Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Joke Blog- Four of my favorite jokes and why

I love jokes. My favorite ones gives a little lesson about human nature. If they have religious or spiritual overtones, all the better. Here are four of my favorite jokes that have a religious or spiritual nature  and make a comment about man's stubbornness to stay human. After all, flesh aspires but remains earthbound.
 Here the are in no particular order.

1. A rabbi, a cantor and the custodian of a synagogue are all engaged in prayer. There's a prayer in Judaism that reminds the practitioner of his or her insignificance.
The Rabbi is wailing. Roughly translated from hebrew, he intones: "G-d, I am nothing. Absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch...completely and utterly...nothing. 
The Cantor cries to heaven beating on his chest: G-d, me...nothing. Less than nothing. A complete zero, me...nothing, nothing, nothing.
The custodian is also crying, his head in his hands: G-d, please...accept that I am nothing, less than zero. Worthless. Nil. Nada. Nothing.

The Cantor looks over to the Rabbi and pointing his thumb to the custodian whispers, "Look who's nothing."

2. Jesus and St. Peter are playing golf. St. Peter hits the ball and it lands on the green about 5 feet from the hole. He's pretty happy with himself, figuring he has a birdie. 
Jesus now swings his iron and misses the ball entirely. But the wind knocks the ball off the tee just as a rabbit runs out from the woods and grabs the ball in its mouth and starts running down the green. An eagle soars down from above, grabs the rabbit and flies over the hole. Now a bolt of lightening strikes the eagle. He drops to the ground, the rabbit falls out of its mouth. The ball falls out of the rabbit's mouth and a sudden gust of wind blows the ball into the cup. A hole-in-one.
St. Peter looks at Jesus and says, "Hey, you wanna play golf or you wanna screw around?" 

3. A 90 year old woman insists on going to Tibet. Against the pleadings of everyone she knows she buys the ticket, flies 25 hours with several stops in India and Nepal and finally lands in the small dusty airport in Lhasa. When she leaves the plane she immediately insists on going to the Long-Chen Nying-Thig Monastery.
"Lady, do you know how hard it is to get to the Long-Chen Nying-Thig Monastery. It's a three day journey over the mountains on yaks traipsing through four feet of snow."
"I don't care. I want to go to the monastery!"
So to make a long story short, three days later she's at the gates of the majestic religious residence and insists on seeing the great Rinpoche himself.
"Lady, NO one sees our great teacher. He's in a five year retreat and is in deep meditation."
"I don't care! I want to see the Rinpoche!"
After much consulting, they give her a test. "You can see the Rinpoche but first you must do 1000 prostrations and then you'll only be allowed to say three words to him."
And so, after several days this poor 90 year old woman completes the 1000 prostrations and is ushered into the great hall where the great Rinpoche himself sits at the highest seat surrounded by gold brocades, priceless tankas and silver goblets. He has a long black beard and fine satin clothes. His tall black hat studded with jewels glares from the hundreds of candles lit in the Buddha's honor. 
She walks up to him and mindful of the three words she's allowed, says, 
"Sheldon, enough already!"

4. A man steps into the confessional and addresses the priest. "I'm 84 years old and my wife of 50 years died a few years ago. Recently I met a 35 year old woman and we've been making love every morning, afternoon, and evening for the last two months.
The priest aghast finally mutters, "I understand my son. Say 50 hail Marys and with the rosary, 50 Our Fathers."
The man says, "I don't think I can do that, Father. You see, I'm jewish.
The priest is taken aback,"So why are you telling me this?"

The man replies, "Are you kidding, I'm telling everybody!"

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What Trump has in common with my 6th grade G.O. President.

I'm taking a  break from illusion to tell a TRUE story. Sixth grade. 1962. P.S. 117.  Queens (I note the location only to point out it was the same borough Donald Trump comes from). 
During the campaign for student body president one of the candidates stood at the podium and promised the school a coke machine in the cafeteria. This met with a cheer bordering on hysteria. As one of the hundreds of students sitting in the musty auditorium (it was an old school even in 1962). I wondered how the hell this crummy sixth grader was going to get a soda machine into the lunchroom. And I couldn't believe the student body wasn't skeptical. Not even his opponent asked for details.
He won in a landslide.
A few weeks later I met him in the cafeteria. This was our conversation:
Me: So, where's the coke machine?
Newly elected President: I asked the principal if we could have one.
Me: What did he say?
Newly elected President: He said, no. 

During last year's presidential campaign, that story kept running through my head. When Trump promised to make the country great again, I thought yep, and we'll get a coke machine in the cafeteria, too.
When Trump promised to build a wall that the Mexicans would pay for, I thought yep, and we'll get a coke machine in the cafeteria, too.
When he said he'd bring back jobs for the coal miners, I thought yep, and we'll get a coke machine in the cafeteria, too.
When he said I'm going to overturn Obamacare, I thought yep, and we'll get a coke machine in the cafeteria, too.
I didn't want those things (but I really did want a coke machine in the cafeteria) but enough people did want them, that it got him elected.
So now the conversation could be:
Me-Why didn't you overturn Obamacare
Newly elected President-I went to congress and asked them to do it.
Me-What did they say?
Newly elected President-They said, no. 

As P.T. Barnum was supposed to have said, but didn't, "There's a sucker born every minute."
But most of us already knew that, right?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Metaphor as illusion


I've been thinking about metaphors lately. I love them. 
The world is filled with metaphors. Speech and text are metaphors for objects or emotions. When I write 'cup', obviously there's no cup there. Cup represents an object in the world. 
(stay with me here, I'll be getting to my point soon).
The same with photos and movies. The images aren't the things themselves, they represent something in the outside world. Duh. 
Chess is a metaphor for war. Monopoly for business. All games are metaphors.

Tools are metaphors. A rifle is a metaphor for our teeth, a table for our lap, a knife for our nails, a hammer for a fist, adding machines for fingers, binoculars for eyes and on and on. 
Harry, my ventriloquial dummy is a metaphor for a boy. He's also a metaphor for impishness, irreverence and questioning authority. 

In Understanding Media, Marshal McCluhan talks about content and the medium that conveys it. It's the medium that changes society, not the content emanating from the medium. So first there was the stage, then movies, then radio, then TV and now computers. The content he says, stays the same, it's the technology that effects us. The technology (or medium) isn't the metaphor, the content is. 

Thoughts are metaphors (all right, I'm getting closer).  When we have a thought of a cup, it is NOT the cup. It's a neuron firing reflecting something that our visual sense picked up in the past and is now reminding us of. So the medium of our ego is the mind, the content are our thoughts. But because thoughts are metaphors, they're  illusions. (Bingo!) 
The mind is the medium, the content are our thoughts. And so, it's all an illusion, until we get past our thoughts and see the mind itself or as the great Tibetan scholar, Herbert Guenther put it, mind as such. More about this later. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Jokes as Illusion

Steve and Harry's "Conversations With My Dummy" podcast

A good joke is a small fruit that peels back a layer to reveal a kernel of truth. This is why I like them. Because I'm into illusion, as my blog readers know, whether it's my work as a ventriloquist, my podcast "Conversations With My Dummy, my stage act, being a magician, or my meditation practice. 
Jokes cut through our ignorance and share a greater truth causing us to laugh. The punchline pops our bubble of complacency and shows us our delusion. I don't mean something necessarily profound is revealed (though it can be) just a small truth that was there the whole time but we couldn't perceive until the punchline revealed it to us. 

Here's an example:

You give a man a fish and you feed him but for a day
But if you teach a man how to get rid of him for the whole weekend. (ba-da-boom)

To reiterate, punchlines are small verbal explosions that cut through our illusion. The set up leads you down a garden path. Taking advantage of learned behavior, cultural norms and society's collective knowledge until the punchline reveals the deeper level underneath. 

We all know how the above joke is supposed to end: 

You give a man a fish and you feed him but for a day
But if you teach a man how to feed him for the rest of his life. 

When we hear the first two lines, we expect the old cliche. It's so tired and corny our mind is being put to sleep. But suddenly, bang! Everything changes with "you get rid of him for the whole weekend." Now we're talking about long term marriage. That wives want the freedom of a weekend to not have their husbands hanging around annoying them. 
It's suddenly about women's  empowerment. Now we understand the joke was never about how to keep man from starving, but from the get go, it was about how a woman can get rid of her man for the weekend. It was funny at the expense of the males of our species. When I tell this joke in my comedy act on stage, the women always laugh more than the men.

Here are a few more: Note how the last line makes you go back, rethink and reinterpret the joke. You are awakened to its true nature. This takes a fraction of a second. But it leaves you amused and educated. 

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a's too dark to read. 

Don't drink and might hit a bump and spill it all over yourself. 

I became a Godfather last week...I had my uncle rubbed out. 

I was walking down the street yesterday and saw a dead baby ghost in the middle of the road...on second thought it could have been a handkerchief.

When it comes time to die let’s hope we go peacefully in our sleep 
like my grandfather... and not screaming in terror like his passengers

I’ve been smoking for 25 years and there’s nothing wrong with my lung.

I felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body. Then I was born.

I've been married 40 years and it feels like ten minutes...underwater.

Even knock-knocks contain sudden enlightenment (enlightenment with a small e, not the Enlightenment of the Buddhas).

Who's there? 
Picasso who? 
Picasso you, I'm telling this dumb joke. 

Or lightbulb jokes. 
How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb? 
How many?
A fish. 

A lot of Henny Youngman jokes take us to this place. 
The most famous: 
Take my wife...please. 

The first word take, takes on a different meaning when the fourth word, please, is included. Before he says please, you think he's going to finish the sentence with a description. Take my she's a good cook. Take my wife...she's really intelligent.  But with the word please, the joke dives to a deeper level. Please take her away from me. And we're left to ponder the hell this poor slob is going through. 

Put downs do this too:

You have beautiful hair...coming from each nostril.

You're pretty...pretty ugly. 

You're like an angel fallen from the sky...too bad you had to land on your face. 

Puns, on the other hand, work on a different principle. But pun spelled backwards is N-U-P. And that's a nup out of me.