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

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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review

The world has seemed to your Head Trucker to be sliding inexorably downhill at an alarming rate for quite a long time now, but 2016 took the cake, and may be looked back on as a great watershed in history for all the wrong reasons.

What a terrible year it was - unspeakable horror and violence close to home and all around the globe, with some momentous turning points that bode very ill for the future of this nation and the world. These videos don't quite capture all of the jagged feelings and upsets we've been through this year, but I'm posting them here as a reminder to posterity - if there is any.

Some celebrities who died in the past year, not noted in the videos above, whom your Head Trucker remembers fondly for one reason or another:

Natalie Cole (died December 31, 2015, age 65)
The exquisite songbird, daughter of Nat King Cole

Dan Haggerty (d. January 15, age 73)
The big, burly, wonderfully bearded Grizzly Adams

Glenn Frey (d. January 18, age 67)
Co-founder of the Eagles and solo artist

Patty Duke (d. March 29, age 69)
The beloved Oscar winner, one half (or two?) of a pair of adorable "identical cousins"

Merle Haggard (d. April 6, age 79)
One of the great legends of country music

Alan Young (d. May 19, age 96)
A fine, underrated actor, who played Wilbur Post, owner of "the famous Mr. Ed"

Noel Neill (d. July 3, age 95)
The best Lois Lane ever

Robert Vaughn (d. November 11, age 83)
Who could forget the Man from U. N. C. L. E.?

Florence Henderson (d. November 24, age 82)
Beloved mom of the Brady Bunch

Bernard Fox (d. December 14, age 89)
The amusing Dr. Bombay on Bewitched

Zsa Zsa Gabor (d. December 18, age 99)
The one and only, dahling

George Michael (d. December 25, age 53)
Impossibly handsome, talented, and gay

Carrie Fisher (d. December 27, age 60)
Princess Leia, and a tough old survivor

Debbie Reynolds (d. December 28, age 84)
Unsinkably beautiful, talented, and glamorous at every step from fresh-faced youth to old age:  one of the last real movie stars

Here is an affectionate tribute by Carrie to her mother that aired on Turner Classic Movies, circa 2012:

Friday, December 30, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, December 29, 2016

In Memoriam: Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher

This summer and fall, M.P. and I have enjoyed watching a number of old Debbie Reynolds movies, remembered from our childhood or newly discovered by us - and now we are saddened to learn of her death. The world's light has been dimmed by the loss of these two stars, mother and daughter, just a day apart.  May they rest in peace.

In this undated interview from ABC, Carrie talks about her admiration for her mother:

Last year, Debbie was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but was unable to accept the award in person due to ill health:

Here's a poignant glimpse of Debbie as a glamorous young star and mother in a 1961 episode of This Is Your Life, with her children Carrie and Todd brought on at the end:

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Queen's Christmas Broadcast, 2016

Her Majesty the Queen, who turned 90 this year and has been on the throne for 64 years, broadcast her annual Christmas message to the nation and the Commonwealth yesterday, continuing a tradition begun by her grandfather, King George V, in 1932.

Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sunday Drive: O Come, All Ye Faithful

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

The Epistle for the day, I John 4:7-16 (NIV):
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

As performed by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge:

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

This week, my housemate M.P., who is more in tune with the younger set, has introduced me to this remarkable a cappella group, who apparently have made a record or two and are trying to break into the music business; love their sound, but this old fuddy-duddy can't stand to look at them.

(Kids these days, with their outlandish hair and weird clothes, sheesh! What is the world coming to?)

See what you think, fellas - and meanwhile, from our house to yours, have a very merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas from the President and First Lady, 2016

In typical upbeat style, the Obamas send the nation their Christmas greetings from the White House for the last time with a message of hope, compassion, and service:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend


A Capra-esque short film that tells a poignant tale in less than three minutes. Description from Kodak Motion Picture Film's YouTube channel:
Director Terry Rayment's 35mm film "Understanding" poignantly depicts the transformational power of love and happiness. Cinematographer Kate Arizmendi captured all of the emotions beautifully on KODAK VISION3 500T 5219.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: A Christmas Carol

Steve Hayes reviews the 1951 holiday classic:

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

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Incandescence of Memory: A Review of Did You Ever See A Horse Go By?

For several months now, your Head Trucker has been reading and re-reading a wonderful book, and struggling to find the words to describe it. The reasons for the struggle are various: for one thing, since late summer life here has been full of sundry and boring domestic, financial, digital, and physical crises that have kept me alternately upset or immobilized.  And then there was the election, for chrissake.  Sometimes life is just one damn thing after another, you know what I mean, fellas?

For another thing, despite the book's lovely, impeccable writing, it so often moves me to tears or makes my heart double-clutch with recognition that I have been able to read only a few pages at a time before having to close it up and set it down again. It's that good: them old Greek boys you may have heard something about in lit class between daydreams and snoozes held that art should be the mirror of life; and this book is a mirror indeed, polished to a high sheen and often casting a glaring, dangerous light into shaded nooks and crannies of the author's soul, and even into my own, it seems.

The book is Did You Ever See a Horse Go By? by my longtime truckbuddy Frank De Francesco, and though it is his first and only book to date, it is well worth the cover price: a little gem of a memoir that I recommend wholeheartedly to all my other truckbuddies and readers. Frank says, "While I'm not sure the world really needs another coming-out story, I feel deeply the need to tell it."

I think the world does need this particular story.  In her well-known essay "On Keeping a Notebook," author Joan Didion wrote that the reason for recording her memories was to "Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point."  Because, she said, "We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."  And of course we know what happens to those who forget the past.

Frank's book recounts in exquisite detail the fears and feelings and fantasies, the loves and lovers, the guilt and shame, the confessions and repressions, the one night stands and the long-term commitments, the lost and the found, the hopes and the terrors of coming out at age 36, after many years of sheltering in a devoutly Catholic closet in New England. How odd, then, that his memories, feelings, regrets, and joys should so well parallel all that I went through in my fundamentalist Protestant closet down in the Deep South. And yet not so odd after all -- what Frank is really writing about here is not merely his coming out, his life, his memories, but the human experience of being gay and alone and afraid of so many things: censure, rejection, failure, despair, the acid drip of loneliness. All men and women since the world began have endured, or at least feared, these things, for such is the nature of sublunary life:  it is not good for the man to be alone.  But certain exquisite pains and torments are reserved for the gays, or were.

 And he writes about it all very clearly and concretely, with smooth, careful cadences that lead the reader through some fearsomely honest revelations, which normally one might confide only in one's closest friends.  But that's what this book is like:  a comfortable conversation with an old and trusted friend, patiently explaining the real reasons why he did whatever it was he did, trusting that you in turn will listen and understand, not laugh or turn away.

Frank is a very brave writer; I could never be so brave. It's not that I have forgotten anything, but that it's all still too close, too vivid in my memory. After all these years, the scars of battle on my soul and on my heart are still too tender to bear much touching. I admire Frank for the courage and the toughness of his writing, which I am sure was not easy. But somehow he was able to bare his soul to the reader, as all great writers must do sooner or later.

We who were born in the first decade or two after the last world war have been privileged to witness a remarkable period in human history, when homosexuality went from being "the love that dare not speak its name" to being publicly affirmed, even celebrated, by the President, the United Nations, and just about every major city and (who would have thought?) major-league sports team across the country, while same-sex marriage went from being a laughable fantasy to being enshrined in constitutional law by the Supreme Court:  truly a breathtaking phenomenon when you stop to think about it, and all within the span of one ordinary lifetime. Sometimes I can hardly believe it myself.

Frank says of his motivation for writing the book:
For me, the value in telling my story here, beyond the healing, is to preserve a tiny slice of collective history--to document what it was to be gay and to come out in a particular time and place. I want to remember all the others who were there along with me, creating our lives together and defining our sexuality as we went along. My hope is that others find some value in that as well.
I'm quite sure that everyone who reads the book will find that value. It's a fine book, beautifully written and deeply moving, which I hope will find its way into the hands of many readers.

P.S. I forgot to mention all the candid sex scenes, guys. Those are good too, yessir:  real Adults Only stuff.  No, I'm not putting you on; go buy the book and see for yourself.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday Drive: O Magnum Mysterium

El GRECO(Domenikos Theotokopoulos) - Annunciation - Google Art Project

The Annuncation, El Greco, circa 1590-1603

As performed by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge:

Friday, December 9, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Grab It and Go

Or, as I can just hear somebody saying, how do I explain to my six-year-old that it's not stealing?  This radical new approach to retailing is more than your Head Trucker can get his head around.  And what if, like me, you have no super-duper-nuclear-waveband-hypertechtronic-cell-phone-thingy?  And what about all the cashiers who will be thrown out of work? And what if, if, if -- ?? 

I'm not ready for this, are you?

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Crumpet Controversy

Tempting, yes - but is this a real crumpet?
Picture from King Arthur Flour Company.

Just to show that the Blue Truck remains undaunted in its mission to shed light upon the pressing issues of the day, and to follow fearlessly wherever the pursuit of Truth may lead, we now take you to the wilds of Indiana for this revealing exposé.  Viewer discretion is advised, depending on how you really feel about pikelets and barm.

More 18th century cooking videos can be found at James Townsend's YouTube channel.

Bonus video: Are your crumpets too heavy? Maybe you're overdoing the flour.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Pork Boys Do Thanksgiving 2016

Just a few pics to show you fellas how it went at our house.  First, a couple of pics of last month's Halloween decorations, all the credit for which goes to M.P., the creative partner (I just do the dishes):

Click to enlarge.

Some daylight photos of the Thanksgiving table:

The hors d'oeuvres included egg salad and pimento cheese, both homemade, as were the whole-wheat wafers; also cheddar and swiss cheeses, pepperoni slices, and sliced beef roll-ups.

The appetizer was fluffy, savory quichettes hot from the oven, with egg, ham, broccoli, and cheddar wrapped in a flaky homemade crust.

M.P. set a beautiful Thanksgiving table with a gold damask cloth and a handmade cornucopia, partly filled with found items from the yard and garden.

The turkey took a long time to cook, M.P. basting it in a slow oven for about ten hours, but when it was finally done, it was worth the wait:

A couple of side dishes are pictured below:  maque choux (a Cajun corn mixture) and the classic green bean casserole, which I made from the original Campbell's Soup recipe - it's getting to be one of my specialties. Since we didn't have a can of French fried onion rings, M.P. sliced an onion very thinly and fried the rings himself.  He also julienned by hand a whole can of regular green beans, which he says was not so daunting as you might think.

I also made a sweet potato souffle topped with mini marshmallows (not pictured, alas), which I've been doing for the last forty years or so, a very simple thing but always a crowd pleaser. M.P. made his marvelous featherbed rolls, so called because they are so soft and light - wonderful with a big pat of butter:

We also had a few other things I should have gotten pictures of - the homemade sausage M.P. used in the dressing, flavored with fresh herbs from the garden, also his lovely homemade pecan pie, and my store-bought pumpkin pie, but at this point hunger overcame photography, so I will close with a picture of my full plate, moments before it mysteriously vanished:

From 12 to 2 o'clock:  sweet potato souffle; 3 to 6 o'clock: turkey and dressing; 7 to 10 o'clock:  maque choux; squeezed in from 10 to 12:  green bean casserole.  Not pictured:  real mashed potatoes, which I had no room for, and the giblet gravy and cranberry sauce, which were waiting just offstage to be added.

And of course we will have plenty of good leftovers to feast and refeast upon for a good long while, as is only to be expected. So despite a rather tight budget this year, we ate very well and were most grateful for all our blessings, culinary and otherwise.

How did it go with you fellas?

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