Hanukkah Ham – and Other Strokes of Genius

by Andy Wood on December 8, 2007

in Exploring the Possibilities, LV Cycle

Hanukkah HamSeth Godin shared this head-turning picture taken at a market in Greenwich Village. Here’s an idea sure to get somebody a promotion – Hanukkah ham! Seth’s comment: “Sometimes a little knowledge isn’t such a good thing.”

Where would we be without ideas? And where would the good ideas be without a few Hanukkah hams thrown in for good measure? Pets.com, New Coke, Volkswagon’s “Thing” and ketchup-flavored potato chips come to mind. Seemed like good ideas to somebody at the time.

Years ago Mad Magazine did a list of ad slogans that never quite made it to TV. Things like:

  • Try Our Elevators – They’ll Never Let You Down!

  • Another Blowout Year for Firestone.

  • Gillette – a Cut Above the Competition.

But some strokes of g that appeared completely ridiculous have made people a lot of money. Check out this list (with links) of 10 Totally Stupid Online Business Ideas that Made Someone Rich. There you can marvel at the fake wishbones, toner-filling monks, and dog goggles.

Hanukkah hams show up in church life, too.

Like the time I thought it would be a cool idea to have a weekly professionals lunch-devotional meeting at our church. I set it all up, named it, and boldly invited everybody to come to our “Nooners Meeting.” I had no idea what was so funny. Seth, sometimes being completely clueless isn’t such a good thing, either.

Or the time that my pastor/mentor/friend Rick thought how cool it would be to film a solar eclipse. With the church video camera. On the tape, just past the image of melting lens, you hear these fateful words: “Oh crap.”

Or the time Rick and I took a group of kids to youth camp and invented the Toilet Seat Award, given daily to the group with the dirtiest cabins. He and I roomed together. We won.

Or the time I preached in an African-American church in Alabama and used an illustration from the civil war. Oops. It was the quietest they’d been all day.

Hanukkah hams are the source of that haunting punch line: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” But here’s the really tricky part. If you had to choose between a Hanukkah ham at the supermarket and a plastic poultry bone online, which would you buy?

Ashleigh Brilliant said, “Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about.” I have no doubt that the supermarket sold plenty of Hanukkah hams – the Gentiles probably took care of that. But in defense of our meat market wizard, the only reason we’re having this conversation at his/her expense is because somebody with an idea actually did something about it.

Gotta go… some friends are helping me raffle off some opera tickets at the truck stop. Shalom!

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