Friday, December 11, 2009

11 DEC 09: What a Good Boy Am I

Look, up in the sky -- not bird, not plane, not even that strange swirly light. A Columbus church pastor was about 50 feet above ground level Thursday night. And supporters insist he was NOT trying to prove he's closer to God than any other minister.

The pastor of MyChurch went up in a boom truck along Bradley Park Drive, for what was described as a fund-raising campaign. Jeff Murphy says he isn't coming down until money is raised to buy 200 children's bicycles. It's called "Bikes or Bust" - because the pastor might be tempting God by calling it "Bikes or Jump."

Pastor Jeff Murphy isn't completely deprived while he's up in the boom truck. In fact, he's posting regular updates on Twitter. We may have found the next big addiction challenge for many Christians - giving up Blackberries for Lent.

(In one Twitter update, Murphy reports a member of his pastoral team responded to a dare "to take his shirt off and run around McDonald's." Considering how cold it was in Columbus Thursday night, that sight could have brought a police response in some parts of town.)

If this stunt with a boom truck sounds familiar, it should. Pastor Jeff Murphy did the same thing last December [14 Dec 08] - only at the time, MyChurch didn't officially exist. He admitted it was partly a stunt to get publicity for his new congregation. So much for the good old days, when you merely had to promise to explain the "mark of the beast."

Pastor Jeff Murphy made sure the word spread about "Bikes or Bust," including a Thursday radio interview on WGSY-FM "Sunny 100." But here's what gets me -- do you have to resort to public relations stunts like this to do a good deed? I know a few local churches where money for children is raised through special offerings. They're boring, but they still work.

MyChurch wasn't the only place in Columbus trying to do a good deed for youngsters Thursday. The Springer Opera House held its annual holiday party, complete with Miss Georgia Emily Cook playing what looked like a clarinet. It probably would hurt Cook's cause at the Miss America pageant if she sang a sexy version of "Santa Baby."

The Springer Opera House has staged this children's party for years - yet someone probably made sure the news media found out about it, so video of the event would appear on TV. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra's "Christmas Tales" concert Thursday night didn't seem to make the news. Maybe it's time for George Del Gobbo to go on another diet.

So what's my point here? When December comes, there's not only an increased effort to help children - there's also quite a competition by the helpers to get attention. They want you to know how much they care. And perhaps in response, you'll care enough to give them much.

That competition explains why holiday events at Port Columbus and the National Infantry Museum have been on TV in recent weeks, but the Toys for Tots motorcycle ride was not. And that's strange, because the motorcycles in South Commons simply had to be louder than the Columbus Council campaign announcement a few blocks away.

I took a call several years ago from one local civic club leader, who wanted TV coverage for his group's December charity giveaway. He explained: "People need to know what we're doing...." The idea of quietly doing good deeds simply isn't good enough - especially not when your national office has a membership goal to meet.

So if you see TV news reports in the next couple of weeks about local toy giveaways or dinners for needy people, stop and ask some questions. Why is the giveaway occurring, and why is it on TV? Is it simply an act of compassion and generosity? Or is there some self-promotion going on - as people give with one hand, to hide personal back-patting with the other?

We have a Friday special treat for you -- but before that, let's wrap up other Thursday news:

+ Columbus Gourmet opened its new office in the Corporate Ridge Industrial Park, and the owner announced plans to add 50 new jobs. Who could have imagined Columbus as a hotbed for "gourmet" foods? I mean, none of the barbecue restaurants have put that title on themselves.

+ Charlie Capps of Columbus was inducted in the "Krystal Lover's Hall of Fame." Capps retired from the restaurant chain in June, after 48 years on the job. He's probably watched the price of a Double Krystal double at least twice.

(Capps was honored at the Krystal on Manchester Expressway - except the sign on the marquee misspelled "congratulations." But considering the name of the restaurant isn't spelled with a C, I shouldn't really be surprised....)

+ The annual World Conference of Mayors opened in Shorter. I don't think Mayor Jim Wetherington was there, but Johnny Ford was - and he's not the mayor of Tuskegee anymore. It makes me wonder if Ford's posted 2010 campaign signs around the conference center, the way he already has on Dillingham Street.

(To be fair: WXTX "News at Ten" noted Johnny Ford founded the World Mayor's Conference in the 1980s. He's currently "Secretary General," apparently oversees the conference headquarters in Tuskegee -- and who knows how much money he made by promoting Victoryland on the conference home page.)

+ Victoryland owner Milton McGregor assured Montgomery's WSFA-TV his electronic bingo games have been reconfigured, to make sure they match a recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling. If someone claims to win with "O-114," Governor Bob Riley might order another raid.

+ A nationwide survey determined Alabama's Troy King is the highest-paid Attorney General of any state, earning $168,000 a year. No wonder he opposes illegal gambling - he doesn't have to worry about playing slot machines for extra money.

+ Georgia's Drew Butler won the Ray Guy Award, given to the top punter in college football. He's the son of former Bulldog and Chicago Bears kicker Kevin Butler - so how does the family assure this line of kickers keeps going? Will Drew Butler have to marry a nightclub dancer?

+ Instant Message to Glenwood School: Did I understand that right - you called an all-school assembly to introduce your new football coach? The University of Alabama didn't even do that for Nick Saban.

-> Our Thursday night poker tournament had not one "lightning strike," but two. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

LAUGHLINE FLASHBACK: Kelly Clarkson performed at the Columbus Civic Center Thursday night. We wrote about the singer for LaughLine subscribers, during her breakthrough year of 2002. (Yes, we've posted some of these jokes before.)

23 Aug 02: Three singers now remain in American Idol - and Kelly Clarkson now may be the favorite. She's the only one who has NOT been called to center stage, for having a low number of votes. If Clarkson wins, she'll get phone calls from almost every candidate for Congress.

29 Aug 02: The hosts of American Idol did NOT give away who placed first in this week's voting. Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini are left to wonder who's in the lead - and who needs to hire James Carville to prepare attack ads.

2 Sep 02: Kelly Clarkson admits she's gained a motor-mouth reputation among the American Idol singers. Clarkson says she could talk and talk about anything -- so if she doesn't win the big recording contract, she'll get her own show on M-T-V.

3 Sep 02: The American Idol duo seems to offer voters a clear choice. Justin Guarini has an African-American father, an Italian-American mother and a background of singing bar mitzvahs. Kelly Clarkson is a white girl from Texas. In other words, it's Democrat versus Republican.

Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini will sing three songs for the voters tonight. In fact, they'll each sing the SAME song - one written to be their debut single later this month. They'll take turns singing it, so the "re-mix" rights can be sold to as many studios as possible.

4 Sep 02: "Inside Edition" revealed Kelly Clarkson's most recent job was as a cocktail waitress. Considering all the smoke in nightclubs, it may be a wonder she can sing at all.

(And did you also know Kelly Clarkson's favorite treat is an orange flurry from Sonic Drive-Ins? All she needs is a pair of roller skates, and she can sing her first TV jingle.)

5 Sep 02: Kelly Clarkson stood almost expressionless when she was named the winner. Her mother in the audience broke down in tears. And in Florida, some Democrats accused the Texans of cheating with the votes again.

Kelly Clarkson's next big performance may come next Wednesday. She'll sing the national anthem at a September 11 commemoration at Washington's Lincoln Memorial. It will make a great statement to the world - since the Taliban wouldn't let a woman speak, much less sing.

17 SEP 02: New in music stores today: "A Moment Like This" - the first single from "American Idol" queen Kelly Clarkson. Her "moment" is defying the skeptics so far, at two weeks and counting....

The original plan was for Kelly Clarkson's first full-length album to come out around Thanksgiving. But now it's been delayed until early next year. What's the problem? Does Simon Cowell have veto power over all her studio sessions?

Kelly Clarkson may become more than a music star. "Entertainment Weekly" reports the creator of American Idol wants to make a movie with her and Justin Guarini -- and we all know what that did for Lance Bass's career several months ago....

30 SEP 02: "Inside Edition" reported Kelly Clarkson has inflamed vocal cords -- and is under doctor's orders not to TALK, much less sing. So when does "American Idol" fire her from the recording contract and give it to Justin Guarini?

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