Classical

Classical: (adj) standard, classic.

I have worked for 22 years with an oboist.

She’s a little bit Mozart; I’m a little bit rock and roll.

When we teamed up, I think she was concerned that our musical tastes might be ill-suited for one another. She had played in symphony
orchestras, and I had bopped around with gospel, blues and pop.

What she did not know was that as a boy of eleven years of age, I got hooked on a record series called “The 25 Greatest Melodies of All Time” and “The 50 Most Influential Classical Music Pieces.” So along with listening to rock and roll and some gospel music, I played my recordings of Strauss, Wagner, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff.

It was perfectly produced–the records didn’t have so much of each composition to bore me, just the highlights. What you might call the Cliff notes of the masters.

I loved the music. To this day, I think my partner is a little surprised when I insert a bit of understanding (or sometimes misunderstanding) of the music of that era. Matter of fact, she and I joined together to write some symphonies–our tribute to the styling, with the addition of our original juice.

It’s too bad we have to call something “classical.” It scares off the best market–young humans. After all, why would they want to listen to any music their parents might enjoy?

But what they don’t understand is that these composers who wrote this dynamic material were just a bunch of radical, rebellious, rag-tag and reckless adolescents.

 

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Christmas Tree

Christmas tree: (n) a decorated tree at Yuletide

“If you want a tree, go get it yourself.”

That’s what my dad said when I was fourteen years old and asked him why we had not put up our tree as of yet, at Christmastime.

Normally the practice was to pick a tree and decorate it on my birthday–one week before Christmas. But for some reason, December 20th had rolled around and nobody had even mentioned getting one.

I was offended, disrupted, angry, bewildered, uncertain, out-of-spirits and generally and profoundly rebellious, in the most adolescent way possible.

So I complained. That’s what I knew how to do.

Since I had asked at least a half a dozen times about the tree, I felt it was time for me to object. he option provided for me by my dad was to go get a tree myself.

This was plausible because our family owned a little farm outside the town, where we grew some Christmas trees. So I had my brother drive me out to the location, grabbed a little hatchet and headed off through the snowy ground to bag myself an evergreen.

With my chubby legs and being severely out of shape, I was completely exhausted from the walk to the pines–ready to give up on my mission. After all, it wasn’t my fault. I was not in charge. If the damn family didn’t want a tree, then we should be treeless.

But the problem was, that included me–and I didn’t want to be treeless.

So braving the cold, little hatchet in hand, I found what I thought would be a good tree and began to whack at the trunk.

My hatchet had obviously been purchased by Davy Crockett when he went to the Alamo and not sharpened since. The first three strikes at the tree trunk didn’t even split the bark. So as not to bore you, I will shorten this story by telling you that an hour later, sweat pouring off my face, I finally got the tree to give up its roots and prepare to move to my home.

The trunk was an absolute mess. It was not a cut, but rather a massacre. But I drug it out, my brother and I put it on top of the car, and we drove it to the house. He kindly helped me saw the bottom off to make it even so we could put it into the Christmas tree stand. To add insult to my effort, it ended up being too tall. We had to cut off part of the top.

But eventually it sat in our living room, waiting to be adorned.

That evening when my father returned from working at his loan company, he stepped into the house, looked at the tree, and said to me, “Is that the best tree you could get?”

I didn’t respond to him directly, but in my mind I thought, “Yes. It’s the best tree I could get. Because this year it’s my tree.”

 

 

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Box

Box: (n) a container with a flat base and sides, typically square or rectangular

There are several phrases I do not like.Dictionary B

Actually I despise them so much that I scold myself when I use them.

  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “I hate you.”
  • “You don’t get it.”
  • “You’re a foolish asshole.”

Well, I could go on.

But one of my least favorite–a thought that makes my skin crawl–is when people turn to me and say, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

I know they’re really not interested.

I know they’ve sized me up and they’re trying to figure out what box they want to put me in.

They want things simple.So they have a system of storing people away so that their decisions are neat, tidy and final. If you don’t fit into one of their boxes they will decide that you’re a misfit or a rebellious anarchist.

They’re listening for buzz words.

About ten years ago, someone asked me about my occupation. I explained that I was a writer but also a performer. So they said, “Are you a teacher? A storyteller? A philosopher? Or an entertainer?”

Then they smiled, waiting for me to climb into their box.

My response was, “Well, really all of those and more.”

This was displeasing to them. They shook their head and walked away.

Mankind is ready to build a box for you.

They will encourage you, praise you, instruct you, guide you and applaud you until you get inside one of their pre-prepared cartons.

And once you do … you will never be heard of again.

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Bow

Bow: (v) to bend the knee or body or incline the head

“Every knee shall bow.”Dictionary B

When revivalists get all worked up and have a hankerin’ to preach, they love to pontificate on the notion that someday the world will be destroyed and the remaining rebellious humans who have not been slaughtered in a meaningless conflict will view a Jesus Christ arriving in the eastern sky, and at the sight of his august appearance, be driven down to their knees in reverent worship.

Some find it interesting.

Actually, it’s terrifying.

To write a book that begins with a gentle creation and ends with a third of the Earth being mutilated by weapons of mass destruction hardly seems a storyline worthy of a true Creator. If I wrote such a piece, I would deem it misled, angry and hopeless, and wad it up and throw it away.

So on those occasions when I find myself bowing, it is in the direction of an untold story lying within the plotline of the favored evangelical rendition, in which God’s love for the world is so intense that eventually we grow tired of our stupid attempts at meanness and revenge and simply relinquish our egos in the presence of a redeeming love.

 

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Because

Because: (conj) for the reason that; since.Dictionary B

Because is not a reason.

Yet I will tell you–it is the beginning for a good reason.

Because can be misleading.

A child asking a parent why a certain rule has been put in place will become impudent and rebellious if the answer is, “Because I said so.”

Because is the roadway that takes us to either great thought or immense stubbornness.

Sometimes people ask me why I believe in God. Here are three answers I don’t use:

1. Because I believe in the Bible.

Lots of folks think it’s just a book and you will not impress them with the fact that you contend it’s holy.

2. Because I grew up believing.

That would also include the Tooth Fairy and Jolly Old St. Nick.

3. Because Nature is so intricate and beautiful, there has to be a Creator.

Who says? If you gave me a billion years, I might be able to become beautiful.

My because has to have a great follow-up. Otherwise it becomes opinionated, or dare I say, flirting with ignorance.

So when people ask me why I believe in God, my answer probably is shocking:

“Because I discovered I needed one and drew up a prototype in my brain, which ended up coinciding with some existing themes.”

That’s the truth.

Because must be followed by something that is personally convincing and shares a piece of our heart instead of just our traditions.

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Apropos

dictionary with letter A

Apropos (adj): very appropriate to a particular situation.

Mr.Torrence had an aggravating mannerism which put people off and made them eventually despise him for his short-sightedness.

He was one of my eighth-grade teachers and the faculty advisor for our student council.

Every time we gathered, got into the midst of what we considered to be a fruitful discussion about some things that needed to be changed in the school, or about various projects we wanted to pursue, which seemed to be in line with the wishes of our friends, he would interrupt and say, “That’s not apropos.”

The first couple of times he said the word, we were all chilled to silence, because no one wanted to admit that we were unfamiliar with the idea. But finally, one of the braver members piped up, “What do you mean by apropos?”

He chucked at our ignorance and replied, “It’s off-point.”

Well, I’ve never been one to accept the authority of a figure simply because he’s had more birthdays and wears a tie, so I piped back, “It’s not off-point if we don’t think it’s off-point.”

He furrowed his brow in disapproval and sternly warned, “I am the adult here and I know what’s apropos and what’s not.”

Once again we all cowered in fear.

No one said anything else, and truthfully, our little organization was completely unable to back any idea or complete a project.

I had this abiding belief in my soul that eventually I would get old enough that I would escape the “Mr. Torrences” and be able to make my own decisions. But no matter how many bites of birthday cake I consume, marking the passing of my years, there continue to be these creatures, like Mr. Torrence, who want to decide for everybody else what is apropos.

Some do it claiming a reverence for God or a moral code; others do it because they have an inherent fear of change. And then, a vast majority put forth this profile simply to be controlling assholes.

Our entire country is stymied by a “spirit of apropos.”

We are stalled on the entrance ramp of the highway of life.

We are inundated by individuals who want us all to shiver in silence, never able to build up the speed to enter the stream of traffic.

Throughout the march of humankind, people have tried to chloroform new life by making us all afraid that what we’re about to do is out of line–and certainly not apropos.

Without the souls who are rebellious to the “Mr. Torrences” who come along, we still would be owning slaves, raising cattle, treating women like donkeys…and eating our dinner in the darkness of a cave.

 

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Anti-American

dictionary with letter A

Anti-American (adj): hostile to the interests of the United States; opposed to Americans.

If you will allow me to characterize an entire nation in the context of the growth spurt of an average human being, I would put forth that our country is presently in the midst of a seventeen-year-old, bratty, rebellious snit.

Anyone who’s had children and endured the pangs of adolescence will be familiar with the sneering comment coming from your teenage child: “It’s my life. It’s a free country. And if you love me, you’ll support me in my decisions.”

Honestly, we did not become a great country through finding a contortionist’s trickery to kiss our own ass. Our greatness is punctuated by the times we have discovered the fallacy of our own practices and pursued avenues to build a highway to better understanding.

To arrogantly insist that every suggestion that America might need to make some sort of constructive course correction is an attack against our nation is nothing short of high school insolence.

Here are three things I know about my country, I love about my country, and therefore insist that my country continue:

1. We believe in giving.

The minute we start thinking that we are too generous and therefore should take more, we will become the latest dinosaur.

2. We are a free country and therefore capable of changing our mind to better solutions.

I am sick and tired of having the Constitution presented as a docile, stagnant document. It has so far been amended twenty-seven times, and certainly shall be again.

3. We have stated on paper that we believe “all men are created equal” and that no one is better than anyone else.

Even though we’re catching up with our own high-sounding ideas through a bit of painful implementation, we have taken the bold step of declaring an eternal truth.

As long as these three principles are pursued by my nation, I will applaud and sprout a tear or two when Old Glory comes marching by.

When we retreat from them through cowardice or lethargy, I will be in the front of the protest, demanding we return to our standards … and risk being called anti-American by the lazy and ignorant riff-raff.  

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