The Summer IRP
Each year, Mr. Streff jokes about assigning a "Summer IRP," the warm weather equivalent of the 12-14 page research paper due each year before Christmas. Before this year, no one had ever been bored or stupid enough to actually take him up on this offer. Well, before this year, he didn't have Newman. "Bored & stupid" is my middle name.
The Summer IRP
A Study on the Use (and Abuse) of Language Among Wauwatosa East High School Teachers
During the course of the school year, the Challenge Seminar classes at East had a lengthy unit on language. Also, during the course of the school year, The Underground peered deep into the minds of some of East's most prominent teachers. So it is only natural that the two should merge during the summer, combining their wisdom in an orgiastic feast of knowledge. This report examines the use of language by the following faculty members at East: Fiet, Payne, Bertorello, Swenson, Plath, Hays, and Streff.
Fiet: Unintentional Confusion
When one thinks of language among teachers, one immediately looks to room 223, and the Calculus guru Art Fiet. The only teacher to ever form a distinct language, Fietish (Newman, 6), Mr. Fiet is in a league of his own. The Challenge Seminar classes even spent weeks trying to determine the answer to the question, "What is Art?" That is a question that will probably never be answered, however, as Art Fiet is, and always has been, an enigma wrapped in a riddle with a thin candy shell. When asked about any wild escapades he may have had as a youth for the special issue 11.5 of The Underground, Fiet simply responded, "Everyone has personal stories of both humorous and serious natures that need not be revisited" (Newman, 11.5).
The man who probably best knows Fiet, Mr. Sam Waala, has been recovering for several weeks from stress related to translating Fietish scrawlings produced every morning in first hour AP Calculus, so any further research into Fietish is suspended until his recuperation is complete.
Payne: Intentional Confusion
Mr. Payne, the ying to Fiet's proverbial yang, uses the technique of confusion in a deliberate manner, unlike Mr. Fiet's involuntary use of the method. Saying things like, "the Friday before the first Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox," or something to that effect, instead of, "the first day of Easter vacation," to describe time of his yearly beard shaving, gives him the appearance of eccentricity. A student of the school of Seinfeld, much like the writers of The Underground, Payne is well-versed in the use of language. Strangely though, Payne's language tastes seem to be inconsistent, as he despises The Onion as pornographic trite trash (Newman, 16), yet tapes copies of The Underground to his spare dry-erase board every issue.
The language use of Miss Carolyn Bertorello has been famed for decades for its harsh, sometimes scary appearance, yet warm and loving interior. A study proved that this technique has been extremely effective, with students voting 46 to 2 for the opinion that she kicked ass (Newman, 11). Constant invocations of the threat of "the whip" keep students at bay, while she draws them in simultaneously, calling Mike O'Connell "Mr. Wonderful." Miss a step in your use of language with Bertorello, though, such as the use of her so-called "purple prose," and find yourself on the receiving end of a mountain of language torture: AP impromptus. Unfortunately, Bert's use of language now remains only as legend, as her retirement passes the torch of intimidation on to another well-known teacher at East...
Swenson: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
As documented in the article entitled "Swenson" (Luder, 8), Mr. Jerry Swenson has picked up right where Bertorello left off, and in some cases, has even surpassed her by carrying out the threats posed. Luder states that the word "Swenson" is actually olde English for "Keyser Soze" (8), and that his technique of humiliating his students dates back to 1953, where he would intentionally forget a person's name in "an attempt to demean students even more." In his case, the "whip" is replaced by the "dragon," and has actually been used on students before. Also, despite the fact that one can be done with his classes, threats of retroactive penalties on grades keep students diligently worshipping the chemistry God that is Swenson.
Plath: The Art of Seduction
Normally, when one sees Miss Christine Plath, sex is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, as initially reported by Shooter in issue four's breakthrough article "Miss Plath Is Obsessed With Sex," Miss Plath is obsessed with sex. When allegations to this effect were initially made, efforts were made by the administration to halt all further research into this subject. Therefore, knowledge of Miss Plath's sexual commentary remains sketchy, and was not further pursued by such high-class periodicals such as The Underground.
What was once a minor joke about Mr. Hays's use of the word "excellence" has now become an out-of-control whirlwind of language abuse. Mentioning it at every speech given, knowing that the number of times he uses the word will be meticulously recorded by students listening, Hays and excellence have become another Tosa East cliché, along with "Newman is dead," and "Lee Jeff Pertl." Recently, Hays's tendency to give long speeches has even been cut short. One can only wonder at the what the denouement to this disturbing trend will be.
Streff: All That and a Bag of Chips.
With the exception of language god Art Fiet, perhaps no teacher's use of language has been as well chronicled as that of Craig Streff. Dubbed "Craiggers" in the article "Mike Trinastic Forms Pythagorean Number Cult" (Newman, 9), Streff's soliloquies have become legendary for their breadth and length. Well... maybe just their length. "Why can't Mr. Streff stop talking?" (Regulator, 10) is a common question asked by many students. Few realize that, according to the Super Happy Fun Quiz II in issue 14 of The Underground, Streff did actually run out of things to say on April 24, 1998 at 12:48 P.M., causing the temperature in Hell to officially fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0°C). However, this didn't stop Craiggers from continuing his sermons from the pulpit of room 268 each day. Few students took note, as by April 24, they were well into practiced in senioritis-induced apathy, and even before that, didn't pay much attention anyway.
Streff also used language in a productive manner, believe it or not, and often used contrasting viewpoints in order to stir up controversy in the classroom. When referring to the two Mikes in the class, Trinastic and O'Connell, Streff used the two terms "the good Mike" and "the bad Mike" to distinguish between them. Originally, this was referring to Trinastic, Streff's heir apparent, as the "good Mike," and O'Connell, Jerry Springer's heir apparent, as the "bad Mike." However, as the year continued and Trinastic, weary from fighting a losing battle as a Newsie versus the victorious Undies (Luder, 17), fell down the spiral of insubordination and alcohol, he became the subject of threats of office referrals from Streff, and the distinction between "good Mike" and "bad Mike" became less clear. And I'm not even going to get into the whole "giving you the business" thing.
So, what conclusions, if any, can be drawn from this information? Who is the master of Tosa East language among teachers, as Newman is the master of Tosa East language among students? The answer is a teacher not examined in this report: Mrs. Eberhardy. Teaching both Latin and French at East, Eberhardy flawlessly executes in every facet of the use of language, and demonstrated this while in France this April, despite being a little tipsy a night or two along with the other French teachers. Not only that, but last summer, she simply picked up Italian, and was even asked by her instructor if she would be interested in teaching it. This is language used par excellence.
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