David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Humor”

Thanksgiving Forgetters (2014-11-24 Daily)

As I sat at the kitchen bar the other morning drinking my coffee and doing my quiet time, Mary started giggling. I turned around and saw she was catching up with the latest Facebook postings on her timeline.

“What is it?” I asked, setting the book of Psalms aside to check out the object of her hilarity.

“Look,” she said, grinning. She pointed to a cartoon by Randy Bish, editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The drawing showed an angry turkey scolding a dumbfounded Santa Claus. “December, Fat Boy!” the turkey yelled. “This month is for my holiday! Now hop in that sleigh and wait your turn!”

I chuckled. This cartoon perfectly reflects Mary’s sentiment about this time of year, but recently her defense of the Thanksgiving holiday seems to have taken on a whole new desperation. Maybe it’s because Costco already had Christmas trees set up and fully illuminated in August, twinkling lights and fake snow reminding patrons to shop now because Christmas was only four months away. Or maybe it’s because I convinced Hannah’s piano instructor to start teaching her a few Christmas carols back in September so she’d be ready to play them on December 25th. Or maybe it’s because our neighbors dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus for our annual Halloween gathering. Their kids were dressed up as yetis. Whatever the reason, we may all soon hear Mary narrating some off-channel infomercial showing footage from a clandestinely-shot home video about a deranged guy in a Santa Claus suit bringing a hatchet down on the neck of a wide-eyed turkey.

Seriously, though, I believe her passionate defensiveness is most likely due to the number of houses this year already lit up in full Christmas regalia. Nothing, it seems, is sacred anymore, not even the self-discipline to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to throw the switch on the sparkling yard displays and illuminated roof lines. As I drove Hannah home from gymnastics a few nights ago we counted nine houses decked out in Christmas lights. Through the windows of one house a tree blinked cheerfully. I used all of these examples to teach Hannah the meaning of the word “anachronism” as we cast the evil eye and yelled “Thanksgiving Forgetter!” at all of these pre-mature Christmas displays.

Yes, “Thanksgiving Forgetter” is a new phrase we’ve added to our seasonal vernacular. Mary coined it and uses it zealously with various hand motions every chance she gets, which, this year, seems to be quite often. So, in an attempt to assuage Mary’s angst in this season wrought with holiday identity disorder, I’ve taken it upon myself to remedy the lack of Thanksgiving carols and fill this tragic void with a couple of tunes of my own. Wrote a song ‘bout it like to hear it here it goes . . .

 

TURKEY LEGS

(to the tune of Jingle Bells)

 

Dashing from the couch

When my mama calls my name,

Running to the table

‘Cuz the Cowboys lost again.

Drool spills down my chin

As I take in this great feast,

But when I spy the turkey legs

My hunger is released.

 

Oh, turkey legs, turkey legs,

You cannot hold me back

As I let loose and dive right in,

With my knife I start to hack.

Turkey legs, turkey legs,

Get thee in my hands

Before drunk Uncle Harrison

Hits me with the hams.

 

Now I wallow on the couch

With my tummy sticking out,

I rub my brand new baby bump

And burp with renewed clout.

My daddy washes dishes

My mama dries the glass

Now the turkey’s L-tryptophan

Has knocked me on my a**.

 

Oh, turkey legs, turkey legs,

You cannot hold me back

As I let loose and dive right in,

With my knife I start to hack.

Turkey legs, turkey legs,

Get thee in my hands

Before drunk Uncle Harrison

Hits me with the hams.

 

 

SMORGASBORD

(to the tune of Silver Bells)

 

Nacho cheese dip, braised beef short ribs

Topped with barbecue sauce,

Through the house

Drifts the odor

Of feasting.

Grandma laughing,

Grandpa passing

Some beer-induced cheer,

And on every flat surface you’ll see . . .

 

Smorgasbord, smorgasbord,

It’s turkey time in our household.

Candied yams, honey hams,

Soon we will be comatose.

 

Mama’s dressing, scrumptious dressing

Overflows from the bowl,

Auntie’s pumpkin roll

Clogs your aorta.

Grandpa’s deviled eggs,

Grandma’s turkey legs—

We thank God for all this

And above all the slurping you’ll see . . .

 

Smorgasbord, smorgasbord,

It’s turkey time in our household.

Candied yams, honey hams,

Soon we will be comatose.

 

In this season of thanksgiving, please take the time to savor all that God’s given you with a spirit of deep appreciation and gratitude. Remember, Thanksgiving always precedes the Miracle. That’s why we celebrate it! Be blessed!

 

Copyright © 2014 David C Hughes

The Insidious El Why (2014-08-26 Daily)

It slipped into my consciousness early one morning, originating perhaps from a faded dream or springing from something I’d recently read.  Maybe it had arisen from an odd whisper, a snippet of lyrics, a silly aside uttered by my goofball daughter, or an observation expressed by my wife, a master of sarcasm.  From wherever it came, the idea ended up spilling across the palette of words that I grasped in my imagination, beseeching me to paint it across the computer screen and imploring me to post it to my blog page or add it to a book chapter.  So I obeyed, as I always do.

I typed with passion, broad strokes at first, followed by more subtle touches, a hint of light here, a dash of emotion there.  Words linked with words, dancing the Conga one after another, hands on waists and rhythm on hips as they scrolled their way back and forth, to and fro, up and down the page, laughing with the joy of just doing what they do best: inviting all to participate.  I joined them with gladness in my soul and life in my fingers.  Hours later I beheld my work—our work—the melding of Spirit with spirit, reflecting the essence of purpose, fulfilling my design as an image bearer to the Most High God.  I wept.

For a week after I’d completed the piece, I nipped and tucked, polished and honed, tweaked and folded, cut and pasted.  The page radiated life and coaxed out my joy.  I reveled in gladness, and suddenly I wanted to share it with a congregation of kindred souls: my read-and-critique group.  They would appreciate the passion!  They would treasure the art!  They would recognize the hunger, the longing, the labor of love as I read the sentences, enunciating each word as I spread my good cheer like soothing balm upon the yearning ears of my fellow scribes.

I read, they listened.  I finished, they began.  I smiled outwardly, I groaned inwardly.  As they sliced up my baby I reminded myself this was for my own good, dammit, that we learn the most from our mistakes, that trials build character, that whatever doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.  Blah blah blah . . . .

“You have too many El Why words,” they professed.  “Use stronger verbs.”  Yes, I thought.  Of courseStronger verbs.  “Stomped” instead of “treaded heavily.”  “Picked” instead of “ate slowly.”  “Reflected” instead of “sat thoughtfully.”

I recognized threads of truth uttered by my hero, Stephen King, channeled through their razor-edged critique: “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs,” he wrote, “and I will shout it from the rooftops.”  Yes, I admit that sometimes my writing walks proudly, er, um, marches down the road to perdition.  Or off the edge of rooftops.  “Nouns and verbs are the guts of the language,” declared A.B. Guthrie, Jr. “Beware of covering up with adjectives and adverbs.”  How could we ever become comfortable exposing our hearts to the world if we insist in covering them up with the leathery skin of lazy writing?  “Personally, I think the ‘Potter’ books have too many adverbs and not enough sex,” observed Lev Grossman.  At one time my wife and I discussed how we could outdo Fifty Shades of Gray.  Then the adverbs got in the way.

Like houseflies and fire ants, however, adverbs still do have their place, albeit a position of ignobility.  This truth was driven home recently when I attempted to read a popular inspirational book recommended by a good friend.  I was eager to crack the covers, breathe in the heady scent of fresh paper and new ink, and dive into the promised ocean of enlightenment, only I ended up treading water in a fishpond infested with inspiration-eating amoebas.

Thinking it would grow on me as I read further, I dog-paddled my way through the opening few chapters, wondering why the writing grated on me like the insistent questioning of a six-year-old kid.  Then it slapped me upside the head: throughout the book, the author had substituted adjectives where the adverbs should have been.  It was a case of misplaced modifiers, by Jove!  Once I realized this oddity, though, I just couldn’t get past it; I ended up stuffing the book back on the shelf.  Forcefully.

Henry James once said, “I adore adverbs; they are the only qualifications I really much respect.”  I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I adore adverbs—I don’t adore houseflies or fire ants—but I recognize their function.  And like grace notes sprinkled throughout a symphonic piece, or tasteful trim applied to the lines of a house, well-placed adverbs can add a flourish to a good sentence or a little sprucing up around the edges.  So the next time you’re tempted to cut out one of those insidious El Why words, consider this: adverbs, like nose hairs and spam email, have a function.  Subscribing to the philosophy of “all things in moderation,” have at it!  Just make sure the adverb of choice is the best word for what you want to convey and how you want to convey it.  And for God’s sake, I implore you: please don’t substitute adjectives, or any other parts of speech, in place of them.  This may cause your reader to throw vehemently, er, um, heave your book through the wall.  Gracelessly.

 

Copyright © 2014 David C Hughes

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