“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
- Matthew 5:33-37
I keep trying to keep up a daily blog, and sometimes, it is hard to do. Sometimes you do not feel well. Sometimes you are busy, and we have been busy since my wife’s open-heart surgery in early August. Sometimes distractions happen, although I beg the Lord for forgiveness.
But sometimes we have a Just-In-Time God. JIT was a buzzword at one time in industry. There would be no need for expensive warehouses near a project site if things were delivered as you need them. JIT requires “faith” that the truck will not break down, that the supplier will not have something on back order, or that a customs agent does not decide to impound a shipment over a technicality. It is nerve wracking when you know that those things, and more bad circumstances like them, could happen.
But living by “faith” in writing a blog can be nerve wracking. Yes, I am supposed to live by faith, and I should never fear that the next topic will pop into my head. I grow more accustomed to it each day, but that does not mean that it is easy to do. Of course, I do not need to write every day. I often skip my wife’s review when she has an untimely bout of procrastination – accompanied by a remark that it is my ministry from the God, not hers – thus deadlines are not her problem. And she is right, but I know how stupid my blogs sometimes appear when I am in a rush to publish. This was written yesterday, so readers may find typos.
I have been burdened by a few things lately. They may seem silly and my wife was not interested in even discussing them, but they have been taking up space in my brain and maybe purging them will free up space. Then again, maybe the Holy Spirit is guiding me toward a “Miscellaneous Day”.
A Cheap Champion Golfer
Recently a member of the PGA has been tortured by the media and social media. He went to Mexico for a tournament. He had not won anything in four years. His caddy could not go with him. He hired a local guy to caddy for the weekend tournament for $3,000, whether he won or was cut after the first two rounds, earning nothing. He won the tournament and brought well over a million dollars home with him. Being gracious, he paid the caddy $5,000, nearly double the agreed amount. The liberal busybodies called him cheap. Interesting. If it was their money, how would they have responded? But no, he is a public figure- fair game in their particular shark tank. Most full-time caddies got 10% when the golfer won the tournament, according to some reporters, but that was their usual caddy. The caddy for that weekend, when the reporters attacked him for comments, said that $50,000 would be nice, although if this had not been a media circus, the $5,000 was more than generous. This last weekend, the war over the poor tipper ended – sort of, because forgiveness has been forgotten in the world today. (In the next world, we’ll each beg for forgiveness.) The golfer had a press conference and announced that he will up the ante, so leave him alone. He apologized profusely. I have some questions though. Who says something is too little of a tip? Who gets to make that call when it is someone else’s money? I have seen some lousy tippers, some who never tip at all, but I have never dragged them onto the carpet over their poor tipping. It is their money. It is their problem.
Thinking of tipping, my first trip to India in 1998 got me into deep trouble the first week that I was there. We were at a new hotel in a small community in the middle of nowhere near Karnala, Maharashtra. We worked an hour’s drive from the hotel, but there was no nice hotel any closer. This hotel had not finished construction. It was that new, and the staff was brand new, only hired a week or so before we arrived. Sadly, the telephones had not been installed yet. We had about 9-14 commissioning people from our company at the hotel (depending on which day you counted). There were four training people. There were electrical, mechanical, and controls people who were preparing for three-shift operations. We were poor tippers. We tipped about 10% or less of the bill, usually rounding down, maybe $10-12 USD. One week later, the hotel manager pulled me aside. Wait! Out of a dozen people, I was blamed!? She was going to have difficulty serving dinner that evening. The entire wait staff had ‘retired.’ In only one week, they had collected more money than they had ever seen in one place in their lives from our table. As a group, they decided to quit. For these waiters, within two years, the money would all be spent and someone else would have been hired to do their old job but think of lottery winners. Many lose all the money and are in worse shape after winning. The waiters were not thinking of that.
As a result, I was tasked as the only tipper. The first night, we had twelve around the table. We each bought about $10 USD of food, mostly because most of the guys drank a few beers. I pulled out the smallest bill that I had, a 50 rupee note. The hotel manager said that she approved, but then she gave me three 10 rupee notes in change. My tip was 20 rupees. Thus, for a bill of $120, I tipped the equivalent of 40 cents, using the exchange rate of the time. That tip was spread over four waiters who served our table. They got something, we got good service, and the hotel manager got to prevent her employees from retiring early.
What the moral busybodies that destroyed the reputation of a golfer who had been known as a really good guy… What they may not have understood was that a monster payday in a foreign land might leave the caddy in worse shape in the long run.
Best Comedians of All Time
I knew not to do it, but a news feed listed the 30 best comedians of all time, in the writer’s myopic opinion. The only comedians of my youth on the list were Winters, Diller, Dangerfield, Rickles, Hope, Rivers, Bruce, and Pryor (less than a third). Maybe I forgot Youngman, but I think he missed the list. At least a third of the 30 comedians had no box office or TV ‘credits’, but were considered edgy, meaning filthy language, crude adult content, etc. Bruce and Pryor (number one on the list) were there for their ground-breaking edginess, although Pryor’s early work on Ed Sullivan was excellent comedy, cleaned up for a major network. He had great range. Three on the list were talk show hosts that I considered to be funny, but comedians? A couple were actors, having performed on one sitcom, and by projection considered a great comedian. Actors who are good at comedic timing, or well coached by the director, may or may not be comedians. There was no mention of Bill Cosby. Since he has been convicted of his crimes, does that mean that his comedy is no longer funny? Or made I am simply dain-bramaged.
Of course, there will always be people who have a different list, and mine would be my own with names that might not appear on anyone else’s list. I am sure most people would not have Red Skelton on their list, some saying he was a comic, not a comedian. Others might not like his humor. Some may not like the fact that he laughed at his own jokes. (In defense, he was known to admit to this fault, but “This is the first time I’ve read some of these jokes!” How many rehearsals?) Although I thoroughly loved his humor, and the wide range of humor, but an HBO special cemented it for me. He talked about having an hour and a half of laughs without ever hearing a crude four-letter word. Until he said it, I had not noticed. I simply laughed. He may not make their list, but I list him as a personal hero.
I love story tellers, and maybe that disqualifies them as comedians, but my list would have Jerry Clower and Justin Wilson. Wilson was censored in his day for saying the words “Hell” and “Damn”. Those were his limits on naughty words. His stand-up routine, before he became a Cajun Cook on PBS, usually included a sincere (sounding) apology, similar to the golfer above, and an explanation that those were mild explicatives, but he understood how they could offend. He would then pause before saying, “Now don’t that sound nice. I didn’t meant a D*** word of that apology. H*** no. I gah-rawn-tee.” At least he was honest. Clower, a devout Christian, told clean stories of growing up poor in Mississippi, but it could really be anywhere there is poor farm folk. He would end his routines with a funny story that turned out to not be funny. Instead, it had a heart-warming ending with a moral lesson. As an example, he talked of hunting with his dog, Old Brummie, who, in this story, was mauled by a lynx. He took the dog in his arms to the vet, walking while the dog bled out. The vet was gone, but the vet’s office was in the same building as the general store. The store owner had just refinished his hardwood floor, but he risked ruining a day’s work so that a boy could care for his dog until the doctor arrived. He would then ask the audience if they would make that sacrifice. After an appropriate pause, Clower said, “Old Brummie lived to hunt again.” If tears made noise, the applause would have been thunderous. That technique is used by pastors a lot. Get the emotions high and then lay on the moral principle, a shock value that drives the point home.
Christian comedians would have to be present on my list. Mark Lowry, Ken Davis, Chonda Pierce, and Tim Hawkins come to mind. Of course, if you need someone on the edge, there is John Crist. Not that he is naughty, but occasionally you wonder if you should have laughed at that last one…
Not everyone has comic timing. Some of the old masters, not on the list knew timing. Burns, Berle and Buttons were great. But Jack Benny’s guest appearance on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In was textbook worthy regarding comic timing. They told Benny that he’d have to use other people’s jokes. They could not work his jokes into the show. He was then given a card with the first joke. For an hour, he came on between each sketch delivering the Henny Youngman classic, “Take my wife… Please.” But Benny put the accent in the wrong place each time. He put the pause in the wrong place each time. He would read it as a question, an exclamation, etc. At first, it was pathetic (funny, but cringe worthy), but after 15-20 minutes you were riveted to the screen, wondering how he was going to screw it up the next time. “Well…” I thought it was hilarious.
Someone wrote recently that they had been told that humor had to offend. If this offended anyone, I apologize. I will not continue with the Justin Wilson response to the apology, either. I guess an apology is the common thread in this post.
Dave Peever, of Live 4 Him, commented on my post of a few days ago that Eddie Murphy was funny on SNL, but what they allowed on the broadcast in those days was limited. (Murphy was on the list along with only one or two other SNL alums – none of the originals.)
There is such a thing as clean humor. When we go to Heaven, we are going to laugh and laugh and no one will be offended.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.