Queens and Kings

The world is mourning the death of the longest reigning monarch in the UK, Queen Elizabeth. Just thinking she is the only monarch that the significant majority of her subjects have ever known is quite amazing in and of itself. Although not without imperfections, she was a class act which we need more people to emulate. Dignified public service is something we should use an example – just look no further than Boris Johnson as the most recent contrarian to that premise and what happened to him.

What is interesting is that if her Uncle Edward had not abdicated the throne allowing her father George to become King, she may never had served as Queen. I find that amazing how these two very different stories weave together in history as bookends. A dutiful Queen who served through thick and thin and a self-centered King who shed the crown for love. Her namesake, the first Queen Elzabeth, also served a long time, as did her great-grandmother Victoria. Just think of that – three women served as Queen for just shy of 180 years – almost two centuries.

King Charles will not be able to serve as long, but he has been waiting in the wings for a long time to serve. Using an American analogy, I hope he will not be a worn-out relief pitcher who warmed up too long in the bullpen and was spent by the time he entered the game. One thing about Charles, he has been more outspoken about the environment and climate change, which has been good. As King, he may need to be more silent on these subjects as the Prime Minister runs the show.

There is also a good documentary on him about funding and sponsoring a program to teach teen kids and young adults about the hospitality profession – see link below. It is called the “Belling Hospitality Training Centre at Dumfries House Estate.” When I saw this documentary, I came away with a much more favorable impression of now King Charles.

So, may the Queen rest in peace. Thank you for your service and stewardship. And, long live the King.

https://www.looktothestars.org/news/9973-prince-charles-opens-hospitality-training-centre-in-scotland

32 million fewer words – a second much needed reprise


The following post was written ten years ago and I provided a reprise of it last year. Given its continuing relevance with attacks on education by a short-sighted few and difficulty in recruiting, rewarding and retaining good teachers, I thought I would republish it. It is a little longer than my current posts, but it takes a more holistic view of the issue, so please bear with it.

While reading David Brooks’ excellent book called “The Social Animal,” I was alerted to a key result of classic study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley of the University of Kansas. One of the conclusions of the study is by the age of four, children raised in poor families have heard 32 million fewer words than those raised in professional family households. Breaking this down to an hourly basis, children of poor families hear on average 178 utterances of words per hour as compared to 487 words per hour in a professional family home.

And, it is not just what they hear, it is the emotional tone. There tended to be far more encouraging words than discouraging words in the professional home setting. Translating this to today’s time, there is a greater propensity to see single head of household families in impoverished families, so with one less adult and with the greater stress of earning a paycheck, doing housework and raising children lends itself to fewer conversations to hear those missing words.

In my volunteer work with homeless families and tutoring underprivileged children, I witness this first hand. I see kids who are having to overcome more obstacles than the very difficult one of coming from a homeless or impoverished household. They are starting school even further behind than the other children and will have to work hard to catch up. Just using the tutoring example, the two 5th graders I tutored were smart children, they just needed more time, targeted explanation and encouragement. The encouragement is as or more important than the first two needs.

In this same book, Mr. Brooks introduced me to a Greek term called “thumos.” We apparently don’t have an identical match in our language, but the word explains a lot of what we all need, but especially children. Thumos is the desire for recognition and union. People want to be recognized for their contributions, but through such recognition they want to have a sense of belonging. Translating this to the 5th graders, the children reacted well to the recognition of their efforts and especially the successes. When they “got it” it was like giving them the keys to the kingdom. It truly exhilarated me as much as it did them. To see their faces light up at the moments of clarity was truly joyous. High fives and fist bumps seemed to be insufficient to celebrate the moments.

I mention the tutoring as I see the resolution to this effort as “taking a village to raise a child.” This African proverb is very much on point, as parents, teachers and counselors all need hour support to help these children climb their individual ladders out of poverty. Why is this important for everyone? Education is probably the greatest challenge for our country as we have fallen asleep at the switch and will not be able to compete as well in the future. I do not have any statistics for what I am about to state, but I believe our best can compete with others’ best students. I think other countries have caught up and made this echelon highly competitive. Yet, when you get beneath this small sliver of talent, I think other countries are kicking our hind end all over the place.

The jobs of the future are not the jobs of the past. Even manufacturing jobs and high skilled blue-collar jobs require an understanding of technology that may not have been required to the same extent before. If our children are not educated we will continue to be left behind. There are too many examples of where the United States is not in the calculus of whether to invest in a facility, but the one I like to use, is Mercedes had to dumb down their manuals on how to build their car for the plant they built in Alabama. They had to use more pictures than words. If we cannot offer an employer a capable workforce, they will find it elsewhere and they do.

So, what do we about finding those 32 million words? And, what do we do from that point forward? In this age of budget cuts, which are totally understandable, we have to be zealous in defending educational investment. We have to invest in pre-school programs to help kids get off to a better start. The “Smart Start” and “More Before Four” programs do pay dividends and we need to find more ways to reach kids. And, we need to invest in our teachers – we need more and higher quality of teachers, but we need to give them the freedom to tailor their teaching.

We need to continue the focus on providing resources to parents through the various “Parent Universities.” To my earlier example, we need more volunteers to help tutor, mentor and baby sit while the parents attend self-education or teacher conferences, etc. In my work with helping homeless families, the significant majority of whom are employed, I come across a contingent that cannot be swayed from their belief that all homeless people are bums and addicts. I have argued until I am blue in the face to dissuade them from this erroneous belief, but the one area I do get some nods of approval, are to say let’s set aside the parent(s) and focus on the kids. They did not choose to be homeless. If we help them, we can break the cycle of homelessness. Quoting a forward-thinking minister, he said “we have no idea of the untapped intellectual capital that may reside in these kids in poverty.”

So, spending in the area of helping children is not only the right thing to do, it is the smartest investment we could possibly make. I need only look at the second prize winner in a recent Intel science project who was a former homeless child. Yet, we also need to spend money on organizations like “Planned Parenthood.” This organization has become a pawn in an idiotic political game. As an Independent voter, this pariah status placed on such an important organization makes me ill. There are numerous studies that show causal relationships between family size and poverty in the US and abroad. In the work on homeless families I do, I tend to see larger families than in non-poverty settings. I place a lot of criticism on the churches for this. Birth control is used by many women and men, but it not as available or universally understood as needed in all segments of our population.

One of my old colleagues who is an African-American woman told me how frustrated she was at her minister and church leaders. She said the teenage kids in her congregation are so misinformed about pregnancy and STD risk. As an example, some told her they heard you could not get pregnant if you had intercourse standing up! When she went to her minister to see if they could offer some guidance she was scoffed at.  Abstinence is the only thing they will teach. Well, as a 53-year-old let me state what everyone seems to know but the church leadership – kids are going to experiment and have sex. You can preach all you want, but it will not stop that train. So, we must embrace planned parenthood and the use of birth control. And, to me what better place to teach than in church. In many respects, I think some ministers and church leaders are misusing their authority to not be forthcoming with these kids. Please note through all of this discussion, I did not use the word abortion; I see that as its own issue with its own debate. I am speaking of birth control which is used by well over 90% of Catholic women, a fact the Catholic church tends to overlook.

You probably did not expect a discussion on education to include planned parenthood and birth control. Yet, I see them linked with the causal relationship I noted above between poverty and family size. Having an unfettered number of children, will put the family and children at risk. I love children, but with the cost of raising a child the way it is, I don’t think I could afford a fourth child. Yet, my wife and I have access to birth control and governed our family size to a manageable level. We would have loved a fourth child, but we have the family size we want. I think many church goers would say the same thing.

However, I would prefer to end on a more targeted note and that is the volunteerism. I described the need for the help, but also the joy to the giver. The gift of your time is immeasurable to those in need, but it will lift you up as well. At our agency that helps homeless families, where we do not permit the proselytizing to those in need, our executive director likes to say “who is witnessing to whom?” Our volunteers get as much out of the experience that the families do. The families are witnessing to the givers. So, find some way to give back. It will be a fulfilling experience. Match your passions with the needs in the community. My wife likes to say on her involvement “I am giving these kids a soft place to land.” Let’s all provide these soft places to land and help find the missing words in the children’s lives. You may even find a few words for yourself.



Humor abounds in all relationships

We have been watching several Rom-Com movies where relationship humor between the lead characters seasons what would be a dry movie plot. Just yesterday, in the movie “Sleeping with other people,” the main, opposite gender characters (played by Jason Sudekis and Alison Brie) became best friends. If they ever had romantic feelings for each other, they would say the word “mousetrap” to stop those thoughts. That is a neat ploy.

It got me thinking about humor in all kinds of relationships – partners, friends, relatives, etc. I won’t repeat several stories that I have written about a few times before, but here are a few I have not.

Make sure the door can lock – when I moved to a new city, I was in a temporary apartment before we sold our house. When my family was visiting, the kids slept on a sleeper sofa, while my wife and I were in the lone bedroom. During, shall we say a romantic interlude, in walks my oldest son who was about seven and he said an audible “ooh” and left the room. Note to self, make sure the bedroom door can actually lock.

Old dogs can be taught – having learned the above lesson, we went on vacation and stayed in an old lake house, whose bedroom door would not fully shut and lock. Part of our foreplay was made to include placing a chair in front of the door to keep it from opening.

Yes, your parents had sex after you were born – growing up, my parents’ bedroom was adjacent to my brother’s and mine. Since my bed was on the nearest wall to theirs, it enabled me to hear things a boy probably should not hear in the room next door. Yes, my parents had sex after I was born; I am sure they enjoyed it.

Speaking of discovery – some good friends were visiting her mother and father and were sleeping in the guest room downstairs. After one of those romantic interludes, in walks the husband’s mother-in-law. It should be noted my friend is in bed, sans clothing, with one leg positioned outside of the covers. His mother-in-law sits on the bed while they are talking and starts to pat his leg and pats it again. Then, it hits her what has just transpired and she gets wide-eyed and immediately leaves the room. See number one about locking bedroom doors.

Invariably, kids will walk through when the movie gets racy – with one adult-child staying with us since the pandemic staying upstairs when home, he will occasionally walk through our main TV area to go the kitchen. Often, if our movie has a racy scene come on the screen, that is when he walks through the room. My wife and I will say to each other “I thought this was PG-13.” That and the surprise “f-bombs” that are used in movies cause some parental cringing. He will say, “it is nothing I have not heard before.”

Yes, a squeaky bed can be heard downstairs – when we travel, we often stay in a bed and breakfast which is usually an old house. At one place, we learned, after the fact, our bedroom and another was above the downstairs parlor. The reason we know there was another bedroom is the guests were having one of those romantic interludes as we had done earlier. And, we heard the squeaky bed while sitting in the parlor below. Oops. Our bed was squeaky as well.

When it rains it pours – staying at another bed and breakfast, we arrived during a torrential rainstorm. Our room was in the back of the home with an elevated poster bed which needed a stepping stool to get into. It also was underneath a veranda with a partially covered roof accessible by the second-floor rooms. Since this story is about romantic interludes, when we were about to Christen the poster bed, we saw rain leaking down the wall. This was a few seconds before the ceiling caved in from the rain on top of us. After getting dressed and letting the owners know of our travails, we were moved to another room across the hall, but it had water running down the walls as well. So, we ended up in a third room.

So, the moral to this story is not to avoid having romantic interludes. The moral is lock or block the bedroom door, test the squeakiness of the beds, and watch out for B&B poster beds in rainstorms. And, yes your parents did these kinds of things as well and enjoyed them. As for those movies, don’t trust a PG-13 rating.

Work place humor can be found in surprising places

Sometimes workplace humor offers the funniest lines, as they are unexpected. Even in working for a large, staid bank for about four years, I came across some funny things. Some of these I have used before, but have placed them all together for your reading (hopefully) pleasure.

A new state banking president had just moved into their headquarters and was outside smoking a cigarette due to a ban on indoor smoking. To be frank, the president was probably not the one you would pick out of a line-up as the president, so a woman smoking outside asked “I have not seen you before, what department do you work in?” When he responded sheepishly, “I am the new president of the bank,” she responded quickly with “And, I am the Queen of Effing England!”

Following his non-presidential looks to a branch he was touring, the new president was told he resembled their regional manager, a man I will call Bubba Johnson, to preserve his identity. The president spoke to the employees and said “People say I resemble Bubba Johnson, but that cannot be, as Bubba is uglier than a pair of old bowling shoes.”

A young communication analyst was giving guests a tour of the floor her department was on which also was on the same floor where all the Board meetings occurred. On the walls, were pictures of all the bank CEOs and chairmen, gender identity intended. When she got to the hallway, she said to her guests, “And, here is wall with pictures of a bunch of dead white guys.” Observation duly noted.

If you ever worked for a bank or had a relative who did, titles are handed out like candy. I think they are used in part so as to give a lesser raise. So, there are several thousands of assistant vice-presidents and several hundreds of vice-presidents. One of the dilemmas of this construct was uttered by a long-time bank employee who said, “As soon as you give someone a title, they start acting presidential.”

My boss’ boss was someone who tended to invade people’s personal space getting inches from yours when he talked to you. The gender of the other person did not matter, as he was an equal opportunity space invader, pun intended. My boss, though, had a unique way to stave off said invasions. When asked how, he said “Whenever I meet with him, I always make sure there is a piece of furniture between us, a chair, a table, a desk.”

My boss had some of the funniest stories about his time working for a bank, our bank had acquired. The CEO of that bank was the most imperial of presidents I have ever witnessed. There seemingly was no perquisite he did not have. One story is he invited key bank customers to his daughter’s wedding to get the bank to pay for it. Why spend my money he thought?

He also had a chauffeured limousine for protection, which the driver/ bodyguard would circle back and drive his wife around when he was at work. It would do the same for the COO’s wife. Since they argued over the limo, the bank solved the problem by getting a second one. My boss was talking with driver about the error of his process to keep the CEO safe. He said, “You drop him at the door once you get here, but fail to understand that everyone inside wants to kill him.”

One of those perquisites was a lengthy change of control agreement. To get the money, the retired CEO would have to do various things, one of which was to file monthly reports of his activities. When he was about seven months in arrears, the actual CEO was made aware of it. His solution was simple and very effective. “Stop paying him.” Within a few weeks, the retired CEO completed the reports.

Finally, the head of security for the bank had some very funny stories that he could only share in general. A couple of takeaways from his stories are (1) avoid places that have cameras when you are having a sexual encounter with a colleague, which includes stairwells, (2) an irate spouse who confronts her philandering husband at work has a better aim with a hurled coffee cup than you might think, and (3) avoid having an affair with a person whose spouse also works for the bank. Of course, all three could be solved by avoiding the affairs altogether.

I am certain you each have some workplace humor. Please feel free to share your stories.

Domestic violence has no place in religious worship

The following post was written four years ago. I repeat it as domestic violence continues today, and in some cases, were heightened when we had the pandemic shutdown. In a charitable group I was involved with that helped working homeless families, about 1/3 of our victims lost their home as a result of domestic violence abuse.

I listened to a troubling story on NPR about a female Baptist minister being a domestic violence victim. She gained the support of her father, who is the minister of a church, to seek a divorce from her abusive husband. But, the deacons of her church threatened to expel her if she did not recant the divorce.

I have shared before the story of a friend who went to her minister because her husband was beating her. The minister asked to see them both. To her surprise, the minister told her in front of her abusive husband that it was her fault. If she was a better wife, then she would not be beaten.

Both women found new churches. As a Christian, I am appalled that male religious leaders can justify the abuse of another human being from their scriptures. And, other religious leaders can find similar interpretations from wording in their religious texts. So, domestic violence and even honor killings are more acceptable in some cultures.

My response is quite simple. These are crimes. If a religious leader tells you it is OK that a male parent or husband can beat or assault a woman, find another church or religion. A perceived supreme being worth worshipping would not condone such violence, regardless of what the religious texts might be interpreted to say. Women “hold up half the sky” says the ancient Chinese proverb. And, women were very important in promulgating Christianity after Jesus left earth.

My thesis is straight forward. Religious texts were written, edited, interpreted and translated by imperfect men. Even if the words were divinely inspired, they were not dictated. Men wrote them down. Sometimes, they were written many decades after the event occurred. I mention the word “edited” as some chapters got cut from religious text that governs two religions.

Given the two words “imperfect and men,”  it is my view there is no way every word should be held up as true. In fact, gospel is short for “good news.” The news is the writer’s version of the truth, so each gospel or book will include their version of the story based on their male and human biases. If women penned these texts, they would read differently.

So, domestic violence simply should not be tolerated. It is a crime. If my friend had been later killed had she heeded that minister’s advice, he would be culpable in her murder. Again, let me say this boldly. No religious leader should condone domestic violence. He is abetting a criminal act. If yours does, please find another place of worship.

In my worship and charity work, I have met some wonderful religious leaders of many faiths. But, I have also met some whose imperfections are more apparent. Find a religious leader that respects you as a person. They are out there.

Finally, if you, a friend or a relative are in a domestic violence situation, get out. He will not change. I will leave you with a true story told by a friend about his sister. His family of eight brothers and sisters had no idea one of their sisters was being beaten by her husband. She made excuses for missing family events when she could not hide her cuts and bruises. The husband also beat the kids, sometimes picking them up and driving their heads into the ceiling. The brothers and sisters did not know until their brother-in-law killed their sister.

Get out. He will not change. He will beat you. He will then apologize. And, then he will repeat the cycle.

There are no caveats – a mantra from a help-oriented church

We were catching up with an old friend whose wife had passed away earlier this year. He is a devout man who sings in the choir of his Baptist church. His church is not an evangelical church as he notes their mantra is “God loves everyone.” He added, “there are no caveats.”

As evidence of their mantra, his choir will be singing with a LGBTQ+ choir at an upcoming event. I think this is very cool. It is a big tent approach to sharing their faith. They are walking the talk so to speak.

As further evidence, a charitable organization I was involved with has benefited greatly from working with this church. The organization helps homeless working families to get over a rough patch and place them in housing with a temporary subsidy and social worker support. The church provides space for the administrative staff of the organization and one of its shelters which can house seven families until they get placed.

In my advocacy work with churches for this organization seeing churches who focus on outreach to those in need is a joy to see. I have seen exemplars like this one. I have also seen some that are not so organized. That is unfortunate.

To me, there is a psychic income to helping others. The giver gets as much good out of the encounter as the recipient. So, when I see churches focus on being exclusive, it makes me sad. Using the Bible as a weapon to divide does not serve its mission very well. Using it to invite and connect with people is a far better message. The same goes for other religious texts. Inclusion is a much better sales approach than exclusion.

We should remember our desires as humans are the same regardless of religion – love and raise our families in a safe environment where we can feed, clothe and house them. That is the mission we should enable. Remember, there are no caveats.

Same-sex marriage protection passes a hurdle

In an article called “47 House Republicans vote to write same-sex marriage into law” by Anthony Adragna of Politico, the good news reverberated in the hall of the Congress. It still must pass muster with 60 Senate votes, but it is encouraging. Please contact your Senators and ask them to vote in favor of this bill.

The full article can be linked to below. Here are the opening few paragraphs:

“Democrats loudly cheered from their side of the chamber as the bill passed 267-157, with 47 Republicans backing it, including members of GOP leadership such as Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and National Republican Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.). Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) voted no.

‘This bill makes crystal clear that every couple and their children has the fundamental freedom to take pride in their marriage and have their marriage respected under the law,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in floor remarks.

A 2015 Supreme Court decision required states to recognize same-sex marriages, but Democrats urged a codification of the policy in the wake of the court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last month. In a concurring decision, Justice Clarence Thomas voiced support for reconsidering the court’s earlier same-sex marriage ruling.

The short bill, which faces an uncertain path in the 50-50 Senate, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It would also require states to recognize same-sex marriages, as long as it was valid in the state in which it occurred.”

Note, when the two more prolific attorneys who have pled cases before SCOTUS argued for same-sex marriage when California’s Prop 8 case was in question, they noted that other folks had no standing on the issue. Plus, they argued that these are folks want to be in a recognized relationship and want to start families. I agree.

Again, please reach out to your Senators and let them know where you stand on this.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/47-house-republicans-vote-to-write-same-sex-marriage-into-law/ar-AAZLcDb

A solicited prayer for all

I follow a young woman’s blog she calls the Christian Tech-Nerd. Recently, she offered several biblical based prayers for various events or challenges and invited readers to submit theirs. Here is one I submitted, which is less biblical and more on treating others like we want to be treated.

“Thanks for sharing. My prayer is our leaders, both religious and non-religious, can act and speak as if they are among our better angels and not our worst demons. To me, it is poor stewardship when they act and speak like we tell our kids not to. 

My prayer is we can civilly disagree with one another and not hold grudges if we cannot find agreement. My prayer is we can be the best version of ourselves and treat people like we want to be treated. We are an imperfect lot and we all sin. So, let’s not forget that and do our best to learn from our mistakes.

I recognize this is not a biblical prayer, I just feel we have lost our way and we need to act better than we are. Thanks for asking.”

This prayer seems to resonate with several folks. My thrust is on walking the talk. Words are easy. Actions are hard. As someone who has worked with religious volunteers to help people in need, those outreach people are where that Golden Rule lives. Those are the people we should be following, not a minister or elected official who is using their power to act like a bully to denigrate others.

Letter to the editor – concerns over attacks on others

I sent the following brief letter to my newspaper this weekend. It will likely go unprinted, but I want to share it with you in case you would like to modify and use. Maybe it will get printed somewhere.

Reading about the increase in verbal and physical attacks on LGBTQ+ citizens or the denigration of the rights of women or people of color concern me. This is especially troubling when it comes from people who espouse the teachings of Jesus. When he said treat others like you want to be treated, he offered no caveats. Full stop. If we would only follow that one rule, which is so important it is called “golden” and also appears in in other religious texts, we would be in a much better place with our civility. We have two ears and one mouth, we should use them in that proportion. We all deserve such treatment.

People died for our country to preserve the freedoms for all its citizens. That guy Jesus chose to spend most of his time speaking to and hanging out with the disenfranchised people in his time. We should remind ourselves why would they choose to do that. Our country has had fits and starts of trying to live up to our ideals. Yet, we should never stop trying to be the best version of ourselves.

A documentary on George Carlin reveals much

“I am optimistic, but I would not take any comfort from that.” George Carlin

The above is one of the many quotes from the talented and funny satirical comedian, George Carlin which is highlighted in a HBO two-part documentary. On top of learning about Carlin’s rise to fame, as well as his fall and rise again, we see a glimpse of American culture from the 1960’s forward.

Like most good documentaries, it presents the good, bad and the ugly side of fame and how it impacted both Carlin and his first wife, Brenda, whom he was married for 36 years. Brenda, was his biggest fan and supported and help manage his efforts to go out on his own on two separate occasions, first after having success with Jack Burns in a comedy duo and, second, when he took off the suit and started being who he really was on stage, the bearded, witty and satirical comedian we remember most.

Along the way, both had drinking and drug problems. Ironically, Brenda’s exposure came when he became successful and professional managers and PR people took on her role. Their daughter Kelly noted that this put her mother to the side and she had a lot of trouble with that. They both would recover and have a loving thirty-six year marriage before Brenda passed away. Carlin would later remarry and stay married for the rest of his life.

For those who don’t know Carlin, here is a brief summary from Hollywood Life:

George Carlin is one of the most beloved comedians of all time. After beginning his career in the 1960s, George rose to fame for his often controversial subject matter and use of explicit language, best exemplified in his routine “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television” in 1972. He continued being a popular performer, going through many distinct shifts in style throughout the 80s and 90s, releasing a number of standup specials. His final special It’s Bad For Ya was released months before his death at 71 in June 2008. Other than his standup, George dabbled in comedic acting, appearing in films such as Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure and playing Mr. Conductor on the children’s program Shining Time Station.”

Carlin loved to play with the words and their different meanings under different contexts. One of his more memorable and safer topics is the one on oxymorons. One I vividly recall is “jumbo shrimp.” After metering is voice and eyes as he recounted this, he would say “are they little jumbos, or huge shrimp?” Yet, his most famous diatribe is the one mentioned above called “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.”

Comedians like Stephen Colbert, Patton Oswalt, Jon Stewart, Steven Wright, et al could easily recite the seven words in order from this routine. They also discussed how provocative Carlin was in his heyday and became again later in his career. There was a time where he got pushed aside and was actually mocked by some newer comedians for his less evocative wordplay. Yet, he would only come back strong being the irreverent Carlin we knew and laughed with.

This special is worth the watch. I actually watched them out of order, but that is more than OK. It was actually fun to see him get started after seeing the later stages of his career first. It is also telling to see the many comedians pay homage to him for influencing their careers.