Tag Archives: teaching

Everything Old Is New Again©

                 Putting an actual pen to an actual piece of paper is becoming a thing of the past.—at least that’s how it seems most days. I started writing quips and short stories back in 1945, back in the days that surely pre-date any social media account, smart phone app, tablet or laptop. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still like to scribble and jot ideas down when the mood strikes or when the deadline for my column is just around the corner.

          What it does mean is that writers of my generation communicated in a different way than today’s 21st-century wordsmiths typing and uploading their stories at lightning speed. Now that I’ve been living as a “writer” for nearly 75 years, I can look back over my stories and notes I’ve jotted down since I was nine years old, and see how putting a pen to paper has shaped my life as a writer,

          Looking back, I’m shocked that I’ve been writing this long. I hadn’t really given it much thought until I was chatting with my friend and childhood pal, Eloise Simplekins.

Eloise had always been considered plain—beginning with her name and continuing with her squat chunky figure, her thick unruly hair, her flat face, her squinty eyes, and her pug nose.  But she is, and always has been very smart. Eloise always had a unique perspective and a kind word.

          We met for lunch at the Main Street Diner in downtown Letongaloosa last Tuesday. Eloise wanted to tell me about her latest idea to expand her current business as La Mancha’s premier pre-cleaning lady and to reminisce about “the good ol’ days.”

          “When I started my company, people in town thought I was just plum crazy, but I didn’t listen and I’m glad I didn’t…just like you”, Eloise grinned.

          I smiled. I knew the story she was about to regale me with.

          “I’ll never forget the look on Miss Bunker’s face when she read that note she caught you passing to Dean Larson. I still can’t believe that you convinced her that what you wrote was an idea for a story.”

          “Ha, yeah. ‘Screw You’ I told her it was a title for a story about a boy who gets a toolbox for Christmas.”

          Eloise laughed, “Miss Bunker said she wanted to read the story and threatened to call your mother if you didn’t finish it before we left school that afternoon.”

          Smiling, I thought back to that day. Putting a pen to that piece of paper changed my life. It was the catalyst for my life as a writer—for my becoming a foreign correspondent, world traveler, newspaper reporter, and now, a humor writer.

           I don’t consider myself to have had a particularly exciting or extraordinary writing life, but Eloise likes to remind me of that story I wrote for Miss Bunker.

          A few years ago, Eloise started a company that services fastidious homemakers.  Her idea was to send pre-cleaning ladies to homes where the homemakers can’t stand to let their regular cleaning ladies see the mess.

          “Your gumption ‘way back when’ stayed with me. It gave me the courage to start my company. It took me a while, but I finally got to where I want to be…thanks to you, old friend.”

            Over the years, Eloise and I have managed to keep up. We both have websites, blogs, a presence on social media.

          So, I was truly surprised when Eloise told me her new idea: hand-written notes. She wanted to jot down “Thank you” messages  to her clients for their business and support.

          In a time when messaging and texting has become our primary form of communication, the idea showed 21st-century genius. Even I couldn’t remember the last time I had written or received a personal note—a grocery list from my wife, Emmaline, doesn’t count, does it?

          It had been a good day. I left the diner that afternoon feeling good about my life as a writer and headed home to work on this month’s column. A few days later, I received a note from Eloise. It was hand-written and one of the best messages I have ever gotten from my old friend:

          “Everything old is new again.”

                                                                       -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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Letongaloosa Goes to a Bowl Game©

Decades ago families used to gather on New Year’s Day in front of a 12-inch television screen to watch the Rose Bowl Parade and the Rose Bowl football game. In the early days there were only a couple of other bowl games. Now, news reports say, more than 40 bowl games are played during the holiday season.
The 2017 Letongaloosa Community Junior College Leopards had their best season in the last 10 years. They won five games, lost five, and tied one. That record earned the Leopards an invitation to play in the Marginal Bowl against the Sand City Bison.
Many home towns submitted applications for a chance to host the Marginal Bowl. In their applications the cities reported their plans for the bowl parade and the number of seats available at their stadium. Applications routinely mentioned what treats and activities were planned for members of the Marginal Bowl Committee.
Some cities that weren’t selected to host the bowl complained of favoritism on the part of the Marginal Bowl Selection Committee. No wrongdoing was discovered, but to remove any hint of favoritism the committee decided to select the host city by a random process. As the cities’ applications came in, each was assigned a number. The number of each applying city was written on ping pong a ball. The balls were dropped into a rotating plastic bin. The city whose number was selected from the bin, won the opportunity to host the Marginal Bowl.
Thus it was that Pigeon Creek became host city for the 2017 Marginal Bowl. The Pigeon Creek Marginal Bowl Committee had promised to mount a parade that included at least 18 floats. The Marginal Bowl Queen and her two attendants would ride on a beautifully adorned float. Marginal Bowl Committee members would ride in an equally beautiful float directly behind the queen’s float. Nature smiled on Pigeon Creek the day the Marginal Bowl game was played. The sky was clear at game time. The temperature was 41 degrees which was high for Pigeon Creek at that time of year. Still, cheerleaders for both teams wore tights with their short skirts.
Days before the bowl parade, Pigeon Creek citizens placed folding chairs along Main Street to assure themselves of a spot to watch. Grocery stores and other businesses stocked up on merchandise in anticipation of a flood of out-of-town spectators.
It was a classic bowl game. The score was tied 7-7 at half time and the defenses of both teams continued to prevail in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter. Then the Bison scored and took a 14-7 lead.
After that neither team could make a first down. As time ticked away the Bison team punted and the Leopards got the ball on their own 17-yard line. Somewhere in their heads they heard a bugle sounding “Charge!”. And down the field they went executing running plays and short pass plays to perfection.
The Leopards were first and ten on the Bison two-yard line when the rally ran out of gas. The Bison line held against a run and two pass plays. It was fourth and two. A field goal would do the Leopards no good. The officials called time out. The exhausted players on both teams grouped around their coaches.
Play resumed. “Hut two, hut two, hut, hut, hut.” The Leopards tried a quarterback sneak. The Bison line held. The drive had died. Time ran out. The game was over.
But before the Bison crowd could rush onto the field, the crowd heard a referee’s whistle.
All activity stopped. The teams froze in place. Officials conferred on the sideline. Then the head ref signaled a violation against the Bison:
“Defense. Twelve men on the field. Replay the last down.”
The Leopard quarterback threw a pass to his tight end.Touchdown!
At the victory parade on Main Street, two of Letongaloosa Community Junior College’s most ardent adversaries: Irma Farseer, the hardnosed dean of the Department of et. al. et. al., and the Leopard’s “Please don’t make classes so darn hard for my atha-letes” coach, stood side by side and smiled.
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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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What Did You Say? ©

The Friday afternoon faculty meeting had gone well. They had dealt with the agenda in less than four hours. Dean Ima Farseer thought she might have time for a quick TGIF restorative before dinner. Dr. Farseer is dean of the School of Electromagnetic Communigraphics at Letongaloosa Community Junior College.

“Thanks everyone. Have a good weekend.” At that point Prof. Walter “please don’t call me Wally” Tremmorer, who taught Palliative Communication Theory, spoke.

“Dr. Farseer,” said Prof. Tremmorer, “We didn’t deal with ‘Other Business.’ It’s the last item on the agenda sheet.”

“What other business do you want to bring up?” she asked.

“Swearing,” said Prof. Tremmorer.

“Oh, for hell’s sake,” said Prof. Rita Vozalta.

“That’s what I mean,” said Tremmorer.

“What?” asked Dean Farseer.

“She swore.”

“She said, ‘Let’s get out of here,’” said Farseer.

“No.” “She said, ‘Oh, for hell’s sake, let’s get out of here.’ That’s swearing,” said Tremmorer.

“!@#$%^&*(^&*,” said Prof. Vozalta.

“Everyone heard that. That’s swearing,” said Tremmorer.

“Move to adjourn,” said Prof. Tom Smoorzly. He had moved to adjourn five times since the meeting began.

“Point of order,” called Prof. Richard Yardley, who had raised point of order six times.

Ima Farseer frowned. Hope for a TGIF and quiet dinner was fading fast.

“I’ll appoint a committee,” said Farseer. She was trying to save her evening.

“No!” said Prof. Tremmorer. “We must resolve this matter right here and now. It’s a legitimate item under ‘other business’.”

“The Hell it is!” said Prof. Altavoz.

“She swore again,” said Tremmorer.

“Move to adjourn,” said Smoorzly.

“Point of order,” said Yardley.

Then Pablo Molama spoke. Prof. Molama had been hired recently from the private sector to teach courses on personal and social effects of using personal digital devices.

“Prof. Molama has the floor,” said Dr. Farseer. Her voice was lost in a clamor of voices. She slammed a heavy textbook on the table.

“Prof. Molama,” said Dr. Farseer firmly into the ensuing silence, “has the floor.”

“We can give this to a committee and take three months to work on it, or we can solve it here and now in fifteen minutes. The results will be the same, I assure you.”

“Go on,” said the dean.

“I suggest we all do five minutes of online research on swearing. Then we’ll spend five minutes sharing what we’ve found—most of it will be duplicative data. In the last five minutes we’ll formulate a resolution and vote on it.”

“So move,” yelled someone.

“Second,” yelled another.

“All in favor,” said Farseer.

There was a chorus of yeas.

“Opposed.”

“Motion carried. Get to work.”

Five minutes later Dr. Farseer stopped moving her finger across the screen of her high end digital tablet and said, “Time’s up. What have you found?”

“’Hell’ is described as a mild expletive,” said someone.

“It’s still swearing,” said Tremmorer.

“How about ‘heck,’” asked someone.

“That’s not a swear word,” said Tremmorer. “The Oxford English Dictionary says that ‘heck’ is a mild euphemism for ‘hell.’ It was first recorded in 1885 in the phrase, ‘Well I’ll be go’d to hecky.’ So that’s not swearing.”

“ !@#$%^&*,” said Prof Altavoz.

“THAT IS swearing,” said Tremmorer.

“Move to adjourn,” said Prof. Smoorzly.

“Point of order,” said Prof. Yardley.

“I’ve found something good,” said Prof. Molama. His voice was lost in the clamor.

“Bang!” Dean Farseer slammed the book on the table. Silence.

“Dr. Molama has the floor.”

“A study by Norich’s University of East Anglia into leadership styles found the use of “taboo language” boosted team spirit,” said Molama.

“The study was published in a refereed journal in 2007,” Molama continued. “Professor Yehuda Baruch, professor of management, wrote: ‘Taboo language serves the needs of people for developing and maintaining solidarity, and a mechanism to cope with stress. Banning it could backfire.’ I move we adopt that language as our policy on swearing.”

“Second,” yelled someone.

“All those in favor,” said Farseer.

There was an enthusiastic chorus of yeas.

“Opposed.”

Prof. Smoorzly’s was a lone, dispirited nay.

“The motion carries,” said Farseer.

“Oh !@#$%^&*,” said Smoorzly, let’s make it unanimous. “I vote yea.”

“Adjourned,” said Farseer.

-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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