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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #349
Fantastic Voyage II
David Gunn

In 1966, the movie "Fantastic Voyage" depicted a medical team in a futuristic submarine being miniaturized to microscopic size and injected into a scientist's body to perform laser surgery on his brain. The film was obviously science fiction--submarines were not equipped with throttle-body fuel injection until the 1970s. But since the last days of time immemorial, the notion of pint-sizing as a military tool has tantalized governmental scientists the world over. For instance, during the siege of Vienna in 1529, several hundred Ottoman Turks shrank themselves by a full third to better slip past the city's lanky sentries. But the lilliputianism was the result of a strict, six-month fast, and the soldiers were so famished that when they happened upon a charwoman on their way to their castle target, they immediately ate her. Unluckily (for them), they did so loudly, and they were quickly detected and neutralized.

Last week, science fiction finally became science fact. Lark A. Clobberworm, the visionary responsible for Pong 2001 and the Kawasaki motorcycle airbag, revealed that he had invented a full-body miniaturizer. Termed the Deepskin Diminution Device, or D3, the shrinking machine employed a dehumidifying electromagnetotron in place of throttle-body fuel injection to keep radiation exposure at levels safe enough for the whole family. As if following the Fantastic Voyage script, Clobberworm's plan was to shrink four doctors and insert them into the body of the Office of Homemaker Security's head honcho, the comptroller, where they would perform a delicate operation. But instead of a sophisticated submarine, the physicians would be riding Segway Human Transporters, and instead of brain surgery, they would be headlining a colonoscopy.

Colonoscopies are not much fun, except for the spectators. Contestants are provided local anesthesia while a colonoscope--a kind of medical palm pilot--is attached to the head of a tapeworm and inserted, ah, where the sun don't shine much. If the tapeworms are properly trained, the procedure is quick, relatively painless and not the topic of polite conversation. But, being inquisitive little fellows, tapeworms often become interested in their surroundings and tend to linger, sometimes well after the anesthesia has worn off. Occasionally, they exhibit les douleurs de la passion, or the pangs of passion, and engage in "the tapeworm dance," attempting to become intimate with their milieu. Intestinal damage can result, so the worms are usually ushered out at this point, sometimes with an electrical impetus. Also, the attendant will hopefully have fed her tapeworm before inserting it in that sun-don't-shine place, because a hungry flatworm has no moral scruples about where its next meal comes from. All things considered, the procedure has been ripe for new technology for 900 years.

Colonel Beauregard Pomerantz, a chef at the local Denny's, was in charge of the operation. After Clobberworm shrank the doctors and their Segways, he inserted them into a specially-coated cheese ball and stuffed it down the patient's throat. The coating--a marinade made from Rangoon ginger (how appropriate for the Segways!)--enabled the cheese ball and its teensy crew to survive the often harsh ride through the first two-thirds of the alimentary canal. Only when they reached the stomach did the coating and cheese succumb to the digestive force of the gastric juices. Immediately, the plucky doctors made a beeline south into the nether reaches of the pylorus, where they had lunch and posed for pictures. Then the real business began. The team ducked into the duodenum, then traveled down the small intestine to the jejunum, through the ileum to the cecum. All this time, digital images of the digestive tract were being transmitted back to Pomerantz, who had arranged to turn them into a made-for-TV movie starring an animatronic Dr. Frank Baxter. Along with, to them, big smelly hunks of what is politely termed "indigestible residue," they segued into the large intestine and observed all the other -um ports of call--the plectrum, the valium, the belgium. Once they reached the rectum, their examination over, they were supposed to call for a cab, or Cabrini Augmentation-Booster, the device that would return them to their normal size. But the good luck that they had up to now enjoyed ended swiftly. As they reached the jettison site, aggressive antibodies attacked and ate one of the Segways; the team lost contact with the chief colonoscopist, who had lagged behind to watch a polyp in estrus; the "indigestible residue" that surrounded them had formed into stool and was poised for evacuation. Things looked bleak, indeed!

I wanted to use this 349th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar to reveal the outcome of this even more fantastic than the original voyage, but a clause in the made-for-TV movie contract has sworn me to secrecy. I can only say that, much as my lips are sealed, those of the colonoscopic patient are not, nor are those, at least for now, of Kalvos.