Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Mopermans Win the Piggly Wiggly Good Neighbor Competition for Cloverdale

The Moperman Children taken on Little Eugene's Birthday.
Cloverdale's Good Neighbors for 2010

The Mopermans were chosen Cloverdale’s best neighbors in a recent competition sponsored by Piggly Wiggly, home of the Bargain Pen, where you’ll find the best value our volume purchasing can provide (Management realizes the Bargain Pen prices may not seem to be a bargain at all. Management reminds you that the price you pay is the discounted price plus a percentage of the shipping charges to bring in extra food for the Bargain Pen, not to mention the surcharge for winter travel and the fuel add on charge our distributors pass on to us to compensate for a steady and measurable increase in the price of crude oil. What it all comes down to is OPEC. OPEC is responsible for the Bargain Pen's failure to live up to its name. The Management apologies).

“Nominate Your Good Neighbor for Cloverdale’s Best Neighbor Contest”, read a banner hung across check out stands 1 through 5. In smaller print it said the winning family got 60 seconds to romp through the Day Old / Passed Sell By Date Bins to gather as much food as they can carry.

One month ago 56 year old Stormy Tscheddar and his misunderstood wife Tolla stood in line at Check Stand 4 to purchase two Stansbury Meat Loaf TV Dinners, two bottles of Diet D Cola and a package of Mother’s Cookies for their supper. They read the banner as they waited and discussed the good and bad qualities of their neighbors on Windy Lane.
Tolla spoke first, “How about the Wilsons?”
“Their dog, that little yapper?” grumbled Stormy as he read the ingredients off the Mother’s cookies nutritional label. His new bifocals gave him trouble. He struggled to find that sweet spot on the lenses to bring the fine print into focus. The constant up and down moving of his head as he changed the alignment between his eyes and the lenses brought some in the store to think he had a nervous disorder. Tolla couldn’t understand why every time Stormy tried to read something her friends would stop and affectionately squeeze her arm as they passed with their shopping carts.

Stormy's annoying head bobbing became such a distraction Tolla couldn't concentrate on the task at hand. She snatched the bag of Mother's Cookies out of her husband’s hands and found what he was looking for. “Each cookie is 60 calories,” she said as she put the bag back into the shopping cart. Stormy snorted. He was on a special diet and had a limited number of calories he could eat each day. Stormy and the doctor disagreed on the meaning of the number. The doctor insisted it was a limit. Stormy thought it was negotiable depending on his nutritional needs for the day.

“What about the Middleton’s three houses down?” Stormy said thinking he’d stumbled on the village’s perfect neighbors.
“No, you’re not home when they come by to push those religious magazine. They’re polite but its not easy to get them to understand I was saved hears ago when I accepted Jesus.” Stormy nodded. He’d forgotten the Middleton's religious zeal.
Tolla continued, “As for you, I told them you sold your soul to the devil in 1968 when you bargained for that precious Mustang convertible.”
“That I did........That I did,” Stormy smiled as he remembered that day in the park while walking his dog.

They were coming up next in line when they saw the solution to the Good Neighbor Contest problem. The store's sliding glass doors opened and the three Moperman children walked in within one arm’s length of each other. They were lock stepped in their strides. Their faces demonstrated an unattachment to the natural and spiritual world.
“The Moperman’s,” both Stormy and Tolla spoke in unison.

The Moperman family lived in a weird multilevel split level on one half acre of land on Windy Lane. They really were perfect neighbors. Their yard was was immaculate. Their lawn cut to perfection. Every Saturday the family spent time together scrubbing the siding and bricks of their home and washing windows. They made no noise. If the children were outside they played quietly, usually in a huddle. Never a peep. Their dog was even unnaturally quiet, the result of an operation his vocal chords.

You spoke to Mopermans once, after that you never tried again because they made it perfectly clear using clear body language that they weren't interested in small talk. They were more inclined to exchange polite nods with you on the street or across fences. If Stormy and Tolla had to pick one thing against nominating this odd family it would be the peculiar smell that sometimes originated from their property on warm, stagnate days.

“Cash, check or charge,” the pimpled teenager asked at the end of the check out.
“Charge,” Stormy said as he swiped his card.
“May we have a Good Neighbor nomination form,” Tolla asked. The cashier pulled a three page form from under her cash drawer. Tolla filled it out while Stormy searched for the ‘Credit‘ button on the machine’s keypad.
“Damn glasses,” he mumbled. The cashier gave Tolla a sympathetic look. Tolla smiled thinking the girl was bit dimwitted.

“Well, I put them in the contest,” Tolla said as they strolled their purchases into the parking lot. Stormy didn’t answer. Tolla turned to see that Stormy had disappeared. She stopped and scanned the parking lot. She found him off in the distance walking away from their car and toward a busy road. He was preoccupied with the cash register receipt. He couldn't quite bring the numbers into focus. He was sure he had been overcharged for the Diet D Colas.

“I’m sorry Tolla,” a friend said as she stopped to squeeze her arm on her way into the store.
“Stormy!” Tolla shouted. “Get Over Here!” Tolla shouted bringing everyone in the parking lot to a standstill.

That night Tolla and Stormy watched Cloverdale Weekend Television's production of "What's in Your Garden" while they enjoyed their TV dinners. Both were sound asleep before the show ended. The dog's barking finally woke them around midnight.
Soon another day would dawn and Stormy and Tolla would make another trip to the Piggly Wiggly.

And so the sun sets on another day in the Confederacy of Dunces. A cool breeze brings the smell of rain and steaks on a nearby grill. Somewhere a dog is barking. A perfect evening evolves from the departing light of day. Time slows as it passes through our village on the edge of forever.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Incident at Confederacy Elementary. The Spray Bottle and Meudle

Aida Grimes in the Last Picture Captured of her Smiling in 2003

I had a free morning and thought to fill one of my extra hours by volunteering at Confederacy Elementary School in Cloverdale. I stopped in the office to register and pick up an assignment. 68 year old Aida Grimes met me at the counter. This was Aida’s 37th year as Confederacy Elementary’s secretary.

“Where would you like to help today?”. She said. Aida looked off balance for 9:15 A.M. Her upper lip quivered, matching the twitching in her right eyelid. This nervous condition was caused by an office crowded with the Army of Darkness, a 6th grade boy's gang led by Meudle Merrick. The morning playground monitor found them throwing snowballs at cars dropping children off in the student depository. Meudle Merrick and his Army are office regulars. Each boy has his own chair, tagged with his initials carved into the armrests. When I arrived the boys were having a fit over the custodian’s actions the night before. Acting on the Headmasters orders, the custodian refinished the arms on the office chairs hence removing their tags of ownership. Of course, it was the secretary that had to deal with the result.

“Where’s the Headmaster?” I shouted over the layered sounds of prepubescent boy’s voices. Aida slightly tilted her head toward the his office door.
“He’s in his office,” she responded.
“Leaving you to deal with this?” I answered in a sympathetic tone.
“No, he’s got one of our fourth graders and his mother in there. The boy doesn’t like using the,” she switched from speaking to mouthing the word, “u r i n i a l s. Likes to use the w a l l instead.”
“Yea,” Meudle Merrick shouted. “He pisses on the wall.” The rest of the boys roared with laughter as they gathered in a huddle to exchange high fives and fist pumps.

Meudle Merrick Shakes a Fifth Grader down for his Lunch Money

A stream of ice cold liquid shot over my shoulder straight into Meudle’s face.
“What the ...........”. Meudle covered his face with his hands.
“I’ve had enough of you Muedle Merrick.” Aida's said while vigorously pumping ice water into his face from one of six spray bottles she keeps in the small refrigerator under her desk. I stepped out of the way giving her full access to the boys. She took advantage of the situation and pulled out a second bottle to better dispense her wrath. Zeus used lightning to punish the mortals that displeased him. Aida used her spray bottles, and very effectively I might add. The boys scurried around the office, diving for cover under the chairs and coffee table. A few escaped out the office door into the hallway. Merdle was one of them.

Aida hurdled over her office desk with the agility of a woman half her age and pursued her prey down the hall. I followed at full throttle, not wanting to miss one of the most exciting things to happen in Cloverdale in the past six months.
“YOU GET BACK HERE MUEDLE MERRICK,” she shouted as she ran after him down the 3rd grade hall. A few teachers stepped into the hall to see what the commotion was all about.
“BACK TO YOUR ROOMS NOW!” Aida shouted. Every door in the hallway shut in unison.

It looked like Muedle was going to escape. He changed directions for an outside door.
Aida held out the spray bottle, stretched her arm to full length, took careful aim, and fired several streams in mid stride. She aimed for the floor under his feet. Muedle’s gym shoes lost traction on the slippery floor sending him head over heals toward Miss Thornberry's 2nd grade class walking toward the gym with their arms folded. Miss Thornberry screamed. Her students scurried to get out Muedle's way just before he slammed into the brick wall near the drinking fountain.

Muedle laid on the floor in the fetal position moaning in pain.
“I think my arm’s broken,” he sobbed.
“At least its not your head,” she said. “Get up and march back to office.”
Muedle struggled unsuccessfully to get up. I felt pity for the delinquent and offered a hand.

Muedle and I walked side by side back to the office. Aida Grimes followed several steps behind with spray bottle at the ready in case Muedle had a change of heart.

It was just another day at Confederacy Elementary.

Cloverdale Weekend Television. The Bellowheads in Concert at Duncehall

CWT proudly brings the families of Cloverdale an evening of entertainment with the Bellowheads.
Tune in tonight at 20:00 hours. Keep the kids up for this delightfully unique approach to music.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dr. Rex Slathers MD, Renewed for a Second Season On Cloverdale Weekend Television

Dr. Rex Slathers M.D. in his Surgery

Yesterday, Cloverdale Weekend Television announced the continuation of its reality series Dr.Rex Slathers M.D. This renewal surprised many, considering the first season’s low ratings. Our insider at CWT told us the Chairman of CWT made the decision to cancel the series, then suddenly changed his mind under pressure from his elderly mother who convinced him to sign Dr. Rex Slathers M.D. for a second season. It was her favorite show, after her afternoon soap operas of course. It should also be noted that the fourth episode of the first season starred the Chairman’s mother. She was the unnamed patient suffering from gall stones and chronic bad breath.

Other highlights of the first season included Dr. Rex’s diagnosis of sever indigestion, loose stools, acne, bloating, sprained ankles and a variety of exotic rashes. You laughed as Dr. Rex squirmed in front of the 6th grade boys and their dads at Confederacy Elementary School's yearly Maturation Clinic. Those of you with color television saw his face turn salsa red when he covered the correct terms for certain parts of the body. “Maturation Clinic” was the season’s most popular episode with a 13% viewership from all households in Cloverdale as polled by the Jepperson Family Polling and Survey Company.

Bob and Eve Jepperson live at 354 Evergreen Circle with their ten children and maiden aunt. The Jeppersons contract their polling services to CWT on a regular basis to supplement Bob’s salary as a clerk at the local Hardware Hank. The Jeppersons don’t use the telephone to conduct surveys. Most people won’t answer their phones if the phone number isn’t recognized. Instead of the phone, the Jeppersons use their family members to canvas the village’s neighborhoods at night to record what people are watching.

Cloverdale’s citizens are accustom to seeing members of the Jepperson family prowling through their yards and peering through their windows. The days of having to bail his children out of jail for trespassing are gone thanks to a newspaper ad CWT produced to introduce the villagers to the Jeppersons and the vital service they provide to the community.
“You can sleep well at night knowing the Jeppersons are in your neighborhood, watching what you watch” was the tag line in bold print at the top of the add.
Dr. Rex Slathers M.D.’s next season is being filmed right now. CWT’s cameras follow the doctor as he makes his house calls and treats patients at his walk in surgery. Two episodes are in post production.

  • Airing September 21st. Episode 17 “The Deaf Can Hear!” An episode filmed while the Doctor and his nurse used modern techniques to clear ear wax from the residents of the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Infirmed.

  • Airing September 28th: Episode 18 “Oops” An episode covering Dr. Rex’s missed diagnoses of 8 year old Matthew Snoops of 21 Lake View Terrace. Dr. Rex diagnosed the young boy with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when in reality the boy had diabetes. See the doctor work feverishly to bring the boy out of a diabetic coma. The episode ends on a happy note with the boy learning to inject himself with insulin and accidental hitting Dr. Rex’s thigh with the needle.

Once again, don’t forget to set your Tivo’s to record the next season of Dr. Rex Slathers M.D. right here on Cloverdale Weekend Television.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Interview with Cloverdale School Board Member Melinda Mesherly on Entertainment and the Government's History Curriculum.

Melinda Mesherly Makes her Point.

In a statement released on Friday, Cloverdale’s School Board demanded the Confederacy's Ministry of Education adopt stricter guidelines in the production of historical slideshows and videos for the nation’s classrooms.
“The current curriculum’s videos and slide shows are focused too much on entertainment and not enough time on pure historical fact. Something must be done to ensure Cloverdale’s students received the best education possible,” said Melinda Mesherly, board member and founder of Cloverdale’s Scrapbook Plus Scrap booking Superstore located in her garage - open whenever the weather is good enough for her husband's car to remain parked outside. “I’ve reviewed several of the titles used in our schools and find them totally unacceptable.”

Melinda hesitated to speak when asked what teachers have to say about the apparent inaccuracies in the videos. After a moment’s pause she held up a finger and asked that I stop recording the interview. “I’d like to say something off the record if I may,” she asked.
“Certainly,” I replied, having no intention whatsoever of hiding anything from our readers.
“Most of the teachers just sleep through the videos anyway. Some just surf the Internet and answer emails. If I’m successful in getting these videos off the media center’s shelf then they’re left with nothing to show their classes until new, more accurate videos are produced. They lose their sleep time don’t ya see?”
“No,” I replied. “Are you saying the citizens of Cloverdale are not entitled to know many of their teachers are too lazy or apathetic to care about the content of their curriculum?”

She realized her comments were going to be used and straightened in her chair. Her eyes shot daggers at me for lying. I disregarded her soured feelings toward the press. Did she really believe Cloverdale’s Confederacy Times was such a small newspaper that it could be pressured into putting something ‘off the record’ that needed to be told?

“Let me say here and now that Cloverdale’s teachers are the best in the Confederacy; I'm saying they are under enormous pressure to educate our students well enough so they can pass the government mandated standardized tests. They must trust the Educational Ministry to do their job to deliver curriculum that is both factual and entertaining so student interest is maintained.” The Mrs. Mesherly sat back and smiled, obviously proud of talking her way out of a the mucky swamp of having misspoken.

“So, If I’m understanding you correctly Mrs. Mesherly - you’re saying that the job of a teacher is to teach to the test, because the standardized test is the final and end result of education, and furthermore, if I’m understanding you correctly, our students are so under motivated to learn that teachers and the government must producing entertaining curriculum in addition to being factual? Am I correct?”

Mrs. Mesherly squirmed in her chair. I could tell she was replaying what I’d just said over and over again in her mind. She raised one finger to speak, took in a deep breath and began. “I didn’t mean to say that all we care about is the standardized government test given at the end of the year, a test so important that if failed sends you to a remedial summer school program not funded by the province but by the local tax payers. I didn’t mean that. What I meant to say is that we care about the whole student. Every student is different and you must take into account the whole child. You must think about their likes and dislikes and their personalities.” She looked at me with a question mark outlined on her face. I could tell she didn’t know where she was going with that last statement.

“You said students today must be entertained. I’m assuming you mean that because of this electronic age, with everything students have access to, the media and music and texts and emails and video games etc etc that normal methods of education just don’t cut it any more.” She nodded as I spoke. “You’re saying that the government must make their instruction more entertaining. Sort of - take a lesson from Hollywood?”

“Yes. Yes! That is what I’m saying. I couldn’t have said it better myself,” she said with a bit of a bounce on her chair. I continued, “And if we follow that logic, that kind of curriculum - taught in an interesting and entertaining way takes more time than just lecturing fact after fact and story after story. Things must be cut out to get to the real skeleton of the matter. Agreed?”

“Yes, I think I can buy into that,” she said slightly confused.

“So, for the government to produce entertaining curriculum for today’s youth, certain things may have to be left out considering you can’t cover everything. Other things may have to be condensed, to squeeze as much as you can into the video while still making it entertaining?”

“Yes, I can buy that,” she agreed.

“Then in conclusion the historical videos put out by the government must be educational but still be entertaining. And to be entertaining certain things must be changed, condensed and modified to get the general flavor of the period and the very basic facts across to the students so they do well on the government tests. Correct?” I sat back in my chair and waited for her answer. I knew this would be my moment. She was about to back herself into a corner.

“I believe those things may be necessary to maintain student discipline and get the absolute necessary information out so the students pass their state examines. Yes, I believe you are right.”

“Then ma’am, what was the point of this entire interview?” I asked. My Check Mate was delivered. Her King was captured.

“Why the scandalous entertaining government history videos containing ................” She stopped. Her face lost all color. “This interview is over. Excuse me.” She stood, straightened her skirt and walked from the room. I closed my tablet and enjoyed one long drink from my water bottle. I knew this was going to make one interesting article.

Cloverdale Weekend Television. Songs of Praise. I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.

Cloverdale Weather. Sunday, January 31
This Sunday brings a warmer breeze descending from the coast. Snow will continue melting along Cloverdale's streets bringing more hidden grass into view. Excellent walking temperatures are expected by 1:00 P.M. with air quality forecasts reading exceptional for the majority. The Rosedale neighborhood may experience mild odors as the Cranfields are inclined to fire their coal furnace to remove the morning's chill.

Cloverdale's Faith Community encourages you to attend the church of your choice this Sunday. Join your friends and family in neighborhood worship.