On Cat Stevens, One Direction, and the Biggest Lift

The temperatures have plunged again here in the Ozarks, Old Man winter deciding to ride hard across the Oklahoma plains. On this particular trip, he brought his third wife, that old hag who brings all the nagging and none of the pineapple upside-down cake--Old Woman Flu. Old Man Winter is a jerk.

Monday, the doc made a house call to check in on me. He told me that the old bag was making the rounds, that she was a werewolfress, and then he gave me a pack of silver bullets known as Tami-flu. "These," he said, "should do the trick."

Come to find out, "the trick," is a slow process, but I reckon it's working well enough. In fact, just yesterday some of my symptoms eased, and the grand and wide world allowed me to come out and play. As is the way of being what my third son Ian calls a "madult," I first tended to those things which consume madults on an average Wednesday--dropping off the kids at school, going to the office, picking up a grilled cheese sandwich and pickle for lunch. But when the evening hour came, I packed it all up and ran home to get my first family time of the week.

Being that I'd been out of commission for a few days, I decided we should make a moment of it. I went to the record player and threw on my pop's old Cat Stevens album. We found "Peace Train," and danced like it was our family jam. We danced like we were made of Jello, until, at one point, Jude and I had some sort of Vulcan mind-meld and broke into a synchronized version of the robot. We came out of our respective robotings with a clap, and maybe a fist bump, and I raised him in the air for the BIG LIFT.

Who knew "Peace Train," could inspire so much movement? Who knew it'd end with such a Big Lift? Maybe Cat knew what he was doing.

We left Cat crooning in the background, and I made some geriatric comment to Amber about how they just don't write songs like that anymore, and she humored me, said "I know what you mean." After allowing this Old Spice moment, she turned to me with a twinkle in her eye and a blush in her cheek and she said, "but have you heard about One Direction?"

"No," I said.

"Really?" she responded. "I bet their videos have twenty million hits."

I felt the claim dubious. After all, how could a relatively obscure band--and by "obscure," I mean a band I've never heard of--have twenty million hits? I challenged her claim. She pulled up a YouTube video.

"Sorry," she said. "I was way off."

"I figured."

"This video has 197 million hits!"

Dumbfounded, we gathered the family around the video and watched some miniature madults sing a teeny-bopper song about kissing that, I was told, appealed to "tween girls, house-wives, and hip grandmas alike." I'm not going to lie, it was a catching tune, and I'm sorry for doing this to all of you, but the proof is in the pudding:

It's terrible. Right? But you smiled a little, didn't you? Admit it.

Last night was a good night. It was a simple night with just the family, some home-cooked spaghetti, and little bit of music. It was light-hearted, and joyous. We didn't rant about the topic du jour, didn't deconstruct the internet, or lament the lack of world peace. We didn't worry about Titus' upcoming doctor appointments, or ponder the orphan crisis, or sort out the family budget, or game plan Jude's path to the Sorbonne. It was a breathable moment, a moment of raucous laughter, a moment where all were, for a time, present.

It was nice.

And that, I think, was the biggest lift I've had in some time.

*****

Don't miss Amber's writing today. She's giving a bit of a light-hearted Titus update (and some good advice to those of you who write or read on the internet).

The Great Despiser

Joe Pug

Hey little brother did you hear I made it back to town? I'm getting sober, there's some things I've got to figure out. I saw the station and the light we used to run around. I could've sworn that there were things I used to care about.

"There's a gap the size of a hundred empty gin bottles between August 2012 and September 2013," I tell them. "There are seasons you can't get back." It's a ginger beer evening for me at George's Majestic Lounge; Jesse and John sip Shiner.

"I don't suppose I know what to do with that," I say, "but I'm ready to crawl out."

I spill the confession across the small round table, and an uncomfortable silence settles in. These days, I'm prone to this kind of lumbering conversation with friends. There is no delicate way to seek validation in a bar.

*****

Follow me over to A Deeper Story for the rest of The Great Despiser.

The Goodness of God (A Song)

I was called a man of faith not too long ago, and it seemed ironic to me in the moment. Lately, faith is hard. When I was a child, I recited my mass responses in a sing-song manner--"I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." In those days, it seemed little more than a repetitive practice perpetuated by the Sisters of Mercy, nuns who struck the fear of Christ in the fourth-grade hearts of the non-participating. Some might say this kind of rote memorization is little more than manipulative programming; others might say it is training up a child in the way he should go. I'm not sure about either of those sentiments, but I have come to find the words of Psalm 27 in the granaries of my memory lately, and they have been a comfort.

It's been a long five months. We've been through the ups and downs of raising a sick child and there are days when I go back to the Psalms to remind myself of the goodness of God. It is a constant effort to recall the truth, to speak it to myself even when the easiest notions of God trend more toward agnosticism or deism. It's a constant effort to remember the power of the Gospel--that Christ is all-sufficient.

I've written this piece as a reminder. It's simple, much the way my faith feels these days.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MyQnIfyzYY&w=420&h=315]

*Amber is sharing a brief Titus update at her site for those of you who are following along.

August Rain: Stormy Weather

There is a long-standing metaphorical marriage of rain and sorrow. Painters, film-makers, musical artists -- they have all used tempestuous imagery to denote loss, grief, and sadness.

In 1933 Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler penned "Stormy Weather," the quintessential breakup song first performed by Ethel Waters. Covered by greats like Ella...

I hope you've enjoyed my weekly posts at Tweetspeak Poetry half as much as I've enjoyed writing them. I'm there again today talking music (contiue).

Dust Bowl III (a writing prompt)

I'm not in the writing mood today--at least not in online spaces--but I had an idea for a writing prompt this morning. Maybe it will spark some words in you. Sink up these videos and watch them simultaneously. The time stamps are pretty close so it shouldn't be that difficult. You may have to quickly pause/restart to get them on the exact track. I promise, there are some great moments of synchronicity in this exercise.

If anything comes, let me know.  In fact, send it my way and I'll consider running on the blog sometime in the coming week.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B-wKp8P4H8]

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/45280712 w=500&h=213]

Other Lives - Dust Bowl III from Karim Huu Do on Vimeo.