Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Television programming about teachers and students has not changed since the days when Socrates tried to drum Logic into two goofball characters named Plato and Xenophon. All he got for his efforts were two smart ass jokers turning his Acropolis into a daily Roman circus. So annoyed was Socrates at these two jerks that every night  he went home really episted off. After midnight shots of hemlock to chill himself out, he conceived of the philosophy Epistemology which today forms the intellectual  framework for detention classes throughout the Western World.

This format of teachers teaching students and students not giving a damn has remained in this ossified position since then. So Greenbushboy thought, "let's make all the teachers aliens who need Earth kids to teach them how to better rule galaxies far far away because if you can deal with a roomful of fifth graders, you can just about do anything." The Greenbushboy long thought  ended with "and if the kids fail to get their teacher to the next level of excellence, EARTH WOULD BE DOOMED." 

This was an idea written many years ago and forgotten on a computer that might have been named SIMON. I never really fleshed out the kid characters. I should also mention that this was initially an idea for a live action student film. 


Fifth graders on Earth must help their young alien teacher, MR. KVETCH, pass a series of idiotic pop quizzes so he can graduate, make his parents proud, and then go off and join the family business of ruling a galaxy somewhere. Should the students fail in their assignment, Mr. Kvetch will lose all chance at advancement, and Earth will be obliterated.

The fifth graders at the fabulously exclusive ASHTABULA FEVER ELEMENTARY are used to odd. The architecture of the school is Escher odd. The cafeteria food served is a movable feast because the food actually moves, The teachers are especially odd as they spit, drip, dematerialize, and speak with refined English and Scottish accents though none have ever been to either country. Parents love sending their kids to Ashtabula Fever because after a typical school day there, no parent is ever be described as odd again.

And why is Ashtabula Fever Elementary so odd. Well it's a feeder school for alien teachers. No, not that sort of feeder school. Ashtabula Fever Elementary was set up eons ago for the simple purpose of educating the next generation of Intergalactic leaders in patience, forbearance, and restraint. The whole Universe knows the reputation of Earth children. They are the most illogical, cantankerous, aggravating, and least behaved smart asses anywhere in any galactic quadrant. If a teacher can transverse the frustrations of dealing with miserably spoiled Earth children without self exploding, then managing a galaxy with a zillion stars and zillions more in people would be a Sunday walk in the park. And, of course, none of the students know the true secret behind their school. At least not until NOW!!!


FACIAL “SPITS” CLEARVIEW has been a teacher at the school for six kerbensecs (A kerbensec is a form of time medasurement unknown on Earth). He teaches math but literally spitting out the numbers which appedar above and around his head as dripping integers. No student sits in the first row of his class without umbrellas and rain slickers. Mr. Clearview believes it is his breath that forces his pupils to sit at the far end of the room rather than the volume of water he expectorates. He is forever gargling mouthwash and spitting it into a conveniently placed spittoon next to his desk. He also constantly asks for breath mints. The kids oblige by throwing them at him.

MARGARET “MUMBLES” ROTISSERIE, the science teacher has been around since the year One. She loves teaching on Earth and long ago forgot about placement tests to better her intergalactic status.She's a mumbler and barely speaks above a whisper. Students crawl over her like bugs to hear the daily lessons. She has a claustrophobia issue; she sweats considerably; and purposely uses bug spray as a perfume to keep the kids at a distance.

BUFORD “WHIZZER” EEL school counselor and language teacher,who finds living on Earth far easier than being a swimming instructor on his home planet which has no water but plenty of concrete. Buford speaks as if he is drowning in phlegm. No kid enjoys going in to see Teacher Eel about their future plans for his inspirational message is one marked by doom, gloom, and living at home for the rest of their lives. 

This is Principle OTIS “YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH WATER” NIMITZ first year at Ashtabula. His home planet exports nothing but principles to all areas of the Universe. In fact that's what his planet of Demerit is known for.. He is a mean looking disciplinarian who struts up and down the school hall ways handing out pop quizzes on subjects no one understands. He tells the frightened students to take them late at night as pop quizzes are best done when sleep deprived. The results of these exams will never be shown to anyone unless certain unexplained events that only he is aware of force his hand. He loves the taste of water so much when he walks, he drips.

MR. KVETCH is the new fifth grade intern and a gloomier, more dejected,  and morose individual would be difficult to find. His manner of teaching at best would be described as histrionic. Every morning Mr. Kvetch slowly trundles into class. He looks around the room and shakes his head. He says hello to his students as he puts his apple on his desk. He places his sack lunch to the right of that. He takes off his shoes and places them to the right of the sack lunch. He sits down in his chair and stares out hypnotically at the students. Just as he is about to commence his daily lessons, poor Mr. Kvetch begins to shake violently and bursts into carbonated tears. In fact whenever he speaks he breaks into a flood of carbonation.

Initially this form of teaching experience rattles his new students. But by the second day of class, his students have set up a bucket brigade. Every 15 seconds someone delivers him a new box of tissues and everyone takes turns mopping the slippery floor around him.

All the kids help Mr. Kvetch get through the day as dry as possible. They believe that Mr. Kvetch is nervous because this is his first teaching assignment out of school. ELMER blow dries the desk. LOLA squeezes the water out of his text books, CARLOS dries off his pencils, and MUSCLES sponges off homework assignments. SPOOKY brings from home several flotation devices that she attaches to Mr. Kvetch’s desk to stabilize it. Helping Mr. Kvetch survive during the day becomes the class project for everyone.

Surprisingly the crying stops when Principle Nimetz opens the door to check on his new teaching assistant. Mister Kvetch knows whenever the surprise visits are about to take place. Five seconds before the door opens he dries himself off and begins to laugh and dance and juggle pieces of chalk. The kids toss out the window the mops, pots, and sponges and look busy by copying from each other’s homework assignments. Principle Nimetz walks straight up to Mr. Kvetch and gives him a dirty look as if he knows quite well that the poor teaching assistant has been bawling his eyes out. Nimetz cases Mr. Kvetch’s desk and the rest of the room for any tell tale signs of wetness.  Once Principle Nimetz leaves, Mister Kvetch takes a deep breath and opens the flood gates once more.

One morning a week into the school year Elmer asks Mister Kvetch if there is anything they can do other than mop up around him. Perhaps he is allergic to fifth graders. Does he need more tissues? Elmer asks these questions as he slips forward on a wet area of the floor. And then Mr. Kvetch rattles off his life story in lighting speed and in an octave about five higher than what a dog can hear. “I think my dad is disappointed in me because I have no hand eye coordination, and my big brother picks on me, and my sister is smarter than me and gets better grades, and my mom makes me clean up my room every night before I go to bed, and I really like cheese and mayo for breakfast but I can’t have it every day, and I think my next door neighbor makes faces at my cat.”

In between tears Mr. Kvetch asks whether any of his students would like to meet after school and help him on a very special project. This particular assignment would require that volunteers have nerves of steel. The work would be so dangerous that no words yet invented in any Earth language could adequately describe the jeopardy. It would involve secrets of intergalactic importance, learning building code violations, and field trips traveling at the speed of light. They would be visiting places that have unpronounceable names. Best of all the fate of Earth would hang in balance if they did anything wrong. Parents were not to be told of any of this because the paperwork necessary for the field trips alone would be onerous. Unfortunately Mr. Kvetch cannot offer any extra credit or money because of school law. And of course daily homework assignments
would continue whether they lived or not.


Mr. Kvetch takes a tissue and slides a bucket underneath him and begins his story. Like all the other teachers at the school, he is an alien from a planet so distant that he can't remember how many bus tokens he uses daily. On his planet he is 180 years old, but on Earth he maxes out at about ten. Mr. Kvetch cries as much as he does because he comes from a real soggy planet made up solely of carbonated fluids. His human form must always bubble away the extra fizz or he develops mumps.

Mr. Kvetch comes from a long line of rulers who have run major planetary systems for eons and even longer. The Kvetch royal family has been using ASHTABULA FEVER ELEMENTARY as a training ground for its leaders for generations  Teachers like Spits and Mumbles and Whizzer are all distant cousins of his and while they treat each other with professional respect in the teacher’s lounge none actually speak to each other off campus. It has something to do with lost wedding invitations and the seating arrangements at various confirmation parties.

For Mr. Kvetch to succeed in his path towards being a supreme ruler over a lot of people and places, he will need tutoring to pass some very important exams and pop quizzes. He assures the kids that it is quite legal for him to use outside help; in fact test rules recommend that Earthlings assist future rulers of the universe. Not only does it build strong bonds between subject and leader; it keeps future viceroys and emperors from ever wanting to blow Earth up in a fit of playfulness. Mr. Kvetch’s plans for intergalactic leadership have now suddenly become threatened by his older brother. CLETUS was supposed to go off and form a galactic band like Josie and the Pussycats or Casper and the Space Angels and leave the galaxy ruling to Mr. Kvetch.

Now for some reason the brother wants in on the power trip and both siblings are going after the same stretch of universe. That’s just like his big brother, explains Mr. Kvetch. As soon as “Mr. I can throw the ball further than you”, “Mr. I am more popular than you”, “Mr. I understand how a car works better than you,” sees Mr. Kvetch's father giving him any attention whatsoever, older brother shows up and wrecks everything
His older brother has always been mean towards him and has never played by the rules of good sportsmanship. If he discovers that any of Mr. Kvetch’s students are helping him, the kids will all get a very stiff talking to as well as instant vaporization. Regardless of what might happen though, the kids will still be required to turn in their homework assignments on time. The pop quizzes and tests for Mr. Kvetch’s future employment begin tomorrow and will be posted in the boy’s bathroom next to the always unused soap dispenser.

That’s why he has been so upset and has exfoliated so much carbonated fizz. He is nervous and knows that he hasn’t prepared at all for these very important exams. Should he fail, Mr. Kvetch will end up leaving Earth a total failure in the eyes of his folks. He will once more find himself living in his parents’ basement alphabetizing his old comic books. His brother will laugh at him and force him to do all of his laundry. Worse than that, Mr. Kvetch will have to chauffeur his brother around to all A list parties and be required to sit in the limo and work crossword puzzles. He has to beat out his brother.

He begins to soak his desk again. His older brother is fourteen years old in Earth years and the kids have already met him. He’s Principle Nimetz. His brother will lie and cheat and steal and do whatever it takes to win. He will throw up obstacles, put down barricades, close doors, set traps, throw unwashed vegetables around, and guffaw at the thought of playing it on the straight and narrow. He cannot battle his brother alone. He will need help from the volunteers in front of him. He must prove that he has leadership abilities. These tests are very difficult and will require every ounce of strength, every brain cell, every tooth without a cavity. Are they willing to risk everything to help their alien teacher? It could mean saving Earth as they know it or as much as any fifth grader might know about Earth who are geographically deficient.It will mean staying late after school and telling their parents that they are really working on the school play, Romeo and Juliet meets Julius Caesar during a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Principle Nimetz has his own Earth helper. SPUR HEIMLICH is the 6’7” bullet headed gym teacher who speaks to people while performing hand stands or doing one arm push ups. Believe it or not he is an actual Earth person. Principle Nimetz has already promised Spur a job as the official jump rope consultant to Quadrant Four.

The graders of these pop quizzes are tough alien teachers who have scrunched up noses and wear their hair in buns...that are actually rather edible. The exams are not only take home, they are take away. The solution might be found on Earth or somewhere out there. Everybody must work as a team just like they do in a Scooby Doo mystery. Each test must be accomplished in 22 minutes depending on commercial interruption. He does have one of last year’s pop quizzes in his hands, but it is an easy one. Solving it did not involve time travel, astral projection or the destruction of a major black hole but simply deductive reasoning and the ability to turn into field mice. If one boy’s closet produces 12 dust balls hourly, what clothes work best at 12 noon? Try on every piece of clothing ever invented. Take survey of the trees lining your street and please use a number 2 pencil when filling out the forms. Explain.


SPOOKY dresses like George Washington’s aide de camp. She loves vintage clothing especially buckskin and the tri cornered hat. No one knows why she is into Revolutionary War garb but Ashtbula is a progressive school without a dress code.She is very in tune with nature. She helps trees shed their leaves in the fall by shaking their trunks.

BOY CARLOS never shuts up because as a class clown and a jokemeister, it is all about quantity of material over quality. Rule number one for Carlos: never laugh at your own jokes even when you might be the only one who understands them. His jokes are so bad his friends wear ear plugs around him forcing Carlos to speak that much louder.

Everyone loves MUSCLES because he is the skinniest boy at school. No one picks a fight with him because if he turns sideways quickly he disappears. He is such a walking stick figure that a stiff breeze could carry him away and probably would if he were not always weighted down with books on statistics. He is a human almanac who enjoys throwing around facts and figures. Rarely are they relevant to the situation at hand. However they do add educational content to any episode.

BOY ELMER has an annoying habit of asking two questions at once without ever waiting to find out the answer to the first one. His friends call him “Two Questions Elmer”. Everyone believes that he wants to end up as a game show host.

GIRL LOLA is a foreign exchange student with an unrecognizable accent. Lola has already self published her first set of memoirs. The girl is a narcissist. Everything in life is all about her and she honestly believes she is a natural leader. But can leaders lead backwards?


 A developer builds a volcano in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Around it are expensive homes. How many people living 1000 kilometers away will see the last train leaving the city if a mountain range is in the way? Use examples from previous experiences. Talk to survivors. If a major river stops flowing north south, what happens to the trains leaving from two different cities? Explore how this will affect band practice if it rains. A parent asks his children to mow the lawn. What is the amount of time necessary to hide the mower before dusk if they begin at 8A and the family car is blocking the garage? How big is the garage? How much is owed on the car? Calculate to the nearest fraction.

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