Course: (n) the path over which something moves

I have an internal comedy show going on inside my soul concerning the length of time that each and every fad will last—or shall I say, how quickly that particular “popularism” will disappear.

It wasn’t so long ago that people were bopping around, sticking their noses in your face and posing this question: What is your five-year funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
goal plan?

The first time I heard this, I realized it was irrelevant, and certainly destined to end up in the cultural cemetery, buried near “far out” and “hula hoop.”

But I have to admit, I was surprised at how long it did persist—and you will occasionally hear people do a variation on the theme: Where do you see yourself in five years?

But I will tell you—I think the reason these ridiculous inquiries gain popularity is that we human beings are weakened by our pernicious insistence that we must follow a course of action.

It seems righteous. It sniffs of organization.

It’s the kind of thing that investors like to hear from an entrepreneur.

  • “What are you going to do first?”
  • “What’s next?”
  • “What would be your third effort?”

I suppose if science, Mother Nature, luck and chaos could be included in our planning meeting for our course of action, and each of them voted to participate and promote the campaign, it might have some possibility.

But since science is only concerned about scientific conclusions and not your whim; Mother Nature has nurtured billions of souls before you showed up with your graphs and plans; luck—well, she remains as ambiguous as the veracity of her identity; and chaos is like a toddler locked up in a room filled with expensive glass vases, you may develop a course but there’s no guarantee that anybody will want to take it.

Time and chance happen to everyone, and sometimes you can be at the right place at the right time, but it still won’t turn out…right.

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Choosy: (adj) overly fastidious in making a choice.

Oh, there goes Webster again.

For some reason, the dictionary feels it’s important to offer a certain amount of social commentary in describing the words that are showcased.

Here is the truth of the matter as far as I know: if you are not choosy, eventually you don’t get to choose, and you’re stuck with what’s chosen for you.

Welcome to Earth.

So portraying “choosy” as a negative attitude is the propaganda of governments, religionists, politicians and Madison Avenue agents, who would really like to plan your entire life, but feel that saying this bluntly might scare you away. So instead, they connote that you are “choosy” if you do not choose what they want you to choose on any chosen occasion.

If the dinner menu for the night is barbecued baked beans with barbecued beef and barbecued corn bread with barbecued pudding for dessert, folks might frown at you if, in a choosy way, you insist you prefer not to “go barbecue” tonight.

The problem in our world is not that people are too choosy. The difficulty lies in the fact that we’re not given enough choice.

  • Politics is divided into two major parties, with a whisker’s difference between the pair.
  • Churches insist they offer varieties of services, while simultaneously delivering the same spiritually tone-deaf message.
  • And the clothing in the department stores settles into shades that are determined to be this season’s preference, with stylings which are the “hit of the catwalk.”

What would happen if Americans actually did become choosy?

If we decided not to let the critics determine the best motion pictures?

If we didn’t leave it up to aging librarians to pick out the top books?

What if we had an open marketplace, an open discussion, an open spirit and an open mind–to give things a platform and see how they fared?

What if the whole world were a blind taste test? How would McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Apple, Democrats, Republicans and the religious system chart?

I’m choosy–and pretty proud of it. I often disagree with other people about my choices, but never in a disagreeable way.

But I’m not about to believe that something being popular gives it any more credence than I am to think that the hula-hoop was meant to last forever.


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Article: (n) a particular item or object, typically one of a specified type.dictionary with letter A

I occasionally bring up a phrase I heard as a kid to see if it’s still floating around in the general lexicon of today’s world.

More often than not it’s extinct.

But I didn’t have time to do this today, so I will venture a guess that a certain idea I learned as a child has probably gone the way of the hula-hoop. (Of course, how many people know what a hula-hoop is? Maybe I should say it’s gone the way of the last I-Phone.)

The phrase is “the real article.”

It’s a compliment we used to bestow on products, projects–and even people–when what they professed to be was what they actually delivered.

I would humbly contend that one of the errors of our time is the overabundance of opinions, which hang in the air, waiting for confirmation.

This is why I’m careful not to espouse too many doctrines or beliefs. I know I may not be able to follow up on them. More than anything else in life, I want to be “the real article.”

I want you to hear me say “blue” and not have you show up to get “green”–and a lot of excuses

I want to portray a functional form of love which is within my capacity instead of delivering you an ambiguous package of emotion, insisting it’s real (and maybe has come from God.)

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being shallow, weak and poor of spirit–as long as you have not portrayed yourself with a spotlight of nobility.

  • We don’t need people to be perfect.
  • We don’t require them to be great.
  • We are, however, pretty determined that they toe some sort of line of consistency.

The “real article” is a decision to set ourselves off and be candid about our weaknesses and willing to share our strengths without feeling the need to lie or apologize.

If there were a sudden burst of truthfulness that swept over the city of Washington, D.C., the legislators and even the President would have to admit that no single political party has all the solutions for our nation’s problems. Some resolutions require a conservative approach, and others plead for liberality.

It is the wise steward of purpose who can distinguish what needs to be done, and without fear, do what is necessary … and therefore, become “the real article.”



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

Adirondack Chair

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adirondack chair: (n.) an outdoor wooden armchair constructed of wide slats. The seat typically slants downward toward the sloping back.

If anyone asks you, Panama City Beach is very sunny in the first two weeks of March, but icy cold if you decide to sit anywhere near the ocean. (Just a little travel tip from the well-seasoned vagabond.)

The reason I can share this is that I rented a cottage near the Gulf one year, to spend a few days writing on my first novel. It sounded so romantic and exciting, with a bit of wild abandon thrown in for good measure.

This was before computers and word processors were portable and could be taken out into a thatched-hut cabana for creative purposes, so I was using an old manual Royal typewriter. The little machine was quite quirky, having a nasty disposition which caused it to occasionally refuse to register the “e” key. I didn’t care. I was a writer–and I was near the beach, transforming my thoughts into storyline.

Three things immediately came to the forefront:

1. Manual typewriters were invented in hell, to the devil’s glee–especially when you’re sitting out in a cabana with the cold wind blowing through, icing your fingertips. Now, I might agree that a certain amount of pain is necessary to stoke the furnace of composition, but I draw the line at frostbite.

2. The second problem was that my cottage was much warmer than my workplace, so my mind kept floating back to the grocery provisions stocked in my refrigerator, the television set sitting idly by, awaiting my return, and the room heater that took away the chill and made me toasty. So to keep from going back to being the non-creative lump considering the virtues of daytime TV, I would frequently step out of my cabana into the sunshine and perch myself to thaw out in one of those Adirondack chairs which peppered the surrounding sand. Thus, my third problem.

3. The first time I sat in the chair I was fine, because I didn’t allow myself to get comfortable. But the second time, the sun was so warm and glowing that I leaned back into the chair, sliding into that slope described in the definition, and I dozed off. When I awoke, I tried to rise to my feet to go back to my writing, and I realized that my posterior region seemed to be a perfect fit into the slat at the bottom of the back of the chair. I had wedged myself there–seemingly, permanently.

I and the chair were one.

At first I laughed, thinking that if I just wiggled or squirmed, I would be able to free myself. But no. In a matter of moments, terror gripped my soul. Try as I may, I was unable to unplug myself from the chair. Should I scream for help, only to be emotionally damaged for the rest of my life if someone actually had to uncork me? Should I stay there, hoping that after a few days, weight loss would trim my backside?

For some reason, it occurred to me to do the twist. Remember that dance? You wiggle your hips back and forth like working a hula hoop. It took about fifteen minutes, but finally my left cheek freed itself, and then, by brute force, I was able to rise to my feet.

I have never sat in one of those chairs again.

I’m sure for normal people, who do not have a rear end that parks quite so well, they are absolutely comfortable and adorable.

For me, they are ... the quicksand of furniture.


Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

Ad: (n) an advertisement

dictionary with letter A

Sometimes it’s the way people choose to insult you.

If you’re promoting an idea, a product, or some particular outgrowth of your own efforts, they will accuse you of “advertising.”

Matter of fact, even though we are all basically slaves to the system, we simultaneously insist that we HATE ads. We’ll even try to edit them out of our television programs, and therefore insist upon our independence from such interference. But if we were really all that turned off by ads, Madison Avenue would certainly pick up on our distaste and stop making them.

Are there things that are worth advertising? Because quite honestly, I will put an ad out to the world if I believe in something. I’m not tight-lipped about it at all.

I only require three contingencies to stimulate my passion:

1. It needs to work. I would never want to promote something that was intermittent or just flat-out fails to deliver its promises. That’s the danger of both religion and politics–their adherents have secretly become unbelievers. So the followers are like an old rocker, traveling around from one concert to another in an old beat-up van, peddling t-shirts, who no longer believes in his own slogans.

2. It should make things easier, not harder. Even though I do not think laziness is a virtue, I think over-working is a much worse vice. If you want to improve the world, make a better mouse that doesn’t need to be trapped.

3. It needs to include everybody. I know there are products, ideas and even philosophies which seem to focus on a particular age group. Maybe this is necessary. But I find the greatest value of an idea is how well it can be applied across the board–to all races, genders, ages, creeds, and orientations.

There you go. What is worthy of writing an ad? Anything that fits the criteria listed above.

In other words, an ad should … add.

Everything else is just an imitation and derivation of the hula-hoop.


by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Achy (adj.): Suffering from dull continuous pain: e.g. she felt tired and achy.

That’s not what it makes me think of!

Because of the foolishness of a crazy song, when I hear the word “achy,” I think of Billy Ray Cyrus singing Achy Breaky Heart.”

I don’t know what it is about our society, but for some reason or another, to escape the doom and gloom of everyday problems, we will occasionally take on trends which are absolutely too silly for words. Our nation has a whole series of these:

  • The hula hoop: a circular plastic tube you placed around your waist, to wiggle around to keep it constantly rolling.
  • How about The Twist? I saw a movie the other day and people were doing The Twist and I wondered how we were so blind to the stupidity of the vision?
  • Of course, that goes for La Macarena, too.

We have these notions that certain things are cool for a season. They are silly and we want to escape the drudgery of thought, so we jump on the bandwagon and start tooting our horns with the rest of the off-key crowd.

Achy Breaky Heart??? How did that ever get past a publisher?? How did that get recorded?

Somewhere along the line we need monitors in our society who remind us that our particular difficulties are not so seriously devastating that we need to escape to utter childish pursuits.

I see them every day–people chasing this, pursuing that…and I’m telling you, even things like Twitter and Facebook will eventually have the same fate as telegraph lines, designer phones, 8-track tapes and My Space.

Didn’t they have an Achy Breaky Heart dance?? That is the definition of a double hell.

I am not trying to be some sort of curmudgeon who doesn’t see the joy in an occasional flippant trend, but when we’re chasing down causes which we know are stupid even as we’re doing them, it would just be better to avoid the detour.

And you know what’s worse? This guy, Billy Ray, is still traveling around every night–singing that song to adoring fans who remember where they were the first time they heard it. Do you know where I was? In musical hell!

It’s just too much. Even the word “achy” itself is a little bit Sesame Street.”

Please just be mature enough to go ahead and have an ache.