Craft

Craft: (n) an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill

It is a chilling sensation of frightening proportions that sometimes the word “craft” appears by itself.

Normally it travels with its friend, “art.”

“Art and craft” are much easier to comprehend—at least for me. Art is something I understand. It stirs in my soul. Thank you, God, or whoever is in charge today.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

But every once in a while, someone will suggest that we all “do crafts.” I break out in a cold sweat.

Because as much as I enjoy the “art” part of arts and crafts—in other words, coming up with new ideas, angles and possibilities, when it comes to taking something in my hands, and well—let us say, crafting it—I become a fumbling elephant with four feet and a cumbersome trunk.

I don’t know what it is.

When I was in kindergarten, paste, crayons, construction paper and staples made me develop hives. Mainly it was because some of the kids in my class were so good at it. They made birthday cards for their parents that actually looked like Hallmark might approve it. Mine, on the other hand, greatly resembled a Hallmark card that had already spent time on the floor, been crunched in the corner and stepped on by thirty people.

So I tried to offer ideas and pay off my classmates to do the work for me by giving them my bag of Doritos at lunch. I got caught by the teacher in the midst of one of my transactions, and she tender-heartedly (but obnoxiously) said, “Come on, Johnny, you can do it. And whatever you come up with will be just fine.”

I took her at her word. I dipped into the paste, scribbled with the crayons and stapled everything in sight. Even though my teacher was an extraordinarily generous and kind person, when I presented my craft, I am pretty sure she had to swallow a gag reflex.

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Cradle-to-Grave

Cradle-to-grave: (adj) from birth to death

Just another night, sitting around with members of the human tribe, thinking about the wonders of the world, ignoring them, and pursuing problems.

The weakness of our race is the foolish notion that we can live forever, while simultaneously being obsessed with a terror of the grave.

Which one is it?

Are we going to live forever? Or will the next processed hot dog we consume give us stomach cancer?funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Yet the insurance companies, the government, the churches and in many ways, the business and entertainment industry make their money by dragging us into a “cradle-to-grave” mentality.

This is why people become so obsessed with a new baby. We even pretend they’re cute. The notion of new life reminds us of our own lives and sprouts a yearning to be young again—or at least as young as our number of birthdays will permit.

But there is only one way to live a good human life.

You must eliminate the second, the minute, the hour, the week, the month, the year and the lifespan.

If you become obsessed with the second, minute and hour, you’ll be a nervous ninny, incapable of enjoying the life you are presently breathing.

If you find yourself overly adult—insisting on the week, the month, the year and the lifespan—you will fret over health, retirement and the loom and gloom of your demise.

Here it is: human life runs by the day.

This is why each one begins with the sun and closes with the sun. It comes up, it goes down. There is life.

If you live as if only one of these will be provided, just think how delighted you are to awaken to a new sun and a new day.

If we woke up every morning convincing ourselves to include as much joy as humanly possible in our sixteen waking hours, then we’re bound to have many adventures we couldn’t possibly have planned—which will spontaneously arrive to take our breath away.

But if you’re worried about the next minute or if you have some sort of fund or insurance to cover your burial, chances are you will not have grasped the true significance of how life is contained in the single day.

Life is not cradle-to-grave.

Life is a birth and a death—with many, many, many twenty-four-hour opportunities in between—to delight yourself.

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Cradle

Cradle: (n) a small bed for an infant, usually on rockers.

There is still a debate over whether my fourth son arrived early, or my wife didn’t know how to count months. I will not intrigue you further with that particular impasse, but he—that fourth guy of mine—was born on the road. funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Now, it wasn’t like we were gypsies traveling by oxcart, but we did not have a permanent home and we were touring as a family, doing music and imitating our version of creative diversion.

He came early. Or we were late. But suffice it to say, he ended up being birthed in a strange town with strange doctors in a strange hospital in a strange way.

After he was born and the shock of his arrival assimilated through our midst, we needed to find a way for him to travel with us and stay healthy, without later growing up and being so traumatized that he would require an expensive therapist.

At the time we were staying in larger motel rooms that would accommodate our family for a week at a time. Most of these establishments did not offer portable cribs. We considered purchasing one, but decided it was too difficult to tear down and put back together. I don’t know what stimulated that decision—perhaps it was the fact that my other two sons were teenagers and I was only adept at putting together sentences.

So we decided to consecrate—set aside in a holy way—one of the drawers from the bureau offered in the motel room, wherein there would be no socks, underwear or first-aid kit, but instead, it would be the sleeping domain for the new little one.

We had to agree among each other never to refer—at least in public—to this bed as “the drawer in our motel.” (We anticipated some horror or displeasure from the people who might hear such an explanation.) So going old-fashioned and feeling safe with the term, we referred to that drawer as his “cradle.”

It worked.

Most people, when they heard the word “cradle,” envisioned something from Charles Dickens, or maybe the Civil War era. Certainly something “rockable”—but warm, cozy, where the little young’un could snug away to sleeper land.

Amazingly enough, no one ever asked us to describe the cradle or where we placed the cradle in our trailer when we traveled from town to town. It was our secret, and the little one never knew he wasn’t in an expensive bassinet or overwrought crib.

The only important thing was for each family member to remember without question, and to never make the mistake of accidentally shutting the drawer.

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Crackpot

Crackpot: (n) a person who is eccentric, unrealistic, or fanatical.

 So what is a crackpot?

It may not be a word we use much nowadays. We favor asshole. But asshole has too broad a beam to it (pardon the expression).

A crackpot is something specific. A crackpot is a person who may start out well-intentioned but ends up ridiculous because he or she always makes the same mistake.

Crackpots leave out a step.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

For instance, it’s easy to find crackpots in religion. Many start out with a common theme: God created us. It’s a good beginning. But then they jump ahead to crazy notions:

God only loves us.

God wants us only concerned with worship.

God wants us to preach vigorously against sin.

God wants us to keep heaven on our mind.

God wants us to fight for Him.

They leave out the middle steps which justify our faith. For instance:

God created us all—and then here comes life.

You see? There’s a lot of living before we get about the business of dying. There’s a lot of living that needs to be done in peace and joy before we stand face-to-face in an afterlife of eternal glow.

The same thing is true in politics:

Our country needs to have its problems solved, says the politician. Well, it would be difficult to disagree with that. What makes these politicians crackpots is that they skip plans, responsibilities, taxes and timelines—and they jump straight ahead to attack their political enemies, blame other countries or try to load down great legislation with too many programs—and this brings everything to a screeching halt.

In business: “We are out to make a good product…” Then the crackpots of industry leap ahead to this statement: “…and more importantly, make a huge profit.”

Somewhere between the product and the profit there needs to be a happy consumer, a well-cared-for work force and balanced books.

A crackpot is someone who starts out with a good idea and skips all the work it takes to achieve solvency, assuming that the reward should be enjoyed right here and right now. 

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Crackle

Crackle: (v) to make slight, sudden, sharp noises, rapidly repeated

Long, long ago, when rock and roll was a baby boom and bellbottoms were considered normal wear, there was a cereal named Rice Krispies which lacked an identity. After all, it was just puffy rice, which, when sitting in a bowl of milk for more than twenty-eight seconds, turned into slush.

Something needed to be done.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

A young executive at the Kellogg’s Corporation noticed that when milk was first spilled onto the cereal, it made slight sounds, as the fluid gradually smothered the rice particles and drowned them, leaving them lifeless.

He believed he heard snap—and saw one of the rice particles leap from the bowl momentarily, giving the appearance of pop.

So he went to the ad executives and explained that the product could be marketed by referring to it as the “snap-pop cereal.”

The room frowned. What did “snap-pop” mean? How could this be personified? Who was going to eat a cereal that was going to snap at you, or pop off its opinion? The whole thing seemed doomed, until one young, female intern said, “They just need a third friend.”

This time the room scowled. No one had suggested there was a “they” involved, and certainly had not intimated that a friendship had been formed. Yet the man who had the original idea for “snap and pop” was so desperate to salvage his ego that he grabbed onto the notion and started looking for a third “sounder” to complete his trio.

The first ten ideas were horrible.

Snap, bubble and pop.

Snap, drip and pop.

Snap, sizzle and pop.

Snap, sneeze and pop.

Snap, whisper and pop.

Snap, clap and pop.

Snap, moan and pop.

Snap, giggle and pop.

Snap, wink and pop.

Snap, argue and pop.

Each possibility seemed to have the fragrance of failure.

Going home at the end of the day, the young executive was explaining his dilemma with the Rice Krispies to his family over dinner.

He was deflated.

He was discouraged.

He was ready to give up on the whole campaign.

Then his four-year-old daughter, who had opted not to eat liver and onions, but instead had grabbed a bowl of Rice Krispies, leaned her ear down to listen, and said, “Daddy? I hear a crackle.

The man nearly fainted. He had no idea his little daughter was even listening to the conversation, and he certainly was unaware that she knew the word “crackle.”

Or perhaps it was Divine Revelation, brought to him from the Mount of Advertising.

He didn’t care.

He took it to work the next day and the rest is cereal promotion history.

It became “Snap, Crackle and Pop.”

It was a Rice Krispies treat.

W-a-i-t…

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Crackhead

Crackhead: (n) a habitual user of cocaine in the form of crack.

Let me start off by saying that what I’m about to write on is not like I’ve invented the wheel. It has been a topic of conversation for some time.

But I do feel it is my duty to roll that wheel along.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

We are a society that despises outward evidence of bigotry while encouraging—and even in many cases, promoting—internal methods. We mainly propagate these misrepresentations through our art.

The Law & Order series on television will happily and continually distinguish between its affluent and impoverished characters by assessing wealth and position to the use of cocaine, and denigration and crime to the crackhead. But as the definition has already told you, both substances are derivations of the same poison.

But cocaine is a “phase” that rich people go through, while crack is evidence of urban blight and proof that the inner city is perniciously flawed—and therefore continually dangerous.

It is a racism that continues because we feel that if we don’t have some release for our fears of color and culture, we might just go back to wanting to lynch again. So we become party to socially acceptable principles that have no basis in anything but bigotry.

If you take crack, it affects your head. That’s why we insist you’re a “crackhead.” But there is no such thing as a “cocaine head,” or a cocaine user who is going to break into your house and steal your television to support his or her habit.

Bizarre.

You fight racism by noticing the little places it crops up, and confronting them as simply as possible. If you wait until racism is actually in your presence, it’s too late.

I remember when I was renting my first apartment and I discovered cockroaches, I hired an exterminator, and when some of the cockroaches were still hanging around two weeks later, I angrily called and asked him to come back and “do his extermination right.”

After spraying one more time, he patiently turned to me and said, “I am more than happy to spray your place, but I must ask you to do something on your part.”

He walked over and pointed out dirt on the counter and food that was laying out. He looked me in the eyes and said, “If you want the cockroaches to go, you’ve got to stop feeding them.”

I will tell you—likewise, if you want the cockroaches of racism to go, you’ve got to stop feeding them with your quick smirk, your nervous titter or your frightened silence.

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Crackers

Crackers: (n) thin, crisp biscuits

 I think I was forty years old before I discovered crackers.

I was well aware they existed—as a boy we would buy a box, and I’d see my parents nibbling on the little pieces of crunch-crunch. I remember trying one and nearly spitting it out because of its lack of…Well, its lack of everything—flavor, texture, color, will…

The only time I ever ate crackers before the age of forty was when I had an upset stomach and people said to me, “You should try eating some soda crackers. They’ll settle your stomach.”funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

So I did exactly that. I tried eating soda crackers.

The queasy stomach passed before I was able to eat more than two. Crackers have a great similarity to carbon dioxide—they are colorless, odorless and tasteless. Matter of fact, we once kept a box in our cupboard for so long without eating them that they turned green with mold—which is difficult to achieve since they have no yeast to promote such a misadventure.

Then one day, shortly after my fortieth birthday, someone brought over a delicious dip. It was in that era when everyone was trying to outdo each other with the number of layers in their concoction. They started out with five, and then there were nine. On this particular night, I think it was an eleven-layer dip.

There were no potato chips available and the bringer of the multi-layer phenomenon had only provided crackers. I thought I might be considered a little bit gauche if I sunk only my fingers in the dip to gain the flavor.

So I tried the crackers.

It was astounding how well they worked and how good they tasted under the circumstances of being completely mounted and controlled by the dip.

I learned a lot that night.

I guess I could sum it up best by saying that even “crackers” seem to have value when you have enough “dips” hanging around them.


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