Clef

Clef: (n) a sign placed at the beginning of a musical staff to determine the pitch of the notes.

Back in the day when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, if a young man wanted to be a seafaring fellow, he had to sign up on one of the boats and stay on it throughout its journey, so at the end of the process, if he survived all the perils and diseases, he could be
considered a grizzled, rugged seaman.

Although the analogy may be a poor fit, such a journey was mine with music.

I signed up to travel the sea of notes and time signatures, but after three years of practicing my piano, I decided it was “girly-girl” and I quit in favor of a football helmet and a mouthpiece.

Yet I never lost interest in the instrument. I especially found it conducive to wooing young ladies, who were more impressed with someone who was tuneful than someone who could tackle.

Here was my problem: since I didn’t complete the journey on the “Good Ship Music” and learn all the information and comprehend the significance of each and every clef, I sometimes found myself temporarily appearing inadequate. I learned to exaggerate and lie.

So when my musical companion showed up twenty-two years ago, to join me in the construction of original compositions, I was quickly exposed by this lady with a Master’s in Music, to be less-than-adept at both terminology and technology.

I had to come clean.

I had to explain to her that I could read the notes, but when my right hand and right eye tried to join with my left hand and left eye to play both bass and treble clefs, I suddenly developed a severe case of “fumbleitis.”

Because I was honest, she was very merciful. She let me pace myself at a realistic rate based upon my true ability.

And like the young man who got on the ship to sail the Seven Seas, who decided to stay on at the first port because he favored the local rum over the ocean run, I, too, have to admit my lack of tenacity.

But because I hung around, listened, observed and learned–and was blessed to be in the presence of a really patient partner–it now appears that I have a good understanding of the working end of a clef.

 

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Clean

Clean: (adj) uncontaminated and pure; innocent.

I didn’t take my first shower until I was in junior high school.

Our house had a bathtub. I remember, as a boy, sitting in that tub until my skin started to prune up. This told me two things: first, I had been in the water too long. But secondly, there was a chance I was clean.

But the first time I stepped into that shower after junior high school football practice, I realized I had never gotten the back of my neck clean sitting in that tub.

Matter of fact, a friend standing nearby, who should have been minding his own business, saw that there were little streams of dirt flowing down my backside.

He thought this was hilarious.

Being one who liked to share his joy, he pointed it out to all the nearby fellows showering. I was embarrassed.

I tried to explain that I was a bather, not a “shower-er,” but that sounded even worse.

I scrubbed the back of my neck the very best I could, went out, changed clothes and left as quickly as possible.

I grew up a lot that one afternoon, because I realized that just because we think we’re clean doesn’t mean that every place on us–or in us–has been cleansed.

Sometimes it takes a shower hitting us at just the right place to expose hidden dirt.

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Choir

Choir: (n) an organized group of singers

I found that being in a choir squashed my desire to be heard. Yes, you have to be willing to blend.

Matter of fact, they talk about “the blend”–that particular sound that a group of singers makes which is supposedly unique unto them.

It is fairly restrictive. Even the names are:

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: “To sing, I have to be Mormon, get directions to the tabernacle, and then hide my voice among other song birds. I am en-caged.”

I felt this in high school.

When I quit the football team because I discovered they made fat boys run, I realized that my second-greatest interest other than tackling running backs was singing. It seemed logical to join the choir, since that was the avenue afforded to me on the thoroughfare of musical expression.

I hated choir. Nobody could hear me sing. They commented on “the blend,” or applauded the musical director, or noted how the robes looked so good.

It drove me nuts.

So in rehearsal one day, in a fit of rebellion and pending insanity, I just started singing another song from my standing position in the choir, while the rest of the parakeets tweeted out the prepared number.

My voice was strong, but certainly not powerful enough to overcome the mass musical. But it was annoying enough that the director kept tilting her head, leaning in with squinting eyes, trying to determine what was disrupting her “blend.” I just kept singing a different song–a little quieter, but with enough volume to create frustration on the face of the conductor.

After a few moments, she took her baton and tapped it violently against the music stand, stopping the proceedings.

“Is everybody singing the same song?” she bellowed to the gathered.

Those standing closest to me, who heard my little interpretation, turned in unison and gazed in my direction.

I was caught. The director peered at me intensely and said, “Were you singing a different song?”

I paused–not so much to make it seem like I was making up a story, but just to express my alarm. Then I replied, “I thought we were doing Number Eight in the program.”

I don’t think she believed me, but she played along.

“No,” she said. “It’s Number Seven. I’m sorry if I did not make that clear.”

“You’re forgiven,” I replied in my snootiest voice.

She nearly lost all sensibility. Glaring at me, she said tersely, “Thank you.”

We resumed singing, and I couldn’t help myself. Once we had gotten a chorus of the song in, I reverted back to my former tune, which was completely alternative to “the blend.”

This time she stopped and used her baton to point toward the door as she screamed, “Get outta here!”

There were giggles and whispers as I made my way out, escaping the class. Fortunately for me, she was not specific about where I should get–so since I was told to be punished, I just went early to have a leisurely lunch.

 

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Celerity

Celerity: (n) swiftness of movement.

I will risk being considered ignorant or out of touch by telling you that I had absolutely no idea what this word meant when it popped up on my screen. But fortunately for me, the definition was very straight-forward: swift movement.

I admire those who are fleet of foot, due mostly to the ever-lightness of their being. I’ve always been a heavy-set chap (which is what I will
write in this article to escape calling myself “fat,” making you think I have diminished self-esteem).

During my brief stint of playing football, the coach ordered us to do windsprints. For me, it was more “wind” than “sprint.” I was always gasping for air as my lighter brothers glided by me as if propelled by the wings of Mercury.

The advantage of being swift is being able to get a lot of things done, as they say, lickety-split.

So since I do not have celerity, it falls my duty to take my brain and teach it to be “celeritous.” (Perhaps not a word, but willing to adapt.)

I developed a swift mind.

I learned how to abandon bad ideas quickly so they wouldn’t clutter my path.

I tried to rid myself of forlorn, discouraged and upset feelings, which only slow down progress.

I developed a sense of good cheer–which is an understanding that expecting help is the doorway to making sure that nothing gets done.

I found out what I could do, how to do it, and to make it fun–and then did it with celerity.

I have never run fast in my life. I have never won a swimming race in a pool (except against my little three-year-old son, who was wearing water wings).

And now, as I am aging and my legs are seeking a condo for retirement, I realize that metering my movements with a great sense of timing and knowing when to rest, can fool the masses into thinking that I’m really, really swift.

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Busk

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Busk: (v) to play music or perform for voluntary donations in the street or in subways.

What is sacred?

Or for that matter, is there anything sacred?

Is Earth so earthy that everything is earthen?

Is there anything of heavenly quality on a miniscule planet orbiting in the midst of an immense Universe?

We certainly think there are sacred things–and it’s not limited to those who have a religious swing to their club.

No, everyone, in their own way, will make it clear to you what they perceive to be so important that it must never, ever be ignored, criticized or portrayed in an unseemly way.

The Muslims insist Mohammed is sacred. No pictures. No criticisms. No embellishment in any way, shape or form.

Some Christians are still that way about Jesus, but the Nazarene has certainly been allowed to tiptoe through darker halls of speculation.

Some people think money is sacred. Just ask them for some. They will explain in vivid detail how separation from finance is the true definition of being cast into outer darkness.They will walk by a musician busking on the thoroughfare and deem the musical effort to be glorified begging instead of allowing some humanity to dribble from them as they realize that this individual who loves music is merely trying to find a way to subsist while doing it.

The list goes on and on.

Motherhood.

Some people consider their sexuality to be sacred.

On Sundays in the autumn months, football is a sacred rite of passage in the United States. If you don’t believe so, factor this in–it comes complete with wings and fantasy leagues.

When I sat down to write this essay, I asked myself, what do I think is sacred?

I know the answer. But I’m afraid to speak it out loud for fear that people will accuse me of “busking” a foolish idea. Or worse, that I will be expected to revere my own assertion.

Yet I believe the only thing that’s sacred is the way I treat the next person I meet.

 

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Bounce

Bounce: (v) to move quickly up, back, or away from a surface after hitting it; to rebound

Junior high football had just finished. I was trying to figure out if I should try out for the basketball team.Dictionary B

I looked horrible stuffed into shorts.

But I loved basketball–at least, I thought I did.

Being very accomplished at playing the classic games, PIG and HORSE, I was pretty sure I could be stunning on the court and score many points, granting my team victory and acquiring the attention of all the cheerleaders.

So I took the leap (although I have to tell you that leaping has little to do with it.)

I found that basketball has a lot to do with bouncing.

  • First, bouncing the ball, which is referred to as dribbling–because it really doesn’t matter how well you shoot at the basket if you can’t bounce the ball to the location where shooting is practical.
  • Then there’s the running–back and forth, with little rest in between.
  • The shooting, now being accomplished with lungs only half-full of air.
  • Then there’s jumping to get the ball back and rebound it on those numerous occasions when the goal is missed.
  • Finally, running again–or is it bouncing?

Well, in basketball you can’t do one without the other.

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Ball

Ball: (n) a solid or hollow sphere or ovoid, especially one that is kicked, thrown, or hit in a game.Dictionary B

Thirteen years old is such a fussy, giggly time.

I was at church camp and one of the counselors had forgotten to bring balls for us to play.

First of all, being thirteen years of age, when the counselor announced that we didn’t have balls for us to play with, we all had to giggle uncontrollably. (You see, that’s the problem with the word “ball.” It has so many meanings that it’s nearly meaningless.)

But anyway, back to my story.

So when it was announced that we were “balless” (hee-hee) we thought that this adult standing in front of us was going to go out and acquire us … balls. (This article is doubling over with double-entendres…)

Anyway, he didn’t.

I don’t know whether he was lazy, or figured there would be some sort of other entertainment for us that wouldn’t require balls. (Oh, my God…)

So in frustration we began a great search across the campgrounds. After about an hour and a half, in a ditch outside of the cafeteria, we found an old basketball that obviously had been discarded, which was about halfway filled with air.

In other words, it was still round, but did not bounce. When we tried to bounce it, it more or less splatted.

But this became our ball for the week.

Since no other circular objects of play were afforded us, we changed the rules of every sport to use what was provided.

So our basketball game, rather than being a dribbling affair, became more like football, where one would run toward the goal, knocking people over, and then shoot it and try to rebound and catch it before it haplessly squatted to the earth.

So by the end of the week, we had discovered that the most logical way to use our hampered ball was to play game after game of kickball.

I cannot tell you how sad we were on Day Four, when the kicked and abused sphere sported a gash and lost its remaining air of life.

As important as it is to have a ball, it is much more important to have air in it.

Somewhere within, there’s a lesson for life, but since I am desperately trying to get out of this awkward column … I will let you draw your own conclusions.

 

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