School News: Dean Marner Censures Theater Chief

Dean Marner Censures Theater Chief

William Richardson is no stranger to controversy. During his tenure at Chrislip, the head of the Theater Department has raised many an eyebrow with his offbeat ideas. First there was the 2002 production of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” in which Linus appeared nude. This was followed by 2003’s appallingly non-musical version of “Beatlemania!,” The ‘2004 season saw Richardson turn to a highly experimental format with a play he wrote himself. Titled “In Praise of Shallow Graves,” the entire play consisted of actors trying to goad members of the audience into committing suicide. Such a production did not set well with the simple, God-fearing folks of Chrislip, who considered it derivative of the later work of black revolutionary playwright LeRoi Jones.

This year, perhaps attempting to make amends, Richardson returned to a more traditional venue. He planned to present either “Cats” or “Paint Your Wagon,” but couldn’t decide which musical to showcase. So he combined the two. “Paint Your Cats” premiered to hostile reviews and a hundred empty seats.

This may be the last error in judgment by Richardson that will be tolerated by Dean Marner. He is known as a strict disciplinarian who will allow a man only four mistakes before giving him a good talking to. Might Richardson’s job here at Chrislip be in jeopardy? “Possible, very possible,” said Marner. “Let me sum up the situation in one word: The man is walking on thin ice.”

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College News: Chrislip Student Discovers Galaxy!

Pinwheel In Space!

Chrislip Student Discovers Galaxy!

Clayton Mott is only a third-year astronomy major, but he’s already accomplished something that most astronomers don’t accomplish in a lifetime. Mott has discovered a new galaxy.

Galaxies are composed of billions of stars that revolve around a central gravitational point all day. They are so incredibly far away that someone like you might as well not even bother trying to imagine it. Mott discovered his galaxy while studying the images on time-exposed photographic plates. He plans to name it after his grandpa, who also liked astronomy.

 

The Grandpa Galaxy

The Grandpa Galaxy

 

“Technically speaking, this new formation is located in the night sky, slightly above and to the left of the neon sign over the Amoco station,” explained professor Benjamin Glick. He said that anyone interested in glimpsing Mott’s galaxy could do so by going outside on a clear, moonless night, walking to the bus stop on Crosby Street, catching a Greyhound to California, and peering through the 200-inch reflecting telescope at Mt. Palomar Observatory.

This reporter was sent to interview Clayton Mott, but was informed by him that this reporter’s cranial capacity was too limited to understand something as complex as nebular formations. This reporter suggested that Mott take that back. Mott suggested that if brains were money this reporter couldn’t afford a free cup of coffee. This reporter suggested that Mott was a lonely pencil-neck who was a whiz at science but a total washout with people. Mott suggested that this reporter’s mother was a painted hussy. This reporter said that the kennel just called to say Mott’s mother’s room was ready. Mott flung a clipboard and cut this reporter’s cheek with the metal part. It was at this point that Professor Glick terminated the interview.

This reporter feels that Mott’s so-called “galaxy” is only a smudge on the telescope lens, and that if it does turn out to be a galaxy, it’s probably not a very good one.

Mexican Chili Arrives!

Mexican Chili Arrives!

If you asked the handful of Mexican students attending Chrislip College what they missed about their homeland, they’d probably mention: 1) the food, 2) those big hats, and 3) nothing. Dean Marner’s administration can’t do much about 2 or 3, but food is a different story. In order to make our south-of-the-border guests feel at home, the administration arranged for 200 gallons of genuine Mexican chili to be delivered here from Ixtapa. Kitchen workers hurriedly moved the barrels of chili into the cafeteria (see photo) to prepare a meal no one would soon forget.

Cafeteria workers

Mexican chili differs from other chili in that Mexicans can eat it while normal people can’t. It’s said that even looking at the chili without proper eye protection can result in blindness or insanity. But that’s probably just a rumor born of the innate prejudice that dwells in the hearts of human beings everywhere except here.

Interview: Lou Effinger Speaks Out

Interview: Lou Effinger Speaks Out

Lou Effinger is now in his seventh year as coach of the Chrislip College Fighting Pines baseball team. Under his tutelage, the Pines have shown steady improvement. They played with characteristic scrappiness last season, narrowly missing the playoffs with a record of oh-and-thirty-two. Todd Farris discussed the upcoming season with Coach Effinger

Q: I think you’ll agree, Coach, that last year was nothing to write home about

A: Well, no. We were oh-and-thirty-two. I thought we’d win more games than that. I mean, really! Oh-and-thirty-two! We didn’t even have to show up. We could’ve skipped the games and gone to the circus or the zoo and had a really good time. We would’ve finished with the same record.

Q: So it caused a lot of frustration on your part?

A: Oh, yeah. It’s pretty disheartening when the opposing players don’t bother to dress for the game, when they run onto the field wearing their street clothes. Or when they park their bus next to the dugout and leave the motor running. It’s frustrating.

Q: Were there any standouts on the team last season?

A: Newt Spangler, our third baseman. What an arm that kid’s got! I’ve seen him stand on third base and throw the ball over the centerfield fence. Of course, when he does that the runner usually takes second.

Newt Spangler handles the hot corner for the Pines. This guy plays for the Giants.

Newt Spangler handles the hot corner for the Pines. This guy plays for the Giants.

Q: Are you doing anything differently in preparation for next season?

A: We’re stressing the basics. We’re teaching our catcher not to call for pitchouts with the bases empty. We’re teaching our second baseman how to actually catch pop flies instead of just running around in circles with his glove stuck up in the air like a big dope. And we’re teaching the art of shatter. Our shortstop can now yell “Hey batter batter batter! Hey batter batter batter!” as well as anyone in the league.

Q: That’s impressive.

A: I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

Q: But isn’t all that chatter kind of bush league? What else are you teaching?

A: Lots of neat stuff. Our boys are learning to dig in like Wade Boggs, swing like Ted Williams, and fly like Rickey Henderson. Except for our pitcher, Ernie Newell, who was oh-and-ten. I’m teaching him to fly like Thurman Munson.

Q: Tell me, Coach, what’s been your proudest moment during your long tenure as skipper of the Fighting Pines?

A: That’s easy. As of this season, there will be a new statute in the rule book. It’s named for us. The Chrislip Rule. Quote: “In such a case as a team might find itself behind by ten or more runs after one inning of play, that team may exercise the option of forfeiting the contest and going to the zoo or the circus and having a really good time.” End quote.

Q: That’s quite an honor.

A: Hey, does the University of Michigan have a rule named after them? Does Michigan State?

Q: A point well taken. What goals do you have for the team?

A: Nothing specific. I just told the boys the same thing my father told me when I was a kid. My dad said “Son, try not to be such a buttwipe. Be proud to be a Pine.”

Q: I didn’t know you played for the Fighting Pines.

A: I didn’t.

Q: Oh. (long pause.) How many players did you lose to graduation?

A: Not enough. Three, maybe. Or eleven.

Q: Thanks for the chat, Coach Effinger. I’m sure you have a winning season ahead of you

A: Yeah, right.

Betcha didn’t know…

…That the Fighting Pines are named after a tree, the Fighting Pine.

…That if the Central Michigan Chippewas hadn’t squeezed a run across with a suicide bunt in the 7th inning last May 14th, the Pines would’ve won if the Chips hadn’t scored six times in the 9th.

…That pitcher Jon Teagle wanted to learn to throw a spitball last season, but had to give up because he couldn’t think of a good place to hide the spit.

…That 3rd baseman Newt Spangler has never seen a naked woman.

…That 2nd baseman Chuck Fletcher “does it” in the locker room when he thinks no one is around.

…That Jon Teagle’s father has a drinking problem and his mother is crazy.

…That catcher Roy Cudahy spent an hour in the treehouse with his 10-year-old cousin Mandy and now she goes to a psychiatrist because she’s afraid of boys.

…That rightfielder Brett Melborn cuts pictures of women in their underwear out of the Sears catalog and hides them under his bed.

…That Jon Teagle drools in his sleep.

…That leftfielder Christopher Miller’s mom has had so many lovers it’s not funny.

…That before moving to Chrislip, Newt Spangler’s dad was under suspicion of embezzlement in Grand Rapids. He was never arrested, but they don’t suspect people unless they’re guilty, right?

…That Brett Melborn’s father cheats like a son of a buck on his taxes.

Dean Says Free Speech is More Like Accordions Than We Think

Dean Says Free Speech is More Like Accordions Than We Think

The Chrislip College Board of Regents voted yesterday to remove Robert Spaniel from his post as professor of mathematics. The firing was the result of an allegedly racist act perpetrated by Dr. Spaniel several weeks ago. The incident was videotaped by an amateur cameraman, and has since been the source of much debate around campus.

The incident in question took place during an otherwise uneventful lunch in the cafeteria. Odell Watts, a student-teacher, was returning from the lunch-line with his tray of food when he slipped and fell to the floor. In doing so, he landed face-first in his mashed potatoes.

According to witnesses, Dr. Spaniel laughed when he saw this and commented, “Eat ’em, don’t breathe ’em!” an apparent reference to what Mr. Watts was doing to the potatoes with his face. The videotape, though grainy and poorly lit, seems to support the charges made by the witnesses.

Dr. Spaniel is white. Mr. Watts is an African-American.

The incident set off a storm of protest from one end of campus to about one-eighth of the way across it; primarily in the section which houses liberal arts students.

In announcing the firing, Dean Harvard Marner spoke from a prepared statement that said in part: “Freedom of speech is like an accordion. It’s a good thing to have, [but] that doesn’t mean you should practice it within earshot of others.”

Dean Marner demonstrating Dr. Spaniel's racial intolerance in D minor

Dean Marner demonstrating Dr. Spaniel's racial intolerance in D minor

The Doubleday Dictionary defines an accordion as a portable reed organ using air from a self-contained bellows operated by the performer.

The following is the complete text of Dean Marner’s statement concerning the firing of Dr. Robert Spaniel


“After much deliberation, we’ve decided it’s in the best interest of the students, the faculty, and indeed the whole of Chrislip College, to can Robert Spaniel.

“What began as a minor scandal quickly became a rowdy-dow, and was on the verge of turning into a brouhaha. Hopefully, giving Bob his walking papers will put an end to it.

“The Board of Regents is… or are… (long pause), The Board of Regents am responsible for providing students with teachers who are good role models. They have to make sure one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole barrel of monkeys. It’s clear that Bob Spaniel was the bad apple in this case, when he was tossed into the barrel of monkeys, of which we are proud to claim Odell Watts as one of them.

“Some people say that Bob has lost his freedom of speech. But let me say this: Freedom of speech is like an accordion. They have a lot in common. Both produce sweet music when played properly. Both have the capacity to either please or offend. And both resemble a large concertina. In other words, it’s a good thing to have. That doesn’t mean you should practice it within earshot of others.

“I must admit that I don’t understand why what Bob did is so terrible. But then, I’m from a different generation. We didn’t have computers and cable TV. We didn’t have lubricated condoms and men landing on the moon. We didn’t have all these wonderful Ronco products. And people were different back then, too. We took things in stride. We believed in living and letting living.”

[A reporter interrupted and asked where Dean Marner got the information that lubricated condoms are landing on the moon. The dean replied that this was news to him, but that he would look into the matter further.]

“In closing, let me say that we wish Robert Spaniel well, even though he is a pretty bad fellow. We’re sure he’ll find another math-teaching job somewhere else where nobody knows him, and that in no time at all those students will be able to count as high as ours can.”

The following is a letter to the editor from Professor Mick Williams concerning the firing of Dr. Robert Spaniel


Dear Todd,

The firing of Robert Spaniel was correct, both politically and morally.

We’ve all seen the video a hundred times, frame by ugly frame.

We saw Odell Watts, a black African-American gentleman of color, as he slipped on the floor and plunged into his mashed potatoes.

We saw the face of Robert Spaniel rising in the background like a white death’s-head mask, a smile of perverted amusement twisting his lips.

We heard his staccato outburst of laughter; a series of six distinct “ha-ha’s.”

We heard his tasteless comment: “Eat ’em, don’t breathe ’em!”

That video reminds me of another video – the one in which the heroic figure of Rodney King cringed as he was clubbed by white America. And let’s be honest, the hands of all European-descended Americans were holding those billy clubs that night.

I am not going to apologize for being a white man. I did that in the last issue. But like all thinking people everywhere, regardless of race, I feel shamed by the actions of a “man” like Robert Spaniel.

And what were his actions? Simply put, he laughed at a black man. This is unacceptable behavior. There is nothing funny about black people. I and some like-minded friends recently attended a comedy club downstate. While there, we refused to laugh at the black comedians. We knew their humor was born of the white foot of oppression on their necks, and our laughter would have shown that we didn’t take these comics seriously. So we sat there in a stone-silent show of solidarity.

Some might say that seeing someone, anyone, fall into a plate of mashed potatoes is “funny.” But I have to question the true source of Spaniel’s amusement. Considering the color of mashed potatoes, it’s very likely that Spaniel saw the symbolism. He was laughing at the image of a black man falling on his face in the white world.

And what of his comment, “Eat ’em, don’t breathe ’em!”? The word “breathe” is synonymous with the words “inhale” and “snort.” Was Spaniel perhaps comparing the plate of mashed potatoes to a mound of cocaine, and insinuating that Mr. Watts was prone to indulge in drugs because of his color?

Or was he suggesting that Mr. Watts, with the wide, flaring nostrils of his race, was as likely to inhale his vegetables as eat them?

And what of the mashed potatoes themselves?

Police artist’s sketch of the potato in question before it was mashed

Potatoes are a racist vegetable. Examine one closely and you’ll see a metaphor of our society. The exterior, brown and honorable, most often ends up on the trash heap. The interior, lily-white, is prized as the most valuable part of the vegetable.

It was no accident that Dan Quayle – that walking ventriloquist’s dummy who can’t tell sitcoms from real life – spelled potato with an “e” at the end. It wasn’t a mistake, but rather a subtle way of reminding America that he expects the “po ta toe” (poor to toe) the line. In his upper middle-class Republican (read: Fascist) mind, poor and black mean the same thing.

America got wise and flushed the Quayle. Now our school has gunny-sacked the Spaniel. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Maybe we’re one step closer to living in a free country; one in which people aren’t punished for the color of their skin, but for their ideas.

Professor Mick Williams
Chrislip College

 

Biography: Meet the Real Authors

Meet the Real Authors

Born in post World War Two Liverpool, Rob Hanson and Wayne Moore prowled the mean streets, guitars slung over their shoulders, hungering for fame and fortune, before immigrating to America at the age of six months.

Right from the start it was clear they would have a future in satire. Some scholars have argued that their childhood shenanigans rivaled the side-splitting antics of the Olsen twins on “Full House.” But such speculation is best left to historians. As Wayne says, “Comparing us to Mary Kate and Ashley is bogus. We respect them as artists, but we’re coming at you from a totally different place.”

Their teen years were a series of progressive steps toward the ultimate goal of writing a satirical magazine, if you can call setting ants on fire with a magnifying glass “progressive.” And if you can call spending way too much time in the bathroom after school “writing.” Now they are adults who drive cars and who know, for the most part, where babies come from. Controversy has not slowed their stride. Not even when pious folk in the Grammar Belt burned their satire after they declared themselves “more funnier than Jesus.”

Rob Hanson and Wayne Moore working out creative differences

Rob and Wayne working out creative differences

For all of their similarities, the two remain very different people. For instance, Rob lives on a continent whereas Wayne can go surfing any time he chooses, but chooses not to.

They are guarded about their next project, but both agree that future plans include writing more satire and stalking girls from music videos.

Editorial: Upward Mobility, by Todd Farris

Upward Mobility

by Todd Farris

Six months ago, give or take half a year, I fell into a conversation with a stranger at the bus stop on Naples Street.  The stranger was a girl, and she had a faraway look about her.  She sat at the end of one of the long benches, tucked in the even longer shadows of twilight.  I tried to strike up a conversation.  I made a stupid joke and she gave me a mercy laugh.  I soon learned the reason for the faraway look — it was because she was indeed from somewhere far away.  From Georgia, to be precise.  She went to school at UCLA and was her in Chrislip, Michigan, visiting some friends.  Needless to say, the girl was pushing the boundaries of the geological envelope.

I couldn’t help but notice that she was holding onto an issue of The Chrislip College Journal.

“Like it?” I asked, gesturing at the mag.  I didn’t tell her that I was the editor.  That would’ve been grandstanding.

The faraway girl looked up and smiled.  “I grew up in a little town like this,” she said in a Georgian drawl that had overtones of California surf in the inflections.  “Isn’t it funny how a hometown can seem so boring and restrictive?  Then you move away, and when you look back you see that the place where you grew up has charm and wisdom and a distinct personality all its own.”

“Funny,” I agreed.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she continued.  “UCLA’s great.  It’s got excitement and opportunities.  But sometimes…”

She paused and looked down Naples Street.  A slight breeze was blowing from the west, carrying  the scent of poignant drive-in food.  Laughter echoed from Silly Sam’s Arcade, a den of innocence despite the neon.  Little kids traded baseball cards up and down the sidewalk.  A pair of Chihuahuas were mating in front of Segal’s Deli and we pretended not to notice.  And beyond the row of shops, past the highway and the trees, the frogs at Fish Lake tuned up the first chorus of their evening song.

“…I think a place like this is the place to be.  A small school in a smaller town.  A person could be happy here.”

“And the magazine?”

She grinned.  “Neat and sweet and slightly offbeat,” she poemed at me.  “It reminded me of quainter times.”

We sat in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the piney vapors that blew in as the wind shied to the north.  Little towns are mystical things, gently alive and gently doomed.  They have their stories.

All too soon I heard the rumble of the eight-thirty bus.  I stood and stretched my legs.  “Are you getting on?” I asked.

“No, I just sat down for a rest.  I needed one.”

“Oh, well, nice talking to you.  Maybe I’ll see you around.”  I walked to the curb.

“Wait.” said the girl.  She came quickly after me, and somehow I sensed what she was going to say.  She was going to tell me that she wanted to stay in Chrislip.  The she had found her place, her Eden.  That she had found the Mayberry that forever drifts just under the wavewash of the human soul.  That she wanted to be a part of our town — the laughter, the love, the life and times.

“Give me all your money,” said the faraway girl, “Or I’ll say you tried to rape me.”

I sighed, pulled out my wallet, and gave her my last twenty dollar bill.

“That’s all you got?” she said, sounding peeved.

“Oh, wait,” I dug two more dollars out of my jeans and forked them over.

“Thanks, sport,” she said, and walked away.  I should’ve told her I was the editor.

But some good came out of the incident.  Because of the stranger’s comments — at least the ones before all that rape stuff — it was decided that we ought to branch out and make The Chrislip College Journal available to a national audience.  And so we did, and you’re now holding the fruits of that decision in your hand.

Chrislip College was founded in 1899, in the town of Chrislip, Michigan.  To pinpoint the location, lay your left hand palm down on a tabletop and drink until you hand begins to resemble the mitten shape of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.  Chrislip is just above the second knuckle of your middle finger.  The Journal came into being fifty-one years later, in 1950.  It languished here, a little local thing, until now.  Most of the credit for our expansion had to go to out dean,  Harvard Marner, who saw a possibility and acted upon it.  There are those who say our previous dean, Norbert Shacklett, might have been trying to nudge the magazine in a national direction.  We’ll never know for sure, though, because Dean Shacklett spontaneously combusted on a golf course at the age of forty.

Norbert was a quiet man, thin, bespectacled, soft-spoken, serious, and very shy.  If you were looking for a person to play the role of small-town dean, you would’ve needed look no further.  Dean Shacklett’s great pleasure in life was golf.  He loved the game with as much passion as his timid nature would allow.  As I said, it was on the golf course that he met his end.  He was playing a match with Lee Darden, the gym instructor, and was leading him by three strokes as they headed for the last green.  The twosome enjoyed a good-natured golf rivalry for years.  That with Dean Shacklett always coming out on the short end.  That day was different.  “Well Norb,” Mr. Darden is reputed to have said, “The only way you can lose now is if you have a heart attack.”  But Dean Shacklett didn’t have a heart attack.  He spontaneously combusted instead.  Witnesses said it was a remarkable thing to see.  He hit a nice approach shot from 120 yards out, turned to accept a compliment from Mr. Darden, and FOOM!  He went up like a roman candle, just burst into flames like the Human Torch on the Fantastic Four program.  Dean Shacklett wasn’t the type of man who likes to draw attention to himself, and even under these bizarre circumstances his character didn’t change.  He didn’t scream or cry.  He just said “Oh my,” and with his face set in a slightly alarmed, slightly determined expression, went running in a zigzag pattern up the fairway, trailing plumes of fire and smoke, no doubt willing to trade his kingdom for a water hazard.  Mr. Darden chased him to try to put him out, but by the time he caught up to him on the green there was nothing left to save.  The case was a real challenge to the medical examiner.  He wasn’t well-versed in the mechanics of spontaneous combustion, but he theorized that maybe Dean Shacklett’s excitement over beating Mr. Darden at golf had triggered the fire.  The incident put the fear of God into the school; it was feared that a combustion epidemic might be underway.  Everyone did their best not to get too excited about anything.  Students in particular had nightmares about sitting in class, getting a test handed back, saying “Wow!  I got an A,” and FOOM!  It didn’t happen, of course, but to this day the teachers say that Chrislip College was never more orderly and well-behaved than in the spring of 1969, in the weeks after Norbert Shacklett went out in a blaze of glory.

Of course, that was a long time ago.  People don’t go around catching fire for no good reason anymore.  These days we stick with more conventional things.  We do not, in spite of popular opinion, just sit in our dorm rooms drinking beer and watching bootleg Traci Lords movies all day.  On the contrary, sometimes we eat pizza in there.

And we have this magazine, the Journal.  I, Todd Farris, am the seventeenth editor in the magazine’s history.  I was born and reared along with my little brother Herkos and my kid sister Sissy, an angel come to earth if ever there was one.  I honestly can’t tell you how many people have written for the Journal over the years.  My educated guess would be scads.  The current staff is a good group.  We have Ann-Marie Waterhouse, whose story “Pals” is forthcoming.  Mead Mills, journalist extraordinaire, doesn’t appear in this issue, but he’s waiting in the wings, ready to dazzle us with his adequacy.  Buddy Fenster will put in an appearance.  Buddy is a sophomore at Chrislip High School who occasionally drops by to let us know what’s going on in the world of lower education.  The news is compiled by Michael Wright, Stacy Eberhard, and Ted X. McCall.  There are many other people who provide invaluable assistance without which The Chrislip Journal would not be possible, but they’re not really writers so screw them.

So this post signals a new and exciting beginning for the Journal.  Let’s hope it’s a happy experience for all concerned.

Faraway girl, if you’re reading this, I owe you a debt of thanks.

And you owe me twenty-two bucks.