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.

Friday, February 11, 2005

February 18, 2005 ------- Radio Rants

+ order Harry Allen CDs Harry Allen’s web page

1. While I was out at a farmer’s convention in Grand Rapids, I met a very smart farmer. I asked him what he had to do with the convention, and he said he’d helped out on a committee. And when I asked him what he had done to help, he said, “I stood back and got out of the way.”
2 We got an email the other day from Betty, one of Marsha’s 47 cousins. Betty said that she was going to be on a program called Jane Pauley. So for an hour we had to watch Betty and some of her friends on Jane Pauley’s program. Please tell me what you know about this man and his book. I’m The expert on this program was Dr. Michael Roizen, a gerontologist and the author of The RealAge Makeover. The way I understand it, if you do certain things, you can be younger than your chronological age. Eating walnuts will make you three years younger. 10 teaspoons of tomato sauce helps. The 4 ounces of nasty tasting red wine I chug while holding my breath every day is good. Eat 1 ounce of chocolate every day. Drink coffee, which cuts your chance of alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Avoid white bread. And here is one that many people you know will hate: eat breakfast. I’m a firm believer in breakfast, but some of the crankiest people you know will tell you that they never eat breakfast. You can hear them: “I don’t need breakfast. Never eat it. I don’t need breakfast.” This man, this expert on what to eat so your body won’t age, would have earned more points with me if he hadn’t died his hair. But I’ve got to admit that he has helped cousin Betty: She’s taken up kick boxing.
3. If you know any wise old people who say things that make you laugh, there is a good chance that they could do the same thing seventy years before when they were 14. When I was a kid our next door neighbor was Errold Holmstrom who was named after someone you’ve heard me tell about many times: my fourth cousin and good friend, Gramp Wiley. Errol Wiley. Errol Holmstrom is 89 or so now. He used to teach auto mechanics in the state prison and he also knows how to fix radios and TVs. Because he can fix or make most anything, for the past 30 or so years I’ve usually come to him when I wanted to know what to do. The other day we were talking about the pills you see advertised on TV. And Holmstrom says, “Have you ever seen a pill advertised that didn’t give you a toothache or hemorrhoids while it was curing you? You’re willing to put up with the unpleasant side effects because in the long run you think it makes you feel better.” You know, you could say the same thing about marriage.
4. While flying from Grand Rapids to Detroit, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a dentist. He was an unusual seat mate because he wanted to talk. He said that he had bought a house in Florida because by the time he gets around to retire, he wouldn’t be able to afford one. He said the house that he bought in Florida goes up in value about 20 percent every year. He said that dentistry has its challenges. People ask a lot of questions. You finally get them calmed down enough to numb them up, and they say, “I’ve got to go to the bathroom.” So they go to the bathroom and people are starting to pile up outside in the waiting room, but they come back and you numb them up and just about the time they’re ready to drill, they’ll say, “I shouldn’t have drunk so much coffee. I have to go to the bathroom again.” And people are piling up in the waiting room. He claims that dentists are some of the few people who are trying to put themselves out of business, which I thought was a nice observation. I asked him why he was a dentist, and he said, “If you had a choice, which end would you work on?”
5, I can’t remember if I told you about the woman who made me a subway sandwich out in Grand Rapids. I was at the National Farmers Organization’s annual meeting and it took me six or eight subways to get through the two days. This woman and I were the only two people in the Subway place which gave her a chance to rush around just like my wife Marsha, The APW, and polish the glass in all the counters and cases. I could see that she was a digger so I mentioned that it was unusual to see someone taking such an interest in a place if they didn’t own it themselves. And she said that she used to own a restaurant, but she couldn’t get any good help so she sold it. But she continued to work there. And after a year it was doing so well she bought it back from the new owner. But she had the same trouble again getting help, so she sold it again but continued to work there. I said that all that must have exhausted her. And she said, “It was worse than that. I changed political parties three times.”
6. According to the little notebook you’ve seen me carry in a pocket above my right knee, someone named Julie told me that she went to a bull fight in Spain. I asked her how she could stand it and she said it helps if you were raised on a farm. She also told me that Lion King is an awesome play and that I should see it. If you have seen Lion King I’m and I’d like to know if it really is awesome. Julie, and I can’t even remember if I was sitting next to her on an airplane or how I happened to be talking with her --- Julie said we should have a drug related Olympics. If you’re not on steroids, don’t even think of applying.

What do you think?
7. Every society has its own standards for bravery. What is bravery? Is a person brave if they suddenly jump into some volatile situation and save somebody? You might argue that if you don’t have time to think about it, it’s not bravery. Are you brave if you are doing something you don’t want to do that somebody who has power over you tells you you have to do? Does it take bravery to walk out of a situation that you can see is not doing anyone a bit of good? He who smiles and walks away, will live to smile another day. Would it surprise you to learn that some people, including myself, might believe that I should at least be considered for a medal for my bravery? Listen closely. One brisk spring day in 1963 when I was teaching in the town of Lee, Maine, I took a bevy of 8th grade girls to Mount Kahtahdin on a camping trip. Would it surprise you to know that the bravest man I know can barely speak English? He drives a taxi in Boson.
9. Perhaps you have to read yourself to sleep at night. I do. No matter how tired I might be, I have to have a soothing book in my hand before I can go to sleep. Oedipus Rex is too exciting, but chapter 17 in John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding does the job. Chapter 17 concerns the Idea of Infinity. There is no question in my mind but what Locke’s chapter on Infinity reigned as the most obscure and incomprehensible piece of writing in the English language right up until Windows for Dummies.
10. I was listening to Harry Allen & Joe Cohn playing some Al Cohn tunes which made me think about a scene from Roger Rabbit. Remember Roger Rabbit? He was a toon. A cartoon character. And when the bad guy wanted to find out where Roger Rabbit was hiding. He knocked, knockety knock knock --- and then he paused. Because it was impossible for a tune to hear those first knocks without answering with the last two. Knock knock. So the bad guy was able to tell from the knocks where Roger Rabbit was hiding. So. A musician is hiding in a closet. A bad guy comes in the room and instead of looking around to see were the musician is hiding, he goes over to the amplifier and puts on Harry Allen playing an Al Cohn tune. Half way through the first chorus Harry Allen does something so incredibly clever that the musician, who is hiding in the closet, can’t control himself and hollers, “Yeah, yeah.”
11. Waldoboro photographer-artist Cindy McIntyre began collecting old Maine postcards about six years ago, and made it her mission to re-photograph the views of Maine’s towns and landmarks as they look today.

The result is a book published by Down East Books titled “A Century Apart – Maine Then and Now.” Five dozen Main Streets, lighthouses, and landmarks depict the changes – and the survivors – of a century of Maine life. Each county is represented, and a page of text accompanies each set of images.

Our friend Maine historian and author Neil Rolde says, “Charming, enlightening, and fun."
Cindy says I can give away one of these excellent books filled with Maine pictures of then and now, so tell me why you deserve it. I’m As you know, I’m impressed by wit and brevity, not necessarily in that order. In case two people write and I am stuck with a tie, The Almost Perfect Woman’s decision will be final. No fair, you cry. You don’t have email.

785 River Road, St. George, ME 04860.

Remember that you can get printed particulars on tunes played and my commentary by asking to receive my weekly newsletter, The Whine & Snivel.



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