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Archive for November, 2010

The tributes to Leslie Nielsen (R.I.P.) are everywhere, and rightfully so. He gave us some of the funniest memories in movie history.

But he started out as a serious actor. And in this Jitterbuggingforjesus.com exclusive (well, sort of exclusive–it’ll be all over the place by Tuesday noon, I’m sure), we’ve got his screen test for the role of Mesalla in “Ben Hur” that he didn’t get. Stephen Boyd, who won the part over Nielsen, went on to have a less than illustrious career.

Nielsen went on to deadpan one of the most hilarious lines ever–and lots of others to-boot.

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So frankly, I wouldn’t pay 10 cents for Def Leppard music–it’s just not my taste–but Rick Allen is the greatest one-arm drummer ever, not to mention an inspiration to millions.

For those who may not know, his arm was severed by a seat belt in a car crash and it appeared to all the world–and to him–that his life as a rock drummer was finished. It’s one of rock history’s most amazing stories–one of determination and redemption.

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So, as a co-founder and chaplain of the All-Night Underground Steely Dan Fan Land Cult Club–comprising graduates of the some of the best drug and rehab clinics* in the world (and then there’s me, never an addict to anything but cigarettes for many years in my misspent youth)–I have to put up some Dan music (or Donald Fagen stuff, which is basically the same as SD) to appease the cultists once in a while.

So here’s a couple vids from Fagen’s great “Nightfly” album, his ode to the old days –and more.

(For Steely Dan devout fan “Louie Louie,” way up there in his West Virginia cabin this weekend. Too bad you can’t be a member of the Dan Lan Cult Club but getting up at 4 a.m. every morning when so many of us are going to bed at that dreadful hour disqualifies a lot of Steely Dan fans. I’ll see if we can make you an honorary member but can’t promise anything.)

Less a band than a concept, Steely Dan was one of the most advanced, successful, and mysterious pop units of the 1970s. Combining pop hooks with jazz harmonies, complicated time changes and cryptic, often highly ironic lyrics, the band sounded like no one else. Because of the perfectionism of founders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, the outfit rarely toured, and toward the end, was composed almost entirely of session musicians, while Becker and Fagen began to play less and less on their own albums. Producer Gary Katz became Steely Dan’s “third member,” as much because of Becker and Fagen’s insistence on pristine sound quality as for Katz’s role in forming the band. With Becker and Fagen fronting a version of Steely Dan that toured to great success in 1993, they proved that their long-lived cult was very much alive. And the 2000 release of Two Against Nature resurrected the band as a viable recording unit, and also won Steely Dan several Grammy Awards.

Meeting in 1967 at Bard College in upstate New York, Becker and Fagen played in amateur bands, ranging from jazz to rock to pop to progressive rock; one — Bad Rock Group — included future comedian Chevy Chase on drums. Becker and Fagen began composing together and toured from 1970 to 1971 as backing musicians for Jay and the Americans under the pseudonyms Tristan Fabriani (Fagen) and Gustav Mahler (Becker).

— From The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

And finally . . . some great horn work here, with Mike McDonald on lead vocal . . .

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When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind.

— Bronnie Ware

BRONNIE WARE


Bronnie Ware is a singer, songwriter, a healer and a wonderful free spirit of a woman who has several blog sites including one she calls “Inspiration and Chai.”

This think piece from that blog, about the “regrets of the dying” she heard when she worked in palliative care, really resonated with me since a large part of my ministry is in palliative care. I think anyone who has ever worked in a field where one has the privilege of walking through the final days of life with people will relate to Bronnie’s list here.

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

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Happy Black Friday to all my friends out there in the cult of the All-Night Underground Steely Dan Land Fan Club*, a loose federation of Dan fans from around the world who who chat, email and call each other all hours of the night, long after normal Earth People who keep regular hours have gone to bed.

*Yours truly is of course a co-founder and co-leader of the Dan Land Fan Club and was recently named the Club’s Chaplain. Which goes to show once again that God runs in mysterious circles.

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“His truth endureth to all generations.”

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!
Pastor Paul & Jitterbugger

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This Thanksgiving Day painting, Freedom From Want, was one in a series of paintings that Norman Rockwell created celebrating our American freedoms and inspired by a speech given by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It should also be noted that this painting was created during World War II, a time when our freedoms and families were perhaps more acutely treasured. This artwork is an oil painting on canvas and measures 45.75 x 35.5 inches, and can be seen at the Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

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