Tag Archives: scifi

Pecked to Death by Ducks©

With the summer season just around the corner, most people are making vacation plans. I, on the other hand, have been busy stressing about all of the things around my house that need my attention.

I’ve been thinking about what to do with all my “stuff” in the attic. Emmaline runs a trim ship.   I sail a kind of garbage scow.

It’s time to get the wet leaves out of the roof gutters, put fertilizer on the lawn, fetch some sacks of pebbles for the rock garden.  On a more personal note, I wanted to rescue a couple of my favorite shirts from the church donation box sitting by the front door.
Whenever I think that I have too much to do, my stress rises. When that happens, it’s like I’m being pecked to death by ducks.  Its as if I were tied hand and foot and lying on wet grass with a raft, team or paddling (see Google) of ducks pecking me.  Their blunt beaks don’t break the skin on my head like the peck of a woodpecker would, but the sensation is still painful, and
emotionally draining.

The feeling comes when I think I have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. I often get relief by day dreaming about decades past when I traveled a lot—to Latin America, the Caribbean, North and Central Africa, Japan.  But if I day dream too deeply while I’m doing something like trimming the hedge, and I mess it up, and—out come the ducks.

I’ve been thinking Emmaline and I need to go back to the Caribbean, or Latin America. But then I realize that what we really need is to go back to our good old rental cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I always love our days on the river there, floating downstream on inner tubes, drinking steins of root beer with my friends, the little old colonial Dutchmen.
Back in March I got in touch with my humor column friends and colleagues at The Enchantment, that dingy roadhouse on the edge of town where so many of them congregate. I told them to meet us at the cabin. Then, what with the ducks in my head and all, I nearly forgot about the trip to the cabin.

So today, I got the word out—on Internet, by smoke signals, by homing pigeons, by mental telepathy–and by a few other means of communication that I won’t elaborate on here. I invited everyone

to meet us at the cabin.  The invitation to my  robot friend KB11.2 (Kaybe, for short) went zinging  through outer space to his home planet that’s just a few parsecs from our nearest star, Alpha Centuari.   And I asked Kaybe to stop by Cuba on his way andpick up Kate in the jungle down there.
Emmaline thought we couldn’t go to the cabin right now because there was too much to be done here: paint the shutters, plant a garden, clean out the garage, etc., etc.

“And What about Ginger?” she asked.  Ginger is our dog.

“I promise to paint the shutters when we get back. The weather will be better then, anyway.  It’s been a late spring, so we can put in the garden after we get back.  Ginger always comes with us, remember? Her carrier is just inside the front door, next to that donation box we’re taking to the church.”

I knew that Emmaline wanted to go to the cabin all along, but we needed to tie up loose ends.  After she went to pack, she called down to say she was including a variety of ceramic root beer steins.

She had chosen one for everybody. A few days later as we got ready to leave the ducks in my head took a nap—a nice long one, I hoped.

When I lifted Ginger into her carrier, she nestled down on top of my favorite dear old (not to be discarded) shirt. It was folded neatly underneath her.

I put the church donation box in the car to drop off on the way out of town.

-30-

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Love Talk

 

About a year ago I wrote a column titled, “I Speak Alien.” In that column I told how my friend from outer space, the alien KB-11.2, had saved my engagement and my marriage by teaching me Mujerspeak, the native language of my bride-to-be Emmaline.

Recently my alien friend surged to the rescue again. This time Kaybe helped a colleague ofmine. Dr. Morris Amaraduckski is a professor at Letongaloosa Community Junior College where I teach. Morrie’s teaching and research field is polychromatic einsprechen. Scores of LCJC students have become linguistically nimble after taking Dr. Amaraduckski’s course, “Theory and Practice of Tergiversation, Circumlocution and Equivocation.”

All his life Morrie had been too busy for romantic distractions. He was a focused individual.

He sailed through high school, college and graduate school with topnotch grades by keeping his eyes on a computer screen, and the seat of his pants on a chair at the library. After hereceived his Ph.D., and came to teach at LCJC, Morrie focused on getting tenure. He taught his classes vigorously, and he published prodigiously. For a number of years after he gained tenure,

Morrie just focused on being focused.

Then one day, WHAM, Morrie fell in love. The object of his affection was Sally Beeglesdorf-Hannraty, wife of the late George Henry Hannraty, DDS. Sally moved to Letongaloosa to run aflower and gift shop after the untimely demise of her husband. Sally and her spouse had lived foryears on the East Coast where people talk loud and straight, and have funny accents.

When Sally moved to Letongaloosa she talked loud and straight and had a funny accent.

She caused culture shock among the locals who, as a general rule, speak quietly and bea around the bush a good deal. Sally’s social life was straitened and her flower and gift shop’sbusiness suffered as a result. But Sally was intelligent. She soon realized that Letongaloosa was not the East Coast, and that Letongaloosans weren’t going to adapt to her. She decided to adapt to Letongaloosa.

Sally enrolled in an elocution class at LCJC, and well before the semester ended she hadlost her East Coast accent, toned down her loud voice, and learned to put “at” on the end ofher sentences—as in “That’s a nice dress, where did you buy it at?”

There remained one serious problem. Sally still talked straight. She always called a spade a spade. Sally felt that speaking honestly was a matter of moral integrity, not a matter of accent orvoice level. She refused to compromise when it came to expressing her honest opinion. As aresult, the newly accent-free, soft spoken Sally remained in straitened social circumstances,running a business that attracted all too few customers.

It was the first day of classes for Spring semester. As usual, Morrie had a full roster of students enrolled in his popular course, “Theory and Practice of Tergiversation, Circumlocution and Equivocation.” One of those enrolled was Sally Beeglesdorf-Hannraty. Morrie had his back to the class and was writing on the chalkboard when Sally walked in and took a seat at the front of the room. Morrie turned around, and their eyes met. A jolt passed through them both. It was love atfirst sight.

A flustered Morrie jibbered and jabbered for the first few minutes of the class. Then he pulled himself together and called the roll. Then he fixed his gaze on a spot on the wall at the back of the room, and began to deliver the lecture. Sally found that she could keep from fidgeting and sighing loudly by tuning out Morrie’s voice, and staring fixedly at the blue lines on a page of a spiral notebook that lay open on her desk. She didn’t take a single note. The students, understandably, were bored. It was a painful fifty minutes for everyone.

Finally, to everyone’s relief, the electronic sheep bell that signals the change of classes at LCJC, clanged . The students streamed out. Behind the lecturn, Morrie was uncharacteristicallytongue tied. Sally sat demurely and uncharacteristically silent.

 

“Ms. Beeglesdorf-Hannraty…” Morrie began.

“ Sally,” said Sally, interrupting him.

“And I would be gratified, indeed, warmly appreciative, if you would address me simply as Morrie. That is the sobriquet by which I am known to my nearest and dearest friends,” said Morrie.

“Right,” said Sally.

“If you have no other pressing engagement, my dear Sally, may I induce you toaccompany me to the cafeteria for some light refreshment and a bit of conversation?”

“Sure,” said Sally.

Though they spent two hours sitting across from each other at a small table, neither of them could remember, later, what they had talked about. But somehow they knew that they were going to be part of each other’s lives from then on.

The next time they saw each other was at the second meeting of the class. Morrie wasfeeling ebullient and articulate. He was braced by the thought of seeing Sally again. Sally had spent all morning having her hair done. When she walked into the classroom she was breathlessly excited to see Morrie again.

The class had barely begun when the scales fell from their eyes.

Morrie began his lecture with a brilliant, if somewhat circuitous, explication of euphemisms as a conversational deflection technique. On the chalkboard he diagramed Wallburner’s Euphemistic Deflection Model, and recommended it to the class as a powerful linguistic tool for conversationally disarming friend and foe alike.

“With Wallburner’s Model,” said Morrie, “you can express your opinion articulately andpowerfully, and at the same time prevent your conversational opponent from taking offense.

When you use Wallburner’s Model, you never have to say you’re sorry.”

“What a bunch of crap!”

The words sliced through the air like a laser. There was a collective intake of breath. Morrie’s face froze, his mouth ajar. Dozing students’ eyes popped open. People sat up straight and looked around the classroom, trying to identify the speaker. The voice had been as quiet and well modulated as the words had been crude and combative.

“I beg your pardon,” said Morrie, gazing at Sally.

“I said that’s a bunch of crap,” said Sally. “Euphemistic deflection my hind leg. Where at did you get such baloney at?” she asked in the same quiet, well modulated tone she’d used in the first outburst.

All of a sudden Morrie and Sally were going at each other in what can best be described asa dogfight between a feisty rat terrier and an aloof, purebred afghan hound. Morrie’s eloquentcompound-complex multi-syllabic sentences in defense of euphemisms and decorouscircumlocutions soared with erudition. Sally flamed back with rapid fire four-word zingers andgraphic, monosyllabic epithets. It was a highly stimulating exchange for the students, but it was a very, very grim business for the two combatants.

That night my alien friend KB-11.2 entered the picture. Kaybe, as you’ll recall, looks like agiant tuna fish can. Erector Set™ arms sprout from the curving sides of his body, and three spindly metal legs drop down from the underside of his flat, stainless steel torso.

Decades ago Kaybe taught me Mujerspeak. Today my fluency in that language is a key to my happy home life. Apparently Kaybe is still assigned to do good works in this quadrant of the galaxy, because he beamed himself down to the den where Morrie sat brooding darkly over the romantic train wreck he’d just been through.

Kaybe’s assignment was a tough one, and he carried it out beautifully. He taught Morrie to speak a direct, straight to the point language called Ritefrumdashoulder, and he taught Sally to speak an easygoing, loose-limbed language called Goinroundabarn.

I was invited to their wedding a few weeks later. Toward the end of the ceremony, the minister asked the bride and bridegroom the “do you” question.

Sally replied, “My response is absolutely, indubitably, unquestioningly, totally, andecstatically in the affirmative.”

Morrie said, “Yep.”

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Friends We Meet Along the Way

I’ve written a humor column every month for the last 16 years. That breaks down to 192 columns—134,400 words. The columns go by many titles and most of the ideas for them come at times when I am not sitting at my desk,  vis. while I’m  walking the dog,  having lunch with my Emmaline. My, ideas–it’s a stretch to call it inspiration—pop up wherever I may be.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is telling about some of my  adventures (real and imagined), and in letting you, the readers, meet some of the people who inhabit those adventures.

In many stories, from exploring the Cuban jungle with my colleague, Kate, to meeting with my long-distance pal from outer space, the robot KB-11.2 (Kaybe),  I have taken Life on some curious journeys. And I’ve share them with you. It’s never been boring, and as I write this month’s column, and  as I think about all my friends,  my pals, the little Dutchmen come to mind.

I haven’t really been out to the Smokies to see them lately. As a result, we’re thinking about making a trip there especially since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. I first introduced the little guys in July 2014 in a column titled Man in the Mirror.  It was about my first encounter with a curious-looking gentleman, a kabouter. Most people would think a kabouter as a leprechaun.  Kabouters wear  long beards and antique Dutch-looking clothing including  tri-cornered hats.

I was standing in front of the mirror in a vacation cabin back in the Smoky Mountains where Emmaline and I  frequently stay. The Dutchman was staring at me from a mirror that hung in the bathroom. I was startled. After I calmed down and got my bearings, the Dutchman and his friends took me tubing down the stream that flows alongside  the cabin. We drank root beer from large steins, and had a rip-roaring afternoon.  I’ve written a couple of columns about our adventures with the Dutchman and his fellow Kabouters.  But I haven’t given you readers much detail about them.

Here’s some background:  The Dutchman in the mirror is named Jurriaan. It’s Jurriaan Lievin, as a matter of fact.  Jurriaan and his friends live in a mushroom village located in the woods just down the one-lane road from our family’s Smoky Mountain cabin.  These guys, according to Dutch folklore, are shy of humans. Stories say that they play tricks on people who try to catch them. For whatever reason these little Dutchmen men were more curious than shy when it came to me, Emmaline, and our family  well before wrote about them. They’ve been a part of our family celebrations ever since.

Folklore also mentions that some Kabouter love the off-stage limelight. They have been the focus of countless fairytales, but the stories always mention the tiny men slipping away after performing their good deeds. We  all  know the Legend of the Wooden Shoes.  And on television we’ve all seen the gnome in that travel commercial. That’s Jurrriaan’s cousin, Nicholaas. He, wasn’t shy like the other men in the forest, so Nicholaas decided  to head for Los Angeles and try his hand at acting.  He’s become quite successful.

Emmaline and I are planning to go to the cabin soon. We need adventure, and our friends the Dutchmen are all about adventure.  They always have been.  In that vein, I’ve decided it’s time my best friends meet each other.

I contacted Kaybe and Kate and told them to meet us at the cabin this spring. Kate is excited to get out of the jungle for a while and to meet everyone.  I asked Kaybe drop by and pick her up in his spaceship. It’s not out of his way.

Emmaline is excited, too. She’s planning a party and has already bought  root beer steins for everyone. And there’ll be plenty of inner tubes too for the river float.  Oh, that reminds me, I need to get some lubricating oil for Kaybe.   The humidity at the cabin sometimes plays hob with his metal joints.

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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.
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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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Saving the Enchantment

“There are strange things done “
in the midnight sun
by the men who moil for gold.”
Robert Service, “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”

The men who moiled for gold back in Robert Service’s Yukon Territory were hardworking,
straight forward fellows. They prospected. If they found a vein, they staked a
claim and mined it. On the other hand, the men who wanted to turn The Enchantment
into a strip mall were insidious and devious. Thanks to Ribby von Simeon and the
Vigilance Corps, they failed.
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.
Letongaloosa has grown a lot lately, and Letongaloosa Community Junior
College, has more students than ever before. You used to know that the college was
not in session because there was a lot less traffic. Back then folks were a bit
embarrassed by the Enchantment and were glad it was a long way out of town.
Nowadays people think the Enchantment is quaint. And it seems closer to town now
that every square inch of land in the county is plotted, platted and spoken for.
Tad Tedwell was elected sheriff of Kigame County after the Vigilance Corps
helped him defeat Buck Johnson’s campaign for a fourth term. The Vigilance Corps
came about because Tad worked the overnight shift and because he liked breakfast.
When Tad came off his shift he’d eat breakfast at three or four locally owned cafes
every day. In any given week he’d have visited just about every café in town. He met
and talked to the same old guys in the same cafes day after day.
After he decided to run for sheriff he realized what a valuable resource his
coffee buddies could be. Most of them were veterans and most were members of
fraternal organizations.
So Tad organized a club and concocted bylaws. He even invented secret
handshakes and passwords. He called it the Vigilance Corps. He organized his coffee drinking pals into autonomous cells based on the cafes they frequented in the morning.
He prepared “dead drops,” where they could leave their reports. Tad did everything
but provide those guys with Green Hornet secret decoder rings.
It was Vigilance Corps member Maximo Perez who dealt the first serious blow to
Buck Johnson’s campaign. Maximo had retired from the county registrar of deeds
office. He poked around and found some highly suspect paper work on Buck Johnson’s
ranch and suburban properties. He put that information in a Vigilance Corps dead
drop. Tad used that information effectively in the campaign to cook Buck Johnson’s
goose.
Maximo found evidence that developers had used bogus paperwork to illegally
bend, fold and staple the dingy old roadhouse and the parcel of land on which it is
located into their suburban plots and plats. They apparently they want suburbia to
stretch from horizon to horizon. A lot of other folks don’t.
Fortunately, the true owner of the land was Ribby Von Simeon. Ribby inherited
that parcel from his tycoon father Balderdash Von Simeon and he had already used
part of the land to commemorate a cherished voyage on an ocean liner that he and
his mother, the famous actress Sippa Margarita Von Simeon, had taken. Ribby bought
the ocean liner after it was decommissioned. He had the ship hauled here, piece by
piece, and re-assembled on a hillside outside of town. The party Ribby threw for the rechristening
of the ship was the social event of the decade. As they moiled for gold,
the developers figured that their out of town lawyers could bulldoze the deal through.
For them the Enchantment was just a dingy roadhouse, and Ribby was just some guy
who taught horticultural dyontonics at a local community college. But Ribby loves
going to the Enchantment, and when it was threatened he used the Von Simeon
tenacity and the Von Simeon fortune to blast developers and their fancy lawyers out of
the water or, rather, off the land.
-30-

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the  Forth Dementia available on Amazon.

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Alien Boinks

My friend from outer space, KB-11.2, was worried and out of sorts the other evening as he and I had a soft drink together at a dingy roadhouse north of here. The Enchantment is the kind of joint a college town like Letongaloosa must have to keep its academic accreditation.
My friend Kaybe isn’t one of those scary bug-eyed, green-skinned aliens that you read about.Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set® arms sprout from the curved sides of his body.
Three spindly metal 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 of his lid.
Customers at The Enchantment don’t even raise an eyebrow when Kaybe rolls in and joins me at one of the back booths. They’re accustomed to seeing unusual folks around the place–people like Harry the Hulk and his diminutive pal Miniature Mike, and Four-Finger Fannie and Dogface McGee. It’s a down home kind of place, and the alien KB-11.2 and I fit right in.

Kaybe wasn’t himself the other night. He was distracted and preoccupied. When I was a young man, Kaybe saved my engagement and marriage by teaching me Mujerspeak, the language of women. Kaybe has always been cool, kind, and methodical. Now he seemed feverish, and that’s difficult for someone who has a tin can for a body. I put my hand on his rounded stainless steel torso. It was warm.
“Kaybe, you’re feverish,” I said.
“I know. I’m so worried that I’ve overloaded my diodes,” he said. “I’ve fallen into the clutches of the Galactic Boinks. They’re fiscally flagellating me.”
“What are Galactic Boinks?” I asked.
“I don’t know how to describe boinks,” said Kaybe. “There’s nothing here on earth to compare them to. Boinks are galactic institutions that serve as financial intermediaries. Originally boink operations were simple and straightforward. You deposited your financial resources in a boink and drew them out as needed to pay bills, mortgages and for other living expenses,” saidKaybe.
Then he described how a bunch of executive goons had taken over the galactic boinks. “These thugs added all kinds of products and complicated services that had very little to do with the boinking business,” said Kaybe. Boinks3
He said they also devised complicated and draconian systems of fees that preyed on
depositors. If their computers said your account was overdrawn the boinks began to
manufacture penalty fees. Within microseconds they added nonpayment of penalty fees to the regular penalty fees. Your debt mounted hourly. Boinks didn’t care that your records showed your account was solvent. The boink worker bees just said, “The Boink isn’t responsible for keeping your account solvent, you are. We have no idea what has happened, but computers don’t make mistakes, so this is YOUR error.” That was it, end of story, and the penalty fees just kept mounting.
“My account was in the black. I’d never been overdrawn. Now I owe penalty fees on top of
penalty fees, and I’m in trouble with creditors and galactic merchants from here to Alpha
Centauri,” said Kaybe.
“You’re right, Kaybe,” I said. “There’s nothing like that here. Stuff like that just doesn’t happen on Earth. Is there anything I can do to help you? I’d be happy to lend you a few bucks.”
“Thanks, but I’ll just have to straighten this out by myself,” he said. “When I get solvent again I’m going to hide all my resources in a cave on some derelict asteroid out beyond in Orion’s Belt. I’ll never trust a boink again.”
Just then someone sidled up to our booth. It was Four Finger Fannie. She gazed at Kaybe in
silence. Kaybe moved his three-eyed sensors toward her. They communicated telepathically.
Then Kaybe gave a little bounce.
“Is it all right if I let my friend in on this conversation?” said Kaybe. The words came to me
telepathically. There was no sound.
“Go ahead,” said Fannie.
“Thanks,” said Kaybe. “Say on, mademoiselle, this is great news.”
Fannie’s words flowed silently into my head.
“Like I just told you, the Associated Galactic Press is reporting that the Supreme Governing Council has launched a full scale investigation of the boinking industry. The council has apparently had it with complaints from all over the galaxies about people getting ripped off. The council has forced the boinks to cancel all overdraft charges, and has ordered them to refund all the other phony fees they’ve been charging.” said Fannie.
Kaybe’s telepathic “Whoopee,” was so loud it gave me a headache.

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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Cosmic Prime Time Television

 

 

Here in Letongaloosa, a humid, sweaty July gave way to what

everyone expects to be a humid, sweaty August. We all hope that

August will give way to a sweet September, and that then will come

a glorious new prime time television season.

The other night I asked two of my best friends what they

thought about prime time television, things got weird in a hurry.

That’s not surprising since my two friends were a robot from outer

space, KB11.2, and Biggley Masters, the legendary writer/producer

of prime time network television shows.

The three of us were having soft drinks in a back booth at the

Enchantment, a dingy roadhouse north of here. The Enchantment is

the kind of joint that every college town has to have to maintain its

academic accreditation.

My Alien 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.

No one at the Enchantment even notices when Kaybe rolls up

to my booth. Half the patrons, including the waitress, Four Finger

Fannie, are aliens themselves.

Biggley Masters is a true television prodigy. At 19 he was lead

writer for a very popular network soap opera. In his mid-twenties he

wrote and produced several award-winning prime time series.

Biggley has principles. He held out against a network executive who

demanded that Biggley compromise a show’s plot so the network

could sell more commercials in that episode.

So there were Kaybe, Biggley Masters and I in a back booth at

the Enchantment discussing the upcoming prime time television

season.

 

“The folks on Hebe, a minor planet in the Andromeda galaxy,

love “Toast of the Town,” and “The Fred Warring Show,” said Kabye.

“Whoa,” said Biggley, who was something of a TV historian.

“Those shows aired in the 1949-1950 prime time season. They were

the first prime time television hits. How can you say that the folks on

Hebe are seeing those shows?”

“FM radio waves and television signals pierce the earth’s

ionosphere and travel through the vacuum of space at the speed of

light,” said Kaybe. The shows from the 1949-50 television seasons are

just now reaching outer space planets like Hebe.”

“So the folks on Hebe must have picked up Marconi’s first radio

signal, the letter “S” (three dots) that he transmitted in 1901,” I said.

“Oh, yes,” said Kaybe. “In fact, the Hebian Supreme Council

met in a special session to discuss a response to earth’s distress

signal. They decided, given time and distance, nothing could be

done.”

“I’ll bet the Hebians will love “M.A.S.H,” when it finally gets

there,” I said.

“Oh, yeh, ‘M.A.S.H. will be a big hit on Hebe,” said Kaybe.

Biggley took a folded paper from his jacket pocket.

“This is the new prime time network schedule,” he said. “Kaybe,

I’ll name a show that is going to be broadcast this fall on U.S.

Network TV. Then you can tell me the name of a show on that will be

airing this fall on some planet in the great Cosmos.”

“Wonderful,” said Kaybe .

“Grey’s Anatomy,” said Biggley. “That’s a long running medical

series on U.S. television.”

“Rick’s Robot Repair Shop,” said Kaybe. “That’s been airing on

the planet Relontov (in the Bode galaxy) for 200 earth years.”

“Criminal Minds,” said Biggley. It’s a cop show.”

“Zap! Crack! Blam!,” said Kaybe. The Marilians LOVE that cop

show.”

“Where is Marilia?” I asked.

“It’s a small planet in the Triangulum Constellation. There’s

been no crime on Marilia for centuries. There are no cops, no jails,

no courts, and no prisons on the planet. The Marilians are

fascinated by the concept of “badness.” But they have to import

their TV crime shows from Gobokovandan, a nearby planet that has

a ton of bad guys.

I finished my soft drink and slipped unnoticed from the booth. Kaybe

and Biggley were engrossed in a discussion of interstellar TV. I told

our waitress, Four Finger Fannie, to put the whole bill on my tab.

-30-

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