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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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … May 14th, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: If I remember correctly, I was eleven years old, in middle school, during gym class, and Miss Pontier shared with us girls. It was a rainy day and we were supposed to be playing softball. We were forced inside, and for some reason, our teacher decided to wax poetic about men.

 

Dear Woman: Really? What did she say?

 

Dear Man: As I look back on it, I realize that she was probably going through a hard time in a relationship, but she quickly–and kind of comically–explained to us the three things that men don’t do.

 

Dear Woman: This is interesting. What were her findings?

 

Dear Man: She said men don’t emotionally care about much of anything. Secondly, men find it difficult to carry on a meaningful conversation, and third–men don’t remember anything if it’s more than a week away and doesn’t involve food and beer.

 

Dear Woman: Wow. That’s pretty jaded. So what did you think at the time?

 

Dear Man: I thought she was the goddess of wisdom. Who was I to question her?

 

Dear Woman: I had a similar thing happen when I was playing junior high football. We were on the bus on the way to a game and the coach talked to us about girls. We were not just a captive audience, but captivated by the subject. He said that girls don’t like sports, they don’t like to be ignored, and they don’t ever want to be wrong.

 

Dear Man: I would assume you agreed.

 

Dear Woman: Well, from my lack of experience I decided to accept his insight.

 

Dear Man: You see–that’s the problem in our society. People think it’s funny to portray the other gender as ridiculous, stubborn or stupid. But once we think that they don’t do something, it colors our efforts, and pretty soon we translate it to “they won’t.

 

Dear Woman: In other words, we take it personally.

 

Dear Man: Absolutely. So even though we feel the need to pair off and mate, we establish our main relationships within our gender, insisting that it’s impossible for a man and woman to get along completely.

 

Dear Woman: So let me get this straight. Because somebody tells us, for instance, that “women don’t do something,” we go out and confirm through our experiences, which are now prejudiced, that they won’t.

 

Dear Man: And it doesn’t stop there. Once we’re convinced they don’t and they won’t, we start believing they can’t. Despair sets in, disappointment, and a nagging resignation to having a relationship that is less than fulfilling.

 

Dear Woman: So we do a disservice to our children by telling them that the opposite sex doesn’t do things–because they will begin to believe they won’t, which makes them conclude that they can’t.

 

Dear Man: Yes. That’s why we have so much prejudice. Because if I believe you don’t do something, and I conclude you won’t, I disrespect you by thinking you can’t.

 

Dear Woman: So what can we do?

 

Dear Man: I think we can stop generalizing that men and women react as genders instead of individuals. It will block that deadly process that ends up with us thinking that the opposite sex is incapable of addressing our feelings.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … January 16th, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: Do you like M & M’s?

 

Dear Woman: Yeah, I suppose so.

 

Dear Man: What flavor?

 

Dear Woman: I haven’t given it much thought. I guess the red ones.

 

Dear Man: Is that strawberry or cherry?

 

Dear Woman: Like I said, I don’t think about M & Ms much. It’s kind of a kid’s candy. But I guess cherry.

 

Dear Man: There’s only one flavor. Chocolate.

 

Dear Woman: What do you mean?

 

Dear Man: I mean that the candy-coated shell is just a color, not a flavor.

 

Dear Woman: Are you sure?

 

Dear Man: Positive. They were trying to sell chocolate, wanted to find a cute way to do it, so they surrounded it with a candy shell and colorized it.

 

Dear Woman: Wow. I hadn’t thought of that before.

 

Dear Man: I have. Especially recently. You see, that’s what they’ve done to us–men and women.

 

Dear Woman: Turned us into M & M’s?

 

Dear Man: Exactly. We’re really both chocolate. We’re just human beings. 99 percent of our physical makeup is identical. But society comes along and coats us in a candy shell and gives us a color.

 

Dear Woman: So what’s my color?

 

Dear Man: You know. The standard. Pink for me and blue for you. They will also let you be brown. But you’d better not choose yellow, red or even green, or you could be accused of being…well, you know.

 

Dear Woman: Shall we say effeminate? Since it would be completely politically incorrect to say gay? But on the other hand, as a woman you are allowed to be a little bit blue, but if you turned brown, then you would be too macho.

 

Dear Man: Or the politically incorrect term, butch. And even though there’s no validity to the colorations and the candy shell doesn’t produce any flavor, we still live by the colors. And did you know–there are rock and roll bands who insist on having only green M & M’s?

 

Dear Woman: Clever. But what’s your point?

 

Dear Man: I guess my point is, the more we try to designate each other by color, race, religion and gender, the less we realize that we’re all chocolate.

 

Dear Woman: But aren’t some differences a good thing? Isn’t it important for men and women to have unique aspects, to keep the mystery in our romance?

 

Dear Man: I guess if that actually did happen it would be alright. But we use our difference to prove how separate we are–therefore establishing that it’s basically impossible for us to coexist without arguing or fighting. Can I tell you something? You’re a great guy, but you’re not all blue.

 

Dear Woman: What do you mean, I’m not all blue?

 

Dear Man: Well, you’re afraid of spiders. You don’t like to get your hands too dirty. And you don’t sit around drinking beers and watching football all the time.

 

Dear Woman: What’s wrong with that?

 

Dear Man: Nothing–except it adds a little pink to your shell. At least by the standards of our society. They say you’re supposed to be the aggressor and I’m supposed to be the vanquished.

 

Dear Woman: So what color would you say I am?

 

Dear Man: Well, kind of purple. Not a raving lavender–more a mauve.

 

Dear Woman: This is so stupid. And by the way, you’re not all pink. You’re kind of purple, too–because for some reason, you like to check the oil in your own car.

 

Dear Man: You see what I mean? We’re both shades of purple. Even in the M & M world, our candy colors are more alike than different.

 

Dear Woman: So why don’t people recognize this?

 

Dear Man: Because there are billions of dollars to be made by insisting there’s a war between the sexes instead of finding our common flavor.

 

Dear Woman: You really think it’s all about money?

 

Dear Man: “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

 

Dear Woman: Do you think it can change?

 

Dear Man: I think it can, if we put away childish things…like M & M’s.

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Ask Jonathots … January 14th, 2016

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I’m fifteen years old and want to be an actress. I watched the Golden Globes and it looked like everyone was intoxicated. Some of my friends think that drinking is no big deal–after all, it’s not “doing drugs.” Their parents drink, after all. Their older brothers and sisters drink. Everyone drinks. What do you think about it?

I personally am not a big fan of camping.

Matter of fact, I only have one clear memory of going on such an excursion. What I do remember about the experience is that you do a lot of walking and while doing this peddling along, you are also carrying everything you need on your back, so that when you arrive at the campsite for the evening, you can open it up and have your “stuff” to make the journey tolerable.

You know what I discovered on the first night? Half of the things I brought were useless, making me tired carrying it around.

I found a nearby trash can and threw these items away, which someone had told me were necessary to have a woods event.

My second day was so much more pleasurable, and when I arrived for the evening’s rest, I had everything I needed–and if I didn’t, I was still happy that I had a lighter load.

  • Thus drinking.
  • Thus smoking.
  • Thus obesity.
  • Thus nervous energy.

Anything we decide to tuck into our lifestyle which we have to carry only makes the journey a bit more difficult, will slow our pace, and in the long run, when we arrive at our destination, will probably have to be abandoned in favor of more freedom.

I’ll tell you what I feel when I watch the Golden Globes and see people drinking. Since they are actors, directors and producers, I would like to follow the story line of their alcoholic curve. Are they really able to hold it to a couple of glasses of wine and an occasional beer, or does the liquor begin to control the dialogue, the circumstances, the party or even the friends?

I would say if you’re able to drink a glass of wine at a meal or have a beer with a bratwurst without feeling the need to carry alcohol into your life for inconvenient times, then you should be just fine. But to look at alcohol as a social statement, a way of relaxation, a means to unwind or a must so that you can garner the right people for your party, is to set yourself up for arriving at your goal toting a burden rather than a benefit.

How many people sitting at the Golden Globes have already been through rehab and countless attempts to stop drinking, or are short months away from a DUI which will place them in the public eye with a frown?

Alcohol is a substance. It warns us of its potency and danger by its flavor and after-effects. If you can incorporate that taste and responsibility in your life without losing control or feeling compelled to imbibe, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

But many have insisted they can, and crashed.

Yes, many have lost their way.

Keep this in mind.

Alcohol never helped anybody get to their dream. 

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Cracked 5 … October 20th, 2015

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Things I Learned During My Stay in Wisconsin

 

A. It would seem that the fragrance of cow manure travels freely for miles.

 

B. You should never refer to the locals as “Wiscon-sinners.”

 

C. Amazingly, there are over 1,000 variations of bratwurst, and at least 1,001 beers to wash them down.

 

D. “Cheesehead” is not merely a hat, but as you will learn, an actual mindset.

 

E. Residents don’t officially thaw out until the afternoon of July 23rd.

cracked 5 cow

 

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Quatrain of the Mismatch… September 16, 2014

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mismatched couple

Bonnie and Phil

Cookies and beer

Hand and shoe

Politics and truth

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Sometimes… March 6, 2013

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Sometimes it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes a little piece of insignificance can float through the air and blow away into the distance.

Sometimes a duck can quack and the pond remains serene.

Sometimes a hip-hop rock star, can appear on a late-night talk show and giggle about smoking the “herb” and a young human listening, who is confused about choices, will not end up crushed by the burden of drug abuse.

Sometimes a climate of “prayer and scare religion” can preach its message of doom, with the glory of heaven to follow, and no one gets hurt, no one is lost and no one is perplexed to the point of agnosticism.

Sometimes careless conversations of overwrought self-esteem can be voiced in our culture without human beings feeling entitled to gifts and opportunities beyond their scope.

Sometimes the gridlock of Washington, D.C. is just fodder for the 24-hour news cycle and doesn’t affect the single mother or father desperately trying to put food on the table for their young’uns.

Sometimes a mother can drink her glass of wine or a father his mug of beer and the children of the household will grow up without any dependence on alcohol.

Sometimes a religious system that preaches more of heaven than God’s will being done on earth can hide behind its ritual without feeling the responsibility for the vacancy left in the hearts of those who have heard the empty message.

Sometimes young girls can go to movies and see women exploited, raped, beaten, cursed and marginalized and still grow up to be dynamic forces of nature.

Sometimes a young woman who is addicted, frustrated, lonely and drained of hope turns out to be just fine and survives her turmoil and presses on.

Sometimes fairy tales come true. At least that’s what we’re told.

But not today.

Today a young child of God has died because of too much and too little:

  • Too much religion and too little reality.
  • Too much laughter about drugs and too little knowledge of what they can do to the paper-thin persona of a human being.
  • Too much hypocrisy and too little truthful repentance.
  • Too much of a notion that women are sex objects and too little value of their worth as humans.
  • Too much of everything that deceives and too little of the nuggets of truth that enlighten.

She’s dead.

I knew her as a small child and helped out her family the best I could from my wallet. But not from my time. For you see, sometimes it’s all right to free ourselves from any responsibility or guilt, but most of the time, it’s just a cop-out.

So sometimes it’s important that we rededicate ourselves to the notion that there is nothing wrong with beleiving we should do more, even if sometimes it points out the fact that in this particular case, we didn’t do enough.

Sometimes we need more than just what is available.

She did. She deserved more.

So to a religion and culture that loves to expound on all sorts of irrelevant information, let me tell you that there are casualties to your casual approach.

She died today. She died of too much and too little.

By the grace of God, may she be the last.

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