Dabble

Dabble: (v) to work at anything in an irregular or superficial manner

I would like to introduce myself.

My name is Mr. Dabble.

I can’t think of a word that more describes what I have done throughout my life than dabble.

As a teenage boy, I was interested in Southern Gospel Quartets. That particular dabbling had me doodling for a while. So if I’m ever in a gathering where such old-time music becomes a point of conversation, I can hold my own.

Then, for a long time, I was involved in the music industry in Nashville, Tennessee—at least up to my armpits, though it never quite reached my eyeballs.

I met famous people.

I recorded in famous studios.

And I appeared on stage in a variety of ways—from having my own music group to doing backup singing for a Las Vegas show.

I dabbled for a season by taking my clan on the road and having my own little Partridge Family—singing, traveling in a car, pulling a trailer, wearing colorful costumes and attempting to believe that we sounded good enough to be doing what we were doing.

I dabbled with writing novels.

I dabbled by flying coast to coast putting on shows.

I dabbled in writing classical music for a symphony we began in Tennessee.

I dabbled in screenplays. Thirteen of them turned into independent movies, which won awards at film festivals.

Why did I dabble?

Because I am a curious sort.

I have never believed that fame is possible—mainly because it is unsustainable. So the second-best option is to continue to try new things, and conquer them one by one, and have your own personal awards ceremony for your efforts. The nice thing about this is that you never come in second, but can always bestow top honors upon your performances.

The question might be asked by sane men and women everywhere:

What would have happened if you had focused, and not dabbled?

For instance, what would have been the conclusion if you had begun with screenplays and faithfully stayed with them?

I don’t know.

Because then I wouldn’t be a dabbler.

And I wouldn’t be able to write this article about my dabbling.

Credentials

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Credentials: (n) evidence of authority, status, rights, entitlement to privileges, or the like, usually in written form

 I suppose if you removed my driver’s license from my wallet, I would possess no credentials whatsoever. My state has authorized that I am entitled to drive a vehicle.

I have never received credentials from a music school, though I have persisted in making music.

I have no credentials whatsoever to write books, blogs and screenplays—yet again, I pursue.

I certainly had no credentials to be a dad, but the kids kept showing up.

I had no credentials as a lover, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

I am not licensed or approved to be a philosopher, a teacher, an instructor or a motivator—but these things have come up and in the absence of real talent, I have stepped in, acting as the best substitute I could.

I suppose I should have given more thought to gaining credentials. They do look good when writing a bio. Getting places or people of note to qualify you is much better than jotting down, “Have no fear. I am here.”

And I am certainly not one of those who feels self-righteous about lacking credentials, as if I were showing some sort of superiority by sheer grit and force.

It’s just that everything in my life started about one year earlier than it probably should have.

When I possibly could have gone to college, I was having my first son. And since I had that little family, when I might have wanted to garner some sort of degree or certificate, I was trying to put pizza and animal crackers on the table.

What I had to learn was that the absence of credentials demanded an honest presentation of oneself rather than lying or becoming defensive or saying something stupid like, “I have graduated from the school of hard knocks.”

I think it is absolutely delightful, if not essential, for people to gain credentials. I certainly do like to know that my plumber has plumbed before, and somebody knows that he’s not “plumb crazy.”

But in the absence of credentials, I will humbly offer myself, candidly share my value and do the best goddamn job I possibly can.

 

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Coproduce

Coproduce: (v) to produce a motion picture, play, etc,  in collaboration with others.

My son works in the independent film industry.

Matter of fact, for four years I joined his wife, Tracy and him by penning thirteen screenplays, which they ably turned into feature-length funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
movies.

It was very enjoyable.

We agreed on almost everything—except…

He really felt it was good—dare I say noble?—to collaborate. To co-produce with strangers.

Let me make it very clear. I love people as long as I don’t have to endure too many of their opinions.

I welcome input.

I learn from almost everyone.

But normally I do this by watching their successes and imitating those procedures.

What I do not like to do is sit around a table and “brainstorm.” To me, brainstorming leads to a tornado of confusion.

I also don’t like the fact that when people co-produce, they tend to focus too much on their own contribution to the project, sniffing it out like hound dogs looking for a scurrying rabbit, constantly reminding everyone quietly, or loudly, that the preceding portion was their idea.

Perhaps in the long run, I lose some quality by tapping only the sap of my own tree trunk.

But when you only have yourself to blame, you don’t have to share bows or get into ridiculous arguments about whose ingenious notions really made the experience click.


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Clergyman

Clergyman: (n) a male priest, minister, or religious leader, especially a Christian one

All the mistakes I’ve made in my life were caused by me thinking that what I had to offer was not enough.

Whenever I calmed down and realized that the stash in my duffel bag was the total subsistence of my life and journey, I was fine.

But when I allowed myself to be intimidated by forces around me which deemed my offering to be meager because it lacked some
certification, I always ended up either a fool or a liar.

I wanted to help people.

I wanted to use my art to do so.

I wanted to share a message that had humor, hope and heft.

But I also once was very young, and contended that I needed some title to punctuate my adequacy.

Since I did not go to college, I wasn’t allowed to be called “a Reverend.” Therefore I could not be a clergyman.

I don’t know why I wanted to pursue such a position–I guess I just wanted folks to be impressed when they heard the full extent of my resume spoken in a word: “minister.”

So I lied. I manufactured higher learning. And eventually I just called myself a “Reverend” even though I didn’t have any pedigree to bark out spirituality.

It took me many years to escape the foolishness of my insecurity. As soon as I did, I realized that being a clergyman was actually to my disadvantage, because my music, writing, dramatic pursuits and screenplays were much more effective tools for reaching my brothers and sisters than climbing into a pulpit and emoting.

I often think, what is it I’m doing today that’s equally as stupid as my pursuit of being a false cleric?

I don’t know. But I keep looking.

Because if I catch it early, maybe I can avoid some of the embarrassment that occurs when people finally find out the truth.

And…

They always do.

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Cinema

Cinema: (n) the production of movies as an art or industry.

“To date, I have written thirteen screenplays which have been produced into independent movies, receiving recognition at twenty-eight film festivals.”

This is a blurb.

It’s the kind of thing you stuff into an advertisement or resumé  to let people know you have credentials.

Once it is stated or read, the person who has received the input immediately asks, “What movies? Would I know one?”

The answer is no–because I am not famous, rich, nor do I wield any power.

I do not say that with misgiving. I am so grateful being able to make my living doing what I like while also having the freedom to drive down to the local department store and move around in total anonymity.

But can I tell you? From my personal experience, the world of cinema is locked up tighter than a nun’s vagina.

It is filled with nepotism, red tape and a self-righteousness about art which often contends that the more bizarre the story line, the more realistic it becomes.

The budgets are overblown, the plot lines as thin as a Parisian model, and the resolutions are not geared for the edification of humankind.

So comically, the movies that make the most money in the world of cinema are G-rated–but the movies that are touted are usually R.

I have nothing against either genre. I have written in both.

But historically it has been the job of theater–in this case, cinema–to lift us as a people from our depression and make us believe in the higher good of the human race, which began as dust inhabited by the image of God.

 

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Bum

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Bum: (n) a vagrant.

Yesterday, I once again heard the word.

It sent a chill down my spine.

I was situated next to a lady on the curb, and a gentleman walked by who obviously was not on his best streak of luck. As he disappeared in the distance, she turned to me and said, in her meanest, most nefarious tone, “Bum.”

I paused.

Actually, I found myself in the middle of a flash-back–because in the early years of my life, when I aspired to be a writer, musician, singer, or something of that sort, I ferociously ran away from the workaday world, having a great fear in my soul that once I got my first paycheck, I would never be able to wiggle myself out of the commitment.

In the process of trying to be something that nobody else thought I had the right to be, I got called “bum” a lot–even by family members. It never ceased to sting.

I pretended it didn’t bother me–but there was something really coarse and evil about having other human beings judge me solely on whether I was solvent by their standards.

So even though I should have responded more quickly to the lady, at length I said, “You never know. Maybe someday that young man you just called a bum will write fourteen books, have three daily blogs, thirteen screenplays and travel all across the United States, trying to bring common sense and love to the world.”

She stared at me with a quizzical look and then replied, “Ain’t no way.”

I just smiled.

Way.

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Box Office

Box office: (n) a place at a theater or other arts establishment where tickets are bought or reserved.

In the midst of my human journey, which I’m sure some people would consider a cavalcade of bizarre experiments and perpetual oddities, I, for a season, wrote screenplays, which were produced into low-budget, independent films, and showcased at festivals.Dictionary B

On top of that, we had a premiere of each film, which could be viewed by all of the participants, actors and family members, so they could “ooh and aah” over their participation (and also confirm that the camera really does put ten pounds on you).

I was in Michigan and they were shooting my script entitled “Wonderful,” which was a tipping of the hat to the Capra film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when it was determined that we would rent a big metroplex theater for our premiere.

It was a bold move.

The place seated about 300 people, and we had no reason to believe that such a multitude would be willing to come and see our little endeavor.

I vividly recall sitting in the parking lot, staring at the road leading to the theater and watching as the cars–one by one, then three by three, and finally ten by ten–began arriving for our debut.

It was thrilling.

By the time everybody gathered, the place was full, the movie was screened, the energy was supreme and the human interaction of joy and fellowship that followed was the definition of what our lives should truly be.

I will never forget that box-office moment, when the people poured out of the theater, some in tears, some laughing, some grumpy (maintaining their nature) but all aware that they had broken down their barriers, and allowed themselves, for a brief moment, to truly be brothers and sisters.

 

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