#239 Jul 31, 2002

CHICAGO: Wasn’t that great news about those miners. It wasn’t luck either. Those old boys knew what they was doing, all of the ones on the ground, and the nine under it.

That was the best job of surveying since George Washington staked out Mt. Vernon for himself. And these fellows did it in the dark. When they said, “Drill here,” nobody argued with ’em, and the rest is history.

Did you read about those Cape Cod cowboys trying to bulldog a herd of whales? It’s tough enough to wrestle a steer while riding a fast horse, but to wrangle a whale while you’re standing knee deep in the Atlantic Ocean, it takes more nerve than the average Yale man can muster. Somehow, those sailin’ cowpokes drove a herd of 50 right out into deep water. But, the next day those same whales showed up 25 miles away on another dry beach. You know, when a whale is determined to commit suicide, there’s not much you can do to prevent it, even in Massachusetts.

Last week Congress kicked out one of their own, James Traficant of Youngstown, Ohio. And yesterday a judge put him right back on the public dole. She gave him 8 years in the federal pen, but he’s eligible to get out two years sooner if he pays a $150,000 fine, keeps his mouth shut, and gets a haircut.

Folks in Youngstown were shocked to find out he wears a wig. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if you’re going to wear a hairpiece, why buy a blue light special at K-Mart?

He says he’s running for Congress from jail this November, and I don’t doubt it. He won’t win the District, but in Youngstown, of all votes cast, he’ll get at least 110 percent. Just like the last 7 elections.

Last week I told you about the drought in northwestern Ohio, but it’s nothing like some of our western states. Colorado is so short of water, in Denver the Mayor is giving voters a choice, “Instead of washing clothes, it’s ok if you don’t wear any.” And for personal hygiene, “Only wash the stinky parts.”

Now, I can understand a mayor trying to attract the summer tourists, but even Ghandi wore a loin cloth. If the men of Denver choose to wear nothing, I think they should at least bathe completely. Men have no experience at successfully choosing which body parts to scrub, and which ones to leave till next month. They don’t want to be walking down the street, and have someone yell out, “You missed a spot.”

Perhaps the local Baptist churches can be persuaded to open their doors for weekly immersion, without the necessity of being saved again. For this emergency situation they should even welcome the Methodists… sprinkling don’t provide enough relief in these hot months.

Europe has been rehearsing for a water shortage for centuries, but this is no time for us to start adopting their bathing rituals. It only works for them because they can buy French perfume wholesale.

I’m here in Chicago this week for a convention of engineers. This particular bunch don’t design skyscrapers, or pickup trucks, or computers, or tunnels that cost $20,000,000,000. No sir, most of these engineers tell me they work with living things, like plants and animals, and other things you learned about in biology class. Some of them design machines that harvest plants and feed the animals, including us.

Their new president announced that in 50 years, we’ll have 9 Billion people to feed, and water, not oil from Iraq, is what we’ll be worried about. He may be right, if we don’t dry up sooner.

Maybe these folks that choose to live up here on the shores of Lake Michigan, in the snow and rain, aren’t so foolish after all. These Great Lakes just might come in handy later on.

Historical quotes from Will Rogers:

“Poor coffee and no bathtubs have drove more Americans out of England than unfamiliarity with their language has.” DT #849, April 16, 1929.

“Europeans are born and raised on beer and wine. They have it at their tables at every meal, the same as Alabama has quinine. Europeans have been accustomed all their lives to drink all they want, sometimes for hours at a time, and then get up and walk home, even in narrow streets. Headaches were as foreign to them as bathtubs.” How To Be Funny, May 1930

#238 Jul 25, 2002

HOYTVILLE, Ohio: Up here in this corner of Ohio the farmers are mighty disappointed. The weather just ain’t cooperating with Congress at all.

See, back in May it rained every day, so corn didn’t get planted till June. You know how optimistic farmers are, and this bunch ranks at the top. These are so optimistic they all vote Republican.

They figured with a good summer and a late frost, the good Lord would provide a fair number of bushels. With what they could raise, and whatever Congress voted to tack onto every bushel, they would get through the winter.

Only problem was, when it stopped raining, it STOPPED raining. The corn came up, but it’s taken all summer to get knee high. You may wonder, why not irrigate? Well, California gets their water from Colorado, but these folks get theirs from the sky. Lake Erie is only fifty miles, but it’s too far for a bucket brigade.

One fellow was asked, “why didn’t you buy crop insurance?” “Well, it was raining so much this spring, I put every available dollar on flood insurance. I bet on the wrong disaster.”

Twenty bushels to the acre, if they’re lucky, won’t draw much of a farm bill supplement. A lot of good folks started the year as big farmers, and may end it small. Kinda like Wall Street investors.

There is some good news this week. Art Linkletter is celebrating birthday number 90. I heard him say he started his first job in September, 1929. He was an office boy on Wall Street. So you see he survived that big crash a month later, and if he can do it, these farmers will, too.

Historical quote from Will Rogers:

“Some good news in the papers. It rained in the Middle West. Farmers are learning that the relief they get from the sky beats what they get from Washington.” DT #2445, June 4, 1934

Weekly Comments #237 July 17, 2002

ORLANDO, Florida: Well, all I know is what I read in the Orlando Sentinel or can see from the nineteenth floor of the Marriott World Center. The view from the balcony covers a portion of Walter Disney’s eastern real estate holdings, and the newspaper covers all of Central Florida, so it’s pretty much the same territory.

Oranges are important here. Maybe not as important as Mickey Mouse or Snow White or Pocahontas, but this is still Orange County. The orange growers have suffered an attack of citrus canker, and they’re trying to wipe that out. If they can get the neighboring homeowners with citrus trees in the back yard to cooperate, they can get this disease under control. Then the only threat to their farming operation will be Disney expansion plans.

I’m down here for a convention of the National Speakers Association. There’s only two things that will draw a sane man to Florida in July, and that’s either your children (or grandchildren) intent on touring Disney World between rain showers, or a Convention.

The Marriott can’t do anything about the heat and humidity outside but they keep it comfortable inside. In fact it’s so cool, when you step outside your lenses fog over. Kinda like a Wisconsin winter, only in reverse.

Last night NSA picked five more members for the Speakers Hall of Fame, and another one for the top prize in the entire association, the Cavett Robert Award. Five of the six honorees are humorists, so prospects are looking better. Here’s another thing… two are from Oklahoma, two from Texas, and one from Missouri. I think we need a new name for this region of the country, call it the “Humor Belt”.

Well, I haven’t told you who these folks are yet. George Campbell is from Norman, Oklahoma, and you probably know him better as “Joe Malarkey, the world’s worst motivational speaker”. Larry Winget is from Tulsa, and nobody has figured out exactly what he does, but it’s always funny. Mark Mayfield is a sharp looking farm boy from Missouri who gets laughs just telling about a car wreck. Suzie Humphreys is from Arlington, Texas, and she says things funny. And Bob Murphey is from Nacogdoches. The only “outsider” is Lisa Ford, from Atlanta, and she is so good at teaching businesses how to give great customer service that she don’t have to be try to be funny.

Let me tell you something else about these humorists. They are all different. I don’t mean just different from you and me, they’re different from each other. That’s one thing about good humorists, they don’t want to be like anyone else.

Bob Murphey received the Cavett Award, presented to him by last year’s winner, Zig Ziglar. Can you believe it, Bob has been speaking professionally since 1950. Ask yourself, or your older kinfolk, this question: Who were you being entertained by in 1950, and how many of ’em are still out there getting laughs? Bob Murphey didn’t earn this award just because he outlived everybody. He is still among the best, and he is always willing to help the young ones get better. Of course, if NSA ever holds a contest to pick the fastest talker, he would likely finish last.

I heard a young humorist Monday that you want to keep your eye on. Tim Gard, from Colorado, is going places. But only in an aisle or window seat, if he can help it.

Some of you are probably wondering, what about those Tall Women speakers you always write about? Well, they’re here, exactly 17 of ’em. (Yes, I counted them, they’re not hard to spot.)

The total membership in this group is up to 28. I overheard one young woman say she can’t get in because she is only 5 foot 10. It was the first time anyone ever told her she wasn’t tall enough.

I want to end on a personal note. It was at the 1996 NSA convention, six years ago, at this same Marriott in Orlando, that a wonderful speaker from Woodward, Oklahoma, Dale Minnick, took one look at me and said, “You’ve got to be Will Rogers.” Tragically, Dale passed away of a heart attack two years later. Anything I ever accomplish as Will Rogers Today, it started with him.

Historical Quotes from Will Rogers:

“We were all down to a mighty fine dinner they gave to Walter Disney. He is the Sire and dam of that gift to the world, ‘Mickey Mouse.’… (He) has a God-given gift of human nature.” WA #564, Oct. 15, 1933

(The next one is from an article Will wrote as a humorous ‘debate’ between Florida and California. This is part of his California response after Florida claims to be known for it’s oranges…)

“I will admit there is a bootleg variety of orange that thrives up to the size of a green plum on the banks of your swamps; but as for being called an orange, that is only done, of course, through a sense of humor. We take Florida oranges to California, dry them and use them for golf balls. As for taste, they resemble the green persimmon.” Saturday Evening Post, May 29, 1926

“Good stuff in Florida will always be good. It’s a marvelous winter state, and a great agricultural State.” WA #200, Oct. 10, 1926

#236 Jul 6, 2002

WESTON, West Va.: This is the state to be in for this Holiday. Even President Bush canceled one of his weekly visits to Ohio to spend the Fourth in West Virginia, at Ripley. Ripley always puts on one of the biggest Independence Day celebrations for a little town, anywhere in the country.

Now I was about fifty miles away, so I didn’t get to hear him personally, but from the newspaper accounts and television, it was a mighty fine and sincere speech. He paid a nice tribute to the Veterans, and for two West Virginia soldiers who won’t be returning from the war in Afghanistan.

Before the president arrived, a Baptist preacher had already warmed up the audience with an Invocation. The crowd in front of the Courthouse was around 8000. That’s more than live in the entire county, so they had to borrow a few spectators from neighboring counties. Normally that’s easy, but they preferred Republican spectators, and Republicans are scarce in some of those counties, especially ones willing to be spectators.

Well, facing such a huge congregation was rare for this preacher. He knew they weren’t all Baptists, but they are all potential Baptists. He condensed his usual sermon down to a minute, but he still let them know where he stood on gambling, natural childbirth and liquor by the drink.

The President lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, we have all heard, and probably have said, the Pledge in the last few days, but I had never heard it with more pride in America. And it was louder, at least for the phrase “under God”.

Mr. Bush left West Virginia and headed for Maine, to be alone with all his family. Today, he celebrates a birthday, number 56. You know, there’s nothing better than celebrating a birthday with family and friends in a favorite setting, whether it’s with steaks on the grill, gravy and biscuits, cold watermelon, or blackberry pie. Fireworks are optional.

The World Cup ended with Brazil defeating Germany. Last week I said the score would be 1-0, and I was wrong, as usual, on my prediction. With my talent for predicting you can see why I should never be allowed to play the lottery, or Wall Street. Well, the score was 2-0, so the game had twice the excitement I expected. The most excitement though is in Turkey and South Korea. Finishing third and fourth was way beyond their expectations.

Ted Williams died yesterday. I can’t add anything to the tributes this American hero has received. But if you’re interested, here’s what I wrote in Weekly Comments #83, July 17, 1999: “Two places I would have liked to be this past week was Fenway Park and the Rose Bowl [women’s soccer, U.S. vs. China]. That baseball All-Star celebration in Boston brought out some of the men that made the game. When Ted Williams came out to throw the first pitch the players surrounded him. They all wanted to listen to this great hitter. They should have just given him a microphone, let the players sit around him on the field like in kindergarten, and allow him to treat all of us to a two-hour seminar on how to play the game and enjoy life. He could throw in a few tips on fishing and nobody would care if they just canceled the game. Well, the boys did play it, and the American League won 4 to 1. But it’s Ted Williams everyone will remember from that night.”

The way the owners and players are squabbling today, we’ll never have another one like him. If they stop playing in August, America’s pastime will be just that, in the past.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“We tore ourselves loose from England in that year (1776), it’s a question of who it was a better deal for. There was an awful lot of things before 1776 that we wasent “blessed” with when we were under England. Just mention any problem that’s facing our country today, and it wasent with us before 1776. Do you realize there was no Senate, and no Congress? Then you talk about freedom. No inflation, deflation, reforestation, or sophistication.

The only thing like today was we had no money. But we had no debts. Course you had a little Indian trouble, about one tenth as much as you do today with your kidnappers.” WA #598, June 10, 1934