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.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday Drive: Debussy, Reverie

Take heart.  Have faith.  Keep hope alive.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

What I'm Watching: Andalucia, the Best of Southern Spain

I have it on very good authority that sunny Andalu-SEE-ya is the place to be when you're retired and carefree.  Plenty of fun in the sun, wine that flows like water, and so many, uh, cheeky young men to wait on you hand and foot in countless beach bars that cater to the mature expat population.  See what you think.



Friday, September 18, 2020

In Memoriam: Justice Ginsburg Dead at 87

Justice Ginsburg, circa 2006

Grievous news:  a remarkable woman has died, leaving a remarkable legacy of upholding liberty and justice for all.  She lived a long, successful life, for which she received many honors and great public esteem, so may she rest in peace now among the pantheon of great Americans.

I need hardly remind my truckbuddies that hers was one of the five votes that brought marriage equality to this country in 2015.  She was always a great friend of the gay community, and will be sorely missed.

But her death at this particular time amounts to a constitutional crisis:  the Republicans in the Senate will no doubt pull out all the stops to get a hard-line rightwinger confirmed to replace her before the year is out, regardless of the election results.  And that bodes ill for our democracy and our republic.


NPR reports:

Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Remember This:  Speaking in 2016 on the nomination of Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court vacancy, Lindsey Graham invited Americans in the future to use his own words against him concerning the next vacancy.  The future is now.


For further reading, Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog in 2016 gave this historical summary of election-year Supreme Court vacancies in the 20th century, and how they were filled.  Howe also gives this detailed summary of Ginsburg's career on the high court bench.


Thursday, September 17, 2020

What I'm Watching: A Conversation with Gregory Peck

A few days ago, I came across this bit of doggerel, which I never heard before, in the comments on a different YouTube video:

Hard times create strong men;

Strong men create good times;

Good times create weak men;

Weak men create hard times.

I have no idea who said it first, and no doubt it would raise some people's hackles, but there is a good bit of truth there.  And it does chime with insights of my own I've had over the years but never bothered to press into words.  It did occur to me years ago that the comforts and conveniences of modern life have made us, collectively, softer, less hardy, and less resilient than our ancestors were, in a number of ways.

I have often thought of how very different the modern world and my own life are from the world my grandparents were born into, and the hardscrabble lives they led growing up on small farms deep in the backwoods, in a time before electric lights, telephones, or motor cars.  I remember their stories of the old days, when daily life was so very different from what I took for granted in the suburbs of the mid-twentieth century.  

In a poetic sense, their memories have merged with mine, now that I am an old man too, and so I can look back in my mind's eye to the latter decades of the Victorian era, and see the broad sweep of time, the vast movements of ideas and technology that have carried us far from that other world that seems so tranquil in retrospect.  It was actually full of alarums and excursions, as every age is - but there is a difference between a gently simmering pot, and one that is boiling over, as ours is today.

Perhaps another time I'll write more about that, but suffice it to say that from childhood on up, my grandparents took in their stride difficulties and discomforts that would leave us modern folks bewildered, wailing, and weeping now - that was already true in the 1960s, and much more so today.  And I long ago realized that it was very good for my grandparents' character to learn how to meet difficulties with hard work and quiet determination at an early age, as flopping down in front of the TV set or whiling away a sunny afternoon with a pile of comic books was not very good for mine, perhaps.  

But I wish now that a little more had been asked of me sometimes, in some ways.  One's muscles grow only when they are exercised; the same is true of one's character and abilities.  My fond parents made few demands on me - it was just an unspoken assumption that I would be a good and decent person, and fortunately for them, I pretty much was, with only a few minor childhood peccadillos along the way.  (Little gay boys usually are very well-behaved youngsters - have you noticed?  I wonder why that is.)

The only thing they really insisted upon was my getting a good education - "They can't take that away from you," they and all my older relations used to say, and so I did exert myself as far as I could go in that direction.  And when all was said and done, what I learned is summed up very nicely in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes; but that belongs to another post.

And yet, while higher education may be a worthy goal, it is not the end-all and be-all of life.  Some things cannot be learned from books, and when the divine reckoning is made, mayhap not a few simple people in humble circumstances may exceed in glory all the scholars of the world, if their characters here below were sturdy and rightly directed.

Gregory Peck, along with Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, and others we could name, often portrayed characters who seemed to embody the best of American manhood - honest and hard-working, decent and determined, self-effacing men of ordinary abilities who believed so much in something greater than themselves that they somehow revealed the extraordinary nobility of the common man:  the imago dei.

Of course it may be said that these fellows we admire so much were merely acting out certain roles, not living them, and that is true.  But even so, their artistic pretense serves to remind us all of the Something More that is always calling us higher:  Lift up your hearts.  And we timorous humans, weak and faltering and greedy as we are, do need frequent reminding.

This is a long-winded intro to a fascinating documentary I hope my truckbuddies will enjoy as much as I have - a mix of film clips and the actor himself answering questions from an audience about his life and work.  Much more interesting - and dare I say, uplifting - than the nightly news.  Give it a try.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Rick Steves: England's Cornwall

Cornwall.  Why not?  Anywhere to get away from the ghastly U. S. news for a little while.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sunday Drive: Bach, Sheep May Safely Graze

The painting shown is the famous view of Salisbury Cathedral by John Constable, 1825. 


Thursday, September 10, 2020

What I'm Watching: Jacques Pepin, Essential Techniques

Julia Child and Jacques Pepin are the patron saints of our kitchen, and M.P. has learned a lot from their cookbooks and cooking shows.  Here is a 3-hour video made to accompany Jacques' 2011 cookbook, Essential Pepin, which contains over 700 recipes.  

Although the video does show how to make some dishes along the way, such as eggs en cocotte, crepes suzette, and grilled steaks, much of it is concerned with demonstrating techniques useful in preparing all sorts of things:  for example, how to cook and peel an egg, how to peel and chop fruits and vegetables, and how to cut up poultry, fish, and meats.  

It's fascinating stuff, even for a plain cook like me; I like to just dip into it here and there, and watch a few minutes at a time.  The summary section on the video's YouTube page contains a very useful hyperlinked table of contents.  So if you have any interest in cookery at all, give it a whirl.  Bon appetit!


 Bonus: Jacques reminisces about his good friend, Julia, and the merry times they had cooking together.


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Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sunday Drive: Nearer, My God, to Thee

Anne Murray sings the beloved 1841 hymn, long a favorite of your Head Trucker's:

The Collect:
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Epistle:
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
--Romans 13:8-10

Thursday, September 3, 2020

What I'm Watching: Buckingham Palace, the Interiors

Buckingham Palace from gardens, London, UK - Diliff (cropped)

This fascinating documentary is Part I of a three-part series about the magnificent interiors of Buckingham Palace narrated by the British designer Ashley Hicks, a grandson of Lord Mountbatten and second cousin to the Prince of Wales. It is based on Hicks's eponymous book, published 2018, showing hundreds of historic illustrations of the state apartments and their furnishings, augmented by more recent photographs he took himself.  Hicks gives quite a comprehensive survey of the palace furnishings, artwork, and interior architecture:  a delightful eyeful, if you like that sort of thing.

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