Catchy (Sitting 13) Can Bad Come Out of Good? … September 3rd, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3419)

In a fit of weary and dreary delusion, Soos stumbled her way through the parking lot en route to her Hertz Rent-a-car, fumbling with her keys. Opening the door, plopping her exhausted backside into the bucket seat and slamming her bag beside her, she gently hammered her head on the steering wheel and unleashed a poetic proclamation of prayer.

“Dammit!”

Having just sat through four-and-a-half hours of meeting–no, not just meeting, mindless meeting. No, more than that–mindless, menacing meeting–with seven or eight folks which could have been nine, her brain had turned inside out, dumping both its knowledge and its will to live, exposing the insanity that had always lurked within.

She ran the words through her mind.

“Soos, I was wondering if you could type up some notes to summarize today’s meeting with the attorney, Marcus Tomlinson.”

She had stared at Matthew, who made the request, as if he had possibly had a stroke. How was anyone supposed to sum up four-and-a-half hours of lethargy in motion? For after all, it was a meeting to prove that a meeting had occurred, to discuss why a meeting was necessary, to conclude that a future meeting would be required. It was like paint drying while staying wet.

It began painfully slow, but Soos knew she was in real trouble when Tomlinson arrived with a guest–a tall, elegant man of color in his late forties, garishly dressed in expensive clothing which shouted its value. His name was Bishop Merrill Handerling. He was the director of the Believers International Fellowship (B.I.F.)

She remembered thinking to herself that Bif was the villain in “Back to the Future.” Quickly regaining her maturity, she attempted to listen as Matthew, Randall, Jo-Jay, Marcus Tomlinson and Bishop Merrill discussed the potential, but mostly the dangers, of the project of making Jesus popular again.

Although Attorney Tomlinson was careful to be respectful of Arthur Harts, who had been dead for less than three months, he also made it completely clear, in his litigious way, that the old fart was crazy.

The Bishop objected to any criticism toward the billionaire–but also wanted to establish that he felt there was a sinister element in commercializing Jesus and turning him into the new “flavor of the day.” (At this point, the dignified black gentleman actually held for laughter. Jo-Jay was generous and giggled a little.)

How was Soos supposed to immortalize the collision of imaginary trains of thought? No one actually knew what they were talking about. To some degree, no one actually cared.

But things really stalled when Prophet Morgan stepped into the room, arriving late, and the Bishop and the Prophet came face-to-face. Soos remembered thinking to herself that it sounded like great stage direction for a Shakespearean play. It became quickly obvious that everything Bishop disliked Prophet approved of, and likewise, everything that profited the Prophet baffled the Bishop.

They just didn’t like each other.

Meanwhile, Matthew sat over in the corner trying to shrink and disappear, looking like he wished he was a cube of ice that could simply melt.

Soos was shocked. After all the discussions and back-and-forth agreements, it seemed that Attorney Tomlinson was trying to find a way to euthanize the whole “popular Jesus” idea, hoping he could use this overstated Bishop to be the hit man.

After hours of exhausting listening, Soos spoke up for herself. She remembered the moment well because it was so contrary to her normal personality that it seemed to be coming from a different person who had temporarily taken occupation of her soul.

“I don’t think anything bad can come of doing something good.”

That’s what she said. It was not terribly intellectual, but in this room full of disconnected thoughts, it sounded almost Biblical.

Matthew sat up in his chair as if suddenly aware that life was still going on. The Bishop accidentally spoke a quick “amen” before realizing that Soos was disagreeing with him. And Prophet? Well, Prophet leaned over and kissed Soos on the mouth.

Immediately after that simple statement, the meeting was adjourned to a future time which would be determined in the future if such a future was necessary.

It was also shortly after that statement that Soos received the instruction to “type up a summary” of the meeting–her punishment for profundity.

She now sat in her car and just tried to decompress. She needed a diversion. If she were a drinker, this would require a martini. If she were an exercise freak, she would need to go run. If she were religious, prayer would be demanded.

But Soos was a carboholic.

On her way back to the Holiday Inn Express, she picked up a dozen doughnuts.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 12) A Collision of Colossal … August 27th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3412)

Susannah Lacey, known as “Soos” during her infamous days of cavorting around the campus with the “Leaven of Seven,” was waiting at the headquarters when Matthew arrived on Wednesday morning. She looked exactly the same, except age had etched a little worry and miles onto the terrain of her frame.

She gave a big smile as Matthew came into the door, raced up and gave him a hug. taking his breath away.

They had never been terribly close. It was an awkward situation. Matthew always suspected that Soos had a crush on him, and she believed it was the other way around. So not so certain that any crush existed, no romance ever came to fruition.

But Matthew had a great respect for Soos. She was a “reasoner.” When it seemed like all problems were surrounding the “Leaven of Seven,” threatening to destroy their idealism, she came through like Joan of Arc, rescuing their innocence. (Usually it consisted of buying a pizza or finding some marijuana, which made them all feel nasty-cool.)

She explained to Matthew that she had gotten his message and was heeding the call as if he were Commissioner Gordon turning on the Batman beam to summon the crusader. Matthew was not terribly familiar with the reference but giggled anyway.

While the greeting was still in full swing, in walked Prophet Morgan. He hadn’t left the offices since his arrival. Prophet was a pleasant enough sort, though he had the sniff of the brimstone which accompanied the fire of his faith. Matthew thought he seemed sneaky. Having heard his full story, Matthew thought it was a miracle that Prophet Morgan wasn’t in either an insane asylum or jail upstate.

At age five, his drunken father, who was an evangelist with a tent revival, decided to bring his little boy up onstage to pray for people, and lo and behold, the tiny Prophet Morgan laid his hands on a woman and spoke in an unknown language. The next morning she awoke completely healed.

No one took the time to wonder if she would have been healed anyway, or if she was really that sick in the first place. The word spread like a grease fire–a five-year-old prophet with the gift of healing, sent by God to the backwoods of Arkansas to transform His people.

In no time at all, huge crowds were showing up at the tent revival meetings and Prophet’s father was getting rich on the proceeds of his sprout.

About a year into the process, at age six, Prophet had a nervous breakdown. Matthew guessed that’s what you’d call it. The six-year-old started running around the room, only stopping to bang his head against the wall. He was placed in a mental institution, where he stayed until he was twelve.

Prophet explained that no one ever told him why he was there or how he would ever get out. One bright, sunny day, someone left the back door open to the asylum while spray-washing some chairs. The twelve-year-old detainee simply strolled out, started running, and never stopped.

That was the story thus far. Obviously there were many more tales to be told. But Prophet Morgan was a young man burdened by old demons.

He took an immediate liking to Soos, who found Prophet to be a bit bizarre in appearance but just ethereal enough to grease her wheels.

While the two of them were making friends, the phone rang. It was a call from Michael Hinston, from Washington, D. C. Matthew was surprised to discover that Michael had a change of heart and was now interested in the “make Jesus popular” project.

Matthew hung up the phone scratching his head, trying to figure out why, all of a sudden, all these elements were falling together. Well, if not together–at least colliding with one another.

Another phone call came in. It was Marcus Tomlinson, who had originally asked Matthew to consider the 250 million dollar project. He explained that he would be flying in the next day to talk about the future of the idea.

As Matthew hung up the phone, he felt there was a gloominess emanating from Tomlinson–coming with some bad news. Or maybe it was good news.

Maybe the burden of making the decision about this bizarre errand would be taken off Matthew’s shoulders.

He wasn’t sure.

Prophet Morgan stepped over and slapped him on the back, awakening him from his thoughts of deep escape.

“Quite a day, huh?” said the prophet.

“Yes. A lot going on,” Matthew answered, preoccupied.

Prophet looked off in the distance. “I remember an old Creole woman in Louisiana I once met, who said about this kind of day–the one we’re living in right now–she called it a ‘collision of the colossal.’ Lots of things happening, but no way to be sure if any of them smell of God.”

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Catchy (Sitting Three) And Then There Were Three … June 25th, 2017

 

Randall Caron and Landy Loren were Matthew’s partners in S.E.E.D.S.

Randall was Matthew’s junior, a gentleman in his thirties–skinny, with the energy level of a mosquito, and the greed to match. Matthew always lamented that Randall seemed to lack sufficient conscience to balance his ego. But it was hard to argue with his productivity and the ruthlessness he employed to plump the bottom line.

Landy was a woman in her forties, which she coyly referred to as “fortyish.” She was short and pudgy enough to disguise a fading attractiveness which had once dazzled young men and now left the same suitors satisfied with conversation.

The three partners met every morning at 9:30 to discuss upcoming projects and share a cheese Danish, an English muffin and an Irish coffee—a personal nod to continental cuisine.

On this morning, Matthew wasted no time, feeling idle chatter should not trump a two hundred and fifty million dollar proposal.

“I got a call.”

“And…?” said Randall, with a crumb or two of muffin creeping out the corner of his lips.

“It was a lawyer,” Matthew continued.

“Uh-oh,” inserted Landy.

Matthew interrupted. “No. A good lawyer, if such is possible.”

“A good lawyer?” questioned Randall. “What would that be?”

“Good in the sense of. . . well, good in the sense of money.”

“A lawyer offering money instead of demanding payment?” questioned Landy.

“Freak show, huh?” Matthew smiled.

“Where did you ever get that saying, ‘freak show’?” Randall asked, irritated.

“College.”

“Well, it’s weird,” said Randall. “Kind of gives me the willies.”

“The willies?” Matthew chuckled. “Now, that’s weird.”

“Sorry–works for me,” Randall responded.

“Anyway,” continued Matthew. “It seems that old man Harts—you know, the billionaire that died a couple of weeks ago?—left two hundred and fifty million dollars for some advertising agency…”

Randall almost spilled his Irish coffee on his gray gabardine slacks. “You’re shittin’ me.”

“What do you mean? Who? You mean us?” Landy could not contain her excitement.

“Maybe…” Matthew said tentatively.

“Maybe?” Randall leaped to his feet. “I’d do anything for two hundred and fifty million dollars.”

“Sit down. Now, tell me what you’re talking about,” Landy demanded.

Matthew leaned back in his chair and dropped the remaining portion of a Danish into his mouth. “Here’s the catch,” he said as he brushed his hands to dispel morsels of sticky crumbs.

“There’s always a goddam catch,” said Randall, sitting back down.

“For two hundred and fifty million dollars I might put up with a hundred catches,” said Landy.

“The old fart wants some agency to take two hundred and fifty million dollars to promote—are you ready for this?”

“Stop stalling and tell us,” interrupted Randall.

“…to make Jesus popular again.”

“What?” Landy gasped.

“Popular with who, or is it whom?” asked Randall.

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask. I guess popular with everybody,” said Matthew.

There was a sudden stillness—not reverential, but more a stomach-aching quiet that ensues upon seeing two hundred and fifty million dollars tumble into a bottomless cavern.

“What a crock.” Randall finally broke the silence.

“Who could do that?” Landy asked.

“You mean make Jesus popular?” Matthew smirked.

“Yeah,” replied Landy. “I mean, Jesus is Jesus, right?”

“Well, there’s our slogan,” said Randall with a grin.

“No, I’m serious,” said Landy. “I mean, if you’re looking at him like a product…you know what I’m saying? There are only certain things you can do with it.”

“New and improved…” ticked Randall.

“Misunderstood and now finally revealed…” added Matthew.

“Under new management,” concluded Landy.

“Okay, I’ll grant you, it’s bonkers,” said Matthew. “But it is two hundred and fifty million dollars.”

“I don’t care if it’s two hundred and fifty billion dollars,” said Randall. “It’s impossible, therefore it’s immoral to take the money.”

“Ahh. Suddenly a man of principle,” said Matthew.

“The main principle I’m interested in is the principle in my bank account,” said Randall. “But…”

“Can we get back to the proposal?” Landy broke in.

“You’re not taking this seriously, are you?” Matthew was shocked.

“I can think of two hundred and fifty million reasons to be very serious,” said Randall.

Matthew got up and walked across the room. “I was just making conversation. I mean, obviously, I told the guy we weren’t interested.”

Randall leaped to his feet. “You what?”

“Without asking us?” Landy challenged.

Matthew sighed. “Come on, guys. It’s ridiculous. You said it. Jesus is Jesus. The product is worn out. I mean, for instance, what could you do with Quaker Oatmeal?”

“Lace it with grass. I don’t really care. For two hundred and fifty million dollars we could at least try,” said Randall. “I mean, someone’s going to get that money. Why not us? We can fail at this just as well as anyone else, and have a few dinners and a new swimming pool at the same time.”

“I want a Lexus LE,” said Landy.

Matthew strolled across the room and sat back down. “Don’t you think it’s kind of creepy—I mean, weird—to take money that you know you’re just spending because the project you’re working on is—well, it’s non-promotable.”

Randall sat down beside him and patted him on the leg. “Maybe not. What do we know? I mean, are we theologians? Why don’t we do this–why don’t we express an interest? Why don’t we ask for, say, a hundred thousand dollars in advance to do a feasibility study?”

Landy crossed the room.  “A feasibility study? Go on.”

“Yeah, you know,” said Randall. “Subcontract. Ask for a few ideas. Take some surveys. Who knows? It might be fun.”

“Fun?” asked Matthew flatly. “And you’re not worried about your immortal soul?”

“Hell, I sold that years ago for stock options in Microsoft.” Randall downed the last bit of his Irish coffee and winked.

So it was decided.

Randall called up the lawyer, Mr. Tomlinson, who readily agreed to release a hundred thousand dollars for a study on the feasibility of making Jesus more popular.

Contacts were made for slogans, surveys were passed out to testing groups and a panel of theologians was invited. The date was set a month in the future when all the participants would gather and share their ideas.

Hopefully, divine ideas on how to promote the founder of Christianity.

 

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Catchy (Sitting Two)This Young Man … June 18th, 2017

Matthew Ransley was an advertising agent but fancied himself an executive. He was a founding partner in a company called S.E.E.D.S.–an annoying, elongated acronym: “Selling Everything Everywhere, Delivering Success.”

Matthew was very good at what he did. He worked at being congenial but if sufficiently aggravated, could launch into a rampage to defend one of his well-guarded opinions.

It was Tuesday when the phone rang and Mariel, his secretary (though she preferred “executive assistant”) was not yet at work to answer, so Matthew found himself taking the call. It was from Marcus Tomlinson, an attorney—an attorney for the estate of Arthur Harts.

Matthew knew who Arthur Harts was, and had even heard that the old man had died. He listened carefully as Mr. Tomlinson explained about the recent reading of the will and the revelation of the “Make Jesus Popular” addition.

It did cross Matthew’s mind that it might be a crank call. But the attorney established credibility because he seemed to know what he was talking about, including an abundance of information about Matthew and his agency.

“The reason we called you is that we thought that your agency’s name, S.E.E.D.S., sounded a little religious, and in doing a background check on you, we also discovered that you had some interest in matters of faith and such when you were a student back in college.”

Matthew smiled. He remembered. College–a chance to plan your future while simultaneously ruining your life. After graduation he had included every piece of resume-worthy material possible on his application to gain employment.

He had begun a club during his college years, launching a fledgling organization initially called the “Son of One” (he being the only member at the time.) His vision was to create a para-religious/party-motivated/pseudo-intellectual club, which would attract both thinkers and drinkers.

Before too long he achieved a member and they became the “Crew of Two.” Then came another and they became the “Tree of Three.” When a fourth joined, they dubbed themselves the “Core of Four.” A fifth inductee created the “Hive of Five,” and a sixth, the “Mix of Six.” When a seventh young lady cast her lot with the organization, they became the “Leaven of Seven,” where they remained throughout their university years, garnering no new converts.

Matthew assumed this was what the attorney was referring to when he mentioned “some interest in matters of faith.” Honestly, the seven young folk liked to talk about God and politics until the wee hours of the morning while indulging in “the beer and bong.” It was hardly a consecrated conclave, but rather, dedicated to the proposition that all men–and women–are created equally arrogant.

“What is it you want?” Matthew asked. It was too early to chat–or reminisce.

Mr. Tomlinson proceeded to explain that one of Arthur Harts’ dying wishes was to give two hundred fifty million dollars towards increasing the popularity of Jesus.

“How popular does he need to be?” asked Matthew. “I mean, they named a religion after him, and, if I’m not mistaken, doesn’t our entire calendar run by the date of his birth?”

There was a moment of silence. Then Lawyer Tomlinson spoke in metered tones. “Let me just say that I don’t know much about religion, or God for that matter. I am merely performing the literal last request of a very wealthy man.”

“So what do you want me to do?” inquired Matthew.

“What do I want you to do? I guess I want you to tell me that your agency will take two hundred and fifty million dollars and at least try to make Jesus more popular.”

“We could start a rumor that he and Elvis are going to get together and cut an album.”

A pause. “Sounds fine with me,” replied Tomlinson.

Matthew chuckled. It was becoming quite evident that this lawyer was merely going through the motions of fulfilling a contractual oddity. On the other hand, as unusual as the request sounded, the two hundred and fifty million dollars did offer a bit of sparkle. As a founding partner in his business, did he have the right to reject such a lucrative offer simply because it was weird?

The lawyer piped up, uncomfortable with the delay. “Perhaps you could suggest someone else.”

Matthew laughed nervously. “No, I don’t really think I could suggest anyone else. I’m not familiar with any All Saints Agency or God Almighty, Inc.”

“It is two hundred and fifty million dollars. I mean, can’t you do something?”

“Yes,” said Matthew. (He figured it was always better to say yes to two hundred and fifty million dollars. You can revise your answer later, but in the meantime, well, it’s two hundred and fifty million dollars.)

Matthew punctuated his acceptance by adding, “Maybe we could get Jesus to date a supermodel.”

“I think he’s dead,” said Tomlinson, without inflection.

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