Monday, July 28, 2008


Let me begin this entry by sharing the fact that we are low on funds in the L/L Research account. We have had massive bills both on tractor repair and on truck repair, plus buying insuranace for the truck, in this last month. They will help Melissa on Avalon a whole lot, but they have been expensive to restore to working condition. We now have only enough in the bank to pay Gary, Melissa and Pam for another week.

I had hoped that we could squeak through until Homecoming, when people will be adding attendee fees to fatten the account, but it doesn't look like the money will stretch. So if you have been feeling particularly fond of our material and service lately, please consider donating! Thank you so much!

It was scorching-hot today, making my offering of singing in the choir at St. Luke’s an offering of perspiration as well as love and devotion to Jesus.

It was great to see Lydia back at church. She was born with abnormalities in her jaw which could not be corrected until her body had matured to a point near enough adulthood so that the operation would work, and that day finally came. The operation went well, but then she had to endure 6 weeks of having her jaw wired shut and eating through a straw. I was so glad to see her back!

However, despite her return to the soprano section, I was asked to sing soprano too, and there were high A’s in the offertory. Fortunately I was having a soprano day and was able to do my part with the sweet song, “Wrap Me in Thy Spirit’s Tether”.

Mick had the house sparkling when I returned, and over lunch we saw our first of three films, Vantage Point. Starring Dennis Quaid as a somber-faced, steely-eyed Special Services agent guarding the President of the United States, ably played by William Hurt, the thriller used the device of looking at a catastrophic terrorist attack involving the shooting of the President and the bombing of a Spanish building during an anti-terrorism summit in Salamanca from several different points of view. Layer upon layer of intrigue was added as we saw the same 23 minutes from half a dozen witnesses’ points of view.

The film was a dandy, with excellent ensemble performances backing Quaid’s iconic performance by Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Edgar Ramirez, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ayelet Zurer, and Sigourney Weaver. Forest Whitaker offered an especially moving portrayal of a civilian whose camera becomes a plot point and who saves a little girl who inadvertently helps resolve the threat.

The real star of this film was the writer of the screenplay, Barry Levy. His writing was brilliant, Oscar-calibre. The production values were excellent, the direction was taut and it came in at just over an hour and a half long. I loved this film!

Melissa came down from Avalon and we watched the second feature together with her. It was Honeydripper, an evocative, richly musical film about the American deep south of the ‘50s. Danny Glover plays the owner of the Honeydripper Lounge while Stacey Keach reaches new extremes of stereotypical bullying as the town sheriff, who is determined to run Glover’s character out of business. His performance was highly evocative of Ben Gazzara's in the Patrick Swayze film, Roadhouse.

In fact the film is a web of stereotypes and fails to say anything new about the abysmal prejudices of southern small towns. However the film is saved by the music and the thoughtful, fully formed characterizations of Glover and the skilled ensemble that surrounds him, which includes Lisa Gay Hamilton, Yaya Dacosta, Charles S. Dutton and Vondie Curtis Hall.

Melissa had sad news for us. Avalon’s rooster, Russell Crow, escaped yesterday from the coop and crossed the creek, disappearing into the woods. All of Mel’s attempts to round him up only made him run further. She found a pile of feathers this morning which indicated that a coyote had gotten him overnight. Since we lost two of the chickens to an infection a couple of weeks ago, it was doubly sad.

So we offered a memorial service for our feathered babies, using the Episcopal Church’s rite for the funeral of a child. At the end I sang “Old Blue”, a southern folk song derived from the Childe ballad, “Who Killed Cock Robin”. To paraphrase, “Here, Russell, you good rooster, you!”

Our last home-screened film of the evening was Grace is Gone. I loved this film! John Cusack plays a man whose wife has been killed in the line of duty while she is serving in the Army in Iraq. His performance was superb. I have never seen him act this well. As he struggles to find the words to tell his children about their Mom’s death – and fails for almost the entire films to communicate what is on his heart – he uncovers layer after layer of character and illumines his portrayal with emotional depth and loving insight.

His two children are played beautifully by the young actresses Shelan O’Keefe and Gracie Bednarczyk. The music was especially effective and when the credits ran, I found that Clint and Kyle Eastwood were responsible for the understated, non-intrusive and perfectly tasteful background which consisted largely of piano pieces. And the screenplay, direction and cinematography were splendid.

Over dinner we decided to watch yet another film on the tube, Jerry McGuire, a film about communication also, but with a far different timbre in the telling. I’ve seen this film before and liked it. The second viewing just deepened my appreciation of the performances by Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Renee Zellweiger. It takes Cruise the whole length of the movie to get his athlete the right contract and to say, “I love you,” to his girl. And he makes you want to cheer when he does both. It is a most endearing film.

Gary joined us for supper and the last film and offered the closing prayer at the Gaia Meditation tonight.