C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"I Thought I Was the Only One"

Some moving oral histories from the Los Angeles LGBT Center, 2013 - I only wish they were longer:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fresh for Health (1956)

Santa Fe reefer by Lionel.  Click to enlarge.

The Santa Fe shows off its ultra-modern, high-speed refrigerated freight service in this promotional film:

It really is a marvel to think how many hundreds of millions of people were - and are - fed so well by so few in this country.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Rebel Without a Cause

Steve Hayes reviews:
James Dean gives an iconic performance in Nicholas Ray’s classic study of troubled youth Rebel Without A Cause (1955). With able Oscar-nominated support from Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, it’s the story of a teenage misfit who moves to a new town and must juggle the pressures of an unhappy home life and his peers at school. Dean never lived to see his most famous screen role, which has served as the basis for countless movies about teenage rebelliousness ever since.

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Marriage News Watch, 2/23/15

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Drive: Theme from A Summer Place

So far this year, winter has been fairly mild in Texas - but tonight and tomorrow we're getting hit with snow, sleet, ice, and freezing rain. Brrr! And then more of the same on the weekend, bummer.

I wonder if there's anything to that positive-thinking stuff . . . .

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Pork Boys Do Mardi Gras 2015

Or, How them evil homosekshuls are destroying Western civilization, one meal at a time.

Your Head Trucker has just returned from a visit with his best friend M.P. and a week of good food, good company, and good cheer, with some guidance from our beloved Julia Child, as shown.

La table de fête, all set for Mardi Gras with lace and beads and glitter - naturellement!

Notice the perfect fleur-de-lys napkin folds that M.P. cleverly devised.

Masks and beads make the fireplace festive too.

Above and below, crepes filled with julienned ham and asiago cheese, covered with Hollandaise sauce; at the side, wilted baby spinach leaves with bacon and chopped sauteed onions.

Above and below, fresh hot beignets, just as yummy and irresistible as those from the French Market in the Vieux Carré.

Evening photos of the table, with masks M.P. made.

Candlelight always adds a lovely, festive glow to the evening.

Crunchy fried eggplant, a Southern delicacy - cooked up by your Head Trucker, as it takes no particular culinary skill.

Aubergines en Persillade, Gratinées - chopped eggplant baked with parsley, garlic, béchamel sauce, and breadcrumbs - yummmm.

Baked onions stuffed with rice and Parmesan cheese - so sweet and tender.

The main course:  Boeuf en Daube à la Provençale - top round larded with pork fat, braised in a thick sauce of red wine, beef stock, dark roux, scallions, tomatoes, and herbes de Provençe.  Melt-in-your-mouth good.  I tell you what.

Fresh out of the oven, M.P.'s perfect croissants, made entirely from scratch - flaky, crunchy, and buttery, far better than anything you can buy in stores.

Above and below:  a King Cake, made from featherbed biscuit dough, was of course the pièce de résistance, drizzled with melted butter - oh my!

So with plenty of good food, good wine, Marlboros, and music, we had a fine time - couldn't have been better if we were in Jackson Square or on the Champs-Élysées. And when the day's work is done, is that not the point of living - to savor and enjoy it?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, February 19, 2015

First Gay Wedding in Texas!

I can hardly believe it.  The Austin American-Statesman reports:
Two Austin women were legally married Thursday morning after a Travis County judge ordered the county clerk to issue a marriage license.

Minutes later, Texas had its first legally married gay couple when Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, together almost 31 years, said their vows before Rabbi Kerry Baker while standing in front of the Travis County Clerk’s Office sign on Airport Boulevard.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said his office will seek to void the marriage license “issued due to the erroneous judicial order” and promised a lawsuit seeking to halt the Travis County clerk from issuing any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The judge's order applied only to this couple, and no others. Late this afternoon, the Texas Supreme Court for good measure issued a stay of the Travis County order, although news sources indicate that Bryant and Goodfriend's marriage appears to remain valid.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A World of Art: The Metropolitan Museum

A thoughtful, fascinating history and tour of one of the world's greatest museums:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Wonderful Jet World of Pan American (1959)

A look back to the time when jet airliners were brand-new wonders - and served real meals:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Marriage News Watch, 2/16/15

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Drive: Beautiful Dreamer

The timeless Stephen Foster song, as performed by the great Marilyn Horne in recital in Milan, 1981:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Marrying in Alabama

Freedom to Marry has made this video report of happy newlyweds in the Heart of Dixie, where 51 of 67 counties are now issuing licenses to same-sex couples:

On the other hand, street preacher Cedric Hatcher told the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday that big-footed men have no business getting hitched:
To me yesterday was one of the most bizarre scenes I've ever seen in the city. It was one of the most comedic scenes I've ever seen in public when I witnessed men with size 13 and 14 shoes out there kissing each other in the mouth in front of little kids. It was like a freak scene going on, that's what I call it.

And then there's this outburst from the boys in white: "The fudge packers from Hollywood and all major news networks are in shock that the good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting their Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda!”

KKK issues “call to arms” over Alabama same-sex marriage ruling

Friday, February 13, 2015

Waitin' for the Weekend

Here's wishing all my truckbuddies a very happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Alone in the Taiga

Smithsonian magazine published a couple of years ago this fascinating article about a Russian family who fled Stalinist persecution to live in a remote area of Siberia in the 1930's and remained there with no other human contact for four decades, grubbing a living out of the wilderness and practicing their fundamentalist Old Believer faith - they didn't even know that World War II had happened until they were found by a team of Russian geologists exploring the area by helicopter in 1978. But they still refused to return to "sinful" civilization - now only one is left, 70-year-old Agafia, who is shown in this 2013 video.

This story brings up many profound reflections on human nature, society, religion, and materialism - but I will leave you readers to explore your own thoughts on those things. Your Head Trucker will say only that on some days he can well sympathize with the desire to find a remote, happy little spot far from the madding crowd - but he would damn sure pick a warmer spot than Siberia to exile himself to! Aruba, maybe.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Mardi Gras is coming up next Tuesday, and M. P. and I have already planned our menu, which is a little out of the ordinary for Cajun feasting, but still with a French flavor.  More on that later; meanwhile, here's the late, great Justin Wilson showing and telling you how to make a classic chicken and sausage gumbo - which some folks like your Head Trucker consider "heaven in a bowl."

Bear in mind that no two Cajuns make gumbo exactly the same way, so if you go looking for a recipe, you will find an infinite variety.  But this will do to get you started if you've never made gumbo before.

Update, 7:15 p.m.: Here's "6 Authentic Gumbo Recipes" from Southern Living, in case anyone wants to have a try with one of them.

And your Head Trucker will say that the secret to a good gumbo - or to a good anything - is to make a perfectly smooth roux (half cooking oil (not olive oil) or drippings, and half flour) by cooking it on highest heat, stirring constantly with a long-handled whisk or wooden spoon for the 5 or 10 minutes it takes to turn it a deep, dark brown, just like melted chocolate, an operation that takes nerve but is just essential for good eating.  (Modern-day recipes that say cook on low heat and stand there stirring constantly for 30-45 minutes are for the birds - nobody has an arm that strong, anyway.  Some Cajuns just mix the oil and flour and pour it into a baking pan and cook it in the oven. And down in Acadiana, you can simply buy it in a jar at the grocery store, ready to go into the gumbo.)

At that point, and not a second later - you'll know when you get there - throw in all your chopped vegetables (onion, bell pepper, celery - the "Holy Trinity") at once and take the pan off the fire. The addition of the veggies stops the roux from cooking and burning. Keep stirring, but not as furiously, over low heat until the veggies soften, then turn the fire up a bit, and add chicken stock, not plain water. After adding the meats and everything comes to a boil, simmer for an hour.

I also prefer to add 2 or 3 cups of chopped okra (yummmmmm!) in the cooking instead of using filé powder when it is served (it's okay, but changes the taste a bit).  Wine is not necessary.

If the roux smells burned, it is burned. Just throw it out and start over.

You can make it all in a cast-iron dutch oven - preferably with a handle on one side - or you can make the roux in a skillet first, then put it and everything else into a stock pot to simmer. As Justin said, it will be even better the second day - if you can stand to wait that long!

You Yankee boys can't get andouille up Nawth, so just buy a pound of regular smoked sausage, which will do just fine.  If you want to be all nice and neat about it, you could bone the chicken before adding it to the gumbo, if you can't stand to fish whole pieces out at the dinner table.  But it is more fun that way. You could also cheat by simply picking up a rotisserie chicken at the deli instead of frying it yourself - but shhhh! don't tell anyone I told you that.

And serve over fluffy, hot, fresh-cooked rice - do NOT eat gumbo all by itself like soup.  It's the law!

P. S. -- Be very, very sparing with any hot seasonings you put in. Very. Contrary to every "Cajun" meal you've ever had in a restaurant, real Cajun food is not hot as hell. Instead, you set hot sauce or pepper flakes on the table so each diner can add as much or as little as he likes. Trust me on this, guys.

Actually, all the seasonings you need are contained in Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning, which comes in a green can. If it's not in the stores where you live, you must send away for it.

And there is a difference between Cajun gumbo and Creole gumbo - the former is the country dish, the latter is the city dish. Look it up if you like, but the important thing is, don't argue with people about which is "right." Everybody's mama did it her own way. So if you didn't learn from your mama, just experiment and make the kind of gumbo you like best. And then savor it with friends and good cheer, as all home cooking should be shared.

Buttered French bread or garlic toast is the only accompaniment you need. But if you simply must have an antipasto, I suggest bacon and spinach. What, you never had that? Oh just fry up a skillet of bacon, as much as you like, and when it is done, take the bacon out and throw the baby spinach leaves in the grease with the fire still going, and stir them around a minute until all wilted. Then crumble the bacon into the spinach. Lovely stuff - can be a meal by itself. For an extra zing, saute some chopped onion with the bacon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rainbow on the Rails

In 2012 and again last year, the North Carolina Transportation Museum held a colorful gathering of surviving first-generation diesels from all over the country at the historic Spencer Shops in the Tarheel State.  Here's an unnarrated but nicely photographed record of the beautiful streamlined paint schemes:  most are E-units and F-units built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, which your Head Trucker thinks are tops; but some railfans prefer the Alco PA, seen here in Nickel Plate colors.  The prettiest loco may well be the Atlantic Coast Line's slant-nosed E3 in its eye-popping livery of purple, silver, and gold.

Also on view is the famous EMD FT 103 demonstrator from 1939, known as "the diesel that did it"; diesel locomotives had been used on passenger trains as early as 1934, but railroads were not convinced that diesels could be counted on to haul much-heavier freight trains until the FT was sent on tour around the country, successfully demonstrating its power.  The demands of the war effort delayed mass production of diesels until 1945, but soon thereafter thousands of them were to be seen speeding along the nation's railroads.  The efficiency and economy of diesels quickly resulted in steam's demise on major routes, with the last regular steam-hauled trains on major railroads being replaced with diesel by 1960.

And also on display is the magnificent streamlined steam locomotive Norfolk and Western J-class 611. The 611 has spent the last twenty years in a museum, but was taken out last year for restoration and is due to start its revived excursion career later this year.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Marriage News Watch, 2/9/15

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

Despite Matt's drama-queen talk of federal troopers swooping in to crush the Alabama rebels, this morning's news from the Heart of Dixie is much less dramatic:

Same-sex couples marry in Alabama after U.S. Supreme Court refuses stay

Text of Supreme Court order denying stay of Alabama marriages

Same-sex couples marry in some Alabama counties: Live updates from across the state

Updated marriage map from Wikipedia; click here for legend.

Update, 12:45 p.m.: Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has issued a statement:
I am disappointed that a single Federal court judge disregarded the vote of the Alabama people to define marriage as between a man and woman. . . .

This issue has created confusion with conflicting direction for Probate Judges in Alabama. Probate Judges have a unique responsibility in our state, and I support them. I will not take any action against Probate Judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue.

We will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

National Geographic: Cruise Ship

Now would be a good time to get away to the islands. With five thousand of your closest friends.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ten Years Gone


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dodging the Column (1952)

How to haul a long, hard pole from London to Scotland - madness!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Marylebone to Mousehole via Gloucester

Siobhan Thompson helps an American learn to say British place names in an amusing episode of Anglophenia.

Bonus: Canadian drama professor David Ley gives a 3-minute course on how to speak with a proper British accent.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Gourmet Gardens of France

In this second episode of three, Monty Don explores the charming potagers - kitchen gardens - of France, great and small.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Marriage News Watch, 2/2/15

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

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