Momma, Did You See That?

As those of you who have read my previous writings are well aware, I have a grandson – Taelor-James. For those of you who are not aware, well, I have a grandson. He is 6 years old as of this writing. I usually only address him by his given name when I am either a) reprimanding him or b) letting him know that I want him to really pay attention to me (which occasionally involves the former reason). Most other times, I affectionately call him “Butter Bean”.

In Butter Bean’s short lifetime, he has exhibited a phenomenon that I can only describe as the Momma Factor. The Momma Factor is something that males of all ages demonstrate throughout their lives. The Momma Factor gets demonstrated whenever the male of the species does something, says something, or accomplishes something and then turns to look at their revered mater as if to say: “Did you see that, Momma?” In that moment, receiving acknowledgement, recognition, and encouragement (or any combination of the three) from dear old Mom is better than winning the lottery while being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. How do I know this? Let me explain. My mother passed away in 2006. In 2016, at the age of 50, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree (I’m a late bloomer). I still have video of when I crossed the stage. The first thing I did was look toward Heaven and say: “Hey, Momma!”. Connecting with my mother in that moment meant just as much as the fact that my kids were in the audience and my wife was graduating in the same ceremony. Like I said, the Momma Factor is inescapable.

I have seen my little Butter Bean succumb to the Momma Factor quite a few times. Having said that, I have seen it happen more times in the last 6 months than I have in the 5 1/2 years previously. What is the differing element? Well, last spring, my grandson’s parents enrolled him in karate classes.

Now I am not going to get into the minutiae of all the positive changes that have come about as a result of these karate classes. That would take another writing piece entirely. The important part is to consider that I typically attend these lessons with my daughter and her husband. Like most parents and grandparent’s, we use our mobile phones to capture precious moments in these lessons in either a photo or video format. The lessons are 3 days a week. On the fourth Saturday of the month, students are evaluated for possible promotion.

On one Saturday, when I was unable to attend. My daughter captured her son in a wonderful moment. I need to give some background information here. Whenever a student demonstrates a strike, they must give what is called a kiai. Simply put, a kiai (KEY-eye) is that scream that you hear in the stereotypical martial arts film.  The word that they scream is “OSU!” (colloquially pronounced as “AHHSSSS!”). Again, teaching the meaning behind these words is another writing.

This particular Saturday involved teaching the students how to break a board. It is a special demonstration board with a seam in the middle. It is designed to be broken and re-assembled. Taelor approached the board, screamed “OSU!”, and with a swift left elbow strike, broke the board. He then immediately turned and smiled at his mother. You could even hear my daughter cheer: “WHOO HOOO!” I watched that video over and over again to view the technique and the Momma Factor that immediately followed. That big mile wide grin that silently asked: “Did you see that, Momma?” I’d rewind, press play then; OSU!…CRACK! WHOO-HOOOO!

At the end of the following month came belt evaluation where students are tested for possible promotion. At that point, Taelor – James (or “T’ as he is called in karate class), had earned several stripes on his current belt and was testing to advance to the next belt. The sensei (teacher) announced that my grandson would be advancing to the next belt. Each time such an announcement is made, the sensei asks the audience to clap for the student. My grandson clapped and then turned to face his mother (Did you see that, Momma?)

This past weekend, Taelor – James participated in his first karate tournament. He performed the basic techniques the judges requested and received a score. At the end of the tournament, he received a trophy. He took the trophy from the sensei then turned to face his mother (Did you see that, Momma?)

I tell you all of this to speak to Momma’s and Daddy’s across the world. Momma’s, pay attention to your children. There will be many moments when they will get a good grade report from school, take out the garbage without being asked, or received a trophy they worked hard to acquire.  Cherish these moments. Someday, whether you are there or not, they will land that great job, publish a book, or hold their newborn child (or grandchild). I guarantee you, in those moments, they will turn and give a look that asks: “Did you see that, Momma?” How do I know that? Because, I still do it. Daddy’s don’t take such individual connections personally. You have your special place in the child’s heart too. Besides, when your kid does something really cool, you will probably be looking to see if your Momma saw it too.

Blowing The Dust Off Of The Dog

Well, once again, I wind up having an inexcusable gap in my blog writing. I could rationalize some of it away but, at the end of it all, I simply wasn’t making time for my writing. As I begin to think about it, there a few things that fell to the wayside. Along with my writing, several aspects of my fitness journey got put on the back burner. Maybe I should address some of these things that I have placed on the proverbial shelf. To quote the poet, Eugene Field, what “little toy dog” have allowed to be “covered with dust”, ever available and waiting to be engaged?

Since my fitness journey covers more than one activity, I suppose I should speak to that first. Why did I allow a growing regiment of exercise, which included regular bicycle riding and a daily routine of formal karate exercise, come to a grinding halt? Was it due to recovering from a fractured ankle? That’s part of it, yes. The physical therapy and recovery was painful and exhausting. The overwhelming part was getting too caught up in the fact that the fitness routine became noticeably harder to accomplish at the same than prior to my injury. For many people, when things get hard (or harder than one is accustomed), it becomes a strong temptation to simply avoid it. When a fitness routine gets avoided, you become more fatigued, less energetic, less enthused. This leads to a vicious circle of excuses versus results. I became very tired which lead me to avoid the exercise (which would have progressively allowed me to do more exercise over time). What was once a daily routine of doing several levels of fundamental karate exercise lead to being unable to recall or complete a SINGLE kata (formal exercise). It happened because I LET IT HAPPEN! The same can be said for the bicycle riding. I avoided the indoor bicycle training during the winter months for all of the aforementioned reasons. The eventual result was that, when I did an outdoor ride for the first time, a 3 mile ride took a lot out of me. That’s rough considering that I have logged more than 15 miles in a single ride previously.

Still, inspiration can sometimes come from the observation of those around you. For example, this past week, my wife rode that same three mile route on her bicycle alone. For that one day, she did not allow her daily aches or pains stop her. She did three miles knowing that it can lead to 10, 20, 30, or more some day. The other source of inspiration came from my 5 year old grandson, Taelor-James (aka The Mighty Warrior). Taelor-James recently began taking karate lessons at a local dojo. His  lessons involve some basic movements (kihon), some calisthenics, and applied concepts of obedience and respect. The issues of obedience and respect are crucial. Taelor-James is being held accountable for his behavior outside of the dojo. He was even once even denied advancement due to a behavioral issue that was occurring at home and at school. The sensei (teacher) kept in touch with Taelor in between training days to monitor his behavior. This all leads back to this morning when Taelor-James was being evaluated for advancement along with his fellow karate-ka (students).

After testing Taelor-James on some of the previously mentioned basics, the sensei addressed each student individually (in front of the other students and observing families). Taelor-James was among the last of the students to be addressed. I had begin to wonder if this was due to another potential denial in advancement. The sensei looked my grandson in the eyes and asked him: “Did you have a good day yesterday?” Taelor-James shook his head and said: “Yes, sensei.” The sensei then said that she was happy to advance Taelor-James to receive his first orange stripe and first yellow stripe for his belt. Taelor-James posed for pictures with the other karate-ka while making sure to show his newly striped belt for the cameras.

The inspiration behind my grandson’s belt advancement is simple to explain. Taelor-James is being taught that his lessons in karate-do (“the way of the empty hand”) extend beyond his visits to the dojo. He works on the principles of obedience and respect DAILY. Some days, he fails. He doesn’t let that stop him from starting with it fresh the next day. He does the best as he know how to correct and strengthen his behavior and skill. Why? Because, he knows that each day he works at it gets him closer to a reward. As Master Gichin Funakoshi said: “Each to his own ability”. Taelor-James has worked each day to improve upon the previous day.

As the evaluation ended and we all left the dojo, I hugged my grandson and told him I loved him. I, then, got into my car and drove home. The house was quiet and the weather was rainy. I took advantage of the solitude and retreated to the garage. I stood at an attention stance, bowed, and then began working on a first level kata. After several attempts, I was only able to do 8 steps of a 20 step kata. That’s OK. Tomorrow will be better. Some day, I may even be as good as my 5 year old grandson. I just have to remember, the exercise is always there for me to engage. The “little toy dog” is always there for me as “sturdy and staunch” as ever. I just have to blow off the dust. I’m glad I did and I have a young Mighty Warrior to thank for it.

Ring, Ring, Go Away!

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the gap in my writing and publishing. The last piece pertained to my daughter, Brianna, getting married. Right around that same time, just over three months ago, I regained employment. I work an evening shift at a call center. I have two days a week off but they are not consecutive. This makes it a lot harder to budget my free time. In addition, I am getting ready to start a new venture with a longtime friend. I’ll keep you posted on that as it develops.

It was pointed out to me today that at least one person in the blogosphere enjoys reading my posts almost as much as I enjoy writing them. What’s even better is that I didn’t have to pay for that kind of endorsement. The true point is that I have missed writing. It offers me a chance to exercise my warped sense of humor while also allowing me to get things off my chest (be it good or bad). It is with that in mind; that I share the following.

I’m not really sure when it started. I know it has been at least a year. Like many stubborn adults, I ignored it for quite a while. Over time, it would get worse and harder to ignore (especially at night).

I suppose I should explain what “it” is. It is a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is when one has a persistent ringing sound in one or both of their ears. In my case, it is my right ear. To be specific, it is known as subjective tinnitus. That means that I am the only one that can hear the persistent sound.

How do I describe the sound? Well, first of all, I should clarify that the type of sound can vary from one tinnitus sufferer to another. In my case, it is a very high pitched and high frequency tone. For the audiophiles, I would estimate that the pitch is somewhere around 3 KHz. Imagine the ringing sound you would get if you stood close to an exploding firecracker or attended a loud music show. The difference is, with most people, that ringing sound is temporary. It goes away after some time passes for the ears to adjust to normal volumes. For me (and many others), the sound never goes away, it’s ALWAYS there.

When the ringing started getting worse for me, I would start to obsess over what may have caused it. After all, in the past 15 years, I have listened to a lot of loud music, worked the runway at an airport, had a brief (but mild) stroke, and suffered a nasty fall which resulted in a badly fractured ankle. Anyone of those things could have lead to the tinnitus. Then again, it may be none of those things. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. I HAVE IT! It’s there ALL…THE …TIME.

Speaking of the end of the day, that is usually when I have the greatest struggle. I come home from work. I go upstairs to my room and watch some TV. Eventually, I am in my room. My wife is asleep. The TV is off. The room is completely silent except for…IT. The tinnitus is there and the ambient silence makes the tinnitus seem (no pun intended) deafening. Covering my ear with my hand or my pillow does nothing to resolve it.

So having seen an audiologist today, the question ultimately became: How do I treat this from here? Well, first of all, presently I am not looking at a need for a hearing aid. The biggest tool at my disposal is a technique called masking. Masking is the use of ambient sound that can drown out the frequency of the ringing. A running fan can be great but it is also getting to that time of the year in Western New York when a fan is less welcome. The ambient sound can be anything from ocean waves to a rain storm to certain types of music. I use music and audio tracks nearly  every night. This is especially helpful if the audio track is very familiar to me as I can partially (again pardon the pun) tune it out while still effectively masking the tinnitus.

I will follow up with the audiologist in six months as well as keeping my primary care doctor up to date with the issue. I shared this all with you for three primary reasons (some of which I have already stated). First, I was inspired and reminded by a friend that I needed to write again as there are readers who get something out of it. Thank you, Dorothy. You know who you are. Secondly, it gets back to catharsis and mentally processing what is going on with me. Thirdly, I know I am not alone with this. It would be very easy for me to cite a musician who has been subjected to an “occupational hazard”. However, there are folks with everyday lives that deal with tinnitus every day. If this piece helps them to identify what they experience or helps them to explain it to others, I would be truly blessed.

Thank you for indulging me on this piece. I promise I will write more in the future on whatever subject leads me in the moment.

Warts and All

[Note: My younger daughter, Brianna, who is often identified as my LYE (Lovely Young Editor), was married on 5 August 2017. For those not aware, this means I now have two sons in-law named Michael.Below is the speech I delivered to Brianna and her husband Michael.]

First of all, I would like to thank EVERYONE who came today to celebrate this wonderful event; as well as those who are with us in spirit today. As you celebrate the event with us today, WE celebrate YOU!

It would be VERY cliché for me to say that it has taken me nearly 26 years to get to this point today. The truth is, this is not my first wedding rodeo. In 2004, I had the privilege of attending a wedding where my daughter, Shayna, was a bridesmaid. My heart was in my throat. It was not because the bride was so beautiful; Although, she certainly was (and still is). [By pure happenstance, I was facing said bride when I said that.] But more because, when I saw Shayna walking down the aisle with a bouquet of flowers, I realized I was getting a preview of my future. Talk about a smack in the face moment. BAM!

Fast forward 8 years later. There I was; walking Shayna down the aisle. I KNEW that this event would repeat with Brianna. I just didn’t know WHEN (or with WHOM).

It has been said that, for a woman to meet her prince, she must kiss a lot of frogs. To that end, over the years, Brianna introduced me to a frog or two (in various stages of amphibian  development).As a typical Dad, most were regarded as mere tadpoles encroaching upon my pond. So, when young Mr. Graney leapt into my pond and shook my hand, I am sure he said something to the extent of: “It’s nice to meet you”. I’ll be honest, all I heard was: “RIBBIT!”

I gave him the usual round of Dad interview questions: Do you have a job? Do you have any kids? Do you have an arrest record? With each question, he would look at Brianna as if to ask: “Is he joking?” Brianna would stare back at Michael as if to say: “NO! He isn’t!”

While I DID pay attention to the way Michael behaved in my presence, what has stuck with me since I have met him was an incident I am not sure he knows I witnessed. He was visiting with Brianna at the house. My grandson,Taelor-James, was being a typical 2-year-old (at the time). By the time, Taelor-James went to bed it was clear by Brianna’s facial expressions that Taelor-James had challenged Brianna’s patience. My baby girl was WORN OUT by her baby boy. You could see it in her eyes and in her disheveled hair (that she was ready to tear out). As Brianna plopped onto the couch, Michael stared at her and said: “YOU look WONDERFUL!” With a simple, sincere compliment you could see Brianna’s stress simply melt away from her spirit. It became another hit you in the face moment. BAM! Those two young’uns are  IN LOVE. My daughter is in love… WITH A FROG.  And, the frog croaks his love in return. How deeply you ask? KNEE DEEP (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

It was clear as day that Brianna had found her prince. Not long after, the engagement ring came. Once again, I was hit in the face. BAM! My daughter is engaged to a man named MICHAEL. Déjà vu! As amusing as that coincidence, I know, beyond doubt that just like the Michael that came before him, he would move Heaven and Earth for my daughter. Even MORE important his bond with my grandson is nothing short of awesome.

Michael, forget that you have been blessed with a tremendous gift that comes in a bundle: Brianna and Taelor-James. That gift comes not from me but, from God Himself. I know that you won’t squander that gift (lest you get thrown back into the pond.

Brianna, when you were just about a year old, you were in the hospital at a time when you were just learning to walk. One day in the hospital, you walked right into my arms and hugged me tightly. Today, I walked you toward the arms of your prince. Since that day in the hospital, I knew that I was eventually going to have to let you go. It’s not as easy as I have made it look.

I’m not sure you two understand the magnitude of what has transpired today. Someday though, mark my words, it will hit you in the face. BAM!

Michael, welcome to the family pond. You are now part of a bigger circle – WARTS AND ALL!

Congratulations and blessings to the two of you.


Cube Farm Fever Part II: The Wild of the Call

Hi, folks! It’s great to be talking to you again (or typing to you…you know what I mean). It’s been a wild 12 months. I have faced the loss of several loved ones. I have endured the ordeal of fixing a fractured ankle. On top of all of that, I have also returned to the work force (as of about a month ago). That has been a very welcome change. It finally gave my wife the opportunity to try to reshape the large gluteal impression in our couch. Plus, if nothing else, it gets me out of the house for a few hours. To be honest, I think even the cats were getting sick of me. Apparently, those months I spent hobbling around the house with an orange cast and a walker was somehow upsetting their routine of sleeping, eating, and fighting one another.

The new job places me back into a familiar environment: the call center. This is an environment in which I have worked several times over the last 8 years or so. Once I worked as a “professional fundraiser” for a non-profit organization. It paid bills for a short while but I hated being that guy that called someone as they were having spaghetti with their kids. Fortunately, the bulk of my call center experience has been in customer support. I have supported a variety of customer types ranging from end users (your average Joe consumer) to corporate officers and system administrators. I have also have the privilege of getting to known who have done call center support for other product types than I have. I have come to discover that, no matter what the product is being supported and no matter what customer type is involved, you basically deal with the same thing – people.

Now, when you are dealing with customer support (especially in a call center), you have to develop somewhat of a thick skin. Why is that? Think about it for a moment. Remember that time you had to make a call to dispute a bill you got in the mail? What about the call you had to make to return an item you ordered over the Internet? You know what I am talking about, don’t you? That time when you made that call and you may have not been the biggest ray of sunshine to the support agent on the other end of the phone; how did you treat the agent (or his superior when you decided to take it up a notch)?

Now, imagine being on the other end of that conversation. When the customer is having a bad experience, you get labeled as anything from “YOU PEOPLE!” to things I won’t repeat here (after all, this is a family show). It’s the job of the support agent (such as myself) to turn that experience around for the caller. More often than not, my fellow call center agents and I are able to resolve the issue at hand. Still, you have to endure the beatdown to get to that point and, sometimes, even when you resolve the issue, the customer still hates you because you are the focal point of their stress. Getting a few of those over the course of a shift can be stressful especially when the calls come one right after the other (and they typically do).

The good news is that there IS another extreme. There is also a significant number of callers who think you are a hero. You have seemingly made their day. These customers not only thank you for your work. They praise you to the ceiling (and sometimes even to your superiors). Once I had a customer who called with an issue. After I helped to resolve the issue, he emphatically thanked me. He said that I made his life easier. He then explained this his girlfriend of 25 years passed away suddenly several months previously. The day he called me with his issue, he was having a harder than usual time dealing with the grief and my help made him feel better. That call made me feel like the king of the call support world. That’s an even higher position that what Leonardo Di-What’sHisName achieved in that movie where he overacted (I know. Which one?)

Now this range of experiences can induce a different strain of what I previous identified as Cube Farm Fever. I call this strain The Wild of The Call (WoTC). The different extremes tend to tug you in a variety of directions. When you clock out, you are exhausted and drained. How does one combat this malaise that sometimes comes on a nightly basis? Well, for me, my approach comes from several angles. One is the fact that I was unemployed for nearly 11 months. The most stressful job in the world is better than unemployment. Besides, it’s hardly my most stressful job in my adult life. Another part of it comes from the blessing of having raised children to adulthood. Just like customer support, sometimes you are “YOU PEOPLE”. Sometimes, you are the hero. Just like customer support, those extremes can happen in the same day. The other approach that I take comes from my friend (who is also my karate instructor). Many days, when he knows I am stressed about (insert subject here), he tells me: “STOP! BREATHE! ACCEPT! ADAPT AND MOVE FORWARD!” The other karate-related philosophy is that the goal of any given day is to improve upon the previous day.  That helps stave off the WoTC in most cases.

Having said all that, the next time you have to call customer support for something: try to go a bit easy on them. You are talking to a human being. You’ll feel better for it (trust me). Also, fill out those surveys. If your experience was good or bad, your input has great potential to make an impact in the future. Thanks for reading this today. My name is Shane. Have a great day. (Whoa! The effects of WoTC must still be hanging on after my day off).

Butter Bean Grows In A New Garden

Those of you who have read my previous writings are quite aware of the fact that I am the happy grandfather of a young mighty warrior named Taelor-James. Those of you reading this as your first sample of my writing can find several previous pieces (such as The Arrival of a Mighty Warrior) to get further context into the apple of my eye that I simply address as “Butter Bean”.

I will also provide a little bit of context here so that the feelings I have about Butter Bean can be better understood and appreciated. First of all, I ask that you forgive me if I use the names Taelor, Taelor-James, Mighty Warrior, or Butter Bean rather freely and interchangeably as they are all one and the same. Taelor entered the world (and our hearts) on a Sunday morning in 2012. He came into the world pink, crying, and breathing. One eye blink later, he was suddenly doing none of those things and had to be resuscitated. It was a frightening and traumatic ordeal but the little mighty warrior recovered quickly.

Some brain damage was detected that resulted from the problematic birth. As a result, Taelor had some developmental delays. For example, He was late to start speaking compared to other kids in his age group (1-2 years at the time). In order to teach him to communicate, we taught him some simple gestures in ASL (American Sign Language). Like most boys, his communications typically revolved around food consumption. He learned to sign phrases like “more”, “please”, and “thank you”.  One day, as we were all sitting outside at my patio table. I had been working every day on teaching the word “Mommy” to Taelor in ASL. With your outstretched right hand, you touch your right thumb to your chin. For days on end, I would say Mommy and put my thumb on my chin. Butter Bean would not mimic the sign. We would all joke that he was not interested as it didn’t revolve around food. That afternoon on the back patio, I looked at Taelor while speaking and signing the word “Mommy”. Taelor pointed to his Mommy and placed his thumb on his chin. We all rejoiced and celebrated this accomplishment.

As Taelor began to speak more words (as opposed to signing them), we dispensed with the use of ASL in order to encourage speech development. At around the age of three, Butter Bean would display an interesting tendency. At the time, Taelor and his mother, Brianna, were living with us (along with her fiancée, Mike) as well as my younger son, Caleb. Taelor did very well with identifying his mother and grandparents. Mommy, Nay Nay, and Pop Pop came to him rather easily. One day, I was standing in the kitchen holding Taelor in my arms. My son went to the refrigerator to get a drink. Without provocation, Taelor pointed to him and said “Caleb” as clear as a bell. When I tried to get him to repeat it, he wouldn’t say it. This became a running theme of Taelor saying new words but would not repeat them when asked. He apparently didn’t like to be put on display. That’s OK, his Uncle Caleb was the same way (and still is).

In 2016, as Taelor was approaching four years old, the family faced a huge transition as Brianna, Taelor, and Mike moved into their own apartment. This was a huge adjustment for all of us. Taelor had lived with my wife and me since he was born and was now not going to be (quite as much) a part of our daily lives. Fortunately, they did not live far away at all. Additionally, we would converse frequently by phone or video chat.

There was another saving grace during this time period. Taelor was enrolled in pre-school. Around the same time of his enrollment, I was laid off from my job after 7 years.  As a result, I got the opportunity to drive Butter Bean back and forth to pre-school. Since it was only a 2.5 hour span, I would arrange any job interviews around it. The hardest part of this arrangement came when I suffered an ankle fracture in January 2017. This sidelined me from driving anywhere for about 3.5 months as I could not bear any weight on my right foot during that time. As soon as I was cleared and comfortable with driving again, Butter Bean and I were back at our morning routine.

These morning routines were something Taelor and I looked forward to immensely. I’d go to his apartment and have a cup of coffee with Brianna while Taelor finished breakfast.  After breakfast, Taelor would get his book bag and say: “It’s time to leave the BatCave and go on a mission.” He would make it clear that my Ford Focus was the Batmobile ONLY when he was in it. Otherwise, it was Pop Pop’s car. That made it pretty clear which one of us was Batman.

Yesterday was his final day at pre-school. Next year, he will start kindergarten and be bussed to school. I think it’s wonderful. Kindergarten basically translates as garden of children. What better place could there be for a healthy, developing Butter Bean?

What A Wonderful Word Vol. VII: The Locrian List

Hello Everyone. I am back once again with a new collection of words for your education and amusement. I have, once again, returned to letting my warped mind wander with a seventh (YES! I SAID SEVENTH!) list of funny sounding words which have legitimate definitions.

First, let me just address something briefly. I realize that many of my last few pieces have had less of a humorous angle and were more along the lines of me purging some emotion and reflecting what I was going through at that time in my life. Needless to say, I have been through a lot in the last six months. It would be dishonest to hide that from my readers. This is less an apology than an explanation. Such writing will crop up again from time to time.  Sometimes, I wear my heart on my sleeveless shoulder. Other times, I like to bend my knees and lean forward because, that’s just how I roll.

For those who may be unfamiliar with these installments, I’ll take a moment to lay out the rules of making such a list. Those of you who ARE familiar can please just smile and nod knowingly. First, it must be a real word that can be found in the dictionary (I used several dictionary sources). Secondly, keeping in the spirit of my blog, it must be family friendly. Lastly, if you could imagine Tigger saying the word, it had a good chance of making the list. The list has exactly 18 words. There are two main reasons for this number. First, the original list had 18 words. Secondly, keeping such a specific number in mind makes the challenge more interesting to me. I’d give a third and fourth reason but I promised you there’d be only two. People from all over send me words to use (and I come up with a few on my own as well). Many of the words I receive comply with the above rules so please feel free to contact me with a word for future volumes. If it lines up with the rules and hasn’t been used before, there’s a good chance I will use it. With that in mind, here is the seventh list. How I have missed those bullets.

  • antimetabole – Looking at this word (pronounced AN-tie-meh-TAH-bow-lee), it looks like a political label. “You gotta watch out for that guy, He’s antimetabole.” Actually, it’s a literary device where words or phrases are presented in reverse order in order to make a point. This device is used to great effect in everything from political speeches to commercial jingles. President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address said: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Actress Mae West once stated: “It’s not the men in my life. It’s the life in my men.” You have to hand it to Mae West. She had some mighty fine antimetabole.
  • awry –This is a very commonly mispronounced word when someone reads it for the first time. Many look at the word and read AW-ree. The word is pronounced uh-RYE. It simply means that a given situation had a far different outcome than expected. For example: The villain appeared to be just moments away from collecting the ransom as he held the police commissioner’s daughter as a kidnapped hostage. Unfortunately, his plans went awry when the great superhero came crashing down through the skylight. Why the villain chose a building with skylights and how the superhero didn’t get cut to ribbons is another matter.
  • bizarre – Pronounced buh-ZAHR, I simply just love the sound of this word. It’s hard to go wrong when the word has the letter z in it. It means that something is very unusual or outlandish in appearance or style. I like it even better when you can refer to Middle Eastern marketplace which is called a bazaar (What can I say? I love homophones). To further illustrate: While the villain took great effort to disguise himself with his very bizarre manner of dress. The superhero immediately noticed the very unique ring which the local newspaper mogul, William Christopher Jones, had previously boasted that he purchased at a bazaar in Morocco. That’s right, It was clear that King Bizarre (as the superhero had dubbed him) had been to the bazaar. Bizarre goes to the bazaar. I’m sorry. I know I’m milking the point very badly here. I just love the z words.
  • croupier – Words with a French origin tend to imply an air of elegance. The word, pronounced KROO-puh-yay, refers to an attendant in a gambling casino working at a gaming table. The croupier enforces game rules, accepts bets, and keeps the game in motion.  They also collect lost bets (when the casino wins) or award winnings (when the player wins). For example: The unscrupulous croupier, who had been skimming the casino’s winnings, was accosted by the casino’s security and publicly fired. In an ironic twist, he was also taken to the railway yard where he was beaten with a blackjack and thrown into a boxcar.
  • dubious – Pronounced DOO-bee-yuss, the word means that something is questionable or uncertain. One could have a dubious character. One could even be dubious about their opinion of someone’s dubious character. Example: The villain’s henchmen tried to let their boss known that kidnapping the commissioner’s daughter and hiding in a building with skylights was a dubious plan at best. After all, skylights tend to attract people who like to wear capes and rescue people and (worst of all) defeat villains. When the kidnapping went awry the henchmen knew that the villainous boss did not plan to fail. He simply failed to plan. SEE? I even got to use an antimetabole.
  • dulcet – Pronounced DUHL-sit, I am not sure why this word strikes me as funny sounding. The word, in its origin, implies sweetness. By definition, it is an adjective that means that something is pleasing (or even soothing) to the senses. Example: The superhero, known as the Night Knight, was relaxing to the dulcet tones of some soft jazz. He was jolted out of his state of serenity when he saw the news alert that the police commissioner’s daughter had been kidnapped. He leapt out of his chair and said: “It’s time to go, Night Knight”. He fought off the involuntary yawning that such phrasing provoked and headed out into that dark, dreary evening.
  • excrescence – Pronounced ik-SKREH-shunts, this word is more scientific or medical in nature. It refers to an abnormal, typically harmless, growth on an animal or vegetable body. Warts on the hands or the eyes on a potato could be considered an excrescence. In a different vernacular, a car that lies in a severe state on disrepair on one’s front lawn could be deemed by the neighbors to be an excrescence on the neighborhood. Example: Pierce Franklin knew that King Bizarre was an excrescence on the beloved town of Hawkville which needed to be eradicated by the Night Knight (at which point he involuntarily yawned).
  • flummox – Pronounced FLUHM-uks, this word means to confuse or bewilder someone. Somehow, the sound of the word seems to perfectly describe the word’s meaning and intended use in conversation. Example: King Bizarre thought for sure he had the perfect plan to abduct the police commissioner’s daughter, the young and lovely Diamond Lewis. Even with the huge skylights atop the roof, King Bizarre was flummoxed as how he could be so easily apprehended by the Knight Night (which made Bizarre, Lewis, and the henchmen all yawn involuntarily).
  • gregarious – Pronounced grih-GAIR-ee-us, the word means that a person (or even an animal) prefers the company of others (especially if the company bears similar traits). Imagine having that one boss or colleague that greets every member of the staff daily and says: “Good morning” and you get the idea of their gregarious nature. Example: The villain, known as King Bizarre, attracted many henchmen due largely to his gregarious nature and dulcet tone of voice. King Bizarre acquired these traits during his work as a croupier before things went arise and he lost his job (leading to his world travels and career in journalism).
  • honorific – Pronounced ahn-uh-RIF-ik, the word implies a title or grammatical form that is used to convey honor or respect to someone. Someone who has been knighted by royalty would be given the honorific title of Sir (e.g. Sir Patrick Stewart). Example: Though he did not hold the honorific title of sensei (master), Pierce Franklin taught martial arts to Hawkville teens to encourage self respect and harmony amongst community members. The students had no idea they were being taught by the Night Knight (yet they would involuntarily yawn when discussing the subject)
  • hornswoggle – Admittedly, this word is somewhat slang. I am not quite sure what swoggling is. I don’t know quite how one gets swoggled by a horn. I don’t even know if one is at risk of getting their own horn swoggled (if one had horns to swoggle). I just know that it means to swindle or hoax someone and it is a funny sounding word. Example: Newspaper mogul, William Christopher Jones, knew that the police commissioner’s daughter, Diamond Lewis, loved fancy jewelry.  As Jones allowed Diamond to admire his fancy ring (acquired from a bazaar in Morocco), the henchmen grabbed Diamond and abducted her. Realizing she had been hornswoggled, she screamed: “HELP ME, NIGHT KNIGHT!” As everyone fought the involuntary yawning, Jones (having revealed himself as King Bizarre), ordered the henchmen to take Diamond to his favorite industrial building near the docks because he love the skylights.
  • impregnable – Pronounced im-PREG-nuh-bull, the word means that something or someone is able to withstand an attack or invasion. I think it is the hard G in the word but, the word just sounds like a silly way to describe someone’s level of invulnerability (or lack thereof). Plus, I have never heard of anyone or anything being pregnable (because this is a family show). Example: King Bizarre thought he had the perfect hideout to kidnap the police commissioner’s daughter, Diamond Lewis. After all, he paid good money for the electronic security system. Unfortunately, his beloved skylights proved he was not as impregnable as he thought.
  • obsequious – Pronounced uhb-SEE-kwee-us, the word means that someone is being very obedient or compliant to someone else. The word typically implies a submissive and falsely flattering tone. Example: King Bizarre’s obsequious henchmen hailed his superiority as a leader. One even exclaimed: “You’re even better than the Night Knight!” Once everyone stopped yawning, the flattery continued.
  • panacea – Pronounced pan-uh-SEE-uh, the word means that a particular solution can solve all problems (i.e. cure-all). I simply love the sound of this word as using it in a phrase or sentence sounds so…well…wordy. Example: The superhero, known to the public as billionaire Pierce Franklin, knew that his alter-ago and vigilante justice would not be a panacea for the city’s ills. Still, he know that his beloved town of Hawkville needed the Night Knight (as he fought off the involuntary yawning).
  • pettifogger – Pronounced PET-ee-fog-er, This word, thanks to the wonderful hard letter g, is just wonderful to say. A pettifogger is one who one who debates over trivial matters. What’s even better is that it can be used as a verb. A pettifogger can be said to pettifog or committing the act of pettifoggery. How can you NOT love that? A pettifogger can also refer to a shady lawyer who takes on unimportant cases (or what is also know as an “ambulance chaser”). It is also one of those words that definitely describes its actions well. To describe one’s rhetoric as a petty fog is just hilarious. Example: One only needs to listen to the speech of William Christopher Jones (also known as King Bizarre) to know that he has earned his position a mighty media mogul. He is more than just a former crafty croupier. His is more than just a pedantic pettifogger. He is quite the worthy adversary for the Night Knight (Please, forgive me for yawning).
  • rigmarole – Pronounced RIG-muh-roll, This word can be somewhat synonymous to pettifoggery and refer to meaningless talk. Typically, however, it refers to a complex or elaborate procedure to accomplish a task. As a Southern man, it sounds to me like a made up word because it just sounds funny to my ears. Still, it is an actual word. Example: The superhero, known as the Night Knight, yawned involuntarily and pondered the rigmarole of overriding King Bizarre’s security system and stealthily overcoming the henchmen one by one. Instead, he simply chose to save the police commissioner’s daughter, the young and lovely Diamond Lewis, by crashing through the skylights on the roof.
  • tantamount – Pronounced TAN-tuh-mount, the word means that one thing is of equal significance or value to another thing. I love the word because I love the way the consecutive syllables of t’s make the word pop out. Example: Despite the henchmen’s legitimate concerns, they knew that pressing the issue of the skylights with King Bizarre would be tantamount to challenging Bizarre’s authority and intelligence.
  • tenebrific – Pronounced ten-uh-BRIH-fik, I LOVE the sound of this word. It definitely has a “Tigger” quality to it. It means that something causes gloom or darkness. Example: The police commissioner’s daughter, the young and lovey Diamond Lewis, is safe again to eh relief of the entire town of Hawkville. King Bizarre, who had hoped to swim in a river of jewels, is, instead, headed up the river without a Diamond How’s that for antimetabole?). The superhero, hiding in the tenebrific shadows of the evening, pauses a moment to ponder his daring rescue then says: “It’s time to go, Night Knight.” He yawns involuntarily and disappears.

Well, there you have it, folks – another list of funny sounding words with legitimate uses. If you found that I omitted words from this list (or the previous volumes). Feel free to chime in as long as they meet the guidelines (funny and family friendly). I hope you enjoyed this list. An eighth list is already in the works.Until then, boys and girls, listen to your parents, do well in school, and brush your teeth after every meal. Remember, the beloved town of Hawkville remains safe for another day thanks to the watchful eye of….THE NIGHT KNIGHT! (OMIGOSH! WHY do I keep yawning?)