Tag Archives: television

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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Confabulated Sports Clichés

“Keep your eye on the ball.” And you hand on your wallet.
” Monday-Morning Quarterback” And nothing but cricket on the Sports channel
“That was a hole in one.” In his best pair of golf shorts.
“He doesn’t pull any punches.” And he head butts, too.
“He dropped the ball.”[ And it rolled under the sofa.
“He always steps up to the plate.” His favorite food is Southern Fried Chicken.
“He talks a good game.” But his bookie is a rich man.
“He’s a team player.” Please! Someone teach him solitaire.
“He’s in a league of his own.” It’s class D, summer short season.

 

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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A Day Late, A Dollar Short

Hello, All!!

I’ve pulled a story from my archives called, “A Day Late & A Dollar Short” & it written in  2011. It one of my favorites. I hope you like it, too!!

They were married in the Manti, Utah in December 1960.

Today, and for the last fifty years, it’s been the same—he’s been a day late and a dollar short.   But she loves him anyway.  She loved him back then, and she loves him now. She loves him with a knowing sufferance that is sometimes masked by sharp tones. She loves him with a tenderness that reveals itself through a quick squeeze of his hand as they sit side by side on the worn couch in the loft, watching a rerun of some syndicated TV program.

One morning a month ago, they were in the bedroom. She was sitting on the bed, two pillows propped behind her back. Ginger, the dachshund snuggled under the coverlet beside her.  He was on all fours on the floor on the far side of the bed.  She was reading the sports page. He was reading the main section of the local daily.

The bedroom TV, a relic of the analog age, flickered in silence.  Then, as Regis and Kelly walked onto the set, she reached for the remote, and there was sound.    Minutes passed.

“Regis and Kelly are sponsoring a love story contest,” she said.

“Uh,” he said.  He was reading the funnies.

“You’re a writer.  Why don’t you send our love story to Regis and Kelly?  The deadline is January 21st.” she said.

“Huh?” he said, absorbed in the intricacies of “Pickles.”

“You should write our love story, and win us a trip.”

“Oh.  Okay.”

As the days went by she reminded him a couple of times.

“Did you write our love story for Regis and Kelly?”

“Not yet, but I will.”

“No you won’t.”

“Yes I will.”

January 21, 2011, 10 p.m.

“Did you write our love story?”

“I’ll write it tomorrow.”

And he did, but he was a day late and a dollar short.

 

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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Soccer Grandpa ©

Sports prowess runs in our family. Way back in the mid 1800’s my great grandpa Bill financed his family’s trek across the plains to the Utah territory by winning impromptu horse races in and around Winter Quarters Iowa. Brigham Young didn’t like gambling so my great grandpa quit racing. After that great grandpa just used his fleet steeds to get away from Indians, bad guys, and Johnson’s Army during the Utah War of 1857-58.

My father worked as a blacksmith in Utah in the early 1900s. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem describes my dad:

“The smith, a mighty man is he

With large and sinewy hands.

The muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.”

My dad used his brawny arms to win plenty of arm wrestling matches when he was young.

My mother, wearing long skirts, and using gut-strung rackets won many tennis matches against strong male and female opponents on the dirt courts of Tooele, Utah between 1908 and 1916.

Sports prowess skipped me—unless you count twenty years of second, third and fourth place finishes in 5K and 10K road races.

On my wife, Emmaline’s side of the family, sports prowess manifests itself in fandom. Her uncle Horace attended every home baseball game the Salt Lake Bees played between 1920 and 1940, and he yelled himself hoarse at every one.

Emmaline is a serious sports fan. Once when we lived in northwest Florida, Emmaline forced me into the car to drive to Atlanta where the Kansas Jayhawks were playing in an NCAA sweet sixteen basketball tournament. The reason she had to force me into the car was that a category four hurricane was steaming ashore right behind us. The hurricane came inland on the same course we were heading. Radio stations all the way north broadcast warnings: “get off the highways,” “seek shelter, now!” We just drove on through the storm. When we finally made it to Atlanta we had to wade through ankle-deep water to get to the entrance of the field house. The

Jayhawks lost, but because I got a chance to take her picture standing beside KU’s mascot, the Baby Jayhawk, Emmaline considers that Atlanta trip a great success.

When we watch sports on television I strap a pad to my thigh because I know Emmaline will pound on it with her fist if the game is close. When we watch regular television programs the dog lies on the couch beside Emmaline. But when we watch sports events on TV, the dog hides under our bed—Emmaline’s yelling scares her.

My daughter is a cross country skier, mountain bike rider and rock climber. My son is a softball player and epee fencer.

That brings me to the current generation. My grandkids Ariel, aged seven and Gorky, aged four, play soccer on Saturdays. That makes Emmaline and me soccer grandparents. It’s wonderful! The concept of “victory, victory uber alles,” doesn’t apply to the kind of soccer they play on the kiddie fields of Letongaloosa.

Gorky plays in the Hobbit League. The players, a dozen four-year-olds, wear green or yellow tee shirts that hit them at mid thigh, or sometimes at the ankle. Each player has his or her own ball. The players run around on mini soccer fields with mini soccer nets at each end.

Ardent, happy fans stand on the sidelines yelling encouragement to all the players:

“Great going, Turner, you actually kicked the ball!”

“Marvelous Gretchen, you got up off the grass really fast!”

“Hang in there, Thompson, lying on your stomach on the ground and pulling grass is lots of fun too!”

There’s a little more structure in the seven-year-old league that Ariel plays in. During the game there is only one ball on the field at a time. Seven-year-olds focus better and are a bit more intense than the four-year-old players, but the fans are just as positive and supportive as the Hobbit League fans.

“Go Red team,” they shout. “Go Blue team.”

“Good job Amelia, you kicked the ball right out of bounds.”

When either team makes a goal, fans on both sides of the field applaud and yell “Good job!” When the games end, scores are seldom mentioned. The players all give each other high fives and then run to the sidelines to get healthful treats.

In an age when sports competition is very intense, Emmaline and I have learned a lot from being soccer grandparents.

 

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 Decibel Dilemma

Almost nobody from Letongaloosa makes a big splash on the national or international scene.  In fact most Legtongaloosans recoil at the thought of making  a big splash in public.  That’s why folks in town felt sorry for Ruby Jentlow.  Ruby didn’t seek the spotlight.  The spotlight found her after she decided to rein in her volatile temper and to modulate her voice.
Ruby grew up in a family of shouters.  Her parents and brothers and sisters shouted a lot.  Ruby’s mom and dad, Rufe and Gina Jentlow, met in Washington, D.C. back in 1971 at the height of a presidential campaign.  Rufe and Gina were young members of the Muglump Alliance, a small one-issue political movement.
Because Muglump leaders weren’t fluent in Politic-Speak, the Muglump Alliance was shut out of  mainstream political discourse. So they began to shout, and people began to listen.
As young political Muglump operatives, Rufe and Gina  became well trained shouters. Their children, including Ruby, grew up to be shouters.
When she wasn’t shouting, Ruby was friendly, kind, charming, woman who had no desire to make a national splash.
But one day she and Angus Rex, a good friend whom she admired for his soft spoken demeanor, were having a quiet conversation at a coffee shop. They disagreed about something that didn’t amount to a hill of beans, and before they knew it the conversation had turned into a shouting match.
It wasn’t much of a match.  The best Angus could muster was 65 decibels.  Ruby’s shouts averaged 82 decibels.  She hit 88 a couple of times, and once topped 90.   Ruby crushed poor Angus.   A couple of bystanders, who loved to hear Ruby get wound up, clapped.  Ruby felt terrible when Angus walked away crestfallen.
She resolved to change. She vowed to rein in her temper and pledged never to let her voice rise above 60 decibels.   When people found out about the pledge some of them began baiting Ruby, hoping to goad her into a high decibel outburst.  The more they persisted, the quieter Ruby’s voice became.
Amazingly, people around her, even those who came to goad her,  began to speak more quietly too.  And people began to actually listen to Ruby and to one another.
After word of Ruby’s transformation got around, a group offered a prize to anyone  who could make her yell. No one succeeded. Those who yelled at Ruby not only failed to make her yell, they often ended up speaking more quietly themselves.  Someone  recorded one such encounter on a cell phone and posted the video on the Internet.
A network reality TV show “How Weird Is That?” pulled the Ruby video off the Internet and broadcast it on national television.  There was a big public response. Some people said Ruby was a true citizen leading a much needed movement toward public civility.  Others said Ruby was part of a clandestine movement to subvert the Constitution.
Political talk show hosts jumped on the issue and harangued their audiences and each other at the top of their lungs.  National newspapers and broadcast news organizations transmitted the story around the world.  Some people suggested, quietly, that Ruby should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  A few shouted that she should have her mouth washed out with soap.
That’s when folks in Letongaloosa started really feeling sorry for Ruby. Reporters and paparazzi camped out in front of her house, and trailed her everywhere she went.  They stuck  microphones in her face and beamed strobe lights through the windshield of her car.
Through it all Ruby raised her voice above 40 decibels only once. That was to ask a hard-of-hearing hardware clerk where she could find a light bulb for her refrigerator.
The story has a happy ending.  Most  news-cycle-driven issues have a very short life span after they disappear from the mass media. The public soon forgets about them. A few worthy issues move forward.
The  James Mapleton Emery Foundation offered  Ruby a half a million dollar grant to conduct research on low-decibel public discourse.  She accepted  the grant and went quietly to work.

 

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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