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The Cosmic House Slippers©

 

I was disconsolate as I nursed a soft drink in a back booth of

The Enchantment. That’s a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of

Letongaloosa. Every college town needs a joint like the

Enchantment to maintain its academic accreditation. The

Enchantment is where I go to have a soft drink and relax. On that

night I had gone to The Enchantment to brood. I had goofed up,

and I was feeling low. Then, happily, my robot friend Kaybe rolled up

to my booth.

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. 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. Now here

he was again to cheer me up.

My wife Emmaline and I had taken a vacation to Northwest

Florida where we used to live. We had spent a lovely week at a

hotel in a room overlooking the beach. On the last day as we

packed and got ready to leave for the airport, I realized I hadn’t

packed my house slippers.

But there was not a smidgen of room in any of our luggage.

These house slippers were brown suede. And they were OLD. The

rubber sole of the right one was flapping, and the tops of both were

heavily spotted with toothpaste. So I stuffed them into an already

loaded trash basket, and walked out the door.

I felt a pang of regret immediately. I had worn those house

slippers forever. They were with us on our trips to the Smoky

Mountains, and with me on my journalistic assignments to Central

America and the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. Yet now I

had callously left them in a trash basket in a tourist hotel room far

from home. It wasn’t right.

Emmaline, practical and logical, said it was long past time to

get rid of those house slippers.

“The sole of the right one was coming off, and they were filthy,”

she said. “Filthy,” is a relative term with Emmaline. The word covers

everything from something that is undeniably dirty, to a tiny spot on

an otherwise pristine necktie.

Emmaline was right, of course. It was past time for the slippers

to go. But I loved them. And I was born in the year of the Dog. In

Chinese astrology, people who are born in the year of the dog are

innately loyal to their belongings. Even, apparently, a pair of worn

out house slippers.

As the plane took off, I thought how those dear old house

slippers would soon be lying under a heap of trash in some

malodorous landfill.

I continued to brood even after we had unpacked our

suitcases and put them back in the closet, and I had picked up the

mail that the Post Office had held for us.

“You need to go to The Enchantment,” said Emmaline. “Go

have a soft drink and get this out of your system.” That’s where I

was when Kaybe, my alien robot friend, rolled up to my booth.

Kaybe communicates and takes nourishment telepathically,

and he’s highly intuitive. Kaybe ordered a nonalcoholic beer from

the waitress, Four Finger Fannie, who is also an alien. I watched the

brew disappear from the mug without Kaybe ever having touched

it.

His words filtered into my mind, “You loved them, right?”

“Dearly,” I said. “They didn’t deserve to be abandoned like

that.”

“Then be of good cheer. Your house slippers are safe and well,”

said Kaybe. “I pulled them from the landfill, and I flung them into

space. Your dear slippers will sail happily through the galaxies

forever. Now go home and get some sleep.”

I tried. I really did. I said goodbye to the patrons at The

Enchantment, walked out and drove back into Letongaloosa.

Emmaline was asleep when I got home. I undressed in the walk-in

closet off the master bedroom and put on my pajamas. Then I

automatically tried to slide my feet into my dear old house slippers.

Duh! How dumb was that? I just walked back out to the living room

and collapsed on the sofa.

“I’ve got to get those back from outer space,” I said to

myself. It was late, but I got in the car and headed back to The

Enchantment.

Kaybe was there. He felt bad when he saw how glum I

looked, and few days later Kaybe located and retrieved my house

slippers from a Florida land fill and brought them back to

Letongaloosa. Bless him!

But I still had a problem. For Emmaline, those ratty house

slippers were objets non grata. What could I do with the sorrylooking

things?

Then I had a burst of inspiration. I would have my house slippers

near at hand without ticking Emmaline off.

Emmaline wanted me to toss the house slippers because they

were old and ratty looking. I had a plan to transform them. The idea

had come to me after Emmaline and I attended a baby’s first

birthday party and saw one of the gifts.

I transformed my ratty old house slippers from objects of scorn

to objets d’art. And now the dear old things occupy a prominent

place on my office shelf—as bronzed bookends.

-30-

 

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’s Trick or Treat©

Hello,

If you are looking for my November column, this is it. Yes, I am celebrating Halloween in November!! Move over Tom Turkey!! I write for The Kaw Valley Senior Monthly and it just so happens that with printing and mailing schedules, this month’s column landed on doorsteps and in inboxes on Halloween!! It was only fitting I write a spook-tacular piece so goofy it lasts ’til Thanksgiving.Enjoy!!

Early one Halloween night I was nursing a soft drink in a back booth at The Enchantment.  That’s a dingy roadhouse north of here. I was on my second bottle of pop when Kaybe rolled up.

KB 11.2 (Kaybe for short) is my alien friend from outer space.  He  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 of his lid.  Kaybe eats drinks and communicates telepathically.

No one at the Enchantment even looks up when Kaybe rolls in.  If fact, some of the patrons, including Harry the Hulk and his diminutive pal Miniature Mike, are also aliens from outer space.   So is the waitress, Four Finger Fanny.

Kaybe gave me a telepathic “hi,” and joined me.

“Kaybe, where’ve you been?” I asked.

“Doing some business in a galaxy far away.”

“Well I’m glad you’re  back.  Let me buy you a drink. Fanny, please bring Kaybe a Sarsaparilla.”

Just then four costumed customers walked in and sat down at a booth near us.  There was a green-faced witch wearing a pointy black hat; a short, potbellied Frankenstein monster with a realistic looking bolt in his neck; a realistic looking Chewbacca, and an aging Princess Leia.

With all three eyes, Kaybe  stared at the newcomers.

“What galaxy are they from?” he asked.

“Those are earthlings,” I said. “It’s Halloween. Those folks are just wearing costumes.”

“Is it some kind of holiday?”  Kaybe  asked.

“Yes.  It used to be called “All Hallows Eve,” and was started to honor the dead.  Nowadays children dress up in costumes and go door to door saying  ‘Trick or Treat’ and hold out sacks.  People give them candy. After people put candy in their sacks, the kids run to the next house.  They go all over the neighborhood gathering sacks full of candy.”

“The folks in that booth over there look pretty old to do trick or treat,” said Kaybe.

“Halloween has evolved, and now adults celebrate Halloween too. They put on costumes and go to parties, or out to bars and restaurants.

“WOW!”  said  Kaybe.  The words appeared  telepathically in capital letters in my head. “That sounds like fun.  I’ve always wanted to go around town and see the sights, but the way I look I’d cause a fuss.  Tonight   I can roll around and no one will think anything about it.”

“Hey guys,”   Kaybe communicated telepathically with Harry the Hulk and Miniature Mike and three strange-looking aliens in the bar. “Let’s go trick or treating.”

“Will you be our guide?”  Kaybe asked.

“Of course.  Parents take their kids trick or treating. The parents stand out on the sidewalk while the kids go up to the doors.”

“You want to go trick or treating, Fanny?”  called Miniature Mike.

“No,” she called back.  “I’m still on duty.  Beside my feet hurt.  But you can take my truck.”  Fanny tossed me the keys.  “It’s the old blue pickup in the back corner of the parking lot.”

I boosted Kaybe into the passenger seat, and the others jumped in the back of the truck.  I drove by a supermarket and picked up trick or treat sacks for everyone.  When we got there, my neighborhood was awash with goblins, ghosts and phantoms.

My alien friends were  shy at first, but Kaybe encouraged them.

“Come on guys. This will be fun.”

At the first house, I stood out on the sidewalk.   Harry the Hulk put Miniature Mike on his shoulders and marched up and rang the bell. Kaybe and the other aliens crowded on the steps behind him.

A woman came to the door.

“Trick or treat,”  said Harry the Hulk.

“Wait just a minute,” said the woman.  “George,” she yelled, You’ve  got to see this. These are the best costumes I’ve seen all night.”   -30-

Dr. Larry Day is a retired foreign correspondent and KU J-School professor. He is now the author of countless short stories and the author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia. http://www.daydreaming.co

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Don’t Look Now

By Larry Day

Some years ago a stand-up comedian who was known for his self-deprecating humor, was arrested for fighting in a bar after his show. The comedian had smacked his opponent in the face. When the case got to court and the judge asked the comedian how the fight started.

“He laughed at me,” said the comedian.

There are nearly five billion websites in cyberspace. There are more than a billion unique You Tube users on the planet. There are six billion hours of video in 61 languages on the World Wide Web.

In this interconnected world, millions of people use Internet to invite total strangers into their lives. They invite everyone from elderly Mongolians in Ulan Bator, to Argentine teenagers in Mar del Plata, to connect to their websites and view intimate details of their lives. Then these website owners are stunned to find out that crooks, scam artists, identity thieves, Internet marketers, and digital sales representatives have honed in on their websites and have exploited the information they found there.

That comedian became rich and famous by inviting audiences to laugh at his fabricated foibles. But when a stranger in a bar laughed at one of his real foibles, the comedian doubled his fists and started swinging. Lots of folks are like that comedian. They spread their personal information all over the Internet. But they get mad as hell when they hear that authorities are analyzing Internet data flow patterns to see if they can find information that might thwart a terrorist attack. Whoa. Whoa! That’s a violation of people’s privacy.

Finding out what constitutes acceptable government surveillance and what is considered unacceptable prying, is a valuable process. Most of that process is serious, but sometimes it can be funny.

*******

Consider this story: Back in 2010 forty-year-old Ginger Pitchfork of Mound Tree, Texas, phoned the U.S. Census Bureau to lodge a complaint. She said a census worker had called and asked about her marital status and her vaccination history. Ginger said that Census call was an unwarranted government intrusion into her privacy. What was hilarious was that at the time Ginger was operating a website that chronicled intimate details of her love life.

++++++

And how about this?: A herd of pigs broke out of their sty on a Midwest farm and ran down to a four lane highway. Kurk and Wadley, a couple of forty-something city dwellers, were driving along in a heavy duty pickup truck and saw the pigs. They decided to round up the pigs and put them in the truck and drive them to a nearby stockyard.

Kurk and Wadley figured that since they had found the pigs on the highway it was a “finders keepers,” and they offered to sell the herd to the stockyard manager for $200.

The stockyard manager declined their offer, and retrieved ownership data from tattoos on the pigs’ ears. He called the owner. The owner was looking for the pigs and was not far from the stockyards. When he arrived, the owner thanked Kurk and Wadley, and gave them each$40. Then he loaded up his pigs and drove back to the farm.

Wadley and Kurk were fascinated and amazed. They didn’t know how the pigs had been identified. They jumped the conclusion that there was a government surveillance system so powerful that it could even keep track of an obscure herd of pigs.

Kurk and Wadley organized a series of workshops to tell their story. They told those who attended: “If the government can spy on a herd of Midwest pigs, what do you think it’s finding out about you and your family?”

After that, Wadley and Kurk found what they considered evidence of government surveillance in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. So they set up a network of vigilance websites to warn people of an impending dictatorship that would take over the country as soon as the government had processed all its surveillance data. Kurk and Wadley shut the website down after it become a target for stand-up comedians and late night talk show humor.

 

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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Eric the Red, 21-Century Revisited

One of my favorite “Day Dreaming” characters is Eric the Red. When conceived, Eric had a different name and ethnicity. I changed both at the suggestion of my publisher. It turned out that the change enhanced both the comedic effect and the descriptive possibilities of the character. This from the book: “Sven was wearing an academic gown that had military epaulets on the shoulders, and a Viking helmet with America flags attached to the horns.” In the story “Eric the Red” whose name is Sven Torgelson comes back to Letongaloosa to warn me (we meet in a back booth at the Enchantment) that I am the target of a Mainland Patriotic Corps investigation. It seems that Patcorps had put me on its black list because I had subscribed to a liberal journal. Patcorps had put me on its white list for subscribing to a conservative journal. Apparently I had fouled up the organization’s vigilance apparatus. Apparently no one had ever been on both the black list and the white list before. It’s a fun story. You should read it.

 

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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No Amount of Book Learnin’

“…in journalism no amount of book learning can prepare one for the hard lessons of practical experience. While this probably applies to many businesses and professions, journalists can only consider their education well-rounded when they have learned to apply those ethics of accuracy and fairness under the duress of deadline pressure.

“Those are the lessons to be learned at the feet of the old pros; that is, the old practitioners of the profession of journalism.”

Walter Cronkite, from the introduction, Retta Blaney, ed., Journalism: Stories from the Real World, Golden, Colorado, North American Press, 1995.

 

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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