Medical news is always contradictory; one day coffee cures leprosy, the next it causes Epstein-Barista syndrome. But even by the usual standards, the latest news was intriguing: this season's flu vaccine targeted the wrong bug, and that led to the worst flu season since the last time the vaccine aimed at the wrong bug.

So it's not an exact science, exactly. You'd like to think they head out with tiny nets, capture this year's strain, bring it back to the lab and work all night until someone shouts "EUREKA!" and holds up a test tube while the lightning crashes outside. I seem to be confusing modern science with Frankenstein movies, but you know what I mean.

When they come up with a flu vaccine, you expect it will be effective against, well, the flu. That's their job. Otherwise it's like discovering that your tax preparer was using the tables for Estonia.

Of course, it's not that simple. There are many variants of the flu, and each one has its own special style. Some are mild, some severe, some more respiratory, some make you break out in show tunes. So they have to inject you with a weakened version of the virus incubated in eggs laid by chickens who listened to "South Pacific" 24/7.

Then it turns out the new strain, dubbed Sondheim348A, is dominant this year, and you fall sick anyway, and the doctor says this is not only an unexpected variant of the flu, but also a remarkable reinvigoration of the classic Broadway tradition.

Fat lot of comfort that is.

I didn't get the flu, possibly because I got my shot at a mid-level retailer that also handles clothes. The buyer thought, "I saw that strain at the Fall Show, and I don't think it'll go over well with our core audience. I was wrong about ponchos coming back, but I'm right about this." • 612-673-7858 More daily at