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, March 29, 2019

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Brexit: A Comedy of Errors


Longtime readers of this blog will know that your Head Trucker is a thoroughgoing Anglophile who takes a continuing friendly interest in the scepter'd isle and its people, our not-so-distant cousins linked to us in all manner of ways, including law, language, literature, and custom, with amusing variations on both sides.  Not to mention all those fascinating BBC historical dramas we have loved so much over the years.

In just the last few weeks, I have become - most unexpectedly - engrossed in their newest historical drama, broadcast in real time, and it's a doozy.  I tell you what.  Not even ol' Will the Bard himself could touch this for intrigue, passion, plot twists, comic foils, drama queens, and bitter tragedy.  I won't spoil the plot for you - I can't, really, because there isn't one - but CBS Sunday Morning offers this helpful summary up through last weekend:



However, be advised that this summary is already clean out of date, events having moved so quickly over there in just the last four days. To give just one example: the well-starched Jacob Rees-Mogg, portrayed as one of the sternest champions of Brexit, has now done a complete 180 and is voting in Parliament for what he swore he never would, and encouraging others to do the same, whilst his boss, the embattled Theresa May, has promised (sort of) to step down as Prime Minister if only Parliament will pass her deal. Fascinating. This beats "Who Shot J.R.?" all to slap.  I tell you what.

The dizzying cast of characters and shifts of allegiances back and forth, and side to side, are guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Of course, it's hard to tell the players without a scorecard, but I can offer you this clue: it does seem to your Head Trucker that the Leave people are very like our current Republicans (Make America Britain Great Again); whilst the Remainers are rather like our current Democrats, and about as well organized, but great at coming up with clever posters and fun protest marches. Enuff said.

Although billed as a comedy, I do very much fear that it will all end in tears, and eventually, the collapse of Western civilization on both sides of the Atlantic, not just ours.  (Some people in Britain are stockpiling their closets with food and other essentials in case it all goes awry.)  But what do I know?

Perhaps you should just tune in and decide for yourself.  If you poke around in the Politics sections of the Guardian and the BBC, you will often find live broadcasts or blogs of the goings-on in Parliament, while Sky News usually has updates on the half-hour.  I offer these particular links simply because they are free and require no subscription to access; there are of course many other news sources in Britain that you can google up on your own.  The three I just mentioned are generally pro-Remain, neutral, and pro-Leave, respectively.

And for those few, those very few, of my fellow Americans who would like to hear a reasoned, impartial analysis of the Brexit mess, I recommend this lecture given two weeks ago by historian Vernon Bogdanor, one of Britain's foremost constitutional scholars, for your edification:





Sunday, March 24, 2019

Sunday Drive: El Baile


For the first time this year, it's 80 degrees outside as I write, hooray!  Therefore, your Head Trucker is happy to report that winter is over and spring has sprung, and isn't that wonderful news?  As it always is, year after year--the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees turn our minds from the sordid and vulgar to the lambent and sublime.  As Emily Dickinson wrote:
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,—
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.
And this:
A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown,
Who ponders this tremendous scene—
This whole experiment of green,
As if it were his own!
And finally, this:
Spring is the Period
Express from God.
Among the other seasons
Himself abide,

But during March and April
None stir abroad
Without a cordial interview
With God.
And so, let us tend our gardens and take delight in the perpetual miracle of renewal and grace that is the divine gift of this glorious season.  Rejoice--lift up your hearts--drink deep of inward refreshment while you may--and dance with the bees who toil so happily upon the pretty flowers, though they last but a day.

For as someone else has said, There are just so many summers, babe, and just so many springs.

To put you in a terpsichorean mood, here is Juan Carlos Quintero with "El Baile"--The Dance:




Friday, March 22, 2019

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Pork Boys Do St. Pat's Day, 2019


M.P. got his Irish on for our St. Patrick's Day dinner, as the photos show.

M.P. worked for hours trying to get this shamrock fold to come out right, using an iron to set the edges just so.

The simple table scarf is several green bandanas ironed flat and folded together, bordered by green Mardi Gras beads.

At left, Irish soda bread; at right, pasties filled with meat and potato

A rarebit sauce to go on the soda bread

A luscious dark brown gravy to go over the pasties
Some tasty Guinness Draught Stout to accompany the appetizers
Our succulent corned beef, hot from the oven, glazed with mustard and brown sugar

M.P.'s renowned Truckstop Cabbage with red onions and carrots

Delicious potato pancakes topped with green onion bits and served with sour cream

M.P. takes particular pride in his scones, which are very tender inside, a real treat served piping hot with butter.

More stout to wash down the corned beef, potato pancakes, truckstop cabbage, and scones

Dinner left us so full we could hardly eat our delicious dessert, chocolate cake made with Guinness, topped with a frothy chocolate topping and shaved chocolate bits.  But we made a gallant effort.

I may update some descriptions with more details when I have a chance to double-check with the cook.  It was a scrumptious meal, though, and very filling.  We both conked out early afterwards and slept like babies.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The State of the South


It may come as a surprise to some folks that there's more to the South than pickup trucks, country music, and good old boys. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, located in Montgomery, produced this thought-provoking video last fall as part of its Southern Writers Festival of New Plays.



Your Head Trucker attended some plays at the ASF when it was brand new, back in the 1980s, and can highly recommend its beautiful lakeside campus and innovative staging. I'm sorry to have to report, though, that the cheap seats were rather uncomfortable for a long-legged man: my knees were jammed against the back of the seat ahead of me all through each performance. (This seems to be a universal problem in modern theaters.)  Still, it was an enjoyable experience overall.

In case any of y'all will be touring through Alabama this year, the Festival's 47th season will include productions of Hamlet, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Saint Joan, Our Town, The Sound of Music, and Steel Magnolias, along with newer works by contemporary playwrights.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Drive: The King of Love My Shepherd Is

For the victims of terror and violence in New Zealand and everywhere: based on the Twenty-third Psalm.



The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

So They Loaded up the Truck and Moved to . . .


Far, far away in a never-never land of swimming pools and movie stars sits a fabled mansion long celebrated in song and story, which every American over fifty, say, will instantly recognize - and indeed, feel intimately acquainted with, despite never having set foot in it.  The name of the house - most incongruously to our British friends, I'm sure - is Chartwell, and it rises atop a bluff in Bel Air, commanding a breathtaking view from the mountains to the city to the sea.

And now this home of dreams, so well remembered, so fondly admired, can be yours - for only $245 million.  With 11 bedrooms, 18 bathrooms, and a 5-bedroom guest house, the property can easily accommodate you, your whole dadburn family, a passel of country cousins, and all the critters you can stand.  And rest assured that no element of comfort or convenience has been overlooked:  it comes complete with a 40-car garage, a 12,000-bottle wine cellar, a cement pond in the back yard, and a terrace big enough for hanging out your laundry and cooking up all the rhumatiz' medicine you require.

Unfortunately, there are no photographs of the interior in this presentation video, so you just might have to bring your own pot passers for the fancy eatin' room.




But the presentation is just not complete without the theme song, which starts at the :30 mark below:




If any of you peckerwoods do buy this place, you be sure and drop ol' Russ a postcard, and tell me all about it.


Friday, March 8, 2019

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Pork Boys Do Mardi Gras, 2019


We had a small but grand Mardi Gras dinner on Sunday, which M.P. did nearly all the cooking of, as well as making the festive table decorations.

Le Menu

Breaded Chicken Pops
Fried Oysters
Tartar sauce and cocktail sauce

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Southern-style Potato Salad

Duck a l'Orange Sanguine
Savory Rice Stuffing
Brown Duck Gravy

Diced and glazed Butternut Squash

Schoolhouse Rolls and butter

King Cake

White Zinfandel ~~ Beer ~~ Cola ~~ Coffee

Assorted chocolates
Cigarettes

Now this may not look like much to the uninitiated; but the gourmets among you will recognize at once a feast fit for a couple of kings.

The appetizers began with what we call chicken pops, a scrumptious and amusing treat that M.P. learned how to make from this Jacques Pepin video (it's right at the beginning); these he breaded and baked in the oven for tenderness, but they could be deep fried.   They look sort of like this:


Along with that, we had my favorite seafood, a dozen fabulous fried oysters, which M.P. had slipped out of the house the day before to get from the local Cajun restaurant, where they do them to perfection.  He said it was quite difficult to hold off eating them for 24 hours, and it surely must have been because there is nothing better in all the world than a perfectly fried oyster.  Those who love oysters need no further description; those who don't, well, I'm just sorry as I can be for you, fellas.


As far as I was concerned, we could have stopped right there - but, saving a few oysters for a midnight snack, we proceeded directly on to the gumbo, served Cajun-style with a big spoonful of potato salad dropped in.  You talk about good, boys!  Oh me, oh my - it was larruppin' good!  I tell you what.  Especially with a few choice bits of duck thrown in for lagniappe.  Heavenly!  I told M.P. he has ruined me for rice now.


And then on to the piece de resistance - M.P. labored two days running on his succulent roast duck, and it was a grand dish indeed, glazed with a sauce made from the juice of blood oranges and their zest, stuffed with seasoned rice, and accompanied by a delicious gravy made from the duck drippings and the blood-orange sauce.  He roasted the duck low and slow to make it perfectly tender and moist, and when I put the first forkful on my tongue - oh my, words fail me to describe the delectable flavor of it all.

M.P. has been struggling for several years now to learn how to take pictures with the new-fangled teleophone that his kids insisted he have, and he has nearly succeeded.  Here is his snap of the finished duck, steaming hot from the oven:


Every part of the duck was melt-in-your-mouth tender, including the scrumptious skin.  And with it we had the orange-flavored rice stuffing, upon which we ladled the brown and fragrant duck gravy.  It was one of those supreme culinary moments, divinely delicious and palate-pleasing, that I wish I could share with everyone.  But until someone invents a tele-food-o-phone, you'll just have to take my word for it, fellas. Superb!

I must not omit to tell you about the schoolhouse rolls that M.P. has taught himself to make over the last few years - they are just exactly like those big, square, butter-brushed, soft-and-tasty yeast rolls you remember from the school cafeteria in years gone by - a treat with any meal.  And so good for sopping up gravy!  Like these:


M.P. certainly knocked himself out on the menu, but hardly less on the table decor, complete with a newly-sewn table scarf in Mardi Gras colors, and purple candles to boot!


Notice the beautiful fleur-de-lys napkin fold that is M.P.'s trademark.

For dessert, we of course had King Cake, which M.P. made by hand from his homemade croissant dough, rolled up with a cinnamon-sugar filling and topped with purple, green, and gold icing, which looked something like this:


Neither of us got the Baby Jesus, but we were too full and groaning with delight to worry about it.

Our feast was not as big this year as in years past, but it was no less satisfying.  And to think those lucky souls down in Loozyana eat like this all the time!  It's almost enough to make a fella want to convert, I tell you what.  All us Epistopals ever get is a stack of soggy pancakes in the back of the parish hall on Shrove Tuesday.  But the Cath'licks - now they know how to party!  In fact, M.P. tells me the whole season from Epiphany to Lent is just one party after another - surely a blessed way to keep the winter blues at bay.

We will have luscious leftovers for days, I mean days.  Wish I could hand you all a plate.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Friday, March 1, 2019

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