Rare Disease Nabs Big-Time Celebrity Spokesman

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Vol 36 Issue 33

Slow-Motion Woman Emerges Glistening From Pool

LOS ANGELES–An unidentified woman in her early 20s emerged from a large, backlit swimming pool at approximately one-third normal speed Monday. According to witnesses, the woman, accompanied by sultry saxophone music, began emerging from the pool at sunset with incandescent pool lights highlighting the droplets of water running down her lithe frame. Upon exiting, the woman reportedly closed her eyes and slowly leaned her head back in preparation for toweling-off procedures.

Everything You Worked So Hard For Lying in Splinters At Your Feet

DURHAM, NC–According to a Duke University report released Monday, all of your hopes and dreams are no more than splinters at your feet, swept away by the uncaring wind. "All that you labored to make a reality, all that you saved and sacrificed for, these are but ashes and dust," said Duke sociologist Dr. Edgar Pratt following the collapse. "Not even history will remember these toils and endeavors, for the world never knew nor cared to know of the struggle behind them."

New Hyundai Owner Sort Of Brags About it To Co-Workers

LODI, OH–Days after buying a brand-new 2001 Hyundai Excel, accountant Dale Grich kind of half-lorded the acquisition over his moderately impressed coworkers Monday. "If we're going to Chi-Chi's, I can fit three of us," said Grich during discussion of a lunch outing. "Got the new Hyundai and all." Upon laying eyes upon the reliable, sensibly priced vehicle, co-worker Al Arnot emitted a low, descending whistle to indicate his being semi-wowed.

William Safire Orders Two Whoppers Junior

NEW YORK–Stopping for lunch at a Manhattan Burger King, New York Times 'On Language' columnist William Safire ordered two "Whoppers Junior" Monday. "A majority of Burger King patrons operate under the fallacious assumption that the plural is 'Whopper Juniors,'" Safire told a woman standing in line behind him. "This, of course, is a grievous grammatical blunder, akin to saying 'passerbys' or, worse yet, the dreaded 'attorney generals.'" Last week, Safire patronized a midtown Taco Bell, ordering "two Big Beef Burritos Supreme."

Media Suffering Through Record Normal Temperatures

KNOXVILLE, TN–Across the U.S., the news media are coping with another week of cripplingly typical temperatures. "It's awful," said Jim Moore, editor of The Knoxville News-Sentinel. "We'd love to run a good lead like 'Dozens Dead In Brutal Heat Wave,' but the temperatures have left us with nothing." Tom Pierre, news director of Fox affiliate KABB-TV in San Antonio, was equally distraught. "Yesterday, it was a pleasant 73 degrees," Pierre said. "How is a 92-year-old widow supposed to tragically perish in an unventilated tenement apartment with weather like that?"

I'm Pretty Sure I'm Not The Fishing-Tackle Serial Killer

Well, I see by the TV that the Fishing-Tackle Serial Killer has struck again. Apparently, this time, he used a spin-casting technique to lay a treble-hook muskie lure right across the path of Brent Parks, a waterskiing tourist from down Illinois way. Ripped the poor feller's throat right open, they say, before the 50-pound test line drug him under. Funny thing is, they found Parks less than a half mile from my shack on Fence Lake, just like all the others. I say it's almost certainly a coincidence, though: I'm almost positive I'm not the Fishing-Tackle Serial Killer.

Bobby Knight Through The Years

Fired Sept. 10, Bobby Knight has been involved in his share of incidents during his 30 years as Indiana University basketball coach. Among the highlights:

Washington vs. Hollywood

In recent weeks, both George W. Bush and Al Gore have stepped up their attacks against the entertainment industry for marketing violent and sexual content to young people. What do you think?

My Moroccan Neighbors Won't Stop Their Damn Ululating

Well, there goes the neighborhood. Last week, the moving van pulls up to the Petersens' old house and--yup, you guessed it--a bunch of Moroccans move in. I haven't even met the Aatabous yet, but already I can't stand them: All night long, they won't stop with their damn ululating!
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Rare Disease Nabs Big-Time Celebrity Spokesman

BALTIMORE–Flehner-Lathrop Syndrome Foundation officials excitedly announced Monday that actor Ted Danson has been diagnosed with the rare, deadly degenerative disease, bringing much-needed star power to their cause.

New Flehner-Lathrop Syndrome sufferer/spokesman Ted Danson.

"This is the big one we've been waiting for," said Paula Brooks, director of the Baltimore-based FLS Foundation. "For years, our organization struggled with scant funding, a dearth of resources, and the lack of a prominent spokesperson to draw attention to this dread disease. Then, out of the blue, Ted Danson! Needless to say, we're elated."

"Before this," Brooks continued, "the closest thing we had to a celebrity afflicted with FLS was a cousin of Al Jarreau's. Obviously, this is a big step up."

Flehner-Lathrop Syndrome, a genetic cardiac disorder which causes the heart's left ventricle to deteriorate and typically results in death within three to five years, affects fewer than 1 in 500,000 Americans–grim statistics for any disease seeking a high-profile celebrity to shine a spotlight on its cause.

"A disease this rare usually can't compete with the big boys," Brooks said. "But this takes us to the next level. With Ted in our corner, FLS can hold its own against just about anybody, from Tay-Sachs to cystic fibrosis."

Danson, 52, best known for his role as bartender Sam Malone on the hit 1980s NBC sitcom Cheers and currently the star of CBS's Becker, was diagnosed with FLS Sept. 12, five days after complaining of chest pain during a celebrity golf tournament in Palm Springs, CA. The diagnosis has delighted sufferers of the disease and their loved ones.

"I've been a fan of Ted Danson's forever," said West Columbia, SC, resident Emily Dutler, whose 11-year-old son Seth was stricken with FLS last year. "I mean, I've probably seen every episode of Cheers five times. I can't tell you what a godsend this is to have him speaking and fundraising on Seth's behalf. We've prayed for something like this to happen."

"This really puts us in position for a very lucrative run," wrote Brooks in the September/October issue of Heartbeats, the FLS Foundation's bimonthly newsletter. "We can expect three or four good years of impassioned spokesmanship from Ted, followed by several months of heartrending images of his brave, final battle with FLS–the kind of thing that really jerks tears and gets donations pouring in. Then, when Ted finally dies, expect a full week's worth of tributes in USA Today and on Entertainment Tonight that mention his love for our organization. Then there's the cover of People, guaranteed. All told, that translates to somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million in free advertising and promotion."

Elated FLS Foundation official Mark Knoll answers questions about the new face of the disease.

"It really is amazing," said Mark Knoll, national director of communications for the FLS Foundation. "I know of diseases that afflict 10 to 20 times as many people as ours, and they don't have a spokesperson anywhere near as big as Ted Danson. I mean, look at cardiofibrilitis–1 in 20,000 Americans are afflicted, and all they've got is Alfonso Ribeiro. Talk about low-wattage advocacy."

"And it's not like Danson is some washed-up star with nothing but a couple of Emmys and his memories," Knoll continued. "I mean, Becker is one of the top-rated television shows in the country, with a choice Monday-night slot between Everybody Loves Raymond and Family Law. You can't get much better than that."

The FLS Foundation is already moving ahead with a promotional campaign to capitalize on its new celebrity sufferer. In next week's issue of Time, the organization will run a full-page ad featuring a photo of Danson accompanied by the words, "Making Your Way In The World Today Takes Everything You've Got... Especially If You've Got An Incurable Cardiac Disorder Like Flehner-Lathrop Syndrome."

"Make no mistake," Brooks said, "Mr. Danson is going to get the red-carpet treatment from us. When he sees how grateful we are, I think Ted will agree he couldn't have come down with a better fatal disease than Flehner-Lathrop Syndrome."

Pausing to open a letter that had just come across her desk, Brooks emitted a delighted squeal and brandished the newest bequest to the FLS Foundation: a check for $250,000 from CBS Television.

"Couldn't you just die?" a gleeful Brooks said.

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