Crib Notes

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crib note: (n) a translation, list of correct answers, or other illicit aid used by students while reciting, taking exams, or the like

Perhaps two of the more frightening words in the English language are “spontaneous” and “improvisation.”

Working in the theatrical community over the years, I have discovered that certain actors, directors and even writers extol the value of being spontaneous or applaud the introduction of improvisation into the set. Let me explain that the only people who think that spontaneous thought or improvisational input is clever are those who are doing it.

Most of us realize that if we’re listening to someone and we know they are going “off the cuff” or using crib notes they’ve written on their shirt sleeve, or they’re referring to an index card palmed in their hand, it’s just goddam nerve-wracking.

You have to start rooting for them, hoping they don’t implode into meaningless babbling or nonsense.

The truth is, if you have something that you want to come off with a flair of impromptu, you should memorize it.


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Box

Box: (n) a container with a flat base and sides, typically square or rectangular

There are several phrases I do not like.Dictionary B

Actually I despise them so much that I scold myself when I use them.

  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “I hate you.”
  • “You don’t get it.”
  • “You’re a foolish asshole.”

Well, I could go on.

But one of my least favorite–a thought that makes my skin crawl–is when people turn to me and say, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

I know they’re really not interested.

I know they’ve sized me up and they’re trying to figure out what box they want to put me in.

They want things simple.So they have a system of storing people away so that their decisions are neat, tidy and final. If you don’t fit into one of their boxes they will decide that you’re a misfit or a rebellious anarchist.

They’re listening for buzz words.

About ten years ago, someone asked me about my occupation. I explained that I was a writer but also a performer. So they said, “Are you a teacher? A storyteller? A philosopher? Or an entertainer?”

Then they smiled, waiting for me to climb into their box.

My response was, “Well, really all of those and more.”

This was displeasing to them. They shook their head and walked away.

Mankind is ready to build a box for you.

They will encourage you, praise you, instruct you, guide you and applaud you until you get inside one of their pre-prepared cartons.

And once you do … you will never be heard of again.

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Applaud

dictionary with letter A

Ap·plaud (v): to show approval or praise by clapping.

Although many people distinguish between human beings by referring to them as “saints” or “sinners,” I truthfully contend that we all blur into “sainners.” For after all, the saints do sin, and the sinners, every once in a while, stumble into some saintly behavior.

But there is one distinct difference between those who “pew” and those who have “de-pewed” and that is over the issue of whether to applaud or not to applaud.

Those who have refrained from steeple life deem applause a way of showing appreciation and often those within the confines of the holy temple think that such generosity is reserved solely for the Almighty and not for his faithful minions.

Here’s the problem: whether you are in the church or out of the church, you’re still human.

Since saints appear to be those individuals who have escaped the mortal coil and no longer have to worry about rent and traffic gridlock, it is difficult for us to pattern our lives after their mannerisms.

Saints and sinners both have to find a way to be human without offending one another (or God, for that matter).

And I will tell you, one of the sure ways to create a resentful, frustrated and bitter individual is to remove encouragement and approval for his or her work.

In America, we show that kind of “attaboy” with money or applause.

When you remove the applause, as is often done in religious circles, and even occasionally subtracting the money, you end up with a craftsman who is trying to do his work out of duty.

Can I say–human beings just suck at duty? Or maybe it’s just that duty itself sucks.

So even though I have performed in front of the faithful many times, I gently demand that they applaud so they don’t end up looking like a bunch of jerks who are trying to decide whether to enjoy themselves.

Matter of fact, because I know the God who fills my heart is a creative genius, I sometimes will step outside early in the morning, as the sun is rising, smile … and applaud.

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Animated

dictionary with letter A

Animated: (adj.) full of life or excitement; an animated conversation.

Do you remember the old commercial where a woman with a sour expression on her face turns to the camera and laments the number of prunes necessary to alleviate her constipation?

“Is two enough? Is six too many?”

I remember when I first saw the commercial–it really grossed me out. I was young and the idea of a constricted bowel life was beyond my comprehension.

Time marches on. Or in the case of this discussion, somewhat stands still.

I feel the same way about living an animated life.

We have many different opinions on whether a certain amount of excitement is enough or if an additional degree of enthusiasm is too much.

Matter of fact, we tend to compartmentalize our lives into occasions where exuberance is acceptable, and those profiles where we normally choose to some degree to be more adult or somber.

What is an animated life?

1. Wherever you are, be there.

I don’t need people to be jumping up and down, but I do like to have the sense that they’re present and aware of their surroundings.

2. Care about something other than your cares.

One of the surest ways to become boring is to have no awareness whatsoever of the feelings, needs, or sentiments of others.

3. Match your surroundings.

The Good Book phrases it really well: “Rejoice with those who are rejoicing; weep with those who are weeping.”

What a fabulous idea.

4. Go for one more.

  • If you’re in a conversation, ask one more question.
  • If you’re enjoying a movie, hang around for one more minute to discuss it.
  • Take another sip of tea before you leave.
  • Think of a reason to express appreciation.

Just one more. It is the definition of the social second mile. It lets people know that you have fulfilled your commitment, but you’re animated enough to offer an additional footnote.

That’s what I think about being animated. I don’t require that people leap to their feet and applaud my efforts, but I would like to know that my presence in their lives was significant enough to create some sort of pleasurable expression on their face.

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