Tag Archives: news

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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Pope John Paul II in Central America 1983

 

 

I was in Costa Rica and Pope John Paul II visited Central America. As a stringer for several news organizations, I was impressed by the tight security surrounding his Eminence. I was assigned to cover the Pope’s night speech at a youth rally in a suburban soccer stadium.  The Pope’s procession approached the speaking platform by driving along a rutted road that ran along the soccer field and in front of the bleachers. Suddenly the stadium lights went out. The whole place was dark for several minutes.  When the lights came on again (whew!) the procession proceeded. Calm and unruffled,  the Pope gave his scheduled address to the youthful crowd.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired journalist and KU  J-School professor. He is working as a humor columnist and is the author of Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon.

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Why Do Old People Like Reading the Obituaries?

Duh!  Because we’re OLD.   After one reads the wonderful news of the world and all about  DT and his antics and the antics of the  people state and federal legislatures, and the “foreclosures” and you find that you are not among the foreclosures or among the “police blotter” names,  Well, HELLO!  It’s a JOY to read the obituaries.

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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A Christmas Luau in Letongaloosa©

From Garrison Storm’s earliest memories, Christmastime in Letongaloosa meant
sledding and snowball fights in down at Ol’ Man Connelly’s farm, hot cider and
skating with the Duggins kids, and sampling the cookies that he and his Mom
baked for Santa on Christmas Eve. Garrison has countless wonderfully, nostalgic,
childhood memories, but his most memorable holiday memory happened last
year when he and Clara Vidente, Letongaloosa’s resident psychic, saved
Christmas.
Typical days at MEGA-TV are an odd mix of terribly busy, and nothing much to
do. Everyone works in ebbs and flows. Some days are calm. Others are frantic.
Holidays are just plain crazy.
Garrison, the station’s lead meteorologist, was in the middle of a frantic stretch
which meant he would be working over the weekend to get forecasts ready for
Christmas. By Sunday, despite the lure and distraction of the yuletide activities in
town, Garrison had had a productive day. He had managed to deliver the
forecast for the upcoming week. He tweaked the layouts of the night’s
weathercast and even made time to go online to order a shiny, snow racer sled
for his nephew, Parker. He then walked across the street to eat at the diner
where he struck up a conversation with his psychic friend, Clara.
Clara had lived in Letongaloosa for years. She had a shop on Main Street that
lured passersby to come in to have their futures told. Garrison always walked by
on his way to go sledding with Paul and Tommy Duggins. She’d wave at him
through the bright yellow and green neon sign hanging in her store window.
That afternoon, as he waited for his roasted turkey sandwich and potato salad,
Clara told him she was concerned about the weather. It had been a bit
blustery, but after pouring over the radar all weekend Garrison saw nothing out
of the ordinary. Weather conditions were normal for that time of year, cold and
snowy. In other words, perfect weather for warm cider, cookies and sledding.
“I’ve been consulting my crystal ball and I don’t see snow at all,” Clara told
Garrison.
Garrison could tell she really believed in what she had “seen”, so he just sat and
listened. He had known this sweet lady his whole life.
“Go on,” he said.
“I see flowers blooming, children eating the snow, instead of throwing it. This is
going to be unlike any Christmas Letongaloosa has ever seen. We’ve got to do
something!”
“Tell you what,” Garrison said. “I’m going back to my office and I will check
every forecast again. I promise to issue a special weather bulletin if anything
other than snow happens on Christmas day.”
After lunch, Garrison took a short walk down Main Street to stretch his legs. It felt
good after the frantic pace he’d been on. He looked down at the snow on the
ground, took a deep breath, and thought about what Clara had said.
Garrison didn’t consider himself a haruspex. He couldn’t predict the weather.
And all of his data and experience as a meteorologist told him that everything
would be normal.
Walking back to the station, Garrison met Merry Duggins. She’s Paul and
Tommy’s mother who volunteers at the courthouse as a guardian ad-Litem.
Merry always had a kind word, a smile, and a pat on the back for kids in need.
Merry was as level-headed as Clara was psychically inclined. As they chatted,
Merry told Garrison that the winter festival would have a bit of a twist. He
promised he’d be there. He thought she had given him a peculiar smile as she
continued down Main Street.
Weeks later, Garrison walked into the courthouse meeting hall. He couldn’t
believe his eyes. Tropical flowers were everywhere. The good folks of
Letongaloosa had donned Hawaiian shirts. Their kids were chomping snow
cones. Garrison had walked into a Christmas Luau.
Clara’s crystal ball predictions had come true. He glanced around the room
taking it all in. Then he spotted her.
“You were right!”
“I can get used to this. It’s nice.”
“Merry Christmas, Clara! Now let’s go sledding.”
-30-

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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The 50-Foot Turkey Goes To Hollywood ©

Dexter Dolby had to confess. When he started writing the screenplay for Attack
of the 50-Foot Turkey he never thought he would end up here. How he got from
his own red carpet premiere at the Letongaloosa Fall Film Festival to being stuck
in bumper-to-bumper traffic along the Pacific Coast Highway was a blur. One
day he’s a writer and movie critic for the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-
Challenger-Sun Chronicle. The next, it seemed to him, he was here sitting behind
the wheel of his old blue Wrangler, a week before Thanksgiving, staring out at
the turquoise waters and waiting to begin life as a Hollywood screenwriter.
How a film gets made had always been incredibly important to Dexter. As a kid
he’d sit for hours absorbing every detail of every plot line, camera angle and
costume in movies like The Giant Claw, Dementia 13, and The Terror. He wanted
to be a film writer, and he knew if he was going to be taken seriously he had to
pay attention to every detail of the production.
It was that attention to detail that caught the eye of Paul Peterson, the CEO of
Talking Pictures Productions (TPP). The way the camera captured the detail and
movement of a giant 50-foot turkey as it toppled the tiny country town made
the hair stand up on the back of Paul Peterson’s neck. He prided himself in
being able to spot creativity and talent wherever he saw it—even in a
backwater town like Letongaloosa. Peterson wanted Dexter working for his
company.
For Dexter, thinking back to the events of that fateful night after Halloween was
better than a prize-winning movie. Incredibly, Dexter had said goodbye to the
small circulation newspaper and to small-town life. The turkeys at the wildlife
conservatory had changed is life and provided him with the future he had
longed for. With a firm offer of a job, Dexter bid goodbye to friends and family,
packed up his Revere 8Mm, and headed for Hollywood.
The weeks following the movie premiere had passed like a whirlwind. After “Mr.
Hollywood,” Paul Peterson showed up that night outside of the Cineplex, the
people of Letongaloosa had treated Dexter like a celebrity. The managers of
the burger stand told him he’d never pay for a burger and fries and shakes
again. The manager of the movie theatre assured him he’d have free movie
tickets. The president of the Wild Life Sanctuary presented him a certificate that
made him a lifetime member. He could visit the turkeys that turned him into an
up-and-coming filmmaker any time he wanted.
All of the attention at first mystified, then , humbled Dexter. He was delighted
that people liked his work. He was ecstatic about the attention Paul Peterson
paid him in the following weeks. They became friends.
The two discussed everything from to do with the creation of films and
screenwriting, to the nitty gritty of post- production editing. One day Paul talked
to about turning Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey into a one-day classic for the big
screen. All of those conversations resulted in an offer for Dexter to go to
Hollywood and make movies for TPP Productions.
I was a dream come true! Dexter loved his job as writer and movie critic in
Letongaloosa, but he was thrilled with his new life, even when he had to sit in this
traffic jams on his way to write and make movies. Slowly, the sea of cars began
to inch forward. Dexter felt a warm breeze on his face. He was on his way to
HOLLYWOOD. He was going to make movies. The cars started to move and
Dexter felt the Wrangler roll. It moved closer and closer to his future as a
Hollywood filmmaker.
In front of the offices on the TPP Studio lot, noted the palm trees. He sat and
marveled for a moment at the studio’s white stucco façade. Then he stepped
out of his sturdy old vehicle, grabbed his Revere 8Mm, and walked confidently
toward the studio. He was no longer that kid from a small town in the Midwest.
He was Dexter Dolby, Hollywood screenwriter and filmmaker.
-30-

 

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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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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Fill the Screen With SOMETHING

Twenty-four hour television news channels have to fill the screen with SOMETHING.  I like it when there’s no real news and the news channels have to make bricks without straw, and news without news.  You see the darndest  stuff:  like an hour-long birthday tribute to Gene Ahern, the creator of the one-panel 1930s cartoon “Our Boarding House.”

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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