Vol. 11, No. 2,640 - The American Reporter - May 6, 2005

Ink Soup

by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
Seattle, Wash.

SEATTLE, Wash. - What is a blog? Oh, I know that the word is a coinage made from the last b of web and the word log. But even if its pre-cute form is web log, I'd still like to know what is it?

I've never seen one.

I've never seen a blog.

I never hope to see one.

But I can tell you anyhow,

I'd rather see than be one.

Forgive the interlude, a tribute to the immortal four lines on the purple cow by Gelett Burgess. I'd quote his original for you if I were not intimidated by the only other lines in Bartlett attributed to him:

Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow."

I'm sorry, now, I wrote it!

But I can tell you, anyhow,

I'll kill you if you quote it.

Burgess died in 1951, it says here, but threats made in immortal poetry remain in force forever.

Perhaps one of the thirty or forty bits of E-mail that I erase every time

I start up this machine was a blog. Perhaps one of them was by you, in which case I apologize.

In any case, if a blog is what I suspect it is, a shameless public airing of one's private life, then the question is: why has it taken them so long?

The several dozens of people who write Ink Soup under the pseudonym of Clarence Brown have been doing this for years well, since 1991 at least and they know that self-revelation does little more than invite the same in answer.

Take the gout for instance. No, let me rephrase that, even though the doctors assure us that one does not "take" the gout, and certainly not by simply reading about it. Take the topic of the gout.

We mentioned this in a recent Soup and were immediately overwhelmed by letters from fellow sufferers.

Some contained helpful hints for dealing with this painful condition.

Several recommended a remedy that I'd already heard from my Lebanese barber, Kamal. This was ginger tea, which is made as follows:

Slice a ginger root thinly.

Boil it in whatever amount of water your thermos holds.

Twenty minutes.

Be aware that the longer you keep this concoction, the harder it will be to swallow without stripping the lining out of your throat. A little sugar or honey will make it more palatable.

Another reader made the suggestion, which he had found on Google, of drinking tart cherry juice.

This proved to be a godsend. What I now do is add the cherry juice to the strong ginger tea. This results in a tastier if less identifiable drink than either of them taken singly.

I'd like to thank the men who wrote by name, but my lawyers advise me that disclosing the medical records of others is actionable.

And if I seem to have drifted into a sexist mode here, let me point out that all my correspondents should be men, since gout is an almost exclusively male complaint. Which seems unfair. I mean, if we can get breast cancer, and we can, why cannot they get gout?

Experience has taught us that leaving you with an imponderable question is an excellent way to close Ink Soup. And provoke new mail.

Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Copyright 2005 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.