A word about "M. J. Winkler." The M stood for Margaret. She was, at one time, the secretary of Harry Warner - one of those Warner Brothers. He was impressed with her smarts and abilities, and gave her the "Out of the Inkwell" series by the Fleischer brothers, encouraging her to distribute it through her own company. (Wikipedia paraphrase; more here.) She just didn't distribute the Alice pictures - she edited them. Winkler's company was also handling Felix the Cat at this time, and she got into rancorous arguments with the cat's creator. She feared she might lose the account, and perhaps picked up Walt to diversify.

The year this short came out she married Charles Mintz, another distributor. But that's another story for later.

It's singing day at school, and one of the urchins is wailing in six keys at once:



The teacher, who looks like a skinny Harold Lloyd in drag, attempts to get the class to sing nicely, but it doesn't work.

Did teachers actually look like this? They must have. It would make little sense if they didn't. At least it's what people thought teachers looked like.



A dog enters the room to sing along. I note this fact only so you can see the condition of things in 1923 - rather banged up. Although some of the lighting in the shots makes me wonder if they didn't shoot outdoors; if so, then the condition of the set can be explained by the fact that they used scrap lumber and threw the thing together.

Cute dog.



A balloon is filled with ink, and Alice blows it up, jolsonizing the teacher. She puts Alice in the corner wearing a Dunce cap.



By the way, the "Dunce" is a reference to Duns Scotus, a learned man whose arguments were so careful and ingenious he was known as "The Subtle Doctor." After his death his theories fell out of favor, but some followers refused to repudiate them. Since devotees of his theories were caled "Duns," the word made its gradual shift from "smart person" to "idiot." One of those rare examples where a word's meaning becomes completey inverted over time.

Anyway, she falls asleep in the corner, and appears in the dream world with the usual suspects.



Our friend the anthropomorphic note makes an appearance.




The Mean Teacher appears in the dream, carrying a sword, supported by a trio of angry books. They're the three Rs. They are ready to follow the teacher into battle and exert her will over the child and the happy, music-making animals.



She pursues the child, grabs the tail of the donkey - wh0 stripped off his clothes for the escape, it seems - and attempts to stab Alice. Lucky for the little girl, she's in a layer set at 50% opacity, so even if the blade connects it's not going to do much damage.



The books are not screwing around. They procure cannons to fire metallic projectiles at the child and the animals. The reasons for this are not clear except that the teacher is mean.



But the animals find a cannon, as well as a wall in the middle of nowhere. Alice worries about the lack of ammunition:






Ah, it's that spicy Indian cooking I've heard so much about.

The books and the teachers are possessed by sneezing fits; the books begin to shed pages.



The cat sneezes as well, and blows off his face.



Alice awakes and falls out of the chair, Little-Nemo style.



At that height she could get a concussion.




Here it is.