Tag Archives: humor

Zimmy, Kate and the Cuban Beetle ©


Until recently the U.S. government didn’t want you to go to Cuba.  That policy, which started way back in the Eisenhower administration, required that everybody apply for a license before traveling to Havana.    My friend Zimmy Tarbox  has a Ph.D. in entomology. He’s been all over the world measuring the space between the eyeballs of baby cockroaches.  Zimmy’s British colleague, Kate Billingsly, is the world’s leading expert on pond scum skimmer bugs.    Back in 2006, Kate and Zimmy attended the 15th Annual International Cockroach and Pond Skimmer Conference in Cuba.  In 2016 the sponsoring group, the Entomological Society scheduled its 25th annual conference for Havana, and Kate and Zimmy were invited to give keynote addresses in recognition of their outstanding contributions to entomological research.      In Hong Kong last January, the two talked about their upcoming visit to Cuba.    “Speaking of,” said Kate,  “I met Ricardo Calvez in Samoa last month.  He says that the Hypolestes trinitatis, a beetle endemic to Cuba, is in danger of extinction because of loss of habitat.”  “We should do something.”  “Yes, we should.”          The two scientists got the opportunity sooner than either of them thought.  They were invited to the White House.  The President was preparing for a trip to Cuba and, covering all bases, wanted a staff briefing on the flora and fauna of the island.  After speaking with Zimmy and Kate,
one of the staffers proposed a presidential field trip on the island to search for the Hypolestes trinitatis. She wanted something to showcase the President’s interest in the environment.  Kate and Zimmy were invited to lead the expedition.  So, it turned out, Zimmy and Kate flew to Havana, not on a crowded commercial flight from Miami, but on Air Force One.   Organizing a private “off the agenda” trip by the U.S. President to the forests of central and eastern Cuba could have been diplomatically and politically difficult.  But Zimmy and Kate had “friends at court” in the persons of two members of Cuba’s Central Party leadership who were avid amateur entomologists.   The two leaders had been aching to look for the Hypolestes trenitatis but couldn’t justify the cost to the government of such a trip.    At first the Secret Service threw a fit over the idea of the president tramping around in the outback of a communist nation, but under heavy pressure acquiesced to the endeavor.  Thus the party—consisting of the President, three Secret Service agents who didn’t look like what they were, Kate, Zimmy, and the two Cuban party members, slipped out of Havana by night and headed for the highlands.  As they trekked through the sub-montane forest, sometimes on little-used trails and at other times cutting through thick foliage, the members of the expedition kept their eyes peeled for a glimpse of the elusive beetle.  There were a couple of false sightings that disappointed everyone.  Then one of the Cuban party members spotted the prize, a large bug that looked like Hypolestes trinitatis.  The members of the expedition stepped back and waited for confirmation from Kate and Zimmy.

-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 Four-Finger Fanny©

The doorbell rang. When I saw Four-Finger Fanny I knew that I was needed at The Enchantment.
The Enchantment is a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of Letongaloosa. It’s the kind of place every college town needs to maintain academic accreditation. I go to the Enchantment to have a soft drink and chat with friends—some of whom live here and some, like my robot alien friend KB 11.2, live a long, long way from here.
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 and Fanny.
Fanny also speaks human. I’m really glad she does, because I’d rather not converse telepathically. It’s tiring and I tend to get a headache when I spend too much time communicating telepathically.
“Hi, Fanny,” I said. “What’s up?”
“Kaybe and I need your help,” she said. Kaybe picked up a rock the size of my fist from Mars last time he stopped by there. She unwrapped the rock from a yellow cloth in which she had wrapped it.
“ He needs a new rheostat and I need to retire and get off my feet,” she said. “We thought you could contact the National Space Administration and see if they want to buy the rock.”
So off I went to our nation’s capital, and to our five-sided military building.
I had put the rock into a red cloth bag and the bag into a corsage-sized box that I held on my lap. As I watched, I could see no recognizable pattern as to who got treated kindly and who got ignored or invited to take a long walk on the mall. People who looked like hicks were ushered into offices immediately, while some well-dressed folks were treated like a dog catcher’s assistant.
Then I saw a large, tall man in a military uniform with enough fruit on his chest to open market. As he walked down the hall people parted like the waters of the Red Sea parted for Moses.
“That’s my guy,” I said to myself, and fell in behind him.
I’m short and narrow, and he was big, tall and self-absorbed, so I sailed along in his immediate wake like a dingy behind a cruise ship. And, believe it or not, he walked right up to the offices of NASA and entered. I melted in behind him and tapped him on the back.
There was was a pause. Then he turned like a giant redwood wearing shiny black shoes.
“You want to buy a moon rock, general?” I asked, opening the box and bag and holding them up to somewhere near his chest.
Kaybe and Fanny, page 3
“Let me look at that,” he said in a voice that sounded like thunder in an echo chamber.
“Where did you get this?”
“My friend, an alien from outer space, picked it up on Mars.
“I’ll give you ten thousand dollars for it.”
“How do you know it’s real?
“It’s real. I was an astronaut. I own the only other rock like this on earth.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a horse-choking wad of large denomination bills
And that, as the man said, was that. What a joy forFanny and Kaybe..
Nowadays when I roll into The Enchantment, folks sometimes applaud.
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Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer His book, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia is available here : www.daydreaming.co

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The Limo and the Supreme Court Challenge©

It’s been more than a decade since the humor column, “Andrew Klees and the Limo” first appeared in the Kaw Valley Senior Monthly. In the story, a master auto mechanic named Andrew Klees rescued a wrecked stretch limousine that was going to be junked. On his farm near Letongaloosa, Andrew Klees lovingly restored the limo and drove it all around the county.
One day a couple of men came to the barn where Andrew Klees was polishing the limo. The two were wearing long black cowboy dusters over their suits. They were members of an organized crime syndicate that had sold the wrecked limo. The men were looking for something they thought was hidden in the car.
The two thugs tried to drive off with the limo but it wouldn’t start. They forced Andrew to press the starter. The engine started. The two made Andrew drive while they searched for the object.
After a while there was silence in the back seat. Andrew looked in the rearview mirror and saw the two men apparently asleep. Amazed, he stopped the car and opened the back door. He smelled ether.
“I put them to sleep,” said a melodic female voice that came from somewhere inside the dashboard. “Now please drive to the police station.”

Police found that the men were wanted in 10 states for murder and armed robbery. Andrew got a reward for capturing the two hoodlums.
For decades after that Andrew drove alone all over the county in his shiny stretch limousine. On warm sunny days folks in the countryside said they heard a woman’s voice singing whenever the limo drove by.
Meantime, lawyers for the syndicate sued to get the limo back from Andrew Klees. The case worked its way through the legal system. It took decades with appeal after appeal. Andrew was not involved in the proceedings. Others took up the cause. Some courts found in favor of the Syndicate, others found that the ownership of the limo was not in question.
Sam and Joe, the two hoods, having served their sentences, were released from prison. The case finally reached the Supreme Court on a legal technicality: the Court was asked to decide whether the car’s melodious voice was an artifact of the machinery or an unexplainable phenomenon. If it the voice were an artifact, the Syndicate would own the limo. If the limo’s voice were an unexplainable phenomenon then Andrew would retain ownership.
The Supreme Court ordered that the Limo be transported to Washington D.C., and appointed a panel of three justices to listen to the voice and decide whether it was artifact or unexplainable phenomenon.
The media got wind of the experiment and turned out in force at a parking lot where the test was to be carried out. Security forces kept the press and curious public at a distance while the justices climbed into the back seat and closed the doors.
“Press the starter,” said the senior justice
The junior-most justice pressed the starter.
Nothing happened. There was no sound, and the motor didn’t turn over.
“Press it again,”
Nothing.“!@#$%^&*(,” said the senior justice, who, when not on the bench tended to express himself colorfully.
“Don’t swear. It’s wicked” said a woman’s voice from the limo’s dashboard.
The senior justice’s face, which was usually florid, turned ashen. He tried to open the door. It wouldn’t budge. His security detail tried to open the door from the outside. It wouldn’t budge.
“Give me back to my owner,” said the voice from the dashboard.
“All right. All right!” shouted the senior justice. “Let us out of here.” ‘
The door opened.
“The voice is an unexplainable phenomenon,” shouted the senior justice. “Give this vehicle back to its owner immediately.”
Then he shouted: “Call the F.B.I! I want those syndicate criminals arrested and prosecuted.”
So, once again on sunny afternoons folks see that shiny stretch limousine driving along their country roads. But nowadays there’s no question in their minds where the singing is coming from.
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Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia is available from Lulu.com.

 

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The Golden Fleece Redemption©

To strangers he looks like a tall goofy rich guy from the Midwest. To the people of Letongaloosa, Blair Trimert is a smart, good-hearted man who does lots of things to help the community.
Blair Trimert was tall. His big ears, long face and loopy smile were acts of nature. Nature, perhaps to compensate, also provided Blair with superior intelligence and quick wits. Blair inherited a pile of money because of maternal nature. Blair’s mom yearned for a child, but never had one, so she and her husband adopted Blair as a baby.
His parents were third generation Basque-Americans. Blair’s adoptive grandparents had come to the U.S. early in the 20th century to herd sheep, but like a number of Basque immigrants, their children ended up owning banks.
When they adopted Blair, Balasi and Adere Intuxuast wanted their son to benefit from their rich language and heritage, but they didn’t want to burden him with a first and last name that his American playmates would find unpronounceable, so they retained Blair’s birth name.
Years ago while he was in Chicago on business, a couple hoodlums from the Pyrenees kidnapped Blair as he walked out of a bank carrying a bundle of expired and worthless financial bonds that he was going to destroy. The two Basque hoods, Mitch and Moe, grabbed Blair and pushed him into a waiting car. The hoods owed their bookie money and he had ordered them to pay up or he would rub them out. As they drove away, a quick-thinking Blair yelled at them in Basque. He convinced the two hoods that they were all part of a bond robbery directed by the mob. They believed him and agreed to follow his orders.
Blair gave them the satchel full of worthless bonds and then told them to drop him off at a restaurant. The two hoodlums took the worthless bonds to the mob to pay their debts. Somehow the two smart Basques were able to escape after the mob realized the bonds were worthless. Moe and Mitch ended up in Letongaloosa because Moe’s cousin Billy Adkins (nee Bidari Azarola) was a bank teller there.
So then the three of them cooked up a plot to rob the bank. They made their plans over the telephone speaking Basque, assuming no one could understand them. A Letongaloosa police detective got a court order to tap the hoodlums’ phone and asked Blair to translate the conversations for the authorities.
Blair was surprised and delighted when he heard Moe’s voice and realized that it was his old nemesis. The police were waiting for the three when they ran from the bank with a satchel full of money. The Basque hoodlums were sent to prison.
In the joint, Moe changed his life. He quit his bad habits, joined Alcoholics Anonymous and was released early. As part of his AA pledge Moe came to Letongaloosa and contacted Blair to apologize for his behavior.
Blair was walking downtown on a fine warm day when he saw Moe standing on the sidewalk. He spoke:
“Kaixo (hello) Blair,” said Moe
“Hori zu zara, (is that you) Moe?” asked Blair
“Yes sir. I’ve come to apologize for my behavior years ago.”
“Where have you been?” asked Blair
“I’ve been in prison. While I was there I changed my life. I joined AA. They let me out early.”
“Congratulations, Moe, That’s excellent.”
“So what are your plans?” asked Blair.
“I want to get a job but there’s not much work for someone with few skills and a prison record.”
“What kind of work are you looking for?”
“I’m pretty good at math.”
“I’d like to help.” Blair introduced Moe to Dean Ima Farseer, at Letongaloosa Community Junior College.
Moe worked hard and graduated with honors. Blair got him a job at a local bank where Blair had large checking and savings deposits.
So in an ironic twist, Moe ended up as a teller at the same bank he and Mitch and cousin Bidar Azarola had tried to rob years earlier.

 

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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 Waiting Room Magazine Association©

Longtime readers of this column will recognize the name Eloise Simplkins. Eloise was a domestic cleaning woman who realized that suburban housewives were uncomfortable having their regular cleaning ladies see their husbands’ messy bathrooms. Eloise realized that these women would pay pre-cleaning ladies to touch up their houses before the regular cleaning ladies arrived.
Eloise created a nationwide business that sent pre-cleaning ladies to prepare homes for the regularly scheduled cleaning ladies. She had scores of franchises.That idea made her wealthy.
Of the various things we have said about Eloise over the years, we have never said she had a sense of humor. But Eloise does have a sense of humor. She often uses it to make a point. For example, she created the National Waiting Room Magazine Association.
Like most of us, Eloise spends time in waiting rooms of practitioners like dentists, medical doctors, financial advisers and specialists who enhance one’s personal appearance. Eloise recently was kept waiting by such a practitioner. As she waited (and waited) Eloise riffled through the waiting room magazines. They were dog eared and months old. Her eyes wandered to the walls of the office where framed credentials touted the practitioner’s professional qualifications. There was even a framed ribbon that the practitioner received for winning his third-grade spelling bee.
Eloise decided it would be easy to convince these certificate-happy bozos that their waiting rooms should be certified and organized and incorporated the National Magazine Waiting Room Certification Association. She hired a PR agency to place favorable news stories about the association in all the mass and social media.
Meantime, Eloise developed a large quantity of waiting room certificates. The certificates covered a variety of professional practices and included fee structures that each practice could afford.
Eloise added an incentive. For an additional fee Eloise would deliver the certificate personally and evaluate the waiting room magazines. She created categories for the waiting room magazines—including oldest date, most-dog-eared-but still-readable, most unusual foreign language, most appropriate content (for the particular practice) magazine, least likely to be of interest to the clientele of that practice, most unreadable type face.
Finally Eloise said she would pose for photographs with the practitioners. After she said that, orders poured in, nearly all of them specifying that Eloise was to deliver the certificates.
These projects kept Eloise so busy that she hardly had time to gloat. This leading physician and that nationally noted orthodontist, the other highly regarded financial adviser all wanted a waiting room certificate and a photo taken with Eloise. She traveled across the country, visiting waiting rooms large and small. She took a couple of assistants with her and they did a systematic evaluation of the magazines and put them in the appropriate categories from Eloise’s list. By this
time the mass media were covering Eloise’s movements without prodding from PR firms. The New York Times did an interview; the Wall Street Journal sent reporters to dig into her past and The New Yorker did a humorous short piece about her past and found it to be exactly as originally reported. She appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, the Today show, Anderson Cooper 360 and network evening news.
Overseas practitioners revamped their waiting rooms. All that activity was good for the industry and good for the wide variety of clients being served in the waiting rooms.
The analysis of categories proved popular and was picked up by social media as well as the media of mass communication.
Following are the results:
• Oldest magazine found in a waiting room: 1917 copy of Field and Stream.
• Most dog-eared-but-still-readable magazine: an April, 1971 copy of Ladies Home Journal.
• Most unusual foreign language magazine: Kalakaumundi Magazine published in Malayalam .
• Most appropriate magazine content for a particular practice’s waiting room: The Bark found in Veterinarian’s waiting rooms.
• Magazine least likely to be of interest to that waiting room’s clientele: Today’s Senior Magazine, found in a pediatric physician’s waiting room.
• Magazine with the most unreadable typeface: Saturday’s Guru printed in Frutiger boldface type.
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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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Hadley and the Cell Phone Glare©

(a 2014 offering repeated)

Letongaloosa has a fine performing arts center. The center brings nationally and internationally known performers, musical groups and other topflight entertainers to town. Hadley Wilkins always buys season’s tickets to the center’s “It’s Broadway” series. His seat is in the middle of the first row of the lower balcony. That’s where the cell phone glare episode happened.
Hadley was at his seat early for the first performance of the season. Just before the house lights went down, a man in a dark suit made his way along the row and sat next to Hadley. Before the man’s pants touched the seat, he had a large-screen cell phone in hand and had begun thumbing through a series of messages. As the curtain rose, the man’s eyes remained on his cell phone screen. The glow of the cell phone was distracting, but Hadley waited a few moments before touching the man’s arm.
“They said to turn off and put away all cell phones,” he whispered.
The man didn’t look away from the screen.
“Don’t bother me,” he said, and kept on scrolling
Finally the man set the cell phone screen-up on the arm of the chair between him and Hadley. Moments later the phone emitted a “ping.” The man touched the screen, pressed a button, and began thumbing a text message. Hadley saw no allies seated around them, so he subsided in his seat and watched the show.
As the audience streamed out of the theater, Hadley looked for a staff member, but found none. The next morning Hadley drove to the center to talk to the manager. Hadley explained the encounter, and the manager expressed sympathy, and asked what seat the cell phone user had occupied.
“He was seated on my left,” said Hadley, and gave the seat number. The manager typed, and looked at the screen.
“Oh my,” he said.
“What’s the matter?”
“That seat belongs to Clemment Boxley. He’s a senior executive at Red Grove Industries. The company has just transferred him to Letongaloosa from New Jersey. Red Grove is one of our largest corporate sponsors.” He touched another key. “And Mr. Boxley is one of our “Starfire” level contributors. He contributed $5,000 to the center this year.”
“And that means?” asked Hadley.
“And that means,” said the center manager, “that we are going to find you a marvelous new seat. Do you want to stay in the balcony, or would you prefer the main level?”
“I prefer the seat I’ve occupied as a season ticket holder for the last 10 years,” said Hadley.
“You have that choice, of course,” said the manager.
“But you’re not going to do anything about that man and his cell phone,”
I apologize, but, no, I am not.”
“I see,” said Hadley, and he left.
Hadley Wilkins is an electronics wizard. He developed important parts of current cell phone technology. Hadley decided this was a job for Cyberman!
The next performance was sold out. The center spokesperson welcomed members of the audience, thanked the performers and sponsors, and made the ritual cell phone announcement. During that announcement, Clemment Boxley’s eyes were on his cell phone screen and his thumbs were on the keys. The face up screen glowed on the arm of his chair.
Then, just before intermission cell phone tones erupted all over the theater. Baffled audience members fumbled for their phones in their purses, pouches and pockets and pulled them out. Scores of cell phones glowed in the darkened auditorium. It looked surreal. On each cell phone screen, in Ariel Black type, was the same message: “Ain’t teknology wonnerful?”
The Associated Press ran a short piece about Letongaloosa’s “cyber glow phenomenon.” The story lasted one news cycle in the mass media.
A few days later the performance center manager came to see Hadley.
“Mr. Wilkens, the center wants to reward you for your years of loyalty as a season ticket holder. Here are six complimentary tickets to our upcoming ‘Pop Culture Parade’ show.” Then he said, “By the way, Mr. Boxley has been transferred back to New Jersey. Apparently the company didn’t think he was a good fit for the Redgrove plant here.” -30-

-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Parking Sticker Blues©

In most confrontations, The Powers that Be win and the Little Guys lose. In this story, the Little Guy won, and the Powers that Be had to do re-write the rules.
Some background is essential for readers to understand this story. Decades ago when I came to teach at Letongaloosa Community Junior College, Emmaline and I moved next door to a retired military officer. His last assignment was in a country where cars drove on the right side of the road. The colonel bought a four-door Hillman Minx, and shipped it to the U.S. The car’s steering wheel was on the right hand side. When he moved a couple of years later, I bought the car. I loved driving that car. The gearshift was on the left side of the steering column.
At the beginning of fall semester the university administration gave faculty members and students a pamphlet that outlined driving and parking instructions. Everyone on campus had to buy a parking sticker and display it on the rear window of their car. The instructions were explicit. The parking sticker was to be displayed in the lower corner of the rear window on the driver’s side.
I affixed my parking sticker in the lower corner of the rear window on the right side of my right-hand-drive car. That model Hillman Minx had a curved rear window—so the parking sticker was less visible than on domestic cars.
A couple of days after school started I received a parking citation for not displaying the parking sticker correctly. I called the Parking Department and told
them that my parking sticker was displayed according to regulations and asked them to invalidate the parking citation. For the next several days, I found parking citations under my windshield. I put the citations in the glove box, assuming that the Parking Department would inform the people who issued the tickets that my sticker was properly displayed and would void the citations.
A week or so later the dean called me to his office The Parking Department had accused me of being an egregious parking offender. They asked the dean to make me pay the fines for all the parking tickets that the department had issued..
I told the dean that my parking sticker was displayed strictly according to the regulations, but that I would get the problem straightened out.
The university police handled parking on campus so I called the department and told the dispatcher that despite the fact that my parking sticker was affixed strictly according to regulations I had received numerous parking citations and that the department had contacted my dean.
The dispatcher said that the people who issue parking citations didn’t make mistakes and that my sticker was obviously misplaced. I demurred, he insisted. I demurred. Finally he told me to bring the car to the parking lot behind the Police Department so he could see for himself.
I drove to the Police Department parking lot and parked near the office with my car facing away from the building so that the dispatcher could see my rear window. The dispatcher took one look at my car and said:
“That sticker is on the wrong side.”
I said, “Sir, do I have the option of changing the way I follow this pamphlet? I handed him the parking regulation pamphlet.
“No you DON”T.” he said emphatically.
I said, “the regulation says that my sticker is to be displayed on the back window on the driver’s side. That’s where the sticker is.”
“No, it’s on the left side, That’s wrong.”
“Sir,” I said. “Please Look! The steering wheel is on the right side. I am displaying the parking sticker on the driver’s side just as the regulation requires.
The officer looked, sputtered for a few seconds, and then said, “WELL, That’s not what we meant!”
The Parking Department voided all my citations and I reported to the dean that the problem had been solved.
The next year the parking regulation said that parking stickers were to be displayed in the lower corner of the  LEFT side of the rear window. I 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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