Cream of the Crop

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cream of the crop: (n) the fatty part of milk, which rises to the surface

Audacity can be richly comical if you don’t take yourself too seriously and believe that any one of your proclamations or dreams is sacred.

I’ve always been a music man with a poet’s heart, and the body of a lumberjack. (An overweight lumberjack.)

I’ve wanted to play songs, and I reached an age when the music part of my show was just not bringing in enough dough.

What I had available to me was a wife and two sons. So I decided to form them into a music group. We were not exactly the Partridge Family, the Jacksons nor the Osmonds. We were more like the…

Well, like the Smiths.

There was talent there—but the nine-year-old had just started playing drums, the fourteen-year-old was faithfully practicing on a bass guitar that was mostly broken, and my wife… My wife sang like a wife.

I was an old war horse who had done music for so long that I convinced myself, and quite a few other people, that I was proficient enough at doing it that I should not quit. So I decided to tour with my family.

I am not going to try to rationalize my decision nor disparage it. It was what was available, it was what we could do, we would be together, and no animals would be harmed in the process.

I taught them five songs. That’s right—five. It took a while. The sound was not great, but it would have evoked a smile of approval from the grouchiest member of an audience.

We needed to make a tape we could offer for purchase after our little shows. This way, people would have the music and we could have a few dollars for bologna.

We rented a studio and went in with our five songs—plus one, which I added the day of the recording session. Over the next five hours, we recorded them, mixed them down and ran off a master copy for duplication. Considering that I was working with a nine-year-old, a fourteen-year-old, my wife and my own nervous energy, the production quality hovered just north of bad.

The engineer turned to me and said, “What would you like to name the tape? Because I have to write something down on the label.”

I paused. I thought about the fact that these were the only six songs we knew, and there were no prospects in the near future of adding to the roster.

I thought about naming the tape, “The Best So Far.”

I mused the title, “Our Greatest Hits.”

I lamented that the title, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” was already taken.

Finally it came to me.

Since it’s what we had, and we did our best, and it seemed we were at the top of our game at this station in our musical journey, I told the recording engineer to name it, “Cream of the Crop.”

He winced—but obeyed.

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Brochure

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brochure: (n) a small book or magazine containing information or pictures about a product or service.

Dino-words.

These are words which are extinct from the lexicon because they’ve been replaced by other terms and inventions, rendering them useless to the common man or woman.Dictionary B

Two that quickly come to my mind are “tri-fold” and “rubber cement.”

Come listen, my children, and you will hear…

Of what it was like to advertise in fear.

What were we afraid of? Putting together a tri-fold brochure that needed to be typed or, God forbid, type-set, and then cut out and rubber cemented in perfect symmetry onto panels, hoping that when it was shot with a printer’s camera, it would look somewhat like what you originally envisioned.

It was so easy to get things crooked.

The rubber cement was so messy.

And once you glued something down twice, to pull it up and glue it again created wrinkles, bumps and missing pieces of black ink from the letters.

Printers would encourage you by saying, “It’s nearly as good as the original…”

The idea of digital, which allows you to duplicate the original in perfection, was decades in the future, as you took your tiny knife and trimmed the paper down to just the right size, hoping that the corners you glued would not print off shadows. Of course, to achieve that, you had to make sure you didn’t shoot it too dark–or your original layout of printing would appear as a box instead of just words.

The brochure seemed necessary. It was a way of communicating that you were a prosperous organization which had the time and money to put together a pamphlet which explained who you were and therefore gave you credibility.

Now such a simple little task can be achieved in five or ten minutes on a computer and zonked out through your printer–with machines that will even fold it for you.

Progress is a beautiful thing–as long as you remember what you did before progress, and never lose the childlike sense of appreciation for being freed from monotony and meticulous, meaningless maneuvers.

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