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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Waitin' for the Weekend

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bullied to Death

Asher Brown, 13-year-old middle school student, shot himself to death in his parents' home near Houston last Thursday after relentless bullying by schoolmates about being gay.  The boy came out to his stepfather the morning of the day he killed himself.  The parents say they made numerous calls and visits to the school about the problem, but school officials deny they ever received any complaints about the bullying.

Rest in peace, little brother.

* * * * *

Kudos to Dan Savage, who as it happens just started the It Gets Better Project over on YouTube, where we who have survived all the torment and abuse of high school can post videos to those gay kids who are going through it now. A wonderful thing, would have been a big help to me way back in the dark years. Check it out, contribute your own video if you can.

I've just been looking through the list there, lots of great vids from all over the LGBT community. Many of them brought tears to your Head Trucker's eyes, very moving stuff, and full of hope. Here's Dan and Terry's video:

Libertarian Cock-Block

As you may have heard, the Libertarian Party has launched an appeal to gay voters, the "battered spouses" of the Democratic Party.  If this sounds even remotely like a good idea to you, your Head Trucker urges you to read Joe Jervis's post on the subject.  Excerpt:
But just for the sake of argument, let's tick off the official Libertarian agenda as posted on their website:

1. Abolish welfare.
2. Abolish Social Security.
3. Abolish the IRS.
4. Abolish the FDA.
5. Allow insurance companies to exclude any disease.
6. Dismantle the public school system.
7. Allow machine gun ownership and open-carry anywhere.
8. End foreign aid to starving nations.
9. Sell all national parks to private groups.

To be fair, the Libertarian Party does have reasonable positions on immigration reform, privacy, and the war on drugs. But the essential takeaway from reading their platform is this: "If you are impoverished, starving, desperately ill, unemployed, or uneducated...tough shit. Don't come to the government with your lazy unpatriotic hand out. Every American for himself. Get the fuck out of here."
Joe also posted links to Libertarian Party documents for each of the nine positions stated above. He also notes the fact that Libertarians generally run on the Republican ticket, not their own.

What I Say:  Ever since I first heard of Libertarians thirty years ago in college, your Head Trucker has always thought they were living in a dream world; a few good ideas, but a very loose grasp on reality. Look before you leap.

The Dems always seem to muff the ball when they get possession of it. Why that is, I have no freaking clue. But there's no real alternative in this country at this time.

And I don't know what would be. I don't know what the answer is to anything any more. I know too much about the course of history and the trend of human nature to feel any optimism at this point.  Like gripping the railing on a ship that is slowly, slowly, slowly sinking.  Meanwhile, the lights are blazing, the band is playing, and there's a big, noisy party in the main saloon.

Maybe that's just an old man's gloom and doom.  Maybe.  But I certainly wouldn't be painting a rainbow flag on the roof of the house, boys. Like Jimmy Carter, Obama is a good man, a decent man, even a fine man - considered as an individual, not as a leader. But if he is another one-term wonder, well fellas, just imagine what the regime that follows him will be like, starting just two years from now.

And you thought those long, dark years under W. were bad. 

BTW - does anyone besides me find it totally creepy that they have Liberty's face blacked out in their current party logo?  Compare with the old one, which I found at Libertapedia:

Monday, September 27, 2010

WTF: Chevy Is a Four-Letter Word

Just when I was thinking it might be safe to get back in the water, here comes yet another jaw-dropping example of human pissiness and prissiness.

Perhaps this is old news to you fellas, but here in Greater Podunk we just got word of the mindless diktat which will no doubt become infamous for all time to come:  Chevy, "one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames," so the NYT calls it, is now a taboo word for all Chevrolet employees, whether at work - or at home.  Strictly verboten.  Whether talking to colleagues, customers, or even your children in the privacy of your own home. 

Employees who break the rule at work have to put a quarter in the cuss jar each time; proceeds will be used for "team building" activities.  Which makes me want to throw up.

And just why should this be, you ask?  From the company's own memo:
When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple, for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding.  Why is this consistency so important? The more consistent a brand becomes, the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer.
I'm not making this up.  Swear to God.  Never mind the fact that Chevy has been extremely prominent and eminently recognizable for the last hundred fucking years, just like, um . . . Coke.  Ya know?

Ah, but the world never tires of reinventing the wheel, and every fresh generation thinks they are the first ones to come off the line with built-in brains as standard equipment.  But this folly surpasses even the Edsel.  It's right up there with New Coke.  Remember that one, fellas?

If GM is wanting to torpedo their biggest division . . . goll-ee Moses, I reckon they're halfway there already.

Frank - be nice now, no gloating.

What I Have Learned

Autumn leaves arranged in flower shape on lawn

This here's the first of a series of posts on what all I have learned the last 55 years.  Usually the hard way. Just sharing with my truckbuddies for whatever it's worth to anybody. Which is probly not much, but I'm sharing what I have, not what I don't have.  Probly most thoughtful people over 40 could come up with something pert near the same if they was to try, so I know it ain't that special.

But it's funny how life works: a body spends all those years learning, learning, learning, and then by the time you got the world figgered out real good - damn, they're calling your flight, ya know what I mean guys?  Something just don't seem right about that, we ought to start out wise and get foolish later. Which o'course, some folks do, but you know what I mean.

Whatever, I'm up to 85 of these little suckers now.  Too many to spring on ya all at one time, so I'll ration 'em out from time to time. There's a few what other people come up with firstest, but most are just outta my own cogitatin'.  Food for thought, take 'em or leave 'em as you please.

The Duties of a Man:

1. To pull your own weight.

2. To pay your own way.

3. To ask no one for so much as a dime.

4. To be self-sufficient as far as possible, and then some.

5. To take care of your own, no matter the cost to yourself.

6. To never complain, never explain.

7. To mind your manners.

8. To mind your tongue.

9. To mind your own damn business.

10. To always say please, thank you, excuse me, and I’m sorry, no matter what, to a passing stranger or to your nearest and dearest. To omit them is to be a churl.

11. To accept with gratitude all that you do have and be indifferent to all you do not have. If you have no shoes, be damn glad you have feet.

12. To remember always that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.  And probably much sooner than you druther.

13. To remember always that you are but one hapless atom in a microscopic grain of sand on an infinite beach along the shore of eternity.

14. To know that God loves you anyway.

15. To know that God loves everybody else just the same, like your mama.

16. To know that God is Love.

17. To know that God is God, and you aren’t, and nobody else is, either.  It's confusion over the second and third points that causes all the trouble in the world.

18. To know what you do not know. And that's a helluva lot.

19. To know yourself.  Really and truly, no pretenses.  When you do, you will understand all the comedy and tragedy of mankind, and forgive.

20. To leave well before you wear out your welcome.

21. To leave them wanting more.

22. To know when to let go.

23. To let go absolutely.

24. To let go with grace.

25. To remember that a conversation should be a tennis game, not a skeet shoot.

26. To remember that in conversation, le moi est haïssable.

27. To remember that no one but a newfound lover is fascinated with you, or your life story, or what you think, or what you like and dislike. Even a lover will tire of all that long before you want him to.

28. To remember that in talking or writing, less is more.

29. To be an honest workman, a true craftsman, and a real expert in at least one useful thing. Several, if you can manage it.

30. To practice doing good deeds that no one else will ever know you did.

31. To bear your burdens quietly and never advertise the fact, or expect the slightest reward.

32. To never present yourself as an object of pity, and never become a burden.
Do what you can, not what you can't.  And then you'll be a halfway decent man, my son.

P.S. to any ladies who may read this:  I do not presume to speak for you.  Make your own list.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Drive: Diamonds and Rust

Friday night, went to the store to get a few things.  Noticed a neighbor in the next block has a kind of Christmas-tree looking thing on the front porch, only covered with orange lights; when did that start?  At the store, Halloween crap is all over the shelves, just a couple days into autumn.

Summer's gone already.  I didn't even notice till the ex-roommate called and told me.  Which just goes to show how easily we pass from one season of life to another - silent, unsuspecting, all unknowing.  By the time you notice the ground sloping away before you, you've already crested the hill.  Facilis descensus . . . .

An old favorite here from one of the great voices of our time.  Actually, in looking I discovered several more I would have liked to share with you guys, but a choice had to be made.  A choice must always be made, in the end, whither or no.  So here it is - enjoy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Waitin' for the Weekend

NSFW:  his other gun here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Beat Goes On

While I'm enjoying a sort of sabbatical here, a time of retreat and retrenchment, I've stopped paying much attention to the news.  A glance at the headlines every few days suffices to reassure me that the world is continuing on its accustomed course - as if it ever would or could do otherwise.

Fools enrich the fraudulent.

The fraudulent feed the fools.

Bored kids enjoy circle jerks.

Nasty creeps prefer to pull the wings off flies.

And beat the shit out of the queers.

Politics is one of the theatrical arts.

Nevertheless, the best lack all conviction.

And the best lack all conviction.

While the worst are, as always, obsessed with sex.

And gore.

But nobody cares.

And so, the world continues just as it did, just as it always has since the days of the Pharaohs and long before that, even.  The wolf is not at the door, he is in the house and sitting down to dinner:  homo mendax, rapax, pugnax.

The more things change, the more they stay utterly the same in this mortal life. 

Turning, then, from what is not news but merely olds, rewarmed, I dip't into the future, far as human eye could see - saw the wonder of the world, all the horror that could be.  For one brief, shining moment a couple of years ago, I thought I saw the golden dawn of a new and happier era; but how absurd.  The only comfort to my chagrin is that far wiser heads than mine have been similarly mistaken, times without number, all down through the long centuries of human life:  hope trickles eternal in the human breast, I suppose.

Well now, let me see:  a worldwide depression, though we are too sophisticated now to use such gross terms; insoluble military threats all around, made more terrible than ever before by the lights of a perverted science; hatred, fanned to frenzy, of all that is Not Our Kind; a puny, divided left, an aggressive, reborn right, a proud and craven populace imagining itself the divinely ordained summit of all creation, the natural rulers of the earth.  Only the weak reed of constitutional government - mere scraps of paper - and well-intentioned but spineless leaders obstructing the will to triumph.  How might things go from here, I wondered?

Map of the Federation of North American Republics, A. D. 2050
(click to enlarge)

Flag of the Federation

But what do I know?  Maybe I'm wrong.  Let's hope.


Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Night of the Hunter

Steve Hayes reviews the 1955 thriller:
Menace comes in the form of a murderous false prophet in Charles Laughton's classic thriller The Night of the Hunter.

Robert Mitchum stars in one of the most malevolent roles of his career as a psychopathic evangelist in the Depression ridden mid-west. Shelly Winters is the gullible widow who makes the mistake of taking on Mitchum as her second husband, to homicidal results. Lillian Gish rounds out a distinguished cast, which includes James Gleason, Peter Graves and Broadway veteran Evelyn Varden as the local harridan. Laughton's sensitive direction and the beautiful cinematography enhance this action packed, cross-country, suspense tale of two children running for their lives from a genuine "Boogie-Man".
FYI:  In this movie, the great Lillian Gish had one of her most memorable performances, in a film career that spanned 75 years: 1912-1987.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Philadelphia Story

Steve Hayes showcases Kate Hepburn in her defining performance (1940):
Good Lord! Tracy Lord's getting married again! And look who's here to bust up the wedding!

Katharine Hepburn finds herself up to her long neck in man trouble when former Husband Cary Grant hires reporters Jimmy Stewart and Ruth Hussey to cover her society wedding for Spy magazine in George Cukor's hilarious The Philadelphia Story.

This was the great part of Hepburn's career and the role that saved it. Having been labeled "box office poison," she retaliated with the help of her then-boyfriend, Howard Hughes, by buying the screen rights to Phillip Barry's hit Broadway comedy, which she'd starred in, and selling herself and the property to MGM, making a killing. She also had casting approval, and when Gable and Tracy weren't available, chose Grant and Stewart, who subsequently picked up his only Oscar as Best Actor for his efforts. It's smooth, fast-paced, witty, and handled by a group of seasoned pros with all the MGM glamor the studio could muster. The Philadelphia Story proves unequivocally that indeed, they don't make 'em like that anymore!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Waitin' for the Weekend

Nick Ayler

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Forbidden History: Edward Carpenter

For my truckbuddies - a series on people and events they cut out of your history books - the stuff they didn't want you to know about, the people they didn't want you to know ever existed.  People like you and me, that is.

Would you believe this studly guy was born in 1844?  Sure looks modern to me:

Edward Carpenter, age 30
 As Wikipedia notes,

A leading figure in late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain, he was instrumental in the foundation of the Fabian Society and the Labour Party. A poet and writer, he was a close friend of Walt Whitman and Rabindranath Tagore, corresponding with many famous figures such as Annie Besant, Isadora Duncan, Havelock Ellis, Roger Fry, Mahatma Gandhi, James Keir Hardie, J. K. Kinney, Jack London, George Merrill, E D Morel, William Morris, E R Pease, John Ruskin, and Olive Schreiner. . . .  he had a profound influence on both D. H. Lawrence and E. M. Forster.
To name a few.  But the dude wasn't a party boy; he had quite a serious turn of mind.  After a fine academic career at Cambridge, he became a curate in the Church of England - but eventually grew disillusioned and left his post, becoming a writer, lecturer, and advocate for, among other things, woman suffrage, the eight-hour day, vegetarianism, nudism, and "mystical socialism" - while decrying air pollution and vivisection.

He was one of the first people to make a habit of wearing sandals, too; would have been like, so at home in the 1960's, ya know?  I often think about some people I know of who were marooned in time, born way, way too soon - like poor Mary Wollstonecraft, the early feminist, stuck way back there in the 18th century.

Eddy also had a thing for, um, blue-collar dudes who were more brawny than intellectual.  Your Head Trucker can relate.  (I could tell you stories.)   In fact, he settled down with one, George Merrill, in happy domesticity in a remote country village for thirty years, and was devastated when his partner died in 1928; he survived George by only a year, dying at age 84, and special tributes were paid to his work as one of the fathers of the Labour Party by the prime minister and other high officials of the realm.

Someone who, um, knew Carpenter at age 80 - the 23-year-old grandson of a U. S. President - reported much later that Carpenter had had sex with Walt Whitman way back in 1877, but I wasn't there so I can't say.  You can read the story and make up your own mind about that.

Down the line, his books, like The Intermediate Sex, influenced a number of gay men - at least, the ones who could ferret them out from the "restricted" shelves in the library - like Harry Hays, who was a founder of one of the first pre-Stonewall gay-rights groups, the Mattachine Society, in 1950.  Eddy and George's relationship was also the model for the happy-ending relationship in Forster's novel Maurice between middle-class Maurice and the gamekeeper Alec.

So all in all, quite a life, even way back there in the gay dark ages:  busy, happy, fulfilled, sucessful, liberated, free. 

Which you weren't supposed to know.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Spiral Staircase

Steve Hayes reviews the 1946 thriller:
It's a dark and stormy night! Hide under the bed! Don't look in the closet! Stay downstairs! He knows you're alone!

These warnings pop in and out of the heroine's mind as the tension runs rampant in Robert Siodmak's suspense classic, The Spiral Staircase.

But Dorothy McGuire isn't listening. She isn't talking either and that's half her problem. She's a mute. And there's a psycho killer murdering women with handicaps who may be hiding somewhere in the old dark house where she works. Where is it safe? Who can she trust? What was that noise? Is it just her imagination, or was that window closed the last time she passed it?

Dorothy McGuire leads a top flight cast of character actors including: Ethel Barrymore, in an Oscar nominated role, George Brent. Elsa Lancaster, Rhonda Fleming and Sarah Allgood in what is probably the greatest "Where is he in the house?" movie ever made.

Your blood'll run cold, Your spine'll tingle. You'll want to run. You won't dare. Whatever you do, don't go down The Spiral Staircase.

Monday, September 13, 2010

In Living Color

These beauties from 1922 live again in this early test of Kodachrome motion picture film, newly scanned and digitized by Kodak.  The first feature-length movie in color didn't appear till 1935.


Honk to my truckbuddy dave for tipping me to this clip.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Today's Quote: Laura Ingalls Wilder

From the biography by Donald Zochert:
Like many people who are not pushed in among the crowds of city strangers every day, she was shy and somewhat distant. . . . These quiet times came midway between the hard years of Dakota and the happy years in which she mined her memory for the stories of the Little House books. . . . she was forty-eight years old. She had already reached middle age, that balancing point in life from which many people look backward with less than satisfaction and forward with less than hope.

But Laura was happy and she always seemed to look forward with hope. Her life was anchored in the success she and Almanzo had made of the farm at Rocky Ridge [near Mansfield, Missouri], in its quiet ways and places, in the moments she put aside from her busy chores to reach out and touch the face of nature she had always adored. The hard shadowed years at the beginning of her life with Almanzo had tutored her in the paths of simplicity . . . .

Laura looked around her and thought she saw “a madness in the cities, a frenzy in the struggling crowds” – her words. “We who live in the quiet places,” she realized, “have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those who are keeping up with the crowd.”

[She wrote:]

In thine own cheerful spirit live,
Nor seek the calm that others give;
For thou, thyself, alone must stand . . . .

(Note by Russ:  I very much relate to what she's saying, but in point of fact, both she and her husband lived to be past 90, and she married at 18, so they had each other to build a life with for a long, long time.  Which is not the same thing.)

Sunday Drive: Waiting for a Train

Some essential stuff here.  A rare motion picture of the Father of Country Music, the great Jimmie Rodgers - some of you boys may not ever have heard of him, but he was the first country & western superstar, whose music influenced a whole trainload of later recording artists you have heard of, both country and pop.  My daddy thought he hung the moon.  Enjoy.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Waitin' for the Weekend

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Lady Eve

Henry Fonda taking pratfalls?  Yup.  The fabulous Steve Hayes reviews the 1941 romantic comedy:
It's hi-jinks on the high seas as Barbara Stanwyck and Charles Coburn play a pair of father and daughter card sharks out to swindle millionaire Henry Fonda out of his millions in Preston Sturges' classic romantic comedy The Lady Eve. Filled with a stellar collection of character actors including Sturges regulars: William Demarest, Eric Blore and Eugene Pallette, with brilliant dialogue, fast pacing and masterful direction, The Lady Eve is one of the classic comedies of the Golden Age. Stanwyck proves she was a master at subtle comedy and Fonda the king of the pratfalls as she pulls switcheroo after switcheroo in order to land her man. It's Sturges, Stanwyck, and Fonda at their very best ,and one of the comedies that every director has borrowed something from at sometime or other . . . if they're smart.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Drive: Vivaldi, Summer

Appreciate your cards and letters, guys.  I'm okay, the Blue Truck has just made a little unscheduled stop for a while.  Sometimes you need to pull over and just stretch your legs a bit, ya know?

*          *          *

Tempus fugit.  Already, it's somehow September:  the underside of the year.  Now summer declines toward its inevitable end, as summers always do - though the light and warmth will linger a good while yet in Texas.  A time of musing and taking stock, reflecting on what one has and what one has not.

I was going to post a regular version of the first movement of this favorite, but then I stumbled across this unexpected rendition, which is worth a listen.  See what you think - enjoy.

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