The job I do in my evening hours involves reading health-related news, and every so often, I kick up a doozy. From Reuters:

The portrayal of coma and awakening from a coma is grossly inaccurate in major motion pictures, research shows, and many moviegoers are unable to tell fact from fiction.

Oh, get OUT. Really?

In a review of 30 movies from 1970 to 2004 with actors depicting prolonged coma, coma experts found that only two showed a “reasonably accurate” representation of coma.

That’s nothing. I once saw a telenovela in which a woman was having her bandages removed after eye surgery, apparently designed to restore her eyesight. (I base this not on my vast knowledge of Spanish, which is pretty much limited to “no mas margarita, por favor” and being able to count to eight, but on the fact I’ve seen the same scene in about eight million old movies.) Around and around her head the doctor unwound the gauze, until he got to the end, the bandages fell away and revealed — madre de dios! — two elaborately made-up eyes, including false lashes.

But back to comas. The problem is, of course, that people base their health-care decisions on something they saw on “ER,” and sometimes these people have influential columns in national newspapers and, well, they should know that problems with the depiction of coma included comatose patients, without feeding tubes, suddenly waking after years of being in a coma with no physical or mental problems and with a Sleeping Beauty-like appearance, as the story points out.

Well, I saw “Kill Bill,” too, and I never believed that stuff about Uma Thurman waking up after four years and being able to kick ass moments later. I’m such a skeptic.

But here’s the punchline:

One film showed a comatose person tapping out a message in Morse code with his finger. “We expected misrepresentation – not gross representation,” Eelco Wijdicks told Reuters Health.

Someone tell Peggy Noonan.

Speaking of health news, looks like my old congressman is up to his usual tricks, too:

The upcoming National STD Prevention Conference, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other groups, has just been given an unhealthy shot of ideology. The conference was supposed to include a symposium designed to explore how abstinence-only sex education may undermine other efforts to reduce STDs. The papers and panelists had gone through the customary vetting of peer review. But now the symposium has been abruptly retooled to include two proponents of abstinence programs—and to exclude a well-respected detractor. This is bad news, not only because abstinence-only work is scientifically unfounded but also because the switch represents a new level of government intrusion into the peer-review process of a major scientific meeting.

It’s from Slate. And it goes on:

So, who’s responsible for the switcheroo? Two senior scientists connected to the conference said they were told that Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., had intervened.

But of course. A guy who doesn’t believe in evolution would likely not be swayed by science, no matter what it has to say.

I have to stop torturing myself like this.

Yesterday’s day off gives way to today’s day on, so to speak. The good news: It involves a real grown-up lunch, which means I’d best go start the vast grooming process required, these days, to make me even remotely presentable. What makes your coma special? Discuss it in the comments.

Posted at 9:41 am in Same ol' same ol' |

38 responses to “Coma-tease.”

  1. Danny said on May 9, 2006 at 10:01 am

    What makes your coma special? Discuss it in the comments.

    Well, I think that Culture Club portrayed it best in their song, “Coma Chameleon.” Coma coma coma coma coma chameeeeeliaooon!

    Man, I need a cup of coffee…. soon

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  2. Danny said on May 9, 2006 at 10:50 am

    This reminds me of a site I came across for misheard song lyrics:

    The “kissthisguy” part of the url is in reference to the Hendrix lyric, ‘Scuse me, while I kiss the sky. Everyone misheard the lyric from “Blinded by the Light (written by Springsteen, performed more famously by Manfred Mann) as “wrapped up like a douche in the middle of the night.”

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  3. brian stouder said on May 9, 2006 at 11:32 am

    You mean to say that politics reigns supreme in Congress? Whodathunkit, eh?

    Souder is a doofus, period. Empty suits like him ALMOST make me give credence to the idea of a ‘shadow government’ of unelected, moneyed interests who favor controllable twerps like him…which is an anti-elitist, anti-aristocratic suspicion (or paranoia) as old as the United States is.

    That said, if I was going to start an ‘aren’t they dangerously stupid?’ political harangue, I would tee off on the appointment of an avowed NSA screw-up to head the CIA, by a president who the country has very little (and still decreasing) confidence in.

    Summer awaits us, and while our nihilistic friends Sammy bin Laden & his Egyptian concubine continue to release new video threats, one has the unsettling feeling that no one is really at the helm here. If anything, the game now seems to be to ensure that everyone has ‘plausible deniability’ when the next butcher bill comes

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  4. alex said on May 9, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    Confession. As one who went to “Dynasty” parties in the ’80s, I snuck a peek at the “reunion” show the other night. Anyway, one of the story lines they revisited didn’t involve a coma but plastic surgery.

    When the actor who originally played Steven Carrington quit the show, they decided to have the character endure a disfiguring explosion. A new and entirely different-looking Steven was unwrapped like a mummy and introduced in the following episode.

    Speaking of plastic surgery, most of those actors are living proof of just how limited plastic surgery really is. You can’t make a burn victim look like a TV star but you can sure make a TV star look like a burn victim. Linda Evans looks particularly frightful these days with an upper lip so full of colagen you can’t even see her teeth when she’s talking or smiling.

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  5. Dorothy said on May 9, 2006 at 12:21 pm

    My favorite example of misheard lyrics came right from my brother Dave. The Bee Gees did “More Than a Woman”, but Dave heard “Bald-headed Woman” when it played on the radio.

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  6. Connie said on May 9, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    According to the latest issue of Indiana Legislative Insight, Souder with 71% of the Repub primary vote, Chocola (my guy) with 70%, and Buyer with 73% failed to receive the 85%expected in their primaries against non-entities. He goes on to say “The general political science standard is that an incumbent Member of Congress with primary opposition faces problems in the Fall if s/he fails to be renominated by at least 80%.” Unfortunately he goes on to say that voters may have just tried to make a small point, realizing there was no chance the incumbent might loose. If you are into Indiana political news the Indiana Insight Group web page is at .

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  7. Connie said on May 9, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Oh, and my personal favorite misheard song is from my own childhood. Every Easter in church I loved to sing “Low in the gravy, lay Jesus my Saviour…” I thought it had something to do with the roast pork and gravy that was our Sunday dinner standard.

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  8. brian stouder said on May 9, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    “I thought it had something to do with the roast pork and gravy that was our Sunday dinner standard.”


    Makes me wonder what our young folks are thinking….

    and btw – what IS the real lyric, that sounds like “wrapped up like a douche in the middle of the night.�? ?

    I always knew it couldn’t be THAT – but after clicking around at the linked site, I remain unenlightened.

    (Pearl Jam/Eddie Vedder has inured me to the occasionally indecipherable intonation)

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  9. alex said on May 9, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Brian, I remember looking that one up a long time ago. “Revved up like a Deuce.”

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  10. brian stouder said on May 9, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    And a loner in the night?

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  11. alex said on May 9, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    A boner in the night? It was back in ’76. I don’t remember the rest of it particularly.

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  12. Futz said on May 9, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    Perhaps we should bring up the Abstinence Agenda.

    Abstinence-only sex ed denigrates condoms as not being reliable, so, when these folks get around to doing the down and dirty, they don’t use protection, resulting in future abstinence-only students. Since they evidently can’t recruit their members like the gay community does, they’re stuck with growing their own the old-fashioned way.

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  13. Dorothy said on May 9, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    I just looked this up last week!

    Okay someone please tell me what the REAL words are to “low in the gravy, lay Jesus my Savior.”

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  14. Laura said on May 9, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    I believe the way Bruce S. wrote it was

    cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night

    but the Manfred Mann version says something different– I believe it’s

    wrapped up like a deuce…

    Hope that helps y’all

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  15. alex said on May 9, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    Manfed Mann said revved.

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  16. Connie said on May 9, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    Oh Mary. Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Saviour, waiting the coming day, Jesus my lord. (Triumphant chorus) Up from the grave he arose. With a mighty triumph oer his foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah Christ arose.

    Wish I could sing it for you.

    It is only a slight exageration to say I know all the words to all the songs. Has to do with those years of organ lessons with the lady who was a famous skating rink organist. And those Mitch Miller records. And some wierd quirk in memory that has me remembering the words to hundreds of songs and the telephone numbers of zillions of people while not being able to figure what it was I was supposed to do today. It’s like an uncontrollable misuse of my storage space.

    My latest favorite song is singing Oh My Darling Clementine to the tune of Ode to Joy. Must include verse, then chorus. And of course late at night on long car rides we sing the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by a Wood on a Snowy Evening, to the tune of Hernando’s Hideaway.

    I better stop now.

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  17. Connie said on May 9, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    Make that Oh Dorothy, sorry.

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  18. MarkH said on May 9, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Connie, that was wonderful. We all have those small, distant and incredibly clear memories firmly entrenched. No misuse; they are there for a reason. We can always wonder why, but, in the end, be happy they are there. Perhaps like Dorothy, mine take right back to my youth in Pittsburgh. OK, I’LL stop now…

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  19. Dorothy said on May 10, 2006 at 7:42 am

    Poor Mary, getting blamed for my ignorance!

    Actually I know quite a few hymns from church, but the one you quoted is unknown to me. I’m Catholic. Is that why? I was in the choir when I was in 7th and 8th grade, Catholic grade school. I can still remember the words (most of them) to Panis Angelicus (hope I didn’t butcher that Latin – Mr. Unverferth taught it to us phoenetically.) My dad was in the adult choir and it was great to have that common interest with him!

    And I’m with you on the memory thing, Connie. Brains are weird things. And I always think mine is much weirder than anyone else’s.

    Mark did we ever discuss where we/you grew up? I was born in Wilkinsburg and went to St. James grade school, then WHS for grades 9-12.

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  20. brian stouder said on May 10, 2006 at 8:50 am

    Another lyric springs to mind – “Oops, I did it again!”

    – Richard Cohen versus all who so rudely e-mailed him regarding his Colbert retort column… I guess beating dead horses is permissible (if pointless)

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  21. brian stouder said on May 10, 2006 at 8:57 am

    oops – forgot the link

    an excerpt from “Digital lynch mob” –

    Then I wrote about Stephen Colbert and his unfunny performance at the White House correspondents’ dinner.

    Kapow! Within a day, I got more than 2,000 e-mails. A day later, I got 1,000 more. By the fourth day, the number had reached 3,499 — a figure that does not include the usual offers of nubile Russian women or loot from African dictators. The Colbert messages began with Patrick Manley (“You wouldn’t know funny if it slapped you in the face”) and ended with Ron (“Colbert ROCKS, you MURDER”) who was so proud of his thought that he copied countless others. Ron, you’re a genius.

    Truth to tell, I peeked into only a few of the e-mails. I did this because I would sometimes recognize a name I thought I knew, which was almost always a mistake. When I guilelessly clicked on the name, I would get a bucket of raw, untreated and disease-laden verbal sewage right in the face.

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  22. nancy said on May 10, 2006 at 8:59 am

    I spent some time yesterday writing a letter to Romenesko about that column, then discarded it. He really, really, REALLY doesn’t get it. When something you write generates 3,499 e-mails — yes, even when a vast portion of them are blind left-wing sheep following their evil leaders — you have to at least consider the idea you may have touched a nerve. Which he doesn’t. Too bad. He’s going to get 3,499 more, and they won’t be any nicer.

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  23. Connie said on May 10, 2006 at 9:07 am

    Dorothy I was raised Dutch Reformed which is seriously Calvinist, so that is where my hymn memory comes from. There were very few Catholics in that Dutch part of Michigan, and the only Catholic church held more services in Spanish than in English. I found my first experiences with the Catholic Church strange and mysterious. Once my co-workers and I walked down to that Catholic church to have lunch on Christmas bazaar day. They were selling raffle tickets, and the big prize was a collection of 50 bottles of various liquors, all on display. I was struck speechless by the thought of alcohol in church.

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  24. Dorothy said on May 10, 2006 at 9:12 am

    I know what you mean, Connie. Even at a young age I was sort of stymied by the “basket of cheer” prize at church functions. I think they’ve amended their prize guidelines these days and most prizes are more family-centered! But you never know…

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  25. brian stouder said on May 10, 2006 at 9:24 am

    “you have to at least consider the idea you may have touched a nerve. Which he doesn’t.”

    I got a kick out of the part where he said

    “Institution after institution failed America — the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have.”

    hmmmmmmm. “they?”

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  26. mary said on May 10, 2006 at 10:59 am

    I used to mishear that same Dutch Reformed hymn, but the part I misheard was “up from the grave he arose.” I thought it was “up from the gravy rose.” We used to have roast pork on Sundays too. Our good china, including the gravy boat, had roses on it, so it made some sort of weird child sense to me.

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  27. mary said on May 10, 2006 at 11:22 am

    I have the Mitch Miller records stuck in my head too, and yes, I can’t remember the appointments I have today, but I can remember the Mitch Miller theme song and dozens of old hymns. Another good switch on lyrics/melody is th Green Acres theme song words and the Beatles song, A Day in the Life.

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  28. alex said on May 10, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    To change the subject back to pop lyrics, there was a drug-trippy song by “War” in which even the singer couldn’t divine the message:

    Out of the middle
    came a lady
    She whispered in my ear
    something crazy:
    She said:


    I bought a 2-volume compilation hoping for some liner notes with the answer and still don’t know.

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  29. brian stouder said on May 10, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    Well, if ‘she whispered something crazy’ – then the thing she said wouldn’t have to be coherent at all, eh?

    Sorta like in Evenflow, where Eddie sings

    Freezin’, rests his head on a pillow made of concrete, again;
    Feelin’ maybe he’ll see a little better set a days;
    Hand out, faces that he sees time again ain’t that familiar;
    Dark grin, he can’t help when his “happy” looks insane

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  30. MarkH said on May 10, 2006 at 11:18 pm

    Dorothy –

    My family roots are in McKeesport, both Mom & Dad. We moved to Baldwin Township/Whitehall where I went to Skyline Elementary, Wallace Jr. High and Baldwin High. At 14, I moved to Cincinnati where we lived in Mariemont, went to high school there. Then on to UC for two years, and to Ohio State for J-school, class of ’75. Where were you in Cincy?

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  31. Dorothy said on May 11, 2006 at 10:44 am

    Wow you were in Cincy too? We moved there in April 2002 (although my husband began his new job in June 2001 – took awhile to sell our house in Eighty Four, PA). We left Cincy in September 2004 for Greenville, SC. (We lived in Liberty Twp. in Cincy, and our son went to Lakota East for his sr. yr. of high school)

    I started my theatrical “career” in Baldwin! I was working in a quilt store and had a customer/class student whose mother was directing a play for The Baldwin Players. They needed people to audition so I did. I am so glad I tried it, as it has introduced me to many people and I”ve made so many friends because of it!

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  32. Dorothy said on May 11, 2006 at 10:45 am

    Alex – are you talking about “Spill the Wine”? The words you are quoting sound like they come from that song. I just go to Google when I’m searching song lyrics. Try it – usually has great results.

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  33. Dorothy said on May 11, 2006 at 10:47 am

    I was once I was strolling one very hot summer’s day
    When I thought laid myself down to rest
    In a big field of tall grass
    I laid there in the sun and felt it carressing my face
    As i fell asleep and dreamed
    I dreamed i was in a hollywood movie
    And that i was the star of the movie
    This really blew my mind
    The fact that me an overfed long haired leaping nome
    Should be the star of a hollywood movie, hmmm
    But there i was
    I was taken to a place
    The hall of the mountain kings
    I stood high by the mountain tops
    Naked to the world
    In front of
    Every kind of girl
    There was long one’s tall ones, short ones, brown ones,
    Black ones, round ones, big ones, crazy ones
    Out of the middle, came a lady
    She whispered in my ear
    Something crazy
    She said,

    Chorus x4
    Spill the wine and take that pearl

    I could feel hot flames of fire roaring at my back
    As she disappeared, but soon she returned
    In her hand was a bottle of wine
    In the other a glass
    She poured some of the wine from the bottle into the glass
    And raised it to her lips
    And just before she drank it, she said

    take the wine take that pearl
    spill the wine, take that pearl
    spill the wine, take that pearl
    spill the wine, take that pearl
    take that pearl, yeah!
    It’s on girl, all you gotta do is spill that wine
    spill that wine, let me feel, let me feel hot, yeah! yeah!
    spill the wine, spill the wine, spill the wine, spill the wine,
    spill the wine, spill the wine, spill the wine,
    take that pearl

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  34. mary said on May 11, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Maybe he’s talking about the backgroundy gibberish that sounds like it might be in Spanish?

    Also, watch out for those lyrics sites. Many viruses and Trojan horses lurk there.

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  35. Dorothy said on May 11, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    Since I’m at work I”m sure the IT folks take care of all that junk. But thanks for the advice. We use Norton at home, too, and rarely show any evidence of viruses.

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  36. harry near indy said on May 12, 2006 at 4:40 am

    as for misheard song lyrics…

    the golden oldies station in indy ran a tv commercial with folks singing misheard lyrics to songs as the songs were playing on the radio. my favorite short scene — and the only one i remember now — was the two little kids singing “she’s got a chicken to ride” instead of “she’s got a ticket to ride” as they rode in a car and move drove while she was listening to the radio.

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  37. mary said on May 12, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    How about the Creedence Clearwater song, “Bathroom on the Right,” as in, “don’t go out tonight, it’s bound to take your life. There’s a bathroom on the right.”
    Then there’s the Neil Diamond song, “Cherry, Cherry,” with a chorus that I always here as “she’s got the wasted movements…”

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  38. Amy Alkon said on May 15, 2006 at 3:42 am

    Peggy Noonan has been in a coma for decades.

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