Monthly Archives: June 2011

Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Tony Robbins – It’s All Snake Oil

(Continued from last week) 

It’s Not You – It’s the Snakes

But you’re not, Jonah you’re not. Everybody says you’re the finest preacher Rode Apple Junctions has ever had.”

“You came once and never came back again. Why Clem? Why don’t people come back?”

“I can only speak for my self Jonah, but when you brought out the snakes, that was a bit much.”

“But I don’t do that anymore,” Jonah said repentantly.

“Well the fact is I don’t want to be surprised like the last time.”

“I can promise you – no more snakes.”

“Well that’s something to consider. Can you say the same for snapping turtles and spiders? I don’t want to reach in a box and be surprised.”

Jumpin’ Jonah has a Credibility Crises

“That’s just it, Clem, I’ve lost my credibility.”

“That’s not completely true some are saying you lost your mind.”


“Just kidding, Jonah. I was trying to lighten the moment.”

“There is nothing funny about this.”

“Sure there is. You come in here to drown your troubles in coffee? If it was serious you would be down at the Side Track Inn downing shots of Old Grand Dad.”

“I’m given up. Everybody looks to Oprah, Tony Robbins, and Dr. Phil. They’re talking about things like negative energy and psyche. Things you can’t see or define. I think if you sell people nothing for something they expect something, but if they don’t get it at least that’s something. Does that make sense.”


“I can’t even explain Oprah.”

“Well you’re not alone in that, Jonah.”

With All the Advice the World should be a Better Place.

“But people are buying it and getting nothing in return. It’s all snake oil. For as many people who listen to Oprah, Robbins, and Dr. Phil this world should be a better place. People buy their books, watch their shows, go to their seminars, for what? They ain’t no different. They ain’t any better than me. They got a gimmick, they call it a life philosophy. It ain’t no philosophy, it’s just getting’ rich. I got to get in the business of selling my own philosophy on life. The only people that the philosophy on life that Oprah, Robbins, and Dr. Phil works for is Oprah, Robbins, and Dr. Phil. I ain’t never heard anyone say, ‘boy, Oprah sure straitened me out. I’m completely changed.’ or ‘ever sense I went to see Robbins all the negative energy is gone from my life.’”

“So what do you think you’re going to do?” Clem said.

“I got it Clem, It’s like a revelation. It’s just come to me. I’m going to write a book and go on tour.” Jonah said.

“What’s the book going to be about?”

A Philosophy about Nothing

“I don’t know exactly yet, but its got to be something that you can’t see or define – like negative energy, positive aura, spiritual awakening, coming to grips with your inner self, or changing psyche. People are buying that ‘new age’ and secular self awareness crap. I just got to find a way to tap into it.”

“So you’re saying you need to come up with a life changing philosophy.”

“Exactly!” Jonah said staring into oblivion.

“Well what works for you?” Clem said.

“At this point in my life, nothin’,” Jonah said.

“Maybe that’s it Jonah.” Clem said.

“What?” Jonah said.

“Nothing,” Clem said.

“I don’t get,” Jonah said.

“Remember the Seinfeld Show – they said it was a show about nothing and made everybody millions.”

“That’s it Clem. You’ve come up with it – lead a life with absolutely no guiding principles or philosophy.” Jonah said. “But wait a minute everybody does that already.”

“Don’t you get it Jonah a book that justifies everybody’s miserable nothing lives.”

“Do you think I can pull it off,” Jonah said.

“Jonah, you’re living proof.”

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What Do Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Tony Robbins Have That Reverend Jumpin’ Jonah Johnson Doesn’t? – Part I

Jumpin’ Jonah Tries to Find Answers at the Bottom of a Coffee Cup

Jumpin’ Jonah Johnson slogged into the Jittery Goat Cafe the other day. Clem had never seen him so unhappy and despondent.

“Coffee,” Jonah said. “Black.”

“Jonah, are you sure,” Clem said cautiously.

“You heard me,” Jonah said. “And leave the pot. It’s gonna be a long day.”

Clem got a cup and poured the coffee. He sat a full carafe of coffee next to Jonah’s cup.

“Now leave me alone,” Jonah said. “And just put this on my tab.”

“You don’t have a tab, Jonah,” Clem said. “We don’t have tabs. The Side Track in don’t even have tabs. You’re in a world that don’t exist here in Rode Apple Junction. Have you slipped into watching those ‘Film noir’ movies again?”

“Look don’t try to figure this thing out. It’s bigger than the both of us,” Jonah said.

Turner Classics must have had a marathon this past weekend,” Clem said.

“Just leave me alone with my drink and let us figure it out together,” Jonah said and flicked him away with his hand.

Clem was not about to leave Jonah alone with a full carafe of coffee. Things could go crazy pretty quick. “Things must be pretty serious Jonah. The last time you had coffee was just before your conversion. Since then it’s been lemonade and hot chocolate.”

“Listen here, I’m the preacher and I don’t want nobody preaching to me. You got that bub?”

“Sure Jonah, I’ve never heard you talk like this before.” Clem leaned in close to Jonah and said, “I sense something is really wrong. ”

Maybe the Pulpit’s Not for Jumpin’ Jonah

“Wrong,” Jonah stiffened in his seat, “Wrong you say! Nothing is right. The world is going to hell in a hand basket. I’m every bit as good as Oprah, Tony Robbins, and Dr. Phil.”

“Sure you are Jonah, but do you think the answer is at the bottom of a cup of coffee?”

“I feel a sermon coming on,” Jonah said sarcastically.

“Sure you do. It’s the one you gave to Cyrus McCraken that got him off the sauce.” Clem said trying to validate Jonah’s self-worth.

“How long has he been off the sauce?” Jonah said with a sharp bite of reality.

“He stopped for a week or two,” Clem said as if an achievment.

“One day shy of a week,” Jonah corrected. “That’s the reality. That’s the problem. I’m doing no good as a preacher or helping people. After ten years all I got to go to my church is my family and a couple of stragglers here and there. Nobody comes to my church. I put my all into the sermons. I preach my heart out. Why do you think they call me Jumpin’ Jonah? I’ve billed myself as ‘Reverend Jumpin’ Jonah Johnson, the preacher that will have you jumpin’ for the lord just like him.’ I thought I had ‘the calling.’” Jonah hung his head. “I really thought I had the calling. I wanted to have one of those mega TV churches and maybe just a hint of scandal to get the sinners interested and then save their miserable souls. I wanted to convert Charley Sheen and Paris Hilton.”

“You’ve done good with your family, Jonah,” Clem said. “There a fine family.”

“That’s what really crushes me, Clem. My daughter is watching MTV, got a purple streak in her hair, and reading Tiger Beat and my oldest boy’s pants are slung below his butt crack, he’s got some foreign object hanging from his ear, and he uses expressions like ‘dude’ and ‘Wassup.’ Even my wife’s clothing is tight and revealing.”

“Well I can’t speak to everything Jonah, but none of the Johnson men had any butt for pants to hold on to anyways, maybe your girl’s just going through a phase, and as for Mrs. Johnson there has been some talk that she has been hitting the Dairy Queen twice daily for a while. I’d be lookin’ into that one. Maybe she has some inner need you don’t know about.”

Jonah tossed down the bottom swallow of coffee in his cup and poured another. “I’m a failure as a preacher.”

(Continued next week link)

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Is it Espresso Cubano or Cubano Espresso?

(Continued from last week)

The Bump N Grind – A Strange Name for a Coffee Shop

Tuesday is a slow day at the Jittery Goat so his cousin Horace looked after the place. Clem left town early on a Tuesday morning and took on the identity of Burt Wynncliff’s character Miguel Suarez.

He went to the Banana Republic at a mall in Ft. Wayne. He bought a white tropical suit and tied a red bandana around his neck. He had not shaved in three days. He looked in the mirror at the Banana Republic it screamed Miguel Suarez. He walked from the store with a swagger and sneer. He walked through the mall. Every eye was on him. His confidence grew. He stopped at a book store and picked up a copy of the New York Times. He looked rugged and confident with a newspaper tucked under his arm, in the three day old beard, the red bandana, and white tropical suit. He walked straight from the mall and into a cold January wind with a newspaper tucked under his arm, a three day old beard, the red bandana, and white tropical suit.

He drove around town for a while before spotting an upscale coffee shop. He was anxious to try out his new identity and do market research.

He parked his car and walked into a place called The Bump N Grind. The name and location were strangely familiar. It was nearly thirty years ago, but Clem, Parker Truesdale, Bob Kurlock, and Spanky Brubaker took a ride to Ft. Wayne one Saturday night. The Bump N Grind wasn’t a coffee shop in those days.

Welcome to the Exclusive World of the Barista

Approaching the counter Clem noticed there was no espresso Cubano on the menu. Alas he was going to order something they didn’t have. After he would place his order in a nonchalant matter of fact way he would look at those idiots behind the counter after saying they don’t have it, and say “What! I’ve never heard of such a thing, a coffee shop without espresso Cubano.”

A couple of years ago he was embarrassed by the coffee shop barista. He was with his wife and a couple of friends when they went into a coffee shop in Columbus. He ordered and ‘expresso’ and the barista corrected him by saying ‘it’s pronounced ‘espresso.’ You don’t forget that kind of thing.

‘Look at them,’ he thought. ‘They try to appear so avant-garde, as if only they know the coffee world lingo and culture inside and out and it is only them that can let me in. They want to make you feel like you’re waiting on the sidewalk at some upscale trendy club on the Strip in Hollywood or in Manhattan. Unless you order something trendy you can’t come inside with the rest of us.’

Clem was from a by-gone era that was raised on the premise that there is nothing better than a good cup of Maxwell House. Every time he went to a coffee shop and ordered a latte or cappuccino the smug little twerp behind the counter asked what kind? Clem says, “A latte latte,” or “a cappuccino cappuccino.”

He wondered, ‘are females trained to hold on to the last syllable of a sentence to sound snobbish? If a guy applies for a job they train him to sound effeminate before allowing him to interact with the public? Certainly nobody is born that way and parents don’t raise them that way. They make coffee and work for tips for crying out loud! I get more sincerity and compassion from a civil service protected employee at the DMV or a hairy knuckled clerk at an auto parts store.’

Clem listened to others order and it’s like a list of extras on your car. Clem or for that fact anyone from Rode Apple Junction can’t imagine coffee without anything other than cream and sugar. The other stuff dazzled Clem that some are so attuned to their taste buds that they need so much stimulation and care. They order in such a way that they would not think of having anything less than a Kenyan mountain roast blended with a Sumatran fine grind, a dash of Indonesian cinnamon, a touch of Irish mint topped with whipped goat’s milk cream and poured over Perrier ice cubes and make that organic decaffeinated. Clem normally says, “Coffee black and the caffeine that dweeb didn’t want stick it in my coffee.”

How to Handle a Snobbish Barista

Anyway Clem stepped to the counter to be out sophisticated by a twenty year old pink/purple hair, nose and ear pierced tattoo clad college sophomore who has changed his major twelve times since his last shift. “Can I help you?” He says. He froze. Clem couldn’t remember whether it was an espresso Cubano or a Cubano espresso. Finally he said, “Do you have a Cubano espresso.” “You mean an espresso Cubano.” (and if Clem said, ‘Espresso Cubano,’ the barista would have said, ‘You mean Cubano espresso.’)

Clem didn’t allow him get away with that. “That isn’t the way we said it in Havana.”

“Sure I can fix one up for you. Single or double?” (‘Dang it!,’ he thought. ‘I didn’t get a chance to say, What! I’ve never heard of such a thing, a coffee shop without espresso Cubano.’)

“Double,” Clem said.

“Would you like a dollop of whipped cream.”

“That ain’t the way I drank it with Raul and Fidel.” Clem smiled and said, “Rather than a dollop I’ll take a dab.”

“Aren’t they the same,” the barista said smugly.

He watched Clem’s eyes move slowly and gaze upon the tip jar.

“Just so we know whose in charge here,” Clem raised his eyebrows. “I don’t trust people who say dollop.”

“You prefer dab.”

“Dab, dip, spit, spatter or plop, but never dollop.”

“Yes sir.”

“Your tip is secure.”

Clem thought about saying sometime, ‘A latte with Folgers’s whole bean chopped by hand, with a rusty knife blade, a dash of kerosene, a pinch of ground buzzard’s beak, a squeeze from a Peruvian migrant worker’s sweat band, and a scrape from a wart hog’s tongue, and don’t forget to add the dollop of whipped cream – I’m no cretin.’

There Are Some Things You Can’t Forget

Raul Castro in the middle - the good old days.

The barista served the Cubana espresso. Clem sat at a small table in the corner feeling quite mysterious and continental. He sipped slowly from his cup and read the New York Times. He struggled with ‘is it espresso Cubano or Cubano espresso?’ As much as he wanted to he could not concentrate on his market research. He could not get the song The Stripper nor Raul Castro out of his mind.

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