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.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Elizabeth: Queen, Wife, Mother

A very well-made documentary that was shown earlier this year during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Britain. It includes a good many charming photos and home movie footage that have never been seen before - and I think it gives a very good sense of the Queen and the Royal Family as the ordinary, essentially decent human beings that they are, if that has not already been obvious to you these many years, as it has for your Head Trucker.









Sunday Drive: Meditation from Thaïs



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pretty Pictures: Tissot, Boldini, Sorolla, Bougereau et al.

Even though we may know better with our conscious minds, I believe we do tend to think of the 19th century as a dull, gray time - on account of all those black and white photographs that were the norm in those days. But of course, it was an era as full of vivid color as our own. Whilst just idling my way along through various things this afternoon, I came across these videos that Sotheby's had up for auction last year, and they were all so lovely and so delightfully new to me that I just had to share them with you fellas. Enjoy.

More videos of paintings from this era and from others can be found at the Sotheby's website.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Individual servings or combo platter?





Same-sex Marriage: the View from Down Under

A little comic weirdness from Australia this morning:



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mitt Gets Worse

Barney is so good.




Bonus: From the DNC.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Identity

First, have a look at an amusing interview with the creators of the "Shit Girls Say" videos, now a forthcoming book:



You notice one of the guys in there says "As gays, we identify with women." Which got your Head Trucker to thinking.

That's something I might have said when I was young - as a kid, it was the heroines of books and movies I tended to identify with, rather than the heroes - though with some exceptions.

Now, I would never say that. I strongly dis-identify with women, especially the weak, manipulative, self-centered, whiny types that the guys satirize so well in their videos.

Though many of my interests and inclinations might be typified as traditionally feminine ones: without delving into a tedious recital of examples, I'll just speak very broadly and say I incline more to the humanities and arts than to the sciences and technology, more to words than to numbers, more to domestic life than the business world.

On the other hand, as years have gone by I have come to admire more and more the traditional masculine virtues of being steady and strong, decisive and none too talkative. A personality that is calm, cool, capable, self-controlled, and rational is very attractive. Though of course the downside of that is being an ignorant, arrogant asshole. Boring too.

However, I am not sure I measure up very well on that yardstick of positive masculine traits. At this late age, I would rather have developed more of those traits, and more deeply, than I perhaps did.

Which makes me wonder: is our admiration as gay guys for one sex or the other - I'm not talking about sexual attraction, mind you, just personality types - something that changes as we get older? Or not.

I can tell you that I have always felt that as a personality, a soul, I am something different from both men and women - again to clarify, I am not talking about "gender identity" and transsexual issues here, not at all - I like my penis just fine, thank you - but being a gay man, when I consider the sum of all my talents and abilities and interests and inclinations, I just feel like - a third sex. Not one or the other but something else, sui generis: a different kind of soul, combining elements of both male and female. Can you relate?

My best bud M.P. and I have talked about this stuff and we agreed that gay men are nearly all actuated by a passion for beauty: creating, developing, nurturing, expressing, or transmitting it. Yet to that feminine love of beauty, we add a large admixture of masculine energy. Which makes us both like straight men and women, and yet at the same time unlike them too.

Be interested to hear what the rest of you fellas think about this topic, which I may not have expressed too well here, but maybe you get the gist of what I'm trying to say.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why American Health Care Co$$$ts So Much

There's a documentary on this topic airing tonight on PBS, if any of you fellas want to see it.  Here's a trailer:


Monday, September 24, 2012

It Gets Better: Austin Police Department

Austin is the state capital, home of the ginormous University of Texas, and a liberal oasis in a desert of hidebound conservatism. But this is amazing to see, a sign that times are changing even down here in Jesusland.




BTW - I would never have spotted any of the officers as family, would you?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How the Gospel Sounds to Gays

In all too many cases:


Sunday Drive: Ashokan Farewell

This hauntingly beautiful tune is memorable as the theme for Ken Burns's 1990 masterpiece, The Civil War - performed here by Doc and the Lady:



Friday, September 21, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Texas-born stud Jesse Santana is winding my crank this week, big time:

 
 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Worth Watching: Edwardian Country House


There being a dearth of anything else worth posting about this week - I'm sure you guys are all up to date on the latest political gaffes and foreign affairs - I'm going to share with you an excellent documentary I watched several years ago and am now working though again: The Edwardian Country House, filmed in the fall of 2001 by Britain's Channel 4, and subsequently broadcast there and in the U.S. on PBS, which retitled it as Manor House. I'm enjoying it just as much this time around as I did the first time I saw it; it really is very well done, and if you haven't seen it yourself, do give it a try.



All six episodes are viewable on YouTube. For more on the series, including exit interviews with the participants, check out the PBS website for the show. Also, if you're planning a visit to Scotland and would like to rent the exquisitely lovely Manderston House for an overnight stay with yourself and up to 18 of your closest friends, check out the house's website.

There were several of these period-recreation shows done in this country and in Britain in the last decade, and I've seen most of them, and enjoyed them all. Apart from the historical and artistic interest, these types of shows are fascinating for the psychological insights they provide: how much of our attitudes and behaviors are a product of living in one time or another? And it's amusing, too, to see which participants can make the change back to another time, and which ones just can't let go of the 21st century - which produces predictable conflicts with the others.

I won't say anything more about this series so as not to prejudice you - except that I think it's important to keep in mind that all the participants, upstairs and down, are constrained by following a well-marked "script" of how to behave with one another. But of course your realize that real life, in any period including our own, is infinitely variable, and does not always follow the script we think it should! But watch it and see what you think. If you like Downton Abbey, you'll get a kick out of this. Enjoy.


Bonus: The following documentary produced by PBS in early 2012 isn't nearly so good - it follows the dishonest modern style of using ominous music and a certain intonation of the narrator's voice to project a feeling of creepiness, fear, and sinister doings, when they are talking about clearly ordinary things. Still, beginning at the 6:00 mark, it has a short interview with the current owner of Manderston, Lord Palmer, his Texas-born wife, and their butler, along with some new shots of the interior and exterior.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Shadow of a Doubt


Steve Hayes has returned from a long absence this summer to bring us another fabulous movie review, this time of a classic Hitchcock thriller.
Death comes to small town America when Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotton star in Alfred Hitchcock's personal favorite of all his films: SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943). Everyone in the Newton family is delighted that dear Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) has come for an extended visit. His biggest admirer is his niece, Young Charlie (Teresa Wright), who begins to suspect that something isn't quite right with her mysterious relative when two FBI men appear and begin asking questions. The suspense slowly mounts as she begins to realize she must release her uncle from her what she thought he was, in order to see what he might actually be - and that could be murder.



Catch more of Steve's great reviews at his YouTube channel.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Worth Watching: The History of the Home

Lucy Worsley

What may or may not be the first in a series of documentaries that your Head Trucker has enjoyed on YouTube:  from BBC4, If Walls Could Talk:  The History of the Home, presented by Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, London. 

Worsley takes viewers through the 800-year evolution of the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom, with visits to historic houses in various parts of England.  Pretty fascinating, and full of many enlightening historical tidbits - from cooking a hedgehog to roasting with a dog-powered spit. Here's the first part of the episode on the kitchen.




BTW - the hit counter in the sidebar tells me that the Blue Truck has now had over 400,000 views. Thanks for the support, guys.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

World's First Color Film Found

Along about 1902, a young British photographer named Edward Turner came up with a way to film movies in natural color.  Unfortunately, Turner died a couple of years later, and his technique was forgotten, along with his pioneering films.  But now researchers at the National Media Museum in Bradford, England, have reprocessed the 110-year-old film found in their vaults, with amazing results:



Read more about the discovery at the museum's website.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How We Remember 9/11 Now

via NBC News Photoblog

Your Head Trucker is glad to be back online after a loss of internet connection that began on Saturday; but sad to learn of the grievous attack in Libya that killed our ambassador, and the asshole film that provoked it. As one commentator has put it, this was a case of "some Christian fringe extremists provoking Muslim fringe extremists," and I have no respect for either kind, and neither variety deserves to be dignified with the name of religion - which is supposed to make men more just and more merciful, not less.

Also worth your time is this article by the New Yorker's Amy Davidson: How We Remember 9/11 Now. Just go read it; I have nothing to add to what she says.

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson Exhibited

Researchers at Amherst College in Massachusetts, which has an extensive collection of manuscripts and other materials related to hometown girl and world-class poet Emily Dickinson, have released what seems to be, by all the evidence so far, a hitherto unknown daguerreotype of Emily and her friend Kate Scott Turner, taken in 1859.

Which is really big news in the literary world, since before now the only known photographic image of Dickinson is another daguerreotype made in 1847, when she was 16. In the teenage photo, she seems a bit shy and tense, but in the new image, she is fully grown up, confident and content, with just the barest phantom of a smile upon her lips.

Check out the two daguerrotypes, and the video comparison below, and judge for yourself whether it's really Emily or not.





For more info on the discovery and evaluation of the daguerreotype, see the Dickinson Electronic Archives website.

In high school, your Head Trucker was quite taken by Dickinson's poetry, and she remains a lifelong favorite. When I got to college, I found the exhaustive 1955 complete edition of her poems, all 1,775 of them, and I think I must have read nearly every one of them. Wonderful stuff.

It also cheers me to think that the two greatest American poets of the 19th century - Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman - were gay. In Whitman's case, most definitely. As for Dickinson - well, there's no proof, but it sure seems that way. Though of course not a word about their gayness was ever mentioned in any literature class I ever took, neither in high school or in college.

BTW - if you care about Dickinson at all, you simply must see the one-woman-show biography of her, The Belle of Amherst, played by the magnificent Julie Harris. It's a joyous, moving performance I think you will long remember, as I do.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chuck Norris Is Afraid of the Dark - and You

In an historic development, the Democrats have fully embraced equal rights at this year's convention:




But it's got ol' Chuck quaking in his boots and hinting at some desperate last stand against all the forces of evil . . . which would be me and you, buddies:




So who's on the path of sanity and reality? You be the judge.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend




Convention Recap: Three Speeches



For reasons I'll explain in a later post, I missed watching the convention this week, but overnight here I've been catching up with the major speeches and things. Probly all you boys have seen these already, but in case you missed them too, here's my three favorite speeches from the convention.

1. Zach Wahls pays a short but fervent tribute to gay families and "My Two Moms":



Money quote:
Mr. Romney, my family is just as real as yours.


2. Bill Clinton demonstrates that he still has the golden tongue when it comes to oratory, and teaches the Republicans a little something about arithmetic:



Money quote:
Don’t you ever forget, when you hear them talking about this, that Republican economic policies quadrupled the national debt before I took office, in the 12 years before I took office, and doubled the debt in the eight years after I left, because it defied arithmetic.

It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates that I was just a country boy from Arkansas and I came from a place where people still thought two and two was four.

It’s arithmetic. We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double-down on trickle-down.

Now, think about this. President Obama’s plan cuts the debt, honors our values, brightens the future of our children, our families, and our nation. It’s a heck of a lot better. It passes the arithmetic test and, far more important, it passes the values test.

My fellow Americans, all of us in this grand hall and everybody watching at home, when we vote in this election, we’ll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in. If you want a winner-take- all, you’re-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we’re-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.


3. The honeymoon being long over now, there's not the same excitement about Obama's campaign this time around - but he still had your Head Trucker in happy tears by the time he finished:




The money quote, which references the gays three times, among other things:
We don’t think the government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that the government is the source of all our problems, any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.

Because, America, we understand that this democracy is ours.

We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s what we believe.

So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me.

It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change.

You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who’ll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can’t limit her coverage.

You did that.

You’re the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he’d be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance.

You made that possible.

You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home, why selfless soldiers won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: “Welcome home, welcome home.”

You did that. You did that.

If you turn away now--if you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible, well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: the lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election, and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should be making for themselves.

Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward
.


Those of you who watched the convention live will recall that after the President and his family took their bows, they were joined onstage by the Vice-President and his family - and the song playing at that time was this one by another pair of your Head Trucker's favorites, Brooks and Dunn. This song sums up all that America means to me in these two simple lines:
We all get a chance,
Everybody gets to dance
I hope it means something to you fellas, too.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

American Politics, Explained




Honk to my truckbuddy Tim for tipping me to this.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It's Official: Dems Adopt Marriage Equality Plank


I've refrained from reporting here on previous stages of approval by various committees of the Democratic Party, but yesterday convention delegates assembled in Charlotte, North Carolina, unveiled their official platform supporting marriage equality - the first time in history that any major American political party has endorsed same-sex marriage:

Civil Rights. We believe in an America where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody plays by the same set of rules. At the core of the Democratic Party is the principle that no one should face discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability status. Democrats support our civil rights statutes and we have stepped up enforcement of laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace and other settings. We are committed to protecting all communities from violence. We are committed to ending racial, ethnic, and religious profiling and requiring federal, state, and local enforcement agencies to take steps to eliminate the practice, and we continue to support enforcement of Title VI. We are committed to equal opportunity for all Americans and to making sure that every American is treated equally under the law. . . .

We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to ensuring all Americans are treated fairly. This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth. The President’s record, from ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love. The Administration has said that the word ‘family’ in immigration includes LGBT relationships in order to protect bi-national families threatened with deportation.

Freedom to Marry. We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

The 6,000 convention delegates include 468 LGBT members, or about 8 percent of delegates, which is about twice as many as in 2008. See how many total delegates there are from your state here.  The convention continues through this Thursday, September 6.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Then and Now

1956, official Republican poster:


2012, unofficial news brief:
During a speech in an Iowa campaign stop, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke to the crowd of farmers and unemployed workers about his plan to save the economy and bring back jobs.

Romney spoke about creating a more business-friendly tax code and reducing environmental regulations, but his most interesting idea came late in his speech.

“Barack Obama has endlessly attacked upstanding businessmen like myself, something I will fix during my time in office. The first step is to get the nation refocused on the real engine of the economy, which is why I will work with congress to rename Labor Day to Job Creator Day,” Romney said.

The GOP candidate went on to say that for too long, the nation has overly glorified labor. He hopes that this change will make more Americans thankful to wealthy businessmen, who generously allow us to work to feed our families, sometimes even with health insurance, benefits, and two weeks of vacation time.

Romney did not stop there. He also announced plans to sell naming rights to all official Federal Holidays.

“People love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, so why not just take it a step further and sell the entire day to Macy’s,” Romney said.

The Romney campaign suggests that the rights could generate over $1.5 Billion over the next ten years.

Other holiday proposals include “Bud Light’s New Year’s New Beers Day”, “Kentucky Fried Christmas”, “Chik-fil-Arbor Day”,” Martin Luther King Junior Mints Day” and “Tyler Perry’s Fourth of July Did I Get Married.”

(found on the Internet, source unknown)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Drive: Gillock, Arabesque Sentimentale

A piece I never heard of before and just happened to stumble upon this morning.  Short and sweet, it seems to fit well with this saying I also came across this morning:

Life is short, so be swift to love
and make haste to be kind.




Saturday, September 1, 2012

Torture? Forget about It

If no one can be brought to justice for torture and war crimes even under a Democratic administration, just think what a green light that gives to the next fascist Republican regime.  PBS transcript here.



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