Tag Archives: media

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-

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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“Jump Shot Jim” Says Goodbye

Jim Higgins reminisces as he looks down from the press box high above the court.  He is preparing to broadcast the last play-by-play of his long career as the voice of the Letongaloosa Community Junior College basketball team.  Fittingly, the Leopards are playing the La Mancha Mongrels.
In a game decades ago against the Mongrels, Jim earned the title “Jump Shot Jim.”  In that contest, Jim had launched a desperation shot from midcourt just as the buzzer sounded. The ball swished into the net, breaking a 41-41 tie and giving the Letongaloosa Leopards the game and the conference title.
Higgins has been known as “Jump Shot Jim,” ever since.  His transition from player to broadcaster was seamless.  He received a degree in Duplicative Communicology from LCJC, and landed a job at radio station LCNU- FM.  One night the station manager said:
“Zip down to the gym.  You’re going to do the play-by-play of the Leopard’s game.  Richard Handley’s voice cracked as he was doing the pregame show.  He sounds like Donald Duck.”
Jim zipped down to the gym, clattered up to the press box, and slid behind the microphone just as the announcer began introducing the players.  Jim scanned the names of the players on the other team.  The broadcast went well and Jim became the new voice of the Leopards.
Jim did play-by-play as the team competed for conference titles and in postseason championship games.
One of Jim’s favorite trips was to the Florida Keys. He did play-by-play as the Leopards competed in the Banyan Basketball Invitational.  He loved southern Florida. Now, standing in the Leopards’ press box preparing to broadcast his final game, Jim watches the team warm up and studies the Mongrel’s roster.
It turned out to be a great game.  The lead went back and forth and was tied at the end of regulation play.  In overtime the Leopards came out looking tired and the Mongrels dumped in six unanswered points.  The Leopard’s coach called time out.
As the game resumed disaster struck the Leopards.  Finney Fraser, the high scoring point guard, got hurt driving for a loose ball and had to come out.  Two Leopard players had fouled out. The young sub who came on the floor was playing in his first post-conference game.  Jim ran his finger down the Leopards’ roster looking for the sub’s name, and found it:  Kurt Curtis, walk-on from Letongaloosa High School.
After the huddle and before the referees called the teams back onto the court, young Curt looked up at the press box.  Jim couldn’t figure out why, but he waved and gave the boy a big thumbs up.
As the overtime minutes drained away the Leopards fell behind by four points. They picked up three on a jumper from the right side, and another on a free throw. The game was tied with seconds remaining. The coaches called time out.
The Leopard’s coach told his team to run down the clock and then feed the ball to their high scoring forward who would drive in for a buzzer-beating a lay-up.  The play went perfectly until a high jumping Mongrel defender batted the ball away.  The ball flew to mid court and landed in the hands of the Leopard’s substitute Kurt Curtis.   Jim described the scene to the radio audience as Kurt let fly a jumper  from mid court.
It was a swisher.  All net.  The Leopards won by three at the buzzer.
Jim lingered after everyone had left the triumphant Leopards  arena. As he emerged from the door of the gym, young  Kurt Curtis jumped down from the team bus and ran toward him.
“Sir, I’m  Kurt Curtis.  I’m a Duplicative Communicology major.   When I was a kid my grandpa told me about your shot from mid-court that won the conference title.  I want to be a play-by-play broadcaster.”
“You’ll be great one,” said Jim.  “Everyone is already calling you “Key Shot Kurt.”
-30-
This particular column is near and dear to this ol’ humor writer’s heart. The Kansas House declared April 28th, “Bob Davis Day” in honor of KU’s beloved broadcaster’s , Bob Davis’ recent retirement. Rock Chalk!!

 

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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Man vs. Computer

Ruhl Agbah loved words, and he wanted people to use words correctly in speaking and writing.  He was reasonably adept with social media.  He tweeted a bit, but he assiduously avoided the limelight.

That’s what makes this story so ironic. Ruhl ended up smack dab in the middle of a publicity hater’s nightmare.

Ruhl got into a knock down drag out Internet fight with a computer. The Internet incident made national news.

Ruhl  inadvertently caused his own 15 minutes of fame. A TV talk show host used a plural pronoun with a singular noun on national television.  The host said: “I’ll give each panelist their own chance to speak on this issue.”

That gaff made Ruhl shiver.  Using a plural pronoun with a singular noun on national television was, he felt, like blowing one’s nose into the palm of one’s hand in public.

Ruhl got online and Googled the network’s website. He phoned the number listed there.  A recorded message told him to push a series of  numbers on his keypad to reach the right department. It was frustrating. Rather than waste more time, Ruhl hung up and sent a scorching e-mail to the network’s “contact us” Internet address.

Within minutes Ruhl received an e-mail reply from the network.   This was the computer-generated message: “Thank you for your comment. We take all comments and suggestions seriously…”  Another sentence said, “This website is not monitored. Please do not reply to this message.”

With quivering fingers Ruhl clicked “reply” then typed: “Go straight to !@#$%^, you jerks.”    Within minutes another identical message came from the network: “Thank you for your comment. We take all comments and suggestions seriously…”   And, “This website is not monitored. Please do not reply to this message.”

Ruhl smiled.  “Ohhhhh   Kayyyyy,” he said, and clicked “reply” and typed, “Thank you for nothing.  This e-mail address is not monitored.  Please do not reply to this message.” He pressed “send.”  Within minutes the identical reply came from the network.  Ruhl copied and pasted his message into the “reply” space  and pressed “send” again.

An hour later Ruhl’s inbox was full of identical computer-generated network messages and his repeated replies.  He opened each message to see if it had been written by a human being.  No such luck. All the messages were identical and all had been computer-generated.

By that time Ruhl had calmed down. He felt better.  He had taken a stand in favor of correct grammar, even if it turned out to be a back and forth argument with the television network’s computer.

An hour later the phone rang.

“Hello.”

“May I speak to Mr. Agbah?”

“Speaking.”

“Sir, this is Barbara Brandistone. I’m a reporter with the Associated Press.”

“Oh?”

“Someone here came across a lengthy Internet exchange between you and a national television network.  Would you please tell me about that?”

“It wasn’t an EXCHANGE,” Ruhl said, raising his voice. “I stormed their electronic barricades trying to make human contact, but I failed.”

Ruhl spoke with the AP reporter for another five minutes.  Finally he said, “You’re not going to make a big deal of this, are you?”

“No sir.   I’m just doing a short piece about the Internet.”

If Ruhl was mollified by her reply, he shouldn’t have been.  The AP reporter put Ruhl’s  Internet experience in the lead paragraph of her story.

A few days later when things had calmed down, Ruhl got a tweet.

“I’m here,” he tweeted.

“Mr. Ruhl,  This is Marygliss@. I want to apologize.  Your experience with our system was regrettable.  We have taken steps here at the television network to rectify the situation.”

Ruhl: “That’s good. Thank you.”

Marygliss@: “Not at all, sir, we appreciate your input.”

“Then the network got my message after all.”

“Yes sir.

The two exchanged a few more pleasantries.  Ruhl, happy that he had finally made human contact, signed off.

The next day Ruhl read an article that made his skin crawl.  Cutting edge software techniques, said the article, now allow corporation computers to interact with humans on twitter as if two humans were tweeting. Ruhl called Barbara Brandistone at the AP. She did some digging.  It turned out that Marygliss@, was just a television network computer

.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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Sent From My…©

 

When you receive a message with a pretentious post-script  telling you that the sender was e-mailing you from a super-duper cell phone, you can reply with your own super-duper post script:

1.Sent from my 1943 Jack Armstrong Radio Show secret decoder ring.

2.Sent from my electrified chain link fence.

3.Sent from my Dog’s supper dish.

4.Sent from the drain spout on my Aunt Clara’s kitchen sink.

5.Sent from a cell phone I found in a dumpster behind Kelly’s Pizza Parlor.

6.Sent from my wife’s hair dryer. (from my girlfriend’s, from my boyfriend’s, from my grandpa’s hair dryer.)

 

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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Too Much Television

We have a 10-year-old dachshund named Ginger.  Both my wife and I spoil her.  She sleeps on the bed at night. She sleeps between us on the couch (on my wife’s   purple knit comforter) while we watch TV.  And sometimes she snores.  I think we watch too much TV.

 

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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They Beam It Into Your Cortex ©

 

 

Back in 1994 somebody at the New York Times said:

Frankly I don’t give a tinker’s damn how we distribute our

information; I’ll be pleased to beam it to your cortex.”

 

I was standing at the heavily laden buffet table in Healthy Hanks

International House of Hash. It was All-You-Can-Eat-for-$4.95

night. I was loading my plate with a heaping helping of Hanks

Healthy Hash Browns™ when the beam hit my cortex.

A tiny green LED turned on inside my head. Then I heard a

“ding, ding.” It was the kind of sound your computer makes

when you receive an e-mail.

“Darn!” I said.

“What?” asked my wife. Emmaline was standing next to me

at Healthy Hanks buffet table. She was putting three baby

carrots, three pieces of broccoli, and a small slice of turkey on

her plate. Healthy Hank always makes money when Emmaline

comes to All-You-Can-Eat night.

“The New York Times has just beamed some information to

my cortex,” I said.

“Well just ignore it,” said Emmaline.

“I can’t. That little light they installed in my head is blinking,

and a little bell keeps going ‘ding, ding,’” I said.

“Can’t you turn it off until you finish eating?” asked Emmaline.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“They must not have perfected that part of the technology

yet. I guess they figured they’d perfect the cortex-beaming

technology first, and worry about customer reception issues

later.”

“Well why in the world did you sign up the service in the first

place?”

“It took fifteen years and cost the New York Times a billion

dollars to perfect cortex-beaming information technology,” I said.

“The least I could do was to subscribe to the service. With the

New York Times Cortex Beam Information System™ they beam

the latest news straight to my cortex,” I said.

“And I have to eat alone so that you can find out that Barack

Obama has just named Billy Crystal to be U.S. ambassador to

Botswana.”

“I’ll just step outside. I’ll be right back.”

“Go to the men’s room.”

“I might lose the signal.”

“@#$%^&,” said my wife. She rarely swears, but Emmaline

hates to eat alone. I headed out the door to download my

cortex-beamed information from the New York Times.

I walked toward Emmaline’s new car, a Lexus 300XTC.

Just as I started to activate New York Times beamed-to-my

cortex newsline, a gruff voice spoke behind me.

“Don’t turn around. I have a gun,” said the voice.

“Don’t shoot,” I said.

“Give me your wallet and the keys to your Lexus,” said the

voice.

“It’s not my Lexus,” I said.

“I saw you park,” said the voice. “Now give me the keys.”

“It’s my wife’s car. She’s back at the restaurant. I don’t have

the keys.”

“Jerk!” said the voice. Whack! There was a blow on the

head. I was out before I hit the asphalt.

When I woke up my pockets were turned inside out and my

wallet and watch were gone. I stood up. There was an eggsized

lump on my head. I was leaning against Emmaline’s car

when I noticed a little green light and heard a “ding, ding,” in my

head.

I made my way back to Healthy Hanks. Emmaline was

standing near the cash register tapping her foot.

“I got mugged,” I said. “They whacked me on the head and

took my wallet.”

“Oh darling,” said Emmaline, and hugged me.

The police came and I told them what happened. I refused

to go to the emergency room. My head ached, but I didn’t want

anyone to know I was seeing green lights and hearing “ding,

dings,” in my head. I was afraid they’d take me straight to the

booby hatch.

When we got home Emmaline asked, “Well, was the news

worth getting mugged for?”

“What news?” I asked

“The cortex-beamed information from the New York Times.

Was it important?”

“Bless you,” I shouted. “Bless your heart!”

I had forgotten about the cortex beam! What joy! They

wouldn’t drag me off to the booby hatch after all.

I activated the New York Times Cortex Beam Information

System™. It was a story on the latest developments in

hemorrhoid research.

 

 

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 Naked Truth©

“We must have hit something, Sancho, the dogs are barking.”

Miguel Cervantes, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.

Theodore “Ted” Boneworthy was a bachelor farmer who had eked out a living on the rocky soil of his hard scrabble acreage by working hard and learning all he could from agricultural extension agents. Then one day Ted ploughed up a very large gem quality garnet and became a wealthy man. Folks in his district had always thought of Ted as an odd duck, but they figured that if he was lucky, he might also be smart, so they elected him to the State House of Representatives.

During his time as a state legislator, Ted Boneworthy worked unsuccessfully to pass laws that he thought society needed to be right and proper. He sponsored a bill that made it illegal to recite nursery rhymes backwards. He tried to make it a misdemeanor to swat flies with ones bare hand. And he sought legislation that would punish people for sticking chewing gum under counters and tabletops in restaurants. Understandably, none of these bills were ever voted on by the House.

Ted chocked up to his colleagues’ not supporting his legislation to their being a bunch of small town bozos.

So he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. His opponents ridiculed the national chewing gum initiative. Men’s groups called his stand on bare handed fly swatting “sissified,” and teachers’ organizations claimed that putting in practice his ideas on nursery rhyme recitation would stifle creativity.

The mass media were another problem. Radio, television and newspaper reporters mispronounced and misspelled Ted’s name. More often than not they called him Sid Stoneweary or Rich Blatherly instead of Ted Boneworthy.

He lost the election by a historic margin.

Ted had been an only child. His mother and father were arch fundamentalists. The farm couple in Grant Woods’ painting, “American Gothic” look positively jolly by comparison. For Ma Boneworthy everything in society was wicked and sinful or nasty and vile.

After being ridiculed in the state legislature and losing his campaign for the U. S. House, Ted abandoned politics and entered what he called “the real world” to launch his biggest, weirdest project ever.

Ted urged Americans to stop letting animals run around naked.

Ted hired a New York law firm at twice its normal fee to form an organization called “The League to Clothe Naked Animals,” with him as the league’s sole officer. Then he hired a top flight national advertising agency to buy full page ads in leading newspapers throughout the country. The ads called on the nation’s fair-minded citizens to “stand up and fight the scourge of animal nakedness.”

The public reaction was volcanic. From the posh penthouses of America’s great cities to the humble lunch counters of its smallest villages, people took up the cause. They inundated radio and television talk shows. Everyone wanted to be heard on the topic of naked animals.

Less than 24 hours after Ted’s ads were published, nearly all the enormous public reaction could be put into six categories:

A. “Stand up for dignity. We MUST clothe naked animals.”

B. “Animals are born naked. Leave them alone.”

C. “It’s a government power grab.”

D. “It’s a Wall Street power grab.”

E. “It’s a communist conspiracy.”

F. “Clothe Naked Animals, are you kidding me? Where’s the hidden camera?”

Within 48 hours of the launch of what Ted thought would be an anonymous campaign, reporters from all over the world converged at his farm. They scared his livestock. They trampled his crops. They harassed folks for miles around asking questions about him.

Then just 72 hours after the first “Clothe Naked Animals,” ads appeared in U.S. newspapers, the issue was dead. The mass media had identified another “big story.” Coverage switched from the controversy about naked animals to news of a married couple in Salt Lake City who had won $588 million in the national lottery and had announced that they intended to give all the money to the United Nations.

 

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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