Tag Archives: humor columnist

Code Blur

 

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

As a freshman in college, Dodd worked as a waiter at a pizza parlor in town. He was prompt and friendly, and people were liberal with their tips.  Dodd saved his tips in a glass jar and opened a savings account at a local bank.  When the tip bottle was full, Dodd took it to the bank to make a deposit.  He asked the teller to use the  bank’s money counting machine to count the coins.

The teller said, “Count them yourself.”

The Outcome: Dodd  immediately closed his savings account and opened one at another local bank. The new bank’s teller cheerfully used the bank’s machine to count Dodd’s loose change.  After Dodd graduated, he got a good job and continued banking with the folks that had counted his coins.  In the following decades Dodd took out half a dozen loans and two mortgages at that bank.

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Hunting For St. Joseph ©

My wife Emmaline is one no nonsense, “just give me the facts,
please,” kind of woman. You won’t find Emmaline running on the
gerbil wheel of fad or fashion, much less giving heed to folklore
traditions. So it was with some consternation that I found myself in the
car (with Emmaline at the wheel as usual) driving to the city to buy a
statue of St. Joseph
We had decided to put our house on the market with an eye to
moving to something smaller, with fewer stairs. Before we signed a
sales contract and way before the for sale signs went up, Emmaline
got word from her good friend Rosalie that if we were serious about
selling our house we had better seek the divine assistance of St.
Joseph.
“You have to bury a small statue of St. Joseph upside down in the
front yard,” said Rosalie. “If you do that, your house will sell fast.”
Rosalie had told Emmaline to try We Believe Books, a Christian
store on the outskirts of the city. We drove around awhile and then
spotted “We Believe,” in a strip mall.
“Hi folks,” said the man behind the counter. “It’s a blessed
day.”
“Indeed it is,” said Emmaline. “Especially if you have a statue of
St. Joseph.”
“A statue?” the man asked.
“Well, actually small figurine of St. Joseph.”
“We don’t carry figurines,” he said.” Would a book mark do?”
We have some nice St. Joseph bookmarks.”
“No. It has to be a figurine.”
“Then I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
“Is there another religious store close by?”
“You could try Light and Knowledge over on Linden Tree Road.”
Emmaline asked how to get there and the man gave her detailed
directions. After driving around for half an hour we found ourselves in
a in a rough neighborhood. Emmaline pulled up to a rundown
convenience store.
“See if the clerk knows where to find Light and Knowledge,” she
said.
The clerk was in his early twenties. He had a silver nose ring and
a nickel-sized ivory plug in each ear lobe.
“I’m looking for Light and Knowledge,” I said.
The clerk straightened up. His right hand moved slowly out of
sight under the counter.
“I’m all out,” he said.
“What?”
“I’m all out, man. Come back later.”
My confusion turned to insight. I felt a chill.
“Oh yeah, right. Okay, man,” I said. I backed toward the door.
“Did the clerk know anything?” asked Emmaline.
“No,” I said
Twenty minutes later we were in a less stressed part of town. We
passed a church. Six or seven women and a pastor were chatting on
the front steps. Emmaline pulled to the curb.
“Ask if they know where it is,” she said. “Hi, folks,” I said. “We’re
looking for the Light and Knowledge bookstore on Linden Tree
Road.” The pastor came to the car.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have no idea. But Salvation Now
Bookshop is up the street three blocks.
The woman behind the counter at Salvation Now was tall and
angular.
“We’d like to buy a small figurine of St. Joseph, “said Emmaline.
“You don’t want Salvation Now, you want Light and
Knowledge,” said the woman.
“Right,” I said, “on Linden Tree Road.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Is it far?”
“About twenty blocks. My sister Ginger owns it. My name is
Sheila.” Sheila handed me a sheet of paper with a map showing
how to get from Salvation Now to Light and Knowledge.
“You must have lots of requests for St. Joseph figurines, why
don’t you stock them?” I asked.
“Ginger and I both wanted to stock St. Joseph figurines, but we
decided to do “rocks, scissors, papers” and let the winner have an
exclusive on them,” she said. “Ginger won. I got exclusive rights to St.
Redondo figurines.”
“What does St. Redondo do for people?” I asked.
“He brings customers to yard and garage sales,” she said. “You
hide him carefully in the worst, most useless, item you have. I’ve
heard of St. Redondo yard and garage sales that have nothing left
less than half an hour after they began.”
We thanked Sheila, and followed her map to the Light and
Knowledge Book Store. The St. Joseph figurine came in a little box
that had instructions on how and where to bury him to insure a quick
sale.
We haven’t sold our house yet, but Emmaline says St. Joseph is
working on it every day. Meantime she’s planning another trip to the
city. Emmaline wants to buy a St. Redondo figurine to use in the
garage sale we’re going to have before we move.

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

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No Joke

As a teenager I worked on a farm one summer.    I used to talk to an old guy after work.  He was hard of hearing.    When the old guy didn’t hear  me , but didn’t want to acknowledge the fact, he would say,  “That’s no joke,”  after my remark.

But some of the time I WAS telling a joke.
Dr. Larry Day is a retired journalist turned humor columnist. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia is available at Amazon.com

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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.

 

-30-

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The Bleep Awards

 

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

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

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

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

Here are this year’s Bleep Award categories:

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

The nominees are:

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

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

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

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

The nominees are:

* “Sent from my Green Lantern Decoder Ring”

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

* “Sent from a filling in my third molar”

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

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

The nominees are:

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

* “My parole officer wants to meet you.”

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

* “I have joined the French Foreign Legion.”

Best Gross Sounding Ringtones

The nominees are:

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

* The magnified buzz of an angry mosquito.

* A belching hippopotamus

* Lindsay Lohan sitting on a whoopee cushion.

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

The nominees are:

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

* Hold your phone over a toilet bowl and flush.

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

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

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

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

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Heart To Heart

 

No one has ever mistaken Nelly Potsdam-Clark for a beauty pageant contestant. In point of fact she looks like a fire plug. And when provoked she can be pushy, grabby and coarse.

Verita, Nelly’s 17-year-old daughter, inherited her father Sidney’s genes. The Clarks are as tall and willowy as the Potsdams are squat and thick, and folks use such words as refined, gracious and polished when speaking about Sid and Verita.

The couple’s marriage has lasted because over the years pushy trumped refined, grabby trumped gracious, and coarse trumped polished whenever things got tense in the Potsdam-Clark household. People call Nelly’s husband “Silent Sid.” Verita had Sid’s quiescent personality, but she had looks that beat all.

When Verita was born, Nelly saw her chance to seize the personal recognition that nature had denied her. Verita was only three months old when Nelly entered her in her first beauty contest–a “pretty baby” competition at the local mall. Verita finished ninth. Verita was sixth in the “Tiny Toddler,” pageant, and won fourth place in a contest to choose the most photogenic three-year-old. For the next four years Verita was either sick or recuperating from a series of childhood maladies, so she wasn’t able to compete. But that time wasn’t wasted. Nelly hired coaches to come to their home and teach elocution, diction, posture, social skills, and body language.

When Verita turned seven Nelly sent her back on the child beauty circuit and she won first in the The Bill Magoony Used Car Good Girl Gala. Nelly reveled in all the attention. Verita barely tolerated it, and Sid shrank from it.

A decade passed with Verita winning or placing high in competition after competition. Verita continued to prep and compete effectively, though reluctantly, in contest after contest. Long before Veritas’s 17th birthday Nelly began planning for the regional round of the Miss Teen Nation competition.

After supper one night Sid and Verita were sitting on the front porch.

“Dad, I don’t want to compete anymore.”

“You’ve been competing all your life. What’s changed?”

“I did it for Mom. I love her, but now I want to quit and get on with my life.”

“I’ll do the Miss Teen Nation, but then I’m through. I won’t compete again.”

“How will you tell Mom?

“I’ll figure it out.”

“I hope you do, dear,” said Sid, quietly.

Verita found a way out when she read the rules of the Miss Teen Nation competition.

*************************************************

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the master of ceremonies, “our judges have given me their scores for the five finalists in the evening gown competition. First place goes to Miss Letongaloosa, Verita Clark!” The applause died down.

“Now stand by for our final event, the swim suit competition.”

Back in the dressing room Verita shed her winning gown it was floor length with an embroidered top that covered her shoulders. The gown had scored points with the judges for elegance and modesty. Verita put on her swimsuit.

Standing off-stage with the other four contestants Verita waited calmly for what she knew was coming. Miss Dilltonville spotted it first.

“She has a tattoo! That’s against the rules.”

There was a pause in the proceedings while the officials consulted. Then the master of ceremonies came to the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my unhappy duty to announce that Miss Letongaloosa has withdrawn from competition.”

Nelly rushed back stage.

“What have you done?!”

“I broke the rules, Mom,” said Verita and turned round.

On her back, between her beautiful white shoulders, was a big red heart. Block letters inside the heart read: “I LUV U MOM.”

“Do you truly?” cried Nelly.

“Yes. Truly. But Mom, I don’t want to go to fashion school. I want to go to college and become a social worker. I want to help needy children.”

“And so you shall, my dear,” said Nelly.

Sid made it back stage just in time to join his wife and daughter in a long, heartfelt embrace

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