Cremate

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cremate: (v) to reduce a dead body to ashes by fire

I grew up with a “Kellogg’s” approach to death and burial.

This was more or less taking your loved one, sticking him or her in a box, sealing the lid and tucking the flake away.

All the funerals I went to had gorgeous cereal boxes. They all ended up at a gravesite where the container was lowered into the ground, covered over and marked with a stone that insisted in granite that this individual once lived.

So when my thirteen-year-old son passed away from complications due to a hit-and-run accident, I was far from any home we had, traveling on the road. I immediately discovered that those boxes ain’t cheap.

Not only are they expensive, but they demand that you buy a plot of land—which is also extremely costly—and place your loved one in an area where you must to drive to visit.

Well, I realized I was not going to live in the community where my boy died, so I was offered the option of cremation. It was considerably less money. Also, at the end of the process, they handed over a box containing a sealed, plastic bag of dusty and ashy remains.

It was rather shocking. Opening the lid, I took a peek at the contents. It reminded me of when I was a kid and was given the job in late October of cleaning the fireplace out so we would be able to make a nice, cozy flame on cold, winter nights.

… Ashen, clingy powder that wanted to stick to your skin—or if you got it too close to your face and inhaled, could make you cough.

This was not my son. This didn’t represent his brief journey.

I thought to myself, maybe it’s a good thing. Instead of painting up something that’s dead and gone, burn it up, confirming that it will no longer be here.

I picked up the carton, put it in the back of our van, and we traveled with it for years—stuck in the corner near the wheel well.

At times I considered scattering the ashes, but there was no particular place that had more significance than another. Absent finding a resting ground for his soot, I felt more inclined to just keep him nearby.

Matter of fact, he’s still with us.

My younger son has taken him and lifted him up in honor … in a corner of the attic.


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Cauldron

Cauldron: (n) a situation characterized by instability and strong emotions.

Putting together sentences, or even the art of making sense, is not the most difficult thing about writing. Also not writer’s block, unless you get too silly about constructing the perfect paragraph.

Actually the most difficult matter is making sure that your writing hasn’t “aged out.” In other words, do people know what the hell you’re talking about?

It happened to me several weeks ago when I was working on a passage in a novel, and decided to insert the word “cauldron”–as referring to a problem that was simmering inside my plot, without people knowing how dangerous it truly was.

The dear lady who does my typing stopped and looked at me with a quizzical face and asked, “Cauldron?”

She does this from time to time. It’s her way of saying I’ve come up with some obscure word that no one will understand and therefore they will assume that my awareness of pop culture ceased somewhere between Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.

It raises the question, when are we being sensitive to the market and when are we joining into the universal “dumbing down” of our society?

Is it too much to ask a reader to look up a word or search for context clues? Are we a generation that is just going to squint and opine, “I don’t know that word…”

Some words should die. Maybe they represented something evil or there’s a better replacement for them in today’s language.

But sometimes a word needs to be toted from the Conestoga wagon, onto the bicycle, into the Model T Ford, placed carefully on the airplane and finally situated safely in the rocket to outer space.

 

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Blurb

Blurb: (n) a short description for promotional purposes

Dictionary B Production bigger, promotion smaller.

It is the philosophy of Hollywood.

The explosions, action, mayhem and murder need to be huge–nearly beyond comprehension. But the title, description of the plot and dialogue should be as tiny as possible.

Anyone who is trying to interact with the American public must comprehend that the first step to being able to connect with the populace is to realize that they don’t want to read. An argument could be made that they don’t want to think. But certainly, limiting the number of words on a piece of paper to describe a massive idea is considered to be “Madison Avenue genius.”

I’m not even going to speculate on what these words should be, because as each week passes in this great country, which touts the value of education, we actually surrender more and more to a common stupidity.

  • Don’t use big words.
  • Don’t use unknown words.
  • Matter of fact, don’t use any words that were conceived before ten years ago.

In doing this, you will be able to write a blurb which explains your intentions to those who are intentionally acting dumbfounded by anything that isn’t recently posted on Facebook, Instagram or can be discerned through watching a YouTube.

 

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Aptitude

dictionary with letter A

Aptitude (n): 1. an ability to do something 2. suitability or fitness

For a myriad of reasons, I barely made it through the 1980s with my being intact, primarily because of my complete disdain and obvious aversion to personality tests and aptitude quizzes.

It was all the rage in that era and still persists today in pockets promoting superficial psycho-babble.

The notion of taking responsibility for one’s life or learning a craft seems so arduous to the average person that they would like to believe they were born with certain abilities, rarities and anointings so as to take all of the mystery and work out of their personal journey.

Parents, aunts, uncles and grandma and grandpa all encourage this by noting everything from the timber of our early babble, to the length, height or breadth of body parts, to place a mission upon us before we’ve even learned how to stop messing our pants.

Certainly everyone wants us to fall into a personality type, where we can hide behind the pluses and minuses of that particular idea to explain our behavior.

But even though these testers will insist that you can be docile, quiet, introverted and silent, they sometimes fail to remind you that it is the world around us that requires we step out of our shadow and into the light.

Yes, perhaps intimidated folks can be given a name, but it is the gregarious ones who will be given the position. One would think it’s a plot, to keep part of the population oppressed in order to supply fodder for the more menial tasks, if one was of a nind to believe in conspiracy theories.

What I think is that we are too grounded in a Calvinistic, pre-destined American thinking that wants the whole plan laid out in front of us by the time we’re three years old, to ever instruct the general populace in matters of manners, intensity, perseverance and expansion.

I can tell you of a certainty that I had no aptitude for anything but eating. Yet there isn’t a doctor alive who will let me believe “I was born” with the aptitude to be fat. Isn’t that interesting?

Apparently some characteristics are inserted at birth and others become bad habits.

So what I choose to believe is that I have nothing but an aptitude for laziness and if I pursue that, I will end up poor and alone. Therefore I choose to overcome my aptitude … and study the present pursuit that rings my bell.

 

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Aesop

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aesop: (6th century BC) The moral animal fables associated with Aesop were probably collected from many sources and initially communicated orally.

Rabbits don’t race with turtles. Forcing a story where one does may be a vehicle for producing a moral, but it certainly does not make for a very good fable.

I never liked the story of the tortoise and the hare. After all, what respectable bunny would think it was funny to go after his shell-shocked neighbor? What do you have to prove? Come on, Aesop.

Let’s say that the rabbit wins (which is what would ACTUALLY happen). So he goes back to his den–or hole, or wherever rabbits hang out–pours himself a nice carrot juice, leans back in his easy chair and says, “Guess what I did today, buddies? I out-raced a turtle. Beat that little fella to a pulp! Wasn’t even close.”

You see? There’s just no motivation for it.

Likewise, the story viewed from the other side, as the tortoise returns to his brethren:

Q: So what’d you do today, Pete?

A: Uh … I challenged a rabbit to a race.

Q: You what? What are you? Crazy?

So you see, the rabbit would appear to be extraordinarily foolish, and the turtle would look like somebody flipped him on his back and he couldn’t right his wrong.

I think stories that have morals should also have some realism and plot–and the tortoise and the hare just would never have happened.

And by the way, the moral of the story–that “good things go to he who waits” and “slow and steady wins the race”–is pretty much crap, too. Most of the time, we have to find a way to do things fast AND efficient.

I know Aesop meant well, but you can’t write a fable trying to encourage those who are slower, instead of challenging them to speed up a little bit … and get a “hare” advantage.