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Roger on Main Street

roger on main streetThis week:

Serious Topics only

 

The first is Communication.

Smart phones are extremely popular. All that email and texting is handy, but the result has been big income losses for the Post Office. It’s on the verge of insolvency.

About 200 years ago Benjamin Franklin launched the U.S. Postal Service, a huge project in a vast new country. All our lives a mail carrier has come to our door six days a week. What an incredible effort to deliver mail to every house in the country, in every little town from Maine to California! It’s part of the fabric that holds America together.

Today, Apple Computer and Microsoft are rich corporations and the Post Office is broke. This qualifies as a serious topic.

Education

The other day I happened upon some pictures of American children from about the turn of the twentieth century. This was in the days of child labor, a practice widely accepted and highly profitable for business owners. So these weren’t school photos I was looking at; many of them were taken in front of the factories that employed the kids.

So now we come to a joke I also came across the other day:

A young boy went into an office to be interviewed for a job. The man in charge asked his full name.

“Francesco Czuchna McGillicuddy,” he replied.

“How do you write that?” asked the manager.

“Well, sir,” said the boy, “can’t you just put it down without spelling it?”

Religion

A young pastor was sitting in a restaurant eating lunch. He opened a letter he’d received from his mother that morning and a twenty-dollar bill fell out.

The young pastor thought to himself, “Thanks, Mom, I sure needed that right now.”

As he finished his meal, he noticed a beggar outside on the sidewalk leaning against the light post. Thinking the poor man could probably use the $20 more than he, the pastor scribbled out the names on the envelope and wrote in big letters across the top: PERSEVERE!

So as not to make a scene, he put the envelope under his arm and dropped it as he walked past the beggar. The man picked it up, read the message, and smiled.

The next day, as the pastor was eating his lunch in the restaurant, the same man tapped him on the shoulder and dropped a big wad of bills on the table.

“What on earth,” asked the pastor, “is this?”

“That’s your half of the winnings. Persevere came in first in the fourth race at the track yesterday and paid 30 to one.”

Health

A woman comes out of the gym, spots a friend in the parking lot, and says, “I just lost 10 pounds!”

Her friend says, “Uh… turn around. I think I might have found them.”

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roger on main streetMarketing with reptiles

As a general rule, soft and furry equals cute. That’s what seems odd about that gecko. He’s not soft and not furry, but Geico Insurance Company’s ad creators made their gecko just about the cutest thing on TV.

A little free information for the curious: geckos are found in warm climates throughout the world. They range from an inch to a couple of feet in size. Geckos can’t blink. Instead, their eyes have a fixed lens inside each iris that enlarges in darkness.

Geico’s gecko stars in a batch of ads that get a laugh out of me every time. He swallows hard and tries to remain polite when his CEO suggests crazy marketing ideas. Funny!

He spreads his message on a topless beach, which doesn’t bother him because he goes around naked anyway. Funny!

He pitches his product in heavy traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. Funny!

Love that gecko.

Many years ago, another company found a reptile to associate its products with. Who among us doesn’t have at least one of Lacoste’s crocodiles among our shirts?

I saw a picture of the frilled lizard the other day. He’s frilly, all right. Victoria’s Secret, are you listening?

The big three in jokes

1. Old folks

Two elderly ladies are enjoying the sunshine on a park bench. They’ve been meeting in the same park every sunny day for over 12 years, chatting and enjoying each other’s friendship.

One day the older of the two says, “Please don’t be angry with me, my dear, but I am embarrassed. After all these years, what is your name? I’m trying to remember but just can’t.”

The younger friend looks distressed and says nothing for two full minutes. Finally, with tears in her eyes, she says, “How soon do you have to know?”

2. Marriage

When Joe’s wife ran away he got so depressed that his doctor sent him to a psychiatrist. Joe told the new doc his troubles and then sighed, “Life isn’t worth living.”

“Don’t be stupid, Joe,” said the psychiatrist. “Allow work to be your salvation. I want you to totally submerge yourself in your work. Now, what do you do for a living?”

“I clean out septic tanks,” Joe replied.

3. Blondes

A blonde was hunched over the bar, toothpick in hand, spearing futilely at the olive in her martini. A dozen times the olive eluded her. Finally, another patron, who had been watching from a nearby stool, got up and grabbed the toothpick. “Here’s how you do it,” he said, as he easily skewered the olive.

“Big deal,” muttered the blonde. “I already had him so tired out he couldn’t get away.”

Last words

Follow your dreams, but not the one where you’re in kindergarten dressed only in your underwear.

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roger on main streetMain Street comedy

Good taste is largely a matter of opinion. The humor in this (mostly) light-hearted column has quite a lot of wiggle room. I keep “good taste” in mind, but that doesn’t stop me from using blonde jokes, lawyer jokes, or little kid jokes.

Blondes, lawyers, and little kids seldom write me letters of complaint, so my “good taste” regarding those topics must be pretty close to that of our readers.

But I can’t rely on my own taste when politics enters the column. Something I consider hilarious can yank the annoyance chain of too many people. Sometimes I do it anyway, but I always know what’s likely to show up in the mailbox later.

There’s a good reason that professional humorist Al Franken hasn’t cracked a joke since being confirmed as the junior Senator from Minnesota.

But one of America’s greatest writers never held back. I’m talking about a personal hero of mine, Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, 1835-1910. He didn’t think highly of politicians in general. So, since his stuff is out of copyright, I’m free to quote him left and right.

Mark said…

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning…politics, a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”

“The new political gospel: public office is private graft.”

“An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.”

“All large political doctrines are rich in difficult problems–problems that are quite above the average citizen’s reach. And that is not strange, since they are also above the reach of the ablest minds in the country; after all the fuss and all the talk, not one of those doctrines has been conclusively proven to be the right one and the best.”

Mark also said…

“In … politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

“I shall not often meddle with politics, because we have a political Editor who is already excellent and only needs to serve a term or two in the penitentiary to be perfect.”

Three blondes

Three blondes are in an elevator when the elevator suddenly stops and the lights go out. They try using their cell phones to get help but have no luck. Even the phones are out.

After a few hours of being stuck with no help in sight, one blonde says to the others, “I think the best way to call for help is by yelling together.”

The others agree with the first, so they all inhale deeply and begin to yell loudly “Together, together, together.”

 

If any of the above…

If you object to blonde jokes, please complain to the Rockford Squire.

If you find any of Mark Twain’s comments about politics to be offensive, please write your letters of complaint directly to him.

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Roger on Main Street


roger on main streetWarm enough?

Sometimes I read science reports about the weather. It’s not that I’m a nerd; I’m just interested in stuff that hits me right in the face. Stuff like the blazing sunshine (certainly not rain) that heated up our summer this year. And the mild breezes of last winter, one of Michigan’s warmest on record.

A word of caution, though. Reading science reports about the weather can trigger anxiety attacks. That’s because…

*Details about extreme weather throughout the country seem to bombard us non-stop.

*Weather scientists’ predictions are pretty dire and they’re based on statistics. (It’s probably not good for me that I majored in statistics in college.)

*It doesn’t take much imagination to get a picture of what happens if the country runs out of energy to operate air conditioning when the temperature hits 100-plus for weeks in a row (42 days in a row for Dallas, Texas, this summer).

*And scariest of all, global warming deniers are still bucking the scientists and pushing their own notion that all this is normal variation. Human beings keep burning fossil fuels? That has nothing to do with it, folks, so drill, baby, drill, and burn, baby, burn.

Wild thinkers are saying that if this keeps on, we’d have to live underground. That would sure ruin the looks of the neighborhood.

To quell my anxiety, I’d like people not to shout down but to listen to the scientists about where Earth and we, her children, stand with Mother Nature. And I’d like people to encourage the necessary, if inconvenient, actions needed to avert catastrophe.

Here’s a web link to one of those weather science reports. It has to do with what happened to the ice in the area of the North Pole this summer. Here’s a quote to get you started:

“Astonished by the summer’s changes, scientists are studying the forces that exposed one million square miles of open water–six Californias–beyond the average since satellites started measurements in 1979.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/science/earth/02arct.html

Let’s lighten up

Mr. Wilkins began reading his recovery-room record at the hospital.

The doctor arrived for the routine check-up to find the elderly gentleman quite concerned about one notation.

“I know I was in a bit of a mess when I was admitted,” said Mr. Wilkins, “but I didn’t realize I was that bad.” His face was sad as he apologized. “I hope I didn’t offend anyone too badly.”

He was comforted when the doctor explained the acronym S.O.B. meant “Short Of Breath.”

Let’s lighten up again

A little kid raised his hand and asked the teacher, “Would you please tell me, ma’am how do you spell icholas?”

Miss Simmons, the teacher, thought she had misunderstood. “Don’t you mean Nicholas?” she asked.

“No, ma’am. I’ve written the ‘N’ already.”

Let’s lighten up her hair

Q: What would you do if a blond threw a hand grenade at you?

A: You’d pull the pin and throw it right back.

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roger on main streetArmageddon

Don’t know why, but the political convention season always makes me think about Armageddon. And, speaking of that…

Time after time, various folks have predicted the end of the world. The Millennium was one of the biggies, prediction-wise. Oops…not even the world’s computer programs came to an end. (Remember all those so-called “millennium bugs”?) So far, every day has gone by with a tomorrow to follow.

The latest prediction I’ve personally heard about is for December 21, 2012. Give credit for this one to the ancient Mayans and some imaginative moderns.

It goes like this: Events of 2012 are based on the ending date of the ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar. This is thought to end on December 21, 2012, signaling, of course, the end of days for real. Predictions of devastation and destruction abound. Some believe it wise to prepare for doomsday.

Considering the record of past predictions, I suggest planning on a cup of coffee and a good TV rerun show on December 21. If we’re wrong, all of us will be in the same boat, anyway. In my opinion, it’s likely to be just another ho-hum.

Just to make sure we don’t get too bored, the Mayan calendar worked in another end-of-times possibility 25,000 years from now.

Cure story

A man goes into a drug store and asks the pharmacist if he can give him something for the hiccups. The pharmacist promptly reaches out and slaps the man’s face.

“What the heck did you do that for?” yells the man.

“Well, you don’t have the hiccups anymore do you?” answers the pharmacist.

The man says, “No, I don’t, you dummy… But my wife out in the car still does!”

Taste story

When the store manager returned from lunch, he noticed his clerk’s hand was bandaged, but before he could ask about the bandage, the clerk had some very good news for him.

“Guess what, sir?” said the clerk. “I finally sold that terrible, ugly suit we’ve had so long!”

“Do you mean that repulsive pink-and-blue double-breasted thing?” asked the manager.

“That’s the one!”

“ Well, great!” said the manager. “I thought we’d never get rid of that monstrosity. It had to be the ugliest suit we’ve ever had. But tell me, why is your hand bandaged?”

“Oh,” the clerk replied, “after I sold the guy that suit, his seeing-eye dog bit me.”

Court story

A prospective juror in a Dallas District Court was surprised by the definition of voluntary manslaughter the judge gave the panel: “An intentional killing that occurs while the defendant is under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, such as when a spouse’s mate is found in a compromising position.”

During her interview, the jury candidate remarked, “During my first marriage, I came in and found my husband compromising with our next-door neighbor. All I did was divorce him. I had no idea that I could have shot him.”

She wasn’t selected for the jury.

 

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Main Street with Roger Allen

roger on main streetJobs for all

I know some ways we can improve the employment picture. On TV every day I see cartoon characters involved in all kinds of entertaining activities. Every one of those little cartoonies replaces a human. Out there, for every one of them, some actor didn’t get a job because of a comic book character.

Even more wasteful of jobs is the telephone system. I’m talking not just the phone numbers answered by somebody in the Philippines, but also companies with automated answering systems. After you drag their phone numbers and their business hours out of their websites, you get a tinny electronic voice saying, “All of our representatives are busy with other callers. Your call will be answered in the order received.”

The wait can be 30 minutes. It can be even longer! They’re wasting our time for a few more bucks of profit! We could cut the unemployment rate if they would just answer their phones! (And we wouldn’t feel so grouchy once we finally got a human being on the line.)

Marriage #1

Three guys are talking in the bar. Two of them remark about the amount of control they have over their wives while the third guy stays quiet.

After a while one of them says to the third, “Well, what about you? What sort of control do you have over your wife?”

“Well,” says the third guy, “I’ll tell you. Just the other night my wife came to me on her hands and knees.”

The first two were amazed. “Gee, what happened then?” they asked.

She said, “Get out from under the bed and fight like a man!”

Marriage #2

Marty was in his usual place in the morning, sitting at the table reading the paper after breakfast. He came across an article about a beautiful actress who was about to marry a football player known primarily for his dumb comments and lack of common knowledge. He turned to his wife with a puzzled look on his face. “I’ll never understand why the biggest jerks get the most attractive wives.”

His wife replied, “Why, thank you, dear!”

Yup, it’s not for sissies

Old age is when you go to the doctor and realize you now have to pay someone to look at you naked. Some things are okay: the glass is still half full. But, of course, the bad news is that it won’t be long before your teeth are floating in it.

Old age brings the wisdom that life throws you curves—and that you may be sitting on your biggest ones. You become more reflective in old age. You start pondering the big questions, such as what is life, why am I here, and how much Healthy Choice ice cream can I eat before it’s no longer a healthy choice?

In old age, you start to repeat yourself. In old age you start to repeat yourself.

Declaration 

My name is Roger Allen and I approve this message.

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Roger on Main Street

roger on main streetInternational travel

The fight over building a new U.S./Canada bridge is kind of funny. The owner of the current bridge has become mega-rich from tolls. He’s now spending millions to convince us that another bridge would cost us a fortune in tax money. He claims the tolls would not cover the cost.

Well, Canada thinks there’s money to be made and it wants to foot the entire bill for the bridge and highway access. So the current bridge owner has offered to pay for another bridge himself. If it is such a bad moneymaking deal, why would he want to build another?

Very suspicious. Maybe that first bridge has been so lucrative he’d do anything to keep his monopoly.

My advice: keep an eye on any Michigan legislators who vote against a second bridge.

Senior thinking

A worried senior citizen phoned her doctor’s office. “Is it true,” she wanted to know,“that the medication you prescribed for me has to be taken for the rest of my life?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” the doctor told her.

There was a moment of silence. Then the lady replied, “I’m confused about how serious my condition is, because this prescription is marked NO REFILLS.”

Truck driver thinking

Brian was driving his truck down the highway when he approached a bridge with a sign saying, “12 foot max headroom.” He slowed down, wondering if he could drive under it or not.

“Oh, let’s give it a try,” he thought, only to discover that his truck got stuck underneath.

Brian looked things over, then got back in his seat, poured out a cup of coffee and lit a cigarette. A cop arrived a short time later and knocked on the cab door.

“What do you think you’re doing?” demanded the cop.

“I’m having a break from work,” Brian said.

The cop looked skeptical. “What kind of work is that?” he asked.

“I deliver bridges,” replied Brian.

Crazy thinking

Sam went to a psychiatrist. “Doc,” he said, “I’ve got trouble. Every time I get into bed I think there’s somebody under it. So I get under the bed and I think there’s somebody on top. I’m worried sick. You gotta help me.”

“I can handle that,” said the doctor. “Come to me three times a week and I’ll cure your fears.”

“How much do you charge?” Sam asked.

“A hundred dollars per visit.”

“I’ll sleep on it,” said Sam.

Six months passed and the doctor met Sam on the street. “Why didn’t you ever come to see me again?” asked the doctor.

“For a hundred dollars a visit?” Sam said. “A bartender cured me for ten bucks.”

“Is that so! How?”

“He told me to cut the legs off the bed.”

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Roger on Main Street

roger on main streetFlip that switch

We’re dependent on electricity from the moment our day starts. The alarm clock rings; we switch on a light and the radio; in the bathroom we turn on another light and maybe an electric toothbrush and a razor. Our breakfasts are powered by toasters and stoves, and if we burn the toast, not to worry because an exhaust fan is at the ready. The clothes we put on are cleaned and pressed by electric machines.

Our dependency grows decade by decade. Several years ago, checking email or Facebook became a must. Transportation almost always involves some form of electricity even if the cars we drive (in this decade) don’t contain electric motors.
Now, imagine your whole street dark with everyone scrambling for flashlights and candles. Imagine India, where millions recently were in the dark for days during the planet’s biggest power outage. Imagine the heat of India with no air conditioning to escape to, anywhere—non-stop heat like our Midwest summer of 2012.

Don’t know about you, but our dependency makes me nervous, and I’d feel that way even if I weren’t dependent on an electric-powered dialysis machine.

In the supermarket

In my dreams: I am in the Express Lane, quietly fuming. Completely ignoring the sign, the woman ahead of me has slipped into my checkout line pushing a cart piled high with groceries.

The cashier beckons the woman to come forward. She looks into the cart and asks sweetly, “So, which six items would you like to buy?”

In the bridal shop

A woman walked into a bridal shop and told the sales clerk that she was looking for a wedding gown for her fourth wedding.

“Of course, madam,” replied the sales clerk. “Exactly what type and color dress are you looking for?”

“A long, frilly white dress with a veil,” said the bride-to-be.

Please don’t take this the wrong way,” said the clerk, “but gowns of that nature are considered more appropriate for brides who are being married the first time. Perhaps ivory or sky blue would be nice.”

“Well,” replied the customer, a little peeved at the clerk’s directness, “I can assure you that a white gown would be quite appropriate. Despite all my marriages, I remain as innocent as a first-time bride. My first husband was so excited about our wedding that his heart stopped as we were checking into our hotel. My second husband and I got into a terrible fight on our way to the way to the airport to leave for our honeymoon. We had that marriage annulled immediately and never spoke to each other again.”

“And your third husband?” asked the sales clerk.

“That one was a politician,” said the customer. “Every night for four years he sat on the edge of the bed and told me how great it was going to be, but nothing ever happened.”

In the news

The Grand Rapids man who fell into an upholstery machine last month has been fully recovered.

 

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Roger on Main St.

roger on main streetHad enough?

The election campaign seems to have gone on for several years. We’ve seen and heard the same malarkey over and over in the ads.

Taking words out of context and making a phony fuss about them seems to be the strategy of choice. Checking the calendar: only three more months to go.

I’ve had enough. You?

The prediction business

We need a better Ground Hog. I can’t remember what he said about an early spring but I remember we got one. (It was about two months early.) He never gives us advance information about summer, like VERY hot and almost no rain.

I must say, the National Weather Service isn’t any better.

There’s an old legend that furry caterpillars (woolly bears) predict a cold winter.  Check out the Farmers Almanac for lots of tips and news of the Woolly Bear Festival in Ohio. Supposed to be 100,000-plus attending that one.

Travel tip

Wake-up calls are the worst way to wake up when you’re traveling. The phone rings, it’s loud, and you can’t turn it down.
That’s why I leave the number of the room next to me.

The ring on the other side of the wall sounds nice and quiet, and soon you hear a guy yell, “Why are you calling me?”

Then you get up and take a shower. It’s great.

Pop quiz

Q: You’re a bus driver. At the first stop four people get on. At the second stop eight people on, at the third stop two get people off, at the fourth stop everyone gets off. The question is, what color are the bus driver’s eyes?

A: The same as yours. You’re the bus driver. And no back talk!

Discipline

On his first day at the new school, a headmaster was making rounds when he heard a terrible commotion coming from one of the classrooms. Marching in, he spotted one boy, taller than the others, who seemed to be making most of the noise. So he seized the lad, dragged him to the hall, and told him to wait there until he was excused.

Returning to the classroom, the headmaster restored order and lectured the class for ten minutes on good behavior.

“Now,” he concluded, “any questions?”

One girl stood up timidly and said: “Please, sir, may we have our teacher back?”

“Of course. Where is your teacher?”

“He’s in the hall, sir.”

Additional joke

At work one day a guy notices that his co-worker is wearing an earring. This man knows his co-worker to be a normally conservative fellow and
is curious about the sudden change in his fashion sense.

“I didn’t know you were into earrings,” he says.

“Don’t make a big deal of it, it’s only an earring,” the co-worker replies sheepishly.

His friend falls silent for a few minutes, but then his curiosity prods him. “So, how long have you been wearing the earring?”
“Ever since my wife found it in my car.”
(I always wondered how this trend got started.)

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Roger on Main Street

roger on main streetEverybody talks about it

We sure got weather from Mother Nature last week. A week ago our shoes were melting and grass was burned to a crisp. Then, believe it or not, we got rain off and on for a few days. The farmers in Iowa would sell their kids for rain.
After a nice day in the 50s, we were back into the 90s. We’re not out of the woods yet. We still have more summer ahead of us, and, according to climate experts, a warm fall. We’re still very short of rain. It may come but may not.
Drinking lots of water and staying inside with A/C fends off personal discomfort but doesn’t stop worries about the nation’s crops. Come fall, those tall house plants people set in living room corners may be the only corn left alive.

Smart

If lawyers can be debarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that laundry workers could decrease, eventually even becoming depressed and depleted? Bed makers could be debunked, baseball players debased, landscapers deflowered, bulldozer operators degraded. Software engineers, of course, could be detested, and even music composers eventually decompose.

Pretty smart

Selling at an auction was halted when the auctioneer announced,
“Someone in the room has lost his wallet containing $2,000. He is offering a reward of $500 for its immediate return.” After a moment of silence, there was a call from the back of the room, “$550.”

Not so smart

A friend reports: I saw a lady at work today inserting a credit card into her PC disk slot and pulling it out quickly. I asked what she was doing. She said she was shopping on the Internet and they asked for a credit card number, so she was using her computer’s ATM thingy.

Blonde

A young ventriloquist is touring the clubs. One night he’s doing a show in a small town in Arkansas. With his dummy on his knee, he’s going through his usual dumb blonde jokes when a blonde woman in the fourth row stands on her chair and starts shouting:

“I’ve heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes. What does the color of a person’s hair have to do with her worth as a human being? It’s guys like you who keep women like me from being respected at work and in the community. You and your kind perpetuate discrimination against not only blondes but women in general, and all in the name of so-called humor!”

The ventriloquist is embarrassed and begins to apologize when the blonde yells, ”You stay out of this, mister! I’m talking to that little jerk on your knee!”

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