Credentials

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Credentials: (n) evidence of authority, status, rights, entitlement to privileges, or the like, usually in written form

 I suppose if you removed my driver’s license from my wallet, I would possess no credentials whatsoever. My state has authorized that I am entitled to drive a vehicle.

I have never received credentials from a music school, though I have persisted in making music.

I have no credentials whatsoever to write books, blogs and screenplays—yet again, I pursue.

I certainly had no credentials to be a dad, but the kids kept showing up.

I had no credentials as a lover, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

I am not licensed or approved to be a philosopher, a teacher, an instructor or a motivator—but these things have come up and in the absence of real talent, I have stepped in, acting as the best substitute I could.

I suppose I should have given more thought to gaining credentials. They do look good when writing a bio. Getting places or people of note to qualify you is much better than jotting down, “Have no fear. I am here.”

And I am certainly not one of those who feels self-righteous about lacking credentials, as if I were showing some sort of superiority by sheer grit and force.

It’s just that everything in my life started about one year earlier than it probably should have.

When I possibly could have gone to college, I was having my first son. And since I had that little family, when I might have wanted to garner some sort of degree or certificate, I was trying to put pizza and animal crackers on the table.

What I had to learn was that the absence of credentials demanded an honest presentation of oneself rather than lying or becoming defensive or saying something stupid like, “I have graduated from the school of hard knocks.”

I think it is absolutely delightful, if not essential, for people to gain credentials. I certainly do like to know that my plumber has plumbed before, and somebody knows that he’s not “plumb crazy.”

But in the absence of credentials, I will humbly offer myself, candidly share my value and do the best goddamn job I possibly can.

 

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Conceit

Conceit: (n) excessive pride in oneself

What is excessive?

It reminds me of the old saying about prunes: “Is two enough? Is six too many?”

Of course, the source of that little piece of whimsy is that if you eat too few, your bowels won’t flow, and if you eat too many, you end up funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
gushing.

I guess that’s the way it is with conceit.

If you don’t have enough self-awareness to believe in your abilities to get you through the tough times, then you’ll probably have a life that’s constipated–gripped in fear.

On the other hand, if you think the journey is all about proclaiming the power of your excellence, you will produce so much information that people will not want to be near you.

Here’s a simple way to handle it:  when someone asks what you do, tell them without adding any of your credentials and awards.

For instance, someone asked me the other day: “What do you do for a living?”

I responded, “I’m a writer.”

I stopped. I didn’t explain what I write, how much I write, or whether someone, somewhere decided to give me an award for my scrawlings.

As it turned out, they were completely comfortable with my answer and pursued no further.

Had I produced one more “prune of thought,” my questioner would have been turned off by my self-gushing.

 

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Cinema

Cinema: (n) the production of movies as an art or industry.

“To date, I have written thirteen screenplays which have been produced into independent movies, receiving recognition at twenty-eight film festivals.”

This is a blurb.

It’s the kind of thing you stuff into an advertisement or resumé  to let people know you have credentials.

Once it is stated or read, the person who has received the input immediately asks, “What movies? Would I know one?”

The answer is no–because I am not famous, rich, nor do I wield any power.

I do not say that with misgiving. I am so grateful being able to make my living doing what I like while also having the freedom to drive down to the local department store and move around in total anonymity.

But can I tell you? From my personal experience, the world of cinema is locked up tighter than a nun’s vagina.

It is filled with nepotism, red tape and a self-righteousness about art which often contends that the more bizarre the story line, the more realistic it becomes.

The budgets are overblown, the plot lines as thin as a Parisian model, and the resolutions are not geared for the edification of humankind.

So comically, the movies that make the most money in the world of cinema are G-rated–but the movies that are touted are usually R.

I have nothing against either genre. I have written in both.

But historically it has been the job of theater–in this case, cinema–to lift us as a people from our depression and make us believe in the higher good of the human race, which began as dust inhabited by the image of God.

 

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Choreography

Choreography: (n) the sequence of steps and movements in dance

Producing a Broadway-style musical does require some choreography–just as putting together a Ruben sandwich means you’re gonna bust out some sauerkraut.

Many years back, when I wrote such a musical, produced it, cut the tracks, penned the script and found a cast, it came time to go into
rehearsal camp and I realized I needed a choreographer.

Just to make my story clear, the goal of a choreographer is to show up and know choreography to such a degree that this information can be passed along to others. Simply having the credentials, the desire or the reputation for dance and movement does not make one a choreographer.

To teach choreography, you must be willing to come up with a format which can be commonly performed by people who are normally actors and singers–and not ballet dancers.

So when my choreographer showed up and began to conduct classes with my actors in an atmosphere that landed somewhere between a séance and a giggle-fest, I saw that my people were not learning anything. Matter of fact, when my choreographer brought me in to show me that day’s progress, the cast was so confused that they were running into one other. A friend standing nearby suggested that it more resembled “collisionography.”

Complicating the matter were the expressions on the faces of my hired actors, who pleaded with me through their eyes to either kill them or the choreographer.

So I made an executive decision to nicely fire her–which is a simple way of saying I paid her off–and hired two other guys, who were even worse.

By opening night, the lines were well-learned, the music was beautiful, the singing was enchanting, the blocking was positive, the costumes, lovely, and the choreography–disastrous.

It was one of those moments in my life which was so poorly accomplished that the onus fell on me–the fool who had no idea what he was doing.

So the next morning, as we were getting ready for that night’s performance, I asked a question. “Can you explain to me what you know how to do and what you would be able to do tonight without hurting one another?”

They came up with four moves. We quickly incorporated them into the show–over and over again–and the second night went beautifully.

I do not know why my choreographer could not teach choreography to my actors.

She insisted they were mentally retarded. Having their applications in front of me, I knew this was not true.

I also realized that it doesn’t do any good to know how to do something if you don’t know how to communicate it to those who don’t know how to do it at all.

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