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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
Submitted by Steven ODell on 7 July 2007 - 11:54pm.

Uncharted Territory

Did you ever wonder where phrases like ‘Plum Tickled’ came from? Maybe not, but I can’t help it. It’s like a man having fits—you just gotta have ‘em until they’re over. So, I carry these questions to their natural conclusions—well, as close to conclusions as I can get, because I seldom seem to get the answer. But I can envision the scenario quite clearly. Observe:

A little boy comes home with plum stains all over himself and he knows his mother is going to want an explanation as to how that state of affairs came to be. Thinking quickly, he tells her that he fell down under the plum tree and all of a sudden, “them plums just got all over me and started ticklin’ me real bad! And what with all the rollin' around, trying to get away from them nefarious fruit entities, I just got all messy and couldn’t help it one bit. And that’s the truth!”

Then I can envision this wise and good mother turning to her husband to proclaim, “Derndest thing I ever heard, Fred. The boy was tickled near to death by plums! What do you make of that?” To which the sage father replies, “Well, then, …in that case, you better steer clear of the punkin patch, boy!”

I have to be entirely honest here; I’m only guessing. It may have been something far more fantastic that actually spawned the expression, but we may never know for certain.

Lots of things are just plain weird, though. Like those Lose Weight While You Sleep! ads. Many weight loss programs have clubs to support the members who join. Can you imagine going to one of the meetings for this program? Why bother? Everyone is snoring! And another thing, if you sleep backward, with your head at the foot of the bed, will you gain weight?

“I must be doin’ it backward, Edith. I haven’t lost an ounce!”

That leads me to think of the Lay Awake Plan they have in many stores. You lay awake wondering why you bought it and how you are ultimately going to pay for it, etcetera. Maybe, with the length of some of the lines at checkout, they should have a Wait Loss Plan there, too.


I’ve seen lots of people that start bobbing and nodding their heads when they hear music. Heck, I’ve even done it myself. It’s normal and natural. But is there a term for it? Not as far as I know. So, what do we refer to it as? Well, you can stop worrying—I have a label for it now. I call it IDS—Involuntary Dance Syndrome. Although it isn’t fatal, it could break out at any time and it is highly contagious. Some folks can actually break out into full Dance Fever, causing widespread distraction and contagious twitching among his or her peers, along with scattered snickers and giggles. The cure for this is usually simple. The afflicted subject, upon discovering that the room full of peers is watching intently, will usually be overcome by a sudden and total air of nonchalance, accompanied by temporary blushing. The effects are only momentary and not in any way harmful. Still, be aware that you could easily become a victim of IDS.

And while we are on the subject of music, I’ve been concerned lately by the continual classifying and sub-classifying of musical genres. It almost seems that many of these are being defined just for the sake of causing exclusivity. The ‘connoisseurs of musical categorizing’ have almost outdone themselves in their efforts, but there is yet some ground to be covered. They have done about all they can with the music itself—if it is not too much of a stretch to refer to some of it by that name—but now they need to concentrate on the musicians.

For instance, where is the ‘9-Fingered Keyboardist’ category? Or the ‘Lame, One Eyed Bassist’ category? We have already had a few guitarists with missing fingers. Grateful Dead and Glass Harp. And, with Def Leppard, we already have the ‘One Armed Drummer’ category and that man is amazing, is he not? No disrespect meant at all. I just see the possibilities and state them. The Universe demands it of me. What you do with the information is up to you.*

*Any similarity to actual knowledge is purely coincidental. Should you become injured while engaged in the thinking of any of these thoughts, the author assumes no legal responsibility.

What if we were to use some clues from already-named products to take them beyond their present stages, to their logical and ultimate limits? One of my own boys gave this example: the Porta-Potty. He said that with that as a basic foundation, why not develop the Portal-Potty, combining the concept of the outhouse with a genuine matter transfer device (a la Star Trek) to project the refuse into oblivion. You would never need to have waste treatment plants again. Ingenious! It lends new meaning to the term Black Hole, does it not? Although I can’t help but think of that day when the exploration of space leads us to discover the planet all this refuse is going to. I certainly hope it is uninhabited. Still, the future is flush with possibilities or at least one must hope. My wife’s niece recently pointed out to me that the blueprints for the Starship Enterprise have no restroom facilities. No problem! “Beam it down, Mr. Chekhov.” Aye, Captain.

Although you sometimes need to laugh at yourself to remain sane, you simply must laugh at other people, too. You can’t help it. Especially when you see the goofy things they say and do. Take signs, for instance. Here are a few masterpieces—real signs:

Hagar’s ½ Pounder Cookies.
Over 163 served!
(This entrepreneur is a forward-looking individual, is he not?)

One Stop Shopping—
Miracle Grow and Viagra.
(I would think that if one doesn’t work, the other should. It begs the question of whether such a place as Viagra Falls exists--after all, what goes up must come down, no?)

Or this one:

(Displayed proudly under a nicely rounded ‘Golden W’—perhaps it accidentally flipped over in a windstorm?)

The things you witness on buses are often bizarre. People who talk to themselves. People who talk to others that don’t want to pay attention to them. People who talk to people who aren’t there at all. People who yell at imaginary people. And still other people who speak in the third person so that they can stay out of the arguments that they are having with the imaginary people. Actually, this last one is quite brilliant in a really warped sort of way…(I’m glad I thought of it.)

The signs you see on buses can be very funny, too. Because the riders may speak many languages, the signs are often pictographs of what you can and cannot do on the bus—such as not putting your feet on the seat, no open drink containers, no eating on the bus, no radios turned on, etc. The funny part is that the statements accompanying the pictures are written like The Commandments of God, except for one. Under the picture of what appears to be a 9mm handgun, it says “No weapons, Please.” In fact, it is the only one that says “please.” I guess they figure it doesn’t pay to antagonize a possibly armed passenger and that being polite will somehow help to defuse any probable situations before they happen. Good thinking. Just might explain the old adage that “an armed society is a polite society.” We’ll have to ruminate on that one awhile, I reckon. I wonder if a bus-load of people armed with open drink containers could take down a man with a 9mm, or would just putting enough feet on the seats keep him from boarding in the first place? “Sorry, man—all filled up. Wait for the next one.”

Another one that struck me as funny (and scary) was a conversation that was a real CON-versation. Two men were talking together in the bus. Now, you would have sworn by their attitudes that this was as innocent as two little old ladies discussing the injustice of how one had been overcharged for peaches at the market—“I only bought three, Margaret, and they charged me for four!” “Why, the nerve of some people!” Except this wasn’t two little old ladies. These men had obviously served time—both of them. After the initial comparison of who got out when, etc., the talk went something like this:

“I was convicted of four robberies and I only committed three!”

“Wow, that isn’t fair, Bro! That just ain’t right!”

“Yeah, I know!”

Tsk, tsk. To think they should be treated in such a manner when they were only trying to better themselves and help society—what is this world coming to? It just ain’t fair, Bro.


I should have learned not to bet at an early age. First grade, as a matter of fact—in an instance of what might today be labeled child abuse, it was then called Common Sense and Logical Consequence.

My first grade teacher, whom I know dearly loved me (in retrospect I can see that quite clearly), was having trouble with lack of cooperation from a student in her class. He would not stay put in his chair, no matter how often she asked him to do so or escorted him back to it. So, she improvised a solution—she tied him to it! Don’t ask me where she got the rope. Maybe she was Girl Scout leader or something. All I know is that she was armed and ready for any situation that could arise—and I do mean any! That should have been my first clue.

One day she threatened to paddle a student in the class (the same kid, as I recall—he was a bit slow on the uptake; but then, what I am about to tell leaves me no bragging room, either) and, as I recall, she finally did. She always kept her word…darn it. So, being the extra smart and resourceful child that I was, I bet her that my Mom could paddle harder than she could. At the time it seemed I was attempting to brag in favor of my mother’s extraordinary abilities but, for the life of me, now I don’t know why. Anyway, there weren’t too many exchanges of opinion in that conversation before the actual physics demonstration began—end of discussion. I was an instant convert and from then on took her at her word. She later told my Mom what had happened and my mother expounded her undying gratitude and pronounced infinite blessings upon this teacher for all of eternity. So much for defending my mother’s honor. At least I didn’t get it again when I got home.

Actually, in ensuing years, several teachers told my mother that they wished they could have had her children in their own classes, because we were always so cheerful and polite (that may have been the Grade One lesson that did it for me). She just had to ask—“Are you sure you’re talking about my kids?” Thanks, Mom. We love you, too.


I think we should discuss Einstein’s Theory of Relativity right about now. There are a lot of folks that can’t understand it, but I came up with a way to illustrate it and nearly everyone can figure this one out.

Let’s start with an outhouse. (Trust me, okay? This is gonna work.) Anyway, the outhouse is built at a distance of 100 feet from the house. That is a reasonable distance. Okay, now here is where the science comes in. Let’s suppose it is the dead of winter and it is windy and 20 degrees below zero. The outhouse doesn’t seem like its only 100 feet away anymore, does it? Now it seems like it is a full 100 yards away!

Conversely, let us now assume that it is the middle of August and 110 degrees in the shade. Need I explain that the outhouse is now 100 yards too close to the house? (Yes, I know it was only 100 feet from the house. Trust me, this works, too.) The distance hasn’t changed, but your viewpoint most certainly has. You see, all things really are relative. And if you think that explanation stinks, I ask you to come up with a better one.


What’s up with all the shallow stuff on the Internet these days? It’s like it was written for 12-year-olds. A perfect example is one I saw just the other day. FIND OUT WHICH CELEBRITY YOU ARE! read the headline of the ad. O-o-o-o-K! So, I went to the site and answered a few questions before I saw where I was going—the path to Hell.

‘Hey, wait a minute! Why do you need my phone number, my email address, a blood sample, some brain tissue and my passport, Socialist Security Number, the keys to my car and all my credit cards? I think something is wrong here!’ And then I find out that before I can do all of that, I have to participate in 3 offers from Section One, five from Section Two and 2 from…Section Seventy-Five! I don’t know what you would do, but I’m strongly considering not doing it at all, quite frankly.


As I was growing up, my mother wanted to teach me to eat all kinds of foods, so she would put a spoon of everything on my plate and instruct me that I was to ‘take one bite’. There were few things I wouldn’t eat. I’m still that way. But some things I never learned to tolerate, let alone like them, no matter how many times I ate ‘just one bite’. Stewed tomatoes was one of them. I still despise them. I wouldn’t feed these to someone I didn’t like…with very few exceptions.

‘Eat one bite.’

‘Mom, I ate one bite last time. I hated them.’

‘Just one bite this time, too.’

‘Mom, I ate one bite the last 32 times. I hated them then and I hate them now. Do you really think that the 33rd time is going to be the miracle that makes me like them?’

(NOTE: This conversation was real, except for the last sentence—she would have washed my mouth out with stewed tomatoes.)

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