Salient…July 30th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Anita Bryant.

I would guess, to my average reader, the name neither rings a bell nor stimulates any particular memory.

But back in 1977 (when a few determined dinosaurs still roamed the Earth), Anita Bryant was voted “The Most Trusted Woman in America.”

She was a former Miss America contestant who had a singing career and was well-known as the pitch person for Florida orange juice.

She was vibrant.

She was youthful.

And she was, as we gradually discovered, quite political.

For you see, when the Fort Lauderdale City Council passed an ordinance removing all limitations on lodging and civil considerations for the homosexual community, Anita objected.

And we’re not talking about an op-ed letter to the newspaper. She hit the streets, held rallies, and turned a local situation into a national debate over the issue of whether people who pursued a homosexual lifestyle should be granted all of their civil liberties.

She was in demand. Her performances were packed. She did interviews on all the Christian talk shows, and even one for Playboy Magazine. She was America’s sweetheart.

For you see, at that time in our country, the jury was not only out on the gay community, but was leaning toward the “rejection penalty.”

It was popular to be anti-gay.

It was considered patriotic to be against them.

As we arrived in the 1980s, and the horrific AIDS epidemic spread across the land, those who believed homosexuality to be an abomination to God also whispered that perhaps this new virus was the Almighty’s punishment.

Things changed.

Suddenly a little boy in Indiana got AIDS from a blood transfusion–and it was no longer merely an infection of the flaming queens. Ryan White, with his generous spirit, refused to believe that his particular AIDS was any different from the AIDS contracted by those in San Francisco.

He was humble, he was non-judgmental, and he was strong until the day he died.

He made those who condemned their brothers and sisters look foolish–especially Anita Bryant.

She is still alive, but unfortunately, her name is equated with intolerance instead of righteousness–or orange juice, for that matter.

An interesting fact that you may want to tuck away in your memory: lepers are remembered more favorably than Pharisees.

So here is your salient moment:

You can’t defend God or morality by attacking behavior and hurting people.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 28) Mikey … December 24th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Matthew lost track, but it certainly was several dozen phone calls before he was able to coerce the information to find out where Jo-Jay was. Details were sketchy and information was limited by red tape, but from what he was able to gather, it seemed that half an hour outside of Dulles International Airport, on Flight 451 from Brasilia, the cockpit had radioed ahead that a violently ill patient was on the plane, and they needed emergency assistance upon landing.

The patient was Jo-Jay.

It seemed that during the flight she had begun to vomit, spiked a high fever and her skin turned blood red. She was delirious and was terrifying all of her fellow travelers.

Upon landing, an ambulance immediately took her to Walter Reed Medical Center, where she was quarantined, placed on a drastic regimen of antibiotics, and presently lay helpless, limp and unconscious.

Matthew didn’t waste any time. He drove over to Walter Reed Hospital, rehearsing a cock-and-bull story about being related to Jo-Jay, only to discover upon arrival that they were so glad to see anyone who knew her that they embraced him with both questions and information.

Actually, the latter was lacking. There was not much they could tell Matthew about her condition.

Except that she was dying.

All her organs were beginning to fail, and she was under a death sentence from an unknown virus from the Amazon. She was surrounded by people in paper and plastic garments, moving in and out, diligently trying to care for her still frame.

Matthew just sat, looking through the window in total disbelief. How in the hell did this happen? What was Jo-Jay doing in Brazil?

There was no way to ask her. She was comatose.

Matthew noticed one of the nurses coming out of the room toting a purse. He recognized it as belonging to Jo-Jay. He needed that purse.

Distracting the nurse with a question about the medical chart and alluding to the fact that he might be able to give some added input, she set the purse down and slipped away for just a few moments–long enough for Matthew to reach inside the bag and pull out Jo-Jay’s “brain.” That’s what Jo-Jay called it.

It was a notebook she had kept since college, filled with ideas, feelings, recipes and little quips she had picked up to remind herself about better aspirations. Grabbing the treasure, Matthew hurried away to an empty room, entered, shut the door, turned on the light and sat down to read.

Total disappointment. For some reason the book was empty.

No pages.

As Matthew peered down at the binding, he realized that the pages had been carefully cut out of the book, probably with a razor blade. There certainly had been something inside that someone did not want anyone else to see.

Matthew was startled by a knock at the door. It was the nurse, who had discovered his hiding place. She held up Jo-Jay’s purse.

Matthew readied himself for a rebuke, but instead she asked him to rifle through the purse, to see if there was anything he might identify which might help them with a diagnosis. He had no idea what to look for.

The purse was full of nothing recognizable–except there was a powder compact in the bottom of the purse, partially open.  Matthew lifted it out and unlatched it. There, on the small mirror, written in what appeared to be lipstick, was one word:

“Mikey.”

 

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G-Poppers … December 22nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop has the stomach flu.

Family has gathered for Christmas, bringing their local organic microbes and bugs along with them–one being an infestation of the tummy.

Normally G-Pop fares pretty well in these situations, but this particular brand seems to take no prisoners, and does not discriminate based upon genial nature or obviously, good looks.

Everyone has had the stomach flu. Matter of fact, when you’re not having the stomach flu, you look back on it as a bizarre inconvenience. It’s more or less one of those things that happens, lasts for a few hours, and it’s gone.

Similar to an atomic bomb.

The sensation of having lost control of one of the major systems in your body is disconcerting and certainly humbling.

G-Pop abandoned all of his appetite, he was at the mercy of all the exit areas of his being, and he was at the whim of this little bug that had landed in his system and was desperately trying to work its way out.

Yes, G-Pop felt the whole time that this stomach virus was just as pissed about being inside him as he was at having it inside. For all of its antagonizing, agonizing and struggling ways let G-Pop know that it truly did want to be free.

Simultaneously, G-Pop had to try to make sure it didn’t infect anyone else in the house. Tricky business.

Having the stomach flu right before Christmas is a little frightening–because one wonders if one will be able to participate in the festivities.

But the truth of the matter is, life actually does consist of “one day at a time,” and since today is not Christmas morning, there’s a good shot that some “Joy to the World” can still be excavated from a “Silent Night.”

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Cracked 5 … October 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border
 Other Ways to Skin a Cat

A.  Have any rational person spend one day with a cat

 

B.  Let dogs be dogs

 

C.  Start the rumor on social media that cat skins are very valuable

 

D.  Have your cat live near a Chinese restaurant

 

E.  Nurture a virus in your laboratory that loosens paw fur–then pull with delight

 cracked-5-cat

 

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The “Ish” Family … October 12, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

The movie wrapped up, completed with a beautiful spirit and great energy. It was a little script I had written called $6 Man–about a homeless fellow who was trying to maintain the custody of his daughter while also assisting other fellow-street-dwellers, instructing them in converting abandoned dumpsters into shelter. When I first wrote the screenplay and passed it around, everybody was thrilled, but once the movie was shot, some nay-sayers arrived who suggested that the whole project was going to fail because the ending of the story was a bit distasteful and didn’t present a Hollywood-style conclusion. Matter of fact, even people who were in the film, participated in the production and backed the project were completely overtaken by the criticism and were totally convinced that the ending should be revised.Why? Because we have this notion that good things should bring about great results. There’s no foundation in it. If goodness always resulted in earthly reward, then rich people would be some of the most virtuous individuals walking on the planet. But if God were to suddenly shine a spotlight on the most righteous human being, it would probably not beam down on Wall Street.

Goodness has a reward because it gives us the confidence to not be afraid to tell the truth.

I thought I was doing a good thing by rising from my discomfort, getting a wheel chair and heading off to do my gig in Sycamore, Ohio. Matter of fact, the process of renting the chair, learning how to use it and loading it in the van all went extremely smoothly.

And then … here came the “Ish” family. The Ish family consists of a threesome who always show up whenever you have the audacity to pursue something which is considered to be abnormal. May I introduce you to this trio?

  • First there is Foolish.
  • Please welcome to the party … Childish.
  • And then, a little less verbal and very nervous, is Skittish.

When I left yesterday afternoon, my journey of faith–to overcome my physical limitations with my legs and continue my work–was immediately greeted by obstacles from this trinity of fussiness.

First of all, the road to our journey decided to just end, taking us on a detour which may not have completely encircled the globe, but surely was only one turn short of that. (Thank you, Foolishness.)

We arrived at the church to be assisted by some wonderful human beings, but we were still completely inept in using the wheelchair and getting in and out of the doors of the church. (A big shout-out to Childish.)

In addition, the sanctuary only had two aisles to get to the front of the church–neither of which were exactly wheelchair accessible. (Enter, stage right: Skittish.)

And then, to completely discourage our odyssey of faith, only eleven people showed up for the gig, making us feel ridiculous for going through the exertion of pursuing it–for only such a small number. (There’s another “ish” in there somewhere, but I can’t identify it.)

On top of all that, I had not truly factored in how humiliating it would be as a man, to be rolled into the room in a wheelchair to do what I have done for forty years? (I guess that’s the threesome, collaborating.)

So when the program was over and I was awaiting Jan, who was loading equipment with some of our new, kind friends, I happened to look in a pane of glass to see a reflection of myself. God, I looked pathetic. If possible, in that seated position, I looked fatter than ever.

I was discouraged.

Foolish came over and spoke in my ear. “Do you see how ridiculous this is? You’re getting older, you’re fat, you have diabetes. Give it up. It’s not worth it.”

Without missing a beat, Childish jumped in. “Aren’t you tired of hurting? You need to go someplace and play. This isn’t fun anymore. Maybe it seemed like a good idea, but now the other kids on the playground are laughing at you.”

Before I could take a deep breath of faith, Skittish was in my other ear. “Isn’t this scary? What if there’s something SERIOUSLY wrong with you? I know you’re getting around, but there’s always the possibility that you have something like Legionnaire’s Disease,–an unknown virus from the deep jungles of Africa, and it’s attacking the back of your thighs and will eat your whole body away…”

They are quite a tag team. They take faith and try to make it look stupid. They are worshippers of conventional wisdom, which only works if you’re at a convention and everybody there is willing to call it wisdom.

I took another glance at my image in the glass before me, laughed, and instead of waiting to be pushed to the van, I rolled myself to the door to make my own escape in my own way. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I have no expertise with the wheelchair, I got one of the metal pieces caught on the door frame and couldn’t go forward or backward. So now, I was not only stuck in a wheelchair, but I was hooked to the framework of the church like a helpless marlin.

Needless to say, Foolish, Childish and Skittish laughed in glee, having their points well-established through my efforts.

But I welcomed a spirit of relaxation into my soul, took a look at my dilemma, and in no time at all, through pursuing calm instead of frantic, I dislodged myself, rolled out into the parking lot on my own, opened up the back doors of the van from my seated position, turned myself around the corner and over to my van door, locked the wheels of the chair like a true professional, and climbed up into my seat.

I did it.

It was a beautiful fall night, life was going on and I succeeded in surviving the trepidation of a wheelchair in front of eleven people in Sycamore, Ohio.

I did not get a Hollywood ending last night. The exertion felt exhilarating at the time, but I paid the price upon returning, with a sense of exhaustion. I wake up this morning grateful to those in Sycamore who helped me so dearly and showed up to see my present leap (or perhaps better stated, crawl) of faith.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. What am I hoping for? That’s simple. Two things:

1. I am hoping that I will learn through this painful experience that I am addicted to food and must put myself on guard for the rest of my life, to make sure that my weight is always heading downwards instead of climbing for the stars.

2. I am hoping that this process will not kill me.

I am not denying reality. As you can see, I am hoping for something substantial.

So on Day Two of my little journey, I cannot report to you that I have a Hollywood ending which would please all of the spectators milling around. But as in the case of my movie, $6 Man, there is a way that life works–and a procedure–and the more you learn to honor the truth of the matter instead of trying to make everything easy and acceptable, the greater the chance you have of being present when a miracle actually happens.

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Dissatisfaction… October 7, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

The unknown.People who believe they understand the unknown are plagued with the curse of arrogance instead of blessed with the abundance of faith. For after all, faith gently permits hope but fiercely avoids certainty. It is what causes us to be faithful instead of self-assured.

I have many unknowns. I occasionally will awaken with a pain–and at my age, the mind races towards more dismal possibilities. If I take a moment to regain my sanity, I can laugh at my own jumping to conclusions and merely move on, realizing that most discomfort is temporary.

I don’t like to join into conversations about heaven–not because I lack a desire to go there or because I am secretly agnostic about its existence. It’s just that when I hear folks trumpet their testimony and support for the supernal, it rings of a bit of insincerity and maybe even hidden anxiety about the presence of eternity. Yes, it’s true–often the louder we talk, the less we truly believe.

Again–the unknown.

For instance, I don’t know what you’re going to do next. I neither control it nor do I particularly affect it. Anticipation is what we do when we have decided what people should be pursuing, audaciously making out a “things to do today” list for them and become quite disappointed when they wad it up and throw it away. Most arguments between friends are not based upon an actual occurrence, but rather, a general feeling of disapproval over the failure of one person to comply with the other person’s demands.

I heard someone once say that there’s a “world of the unknown” out there. Actually that’s not true. The world is something that we CAN understand–we are able to discern the face of the sky and pretty well forecast what will fall from above. But strangely enough, we often become the most pompous about the things that are NOT of this world, and fuss with those who disagree with our conclusions. For instance, those of the Hindu faith would be greatly disappointed if they discovered they were not returning to earth again in some new incarnation. On the other hand, most Christians would be very surprised if they came back as a fox instead of walking streets of gold.

So we stomp, argue and insist. But no one really knows. No matter how much you try to point to testimonials of those who claim to have come back from the dead, the fact of the matter is, they always tend to share a rendition of what they saw in the afterlife that is very similar to what they were taught here. We know that can’t be true. The Bible says that “eye hath not seen nor ear heard” what God has prepared for those who believe in Him. So if it ends up being an exact replica of what has already been written, it certainly would smack of the mediocre.

There are so many unknowns. What will be the next virus to invade our world? Will Iran and Israel make peace, or continue to throw rocks at each other over a poorly constructed fence?

This subject came to my attention the other day when I was backing out of a parking lot in my van, and in my blind spot was a pick-up truck which was perched behind me–double parked and awaiting another available space. Honestly, I did not see the truck, so as I backed up, there was a long blast from his horn. I quickly stopped.

I didn’t think anything more about it, until I began to leave the parking lot and an older gentleman stepped in front of my van. He was angry. I glanced over and realized that he was the owner of the pick-up truck which had just honked. He demanded that I roll down my window. So I did, and with a red-jowled, angry face, he challenged my driving skills and wondered “what the hell I was trying to do.”

I was not expecting this. I did not know why he was so angry. But you see, I had been spending some time with myself, which is the most important “known” factor you can actually deal with in life. In the past, I would have been angry that HE was angry and we would have exchanged an unfulfilling conversation ending in rage. He explained to me the obvious, which was that I almost backed into him.

I replied, “I’m so glad you were paying attention. We needed ONE of us to! Thank you for doing that.”

He was completely disarmed. I don’t know what he wanted; I don’t know what he envisioned. His motivations are completely unknown to me. Therefore, honestly, I don’t care. Maybe he had a bad morning. Maybe he just came from the doctor’s office and was diagnosed with cancer. Maybe his wife burned his eggs and for the forty-fifth time this year he had to eat them without saying a word. I have no idea and once again–it doesn’t make any difference.

Because I will tell you truthfully–there are only two knowns that I make my concern: my space, my face.

After all, if there ends up being no God and just a grave, I will only be remembered for how I handled my space and what disposition I selected to display on my face.

I can’t control your space and when I do, I am always made to look foolish, and liberty wins the day and curses my interference.

I certainly have no authority over your face and if I suggest that you may be offering a disconsolate countenance to the world around you, you will not only consider that an intrusion, but actually may deepen the furrows on your brow.

After all the unknowns are set aside and placed intelligently into the hands of more divine ability, I am left with my space and my face.

I surprised myself a little bit when I had this encounter with the frustrated gentleman in the parking lot. I was amazed that I felt no wrath or desire to hurt him. I just wanted to move on.  I wanted to quickly admit that I was unable to see him, he did a good thing–and because of that, we were not exchanging the numbers of our insurance companies.

My space. My face.

Here’s what I do know:

My space is peace. I will not fight with you. I will not try to hurt you. I will not try to impart anything to you that hasn’t been tested and proven in my own soul to be beneficial. Then, when I do share it, I will do so as an offering instead of a demand.

My face is joy. Joy is a resolute happiness that continues in a desired path, even when others have abandoned it for the latest craze.

You may continue to debate the unknown and contend that you have some sort of authority over things beyond your fingertips. I would rather indulge in the power of dissatisfaction about the supernatural and instead, take care of my space and my face.

And in case you didn’t hear me the first time, and for all my lifetime to come:

May it be clear to one and all–my space is peace and my face is joy.

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Stinky Jobs … December 17, 2011

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Live from Palm Coast, Florida, in A Spirited Christmas

 
 There are stinky jobs.
 
Truthfully, I’m not a great proponent of work in general. Matter of fact, I’ve been known to sit around for an hour discussing a better way to do a five-hour task in three hours, ending up with a sixty-minute savings in exertion. People who like to work sometimes scare me because generally speaking, they enjoy presenting other abnormalities like saving money and daily exercise programs–two other things I’m not particularly fond of pursuing.
 
But there certainly is some work that’s stinkier than others. For instance, I would not like to be the campaign manager for a candidate who’s running fourth in the polls in a four-person contest. You would still have to show up every day to headquarters, with doughnuts and coffee for everybody, a smile on your face, hiding newspapers from personnel and making sure the television set was off so as not to discourage the work force. You would still have to listen to all the speeches–knowing that a final selection would be a concession one. Stinky job.
 
Here’s another one: being the manager at the late night shift at a McDonald’s and having the responsibility of throwing away all the extra hamburgers not purchased during the day. I’m sorry–I would want to look at all those brave burgers and adopt them, probably stuffing them down my pants to hide it from the staff, only to drive too slowly on the way home because I was worried about my thievery, and get picked up by a policeman who notices my nervous mannerisms and asks me to step out of my vehicle, to discover during his search that I was toting beef in my shorts. (You can see, I’ve thought this through…)
 
While we’re on the subject, let me mention another stinky job. I don’t think I’d want to be a defense attorney for a serial killer who had murdered twenty-three nuns while they were kneeling in prayer. What could you say? “Come on, folks! We’ve all wanted to chop SOMEBODY up and put ’em in a burlap bag and toss ’em in a Goodwill bin for redistribution.  Haven’t you?”  (After all, genuflecting can be annoying.) Nasty business.
 
But truthfully, one of the most difficult employments–a stinky job–would be the promotion of the word “tinsel.” First of all, it’s a seasonal occupation, since no one really uses the stuff any time other than Christmas. Tinsel is out of the question at a Bar-Mitzvah. Immediately you would have the needful goal of separating the word “tinsel” from its two inferior cousins–“glitter” and “glamour.” Am I right? Because whenever anyone wants to refer to something shallow, they cite “tinsel and glamor” or “tinsel and glitter.” Yes,”tinsel” would have to create more profound relationships. I mean, if you’re going to sell this to the public, you would have to try something like “tinsel and prayer.” How about “tinsel and debate?” One of my favorites would be “tinsel and charity.” If you think about it, it’s really unfair. Because even though we associate tinsel with triviality, we all have it as a guilty pleasure during holiday times and use it to decorate our trees and surroundings.
 
Here’s another quandary. There are those who become confused about whether tinsel is the garland that goes around the trees or if it’s the icesickles that are strewn upon the boughs.  (Yes, the beginning of all prejudice is falce perception …)
 
How could you promote “tinsel” when it is used so fervently by the faithful but in moments of weakness is betrayed and cast aside as meaningless drivel? Yes–that would be a stinky job.
 
Yet I will tell you this–even if a Jehovah’s Witness who did not celebrate Christmas was to suddenly pick ONE thing to commemorate the birth of a savior, it just might be tinsel. Flashing lights would be out of the question. Manger scenes? Graven images. But tinsel would be pretty, while still maintaining some purity.
 
What WOULD be the correct way to improve the popularity of tinsel? I men, as an idea, not merely as a product. Do you agree with me? It would be a stinky job.
 
It would almost be as difficult as trying to promote a daily column on the Internet by a bizarre writer who actually thinks about stuffing Big Macs down his trousers.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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