Voyd of Course

"It's like the Onion, only skinnier!" --Milton Swift "Still worth the price of the paper it's not printed on." --Felicia DuBois "The unspeakable, spoken." --Malin Wuptke "More interesting than computer solitaire, though perhaps not so effective a distraction from the void." --Harlan J. Rippington "Satire today, history tomorrow." --Steven Wallace

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Location: Santa Fe, NM, United States

In 1966, I wrote a fake newspaper article under the headline "JACK CASS SETS WORLD SHOWERING RECORD." Mr. Yohans, my 9th grade English teacher, liked it so well that he read it aloud--to much not-quite-suppressed giggling, at the sound of which, Mr Yohans said, "What? What? Did I miss something here?" I spent the rest of the afternoon in Principal Leon Duff's outer office. When Mr. Duff, who was a busy man, decided he didn't have time to see me, his secretary sent me back to the classroom, where I was greeted like McMurphy returning from solitary. Emboldened by my de facto exoneration, my friends began work on their own fake news stories. I remember a spate of Russian names in the stories, including "Ivan Kutchikokoff" and "Ivan Jerkinov." Needless to say, our newly suspicious teacher sent both of my friends to Mr. Duff's office, where they were not as bureaucratically blessed as I had been. They sat detention for a week. This I took as a lesson in subtlety--and in how to start a commotion and slip from the room before the law comes down.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

U.S. News in Brief

Singer James Brown consoles quarantined victims of Brownian Reflex

Scientists Isolate Previously Undiagnosed Variation of Tourette’s Syndrome

“Brownian Reflex,” Triggered by James Brown's Songs, Strikes Only Adult Males

Atlanta—Scientists at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta today announced a sudden outbreak of a previously unknown variation of Tourette's Syndrome dubbed the "Brownian Reflex." Triggered by the recent death of James Brown, the highly contagious disease has quickly spread and is reaching epidemic proportions. According to the latest research, the heretofore unrecognized Brownian Reflex strikes three in five males between the ages of 40 and 60. Though rarely fatal, it can impede adult males’ social development, make mid-life romances difficult, and jeopardize existing marriages.

Dr. Carl Weatherford, lead researcher on the project, described the symptoms in an emergency press conference at the CDC’s headquarters. “The onset is rapid and usually occurs during the strummed guitar introduction or during the first blast from the horns. Though occasionally accompanied by hand gestures, lifted shoulders, clapping, or twitching, the primary symptom is a series of guttural expulsions of air. These vocalizations generally present as a “hut” or “huh” sound and are often mistaken for a gathering of mucus at the base of the throat prior to a voluntary discharge. What makes these particular sounds unique—and defines the Brownian Reflex--is their involuntary nature. The subject is generally unaware that he is vocalizing; this lack of awareness may be complete when, by mid song, the vocalizations become increasingly rapid and guttural, often transforming themselves into a series of barking growls or even, in severe cases, a sustained yowling.”

Dr. Weatherford’s staff is currently investigating various drug therapies, all of which have shown limited success in experimental trials. Weatherford suggests that removal of the stimulus—the music of James Brown—will result in diminished symptoms. However, the aftereffects of exposure to “Sex Machine” or “I Feel Good” may linger for days, even weeks, and, for some, the apparently unprovoked “huhs” and “huts” may prove more embarrassing than those plosive utterances more clearly linked to the Godfather of Soul’s audible productions. One victim, suffering from an advanced form of the Brownian Reflex, reported acute embarrassment followed by prolonged depression when he found himself shouting “popcorn,” “huh,” and “good God, y’all” at a crowded Manhattan dinner party.


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