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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