Tag Archives: Education

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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Pop Fly Redemption

La Mancha is the posh section of Letongaloosa  where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.  The La Mancha girls softball team—the Amazons—and the team’s star, catcher, Madison “Madie” Sommerset,  suffered an ignominious defeat in the final game of the 2014 regional tournament.  After trailing the whole game, the Amazons allowed the Fairfield Fusions to  tie the game in the bottom of the final inning.
With the score tied, and two out, a  scrawny Fusion  batter hit a high fly that Madie called for.  Madie was wearing extra thick make-up in anticipation of  posing for victory photos.   Madie tried to tear off her catcher’s mask but her thick make-up had bonded with the lining of her catcher’s mask . She couldn’t get it off.  Madie muffed the play and the fusion runner crossed the plate for the winning run.  There was no joy in La Manchaville , Mighty Madie had flubbed up.
Things were tough for Madie during the off season. Students called her “Muffles” behind her back, and a few called her Muffles to her face. She developed an allergy to cosmetics and had to go to school barefaced. Worse, Madie developed a pimple on her nose. Students called her Bruja  which is “witch” in Spanish. Someone left a big red apple on her desk to remind her that she wasn’t a big shot “Snow White,” any more.
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 her assignments.  She just never even tried to get good grades, much less make the dean’s list.
That was acceptable, even to her parents, when she was a star athlete.  But when Mr. and Mrs. Sommerset found that people at the country club treated them with pity rather than the usual deference, they confronted Madie and found out that she was, academically, a nonperson. They demanded that she make the honor roll and that she 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, Madie signed up for forensics and focused on poetry recitation.  She memorized and practiced reciting “Casey at the Bat.” Partly because she looked the part, and partly because she loved the poem, the judges liked Madie’s recitations.

She won the local and district forensics poetry competitions and went on to regionals. Competition was very tough at the regional tournament but Madie managed to win or place second in poetry recitation and found herself in the final round facing an opponent from Fusion High School.  Madie’s  opponent was listed on the forensics tote board in the hall as Sally Teasley.  The tournament was held on a Saturday in a neutral high school building. The tournament judges were from out of town  They didn’t know the competitors other than by their names, and didn’t know what high school the contestants represented.
That afternoon Madie walked into the large classroom designated for the poetry competition. She wrote her name on the board under the sign “Poetry Recitation Finalists,” and sat down.  A moment later her opponent entered the room and signed in. Madie drew a sudden breath. Her recitation opponent was her old softball nemesis, Sally Teasley, A.K.A. “Scrawny Arms” from Fusion High School.
The judges were sitting in student desks eight rows back. They conferred, then one of them announced:  “We’ll begin this session with Sally Teasley reciting  “ The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern and began this session with Sally Teasley reciting  “ The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern and began reciting:

“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 galleon tossed among…” Sally brightened, picked up the refrain, and finished her recitation beautifully.  After Madie had recited “Casey at the Bat,” the two girls walked out of the room arm in arm.

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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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Don’t Punt, Coach!©

Coach  Nick Whitlow was sorting football equipment in the Leopards locker room when his cell phone buzzed.  He looked at the caller ID. Coach Whitlow  scowled and said, !@#$%^&*.  Then he pushed the answer button, smiled and said, “Coach Whitlow speaking.”

The caller was Dr. Ima Farseer, dean of  Letongaloosa Community Junior College’s School  of  Electromagnetic Communigraphics.

“Coach Whitlow, we need to talk,” said the dean.

“I’m real tied up right now, Ma’ am,”  he said. “Got football practice, comin’ up ya know.”

“That’s why I  need  to see you in my office.  Your football team has academic eligibility problems.”

 

“Whoa.   Whoa. Hold on.  I’ll be right there.”

Dean Farseer’s office door was open so Coach Whitlow   walked in and sat in the visitor’s  chair opposite the dean’s massive mahogany desk.  All four legs of the  visitor’s chair had been shortened.  And one leg had been cut shorter than the other three.  The visitor was forced to sit on a low, teetery  chair.  Advantage, Farseer.

“Ima,” pause, “Uh, I mean Dean Farseer, our atha-letes  work very hard on their academic studies. Very hard, in deed.”

“With little to show for it when grade cards come out,”  said the dean.

“Ma’am,   the Leopards are  ten and one on the year.  Our best season since 2012.”

“And  your athletes are  zero and 23 academically.  Not a single ath-lete (she pronounced the word  slowly and enunciated it pointedly) is on the dean’s list. On the other hand, 17 football players are in various after school detention programs.”

The coach teetered silently.  Then he said, “Let me get back to you on this,” said the coach.

“Please do,” said the dean.  “Soon.”

It had never occurred to Coach Whitfield to call up the dean’s list on his computer, but he did so the moment he arrived back at his office.

The names of students with four-point- oh grades led the list, followed by others in descending order down to the bottom of the list where he recognized the names of a number of his football players.

At the top of the 4.0 list was Tyler Kirby.  The coach remembered him. He had been an eager first-day-of- practice walk-on. Kirby weighed 187 pounds. His thick  glasses were held on by an elastic  band .

“Sorry, kid,” the coach had said, “We already got enough  managers.”

“I want to make the team, Coach.”

 

“Not  this team, you don’t  Go take a shower.”

“Gaaaa,” said the coach, as he remembered the encounter. He left the building.

On the sidewalk outside the  building he bumped into someone.

“Sorry, Coach, I wasn’t looking where I was going.”

“My fault. Say, aren’t you Tyler Kirby?”

“Yes sir.”

“ Son, I need to talk to you.  Could you come to my office?”

“Now, sir?”

“Yes, if you’re free.”

After the meeting, Kirby Tyler set up a team of his own—a group of academically high achieving students who tutored athletes. The athletes thrived.

Coach Whitlow put Tyler on his team, and  made  sure  that Tyler got to suit up for every game.  Toward the end of the season when the Leopards were leading the La Mancha Mongrels 47-6  the coach called:

“Kirby. Get in there at quarterback and heave a long one down field.  ”

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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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Do You Do the Jumble?©

 

 

Years ago I wrote a column titled “Code Blur.”  That story revolved around a World War II decoding device that I saw on display as “relics of technology,” at a local department store. As the story evolved, the feds thought I was involved in some  espionage plot. I had a  dicey time before it all got straightened out.

Welcome to déjà vu all over again

Emmaline and I have a mid-morning routine.  We sit in the living room and read the local newspaper.  Once we’ve noted the condition of the nation, the state and the community, we read the comics.  Sometimes we wonder which individuals are the comic strip characters and which are  our leaders, who are acting like comic strip characters.

Then we turn to the puzzle page and work on the word puzzle. That’s a grid with vertical and horizontal numbered boxes.  Printed opposite each box is a set of scrambled letters that spell

the answer to the clue if you put them in the right order.

Most days between us, Emmaline and I solve the puzzle without help.  Sometimes though, there’s a weird clue.  After we have tried the combinations of letters, I trudge upstairs to the computer  to try to unscramble the letters.  I type in the random letters from the puzzle trying to figure out a pattern.

There’s nothing sinister about that, right?  Wrong!  The other day while we were working on the puzzle, two black SUVs drove up in front of our house. The first SUV drove into the driveway. The other one blocked the driveway at the curb.  Four suits got out of the SUV in the driveway, and came to the door.

“Federal agents.  Open the door.”

I opened the door and they poured in.

“What’s this about?”

“We’ll ask the questions,” said the shortest suit—a bald guy with horned rim glasses.

“Show me some identification first.” I said.

Agent Horned Rimmed flashed an ID.

“Who are you?”

“We’re from the Department of Electronic Citizen Surveillance.  Our algorithm devices have detected coded messages coming from your computer.”

“I type random letters on a search engine looking for clues to the Jumble Puzzles in the newspaper,”

Agent Horned Rimmed ignored my answer and said, “Do you deny communicating with an alien who uses the code name KB 11.2?”

“KB 11.2?  “Kaybe,” are you kidding? Kaybe is the alien robot character I created for my monthly humor column?”

“There’s nothing humorous about espionage,”  said Agent Horned Rimmed. “Or aliens, either, for that matter.”

“”But Kaybe is fiction.  He’s a character in my book,” I said.  “Show them, Emmaline.”

“Don’t move,” said the tall suit standing behind Emmaline.

“I just want to show you the book,” said Emmaline.  It’s right here.”

Agent Horned Rimmed made a quick lateral move with his head, and said, “Get it.”

Emmaline crossed the living room and picked up my little book, Day Dreaming. She opened the book to a story titled “I Speak Alien,” and handed the book to Agent Tall Suit.  Agent Tall Suit leafed through the story, grimaced, and handed the book to Agent Horned Rimmed.

“It’s a humor book, Deke,” he said.

Emmaline handed Agent Tall Suit a page from the local newspaper.

“Here is the puzzle those words came from,” she said.  You can see that the letters in the grid match the written clues.  You solve the puzzle by putting the right words in the grid horizontally and vertically.  Sometimes we get stumped, so my husband types the letters into an Internet search engine to see  if it will unscramble them.”

Outside, the neighbors were beginning to gather in their front yards.  They were staring at the guys standing around the SUV that was blocking the driveway.

“It’s another surveillance network screw-up, Deke,” said Tall Agent.

“@#$%^&*,” said Deke. Then Deke gave his trademark lateral move of the head and the suits melted out through front door.

As they were running, one of them yelled,  “wrong address!”

Then they jumped into their SUVs  and sped away.

“Who were those unmasked men?” asked Emmaline.

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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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Pecked to Death by Ducks©

With the summer season just around the corner, most people are making vacation plans. I, on the other hand, have been busy stressing about all of the things around my house that need my attention.

I’ve been thinking about what to do with all my “stuff” in the attic. Emmaline runs a trim ship.   I sail a kind of garbage scow.

It’s time to get the wet leaves out of the roof gutters, put fertilizer on the lawn, fetch some sacks of pebbles for the rock garden.  On a more personal note, I wanted to rescue a couple of my favorite shirts from the church donation box sitting by the front door.
Whenever I think that I have too much to do, my stress rises. When that happens, it’s like I’m being pecked to death by ducks.  Its as if I were tied hand and foot and lying on wet grass with a raft, team or paddling (see Google) of ducks pecking me.  Their blunt beaks don’t break the skin on my head like the peck of a woodpecker would, but the sensation is still painful, and
emotionally draining.

The feeling comes when I think I have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. I often get relief by day dreaming about decades past when I traveled a lot—to Latin America, the Caribbean, North and Central Africa, Japan.  But if I day dream too deeply while I’m doing something like trimming the hedge, and I mess it up, and—out come the ducks.

I’ve been thinking Emmaline and I need to go back to the Caribbean, or Latin America. But then I realize that what we really need is to go back to our good old rental cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I always love our days on the river there, floating downstream on inner tubes, drinking steins of root beer with my friends, the little old colonial Dutchmen.
Back in March I got in touch with my humor column friends and colleagues at The Enchantment, that dingy roadhouse on the edge of town where so many of them congregate. I told them to meet us at the cabin. Then, what with the ducks in my head and all, I nearly forgot about the trip to the cabin.

So today, I got the word out—on Internet, by smoke signals, by homing pigeons, by mental telepathy–and by a few other means of communication that I won’t elaborate on here. I invited everyone

to meet us at the cabin.  The invitation to my  robot friend KB11.2 (Kaybe, for short) went zinging  through outer space to his home planet that’s just a few parsecs from our nearest star, Alpha Centuari.   And I asked Kaybe to stop by Cuba on his way andpick up Kate in the jungle down there.
Emmaline thought we couldn’t go to the cabin right now because there was too much to be done here: paint the shutters, plant a garden, clean out the garage, etc., etc.

“And What about Ginger?” she asked.  Ginger is our dog.

“I promise to paint the shutters when we get back. The weather will be better then, anyway.  It’s been a late spring, so we can put in the garden after we get back.  Ginger always comes with us, remember? Her carrier is just inside the front door, next to that donation box we’re taking to the church.”

I knew that Emmaline wanted to go to the cabin all along, but we needed to tie up loose ends.  After she went to pack, she called down to say she was including a variety of ceramic root beer steins.

She had chosen one for everybody. A few days later as we got ready to leave the ducks in my head took a nap—a nice long one, I hoped.

When I lifted Ginger into her carrier, she nestled down on top of my favorite dear old (not to be discarded) shirt. It was folded neatly underneath her.

I put the church donation box in the car to drop off on the way out of 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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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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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.”

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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Friends We Meet Along the Way ©

I’ve written a humor column every month for the last 16 years. That breaks down to 192 columns—134,400 words. The columns go by many titles and most of the ideas for them come at times when I am not sitting at my desk,  vis. while I’m  walking the dog,  having lunch with my Emmaline. My, ideas–it’s a stretch to call it inspiration—pop up wherever I may be.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is telling about some of my  adventures (real and imagined), and in letting you, the readers, meet some of the people who inhabit those adventures.

In many stories, from exploring the Cuban jungle with my colleague, Kate, to meeting with my long-distance pal from outer space, the robot KB-11.2 (Kaybe),  I have taken Life on some curious journeys. And I’ve share them with you. It’s never been boring, and as I write this month’s column, and  as I think about all my friends,  my pals, the little Dutchmen come to mind.

I haven’t really been out to the Smokies to see them lately. As a result, we’re thinking about making a trip there especially since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. I first introduced the little guys in July 2014 in a column titled Man in the Mirror.  It was about my first encounter with a curious-looking gentleman, a kabouter. Most people would think a kabouter as a leprechaun.  Kabouters wear  long beards and antique Dutch-looking clothing including  tri-cornered hats.

I was standing in front of the mirror in a vacation cabin back in the Smoky Mountains where Emmaline and I  frequently stay. The Dutchman was staring at me from a mirror that hung in the bathroom. I was startled. After I calmed down and got my bearings, the Dutchman and his friends took me tubing down the stream that flows alongside  the cabin. We drank root beer from large steins, and had a rip-roaring afternoon.  I’ve written a couple of columns about our adventures with the Dutchman and his fellow Kabouters.  But I haven’t given you readers much detail about them.

Here’s some background:  The Dutchman in the mirror is named Jurriaan. It’s Jurriaan Lievin, as a matter of fact.  Jurriaan and his friends live in a mushroom village located in the woods just down the one-lane road from our family’s Smoky Mountain cabin.  These guys, according to Dutch folklore, are shy of humans. Stories say that they play tricks on people who try to catch them. For whatever reason these little Dutchmen men were more curious than shy when it came to me, Emmaline, and our family  well before wrote about them. They’ve been a part of our family celebrations ever since.

Folklore also mentions that some Kabouter love the off-stage limelight. They have been the focus of countless fairytales, but the stories always mention the tiny men slipping away after performing their good deeds. We  all  know the Legend of the Wooden Shoes.  And on television we’ve all seen the gnome in that travel commercial. That’s Jurrriaan’s cousin, Nicholaas. He, wasn’t shy like the other men in the forest, so Nicholaas decided  to head for Los Angeles and try his hand at acting.  He’s become quite successful.

Emmaline and I are planning to go to the cabin soon. We need adventure, and our friends the Dutchmen are all about adventure.  They always have been.  In that vein, I’ve decided it’s time my best friends meet each other.

I contacted Kaybe and Kate and told them to meet us at the cabin this spring. Kate is excited to get out of the jungle for a while and to meet everyone.  I asked Kaybe drop by and pick her up in his spaceship. It’s not out of his way.

Emmaline is excited, too. She’s planning a party and has already bought  root beer steins for everyone. And there’ll be plenty of inner tubes too for the river float.  Oh, that reminds me, I need to get some lubricating oil for Kaybe.   The humidity at the cabin sometimes plays hob with his metal joints.

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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