Thursday, January 25, 2007

Creative Talents of Ed Stelmach Discovered

The M.o.M. has discovered that during his nine years in Premier Ralph Klein's cabinet, Ed Stelmach, Alberta’s premier-elect, found time to manage his ministerial responsibilities as well as write and illustrate three books for young children. Meanie and the Mousers, Fatty and the Freeloaders, and Nutty and the Noodle-heads are delightful morality tales and also thinly disguised portrayals of Klein and the political forces at work in Alberta and Canada during the nineties and early zeroes.

“Everyone says how quiet and unassuming Steady Eddie is,” said Stelmach’s long-time friend, Health Minister Iris Evans. “Turns out that while Ed was quietly nodding and smiling during cabinet meetings, pretending that he was a harmless oaf, secretly he was making notes in his head for another stealthily satirical children's classic."

In Meanie and the Mousers, a sleek tomcat – a caricature of Klein – vows to get rid of all the vermin in the barn who are stealing the yummy-yummies, and with his team of enthusiastic mousers, Meanie accomplishes just that. The rats, weasels, mice and other vermin flee in terror and afterwards, the pile of yummy-yummies grows until it reaches the roof.

“Let’s eat!” Meanie cheers happily at the book’s end.

In Fatty and the Freeloaders, the main character, Fatty, is now a bull mastiff, who valiantly guards the gates to a large apple orchard. Along comes a poodle speaking with a bizarre and suspicious French accent.

“Allo zere, cute little deug,” says the poodle, who is called Frederic. “What leuvely apples. Can my freeloaders and me ‘ave some?”

“Hands off our apples!” woofs Fatty, angrily. “They’re for me and my pals.”

“But deugs cannot eat apples,” retorts Frederic, cunningly.

“Get back or I’ll chomp your frilly tail off!” says Fatty, lunging at the poodle.

The remainder of the book consists of Frederic scheming to overthrow Fatty and raid the orchard, but he is always thwarted, because Fatty is so tough and smart. At the novel’s end, Fatty and his canine friends frolic and marvel at the beautiful apple trees, whose leaves are turning an autumnal yellow.

The final book in the series, Nutty and the Noodle-heads, would appear to mark a distinct shift in Stelmach’s sympathies, and may explain why he never sought to publish his marvellous works. The main character, Nutty, is a clown, who enjoys prancing about in lavish outfits and saying unpredictable things such as, “Jabber jabber!” or “Anyone can become a clown!” or “Behold my Clown Legacy Fund!” The antics of his friends, the Noodle-heads, are even more bizarre. They stick noodles up their noses and in their ears so as to deafen themselves to Nutty’s gibberings and to block out the stench of Nutty’s soiled undershorts. But all the while, they gather around the circus ring and applaud Nutty as he makes a total ass of himself. Meanwhile, an escaped elephant bearing ten vats of crude oil is charging towards the big top tent, hell-bent on destroying everything inside it.

The last page reads, “The end?”

Renowned psychologist, Dr. Cyril E. Ness, has examined the trilogy and concludes that “the unseen hero of the final book is clearly the author himself. Eddie has set the scene to come in and save everyone from their collective lunacy.”

For the sake of Alberta as well as expectant children everywhere, we can only hope that this is what Steady Eddie actually intends!