Thursday, March 25, 1999

Thrill writer scares himself




BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Serves him right.

        Robin Cook, we mean. He's scared witless.

        Heaven knows, Cook has scared the rest of us often enough. The author of 20-somethingthrillers, Cook specializes in what evil lurks in the heart of the medical profession.

        Problem is — and this is what scares him — stuff he writes keeps coming true.

        Bad meat killing people? Happened. Genetic engineering run amok? Check the cloning industry. Managed care's tail wagging the dog? Read the paper.

        So now he has Vector (G.P. Putnum's Sons; $24.95) and it has him scared. Really scared, he said last week at a Dayton book signing.

        Vector, see, is about terrorists dumping anthrax spores in the air conditioner of a huge office building.

        “Could it happen? Absolutely. That's what scares me,” he said. “Experts think it's not if, but when.

        Maybe. We already have headlines about anthrax by mail.

        “It would be easy. Consider: The Soviet Union employed 55,000 in its bioweapons industry. (Boris) Yeltsin downsized to 25,000, but that leaves 30,000 workers out there, probably disaffected and willing to help some lunatic group. All it takes is a lab tech who knows some microbiology.

        “The more I learn, the more scared I get. It's so easy and there are so many nuts out there.”

        As nearly as we can tell, none showed at the Dayton signing. But more than 200 readers did.

        TOSS IT: Wellsir, here it is almost Opening Day — April 5 — and we still don't know who'll toss the opening pitch.

        But we do know what the rumor mill says: Governor Bob Taft.

        It was whispered last week at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon he attended. It was whispered last weekend on the bar circuit.

        The Reds are mum. “We're close to announcing it, but not yet,” says Larry Herms in the Reds media office. “Governor Taft? I've not heard the rumor.”

        If Governor Taft is selected, it will make for a wee historical cycle: His great grandfather, President William Howard Taft, threw the first ever Opening Day first pitch — 1910 in Washington and no, Psst! wasn't there.

        FOR THE RECORD: Keeping up with the record books, we find a double whammy this morning . . .

        • The Downtown Council got word from the Guinness Book of Records Tuesday that it's considering its World's Largest Kazoo Band application.

        Remember? At 1998's Oktoberfest, says DTC public relations manager Buz Buse, they handed out 25,000 kazoos, including ones to Al Hirt and Rick Hubbard (King of Kazoo), for a toot.

        Documentation — crowd estimates, videos, news clips — went in a week later and have not been challenged by Guinness.

        So DTC is now waiting. And waiting. Traditionally, notification comes in the spring.

        The current record is 20,000.

        • Up in Mount Adams, Dr. Hank Glover is preparing a Guinness application for himself.

        Glover, an art teacher at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, is 57 and has never missed a day of school or work.

        Not once while in K-12 in Morehead, Ky., while earning a bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree or while teaching at several colleges and, for the last 19 years, SCPA.

        Figuring the average school year at 185 days, that's more than 10,500 days of perfect attendance.

        Whew. Which deserves at least a mention. If not a parade. There is no current record.

        Psst! appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.

        Psst! appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.

KNIPPENBERG ARCHIVE