Tag Archives: Broadcasting

Code Blur

 

            When a store detective tried to arrest my pal Sam Goldfarb for shoplifting, the guy had no idea that within an hour the FBI, the CIA, the White House, and the national news media would get involved in the case.
            Sam is a member of the our Maridos Club, a social organization for people whose spouses drag them to the mall all the time.
            As he plods through the department stores behind his wife Molly, Sam keeps his eyes open for interesting displays that the department store decorators prepare.              Decorators at our mall create displays with stuff they find in flea markets, second hand stores and yard sales.
           There are 1930-era gadgets, home appliances from the 1950s, and stacks of books with titles like, “The Economic Impact of Disk Plow Technology on Rural Platt County Kansas 1874-1876.”    The decorators arrange these treasures with swatches of fabric  or set them beside  sheaves of wheat  and  vases of pussy willow.
            While your spouse is trying on clothes, you can contemplate a gadget or  pick up a book from one of the displays and improve your mind.
            On the day of the incident, Sam and Molly Goldfarb were in Blevins Department store in the mall.  Molly was trying on clothes. While he waited, Sam wandered over to a pile of junk that the store decorator had artfully intertwined with some plastic bougainvillea.
            There was a beat-up electric iron, a telephone circa. 1937, and a gadget that looked like an old fashioned adding machine.  The device was about half the size of a shoe box and was sitting in a black metal case. On the top of the machine were rows of typewriter keys with strange symbols on them.
            “Sweet Matilda,” cried Sam when he examined the apparatus.  He couldn’t believe his eyes.  Lying there in plain sight was the top secret World War II Moncleef Cryptographic Codemaster.
            Sam recognized the device immediately.  In 1943, Sam, then a bright young Air Force  first lieutenant with a Ph.D. in physics, was assigned to work with Weird Wendell Montcleef, the inventor of the Moncleef Cryptographic Codemaster.
            Moncleef, who was Sam’s age, was a hotshot young professor at the University of Chicago before World War II.  He left academe for the corporate world, an during his stay with corporate America, Weird Wendell developed a prototype of the Moncleef Cryptographic Codemaster.   Then, before he got the thing working, Weird Wendell abandoned the project, quit the corporation, and moved to Kansas City to play in a jazz band.
            A couple of years after the war started someone in Washington—rumor had it that it was President Roosevelt himself—appealed to Weird Wendell’s patriotic nature, and convinced him to get back to work on the Codemaster device.  The Codemaster when it was perfected, was supposed to be able to encode, decode, slice, dice, fold, staple and spindle any message you threw at it.
Weird Wendall toyed with the government for months and months. He kept telling them he was days away from perfecting the Codemaster.  Then he’d say there was a snag.  Finally the government dispatched Lt. Sam Goldfarb to work with Wendell, and spy on him.  Weird Wendell knew that Sam was a government spy, but he thought, egotistically, that he could fool Sam as well as the government.
Meantime, Weird Wendell, a bachelor, got involved with Ernestine Duval, a Kansas City jazz singer of great beauty and charm.  Ernestine Duval was really Feda Von Gubler, one of Germany’s top undercover agents.
Soon after he began working with Weird Wendell, Sam Goldfarb discovered that the Codemaster would never work  Sam realized that  Weird Wendell had perpetrated on everyone.  Sam sent a detailed report to his superiors.  Two days later the government shipped Sam off to a remote weather station in Greenland where he spent the rest of the war.
A few weeks after Sam Goldfarb was banished to Greenland, Weird Wendell let it slip to Ernestine/Freda, his German spy lover, that the Codemaster was operative and was being deployed to all Allied commands.  That sent the Germans and the Japanese into a code-changing frenzy which fouled up their communications systems for weeks and hampered their ability to react to crucial Allied military initiatives.
Weird Wendell and his Codemaster device were a small, but significant footnote to the war effort.  The prototype of the Moncleef Cryptographic Codemaster that Weird Wendell used to fool U.S. government bureaucrats and, through Ernestine/Freda the German high command, was placed in top secret storage at a site near Kansas City.
Somehow, decades later, it turned up at a local flea market where a decorator from Blevins Department Store bought it and put it on display, surrounded by fake bougainvillea.
And that’s where Sam Goldfarb saw the device for the first time since the just before he was shipped off to Greenland during World War II.  When Sam saw the Codemaster  sitting there, he reacted instinctively and somewhat irrationally.  He grabbed  the machine, stuffed it into a shopping bag and covered it with a couple of blouses that Molly had just bought.  Then he hustled Molly out of the store and out of the mall.
A mall security man stopped Sam and asked him to open the bag.  Sam smacked the guy in the jaw, and ran.  Sam made it to his car and burned rubber out of the parking lot.  He led police on a merry chase through the neighborhood until they ran him into a cul de sac.
 When he saw he was trapped, Sam jumped out of his car, and, holding the Moncleef Crtographic Codemaster above his head,  threatened to blow the neighborhood to smithereens.  Then he jumped back into his car and slammed the door.
At that point the whole thing turned into a made for TV movie scene: police cars, helicopters, bullhorns.  The media from all over the area were giving feeds to national networks.
            Sam’s  cell phone rang.  He demanded to talk to the President.
            A few minutes later Sam’s cell phone rang again, and a familiar drawl said, “Hello Sam. This is the President.  Is it all right if I call you Sam?”
          “Yes, Mr. President,” said Sam.
         “Good. Now, Sam, what can we do for you?”
        “I want the government to apologize for shipping me off to Greenland to freeze my buns off for three years for just trying to do my job during World War II.”
        “Tell me about it, Sam,” said the President, “I’ll try to help.”
         Sam told him the whole story.
        A few minutes later the phone rang in the office of a gray-haired spymaster at the Central Intelligence Agency.
       “Wendell,” said the President, “We’ve got a situation.”
       “Tell me about it, Mr. President,” said Weird Wendell Moncleef,  director the
O.O.O., the CIA’s super secret Office of Oddball  Operations.
            The government opted for what is known as a modified hang out—a damage control initiative perfected by the CIA.
            That night the network news shows carried the story of a heroic World War II veteran who risked his life to save his fellow shoppers from a booby-trapped World War II device that had somehow turned up on display at a local department store. Print journalists crawled all over the story the next day, but the government’s version held up long enough for the next “barn burner news event” to show up on the media radar screen. After three days the Codemaster incident was old news even in Kansas City.
       Sam and Molly can shop at the mall again without being approached for autographs.
-30-
Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. He is the author of a collection of short stories, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon.
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A Christmas Luau in Letongaloosa©

From Garrison Storm’s earliest memories, Christmastime in Letongaloosa meant
sledding and snowball fights in down at Ol’ Man Connelly’s farm, hot cider and
skating with the Duggins kids, and sampling the cookies that he and his Mom
baked for Santa on Christmas Eve. Garrison has countless wonderfully, nostalgic,
childhood memories, but his most memorable holiday memory happened last
year when he and Clara Vidente, Letongaloosa’s resident psychic, saved
Christmas.
Typical days at MEGA-TV are an odd mix of terribly busy, and nothing much to
do. Everyone works in ebbs and flows. Some days are calm. Others are frantic.
Holidays are just plain crazy.
Garrison, the station’s lead meteorologist, was in the middle of a frantic stretch
which meant he would be working over the weekend to get forecasts ready for
Christmas. By Sunday, despite the lure and distraction of the yuletide activities in
town, Garrison had had a productive day. He had managed to deliver the
forecast for the upcoming week. He tweaked the layouts of the night’s
weathercast and even made time to go online to order a shiny, snow racer sled
for his nephew, Parker. He then walked across the street to eat at the diner
where he struck up a conversation with his psychic friend, Clara.
Clara had lived in Letongaloosa for years. She had a shop on Main Street that
lured passersby to come in to have their futures told. Garrison always walked by
on his way to go sledding with Paul and Tommy Duggins. She’d wave at him
through the bright yellow and green neon sign hanging in her store window.
That afternoon, as he waited for his roasted turkey sandwich and potato salad,
Clara told him she was concerned about the weather. It had been a bit
blustery, but after pouring over the radar all weekend Garrison saw nothing out
of the ordinary. Weather conditions were normal for that time of year, cold and
snowy. In other words, perfect weather for warm cider, cookies and sledding.
“I’ve been consulting my crystal ball and I don’t see snow at all,” Clara told
Garrison.
Garrison could tell she really believed in what she had “seen”, so he just sat and
listened. He had known this sweet lady his whole life.
“Go on,” he said.
“I see flowers blooming, children eating the snow, instead of throwing it. This is
going to be unlike any Christmas Letongaloosa has ever seen. We’ve got to do
something!”
“Tell you what,” Garrison said. “I’m going back to my office and I will check
every forecast again. I promise to issue a special weather bulletin if anything
other than snow happens on Christmas day.”
After lunch, Garrison took a short walk down Main Street to stretch his legs. It felt
good after the frantic pace he’d been on. He looked down at the snow on the
ground, took a deep breath, and thought about what Clara had said.
Garrison didn’t consider himself a haruspex. He couldn’t predict the weather.
And all of his data and experience as a meteorologist told him that everything
would be normal.
Walking back to the station, Garrison met Merry Duggins. She’s Paul and
Tommy’s mother who volunteers at the courthouse as a guardian ad-Litem.
Merry always had a kind word, a smile, and a pat on the back for kids in need.
Merry was as level-headed as Clara was psychically inclined. As they chatted,
Merry told Garrison that the winter festival would have a bit of a twist. He
promised he’d be there. He thought she had given him a peculiar smile as she
continued down Main Street.
Weeks later, Garrison walked into the courthouse meeting hall. He couldn’t
believe his eyes. Tropical flowers were everywhere. The good folks of
Letongaloosa had donned Hawaiian shirts. Their kids were chomping snow
cones. Garrison had walked into a Christmas Luau.
Clara’s crystal ball predictions had come true. He glanced around the room
taking it all in. Then he spotted her.
“You were right!”
“I can get used to this. It’s nice.”
“Merry Christmas, Clara! Now let’s go sledding.”
-30-

Dr. Larry Day is a retired foreign correspondent turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase on Amazon.

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The Bleep Awards

 

Before viewing the Oscar Award Ceremony brought to you by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, you had sat through television broadcasts of the Golden Globe Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the Grammy Awards, and 15 different televised country music award ceremonies.  You assumed that was that as far as television award ceremonies were concerned.

Not quite.  Still to come are the “Bleep Awards,” a television special brought to you by the American Academy of Cell Phone Lunacy.   If you want to watch the “Bleep Awards,” you may have to upgrade your current cable system contract or your direct satellite system service. The “Bleep Awards” will be broadcast exclusively by the Weirdness Network on channel 2347.  You can tune in at 10 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central, 8 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m. West Coast time, or 7 a.m. the following day  Bora Bora South Pacific time.  If you live on the planet Regma in the Alpha Centauri star system, the show will be broadcast about 4.2 light years from now. Check your local listings for the exact date and time.

Hosts for this year’s Bleep Award Ceremony will be the alluring Miss Hoja Blanca, star of the after midnight soap opera “The Young and the Feckless,” and the ever macho veteran star of “One Life to Splurge,” Dude Henchman. The Bleep Award Show has a gold plated line-up of commercial sponsors:: Shylock Mortgage & Loan, Ptomaine Foods, No Show Insurance, and Limon Auto, makers of Noanda  SUVs and  Sinanimo pickup trucks.

This year’s “Bleep Awards,” will be broadcast from the Grand Hotel in the luxurious Wobbly Islands.  The Wobbly Islands, known as “The Cannes of the Caribbean,” recently hosted the 2013 International Mouth Harp Competition.

Here are this year’s Bleep Award categories:

Best Response to People Who Talk Loudly on Cell Phones in Public Places:

The nominees are:

* Point to the person (man or a woman) and yell “Hey everyone, it’s Kim Kardasian, let’s get her autograph.”

* Yell:  “That’s him (her) officer, ” and point to the person on the phone.

* Walk up to the person and say, “You’ll have to speak up, they can’t hear you in Bangladesh.”

Best reply to people whose e-mails or text messages conclude with the pretentious phrase, “Sent from my Z-Phone.”

The nominees are:

* “Sent from my Green Lantern Decoder Ring”

* “Sent from my Aunt Bessie’s Cookie Jar”

* “Sent from a filling in my third molar”

* “Sent from a wad of chewing gum on the bottom of my shoe”

Best “I’m breaking up with you” text message:

The nominees are:

* “I have three new pets–a tarantula, a wombat and a python.”

* “My parole officer wants to meet you.”

* “Can you lend me $9,000? My bookie is threatening  to break my legs”

* “I have joined the French Foreign Legion.”

Best Gross Sounding Ringtones

The nominees are:

* Someone calling the hogs to dinner on a pig farm.

* The magnified buzz of an angry mosquito.

* A belching hippopotamus

* Lindsay Lohan sitting on a whoopee cushion.

Best thing to do on an annoying robo call  after you have pressed one, and you are speaking to a live operator:

The nominees are:

* Say “You have reached the Federal Communications Commission. Please hold while we trace this phone call.”

* Hold your phone over a toilet bowl and flush.

* Play a gross ring tone (see above) into the mouthpiece.

* You shout “Martha, your Uncle Zeke is on the phone.”

Larry Day is the author of Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia

. Retailers e-mail Larry: day_larry@yahoo.com

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Fill the Screen With SOMETHING

Twenty-four hour television news channels have to fill the screen with SOMETHING.  I like it when there’s no real news and the news channels have to make bricks without straw, and news without news.  You see the darndest  stuff:  like an hour-long birthday tribute to Gene Ahern, the creator of the one-panel 1930s cartoon “Our Boarding House.”

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

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I Wonder…

I wonder about TV news. As a newspaper journalist I covered the Falkland Island conflict in 1983.  I remember seeing a fledging CNN news channel correspondent doing a stand-up report. He  didn’t mention Donald Trump once. 

Dr.  Larry  Day is  a retired  KU J-School  professor and  author of  Day Dreaming:  Tales From  the  Forth  Dementia available  on Amazon.

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Cosmic Prime Time Television

 

 

Here in Letongaloosa, a humid, sweaty July gave way to what

everyone expects to be a humid, sweaty August. We all hope that

August will give way to a sweet September, and that then will come

a glorious new prime time television season.

The other night I asked two of my best friends what they

thought about prime time television, things got weird in a hurry.

That’s not surprising since my two friends were a robot from outer

space, KB11.2, and Biggley Masters, the legendary writer/producer

of prime time network television shows.

The three of us were having soft drinks in a back booth at the

Enchantment, a dingy roadhouse north of here. The Enchantment is

the kind of joint that every college town has to have to maintain its

academic accreditation.

My Alien 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.

No one at the Enchantment even notices when Kaybe rolls up

to my booth. Half the patrons, including the waitress, Four Finger

Fannie, are aliens themselves.

Biggley Masters is a true television prodigy. At 19 he was lead

writer for a very popular network soap opera. In his mid-twenties he

wrote and produced several award-winning prime time series.

Biggley has principles. He held out against a network executive who

demanded that Biggley compromise a show’s plot so the network

could sell more commercials in that episode.

So there were Kaybe, Biggley Masters and I in a back booth at

the Enchantment discussing the upcoming prime time television

season.

 

“The folks on Hebe, a minor planet in the Andromeda galaxy,

love “Toast of the Town,” and “The Fred Warring Show,” said Kabye.

“Whoa,” said Biggley, who was something of a TV historian.

“Those shows aired in the 1949-1950 prime time season. They were

the first prime time television hits. How can you say that the folks on

Hebe are seeing those shows?”

“FM radio waves and television signals pierce the earth’s

ionosphere and travel through the vacuum of space at the speed of

light,” said Kaybe. The shows from the 1949-50 television seasons are

just now reaching outer space planets like Hebe.”

“So the folks on Hebe must have picked up Marconi’s first radio

signal, the letter “S” (three dots) that he transmitted in 1901,” I said.

“Oh, yes,” said Kaybe. “In fact, the Hebian Supreme Council

met in a special session to discuss a response to earth’s distress

signal. They decided, given time and distance, nothing could be

done.”

“I’ll bet the Hebians will love “M.A.S.H,” when it finally gets

there,” I said.

“Oh, yeh, ‘M.A.S.H. will be a big hit on Hebe,” said Kaybe.

Biggley took a folded paper from his jacket pocket.

“This is the new prime time network schedule,” he said. “Kaybe,

I’ll name a show that is going to be broadcast this fall on U.S.

Network TV. Then you can tell me the name of a show on that will be

airing this fall on some planet in the great Cosmos.”

“Wonderful,” said Kaybe .

“Grey’s Anatomy,” said Biggley. “That’s a long running medical

series on U.S. television.”

“Rick’s Robot Repair Shop,” said Kaybe. “That’s been airing on

the planet Relontov (in the Bode galaxy) for 200 earth years.”

“Criminal Minds,” said Biggley. It’s a cop show.”

“Zap! Crack! Blam!,” said Kaybe. The Marilians LOVE that cop

show.”

“Where is Marilia?” I asked.

“It’s a small planet in the Triangulum Constellation. There’s

been no crime on Marilia for centuries. There are no cops, no jails,

no courts, and no prisons on the planet. The Marilians are

fascinated by the concept of “badness.” But they have to import

their TV crime shows from Gobokovandan, a nearby planet that has

a ton of bad guys.

I finished my soft drink and slipped unnoticed from the booth. Kaybe

and Biggley were engrossed in a discussion of interstellar TV. I told

our waitress, Four Finger Fannie, to put the whole bill on my tab.

-30-

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Notes To Garrison Keillor

I wrote “Garrison Keillor” in my computer file box and up came eight notes that I sent to Mr. Keillor (one a day for eight days) prior to the Erma Brombeck conference in March 2008,  I don’t think, when I met him in the hotel, I even mentined that, because there was no response from the Keillor office about my letters.

The Secret of Walter Mitty,” and “The Short Happy Life of Frances Macomber,” are on my list of the top ten stories ever written.

Somewhere in the top 100 is my own short story   “Heavenly Spin.”

That’s ego talking.

“…she made him a tomato salad and he ate it and they went up those well worn stairs and the house shook…”

 

Larry Day

Readers can find “Heavenly Spin” in my book of humor columns, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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