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.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Carl Hardwicke
Full uncropped pic here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Land

A favorite by Ivor Novello - he's family, y'all - as featured in the movie Gosford Park.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Michelle's Marilyn Moment

During the Queen's welcome for the Obamas at Buckingham Palace today, a strong gust of wind had the Queen reaching for her hat, and nearly embarrassed the First Lady.

Otherwise, the reception went very nicely.  More pictures here.

Only in Texas

Deep-fried Beer Invented in Texas

Friday, May 20, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Groucho Uncensored

Ran across these outtakes from Groucho Marx's old quiz program, You Bet Your Life - which your Head Trucker is old enough to remember watching - and thought I'd share 'em with you fellas just for laughs.  These were NOT broadcast to the public; you'll see why.

1.  Best line:  at the 5:40 mark, "Have you ever been made love to by a Frenchman?"

2. Best line: at the 5:50 mark, "Everything I do is a bad habit." Texas gal gets off a couple more good ones too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where It's All Headed

Everybody in this country, high and low, young and old, on the right and on the left, loves to mouth about freedom.  Which puts everybody in a rah-rah, wave-the-flag, let's-all-march-together-mood; and it just sounds so good, don't it?

But your Head Trucker would like to point out that nine times out of ten, what people really mean when they say the word is something else entirely.  What they really mean might be a number of different things; much of the time it's Obey me, bitch - or else.

As evidence of which, I submit the following stories for you all to think about.  And yes, whoever you are and whatever you do - your turn will come next, and sooner than you think.

Is It Fair to Fine Fat People for Not Dieting?

NYC Condo Tower Bans Smoking

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Steve Cruz

Linda Ellerbee, Alive and Kicking

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, your Head Trucker hasn't watched TV in the ordinary sense for most of the last two decades now, though I have rented a lot of videos. (And no, they weren't all porn, either, you smart-alecs.)  So I perhaps can be forgiven for somehow thinking that the great Linda Ellerbee was dead. I know some of my truckbuddies will remember with the same fondness I do her lively reporting back in the eighties on such shows as NBC News Overnight, which was both hip and thoughtful. Then for some reason, she just sort of disappeared, I never knew why.

Well come to find out, not only is Ms. Ellerbee very much alive, she's been very successfully producing a children's news show, Nick News, for the last twenty years, which has won a truckload of prestigious awards. Your Head Trucker is very glad to hear it, because she was always a favorite of mine.

It is a curious but undeniable truth that many of the most fascinating people in the world hail from the Lone Star State. Just somethin' in the water out here, I reckon. And Linda, who calls Houston her hometown, is a prime example of that fact, as were the late Governor of Texas, Ann Richards, as well as the late political commentator Molly Ivins. All three women - like my own mama - represent what I might call the shining side of the Texas character: very sharp, very cool, down to earth, and totally real.

Check out some or all of this interview she did last year with the Archive of American Television. I can't embed it here, but if you follow the link, I think you'll get a real kick out of it, fellas. Tell 'em Russ sent you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Transition: Chaz Bono

Chaz Bono's new book, Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, has just been published. Here he talks in candid detail about the process of coming to terms with his real self:

I wish him all good luck and much happiness. I can't help thinking how much harder it must be to come out - if that's the right phrase - as a transman, when it's damn hard enough to come out as a gay man. I admire his courage and honesty.

I could say more, but since I have more questions than knowledge, guess I'll leave it there.

Comeback Kids

Your Head Trucker has not watched broadcast TV for many years now, so sometimes I discover clips that are old news to everyone else. But in case you missed this wonderful public service announcement from a couple of years ago, just thought I would share it with my truckbuddies:

I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lovelight: When You Kiss Me


A gray, gloomy day in Texas, a day of quiet tasks and deep thoughts. A day to shut the doors, keep the wind out, and avoid looking in mirrors. It is not until you begin to grow old that you realize what a cruel thing that aging really is. A thief, a robber with no mercy. Nothing you have is safe from his clutches.

All the more reason to enjoy your youth while you have it.

Yesterday would have been my husband's 61st birthday.  Not looking for sympathy; nothing anyone can say about that now.  Just remembering.  Funny how time slips away.

But my husband had a rather Egyptian idea of immortality:  that no one dies as long as their name is spoken and remembered. 

So this is for Cody: and for me, a meditation on what was, what might have been . . . and what can never be.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Drive: For Mama

A remembrance of my darling Mama, who passed away this day in 1994 - which was Mother's Day that year, too.

Yeah, I Hear You

Honk to the Slabber.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why I Am Blogging Less, and Enjoying It More

By way of explanation to my longtime readers:  when I started this blog on a whim in 2008, in the midst of an emotional election campaign in this country, I had no definite plan of what to say or do with it; but among other thoughts that came to mind, it did seem at that moment like a great new way to excoriate and expose the follies of the world in general.  And for a time I did enjoy having a place to vent and rant and sound off on things that seemed to deserve comment.

But now, with me it's more and more a case of passion spent:  once past the half-century mark, you begin to notice the shadows slowly lengthening as the road turns homeward, the great hopes and adventures of youth all lying behind you now.  And you come to realize that it gains you very little to be continually upsetting yourself over things you can never hope to change.  The world is what it is, and one might as well try to stem the ever-flowing tide as to divert the course of human nature.  Il faut cultiver notre jardin, said Candide, and there is a great truth there.  "Work without disputing, for it is the only way to render life tolerable."

A fatalistic attitude, to be sure; not one that will ever recommend itself to people younger, more idealistic, or better placed to make a difference in the world.  But for some of us, a necessary attitude to retain some semblance of peace of mind through whatever years are left to us to enjoy here.  Unlike Tennyson's Ulysses, most bloodied veterans who have somehow survived the strife and struggles of life are content to sit quietly by their own fireside at the end of the long, long journey - that is, if contentment can be found anywhere in this uncertain, tumultuous world.  The unexamined life is not worth living, most assuredly; but once you have thoroughly examined it - and seen through it - a rest of heart and mind is needed.

I haven't lost all interest in current events, of course, and sometimes I still feel a need to comment on something or other; but less so now than when I started out.  A blog makes a bully soapbox, a miracle that countless writers of all persuasions who lived before the Internet age would have dearly loved to make use of.  But there's not much I have to say to the world that hasn't already been very well said by much greater minds; and if the world at large has ignored their counsel - or indeed, rewarded their trouble with a cup of hemlock - it certainly will take no notice of my small, obscure voice.  Which perhaps is just as well.

So this blog is evolving into something different from what it has been; what that is remains to be seen, and I still have no definite plan.  It remains an amusing hobby, a toy to pass the time with, nothing more.  But I thank my faithful readers for their interest and comments from time to time; even when one is saying nothing of any importance at all, it's always nice to feel heard.

Below, a handful of links to stories that illustrate, in one way or another, the ignorance, the foolishness, the blindness, the ugliness, the cruelty, the unreflecting self-righteousness of the human animal:  the very same stuff that was grist to the mill for Swift, Johnson, Twain, and others so well suited to puncture the pomposity of human vanity.  But the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Another time, I might have commented at some length on the implications of one or more of these items; but now I leave the essential points to the discernment of the reader. 

And if you don't get the real point of these things, which lies somewhere beneath the surface of the texts, well then - why should I spend the better part of a sunny afternoon trying to convince you?  If people lack the wit or imagination or depth of soul to see truths that are self-evident . . . well that's just very sad, isn't it?  The long, sad, troubled story of mankind, which needs no comment from me in the late afternoon of a glorious spring day, with lillies and roses blooming just outside my front door.

The New York Times:  A smoking ban too far

Americablog News:  Coffee, sex, exercise, or blowing your nose can trigger a stroke

The Globe and Mail:  Why the 70s were the best time to be a mom

Andrew Sullivan:  The mindset of Jeffry S. Wiesenfeld

Friday, May 6, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Many Gays Does God Have to Make?

State Representative Steve Simon raises a question before the legislative committee considering a Minnesota anti-gay constitutional amendment this week:  How many gays does God have to create before you accept that He wants them around?

On Second Thought

President Obama and advisors monitoring the Abottabad operation in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011.

About killing Osama bin Laden:  I am still not sorry the son of a bitch is dead. In fact, we have a saying down south here that applies richly to Bin Laden: killing is too good for him. At the very least, a long, slow rot in prison would have been even more deserved, from a certain point of view.   Rudolf Hess got such a punishment for doing a whole lot less.

However, as more details and circumstances have come to light, and I really hate to say this fellas, it is sounding more and more like a knuckle-headed Bush/Cheney operation than something I might have expected our very smart, very sharp President - and the also smart, sharp team around him, such as Hillary and Biden, etc. - to have countenanced.

Specifically, I find myself wondering now:

1. Was it really necessary to blow the bastard away in front of his wife wives and children? I mean, come on guys - is that the American way, really?

2. There are some mumbling efforts to justify the killing that turn on the testimony of our forces that Bin Laden was unarmed but somehow "resisting" when confronted. Um, but this strikes me as a silly misuse of language at best, and a dangerously Bush-Cheney-like manipulation at worst. I mean really, guys - if a screaming somebody with a weapon busted down your bedroom door at 1 a.m. on a moonless night, what would you do? Any human being, crook or straight, would have "resisted" - no? So that's not a justification for anything that might need justifying, but a propaganda trick. Typical of the last Administration, but not worthy of us, I don't think.

3. Was there really absolutely no freaking way to grab the son of a bitch alive and bring him before an international court of justice? Really? Well, he was undercover, holed up deep inside Pakistan . . . yeah, so we couldn't put the screws on the Pakis big time and extradite him?

4. It is a deep but persistent flaw in human nature to idolize dead criminals, no matter how many women and children they killed or how much they stole or who they hurt: e.g., Napoleon, Jesse James, D. B. Cooper, etc., etc., etc. Even without a body, now he becomes the stuff of legend - even among people (not Americans) who suffered on account of what all he did.

5. I know about the Muslim burial rules and all, but even so - in this one very, very special instance, instead of being so quick to observe the niceties of religion, couldn't we have held onto the body for a few days to allow an international team of doctors, diplomats, and journalists to thoroughly examine and verify that the corpse was indeed Bin Laden's? I just heard on the radio a few minutes ago that the White House has changed tack - again! - and has decided to release those gruesome photos of the dead Bin Laden.  (Must have heard wrong.)  But the myth, the legend has already started - the horse is already out of the barn.

So all in all, as strongly as I feel that justice was indeed served to a cold-blooded, merciless killer of thousands of innocents - still, who thought all this through? Did anyone?

Or is Dick Cheney still running the show, from an undisclosed location?  I'm just sayin'. . . .

P.S. - The President will visit Ground Zero this afternoon, meet survivors and responders, and lay a wreath.  Headlines are already referring to it as "milking" the assassination.   I don't think that's what he's doing but you see how it looks in certain quarters.

Jeezus, fellas, sometimes I just get really, really tired of thinking about the world and all the brutality and assininity of it, ya know what I mean?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Canadian Stunner

Source:  CBC.com

Well, the returns are in and Canada is waking up to the biggest political upheaval in twenty years, which has redrawn the political map of our neighbor to the north.  There's a big story about each of the five national parties represented in Parliament, which I'll summarize briefly here, with links to Canadian news sources for anyone who wants to learn more.

First, the Green Party has won its first-ever elected seat in North America, with leader Elizabeth May handily winning her Saanich-Gulf Islands riding, making her the first and only Green MP in Ottawa.

The Bloc Quebecois, for the last two decades something of a spoiler party dedicated to achieving the separation of Quebec from Canada and not much else, went down in flames to a near-total wipeout under the barrage of surging NDP support in that province.  Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe lost his own seat in Parliament, and has already announced his resignation as party leader in this historic switch that brings Quebec back to the national stage as a full player in federal politics.

The other historic loss was suffered by the Liberal Party, long known as "the natural governing party of Canada," which ever since Confederation in 1867 has always been either the ruling party or the Offical Opposition.  But voters definitively put the Grits in a distant third place last night, with Michael Ignatieff losing his own riding to a Conservative challenger.  In his concession speech, Ignatieff said he would stay on as party leader as long as the party wants him to.  [Update, 9:30 a.m. Tuesday:  Ignatieff has announced he will resign and return to his academic career as soon as the party can settle on a successor.]

Smilin' Jack Layton triumphantly surfed the unexpected wave of support for the New Democratic Party in this election to become the leader of the Official Opposition, his party capturing 102 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, including seats in 8 out of 10 provinces and almost all of the Quebec ridings, which will extend NDP influence and perspective from its former position as the perennial third-place "conscience of Canada."  Some pundits are already saying Jack should enjoy the election-night celebrations because the NDP has hit its zenith and will never reach such a high-water mark in a national election again; but that, of course, remains to be seen, depending on what Layton and Co. do with their newfound popularity and power.

But the story with the biggest and most immediate effect on Canadians is that after years of minority governments, they finally elected an unbeatable majority to power.  Conservative leader Stephen Harper was swept back to Ottawa with a resounding 167-seat majority by Canadian voters, so that his party now not only has more than a majority (155 votes) but outnumbers all other parties combined - which, in a Westminster-style parliament, means that his Government is now unstoppable in practical terms:  They can win any vote, so they can exert their will howsoever they please for the next four years, until constitutionally required to hold another election.  In his victory speech to the party faithful, Harper spoke graciously of his defeated opponents and pledged to govern on behalf of all Canadians, even those who did not vote Conservative.

Which was a nice thing to say, since his Government was brought down five weeks ago in a vote of no-confidence following its being the first and only Government ever found in Contempt of Parliament in any Commonwealth country.  Some Canadian observers have characterized Harper as being petty, vindictive, secretive, ruthless, and thoroughly undemocratic in the way he has rammed through whatever legislation he wanted, or even called upon the Governor-General to simply dissolve Parliament not once, but twice - in order to avoid critical votes.  A great trick, better than a filibuster, even.

Of course, I've never been to Canada - all I know is what I read in the papers.  But your Head Trucker notes that critics of the Harper regime have said that what the Prime Minister wants for kinder, gentler Canada is to become more like the United States, with Big Business given free rein, low taxes on corporations and the wealthy, fewer and smaller social programs, big, big spending on military equipment, and the introduction of socially conservative Bible-Belt policies on issues like abortion, gay rights, minorities, immigration, and women's issues.   In the last five years, his Conservatives have blown a budget surplus accumulated by the previous Liberal Government, and racked up an enormous multi-billion-dollar deficit - which somehow reminds me of another political party south of the border.  I'm just sayin'.

But as someone wiser than me observed long ago, people generally get the government they deserve.  So it will be very interesting to see what happens now with an unbridled majority Conservative Government tromping on the accelerator and the soft-shoe socialist New Democrats trying to apply the brakes from the Opposition benches.  Whatever happens, with Quebec back at the family dinner table, so to speak, and the centrist Liberals stuck way to hell out in the political wilderness, it's sure to be a fascinating new page in Canadian history, if I'm understanding all the news correctly.

Read all about it:



The Globe and Mail

Monday, May 2, 2011


Mission finally accomplished. Thank you, Mr. President. Well done, U.S. forces.

Update:  Time is coming out this week with a special edition, the cover of which will recall a famous 1945 edition.  Fucking brilliant - you go, guys.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Drive: Jerusalem

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green & pleasant Land.

--William Blake, 1804
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