Tag Archives: media

Do You Do the Jumble?©

 

 

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

Welcome to déjà vu all over again

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

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

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

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

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

“Federal agents.  Open the door.”

I opened the door and they poured in.

“What’s this about?”

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

“Show me some identification first.” I said.

Agent Horned Rimmed flashed an ID.

“Who are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s a humor book, Deke,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then they jumped into their SUVs  and sped away.

“Who were those unmasked men?” asked Emmaline.

-30-

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book,  Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.

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Dancin’ In High Gear

Looking down on the track of the Letongaloosa International Raceway, Jeremiah “Junebug” Jenkins knew today was going to be a horn tootin’ sort of day. It was a day that had been 35 years in the making and Jeremiah was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. To be honest, the possibility of this day wouldn’t even be on his radar if he hadn’t listened to that darn message his grandson, Garrison, had left on his voicemail last Sunday. But here he stood waiting for the next chapter of his life to kick into high gear.
Jeremiah closed eyes, took a deep breath and continued gazing over the raceway. This is where his career began. This is also the track where he ran his last lap and won his final race just one month ago.   The feelings of excitement from that race, and all the races he had won throughout his career came rushing back. Memories of the interview from his last Winner’s Circle played in his head…
“Jeremiah, so many drivers have tried to win the Letongaloosa 600. You’ve won twice. How are you feeling?”
“I’m so excited.. I had heard this was the first time officials had shortened the race because of rain since 1966. I’m glad the officials decided to do it again. I want to thank my sponsors, Hank’s Hardware, Alvin’s Auto Body. They were instrumental in helping us get our car on the track.”
He remembered telling the reporter that he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have won. He thanked his fellow competitors and all of the drivers who had come before him who had inspired him to start driving in the first place. It had been quite a day.
When Jeremiah was a boy, his Grandpa Sam had brought him to the Letongaloosa International Raceway to see his first race. The roaring of the engines, the speed of the pit crew and the rush of adrenaline he felt from watching the drivers run laps around the track made him dance with excitement. It was at that point, he knew he wanted to be a racecar driver when he grew up. That was also the day his grandfather gave him the name, “Junebug” because he was so excited by everything just couldn’t stop jumping around.
Jeremiah has now been a part of racing for decades and he has competed on all stages of competition ranging from some of the biggest races in the country to the smallest. Since early in his driving career, he has loved to go fishing.  Dropping a line in the water excited him almost as much as getting behind the wheel of his racecar. Fishing is how he always celebrates his wins and cheers up after his losses.
Once Jeremiah “Junebug” Jenkins made his final lap in his last month’s Letongaloosa 600, he decided to retire. He wanted to celebrate his retirement by fishing and that’s what he was doing on the Sunday he got the message from his grandson, Garrison.
Garrison is the lead meteorologist at MEGA-TV in Letongaloosa. He and Jeremiah are as close as a grandson and grandfather can be. Like Grandpa Sam, Jeremiah took Garrison to see his first race. Garrison was excited about the race. The roaring of the engines, the speed of the pit crew and watching the drivers run laps around the track didn’t faze him. He was more interested in the rain storm that stopped the race. Since then, Jeremiah has relied on his grandson to give him the weather report before every race.
Retired for a month now, he knew the message Garrison had nothing to do with weather conditions. However, it did have everything to do with racing, but Jeremiah wouldn’t be racing around a track, but he would be back in the winner’s circle. MEGA-TV would be launching a network that had everything to do with racecars, pit crews and roaring engines. Jeremiah would be the lead reporter.
A week later, Jeremiah was back at the Letongaloosa International Raceway. As he walked toward the Winner’s Circle, he was so excited. He felt his feet dancing. He felt like a kid again.

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Fortune Cookie Sayings From A Loopy Ol’ Geezer

We ate Chinese take-out the other night.  The fortune cookie said: “The path is getting easier from here on out.”

Well, thank heaven that the path is getting easier.   I was so relieved and  encouraged when I read that.

Then I imagined some individual in New Jersey, or Arkansas or Las Vegas or some place.  He or she, I thought, was sitting at a rickety wooden writing table making up Chinese fortune cookie sayings. The person gets paid 20 cents a dozen for them.

So here are some Chinese fortune cookie sayings from a loopy geezer who lives in the Upper Midwest of the United States of America (a place where a century or so ago experts told people they should  inhabit).

+  If  you’re watching the 10 O’clock news on a Kansas City TV station and in the middle of the show, the weatherman looks at radar screen and says,  “Well folks, my shift just ended. Good Night,” and the screen goes blank…

You should probably take cover.

+ If, here in the Upper Midwest, there’s a cobalt blue sky and not a cloud anywhere, it’s probably safe to drive to the grocery store (within half a mile of your place) and buy bread without taking your umbrella and rubber boots.  You’ve  probably got at least 15 minutes.

+ If the big brown UPS truck drives by your house, you’ve got a least a half hour before any unannounced tornado hits. The UPS drivers are in touch with their dispatcher by radio.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor columnist. Download his book of goofy short stories, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia from Amazon.com.

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If You’re Watching…

If  you’re watching the 10 O’clock news on a Kansas City TV station and in the middle of the show, the weatherman looks at radar screen and says,  “Well folks, my shift just ended. Good Night,” and the screen goes blank…

You should probably take cover.

Larry Day is a retired J-School professor turned humor columnist and author. His book of humor columns,  Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.

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Make It Quick

.In Argentina people call each other at midnight on Christmas and New Year’s eves.  They chat very briefly and then call someone else.  Back in the day when there were no cell phones the telephone exchanges sometimes became overloaded.

Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.

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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.

-30

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Cheap Dirt

Maggworth’s Flea Market–excuse me, Maggsworth’s Antique Mall—is named for a guerrilla leader who raided our town and killed a lot of people during the Civil War. Colonel Moriarty Maggsworth was his name, and kill and pillage was his game. He and some of his cohort were later hanged.

Its name is the only thing exciting about the “mall.” The place itself is pretty drab—there’s a bunch of stalls set up in an old warehouse near downtown.

There are jewelry booths, pre-owned clothing stalls, furniture booths, sports card booths, and a both where they sell toilet paper holders made out of armadillo shells. The mall is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. You don’t quit your day job when you open a stall at Maggworth’s Antique Mall. But owning a booth at the mall, or shopping there every weekend does give the townspeople something to look forward to. Other wise they’d be sticking their tongues into electric lamp sockets to break the monotony.

One Saturday morning a stranger came to the mall and asked to rent a booth. There were four or five stalls unoccupied at the time so Ana Maria Symphonia Schultz, president of the mall cooperative association, signed him up, collected a month’s rent and showed him to a stall.

“You’re not going to sell dirty magazines are you?” asked Ana Maria Symphonia.

“No,” said the stranger.

“Good,” she said and went back to the booth where she and her partner Greta Soulsworthy sold exotically contorted ceramic vegetables.

The stranger dusted off the shelves and stacked them with cheap white Styrofoam cups—the kind you buy when it’s your turn to furnish hot cocoa for 150 people at a church bazaar. Then he nailed a board across the front of the booth for a counter and hung up a sign. It was hand lettered and it read: “DiRT fOR SaLE.”

With his merchandise in place the stranger sat down on a folding chair and began reading a magazine.

“Whatcha sellin’?”

“Dirt.”

“What?”

“Dirt.”

“Ya mean DIRT?”

“Yes.”

“Lemme see.”

The stranger handed the man one of the Styrofoam cups.

“It’s fulla dirt.”

“Yes.”

“Hey, Maggie, git over here. This guy’s sellin’ dirt.”

Maggie didn’t respond. She was gazing into a glass case containing several sets of authentic kidney stone earrings. Others, not so deeply absorbed, sauntered over to the stranger’s booth.

“This guy’s sellin’ dirt,” Gertrude’s husband said as a small crowd gathered.

“How much?” asked a pragmatic 13-year-old who had pushed his way to the front.

“The large containers are 75 cents, the middle-sized ones are 50 cents, and the small ones are a quarter, tax included,” said the stranger.

“Where’d the dirt come from,” asked somebody.

“From my back yard,” said the stranger.

“You just dig up dirt in your back yard and bring it in here to sell?”

“Yes.”

“What does it do?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re selling dirt that don’t do nothin’?”

“Yes.”

“Hot dog,” said the man. “I’ll take three big ones and a middle-sized one.” The stranger had sold all his dirt in an hour. He never returned.

-30-

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