Tag Archives: Education

Climbing High in La Mancha©

 

 

Étienne Haute-Montange sat in the Aéroport Marseille Provence. He had two hours to kill before heading off to Letongaloosa to enroll at Letongaloosa Community Junior College, the town’s center of higher education.

In the last 28 days, after completing his final professional time trial, the newly retired French cyclist had spent his time bike-packing around Provence.

He had put everything he would need on his bike frame and set out for the week to retrace all of his favorite routes. Étienne wanted to relax and think. He needed to figure out where the next stage of his life would lead.

Two days into his trek, on his way to the hidden village of Goult, he stopped on his favorite old roman bridge, Pont Julien, to take in its height and its spectacular views. As he gazed, his cell phone rang.  The message put him on the path to his next great adventure.

In the early 1980’s , Étienne was working on his grandfather’s lilac farm when news came that he had been accepted into a business program in the United States at La Mancha University. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay at home and compete–climbing high into the mountains.

In his imagination, Étienne was a decade into his career as a competitive cyclist.

There are competitions and races throughout the world, but certain locations are synonymous with cycling. Étienne knew he’d be a part of it all someday so he tried to learn as much as he could about the trails, the climbs and the cyclists in those races. He knew he could learn more about the lilacs, the farm and his fate if he stayed in Provence. He was right.

Within a few months of packing up and setting out for La Mancha, Étienne was back riding through the tall, deep flowers and the high roadsof Provence. But not before he had made a longtime friend in Zimmy Tarbox.

Zimmy Tarbox was in the graduate program in the Department of Entomology at La Mancha U. He met Étienne on a campus bike trail while searching for beetles. Étienne was standing on a bridge that overlooked one of the university’s highest points.

The view included lilacs, which are hard to find in a small Midwestern college town. Étienne came to the bridge when he felt homesick.

The two students struck up a conversation. Zimmy, was about to capture a cockroach he had spotted on the rail of the old bridge.

“What’s up?” asked Étienne. Zimmy smiled as he snagged the insect. He was planning to measure the space between its eyeballs.

“What in the world are you doing?” asked Étienne looking down at the small cage and the large bug. Why would anyone want to capture it?

Zimmy explained that he was studying the anatomy of the bug and that he must successfully identify all of its parts for his midterm exam. In turn, Zimmy learned that Étienne’s true passion was cycling, not business, and he really wished to return to Provence.

The two became good friends over the next few months. Zimmy became well-versed in the highest climbs in Provence, and Étienne learned the best way to obtain the measurements of a baby cockroach without harming it.

After Étienne returned to Provence the two kept in touch–a friendship that lasted through the years. Zimmy went to Provence to celebrate Étienne’s win in the Tour de Fleur and Étienne went to Cuba when Zimmy and Kate made their big rainbow beetle discovery.

So when his cell phone sounded as Étienne was standing on that bridge in Provence, he was delighted to learn that he would soon be heading back to La Mancha to see his old friend. 

“The university is offering a summer cycling course for La Mancha and Letongaloosa residents. They need an instructor. Kate and I think you’d be a perfect for the job. What do you say? ”

 

Even though it was only for a few months, Étienne was delighted.

“Of course, my bug-loving, friend! See you soon!”

So now Étienne was waiting in the Aéroport Marseille Provence eager to follow the next stage of his adventures–in a small Midwestern town.

 

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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 and the Six Million Dollar Project©”

The phone rang at our home one evening recently. On the line was my friend Four-Finger Fanny, an alien from outer space. Fanny works as a waitress at The Enchantment. I listened then said “I’ll be right there.”
I asked a young waitress to tell Fanny I was there, and then went to my booth in the back.
The Enchantment is a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of Letongaloosa. Every college town needs a joint like the Enchantment to maintain its academic accreditation. I go there quite often to relax with a soft drink.
That night, however, I was there on urgent business. Another being from outer space, my friend KB2.11, (I call him Kaybe for short) had contacted me. He needed $6-million for a charity project that leaders at our end of the Milky Way galaxy were sponsoring.
“What’s up?” asked Fanny.
“Can you get in touch with Kaybe? I’m helping him raise money for a galaxy charity project and I need to know how and where to send the funds.”
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’s $6-million project.

Fanny also speaks human. That’s good, because I’d rather not converse telepathically.
Some wealthy friends—people who have appeared in previous columns, Blair Timert, Eloise Simplekins, and Sir Jeremiah Teancrumpets,–had agreed to donate two million dollars each to the galaxy charity project.
Blair Timert, was adopted by wealthy Basque parents who lived in Letongaloosa. Their Basque name was unpronounceable for most people so they retained Blair’s birth name. Blair learned to speak Basque. In one adventure, Blair bested some Basque hoodlums who tried to kidnap him.
Eloise Simplekins was a cleaning lady for wealthy women of the wealthy La Mancha neighborhood. She realized that wealthy women in town hired pre-cleaning ladies to clean-up their husbands’ messy bathrooms before the regular cleaning ladies arrived. Eloise figured that other upper class women in the U.S. also hired pre-cleaning ladies. She founded a pre-cleaning business and sold franchises nationwide. She made a fortune.
Sir Jeremiah Teancrumpets was a British billionaire. He used to become angry at even the slightest irritation. His neighbor, a physician, taught Sir Jeremiah to laugh when he became angry, instead of becoming apoplectic. The laugh-it-off formula probably saved Sir Jeremiah from death by heart attack. But hearing Sir Jeremiah’s laugh causes some people fear and consternation.
Sir Jeremiah is a tightwad, but he hates paying income taxes. So he takes inflated income tax write-offs for donations he makes to charitable causes.
“How do we transfer these funds to Kaybe?” I asked Fanny.
“Well,” she said, “you just…” Then with a look of consternation, she added, “Wait. I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
A week later the phone rang.
“I’ve got an answer, but you’ll have to come to the Enchantment.”
“I’m on my way,” I said.
When I got to my booth, Four-Finger Fanny handed me a soft drink and said, “What I’m going to tell you is top secret. You have to guard this information with your life.”
She then gave me the name of a bank, a routing number, and the name and the number of the account. The electronic transfer went through flawlessly.
Sometime later I got a message saying that the donation had been received and that everyone involved was most grateful.
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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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Sports Bon Mots, Part 2

The Jargon:                              The Response
“He’s down for the count,” “Too bad he can only count to six.”
“This one’s going down to the wire,” “Hurry, call Western Union.”
”The coach called for a full court press,” “It’ll be back from the cleaners Monday.”
“That was a low blow.” “Even for a base saxophone”
“Smithers is on deck,” “they’re playing poker in the dugout again.”
“They need to bench that guy,” “Or maybe give him a sofa”
“He tried a head fake (basketball term)…Or was it just brain freeze?”

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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Letongaloosa Goes to a Bowl Game©

Decades ago families used to gather on New Year’s Day in front of a 12-inch television screen to watch the Rose Bowl Parade and the Rose Bowl football game. In the early days there were only a couple of other bowl games. Now, news reports say, more than 40 bowl games are played during the holiday season.
The 2017 Letongaloosa Community Junior College Leopards had their best season in the last 10 years. They won five games, lost five, and tied one. That record earned the Leopards an invitation to play in the Marginal Bowl against the Sand City Bison.
Many home towns submitted applications for a chance to host the Marginal Bowl. In their applications the cities reported their plans for the bowl parade and the number of seats available at their stadium. Applications routinely mentioned what treats and activities were planned for members of the Marginal Bowl Committee.
Some cities that weren’t selected to host the bowl complained of favoritism on the part of the Marginal Bowl Selection Committee. No wrongdoing was discovered, but to remove any hint of favoritism the committee decided to select the host city by a random process. As the cities’ applications came in, each was assigned a number. The number of each applying city was written on ping pong a ball. The balls were dropped into a rotating plastic bin. The city whose number was selected from the bin, won the opportunity to host the Marginal Bowl.
Thus it was that Pigeon Creek became host city for the 2017 Marginal Bowl. The Pigeon Creek Marginal Bowl Committee had promised to mount a parade that included at least 18 floats. The Marginal Bowl Queen and her two attendants would ride on a beautifully adorned float. Marginal Bowl Committee members would ride in an equally beautiful float directly behind the queen’s float. Nature smiled on Pigeon Creek the day the Marginal Bowl game was played. The sky was clear at game time. The temperature was 41 degrees which was high for Pigeon Creek at that time of year. Still, cheerleaders for both teams wore tights with their short skirts.
Days before the bowl parade, Pigeon Creek citizens placed folding chairs along Main Street to assure themselves of a spot to watch. Grocery stores and other businesses stocked up on merchandise in anticipation of a flood of out-of-town spectators.
It was a classic bowl game. The score was tied 7-7 at half time and the defenses of both teams continued to prevail in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter. Then the Bison scored and took a 14-7 lead.
After that neither team could make a first down. As time ticked away the Bison team punted and the Leopards got the ball on their own 17-yard line. Somewhere in their heads they heard a bugle sounding “Charge!”. And down the field they went executing running plays and short pass plays to perfection.
The Leopards were first and ten on the Bison two-yard line when the rally ran out of gas. The Bison line held against a run and two pass plays. It was fourth and two. A field goal would do the Leopards no good. The officials called time out. The exhausted players on both teams grouped around their coaches.
Play resumed. “Hut two, hut two, hut, hut, hut.” The Leopards tried a quarterback sneak. The Bison line held. The drive had died. Time ran out. The game was over.
But before the Bison crowd could rush onto the field, the crowd heard a referee’s whistle.
All activity stopped. The teams froze in place. Officials conferred on the sideline. Then the head ref signaled a violation against the Bison:
“Defense. Twelve men on the field. Replay the last down.”
The Leopard quarterback threw a pass to his tight end.Touchdown!
At the victory parade on Main Street, two of Letongaloosa Community Junior College’s most ardent adversaries: Irma Farseer, the hardnosed dean of the Department of et. al. et. al., and the Leopard’s “Please don’t make classes so darn hard for my atha-letes” coach, stood side by side and smiled.
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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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The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, Christmas Edition

Looking at the pages of the Tuesday edition of The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, managing editor, Isabella Frost knew it was going to be a long night.  Ever since she was a young, bright-eyed copy editor, ignoring the clock on the wall had been a tradition. There was a lot to do and she had a “to-do” list a mile long to prove it.

After nearly 40 years in the newsroom, that was one thing that never changed. Isabella was used to working late. To be honest, she enjoyed the time it took and the excitement of putting out a newspaper, especially during the holiday season. She liked seeing all of the brilliant colors of pictures and the heart-warming stories of the town coming together splashed all over the pages.  After all these years, they always filled her heart with joy.

Isabella closed her eyes, took a deep breath and remembered she needed to make room for the full-page ad that would accompany the feature for Dexter Dolby’s new movie, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer. She also needed to include milk to her list of things to pick up on her way home before she continued gazing at the words and pictures intermingling across tomorrow’s layout.  She was content with her life and the work she had done.  Then something peculiar caught her attention—she couldn’t look away.

Every story seemed to be in a “Top 10 List” format. As she clicked through each section, there were lists after lists scattered all throughout the pages. In the age of social media, Isabella knows that lists are a quick and effective way to tell a story. She, herself, has used them and keeps countless lists stored in her phone: “to-do” lists, lists for potential articles she wants to write, even her grocery list on her refrigerator is synced to her phone so even if she forgets to write milk to her shopping list, it’s not a big deal. Isabella can just send the list that is on her refrigerator to her phone and call it a day.

There is “Top 10”lists for everything nowadays. Every newspaper, magazine and media outlet around the globe seems to gravitate towards using them, not as just an element to a story, but as the primary way to relay information to the masses.

And Isabella saw that The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle is definitely keeping up with current trends. The headlines staring back at her were: Top 10 Best Christmas Gifts for Chefs, The 10 Best Christmas Yodeling Albums of 2017, Merry Duggins’ List of the 10 Best Christmas Movies to name just a few.

Thankfully, the piece on Dexter’s new movie premiere would add an element of tradition to the paper. He was a longtime friend of Isabella’s and a beloved movie legend of Letongaloosa. His premiere film, Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey, lead him to head to job at a film production company on the Pacific Coast. He was home for the holidays to showcase his sophomore film, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer.  It was only fitting that Dexter come back to where his first began and it was only right that Isabella conduct his homecoming interview.

Excited, seeing Dexter and writing about his newest movie was an article that Isabella had looked forward to writing. Dexter was a student at Letongaloosa Community College where Isabella taught a writing course. She supervised his internship here at the paper and had been following his career ever since. She made sure Dexter’s story would be front and center highlight of the Lifestyle section.

After giving the Tuesday edition a final glance, she checked some final things off of her “to-do” list and headed off to the grocery store. It had been a long day. She was happy to go home, close her eyes and relax.

 

As Isabella woke the next morning, she reached for her phone to check her schedule for the day. It was going to be another long day. Making her way to into the newsroom, she grabbed a paper and flipped to the Lifestyle section and saw Dexter Dolby’s big smile, sparkling eyes and his “Top 10 Favorite Scifi Movies” staring back at her. She was filled with joy!!

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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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The Pop Fly Redemption Redux©

Redux, adjective: to restore, to revive

 

 

La Mancha is the posh section of Letongaloosa where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile. Among the leading  residents of La Mancha are Archibald and Olivia Sommerset.  The Summersets’ daughter, Madison “Madie”  Sommerset, was the suburb’s leading high school athlete.
Madie had been respected by all and revered by many for leading the La Mancha Amazons to victory in all sports, particularly in softball.
But then Madie’s athletic career suffered a serious setback.  The Amazons had let their dinky rivals, the Fairfield Fusions, tie the score in the last inning.  The fusions had a runner on third and a scrawny end-of-the-lineup batter at the plate. The Amazon pitcher’s finger slipped off the ball and the pitch came over the plate looking like a watermelon.
Scrawny Arms closed her eyes, swung and hit a blooper that looked like it was going foul. But  then  the ball came back fair–between home and the pitcher’s mound.  Madie called for the ball.  But Madie muffed the catch when she couldn’t get her catcher’s mask off.  The mask was stuck on her face by an excess of makeup. Madie applied the makeup in anticipation of being photographed for the local newspaper.  When she did manage to  rip the mask off,  the makeup made her look like a raccoon.
When it came to academics Madie had been an indifferent student. She worked hard enough in school to stay eligible for athletics and extracurricular activities, but she often failed to turn in assignments.  She never tried to get good grades, much less make the dean’s list.

After the Fusion  High debacle, people at the country club treated Mr. and Mrs. Sommerset with pity rather than deference. When her parents found that Madie was, academically, a nonperson, they demanded she make the honor roll and excel at some other extracurricular activity than sports.
At  Letongaloosa High School, forensics was to the brainy kids what athletics was to the athletic kids:  a ticket to popularity and recognition.  Madie had always distained non sport activities.          But now, she signed up for forensics, and focused on poetry recitation.  She memorized and practiced reciting “Casey at the Bat.” She loved the poem, and maybe because she looked the part, the judges liked Madie’s recitation.  She won the local and district forensics poetry competitions and went on to regionals.
Madie managed to win or place second in poetry recitation at regionals and found herself in the final round facing an opponent from Fusion High School.  Madie’s opponent was listed on the forensics tote board as Sally Teasley– her old softball nemesis, A.K.A. “Scrawny Arms”.
One of the judges said:  “We’ll begin this session with Sally Teasley reciting “The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern:
“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees…” Then she paused and turned pale.  The room was silent. Sally stood frozen at the lectern. Then Madie’s quiet voice came from behind her: “The moon was a ghostly…”  Sally finished reciting the poem beautifully, and  after Madie had recited “Casey at the Bat,” the two girls left the room arm in arm.
Madie did well in forensics, and found she liked academics as well.
About that time Madie met Tyler Kirby.  Tyler was a brainy kid with a 4.0 grade point average. He hungered to play football.  The problem was, he weighed 187 pounds. On the first day of practice the coach took one look and told Tyler to turn in his uniform.
A phone call from the school principal changed all that. The principal lowered the boom on the team because most of the football players’ low grades.
The coach got back in touch with Tyler Kirby.
“Son, do you get good grades?” asked the coach.
“I have a 4.0 grade point average.”
“Come on back to the gym and suit up, son, you’ve made the team.”
From then on, Tyler tutored male athletes and Madie tutored female athletes. That was the year Letongaloosa High School won state finals in athletics and forensics.
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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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The Haunted Disc Jockey

As Halloween approaches, Barkley Michaels muses about episodes in his long career as a disc jockey at Letongaloosa’s own radio station: WZBZ Mega-Radio.  One episode stands out. Barkley calls it “The Control Room Ghost Story.”
Halloween night was a tough shift for a disc jockey. There were always lots of crank calls.
Ring.
“K-R-U-D Radio. What’s your request?
“Does Letongaloosa Boulevard run past your station?”
“Yes it does.”
“Then you’d better run out and catch it.  Ha,ha,ha,ha.” Click.
Barkley wasn’t even supposed to be on duty.  His friend Garrison Storm, the station meteorologist had asked Barkley to fill in for a sick employee.
On top of all that it was Halloween and there was the ghost legend.
According to lore handed down over the decades, Mega-Radio was haunted by the ghost of the former station owner Reginald Wicker.  Mr. Wicker had died of apoplexy in the control booth as he bawled out a new announcer. The announcer had mispronounced the name of the person who bought more commercial time on the radio than any other sponsor. His name was Kuless Klemelborg. The young announcer had pronounced the first name “Kluless”  instead of “Kuless.”
Wicker went ballistic, and in the middle of his tirade, Wicker dropped dead right there in the control booth.
After Wicker’s death there were strange manifestations.  Control room lights would grow brighter then dimmer, then go out.  Announcers’ throats suddenly tightened up and they sounded like Minnie Mouse for a few seconds. Then their voices would go back to normal. It was pretty easy-going haunting.  It was not threatening or scary.
But  then there was the curse. Wicker’s ghost was condemned to haunt the station until some future announcer pronounced the name Kuless Klemelborg correctly.  The incident happened years ago.  Kuless Klemelborg has long since joined Reginald Wicker in the great broadcast network in the sky.
The odds of removing the curse became slim to none.
So there was Barkley on the air at KRUD-radio on Halloween night.
“Ring.”
“K-R-U-D Radio, what’s your request?”
“Can you play a Golden Oldie for me?
“Sure thing, if we have it.  What do you want me to play and who is the song going out to?”
“Please play “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” for my Great Grandpa, Chellsie Clinghampton,” said the caller.
But just as the caller began to give the name of the person to whom his request was going, a loud crackling noise came into Barkley’s headphones.
“Sorry, I didn’t get that name.  Stay on the line while we go to  a commercial.” Barkley told the caller.
At that very instant a ghostly voice came into Barkley’s earphones.
It whispered: “The song is for Kuless Kemelborg.”
`        “Did you say Caroline Clemantis?” asked Barkley
`        “Kuless Kemelborg,” said the ghostly voice emphatically.
“Okay, I’ve got it now.  This song’s for Chelsey Clarington, right?” said Barkley.
“No. No! The name is Kuless Kemelborg.”
“That’s Chester Clemmelthorne?”
At this point  the station was coming back from the commercial. Barkley  pressed a button to cut the caller off, but the call light didn’t go out. The caller was still on the line.
“Play ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ for Kuless Kemelborg,” said the caller. Play it NOW.”
Barkley improvised. “Okay listeners. We have a special request for “It’s Now or Never,” for Claireese Caltenborn.”
There was a loud crackling noise, then static.  The dials on the  control board in front of Barkley started to jump around.
Barkley panicked.
“Here we go folks “this number’s for Cleatus Carrlingberg, Carlene Clampton, Krystal Klomberg, Charlie Chinghammer,” Barkley’s  voice lost its suave announcer quality. He sounded tinny and desperate. “Kleatis Klogsider, Karlos Kimmell, Klarice Kleenbopter, Kelly Kemmelwitz,  Klaghorn Kipplemeyer, Konstance Kimberly.
Barkley paused, terrified. A quiet, ghostly voice came into Barkley’s  headphones:
It said, “The name is “Kuless Kemelborg.”
“This one’s for Kuless Kemelborg,” screamed Barkley.
A loud pop sounded in the booth, a puff of smoke rose from the control board, and,  with a shriek of joy, the ghost of  Reginald Wicker, K-R-U-D Radio’s resident ghost, disappeared forever. Happy Halloween.

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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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