Posted by: wordofexcellence | March 14, 2012

Just what does an American flag signify?

I leave home at about 9 am, driving down the street to the local convenience store. At the end of the street, I come upon a blue minivan with hazard lights flashing, flying an American flag and a New York Yankees banner. The driver is going at approximately the speed limit, as a patriot ought

We both make a right turn, and down the road, we come upon a large flatbed truck attempting to back into a local business. I notice my patriotic friend (well, no he isn’t really a friend) flail his arms at the need to stop and wait for the truck.

It’s taking a minute or two for the truck to navigate the road, and i notice via his side view mirror that my patriotic friend has quite a disgusted demeanor. The truck, still flailing about, moves forward and back again, unsuccessfully. My windows are closed, so I can only imagine Mr. America’s monologue.

His hands go up in disbelief and annoyance at the audacity of this (also) a US citizen delaying him from his obviously important rounds.

At last (AT LAST!) we are freed from the untimely stoppage of our progress. Mr. America turns left in front of me, and I follow. We make a smooth transition at the traffic light ahead, and it turns out that our agendas are similar.

We both turn into the convenience store parking lot. I pull into a spot without interruption. Mr. America, however, is blocked from his desired parking space. Someone is trying to exit and has pulled out in front of him. His hands again go up in disbelief.

As I stroll to the store to purchase today’s newspaper, I hear him utter the infamous “F” word. This, of course, is a traditional American usage. Shaking my head, I estimate that he’s decided it’s truly unAmerican to derail such a fervent patriot’s errands.

My visit to the store concluded, I leave just as he enters the store.

As I put pen to paper to chronicle this chance meeting (though we did not, in fact, meet), I wonder what’s delaying Mr. America from exiting the store.

Aha! Out he comes, bearing a plastic bag and armed with rubber gloves. He spies a man finishing off a Red Bull energy drink and begs for the empty, which he deposits in his plastic bag.

Not quite ready to leave yet, he makes the rounds of each trash bin, seeking his 5 cent booty. Having sated his appetite for nickel deposits, he returns to his vehicle and departs, mouth now closed.

This study in mankind and how a patriot acts in his day-to-day activities wasn’t in my plans for the day. All I intended was a brief stop to pick up the paper, and then to hie over to my home again.

It gave me pause, though, to witness what had gone on. Here’s an older man – not unlike me actually, in that sense – flying his flag proudly; proclaiming his patriotism to all who have vision. Yet, his actions belie the obvious claim to that patriotic vision he may have once had.

So what is a patriot?

Is he the kind of guy who gets all worked up when someone else (an American citizen) gets in his way? When confronted with a minor delay, is he the kind of guy who cusses out the other driver who’s innocently backing out of a parking stall?

Is he the kind of guy who witnesses someone acting in what might be construed as an odd fashion, and who then takes pen in hand and describes his feelings about this episode?

I’m patriotic. I love living in this country. I love the freedoms we enjoy, I love the people (mostly) who I encounter on my journey through life. Hey, I even served in the military (I admit I hated it). And despite my disgust with what I thought was a major snafu in my life, I survived it (and met some nice people along the way).

I don’t fly a flag. I sing the national anthem when it’s played at ballgames (of all sorts). I take my hat off when it’s played, too. I truly do believe that we who reside here have it better than pretty much everyone else on the planet.

I also get frustrated sometimes when I’m on the road and delays bog me down. Seeing what Mr. America, noted above, did with his frustration has given me a bit of a different outlook on things, though.

Cussing out somebody who’s simply leaving a parking space is not what I consider patriotic. Hey – maybe parking is part of our free speech! Getting worked up about someone backing up a truck that occupies a few minutes of your day is not the way you express your love for the United States.

I was enthralled at Mr. America’s behavior. Is it anti-American to act that way? Of course not. After all, we see it every day. Is it the sign of a true patriot to get all worked up, as this man did? Again…of course not!

We’re told that patience is a virtue. Well we know that isn’t just an adage…it’s true. We have been taught to be patient, but do we ever listen? But that’s off the topic – patriots occupy a different space than the rest of the population (they think). Some of them would suggest that my not flying a flag is not the sign of a patriot. Well of course I’ll disagree. My argument? When Mr. America and I were sitting and waiting for that truck to move, he was angry; I was placid.

And speaking of “placid” isn’t Lake Placid where the Miracle on Ice took place?

cussing people out might be as American as apple pie, but that doesn’t make it anything less than unseemly. If you’re going to fly that flag – the stars and stripes – then you need to set an example to the rest of the population.

and that example ought not to be to show your irritation at the mundane events of the day.

God Bless America – we need it now more than ever.

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Posted by: wordofexcellence | March 4, 2012

National Grammar Day

So today is March fourth and its national grammer day. This here iz my tribute to national grammer day. I hope all you like what I got to say here.

I really get po’ed when I see lousy grammer. People dont know when to use apostrophe’s or even commas or quote marks. Isnt it a pity when you want to read some article and its full of errors and mis-steasks and such? I cant stand to read stuff like that its like the writer dont know how to spel or anything. They cant put words in the right oder, they cant make sentences short or anything. 

And you know whats worst? When you read the news paper and its about some basketball game that wuz played and they talk about the peopel who went to the game and of course thats a crowed. I mean cant they spel the word crowd right and insted they put an extra e in there and its crowed.

One of the things I hate most about reading stuff that dont make sense is when I read about some guy whose gonna be speeking somewheres and his name is  lets say Anthony Markus and they dont spel the name write and it comes out Antny Marks or something dumb like that? Does that make any sense to you? cuz it dont make no sense to me.

Im tryin to kepe this breef cuz I wanna watch Tv today or tonite cuz somethin good mite be on.

Theres times when I want to call up the paper and tell them Hey dont spel them words so bad becuz I cant figure out what you all are tryin to say sometime.

I reely think grammer is impotent when we read becuz if its not then how will we know what we are saying or reading.

Im a stickler for proper usages and I cant stand it when people write the wrong stuff and then it dont make no sense to nobody whos readin it. Grammer is impotent cuz we need our chillun to be abel to rite good to.

Im tryin to kepe this breef cuz I wanna watch Tv today or tonite cuz somethin good mite be on.

Im reely hopin youall like my thinkin about grammer becuz I think its real impotent to teech good grammer to our chillun and folk who been thru skool reely oughta know how to spel good and stuf.

Let me know if I mad any missteaks cuz I am tryn to be purfekt in my speling and my grammer?

I preciate it.

Posted by: wordofexcellence | February 29, 2012

Who was it that told them they were entitled?

I’m inspired to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) today because in USA Today is an op-ed article entitled, “Huguely’s failure to speak,” written by Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

Some time ago, I began considering how a large segment of our population often takes it for granted that they may take certain liberties with others. Of course, I’m not the first to consider the situation. In fact, Sports Illustrated has discussed this topic on numerous occasions.  And, of course, I have my own opinions – not just about this case but numerous others.

George Huguely V, the subject of today’s op-ed article, was a reasonably good college lacrosse player at the University of Virginia, and he was dating another reasonably good college lacrosse player, Yeardley Love. UVa has a top-notch lacrosse program, ranking at or near the top of the heap on a regular basis.

Apparently, their relationship was on the skids, and an angry Huguely has now been found guilty of Second-degree murder in Ms. Love’s death, and the jury recommended a jail sentence of 26 years. Of course, this is old news to any who regularly follow such news (or maybe watch Nancy Grace).

Funny how Grace bears such a tolerant-sounding name, given her proclivity for rabid diatribes (in the name of justice). She’s another story altogether…perhaps on another day.

Look at what transpired between Huguely and the late Ms. Love. He burst into her dormitory room, kicking in the door, slapped her around and left her for dead once he was finished with his apparent vengeance-fulfilling attack. Only he can know what was on his mind that day, as the tenor of the op-ed article noted – he has not spoken of what was going through his addled mind on that day.

Entitlement – I can speak about this topic because I’m old enough to remember when we males were “entitled” to having our way with the women in our lives. It was expected – demanded, actually – that a woman capitulate to sexual advances from a man in the days when I was growing up. There was so little regard for the female perspective that men (and teenaged boys) walked away in disgust if they were denied that which they were “entitled to.”

We see the athlete, politician, CEO, and so many more of our “best and brightest,” as it were, continually pushing the proverbial envelope of relationships. Their demands on the women in their lives (or those they like to have in their lives) are unrealistic and chauvinistic, and they simply won’t take no for an answer. The same mindset provides the child molester with justification for his actions as well.

I’m not convinced that there will come a day any time soon that entitlement will be left by the wayside. There’s bound to be another young man or another old man who thinks that what he desires is simply that which he can readily take for granted. And he’ll take it (she’ll take it, too, by the way) as a deserved award just for being that special person he or she is.

 

Posted by: wordofexcellence | February 8, 2012

Looking in the Mirror

This story came fresh from the mind of my son, Caleb, who is now in the first grade and 6 years old. As noted previously, he is continually dreaming up new ideas, some of which I have posted here.

In this case, he did not dictate the story to me; instead, he wrote it out for and by himself. I think it’s terrific, particularly for someone as young as he. His fertile mind pleases as well as surprises me. Enough of my scribbles, though – herewith, the latest from the mind of Caleb:

 

You won’t believe what happened!

I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror. Overnight, I had grown an extra eye. It was huge!

When my friends saw me, they fainted. They thought that I was a monster, but I was not!

Or was I?

Then, after school, my parents noticed the same thing.

The next day, I didn’t feel good. Once I woke up, I found myself in the paramedic’s office bed. Every minute I vomited. I did not like it at all. It was horrible.

I hoped that the next morning, once I go to school, no one laughs.

Posted by: wordofexcellence | February 7, 2012

Caleb again, this time with Clown Shoes

In the earlier picture, we only had the  head shot. Here, he’s fully engaged in frivolity with gigantic yellow Clown Shoes.

 

What a clown!  Don’t you just love him?  I sure do!

Posted by: wordofexcellence | February 7, 2012

Caleb in Full Regalia!

Can I get this photo of my fabulous, frivolous, flatulent (at times), flowering son on the blog?  I don’t know yet, but I’m going to try!

He and I were at iParty in the summer of 2010, where we found all sorts of costumes. Caleb wanted to try some on…hence we show here the Groucho Marx glasses, nose and moustache and the Curious George Man’s Yellow Hat.

 

Hooray, it worked!

Posted by: wordofexcellence | February 7, 2012

One Hundred Words of Encouragement

I am motivated this afternoon by an email I received the other day, and just got around to opening. The challenge had been laid out for people to write 100 words of encouragement (for writers), as a contest some time back. I apparently missed the call for submissions, but that didn’t cause me to hold back.
Herewith, my effort to provide any and all with One Less Than One Hundred One Words Of Encouragement. I hope that any and all who view this will be blessed.

Allow yourself to dream. Be positive in your outlook. Cry sometimes. Dine elegantly on occasion. Eat something spicy.

Fight off drowsiness at midday. Go for a nice long walk. Have a milkshake occasionally.  Impress yourself with a new word or phrase.

Jump for joy for someone else. Kiss somebody. Look in the  mirror and smile. Move unnecessary things off your desk. Never mind frustration.

Open a book.

Pray!

 Quit your worst vice.

Read!

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Teach someone something.

Utter a “bon mot.” Visit a friend. Write a poem.

Xerox something.

Yell sometimes.

Zoom off down the road.

 

Posted by: wordofexcellence | February 1, 2012

Of Rights and Justice Denied

What follows is a poem I wrote a number of years ago. I was much inspired by what I found on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website at the time, describing all the folk who were murdered in the Southland of these United States between 1954 and 1968.

It’s Black History Month here in America. Let us rejoice in the freedoms won, but never forget those whose lives were lost in the battle.

I’m not exactly an activist, but I fervently believe in civil rights, and I’ve stood up for those rights in a variety of venues through my lifetime.  I’m prayerful that what follows will move someone; it moved me in the writing.

Civil – of or relating to the state or its citizenry;
Rights – something to which one has a just claim;
Civil Rights – the nonpolitical rights of a citizen.

Forty people dead…victims of violence
working for civil rights in America
a freedom struggle – to be continued.

The Rev. George Lee – May 7, 1955, Belzoni, Mississippi
Lamar Smith – August 13, 1955, Brookhaven, Mississippi
Emmett Louis Till – August 28, 1955, Money, Mississippi
The last, 14 years old
Mississippi – a state of death – murdered all.
John Earl Reese – October 22, 1955, Mayflower, Texas
Age 16 – shot dead
Willie Edwards, Jr. – January 23, 1957, Montgomery, Alabama
Off a bridge
Killed in the name of segregation
Mack Charles Parker – April 25, 1959, Poplarville, Mississippi
Herbert Lee – September 25, 1961, Liberty, Mississippi
Cpl. Roman Ducksworth, Jr. – April 9, 1962, Taylorsville, Mississippi
Paul Guihard – September 30, 1962, Oxford, Mississippi
The carnage continued from a variety of killers
Mob, legislator, cop
William Lewis Moore – April 23, 1963, Attalla, Alabama
Killed wishing for liberty and equality
Medgar Evers – June 12, 1963, Jackson, Mississippi
A leader assassinated
Addie Mae Collins and Denise McNair and Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley – September 15, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama
School girls, in church, a bomb
Virgil Lamar Ware – September 15, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama
At age 13, riding a bike
Johnnie Mae Chappell – March 23, 1964, Jacksonville, Florida
Louis Allen – April 7, 1964, Liberty, Mississippi
Fear, ignorance, prejudice…senseless death…
The Rev. Bruce Klunder – April 7, 1964, Cleveland, Ohio
Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore – May 2, 1964, Meadville, Mississippi
Murder most foul
James Earl Chaney and Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner – June 21, 1964, Philadelphia, Mississippi
Struggling to help establish rights – shot dead
Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn – July 11, 1964, Colbert, Georgia
On his way home
Jimmie Lee Jackson – February 26, 1965, Marion, Alabama
The Rev. James Reeb – March 11, 1965, Selma, Alabama
Viola Greg Liuzzo – March 25, 1965, Selma, Alabama
A bloody month in a bloody state
Wars waged on American streets
Oneal Moore – June 2, 1965, Bogalusa, Louisiana
An officer of the law – no matter – he was black
Willie Brewster – July 18, 1965, Anniston, Alabama
Jonathan Myrick Daniels – August 20, 1965, Hayneville, Alabama
Month after month, more dead
Samuel Leamon Younge, Jr. – January 3, 1966, Tuskegee, Alabama
A new year, same old story
Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer – January 10, 1966, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Ben Chester White – June 10, 1966, Natchez, Mississippi
Clarence Triggs – July 30, 1966, Bogalusa, Louisiana
Brought to remembrance
Three more now dead
Wharlest Jackson – February 27, 1967, Natchez, Mississippi
Benjamin Brown – May 12, 1967, Jackson, Mississippi
Blood running in the streets
Samuel Ephesians Hammond, Jr. and Delano Herman Middleton and Henry Ezekial Smith – February 8, 1968, Orangeburg, South Carolina
On a college campus, blood is shed
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee
Righteous, gifted, peacemaker, holy man
Shot down for his beliefs

Until the killing of a black mother’s son
Becomes as important as the killing of
A white mother’s son,
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
Recall the word…Amos 5:24
But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like a mighty stream.

Posted by: wordofexcellence | January 29, 2012

A Recipe for Writing

When contemplating the page, what is needed is a plan for the journey, even a blueprint.

Herewith, a recipe for writing. Savor it, embrace the warmth and use it profusely.

One needs the following ingredients: a dash of inspiration, a modicum of selfishness, a bale of freedom, a distinguishing palate, an eye of newt (after all, this is an essential part of many brews), one pot of gumbo (choice of chicken or seafood), 2 pounds of grammatical excellence, 4 quarts of sensitivity, 1 instance of acceptance of guidance, one inquisitive spirit and 7 days’ hibernation from otherworldly cares.

Set aside the gumbo for those most hungry moments.

Season the freedom with the dash of inspiration and the inquisitive spirit, and add the mixture to the selfishness; boil for a minimum of one day, until reduced to an opening.

Once the opening has been revealed, take the 7 days’ hibernation and the instance of acceptance of guidance to a quiet location. There, heartily mix in the modicum of selfishness with the sensitivity until it all comes to a roiling mass.

Bake for 3 days in a temperate climate to a crisp interior with a warmly welcoming desire for inclusiveness. At that point, use the grammatical excellence and the distinguishing palate to create a masterpiece of delectability.

Keep the eye of newt separate until convinced it is no longer needed.

Finally, enjoy an exquisite meal of gumbo with jalapeno cornbread on the side and a favored wine, as a celebratory last rite.

 

NOTE:  I originally wrote this for a contest, and it won me $25 (woo-hoo!).  It sums up my love of words, writing, Cajun/Creole food, and the joy of being able to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Posted by: wordofexcellence | December 28, 2011

The Gingerbread Man (and Fox)

Caleb has dictated to me a new story…a recurring theme of Gingerbread Men inhabits his creative mind, it seems.

Here is another – hey, maybe it’s a series that will run long…kind of like Zane Grey’s westerns!

Here it is:

One day there was a Gingerbread man who was in a gingerbread house. Santa Claus was in his sleigh and saw the gingerbread house. There was a little Christmas tree outside.

There were decorations on the house, and the Gingerbread Man was playing with his little mouse. Then Fox came running over to the Gingerbread Man and said, “Let’s have some food, and let’s be friends forever. I will be nice!”

The Gingerbread Man said “let’s go flip a coin and see if we’ll be friends.”

“The coin landed on heads,” said Fox, “and that means we are friends!”

“Okay, Santa Claus,” said Fox, “let’s pull the presents to town.”

After delivering the presents, they returned home, ate their dinner and went to bed.  “In the morning, we will open the presents,” said Fox. 

After they opened all the presents, they decided to go to the movies, to see Alvin and the Chipmunks; and then they went to The Children’s Museum because they wanted to learn about Mars.

After that, Fox said “let’s all mow the lawn together,” and they did.

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