dictionary with letter A

Arrangement: (n) the action, process or result of arranging or being arranged.

For a brief season in my life, I composed and also arranged music for a symphonic pops orchestra. It was a rather small operation, but every year there was one large gig, playing in front of about ten thousand people for the July 4th celebration.

I had already written my music for the occasion, and knew there would be a yearning for patriotic tunes to stir the spirit and also add melody and harmony to viewing the fireworks display.

So I sat down and took a look at all the great tunes of America, and rather than focusing on a single one, I tried to find the relationships these songs had with each other which would create a cohesion of thought and emotion, and make way for a delightful medley.

That’s what an arrangement is: it’s having the foresight and willingness to find out what actually does blend together instead of insisting that everything stand alone. (For instance, we are a better country when we look at ourselves as an arrangement rather than three hundred million individual wills clanging into each other.)

But anyway, back to my arrangement of patriotic tunes.

After using some of the more traditional ones, like the Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Star Spangled Banner, I started looking for songs that were a part of our country’s fabric but were maybe not completely in synchronicity with one another.

My mind floated to the Vietnam era. There were two very differing songs that came out of that conflict which represented opposing views. So I included them in my arrangement, and also made them intertwine in a way that was unique. The two songs were Blowin’ in the Wind and The Ballad of the Green Berets. It was astounding how this pair of battling ideologies merged so beautifully in the performance.

It was a glorious arrangement.

It was a reminder to me that the unique aspects of all creation are placed here so that we can find the similarities which determine our value to one another… and develop a supernal arrangement.


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dictionary with letter A

Arrange: (v) organize or make plans for (a future event).

The first thing that pops to my mind when I see the word “arrange” (other than thinking it is how a seven-year-old boy from Alabama might pronounce “orange” upon first seeing it) is the idea of how many cultures arrange marriages.

Of course, as a good American, I join the huddled masses yearning to be free by rolling my eyes and insisting how unromantic and ridiculous this sounds. After all, just look at the success rate of the American culture in organizing marriages based on courting, long engagements and numerous therapy sessions.

Yet in countries where they arrange marriages, divorce is an anomaly.

Would we be smarter to arrange more things in our lives instead of leaving them to the whim of a destiny that actually only exists in the minds of our authors?

What is the power of an arranged marriage?

Well, first and foremost, you actually have a reason for being together other than lust. Somebody has arranged the details, deciding that the union has possibilities beyond merely extending a one-night stand into a six-month, uncomfortable relationship.

Secondly, during the time that you would be getting to know the other person after you were married, the excitement of touch, sound and smell would be within the bonds of matrimony instead of being taken for granted after dating too long.

And finally, I believe that marriage would be put in perspective. Rather than being this “holy union ordained by God,” to accentuate and define the meaning of the universe through the procreation of other human beings, it would become a beautifully negotiated deal between two individuals who know each other enough to challenge each other and love each other enough to survive the challenge.

Yet I certainly will persist in my Anglo-Saxon, American ideal of falling in love. But I will not rule out the power and beauty of having things arranged.

It certainly works for flowers. Otherwise, they clump together in one color … and never receive the benefit of becoming a bouquet.



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dictionary with letter A

Arraign: (v) to call or bring someone before a court to answer a criminal charge.

I’ve never been arrested, although I have been accused of having an arresting personality. (Pardon me, that was pathetic.)

I have thought about what it would be like to have my rights read to me by some austere cop, hand-cuffed and taken away in the squad car. Strange notions come to my mind during these reflections.

First of all, I wonder if they would be upset when their normal handcuffs wouldn’t work on my fat wrists.

Also, since I’ve tried during exercise to get my arms to reach behind my back, I wonder if they would be equally as aggravated as I am by the process.

Then there would be the procedure of getting into the back of the squad car handcuffed, which, with my girth, could require several attempts and some very painful head-hitting.

This has made me believe that there is a necessity for me to maintain the straight and narrow, to avoid the calamaties which might occur during my arrest.

I’ve also thought about what I would do when I appeared before the judge and charges were read, and it came my time to speak concerning my guilt or innocence. You know what I mean.

“And what do you plead?”

I’ve even rehearsed.

“Not guilty, Your Honor.”

How about this?

“What, bro? Yous gotta be kiddin’.”

“Absolutely not guilty!”

“Double dutch not guilty!”

Or should I add some comedy to the event?

“Guilty of overeating, but not guilty on these charges!”

What kind of attorney would they give me? Since I’m not very wealthy, he or she would be court appointed–a nervous novice who would be unable to pronounce my name. So in the midst of the reading of the indictment and my lawyer trying to explain the situation, I would find myself interrupting to correct the mispronunciations.

Would that anal-attentive attitude be a positive in front of the judge?

All in all, I think it’s just best to watch arraignments on television, and to personally avoid them–because I’m just afraid the handcuffs would chafe my wrists.

I have very sensitive skin.


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dictionary with letter A

Arpeggio: (n) the notes of a chord played in succession, either ascending or descending.

I didn’t want to be a girl.

I was nine years old–all boy–and was nervous that somehow or another, certain activities, if pursued feverishly, might cause me to switch genders.

I had taken piano lessons for three years without giving it a second thought. But at age nine, other young men of my acquaintance noticed that I was tinkling the keys and explained to me in horrid, vivid detail, how I was in danger of transforming into a chick.

I don’t know how they were privy to this valuable information, but they were quite confident it was true. Such good friends they were that they decided to try to shake me out of my piano-playing hysteria by mocking me, making fun of me after my lesson and even drawing pictures of girls on my Thompson music book.

So somewhere caught between Chopin and Liszt, I stopped playing.

It was less than five years later when I realized that playing the piano could be a tremendous aid in attracting women instead of becoming one. Unfortunately, because I stopped playing piano at the juncture when certain exercises were being perfected, I never learned how to play an efficient descending arpeggio.

I know this may mean very little to you and is certainly not a great way to try to gain your empathy, but I discovered I had the ability to play an arpeggio going up, with its many beautiful notes, but to reverse the process, telling my fingers to go the other direction as quickly as possible–well, it left me digitally challenged.

I subsisted for many years hiding my weakness from the general public by avoiding the need for such a maneuver. Then one day, a song I had written had a passage which suddenly demanded a descending arpeggio. (I realize this tale must be leaving you breathless, so I won’t tarry over the details.)

I sat on my stool, a fully grown man, practicing what I surely would have learned much more easily at the age of nine. At the end of the session, I played my first successful descending arpeggio.

I did not cry. That would have been too girly. (The misconception continues.)

But every time I get the chance to play this particular exercise, a big smile bursts forth inside my being because I realize I conquered a fear which was not of my own conceiving … but still swallowed by my ego.

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dictionary with letter A

Arouse: (v) to evoke or awaken a feeling, emotion or response

Yeah, right.

Every writer must realize that certain words have been corralled–set aside to go with only corresponding ideas.

  • I am allowed to say, “This problem aroused my suspicions.”
  • I can also say, “The beautiful woman aroused my libido.”
  • But it’s rather doubtful that I can say, “The article in the newspaper aroused my yearning to study more.”

Unfortunately, arousal is only permitted in the human expression when we’re freaked out or turned on.

It is the expression of an extreme emotion, and when inserted in any other way, produces either confusion from the common reader or a giggle from the grammarian.

Is it unfortunate?

I don’t know.

There are enough things to be upset about in life, that today … I just don’t choose to arouse my passions for this particular cause.


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dictionary with letter A

Around: (adv) 1. all about: e.g. the mountains towered all around

It was my mother’s undying philosophy that her children were immeasurably affected by what was around them.

She felt it was necessary to protect us from all forms of perceived evil and dangerous attitudes, which often sprouted from unknown cultures and energies that had invaded our community.

I think I was twenty-three years old before I watched an episode of Twilight Zone, because my mother deemed it to be full of foreign ideas which she did not desire to be around her son.

Yet I was always allowed to watch Bonanza, with the death toll of strangers to the Ponderosa ranging from three to five people per episode.

It appeared that it was all right to be around killing–as long as it wasn’t spooky or science fiction.

I must tell you that this particular attitude has not diminished in the parents which occupy the planet today. I’m especially amused when actors and actresses who appear in television shows refuse to let their children watch television because they feel it’s dangerous to be around.

But having been the father of many sons, I will tell you this: there is much more evil that is hatched between the human heart and brain than can ever be conceived in the storyboards of Hollywood. Otherwise, all children who are Bible-trained, morally upstanding and free of worldly contact would be happy, fulfilled and absent guile.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Matter of fact, it would be hard to find a serial killer who had not earned a badge for attending Sunday School.

It’s not so much what we’re around that makes us evil as how impressed we are with the sweetness, intelligence and power of good. If we are convinced that good is weaker than evil, we will find the darkness within our own hearts.

But if we have an abiding faith that the blessings will outweigh the cursings, we can walk anywhere with confidence …and not need to be afraid of what is around.

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dictionary with letter A

Arose: (v) past-tense of arise.

Every once in a while, clarity crashes in on my dullness.

I’m not so certain I want it to happen all the time; otherwise I would be constantly alarmed. (A certain amount of dullness is necessary for me to achieve slumber.)

But the piece of clarity that made its way through the wilderness of supposition which surrounds my being was this:

If I don’t believe in God, I’m stuck with Earth.

That means I’m limited by what surrounds me and the hope and talent that lies within me.

  • There would be no creation.
  • There would be no divine intervention for my illness.
  • My prayers would be exercises in futility.
  • I would be limited by empathy and condolences to aid others.
  • And Jesus never arose from the grave.

So this would be it.

When I was twenty-five years old, such a concept seemed somewhat acceptable since I believed I had at least five more decades of mortal passage. But now, as I discover I have more “used days” than “new days,” I am not quite so sure I want to surrender the possibility of possessing a bit of eternity.

I am certainly sympathetic to those who are agnostic–because it all seems such a wonderland of wishing and dreams when it comes to dealing with the issues of God’s love and heaven.

But I consider if I would be more disappointed if I reached the end of my life and was an atheist, and found out there really was an afterlife–or if there would be any disappointment at all to discover that Jesus was second-cousin to Santa Claus, yet I would be completely unaware of my lacking, because there would be nothing but oblivion.

Tricky, don’t you think?

So if the Son of God did not arise, so that we could celebrate that he arose, then the possibility of me doing the same is highly unlikely.

Honestly, I find that distasteful.

Just as being a father of children meant advocating for the North Pole and the toy shop, and describing the tooth angel in visual detail, I think the child in me needs the story of a man who arose from the grave … to give myself a chance to live on past my last breath.


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