Catchy (Sitting 10) The Three Muster Tears … August 13th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Randall changed his mind.

He came into the office on Monday morning, apologized for the legal maneuvering and explained that he was interested in being part of the project.

Matthew was suspicious. Perhaps Randall was just trying slip into the inner workings to find out if there was any money in play–to gain further ammunition for the court battle.

Matthew always hated himself for being cynical, regretting it even more when he was right.

Randall apparently sensed Matthew’s skepticism. “I suppose you wonder if I was visited by three ghosts, who spooked me into joining the club.”

Matthew said, “Well, I wouldn’t call you Ebenezer Scrooge, but you certainly might have attended one of his seminars.”

Randall laughed. “I was trying to explain it to Landy last night. She was pissed off at me. But you see, I’ve spent my life watching opportunities come my way, and analyzing them so much that they seem to run away from me in terror and leap into the lap of friendlier faces.”

Matthew got quiet, allowing Randall some space.

Randall continued, “I thought about it. Here’s an old man who dies who wants to give 250 million dollars to take an old religious icon who is known for loving and giving, and make the dude popular again. I thought to myself, what in the hell is wrong with that? Sure, I wish it wasn’t religious, or tied to some church, but when you need a cure, you don’t ask where the medicine comes from, right?”

Matthew just nodded his head.

About that time, Jo-Jay walked into the room and said, “I feel the same way. At least, I think so. I don’t want to miss out on something. I feel like I missed drugs and rock and roll. I never protested against anything. I missed civil rights. Gay rights. All rights. And by the way–what is heavy metal anyway?”

“It’s when you stack up a lot of light metal,” Matthew answered, chuckling at his own joke.

Randall added, “It was worse for me. I even missed Barry Manilow. My parents were very strict. It wasn’t all religion–part of it was our culture. But I wasn’t allowed to do much but study, go to school and attend church.”

Matthew sighed. “So you’re a church boy…”

Randall shook his head. “No–I went to church but I was never a church boy. I used the hour in church to quietly express my hatred for the Divine. While others sang praises, in my mind I asked God questions and then laughed at Him when He failed to come up with an answer.”

Jo-Jay stared in disbelief.

“So you want to do this because…?”Matthew posed.

Randall shook his head. “I don’t know. I know there are no answers in politics. Most of the law is mumbo-jumbo. Education just makes people smart-asses. There’s gotta be something else. I really don’t think it’s Jesus, but maybe we could at least get people to think.”

“Or maybe,” said Jo-Jay, “we just advertise the church and they end up ripping off more money from poor folks and spreading the message of doom and gloom.”

Matthew shook his head. “You know how sometimes the more you think about something, the better it sounds? I gotta tell you–the more I think about this the more it seems like a gigantic turd factory.”

“So you’re quitting?” Randall asked, surprised.

“Well, actually, I never started,” responded Matthew. “I just said I would check it out.”

“And here I came along to go on the magic carpet ride and Aladdin’s folding up shop.” said Jo-Jay.

Matthew squinted his face. “I would be Aladdin?”
Randall inquired, “And the magic carpet ride would be what?”

Jo-Jay laughed. “You guys are definitely over-educated, under-informed and without any natural feeling.”

“Part of me thinks I should say thank you,” Randall said.

There was a knock at the door. Matthew opened it to find a large man dressed in bib overalls and a plaid shirt, with a huge head of hair combed straight back. He reached out a big paw for greeting. Matthew placed his little hand into the acreage, shook it, and asked, “May I help you?”

The big, burly country boy responded. “Yes. My name is Prophet Morgan. I’m here to help you make my man Jesus, popular.”

All at once, Jo-Jay broke out in tears, which for some reason stimulated Randall to do the same, causing the recently arrived Prophet Morgan to sprout his own waterworks.

Matthew stared at the three of them in disbelief. “What in the hell is going on?”

Jo-Jay cleared her throat and managed a little smile. “I don’t know. But it’s neat shit.”
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Catchy (Sitting Four) Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen… July 2nd, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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The day arrived for the meeting of the minds. Landy rented a small conference room and catered in some delicacies and drinks. The three partners sat at the head of a table like a trio of judges at a Miss America contest.

The Shelley Corporation was the first to present. They had been given the job of producing three slogans. The first was a poster–a man dressed in a plaid leisure suit with his hair slicked back. The caption read, “But Jesus—He will never go out of style.” There was a grunt or two and a threat of applause.

The second poster was a close-up of a Jesus look-alike. The caption read, “Here’s lookin’ at you, baby.” Too commercial and might raise some objections from Hart’s estate (and perhaps from relatives of Humphrey Bogart).

The third one was a cartoon of Jesus playing soccer, kicking in the ball for a score. The caption, in large red letters, read, “Goal? He loves you.”

The partners liked this one least of all, finding it a bit confusing and reiterating to one another that soccer would never be an American sport, anyway.

Next on the chopping blocks came the “You Want to Know Survey Company,” with the results of a questionnaire that had been given to over fifteen thousand registrants. The ten questions were as follows:

  1. Would you enjoy eating dinner with Jesus?

The choices were:

  • very much
  • might be fun
  • never thought of it
  • might give me the creeps

Fifteen percent of the people said they would enjoy dining with Jesus. Fifteen percent said it might be fun. Sixty percent said they had never thought of it and ten percent said it kind of gave them the creeps.

  1. Do you think that Jesus is popular today?

Four percent said “Very popular.” Eight percent said, “Somewhat popular.” Eighty-eight percent said, “Don’t know” or “Don’t care.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular without his beard?

One percent said, “Maybe.” Ninety-nine percent said, “No.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular if he weren’t so religious?

Fifty percent said “yes.” Fifty percent said, “Don’t know.”

Randall stifled a yawn. There were six questions to go and he was already bored. If they couldn’t come up with an interesting survey, how could they ever come up with a campaign to promote Jesus to the marketplace?

The questions droned on as Randall began to think about his own experience. He was raised in a church environment, learning about the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and Jesus all in the same week. At four years of age, all three seemed equally plausible. By age ten the tooth fairy had fluttered away. At twelve, Santa Claus was “sleighed,” and at sixteen—well, at sixteen, girls came into the picture and Jesus got in the way.

So the crucifix was tucked under the t-shirt, the Bible inserted in the closet with the Scrabble game and the Ouija board, and he was off on the pursuit of hormonal surges, drinking binges and mandatory orgasms. After exhausting all known religions, he formed his own—a delicate blending of humanism, hedonism and Methodism.

Meanwhile back at the meeting, the survey was completed, rendering no results. The only thing remaining was the panel of theologians– four in all. There was one Catholic, one Protestant, one evangelical Christian, and, for some reason, a Jewish rabbi (who was possibly selected to avoid any hint of anti-Semitism).

The Catholic priest spoke first. “If by popular you mean the Savior of the world in conjunction with his mother, Mary, and the intervention of the Saints, then Jesus is already truly the most outstanding figure in all of history.”

The partners nodded an exhausted assent.

The Protestant spoke next. “I think we have to do something to make Jesus groovy to the young people. You know how they came up with ‘Rock the Vote?’ How about ‘Vote for the Rock’?”

This time there was no way Matthew, Randall and Landy could hide their disapproval. After all, he said “groovy.” Matthew, who had long ago lost the ability to disguise his disgust, groaned audibly.

The evangelical literally leaped into the moment. “I think you need to just let Jesus be Jesus, because He said if He be lifted up, all men would be drawn to Him.”

“He has been lifted up,” inserted Matthew. “And Arthur Harts, the billionaire, didn’t think all men were drawn to him.”

“All men who have a heart for God,” replied the evangelical.

Matthew winced. He hated religions jargon. He called it “the God-out.” When in doubt, religious people would always bring God into every situation, so you could never argue with them without seeming that you were trying to disprove the heavens.

Randall smiled and thanked the enthusiastic believer.

That left the Jewish rabbi. “Well, I don’t know why I’m here, exactly, because, you may have heard, we accept Jesus as a great teacher, but we contend the problem is, he’s really not the son of God. I mean, if I were promoting him to Jerusalem, I would just put up his picture with a caption that read, Hometown Boy Is Acquitted.

This brought some laughter throughout the room, but Matthew sprang up to terminate the meeting.

Even though it was a minor disaster, both Landy and Randall still wanted to pursue the project.

Greed. No other explanation.

They had pledged long ago that when two of the three partners were in accord on anything, they would do it. But it looked bleak. The slogans had been drab, the survey droll, and the theologians a drone.

Matthew had one idea. One wild and crazy notion. He got on his computer and looked up six names.

Michael Hinston, whom he knew as Mikey.

Joanna Lawrence, Jo-Jay.

Susannah Lacey, Soos.

Paul Padwick, who tolerated the nickname, Pee-pee.

Mary Rogers, who was now Mary Rogers-Kent, known by everyone as Mother.

And Lydia Lars, who loved Eric Clapton, and so was surnamed Layla.

Along with Matthew Ransley, whom everyone affectionately called, “God-guy,” they formed the Leaven of Seven.

They were his best chance at making some sense of this queer mission.

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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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