Crooner

Crooner: (n) someone who utilizes smooth but exaggerated singing

Late one night, as a friend and I drove across the expanses of the American prairie, where it was so lonesome and dark that even the prairie dogs had turned in for the night, we quickly discovered that we were getting sleepy.

We tried eating.

We tried listening to the radio.

We tried talking. (I think we confessed all the sins and indiscretions from our youth at least three times over.)

While flipping around the radio, we discovered a channel set aside exclusively for old-time singers like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

We were deeply surprised at how much production was put into each and every song, and how these crooners took every single tune and made it sound the same as the others—simply by homogenizing the words and blending the tones together to develop the same consistency on every ballad.

We got tickled.

We decided to take great rock and roll songs and sing them to one another as if we were crooners. From “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones, to “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues, to “Hang On Sloopy,” by the McCoys, to “Get Back” by the Beatles—each rendition was funnier than the last.

After all, rock and roll is known for separating words and lyrics, almost in a syncopated style. When you smear it all together, it not only loses its beat, but certainly threatens to remove all meaning.

Crooners are interesting vocalists.

They took a time in our history, when we wanted our background music to be nearly symphonic, and then they added cottage cheese vocals, to make everything resound with romance.

Still, I don’t think anything else could have kept us awake that night, as we drove across Americana.

It was especially funny when we decided to do our “crooner rendition” of the Kiss song, “I’m Gonna Rock and Roll All Night and Party Every Day.”

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Cello

Cello: (n) a bass instrument of the violin family, held upright on the floor between the legs of the seated player.

I wrote a screenplay called “The Drive.” I will not go into detail about the storyline because that is not the essence and purpose for this little sharing.

Yet there was a passage in this movie where I envisioned a cello solo to extend over about a four-and-a-half minute period of time.

I do not play cello.

My experience with the cello is seeing them from a distance in the orchestra, and hearing it performed by Yo-Yo Ma.

But I trudged ahead, wrote the composition, and hired a well-recommended cellist. I sent her the music, she arrived and we set out to record.

I found it difficult to hide my disappointment.

You see, I had always envisioned the cello to be this smooth-sounding, basal instrument of gentle tones. But as this professional played my passage, she was plagued with buzzes, growls and all sorts of foreign intonations.

A friend of mine who had been in orchestras for many years, explained to me that many cellos could be bowed and sound nearly smooth as silk–but if you planned on using it as a solo instrument, it often produced various noises of lamentation. She pointed out to me that on the Beatles song, “Yesterday” and the Rolling Stones, “Ruby Tuesday,” that the cello is quite prevalent, but very buzzy.

I cannot tell you that I ever got used to all the personalities of the cello. I still prefer it to sound like a warm-hearted bass-singing angel.

But when it was all said and done, the piece of music was perfect, and did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Honestly, I can’t say that about myself.

 

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Abate

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAbate: v. 1. become less intense or widespread: the storm suddenly abated. 2. cause to become smaller or less intense: nothing abated his crusading zeal

My parents certainly wanted to abate long hair and rock and roll. Facts are, they are dead and the Stones keep rolling–and the world is a’Gaga.

And the North wanted to abate slavery in the Southern plantations. It took a bloody Civil War but now black folks are allowed to vote at large instead of “tote that barge.”

It seems like every day of the week somebody wants to abate something. But here’s a clue: if you don’t have the right “a-bate,” you’re not going to get what you’re fishin’ for.

After having traveled this planet for some time, I have boiled it down to discover that if you want to be on the right side of history and end up looking smart later on instead of like a dumb old fogey, there are only two things you need to stand against and abate: killing and judging.

My experience is that everyone who has encouraged the death of anything has ended up looking like they brought chips and dip to a formal dinner party. Likewise, every individual who has tried to alienate one group, or place their clique above another, has gone down in the history books as foolish and bull-headed.

So I will tell you that I am for abating killing and judging. And because that’s too general, I will get more specific and talk to you about the promoters that put these two nasty boogers into business.

  • What causes killing is weapons.
  • And what promotes judging is prejudice.

Now, I don’t care if the weapon is an assault rifle or a scalpel held by a doctor in an abortion clinic. It could be a lethal injection on death row or people who just don’t have any sense of humor and murder all the good cheer in a room. It is the responsible use of weapons that causes us to put killing in a position where it is not only the last resort but even at that ugly hour, is reconsidered one more time in the pursuit of mercy.

And it is the removal of any notion that one human being is better than another that cripples judging–stifling prejudice.

You’ve got to be careful what you abate. You can lose an awful lot of good music and eliminate a whole race of people. But if you abate killing and judging, you’ll find yourself with an excellent mention in the history books and I believe, a pat on the head from the Almighty.

Let’s get sensible about weapons and let’s curtail our prejudice.