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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year: Enivrez-Vous

Tonight, as we step by forced march into the future, and the present inexorably glides away into the past, I am reminded of this poem by Charles Baudelaire, here recited so well in English by the young Dean Stockwell:

French original and English translation here, if you want to read it.

I think also of Keats's Ode to a Nightingale, which you can listen to here, read by the wonderful Robert Donat.

Have a good one, fellas.

Tempus Fugit by Henry Stacy Marks

Friday, December 30, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Check out the rest of the package here.

Get Together

From the New Yorker

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Clara's Last Video

You kitchen queens out there, if you haven't yet seen any of Clara Cannucciari's videos on Great Depression cooking - how appropriate for our time - scoot on over to YouTube and check them out. Over the last few years, her filmmaker grandson has recorded a number of short, simple recipes from Clara, who at 96 has decided that this will be her last serving-up of TV cookery.

I can't blame her for that, but I will miss her happy little stories and demonstrations. Even at near the century mark, she has a youthful sense of humor and a certain grace that comes from a life well lived.

Watch more of Clara's videos on her YouTube channel, or go to her website to order them on DVD or get the cookbook.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Browsing the Met

Elijah Boardman, 1789, by Ralph Earl.
Click to enlarge.

Last week I discovered that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an online browsing feature where you can while away an afternoon or evening exploring their many and varied treasures from all over the world.  I highly recommend it.

This portrait from the Met's American collection is one I have seen before, and I like it a lot.  For one thing, unlike some colonial painters, this one is a master of realistic portraiture; and for another thing, the subject is quite a handsome fellow, don't you think, guys?

There's also a subtle trompe-l'oeil effect at work here, which is ingenious. Can you spot it?

Below the jump, a few more random pieces from the Met that caught my eye today; but do go make your own discoveries.  What a wonder to be living in an age when you can enjoy so many beautiful things without having to make a long journey - or even change out of your pj's.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lady Bird's White House Tour

A few weeks ago, I posted Jackie Kennedy's 1962 tour here; and so I thought you fellows might like to see this less famous version done by Lady Bird Johnson in December 1968, just before Lyndon left office.

Mrs. Johnson was always a favorite of mine:  a great lady, and one of those steel magnolias that the South produces in such abundance.  If you ever get to central Texas, do be sure to stop and visit the LBJ Ranch, which is both a state and a national park, and which Lady Bird had a great deal to do with setting up.  It's quite lovely, and something of her spirit lingers there.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sun and Sand in '65

I'm posting this one just for fun; I got a kick out of the time-travel feeling back to the days of surfer bangs and early bell-bottoms - and also because I was delighted to be reminded of this happy little tune that ought to put a smile on anyone's face.  It's covered by the T-Bones here, but it was already well-known as the theme of a famous advertisement.

Can you remember which TV commercial this was from?  Think about it a second, fellas, and then you can check your answer here.

Thanking the Troops

In a video posted last week on whitehouse.gov, the President and the First Lady (who are now enjoying a little R&R in Hawaii) offer their gratitude and holiday greetings to American forces around the world:

And another interesting video from the White House, on the remarkable menorah used there this year:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Queen's Christmas Message, 2011

Her Majesty's gracious speech touches upon a number of important thoughts for our times, including the danger of greed and recklessness.  And mark what she says about forgiveness and the real Christian values.

The message was recorded at Buckingham Palace before the family traveled to Sandringham for their Christmas gathering. I suppose everyone has heard by now of Prince Philip's emergency heart surgery yesterday, which seems to have gone off very well. Here's a summation from the BBC, yesterday:

The Queen and the rest of the family attended church on Christmas morning as usual:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Pardners

From Texas, sending out my best wishes for a very Merry Christmas to all my truckbuddies - I hope every one of you is with someone you love dearly tonight.

Thanks, friends, for riding along with me in the Blue Truck. Have a good one, y'all.

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us
for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become
subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus
Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human
nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you,
the God and Father of all.

What if I say I believe the story happened, but I can't prove it? What if I say I believe because it's a lovely story?

My evidence is in my heart, in my change from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. My evidence is how I live my life because I believe the story. Not that I'm good or holy, because I'm not, but that I'm a far better person because I believe the story. The story changed my life. That is my evidence.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Lion in Winter

If you're going to or from Christmas dinner thinking how dysfunctional your family is, you ain't seen nothing yet.  Check out Steve Hayes's review of the 1968 classic:
In Anthony Harvey's THE LION IN WINTER, Katharine Hepburn won her third Oscar and Peter O'Toole his third nomination, for playing the same character he'd played in BECKETT. Set during a Christmas in the 1100's, King Henry (O'Toole) and his former wife Eleanor Of Aquitaine (Hepburn) , must decide which of their three sons is to be the future King of England. Taken from the award winning play by James Goldman, it features a stellar cast including Timothy Dalton and Anthony Hopkins in his first movie role as Prince Richard. It's a nasty family reunion filled with plots, lies, betrayals and revelations of scandalous secrets to rival those of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? You won't want to miss it for the world! Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Nick Ayler in winter white

All I Want for Christmas Is You, Sailor

Okay, back to the question of the younger generation:  how fucking gay is this?  Performed by the crew of HMS Ocean, pride of the Royal Navy:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This Is Our Year

Young gay lovers in Britain.  One made this video as a Christmas present for the other.  So sweet.

this is our year. from Joe M on Vimeo.

This is what I wish for all the younger generation, and many more years like it.

Gay Art Comes Out at the National Portrait Gallery

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture was on exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D. C., earlier this year.  Here's an overview:

From the description at the Smithsonian website:
This is the first major museum exhibition to focus on sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture. “Hide/Seek” considers such themes as the role of sexual difference in depicting modern America; how artists explored the fluidity of sexuality and gender; how major themes in modern art—especially abstraction—were influenced by social marginalization; and how art reflected society’s evolving and changing attitudes toward sexuality, desire, and romantic attachment.

The exhibition begins with late nineteenth-century works by Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent and charts the twentieth century with major works by such American masters such as Romaine Brooks, Marsden Hartley, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The exhibition arcs through the postwar period with major paintings by Agnes Martin, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. It continues through the end of the twentieth century with works by Keith Haring, AA Bronson, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres about life, love and death during the AIDS crisis, and charts the vigorous reassertion of lesbian and gay civil rights in the twenty-first.

Jonathan David Katz, co-curator of the exhibit, continued the discussion with a focus on one particular work that your Head Trucker likes a lot: Paul Cadmus's 1947 painting, What I Believe:

Just one more: your Head Trucker thinks you will like another by Cadmus from 1931, Reclining Nude Reading Ulysses:

Sure works for me, how about you, boys?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lesbian Couple Share Navy's First Kiss

History was made today, wonderful news. Story here:
As the homecoming drew near, the crew and ship’s family readiness group sold $1 raffle tickets for the first kiss. Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta bought 50 - which is actually fewer than many people buy, she said, so she was surprised Monday to find out she'd won.

Her girlfriend of two years, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, was waiting when she crossed the brow.

They kissed. The crowd cheered. And with that, another vestige of the policy that forced gays to serve in secrecy vanished.

Update, 9:45 pm: The NBC Nightly News covers the kiss and other aspects of our post-DADT military:

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Gotta love it:

To download the song:

Itunes Link
Amazon Link

Note: For many long years, I've wished somebody or somebodies would do a gay update on all the old standards (and not just holiday tunes). Maybe it will happen someday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No Room at the Inn in Duarte Square

Bishop George Packer being arrested in Duarte Square on Sunday, December 18

Somehow in my daily, and rather cursory, scan of the news I failed to pick up on the failed attempt on Sunday by Occupy Wall Street to re-establish itself at Duarte Square, owned by the historic Trinity Church, in the Episcopal diocese of New York.  Thanks to Grandmère Mimi at Wounded Bird for alerting me to this very interesting event, in which retired Bishop George Packard, a former Army chaplain in Iraq and bishop for the Armed Forces, took part along with his wife - the Bish was, in fact, first over the fence; both he and his wife were subsequently arrested, along with the rest of the occupiers, but while police treated the bishop nicely (he was wearing a very visible purple cassock), they kneeded his wife in the chest three times while putting her under arrest in a different part of the crowd.

Please check out Mimi's post about the incident, to which I add the following videos of the scramble over (and under) the fence, along with a short conversation with Bishop Packard while riding in the back of the NYPD paddywagon.  His comments about the church's motive in turning down the Occupy request to use the park are most revealing; and being a high-ranking insider of the Church, he should know.

Happy Hanukkah

To any Jewish readers of the Blue Truck out there, Chag Sameach from your Head Trucker.

In honor of the occasion, a couple of videos from the White House, where the Obamas hosted a Hanukkah dinner on December 9th:

Monday, December 19, 2011

WTF: Drop Dead Beautiful

Okay guys, your Head Trucker has to admit to being an old fart who just doesn't understand the younger generation.  I never thought I would say those words, but I guess it happens to all of us sooner or later. 

What really confuses me is the way straight boys act so g-a-y in this day and time, always hugging one another and such.  So would somebody please clue me in here:  are these guys gay or what? 

I mean, I'm serious - my gaydar was never that great to begin with, and I really can't tell about kids these days. 

Or is this just one of the dreaded aftereffects of the repeal of DADT that the republitards warned us about?

How Music Was Made

Circa 1940. OMG I had no idea - I mean, I knew records started with a master disc from which copies were pressed . . . but all those acids and chemicals and metals and intricate hand labor . . . wow. Could Americans make anything today that required this much work, I wonder?

Take a gander at this little film, boys, and you'll be amazed too, I think.  For several reasons.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


A good message and some stunning photography here - it's worth your time:

Honk to Blue Truck reader Craig for passing this on.

Sunday Drive: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eustace Tilley Contest

"Madame X" by Claire B. Cotts

The New Yorker is advertising for submissions to its annual contest to re-interpret the magazine's famous dandified mascot, who appeared on the very first cover in 1925, a cover that has been reprinted every year since.

1925 cover by the magazine's art director, Rea Irvin, who based it
on an 1834 portrait of Alfred, Comte d'Orsay, show below

Details and galleries of past entries are located here.  Below are a few recent winners that your Head Trucker finds amusing.  Any artists among Blue Truck readers who care to give it a shot?

"Ode on a Grecian Tilley" by Michael Clayton

"Tilleyangelo" by Tim Lemire

"Tillo Marx" by Noah Diamond

"A Dandy Map of New York" by Dave Hoerlein

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Iraq War Finally Over

From the New York Times:
In a fortified concrete courtyard at the airport in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta thanked the more than one million American service members who have served in Iraq for “the remarkable progress” made over the past nine years but acknowledged the severe challenges that face the struggling democracy. . . .

The muted ceremony stood in contrast to the start of the war in 2003 when an America both frightened and emboldened by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sent columns of tanks north from Kuwait to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

As of last Friday, the war in Iraq had claimed 4,487 American lives, with another 32,226 Americans wounded in action, according to Pentagon statistics. . . .

The war was started by the Bush administration in March 2003 on arguments that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and had ties to Al Qaeda that might grow to an alliance threatening the United States with a mass-casualty terrorist attack.

As the absence of unconventional weapons proved a humiliation for the administration and the intelligence community, the war effort was reframed as being about bringing democracy to the Middle East.
What the troops think about the end of the war:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Source:  BBC

Source:  BBC

Source:  Prose before Hos

See also the White House timeline of the Obama Administration's wind-up of the war in Iraq.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Duke at 90

Prince Philip in his studly younger days;
you can see why Elizabeth fell for him, can't you, boys?

Surely you fellas know that the Queen will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee next year - 60 years on the throne.  Your Head Trucker doesn't have too many heroes left to admire in this world, but my hat is off to Her Majesty for her quiet, gracious perseverance in what I think must be a thoroughly demanding, and often thankless, job.   To put it mildly.

Another time I will write more about the Queen but I just now came across this rather well done BBC program about her husband, who turned 90 last June, and the old boy is still going strong.   That's quite an achievement too, and I think that even if you don't really know much about him, you'll be impressed by watching this candid interview.  In Britain he has long been known for saying things that grate on some people's nerves occasionally, but your Head Trucker has an admiration for folks who - like Barney Frank and Alan Grayson on our side of the pond - aren't afraid to say where the cow bit the cabbage.  We like that kind of frankness a lot down here in Texas.


Bonus: For more on the South Sea islanders who think Philip is a god, see the Wikipedia article.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Random Harvest

Steve Hayes reviews the 1942 classic:
Greer Garson and Ronald Coleman tug at your heartstrings in Mervyn LeRoy's adaptation of James Hilton's classic wartime love story, RANDOM HARVEST. Colman plays Smithy, a war casualty suffering from amnesia, who is taken in and falls in love with a lovely actress (Garson). They marry, have a child, and then through an accident, he regains his former memory and identity and forgets Garson completely. Can she get him to recall their love and come back to her? Filled with MGM glamour, a top-flight cast, including Oscar nominated Susan Peters as Coleman's other love interest, and the sweet melancholy that was found in Hilton stories, from Lost Horizon to Goodbye, Mr. Chips, RANDOM HARVEST is a four-hankie classic that's perfect to snuggle up with on a wintry afternoon.

As other bloggers have said, Steve Hayes totally deserves his own cable show.  Meanwhile, catch more fabulous reviews from Steve at his YouTube channel.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Classic Shacks: Jackie's White House Tour

The shining moment that was Camelot:  the Kennedys at a state dinner in the
White House for French cultural minister André Malraux in 1962

In the United States, it doesn't get any better than the Executive Mansion. Your Head Trucker got to see the outside on his one trip to D.C., but alas, not the interior.  I well recall Mrs. Kennedy's tour of the White House that was broadcast on Valentine's Day back in 1962; young'uns today who are used to grungy reality-show celebrities and instant fame - or infamy, as the case may be - can have no real idea of how glamorous and thrilling this program was back then.

The Blue Room as redone by Jacqueline Kennedy and designer Stéphane Boudin

Of course, Mrs. Kennedy, with her sophisticated knowledge of art and antiques, was responsible for her widely praised restoration - not "redecoration," as she was quick to point out - of the house, and for establishing the office of Curator of the White House, as well as for publishing the first White House guidebook, sales of which helped finance the restoration effort.

A photograph of A Tour of the White House with Mrs. Kennedy and CBS
newsman Charles Collingwood; alas, color television was still a rarity
in most American homes in 1962, and like most other programs at the
time, the special was filmed only in black and white.

In those pre-women's lib days, Jackie's success in undertaking this enormous project led her amazed husband to concede wryly at a press conference one day that his wife had demonstrated executive skills he didn't know she had.  Doesn't that sound just like a man?

Anyway, here's part one of the film. Enjoy.

BTW, if you want to explore the mansion's many rooms in detail, the unofficial White House Museum website has an excellent collection of pictures, floor plans, and architectural information.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Drive: The Holly and the Ivy

It is a tradition in Anglican/Episcopal churches to have a Service of Lessons and Carols about this time of year, and the famous choir of King's College, Cambridge, is world-renowned for their beautiful sounds. 

On a personal note, this song reminds me of my late husband, who was, albeit stuck in a tiny Texas town, a really world-class organist; he played every Sunday at the Methodist church there, and just as beautifully as you hear in this piece.  "The Holly and the Ivy" was a favorite of his, which he often played in his annual Christmas concert.  Enjoy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where Things Are Much Worse

No matter how bad things might feel to us here, it's important to think of our gay brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are enduring terrible things.  From the Christian Science Monitor's report on homophobia in Africa:

A thought just occured to me: the response from some African countries to Secretary Clinton's historic "gay rights are human rights speech" last week reminds me vividly of the response of white Southerners fifty years ago to federal support for the Civil Rights Movement:
Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries, including key Western allies such as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Botswana.

Reacting angrily to Mrs Clinton's speech, Ugandan presidential adviser John Nagenda told the BBC: "That fellow [Mr Cameron] said the same thing. Now this woman [Clinton] is interfering.

"If the Americans think they can tell us what to do, they can go to hell."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Design for Dreaming

Corvette Sting Ray circa 1965 from a Chevrolet photo gallery at the Daily Beast

Your Head Trucker notes that Chevrolet celebrated its 100th anniversary last month.  To help them celebrate, here's a few films made by General Motors in years past, maybe you'll get a kick out of them like I did.

Chevrolet Leader News from 1938, one of a series of public-relations films featuring several short, amusing items, including a pipe-smoking cow:

Here's your chance to see what 1955 looked like in these TV commercials from Chevrolet:

And this highly innovative - if very, um, campy - song-and-dance number comes from the 1956 GM Motorama held in New York, featuring production models, concept cars, haute couture, and Frigidaire's Kitchen of the Future:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Go, Hillary

Your Head Trucker is feeling mighty proud of our Secretary of State today, after making the historic declaration that "gay rights are human rights" before the United Nations yesterday in Geneva. Rachel gives the scoop:

And here's the entire speech, if you want to see and hear it:

Or read the transcipt of this landmark speech here. As Rachel says, it's worth your time.

Also yesterday, President Obama issued a memorandum to federal agencies about the need to use American foreign aid and diplomacy, including granting asylum to gay and lesbians.  Offical text of the memorandum is here.

It warms your Head Trucker's heart to hear these breathtaking statements - I am old enough to remember when homosexual was a word only whispered in public - especially since of late it has been so dispiriting to think about the anti-gay forces at work around the world. Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out says:
The list of countries that recently declared war on sexual minorities include: Russia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Iran, and Zimbabwe. For the contemptible despots who run these underachieving nations, fomenting homophobia makes political sense. By turning homosexuals into bogeymen these rulers can conceal their corruption and appear moral through the blessings of craven clergy. . . .

But today’s actions by the administration and Clinton’s speech were different. The words were spoken with true vision and encrusted in values. There was clarity and passion, and no one was left wondering where our country stood on the rights of LGBT people.

This was one of those times where our nation demonstrated true international leadership and made me incredibly proud to be an American. It was stirring to witness our country act decisively as a force for moral good. There was no patronizing that relegated the LGBT community to the role of liberalism’s unwanted stepchild. There were no carefully crafted and focus grouped code words that sugarcoated the abuses – just the honest truth spoken from the heart. . . .

The stunning events in Geneva mark the moment Barack Obama secured a national LGBT vote for his 2012 re-election campaign. Today we felt hope – but more importantly, we witnessed monumental change.


Of course, some buttheads still don't get it, and probably never will. But oh let's do hope history hurries up and puts them on the shelf before too long.

BTW - your Head Trucker is not old enough to remember this date as a "day that will live in infamy" - no really, I'm not - but he does vividly remember it was exactly five years ago today that the Canadian Parliament voted for the third and final time to affirm equal marriage in that country.  I watched the roll-call vote live, with tears running down my face, as member after member rose to vote on that historic occasion which finally ended all debate on the matter in the True North.

Canada, perhaps even more so than the United States, is a nation of immigrants now, and I was struck by the many different ethnicities represented by various Members of Parliament, from the four corners of the globe.  It seemed to me that this was like a United Nations, joining together people from all over the world to ratify the equal respect and dignity of gay people.  And I will never forget that moment.

So here's to better times for all of us queer people, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and all the fabulous colors of the rainbow.

Update: Be sure to read John Aravosis's excellent post:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pop Tops: It's the Little Things

Way back when your Head Trucker was young and still thinking he was supposed to grow up to be straight, he had a major crush on Cher. Here's a wonderful clip I found that I've never seen before, from 1967. Just look at how lovely Mrs. Bono is at 21 in that babydoll dress, so young and spirited and naturally beautiful - who wouldn't fall for a girl like that?

I made a little playlist of Cher's songs from the sixties, if you want to listen to more. Just open this video in YouTube, and you'll see the playlist at the bottom of your screen.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Biblical Marriage Chart

This has been floating around the blogosphere awhile, but I thought I'd repost it on the Blue Truck, in case any of my truckbuddies run into somebody who mouths about "marriage has always been the same" and "the Bible says . . . ." Well, here are the plain facts of what the Old Testament has to say on the subject, with chapter and verse cited. Throw this on your Christianist neighbor and watch the but-but-buts start bubbling out of his mouth.

Click to enlarge

The point being that the Bible is a collection of books written over a span of ten centuries, containing much that merely reflects the social conditions of the time and the typical attitudes of the straight, male writers who lived back then. Therefore, there's a lot of Biblical material that is simply not true and not a good guide for us now. The Christianists who claim that every word of it is the infallible Word of God are simply, tragically, ignorantly, childishly wrong.

God is bigger than the Bible. God is bigger than the Church. God - the Love that moves the stars, in Dante's lovely phrase - yet closer than hands and feet, nearer than breathing, as Tennyson wrote - cannot be fully contained in any one mind's understanding.

On the other hand, there are many things in the Bible worth knowing, and some that are deeply moving and soul-sustaining, as many millions of quiet Christians and Jews, not raving fanatics, have discovered down through the centuries, all around the globe.

Sunday Drive: Once in Royal David's City

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It Was Scrumptious

Just a note to say the Pork Boys' dinner Thursday night was too yumsome for words.  Wish I had a pic to illustrate this with, but both the ex-roommate and I are having software problems (oh Mary, don't ask!) so you'll just have to take my word for it.  M. P. had already cooked the big Thanksgiving spread for his four adult kids and their spouses/whatevers last Saturday, so he planned just a simple little menu for us, or so he said.

Which consisted of:

Homemade 5-cheese ball and Ritz crackers
Barbecued sausages
Chicken livers and bacon en brochette

Turkey soup

Roasted hen stuffed with
Crackling dressing
Giblet gravy
Cranberry sauce
Baked sweet potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Maque choux (Cajun dish of corn, other veggies, and cream)
Green lima beans
Sliced fresh tomatoes au poivre et sel
Miz Pearly’s fruit salad (heaven! - the secret's in the sauce)
Fried biscuits (to die for - you ain't never had nothing that good in your mouth)

White Zinfandel

Cranberry pie with lattice crust
Apple strudel in puff pastry a la mode
with vanilla bean ice cream


All of it made strictly from scratch (including the sausages), except for the Ritz crackers and the ice cream. And every damn bite of it was larruppin' good, believe me when I tell you. Wish you could have been there, boys.

The Fire Island Ferry Story

Honk to Joe.My.God. for this reminiscence about funnyman Alan Sues, who died yesterday at age 85 - my God, has it really been that long since he was on Laugh-In? - and for the video of him telling this story, which made your Head Trucker spew his coffee all over the keyboard:
When I was a kid, three men on television hinted at the world I would one day enter. Dr. Smith (Lost In Space), Uncle Arthur (Bewitched), and Alan Sues. All of them were silly sniggering clowns, but that's how Hollywood used to do it. Some would say nothing has changed on that front, but I fondly recall all three.

Rest in peace, Alan.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

See full terms and conditions of this offer here.

Classic Shacks: Les Rochers

Would a pink house be too gay, ya think?

I've always wanted a little seaside cottage in the south of France.  This would do nicely.  And it's a steal at only $100 million.

Though of course, it would have to be redecorated, totally.  Who wants to help, in exchange for room and board next summer?

Be sure to use the full screen on this one, guys.

(Note:  "Infamous" does not mean wonderful, grand, or even famous.  I hear this assinine usage, as in the above video, more and more these days.  What the hell is wrong with people who can't understand this simple distinction?  I ask you.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World Aids Day: All of My Memories

Thirty years since we knew the plague was among us. Twenty years since I lost my best friend Tommy to it. This is for him and all the others I knew, or never knew . . .

Vivaldi: Largo from Winter

It's just how I feel right now: an old man alone at home on a cold winter's night.

But tomorrow night, the Pork Boys will have their delayed mini-Thanksgiving dinner, with a roasted hen and some luscious down-home trimmings, so that will be fun.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Century 21 Calling

Oh me, oh my, fellas.  Sometimes your Head Trucker gets totally tired of all the bad news coming over the intertubes, and all the wretched, nasty, bitchy people - famous or not - mouthing off about everything.  There's an ugly, vicious spirit in the world today that grates on my nerves big time.  Of course, I have my rant-and-rave moments too, but I'm not sure they contribute much to the world.  Some days, it's really hard to find something nice to blog about.

But here's a jolly short film from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (the clip is mistitled) made for the Bell System, showing such wonders as pocket pagers, call forwarding, and call waiting - all of which didn't show up at your Head Trucker's house for another thirty years.  Still, it's a quaint little trip back to a moment when there was still a lot of optimism about the future.

Not to mention, a nice visit back to a day and time when people dressed a lot nicer, and talked and behaved nicer, too.  It wasn't sweetness and light back then all day, everywhere - your Head Trucker was there, and he remembers - but there was a different tone, a different vibration in the atmosphere that is lost now.  Anyway, here's a pleasant few minutes of 1962, see what you think:

PS - I remember reading about the Seattle fair and wanting to go see that awesome Space Needle and the futuristic monorail. But we never took long trips like that in my family - hell, we only ever went on one "family vacation" in the ordinary sense of the term, the summer I was 8: which was not much to speak of, a few days at a beach motel on the Gulf, and then a visit to the relatives in East Texas. But I remember reading about the Seattle fair, and then the New York fair in 1964-65, and about Disneyland and lots of other exciting places that I never got to see. Maybe of some of you readers were more fortunate than I was.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Meet Me in St. Louis

Steve Hayes reviews the Judy Garland classic; watch this to get a good glimpse of American life in 1904, with some memorable songs:
Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli make movie magic in MGM's loving and nostalgic tribute to by gone days: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944). Shot on authentic-looking sets in spectacular Technicolor, it includes a memorable score by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. Filled with such eventual Garland standards as "The Trolley Song," "The Boy Next Door," and the holiday classic, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," it's a Thanksgiving feast for the whole family!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Classic Shacks: Palazzo Reale di Genova

I seem to be in an Italian mood today.  Surfing around, I just happened to come across this jewel of art and architecture, which you can read more about here if you have a mind to.

Sunday Drive: Bernini

With a Te Deum sung by the Trappist monks of Gethsemani Abbey, near Bardstown, Kentucky (Thomas Merton took up his monastic vocation there):

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Future Schlock

Useless concept of dirigible-with-airport-on-top from about 1930

I thought the bright boys of society were supposed to be all concerned now about global warming, energy reduction, green spaces, and other worthy things. But take a look at this Next Big Thing coming down the track, if somebody gets his way:

What I Say:  How.Fucking.Stupid.

Your Head Trucker is no engineer or scientist, but he can think of at least half a dozen extremely good reasons right off the bat why this concept needs to sink out of mind just like the Titanic:

1. There's already a major investment in city transportation (cars, buses, subways, trams, etc.) - why spend many billions of dollars to create another kind of transport that nobody really needs? Ordinary trams cannot move at 200 mph, so you'd need a whole new industry to produce them.  But is that a crying need for anyone at all?  Is it really sooo haaard to go catch a train at the train station?

2. You'd have to add a dedicated high-speed tram line to existing high-speed rail lines for the concept to work. That means many billions of dollars taking more land away from agriculture or other present uses, billions of dollars adding tracks, roadbed, power lines, signals, switches, etc., etc. Why? Who really needs this, to justify spending all that money and grabbing all that extra land?

3. That high-speed tram doesn't run through everybody's neighborhood. So people still have to use their conventional in-city means of transport to get to a - wait for it - platform where they can catch the special tram. Hello? What's wrong with this fucking picture?

4. You can bet your ass that the fares to ride the high-speed trolley would not cost anywhere near the same as the regular in-city transportation fares; for one thing, it would have to cost much more to cover the costs of building this new system; for another, you can also bet your ass that city officials would see it as a cash cow, so guess who would get stuck with paying five or ten times as much to get to where they can catch a train as they do now? You.

5. Trains of any kind, even high-speed ones, do not, like your Lionel set, run in a continuous loop from one side of the continent to the other and back again. They typically run on dedicated high-speed lines (different from regular railroad tracks) from one major population center to another, where they have to stop. There's nowhere else for them to go, except back to the other major population center. So it's a false idea that you would save time by not having to stop anywhere - and if you are worried about intermediate stops in BFE, see reasons 1-4 above. Trains have to stop periodically each day to be inspected, repaired, perhaps refueled, have their onboard supplies replenished, etc.; and train crews have to be replaced at certain times or distances, too.  The need to have support and administrative services in a centralized location - like a train station - will not, cannot disappear.  So the net effect for good of this multi-billion- , maybe multi-trillion-dollar idea would be . . . what, exactly?

6. Not everybody lives in the heart of a major city. Tons of folks use big-city terminals to transfer from a high-speed train to slower regional trains (or in some cases, buses, subways, etc.). Where else would you have them do that, other than in a major train station . . . with platforms for different trains running at different times and speeds to different destinations? This bright idea is still not going to deliver everybody to his own front door, and never will.

7. It's a gruesome disaster just waiting to happen, expecting hundreds of people to make a cross-train connection while whizzing down the tracks at 200 mph or more. Just think of everything that could go wrong . . . which, according to Murphy's law, would surely go wrong. No.Thank.You.

Jeezus. The things some people get paid big fucking bucks to dream up. How come I can't find a cushy job like that?

Atomic-powered dirigible from 1956, with detachable (!) exhibition hall.
Click to enlarge this goofiness.

Honk to Ptak Science Books for the illustrations.

Turkey Tips

This comes too late for Thanksgiving, but in case any of you kitchen queens are planning on doing a big bird for Christmas . . .

For at least the past 15 years, your Head Trucker has been hearing about the delights of deep-fried turkey; alas, I've never been in the right place at the right time to get any, so I can't tell you if the reports are true or not.

However, this cautionary video from Underwriters Laboratories gives me pause:

Yikes! Pretty scary stuff that I'd never thought about before. However, the following video gives some good tips and directions, if any of you macho men in the audience want to give it a try sometime.

Too much trouble, is what your Head Trucker thinks, when it's so much simpler to just throw a bird in the oven without worrying about calling the fire department.

And here's the queen of Southern cooking, Paula Deen, who shows you what to do with the latest triumph of American ingenuity: an indoor turkey frier:

If this tired old queen was into cooking, that would be the route to go, I think. God, all that turkey meat makes me so damn hungry!

The ex-roommate is doing a big Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for his four adult kids and their spouses/partners today. He's going to do a smaller version with a roasting hen and have me over next week sometime. I'll post pictures if I can.

The only time I get home-cooked food anymore is when I eat with him. It's just too depressing and too wasteful to try cooking for one here . . . believe me, I've tried. Much easier and cheaper to buy the microwave dinners, or make a sandwich.

Family Values

Excerpt from a mother's account (by filmmaker Susanna Styron) of trying to find her daughter after she was arrested during the police round-up of Occupy Wall Street on November 15:
But I didn’t expect that she had thirty-two hours of jail time ahead of her, and I had thirty-two hours of trying, mostly in vain, to find out where she was and what was going to happen to her. . . .

[After her daughter was finally released:] On our way home, Lilah told me that when she was arrested, she had simply been standing in the street. She was asked to move, but she couldn’t, because it was packed with people and there was no room. She was shoved backward with a nightstick poke to the stomach. Then she was pepper-sprayed. Then she was forced to the ground, zipline cuffed, and pulled by her wrists so hard it felt as if her shoulder was about to dislocate. She was given no information about her charge or her status for the thirty-two hours she was in custody—not a thing, not until she walked into her arraignment.

After we got home, Lilah went to the doctor. She has nerve damage to her wrist. She’s wearing a wrist brace. She has bruises all over her arms. So she has her battle scars. Lilah’s great-grandmother marched as a suffragette, her grandmother marched against the Vietnam War, I got arrested protesting nuclear weapons, her sister has attended every OWS protest in New York. We’re a traditional family.

Friday, November 25, 2011

White Friday

Your Head Trucker utterly despises the whole Black Friday thing.

First of all, it's such a horrid name. If you were talking about a stock market crash, an atomic explosion, an invasion or other disaster, okay. But why associate a day of shopping for Christmas presents with such ghastly overtones? I have never participated, and never will, and even though I understand that the crowds are massive . . . um, if they bother you, why exactly are you doing it?

Second, everybody high and low loves to mouth about Big Corporations and how much money and power they have, and ain't it just awful . . . but say, bud, where do you think they get all that money from in the first place? If you weren't handing it over to them so gleefully for shit you don't really need and can't really afford - they'd be a lot less powerful, right?

Finally, the whole commercialization of Christmas has long since gotten totally out of hand. Christmas crap is now stocked on the shelves of stores way back in September. Neighbors here have, in some cases, had their Christmas decorations up for nearly a month already. It's all just too much.  (The folks in one little shack several blocks away just leave theirs up all year long.)

There's nothing wrong, and in fact it's a pretty good idea, to have a holiday at the end of the year, in an otherwise cold, depressing season, when all the family gathers for good cheer; and for Christians, the Feast of the Incarnation is properly a time for reflection on deep things and appropriate devotions. (Advent is, in fact, supposed to be a mini-Lent, a time of fasting and preparation; not that anybody pays the slightest attention to that concept nowadays, in or out of church.)

My family once owned a small business, and I do appreciate the importance of the Christmas surge and its effect on the bottom line. But folks, we could do without all the overdone stuff - that just exhausts everyone and their wallet - and still have a perfectly nice time.

While you're thinking about what I've said, go check out this graphic on what truly good things we could do instead with the $45 billion Americans are spending on Christmas stuff this year.

Then contrast that with this:

Woman Uses Pepper Spray on Rival Wal-Mart Shoppers as Crowds Riot for $2 Waffle Irons: VIDEO

It's Time

Okay, your Head Trucker just lost it over this fantastic marriage-equality ad from Australia's GetUp! movement:

Why don't we have ads like this in the United States, I wonder?  Pass it on to your still-questioning friends and relations.

Some marriage ads in Maine are now running, and they're well-intentioned but kind of dishwater dull - they don't touch the heart like this one does. 

Waitin' for the Weekend

Jean Franko

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

Promised Land by Christoph Niemann
for the cover of this week's New Yorker

Oh Noz: The Stealth Muslim Turkey Terrorist Threat!

When you're gathered around the Thanksgiving table today, don't tell Aunt Martha . . . but that nice juicy Butterball turkey that she spent hours roasting to a golden brown is a secret Muslim.  Rightwing nutjob and asshole king Bryan Fischer shouts out the warning to all freedom-loving Americans about the weird top-secret Muslim recipe that has put a hoodoo on all our plump and tender American turkeys:

And I'm like, WTF? How is halal any different from kosher? And why should I care? It only makes a difference to people whose religion has dietary requirements, which mine doesn't. Of course, by dinnertime today, half of America will be torn between throwing up that succulent turkey meat, while the other half will be laughing their butts off at the total redneck assininity of this non-crisis.

Actually, go ahead and tell Aunt Martha and all the rest of your damn family, stir some shit up. It'll be fun.

Just watch what happens when cousin Billy Bob tries to throw Aunt Martha's labor of love into the garbage can. At least when the fight breaks out, you won't get stuck having to watch some stupid-ass football game all afternoon. Grin.

Photo: TPMMuckraker.
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