Sit Down Comedy …February 15th, 2019

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Even though it was his last name, all the folks called him Baker—mainly because he owned a little shop which sold pies, cookies, cupcakes and cinnamon rolls.

Baker was a big man. That’s what his wife said. His mother said he was just chubby. But his enemies called him downright fat.

Baker did real well as a portly man, selling sweets. But one day he woke up and realized he wanted to do some self-improvement, trim his waist and certainly improve his bottom line. He lost one hundred pounds and started trying to pass along his healthy lifestyle by inserting all sorts of new ingredients into his pastries.

His profits began to match his weight loss. Nobody was coming—especially when he came up with a way to use low-calorie cricket flour, freshly ground from dried-out crickets.

One day a friend stopped in and said, “Baker, you need to do yourself a favor. Stop selling cupcakes. Everyone’s thrilled that you’ve lost weight, but the people who want to frequent your business have no desire to hear about healthy cupcakes. You don’t believe in cupcakes anymore so stop selling them.”

Likewise, Bill was a Congressman in Washington, D.C. He’d been elected four times. He was quickly becoming a professional politician who knew the ins and outs of the system. He was fully aware that the American way of governing was more about discussing the philosophy of an issue and supporting a political party than it ever did making progress. Matter of fact, Bill never passed a bill.

It’s time for us to walk up to Bill and say, “Stop being a Congressman. You’re not good at it. Get somebody else in there who still believes something can be done.”

The Reverend just got his third doctorate in theology—this one on the Greek translation of the New Testament. He has more books on his wall than the local library. He has some of the prettiest robes to wear on Sunday morning that you’ll ever see. But when Margaret came into his office, needing a word of encouragement over a difficulty she was having, the Reverend was at a loss on what to tell her. You see, the Reverend doesn’t really believe in God anymore, which means he really doesn’t believe in people that much, either.

“Reverend. Stop preaching! Sell insurance.”

Mark writes books about relationships. He thinks he’s got a best-seller because it talks about men and women—how different they are and how it’s natural for the sexes to be at war, and that through this war we still manage to come up with a way to continue the human race. You see, Mark is a chauvinist. He really thinks men are better than women, but he believes that a man’s smartest move is to pretend a woman is superior and then do whatever the hell he wants behind her back.

Mark is an asshole. Mark needs to stop writing books about men and women. They actually need to hear about the commonality between them instead of constantly being bombarded with their differences.

“Mark, maybe you could start writing for a newspaper. Or join the Reverend in the insurance game.”

Some people need to stop doing what they’re doing because they’ve stopped believing what they’re doing has any value or has potential to make things better.

Are you one of them? Are you like Baker, Bill, the Reverend and Mark?

Do the human race a favor—don’t pursue what fails to give you hope. And if you want to go on a diet, by all means stop selling cupcakes.

 

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Ask Jonathots … June 9th, 2016

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What do you think about the legalization of recreational marijuana? How do you think this will affect American society?

Clarity.

It is the action of clarifying the facts we possess, trying to ascertain how we should proceed. Clarity is a good thing.

So what is the clarity on the issue of marijuana?

First of all, I think we have to get rid of the term “recreational.” We tried to add an adjective to alcohol by calling it “social drinking,” but unfortunately, many of those who felt they were “socially drinking” got in their cars, drove tipsy and ended up killing. It is doubtful that any human being, on their own, can determine their limits.

So once you remove the adjective, you end up with marijuana.

In the pursuit of clarity, let’s not study marijuana from the mindset of those who oppose it, but rather, carefully look at the assessment of the individuals who have or are participating in using the substance.

In every movie I’ve seen, marijuana leaves people listless, uncaring, silly, non-functioning and certainly incapable of performing their best rendition of themselves.

That’s not my assessment. I’ve never seen a film in which someone smokes marijuana and then goes out and saves the life of a child through heart surgery. So if those who are imbibing in marijuana feel that it’s an intoxicant which incapacitates them for normal human participation, then we immediately have to factor this in when talking about legalization.

Are we going to develop Breathalyzers for marijuana use?

Are we prepared to add traffic deaths due to driving under the influence of grass?

Yet on the other hand, marijuana has proven to be a source of relief for pain and discomfort.

So what is the purpose of this plant that has been placed on the earth?

And how can we know that a pain-killer is for killing real pain, not for “recreational” use by those who have no pain?

How can we use marijuana in a productive way without taking our generation, which already has difficulty with comprehension, and making it more bland?

First, if someone wants to smoke marijuana in his or her own home, it should not be illegal.

But we already have laws against public smoking, and we have laws against participating in human activities while intoxicated. Even if marijuana were legalized, it would fall under the same restrictions as smoking and drinking.

You could go to a marijuana bar and smoke with your friends, but when you left there would need to be a designated driver to take you home. Unfortunately, unlike alcohol, your driver might be suffering from a contact high.

So I think the most important thing is for us to clarify the facts instead of stomping around, discussing “freedom and privilege.”

Case in point: I am a fat man. I have the absolute right to go out and eat three pizzas. But if I do, there are ramifications. Perhaps I should understand the boundaries before I eat the three pizzas.

So in conclusion:

1. Marijuana has a purpose because it’s on Earth.

2. It brings relief to those who are suffering.

3. It is an intoxicant.

4. It is mind-altering.

5. Therefore, it will have to be regulated in our society in some way, otherwise we will be endangering the lives of others.

6. It should no longer be criminal when used properly and privately by a person of acceptable age.

There you go.

Never look at a problem as if it’s an issue of freedom, but rather, clarify how that freedom affects the rights of others.

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G-Poppers… December 5, 2014

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G-Popper

Discovering that he was heading for Florida to spend Christmas with family, one of his sons asked G-Pop if he was going to miss the snow.

G-Pop: Snow is most beautiful when viewed from the window of a 72-degree, well-insulated house.

Having the full attention of G-Pop, the son continued by asking him what he felt about Santa Claus after all these years.

G-Pop: Santa Claus is the only fat man never laughed at by children. The message? The obese should always arrive with a bag of toys.

“How about winter, G-Pop?”

G-Pop: For old people, it’s the threat of a broken hip. For the middle-aged, the possibility of a heart attack while shoveling snow, for younger adults, it’s sliding off the road in your car because you have bald tires, ending up in a ditch and discovering that your AAA has lapsed. The only payoff is for kids … snow days.

Finally, the son inquired of G-Pop about his feelings concerning Christmas.

G-Pop: Christmas is our next, best chance to birth a great idea, shepherd it to newness and end up looking like wise men.

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Not So Much … February 19, 2013

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I was wearing an old pair of running pants and a stretched out T-shirt, certainly a bit askew of GQ.

I was sitting in my chair, waiting for the final tally of the groceries I had selected, when two young boys came walking by, one of the lads poking his friend in the ribs, pointing at my protruding belly and laughing. The other young man seemed completely uninterested, so they scampered on their way, with the first little guy maintaining his chuckle.

There was a time in my life when I was quite aggravated by such youthful assaults. But on this particular day I didn’t give it another thought. I realized that the reason I did not give it much attention was not that I had “grown in maturity,” but because it has lessened in occurrence. Yes, over the years, as a fat man, I have observed less giggling from bored youngsters than once was the case.

I was suddenly struck with a great wave of gratitude–because in this time, when people are complaining so ferociously about all the difficulties and “simmering pots,” it is nice every once in a while, to look back and realize that we have made some human progress.

For instance, it used to be in this country that people of different races couldn’t date, marry or be together without receiving ridicule and persecution. Not so much anymore.

In our history–quite recent, may I add–it was a favorable thing to segregate and even do harm to those who did not exactly match our skin hue. Not so much now.

Catholics and Protestants in Ireland massacred one another at one time, in the name of Jesus Christ, to establish the dominance of their spirituality. Not so much.

Water supplies in towns across America were questionable in their quality because there were no restrictions on certain contaminants. Not so much.

Litter filled the highways with trash as a scar on our nation’s landscape. Not so much.

Politicians were able to get by with numerous scams and scandals without ever being caught by a press corps that was often in the back pocket of big corporations. Not so much.

Religion was blindly accepted for all of its inadequacies instead of being questioned and challenged to be productive in the human environment. Not so much.

Children were to be “seen and not heard”–set aside and basically ignored unless they were extraordinarily accomplished or equally in the other direction, naughty. Not so much.

Catsup was considered to be a vegetable by national leaders, who were gradually turning all of our children into guinea pigs for commercial poison. Not so much.

I just paused as I sat there and waited for my groceries, which are now so easy to purchase and much simpler to carry in their bags than they used to be, and was grateful that the little boy who ran by me with his ridicule was in a minority. Somewhere along the line, we have taught our children to be more tolerant of human space.

That’s good.

So in the process of trying to change our lives and improve the lot of the American populace, let us occasionally stop off at an altar of gratitude and realize that much of the crankiness, bigotry and controlling attitudes that once permeated our adult culture have been decimated by mercy, knowledge and appreciation for one another.

Am I optimistic? Don’t push it. But today, I am grateful.

And I can say this about stupidity: not so much.

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The Reason for Rules … December 8, 2012

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Jon Signing

“Don’t do that.”

I’ve always hated those three words. Maybe it’s because I have a snotty seven-year-old brat living inside my big, fat body. It could be my rebellious nature. It might be that I don’t like to remember a bunch of stuff that doesn’t seem necessary if I don’t already know it. But I think the reason I hate the words, “Don’t do that” is because when you pose the natural question, “Why not?” you are often met with indignation or even ostracized from the club that has instituted the regulation.Please do not walk on the grass

I do understand the importance of rules. I just want you to comprehend that sometimes they are arbitrary, other times rules become unnecessary because of development and too often they are just a way to keep people from achievement so that everyone can remain dull and mediocre.

As far as I can tell, here are the four reasons for rules:

1. To prevent people from doing something that will ultimately kill them.

2. To prevent people from doing something contrary to your government, your God or your preference.

3. To prevent people from doing something that won’t kill them.

4. To prevent people from doing.

I’m sure you can find different angles on this, but you might be surprised to discover that three of the four reasons for rules are less than noble.

I certainly am in favor of outlawing anything that endangers the life of human beings, animals or any part of God’s creation that has the right to live instead of being decimated. That’s why I’m against abortion. It’s why I am opposed to the right to bear arms without adequate restriction to guarantee the safety of the innocent. It’s why I think obesity should be against the law. Even though I’m a fat guy, I have to admit, nothing kills people more than blubber. It’s why I think restrictions on cigarettes, alcohol and mind-altering drugs are essential–they all a hook they jab into human flesh, dragging people into desecration and disintegration.

But not all rules are so valuable. For instance, I think it’s good that the Ten Commandments tell us not to commit adultery, but I don’t think it’s beneficial when the Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and fundamentalist Christians use that precept to cast aspersions on the joys and pleasures of sex. Sex was not created by God to make children. Children, fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view) are a by-product of a really good orgasm.

I do not think we can market a God who has more rules to His philosophy than jewels. I don’t think a government can sustain itself trying to keep its citizens from the liberty that God says we enjoy as evidence of His spirit. And I don’t think you have the right to establish disfavor for other people because just you find their particular habits distasteful.

I think we have to take a good look at the reason for rules. I think we have to be candid and say that the introduction of incurable viruses into our society through various types of lifestyles is reason enough to re-evaluate those choices. Why? Because the result is dead human beings.

“It is not God’s will that any should perish.” God does not hate sin, God hates death.

Learn it. Otherwise, you’re going to start looking for evidence that the people who are supposed to be your brothers and sisters are an abomination to your snooty God, because they ate shrimp from the nearby Mediterranean Sea. (You know that WAS the case at one time. Shellfish were forbidden for the Jews because for that season they were contaminated. In other words–they killed. Now they don’t. Enjoy your shrimp with your cocktail sauce.)

Likewise, if we come up with a cigarette that doesn’t produce lung cancer, more power to us. If we can prove that carrying around fifty extra pounds of lard on one’s body does not fry the circulatory system, then eat away. If we can produce guns with bullets that are better targeted towards evil than good people, then please start the manufacturing tomorrow. And if you can establish that aborting a fetus is not terminating life, then go ahead and open your clinic.

Other than that, realize that death is not admissible to a God who loves all of his children. But also be aware that making rules so as to make your fanciful cult more exclusive is just as distasteful to a God who honors free will above all else.

Be careful. Three out of four reasons for rules are at least erroneous, if not destructive. But by the same token, if a particular action ends in death, understand that our loving Father has only one desire–to protect His children.

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Are egg whites racist? … August 9, 2012

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Usually late afternoon.

Yes, on days when Jan and I don’t have a gig, we will slip out to the swimming pool and do a small workout to justify our calorie intake and tease ourselves with the possibility that we are remaining in fairly good shape. We followed that pattern yesterday.

Arriving at the pool, there were five young kids and two mothers occupying the space. They happened to be black. We happen to be white. (Actually, as you know, that’s quite incorrect. They actually look more cocoa-mocha-latte, and we, more a peachy-pink cotton candy. But needless to say, there was a color differentiation.)

The children, who had been playing, when they saw us coming, stopped in mid-scream. Now, I don’t know if that was because we were a different shade, a little older, or because I am a big, fat man. (I always like to have a variety of reasons available for rejection.) Nevertheless, there was a moment of silence honoring our arrival.

Jan and I quickly got into the pool, tried to speak to the little ones, but they would not respond, and we started splashing around. I immediately noticed that one of the mothers was walking up and down the shallow end of the pool, peering into the water. So I decided to ask her.

“Are you looking for something?”

She was a bit surprised at my inquiry. She paused, thought it over, and replied, “Yes, I lost one of my earrings in the pool and I’m trying to find it.”

Well, I looked over at the shallow end and there were twelve little feet attached to six little bodies, which were going to make it difficult to conduct an adequate search.

“Let us help you,” I said. Again, she was surprised.

So Jan and I began to swim in the shallow end, feeling along the bottom for a tiny earring. About ten minutes passed, and the mother gave a sigh and walked away, believing that the quest was futile. But Jan had a moment of brilliance and swam up toward the steps which exit the pool, and there, sitting on one of them, was the earring.

The lady’s friend called to the mother, who came over, and earring and mother were reunited. She was grateful. The children noticed she was grateful, so they began to speak to us. It ended up being a wonderful afternoon swim.

I share this story with you because we live in a generation that offers three explanations for the present climate of interaction between the races.

The first group consists of those who are in denial. They will tell you there is no racial problem in this country, insisting that they are colorblind and would not treat anyone any differently, no matter what the circumstance. They will say they just wish people would calm down and live their lives and do not understand what all the fuss is about.

The second group takes an intellectual approach to the issue. They will proffer that all we need is more education–a way to change the language. They contend that what we say about the races and how we address one another–what words are included and what words are rejected–are the key to discovering harmony. This is a very popular opinion. This group believes that merely by changing the language, we can heal the wounds.

And then there’s the third group (which may just include me). I disagree with the first group. There is racial tension in this country, because we have all been brought up around the idea that “difference is dangerous,” and therefore, suspicion of some sort or another is warranted to protect ourselves from looming disaster. Everyone on earth at this particular time sees color unless they happen to be under five years of age and their parents have not yanked them away from a playground situation where they got too near someone of differing ethnicity.

The second group amuses me because changing the language develops a politeness without the heart for understanding. So if I decide not to use the “n” word and they decide not to call me “cracker,” is this going to be merely in my presence? Or will the language still be forbidden during private times? And in the process of changing the language (which has been done many times in my lifespan, by the way) when do we choose to believe that “negro” should become “black” and “black” transform to “African American” and “African American” should be avoided because it’s segregationist? And what WOULD be the new term of the week? Changing the language is worse than merely being cosmetic. It’s like having the pimples and pretending like they’re pretty.

The real answer is to change the fear–and the only reason we fear anything in our lives is because we haven’t experienced it. The race issue will never be resolved in this country until we do something together.

It’s the truth. You never develop a relationship with folks until you do something with them. You can talk, send emails, write letters, exchange books, sit through a movie or watch similar television shows, and the end result will still be nervous energy and careful selection of words. You have to do something together. It doesn’t matter what it is.

At one time they thought blacks and whites couldn’t serve in the military together, and then they threw them in a foxhole and discovered that fellowship was quickly established. Because “Young Black Joe” and “Red-Neck Bobby” were being shot at by a common enemy, they quickly became fast friends. It used to be forbidden for the races to date or marry, but actually, marriage between human beings of every color may be the most helpful step towards racial harmony.

The reason that religion is a holdout on assisting the world in becoming harmonious over this issue is that the church itself is segregated–and if you’re not worshipping together, you begin to believe that you have a different God.

If in the process of one week, you do not interact, work, fellowship, laugh, talk, argue, discuss, or travel around with a person of a different race, you will still find yourself to be a reluctant racist. You won’t be proud of it–you will certainly deny it. But the only way to get rid of racism is to change fear. And the only way to change fear is to do something together.

My cocoa-mocha-latte friends yesterday were terribly frightened of their peachy-pink cotton-candy human invaders. I will tell you, we could have occupied the same pool and it would not have changed. But when we had a common mission of finding an earring, all the boundaries were brought down and suddenly it was okay to smile at each other, and in no time at all, our skin color didn’t matter.

It would help if the church would work on alleviating segregation from Sunday morning. It would certainly help if would stop talking about changing the language and would begin to address changing the fear, and it is certainly mandatory for all of us to stop acting pious on the issue, pretending that we have escaped all prejudice.

Yesterday, those little kids saw a big, fat white man and a white woman coming to the pool. They couldn’t help themselves. I saw a pool occupied by children who were black. I couldn’t help myself. But what we did was to find something we could do together, and in the process, color faded.

Make up your mind. Otherwise, you’re going to spend all of your time wondering whether offering egg whites to your guests of color could be misconstrued as a reference to the Ku Klux Klan.

If you want to restore normalcy, go out and do some normal things with people who are different from you, and establish normalcy with them. Otherwise, go into denial, try to change the language and end up with an undercurrent of racism that will eventually drag us into the deep and drown us all.

 

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