See These Films

1) Mud. 2) Take Shelter. 3) A Place at the Table.

Like most everyone, when I plop down big bucks to see a film, I want to be be transported far from my familiar surroundings. But I most enjoy believable stories, so films set in outer-space, or featuring cataclysmic events, or starring super-heroes don’t really do it for me. Which means I usually seek out independent films that play at our one screen, decrepit, “hippy” theatre.

Friday night, Costco coupons in hand, Ms. PressingPause and I were standing in a longish line at the local cineplex. Knowing Ironman 3, Oblivion, Star Trek into Darkness, and Hip Hop Hemingway were about to start, I said, “None of these people are seeing Mud.” What a shame that I was right.

Worth every bit of our $15. The Jeff Nichols film transports you to rural Arkansas a decade or so ago. Think river life, snakes, boat engines, beans and franks, motorcycles, pick up trucks, Piggly Wigglies, and snakes. So damn authentic it reminded me of Winter’s Bone. It’s a wonderful counterpoint to Hollywood’s steady diet of intelligence insulting romantic comedies. See it for the cross cultural experience and for a greater appreciation for just how hard it is to find and nurture love.

Afterwards, for an incredibly poignant window into mental illness, find and watch another phenomenal Jeff Nichols film. Take Shelter (2007).

A Place at the Table is a powerful documentary that explores hunger in America. It will be available via instant streaming on Netflix sometime in June. See it to meet some hungry families, to better understand hunger’s underlying causes, and to learn about solutions. Given our economically segregated neighborhoods, it’s easy to lose touch with hungry people. I see that disconnect in some of my friends and in myself. The lack of understanding largely explains the associated lack of empathy. The further removed from experiencing hunger you are, the more important it is you see the film.

Lots of new readers last week. Welcome and thanks for the continuing support.

Trapped Deep in a Fem Vortex

In 1998, shortly after we moved to the upper left-hand corner of the lower forty-eight, we discovered a wonderful lake less than a mile from our crib. Once the GalPal and I became full-fledged lake swimmers, I felt it my duty to caution her about the “vortex” in the middle that swirled in violent secrecy and pulled down any unsuspecting swimmer that dared too close to it. She half-bought it, which was so gratifying I of course had to pull the same stunt on the daughts once they got old enough to venture across the lake.

What goes around comes around.

Just recently, when I got to one of the later chapters in Tina Fey’s very humorous bio, Bossypants, I suddenly realized that I have been pulled down by a seriously strong, all pervasive female vortex. TF had to know I was thoroughly enjoying her book, but a chapter on breast feeding? Really?! That’s taking serious advantage.

I took the time I would have spent reading that chapter and instead reflected on the fact that I’m surrounded by at least two or three women almost all the time. Afternoons in the fall, I help coach 40+ young womens. On my visit with my mom right now in FL, the GalPal, daughts and I are overlapping with my sister and her daught. What do you call a gender ratio of six to one? Normalcy.

Would it really have been so hard for the GalPal to give me a son?! Prior to my first move, did she conspire with my mother, her mother, and my sister, to put some sort of feminist hex on me as some sort of twisted joke?

I pray to God that you didn’t see me sitting among the sisterhood (mom, sissy, and GalPal) at The Help in an Orlando theater last week, dabbing back tears near the end. That confession alone introduces the possibility I may be too far gone. For shitsake, I refer to romantic comedies as “romcoms”, I routinely pick up feminine products at Costco, and I’ve been known to watch Glee, SupperNanny, and the Home and Garden channel.

In the life of this blog, this is post #507. Thank you very much. And I’ve never dedicated any of the previous 506 to anyone. But I’m dedicating this badboy (can I use that term?) to a fellow brother dangling dangerously close to the fem vortex—18 month old Kai UptheStreet. Too innocent to feel the tug of the vortex. His army dad gets deployed occasionally. His mom just gave birth to his fifth sister. Someday he’ll have his “Tina Fey” moment.

Hang in little man, hang in.