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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #241
Meanwhile, on the Gauley
David Gunn

Research has shown that noses, when clustered in small groups, or nides, usually behave in predictable ways. They sniff, they blow, they snort, they clog up, they run, they bleed, they twitch, they secrete a viscous blend of glycoproteins and inorganic salts that's not normally deleterious. When the number of noses increases to 20, a group commonly called a noddy, they can achieve a rudimentary form of communication amongst themselves. A nabob of noses, i.e. a hundred like-snooted organs, favors locomotive pursuits. If the number of noses reaches 500, or a novena, the little buggers begin to exhibit rather truculent tendencies. But cram a thousand of 'em -- a nausea of noses -- in, say, a small, ramshackle cabin, and all of these acquired abilities combine to produce downright mean sensory organisms. They pester, they pillage, they harry, they hound, they maraud ... they sometimes even murder. Similarly, when large numbers of eyes and ears, deprived of their customary cranial quarters, get together, distinct behavioral changes occur. Like their nosal counterparts, the bigger the crowd, the uglier the mood.

In the green Monandnock Refuse Company dumpster adjacent to the Indiana Groves housing development in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the number of ears, noses and eyes ran to over 6,600, so their dander was already way up when young Peter flopped down hard on them. But before we proceed to the potentially gory part of the story, it may be instructive to learn just how all those typically mild-mannered afferent organs got there. One might surmise that, given Kinkajoul's admission of covert cosmetic surgery work for Eli Lily, they might be the products of experiments gone awry. Still, six thousand six hundred of them! It's hard to believe that each one came from a willing human donor. They didn't. And for that story, we go fifteen hundred air miles away to Bung Hollow, a tiny West Virginia hamlet deep in the Monongahela Hills. Lying half-submerged along the forgottenmost fork of the Gauley River, Bung Hollow's residents were cut off from the rest of the world not by an absence of communications or roads but rather by a localized distortion in the natural laws of physics. Gravity, magnetism, quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, even Heisenberg's uncertainty principle -- none of them played with a full deck here. E still equaled mc², but only when E represented a vertebrate sensory organ -- an ear, for example.

The first person to notice indigenous disparities in the classical laws of Science was a former bunco operator named Wingate, coincidentally a cousin of the research assistant who had helped Kinkajoul carry out his experiments in Saskatoon. The Bung Hollow Wingate had eventually run afoul of the law and had been encouraged to switch to a less confrontational career. So he settled on bungee jumping. Ten years earlier, he had been one of dozens of reckless teenagers who had lashed elastic cords to their ankles, dived headfirst off the New River Gorge Bridge two county lines west of here, and had lived to tell about it. In fact, it was a carefully staged and perfectly legal annual event, and almost no one ever got hurt. But the adrenaline rush he got from the freefall convinced him to do it again someday. The bridge over the Gauley fork was a lot less daunting than the New River Gorge -- twelve feet high as opposed to twelve hundred -- but what really made things interesting was that each time Wingate jumped off the bridge, he didn't fall down so much as he fell ... up. Now, even a small-time hoodlum can get interested in events that contradict the laws of physics, so he called his Canadian cousin and told him about it. The Saskatoon Wingate -- who curiously didn't have a first name, either -- arrived in Bung Hollow on the following Thursday toting all sorts of sophisticated monitoring equipment: gamma ray flux inverters, gravity nanofield destabilizers, anti-magneto warblers, Bunsen burners and so on. He set up his apparatuses in a little bungalow that sat half in and half out of the river, turned them on, then signaled his cousin to jump off the bridge. As before, the bungeed Wingate started down, then abruptly reversed direction, and was apparently kept from hurtling off into space only by the elastic strap around his ankle that tethered him to the bridge. This was strange stuff, indeed! And all of his elaborate sensing equipment offered no solution. Every punch card was blank, every servo-vacuum was cold, every capacitator registered zero. But as Bung Hollow Wingate gingerly pulled himself down to the bridge, Canada Wingate spotted a disturbance in the water beneath him. At first, he attributed it to a fish swimming in an elongated figure eight, but the current gradually got wilder and deeper, and the figure turned into a three, followed by a small dot, and then a one, a four, a one, a five and a nine. It was the transcendental mathematical expression of pi! Even more startling, there then slowly arose from the water's depths a large number -- which Wingate, when he later calmed down, would approximate to be somewhere between a noddy and a nabob -- of ears!

Unfortunately, Wingate won't calm down for at least another week, so this 241st episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar will have to be content with the fact that nobody died during this essay, nobody was subjected to any more outrageous puns and, best of all, nobody can dispute the deductive reasoning that so far is driving this story to what some are hoping will be a logical conclusion, including Kalvos.