Cornball

Cornball: (n) person who indulges in clichés or sentimentality.

“I am just so blessed to write to you every single day. You are such terrific people.”

You see, this passage I just wrote is considered “cornball.” Another word is “cloying.” How about “maudlin?”funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

And then there’s the classic: sappy.

Somewhere along the line we became so frightened of being insincere that we became sincerely mean.

It doesn’t take more than half an hour of watching old television to realize that the producers of nearly every show were determined to leave the watcher tingly with goodness.

Nowadays, it would be impossible to market a show called “Breaking Good” or to suggest that a life of gentleness and kindness could make you anything but a victim waiting around to be victimized.

How much cornball do we need? Do we need any?

When I grew up, people walked around and said things to each other like, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Or, “Honk your horn if you love Jesus!”

But somewhere along the line, the bumper stickers and slogans filled with such cornball notions of “peace on Earth” were suddenly replaced with apocalyptic concepts of doom and gloom.

Maybe it happened when the first person affixed, on the tail end of his or her car, the thought, “Shit happens.”

But even in our modern world, “shit happens” would be considered cornball—because it maintains an attitude of being patient with the shit instead of twittering about it.

That’s interesting. When I was younger, if you felt good, excited and full of great hopes for the ‘morrow, you would say to people that you were “all a’twitter!”

Now, when people are “a’twitter,” they are merely considering better ways to destroy one another.


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Cheesy

Cheesy: (adj) cheap, unpleasant, or blatantly inauthentic.

Wow, did you read that definition?

I guess Webster was really loaded for bear against “cheesy.”

Blatantly inauthentic?? Well, that would mean that each one of us would actually know or be acquainted with what is authentic.

We are not.

Everybody has their own taste in “cheesy.” (Please forgive that offering.)

In other words, if you go to a fundraiser, fighting some disease, they will drag all sorts of pitiful people in front of you to tell their stories of debilitation to
establish the need for contributions. This is not considered cheesy because…well, I guess because it is trying to help sick people.

Traveling on the road, I see a myriad of local TV commercials which try way too hard to be entertaining while inserting inordinate amounts of information in a thirty-second capsule. I might consider them cheesy, but the people involved would just declare them a “sales strategy.”

Sometimes I go to church and they bring the children’s choir up to sing “Jesus Loves Me,” as the adults feel compelled to ooh and aah, or say “Amen,” or worst of all, stand for a cheesy ovation. But it’s not really–it’s our kids, after all.

But then something comes our way that we are not invested in, is not our livelihood, and did not come from our loins, and we suddenly turn into critics, calling it maudlin, silly or cheesy.

Everyone is fully aware that without reaching the human heart, it is unlikely that you will impact our race. And what touches our emotions is rarely deep or convoluted. No, it’s some sort of kitty-cat video, where the little pussy runs across the frame chasing a bit of string and suddenly runs into a wall.

We giggle, embarrassed, and then repent by whispering, “Be careful, little kitty…”

The human race is cheesy. We are moved by the simplest of sentiments and absolutely baffled by complex interpretations.

You can feel free to act aggravated or high-falutin’ when you see something that yanks on your feelings, trying to pull you in the direction of glee or tears.

But without these gentle reminders of goodness and wonder, we become animals, growling at each other across the rain forest.

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Auld Lang Syne

Auld lang syne (n): times long past.

dictionary with letter AI was working on a screenplay for a Christmas movie which I had dubbed “Wonderful,” tipping my hat to the style and meaningful nature of Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I have a way of writing plays or movies that’s a little bit different. I love to know how I’m getting into the story, developing the character and creating the conflict, but I do not want to look ahead to how the movie ends.

I once heard another screenwriter explain that writing a movie was “all about knowing how it was going to end.”

I’m sorry. That just seems foolish to me.

Since none of us know how our lives are going to end, why would telling a great story be benefitted by controlling the circumstances of the closing scene?

So I know it may sound weird, but I always let my characters decide how the movie’s going to end. After all, in both the short and long run, it is their story.

So when I reached the end of this particular movie, I found that the scene was evolving towards a romantic, if not bizarre, conflict, which needed to be quickly pulled together before the credits had completely rolled.

I needed something.

I remembered during the closing of “Wonderful Life,” they were all singing “Auld Lang Syne.” I didn’t want to have a typical, maudlin rendition of the song, but I thought a bluesy, melancholy, updated version would be perfect to cap off things.

So I sat down and wrote myself a musical preamble to the old standard, hired a great female caterwauler to intone the arrangement, and then just let it happen.

It was so beautiful that I cried.

You see, when you take something which has proven to be effective and you mess with it just enough that people know that you’re updating it for the times, and then let it work its magic, it is usually absolutely amazing.

Music has a spirit. There are certain tones that come together to produce emotion; chords that evoke sensation.

And this is why, when we do become nostalgic, the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” takes even the more cynical of us… to a place of reminiscent bliss.

 

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Au gratin

Au gratin (adj): sprinkled with breadcrumbs or grated cheese, or both, and browned.

dictionary with letter A“That’s cheesy.”

We use that phrase whenever we want to insult something by portraying that it’s maudlin or overly sentimental.

Yet I’ve never heard anyone take a bite of a delicious lasagna and proclaim it “cheesy” and have it mean anything negative. Matter of fact, I have often used cheese to save a dish that seems to have lost all of its personality in the baking.

Cheese has some wonderful attributes:

  1. It melts.

I don’t really trust anything that isn’t willing to melt. If I’m with a woman and my touch or kiss does not melt her, it would not matter how attractive she appears, she has lost her appeal.

I trust that my ice will melt and give over some of its cold to chill my drink.

Melting is what we do when we decide to allow ourselves to become heated and pliable.

  1. It’s gooey.

Even though people around me don’t want to be gooey and gentle and silly, I find that when you actually pull it off, the room is not only energized, but tenderized against the hostility of cynicism.

  1. It stirs in.

When you finally have discovered that your cheese has melted, you will find that it is now willing to be stirred into the available concoction. While maintaining its own flavor, it glues the entire mixture together.

I like cheesy.

And I will continue to be cheesy, insisting on becoming au gratin to the blandness of the dishes around me, so that we can make sure to remember how wonderful it is … to feel.

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Anthracite

dictionary with letter A

 

Anthracite: (n) coal of the hard variety that contains relatively pure carbon

 

Occasionally I find myself waxing philosophical, for which I truly apologize.

It’s not that opinions are like assholes, it’s more that opinions make assholes.

At least that’s my opinion.

So I pre-apologize for what I’m about to share, even though I think there’s much validity to the idea. Sometimes I think we forget that for “everything there truly is a season.”

For instance, for one time in our existence as a planet, we needed coal.

Brave workers went into the heart of the earth to extract this treasure so that we could fuel our lives and progress the human race beyond the escapades of mere fire.

Many of them gave their lives.

It was a season of coal.

But the truth of the matter is, as we learn to be more expansive, we as people might stumble upon ideas that are improvements, and rather than being sentimental to concepts that have “aged out,” we cling with a maudlin sense of loyalty.

I have this abiding belief that everything in life has been placed on this planet with two purposes. Often the first function is very obvious, but when that viability wears out, we should be prepared to find the additional goal intended for the object.

There are so many examples of this that I shall not bore you. Matter of fact I would encourage you to take this simple notion and study it for yourself rather than having me expound upon it in an attempt to convince.

But this is what I feel about coal: in the 21st century, to have men and women don hard hats and go into the core of the earth to extract this rock of interest seems both antiquated and unnecessary.

Yet for it to become completely unnecessary, we must do two things that the human race pursues with reluctance:

  1. Actually stop mining coal and find a less destructive and debilitating alternative.
  2. In the meantime, let our scientists find that second anointed purpose for this valuable substance.

Without this kind of wisdom, we generally work an idea until it’s exhausted and falls apart or we prematurely abandon a good gift and cast it aside.

Can we learn?

Can we realize that oil lamps were once the rage and very valuable for lighting up our streets, but when we took the time to allow Thomas Edison to illuminate our minds, we found a better way?

We also found other uses for oil.

I am optimistic.

For truthfully, my dear friends–I would rather end up being a fool who believes in human beings instead of a cynic, trying to explain my sarcasm to God.

 

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