Clarinet

Clarinet: (n) a woodwind instrument with a single-reed mouthpiece

There were twenty-one members in my junior high school band. Eight of them played the clarinet. It not only seemed imbalanced, but
sounded even worse.

It didn’t take me long to learn to hate the clarinet.

It’s one of those instruments that has to be played perfectly, and even when it is, one’s listening toleration is abbreviated.

The famous clarinetist Benny Goodman may be the only person who will ever be remembered fondly for putting the “black licorice stick” in his mouth. Every other person who licked the reed and then tried to blow through the horn has produced varying degrees of misery for the surrounding humans.

I know there may be those who disagree with me. They may even cite a case when their clarinet solo in high school brought their mother to tears. (But are we sure they were tears of joy? People often cry when they’re in pain…)

I think it’s safe to say that even if you find my assessment to be too judgmental, I probably will not find you anytime soon attending a concert advertised, “A Clarinet Chorale.”

 

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Chapel

Chapel: (n) a small building for Christian worship

It was only five miles from my home town.

It was a small, clapboard building, which held no more than ninety people. But when my place of birth found out that my girlfriend and I were pregnant, and they began expressing their disapproval over our immoral carnality, I escaped to that little refuge, starting my music career.

It was pastored by a fellow who was no more than eight years my senior, and he was either oblivious to the gossip about me or had enough rebellion left over from his teen years that he didn’t care. The people of the church took a liking to me, even though some of them disapproved of my long hair and my decision not to join the American work force.

I wrote my first song for that church.

I had my first public performance with my group in that church.

I stored my equipment in a downstairs closet.

I rehearsed there two or three times a week.

They even gave me a key so I could come and go at my own pace.

I held my first revival in that chapel.

And when I got signed by a Nashville recording company and made my album, I came back and debuted my success in front of the congregated in the chapel. That morning the house was packed–about a hundred folks–and everybody was just as overwhelmed with joy as I was.

Although later on the pastor became more religious and therefore a bit more judgmental and we parted ways, I will never forget that little building and how much it meant to me as a haven of escape from the demands of becoming a budding man, and the criticism of the locals.

 

 

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Busybody

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Busybody: (n) a meddling or prying person.

There is a danger in turning vice, immorality or even sin into charactures so as to escape any referrence to these pieces of nastiness being associated with our actions. So we tend to make sexual immorality broad-stroked–as prostitues, whores and gigolos–and lying as gangsters or Congressmen.

But when am I immoral? When am I a liar?

I’m immoral when I don’t follow the morality that is healthy for humans and I’m a liar when I don’t tell the truth.

God, I don’t like that definition.

I do not like being lumped in with the more decrepit and deceitful members of the human race. It’s much easier for me to believe that a busybody is an old woman sitting around her house frowning at all the joy of the young people around her, secretly jealous because they continue to be optimistic, and she is now old, dried-out and bitter.

I wouldn’t want to think that my personal jealousies, which cause me to throw a little bit of a negative comment about other people, to diminish their character, would have anything to do with being a busybody.

Certainly the member of a political party who sideswipes a person from an opposing political party is not a busybody. Right?

Refusing to understand the changing trends in society and insisting on trying to preserve the old ways doesn’t make me a busybody–even if I tend to criticize those who disagree with me.

A busybody is someone who’s old. And as long as I don’t think I’m old, I couldn’t be a busybody.

Actually, the name is rather ironic–because those who gossip,. refuse to change, are inflexible, judgmental or selfish tend to have very lazy bodies.

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Boy Scout

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Boy Scout: (n) a member of the Boy Scouts of America

I tried to join. I really did.

It’s not that I was interested in campfires, forest animals or hiking. It’s just that one of my friends was a Boy Scout, and he convinced me we could have more time goofing off together if I donned the scarf and signed on the dotted line.Dictionary B

So I came for an interview with Mr. Randall, the Scout leader. He was an interesting man. He was not married, but very fussy, with a soft voice. In my day and age, we just considered him to be an oddball. Today I think most people would assume he was gay.

Yet he was dedicated to the Boy Scout cause.

He could tie a knot in anything.

And all the guys from the troop really respected him and loved him, although some of the more judgmental mothers were a little frightened that his softer ways might rub off on their masculine munchkins.

My interview with Mr. Randall did not go well.

It began to deteriorate when he took my measurements for a uniform, and realized it was unavailable except in the adult leadership size. So he set out, in a very kind way, to discourage me from joining the Boy Scouts, explaining all of the walking, lifting, carrying and struggles involved in a weekend pack meeting.

His technique was very effective. Even though I wanted to have a yellow scarf and a Scout uniform, I was not willing to pay the price for such a benefit.

By the way, Mr. Randall did not stay in our community too long. I never knew the entire story, but eventually, one by one, the young men who were receiving great training and quality lifestyle direction from this leader, left the scout troop at the bequest of their mothers and fathers.

Soon Mr. Randall was a troop leader … with no troop.

 

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Blame

Blame: (v) to assign responsibility for a fault or wrong.

I’m always looking for a true definition of maturity.Dictionary B

Having rejected the possibility of “old, experienced, educated or powerful,” I have decided that true maturity is when human beings finally reject the futility of blaming.

Blame–the extra step we add in the process of allegedly solving problems while actually manufacturing a maze that takes us deep into the jungle of confusion.

We exhaust ourselves trying to find out why stupidity happens by generating new stupidity through the investigation.

  • Sometimes blame is obvious. Then mercy is in order.
  • On other occasions blame is shared. At that point, some candor would be nice.

But blame is often a mystery. As the great and wise Solomon said, “Time and chance happens to all.”

Yea, we all take our turn in the fast lane–and also stalled in the traffic jam.

For of a truth, maturity is when we finally realize that pursuing the source of the difficulty often hinders the solution.

And unfortunately, it also turns us into self-righteous, judgmental black holes.

 

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Beat-up

Beat-up: (adj) a thing worn out by overuse; in a state of disrepair.Dictionary B

I found myself sharing a message that didn’t match my lifestyle.

I was moved to proclaim the idea “Life With Style” while I, myself, was somewhat impoverished.

It introduced the possibility of hypocrisy.

In an attempt to advertise my slogan, “Life With Style,” I had purchased magnetic signs, which I placed on the side of my old, beat-up car, towing a trailer which short months earlier had been rotting in a corn field.

It was what I could legitimately afford, and I did my best to bolster it with repair and frequent cleanings, but to the average onlooker who saw my vehicle and trailer pass by, the advertisement, “Life With Style,” was an enigma, if not a farce.

I became convicted that I was misrepresenting my own cause with my beat-up situation, bannered by such a positive, exuberant concept.

Because let’s be honest–we’re human.We can’t envision a life with style without a decent paint job. Life doesn’t have style unless we are visually passable.

So I learned that you can call people hypocritical, judgmental or mean-spirited for the conclusions they draw upon eyeballing your circumstance, or you can realize that since they are susceptible to hypocrisy, judgmentalism and a mean-spirited nature, it might be a good idea to give them as little evidence as possible … for a case against you.

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Bastard

Bastard: (n) a person born of parents not married to each other.Dictionary B

Words of separation.

Perhaps our greatest mission during our Earth journey is to find terms, insults and references that separate us from one another, expose them for their prejudice and make them unpopular to use.

Without this, we begin to let the self-righteous and the domineering elite control the dialogue.

When I was eighteen years old, I got a girl pregnant. We loved each other. She got pregnant the same way people get pregnant who have marriage licenses. We just didn’t have the paper.

Yet there were people in my home town who had the audacity to refer to my unborn son as a “bastard.”

A little smile came across their face as they said it. It was reassuring to them that they found a way to be superior to me without needing to blame themselves for pridefulness, but instead, claiming to be advocates for morality.

About four months before my son was born, my girlfriend and I got married and have remained so for forty-five years.

Yet I will tell you, if I were to go back to my hometown and any of those judgmental people were still alive, they probably would recall that brief season when they were able to belittle me and relegate my child to insignificance.

What are the buzz words of bigotry? They are everywhere.

  • Hunt them down.
  • Mock them.
  • Kill them.

And bury them as quickly as you can in the cemetery of ignorance.

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