G-Poppers … July 28th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3381)

Jon close up

G-Pop was pretty sure what he wanted to share with his children this morning. As he climbed in his van to begin a ten-day tour to Tampa, which would include five presentations, G-Pop had pretty well sketched out what he saw as an aching need in our present human interactions: a return to concern. He was pretty pleased with what he was going to pen.

But he got about twelve miles down the road and his front passenger tire blew out. There was no personal injury or damage to the van other than one exploded tire.

Now, G-Pop and his traveling companion don’t carry a jack or spare with them, simply because neither one of them is capable of taking care of such a feat. So it was a hot, Southern-Florida morning, and he was stuck by the side of the road, waiting for a tow-truck and a willing technician to help out.

Things never work that way. Once your plans are edited by Mother Nature’s intervention, things never get easier–they just get different.

The blow-out happened at 9:00 A.M. and G-Pop was not on his way again until 1:10 P.M.

A lot of waiting.

A lot of heat.

A lot of chances to be discouraged, frustrated or to do that dastardly human thing of trying to find someone to blame.

Then it struck G-Pop. The article he had planned to write, though well-intentioned, was a discussion of human generosity in the abstract. In other words, “we could” or “we should.”

But it is one of those subjects that is easy to “Amen” but not so easy to amend. So instead, G-Pop is going to talk about concern, compassion and tenderness in the practical rather than the abstract.

Would you believe that four people stopped to see if they could help?

Would you believe a young man who has his own towing company had his car overheat on the way, but still made it there to change the tire?

Would you believe that G-Pop’s daughter-in-law brought out some drinks and a sandwich, asking if there was any other way she could help?

Would youi believe that G-Pop’s wife scurried around town, suddenly becoming a tire purchaser, for the good of the cause?

When it was all over, G-Pop realized there were so many people he got to meet that he never would have met had he not been stalled.

Maybe the whole problem in life is that we think we’re going to teach each other to be better humans. Actually, life just comes along and messes with us, giving us the chance to practice making gentler decisions from a position of deeper concern.

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Melvyn’s Clock … February 6, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2143)

Melvyn's CloskI would characterize an adventure as being a disaster that swerves to safety just short of crashing into the brick wall, where all occupants walk away, relieved.

Such was the decision on my part, to take three of my sons, my daughter-in-law, my partner, Janet and myself to Phoenix, Arizona, back in 2008, to make a movie called Melvyn’s Clock.

What can I tell you about Melvyn’s Clock? It was a screenplay I wrote: Hitchcock collides with M. Knight Shyamalan, who surprises Stephen King on a dark road to pitch Death of a Salesman, culminating with some “blades” from Saw. More easily explained, it was an exhilarating mystery.

What was equally as mysterious was the concept of renting a three-bedroom condo for the amazingly low price of $1000 a month, and sticking my adult children in an enclosed area with their former father, caretaker and disciplinarian.

I thought it was amazing.

What made it amazing was that we arrived in town not knowing anybody, needing to make connections using only our talent, art, amiability and generosity. At the end of two months, we not only had a movie, but also held a premiere in Tempe that was packed. And even though the gentleman who played the part of Melvyn–the old man who walked through his town each day, interacting with people–yes, even though our actor regularly explained to folks that he was not really old enough to play the part, because he was still young and virile–the results were quite dazzling. Press coverage, television interviews, and after the premiere, there were even a couple of parodies made and released on the Internet–one called Melvyn’s Mock and an X-rated version called Melvyn’s Cock. (You’re not really successful until somebody makes fun of you…)

So when I arrived back in Phoenix just a couple of days ago, I thought about that adventure. I wondered if the same connection could be made through creativity. Is it possible, in a society which has become more jaded, to arrive in a community and generate the kind of empathy and faith among people which causes magnificent things to be produced?

I don’t know. But I think to merely have the debate–to discourage oneself without trying–is even worse than failing at the attempt.

So I’m back in Phoenix, to see what spark can be made to light a fire of possibility. This time I don’t have Melvyn’s Clock; nor do I have my sons and daughter-in-law with me.

But I do believe if we start attempting what others insist is impossible, we will open the door once again to the idea that faith with works is very much alive.

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The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Elf Control Band… December 14, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2093)

Clazzy Christmas bigJust because you can doesn’t mean you should–and also, just because you shouldn’t have, doesn’t require that you spend a whole lot of time regretting.

That’s life.

This comes to my mind as I remember the Christmas 2000, when I convinced myself to open up a store for the holiday season. My daughter-in-law, Angy, was anxious to attempt a business project and I was in my usual adventurous state of mind to comply. We called it The Clazzy Christmas Store in honor of a CD recently put out by Janet and myself, loaded with music of the season.

We immediately ran into two problems: the amount of money we were able to afford to rent a commercial space in a shopping mall was not sufficient to acquire property in a successful, ongoing avenue. No, our funding only allowed for us to rent this type of facility in a mall which was dying out due to lack of interest, with quite limited foot traffic.

Secondly … well, we had no idea what we were doing.

Perhaps if this idea had been placed in a locale other than Outer Mongolia and staffed by leadership which had at least read an article on opening up new business, it might have prospered immensely. But because it was in a commercial environment that would have been well-suited to a tribe of monks, it was necessary for us to create a stir and generate publicity by offering incentives which we thought would stimulate commerce.

  • So we hired a good Santa Claus, who alternated wearing both a red suit and a white suit.  Unique.
  • We had parades through the parking lot to draw attention to ourselves and increase interest.
  • And our third little escapade was to start something we called The Elf Control Band.

I went into a recording studio, took some classic rock songs and replaced the lyrics with Christmas sentiments (often silly in content) and then took my children–who ranged in age from third grade to junior high school–to embody these band members, dressing them in rubber elf ears, striped socks, funny hats, then placing them on a stage, lip-syncing and dancing to the songs which I had recorded.

To our amazement, this actually worked.

Although to this day my children insist that they do not have fond memories of the excursion, we got press coverage, television cameras and probably drew in the most “mall millers” this particular shopping center had experienced since they discovered fifteen dead raccoons in the heating ducts two years earlier.

We stocked our store with decorations and as much inventory as we could afford, and to our great fortune, only ended up by Christmas Day, losing about ten thousand dollars.

But here’s what I know: my children would never have had the experience of doing this together, creating a bond which has now lasted a lifetime. Matter of fact, one of them picked up a bass guitar that Christmas season which he has never put down and still plays funk and jazz today. Another one of the children started playing tambourine, cow bell and wood block and branched out into a career in drumline and technical support for those who march to a different beat.

It was truly amazing. It was creative in an environment where such shenanigans were viewed as bizarre, but still managed to gain enough acceptability to produce a smirk or two instead of just leers.

What I learned from The Elf Control Band is that even though something may seem silly, frivolous, out of step with the times or just downright ridiculous, it still can produce great benefit if energized by passion and love of life.

Some people spend their time wishing for what they could do. Others lament what they’ve already done.

I like to go out and do stuff and then … remember the good parts.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Human Seeings … July 26, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1955)

eyesI’m not sure what the origin is.

Someone apparently came along with a clever sound bite which has now caught on—as they often do—which states, “We are not human DOings. We are human BEings.”

Of course, it has gradually seeped into our society. Any chance for us to remove our own responsibility and celebrate the value of just being born, will be a pleasing opportunity for the average mortal.

Here’s the problem: like so many ideas we tout, it never follows through to a realistic conclusion. Because we DO judge each other by our fruits.  Matter of fact, Jesus said we should. We are not unique and beautiful just because we occupy space. It is actually what we choose to enact that is the most revealing.

But I also do not believe that we’re the sub-total of our accumulated efforts.

I think we’re human SEEings. Yes, I believe our eye movement determines our ultimate quality.

Some people cast their eyes to the heavens. They’re optimistic, always wanting to believe that good things will come. Often they are oblivious to the moment, favoring the future.

Other people cast their eyes to the earth. When they don’t see an immediate solution to the problem, they become cynical, angry and frustrated. They can’t control through manipulating circumstances, so they look for evil to be the source of their detriment.

I just don’t feel that either one of these groups have the power to bring love, human tenderness and God’s mercy to the world.

  • I don’t think we need to look up.
  • I don’t think we need to look down.
  • I think we need to look  AT.

Make eye contact with both your angels and your demons. The angels won’t look quite as heavenly, yet the demons won’t look quite as sinister. Look at what you’ve got. You’re not really a human being. You’re not merely a human doing. God has called you to be a human seeing.

Blessed are the poor in spirit—for they shall see God.” They begin to see God in everything, because the light of the body is the eye, and if we’re not afraid to look every situation head-on, deep into its soul, we gain the confidence and power to both BE and DO.

It happened to me yesterday. Having completed my first night in Springville, Iowa, I launched on my morning activities, which led me to a Hy-vee Drugstore in Cedar Rapids, some twenty miles away. Lo and behold, there was a delightfully energized, beautiful woman who had been at the performance the night before.

What are the chances? Not only were there very few people at the performance, but Cedar Rapids is a town of over 100,000 people, not to mention countless stores—and taking into consideration that I apparently needed to get something at a pharmacy. But there was a blessing, looking right at me.

I came back to my motel and there was a phone message from a man who had seen me perform in Texas, who happened to be in Cedar Rapids, and read my Jonathots yesterday. He wanted to know if I might be performing again because he wanted to come out and get re-acquainted. I got the chance to look right at a dear friend.

And then I returned from last night’s show—where two and a half times the number of the previous night’s audience came out for a second dip—and there was a message from my daughter-in-law, who has just lost her mother. She has the chance to speak at a convention of her company in front of more than 3,000 women. She asked me to edit her speech.

I realized what a blessing it was to be part of such an adventure, and that my words would be literally “looking at” three thousand folks I would never meet.

I am not just a human being, treasured because I was born.

I’m not just a human doing, the sub-total of my deeds and accomplishments.

God has called me to be a human seeing—not looking too much up to the heavens to solve my dilemmas, not looking down to the earth in desperation and disgust.

Rather, looking at what is before me, realizing that it is the embodiment of God’s grace … which is sufficient for me.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Is It Still There? … May 6, 2013

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flagHave you ever listened closely to the lyrics? (Actually, since it was originally a poem, maybe I should say “the stanzas.”)

I’m talking about The Star Spangled Banner, penned by Francis Scott Key. After all, the emotion of the song is a yearning curiosity about whether the defenders of Ft. McHenry had survived the all-night battle–if the flag was still waving, proclaiming victory.

We’ve grown so accustomed to hearing the song sung by young, spoiled, famous pop artists, who are more concerned about the pitch range than they are about the emotional range, that we somehow have lost the significance of the message.

That night in Baltimore Harbor, Mr. Key was frantic about whether the United States would be able to continue its mission, initiated 36 years earlier with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

He was nervous. He was anxious for a little light to be shone on the day so he could determine the future of our nation.

For this I know–after all the scandals, ill-advised wars, foolish clinging to bigotry, financial disasters and even the broaching of civil rights which have peppered our history, we still remain a country which insists on pursuing the simple concept of personal freedom.

But like Francis Scott Key, I sometimes wonder whether The Star Spangled Banner is still there in the midst of all the partisanship and vendettas put out by less-than-scrupulous leaders in this country, who have more of a vested interest in their own personal wealth and position than they do in the deeper treasures of liberty.

But I am not cynical. I still believe I live in a magnificent country.

It all came to bear on me the other day when I received an email from my daughter-in-law, who was born and raised in China. She sent an attachment of a file, with her singing a song she will be auditioning tomorrow, to possibly perform for the UCLA graduation. It was The Star Spangled Banner.

First, I was astonished that she was a singer. She had never shared that talent with me in all of our varied conversations. She had listened to me croon away many times without piping a note herself. But when I listened to her gentle, sweet voice intone our national anthem, I was brought to tears–especially when I heard her share the phrase, “Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave–o’er the land of the free …?”

When she hit that high note, a chill went down my spine. Not because it was loud or intense. No–because I realized that here was a Chinese girl raised in among an intelligent and intuitive people, who had used her abilities to arrive on the shores of America to expand her education, and was now singing the praises of the “land of the free.”

You see–that’s America.

America isn’t about listening to a bunch of old codgers, sitting around in over-stuffed leather chairs discussing the subtleties of politics. America is a beautiful young girl from China, who still honors her country of origin, but comes to harvest the benefits from the freedom and opportunities provided by this republic.

It was beautiful. It struck a patriotic chord in me that still resounds this morning.

So you can feel free to continue to be part of the pervasive attitude that is trying to  preserve an America long gone or initiate an America yet unrevealed.

As for me, I will celebrate the power of the immigrant–that soul who has traveled to our shores to find the missing pieces of his or her life.

So here’s to my daughter-in-law and her beautiful spirit. I don’t know if she’ll win the audition or not–but she’s already proven that The Star Spangled Banner is still there.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

*****

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Six Pounds, Seven Ounces … July 11, 2012

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Johann Luther Cring is now part of the human family.

He arrived at 5:25 A.M. this morning–nineteen inches long. His daddy was so overcome that tears flowed down his face, making him feel simultaneously engulfed in joy and embarrassed by his outpouring.

We had dinner with them just hours earlier at Ruby Tuesday’s and they both were much more prepared than I was when it was my turn to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth. All during the meal I thought about how this scene was so much like what God envisioned for His earth–the grandparents, sitting at a table, gazing at their children who were about to give birth, knowing that their offspring were much more prepared than they had been.

The best way to describe me as a new father was muddled and befuddled–and still, I was able to squeak out a passing grade when final exams came around. So I am confident that my son and daughter-in-law are going to be able to plug into this experience much easier than I did.

So on this auspicious occasion, I would like to give four pieces of grandfatherly advice to my freshly birthed Johann:

1. Drink the water. Don’t listen to those paranoid losers out there who line up like innocent cattle for slaughter to buy bottled water at a dollar a throw. The water that’s in those bottles was taken from a tap somewhere in the US and shipped to you as “Artesian something or other” and is really just what you are drinking from your faucet. If you’re going to spend your whole life afraid to drink the water, you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities to kick butt and take names.

2. Stay hungry. Johann, I pray that you do not spend your life worried about cholesterol and calories. Develop a lifestyle where you work hard, enjoy it and come home hungry. Human beings were meant to have appetites and if you spend your entire journey trying to suppress these blessings, you not only will be grumpy, but you might end up being homicidal.

3. Love everybody. I’ve never seen anybody killed in the street for flashing a smile. You will be tempted to be prejudiced against certain individuals because it happens to be the mindset of the moment, but just go ahead and love everybody and let God figure out who the bad guys are.

4. And finally, don’t lie. Oh, you will probably run across occasions when a good lie seems necessary, but every time you lie a little piece of your soul crawls into the corner and dies. If people can’t handle your truth, they probably won’t be around to listen to your Christmas wishes either and provide adequate gifts. Don’t lie. It’s a waste of time and makes you begin to believe that no one can be trusted, which is the first step towards living in hell.

Religion, politics and business will try to get you to break these four rules, but they are wrong.

  • Drink the water.
  • Stay hungry.
  • Love everybody.
  • And don’t lie.

Any human soul who actually follows this philosophy will not only prosper, but will have enough left over to bless everyone around him.

Welcome, grandson. Don’t be afraid of the world. Walk in love and understand that the world will be intimidated by you–because you are the only force that God has created … that can truly change it.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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