Category Archives: Humor

Closing Down the Clarington Center ©

Highway K4Z is a gravel road that goes north out of Letongaloosa and dead ends at what was once the Perkins farm. The facility is now called the Clarington Center. The U.S. government once owned Clarington. Then a Finnish billionaire bought the Facility and used it in a scheme to get revenge on some super-rich people who had ostracized him.

          Years ago Old Jed Perkins’s barbed wire fence was replaced by a 10-foot-tall industrial strength chain linked enclosure that goes all the way around the property. Where the road ends, a big wrought iron gate stood between two square brick pillars. A small brass plate set in the right hand pillar read: “Clarington Center.” Underneath were the words “Restricted Entry.”

          The facility was designed to rehabilitate diplomats, judges, military officers, and politicians who embarrassed the government. We’re not talking about felons here. Felonious behavior gets you sent to jail or gets you whitewashed, depending on which way the political winds are blowing. Either way you don’t end up at the Clarington Center.

            One person who was at Clarington, for example, was a U.S. cabinet secretary who told a racist story while sitting beside a newspaper reporter. Another Clarington Center resident was a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who never outgrew his fraternity boy penchant for practical jokes. Security cameras caught him placing a whoopee cushion on the Secretary General’s chair.

          Then there was the White House chef who, in a burst of last-minute culinary creativity, substituted pork for lamb at a state dinner for the president of Israel.  Quite a few other officials committed dumbness and were sent to Clarington.

          And there was the U.S. General who misread his orders and clad his troops in desert camouflage uniforms for a mission that involved their moving undetected through a large green forested area.

          A U.S. Congressman failed to invite the President to a cocktail party at which a number of prominent Hollywood producers, actors and actresses were gathered. The President was a member of the Congressman’s own party.

          The problem was that, as the decades passed, prominent members of both political parties committed dumbness. The government expanded the Clarington Center to its physical limits, but U.S. officials who ought to have known better continued to act in ways that merited their being candidates, not for re-election, or re-appointment, but rather for treatment at the center.

          A rationale had to be developed that would explain the need for Clarington to be shutdown.

          That, it turned out, was difficult. The closing of Clarington started as a behind-closed-doors issue. Officials argued about whose fault it was that Clarington didn’t work anymore. Congressmen argued about the wording of the in-house statement that would be voted on. Then somebody, or several somebodies, leaked the story to the media that the government was going to close Clarington. 

          Then it was “Katy bar the door.”

          Every radio and television commentator, every talk show host, every blogger, every columnist, indeed, every blatherer in the world weighed in on the topic. “Close  it, and do it now.” “Don’t close it. Never close it.” “Well, maybe, but not now.”  “Well maybe, but let’s explore ALL options .”  “Just DO IT already.”

          The Clarington closure story ran for an amazing five evening television cycles and six daily newspaper cycles. Some weekly and monthly publications are still running commentaries on it.

          After all the media hubbub came the practical considerations of who would shut down the Clarington Center, and how would they do it.

          Of the blather that those considerations generated, we have neither the space nor the energy to comment upon. Politicians, elected officials at village, city, state, and national levels demanded to be included. Corporate executives vied for positions on any entity that would be appointed.  School children, teenagers, workaday folks and civic-minded citizens of all political and ethnic groups wanted a place on the Clarington Closing Commission.

          In the end, Nature had the last word.  A tornado burst out of the south, bypassed Letongaloosa, and flattened the Clarington Center. Debris was scattered over several square miles, and some Clarington documents were found as far away as South Dakota.

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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Dr. Ima Farseer Solves a Dilemma ©

Dr. Ima Farseer had been chair of the Department of Et. Al., Et. Al.at Letongaloosa Community Junior College for a long time. Her long tenure became a problem. She had done such a good job as dean under three LCJC presidents that none of them would approve a promotion to which she aspired. Dr. Farseer wanted to be provost at LCJC, but the presidents refused to let her change positions.
The presidents were all ambitious men. They all wanted to rise higher. They all wanted to move away from Letongaloosa and acquire more prestigious academic positions. For that to happen they needed Dr. Farseer to use her administrative skills to keep the university sailing smoothly and successfully semester after semester.
“No, Ima,” they said. “You are too valuable to the university where you are. We can’t take the chance of promoting you. If something went wrong, administrationwise, where would we be?”
“If I quit, where will you be?” she asked.
“We can give you a raise.”
“My salary is already at the upper limits. The state won’t approve any higher salary for me.”
“Ima, Ima, please! You need to work with us !”
“No. YOU need to work with ME.”
“Look, it’s nearly the weekend. Give us until Monday to see if we can come up with something that will work for everyone.”
“You’d better come up with something good. Otherwise I’m out of here.”
Up against it, the men put in some heavy thinking (not, for them, an easy thing to do). Finally, one of them brightened. He didn’t actually shout, “eureka!” but he might as well. “We’ll promote Ima to provost but we’ll fold the dean’s duties into the description of the provost’s responsibilities. She’ll report to which ever of us is still here.”
The following Monday the designated speaker (the one who pulled the short straw) met with Dr. Farseer.
“We came up with an excellent solution to this Quandary,” he said.
“I bet it stinks,” said Ima with calculated insolence.
“On the contrary, it’s a ball of fire.”
“Don’t burn the place down.”
“You have your promotion.”
“What’s the catch?”
“No catch. It just required a small rewrite of your position statement.”
Dr. Farseer remained silent.
“You have your promotion.
“As I said, ‘What’s the catch’”?
“Your duties will include you’re doing the work of dean of Et. Al., Et. Al., as well as those of Provost which position will be redefined to accommodate all the things you require.”
“Excuse me, sir. Are you high on something?”
“Yes, indeed, I am. I’m high on the desire for the University to continue to benefit from your invaluable administrative skills, but at the same time reward you with the promotion you so richly deserve.”
“And you guys would continue to use the university as a springboard to better, more rewarding academic positions in the great outside world . A world a million light years from Letongaloosa.”
“A jaundiced view,” he said. You’re a hard woman, Ima, if you’ll pardon my saying so.”
“Accurate, not jaundiced.”
The president nodded in acquiescence.
“You’re saying I can write my own ticket.”
“Within the requirements of academic responsibility and in keeping with the viable demands of institutional stability.”
“Persiflage.”
“Beg pardon?”
“Balderdash! Baloney! Let me hear you say that in plain English.”
“My dear Ima, we are, members of the academic community. Our profession is awash with ambiguity. None of us is capable of saying things accurately.. If we were capable of straight-forward speech we’d be working in the real world, making real money. Does anyone around here make real money?”
“No! That’s the point. All you geeks get your ticket punched in academe. Then you look for a real job
You’re a hard woman, Ima, if you’ll pardon my saying so.”
“Hard but accurate when you strip away all the baloney.”
The president inclined his head. “So, where does that leave us?”
It leaves us with a quote from the gospel according to Saint Ima .”
“Which is?”
“Go soak your head.”
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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Kaybe Makes Contact©

Something jogged my memory the other day, and I realized it had been a long time since Kaybe, my alien friend from outer space, had contacted me. Long time readers will remember Kaybe, but if you’re a new reader, here is an update:

Do you believe in aliens from outer space?  I do. I’ve been friends with one for decades. KB-11.2 doesn’t have green skin and luminous eyes like the aliens one sees in sci-fi movies. In Kaybe’s part of the universe they’ve solved the problem of time and space. For them, crossing six parcecs is like going to the grocery store.

Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set® arms sprout from the curving sides of his body, and three spindly metal legs drop down from the underside of his flat stainless steel torso.  He has ball bearing wheels for feet.  A floppy two-foot antenna, with three sensor-eyes, stick out of the middle of his lid.  Kaybe comes from the Alpha Centauri star system. Many years ago on a visit to Earth, Kaybe saved my marriage. He communicates through mental telepathy

          Since I first met him, Kaybe and I have had many fine adventures. He usually stops by The Enchantment when he is within a few hundred parsecs of Earth. Another of my alien friends, Four-Finger Fanny, works as a waitress there.

The Enchantment is a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of Letongaloosa. It’s the kind of place every college town needs to maintain academic accreditation.

I go to the Enchantment for a soft drink with friends—some of whom live here in Letongaloosa  and some, like my robot alien friend KB 11.2, Henry the Hulk, Miniature Mike, and Four-Finger Fanny, live a long, long way from here.

 

Four-Finger Fanny speaks telepathically, but she also speaks human. I’m glad she does because it tires me to speak telepathically.

Four-Finger Fanny doesn’t look like an alien.  She looks like a

40-something waitress with sore feet and a tired back—which she is, actually. Fanny works at The Enchantment. That’s her day job. Her real assignment is to be earth’s contact with the Powers that Be in this sector of the cosmos.

I called the Enchantment and asked for Fanny.

“Hello,” she said. “Long time, no hear.”

“I apologize,” I said. “There’s been a lot going on. Fanny, is Kaybe due to swing by the solar system anytime soon? I haven’t been in touch for ages. I need to visit with him.”

“Funny you should ask,” said Fanny. Kaybe just sailed in this morning. He was a few parsecs away so he swung by to say ‘Hello.’”

“Kaybe!” I said.

His answer came telepathically. When Kaybe speaks English his words come in sounding like Jimmy Kimmel. When he speaks Spanish he sounds like the Mexican comedian Cantiflas.

“Hello, old friend, how goes it?”

“Emaline is well, but I’m at loose ends. I need to get away from Earth and all the stuff in my life. I want to go into outer space. Can you help me do that?”

“Kind of “ET Call Home,” you mean,” said Kaybe.

“Yes, but rather than calling, I want to GO there,” I said.

A couple of days later (who knows how long it was in space-time) Kaybe called me.  He actually called me. The telephone rang. He was using his Jimmy Kimmel voice.

“I can beam you up, Scotty,” he said.

“What should I take with me?”

“Just the clothes you’re wearing.  You don’t even need a toothbrush.”

“How long will I be gone?”

“You could figure somewhere between two shakes of a lamb’s tail and several months.”

“What should I tell Emaline?”

“You don’t need to tell her anything. To her it will seem like two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”

The next thing I knew I was hurtling through space. I was standing inside a clear plastic ball. Comets and asteroids and stars whizzed by me. I felt happy and loose and at ease.

The next thing I knew I was home—upstairs sitting at my desk.

I picked up the phone.

“ Kaybe, that was great! THANK YOU!”

“Anytime, old friend, be well.”

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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Antofagasta©

One doesn’t come across the name Antofagasta—a Chilean city 678 miles north of Santiago—in ordinary conversation and one assumes that the words Atacama Desert come up even less frequently. Probably even fewer readers of this column have stopped off at either place. The region produces much of the world’s supply of copper.
I certainly didn’t intend to land in Antofagasta when my flight left Bogota, Colombia.  My destination was Santiago itself. I’d made many trips to Latin America and the Caribbean over the years on assignments for the United States Information Agency (USIA) to train journalists and seek their support for friend of the press.
The first indication that passengers had that we were going to land before we got to Santiago was when the pilot’s voice came over the intercom. Pilots often talk to passengers from the cockpit, pointing out places of interest.
“This is the pilot speaking. We have just been informed that the Santiago airport is fog-covered. We can’t land there yet. We’ve been instructed to land at Antofagasta, which is nearly 700 miles north of Santiago. Please fasten your seatbelts and put your tray tables in the upright and locked position in preparation for landing. Thank you.”    The plane banked and we began a steep descent.  After an uneventful landing the plane taxied to a very small terminal building that was apparently closed.

We learned later that the air terminal only opened when flights were scheduled. Fortunately, the landside of the terminal was open 24 hours a day to accommodate traveler and commercial vehicle traffic.  Food and beverages and travel items were available at various counters.
The passengers disembarked and headed for the counters and restrooms. They were immediately surrounded by people wanting to purchase U.S. dollars. Passengers were offered a variety of exchange prices depending on how vulnerable they looked.  The gullible-looking passengers were offered 7.50 pesos for a dollar. The official exchange rate was 750.00 pesos per dollar.
One could tell the seasoned travelers by how few people surrounded them.  One could detect the passengers who hadn’t understood decimals in school by the fact that they got taken by buyers who moved the decimal point one or two places and cheated them ruthlessly.
Shysters moved through the crowd s trying to bully passengers into yielding their dollars. Others gazed into passenger’s faces and with mock sincerity and sought dollars by pleading poverty and hunger.
To their credit a number of honest citizens berated their crooked country men. The most effective do-gooders were those who spoke English. But they were berated by the shysters also. A few fights broke out.
At this point the aircraft’s captain grabbed a bullhorn, climbed on top of a wooden box and began shouting. The captain was a veteran of this airline route. He spoke Spanish fluently.
He shouted: “This is the captain speaking! Everyone take a step back and be quiet.”
Then he spoke in English.  “Passengers, move return to the airplane and take your seats. The fog has lifted and that the airfield in Santiago is ready to receive our flight. And in the meantime, courteously decline currency transactions of any kind.”

Despite the pilot’s orders there was a flurry of currency exchanges as the the passengers moved across the tarmac and climbed the stairs to the airplane.
As the plane taxied and lifted off, a few passengers complained about the delay. Most were glad for the diversion and for a chance to see a place they had never heard of and to which they would never have thought of booking a flight.
The plane reached cruising altitude and passengers were told they could move around the cabin.
A passenger shouted, “I forgot. How much is this money worth?
Another shouted, “Who cares? I’m saving mine to give to my grandkids. I’ll give you $30 for all your Chilean pesos.

 
“Pesos?” shouted another passenger. “Pesos?” Shoot! Some shyster sold me a hand full of Brazilian paper money I thought I was getting a real good deal.”
“I’ll give you a buck for all your Brazilian money,” said the grandma.”
“Coffee, tea or milk?” asked a flight attendant.

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-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Zimmy, Kate and the Cuban Beetle ©

Until recently the U.S. government didn’t want you to go to Cuba.  That policy, which started way back in the Eisenhower administration, required that everybody apply for a license before traveling to Havana.    My friend Zimmy Tarbox  has a Ph.D. in entomology. He’s been all over the world measuring the space between the eyeballs of baby cockroaches.  Zimmy’s British colleague, Kate Billingsly, is the world’s leading expert on pond scum skimmer bugs.    Back in 2006, Kate and Zimmy attended the 15th Annual International Cockroach and Pond Skimmer Conference in Cuba.  In 2016 the sponsoring group, the Entomological Society scheduled its 25th annual conference for Havana, and Kate and Zimmy were invited to give keynote addresses in recognition of their outstanding contributions to entomological research.      In Hong Kong last January, the two talked about their upcoming visit to Cuba.    “Speaking of,” said Kate,  “I met Ricardo Calvez in Samoa last month.  He says that the Hypolestes trinitatis, a beetle endemic to Cuba, is in danger of extinction because of loss of habitat.”  “We should do something.”  “Yes, we should.”          The two scientists got the opportunity sooner than either of them thought.  They were invited to the White House.  The President was preparing for a trip to Cuba and, covering all bases, wanted a staff briefing on the flora and fauna of the island.  After speaking with Zimmy and Kate,
one of the staffers proposed a presidential field trip on the island to search for the Hypolestes trinitatis. She wanted something to showcase the President’s interest in the environment.  Kate and Zimmy were invited to lead the expedition.  So, it turned out, Zimmy and Kate flew to Havana, not on a crowded commercial flight from Miami, but on Air Force One.   Organizing a private “off the agenda” trip by the U.S. President to the forests of central and eastern Cuba could have been diplomatically and politically difficult.  But Zimmy and Kate had “friends at court” in the persons of two members of Cuba’s Central Party leadership who were avid amateur entomologists.   The two leaders had been aching to look for the Hypolestes trenitatis but couldn’t justify the cost to the government of such a trip.    At first the Secret Service threw a fit over the idea of the president tramping around in the outback of a communist nation, but under heavy pressure acquiesced to the endeavor.  Thus the party—consisting of the President, three Secret Service agents who didn’t look like what they were, Kate, Zimmy, and the two Cuban party members, slipped out of Havana by night and headed for the highlands.  As they trekked through the sub-montane forest, sometimes on little-used trails and at other times cutting through thick foliage, the members of the expedition kept their eyes peeled for a glimpse of the elusive beetle.  There were a couple of false sightings that disappointed everyone.  Then one of the Cuban party members spotted the prize, a large bug that looked like Hypolestes trinitatis.  The members of the expedition stepped back and waited for confirmation from Kate and Zimmy.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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The Suit Case Irony ©

My older sister, Merci, is six years older than I. She graduated from high school in in 1947 and was accepted at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. We lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho—a 350 _-mile trip.
Back in those days one took the Greyhound bus from place to place. Merci packed her belongings in two of family’s battered old metal suitcases. She was living in a dormitory. She took a taxi to the dorm from the bus depot. The taxi driver carried her suitcases into the lobby of the dorm. The other residents saw the battered suit cases. Merci was embarrassed.
Fast forward. Merci graduated from BYU in three years and got a good job back in Idaho Falls with the Atomic Energy Commission. She was making really good money.
When it came time for me to get ready to attend BYU Merci bought me a an expensive matched set of leather luggage to take to college. I wasn’t going to live in a dormitory, I was going to live in an off campus apartment with four guys from Idaho Falls. The irony: we drove down to BYU in my roommate’s car. I unpacked the beautiful luggage and stored it away.
The story does have a happy—and worthwhile conclusion. After two years at BYU I was called by the LDS Church to serve as a missionary in Uruguay. The luggage was excellent for the trip down and it held up well over the two-and-a-half years I spent in various towns and cities in Uruguay.

-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Kaybe and Four-Finger Fanny©

The doorbell rang. When I saw Four-Finger Fanny I knew that I was needed at The Enchantment.
The Enchantment is a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of Letongaloosa. It’s the kind of place every college town needs to maintain academic accreditation. I go to the Enchantment to have a soft drink and chat with friends—some of whom live here and some, like my robot alien friend KB 11.2, live a long, long way from here.
As you may remember, my friend Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set arms sprout from the curved sides of his body. Three spindly legs drop from the flat underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet, and three sensor-eyes wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top his lid.
Kaybe is from the Milky Way, but his home planet is several parsecs closer than the Earth to the center of the galaxy. And his people have solved the problem of traveling faster than the speed of light.
Kaybe speaks telepathically. His words form letters in your mind. Four-Finger Fanny is also from outer space, but she just looks like a middle aged woman who has spent too much time on her feet.
Kaybe and Four-Finger Fanny communicate telepathically, but Four Finger
Kaybe and Fanny.
Fanny also speaks human. I’m really glad she does, because I’d rather not converse telepathically. It’s tiring and I tend to get a headache when I spend too much time communicating telepathically.
“Hi, Fanny,” I said. “What’s up?”
“Kaybe and I need your help,” she said. Kaybe picked up a rock the size of my fist from Mars last time he stopped by there. She unwrapped the rock from a yellow cloth in which she had wrapped it.
“ He needs a new rheostat and I need to retire and get off my feet,” she said. “We thought you could contact the National Space Administration and see if they want to buy the rock.”
So off I went to our nation’s capital, and to our five-sided military building.
I had put the rock into a red cloth bag and the bag into a corsage-sized box that I held on my lap. As I watched, I could see no recognizable pattern as to who got treated kindly and who got ignored or invited to take a long walk on the mall. People who looked like hicks were ushered into offices immediately, while some well-dressed folks were treated like a dog catcher’s assistant.
Then I saw a large, tall man in a military uniform with enough fruit on his chest to open market. As he walked down the hall people parted like the waters of the Red Sea parted for Moses.
“That’s my guy,” I said to myself, and fell in behind him.
I’m short and narrow, and he was big, tall and self-absorbed, so I sailed along in his immediate wake like a dingy behind a cruise ship. And, believe it or not, he walked right up to the offices of NASA and entered. I melted in behind him and tapped him on the back.
There was was a pause. Then he turned like a giant redwood wearing shiny black shoes.
“You want to buy a moon rock, general?” I asked, opening the box and bag and holding them up to somewhere near his chest.

“Let me look at that,” he said in a voice that sounded like thunder in an echo chamber.
“Where did you get this?”
“My friend, an alien from outer space, picked it up on Mars.
“I’ll give you ten thousand dollars for it.”
“How do you know it’s real?
“It’s real. I was an astronaut. I own the only other rock like this on earth.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a horse-choking wad of large denomination bills
And that, as the man said, was that. What a joy forFanny and Kaybe..
Nowadays when I roll into The Enchantment, folks sometimes applaud.
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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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