May In the Midwest

When you go out, take along sunscreen and a warm jacket.

 

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor columnist. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia, is available on Amazon.

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Eloise Calls the Robo Callers©

“Ring.”  When Eloise Simplekins picked up her phone, a robot voice said: “Hello. This is Jan.  Congratulations! You qualify for ….  Please press ‘one’ now to speak to a customer representative. Press ‘nine’ now if you wish to be removed from the qualification list.”

“Fiddlesticks!” said Eloise, and clicked her phone off.   It was the sixth robo call this week.  She had tried hanging up, she had tried pressing “nine,” but a salesperson always came on the line anyway.  She had pressed “one” and told the person who answered to take her off their list.  The person didn’t answer Eloise’s request.  All Eloise heard was a  click and a dial tone.

Eloise Simpelkins is plain—beginning with her name and continuing with her squat chunky figure, her thick unruly hair, her flat face, her squinty eyes, and her pug nose.  But she is very smart.

Years ago Eloise became a pre-cleaning lady for the women of La Mancha, that rich part of town where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.  It embarrassed the women of La Mancha to have their cleaning ladies see poopy toilets in their husbands’ bathrooms, so Eloise became their pre-cleaning lady. But she became much more.  These women ached to reveal their foibles to someone.  Eloise was there every week and seemed discreet. She became their confidant, and the women rewarded her handsomely.  She invested wisely and became a wealthy woman.

Robot phone calls irked Eloise, and after she became rich they irked her even more.  When she couldn’t convince the “you qualify for…” robot voice organizations to quit calling her, Eloise turned to Hadley Wilkins for help.

Readers will remember Hadley “Cyberman” Wilkins. He’s the electronic engineer who helped develop cell phone technology.

“Hadley,” she said. “I need your help.”

“Say on, oh Wise One.”

“I get six to eight robot calls a week,” she said.  “If I hang up, they just call back.   I press the button and talk to a live operator but they still won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  Hadley, I want you seek out the private phone numbers of the executives who run these robo-call outfits.   I’m going to give them a taste of their own medicine.”

“On it,” said Hadley.

Randall Egregious, the vice-president for operations at Techaly Communications, Inc., was relaxing in his den when the unlisted number on his cell phone rang.  The screen said “Mara Belle.”  Mara Belle Function was a Techaly  executive.  Egregious clicked on.

“Are you being pestered by robot telephone calls?” a robot voice asked.  “If you get robot calls seven days a week, please press one.  If you get robot calls…”  Egregious clicked the phone off, but the robo- voice continued talking: “If you get five or fewer robot calls a week, please press two,  if you get fewer than three  robot calls a week, please press star.  To repeat this message, please spell out “help,” on your keypad. ” Egregious hurled the phone across the room.  It slammed into the brick fire place and fell to the floor.  The robot voice continued to speak:  “If you are angry and frustrated and want to destroy your cell phone, please press the “tone” button.”  Egregious picked up the cell phone, ran outside, and threw it as far as he could.

He came back inside and turned on the television.  Instead of his favorite channel, the screen showed a television test pattern.  From the television speaker the robot voice intoned the same message.

Egregious ran to his car and sped to his office.  He called the company’s technology director at his home.

“George, this is Randall Egregious. I’m at the office.  How do I shut down the robot-call apparatus?”

“You can’t.  Don’t you remember?  You ordered us to create closed-circuit hardware and software that would, in your own words, ‘make robot calls forever.’”

Egregious clicked off and ran down the hall to the fire safety cabinet.  He yanked it open, grabbed a fire ax, ran back and smashed all the robot-call machines.

Then he scribbled, “I quit, Randall,” on a scrap of paper and taped it to the CEO’s office door.

-30-

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book of humor columns, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia,  is available on Amazon. You can also visit his website at www.daydreaming.co

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BON MOTS FOR EARTH DAY 2017

 

+ We observe Earth Day when we pick up an empty soda can in the middle of a supermarket parking lot.

 

+ There are 6.7 billion galaxies in the universe. Other folks out there somewhere  must honor a different Mother Earth than we.

 

+ Earth’s hard crust covers a warm heart

 

+Childlike awe is a good way to celebrate Earth Day.

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Dancin’ In High Gear

Looking down on the track of the Letongaloosa International Raceway, Jeremiah “Junebug” Jenkins knew today was going to be a horn tootin’ sort of day. It was a day that had been 35 years in the making and Jeremiah was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. To be honest, the possibility of this day wouldn’t even be on his radar if he hadn’t listened to that darn message his grandson, Garrison, had left on his voicemail last Sunday. But here he stood waiting for the next chapter of his life to kick into high gear.
Jeremiah closed eyes, took a deep breath and continued gazing over the raceway. This is where his career began. This is also the track where he ran his last lap and won his final race just one month ago.   The feelings of excitement from that race, and all the races he had won throughout his career came rushing back. Memories of the interview from his last Winner’s Circle played in his head…
“Jeremiah, so many drivers have tried to win the Letongaloosa 600. You’ve won twice. How are you feeling?”
“I’m so excited.. I had heard this was the first time officials had shortened the race because of rain since 1966. I’m glad the officials decided to do it again. I want to thank my sponsors, Hank’s Hardware, Alvin’s Auto Body. They were instrumental in helping us get our car on the track.”
He remembered telling the reporter that he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have won. He thanked his fellow competitors and all of the drivers who had come before him who had inspired him to start driving in the first place. It had been quite a day.
When Jeremiah was a boy, his Grandpa Sam had brought him to the Letongaloosa International Raceway to see his first race. The roaring of the engines, the speed of the pit crew and the rush of adrenaline he felt from watching the drivers run laps around the track made him dance with excitement. It was at that point, he knew he wanted to be a racecar driver when he grew up. That was also the day his grandfather gave him the name, “Junebug” because he was so excited by everything just couldn’t stop jumping around.
Jeremiah has now been a part of racing for decades and he has competed on all stages of competition ranging from some of the biggest races in the country to the smallest. Since early in his driving career, he has loved to go fishing.  Dropping a line in the water excited him almost as much as getting behind the wheel of his racecar. Fishing is how he always celebrates his wins and cheers up after his losses.
Once Jeremiah “Junebug” Jenkins made his final lap in his last month’s Letongaloosa 600, he decided to retire. He wanted to celebrate his retirement by fishing and that’s what he was doing on the Sunday he got the message from his grandson, Garrison.
Garrison is the lead meteorologist at MEGA-TV in Letongaloosa. He and Jeremiah are as close as a grandson and grandfather can be. Like Grandpa Sam, Jeremiah took Garrison to see his first race. Garrison was excited about the race. The roaring of the engines, the speed of the pit crew and watching the drivers run laps around the track didn’t faze him. He was more interested in the rain storm that stopped the race. Since then, Jeremiah has relied on his grandson to give him the weather report before every race.
Retired for a month now, he knew the message Garrison had nothing to do with weather conditions. However, it did have everything to do with racing, but Jeremiah wouldn’t be racing around a track, but he would be back in the winner’s circle. MEGA-TV would be launching a network that had everything to do with racecars, pit crews and roaring engines. Jeremiah would be the lead reporter.
A week later, Jeremiah was back at the Letongaloosa International Raceway. As he walked toward the Winner’s Circle, he was so excited. He felt his feet dancing. He felt like a kid again.

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Love Talk

 

About a year ago I wrote a column titled, “I Speak Alien.” In that column I told how my friend from outer space, the alien KB-11.2, had saved my engagement and my marriage by teaching me Mujerspeak, the native language of my bride-to-be Emmaline.

Recently my alien friend surged to the rescue again. This time Kaybe helped a colleague ofmine. Dr. Morris Amaraduckski is a professor at Letongaloosa Community Junior College where I teach. Morrie’s teaching and research field is polychromatic einsprechen. Scores of LCJC students have become linguistically nimble after taking Dr. Amaraduckski’s course, “Theory and Practice of Tergiversation, Circumlocution and Equivocation.”

All his life Morrie had been too busy for romantic distractions. He was a focused individual.

He sailed through high school, college and graduate school with topnotch grades by keeping his eyes on a computer screen, and the seat of his pants on a chair at the library. After hereceived his Ph.D., and came to teach at LCJC, Morrie focused on getting tenure. He taught his classes vigorously, and he published prodigiously. For a number of years after he gained tenure,

Morrie just focused on being focused.

Then one day, WHAM, Morrie fell in love. The object of his affection was Sally Beeglesdorf-Hannraty, wife of the late George Henry Hannraty, DDS. Sally moved to Letongaloosa to run aflower and gift shop after the untimely demise of her husband. Sally and her spouse had lived foryears on the East Coast where people talk loud and straight, and have funny accents.

When Sally moved to Letongaloosa she talked loud and straight and had a funny accent.

She caused culture shock among the locals who, as a general rule, speak quietly and bea around the bush a good deal. Sally’s social life was straitened and her flower and gift shop’sbusiness suffered as a result. But Sally was intelligent. She soon realized that Letongaloosa was not the East Coast, and that Letongaloosans weren’t going to adapt to her. She decided to adapt to Letongaloosa.

Sally enrolled in an elocution class at LCJC, and well before the semester ended she hadlost her East Coast accent, toned down her loud voice, and learned to put “at” on the end ofher sentences—as in “That’s a nice dress, where did you buy it at?”

There remained one serious problem. Sally still talked straight. She always called a spade a spade. Sally felt that speaking honestly was a matter of moral integrity, not a matter of accent orvoice level. She refused to compromise when it came to expressing her honest opinion. As aresult, the newly accent-free, soft spoken Sally remained in straitened social circumstances,running a business that attracted all too few customers.

It was the first day of classes for Spring semester. As usual, Morrie had a full roster of students enrolled in his popular course, “Theory and Practice of Tergiversation, Circumlocution and Equivocation.” One of those enrolled was Sally Beeglesdorf-Hannraty. Morrie had his back to the class and was writing on the chalkboard when Sally walked in and took a seat at the front of the room. Morrie turned around, and their eyes met. A jolt passed through them both. It was love atfirst sight.

A flustered Morrie jibbered and jabbered for the first few minutes of the class. Then he pulled himself together and called the roll. Then he fixed his gaze on a spot on the wall at the back of the room, and began to deliver the lecture. Sally found that she could keep from fidgeting and sighing loudly by tuning out Morrie’s voice, and staring fixedly at the blue lines on a page of a spiral notebook that lay open on her desk. She didn’t take a single note. The students, understandably, were bored. It was a painful fifty minutes for everyone.

Finally, to everyone’s relief, the electronic sheep bell that signals the change of classes at LCJC, clanged . The students streamed out. Behind the lecturn, Morrie was uncharacteristicallytongue tied. Sally sat demurely and uncharacteristically silent.

 

“Ms. Beeglesdorf-Hannraty…” Morrie began.

“ Sally,” said Sally, interrupting him.

“And I would be gratified, indeed, warmly appreciative, if you would address me simply as Morrie. That is the sobriquet by which I am known to my nearest and dearest friends,” said Morrie.

“Right,” said Sally.

“If you have no other pressing engagement, my dear Sally, may I induce you toaccompany me to the cafeteria for some light refreshment and a bit of conversation?”

“Sure,” said Sally.

Though they spent two hours sitting across from each other at a small table, neither of them could remember, later, what they had talked about. But somehow they knew that they were going to be part of each other’s lives from then on.

The next time they saw each other was at the second meeting of the class. Morrie wasfeeling ebullient and articulate. He was braced by the thought of seeing Sally again. Sally had spent all morning having her hair done. When she walked into the classroom she was breathlessly excited to see Morrie again.

The class had barely begun when the scales fell from their eyes.

Morrie began his lecture with a brilliant, if somewhat circuitous, explication of euphemisms as a conversational deflection technique. On the chalkboard he diagramed Wallburner’s Euphemistic Deflection Model, and recommended it to the class as a powerful linguistic tool for conversationally disarming friend and foe alike.

“With Wallburner’s Model,” said Morrie, “you can express your opinion articulately andpowerfully, and at the same time prevent your conversational opponent from taking offense.

When you use Wallburner’s Model, you never have to say you’re sorry.”

“What a bunch of crap!”

The words sliced through the air like a laser. There was a collective intake of breath. Morrie’s face froze, his mouth ajar. Dozing students’ eyes popped open. People sat up straight and looked around the classroom, trying to identify the speaker. The voice had been as quiet and well modulated as the words had been crude and combative.

“I beg your pardon,” said Morrie, gazing at Sally.

“I said that’s a bunch of crap,” said Sally. “Euphemistic deflection my hind leg. Where at did you get such baloney at?” she asked in the same quiet, well modulated tone she’d used in the first outburst.

All of a sudden Morrie and Sally were going at each other in what can best be described asa dogfight between a feisty rat terrier and an aloof, purebred afghan hound. Morrie’s eloquentcompound-complex multi-syllabic sentences in defense of euphemisms and decorouscircumlocutions soared with erudition. Sally flamed back with rapid fire four-word zingers andgraphic, monosyllabic epithets. It was a highly stimulating exchange for the students, but it was a very, very grim business for the two combatants.

That night my alien friend KB-11.2 entered the picture. Kaybe, as you’ll recall, looks like agiant 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.

Decades ago Kaybe taught me Mujerspeak. Today my fluency in that language is a key to my happy home life. Apparently Kaybe is still assigned to do good works in this quadrant of the galaxy, because he beamed himself down to the den where Morrie sat brooding darkly over the romantic train wreck he’d just been through.

Kaybe’s assignment was a tough one, and he carried it out beautifully. He taught Morrie to speak a direct, straight to the point language called Ritefrumdashoulder, and he taught Sally to speak an easygoing, loose-limbed language called Goinroundabarn.

I was invited to their wedding a few weeks later. Toward the end of the ceremony, the minister asked the bride and bridegroom the “do you” question.

Sally replied, “My response is absolutely, indubitably, unquestioningly, totally, andecstatically in the affirmative.”

Morrie said, “Yep.”

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Fortune Cookie Sayings From A Loopy Ol’ Geezer

We ate Chinese take-out the other night.  The fortune cookie said: “The path is getting easier from here on out.”

Well, thank heaven that the path is getting easier.   I was so relieved and  encouraged when I read that.

Then I imagined some individual in New Jersey, or Arkansas or Las Vegas or some place.  He or she, I thought, was sitting at a rickety wooden writing table making up Chinese fortune cookie sayings. The person gets paid 20 cents a dozen for them.

So here are some Chinese fortune cookie sayings from a loopy geezer who lives in the Upper Midwest of the United States of America (a place where a century or so ago experts told people they should  inhabit).

+  If  you’re watching the 10 O’clock news on a Kansas City TV station and in the middle of the show, the weatherman looks at radar screen and says,  “Well folks, my shift just ended. Good Night,” and the screen goes blank…

You should probably take cover.

+ If, here in the Upper Midwest, there’s a cobalt blue sky and not a cloud anywhere, it’s probably safe to drive to the grocery store (within half a mile of your place) and buy bread without taking your umbrella and rubber boots.  You’ve  probably got at least 15 minutes.

+ If the big brown UPS truck drives by your house, you’ve got a least a half hour before any unannounced tornado hits. The UPS drivers are in touch with their dispatcher by radio.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor columnist. Download his book of goofy short stories, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia from Amazon.com.

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Why Do Old People Like Reading the Obituaries?

Duh!  Because we’re OLD.   After one reads the wonderful news of the world and all about  DT and his antics and the antics of the  people state and federal legislatures, and the “foreclosures” and you find that you are not among the foreclosures or among the “police blotter” names,  Well, HELLO!  It’s a JOY to read the obituaries.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor columnist. Download his book of goofy short stories, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia from Amazon.com.

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