Day Tripper

Day Tripper: (n) a person who goes on a trip, especially an excursion lasting one day

I was well into my thirties before I realized my parents were very conservative.

I should have known.

My mother would tell absolute strangers that she voted “a straight Republican ticket.” That meant she walked in, pulled the lever down for all the “R” candidates, no matter who they were.

Honestly, throughout my high school years, I was not interested enough in politics to distinguish between the colliding hordes.

All I knew was that the Beatles came to America and I liked what I heard and my parents decided the Fab Four were communists, attempting to use African music to raise the heart rate of American youth, to lure them to their will.

Because of this, I was not allowed to watch them perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. I had none of their records. If one of their tunes came on the radio, I had to listen to a speech about how evil they were (while trying to hear the plea from them to “hold her hand”).

I had one escape.

My friend, Paul, would invite me over to spend the weekend at his house, and Paul’s parents liked the Beatles. His mother even said they were “cute.”

Unfortunately for Paul—who wanted to play basketball, goof off and eat foods his mother normally would not prepare unless there were guests—I sat directly in front of their stereo and listened to the Beatles for hours at a time. Matter of fact, Paul finally complained to me that I wore out part of the vinyl on a Beatle record because I played it over and over again.

It was the song, “Day Tripper.”

The guitar lick and the drums made me want to dance. I was fat, awkward and had never really thought about dancing before—but Day Tripper did it to me. Sometimes I forgot where I was and began my little dance routine, which made Paul look over and laugh at me. I didn’t care.

I wasn’t concerned about what the lyrics meant.

I wasn’t thinking about whether John Lennon was more popular than Jesus.

And I certainly was oblivious to whether Paul was dead or not.

I was a kid who heard a beat, who felt joy, and for a moment was transformed from my swirling uncertainty of adolescence into a jubilant being who actually believed that “love is all we need.”

It just “took me so long to find out.”

 

Chorus

Chorus: (n) the. part of a song that is repeated after each verse

I’m a songwriter. Let’s just leave it at that.

I grow weary of the sentences that follow proclamations, trying to convince the listener of the credibility and importance of the proclaimer.

Obviously, if I were a great songwriter you would know me. Even if I were a great songwriter who was under-promoted, you would probably be familiar with something I have written.

I write songs because they are the most gentle way to communicate a message to a hearer. There’s something about melody, harmony and even rhythm that brings down our defenses, opens our hearts and exposes our soul.

Even a good songwriter who may not be great will tell you that it’s all about the chorus. Some people refer to it as a “hook chorus”–the part of the song that’s easy to remember, using as few words as possible to communicate volumes of ideas.

Simple. Singable. Often rhyming. And dare I say, clever.

These are the attributes that go into a good chorus, which follows a heartfelt verse.

For the truth of the matter is, many people will never remember the narrative of a song, but the chorus will be hummed and regaled for years to come.

After all, the Beatles got by with:

“Na, na, na, na-na-na-na

Hey Jude…”

Certainly an economy of syllables, producing a monster of memories.

 

Donate Button

 

Cello

Cello: (n) a bass instrument of the violin family, held upright on the floor between the legs of the seated player.

I wrote a screenplay called “The Drive.” I will not go into detail about the storyline because that is not the essence and purpose for this little sharing.

Yet there was a passage in this movie where I envisioned a cello solo to extend over about a four-and-a-half minute period of time.

I do not play cello.

My experience with the cello is seeing them from a distance in the orchestra, and hearing it performed by Yo-Yo Ma.

But I trudged ahead, wrote the composition, and hired a well-recommended cellist. I sent her the music, she arrived and we set out to record.

I found it difficult to hide my disappointment.

You see, I had always envisioned the cello to be this smooth-sounding, basal instrument of gentle tones. But as this professional played my passage, she was plagued with buzzes, growls and all sorts of foreign intonations.

A friend of mine who had been in orchestras for many years, explained to me that many cellos could be bowed and sound nearly smooth as silk–but if you planned on using it as a solo instrument, it often produced various noises of lamentation. She pointed out to me that on the Beatles song, “Yesterday” and the Rolling Stones, “Ruby Tuesday,” that the cello is quite prevalent, but very buzzy.

I cannot tell you that I ever got used to all the personalities of the cello. I still prefer it to sound like a warm-hearted bass-singing angel.

But when it was all said and done, the piece of music was perfect, and did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Honestly, I can’t say that about myself.

 

Donate ButtonThank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 

 

Bonanza

Bonanza: (n) a sudden increase in wealth or good fortune

My parents would not allow me to watch the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, but I was allowed to view episodes of Bonanza.Dictionary B

Now, many of you reading this article may not know what Bonanza was. It was a show about a father and three adult sons, the Cartwrights, who owned a huge ranch, the Ponderosa, in Nevada and their struggles in trying to maintain their opulence.

I loved the show when I was a kid, but when I started watching it as an adult, it was a little bit terrifying. Why? Because a lot of people got killed so all of the family who lived on the Ponderosa could be proven right.

It was just the mindset of the time.

In our country, once we had established that something was “an American thing,” it had to be justified. So we condoned:

  • A Cold War
  • Racial inequality
  • Killing Vietnamese
  • And even brutalizing in the press scrawny rock-and-roll singers from Britain

As I watched the reruns of Bonanza, I realized that I was required to root for Dad and the boys in every episode, no matter how faulted their motives might be.

Bonanza?

Yes, I guess so–if your name was Pa, Little Joe, Adam or Hoss.

 

Donate ButtonThank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 


Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

Click here to get your copy now!

PoHymn cover jon

 

 

Apple

dictionary with letter A

Ap·ple (n): the round fruit of a tree of the rose family, which typically has thin red or green skin and crisp flesh. Many varieties have been developed as dessert or cooking fruit or for making cider.

It’s the power of having a good agent–because certainly the apple needed one.

It began its fruitful journey as the traditional forbidden delicacy eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden, the symbol of the knowledge of good and evil and certainly the subject of great controversy.

Then over the years, through what could only be considered a miraculous amount of promotion and transformation of public image, it has turned into “Mom and apple pie.”

Try this one on for size:

  • The apple of his eye.
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  • Apple cider with doughnuts
  • Apple dumpling.
  • Apple face cream.
  • Famous people even name their children “Apple.”
  • When the Beatles were looking for a name for their studio, “banana” was not even considered, but “Apple” was immediately plucked from the tree.
  • And moving with the technology, Apple willingly became a computer.
  • Don’t forget–apples that are green and sour are covered with caramel so they can be part of the carnival.

Somewhere along the line, the apple hired a VERY good agent to escape the scandal perpetrated among the trees in Eden.

Of course, even with the best publicity, you still end up with “rotten to the core.”

 

 Donate Button

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

Amigo

dictionary with letter A

Amigo: (n) term used to address or refer to a friend chiefly in Spanish-speaking areas.

Don’t get me started.

I have a pet peeve about people who know three or four words in several different languages and use them whenever they get around somebody they think might be anywhere near that particular national persuasion.

I’m sorry. It bugs me.

For instance, I don’t think you get to use the word “oui” to say yes just because somebody from France is in the room.

Here’s a clue. No, let me go even further. I’m going to call it a rule.

You are not allowed to use a foreign language unless you can string together at least three sentences in a row.

So this will avoid individuals who go to German restaurants, and when asked if they want dessert at the end of consuming their bratwurst, they pat their tummy and say “nein.”

And it also is going to greatly discourage individuals who, in a Hispanic environment, begin to call everybody mi amigo.

It’s not like you’re impressing anyone. Everyone knows that you’re only aware of certain words, and even find it difficult to order by yourself at Taco Bell. Just do yourself a favor–and everyone else, while you’re at it–and remove the pretense of thinking that you become international by mouthing certain words, which more than likely are mispronounced anyway.

This also goes for individuals who start talking Southern when they’re in Alabama, British when they discuss the Beatles and throw in an occasional “thee and thou” at a performance of Shakespeare in the Park.

I thank you for allowing me to vent my frustration on this issue. I’m sure it has saved me thousands of dollars in therapy … and possibly a murder conviction from brutally attacking one of these language transgressors.

 

Ad infinitum

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Ad infinitum: (adv.) again and again in the same way forever. e.g.: registration is for seven years and may be renewed ad infinitum.

I’ve never been particularly impressed with the word “forever.”

To me, the weakness of eternal life is that it’s eternal. I guess the miracle of God will be His ability to explain how something that goes on and on can escape being repetitive, and therefore, boring.

This has caused me to be able to do my occupation as a vagabond artist. While others in my human family find it comforting to know where they’re going to be a year from now, I feel no sense of compulsion to dance about in the ballroom of security.

Insecurity seems to be a bad word, when actually, life itself is geared to be such. Guarantees are few, promises are many, sameness is unusual, but pursuit of identical results is universal.

Somehow or another, the key to life is not in looking for anything that lasts forever but to forever look for things that are lasting, but changing.

That seems to be a contradiction, doesn’t it? How could something be lasting AND changing?

There’s a little phrase in the Good Book that says, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Kind of makes him sound like a Grandpa, clinging to his Beatles albums.

But actually, the way Jesus is the same is that he’s constantly and faithfully evolving toward meeting human need.  And since we are going through a similar process, being creatures of the earth, he has to have a lot of mercy and a lot of good humor in order to embrace our foibles.

I don’t need forever.

Matter of fact, sometimes I think the things we want to last for a lifetime are unrealistic.

  • I don’t require a lifetime guarantee on my muffler.
  • And perhaps even marriage would be better if we renewed it every ten years.

I don’t know–such decisions are reserved for individuals much more intelligent than me.

But ad infinitum is not necessary for this pilgrim. All this pilgrim needs is some turkey, dressing, a little gravy … and some cranberry sauce.

ADD

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

ADD: (abbr.) attention deficit disorder

Ironically, I was thinking about writing an essay on how Thomas Jefferson, who penned the Declaration of Independence, was considered by many of his cohorts–those gentlemen we call “the forefathers”–to be a rather obnoxious sort because he was always bouncing from one idea to another, proposing several different drafts and considering every paragraph and line in his document, like some sort of nervous kid on a sugar high.

Oops. There he is again.

The fly.

He got let into the room yesterday. I HATE a fly in my room. Do you know why? They lie in some corner, dormant, until, in some fit of gregarious insect joviality, they join you for dinner, watching TV or sipping your coffee.

I want to kill the fly. Is that wrong?

Speaking of Thomas Jefferson, he had a tendency to question the silliest little words, wondering if they would be understandable to future generations, and what that generation would consider to be freedom and their concept of the Revolution.

Do you like that song by the Beatles? I’m talking about the song, Revolution.

Do you know what I once did? I was doing a television show and wanted to include the song, but every time I tried to edit the song in, it was distorted. So I bought myself a mixer to try to remove the distortion, and then someone pointed out to me that the first part of the song commences with a distorted guitar.

Which brings me back to Thomas Jefferson. I think he finally realized there’s no such thing as a perfect document, and the Declaration of Independence would have to be interpreted by future generations based upon our evolution in democracy.

Do you really think we came from monkeys? I was thinking about evolution. We’ve never really found the missing link, have we? I have met some folks worthy of study, but even they would not be conclusive to such a claim.

It’s not that I would mind being a monkey, it’s just that cooking with only bananas would get very old–let’s say, lose its “a-peel.”

Even though I suppose you could use plantains. Do you like them? Plantains? Do I really want a non-sweet banana? Do I need a potato substitute? Have potatoes failed me?

I like Mr. Potato Head. I was one of those weird kids who used to put the ear in the nose and the nose on the mouth…and then I would present it to people, thinking it was funny, and they just thought it was weird.

Yes, it was weird that Thomas Jefferson fussed so much about the Declaration of Independence.

Do you think maybe he had ADD?

 

Accordion

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Accordion: (n.)a portable musical instrument with metal reeds blown by bellows, played by means of keys and buttons.

It’s just another thing the Beatles did.

As a young boy, I had run across traveling evangelists who usually had a wife who played the accordion because it granted them a portable musical instrument so they could go into places that did not have a permanent piano or organ. Matter of fact, I have sat through my share of hymns played on this ridiculous squeeze box, and felt, after about fifteen minutes, that I was testing the borders of my sanity.

I don’t know if it is possible to play the instrument well, but it always sounded like it was being played poorly. The combination of whine and the sound that fluctuated from rock and roll decibels to the whisper of lovers in the back seat of a car was aggravating to the human ear and made you wish for the pleasantry of fingernails on the blackboard.

But unbelievably, John, Paul, Ringo and George put together a song and used the accordion in such a way that it almost appeared to have real life and function. It was in We Can Work It Out. I remember turning to one of my friends, nearly gasping, as I asked, “Is that an accordion?”

Yes. The Beatles had taken the cursed sideways keyboard, complete with its bellows, and turned it into something cool.

What I learned from that experience is that you must never turn your back on things that seem doomed to irrelevance or obscurity. Often it’s not the instrument that is truly significant, but rather, the hands that caress it.

Abuzz

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abuzz: (adj.) filled with a continuous buzzing sound.

I probably would have made the mistake of advertising the Beatles album, Let It Be, with some sort of corny phrase, like, “Let it bee. The world is abuzz with the new sounds.”

I do think there was a time in this country when such a play on words would have been considered extremely intelligent,  or at least appreciated as being whimsical and cute. Now if you would play on the word ‘abuzz,’ people groan, acting like you’re Rip van Winkle, waking up from a twenty-year-nap, into a world of smart phones and tweeting instead of computer disks and spiked hair.

What has happened? Because the word “abuzz” is really kind of nice. Matter of fact, I’m sure that sometime, maybe even in the last two weeks, I have used it or even inserted it into one of my essays. But if you become artsy in using it, you suddenly become “Grandpa,” trying to be too silly, making the kids laugh by tickling their ribs.

Wouldn’t it be important, though, to keep a little cleverness in our society, so that not everything is black and white, being chased by crap brown? Does everything have to be straight-forward, and if it isn’t, mystical or fantasy related?

I’m sure if people watch old episodes of Mary Tyler Moore, or especially MASH, their heads must spin with the rapid-fire use of language, which is laced with so many double entendres and plays on words that you almost have to have a program to keep up with them.

I would agree with the younger set–some of that scripting was a bit over the top. But I think the absence of dialogue, sweetness, gentle nudgings and even coined phrases in our present entertainment and even political scene is just downright drab.

So I will freely admit that I should be careful not to use the word “abuzz” in relationship to anything resembling a bee or a fly–that is, if you will admit to ME that describing the color green as “greenish” … is absolutely boring.