Decal

Decal: (n) a specially prepared paper bearing a design for transfer to wood, metal, glass, etc.

 The extra-large was not quite big enough.

It was the story of my adolescent life.

I was always just a little bigger than the size chart proposed, and the clothes-makers made available.

But the guys in the group had their hearts set on these bright yellow-gold, open-front sweaters that we could wear onstage whenever we actually found ourselves onstage, playing our music.

Like most high school bands, we talked and planned more than we set up and performed.

We practiced twice a week—for no gigs.

And every once in a while, we got the itch to buy a stage outfit—for no stages.

I had to admit that the sweater was absolutely one of the coolest things I’d ever seen in my life. It looked great on everybody else—whose bodies aligned in the righteous station of normal.

But it was small on me.

I didn’t care.

I decided to buy it along with the rest of my friends.

And suddenly we were the possessors of the coolest outfit to wear if a stage were ever made available.

Black pants. Black banlon turtlenecks. Gold sweaters.

A mother of one of the guys suggested that we needed some sort of decal on the sweater to set it apart as unique to us.

We didn’t know exactly what she meant, but we nodded in respect. Sensing our confusion, she gathered up the sweaters and said, “Give me a week and I’ll give you a surprise.”

We had no capacity to object.

Two weeks later, she handed us back our golden sweaters—except on the top left panel, near the shoulder, there was a B and a Q decal, which she had embroidered into the cloth.

Since we were called “The Blessings Quartet” it was pretty cool.

Actually, we were all shocked at how neat it looked and how groovy it was, considering it had been made by an adult.

It did not make my sweater fit better.

But to this day I believe that we started getting opportunities to perform because word of our gorgeous sweaters, with the decal, quickly spread throughout the surrounding masses.

 

Aria

dictionary with letter A

Aria: (n) a long, unaccompanied solo for voice, typically in an opera or oratorio.

If human beings were not so pretentious, we would almost be fun. At least it would be closer.

Over the years, I have sung a song or two. Actually I’ve done much more than that–I’ve recorded, written songs and performed on stages all over the United States.

And after the show, folks will come up to talk to me, wanting to make some sort of personal connection.

Some people are just genuine and pour out their hearts with the present words that are floating around inside their minds. They are delightful.

Others feel the need to prove their intelligence and acumen by making a more specific statement, which is usually geared more to promoting their own resume than encouraging my soul. Two categories for these:

  1. “You sound like…”
  2. And “I can tell by your voice that you’ve been professionally trained…”

Concerning the latter, it is an amazing fact that although most people don’t like opera or favor operatic singing, they still use that particular style as a measuring stick for vocal quality. (It is similar to hating Chevys but making your Ford feel bad by constantly talking about the other product.)

I don’t know why we think that opera singers are better at their craft than some guy with a guitar in a coffee shop, intoning his anthem–but we do.

It really isn’t an appreciation for the aria or the performer, but rather, letting everyone in the room know that we are aware of this medium and to a certain degree, can even pronounce the unusual names associated with it.

This is why I got tickled when Pavarotti got a cold and couldn’t sing.

It was so human.

And then, another time, he had voice strain and had to cancel his promised aria.

When you remove all the fictitious ideas from the human race, you end up with a much smaller pile of knowledge.

But it actually all ends up being true.

 

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

Amateur

dictionary with letter A

Amateur: (n) a person who engages in a pursuit on an unpaid basis.

It’s a pretty good definition that Webster came up with.

Yet I can tell you that in my lifetime, I have performed my share of professional service to neither acclaim or remuneration.

Yes, there’s another aspect of being amateur. It’s pretty simple: a true professional is in search of his or her weaknesses, to perfect them in order to avoid both critique and lack. An amateur, on the other hand, is in search of praise in order to acquire grace for a multitude of weaknesses, pretending they don’t exist.

This is why amateurs get worse with rehearsal and professionals get better. For after all, to continue to practice is an admission that things need to improve–and if you’re unwilling to admit your mistakes, then such a maneuver seems meaningless, and perhaps mean-spirited.

For instance, I wish we did have professional politicians–for actually, the little boogers are all amateurs.

A professional would understand that a certain amount of resolve is necessary to pave the way for the ultimate discussion which will lend itself to a treaty designed to progress the cause, to avoid looking inept.

Amateur politicians come in believing they are perfect in their present condition, needing no improvement, and only manifest resolve with no understanding of the divine need for agreement.

The end result is that we have a very amateur country with amateur participants, amateur results and therefore we receive the due payment for an amateur.

What do I work on in order to be professional?

  1. I compare myself with people who are better than I am, and work to imitate their excellence.
  2. I never settle for good when great still looms in the distance.
  3. I alleviate criticism by doing my own evaluation, which is much more intense than that of my audience.
  4. I keep a sense of good cheer about transition. It is not only inevitable, but also necessary.

I will agree with Webster that normally when you have enough passion to get better at what you do, it makes people believe you’re worthy of payment.

But to get there, you have to be an amateur without dough, still doing a great show.