Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Ink Soup

by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
Seattle, Wash.

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Dr. Soup here. Brown is still asleep, though "still" might be an unwarranted adverb, seeing that it is only 4 o'clock in the morning.

And even "asleep" is problematical, given all that tossing and groaning.

Poor old fellow, I feel for him. He was up at midnight, having been startled by a familiar noise in his driveway, that of a garbage can lid that the wind had torn off and was using to play noisy games.

Thinking of course that it might be from one of his two cans (this is an MGD, a major garbage day, when Christmas trees, wreaths, and strings of inoperative lights are to be picked up), he went out into the howling gale with a flashlight. The lids of his cans were firmly in place, but what he found was upsetting enough: the lid, with the required address on top, was not even from this neighborhood!

The Northwest is in the grip of El Tio, a savage wind that comes up the coast of South America (hence the name, the Uncle), and then turns east through the Strait of Juan de Fuca (his favorite nephew) to wreak havoc on the land.

When El Tio is really at his worst, he is said to be running for his life away from La Tia, who is said to be the inevitable sign of a Tsunami. Actually, I am not sure whether Brown just fell asleep again–he took enough Tylenol PM to pacify a regiment of mules–or passed out from astonishment.

When he got in from chasing the plastic lid down the street, he put on the BBC World Service, thinking that the Tylenol could use the help of an additional sedative, and was lulled by the reading of an Ian Fleming novel about James Bond (Casino Royale), when they interrupted with a flash from, of all places, Thailand.

The Prime Minister, whose name I didn't catch, was speaking in heavily accented English and confessing that he had covered up the activities of Adrian Few.

This was the point at which Brown either fell into natural sleep or fainted from shock.

And I know why. Adrian Few was a fellow that we knew in college (he was Brown's roommate) and later on met at Harvard in graduate school. Adrian Few was in the Medical School, but he dropped out, saying that his work as a scoutmaster demanded more of his time.

Years later, we came across his name in an alumni bulletin, and it did have "MD" behind it, after all. But what was really striking is that he was living in Thailand. Now, here he was involved in some political scandal that reached all the way to the Prime Minister!

At around four in the morning, the BBC gives way to NPR's morning news show with Bob Edwards, whose English is a great deal clearer than that of the Prime Minister of Thailand. I greatly fear that what Brown heard as Adrian Few was actually "avian flu."

But I could be wrong about that. I've been wrong before. Of one thing I am, however, sure. This avian flu is known to be spreading the worst computer worm, or virus, to hit the modern world.

So beware. If you should go into your study and find a chicken from Thailand sitting on your computer (or even, ugh, the evidence that such a chicken has recently sat there), then call this number at once... No wait. Better send us E-mail and we'll give you the number, which was conveniently listed on that plastic lid that got us all up at this hour.

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

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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