Death Penalty

Death penalty: (n) punishment by death for a crime

I am so happy that life is more like a motion picture than a brochure of photo shopped stills.

Honestly, if you had frozen my face, attitudes and beliefs at any one particular time in my life, I not only might have been contrary to you, but also at odds with my present incarnation.

There’s just too much to learn on this journey to ever be certain.

“Certain” is the profile taken by either fools or people who have enough money to pay for an alibi.

So I will freely tell you—there was a time when I was favorable, if not an advocate, for the death penalty.

My reasoning was not vengeance.

Rather, I cited the case of Charles Manson. I felt he was given a cruel and unusual punishment by having to live inside his own tormented brain the rest of his life. It seemed to me that capital punishment in a situation like that would actually be merciful.

Folks would “ooh and aah” over my insight–and I felt that I succeeded in killing off the bad guys and looking genteel at the same time.

Then one day, I opened the Good Book and read the story of Cain and Abel. According to this volume, Cain killed his brother, Abel, generating the first murder case.

When God caught up with Cain and spoke to him, He asked him why he was hiding and tried to get him to tell the truth. Though not totally successful, God, who had the power to take his life, instead exiles Cain. He goes, starts his own family and continues his breathing.

This gave me pause.

If God, who had a slam-dunk murder case against Cain, chose to give him the opportunity to live out a new possibility, who in the hell was I to lobby for the death of another soul?

I am not trying to insinuate that rehabilitation is successful.

I don’t think that someone who is massively cruel deserves to continue existing.

I just know that God chose not to execute the first murderer.

And He’s really the only judge,

For we all know there are many roads and detours before we arrive at our destination.

 

Dartboard

Dartboard: (n) the target used in the game of darts.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

After I shared at a coffeehouse and sang my songs, some of the nice folks who attended invited me out to a restaurant called “Lums.”

Now, if you don’t know anything about “Lums,” I’m not going to try to articulate a great deal. Just think about delicious sandwiches and soups, with the addition of local delicacies like bratwurst and a very tiny deep-fried fish called smelt. (That is the extent of my tour journey through the essence of “Lums.”)

But what I remember is that this particular gathering of souls loved to play darts. The restaurant had a small bar with a dart board hanging on the wall.

I had never played darts in my life.

I had never regretted not playing darts.

But I wanted to be hospitable—especially since they were treating me to a “Super Weiner Dog.”

So they handed me a dart and said, “Go ahead. Take a shot.”

I was so indifferent to the prospect and so certain I would fail horribly that I just took it in my hand and threw it quickly.

It stuck right in the center.

I was shocked.

The friends who brought me to the restaurant thought I was some sort of dartboard hustler—so they pushed, encouraged and dared me to finish the game—against their best dartboard champion.

It was horrible.

You see, the reason I did well with that first dart—why I was so lucky—is that I didn’t think about it at all.

I just tossed it off.

For you see, when you play darts, standing there with one in your hand, if you start aiming for the center, the shakiness caused by your nerves and the lack of knowing how hard or soft to throw it, makes the dart go nowhere you envisioned.

Honest to God—after that first throw that landed in the center, I not only didn’t score points, but I never hit the board again.

After about ten attempts, my friends realized that I was hanging in mid-air of humiliation, so they cut off the punishment and we went back to enjoy our dinner.

As we sat down, one of the young girls who was there for the feasting said, “Here’s the problem. Darts don’t involve your brain. If you think about it, you’ll screw up. You just have to toss it and hope for the best.”

I overthought her statement.

Maybe it was the remnant of the failure still taunting my soul, but I will tell you—she’s right.

After you’ve tried something, practiced it, studied it and learned it…

Just go ahead and toss the goddamn dart.

Curse Word

Curse word: (n) a profane word, especially as used in anger or for emphasis

I just can’t keep up with the current scrutiny that determines what we have decided is profane.

For instance, early during the Civil War, should Admiral Farragut, during the Civil War, have said, “Darn the torpedoes!” instead of damning them? Or do we give him license because he was in the heat of battle and it’s our way of supporting the troops?

When the old-time revival preachers kept using the word “damned,” cursing people to “hell”—was that profane? Or was it merely offering a suggested punishment and potential destination?

Was it profane when Southerners for generations referred to the black race as “niggers?” (I even did it as a little kid. “Eeny-meeny-miney-moe, catch a nigger by his toe.” I was surprised when it was rewritten a few years later, and “nigger” was replaced with “tiger.” Nowadays I wonder if PETA would object to us tugging on the toes of tigers. Is that profane?)

Is it profane to sit in a health class with junior high school students and tell them about the vagina, the penis and explain the power of masturbation?

In speaking forth the level of disgust for something we don’t care about, is it all right to say, “Don’t give a shit?” Or should we change it to “don’t give a bumble-bee?”

I just really don’t know anymore.

When I was much younger, you weren’t allowed to say “God.”

Now we live in a world of “OMG.”

Somebody once corrected me for using the word “crap.” When I asked how they would finish the phrase “I don’t give a…” they piously offered the word “hoot.”

We know why we use profane words.

We know how this ceases to make them profane.

There are times when what we are saying is more important than being proper in our wording.

It’s why the word “ain’t” hangs around—for just the right slang moment.

Here are the five curse words or phrases I think should be eliminated:

  1. You will never…

That is pronouncing a curse on someone by limiting their possibilities.

  1. You are just like…

That is cursing someone with an identity they may very well be trying to escape.

  1. If you don’t believe, you can’t be saved.

Maybe I would believe if I saw that your belief did anything positive for you.

  1. You’re just a…

Anything that follows that phrase is a curse to limit the person you are speaking with, to a very small corner in a very tiny world.

  1. I don’t forgive you.

There is the ultimate curse.

So there are my curse words.

What in the fuck do you think?

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cub Scouts

Cub Scout: (n) a member of the junior division (ages 8–10) of the Boy Scouts.

 

It was supposed to be a weekend trip to see if I liked it.

“It” referring to an outing with the Cub Scouts.

I was nine years old but much larger than the other boys. Actually, I was much larger than my dad. So when I asked to sign up for the troop, there was a hesitation I had not seen when the other boys expressed curiosity.

Here is what they told me:

  1. We’re not so sure you’ll like it.
  2. There’s a lot of walking and hiking.
  3. The tents are small.

And:

  1. We checked. They don’t have a Cub Scout uniform in your size.

Much to the chagrin of the Scout leader, his wife offered to sew me one, so that I could be part of the troop. After he gave her a sour look, we proceeded on to plan a trial excursion, where I would join the Cub Scouts—uniformless—for a weekend, to see if it was (pardon the expression) a good fit.

Even though I was young, I realized quickly that the leader was so reluctant to have me join his little conclave of Cubbies that he found it difficult to converse with me, and was a bit bitter when he attempted to answer questions.

I tried my hardest—and when that was not good enough, I tried my damndest.

I thought I had some moments where I sort of resembled one of the guys doing guy things out beneath the pines.

But I was slower in the walking.

I was stuffed into a tent instead of placed there.

And it was obvious that for me, bending and crawling were not fluid endeavors.

At the end of the weekend I decided to drop my application. It was obvious to me—and probably the other dudes—that our leader was relieved and thankful to return to fearless.

I will never know whether I quit because of the strain or because I felt unwanted.

Unwanted is more than a feeling.

It’s a sentence—a punishment.

And if you’re a young, fat boy, it can be a demand to eat more, to escape the condemnation of having eaten too much.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 

Cry Over Spilled Milk

Cry over spilled milk: To dwell pointlessly on past misfortunes

There are two problems with old sayings.

  • First, they’re old.
  • Second, they’re sayings, not doings.

In other words, something can be spoken and make complete sense until it’s applied into everyday life.

I think such is the case with “don’t cry over spilled milk.”

Who?

What I mean is, who should not cry over spilled milk?

If you’re a baby and the milk has been spilled, you’re talking about your sustenance, your well-being and the looming possibility of starvation.

If you’re a young person who’s just learning to handle the milk carton, you realize there may be good reason to cry. Punishment is looming and the resulting lack of trust may throw you back months from being respected enough to handle containers.

If you’re a mother or father, you might cry over spilled milk because you spent your last dollar at the grocery store for that milk, and it might mean that by Friday somebody has to eat dry cereal.

And if you happen to be in the vicinity of where the milk is spilled and you’re a cow, you might be saddened that your gift has been so poorly used.

Spilled milk is not necessarily something to weep over, but I can see different individuals who might shed a tear.

Crying over difficulty is not a sign of weakness.

We don’t become weak until we abandon our strengths.

And strength in human beings is this:

We can weep during the night—and joy can still come in the morning.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C



Correction

Correction: (n) punishment intended to reform, improve, or rehabilitate; chastisement; reproof.

Perhaps there is only one standard for evaluating quality in a human being.

Smiles are too easy—especially on a frowny day.

Prayers can be memorized.

Political promises, forgotten.

Wedding vows dimmed by passing time.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Devotion—merely an emotion.

Faith overwhelmed by doubt.

Love choked by jealousy.

There are moments when human beings appear to be worthy of the brain that finds home in our skull and the spirit that was breathed into us by the Divine. Then disappointment turns us into our darker selves and we reveal just how childish our inner children truly are.

But there is one way to tell if someone has weighed the values of life and discovered what is gold.

Correction.

Yes, what am I going to do when it is necessary for me to receive correction?

Because it will happen.

Not only are we imperfect, but we are also capable of practicing to perfection and because of fear and intimidation, performing ineptly.

Correction is necessary.

Correction is what allows us to do what the animals are incapable of achieving—repent and learn.

How do we handle correction?

Do we become resentful?

Do we become defensive and start explaining how we are misunderstood?

Do we point fingers and blame others for the shortcoming?

Do we lie in an attempt to create a different history?

Do we pretend we don’t hear?

Or do we hear and go out and pretend it doesn’t matter?

Correction is mandatory.

Correction is less painful when it’s received in silence, and the corrector doesn’t feel the need to pound home the point.

I am human—I hate correction.

I hate it so much that when it comes my way, I listen very intently, to make sure I absorb the truth that will protect me from being corrected in the same way ever again.


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Confine

Confine: (v) to keep or restrict someone or something

There are no bars.

There are no cells.

There are no guards.

There is no visible punishment.

Matter of fact, it would appear that the prisoner can come and go at will.

But nonetheless, it is a jailhouse.

It is a slammer.

It is a penitentiary.

It’s name is worry.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a COnce a human being is sentenced to a lifetime of worry, the gentleness, creativity, happiness and open-mindedness that might be available is stolen away, and in its place, the convicted soul is confined to limited thoughts laced with anxiety.

It is not necessary to kill someone to destroy him or her.

It is not required to lock in a concrete building, surrounded by steel.

All you have to do is convince any person that there’s something to worry about, and that worry itself is virtuous.

He or she will take the keys to life and lock away potential … until death mercifully pardons.

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Choir

Choir: (n) an organized group of singers

I found that being in a choir squashed my desire to be heard. Yes, you have to be willing to blend.

Matter of fact, they talk about “the blend”–that particular sound that a group of singers makes which is supposedly unique unto them.

It is fairly restrictive. Even the names are:

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: “To sing, I have to be Mormon, get directions to the tabernacle, and then hide my voice among other song birds. I am en-caged.”

I felt this in high school.

When I quit the football team because I discovered they made fat boys run, I realized that my second-greatest interest other than tackling running backs was singing. It seemed logical to join the choir, since that was the avenue afforded to me on the thoroughfare of musical expression.

I hated choir. Nobody could hear me sing. They commented on “the blend,” or applauded the musical director, or noted how the robes looked so good.

It drove me nuts.

So in rehearsal one day, in a fit of rebellion and pending insanity, I just started singing another song from my standing position in the choir, while the rest of the parakeets tweeted out the prepared number.

My voice was strong, but certainly not powerful enough to overcome the mass musical. But it was annoying enough that the director kept tilting her head, leaning in with squinting eyes, trying to determine what was disrupting her “blend.” I just kept singing a different song–a little quieter, but with enough volume to create frustration on the face of the conductor.

After a few moments, she took her baton and tapped it violently against the music stand, stopping the proceedings.

“Is everybody singing the same song?” she bellowed to the gathered.

Those standing closest to me, who heard my little interpretation, turned in unison and gazed in my direction.

I was caught. The director peered at me intensely and said, “Were you singing a different song?”

I paused–not so much to make it seem like I was making up a story, but just to express my alarm. Then I replied, “I thought we were doing Number Eight in the program.”

I don’t think she believed me, but she played along.

“No,” she said. “It’s Number Seven. I’m sorry if I did not make that clear.”

“You’re forgiven,” I replied in my snootiest voice.

She nearly lost all sensibility. Glaring at me, she said tersely, “Thank you.”

We resumed singing, and I couldn’t help myself. Once we had gotten a chorus of the song in, I reverted back to my former tune, which was completely alternative to “the blend.”

This time she stopped and used her baton to point toward the door as she screamed, “Get outta here!”

There were giggles and whispers as I made my way out, escaping the class. Fortunately for me, she was not specific about where I should get–so since I was told to be punished, I just went early to have a leisurely lunch.

 

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Chlorinate

Chlorinate: (v) to impregnate or treat with chlorine.

Sometimes I don’t know if things have improved since I was a boy–or if I was just a little wimp-ass. In other words, I have memories of
some activities being very difficult, odd or unusual, which in my life today, are common.

One of those would be a swimming pool.

When I was a boy of ten years, I went to the local pool in my Central Ohio area, and when I got near the water, I couldn’t breathe. The odor, the chlorine, the mixture of too many people–I don’t know what it was. But my head spun and I thought I was going to faint. (For God’s sakes, you can’t faint when you’re ten years old–unless you plan on being the kicking post in your school for the rest of your life.)

Stupidly, I reached out, thinking it was my brother’s arm, and grabbed onto a thirteen-year-old girl, who immediately screamed. When the lifeguard came running up, she explained that I had accosted her, and with my head still spinning, I was unable to contradict her story.

I looked loopy.

The lifeguard came close to my mouth and insisted he could smell cigarettes, so it was assumed I had become dopey and out-of-control by smoking, and had attacked this young girl at the pool.

The worst part was, as my punishment, the lifeguard made me sit on a chair next to the pool for a full hour, as I breathed in the fumes and became weaker and weaker.

But eventually I got used to the atmosphere and it no longer felt like I was sniffing the air on Venus.

Chlorination seems to have improved over the years.

Or I have just stopped being a flag girl for the marching band.

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Chastise

Chastise: (v) to rebuke or reprimand severely.

I was thoroughly convinced that my kids were going to remember their childhood by benchmarking the exciting trips, opportunities or gifts I gave them.

But as I sit around with them now, at holidays, and they feel free to open up about their journeys of being my offspring, rarely do they refer
to a camping trip or a special dinner at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

All of them recount the moments when their errors were brought to the forefront, and it was commanded of me, as their parent, to chastise. Sometimes they do object to the severity of my application, but mostly they are extraordinarily grateful that I was able to muster the backbone to stand up against trends of the time and try to tell them the truth to the best of my ability.

It’s actually a very moving experience, when I realize they understand that it is required to chastise those you love.

So even though I have no squabble with the common thought that love, exhortation, hugs, kisses and praise are very important parts of a child’s security, I also know that there comes a moment when time stands still–and it is the mission of the parent to stop the progression of ignorance, and encourage a better solution.

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