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

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

Friday, August 31, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

In Memoriam: Senator John McCain, 1936-2018

Embed from Getty Images

The Honorable Senator John McCain died Saturday at his home in Arizona, a few days short of his eighty-second birthday.  The details of his life and career as a naval aviator, prisoner of war, maverick politician, presidential candidate, and statesman are too well known to need rehearsing here.  But he left a farewell letter to the American people which cements his renown as a patriot of the first order in the classic mold:
My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else's.

I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America's causes - liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people - brings happiness more sublime than life's fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

"Fellow Americans" - that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world's greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.

We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.

We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.

Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening.

I feel it powerfully still.

Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.

Powerful words of wisdom and faith, and very timely too.  I hope all my truckbuddies, regardless of political persuasion, will take them to heart.  We may have disagreed with his politics, but his patriotism is beyond dispute.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Beach Mix, 8/26/18

Let's have a beach party!

Sunday Drive is on summer hiatus while I offer some favorites from the mid-sixties for fun in the sun and tans on the sands.

What memories do these songs bring back for you?

Barbara AnnBeach Boys, Jack Benny Hour, 1965

Ain't That Peculiar Marvin Gaye, 1965

When You Walk in the RoomJackie DeShannon, 1964

The Teaberry Shuffle, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, 1966

Cara Mia, Jay and the Americans, 1965

Friday, August 24, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

New viewing procedure:  left-click on any image to open in the lightbox; right-click to open full-size in a new tab.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Alice Barker Sees Herself

A sweet little video about Alice Barker, a 102-year-old dancer who sees film of her younger self for the first time.

Alice passed away about a year after this video was made.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Beach Mix, 8/19/18

Let's have a beach party!

Sunday Drive is on summer hiatus while I offer some favorites from the mid-sixties for fun in the sun and tans on the sands.

What memories do these songs bring back for you?

Help Me, RhondaBeach Boys, Andy Williams Show, 1965

It's the Same Old SongFour Tops, 1965

Have I the Right? Honeycombs, 1964

Green Grass, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, 1966

She Loves You, BeatlesA Hard Day's Night 1964

Friday, August 17, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Guest appearance by Harrison Ford (not available for shipment)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

RIP: Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018

Your Head Trucker played the wires off this 1968 album.

America mourns the loss of a national treasure: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, died earlier today at her home in Detroit, aged 76.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Aladdin Readi-Cut Homes, 1958

The good life of the 1950s, which those happy kids would later mock and deride, and abandon for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll - and all that has followed.  
But was it really so bad?

Your Head Trucker can hardly think of a better way to while away a rainy day - such as we are blessed to have here in Texas today - than by poring over old house plans.  I suspect that many of my truckbuddies also get off on floor plan porn, so I here present for your delectation a sampling from Aladdin Readi-Cut Homes, published in 1958. But first, a little background information.

Readi-cut houses, also known as mail-order houses or kit homes, began to be marketed shortly after the turn of the 20th century, and were popular until the advent of World War II.  Sears and Montgomery Ward were but two of many companies who offered such houses, which are not to be confused with prefabricated houses, in which many components - including whole walls, interior and exterior - are assembled in a factory and shipped to the builder, who merely has to stand them up and attach one to another.

Readi-cut houses, on the other hand, are built stick by stick and piece by piece just like any other platform-framed house, but every stud, joist, plank, and rafter is pre-cut by a giant series of buzzsaws at the factory to its precise dimensions, labeled, and numbered.  This eliminates the need for a homebuilder, or his carpenter, to buy large pieces of wood from a local lumber mill and spend the many hours needed to cut them all down into the individual pieces.  Furthermore, where pieces join, they are pre-notched so as to fit together snugly and precisely, thereby assuring strong and sturdy construction, without waste of time or materials.

The Aladdin Company, headquartered in Bay City, Michigan, was one of the most successful readi-cut home vendors.  In the roaring 1920s, at the height of the Florida land boom, the company leaders actually planned to build a whole city of their houses near Miami; unfortunately, the collapse of the boom, followed shorty after by the Great Depression, scuttled those plans.  The Depression dampened all kinds of house building nationwide, and the readi-cut companies who managed to carry on were most of them scuppered by the diversion of materials to the war effort in 1941-45.

Aladdin soldiered on, however, despite the postwar boom in tract houses built by the hundreds or thousands in new suburbs across the country, with the encouragement of new FHA and VA loans available to millions who could never have afforded new homes before.  For a nominal down payment and a low-interest mortgage, home buyers could get the keys to a cute, convenient, complete ranch-style house without ever having to swing a hammer:  an easy choice for all but the most dedicated do-it-yourselfers, I suspect.  But Aladdin and a few other companies kept turning out readi-cut plans for a dwindling market until finally calling it quits in the 1970s.

Well, now that Prof. Manley has done his educational duty with this history lesson, on to a selection of the 1958 plans; the full catalog is available to view or download at the marvelous Internet Archive, a true Aladdin's Cave of all sorts of quaint and curious lore on every subject imaginable.  Click any image to view in the lightbox; or right-click to open super-large in a new window.

Continued after the jump . . .

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Beach Mix, 081218

Let's have a beach party!

Sunday Drive is on summer hiatus while I offer some favorites from the mid-sixties for fun in the sun and tans on the sands.

What memories do these songs bring back for you?

Dance, Dance, DanceBeach Boys, 1964

Get ReadyTemptations, 1966

No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In), T-Bones, 1966 (based on an amusing Alka-Seltzer commercial)

It's Not Unusual, Tom Jones, 1965

Be My Baby, RonettesShindig! 1965 (recorded 1963)

"No less an authority than Brian Wilson has declared 'Be My Baby' the greatest pop record ever made."--Wikipedia

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Southern Standard English

For the benefit of my overseas truckbuddies:  the South is more a state of mind than mere geography, and as such its boundaries are hotly debated in some quarters; but this map tells you all you really need to know.

What do you mean, slang?  It's all just pure-T English to me.

N. B. -- I'm sorry to have to inform you all, but despite its name and its long history as a repository of Southern culture, Southern Living is nowadays - like every other venerable institution, it seems - run by up-to-date but woefully uninformed children, quite a few of whom aren't even Southerners at all!  Hence, the magazine is no longer an infallible guide to things Southern, if it ever was.

Most terms are correctly defined and used here; some are a little off; and many were never peculiar to the South, but were (and are) widespread Americanisms. And a couple or three descend in unbroken line from the English of colonial times: e.g., reckon, meaning suppose or estimate, is still very much in daily use at all levels of British society. Isn't that right, Tim?   I stand corrected. 

I confess, I love to throw out reckon when I'm around hoity-toity oh-so-modern types, full of all the latest slang, just to fuck with their heads make them show their petty snobbery and ignorance.  And then I chuckle inside.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Nightmare World: Facebook Wants Your Bank Account

I'll be honest with you, fellas:  Much as I try to keep a stiff upper lip about the decay of civilization, there are days when any attempt at optimism seems hopeless, and the vision of a nightmare world that surpasses anything Orwell ever dreamed of seems not merely imminent, but already present.

Facebook is not your friend, despite the happy college-kid face it presents to the world.  They now want to "partner" with banks to "improve customer service" and "benefit the consumer."  If you believe that, you are a fool.  It's a business, a huge, sprawling, corporation without a human soul.  A corporation is a machine to make money with - like any tool, it can be used for good or ill purposes.  But what all corporations want is to increase their stock prices and dividends, and too many corporate leaders tend not to care if any and all consumers get screwed in the process - hey, too bad, it's progress, wheeeee!

"Privacy" notice I got a few days ago from Google.  Even what your or I watch on YouTube or what places we look up on Google Maps are all tracked under the unceasing, unblinking eye of Big Brother, and filed in his unforgetting, ineradicable memory.  
If Google can follow your every stray thought, who else can too?  And is?

I could go on and on and on about the madness that has engulfed us all in the last 25 years since the advent of the Internet - and even though some antisocial types, like me, have never joined Facebook, there are who knows how many other companies, like Google, and countless little ones nobody ever heard of, all busily digging into everyone's privacy every minute of every hour of every day.  There is in fact no privacy left in the world for anyone, except maybe for some of those lost tribes in the Amazon jungle, and even their remote little world is being steadily invaded.

And it's not merely things that you think of as data-sharing sites.  There's also the ghastly Internet of Things, which to put it another way, means that your car, your refrigerator, your dishwasher, your microwave, and just about any other electronic gadget can in fact be made to spy on you and report everything you do, every word you say, and how you spend every second of your life, waking or sleeping.

From "sponsored content" about harvesting your privacy from the Internet of Things at Politico, 7/16/18.  Click to enlarge.

And every utility - electricity, gas, water - is produced, distributed, and metered by mini-minds that can also be misdirected or shut down.

And furthermore, every last one of those devices, in your home, or at the power plant, can be unlocked and controlled, probably, by some teenage hacker down the street or some spymaster on the other side of the world, with a few taps on a keyboard.

Just last year, somebody in Dallas broadcast a radio signal that activated all 156 of the city's tornado alarms, an amazing feat of digital malevolence.  Lily Hay Newman reported for Wired:
The Dallas incident fits with the broader uptick in infrastructure hacks around the country. From electric road signs to emergency text alert systems to suburban dams, hackers have targeted vulnerable structures with increasing boldness. And while the Dallas sirens did have some alarming secondary effects—over 4,000 calls to 911 flooded the city's emergency response lines for several hours—it's nothing next to the real danger that hacks like these could cause.

"There’s a steady drumbeat of these types of attacks and they’re all pretty benign right now, but what’s next? Is it water? Is it sewage?" says Chris Pogue, the chief information security officer at the data analysis firm Nuix. "Let’s not waste the potential lessons learned by saying it’s an isolated incident."
I don't want to be part of this nightmare.  And I don't want to be part of this ugly, vulgar, hate-filled century, which I'm afraid will one day make the horrors of the 20th century look like a Sunday-school picnic.  But what can any of us do now?  We walked into the enticing trap of the Internet willingly, all unsuspecting, and now the doors are closing on us, it seems.  One day, sooner than you think, Siri and Alexa and other talking boxes will not be optional - they will be required in every home.  Maybe even in every brain.  And then the last hope of resistance - of truly independent human personality - will have vanished.

And it won't be fresh-faced, innocent-looking types like Mark Zuckerberg pulling your strings.  It will be the ruthless, power-hungry leaders of the left or right - when they have a good grip on you with the ruthless digital hand, it won't much matter which side they are.

You may say, "Oh, Russ, you're just being melodramatic, don't get so excited, just chill."  Well, okay, boys - if you all don't think there's any danger to worry about, you just sit back and relax.  While you can.

But when a day comes that your bank balance is zeroed out, your credit cards too, and your car won't start, and you have no electricity - unless you do as you are told - for gosh sakes, don't come whine to me about it, "Oh I never dreamed this could happen."

It can.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

You have been warned.

P. S. -- Of course, I could be wrong. So was Orwell, so was Bradbury, so was Forster, so was Wells, and so were a lot of other writers who have rung the alarm bells about present trends and coming events, if you look only only at the small details of what they prophesied.  I don't have the talent for spinning a fascinating yarn as they did, either.

Nevertheless, no one doubts that they were right to sound a warning.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Beach Mix, 8/5/18

Let's have a beach party!

Sunday Drive is on summer hiatus while I offer some favorites from the mid-sixties for fun in the sun and tans on the sands.

What memories do these songs bring back for you?

Little Deuce CoupeBeach Boys, 1963

Shotgun, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, 1966

1-2-3, Len Barry, 1966

Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow), Monkees ft. Davy Jones, 1967

Oh, Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison, American Bandstand, 1966 (recorded 1964)

Friday, August 3, 2018

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Kids These Days: Class of 2022

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Piña Colada Icebox Pie

I do believe this lovely confection would be mighty cool and refreshing after supper on one of these hot summer nights. But though she gives good directions, you can tell this poor child has been livin' up Nawth too long: nobody down heyah says PEE-can. Either that, or she's gone and married a Yankee! Poor little thing. Bless her heart.

Oh well, it don't hurt the taste of the pie none, so give it a try, fellas.  Recipe here.  And of course, you can always just pick up a ready-made graham cracker pie crust at the store, instead of making your own.

P.S.--FYI, last night M.P., who is on a low-carb kick, surprised me with two big plates of steaming quesadillas garnished with diced tomatoes, and oh my goodness, were they good, stuffed with chicken bits and all the usual fixin's. He's purty good at whippin' out Tex-Mex dishes. But lo and behold, come to find out those soft, delicious tortillas were made with - can you believe this? - nothin' but plain old cauliflower, grated, boiled, mashed, spread, and baked to a golden brown. Well sir, you coulda knocked me over with a feather. But they sure were some kinda good - I tell you what.

The appetizer was squash-and-onion soup made with cream and a parmesan garnish - luscious. Also fresh-made guacamole in scooped-out avocado shells as a complement. Just an ordinary weeknight dinner here for the Pork Boys, as we unworthy sinners are somehow blessed to enjoy.

But what we had the night before was good enough to write home about - crisply sauteed swai fish fillets, each one as big as two hands put together, oh so good! We never had it before, but M.P. found it on sale and thought it worth a try, and boy is it ever - so thick, white, flakey, and scrumptious. You oughta try some yourselves, I 'spect you'll like it a lot, boys. Be sure to stir you up some tartar sauce to go with it (= mayo + sweet relish, too simple for words).

Sides were deep-fried Brussels sprouts, mmm-mmmm! And an utterly delightful new dish: butternut squash souffle, a sweet, earthy delight with an airy, festive texture like sweet potato souffle, and a mighty fine thing indeed to complement the two savory items. Corn muffins with butter rounded things out. Now that was a dinner fit for company, yessir.

(You do know what sweet potato souffle is, don't you?)

Sorry I have no pics to show you, but just wanted to share our humble cuisine with you, none of it expensive at all, and plenty to go around - maybe it will give y'all some ideas.

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