Christmastime 2007

Dear Fellows of Felicitous Frolic,

Yes, it’s hard to believe it is time yet again for another missive from Bedrock. Yet here it is, and now our readers are in their perennial quandary — whether to set aside another eight minutes this year in a worthless pursuit to find some meaning in this drivel or just to use the paper to wrap that last-minute ring box.

The year has been a hard one for our stalwart Bedfordites. Poor old Harold Simms, now estranged from his wife of 80-odd (mostly odd) years had been given a small room at Jake Williams’ farmhouse since losing all his worldly belongings to the French Lick Casino. But it would seem his new place of residence soon may be the county jail as he was arrested for trying to poison Jake’s mule. Caught up in Algore’s global warming hysteria, which blamed much of the climate change on bovine flatulence, Harold came to the conclusion that Jake’s old mule must be responsible for at least a half-degree of global temperature rise all by himself. In his misguided attempt to save the planet he rendered the poor animal severely distended after feeding him inordinate quantities of granulated charcoal and sewing together his nether regions with surgical silk. The mule is now recovering, though it was indeed touch and go for a while, and Deputy Waxman is currently debating whether to incarcerate Harold or release him to serve on Gore’s advisory committee.

Mrs. Simms, who is still living with Rev. Peterson, seems to be relieved that she doesn’t have to worry about Harold anymore and has been heard to state that if Harold is so concerned about global warming he should pay more attention to his own diet than to Jake’s mule. She appears to be on the verge of asking for a formal divorce, though she wonders how that will affect her reputation in the community — she has never liked just being one of the crowd and feels that her present living arrangements offer more grist for the scandal-of-the-year award than a simple divorce.

Things have not gone well for Mayor Frump, either. After losing his bid for reelection, he had to face the prospect that he would be replaced by a mere woman as only two female candidates were serious contenders in the general election. Despite the unimpeachable qualifications of the Republican contestant, Bedford retained its status of a glorified high school by forthrightly electing the cutest girl instead. This resulted in unabashed celebration amongst the town’s eight token feminists, at least until the vice squad put an end to the chicanery by shutting down Dave’s Doll House for the rest of the month. The new mayor-elect promises to bring many new jobs to the community, but most citizens are unsure how this will be accomplished given that there already are five tattoo parlors operating at full bore.

The Cratons have kept their distance from all this, inasmuch as it has been possible, and have writhed in their own circumstances. Young Stephen, now a senior in high school, has been contemplating his future college life and continues being gainfully employed writing computer script. He also has gotten into making videos for YouTube and has seemingly proved that one can find inspiration and humor even in Bedford. One of his videos was selected by the CW Network for nationwide airing this year, though shortly after the episode aired the show was cancelled. It remains to be seen whether Stephen’s segment had any affect on that decision, but it has not daunted his creative efforts. He also is now learning about life, love, and frustration from his current girlfriend, a young clarinettist in the school band.

Jonathan is now a junior at Indiana University where he continues his studies of Japanese, Far Eastern culture, and Annie, not necessarily in that order. Still unsure what he plans to do with his degree, he also is taking courses in Eastern religions where he is learning that none of it really matters anyway. He derives pleasure from observing the antics of the IU libs who consistently make the best arguments against modern American higher education by writing editorials for the school newspaper.

Ben remains ensconced in Lafayette where he continues working for a local technical support team, though at present he and some colleagues are looking into starting their own business. Still on the prowl for a worthy female, he reminds one and all that he is available. He has decided that he would prefer someone intelligent, cute, and who doesn’t two-time him with sleazeballs at the local bar and grill.

Dr. Debbie continues her efforts to work with all the sick people here (of whom there is no shortage), and her new arrangements with the local hospital have gone reasonably well. Whether she will continue with the local halt and maim when her contract expires next October remains to be seen, but for some odd reason she still likes living and working here, despite the fact that she more often is paid in eggs and vegetables than in filthy lucre. She manages to maintain a reasonable degree of sanity by escaping the environs on occasion, and this past fall recovered in Cancun. She was a bit concerned about whether she would be able to reenter the States on her return, but she was assured that if there were any difficulties she should simply dress herself as one of the locals and cross the border illegally. She then could return home safely and apply for any number of government welfare programs.

Old John just stays in his inner sanctum most days, teaching students the value of note systems and decomposing. He and Debbie made a brief trip to Modesto, California, in June for the premiere of excerpts from one of his operas, and he also received another commission from Het Consort in the Netherlands for a work for two guitars and orchestra. While he was initially excited about this as he felt it would allow him another opportunity to fly back to civilization for its premiere next July, it seems doubtful he will be able to afford another such excursion — though he is quick to remind everyone that it would not be that expensive since a one-way ticket would suffice. Having established a rather formidable catalogue of works, he is beginning to see more of his music being played worldwide and is doing all in his power to live up to the image of the starving artist. His principal task in the coming year seems to be convincing Debbie that there is life after Bedford and to consider the actual possibility of escaping the present environs. How successful he will be in this may be determined by the postmark on next year’s missive.

In the meantime the Cratons wish all a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year and a high degree of sanity in the upcoming presidential primaries.

John, Debbie, Ben, Jonathan & Stephen Craton

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