The Humble Farmer

Banquet Speaker, Entertainer, Humorist

Location: St. George, Maine, United States

I enjoy standing on stages in front of sober people who like to laugh. I enjoy playing bass in a jazz band.

Monday, January 10, 2005

January 28, 2005 Tentative Radio Rants


Last night I saw one of the funniest episodes of Keeping Up Appearances that have ever been aired. It was the show where Richard retires and is pressed into becoming a movie maker. You’ve known this for years, but last night I realized that the fun in watching comes from anticipating what’s going to happen. The woman who lives next door knows that every time she comes to visit, her hand is going to shake so much that she is going to drop and smash a very expensive tea cup. And because you already know what is going to happen, you watch and you wait with gleeful anticipation. The same is true of Dagwood or Charlie Brown or Archie Bunker. You have to be familiar with their fatal human flaws, before you can grasp the significance of Charlie Brown standing, saying nothing for two weeks, with his hand on a kite string beneath the kite eating tree. So if you don’t hear me say anything for two weeks, hang in there. Anyone who has listened to this program for 25 years understands.


You know that I consider this program something of a public service. I really try to talk about things that I hope will be of benefit to you, so listen closely. Although I have received almost as many letters from Nigeria as you have, this morning I got one from Barrister Frank Smith asking me to present myself as next of kin to his deceased client who had deposited forty five million dollars in a bank in Holland. Think about this. A man who has somehow managed to scrape together 45 million dollars probably has more than a little bit on the ball. Would you agree with me that he probably knows how to handle and manage his money? And this man deposited 45 million of it in a bank in Holland. You and I might do well to find out what they are paying for interest over there.


Dear humble, Here’s how you tell who is really important in any organization: it's not what they do, much less what they say they do, it's what happens when they go on vacation. Mike in Winterport ----

And ---- Here’s a riddle that you can easily solve if you were watching the morning news a while back. What’s the difference between Brad Pitt and his wife and The humble Farmer and his wife? You think about it and see if you get the answer I’ll give later on in the program. Here’s a hint for you. My wife Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, bakes a small round delicacy for me that we call muff-outs.


Fellow was in to see me the other day and he got telling about his first car which he said was a 32 Ford. Said it had a spark and throttle under the steering wheel. And when I think about it, the Model B might have had a spark and throttle in it just like a model A. But the 1932 Model B coupe that I was driving in 1951 had a 1936 V8 engine in it. So they might have taken the spark and throttle out of mine. I don’t know. But the more this fellow talked, the more I realized that he didn’t know the difference between a Model T and a Model A and a Model B. Sounded like a single man talking about women. And I could have let it rest there, but then he got telling me about a 1946 Dodge he had with suicide doors. --- You know that I’m not one of the lemme-show-you or lemme-tell-you boys, so I didn’t say anything. But as soon as he was gone, I Googled suicide doors because I had a 39 Plymouth, which is a cousin to a Dodge, and although they might have had suicide doors on a Dodge in 1934, I don’t think they had them any later than that, and if they did I’d like to know. If you know, or can direct me to a web page that tells when they took suicide doors off automobiles, I’m Anyway, the point of all this is that I Googled suicide doors. And when you Google anything, there is another commercial side bar that automatically opens up on the side. This time it said, “Suicide Doors. Huge selection. Great deals on everything.” --- Yes. You know me. You know I had to Google “backhouse” to see how the privy market is holding up. I was educated again because the pop up ad on the side bar said, “Sexy Backhouse Singles. View photos, personals and hot profiles.


Here’s a riddle that you can easily solve if you were watching the morning news a while back. What’s the difference between Brad Pitt and his wife and The humble Farmer and his wife?
Brad Pitt and his wife are breaking up.


In her valuable Speaker Net newsletter, Editor Rebecca Morgan says, “… we tend to give more information than is called for. A common example is the response to a question like "Will you be at the NSA workshop in Burbank?" "No, I've got a booking in Chicago and need to leave on Thurs." A simple "No, I won't." would suffice.”

Rebecca’s observation certainly warrants our attention because one could write volumes on the extraneous noise in conversations --- simply by repeating what has already been said. You get more credit if your footnotes are in Greek and Latin.

Rebecca’s reply of “No, I won’t” might come across as blatantly garrulous to anyone from northern Vermont, where the answer would be a simple “No.”

Benjamin Franklyn and Socrates are among the notables who addressed the issue of extraneous noise in conversation. O. W. Holmes and Woodrow Wilson also had valid opinions that should command the attention of any serious student.

You’ve got to admit that anyone who asks, if you’re going to be in Burbank is a step above the “How are you today?” people, although both camps, as Rebecca astutely points out, would probably appreciate a one word answer.

Everyone knows that “How Are You?” is no more than a formal standardized form of, “You are in my space. This is what my voice sounds like. What does your voice sound like?” The amount of space in which one feels comfortable before one feels obligated to speak differs from place to place. Russell Baker claimed that New Yorkers walk about like zombies, never making eye contact for fear of being accosted. Crocodile Dundee, on the other hand, is a classic example of a rural person who speaks to everyone he sees.

You know of cultures and countries where this How Are You I Am Fine type of conversation can be carried on by simply raising an eyebrow and shrugging a shoulder. Many suprasegmental phonemes employed by the French and Italians are body language. To end the conversatioin, all you’d have to do is tie their hands. My wife Marsha comes into the room and I know I’ve done something wrong just from her posture and the expression on her face. Remember Jiggs and Maggi in Bringing up Father? Maggie always had one hand on her hip and her chin down with one eye looking up at the ceiling. You probably know of married couples who have refined their ability to communicate to the point where they haven’t said a word to each other for years.

On the other hand, I was once asked to contribute my Spaghetti For The Single Person recipe to the Maine Writers’ Cookbook. And, because I was born and raised on the coast of Maine, I was genetically and culturally programmed to unload my whole life’s history before even listing the ingredients:

You will remember from Mark Twain’s Jumping Frog story, that years ago, way out there in the wild west, there were people who would back you into a corner and then talk for hours without saying anything. Today you’ll hear many of them hosting talk shows on AM radio.


I just made the mistake of walking out in the other room to ask Marsha what she was watching. A creepy movie. Sure enough, here was a woman police officer walking all by herself in a huge creepy gloomy coal shed where Rambo, Arnold and Clint, standing shoulder to shoulder, would fear to tread. My my. What have we here? A hand sticking out of the coal pile. What does she do? She digs until a face appears. That was enough for me and I went back to my computer. --- The people who make movies had better start getting it together. About the only program our basic cable brings up on a regular basis is Cops and watching Cops every night for a year might well be the equivalent of a police academy degree. Even a small child knows that the first thing any cop does when he --- or she steps out of the car is push a little button on his collar to either report in or request a backup. Cops are not as foolish as Hollywood makes them out to. You and I know that. We watch Cops.


Do you miss the good old songs you used to hear? I don’t see any sense in these rap songs they sing nowadays, do you? Back when I was a kid they sang songs like, Chickery Chick, chala chala, chekala romy, in a bananica, bolika wollica – and they made sense. This morning I got to thinking that it had been a long time since I had heard I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas. You know you’re old when you realize that you miss the good old songs. Old people have always cried that they no longer hear the good old songs. You probably recall Aristophanes’ story about the young man who sneered at his father when the old man requested someone sing one of the good old songs called Simoides' Shearing of the Ram. The kid had to explain to his father that Simoides’ Ram was a corny old song. Do you hear the same thing from your children and grandchildren? Do they listen to music that you can’t understand or appreciate? You might have seen a TV program advertised on which they promised to play the 40 worst songs from last year. Did it make you wonder how they could be sure they got the right ones? I’m



Recorded by : Louis Armstrong; Lawrence Brown; Eddie Condon; Arthur Godfrey; Benny Goodman; Phil Harris: Eddy Howard; Ben Pollack; Somethin' Smith; Squadronaires; Bob Wills

Now, I know all, you all don't know who I isBecause I just got here todayMy hometown is a little townWay down Dixie way Now, everybody down there from miles aroundAll calls me by my nameNow that I'm up hereIn your big cityI sure wish you'd all do the same Because I'm a ding dong daddy from DumasAnd you oughtta see me do my stuffWhy, I'm a clean cut fellaFrom Hohner's CornerOoh, you oughtta see me strut


You might have seen that documentary on Sammy the Bull who ratted out his Mafia buddies in return for a new life. How does that work? Does the FBI give informants a pension and a new house where they can spend their golden years pining away in repentance? Psychologists could have told the FBI that Type A individuals who are really good at what they do often long to go back to work, and that Sammy the Bull was one of them. Before he has unpacked his suitcase, Sammy the Bull was back in the business he understood and enjoyed. Of course because he had immunity from his past crimes, the police had to put together a whole new case from scratch. Will you tell me why it is so difficult to collect and present evidence that will put bad people in jail? Let’s go back to the program called Cops. The camera is on a fellow in a stolen car that the police are following at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. A police helicopter in the air also has a spotlight and a camera on the car. Suddenly, the car crosses the median strip and heads the wrong way on an interstate highway. An hour later, after riding on no tires and sparking, smoking rims, the car catches fire and stops. A dozen or more police cars involved in the chase converge on the burning vehicle, someone smashes out a window in the car, and the driver is dragged out and handcuffed --- at which time we hear a voice over that says, “All suspects are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.”


Are you a computer guru? I have many friends who are computer gurus. They know everything there is to know about computers. But here is a very important thing that they never told me. I figured this out myself. You know when you want to find and update a document in your computer that you go to the file folder. And then you open C drive. And then you open 2005. And then you open Radio. And then you open Rants. And then you open the rant for the upcoming week. And by then you have forgotten why you were going in there. Well, I finally figured out that I can paste that last rant on my desktop so when I get a letter from you that I want to read on the air, I can go directly to the rant for the upcoming week right there on my desktop. Simple? Yes. So simple and obvious that no one bothered to tell me about it. You can keep any unfinished document right out there on your desktop where it is handy. You’re welcome.


Humble, I have to get up early tomorrow and teach a school class about the history of Vermont. There's so little going on over there that the web site that lists 50 facts for each state could only think of 14 things to say about VT. Once you get past the cows and the maple trees and the snow, that's about it. Richard in Bar Harbor


Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.


While clicking through the channels the other night, I stumbled on a program called “The 40 worst You Done Me Wrong songs.” It is a program I didn’t get to see because it was time for bed. But it is my understanding that Brad Terry wants to make an album of You Done Me Wrong Songs. If you know where we can find a website that lists You Done Me Wrong songs, please pass it along to me. I’m sure that Brad would be interested.


One of the hardest things I have to do all week, is break into a fantastic solo by Sonny Stitt or Django or Garner or Clark Terry to say, “Argh, where does the time go? Sorry, but I’ve got to make way for Marian McPartland and get out of here. Remember, tell your friends they can hear this show anywhere in the world on the Internet --- and --- Nikki has very cleverly posted my 8 most recent shows on our Maine Public Radio Website. With any luck I’ll be back here next Friday night at 7 --- waiting for YOU. Thank you very much for listening.” Well, because my friend, The Wisdom Weasel, agrees with me, that it is a sacrilege to talk over one of those great solos, next week I think the last tune will have to be rap, rock or country and western: Tex Ritter: “Jealous Heart, Oh, Jealous Heart stop beating Can't you see the damage you have done.” Would you mind if I had to break into that? I’m
You are listening to the cheer me up part of the program. No matter how low you might feel right now, I’m going to say something that will make you feel good about yourself. To start with, not one day of your life was wasted. Everything you have done that made you the person you are today was worth while. If you’ll think back over all the wonderful things you have done, you’ll know I’m right. Remember all the years you spent in college, reading history books and sociology books and anthropology books? You learned even more about yourself and the way people think when you went abroad to study for a year. Even when you got older, you still enjoyed those two and three week trips you made to visit good friends in other countries. So sit back, savor those memories from bygone years, and give yourself a hug. What? All that study, all that travel, all of those enjoyable exchanges with friends all over the world didn’t make you rich? No, perhaps it didn’t. But here’s the good part. It did keep you from becoming a fascist.


Good news for health loving people who like to travel. There is no more smoking in workplaces in Italy. This means you can now eat inside of Italian restaurants. I think there is also no smoking in Ireland and Norway. Sweden will join them sometime this summer. Of course, some people are pretty militant about their right to poison their friends and neighbors when and where they want, so I’d like to know if these long overdue laws are enforced. If you’ve been to Norway or Ireland or Italy, you might let us know if these laws are working. Have they really eliminated the smoking areas in Norwegian and Irish and Italian airports? Trains used to be wicked hard on the lungs, because no matter where they smoked on a train, the smoke would blow all the way through. I’m and I’d like to hear from you.


Dear humble, Seeing the snow fall today made me recount an event that took place at our school last year. I thought you might like to whine and snivel about it a bit.
It was early April, and unusually late for a snowfall. We got about twenty to thirty centimeters or so, and word had it that school would be cancelled the next morning. Yet it wasn't, and when we got to school, all the students and most of the teachers were fuming.
Word had it that the driving was poor, and some cars had gone off the road. Alarmed by this, a charismatic student broke onto the morning announcements and asked the students to go on strike for our safety. Over a hundred students skipped class that day to protest this "outrage". The local news channel came to film the disobedient students.
So where has the Maine spirit gone? Doesn't anyone who lives here expect to drive in a little snow? I earnestly believe that today's youth don't know how to pick their battles- protesting for a snow day?? But perhaps all of society is growing cowardly in the face of old man winter. What do you think?
With all due respect,
paul in Hampden


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