Saturday, October 26, 2013

Muscle Shoals . . . you gotta see this film

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

First, and this is very important.  If you are a proud Alabamian, or an Alabamian who desperately wants to be proud, or a history buff,  there is something you must do. If your fingers  play air guitar ballet when you hear the signature riffs of the Allmans or Skynard, or if you belt it out with Aretha or Etta or Pickett or Sledge as if you are their backup singers, or if tears still come to your eyes when you join Clarence Carter in wailing the gut-wrenching lyrics "Patches, I'm depending on you son, to pull the family through, this time, my son, it's all left up to you . . .", . .if any of these things apply to you, or even if they don't, you must, you simply must see, hear and feel,

"Muscle Shoals"

"Muscle Shoals" is a documentary film about the mysterious, magical music industry of the small town in northwest Alabama, and the amazing handful of people that created the music we love.  I promise you, you will learn things that you don't know about Alabama..  And you will hear some great music that you may have forgotten. And you will hear and see a great, great true story, told by the delightful, gritty, real characters who wrote it. Folks that seem like us. They are us. They didn't leave Alabama to find the music elsewhere.  They brought the music world to Alabama. To Muscle Shoals. And they made timeless magic.

It is now playing at the Edge 12 theaters on Crestwood in Birmingham..  It should be playing everywhere in Alabama.  Maybe it will if you all go see it at the Edge.  Just a note about the Edge.  They greeted me more like I was coming in to a church fellowship dinner than a movie multiplex.  That set the stage for a wonderful evening at the movies.

I rarely make recommendations. Too risky. But do this.  If you have a miserable time, blame me.  Cuss me all the way home. It won't be on the big screen long, so don't wait.

Donna Roberts wrote "The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs".   I never met a dog that was into cooking, but that's a different story. The same Donna Roberts is credited with one of my favorite quotes that I wish I had said:

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

This crowd from Muscle Shoals knew the songs of our hearts even before we knew them, and then they did what they had to do to make sure that we were able to hear them. I, for one, can never thank them enough.

The film is a wonderful reminder that there are things within us that define us,  that are important and powerful, and do not need to be forgotten.  And just as significant, it reminds us that there are things beyond us that are so much greater than we are, and yet, invite us to become a part.

These days it seems that it is easy to forget the song of the heart.  I went to the movie alone, except it didn't feel that way.  I was sitting among strangers and yet among family sharing common memories and feelings. For a few moments  we lost, or perhaps more accurately found ourselves, in the powerful reminders of old friends I never really knew, but who have always seemed to know me so well..

The movie ended. The crowd applauded. It seemed no one was in a hurry to leave. 

"Y'all have a good night now," the ticket lady said with a smile as I was walking out.

And I did.


Saturday, October 19, 2013


Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

I woke up this morning.

It is finally my time of the year.  The house was cool, almost cold, this morning.  I refuse to fire up the heat pump when the daytime temperature approaches eighty.  So it was a chilly walk from the bed to the kitchen to conduct the spiritual discipline of grinding the beans and re-enacting the original creation story.

Let there be life.

As the coffee began to brew I stepped outside.  The grey cloudiness made it seem even chillier than it actually was.  The frigid concrete, like a natural defibrillator, shot a wake up jolt through my bare feet, radiating all the way to my still sleepy brain. All was quiet except for the rustle of the first harvest of leaves that have fallen the past couple of days. Everybody was moving a little slower than usual.  The deer down the way snapped to attention for a moment, briefly staring at me like I was a headlight, but quickly dipping their heads back down, as if saying, "oh, it's just you."  My cat, which shares my need to save the world, has taken in a friend, and they lie at the edge of the trees, waiting for the breakfast alarm of the rattling of the cat food bag before they bother to get up. Now they have a little kitten with them, apparently adopted. It is beautiful, sporting a light gray suit with a white shirt, and a bobbed tail.  The kitten is the only thing that seems to want to move.

I hated to come back in.  On the other hand, the coffee was ready. And my feet were cold.

I don't know what it is about the fall that energizes me.  It seems counter-intuitive, as the season is generally identified as that time of the year when things begin to go to sleep for the winter, or even die. And yet, when the coolness finally makes its way to the southland, it wakes me up. I feel more alive.

Things seem clearer without the heat. Without the sudden storms.

So it is good to be back on the sofa on a cool Saturday morning, drinking coffee, thinking about the possibilities instead of the problems, even though they may be the same things.  It just seems that the way I approach them depends on the temperature, on the heat.

So, at least for this moment, the heat is off.  I see more clearly. I breathe more deeply.

It's going to be a great day.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The right word . . .

I just can't write a terribly serious blog about all this.  Maybe next time.

I have a suggestion to help we the people deal with the madness in D.C.

And I have to give the Republicans credit on this one. A special nod to Karl Rove.

Republicans are brilliant at reducing messaging to one word, or a short phrase. The message machine  meets over the weekend (or more often in fast changing situations)  and comes up with a new word for the week or day.  This week, for instance, the word is "conversation".   The context, of course, is that President Obama is not willing to even have a conversation  with them about the government shutdown, the continuing resolution, or the debt ceiling.  Speaker Boehner used the word no less than fifteen times in the span of twenty minutes during a presser this week.  And he was not alone.  Republican officials, from dog catcher to U. S. Senator,  whenever they were on camera or in front of a crowd, used the same word.

It is very effective. Seriously. We Democrats are too prideful to participate in such a tactic. And we certainly don't like the idea of being limited to one or two select words. Despite what some think, we have a little libertarian bent. And, like others think, we like to talk.

But it can also be a means of help for we the people during this stressful time, a way to deal with our own frustrations over the situation, no matter your politics.

And you can choose how to use it.  If you believe you need to be more intentional with your spirituality, to increase your discipline of prayer, you can use the word or phrase of the day like a centering chime, or a call to prayer.  To use the name of God for something other than a prefix for a curse  during these frustrating times.  Each time you hear or read the word of the week, simply face the south wing of the Capitol Building and hit your knees.   If cable news watchers adopt this spiritual discipline, Dish network dishes will adorn monasteries as the monks just try to keep up. A big boost for EWTN ratings.

Or, if the whole thing has just depressed you and you desperately need to party, desiring more spirits than spirituality, then perhaps you would like to use the tactic as a basis for a drinking game.  You know the one.  Whenever a certain thing happens, or a word is spoken, a drink must be taken.  For instance, during Boehner's presser mentioned earlier, participants would have had to down fifteen shots in twenty minutes. It was numbing enough without the alcohol. Passing out might be a blessing.

So thank you, House Republicans, for the opportunity to pray more, and have a reason to take a drink or two.

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