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Contra Diction

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who, almost arrogantly,  pronounces each and every letter of every syllable of every word she speaks, grates on my nerves sometimes.

We know you’re smart. We know you’re Ivy League educated. But do you have to go out of your way to elocute even the soft sounds at the ends of words? “…spiked(a) the punnncchh att my best(a) friend(a)s graduation(a) parttee.”  She sounds as if she is spitting out fish bones when she says words like, “terrorrisstss.” Gotta get that darn, tricky “ess”  in at the end! Wouldn’t want to appear ordinary.

If she just spoke like the rest of moderately educated humanity, she could save about fifteen seconds of dialogue per every minute of talking. She could winnow her show down to a half hour!

She sounds like a COGIC preacher.

It’s like listening to Niles Crane recite Shakespeare while gargling marbles. I feel like the next thing she is going to say to me is, “turn(a) lefffft in two pointt threee my-uls.”

Maybe it’s just me… I’ve been ill-tempered lately.

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January 8, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Current Events, Entertainment, Humor, Language, MSNBC, Pet Peeves, Political Humor, Politics, Rachel Maddow, Rant, Television, TV, Words | 2 Comments

What’s so Amazing about “Amazing?”

Why do some people use that word so much? Especially in reality shows like “The Real World,” “The Bachelor,” “Rock of Love,” and any other show where people who don’t know each other and are thrust together for the sole purpose of hooking up while we voyeuristically watch? Celebrities wear it out, too! “The director was amazing.” “This movie was an  amazing experience!” “Angelina was just so amazing that I just had to leave my first wife — who used to be amazing. Not so much now…

Overkill indeed! And it’s always spoken with three “a’s” in the middle of it for emphasis and extra amaaazingness. “I had an amaaazing time.” “You’re an amaaazing woman.” “Your body is amaaazing!” You would think they were juggling chainsaws and baking a cake while breastfeeding twins and bathing a cocker spaniel while looking super-hot! Now THAT would be amaaazing!

It is so awkwardly obvious what is going on. It is the verbal equivalent of buying a woman a drink in a club. As subtle as renting a porno movie.

They can’t ALL be amaaazing, can they? If they are, why are they lined up to do reality shows? If they are all amaaazing, where are the regular people? If every thing, situation, and blonde, and brunette is so amaaazing, why is the world so jacked up? If every parent, every child (mine are!) and every relationship is amaaazing, what do we say when we see a nine-month-old who can read, or a savant who can’t speak but can play Chopin, or Stevie Wonder, or Ben Carson, or that father who pushed his paraplegic son through an entire marathon because of a prior wish? Nope. Can’t call it amaaazing because you guys totally, literally diluted the uniquity — if you will — of that term to make some floozy think you were intense!

Save the superfluous superlatives for superlative situations. (I had to sit back and admire that one! Sorry.)

That goes for “miracle,” and “genius,” too!

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Advice, Celebrities, Celebrity, Culture, Current Events, Food for Thought, Humor, Hyperbole, Language, Relationships, Sex, Sexuality, Shallow People, Show Business, Stuff I Hate, Television, Things That Make You Go Hmmm, Words | 3 Comments

PROnunciation: Nunciating for money.

I was on the road this past weekend working with a different band, and my friend, Curtis, and I got into a conversation about how unsatisfied and unhappy I was in the group in which I normally play.

“I’m a disgruntled employee,” I said. I paused, “Hey, man, what’s up with that word? You ever thought about it? Every time somebody shoots up a post office, or a place of business, they are always called, ‘disgruntled’.” He laughed.

“I mean, have you ever heard somebody use the word, ‘gruntled‘? ‘I was disgruntled yesterday, but I got my check in the mail, an’ I’m pretty gruntled today!’ “ We both fell out laughing.

“Yeah,” Curtis said, “DIS- is a prefix, and you would think that the root word would stand alone. But I’ve never heard that word, ‘gruntled’ before. Man, you’re crazy! You think about some weird stuff!” Laughing.

“Naw, man, I’m serious! I been thinking about that for years! I think about that kind of stuff a lot. Like look at the word ‘unscathed’. When was the last time you heard about somebody being in a car wreck on the news, and the reporter said, ‘Yeah, the victim got scathed up pretty good. He was so scathed that he is in critical condition.’ And what is ‘critical condition’ anyway? Is that when you are hurt up so bad that you get two thumbs down? Or does it mean that the doctors all crowd around you and criticize you, like, ‘Wow! That’s terrible! Awful! Look at how his leg is bent! He shoulda known better than trying to ride that motorcycle drunk!’?”

We laughed non-stop for about five minutes.

I love words!

DISgruntled, UNscathed, DISpensed (Has anybody ever “pensed” you?)

What are some others?

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Humor, Language, Life, Things That Make You Go Hmmm, Words, Work | 7 Comments

Use COCKY in a Sentence.*

Guys I grew up with had the funniest way of butchering words, with their “domino pigeons” (doberman pinschers) and “speed thermometers” (speedometers). Scratching a chalkboard would make your “flush cross,” and a luxury automobile was a “Catlack.” They used to say “Holy GOAT.” As in, “Eric caught the Holy goat last night at the revival.”

 I pictured my friend chasing this funky billy goat around some hay-covered pen and tackling him in a cloud of dust. I figured that there must have been a cool reward for catching it!

There were WAY more than six degrees of separation between these guys and a dictionary!

Today, people still have misconceptions about God, the Holy Spirit. Jehovah’s Witnesses call ”it” an ”active force,” like electricity, while many Charismatics think He only functions to pounce on you like a vampire and make you fall out and flop around like a catfish in a rowboat!

We, as Christians who ardently seek to defend our Faith from those who would wish to distort it, must be sure to accurately define the terms we use — especially when dealing with essential matters like the nature of God — when dealing with our neighbors. 

So, when you hear Juanita call herself a “prophetessss,” or when Creflo says “ye are gods,” or when Paula, Eddie, Crouch, Benny, or the rest of the “pack” use the term “sow a seed,” see what they mean by these words, and see what the Bible says. Find out what the Word of God says about the “power of the tongue,” and “healing,” and God’s sovereignty, versus what the Word of Faithers say.

Or else you could wind up on the wrong end of that Eternal Stintchin’ Cord! An’ you don’t want that!

*”My daughter thew my COCKY down tha sink!”

ed. I, of course, am not belittling my own people here. I grew up in this environment, and so have a shared experience which makes it not mockery to laugh at things which I used to do myself. The grace of God allowed me to have two teaching parents who insisted that I learn and that I navigate the waters between a colloquial way of speaking and an orthodox one.

March 5, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Evangelism, Faith, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, Humor, Jehovah's Witnesses, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Language, Paula White, Pulpit Pimps, TBN, Word of Faith, Words | Leave a comment

Makin’ Grosy

So, since I work at night, and Kathy is on max-swole* right now, I do a lot of the grocery shopping. Trying to be a good husband. I tend to make fun of the way we black folk tend to speak down here in the South, and as such, what follows is the phonetically-spelled-out list of items for purchase:

                                                    Grosy Liss

Mennit Rise

Gobbitch Bags

Pento Bens

Hole Chikums

Crem uh Chikum

Crem uh Mushrome

Unyun Soop Miks

Bred

Shuger

Murk (a Memphis thing, sadly)

Jeffey Conebred Miks

Sereul

(And then I had to go to the)

Butey Suplie Stoe (to buy an afro)

Pik

The problem came when, because of my own smart-aleckiness, I found myself repeatedly standing in the middle of an aisle (dodging old ladies) frowning, trying to figure out what the– heck “Sereul” was! I thought I was being funny, and instead wound up being the butt of my own joke! No social or underlying Christian message this time. Just something funny that happened to me today.

The black folk will know what these words say. White folk, ask your black friends…

*Extremely Pregnant!

February 25, 2008 Posted by | Family, Humor, Language, Life, Marriage, Race, Words | 4 Comments

Candy Dates

Why are they called “candidates” when they are never CANDID about anything?

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Al Gore, Barack Obama, Conservatives, Cynicism, Democrats, Elections, George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Humor, John Edwards, John McCain, Language, Liberals, Mitt Romney, Political Correctness, Politics, Republicans, Rudy Giuliani, Satire, Semantics, Truth | Leave a comment

Juanita: The Transparent TeleVANDAList.

You ever had a feeling about someone, an inkling, an undelineated indication that you can’t specifically identify? I know you have. We all have from time to time. I have had this feeling on numerous occasions, and have been wrong a couple of times. However, I have been right a LOT.

 The person about whom I have this feeling currently is Juanita Bynum, the -self-proclaimed, self-fulfilled (pun)- prophetess. This feeling does not stem from my bitter aversion to her abuse of doctrine, or of her OBVIOUS prostitution of the Word and name of the Lord for her own personal accruement of wealth. (No, I am NOT jealous of her! No more than I would be jealous to usurp the position of anyone who would dare put a millstone around his own neck in the enterprise of misleading baby Christians!) No, this is not about her abominable doctrine.

I’ve heard her screeching at the top of her shrill voice countless prophecies that did not come to pass.  I’ve heard her say some of the most inappropriate, titillating things on the altar of the Lord that appear to be only for shock value. The shrieks of her mostly female audience prove my point. To her proponents, she is only being “real.” She intimidates those in her presence in a quite masculine manner. I’ve heard her demanding folk to empty their bank accounts and send them in. I’ve heard her speak of having “intercourse in the spirit(!)” with a male televandalist, and heard her justify this statement by saying “you have to have a male and a female” to do this! I’ve heard of her blessing out a woman in front of an entire assembly who DARED enter a thousand-dollar line with only fifty dollars! I have heard her torture the Scriptures in a more efficient fashion than an abattoir overseer!

I have heard all this and much more that I’ve forgotten, but her heresy is not my issue right now… When I hear her speak, I hear a profound arrogance. A pronounced self-importance! I get the sense when I hear her, that there’s no one in that room on her level. No one as important as she. The words she speaks seem to roll syruptitiously (my word) down her surgically reconstructed nose to the longing ears of her eager thrall.

I cannot STAND arrogance! How dare we seek to take credit from the Lord for any ability or blessing? Yes, one may claim to give God the glory, but their actions usually spell out the truth. She may claim humility, but she fairly drips with hubris.

I remember her relating a story one time recently where a niece of hers asked for a key to Bynum’s house. Bynum reproved her shrieking, “Naw, honey! I got MILLIONS in my house!” Her audience hummed approval; “Yeh, she DO! Umm-Hmm. Thass right, gurrl.” ARROGANCE. She often has her audience at the point where she can say just about any crazy thing without fear of reprisal. 

I come from a neighborhood where a lot of “worldly” guys lived. We had a pimp named “Percy” who lived down the street and always kept a yellow Cadillac and a woman with a rabbit fur coat on. Percy the Pimp!! The man next door did time for accessory to murder in the commission of an armed robbery. His son would lie and say, “He gone to the Army,” or, when we found out he was in prison, “He stole a lawn mower.”

There was a housing project in the neighborhood behind us, and when it was built, bikes mysteriously began coming up missing, and fences were erected in previously open yards. There were people who had a little, and people who had nothing, all living in the same neighborhood. We had police officers, teachers, like my parents, laborers, drunks, and hustlers, all there on Gainsville. There was a time when I was fairly gullible. I was quick to trust and believe the word of someone I thought my friend, because I thought the world was a nice place when I was five. I soon learned that if I were going to make it, I would have to be able to discern the truth from a lie. You see, a liar is not going to come straight out and say, “Okay, I’m gittin’ ret ta tell a lie, but ack like you believe me anyway*!” I had to get burned a few times before I figured out how to spot a liar. I had a guy in the second grade tell me that if I gave him my Hot Wheels ’68 Cougar, he had this machine at home that could turn it into a fancy CORVETTE! I’m STILL waiting on that car… You don’t have to have grown up on the streets to recognize a hustler when you see one, but it doesn’t hurt. (I saw Kobe’s arrogance WAY before he got into trouble!)

Watching Bynum on video doing an interview on her recent, alleged, beating at the hands of her Rook-I mean-Bishop husband left me with the sense that something was amiss. She was double-talking, contradicting earlier public statements in which she stated unequivocally that, “even if we KILL each other,” she would not leave her husband. Here, she emphatically pronounced the marriage over. She seemed the perfect victim: a few tears, an uncharacteristically calm, demure demeanor… All who know her story know that she is the dominant partner in the union. Just look at some of their photos.

 She has spent most of her on-air time since then touting her new destiny as the “Face of domestic abuse.” Not a scratch to be seen on that face. Now, I don’t expect her to come right out and say, “I’m gone ride this hoss till it DROP!” (that would be counter-productive) But something in her words and manner says just that! Growing up as I did makes me kind of recognize when someone is “Runnin’ Game,”** as we say.

I noticed that she said repeatedly, on the video, that she would not disparage Weeks, “As long as he is my husband.” (transparent statement) But I also heard her repeatedly refer to the occurrence as “a parking lot incident.” Over and over. I was reminded of Mark Antony’s clever speech in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” He claimed that he came not to praise Caesar, but to bury him, all the while subtly turning the crowd’s wrath on the men who murdered him while constantly repeating that they were “All, all honorable men.” I don’t know if the “Prophetess” ever read the play, but I recognized the strategy, and she employed it deftly!

I have seen the faces of beaten women, and they look just that. Beaten. Why do I have to pause here and say that any man who hits a woman is a punk? Of course that is the case. If he did it, HE needs to be medicated in the same way, so to speak. But I suggest that even if he just pushed her down, or tripped her, she can SAY that he did whatever to her, and will automatically be believed. I have seen it happen. Why were there no pictures of her face?

Why did she go after him when he chose to leave?

If you are going to fight in a parking lot, you’ll fight in a restaurant. If he was that angry, he would have done it inside. They are both public places.

The bellhop said THEY were fighting, not just that he was beating her.

She has used her platform as a motivational speaker (that’s all she really is) cleverly enough so that her legion of fans need nothing but her word that he did whatever she says he did in order to be convinced. She is so arrogant and prideful, that she, supposedly a minister, adamantly pronounces the marriage over- with NO adultery, the ONLY Biblical reason- and states that she would have to give 250% to her union in order to save it, while her ministry, her DESTINY, is more important, requiring only 190%! Does she not know that God says that you sin if you forsake marriage for ministry? Is it more important to be the the face of domestic violence than to lead souls to Living Water? Or, is it simply more lucrative?Does not Christ and the Gospel suffice? Should she not concentrate on proper exegesis and marital soundness? Should she not learn how to-Biblically- submit her pride and arrogance as a proper wife? 

Has she not made a cottage industry out of “teaching me how to love you,” and counselling couples and “ministering” to hurting women who need a good man? Should she and her husband already know how to navigate such waters as these? Don’t they know that God can fix anything? Are her “millions” more important than her standing before the God she claims to serve and obey?

I guess I write this because I know that she is about to milk this incident dry. At the expense of women who really have been brutally abused and murdered at the hands of their husbands and boyfriends. I am tired of her ubiquitous presence on “Christian” airwaves. I am sick of hucksters, pimps, and dream-sellers abusing those really in need, and unlearned. I am sick of the arrogance and pride with which they so boldly bilk the multitudes. It is just another business angle for her, and I’m frustrated because it is all so transparent.

There is just something about her demeanor and attitude that rubs me the opposite way. Something in that shrill, croaking voice that does not impress upon me the love of God… There appears to be a character chip missing from the programming. I don’t see that she truly respects people. Certainly not the ones whom she demands empty their bank accounts and such! There is refuge for her, I guess, in the fact that I’m not a prophet, not a mind-reader. But I know I’m right, and many of you feel it too. Is that what the Bible calls, “discernment?”

Maybe. However, I can’t stand arrogance in people. It’s okay if I esteem you, brother, as better than me, but humbug it if YOU esteem yourself so! How dare you, Rosie O’Donnell, or Trump (Paula White’s landlord), or T.O., or Bynum, or anypuffed-up “Apostle,” or “Bishop,” or any other phoney prideful prognosticator seek God’s prominence for yourself based on how much money, or power, or influence you have?! I don’t hate you, but according to I Cor. 5, specifically, verse eleven, I wouldn’t, don’t have to, even EAT with you, or anyone so haughty and disingenuous as to claim Jesus and be so obviously, repeatedly, out of His will. Get fixed up. Quickly.

Pride goeth before the fall, baby girl! Thass Proverbs 16:18! 

*”I am preparing to prevaricate. Conduct yourself as though you are benighted to this fact!”

**Being deceptive

September 9, 2007 Posted by | Bishop, Bishop Thomas Weeks, Character, Charlatans, Christianity, Commitment, Common Sense, Current Events, Divorce, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, God, Humor, Jesus, Juanita Bynum, Language, Marriage, Morality, Paula White, Personal Responsibility, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rationality, Religion, Respect, Sin, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, Thomas Weeks, Word of Faith | 6 Comments

Words. They make a STATEMENT!

“Words are the most powerful human force in the universe.”I know that that is not a statement dripping in profundity, but sometimes the most powerful Truths are the most simple. A genius in a wheelchair can cripple a strongman with a well-turned insult.A word as simple as ”What,” can cut a parent, husband, or wife swiftly and cleanly through sinew and bone straight to the heart easily enough to make a scalpel seem like a wet sock.

Had I, as a child, uttered that word in response to a summons from either of my parents, I truly would not be here to write this blog. At best, I would not be a whole man. (Words are so strong that my critics will feel justified in completely ignoring the hyperbole implicit in that statement and accusing my parents of murder or, at least, assault and battery)

In that way, and NOT the magical, mystical misinterpreted sense of some popular preachers (Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Oral Roberts, Juanita Bynum), ”There is life and death in the power of the tongue!”

If my wife innocently calls my name while I’m watching a game and I reply with a sharp, ”What!?,” the bells I’ll hear ringing in my head won’t be from the sublime soundtrack of my life! I’m only joking, but I know that that is probably the reality of some of you readers. For you, the ringing will mean that it is next week and you can go ahead and get up off the floor.

Kids, in only four or five years of study– less time than it takes one to get through medical school or seminary training– can become expert enough at the use of words to scar their little playmates forever. They are cruel urchins unencumbered by the burdens of tactfulness and decorum. Who among you doesn’t still feel the slightest twinge of anguish at the memory of that cute girl telling you, from above her nose ,

“Uhhh! Naw, I don’t wanna GO wit chu!!!” Or of a kid in your neighborhood telling you,

”Those shoes outta style, an’ you wore that shirt yesterday. You can’t afford no new stuff, ‘cuz yo daddy ain’t got no job, an’ y’all on food stamps, an’ y’all lights always gittin’ cut off!”

And Lord help the one who had the nerve or dubious judgment to say, ”Thass ya MAMA!”

 At least, that’s the way it was for Black folk! SOMEbody was gonna catch a mouth full of folded up fingers!

In all of those cases, the proper choice of words would have wrought a different outcome. Words have gotten me into fights and arguments, and they have saved me from getting stabbed or fired.

A well-placed, unsolicited, ”I love you” can carry a person through a lifetime. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone ”Thank you.” Call a friend or relative out of the blue and say some nice things about them- genuinely- and watch the blessing that follows. Don’t use harsh words with your spouse, use EFFECTIVE words. There is a difference.

Stop your kids from ”talking crazy” to you, for they WILL carry that behavior with them elsewhere.

This country, America, has a history which is stained indelibly by the fact that some people chose -choose- to believe that they were- are- intrinsically superior to any others. See how I used words to dance deftly around the word, ”racism”? There are many words used in our language to slur, slander, demean and diminish those of other races. We all know them, and many of us use them. (The funny thing is that all who do still consider themselves “good people”) These words, uttered by the wrong person at the wrong time, will drag the needle across the record and stop the party!

I have been victimized in often subtle ways by the negative application of words of this fashion. It is a strange feeling to go through life knowing that a group of people with the most power often use that power to press into the mud the faces of those who look different. Words are usually the conveyance of that action.

While nowadays overt gestures are frowned upon, the words are still alive:

“He is so articulate.”

”He is a naturally gifted athlete.”

”We have already rented that property.”

”Blacks were the first here, in an evolutionary sense. 

And as the species developed, intelligence increased.”

“Yes, Mr. Williams, let me show you the radio in this new Cadillac!” I could, of course, go on and on…

Language. A beautiful, ingenious concept. The ability to do more than make indecipherable gestures and grunts to communicate with each other, and we choose to use it to attempt to crush the esteem and Godly image of those with whom we live. Simple words. A collection of letters and a group of sounds combined to either uplift or enrage. They can bring unexpressable joy, or unbearable despair.

The engine of politics and international diplomacy is the spoken word. Every single letter is parsed with achingly tedious detail. Words determine war or peace, amity or enmity. Tone and context are only of minor import when held up next to what was SPOKEN. They won’t care what you meant, only what you said.

Athletes, often unaware of the dangers inherent in public speaking, fall prey to unscrupulous reporters (the new ”lawyers”?) itching only to stoke the embers of controversy. They wind up with a twisted quote attached to them for life.

Said Charles Barkley; “I am NOT a role model.”

What I heard was, ”Parents, be your kids’ role models. Don’t let them admire some athlete or musician more than they do you! Teach them the value of hard work and education.”

What every sports reporter (Jay Marriotti, Skip Bayless, Jim Gray, etc.) heard Barkley say was, ”I will do WHATEVER I wanna do, and I don’t care about what no KIDS think about it!”

What l’m saying is; Think long and hard about what you say before you say it, and make sure that you can convey EXACTLY what you mean to. Don’t give anyone the power to twist your words into something else. Don’t say what you don’t mean to say.

Learn to use language, like currency, to your advantage. Learn to turn a phrase, or cleverly construct an argument.  To young , Black kids I would say, “There is no shame in being well-read.” I would love to get to the point where I don’t hide all my pin numbers and money in books when I leave the house, because the OLD adage no longer applies!”*

As I said to my wife once upon having used a word the meaning of which she did not know, “You gotta go where the WORDS are!” She laughed. I hope you did, too.

Words are free but valuable. They flow like rivers, fluidly, endlessly. Sometimes safe to use, sometimes not. But never to be wasted. They are to be saved and calculated. Prudently utilized. God will check our accounts when we meet Him. Shall we pour them all out carelessly in caustic showers upon the heads and hearts of those with whom we share this existence?

Words can be chosen like clothes from a closet, and the more of them you know, the more options you have at your command. The more of them you know, the more hues and shades you can use to color your conversation. The more wisely you choose them the more accurate impression you can make. Choose your words as though they were the shirt, jacket, and tie you wear at a job interview or on a date. Clothes don’t make the man, WORDS make the man.

* That adage being that Black folk won’t ever crack open a book.

July 19, 2007 Posted by | Charles Barkley, Creflo Dollar, Encouragement, Humor, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Language, Parenting, Political Correctness, Politics, Race, Racism, Respect, Semantics, Word of Faith, Words | Leave a comment