Tag Archives: Language

Antofagasta©

One doesn’t come across the name Antofagasta—a Chilean city 678 miles north of Santiago—in ordinary conversation and one assumes that the words Atacama Desert come up even less frequently. Probably even fewer readers of this column have stopped off at either place. The region produces much of the world’s supply of copper.
I certainly didn’t intend to land in Antofagasta when my flight left Bogota, Colombia.  My destination was Santiago itself. I’d made many trips to Latin America and the Caribbean over the years on assignments for the United States Information Agency (USIA) to train journalists and seek their support for friend of the press.
The first indication that passengers had that we were going to land before we got to Santiago was when the pilot’s voice came over the intercom. Pilots often talk to passengers from the cockpit, pointing out places of interest.
“This is the pilot speaking. We have just been informed that the Santiago airport is fog-covered. We can’t land there yet. We’ve been instructed to land at Antofagasta, which is nearly 700 miles north of Santiago. Please fasten your seatbelts and put your tray tables in the upright and locked position in preparation for landing. Thank you.”    The plane banked and we began a steep descent.  After an uneventful landing the plane taxied to a very small terminal building that was apparently closed.

We learned later that the air terminal only opened when flights were scheduled. Fortunately, the landside of the terminal was open 24 hours a day to accommodate traveler and commercial vehicle traffic.  Food and beverages and travel items were available at various counters.
The passengers disembarked and headed for the counters and restrooms. They were immediately surrounded by people wanting to purchase U.S. dollars. Passengers were offered a variety of exchange prices depending on how vulnerable they looked.  The gullible-looking passengers were offered 7.50 pesos for a dollar. The official exchange rate was 750.00 pesos per dollar.
One could tell the seasoned travelers by how few people surrounded them.  One could detect the passengers who hadn’t understood decimals in school by the fact that they got taken by buyers who moved the decimal point one or two places and cheated them ruthlessly.
Shysters moved through the crowd s trying to bully passengers into yielding their dollars. Others gazed into passenger’s faces and with mock sincerity and sought dollars by pleading poverty and hunger.
To their credit a number of honest citizens berated their crooked country men. The most effective do-gooders were those who spoke English. But they were berated by the shysters also. A few fights broke out.
At this point the aircraft’s captain grabbed a bullhorn, climbed on top of a wooden box and began shouting. The captain was a veteran of this airline route. He spoke Spanish fluently.
He shouted: “This is the captain speaking! Everyone take a step back and be quiet.”
Then he spoke in English.  “Passengers, move return to the airplane and take your seats. The fog has lifted and that the airfield in Santiago is ready to receive our flight. And in the meantime, courteously decline currency transactions of any kind.”

Despite the pilot’s orders there was a flurry of currency exchanges as the the passengers moved across the tarmac and climbed the stairs to the airplane.
As the plane taxied and lifted off, a few passengers complained about the delay. Most were glad for the diversion and for a chance to see a place they had never heard of and to which they would never have thought of booking a flight.
The plane reached cruising altitude and passengers were told they could move around the cabin.
A passenger shouted, “I forgot. How much is this money worth?
Another shouted, “Who cares? I’m saving mine to give to my grandkids. I’ll give you $30 for all your Chilean pesos.

 
“Pesos?” shouted another passenger. “Pesos?” Shoot! Some shyster sold me a hand full of Brazilian paper money I thought I was getting a real good deal.”
“I’ll give you a buck for all your Brazilian money,” said the grandma.”
“Coffee, tea or milk?” asked a flight attendant.

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

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Kaybe and 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.

“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 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 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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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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Emmaline Speaks Up ©

Hello & Happy New Year, Everyone!!

Here is my first column of 2017. It gives a nod to my significant other and her love of college sports. She gets rather excitable to it politely and  it is that energy that makes me love her so…enjoy!!

My wife Emmaline loves watching sports on television. People who watch sports
with us call Emmaline an “energetic” fan. She involves herself in all aspects of the
games. She expresses her opinion forcefully about the fans, the players, the coaches,
and especially about the referees.
Emmaline was never a typical “sports widow.” On the contrary, I have always
watched TV sports so I could be with her.
When she was a girl living in a small town in Utah, all of Emmaline’s friends were
New York Yankee fans. Emmaline always supported the Brooklyn Dodgers. Emmaline
and her friends used to listen to the World Series every year on the radio—often skipping
school to do so.
As they listened, Emmaline’s friends ridiculed the “Bums” from Brooklyn and tried
hard to get Emmaline to forsake them. But even during the years in which the Yankees
built its World Series dynasty, Emmaline remained loyal to the Dodgers.
Her loyalty was rewarded in 1955 when the Brooklyn Dodgers were matched
against the Yankees in the World Series. The Dodgers won that epic Series in the
seventh game. The win gave Brooklyn its first and only championship in the franchise’s
history. After the 1957 season the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
Emmaline continues to be vocal sports fan. Every time the Letongaloosa
Community Junior College team plays Emmaline can be found in front of the television
set watching the game. She cheers enthusiastically for the players. She bemoans their
errors. But more than anything else, Emmaline vehemently denounces bad calls made
by the striped-shirted referees.
The phrases Emmaline uses to denounce the refs are the kind of made-up phrases
spoken by 1950s cartoon characters like Pogo Possum. She yells things like “Blagstag the
blag-stagging blaag staggers.” Emmaline avoids the kind of expletives and curses that
one often hears at a bar when a game is showing on TV. Emmaline is often vehement,
but she is never calumnious.
She is also a full service television sports fan. She gets physically as well as vocally,
into the competition. When games are close and badly officiated, our dog abandons
her place on the couch between us and lies down on the carpet across the room. I
remain on the couch, beside Emmaline, but I often place a thick winter cap on my
thigh.
One day recently, when a game was in the early minutes of the first quarter, the
doorbell rang. Our new pastor had come to call. He was making a “meet and greet”
visit. I answered the door, and Pastor Mark, who is a large, ebullient individual, grabbed
my hand, strode through the door and was in the living room before I could get the
words, “Perhaps another time, Pastor,” out of my mouth.
Emmaline’s jaw dropped, but she was true to her mother’s teachings about
hospitality.
“Please sit down, Pastor Mark,” she said. “Would you like some warm apple
cider?”
“Don’t trouble yourself on my account.”
“It’s no trouble at all.”
Emmaline had neglected to turn off the television, and by the time she got back
with the hot cider, Pastor Mark was sitting in our overstuffed chair gazing fixedly at the
game.
“This is wonderful, Sister. Thank you,” he said. Then, “I love basketball. I played
college ball myself before I went to the Seminary. Wow, what a game!” Then he took
off his coat and leaned back, his eyes fastened on the TV screen.
It was a very close game, and for the next hour and a half Emmaline raised her
voice only slightly, saying things like “Go team.” and “Oh, no, don’t do that!” Pastor
Mark used the same tone and the same phrases.
Then in the last seconds of the game, with LCJC ahead by two points, the other
team shot and missed a three-pointer. A ref called a foul on one of our players.
“Dammit! That wasn’t a foul, you blooming idiot,” yelled Emmaline.
Horrified, we both looked at Pastor Mark.
` “Thank you, Sister Emmaline,” he said. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”
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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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A Queen of the Night

In Honduras some years ago I was boarding at the home of an elderly woman during  a n extended journalistic assignment.  She grew flowers in her front yard and on her porch.  One night my landlady knocked on my door after midnight.

“I want to show you something,”  she said through the door.

I dressed and went out to the front porch where my landlady was standing.  She pointed to a large plant .    It had a flower that was opening literally as we watched.  My landlady told me that the plant was a “Reina de la noche” (a “Queen of the Night.” )  The plant only flowered once a year.

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 Swear??

As far as I was concerned “yuck” was not a swear word, and I didn’t think that
tearing the label off an empty tin can created indecent exposure, but that was before
my alien friend KB-11.2, filled me in on the finer points of galactic decency.
Kaybe and I were having a soft drink together at The Enchantment, a dingy
roadhouse north of Letongaloosa. The Enchantment is the kind of joint that college towns
like Letongaloosa must have to qualify for academic accreditation.
My alien friend Kaybe isn’t one of those scary bug-eyed, green-skinned beings
that you see in sci-fi movies.. Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set® arms
sprout from the curved sides of his body, and three spindly metal legs drop from the flat
underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet. Three sensoreyes
wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top of his lid.
No one at The Enchantment even raises an eyebrow when Kaybe rolls in and
joins me at one of the back booths. Customers are used to seeing unusual folks around
the place.
One night Kaybe and I were chatting in our favorite booth when Recycle Rick
came in carrying a big black garbage bag.. Rick picks up cans and bottles along the
highway. He starts in town and when he gets to the Enchantment he stops in to sort
everything. Then he mooches a ride back to town.
Rick is meticulous. He takes the items out of the big bag one by one, tidies them
up, and sorts them. Then he puts them into smaller plastic bags. He knows all the recycle
rules and regulations.
On the night in question, Recycle Rick came in and set up shop right across from
Kaybe and me. The first item he pulled from the bag was covered with mud. “Yuck,”
said Rick, and wiped away the mud .
“He shouldn’t swear like that,” said Kaybe.
“Yuck,” isn’t a swear word,” I said.
“It certainly is,” said Kaybe. “The Commission on Foul Communication has
banned that word throughout the galaxy. All it would take is a complaint from an alert
cosmic citizen and that guy’s communication license would be jerked, and he’d face a
seventy thousand mazimba fine.”
“Recycle Rick doesn’t have a communication license,” I said.
“Of course he has a communication license,” said Kaybe. “Everyone in the
galaxy has a communication license. Every word you say goes far beyond these walls.
Your words go out into space. Children on other planets could be listening.”
“So, if I say, @#$%^ and someone turns me in, I can be censured by the Galactic
Commission of Foul Communication?”
“No,” said Kaybe.
“Why not?”
“Because ‘@#$%^’ isn’t a swear word.”
“But ‘yuck’ is?”
“Yes, of course, everyone knows that.”
“I didn’t know that, and Recycle Rick certainly doesn’t. Mild mannered Rick
would never swear.”
Just then Rick pulled out an empty tomato juice can from his bag and began
ripping the label off.
Kaybe rotated away and lowered his antennae with their three sensor-eyes to
the table in a gesture of acute embarrassment.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“You saw that,” said Kaybe. “He stripped that tin can bare. It’s indecent. I can’t
look.”
“You can look now,” I said, “he put it in a sack. You’re weird.”
Kaybe raised his antennae from the table and winked at me with one of his three
sensor-eyes.”
“You’re jerking me around,” I said.
“Guilty as charged,” said Kaybe.
“So ‘yuck’ is not a swear word?”
“Not in this galaxy.”
“And there’s no Galactic Commission on Foul Communication?”
“Oh there is, but it doesn’t concern itself with words like ‘yuck.’ The Galactic
Commission on Foul Communication deals with such reprehensible terms as ‘federal
regulator,’ ‘plausible deniability,’ ‘social justice,’ ‘politically expedient solutions,’
‘federally mandated diversity,’ ‘combatant rendition,’ ‘enhanced interrogation
techniques,’ and the like.”
“People on Earth use those terms all the time and the Galactic Commission on
Foul Language has never done anything about it,” I said.
“You live on a third-world world,” said Kaybe. “The commission doesn’t waste its
efforts on backward planets like Earth.”
“Lucky for us,” I said.
“If you say so,” said Kaybe.”

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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