Friday, June 19, 2009

“Flatulence, Forward”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a one-act play about the subject of animal flatulence. Some climate experts have begun to believe that this little-known problem could have drastic effects on the lives of future generations across the world. Therefore, we humbly ask that you consider this topic with an appropriate amount of concern.

THE SETTING - A television studio in Geauga County, Ohio.

THE PARTICIPANTS - Carrie Hamglaze, a local elected official, and distinguished guests from across the county.

ANNOUNCER - “Welcome to the Geauga Tel complex in Chardon… for another episode of… HAMGLAZE & COMPANY!”

AUDIENCE – Responds with cheerful applause and joviality.

CARRIE HAMGLAZE – “It has been another busy week here in the hinterland. To discuss the week’s events, I have assembled our usual panel of experts: Kate Meffler, a former staffer for Rep. Dennis Kucinich; Dante Protoni, from The Geauga Progressive Thinkers Union; and Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, of The Burton Daily Bugle. Let us begin with Issue One – The American auto industry… is it dead, or about to be revived? What say you, Katy-Did?”

KATE MEFFLER – “I think we need to give the employees at GM and Chrysler a fair shake. It isn’t their fault that the industry has become a train wreck. Toyota and Honda should be unionized in the USA. Then we’ll all be on a level playing field!”

HAMGLAZE – (Raising her eyebrows) “An interesting suggestion. Mister Macaroni, what say you?”

DANTE PROTONI – “We need to reduce our carbon footprint as a nation. Bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler is a good place to start.”

HAMGLAZE – (Taking a deep breath) “Another creative viewpoint. Zeke the Sneak, what say you?"

EZEKIEL BYLER-GREGG – “I drive a 1981 Dodge pickup. It doubles as a delivery vehicle for my newspaper. Build ‘em like that today, and you’ll have more customers than you can handle.”

HAMGLAZE – “Issue Two – Bovine flatulence. Is it a global concern, or just fodder for the late-night TV hosts? Kate the Great! What say you?”

MEFFLER – (Speaking with a grin) “Cable news outlets are saying that a proposed tax would cost farmers $150 per head of dairy cattle, $80 per head of beef cattle, and $20 per head of swine. The result could be millions of dollars in new tax revenues. Our government could use that kind of income to fund programs proposed by the Obama administration.”

HAMGLAZE - (Nodding) “Boney Maroney! What say you?”

PROTONI – (Looking embarrassed) “If these stories are true, I’d be thrilled. But why not add a tax on horses? The Amish community is contributing greatly to our problem with greenhouse gasses. We need to take action right here, in Geauga County. Our plan could lead the world into better understanding of how animal flatulence affects us all.”

HAMGLAZE – (With mild disbelief) “A strong opinion, indeed. What say you, Zeke the Greek?”

BYLER-GREGG – “Well, if you’re worried about flatulence contributing to climate change, then I’d suggest a tax on drinking establishments in the county. That would be a truly courageous way to combat global warming.”

MEFFLER – (Looking stunned) “What did you say?”

PROTONI – “I’m all for new taxes. But… why??”

HAMGLAZE – (Baffled by her guest) “Okay, Peg-Leg Gregg, explain yourself!”

BYLER-GREGG – “If you’re really worried about flatulence, then what more consistent source could there be than a local tavern? Think of all the patrons consuming pizza, wings, ribs, and pickled bar sausages with their beer. I’ll bet the average amount of gas per square foot present during a sports event would rival the output of any family farmer!”

MEFFLER – “Ezekiel, are you serious?”

PROTONI – “I appreciate your courage, Zeke. But… are you for real?”

HAMGLAZE – (Looking flustered) “Let’s move on. Issue Three…”

MEFFLER – “Carrie, with all due respect, I want to hear his answer!”

PROTONI – (Undeniably curious) “I’ve got to agree. Speak your mind, Zeke!”

HAMGLAZE – (Red faced and slightly agitated) “This sounds like a mutiny!”

AUDIENCE – Begins cheering for Ezekiel to finish his thought. “Let Zeke speak! Let Zeke speak! Let Zeke Speak!”

HAMGLAZE – “Okay, Beer-Keg Gregg. Answer their question. Are you serious?”

BYLER-GREGG – “The real question is… are you?”

AUDIENCE – Gives the Bugle editor a standing ovation. “Beer-Keg Gregg! Beer-Keg Gregg! Beer-Keg Gregg!”

HAMGLAZE – “This place has turned into a mob scene!”

BYLER-GREGG – “Think about it. With all of the woes facing our greater society, we are seriously pondering taxes on aromatic animal outbursts. Doesn’t that make you feel just a hint of regret?”

MEFFLER – “Well, I suppose…”

HAMGLAZE – “It makes me think that we’ll still be on this crazy subject for next week’s show!”

BYLER-GREGG – “We’ve got unemployment rising, even here in Geauga. Some of our schools are desperate for funding. Communities are expanding more quickly than we can control. Power lines are cluttering the horizon. Traffic is becoming a headache in our population centers. Yet small businesses are closing. And healthcare costs are out of control. All these things challenge us to plan carefully for tomorrow… and what do we debate? Cows fouling the air!!”

PROTONI – “I’ve got to say… as progressive thinker, the thought of taxing both beer and its after-effects sounds really innovative!”

MEFFLER – (Perturbed) “Oh, shut up, Dante!”

HAMGLAZE – “Honestly, this is driven by the partisan squawking that keeps us too busy to tackle greater issues. Taking a stand on some kind of hot-button issue looks good for our constituents.”

BYLER-GREGG – “And in the end, it achieves nothing.”

MEFFLER – (With sadness) “Well… yes.”

PROTONI – “I must admit… you’ve nailed it, Zeke.”

BYLER-GREGG – “So why not sidestep the grandstanding? Why not get down to the issues that affect our everyday lives?”

AUDIENCE – Offers another standing ovation. “Zeke for governor! Zeke for governor! Zeke for governor!”

HAMGLAZE – “Next week on this show, we will debate the topic of partisanship, and more! But we’re out of time for now. So it’s ‘bye bye’ from Geauga County, USA!”

ANNOUNCER – “The opinions expressed on this program are not necessarily those of Geauga Tel, or its subsidiaries. Until our next show, this is Rod Ice wishing you all the best from the capital of our county… Chardon, Ohio!”

Postscript: Enough interest developed in this episode of ‘Hamglaze & Company’ that a full transcript was eventually offered for $9.95 plus shipping + handling. Officials at Geauga Tel later confirmed that it was the highest-rated program ever broadcast on their local network.

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