That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

More MAXims

The REALLY young don’t think they are.

This is to those who seek to hide their bad behavior behind youth, when what they actually do is reveal the cleverness it takes to make the excuse.

“I’m young. I’m only 23. I’m gonna make mistakes.”

If you have enough sense to say that, you have enough sense not to do what you did!

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June 18, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Life, Life Lessons, Maxims, Proverbs, Sin, Words, Words of Wisdom, Youth | 2 Comments

New Adage

Life is just a bad neighborhood I have to go through to get home.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Wisdom, Words, Words of Wisdom | 9 Comments

I built it — where ARE they?

I haven’t stopped writing. I am just busy. And a little frustrated.

I’m raising two kids, trying to start a band — this blog got me (thankfully) fired from the other one — learning what it takes to master my horn (thanks, Kirk!), and trying to be fully worthy of the gifts I’ve been given. I’m playing in a jazz band that works once a month but takes a lot of my time, I just finished a demo, and I’m attempting to be worthy of the great wife I have who lets me do all I have to do to get what I need out of life.

I am frustrated because most of the people who used to visit my little hole here in cyber-space have stopped coming by after the first week in November. Hmmm. But I have not changed… My moral stances are just as conservative as they always were. And my views on those with less-than are just as NOT conservative. I am just as biblically conservative as I ever have been, and my opinions on Christian fellowship among ALL Christians are just as liberal, if you will. Yet, for some reason, I don’t have the company I used to have.

I don’t have but two or three friends — despite what facebook says — and I don’t see them much. Life gets in the way. I am not a social butterfly like my wife. I don’t get asked to hang out a lot. So this blog, in addition to being a journal of sorts, and a way to hone writing skills, is a way for an extreme introvert like me to interact in a non-intimidating fashion with people of like and UNlike mind.

But after the abomination, I don’t get a lot of visitors. The weather must not be as fair as it was on the third of November.

I still have a lot to say, and I will say it. I love writing this blog!  However, I also have a lot of things to get done, and I want to do proper justice to them all. Thank you who do for continuing to share your valuable time here with me. Please continue to do so.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Conservatives, Elections, False Teachers, Frustration, God, Liberals, Life, Obama, Words, Writing | 13 Comments

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.

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

Ingreat?

I want to be great.

I struggle with this. I know that God says that He will give His glory to no man. I ask myself constantly if the reason I have not yet achieved my goals is that I want to be glorified in some way. Maybe God knows (I want to say, “Maybe God THINKS,” but I know He doesn’t wonder) that I would not be as humble as I need to be if He allows me to do the same things as those as whom I know I am at least as good. (prepositions! whew!)

Or maybe I simply have not worked hard enough.

I play music and I write words. I often think, when I see humorists and columnists and hear certain saxophone players, “I KNOW I can do this! I’m at LEAST that good! Why can’t I get a break?” I know I’m kind of good, but I want to be great. And not obscure. And I begin again to wonder if what is blocking me is simply my thought process.

Maybe my thinking has to change… Maybe I have to think more about what greatness will mean for God than what it will do for me.

From day one I have been Charlie Brown. I was the insignificant kid, the ridiculed kid, the unremembered kid. I was the one who the girls looked at from the edges of their eyes. I was the one who either ate alone at lunch or went and found others with whom to eat.

I was never at the center of the action, always at the outer ring. Never the life of the party.

When I started to play music, it wasn’t to get girls or to be cool. I just wanted to learn how to play an instrument — something no one in my neighborhood did. All through school, the fact that I could hear a tune and reproduce it and improvise a little bit did nothing to initiate me into that cool musical circle.

When I grew up and began doing it for a living, my mother, who worked at my high school, would ask me to come back and play for assemblies. My own band director (with whom I rode to school EVERY DAY for three years!!!) was shocked when he heard me, remarking to my mother, “I had no idea Derrick could play like that! When did this happen?”

He had not bothered to notice or nurture my talent. He never pushed me. While the cool kids were taking theory classes and playing in the jazz band, I was at home picking out Grover Washington and Spyro Gyra solos. Teaching myself.

When I was in the eighth grade and on the verge of academic mediocrity as a student in the first Optional School class in Memphis, my English teacher brought a knarry tree stump into the classroom and asked us to write a story based on what we saw. I, thinking myself a failure at English, got the highest grade in the class. In me was born the love for words I now have. I changed at that moment. And a lot of the arrogant kids in the class looked at me differently — although being good at English doesn’t make you cool.

Writing didn’t become cool for me until I began getting paid to write love letters for guys — something I was scared to do for myself for a long time.

This very blog is all about me trying to be great. It is more than a geek with a computer corrupting journalism. It is me trying to not just rant, but to make literature. I want to leave my children with something that shows them that their father did not just consume resources, but that he THOUGHT. I want to not get to God’s throne and have Him disappointed because I left unused some gift He gave to me.

I want to MATTER — to be necessary. I want to be great in His eyes AND send my kids to college. Can’t you do both? There is the rub… That which makes ascent uncertain…

Being so consistently rejected bred in me this thing, this need, to prove them all wrong. To prove to — whomever — that I was worthy of note. Not of exaltation, but just valuable enough to be heard, to be listened to. It is the same drive, I think, that led Michael Jordan to prove wrong the coach who cut him when he was a kid. The same drive that made my father put cement and a pole into buckets to make his own barbells back in the fifties when kids laughed at him and called him scrawny.

I hate being treated as “less-than.” HATE it! I am the first one to esteem my neighbor as greater than myself, as long as my neighbor doesn’t presume to assume that position! I’ll get in the back seat as long as you don’t insist that I belong there. It is for this reason that arrogance is one of the things I hate most in the world.

 I want to show all those who belittled me and dismissed my contributions that they are what is wrong with the world. (But it doesn’t consume me as much as it may sound)

Maybe in a twisted way, though, that is revenge… I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have a desire to hurt anyone, or to repay in like fashion, so maybe it’s not vengeance. But maybe my thinking is wrong. Maybe I need to focus more on how GOD would be proved worthy of note if these things happened for me the way I want them to… I know I am not arrogant — I am PROUD of how humble I am! I make way too many mistakes to have an exaggerated idea of myself.

God, however, sees things in a different way than do I. Maybe my thinking is out of synch with His. Maybe if I can figure out how greatness and fame intersect, that last door will open.

Or maybe it is just not time yet.

I know He has not closed the door though, because I have continually been able to support myself, and because step by agonizing step, I have done a little bit better. I have worked with some pretty big acts and have played as though I belonged there.

We all live and eat by having people give us money to do something we are good at doing. Our gifts make our way for us. That is all I want. No Bentley, no floor length mink, no gaudy jewels. No breathless fans or VIP status.

Just ample recompense for art rendered. Commensurate compensation.

Lord, I don’t want Your spot or your shine. And if I don’t speak up enough, it is of shyness, not of usurpation. Create in me that right way of thinking, and even closer fellowship with You.

I’m not so haughty, reader, as to think that my life is so compelling that you just HAVE to know about it. I just hope the words are interesting enough to keep you reading them.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Artistry, Christian Life, Christianity, Fame, Food for Thought, Glory, God, Greatness, Humility, Life, Music, Saxophone, Words, Work, Writing | 9 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

“He’s Quite Reticulate.”

“I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. Ahhh… I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.” 

Hillary Clinton.

Why is it that the same people who blast black people for poorly elocuting the English language always seem to give people like Obama, Jesse Jackson, and most black preachers so much faint praise for being “eloquent”? How can both generalities be simultaneously true?

Up until the Iowa caucus, calling someone black “articulate” was thought to be a gauze-covered racist insinuation. (“Wow! Look at that! That monkey can pick a banana from a coconut on demand!”) 

When did being able to artfully arrange words become a weakness? Especially in politics! All politics IS is freekin’ words! (Campaigning anyway…) All any of them do is talk! About what they have done, allegedly did, will do and won’t do! Don’t try to be like Aesop’s fox and act like the grapes are sour just because you can’t reach them!

To the extent that Obama and I share the same race (and gender), I am insulted when I hear this from Clinton. Most of what I do is word-based! Am I to think that deftly using language is a bad thing? Maybe I should just shut up and go get a job at the Post Office. And deliver other peoples’ words…

Regardless of political affiliation this tactic is offensive. It has nothing to do with abortion, Affirmative Action, gay rights, or Christian Rights (hint hint…). Win based on YOUR attributes, not by misrepresenting the strong points of your opponent! 

April 25, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Barack Obama, Christianity, Conservatives, Hillary Clinton, Liberals, Martin Luther King, Politics, Race, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Words | Leave a comment

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

How many I.Q. Points Do You Lose When You get Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled?

Knowledge is only a plow.

WISDOM is the ox that pulls it.

     Derrick L. Williams

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Adage, Analogy, Axioms, Proverbs, Quips, Truth, Words, Words of Wisdom | Leave a comment

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