minute dithering drives me absolutely batty.   As far as I’m concerned, pick a plan and, as long as it remains viable, stick to it.  Even if it means that I have to do the heavy lifting.  After all, that’s what I’m here for.

Perhaps this is a Guy Thing.  (Are we still allowed to say “Guy Thing”?  Or is that part of the Patriarchy that must be smashed by the Cultural Marxists? Bad, baaaaad, Robbo! You are nekulturny! Get your coat – we are going for a ride.)

On the other hand, perhaps it’s just me.

Long and the short of it, I simply want the friend to be gone (much as I like him), Mrs. Robbo to be home, and the general routine reestablished.  Is that too much to ask?

UPDATE: Well.  Sorry for that.  All better now.  Friend has gone home, Mrs. Robbo is back, the whaddayacallit is on the wing and the thingumby is on the thorn.  And because I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since making that “I vant to be alooone” crack, here’s a little fun for you:

(I know, I know – Swanson, not Garbo.  But still.  We used to watch this show all the time when I was a kid.  To this day, I cannot see the name Max without wanting to pronounce it “Mex“.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel is back home this weekend because she left off getting her eyes checked until too late over Winter Break and had to come back to get her new contacts.  I am also personally accompanying her to make sure she gets her oil changed while she’s here (something else she didn’t get around to over all those weeks).

They grow up, but at the same time they don’t.

UPDATE: Of course, I was the perfectly mature, completely responsible adult when I was a college sophomore….not.

Mulling on this brought back to mind a perfect example of my own ridiculous behavior back in the day.  I was coming home from college at the end of my sophomore year in 1985, flying from Hartford to San Antonio.  I had not bothered much about shipping things ahead of time, which meant that I showed up at the airport with three perfectly enormous stuffed duffles.  The counterperson took one look at them and said, “Honey, you’re gonna have to write me a big ol’ check for those.”  (I didn’t have a credit card at the time.)

Now I had a local checking account, but I knew that I only had a balance of about 63 cents in it.  However, I was perfectly willing to write a dud check just to get myself and my stuff home.  I figured it could all be sorted out later on.  However, when I pulled out my checkbook, I discovered…..there were no checks left in it.


Somehow or other, I talked the counterperson into holding my duffles for me.  I then flew home, explained things to the Old Gentleman when he met me at the airport, and had him deal with the counterpersons there, paying the baggage fee and having them contact the people in Hartford.  The bags appeared at home the next day.

Why my parents didn’t kill me then and there, I’ll never know.  Except I suppose I do know.  Now.

UPDATE DEUX:  Well, it’s now nine o’clock Saturday Evening.  Funny how I was reminiscing about idiot kid travel arrangements earlier, because I just now learned that I’m going to have to drive Middle Gel’s friend, who was down from Boston for the weekend, to BWI airport at 5:30 ack emma tomorrow.  In the rain.  This is me trying not to twitch and failing – ((((((())))))))


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s been quite a week at Port Swiller Manor.  The Younger Gels got involved in a fender-bender Tuesday morning (not their fault, just a squished rear bumper, no injuries), and then Mrs. Robbo’s 94 y.o. grandmother passed away earlier today.  As Mrs. R has been in Flarduh for nearly a week tending said grandmother, Ol’ Robbo has been handling all the fall-out of both events this end by himself.

Nonetheless, in between bouts of having to do Grown Up stuff, I’ve managed to squeeze in four movies since last weekend, none of which I’ve actually seen before.  So a few quick thoughts on each:

Cheyenne Autumn (1964).  John Ford’s last western.  A band of Cheyenne on a reservation in Oklahoma, tired of being shafted by the Gubmint, decides to go home to Wyoming.  The Army, naturally, pursues them.  This isn’t your usual frontier struggle set-up.  Instead, it’s a look at very shabby treatment of a beaten people, and could have been a very good movie due to its thought-provoking themes and its excellent cavalry scenes,  but for a couple of things.  First, there is a middle part in which the good citizens of Dodge City, Kansas, led by Jimmah Stewart as Wyatt Earp, panic because they think the Cheyennes are coming for them.  The bit is something near Olde West parody and really ruins the tone.  Second, although the action is supposed to take place in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming, a lot of the film was shot in Monument Valley which, although beautiful in its own right, looks nothing like any of those locations.  Very annoying to me.  Ricardo Montalban is the Cheyenne war chief.  Richard Widmark is the sympathetic cavalry officer who has to chase him.  Karl Malden, sporting a German accent, is another army officer in on the hunt. Edward G. Robinson, with no trace of gangster about him, is the sympathetic Secretary of the Interior.  And a lovely young Carrol Baker plays a Quaker missionary at the reservation. (I find, upon looking her up, that she played the mother of the psychopath in Kindergarten Cop.)  I’d give it two and a half out of five glasses – definitely worth seeing, but probably not a repeater.

Flight of the Phoenix (1965).  This movie had sat in my Netflix back-order queue for years, but TCM ran it the other night.  A cargo plane, piloted by Jimmah Stewart and Dickie Attenborough and carrying a dozen or so soldiers and oil-field employees, goes down in the Sahara.  There’s minimal food and water, and no hope of being spotted, so the survivors have to think of a way to get themselves out.  It’s basically one of your disparate personalities meets impossible situation dramas.  I must say, without spoilers, that I thought their Kobyashi Maru solution to be a bit…far-fetched, but, hey, this is the movies.  Ernest Borgnine and George Kennedy are among the crew.  I’ll go three out of five glasses on this one, too.  I’m taking it out of my Netflix queue, but this is the sort of movie that I’d watch any time it happened to come up on cable.

Cromwell (1970).  No, I really hadn’t seen it before.  This is an excellent film.  I mean, Richard Harris (as Cromwell) and Alec Guinness (as Charles I), for crying out loud.  The battle scenes between Roundheads and Cavaliers were really outstanding, I thought, courtesy, as I understand it, of the Spanish Army extras.  Historickally speaking, I thought the film somewhat more sympathetic to Cromwell than it could have been, although since it cuts out before he assumes dictatorial control, a lot of his, ah, heavy-handedness is excluded.  Timothy Dalton, of all people, plays Prince Rupert, which makes you realize just how long he’s been around the films.  Five glasses on this one – I’ll toss it back in the queue again for future viewing.

Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954).  Insert your “Joey, do you like movies about……?” snark here.  This is actually a sequel to the movie, The Robe, in which moody, broody Richard Burton’s Roman officer comes into possession of Christ’s robe after the Crucifixion.  In that film, Burton moodily, broodily is transformed by said Robe and all that it represents, and then is moodily, broodily sent off to his martyrdom for his new-found Faith.  D and the G picks it up at this point.  As Burton moodily, broodily marches off to his death, he gives the Robe to St. Peter, who apparently has no trouble standing about in Caligula’s audience chamber.  Peter then has to leave town on business, so he entrusts the Robe to Victor Mature’s Demetrius.  Demetrius subsequently gets in trouble with the Law and is hauled off to gladiator school.  Meanwhile, Caligula gets it in his head that the Robe has some magical power of divinity and sets out to find it.  At the same time, Messalina (played by yummy Susan Heyward) gets the hots for Demetrius.  Crises of Faith and pagan debauchery ensue, and only come to a close when St. Peter reappears to snap Demetrius back in line and Caligula is assassinated.  The Julio-Claudian history is…..loosely presented, at best.  Eh, I’ll give this one two glasses out of five.  For all the Christian themes at work, it really is just a movie about gladiators.

UPDATE:  Add Comanche Station (1960).  Randolph Scott rescues a comely young woman from the Comanch and then has to battle both Indians and Claude Akins to get her back to her husband.  (The young lady seems to fall into a suspicious number of creeks, ponds, and water troughs.  Just saying.)

The whole time, I kept thinking of this:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are on the first Monday morning of Chuck E. Fargin’ Schumer’s Shutdown Staycation, and since Ol’ Robbo’s O-fficial employment status is “Nearly Invisible”, I find myself sitting around Port Swiller Manor in my jammies and listening to the dog bark at everything that moves.

I actually hope this one doesn’t last very long, simply because I have quite a bit of work to do down the office at the moment and I don’t like to see it stack up.  You would think, what with everyone else out of the house and being freed of endless “meetings” and phone calls, that now would be a perfect time for me to curl up with my laptop and do some serious reading.  I don’t care if I’m on the clock or not, it’s stuff that needs doing.  But nope, nope, nopety-nope, nope, nope.  The Powers That Be are adamant that such things don’t happen.  And I don’t want Bob from NSA tapping into my computer and finding me being naughty.

So here I sit, loafing.

As I say, I hope (and also believe) this will be a short hiatus.  But just in case it turns into a protracted siege, I’ve also come up with a list of things with which to keep myself occupied:


10.  Learn to juggle.

9.   Build model of Chartres Cathedral from popsicle sticks.

8.   Solve for pi.

7.   Move entire house three feet to left to get better sun on front bushes.

6.   Finally re-read Paradise Lost as I’ve vowed to do ever since college.

5.   400-lap Beltway Rally!

4.   Teach the cats to sing the old “Meow-Mix” theme song.

3.   “Cool-Hand Luke” egg-eating challenge.

2.   Vacuum up all the pet fur.  (Naw, there’s never enough time to do that!)

1. Bathtub full of sangria and a “Gilligan’s Island” marathon!

UPDATE: Well, never mind: Chuckie caved.  I rather thought he would.

By the bye, thank you for bearing with the little assay in humor above.  It’s taken nearly six months, but I really feel like I’m finally coming out from under the cloud that descended on me when I lost the Mothe and am ready to start dealing with the world again (largely by laughing at it, of course).  As you can see, though, I’m pretty badly out of practice.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and welcome to Day One of Ol’ Robbo’s Chuckie Schumer Shutdown Staycation!

Kind of a pity it’s Saturday and all.

Well, we shall see what happens.

Aaaaanyway, I have increasing reason to believe that Daisy, the Port Swiller special-needs pooch, is in love.

With a fox.

There’s a big fellow who’s been hanging about the neighborhood for the past couple weeks.  I’ve seen him gliding around from time to time, including several trips through the Port Swiller back yard.  Indeed, the other day I watched him for a good ten minutes as he tracked back and forth across the lawn, obviously sniffing along Daisy’s scent.

She, meanwhile, every time she goes out now – and she’s always wanting to go out, tracks his scent up, down, and around, as well.  Furthermore, she’s taken to sitting herself down in the middle of the yard, looking about expectantly, and barking.  And although I don’t necessarily speak fluent dog language, I’ve been around them long enough to know the difference between, “Hey, get out of here!” and “Hell-O, Sailor!”

Are these things even possible?  I know that coyotes sometimes mate with domestic dogs, but do foxes as well?  And would a middle-aged lady who was fixed eons ago still feel her heart start to go pitter-patter at the scent of a hunky male in her territory?  Science might say no, but I see what I see.

Ol’ Robbo always assumed he’d have the Gels’ boy troubles to deal with, but I must admit I never imagined something like this.

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