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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Groovin' with the Greeks

Ancient Greek rocker auditioning for Athenian Idol

Have you ever wondered what ancient Greek music sounded like?  I did - but we were told in Music Appreciation 101, which I took at only a slightly later point in history, that it was impossible to know because (1) they had no tape recorders back then, and (2) they couldn't be arsed to write down the scores.  So I gave up wondering and focused my mind on more pressing mysteries, like modern poetry and passing that damn algebra class.

But it is a true saying that in the unending cycles of Time, all things old are new again, eventually.  Point 1 above remains true, so far as present knowledge goes, but Point 2 apparently was misinformation.

For lo and behold, now comes an Oxford professor who believes - nay, asserts unequivocally - that here at the end of all the ages, he has unlocked the musical sounds of antiquity for us to enjoy.  And perhaps he has.  Here is a truly fascinating video he made recently that will give you an earful of ancient Greek chart-toppers:

I am no musician, so in my ignorance, I dare not presume to comment on the technical aspects of this rediscovered music. But no doubt it will soon be heard on American Top 40, and why not? Sounds no worse than the other stuff the younger generation dotes on these days. I can't wait till Ancient Greece: The Musical arrives on Broadway. With roller skates and laser lights, no doubt.

Rockin' out!

Apparently some kind of bagpipe player with a rather peculiar tether string

Won't you take me to Funky Town?

Party dude came home singing from the drinking contest, helped by his handy servant boy who holds up an empty wine jug for Papi to pee in.
I'm not making this up.

Old goat making his move on a handsome flute player -
"Here, let me teach you how to blow it."

Friday, April 26, 2019

Waitin' for the Weekend

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Pork Boys Do Easter, 2019

We had a grand Easter dinner on Sunday--wish you boys could have been there, because M.P. cooked up a feast to remember.
Le Menu

Deviled eggs

French onion soup

Roast leg of lamb
Mint jelly
Brown gravy

Garlic mashed potato soufflé
Pea salad à la Texas
Cabbage rolls

Bunny buns and butter

Lemon mousse

White Zinfandel
(Winking Owl, California, 2019)


A more perfect, more delicious meal could not be had anywhere in Texas, I gar-on-tee. Or anywhere else, with the possible exception of certain parts of Louisiana. Here are a few pics to show you what I mean.

Deviled eggs - a favorite treat of the Pork Boys at any time

A simple soupe a l'oignon, made from scratch 

A big, beautiful, richly flavored leg of lamb, marinated in wine and herbs for two days, then roasted slowly for hours, stuffed with croutons, garlic, onions, celery, and half a dozen fresh herbs out of the garden.  Superbe! 

The roast carved and ready to serve with mint jelly, of course.  You never tasted anything so tender and succulent, fellas.  The camera unfortunately doesn't show the fine mist of fragrant, savory steam rising from the hot roast just pulled from the oven.  M.P. really outdid himself on this.  Magnifique!

M.P.'s latest improvement on garlic mashed potatoes:  a souffle made with egg whites and whipped cream.  Can you say light and fluffy?  Oh my!

Pea salad, a Texas favorite made with sweet peas, minced onion, crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise.  Boy howdy, it's good.

Cabbage rolls stuffed with minced ham and sweet potatoes, covered with melted cheddar.  Yum!

Bunny buns - M.P.'s whimsical presentation of homemade dinner rolls, hot, soft, and delicious with butter

Finally, the incredibly delicious dessert:  Lemon mousse - a new invention of M.P.'s, made with egg yolks, cream, and lemon juice, topped with a mound of whipped cream and a slice of lemon - so light, so sweet, so tangy, so--incroyable!

And something extra:

Mick made Easter-egg cookies for his grandchildren again this year, a labor of love which involves mixing up half a dozen bowls of cookie dough in different colors.  But they're oh so good, rather like shortbread.  We didn't eat these after that divine lemon mousse - which would have been a sin - but we have this plate to snack on during the coming week.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter 2019: Jesus Christ Is Risen Today

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, ca. 1601

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, sings the beloved Easter hymn:

Text from The Hymnal, 1982:

1. Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

2. Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

3. But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s king, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

4. Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
praise eternal as his love, Alleluia!
praise him, all ye heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday 2019: There Is a Green Hill Far Away

The Descent from the Cross, Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1616

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, sings the 1848 hymn by Cecil Frances Alexander:

Text from The Hymnal, 1982:

1. There is a green hill far away,
outside a city wall,
where our dear Lord was crucified
who died to save us all.

2. We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear,
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.

3. He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

4. There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin,
he only could unlock the gate
of heaven and let us in.

5. O dearly, dearly has he loved!
and we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The History of France's Notre Dame Cathedral

Why are they called gargoyles?  In 2011, CBS Sunday Morning reported on the construction and history of the great cathedral of Paris:

Monday, April 15, 2019

Notre-Dame Burns

Photo via Wikipedia.

Your Head Trucker grieves with all the world for France in the loss of Notre-Dame to the flames.

I visited Notre-Dame once, more than forty years ago now, and remember the beautiful, serene blue light that filled the interior, coming from the immense stained-glass windows that circled the high walls. No doubt all of those windows have been destroyed now.  Quel grande dommage.

Photo via Wikipedia.

Update, 4/16, 10:30 p.m.:

The BBC summarizes the fire damage, the public response, and the beginnings of recovery:

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Drive: All Glory, Laud, and Honor

The entry into Jerusalem.

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, sings:

Text from The Hymnal 1982:

All glory, laud, and honor
to thee, Redeemer, King!
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

1. Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David's royal Son,
who in the Lord's Name comest,
the King and Blessed One. (Refrain)

2. The company of angels
are praising thee on high;
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply. (Refrain)

3. The people of the Hebrews
with palms before thee went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before thee we present. (Refrain)

4. To thee before thy passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted,
our melody we raise. (Refrain)

5. Thou didst accept their praises;
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
thou good and gracious King. (Refrain)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Waitin' for the Weekend

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Frank Bruni: Mayor Pete Is Plenty Gay

Why is this man not gay enough to be President?

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, shared in frank terms his very moving coming-out story in a speech at the LGBTQ Victory Fund in Washington, D.C., last Sunday, a story that your Head Trucker can relate to:

Your Head Trucker has not quite given up hope that the American ship of state will right itself instead of capsizing under the howling, shifting gales of fanaticism coming from both right and left; but he is very nearly there.  The oh-so-pure, oh-so-righteous snowflake generation of young Democrats now coming to power in the party (the mirror image of their Trumpista equivalents in Bizarro world) makes me feel rather seasick, to tell you the truth.

It is, however, heartening to see an openly gay politician throwing his hat into the presidential ring for the first time ever in our history.  But is he gay enough?  And if not, just who is?  Is it RuPaul or nothing?  What bar must we clear now to be really and truly gay?

And will the new Kweer Kommissariat take away my pink card?

Frank Bruni has something to say about these matters in his New York Times column this week.  Excerpt:
It’s nonnegotiable that Democrats hold their presidential aspirants to high standards on issues of racial justice, gender equality and more. It’s crucial that the party nominate someone who can credibly represent its proudly diverse ranks. But it’s also important that the party not demand a degree of purity that nobody attains.

I’m not recommending the Republicans’ course in accepting and protecting Donald Trump, which was to bury principles so deep that they may never be exhumed. I’m saying that to turn the Democratic primary into a nonstop apology tour when the nominee will be going up against a president never expected to apologize for anything is a risky strategy. It obsesses over the flaws in candidates who have many strengths, defining them in terms of what they seek forgiveness for. It blurs the line between job interview and inquisition. Taken too far, it rips contenders to shreds before Trump even takes out his scissors.

As for the mini-debate about Buttigieg’s gayness, it arose principally from this column in Slate, which included the following paragraph:

“A marginalized sexual orientation can remain unspoken and unnoticed for as long as a queer person desires. A gay man who conforms to a critical mass of gendered expectations can move through life without his sexuality attending every interaction, even after he comes out. Buttigieg, for instance, would register on only the most finely tuned gaydar. Most people who are aware of his candidacy probably know he’s gay, but his every appearance doesn’t activate the ‘Hey, that’s that homosexual gentleman’ response in the average brain. That doesn’t mean he’s not gay enough — there’s really no such measure. It just means that he might not be up against quite the same hurdles that a gay candidate without such sturdy ties to straight culture would be.”

The author is asserting that Buttigieg, 37, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., doesn’t come across as particularly gay, meaning  . . . what? That he lacks stereotypical mannerisms? That his voice isn’t high-pitched? I’m kind of floored, because I and other gay people around my age (54) or older spent most of our lives educating people about the bigotry and inaccuracy of those very stereotypes and trumpeting the message — the truth! — that gay people can be every bit as buttoned-down and strait-laced as, well, Pete Buttigieg! Now his divergence from those stereotypes is deemed remarkable and in need of dissection? Strange days indeed.

Also, I guarantee you that Buttigieg’s adherence to “a critical mass of gendered expectations” and failure to “activate” the homosexual-alert siren don’t mean that being gay has been incidental to his life and is incidental to his perspective. That he didn’t come out until he was 33 is all the proof you need that he wrestled privately with his sexual orientation and with fears about how the world would respond to it and to him.
I like what little I have seen of Pete Buttigieg so far - his Oxford degree and Navy service are big plusses in my book.  But I think he needs some experience in national politics before trying out for President; he's a big fish in a little pond right now, but that's just a starting point for any candidate.

And I will say this about good old Joe Biden - a great guy with a big heart and a fine political record, but simply too old.  If by some twist of fate he did win the 2020 election, he would be 78 on election day, which would be worrisome for several very good reasons that should be obvious to anyone.

I thought it very curious during the election campaign of 2016 that both of the major contenders - and a couple of minor ones - were right at 70 years old.  Why was that?

Why is there no Democratic figure of statesmanlike character between the ages of 40 and 70?  I ask you.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sunday Drive: The Surrey with the Fringe on the Top

A springtime treat:  studly Gordon MacRae (Curly) serenades winsome beauty Shirley Jones (Laurey) in the 1955 film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!:

Friday, April 5, 2019

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Easy Eats: Cheesy Potato Casserole

What to cook on a lazy weekend?  Here's a quick and easy casserole from Pillsbury that would go nicely with a grilled steak, pork chop, chicken leg, or just about any entree:

Last weekend, I made a similar Pillsbury recipe, Creamy Ham and Potato Casserole, which was a yummy one-dish meal that helped supply M.P.'s lunchbox for the rest of the week. But the recipe could easily be halved if you don't want a lot left over.

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