Boris Karloff at the CDC

Gia Mora with Cara Santa Maria

You know what I love about writing? Getting to fact check before I press “Publish.” If I’d had such capacity I would not have made an egregious pop culture faux pas.

While recording the Talk Nerdy podcast last week with brainy beautiful badass Cara Santa Maria, Cara remarked that physicians and epidemiologists making flu vaccines to address annually specific strains was a little like “try-and-see-the-future Nosferatu bullshit.”

We both knew she meant Nostradamus, but, thinking I’m clever, I tossed out a Boris Karloff reference. Oh, how impressed my film buff friends will be!

Except that I was wrong.

Karloff played Frankenstein in the 1931 classic. It was the very strange German actor Max Schrek (possible relation of Shrek and Princess Fiona?) who forever shaped our views of the most famous vampire of all time.

And as fun as it would be to imagine a pasty, lanky, sullen-faced gentleman working alone in a lab, don’t you think that stereotype is a bit overdone? I say it’s Frankenstein–and nobody else! It could start something like this…

Despite the air conditioning, the lumbering lunk perspires. It’s no wonder–he’s a few miles north of Atlanta, Georgia–a far cry from the cool Alpine mountains he calls home. Beside the monster, Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, head of the Centers for Disease Control, carefully mixes flu vaccine viruses with cultured mammalian cells.

A single drop of the monster’s sweat unexpectedly plops into the petri dish. The medicine man and the monster gasp. The cells shake, stabilize. They begin to replicate.

Frieden says to the monster, “Treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation. I will create the most goddamn comprehensive flu vaccine 2015 has ever seen. And it’s all thanks to you, my green friend.”

This post brought to you by a severe lack of sleep and deep gratitude for Cara, the Nerd Brigade, and Christina Ochoa who brought us all together.

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