Not Long Tales … August 27th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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3.

The Assignment

Miss Tamara Taylor was thirteen days into her sixth year of teaching third grade at the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Shimmering Pines, Virginia.

She was a single woman—not by design. She did favor the attention of a male admirer. Matter of fact, in her twenty-six years of being “the great American girl,” she had encountered three lovers, one actually a suitable suitor. He had been willing to share her bed and consider “wed,” until all at once, he got frightened by the specter of a never-ending future, and bought himself a one-way ticket to oblivion. He hadn’t been heard of since.

Tamara had not given up on possibilities but had learned the charm of dinner for one. She told her closest friend that she “didn’t mind dealing with children at work but did not want to come home to one.”

After six years of teaching, she found it beneficial to develop a philosophy. Some of her fellow educators were intent on the program, the knowledge, the books or the discipline. Tamara’s thoughts were much simpler. She decided the best way to teach young children was: don’t harm them and awaken something. She permitted her students call her “Miss T.” She didn’t mind at all, and being part of the present generation, they were absolutely enthralled with the abbreviation.

After thirteen days of cafeteria lunches, her class was gradually getting used to seating assignments and her style of conveying information. So Miss T decided to offer an assignment. She phrased it this way: Write two hundred words on ‘If You Had to Decide Today What or Who You Would Want to Be When You Are Old Like Me.”

The whole class giggled when they heard the title, which was her intent. It didn’t stop them from grumbling over the notion of having to put together a paragraph or two, but the subject matter certainly stirred their brains in the direction their hearts were already mounting a desire.

The papers were turned in yesterday, and she spent the night reading them. She found that the choices her students made fell into categories. When it came to the matter of who or what they wanted to be, king or queen were quite popular. Of course, President made an appearance. Ballerina and rock star were favored—one girl dreaming of being a ballerina by day and a pop diva by night.

There were a couple of firemen, a doctor, a nurse. Money was brought up quite often. Several wanted to be a mommy and a couple, a daddy. And for some reason, one student wanted to manufacture ukuleles.

Then she came to Andrew. He was a quiet, shy, frightened, bullied, smiling lad. Andrew was thoughtful. Andrew refused to follow the color scheme of the common playground. Andrew noticed bugs on the sidewalk. Andrew was the only one who observed that Miss T had changed her hair.

So Andrew’s essay was as different as his choices. It was entitled, “Not Sour.” It read:

My dad likes grapefruit. It is sour. One day he asked me to eat some. He had that smile on his face that told me it was a trick. I took a bite. My mouth puckered. He laughed as I tried to spit the bad taste out. He said, “Grapefruit is sour.”

Dad told me that people can be that way, too. He said that grapefruit needs something to make it sweet. Sugar, honey, that pink stuff, or the blue. Is there one that’s yellow? Or maybe green? Anyway, every sour needs a sweet. The Chinese people figured that out.

My Dad said it’s our job to make our grapefruit taste good. But remember, sweet isn’t good all by itself. It needs a job. It needs to sweeten something.

I don’t want to be sad about the sour in life. I want to sprinkle. I looked that word up. I want to be a sweetener. Maybe I can just go out and join the mess but make things sweeter. I hope that’s not too weird. I don’t think I want to live in a sour world, but I don’t think it will get sweet by itself. So I guess if I have to grow up and do something, I want to be a sweetener. Yeah, I think that’s it.

But maybe driving a limousine, too.

Miss T finished reading the essay and sat back, engulfed in smiling tears. It was so beautiful that she knew all the teachers and grown-ups would want to hang it up, print it or ask young Andrew to read it at some sort of assembly. This was a problem. He was already battling being different and bullied. What would the rest of the kids do if they found out that he wanted to be a sweetener? Clever is a wonderful thing, unless you live around people who are dull.

Miss T wanted to reward his beautiful thoughts.

Miss T wanted to stimulate his budding creative energy.

Miss T desired to have the essay read and understood by everyone at John F. Kennedy Elementary School.

Miss T even knew that the citizens of Shimmering Pines, Virginia, could profit from listening to little Andrew’s ideas.

But Miss T also knew that what was a solution for others could be a huge problem for Andrew.

She took a solid hour considering what to do. Finally, on his paper she wrote A+ Good Work, and tucked it away in her folder.

She needed time to think about it.

 

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Cracked 5 … October 31st, 2017


Jonathots Daily Blog

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

In This Present Day of Political Correctness, Here Are Some “Better Phrases” to Replace the Notoriously Challenging “Trick or Treat”

A. Dandy candy

 

B. Need sweet

 

C. Yummy for my tummy

 

D. Vegan pleasin’

 

E. Confection or contention

 

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3 Things… October 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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On How to Make a Good Lasagna

1. Use ricotta instead of cottage cheese

2. Not too soupy, salty or sweet

3. Instead of ground beef, put sweet Italian sausage to use

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Quatrain of the Lemon … February 4, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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lemon

I am sour, this is true

You like sweet, yes you do

Pour the sugar in my juice

Steal my soul, I’m left obtuse.

 

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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

Sweet, Salty and Hot… October 6, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

At last night’s gig, we received a “chili” reception.

What I mean is, they had a chili cook-off before our show. Fortunately for us, they set aside some of the magic potions for us to take back to our motel and enjoy. As I sat down in front of my bowl, I thought about how marvelous chili really is.

The first magnificent thing about the concoction is that it’s simple. Three major ingredients–beans, meat and tomatoes. If you don’t have those three elements in your chili, you may have come up with something that is in the household, but not in the immediate family. It takes beans, meat and tomatoes to make a basic chili.

Now, some people like their chili sweet, others salty and certainly there are those who prefer it hot. Each one of these groups would insist that their particular preference is the actual definition of chili, but truthfully, the mixture is best presented by the inclusion of  … beans, meat and tomatoes. Otherwise you end up with goulash or Sloppy Joe. Whether it is sweet, salty or hot, it is still called chili and therefore gets included on the menu.

As I munched on my meal, I thought about how much better off we would be if we approached our Christian faith the same way. In other words, once all the ingredients are in place, whether you like your faith sweet, salty or hot makes little difference. As long as you don’t mess with the holy three, you’re in pretty good shape.

And what would those three be? What would define a good Christian experience, establishing the necessary pieces to call it such?

1. We “bean” with Jesus. (I apologize for the pun. It was available, I was weak, I took it.) How can you tell that someone has “bean” with Jesus? They consider him to be the example for living instead of just the sacrifice for sin.

2. We “meat” the requirement of loving one another. (Again, my apologies.) Referring back to Jesus, he established this as the criterion for knowing whether someone was his follower. If they do not show love one for another, they have started their own club, just displaying a cross on their steeple.

3. No tomato is better than any other tomato. Hop in the pot and join the stew. Anyone who makes distinctions about human beings and judgments based upon any feeling of superiority has ceased to follow a Christian philosophy and has amalgamated into their thinking some sort of cultural preference that shuts out those folks that Jesus loves.

There you go. That’s how you make a Christian. Those are the ingredients.

Now, to continue, some people like it sweet. Their God is love and will always love, in a loving way, the whole world, which needs a loveable hug.

I don’t care if it’s sweet, as long as they’ve “bean” with Jesus, “meat” the requirement of loving one another and accept all the tomatoes off the vine.

There are those who like it salty. They’re interested in points of doctrine, deep theological discussions and will even dabble in some of the psycho-babble of our time, linking it with Biblical implications.

Who cares–as long as they stir in the beans, meat and tomatoes?

And certainly, there are those who like it hot. They want the message to burn all the way down to their innards, believing the Word of God to be infallible, without question, searing away the evil in our world and establishing the good.

More power to them–as long as they accept Jesus as the source of wisdom, they love one another without question and they include everybody in the gift of salvation.

You see? Chili is like being a Christian. If you get the basic ingredients in place, flavoring it is just fun, and I don’t mind if you flavor it one way or another, as long as you can still see the evidence of those three main ingredients: Jesus, loving one another, and an open door to everyone.

They sent home a couple of different kinds of chili with us. I ate one of the warmer varieties, which stung my tongue, and Jan opted for the more benign, kindergarten variety.

But you know what? We both had chili.

And just like in the Christian experience, when you get it right and all the ingredients are in place, there’s one thing for certain: it’s a gas.

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If I was going to make a cherry pie … June 7, 2012

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I’m not, by the way … going to make a cherry pie.

I don’t like to bake. It’s not some chauvinistic sensation that the kitchen belongs to the woman, for pot and pan rattling. I like to cook. I just never got into baking confections and such. Lots of people like to do that kind of thing. I have a granddaughter who thinks that baking a cake is the easiest way to get close to God (or at least to get people to worship you like you are one…)

I am more a baker of good intentions, similar to the individual who came up with the phrase, “If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake. But since you didn’t give me much notice, you’re stuck sharing a Little Debbie…”

Oh, how handsome this one turned out. Tasty, too.

Oh, how handsome this one turned out. Tasty, too. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But due to the magic of story-telling, and just my particular whim for the day, let us imagine that I WAS going to bake a cherry pie. Now, let me tell you, I picked cherry pie because it is NOT one of my favorites, but if you run across a particularly good one, it is well worth the exertion of picking up a fork. So what makes a good cherry pie? There are four elements.

1. The crust. Putting together a good crust for a pie is underestimated in my opinion. I once purchased a frozen pie crust from my grocer and tried to use it to construct some sort of dessert possibility. The crust was so tough after it was baked that even my dog wouldn’t eat it. (And let me tell you, he has astounded me with some of his choices…) Yes, a crust is more than an outer garment for a good cherry pie. It is more or less the tantalizing part that draws us into the concoction in the first place. It should be flakey, tender and really, almost be able to stand alone as a pastry unto itself. Lots of people spend a lot of time on a good crust.

2. The next thing is determining the sweetness. Cherry pie should be sweet, but not too sweet, very similar to the personality of the cherry itself. It is almost the definition of sweet and sour. It shouldn’t make you pucker but you also shouldn’t require a shot of insulin after indulging. Picking the right amount of sweetness for your cherry pie is probably better suited for the angels. How much sweetness IS good to put into such a project before the grains of sugar grit in your teeth or each bite from your particular piece reminds you more of lemons than cherries?

3. The filling. Now, you might think that the filling is the same thing as the sweetness, but not so. The filling has to have a particular thickness, depth and texture to it–and be present enough in the mixture to hold the lid of the pie up so it doesn’t sink down–with top crust nearly lying on bottom crust. How you fill your pie determines whether one slice actually looks like a serving, or if it just lies there on the plate, flat and lacking promise.

4. And finally, the cherries. You might think they are the most important ingredient in the cherry pie, but I don’t believe so. Certainly it would be wonderful to have top-notch A-1 cherries in your pie, but if the sweetness, crust and filling have been given enough tender loving care, you can put in a few second- and even third-string cherries for the line-up. As long as they attempt to hold their shape, maintain their color and could pass for a cherry during a blind taste test, they should be just fine.

Yes, most people are more concerned about the fruit in their pie than the outer crust that introduces itself to the public. But it’s rather doubtful that you will ever get people inside to inspect the fruit if the outer casing is unappealing or drives them away with its nasty taste.

So if I was going to make a cherry pie, I would put my main emphasis on the crust, which we might refer to as “the greeter.” Then following that would be the sweetness, which we could call “the host.” And then, I would carefully concoct a filling that was suitable for my endeavors, which we might name “the guest speaker.” And finally, I would select good cherries, but not be too bigoted in my perspective, creating the all-important “janitorial staff,” which is there for the clean up.

Now, of course, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy to this whole essay–because I don’t know what I’m talking about and there will never be a practical application produced by my hands. Still, sometimes it is fun to project forth images of what you think you might be able to accomplish–and then to intelligently NOT proceed to demonstrate your ineptness.

But in conclusion, this has been what I think about what makes a good cherry pie. Otherwise, you ought to just go down to the grocery store and pick up one of those Hostess ones in the wrapper, which have been tested and proven to be able to survive a nuclear winter.

Cherry pie:

  • good crust
  • stay sweet
  • lots of filling.
  • and a family of different-sized and quality cherries.

There you go. (For what it’s worth.)

Maybe this is why the myth was begun that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree. Maybe it was his way of getting back at his mother, who was a really, really terrible baker.

   

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Val’s Pals … February 14, 2012

 
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Valentine’s Day–a delivery system for chocolate, flowers, jewelry, aftershave, golf shirts and miscellaneous power tools. Yet–is it more than that? It could be–if we actually focused on relationship instead of just commemorating a once-great union of hearts.
 
In my lifetime, I have watched as the pendulum has swung from the extreme of Father Knows Best to “Mama Knows Everything.” There is a general misconception in dealing with interaction between the sexes that some sort of cushioning or compromise MUST be established–because we apparently are from different planets, arriving on spaceships fueled by diverse energy. Because of this false representation, we seek to compliment or ignore one another in the pursuit of domination. Domination is useless, especially when it comes to interfacing with someone we purport to love.
 
Yet in the times when Father was supposed to be the All Knowing, women were underpaid, not considered worthy of leadership on a national level (or even high management in corporations), a little unpredictable and ditzy and meant for the home, not the battlefield–be it war, politics or business.
 
Move ahead through years of alleged women’s liberation and cultural growth, and today we insist that women are smarter than men, as we continue to underpay them, forbid them high seats in government and the Fortune 500, think they’re very unpredictable and ditzy and keep them far from the front lines of the war–be it commercial, cultural or military.
 
So what has changed? All we have done is play a pretend game: “Women are really smarter than men, but after all, we don’t need smarter. We’ve got men!”
 
As long as the goal in any relationship is to dominate, we will never truly understand one another, no matter how many boxes of chocolates, bunches of flowers or trinkets are peddled. Somewhere along the line, we have to understand that true friendship is neither complimenting or ignoring, but rather, trying to stay on point and being as honest as we can, while dancing around trying not to offend.
 
If a woman can’t find that in her mate, she will have a best friend she converses with and a husband she tolerates.  May I immediately point out that merely tolerating another human being is not the greatest aphrodisiac to lead into the bedroom? So then we get to preach that “women don’t like sex and men do.”
 
Now, this particular Mexican standoff doesn’t vary, whether in the secular or in the religious realm. The religious community believes that men should dominate and that women should raise the children and take care of the household. In some religions they’re even willing to cut off her sexual organs to make sure she doesn’t forget her mission.
 
In the secular community, the pretense is that women are much smarter, more organized and able to direct, while simultaneously they are relegated to a submissive position where they are basically housewives, even in the office (coffee and comfort), and they’re disemboweled sexually by being forbidden true authority.
 
Here’s my suggestion–let’s do something special on this Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to reject the power of the flower or the thrill of the drill, but you might want to sit down and have a conversation with the person you say you love that begins with this statement:
 
“Honestly… Well, I am not always honest with you, but instead, compliment or ignore you because I foolishly think, because of my training, that I am supposed to dominate you. I would like to stop that and instead, maybe for the first time in our journey together, find out who you are and what you want … and ditto for me.”
 
Now, if I thought the farce of “romantic America” could continue without creating chaos, I would never even bring up the subject. After all, America believes that McDonald’s makes the best hamburger and really, no harm, no “fowl.” But when you think that complimenting or ignoring your love to create domination is the best way to interact with another human being, while internally you find them obtuse or irrelevant, there is a nasty hypocrisy going on that will eventually flare up and decimate your contentment.
 
This is why we often step back and say, “I never thought they would get a divorce.”
 
Just removing domination from a relationship allows for two people to actually begin to talk again. The reason we didn’t like dating is because we had to chat. It is exactly the reason we should return to it.
 
So if you look at Val’s Pals on this day, they are  com through gifts and the action of ignoring expressed by pretending that somehow or another we forgot that it was a special day. It is all an inglorious ploy to create domination. Neither Father nor Mother know best.
 
Actually, we never get the best until Father and Mother learn how to communicate with each other.
 
 
  **************

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http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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