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, October 31, 2013

The Pork Boys Do Halloween 2013

We celebrated Halloween a couple of days early at my best friend M.P.'s house this week.  I didn't get any pics of the main dishes - a Cajun meatloaf studded with chicken giblets and hardboiled eggs, okra creole, spaetzle with tomato gravy, bananas-foster ice cream and pumpkin-cream cheese pie for dessert, all of it homemade from scratch - but I did get some good pics of the appetizers and of M.P.'s usual fabulous table decorations to fit the occasion.  Take a look:

The appetizers, clockwise from the top:  deviled monster eggs, hot chili & queso dip, tortilla chips and black-bean dip, fresh pumpkin seeds.  M. P. made the butcher-block countertop to fit over a low cabinet, from two kinds of wood painstakingly cut, sanded, glued, clamped, and framed.

M. P. and I both love deviled eggs, and every year for Halloween he comes up with ways of making little monster heads with them - very cute.

M. P. always sets a beautiful table for our little feasts.

The centerpiece of this year's Halloween decorations was the charming border M. P. made out of different colors of construction paper, on the gum-wrapper chain principle - very, very elegant, I thought.  He also made matching coaster rings and napkin rings of the same materials.

Note the other handmade pieces by M. P. in the background:  at center, beyond the dining table, is a witch's hat, and at the far right on the sideboard (and partly out of the frame) is a luminaria of a haunted house, made from a black piece of paper with several painstaking cut-outs for windows and doors.

So pretty.

M. P. also dotted the rest of the room with quite a few other Halloween decorations, as you can see, which adds much to the enjoyment of the meal itself.

M. P. is a trained artist, among other things, and always makes such nice, happy jack o'lantern faces.

The geometric shapes of the jack o'lantern echo those of the table, also made from scratch by M. P., as are all the tables in the living-dining room.

The cozy electric fireplace always adds its cheery warmth to our dinners together in the cooler months of the year - sometimes we like to run it even in summer, without the heat feature, just for the pretty glow of the fire. 
M. P. built the mantel shelf and overmantle himself.

Jack O'Lantern

A little Halloween tradition here at the Blue Truck:

Jack O'Lantern

What was it like, growing fat and lopsided, a homely thing
there in the warm, dark earth, leaved over and hardly noticed?

Only a pumpkin, you said to yourself, and sighed,
earthbound, tethered by a restraining vine,
wistfully admiring the tall apple trees,
the high, bright cherry boughs
dancing in the sky,
the glinting fruits and nimble berries,
all so sought-after, all so prized.

But you knew your fate
was never to be loved like that,
never praised and petted,
tenderly handled, highly graded,
stamped with approval,
waxed and polished to a shine,
wrapped in tissue paper,
carried home in exultation,
exclaimed over and delighted in,
savored in merriment, enjoyed in laughter.

You knew you were too heavy, too big, too dull, too low:
At best, to end up part of a pie, half baked or overdone,
the afterthought of a glorious meal, waiting lonely and
untouched at the end of a groaning board.

A humble end, a small purpose.
Not much to speak of.
And so you grew, silent,
Waiting for the knife
To end the wait.
Quiet. Still.
Expecting not.

And yet one day, against all hope,
when pumpkin time was nearly at an end
and you had grown beyond your ripeness,
The hand of the Artist picked you up,
set you high, and with the tenderest knife
in all creation gave you, finally,
a face,
a lovely one,
oh surpassing lovely.
Made you smile, at last,
as you never believed you could.

For once,
Your lowly pumpkin heart
thumped a bright rhythm of joy:
Touched, healed, redeemed,
perfected there at the last,
so unexpected, against all hope.

And that smile lit up the night,
banished darkness, engendered joy.
Delight beamed from you, filled with light;
and delight and exultation glowed back upon you.

For that one lovely, shining moment you were born
and grew and ripened, all unknown, unknowing,
all unaware.

And now your light is spent, your smile
drooping, sagging, melting in decay.
But you return to earth happy,
oh so very very happy:

I lived and I was loved,
I had a purpose after all,
I gave delight.
I did not sprout in vain,
I had a face, I had a name—

I was Jack o'Lantern.

poem and photo copyright 2008 by Russ Manley
artwork by the Moon King

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Royal Jewels

Many Americans have a nodding acquaintance with the jewels worn by HM The Queen and other British royal ladies, having seen them worn in various royal weddings and on other ceremonial occasions, but this film explores the jewels of the Danish and Swedish royal families, and oh my - they are something to behold.

BTW, your Head Trucker likes Queen Margrethe II of Denmark a lot - she's an artist and a lively personality with a charming smile.  She'd be the life of any party, I think, Queen or not.  And be on the lookout for her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Mary, born a commoner in Australia, who reminds me very much of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Marriage News Watch, 10/28/13

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

And by the by, Oregon United for Marriage has put out a new video which tells a very sweet tale:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Drive: Trains and Boats and Planes

It occurs to your Head Trucker that some young'uns visiting the Blue Truck might never have heard the song whose title was so brilliantly adapted by my truckbuddy Tim for his last two guest posts - so here it is, sung as no one else can by the great Dionne Warwick:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Guest Post: Trains and Butts and Plains, Part 2

From my English truckbuddy Tim, continuing the tale of his recent journey through the Spanish region of La Subbetica:

The alternative title for this post is ‘There’s no room at the Inn, try the Jail!’ Read on and you will discover why.

As promised in Part 1, our guide for this post is young Martiño Rivas. Part 1 also has a map of La Subbética if you want to follow my route.

One of the things I find interesting about him is his colouring. It’s not the typical Spanish look, his eyes are green and his hair is light brown and straight rather than dark and curly. He comes from Galicia, in the north-west of Spain. Never controlled by the moors, the region has a strong seafaring tradition, and sailors from northern Europe would have been regular visitors and eventual settlers, even 2000 years ago. This fairer colouring is therefore more common in the north, and I hope you’ll agree, makes for a nice contrast. 

Here he is with friend and fellow Galician, actor Yon Gonzalez, whom you might consider more Spanish in looks.

Oh yes, back to the trip: Lulu and I have spent the morning shopping in Doña Mencia, and then enjoy a leisurely brunch at La Cantina, just watching the world come and go, which is a favourite Spanish occupation everywhere. Although the little bar is on the edge of town, it is a popular meeting place for the locals. Reps from the agricultural equipment companies whose factories lie to the west, business men closing a deal over a glass of Rioja, the many hikers and cyclists of course, and the local boys, sadly mostly unemployed, but always with enough money for a coke and some cigarettes, raising clouds of dust with their cars as they race around the gravel-strewn car park for fun. The swallows are busy racing around too, they are building nests on the air-conditioning units hung on the outside walls.

Below them two colourful posters advertise a dog show and farm equipment. This is a very different Spain from the cosmopolitan coast. Reluctantly, we set off along the Via Verde and head back to the hotel.

It’s early spring here in the Subbética, and following the winter harvest, the olive trees are being pruned, and the diseased ones cut down. All over the rolling hills, little pillars of smoke rise high into the still air as the cuttings and old trunks are burnt. Lulu and I take our time, both of us enjoying the sights and sounds of the countryside. On the way I say ‘Hola’ to an old boy who has stopped his labours amidst the olive groves, and is busy whittling walking sticks from the cut-down branches whilst he takes a leisurely lunch. I say ‘old’ because from a distance I would say he is approaching 60, but as I near him I can see he is younger, late 40’s perhaps, but his face is tanned and cracked by the sun: it has a patina just like the gnarled trunks of the trees he tends.

His name is Juanma, and he makes a fuss of Lulu, who has designs on his mixta, a ham and cheese roll. We talk in a mixture of Spanish and schoolboy French, for like most Spaniards away from the tourist areas he has no English (and why should he?). We chatted about walking sticks and the benefits of certain types of wood over others. Then I ask him about his work, and the hunting I had seen going on in the area when I had visited before one Christmas. Mainly rabbits and partridge, he says, but sometimes hares too. I tell him about the Harris hawk I had for hunting back in England. He hadn’t seen one, but he knew someone who kept them, and he knew about Red Tailed Hawks and Falcons too. I told him about the birds I had seen at Zuheros, and he was able to answer a question that had been bothering me for the last couple of nights, indeed it had been keeping me awake. By day the olive groves ring to the cuckoo like call of the brightly coloured Hoopoe . . . hoop-hoop, hoop-hoop.

But at night, all night, there was this strange, incessant, sonar-like ping echoing through the tress and over the hills. Every 2 to 3 seconds, ping, ping, ping . . . it was keeping me awake and driving me mad. At least knowing its source would give it a name. He told me it was a little owl, a Scops Owl to be precise.

Here it is, listen to the little bugger! (I discovered that if you shine your torch out of the bedroom window at 2am you will frighten away the Scops Owl that is perched on the pine tree outside your room. You will also trip over the dog, and probably wake the French couple in the room next door!) If it had had a neck, I would have cheerfully wrung it!

As I went to leave, Juanma gave me one of the walking sticks he had finished. I offered him some money, but he waved it away - ‘I have plenty here’ - and he gestured to the trees with outstretched arms. What a lovely guy. The Spanish are often reserved with foreigners, but if you try and speak the language more often than not they will open up. I’d spent an hour chatting to him, and for that experience alone, the trip was worth it.

As I walked back to the hotel, there was a smell in the air that I could not identify, there was heat to it, it had weight. Only later did I realise that it was the land, the very soil itself. It was the great grey mountain behind me, eroded by wind and rain and time, brought down over the millennia by the tiny streams and rivulets that still flow towards the low hills stretching away before me. It was the smell of the olive trees that grew in it, and, as the old boughs crackled and burned on their funeral pyres, returned to it once more. What a magical day!

Continued after the jump . . .

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Blue Dahlia

Steve Hayes reviews the film noir classic:
In their third noir together, the romantic team of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake unravel a murder mystery in George Marshall's The Blue Dahlia (1946). Raymond Chandler's only original screenplay is set in LA near the end of the war. Ladd plays a returning veteran, with a faithless wife, who's murdered, leaving him to try and beat the wrap. Helping Ladd along the way is Veronica Lake who is short, sultry and wise. He also gets sterling support from William Bendix, as a buddy suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, Howard De Silva as a sleazy nightclub owner and gorgeous Doris Dowling as his trampy, murdered spouse. The action is fast, the atmosphere murky, the dialogue snappy and the ending a surprise. "The Blue Dahlia" is quintessential film noir to brighten the dark days of Autumn.

Catch more fabulous movie reviews at Steve's YouTube channel.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

San Antonio Judge Leaves the Dark Side

Finally, former Republican Judge Carlo Key in San Antonio has seen the light, as he announces in this stick-it-to-'em campaign video:

It was in San Antonio, you may recall, that a couple of months ago opponents of a nondiscrimination ordinance booed wounded gay Marine veteran Eric Alva at a City Council meeting.  The ordinance was subsequently enacted by a council vote of 8-3.

Tribal Council Marries Oklahoma Gay Couple

Gay is bustin' out all over . . . . Oklahoma is a Bible-thumping, deep-red state - can you say Sally Kern? - but Darren Black Bear and Jason Pickel just became the first same-sex couple to marry there, courtesy of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. KOCO 5 News reports:

Update, 9 p.m.: Come to find out, Darren and Jason are actually the third couple who will be married under tribal laws there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marriage News Watch, 10/21/13

It's now a done deal - New Jersey is a marriage-equality state from here on out, 14th in the nation (plus D. C.). Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Via Joe.My.God., Governor Christie's announcement that he has dropped his appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court:
Gov. Chris Christie on Monday morning advised the Attorney General to submit a formal letter to the high court announcing its intent to cease the fight. “Chief Justice Stuart Rabner left no ambiguity about the unanimous court's view on the ultimate decision in this matter when he wrote, ‘same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,’" the administration stated. “Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law. The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
The New York Times also covers the story.

Freedom to Marry has summaries of the marriage litigation and legislation now pending in 20 states. According to their website, updated today:
Five states now offer broad protections short of marriage. CO, HI, and IL allow civil union, while OR and NV offer broad domestic partnership. WI has more limited domestic partnership.

With these advances, a record number of Americans live in states that recognize relationships between same-sex couples:

• Over 35% of the U.S. population [over 100 million people] lives in a state that either has the freedom to marry or honors out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.
• Over 41% of the U.S. population lives in a state with either marriage or a broad legal status such as civil union or domestic partnership.
• Over 43% of the U.S. population lives in a state that provides some form of protections for gay couples.

And here's FtM's newly updated marriage map of the country:

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Married after 46 Years

The New York Times:
Together 46 years, Lewis Duckett and Billy Jones wrote coded letters to each other during Dr. Jones’s deployment in Vietnam. They adopted a baby, became grandfathers and then, finally, got married.

Sunday Drive: My Song Is Love Unknown

Sung by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Jersey Boys Can Marry on Monday

And so can Jersey Girls, following today's denial of a stay on same-sex marriages by the New Jersey Supreme Court, as NJ.com reports:
Same-sex marriages can begin Monday in New Jersey on a provisional basis, the state Supreme Court ruled today. The court will not make a final ruling on same-sex marriage rights until next year. But in the meantime, it upheld an order by a trial judge allowing civil marriages for gay couples to start Monday.

"The public interest does not favor a stay," the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-0 decision by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner today. "State officials shall therefore permit same-sex couples, who are otherwise eligible, to enter into civil marriage beginning on October 21, 2013."

Although the Supreme Court could change its stance later, for now, the decision is a victory for thousands of gay couples in New Jersey, who will be able to marry in-state for the first time starting next week. And it’s a setback for Gov. Chris Christie, an opponent of same-sex marriage who says only "one man and one woman" should be able to wed. At a campaign event at a restaurant in Dover, Christie ignored a reporter's request for comment about the ruling.

Michael Drewniak, Christie's spokesman, later issued a brief statement. "The Supreme Court has made its determination," Drewniak said. "While the Governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the State of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order of the Superior Court under the applicable law."

And the way the New Jersey Supremes worded their opinion today, it sure sounds to me like they will rule decisively in favor of marriage equality when they rule on the mertis of the case in February. The text of today's ruling is here. See also the New Yorker article, "Gay Marriage Comes to New Jersey."

What I Say: Your Head Trucker is struck by this comment from a New Jersey couple who plan to marry at 12:01 a.m. on Monday:
David Gibson and Rich Kiamco, who live on the city’s West Side, were married in New York on Sept. 30, 2011, and they plan to do it all again in the wee small hours of Monday morning. . . .

Asked why it matters so much for them to be legally married in New Jersey as well as New York, Kiamco was blunt.

“New Jersey said, ‘Screw you, you don’t deserve equal rights and protections,’” he said. “They treated us as second-class citizens . . . well, we want that piece of paper.”
Now your Head Trucker very well recalls a time in the late 1960's and early 1970's when it became, like, totally cool to say, "Oh, we don't need a piece of paper to prove that we love each other."

And your Head Trucker has always, from that day to this, thought that was pure bullshit - mindless parroting of a doctrinaire idea dreamed up by some stupid, pot-headed boys and girls (especially the boys) who just wanted to get it on and to hell with the consequences or with the parents' opinions.

But many a young woman who glibly repeated that empty line has since found out the bitter truth of Goldsmith's verse:
When lovely woman stoops to folly,
She finds too late that men betray.
And many a young man has learnt a bitter lesson also. A number of years ago, I was talking with a young fellow at work, who was griping that his ex-girlfriend wouldn't let him see his kid, even though he was making child-support payments under court order. I remarked that, well, that's why marriage was invented, to give you some rights over your own children.

The young man, amazed, blurted out: "You mean I was supposed to marry her? I just fucked her, that's all."

Contrast this utterly brainless, puerile, self-centered attitude, conditioned by the incessant repetitions of it in popular culture, with the earnest, clear-headed couples quoted above and in the video clip. They see - they know - what an enormous difference that little "piece of paper" means to their lives, and their happiness.

And I hope all my readers do too. It's time to stop repeating the asinine, narcissistic doctrine of the hippie era, which is as fucking stupid as the Tea Partiers who claim we don't need no stinking government. And then scream about don't touch my Social Security or Medicare.

We do need government, and we do need marriage. And you do need a piece of paper - not to "prove your love," because listen, friend, nobody gives a flying fuck who you loooove. Nobody gives a crap who you screw or how many.  If that's all you want out of life - go for it.  Get all you can grab.  Be my guest.  Marriage is not, and never will be mandatory or even advisable for everyone.

But if you want more than an endless succession of tricks and one-night stands, you do need it to protect your love - and the one you love, and yourself - which is a whole different thing.

Or do you agree with the Honorable Linda Oliver, Mayor of West Union, South Carolina:


I've blogged about this video before, and now it's completed (filmed by Linda Bloodworth Thomason, creator of Designing Women, among other things) and opening today at theaters in New York and Los Angeles.  You can also get it via Amazon or Barnes and Noble at the official website. Read the updated background story at Americablog.

The story, of course, reminds your Head Trucker powerfully of what happened when my darling Cody died eight years ago.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Epic Fail: America 16, Republicans 0

Your Head Trucker is enormously proud of President Obama for having the balls to stand up unflinchingly to the wretched Republican terrorists who were bent on bringing down the government of the United States in flames.  Rachel summarizes the outcome of the 16-day slow-motion coup attempt by the Stupid Party - a must-watch:

Update, 7:15 p.m.: Okay, so the Maddow Show has a new website which must have been designed by the same birdbrains who came up with the Obamacare roll-out. I can't get the video to embed and display properly, but go watch it here.

Also worthy of note: Conservative writer Rod Dreher, via Andrew Sullivan:
Can the Tea Partiers’ beliefs be falsified? I don’t think they can be. I mean, is there any evidence that could convince them that the fault here lies with themselves, in the way they conceive politics, and in the way they behaved? It sure doesn’t look like it. In that sense, they think of politics as a kind of religion. It’s not for nothing that the hardcore House members stood together and sang “Amazing Grace” as the impossibility of their position became ever clearer. They really do bring a religious zealotry to politics.

Let me hasten to say that I’m not endorsing the “Christianist” meme, which I find far too reductive, among other things. Besides, many of the Tea Partiers and fellow travelers are not motivated by religious faith, but by a religious-like zeal for their political ideology. It was like this on the Right before the advent of the Tea Party. There has long been a sense on the Right that the movement must be vigilant against the backsliders and compromisers, who will Betray True Conservatism if you give them the chance. Again, the religious mindset: politics as a purity test. In this worldview, a politician who compromises sells out the True Faith — and faith, by definition, does not depend on empirical observation to justify itself.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Tea Party Religion

Mike Ashmore of Hooks, Texas, a Marine Corps veteran, waves a Confederate flag in front of the White House during an anti-Obama demonstration on Sunday, October 13, 2013.  As a native Southerner, your Head Trucker understands the gesture, but pities the poor boy for not having figured out yet what is so very wrong about what he's doing.

Well, all the world is heaving a sigh of relief as it appears that the shutdown/debt limit crisis is nearing an end tonight. But don't think the war is over. It's merely this coup attempt that has failed; others will follow. It's no good thinking that in twenty years, when all the grumpy, white-haired old Uncle Joes and Aunt Marthas have died off that sweetness and light and sanity will return to American politics - because there are plenty of young'uns coming right along behind them, with a gleam in the eye and a fire in the belly, to carry on the fight to defeat the Great Satan - America.

Andrew Sullivan nails it in this excerpt:
Dishheads know I believe that you cannot understand the current GOP without also grasping how bewildered so many people are by the dizzying onset of modernity. The 21st Century has brought Islamist war to America, the worst recession since the 1930s, a debt-ridden federal government, a majority-minority future, gay marriage, universal healthcare and legal weed. If you were still seething from the eruption of the 1960s, and thought that Reagan had ended all that, then the resilience of a pluralistic, multi-racial, fast-miscegenating, post-gay America, whose president looks like the future, not the past, you would indeed, at this point, be in a world-class, meshugganah, cultural panic.

When you add in the fact that the American dream stopped working for most working-class folks at some point in the mid 1970s, and when you see the national debt soaring from the Reagan years onward, made much worse by the Bush-Cheney years, and then exploded by the recession Bush bequeathed, you have a combustible mixture. It’s very easy to lump all this together into a paranoid fantasy of an American apocalypse that must somehow be stopped at all cost. In trying to understand the far-right mindset – which accounts for around a quarter of the country – I think you have to zoom out and see all of this in context.

Many of us found in Barack Obama a very post-ideological president, a pragmatist, a Christian, and a traditional family man, and naively believed that he could both repair the enormous damage done by the Bush-Cheney administration and simultaneously reach out to the red states as well. I refuse to say the failure is his. Because he tried. For years, he was lambasted by the left for being far too accommodating, far too reasonable, aloof, not scrappy enough, weak … you know the drill by now. In fact, he was just trying to bring as much of the country along as he could in tackling the huge recession and massive debt he inherited at one and the same time, and in unwinding the 9/11 emergency, and in ending two wars and the morally and legally crippling legacy of torture (about which the GOP is simply in rigid denial).

Obama got zero votes from House Republicans for a desperately needed stimulus in his first weeks in office. So I cannot believe he could have maintained any sort of detente with the Republican right, dominated by the legacy of Palin, rather than McCain. But the healthcare reform clearly ended any sort of possibility of coexistence – and the cold civil war took off again. The first black president could, perhaps, clean up some of the mess of his predecessor, but as soon as he moved on an actual substantive change that he wanted and campaigned on, he was deemed illegitimate. Even though that change was, by any standards, a moderate one, catering to private interests, such as drug and insurance companies; even though it had no public option; even though its outline was the same as the GOP’s 2012 nominee’s in Massachusetts, this inching toward a more liberal America was the casus belli. It still is – which is why it looms so large for the Republican right in ways that can easily befuddle the rest of us.

But it is emphatically not the real reason for the revolt. It is the symptom, not the cause. My rule of thumb is pretty simple: whenever you hear a quote about Obamacare, it’s more illuminating to remove the “care” part. And Obama is a symbol of change people cannot understand, are frightened by, and seek refuge from.

That desperate need for certainty and security is what I focused on in my book about all this, The Conservative Soul. What the understandably beleaguered citizens of this new modern order want is a pristine variety of America that feels like the one they grew up in. They want truths that ring without any timbre of doubt. They want root-and-branch reform – to the days of the American Revolution. And they want all of this as a pre-packaged ideology, preferably aligned with re-written American history, and reiterated as a theater of comfort and nostalgia. They want their presidents white and their budget balanced now. That balancing it now would tip the whole world into a second depression sounds like elite cant to them; that America is, as a matter of fact, a coffee-colored country – and stronger for it – does not remove their desire for it not to be so; indeed it intensifies their futile effort to stop immigration reform. And given the apocalyptic nature of their view of what is going on, it is only natural that they would seek a totalist, radical, revolutionary halt to all of it, even if it creates economic chaos, even if it destroys millions of jobs, even though it keeps millions in immigration limbo, even if it means an unprecedented default on the debt.

This is a religion – but a particularly modern, extreme and unthinking fundamentalist religion. And such a form of religion is the antithesis of the mainline Protestantism that once dominated the Republican party as well, to a lesser extent, the Democratic party.

Columnist Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune on the meaning of the Confederate flag today:

Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite of the Chicago Theological Seminary writes in the Washington Post:
Our politics is a cosmic war, a theologically fueled conflict where our politics itself is seen as the battleground between good and evil. That is the larger frame that can contain both a confederate flag and Islamophobia. At a related demonstration in Washington, D.C. yesterday, Freedom Watch founder Larry Klayman said, “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Koran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.”

Klayman carefully added terms such as “nonviolent” and “figuratively” and yet declared our politics as war. The subtext, conveyed in language such as “come out with his hands up,” for example, is very aggressive. If we do not understand that the political and religious right-wing sees American politics as a cosmic war, we might think that there will be a political resolution achieved when the government shutdown is ended, and the debt ceiling raised.

Don’t relax. This has just been a skirmish. The war continues. It will, I believe, even accelerate. Yes, there will be a political “deal” to most likely get a continuing resolution on the budget until early 2014 and raise the debt ceiling, but the war will go on. There will very likely be another government shutdown in early 2014 and another threatened default on our debt. This will occur not for any policy reasons, but because the Tea Party caucus is fighting Satan; they are engaged in a cosmic war with evil in American politics.

The theology of the shutdown is “Christian dominionism” as Morgan Guyton has so well demonstrated. Christian dominionism is the idea that the nation should be governed by Christians according to a conservative understanding of biblical law.

As Guyton showed in his article, Senator Ted Cruz, an architect of the government shutdown, has theological roots in Christian dominionism through the work of his father, Rafael Cruz, a pastor with a Texas charismatic ministry. At an Iowa Family Leadership Summit this summer, the elder Cruz preached, “When you hear this attack on religion, it’s not really an attack on religion. The fundamental basis is this. Socialism requires that government becomes your God.” This explains “homosexual marriage” as it is designed to destroy your “loyalty to the family.” What has to happen is that “kings” will fight “war” to gain “spoils” and establish dominion over the country. . . .

Government shutdowns, threatened debt default, racism, homophobia and Islamophobia can seem like discrete political struggles for democracy, good governance, and equal rights. Progressives and moderates make a huge mistake when they do not see the connections extremists make among them. It is crucial to see that to the extreme right-wing that is hijacking our political process right now, these are not discrete issues but part of a cosmic war on Satan played out in our American political life.

It is my belief that theological struggles need to be engaged as theological struggles and not allowed to mask themselves as ‘politics by other means.’ We are in a struggle not only for the future of our democracy, but also for a Christianity centered on the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth who taught us to pray for “daily bread” on “earth,” not just in heaven, not on some imagined cosmic war fought for political gain.

That will not be over this week. In fact, it is just beginning again.

Oh and one more thing - don't any of you Yankee boys go a-pointing fingers with dirty hands attached. Here's the New Yorker's map of where the Republican "suicide caucus" lives - the red dots indicates districts of those 80 representatives who signed an August letter to John Boehner demanding that he defund Obamacare or shut down the government - and half of them are outside of the South:

Click to enlarge.

Which only goes to show that prejudice, ignorance, hatred, and fanaticism know no boundaries.

Update, 10:20 p.m.: The shutdown is over. Until January. The temporary budget and debt ceiling bill passed the Senate 81-18, and the House by 285-144, including 85 Republicans voting for passage and 198 Democrats. No Democrats voted against the bill, but two Dems abstained - I wonder who they were.

And as a coda to this bizarre episode, while the vote was being tabulated tonight, a House stenographer grabbed the microphone in front of the Speaker's chair and began ranting something about people mocking God and praise Jesus! 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Haunted House

This week's New Yorker cover, by Mark Ulriksen:

Click to enlarge.

Marriage News Watch, 10/14/13

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

And here's some late news that Matt didn't get to:  a North Carolina county clerk is planning to issue, but not sign, marriage licenses to six gay couples tomorrow.  The N. C. attorney general has come out in favor of marriage equality, but says that won't stop him from vigorously defending North Carolina law against it. 

Also noteworthy: Freedom to Marry is tracking marriage-equality litigation that is now underway in - can you believe this? - 16 states. Read all about it here.

And just to refresh your memory, here's where things stand at the moment - keep in mind that Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania could all be equal-marriage states by Christmas, if things go our way in the courts and legislatures - Michigan too, maybe this week:

Click to enlarge.

And finally - Olympic gold-medal diver Greg Louganis, 53, married his partner, Johnny Chaillot, 52, on Saturday in a sunset wedding in Malibu, California. Here's a great pic of the handsome couple:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Betty Crocker Loves All Families

Betty's crew went to Pride celebrations all around the country this year and made this video to show their support for equal marriage.  Sweet.

I have to say, though, there's something disturbing about the leather dads. Who wears fetish gear for a day in the park with the kid? Of course, there was probably a Pride parade happening too, but . . . it just doesn't seem right to me, on several levels. Granted, I could be wrong, but I'm just afraid the little boy is going to be a very unhappy young man when he grows up.

Of course, there are totally hetero biker couples who wear all kinds of outrageous stuff and dress their tykes in it too, as soon as they can toddle around. Not usually with great outcomes down the road, though.

Sunday Drive: A Case of You

Another submission from my truckbuddy Tim in Spain: a haunting rendition of a Joni Mitchell song by the popular Portuguese fadista Ana Mouro.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Guest Post: Trains and Butts and Plains, Part 1

Just in time for Columbus Day, a trip to La Subbética, from my English truckbuddy Tim, now resident in Spain:

My apologies to Burt Bacharach for the punning title, but I couldn’t resist it. By way of recompense let me introduce you to the extremely studly Miguel Ángel Silvestre. I think you’ll agree he’s very easy on the eye, more about him soon!

Russ has long thought it would be a good idea for me to tell you about my life here in Spain, here’s his brief:
Most people who read the Blue Truck have never been to Spain - though they might like the music, kinda. (Hmm, there's a song in that somewhere.) It's always interesting to read a vivid description of a faraway place. Even if they have been there, it's likewise interesting to hear someone else's take on a place you already know well.

What color are the houses? How tall are Spaniards? Do they have discos, bowling alleys, freeways, pizza, fortune-tellers? You mentioned the other day the cubos or something, a small case of beer and its cost - now that was very interesting to know. Do you get a refund if you bring the box back to the store? And what does the beer taste like? Do you drink it cold or hot? Is it easy to be gay there, or do you have to hide it? I'm sure there are many everyday sights and sounds and things that are right in front of your nose, ordinary and familiar to you but strange and exotic to the rest of us that would make good reading.

. . . Next time get a yen to write, perhaps you will give us some descriptions of the place and say what led you to settle there, so far away from the Scepter'd Isle and a proper dish of tay?
So welcome to the first of what will hopefully be a series, a personal take on Spain and things Spanish, and perhaps along the way, we might look at some of my reasons for living here, so far away from that Scepter’d Isle . . . and get to answer some of Russ’ questions . . . bowling alleys, Bubba??

Partner and I first visited southern Spain some 35 years ago, and we determined then that it was the place we both wanted to retire to, which is exactly what we did 9 years ago this November. Undoubtedly one of the attractions all those years ago was that classic ‘Latin’ look of the young men, of which the aforementioned actor Miguel Ángel Silvestre is a perfect example.

Although I’m a sucker for the blond, blue-eyed beach-boy look, who can resist smouldering brown eyes, framed by thick black hair, olive-brown skin and a permanent five o’clock shadow to die for? Well not me obviously! Miguel Ángel is a very popular film and TV actor over here, made famous by his role as ‘El Duque’, a tale about the life of a drugs and crime baron, set in contemporary Madrid. But just like James Gandolfini’s characterisation of mobster Tony Soprano, he makes this monster a very human and believable person. He’s recently completed filming “I’m So Excited!” with Pedro Almodovar, so perhaps international stardom beckons, but for now he remains one of our better kept secrets. I noticed that in the interviews he gave in LA he used the word ‘adrenalin’ a lot; personally I think ‘testosterone’ would be better – woof!

It was April, and Partner had gone back to visit friends in the UK, so I decided to take a break too. The car was packed and with Lulu to keep me company, we headed for our favourite country retreat, a lovely rural hotel in the Subbética region of Andalucía.  

La Subbética lies at the heart of Andalucía - you can use this second map to follow my travels.

My drive is not a long one, a leisurely 3 hours if you take a long coffee stop, but it covers a wealth of differing landscapes and lifestyles within a short distance, and that is very typical of Spain itself, always something different. In Spain you soon learn to expect the unexpected; there is an anarchistic streak in the land and its people! I leave our home on the cosmopolitan coastal strip, the tourist trap that is known as the Costa del Sol, and soon I’m driving up through the steeply ridged mountains behind Malaga City. The road is a new one, it soars over the valleys on beautiful arched bridges and plunges deep through the mountains in sinuous tunnels.

And I’m completely alone. Not another car in sight. And why? Because this new road is a toll road, and Spanish drivers do not pay toll fees. They prefer to take the old road across the mountains, the one that follows the ancient sheep and goat trails. It’s tried, it’s trusted, and it’s free!

However, being alone on a Spanish road is no bad thing, for they are arguably the worst drivers in Europe. They have no fundamental rule of the road, no left and right, they simply drive down the middle, added to which they look no further than the end of their bonnet, if they are looking and not using their mobile phone that is! It’s the responsibility of other road users to guess where they are going, and act accordingly, not theirs. Providing you have enough rosaries, crucifixes and blessed virgins hanging from your driving mirror no harm will befall you, however badly you drive! Not being especially religious, partner and I have a fluffy stork hanging from the mirror in our Jag. We bought it in Extramadura, where the storks go to breed in the summer, and it seems to work almost as well as the religious icons! We call it ‘Storkie’.

This joke about traffic lights sums up the Spanish attitude to driving very well:
In cities they are a provocation, in the countryside they are an irritation, at Christmas time they are a decoration!
Within an hour I am passing the lovely old city of Antequera, with the spires and towers of its many churches reaching towards the sun above the surrounding streets and alleys.

Suddenly the mountains are behind me and the plain of Antequera stretches ahead. This plain – the Hoya de Antequera, is a wonderfully fertile basin surrounded on all sides by mountains. Rich farmland, ideal for cultivating grain, rice, sunflowers, and home to the sheep whose wool is still processed in the old city. But alas not for much longer. The powers that be have decided that this flat basin will make the perfect spot for a huge rail technology centre, a railway test-bed for the latest developments in high-speed rail travel. It will entail the loss of more than a quarter of a million acres of farmland, the expropriation of 712 farmsteads and small businesses.

Spain is justifiably proud of its position as the purveyor of some of the world’s fastest trains and technology. China, Saudi Arabia and the USA are just 3 of it’s customers for high-speed train systems. Undoubtedly the test centre will bring employment and create wealth and business opportunities, but the fertile land and existing economy will be lost. Believe me, there are plenty of flat, worthless areas in central Spain where such a centre could be swallowed up unnoticed, yet still create the jobs and wealth. This scheme, like so much in Spanish politics and big business today, smells of bribery and corruption.

Continued after the jump . . .

Why Marriage Matters: Nathaniel Frank

Crowds cheer the first same-sex couples to marry in Washington state
at the courthouse in Seattle, December 9, 2012.

Two very percipient quotes from scholar Nathaniel Frank, author of the 2009 book Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America - the first from Slate, "How Do Americans Really Feel About Gays?":
The whole point of a wedding, from a cultural perspective, is for a couple to invite their community to recognize and help enforce—indeed to approve of—their union as a positive thing worth supporting. There has always been something a bit disingenuous about gay rights activists insisting that they deserve marital recognition from their society because their relationships are nobody’s business but their own. Marriage is all about making your relationship other people’s business.
The second is from Huffington Post, "Why Other People's Marriages Are Our Business":
I first pondered this question on the evening of a friend's wedding when she told me what her marriage meant to her. "It's a way of enlisting my friends, family and community," she told me, "in supporting what will surely be a difficult set of commitments over time." Suddenly I realized the purpose of all the ritual and ceremony, the reason for the gifts and tears and witnesses: marriage is not just a private bond, but a public identity, whose meaning is shaped by the assumptions and practices of all those who claim and recognize its status. Being married helps us keep our commitments to our spouses and our communities by creating a shared identity with very public expectations. It doesn't always work. But every day thousands of people choose to embrace this identity because of the support it helps afford them. This is why gays need access to the very same institution of marriage--not civil unions--that straights enjoy: so they can join not just each other, but the wider community of committed people whose marriage is recognized, understood and championed by people across the world. And this is why separate is inherently unequal.

Some dismiss these ideas as lofty rhetoric either because marriage so often falls short of expectations or because their own beliefs are even loftier: they insist they don't need others' approval, and that marriage is only important because it grants legal benefits. "We don't need the state or anyone else," they say, "to affirm how much we love each other, or to help us keep our vows." At best, this has always seemed an adolescent view of marriage. Anyone who has ever had a wedding, who has mentioned her husband or wife in passing, or who has dreamed of one day getting married, knows this isn't true. And anyone who thinks clearly about the intersection of psychology and public policy should too. There is something about knowing that your community--and even the laws of the body politic--recognize and affirm commitments you've made, that can help you stand by them. It's a bit of Freudian internalization, in which the pesky knowledge that something's been publicly uttered somehow makes it both more true and more serious. It then becomes tougher to shirk off. It's the reason that we should care when someone tramples their public vows, including public figures like Ensign and Sanford. We should all raise an eyebrow. It's what Jonathan Rauch calls "stigma as social policy."

Read more gay-related articles by Frank here.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Geisha Girl

Your Head Trucker has no particular interest in Asian culture, but I found this well-made BBC documentary fascinating for the insight it gives into the mind of one Japanese girl who chooses to go the geisha route - and what a long, hard road it is.

Still, the film leaves some questions unanswered, the chief of which to my mind is - why? Why go through all that grueling discipline and hard work? What is the payoff big enough to compensate for losing a huge chunk of your childhood and your freedom - just to sit on your knees for hours every night playing parlor games with half-sloshed middle-aged businessmen? Bor-ring. Are they like really, really good tippers, or what is the deal there? See what you think, fellas:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Obamacare versus the Affordable Care Act

Honk to Wounded Bird.

The $200 Million Conspiracy to Shut Down the U.S. Government

Lucidly explained by Rachel and well worth your time, if you can stand the sheer horror of it:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Update, 2:20 p.m.: Andrew Sullivan, via Joe.My.God.:
There is effectively no Republican party any more. There is a radical movement to destroy the modern American state and eviscerate its institutions in favor of restoring a mythical, elysian, majority-white, nineteenth-century past. This crisis is proving that more powerfully than even watching Fox. We need to see what is in front of our nose: a cold civil war has broken out between those properly called conservatives, defending the credit of the government, empirical reality, and adjustments to modern life and those properly called radical reactionaries declaring our current elected president and Senate as illegitimate actors, bent on the destruction of America, and therefore necessitating total political warfare, even to the point of threatening to destroy the global economy.
Update, 8:30 p.m.: Obama says he's "not paying a ransom" to Republicans who are "out of touch with reality":

Monday, October 7, 2013

Marriage News Watch, 10/7/13

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Related stories via Joe.My.God.:

Scalia doesn't care about his legacy on gay marriage, admits he gets most of his news from "talk radio guys"

Supreme Court declines to hear appeal seeking to recriminalize sodomy in Virginia

Mormon leader declares the church will never change its stand against gay marriage because "our policies are determined by the truths God has declared to be unchangeable"

Flag Desecration?

The good citizens of Mufreesboro, Tennessee, or some of them at least, are all het up over the display of a rainbow-striped flag at Middle Tennessee State University there. WTVF in Nashville reports:

NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather

Jesus mercy - we're still having this kind of argument in 2013.

I'd be willing to bet any amount of money, however, that those same upstanding patriots who are all hot and bothered over the rainbow would swear that the following is not a desecration of the American flag:

Demonstrators at the so-called Tax Day Revolt in Washington, D.C., in 2010, carrying 13-star American flags with a  prominent "II" in the middle of the circle, signifying a call for a "Second American Revolution" to overthrow the government of the United States - using the sacred right to own as many damn guns as you please, and as big as you please, enshrined in the Second Amendment.

Update, 10/8: The rainbow flag was stolen from the MTSU library display on Sunday, but campus cops tracked down the thief - a student - and returned the flag to the MT Lambda group on Tuesday.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Today's Quote: Mark Twain

From The Autobiography of Mark Twain, a section of it written in 1877, published in 1958:

Click to enlarge.

For those of you who don't know, Mark Twain loved fried chicken, Scotch whisky, and cigars - and enjoyed them frequently and fully.  And died happily at 75, loaded with honors and the memory of a life well lived.

See this PBS Newshour video for more on Twain's remarkable autobiography, parts of which are yet to be printed.

Sunday Drive: Chopin, Étude Op. 10, No. 3

Saturday, October 5, 2013

It's Not Just a Political Fight - It's a Consitutional Crisis

Tea Partiers at the Capitol, 2011
Jonathan Chait writes a chillingly perceptive analysis of the constitutional crisis at the heart of the shutdown impasse - excerpt from New York Magazine:
Traditionally, when American politics encountered the problem of divided government— when, say, Nixon and Eisenhower encountered Democratic Congresses, or Bill Clinton a Republican one—one of two things happened. Either both sides found enough incentives to work together despite their differences, or there was what we used to recognize as the only alternative: gridlock. Gridlock is what most of us expected after the last election produced a Democratic president and Republican House. Washington would drudge on; it would be hard to get anything done, but also hard to undo anything. Days after the election, John Boehner, no doubt anticipating things would carry on as always, said, “Obamacare is the law of the land.”

Instead, to the slowly unfolding horror of the Obama administration and even some segments of the Republican Party, the GOP decided that the alternative to finding common ground with the president did not have to be mere gridlock. It could force the president to enact its agenda. In January, Boehner told his colleagues he’d abandon all policy negotiations with the White House. Later that spring, House Republicans extended the freeze-out to the Democratic-­majority Senate, which has since issued (as of press time) eighteen futile pleas for budget negotiations. Their plan has been to carry out their agenda by using what they call “leverage” or “forcing events” to threaten economic and social harm and thereby extract concessions from President Obama without needing to make any policy concessions in return. Paul Ryan offered the most candid admission of his party’s determined use of non-electoral power: “The reason this debt-limit fight is different is we don’t have an election around the corner where we feel we are going to win and fix it ourselves,” he said at the end of September. “We are stuck with this government another three years.”

Last Tuesday, House Republicans shut down the federal government, demanding that Obama abolish his health-care reform in a tactically reckless gamble that most of the party feared but could not prevent. More surreal, perhaps, were the conditions they issued in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling later this month. Lifting the debt ceiling, a vestigial ritual in which Congress votes to approve payment of the debts it has already incurred, is almost a symbolic event, except that not doing it would wreak unpredictable and possibly enormous worldwide economic havoc. (Obama’s Treasury Department has compared the impact of a debt breach to the failure of Lehman Brothers.) The hostage letter House Republicans released brimmed with megalomaniacal ambition. If he wanted to avoid economic ruin, Republicans said, Obama would submit to a delay of health-care reform, plus tax-rate cuts, enactment of offshore drilling, approval of the Keystone pipeline, deregulation of Wall Street, and Medicare cuts, to name but a few demands. Republicans hardly pretended to believe Obama would accede to the entire list (a set of demands that amounted to the retroactive election of Mitt Romney), but the hubris was startling in and of itself.

The debt ceiling turns out to be unexploded ordnance lying around the American form of government. Only custom or moral compunction stops the opposition party from using it to nullify the president’s powers, or, for that matter, the president from using it to nullify Congress’s. (Obama could, theoretically, threaten to veto a debt ceiling hike unless Congress attaches it to the creation of single-payer health insurance.) To weaponize the debt ceiling, you must be willing to inflict harm on millions of innocent people. It is a shockingly powerful self-destruct button built into our very system of government, but only useful for the most ideologically hardened or borderline sociopathic. But it turns out to be the perfect tool for the contemporary GOP: a party large enough to control a chamber of Congress yet too small to win the presidency, and infused with a dangerous, millenarian combination of overheated Randian paranoia and fully justified fear of adverse demographic trends. The only thing that limits the debt ceiling’s potency at the moment is the widespread suspicion that Boehner is too old school, too lacking in the Leninist will to power that fires his newer co-partisans, to actually carry out his threat. (He has suggested as much to some colleagues in private.) Boehner himself is thus the one weak link in the House Republicans’ ability to carry out a kind of rolling coup against the Obama administration. Unfortunately, Boehner’s control of his chamber is tenuous enough that, like the ailing monarch of a crumbling regime, it’s impossible to strike an agreement with him in full security it will be carried out.

In this context, it's also very informative to read the report just issued by Democracy Corps, entitled "Inside the GOP: Report on focus groups with Evangelical, Tea Party, and moderate Republicans." Read a short summary here, or the full report (pdf, 1.2 mb) here. Excerpts [edited by your Head Trucker to eliminate obvious typos]:
Unifying all Republicans is their revulsion toward big government. That revulsion involves three distinct strands of thinking – two of which take the Republican Party into realms of preoccupation that threaten to marginalize the party.

The first strand is big programs, spending, and regulations that undermine business. That is pretty straightforward and is hardly surprising. That is probably the dominant strand among the moderates who long for a fiscally conservative and focused Republican Party. . . . The second strand is a concern with intrusive government that invades their privacy, diminishes their rights and freedoms, and threatens the Constitution. Those worries are dominant among the Tea Party, though not exclusively. . . .

And the third is the most important and elicits the most passions among Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans – that big government is meant to create rights and dependency and electoral support from mostly minorities who will reward the Democratic Party with their votes.

The Democratic Party [in their view] exists to create programs and dependency – the food stamp hammock, entitlements, the 47 percent. And on the horizon—comprehensive immigration reform and Obamacare. Citizenship for 12 million illegals and tens of millions getting free health care is the end of the road. These participants are very conscious of being white and valuing communities that are more likeminded; they freely describe these programs as meant to benefit minorities. This is about a Democratic Party expanding dependency among African Americans and Latinos, with electoral intent. . . .

Obamacare is the final blow. When Evangelicals talk about what is wrong in the country, Obamacare is first on their list and they see it as the embodiment of what is wrong in both the economy and American politics. In fact, when asked what she talks about most, one woman in Colorado replied, “Obamacare, hands down, around our house.” In Roanoke, it was the first thing mentioned when asked “what’s the hot topic in your world?” . . .

Evangelicals are a third of the Republican base; they are the biggest and most intense group: four-in-five are “strong” Republicans and straight ticket voters. Over three quarters are married and well over 90 percent are white. Their demographics – white, married, religious, and older – sets up a feeling that they are losing. They talk about how the dominant politics and cultures have encroached on their small towns, schools, and churches. What troubles them when they talk with friends, family, and fellow believers is Obamacare, guns, government encroachment, gay marriage, and “culture rot.” . . .

It used to be different, as illustrated by several men in Roanoke when describing their own towns.
It’s a little bubble. So everybody – it’s like a Lake Wobegon. Everybody is above average. Everybody is happy. Everybody is white. Everybody is middle class, whether or not they really are. Everybody looks that way. Everybody goes to the same pool. Everybody goes – there’s one library, one post office. Very homogenous. (Evangelical man, Roanoke)

And the point of departure for being a politically incorrect minority is what’s happening with the acceptance of homosexuality and the gay agenda.

Giving gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry the person they love can seriously harm them, and seriously harm the children that they are raising. (Evangelical man, Roanoke)

They’ve taken what I consider a religious union between a man and a woman – pardon my French – and bastardized it. (Evangelical man, Roanoke)

They believe the dominant national culture promotes homosexuality and makes this “minority” culturally “normal.” There is a conspiracy to push “the gay agenda.”

You see, fellas? Once again, it's all OUR fault. Of course.

You guys who don't live in a deep red state as I do should go read the whole report. It really lays bare the thinking of all these millions of your fellow citizens who are cheering as the government of the United States crumbles - the quotes could have been taken from any of my neighbors here out here on the prairie. It's not that modern culture is without flaws or above criticism - your Head Trucker has voiced his criticisms any number of times here in the Blue Truck -  but they seriously want to turn the clock back to a lily-white, straight-arrow, Bible-thumping, one-size-fits-all 1950 - and they will, too, if only they can find a way.

Just read it.  Before you wake up one morning to find yourself trapped in Mayberry.  Without a laugh track.

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