Show: The humble Farmer

Episode: humble 2009 0816.mpg

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Episode Description:

Old fashioned music by Django Reinhardt, Benny Goodman, Erroll Garner, Mose Allison and humorous social commentary.

The humble Farmer script for August 16, 2009
1. Even if you have never been to a dog racetrack, you might have seen pictures of a dog race and know how it works. Don’t they let the dogs out behind a plastic rabbit on a mechanical arm? The dog track rabbit zips around the track and the dogs try to catch it. We are not talking about something silly now, so please pay attention because you might benefit by something I’m about to say. Have you ever had someone working for you where you might apply the universality of the plastic dog track rabbit? If you haven’t, you could and should. Last week I was 10 miles off the coast of Maine on an island called Monhegan. While walking down the road and thinking of nothing in particular, I saw a young man digging a hole for a septic tank. Monhegan is mostly rock and this fellow was prying at a chunk of Monhegan rock with a crowbar and he yanked and he snatched at it and you didn’t want to get too close because dirt and sweat were flying. Now, I had walked by earlier in the day and the young man I saw then could barely get out of his tracks. So I was amazed when, with one final snap on the crowbar he flipped out a slab of granite that would have intimidated Prometheus, muckled onto it with his bare hands, and threw it aside --- even though right beside him there was a small backhoe that could have easily done the job for him. You’ve already figured it out, haven’t you? Right across the road sitting in the shade were two admiring mainland girls in their teeny weenie bikinis.
2. If you are deaf, if you only hear half of what people say even when you ARE wearing your hearing aids, and from time to time you’ve heard someone say, “He can hear what he wants to hear.” Let us give thanks that some of us have handicaps that people can still joke about without having their you know whats squeezed in the vice of political correctness. One winter we had a house guest who because of polio has operated out of a wheel chair for 50 or 60 years. Although I strive for accuracy she won’t tell me how old she is. She worked for an airline and has flown all over the world. She is a sharp woman. You know what a digger and a doer my wife Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, is, and I’ve seen this woman push my wife out of the way so she could wash the kitchen floor on her hands and wheels. I’ve never seen anything like the stretch this woman has when she reaches out to grab something. Just like an octopus. And she is just as personable as my wife Marsha. Always a smile on her face and always joking and fooling around. So. Last night I can only assume that our friend on wheels was ragging me about something because I heard Marsha say in a real loud voice, “He didn’t hear what you said.” And this woman said, “He can hear what he wants to hear.” And I said, “And you can get up out of that wheel chair and walk.”
3. A newspaper reporter came to our home to collect information for a story on me. As you might expect, I tried to conceal the truth as much as I could but as you know I’ve never had any practice trying to conceal the truth so I’m not very good at it. He asked me if he could talk to some of my radio friends --- you know, to get an unbiased opinion from you that he could print in the newspaper. He asked me for your telephone number. But when I looked in my computer, all I had for many of my most articulate but faceless radio friends was an email address. Unless they are in business, most people don’t extend to friends the courtesy of appending their mailing address and telephone number to the bottom of each email. So I emailed a few select friends, and said, “Luckily for you I didn’t have your phone number because a newspaper reporter wanted to get the dirt on me from you.” I got a few nice letters back to forward to him. Here is one of the more poetic replies which came from Matthew in Kennebunkport. "The Humble Farmer is many, many things: wise, eccentric, witty, provincial, and worldly. Skoglund's show is filled with simple beauty, and like a dew-speckled spider web, its wonder cannot be understood through analysis. As with Howard Kosell, Humble tells it like it is. Except of course, for when he tells it like it isn't. Skoglund's taste in music is impeccable. Clear Channel and other faceless national radio monoliths could take their cues from Humble and play a little more Jengo Reinhardt, with a little less Brittany Spears. In essence, Humble's show is real, and original. Humble himself is a real, original person, not a "personality." Shows like Skoglund's may be a dying breed, and we would all do well to appreciate such treasures while they are with us." Dying breed? Was that a nice thing to say? At my age I’m doing more dying than breeding.
4. You might have missed one of Larry Grard’s well written stories in the KJ a while back. I would have if Richard Sassaman hadn’t identified it as ideal for this show and sent it along to me. It was about a man who allegedly poured gasoline on the stove and touched her off when he was told he should not clean his chain saw in the house. You know that I try to not have an opinion on anything one way or the other --- I only trot out a few facts and let you come to your own conclusions. And nowadays I’d even be treading on thin ice should I only read a list of documented facts. As you well know, I lived in my kitchen all alone for 20 years and you can still see the ax marks in the kitchen floor where I used to chop wood so I don’t want to influence you with my opinion on whether a man should or should not clean his chain saw in the house. Of course, if you’re from away and have never visited a Maine man who lived alone for 20 or so years, even in your wildest dreams you can’t really imagine the conditions I’m talking about here. Doesn’t this chainsaw business remind you of Perc Sein’s classic story about asking the fellow why he built a skiff in his kitchen? He said, "Well, what's a kitchen for?" Yes, you’ve listened to this program for years so you know me even better than some of your siblings that you might only see once a year. So you know I have opinions on what should and should not be allowed in a kitchen. And, again, you can make up your own mind on whether a chainsaw should or should not be allowed into the house. I’m not going to have an opinion on this one way or the other. But when was the last time you went in the next room to answer the phone and saw your chainsaw jump up on the table and eat a mackerel off your plate?
5. It would probably be impossible to own a television set in America today without having seen the commercial by the man who will show you how to get rich buying real estate. It shows a picture of a house that someone bought for $600. And if you thought to yourself that no one could buy a house for $600 and that it was a lie, pull your chair a little closer to the radio and let your old buddy humble enrich you with a truthful little tale. Friend of mine bought a house in St. Petersburg, Florida for a very small amount of money. She and her boyfriend painted the place inside and out and fixed it all up. But then she couldn’t sell it. So she tried to give it to the Catholic Church, but they didn’t want it. So she finally gave the house to a friend. But when he didn’t pay the taxes on it the city grabbed it for back taxes and then tried to make her take it back, which she did not want to do. Now. If you have always lived in Kennebunkport or Bar Harbor or Camden, Maine you might not even believe that there are towns in this great country where it is impossible to give away a lot of land and a perfectly good house so listen closely. It has to do with location, location, location. My friend’s house was in a neighborhood where it was not safe to walk even in the daytime. The houses on both sides of the street had trash in the yard and broken out windows and the police went into houses on that street just about every night and dragged off robbers and murderers who were considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law. So the next time you see that man on TV who says he bought a house for $600, you know the rest of the story. --- But perhaps you’d also like to know what happens to ignorant Maine people who go to Florida and buy and fix up houses in bad neighborhoods. They never seem to learn and when they see a good, solid house for sale at 1956 prices they have to buy it and fix it up. They might even buy six or eight good solid houses at 1956 prices and fix them all up. Did you know that every year over 250,000 people go to Florida and look for a place to live? Rich Maine people often move to Florida so they won’t have to pay a Maine state income tax. They’ll keep their house in Maine but they’ll change their legal address to Florida. And when you get hundreds of thousands of rich people moving into an area to avoid paying taxes you will find that houses that once had broken windows and trash in the yard are suddenly selling for $350,000, the criminals who lived on that street have gone who knows where, and you will see my friend, who couldn’t give away a house in St. Petersburg a few years back, driving a new BMW.
6. Friend of mine who knows more than anybody about setting up your estate so the government won’t take it all when you die, called me up and he said, “It is not what you own --- it is how you own it.” And I thought that was pretty profound. He heard me say on this program that some very smart rich Maine people move to Florida just to escape the 8% or whatever it is rich people pay in Maine State Income Tax. If you earn a million dollars a year, and you and I know many people who do, you can save $80,000 a year by claiming Florida as your residence so you won’t have to pay a Maine State Income Tax. But, he then told me something that I had never heard before. My friend said that you also have to be careful where you die. If you love your grandchildren, you have to find out which state takes the biggest bite out of your estate when you die. And if it is the state in which you are legally residing --- to save from paying an income tax where you really live --- you have to have your lawyer all poised to change your legal address should you develop a bad cough. When you think about it objectively, the ideal situation is to be so cranky by the time you die that you don’t care who gets it.
7. Do you remember hearing me talk about a movie called Super Size Me? If you haven’t seen it, I suggest that you do. You will laugh as you are educated. It was about a young 6 foot man who had a skinny girlfriend who fed him veggies and he was in very good shape indeed until he decided to see if he could live on nothing but what they sold at McDonald’s for a month. He was monitored by 3 doctors. Besides gaining 25 pounds or so his sex life turned into nothing and his body started to shut down. Well. I went into McDonald’s for some pancakes at 7 one morning and although I said I didn’t want sausage it was on the plate when I got it and although I didn’t eat it I’m sure I paid extra for it. Anyway. This movie must have had an effect on management at McDonald’s because the placemat they gave me and which I saved so I could tell you about it promotes not only their fries but physical activity. There are at least 33 things listed on this placemat that kids can do to move their sluggish bodies. And one of them is something I do, which is set a timer to remind me to get up from my computer every hour and exercise for 10 minutes and drink a pint of water. The purveyors of fast food realize, of course, that kids and adults are porking up from so much fries and burgers and shakes and no exercise, so --- because they can’t very well cut their own throats by saying Don’t eat our food that makes you fat. Now they realize they have to say --- get lots of exercise so you can eat it.
8. Was it Henry V who said, “Once more into the breeches, dear friends?” Yes, my topic is pants. Fashionable pants. Young boys are now wearing breeches with the crotch extended down to their knees and long T shirts which serve to keep them from being arrested for indecent exposure. If you have been watching the educational program on TV called Cops, you have noticed that it is relatively easy to catch fashionable young criminals nowadays because they can no longer run from the police. When they are caught and thrown down on the ground the first thing they say to the officer is, “Will you please pull up my pants?” Let us thank the censors who blur out part of the TV screen to spare us panoramic views bare backsides of manacled boys who are innocent until found guilty in a court of law. When I mentioned fashionable baggy pants to my brother he said that the dictates of haute couture had turned some people he’d seen into animals. One fellow needed both hands to hold up his pants and had to walk home with a six pack of beer in his teeth.
9. I was out in my barn very purposefully sawing a half inch stick in two with a very dull handsaw when car drove in the yard. A woman got out of the car and went inside to do woman business with my wife and the man, whom I had never seen before, walked over to see what I was doing in the barn. He watched for a few seconds and I was just about to compliment him for being strong enough to simply stand and watch without helping, when both of his hands shot out. We have talked about this before. It takes a unique individual --- it takes a powerful man who is secure within himself ---- to stand back and watch a neighbor engaged in some intricate operation without feeling obligated to elbow him aside and show him that he can do it better. Does this happen on all levels of society? Does Dr. Jones look over a colleague’s shoulder in the operating room and say, “Perhaps you should remove all of those little metal clamps before sewing up the chest cavity.” I don’t know. I’m and you can tell me about the last time it happened to you. Please don’t confuse this with that other situation where you are standing in your friend’s kitchen and ask for a drink of water and they say, “You’ve got to let that water run a while before it gets cold.”
10. I was walking through the living room minding my own business when I saw two scruffy looking women on the Opra show poking and jiggling at this third woman who looked very nice indeed. And they were telling her what was wrong with the way she was dressed and the way she wore her hair. They dragged this woman off into some back room and then they fast forwarded the tape and showed what she looked like when they got done messing with her. I don’t know why all the women in the audience applauded unless it was because now they all looked better than she did. I can’t really tell you with words what she looked like but my mother would have said that she looked like she’d been hauled through a knothole backwards. The last time I saw a woman who looked like that was in 1963 when Allston Smith organized a European tour for Gorham Normal School students and Tom Dennen and I got lost on our way to the Moulin Rouge and ended up in Pigalle. No, I take it back. The last time I saw women who looked like that Gary Crocker was telling me how to drive out of Boston and we saw some women on the street corners but we were afraid we’d get arrested if we stopped and asked them for directions. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you ever want to catch a woman when she looks her best, photograph her after she’s spent 15 days wandering around in some steamy jungle.
3. Did you get the email that said people should be able to read and understand the provisions of their own health insurance policies? I don’t know if I understand mine. I paid Anthem for supplemental insurance for years and then my tax man told me I could get something just as good or better at about half the price from AARP so now I’m paying AARP. So far I haven’t been stopped dead in my tracks by my health insurance company refusing to pay. Trying to collect damages from your house insurance company is something else, because your house can fall down around your ears and they will battle you tooth and nail and whip out fine print that couldn’t be read by a Supreme Court Justice. But so far I haven’t required some horrible half million dollar health treatment. Like you, I have opinions about our multi billion dollar health industry. I have lived in Europe and I still occasionally visit friends and relatives in Europe so I know that the health care my friends and relatives have over there is much better and much cheaper than what you and I have here. Over here, there are too many unnecessary fingers in the pie, and if you’ve been watching television you know that these greedy robbers are willing to pay and say whatever it takes to keep from getting shut out. There is one thing I would like to read on all of my insurance policies --- health, car, home. Right on the top of each insurance policy in big letters where even a 10-year old child could see and read and understand it, wouldn’t you like to see the name of the CEO of that insurance company and his yearly salary?

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