Dagwood Sandwich

Dagwood Sandwich (n): a thick sandwich filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, dressings, and condiments.

His name was Chic Young.

I just wanted to see that in print—because as an author, I am fully aware that most of the things I write will be lost in obscurity or rendered meaningless.

Being a creative person is similar to manufacturing clouds. Brief vapor that they are, they soon will pass away and need to be replaced by new clouds.

Chic Young is the cartoonist who came up with the idea for Dagwood and Blondie. The strip began in 1930, when the assumption of the times was that men are lazy, always looking for a way of getting out of work and never doing what their wives wanted them to—and that women are interfering, nosy and a bit inept.

That particular line of reasoning is still alive in our entertainment today.

Yes—although it’s been ninety years, we persist in believing that men and women are destined to be at odds with one another, except when sexual arousal temporarily interrupts the warfare for a copulation treat.

I shall not comment further on that. You can probably tell by my emphasis that I find such thinking to be self-indulgent and counter-intuitive.

But back to Chic.

Let’s just take a moment and salute a fellow who came up with a character—Dagwood Bumstead—who loved to make huge sandwiches, usually with a sardine sticking out on the side—and because of that, to this day we name such concoctions and compilations Dagwoods.

How many of us can say that something we came up with led to having a sandwich named after it?

By the way, the name Dagwood is legitimate.

It actually comes from England and is translated as “shiny forest.” Although I do not know what a shiny forest would be, I assume it could only be viewed following the ingestion of some hallucinogenic drug.

So on this fine day, we want to thank you, Chic, for giving us Dagwood and Blondie.

And for all you writers, composers, thinkers, reasoners, poets and musers—keep going.

Someday something you concocted might be ordered at a Subway–with extra pickles.

 

Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia (Prop Noun): a former republic in central Europe formed after World War I

It was usually right before lunch in our fifth-grade class that the teacher asked us to open up our geography books.

I grew up in a small town.

In our tiny burg, the state capital, which was only twenty miles away, seemed a world apart from us in culture, problems and of course, interaction.

So when my teacher talked about places like Mississippi, Switzerland, Utah and Czechoslovakia, the names began to mingle. The relevance gradually disappeared.

I didn’t know anything about the countries.

Sometimes I confused the states of the Union with places far, far away—in Europe and Asia.

(It was a different time, filled with much prejudice—so we rarely talked about Africa. I knew there were jungles there. There were whisperings about cannibals, and my understanding of the lion was that it was man-eating.)

I didn’t feel ignorant.

I just didn’t think all of these nations and names and locales were of any value to me.

I didn’t see anybody from England coming over to try to understand me—so why was I sitting, opening a book, looking at flat maps representing a round world?

Then I grew up and took my first trip to Mississippi. Although some of its landscape was different from my home, most trees carry a family resemblance, no matter where you go. What opened up Mississippi to me was meeting someone and putting a face to a place.

As I traveled more, learned more, wrote more and created, I met more faces. They were tied to places.

One day I received an email from a young man from Czechoslovakia. He had read one of my books. I was astounded. How did it get there? Apparently, my books were not nearly as timid as I. They felt free to journey and be handled; they welcomed the inspection by people from all cultures.

By the way, his note to me was so nice.

He was so intelligent.

He was so appreciative.

It made me like Czechoslovakia.

It could be a short-sighted way of looking at life, but if I can put a face to a place, then the place begins to mean so much more to me.

For instance, I no longer think that Africa is filled with cannibals or that the lions wish to munch on human flesh.

I don’t think all people from California are “fruits and nuts,” like my Uncle Raymond claimed.

And I no longer believe that all French folk wear berets and do nothing but eat croissants and kiss with their tongues.

I guess the best way to learn geography is to first travel the width and breadth of your own heart, and make sure that you’re prepared to receive what you will discover.

The world is only twenty-six thousand miles—all the way around. Not very much. And within that twenty-six thousand miles are nearly eight billion people.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful for us all to believe that we would really like most of them?

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Committee

Committee: (n) a group of people appointed for a specific function

As the years have passed, I have selected to remain silent when hearing ideas which are doomed.

When younger, I often voiced my opinion and even offered prophetic utterances of the gigantic failure which lay in the future of these ideas. It made me a nasty bastard, especially when the words ended up being true.

There are things people get excited about.

Voting–even though we continue to discover that the American public can vote for a candidate and prefer that individual by the popular vote, and a handful of elitists will go into a back room and change the will of the people.

Some folks get excited over new discoveries–an ingenious, creative way to use your toilet paper.

And truthfully, many, many of my fellow-delightful-humans are completely enamored with the idea of committees.

It seems so right: “Why don’t we all get together, discuss this and come up with a suitable compromise?”

I have perched myself in committees. I have watched them–and often been the victim of their anemic passivity.

Because after all, what a committee does is trim the edges off a knife until it looks sleek, is safer, but won’t cut a goddamn thing.

That’s what discussion does. We decide to become inclusive of every opinion, when honest to God, sometimes our opinions don’t matter.

Having a committee to discuss gender bias, racism, personal freedom–and voting, for that matter–is absolutely useless.

But yet:

We learn Parliamentary Procedure.

So we can have our committee.

And obviously pretend that we live in England.

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Chickpea

Chickpea: (n) a round yellowish seed, used widely as food.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that garbanzo beans were also known as chickpeas.

For years, when I traveled with my friends, had brief attempts at weight loss and hovered over salad bars, I wondered if the garbanzo beans
were calorically low enough to be included in my pile of greenery and anemic salad dressing.

One day I asked the waitress at the local Ruby Tuesday’s in Alabama if they had garbanzo beans. She stared at me as if I were a Yankee who had come to ransack her plantation.

“What’s that?” she said in utter disgust.

So I described it, as much as one can manage wording to verbally recreate a non-descript object.

She replied, “You mean chickpeas?”

At this point, I was trying to be patient. I am fully aware that people from the Southern part of our great nation often have different names for things–usually with a country tinge to them.

“Chickpeas?” I questioned. “I’ve never heard them called that.”

As we were conversing, a lovely woman, gracious and well-spoken, came up and added, “Both names are correct.”

She had an English accent.

I was aggravated. I thought I had a young southern girl trapped in a language faux pas–and then this agent straight from the throne of the King’s English steps over to thwart my enthusiasm.

“See, I told ya’,” drawled the girl, strolling away.

I glanced over at the dignified Englishwoman and said, with great conviction, “I will always be a garbanzo man.”

 

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Chap

Chap: (n) A true gentleman

Writers are insane from spending too much time in their own brain–drunk on the intoxicant of finding new words to make great phrases.

Often in writing a story line, when you’ve used “he, man, guy and fellow” so many times that you know the reader must be gagging, you go to the Thesaurus and look for other terms for the same idea.

You often land on a word like “chap.”

No one actually refers to another person as “a chap.” Even in England, you probably would not find many people pointing at others and saying, “Now, there’s a fine chap.”

But in a pinch, a writer who wants to extend his story by one more paragraph and needs a variable to describe a male figure will insert the word “chap,” hoping that the person reading his or her novel will overlook it and move along to the next verb.

It is in that moment when you know the writer has run out of words before running out of ideas.

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Bittersweet

Bittersweet: (adj) sweet with a bitter aftertaste.

Dictionary B

There is a reality that follows every miracle.

A “morning after” to each and every excitement.

An epilogue to a happy ending.

There is an unwelcome balance in life which often tries to cloud the beauty of a single giddy moment with an overall coloration of gray.

It’s why the human race–through blessed by sunshine–still curses the rain. It just doesn’t seem to be even.

So we naturally begin to focus on problems. We worry. We conjure additional sadness, awaiting the next conflict.

This is why, whether you are in China, England, Japan, or the United States, you will meet human beings who are tinged with a little despair, waiting for the present flickering flame of joy to be blown out by a new foul wind of difficulty.

So is it mature to be cautious, since at any moment our sense of satisfaction can be dampened? Or is there a certain charm in ignoring the tribulation and instead, mustering a determined good cheer?

It is bittersweet

People will argue this until the day they die.

It is at that juncture that most of us hope we are wrong … that there really is a happy ending.

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Antietam

dictionary with letter AAntietam: historic site in northwestern Maryland, known as Antietam Creek, the scene of a major Civil War battle in September of 1862.

It was a lost cause.

Unless you’re a careful student of history, you may fail to realize that Abraham Lincoln was probably the most hated man in America.

Not only had he been elected President, causing the South to secede from the Union, but he had also made a decision to surround himself, in his cabinet, with competitors and critics.

When the war began, it was a fiasco. At the First Battle of Bull Run, the South nearly ended the entire conflict with one day’s murder and mayhem. But Lincoln continued, searching for a means to keep the country together, and possibly in the process, heal some old wounds and atone for the sins of slavery.

The problem was, the North couldn’t win a battle. Not even close.

So rather than being considered a great leader or a man of vision, he was viewed by his contemporaries as a clumsy goofball, ill-prepared for the challenge of repairing the breach.

He kept replacing generals in charge of the Army of the Potomac, hoping that someone might grow a backbone or at least field an army.

Lincoln had two goals:

Primary was to keep the Union together, for a reason which he almost singularly held within his breast. Everyone else had varying degrees of indifference on the issue.

But secondly, he realized that emancipating the slaves was not only an important step of contrition, but also would keep England and France out of the war,siding with the Confederacy. But it was certainly difficult to issue any kind of Proclamation in the midst of defeat.

The Battle of Antietam was a standoff, with more soldiers killed on the field than in any war in history, and Lincoln seized on that result, deeming it a moral victory, and set in motion to free the slaves.

Even though the Union became more proficient at war and eventually wore down their Southern brothers, it was the Battle of Antietam that gave Lincoln the doorway to make the Civil War about something other than states’ rights. In doing so, he robbed the countrymen clad in gray of the possibility of gaining international acceptance, therefore stifling their resources to those found within their own borders.

It was enough.

It’s why we still honor Abraham Lincoln today instead of shaking our heads in sadness over another failed Presidency.

Antietam was a bloodbath which ended with no conclusion–except permission for a President to change the rules and certainly, change the world. 

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