Tag Archives: Hollywood

Closing Down the Clarington Center ©

Highway K4Z is a gravel road that goes north out of Letongaloosa and dead ends at what was once the Perkins farm. The facility is now called the Clarington Center. The U.S. government once owned Clarington. Then a Finnish billionaire bought the Facility and used it in a scheme to get revenge on some super-rich people who had ostracized him.

          Years ago Old Jed Perkins’s barbed wire fence was replaced by a 10-foot-tall industrial strength chain linked enclosure that goes all the way around the property. Where the road ends, a big wrought iron gate stood between two square brick pillars. A small brass plate set in the right hand pillar read: “Clarington Center.” Underneath were the words “Restricted Entry.”

          The facility was designed to rehabilitate diplomats, judges, military officers, and politicians who embarrassed the government. We’re not talking about felons here. Felonious behavior gets you sent to jail or gets you whitewashed, depending on which way the political winds are blowing. Either way you don’t end up at the Clarington Center.

            One person who was at Clarington, for example, was a U.S. cabinet secretary who told a racist story while sitting beside a newspaper reporter. Another Clarington Center resident was a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who never outgrew his fraternity boy penchant for practical jokes. Security cameras caught him placing a whoopee cushion on the Secretary General’s chair.

          Then there was the White House chef who, in a burst of last-minute culinary creativity, substituted pork for lamb at a state dinner for the president of Israel.  Quite a few other officials committed dumbness and were sent to Clarington.

          And there was the U.S. General who misread his orders and clad his troops in desert camouflage uniforms for a mission that involved their moving undetected through a large green forested area.

          A U.S. Congressman failed to invite the President to a cocktail party at which a number of prominent Hollywood producers, actors and actresses were gathered. The President was a member of the Congressman’s own party.

          The problem was that, as the decades passed, prominent members of both political parties committed dumbness. The government expanded the Clarington Center to its physical limits, but U.S. officials who ought to have known better continued to act in ways that merited their being candidates, not for re-election, or re-appointment, but rather for treatment at the center.

          A rationale had to be developed that would explain the need for Clarington to be shutdown.

          That, it turned out, was difficult. The closing of Clarington started as a behind-closed-doors issue. Officials argued about whose fault it was that Clarington didn’t work anymore. Congressmen argued about the wording of the in-house statement that would be voted on. Then somebody, or several somebodies, leaked the story to the media that the government was going to close Clarington. 

          Then it was “Katy bar the door.”

          Every radio and television commentator, every talk show host, every blogger, every columnist, indeed, every blatherer in the world weighed in on the topic. “Close  it, and do it now.” “Don’t close it. Never close it.” “Well, maybe, but not now.”  “Well maybe, but let’s explore ALL options .”  “Just DO IT already.”

          The Clarington closure story ran for an amazing five evening television cycles and six daily newspaper cycles. Some weekly and monthly publications are still running commentaries on it.

          After all the media hubbub came the practical considerations of who would shut down the Clarington Center, and how would they do it.

          Of the blather that those considerations generated, we have neither the space nor the energy to comment upon. Politicians, elected officials at village, city, state, and national levels demanded to be included. Corporate executives vied for positions on any entity that would be appointed.  School children, teenagers, workaday folks and civic-minded citizens of all political and ethnic groups wanted a place on the Clarington Closing Commission.

          In the end, Nature had the last word.  A tornado burst out of the south, bypassed Letongaloosa, and flattened the Clarington Center. Debris was scattered over several square miles, and some Clarington documents were found as far away as South Dakota.

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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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Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey ©

What Dexter Dolby saw before him that Friday night, was unlike any spectacle

he had ever seen. It was the night after Halloween. Police had blocked off the

streets in front of the La Mancha Cineplex where a crowd was starting to form.

Lights and camera bulbs were flashing.

Looking up at the marquee, Dexter, a writer and movie critic for the

Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, couldn’t believe what

he saw. The marquee announced the premiere of his one-day, iconic film,

Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey.

Dexter couldn’t pinpoint the age that his obsession with cult classics, indie films

and campy “B” movies truly started. He always wanted to make them. Now he

was the winner of the La Mancha Fall Film Festival, and had received the

Trailblazer Award for Up-and Coming Filmmakers. And he was coming face-to face

with his creation.

As a kid, Dexter took the bus to La Mancha and got off in front of the old Odeon

Theatre. Every week, he bought a ticket for the afternoon matinee, headed to the

hamburger stand for a burger and a chocolate shake and then visited The La

Mancha Wildlife Conservatory. He loved to see the animals, particularly the

turkeys, before the movie started.

It was always a fun afternoon, but it was inside the theatre that Dexter felt really

alive. It always excited him to see the creatures come to life onscreen. With

popcorn and candy in hand he sat on the front row and watched the strange

plots evolve, and enjoyed the weird costumes and odd camera angles of

movies like Attack of the Puppet People, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and It

Came from Outer Space.

As an adult, Dexter was a behind-the scenes kind of guy. He preferred observing

and capturing life’s quirky little oddities from behind the lens of an old Revere

8Mm movie camera, a present from his grandpa, George. Dexter filmed

whatever walked in front of his camera. Frequently what walked in front of his

camera were turkeys from the conservatory. The strutting birds often escaped

and paraded through the center of downtown. One Saturday, Dexter picked

up his camera and followed them.

Later, he learned everything he could about turkeys from the biology of their

beaks to the grandeur of their gobbles. He learned that turkeys are related to

dinosaurs. They have the same chest structure as the giant T-Rex.

Now, all these years later, Dexter stood on the red carpet, lights of the

photographer’s flashbulbs capturing his image. He wasn’t used to the frenzy

that came from being in front of the camera, But he was a filmmaker now and

he was loving every moment of it.

People had told him that Hollywood directors and producers were attending

the film festival. If that was true, he’d love to work in Hollywood. Regardless,

hoped they liked what they saw. He hoped everyone did.

The audience began to take their seats and as he took his usual position in the

front row, almost frozen with excitement.

People loved the movie. They complimented Dexter on the strange plot lines,

the weird costumes and the odd camera angles. And a Hollywood director did,

in fact, approach Dexter that night.

He was wearing a black tuxedo, a long white scarf around his neck. “That was

quite a film, Mr. Dolby,” he said. “I’m Paul Peterson. I own a production

company in California and I think you’d be a good fit for us. He handed Dexter

his card.

Dexter felt good as he walked away from the Cineplex that night. It had turned

out to be quite a night for this small-town movie critic.

The next day, Dexter did what he had done every Saturday since he was a kid.

He headed to the La Mancha Wildlife Conservatory to visit the turkeys that

helped him realize his dream of becoming a filmmaker. He ate his usual burger

and chocolate shake. But as he walked into the theatre to watch the campy

movies he loved so much, Dexter Dolby did a little dance in front of the box

office. He wasn’t just going to watch campy movies, he was on his way to

Hollywood to make them.

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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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Grant Us Redux ©

Letongaloosa Community Junior College, where I work, has two departments: the Department of Technology, et. al., and the Department of et. al., et. al. Years ago Dr. Ima Farseer, dean of the college, asked me to help two professors submit a grant proposal.

They were both smart and competent but one was a punctilious neat freak and the other was incredibly lackadaisical. Working on their own, they had completed 99 percent of the grant proposal.   They needed to meet face to face to work out the one percent and sign the proposal.

But they couldn’t. The neat freak freaked out at the thought of approaching his colleague’s trashy office, and the lackadaisical professor broke out in hives when the dean suggested he meet at the neat freak’s office.   Neither could abide meeting in a neutral setting.

I solved the problem (and got much needed summer salary as a reward) by fitting the two with virtual reality goggles. Each thought he was meeting in his own office, when in fact they were both sitting in mine. They completed remaining details, signed the grant proposal, and LCJC got its percentage of the grant funds for overhead expenses—which made Dean Farseer very happy.

Fast forward a dozen years. Dean Ima is poised for retirement. She wants to spend her golden years in someplace more exotic than Letongaloosa (who could imagine such a place?). Problem: how to check out interesting retirement venues on the salary LCJC pays her. Solution: apply for a grant. Problem: how does she make the grant proposal sound realistic when Dean Ima has never traveled beyond the state borders. Solution: hire a grant writer who has extensive overseas experience.

My phone rang. It was Dean Ima.

“Would you like to make some money?” she asked.

“Very much.”

“What do you know about Tahiti?”

“Quite a bit actually,” I said. I did a quick Google search. Instantly my computer screen came up with “15 facts about Tahiti.”

“Tahiti is made up of 118 islands and atolls spread out over five archipelagos. The whole archipelago spans 4,000,000 square km, which is the equivalent to the size of Europe,” I read aloud from the information on my screen.

“Can you figure out a tie with Letongaloosa that would make it logical for me to do research in Tahiti?”

“I’ll try,” I said.

A couple of days later (to make it look like work) I called Dean Ima back.

“What did you find?” she asked.

“Marlon Brando once owned an island in Tahiti, and the Letongaloosa Daily Ledger-Clarion-Telegram always published favorable reviews of Marlon Brando’s movies.”

“That’s close enough,” said Dean Ima. “Get busy and write a grant proposal.”

Getting research grants isn’t as easy as it used to be. We submitted Letongaloosa-Tahiti grant proposals to dozens of institutions but came up dry. Those institutions even ignored the Marlon Brando connection.

Reluctantly, I phoned Dean Ima. “No one will give us a grant.”

“I’ve got to get to Tahiti, “she said.

I got an idea for another funding source.”

“Get on it.”

Some readers will recall “One if by Land.” It’s a story about Ribby Von Simeon,

the son of Letongaloosa-born movie star Sipa Margarita and billionaire

Balderdash Von Simeon.   Sipa was too busy being a movie star and Balderdash

was too busy being Balderdash to bother with Ribby, so he was raised by his

grandparents in Letongaloosa. When Ribby inherited the Margarita-Balderdash

fortune he memorialized the only quality time he had spent with his mother—an ocean voyage.

Ribby purchased the ocean liner they had sailed on when it was about to be

chopped up for scrap. Ribby had the ocean liner dismantled and shipped piece by

piece and reconstructed on a hill outside Letongaloosa.

Ribby Von Balderdash was interested when I explained Dean Ima’s Letongaloosa-

Tahiti Project, and he was sold when I mentioned that Marlon Brando owned

an island down there. Ribby offered to pay for Dean Ima Farseer’s initial trip to

the South Seas. It was love at first sight. Dean Ima took immediate retirement, cashed in her accrued retirement, closed her substantial savings account, and never

came back to Letongaloosa.   Dean Ima did send Ribby a picture of her with one of

Marlon Brando’s great grandchildren. Ribby treasured the photo.

 

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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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