C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Aladdin Readi-Cut Homes, 1958

The good life of the 1950s, which those happy kids would later mock and deride, and abandon for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll - and all that has followed.  
But was it really so bad?

Your Head Trucker can hardly think of a better way to while away a rainy day - such as we are blessed to have here in Texas today - than by poring over old house plans.  I suspect that many of my truckbuddies also get off on floor plan porn, so I here present for your delectation a sampling from Aladdin Readi-Cut Homes, published in 1958. But first, a little background information.

Readi-cut houses, also known as mail-order houses or kit homes, began to be marketed shortly after the turn of the 20th century, and were popular until the advent of World War II.  Sears and Montgomery Ward were but two of many companies who offered such houses, which are not to be confused with prefabricated houses, in which many components - including whole walls, interior and exterior - are assembled in a factory and shipped to the builder, who merely has to stand them up and attach one to another.

Readi-cut houses, on the other hand, are built stick by stick and piece by piece just like any other platform-framed house, but every stud, joist, plank, and rafter is pre-cut by a giant series of buzzsaws at the factory to its precise dimensions, labeled, and numbered.  This eliminates the need for a homebuilder, or his carpenter, to buy large pieces of wood from a local lumber mill and spend the many hours needed to cut them all down into the individual pieces.  Furthermore, where pieces join, they are pre-notched so as to fit together snugly and precisely, thereby assuring strong and sturdy construction, without waste of time or materials.

The Aladdin Company, headquartered in Bay City, Michigan, was one of the most successful readi-cut home vendors.  In the roaring 1920s, at the height of the Florida land boom, the company leaders actually planned to build a whole city of their houses near Miami; unfortunately, the collapse of the boom, followed shorty after by the Great Depression, scuttled those plans.  The Depression dampened all kinds of house building nationwide, and the readi-cut companies who managed to carry on were most of them scuppered by the diversion of materials to the war effort in 1941-45.

Aladdin soldiered on, however, despite the postwar boom in tract houses built by the hundreds or thousands in new suburbs across the country, with the encouragement of new FHA and VA loans available to millions who could never have afforded new homes before.  For a nominal down payment and a low-interest mortgage, home buyers could get the keys to a cute, convenient, complete ranch-style house without ever having to swing a hammer:  an easy choice for all but the most dedicated do-it-yourselfers, I suspect.  But Aladdin and a few other companies kept turning out readi-cut plans for a dwindling market until finally calling it quits in the 1970s.

Well, now that Prof. Manley has done his educational duty with this history lesson, on to a selection of the 1958 plans; the full catalog is available to view or download at the marvelous Internet Archive, a true Aladdin's Cave of all sorts of quaint and curious lore on every subject imaginable.  Click any image to enlarge.
























Well, now that you've seen these selections, which would you pick?

And if some genie granted you the choice, would you rather live in 1958 or 2018?



Sunday, August 12, 2018

Beach Mix, 081218


Let's have a beach party!

Sunday Drive is on summer hiatus while I offer some favorites from the mid-sixties for fun in the sun and tans on the sands.

What memories do these songs bring back for you?


Dance, Dance, DanceBeach Boys, 1964




Get ReadyTemptations, 1966




No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In), T-Bones, 1966 (based on an amusing Alka-Seltzer commercial)




It's Not Unusual, Tom Jones, 1965




Be My Baby, RonettesShindig! 1965 (recorded 1963)



"No less an authority than Brian Wilson has declared 'Be My Baby' the greatest pop record ever made."--Wikipedia



Saturday, August 11, 2018

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Southern Standard English

For the benefit of my overseas truckbuddies:  the South is more a state of mind than mere geography, and as such its boundaries are hotly debated in some quarters; but this map tells you all you really need to know.

What do you mean, slang?  It's all just pure-T English to me.




N. B. -- I'm sorry to have to inform you all, but despite its name and its long history as a repository of Southern culture, Southern Living is nowadays - like every other venerable institution, it seems - run by up-to-date but woefully uninformed children, quite a few of whom aren't even Southerners at all!  Hence, the magazine is no longer an infallible guide to things Southern, if it ever was.

Most terms are correctly defined and used here; some are a little off; and many were never peculiar to the South, but were (and are) widespread Americanisms. And a couple or three descend in unbroken line from the English of colonial times: e.g., reckon, meaning suppose or estimate, is still very much in daily use at all levels of British society. Isn't that right, Tim?   I stand corrected. 

I confess, I love to throw out reckon when I'm around hoity-toity oh-so-modern types, full of all the latest slang, just to fuck with their heads make them show their petty snobbery and ignorance.  And then I chuckle inside.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Nightmare World: Facebook Wants Your Bank Account


I'll be honest with you, fellas:  Much as I try to keep a stiff upper lip about the decay of civilization, there are days when any attempt at optimism seems hopeless, and the vision of a nightmare world that surpasses anything Orwell ever dreamed of seems not merely imminent, but already present.

Facebook is not your friend, despite the happy college-kid face it presents to the world.  They now want to "partner" with banks to "improve customer service" and "benefit the consumer."  If you believe that, you are a fool.  It's a business, a huge, sprawling, corporation without a human soul.  A corporation is a machine to make money with - like any tool, it can be used for good or ill purposes.  But what all corporations want is to increase their stock prices and dividends, and too many corporate leaders tend not to care if any and all consumers get screwed in the process - hey, too bad, it's progress, wheeeee!

"Privacy" notice I got a few days ago from Google.  Even what your or I watch on YouTube or what places we look up on Google Maps are all tracked under the unceasing, unblinking eye of Big Brother, and filed in his unforgetting, ineradicable memory.  
If Google can follow your every stray thought, who else can too?  And is?

I could go on and on and on about the madness that has engulfed us all in the last 25 years since the advent of the Internet - and even though some antisocial types, like me, have never joined Facebook, there are who knows how many other companies, like Google, and countless little ones nobody ever heard of, all busily digging into everyone's privacy every minute of every hour of every day.  There is in fact no privacy left in the world for anyone, except maybe for some of those lost tribes in the Amazon jungle, and even their remote little world is being steadily invaded.

And it's not merely things that you think of as data-sharing sites.  There's also the ghastly Internet of Things, which to put it another way, means that your car, your refrigerator, your dishwasher, your microwave, and just about any other electronic gadget can in fact be made to spy on you and report everything you do, every word you say, and how you spend every second of your life, waking or sleeping.

From "sponsored content" about harvesting your privacy from the Internet of Things at Politico, 7/16/18.  Click to enlarge.

And every utility - electricity, gas, water - is produced, distributed, and metered by mini-minds that can also be misdirected or shut down.

And furthermore, every last one of those devices, in your home, or at the power plant, can be unlocked and controlled, probably, by some teenage hacker down the street or some spymaster on the other side of the world, with a few taps on a keyboard.

Just last year, somebody in Dallas broadcast a radio signal that activated all 156 of the city's tornado alarms, an amazing feat of digital malevolence.  Lily Hay Newman reported for Wired:
The Dallas incident fits with the broader uptick in infrastructure hacks around the country. From electric road signs to emergency text alert systems to suburban dams, hackers have targeted vulnerable structures with increasing boldness. And while the Dallas sirens did have some alarming secondary effects—over 4,000 calls to 911 flooded the city's emergency response lines for several hours—it's nothing next to the real danger that hacks like these could cause.

"There’s a steady drumbeat of these types of attacks and they’re all pretty benign right now, but what’s next? Is it water? Is it sewage?" says Chris Pogue, the chief information security officer at the data analysis firm Nuix. "Let’s not waste the potential lessons learned by saying it’s an isolated incident."
I don't want to be part of this nightmare.  And I don't want to be part of this ugly, vulgar, hate-filled century, which I'm afraid will one day make the horrors of the 20th century look like a Sunday-school picnic.  But what can any of us do now?  We walked into the enticing trap of the Internet willingly, all unsuspecting, and now the doors are closing on us, it seems.  One day, sooner than you think, Siri and Alexa and other talking boxes will not be optional - they will be required in every home.  Maybe even in every brain.  And then the last hope of resistance - of truly independent human personality - will have vanished.

And it won't be fresh-faced, innocent-looking types like Mark Zuckerberg pulling your strings.  It will be the ruthless, power-hungry leaders of the left or right - when they have a good grip on you with the ruthless digital hand, it won't much matter which side they are.

You may say, "Oh, Russ, you're just being melodramatic, don't get so excited, just chill."  Well, okay, boys - if you all don't think there's any danger to worry about, you just sit back and relax.  While you can.

But when a day comes that your bank balance is zeroed out, your credit cards too, and your car won't start, and you have no electricity - unless you do as you are told - for gosh sakes, don't come whine to me about it, "Oh I never dreamed this could happen."

It can.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

You have been warned.


P. S. -- Of course, I could be wrong. So was Orwell, so was Bradbury, so was Forster, so was Wells, and so were a lot of other writers who have rung the alarm bells about present trends and coming events, if you look only only at the small details of what they prophesied.  I don't have the talent for spinning a fascinating yarn as they did, either.

Nevertheless, no one doubts that they were right to sound a warning.  Forewarned is forearmed.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Beach Mix, 8/5/18


Let's have a beach party!

Sunday Drive is on summer hiatus while I offer some favorites from the mid-sixties for fun in the sun and tans on the sands.

What memories do these songs bring back for you?


Little Deuce CoupeBeach Boys, 1963




Shotgun, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, 1966




1-2-3, Len Barry, 1966




Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow), Monkees ft. Davy Jones, 1967




Oh, Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison, American Bandstand, 1966 (recorded 1964)






Friday, August 3, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Kids These Days: Class of 2022

1968 was fifty years ago, and now we know what became of that generation . . .

/
. . . what will become of the next?

I got to thinking the other day that the children born in the year 2000 will, many of them, be starting college this fall. And I remembered that Beloit College used to put out an annual list of things the current crop of freshmen don't know or remember. Turns out they still do, but they haven't yet put out this year's list.

So I thought and thunk, and came up with this list of my own, which I present with tongue firmly in cheek for the edification and amusement - or despair - of my truckbuddies.

Eighteen-year-olds who just graduated from high school this year:
  • were born in the first year starting with "20"
  • but they have no memory of the primitive, backward 20th century
  • when life was nasty, brutish, and short, and all the dark, polluted world was sunk in ignorance
  • and to them "baby boomer" means a fat, stupid old person, probably evil and def uncool
  • (but not you, Grandma!)
  • they do not remember 9/11
  • they remember only Presidents W. (dimly) and Obama, who was elected when they were in third grade;
  • and Trump, whom they may love or hate, but see nothing wrong, per se, in a President using Twitter all day, every damn day because who doesn't?
  • they have never ridden their bikes to school, or anywhere else, for that matter
  • they do not remember pay phones or tape recorders or adding machines
  • they have never known a world without pocket-size phones and computers
  • or instant communication with their friends
  • they have always been part of the Hive
  • and those who aren't must be evil
  • they have never felt disconnected from society
  • or lacked someone to talk chat text to
  • but most of the time they are just so bored
Continued after the jump . . .

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Piña Colada Icebox Pie


I do believe this lovely confection would be mighty cool and refreshing after supper on one of these hot summer nights. But though she gives good directions, you can tell this poor child has been livin' up Nawth too long: nobody down heyah says PEE-can. Either that, or she's gone and married a Yankee! Poor little thing. Bless her heart.

Oh well, it don't hurt the taste of the pie none, so give it a try, fellas.  Recipe here.  And of course, you can always just pick up a ready-made graham cracker pie crust at the store, instead of making your own.





P.S.--FYI, last night M.P., who is on a low-carb kick, surprised me with two big plates of steaming quesadillas garnished with diced tomatoes, and oh my goodness, were they good, stuffed with chicken bits and all the usual fixin's. He's purty good at whippin' out Tex-Mex dishes. But lo and behold, come to find out those soft, delicious tortillas were made with - can you believe this? - nothin' but plain old cauliflower, grated, boiled, mashed, spread, and baked to a golden brown. Well sir, you coulda knocked me over with a feather. But they sure were some kinda good - I tell you what.

The appetizer was squash-and-onion soup made with cream and a parmesan garnish - luscious. Also fresh-made guacamole in scooped-out avocado shells as a complement. Just an ordinary weeknight dinner here for the Pork Boys, as we unworthy sinners are somehow blessed to enjoy.

But what we had the night before was good enough to write home about - crisply sauteed swai fish fillets, each one as big as two hands put together, oh so good! We never had it before, but M.P. found it on sale and thought it worth a try, and boy is it ever - so thick, white, flakey, and scrumptious. You oughta try some yourselves, I 'spect you'll like it a lot, boys. Be sure to stir you up some tartar sauce to go with it (= mayo + sweet relish, too simple for words).

Sides were deep-fried Brussels sprouts, mmm-mmmm! And an utterly delightful new dish: butternut squash souffle, a sweet, earthy delight with an airy, festive texture like sweet potato souffle, and a mighty fine thing indeed to complement the two savory items. Corn muffins with butter rounded things out. Now that was a dinner fit for company, yessir.

(You do know what sweet potato souffle is, don't you?)

Sorry I have no pics to show you, but just wanted to share our humble cuisine with you, none of it expensive at all, and plenty to go around - maybe it will give y'all some ideas.



Monday, July 30, 2018

Robert Reich: "A Malignant Megalomaniac" and How to Stop HIm

The Trump-O-Matic
one of many intriguing prints and posters available at The Art of Mark Bryan

Robert Reich (b. 1946) is a political commentator, professor, and author who served as Secretary of Labor during the Clinton Administration.  He currently teaches in the Goldman School of Public Policy at Berkeley(Note for the benefit of my overseas truckbuddies:  Berkeley, just across the bay from San Francisco, has always been a hotbed of left-wing thought.  The 1960's were invented there.)

Reich has made a number of short, thought-provoking YouTube essays on the current constitutional crisis;  here is a sampling.













Sunday, July 29, 2018

Beach Mix, 7/29/18


Let's have a beach party!

Sunday Drive is on summer hiatus while I offer some favorites from the mid-sixties for fun in the sun and tans on the sands.

What memories do these songs bring back for you?


Fun, Fun, Fun, Beach Boys, 1964




Going to a Go-Go, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, 1965




The "In" Crowd, Dobie Gray, Shindig! 1964




See You in September, Happenings, 1966




Come See About Me, Supremes, Shindig! 1964





P.S. -- Is there a gay man alive who hasn't mimed the Supremes in front of a mirror, somewhere, sometime?  Oh come on, girlfriend, tell the truth.






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