Tag Archives: theatre

Hadley and the Cell Phone Glare©

(a 2014 offering repeated)

Letongaloosa has a fine performing arts center. The center brings nationally and internationally known performers, musical groups and other topflight entertainers to town. Hadley Wilkins always buys season’s tickets to the center’s “It’s Broadway” series. His seat is in the middle of the first row of the lower balcony. That’s where the cell phone glare episode happened.
Hadley was at his seat early for the first performance of the season. Just before the house lights went down, a man in a dark suit made his way along the row and sat next to Hadley. Before the man’s pants touched the seat, he had a large-screen cell phone in hand and had begun thumbing through a series of messages. As the curtain rose, the man’s eyes remained on his cell phone screen. The glow of the cell phone was distracting, but Hadley waited a few moments before touching the man’s arm.
“They said to turn off and put away all cell phones,” he whispered.
The man didn’t look away from the screen.
“Don’t bother me,” he said, and kept on scrolling
Finally the man set the cell phone screen-up on the arm of the chair between him and Hadley. Moments later the phone emitted a “ping.” The man touched the screen, pressed a button, and began thumbing a text message. Hadley saw no allies seated around them, so he subsided in his seat and watched the show.
As the audience streamed out of the theater, Hadley looked for a staff member, but found none. The next morning Hadley drove to the center to talk to the manager. Hadley explained the encounter, and the manager expressed sympathy, and asked what seat the cell phone user had occupied.
“He was seated on my left,” said Hadley, and gave the seat number. The manager typed, and looked at the screen.
“Oh my,” he said.
“What’s the matter?”
“That seat belongs to Clemment Boxley. He’s a senior executive at Red Grove Industries. The company has just transferred him to Letongaloosa from New Jersey. Red Grove is one of our largest corporate sponsors.” He touched another key. “And Mr. Boxley is one of our “Starfire” level contributors. He contributed $5,000 to the center this year.”
“And that means?” asked Hadley.
“And that means,” said the center manager, “that we are going to find you a marvelous new seat. Do you want to stay in the balcony, or would you prefer the main level?”
“I prefer the seat I’ve occupied as a season ticket holder for the last 10 years,” said Hadley.
“You have that choice, of course,” said the manager.
“But you’re not going to do anything about that man and his cell phone,”
I apologize, but, no, I am not.”
“I see,” said Hadley, and he left.
Hadley Wilkins is an electronics wizard. He developed important parts of current cell phone technology. Hadley decided this was a job for Cyberman!
The next performance was sold out. The center spokesperson welcomed members of the audience, thanked the performers and sponsors, and made the ritual cell phone announcement. During that announcement, Clemment Boxley’s eyes were on his cell phone screen and his thumbs were on the keys. The face up screen glowed on the arm of his chair.
Then, just before intermission cell phone tones erupted all over the theater. Baffled audience members fumbled for their phones in their purses, pouches and pockets and pulled them out. Scores of cell phones glowed in the darkened auditorium. It looked surreal. On each cell phone screen, in Ariel Black type, was the same message: “Ain’t teknology wonnerful?”
The Associated Press ran a short piece about Letongaloosa’s “cyber glow phenomenon.” The story lasted one news cycle in the mass media.
A few days later the performance center manager came to see Hadley.
“Mr. Wilkens, the center wants to reward you for your years of loyalty as a season ticket holder. Here are six complimentary tickets to our upcoming ‘Pop Culture Parade’ show.” Then he said, “By the way, Mr. Boxley has been transferred back to New Jersey. Apparently the company didn’t think he was a good fit for the Redgrove plant here.” -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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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-

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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Heart To Heart

 

No one has ever mistaken Nelly Potsdam-Clark for a beauty pageant contestant. In point of fact she looks like a fire plug. And when provoked she can be pushy, grabby and coarse.

Verita, Nelly’s 17-year-old daughter, inherited her father Sidney’s genes. The Clarks are as tall and willowy as the Potsdams are squat and thick, and folks use such words as refined, gracious and polished when speaking about Sid and Verita.

The couple’s marriage has lasted because over the years pushy trumped refined, grabby trumped gracious, and coarse trumped polished whenever things got tense in the Potsdam-Clark household. People call Nelly’s husband “Silent Sid.” Verita had Sid’s quiescent personality, but she had looks that beat all.

When Verita was born, Nelly saw her chance to seize the personal recognition that nature had denied her. Verita was only three months old when Nelly entered her in her first beauty contest–a “pretty baby” competition at the local mall. Verita finished ninth. Verita was sixth in the “Tiny Toddler,” pageant, and won fourth place in a contest to choose the most photogenic three-year-old. For the next four years Verita was either sick or recuperating from a series of childhood maladies, so she wasn’t able to compete. But that time wasn’t wasted. Nelly hired coaches to come to their home and teach elocution, diction, posture, social skills, and body language.

When Verita turned seven Nelly sent her back on the child beauty circuit and she won first in the The Bill Magoony Used Car Good Girl Gala. Nelly reveled in all the attention. Verita barely tolerated it, and Sid shrank from it.

A decade passed with Verita winning or placing high in competition after competition. Verita continued to prep and compete effectively, though reluctantly, in contest after contest. Long before Veritas’s 17th birthday Nelly began planning for the regional round of the Miss Teen Nation competition.

After supper one night Sid and Verita were sitting on the front porch.

“Dad, I don’t want to compete anymore.”

“You’ve been competing all your life. What’s changed?”

“I did it for Mom. I love her, but now I want to quit and get on with my life.”

“I’ll do the Miss Teen Nation, but then I’m through. I won’t compete again.”

“How will you tell Mom?

“I’ll figure it out.”

“I hope you do, dear,” said Sid, quietly.

Verita found a way out when she read the rules of the Miss Teen Nation competition.

*************************************************

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the master of ceremonies, “our judges have given me their scores for the five finalists in the evening gown competition. First place goes to Miss Letongaloosa, Verita Clark!” The applause died down.

“Now stand by for our final event, the swim suit competition.”

Back in the dressing room Verita shed her winning gown it was floor length with an embroidered top that covered her shoulders. The gown had scored points with the judges for elegance and modesty. Verita put on her swimsuit.

Standing off-stage with the other four contestants Verita waited calmly for what she knew was coming. Miss Dilltonville spotted it first.

“She has a tattoo! That’s against the rules.”

There was a pause in the proceedings while the officials consulted. Then the master of ceremonies came to the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my unhappy duty to announce that Miss Letongaloosa has withdrawn from competition.”

Nelly rushed back stage.

“What have you done?!”

“I broke the rules, Mom,” said Verita and turned round.

On her back, between her beautiful white shoulders, was a big red heart. Block letters inside the heart read: “I LUV U MOM.”

“Do you truly?” cried Nelly.

“Yes. Truly. But Mom, I don’t want to go to fashion school. I want to go to college and become a social worker. I want to help needy children.”

“And so you shall, my dear,” said Nelly.

Sid made it back stage just in time to join his wife and daughter in a long, heartfelt embrace.

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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Stage Too

“All the world’s a stage.

And all the men and women merely players.”

William Shakespeare, “As You Like It,” Act II, Scene VII

Until he learned better, Handley Pringle always thought the word “stage” was a noun or a verb. As a noun a stage was where public performances took place. As a verb, “to stage,” meant to present as a public performance.

Handley didn’t consider the Pringle’s front room a stage, and he certainly didn’t think of his cluttered office as a stage. But that was before he and Regina decided to sell their large home.

The Pringles had bought the older house decades earlier. Letongaloosa was different then. Mitch Kapster, who had been a local real estate agent forever, showed them all the houses in his sparse listings. After several rounds of looking, they bought this particular two-story because it was in an excellent location and because Regina said that the house had “personality.”

Over the years the Pringles fixed the place up a lot. They modernized the kitchen and the bathrooms. Regina completely changed the décor. But it wasn’t until they engaged a real estate agent that the Pringles learned that Shakespeare’s phrase applied to their house.

The Pringles followed along as the real estate agent did a “walk through.”

“That flowered sofa will have to go. Get rid of all those photos on the piano. You’ll have to strip wallpaper in the downstairs bathrooms and paint them a neutral color. Same with the spare bedroom.”

The real estate agent winced at Handley’s office.

“There are major problems here. For starters take down all those framed diplomas, certificates, and citations for merit. The running trophies must go too. Get rid of all those doodads and goo-gahs on the desk and cabinets.”

“But why,?” asked Handley.

“Buyers don’t want to see your personal stuff,” said the real estate agent. “They want to see a generic house. Buyers want everything neutral so they can imagine themselves in the house.”

“But this house has personality,” said Regina. “I designed the décor to fit the house’s personality.”

“Buyers don’t want personality. They want neutral. You’ll need a stager. I can recommend someone who’s really good.”

“What’s a stager?” Handley asked.

“The stager will help you get rid of the stuff that distracts prospective buyers. The stager will help make your house look more like the pages of Nice House Magazine.”

“How much will that cost?” asked Handley.

“It won’t be cheap,” said the real estate agent.

“Forget it,” said Regina. We’ve decided not to move.”

Time passed. Then the people next door put their house up for sale. Their house was the same age and the same type as the Pringles’. They hired stagers. After the house was staged, Handley and Regina walked through it. The house looked a lot like the houses one sees in Nice House Magazine. But the neighbors’ house didn’t sell. They cut the price, and then they cut the price again. Months went by.

One day a tall young woman rang the doorbell.

“Hello. I apologize for the intrusion. My husband and I are going to buy a house. We looked at the house next door, and someone said that you might be willing to sell your house. Could I see it?”

Regina invited the woman to come in.

“In the living room the woman said, “I LOVE the flowered sofa. Everything you see nowadays is so blah and generic.”

As they walked from room to room the woman said she really liked the house. “Oh, that’s a nice touch,” she’d say of some bit of Regina’s unusual décor.

Regina didn’t want the woman to see Handley’s office, but they ended up there.

“Is your husband a runner?” the woman asked.

“He used to be,” said Regina.

“My husband is a runner,” said the woman.

She looked at the framed diplomas, certificates and statuettes. “Those are awesome,” she said.

“Thank you,” said Regina.

This house has personality. I LOVE it. Would you be willing to sell?

 

“We’ve thought about it,” said Regina.

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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