The Evolution of Ho, Ho, Ho (A Poem)

He he,
He haw,
Miss MinnHEPearl.
No.
He hi,
Hi he,
Ho hi,
Hi ho,
Ho he,
He ho,
Ho, ho, hi
‘ve got the world on a string,
sitting on a reindeer,
Hi, ho, hum,
Ho, hum, he,
Ho, hi, ho,
Hi, ho, hi, ho,
it’s off to gift we go,
no. No. NO.
Ho, ho, ho?
Yes, we go, go go.

–Richard Bryant

Publicity Photos

I’m just saying,
those publicity photos on the wall,
will not do at all,
I’m just saying,
the 80’s called,
they want their stringy hair back,
the late 70’s called,
those faux dusters still look slack,
the misspelled names department phoned,
the wampum, hawgs, and dawgs have all gone home,
I’m just saying,
these goatees will not do,
the bad facial hair department called you,
you might want to take these down too,
I’m just saying,
the next time they call,
tell them you’re already on the 21st-century ball.

–Richard Bryant

 

*image courtesy Trip Advisor

10 Tips for Better Living

A Pet I Love

1. Change the windshield washer fluid in your car. Yes, this is both a metaphor and a practical admonition. Work on clearing obstacles, smudges, and other icky things blocking your vision. You will be happier and safer.

2. Make all of your expressions of thanks, from the drive-in window to the condolence line, equally sincere.  Gratitude needs to multidimensional and felt for the person hearing the words “thank you” to know you mean what you say.

3. Learn to love a pet.  Love is hard.  A dog or cat (for example) will work with you as you learn.

4. Become a better conversationalist. This means work on your listening skills. Learn how to ask better questions.

5. Don’t let healthy admiration become idolatry.

6. Take care of your body, mind, and spirit.  We need you.  You matter.

7. Wear comfortable shoes.  The journey is long.

8. Keep a record of your days. Whether you call it a journal or notebook doesn’t matter. Leave a record of your time on Earth.

9. Find a way to give joy back to the other people. How can you serve others, give back, and enrich the lives of others in unexpected ways?

10. Take fewer selfies. Share more pictures of the world around you.

–Richard Lowell Bryant

5 Things I Love About the United Methodist Church

1. I love the way we can say the Nicene Creed one week and ask for testimonies the next. Our lives are living examples of the liturgy. Whether it’s printed in a bulletin, hymnal, or our DNA, we bring the “work of the people” to church and the wider community.

2. United Methodists worship with every generation of Methodist who has gone before us. We also understand that our presence in this place is impermanent. We are called to have our horses, cars, and saddlebags ready for the next move. There is a place beyond our comfort zones that needs the liturgy, hymns, gospel, and message. We all must be ready to see them timely delivered.

3. I love coming to church with other people who know where I am in life, where I’ve been, and are praying for me without my having to ask. The work of the people* is undergirded by embers of prayer, stoked day and night.

4. I love the United Methodist Church because we try to do the right thing. This is because, at our core, we are not fundamentalists. We never have been. Since our arrival in the United States, Methodists have been marked by their moderation. Our vision of Orthodoxy, mixed with the common sense of the quadrilateral, might be one of the greatest theological achievements of the late 20th century. We want to do the right thing by God and our neighbors.  Alienation isn’t in our genes.

5. There is always room on some pew for you, your family, and your friends in our church. No one will be turned away. I love the United Methodist Church because we don’t lock our doors figuratively or literally to anyone. If the door is closed, knock. I will come to let you in. If all the seats are full, I will give you mine.

*The word liturgy, derived from the technical term in ancient Greek (Greek: λειτουργία), leitourgia, which literally means “work for the people” is a literal translation of the two words “litos ergos” or “public service”.

–Richard Lowell Bryant

Important Ideas to Remember

1. Listen to the people around you. Honor their journeys. Your life will be better for it.
2. Pass on the kindness you’ve received.
3. Let your Thank You really mean, “I am grateful”.
4. Take fewer selfies. Take more pictures of leaves, trees, and clouds.
5. Stay hydrated.

–Richard Bryant

A Play About Nothing

You may recall, gentle readers, previous missives, published here by S.P. Wildeman. The same author has been in touch and asked to submit another story. I have so obliged.

Richard Bryant, Proprietor, Richard’s Food for Thought

Note to the reader: Everything in this short story bears a resemblance to someone living and something dead. Whether man or machine, theater critic or person, we’ve all met for coffee and coordinated our versions of the truth.
-S.P. Wildeman

I’m never sure where I am these days. So many of the places I inhabit tend to blend together in the darkness. Lit only by second-hand lamps, I am led among frayed extension cords, by one-eyed adult orphans, and through hastily arranged curtains. The villagers, I am told, have taken me to the theater. The play we are about to see is something I created over a decade ago. There were no actors, plot, or scenes. Borrowing mainly from the work of Samuel Beckett, I wrote a play where nothing happened. The curtain remained closed for two hours. Behind the curtain, the audience could hear the occasional sound or see an intermittent light. There might be a clashing cymbal.

Here is my point. Nothing happened. One person (in the early days, it was me) sat behind the curtain, making the noise. After a few of the trendier theater journals reviewed my descent into nothingness, I was able to bring on a few stagehands to bang wooden spoons against my kitchen pots. Eventually, they wanted to be called actors, so I fired them and hired the one-eyed orphans. This was a play without a plot, actors, or any of the conventions of modern drama. I was going to ask my audience to stare at a closed curtain and listen to random sounds for two hours, all in the name of culture.

While the New York critics were harsh, we were huge in France. The French ate this up. The best negative review I’ve ever received came from Le Figaro. “Could less have occurred on stage?” It was a good question. Could I do nothing at all and still call it a drama? Would people pay to stare at a closed curtain with no sound or any physical interaction at all? Yes, I thought they would. I would go for all and nothing.

Why a remote village in northern Togo cobbled together enough Central African francs to buy the rights to produce a 10-year-old American play about nothing was beyond me. I had a theory. I once wrote a book on Dom Deluise as a recurring Christ figure in the Burt Reynolds’ Cannonball Run Story Saga. (I sold 12 copies, 4 of which were to Reynolds himself). Deluise’s comedy was widely revered throughout French-speaking West Africa, with his work featured in film festivals in Guinea, Ivory Coast, Togo, and Burkina Faso in alternating years.

Let me clear things up. I didn’t know where I was beyond a dank basement and hastily assembled theater somewhere on the northeast side of Togo’s capital, Lome. And even when I’m in Lome and watching a play I wrote, I couldn’t find myself on a map with a GPS if I had to.

One question still vexed me. Had the Togolaise seen any of my work? Did they know what they were getting into? How would they respond to spending their hard-earned money to get nothing in return? Plays about nothing are fine and dandy for first world theatergoers with disposable incomes. I can hear it now, “où est le dialogue?”
Were they expecting DeLuise to be a character?

Finally, someone asked, “When does the funny fat man arrive?”

He’s here, sitting in the corner, a piece of paper in his hand, furiously writing a part for a man named Santa Claus in a Christmas play about nothing.