Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sumtin' jes' ain't right

I read an interesting article in today’s paper about how the US is weighing whether to make some drugs more easily available by letting pharmacists dispense them from behind their counters without a doc’s scrip. They’ve even given it a cute little name; intermediate drugs. They make it sound like it’s not a baby drug like aspirin and not a big boy drug that can cross the street all by itself, but rather a drug that’s still deciding what it wants to be when it grows up. And until it decides, the FDA wants to make them available without a doc’s control. Like I said; cute.

Problem is, these drugs aren’t cute and don’t do cute things like make me talk funny after sucking up a helium balloon. They’re talking about statins and nasal steroids. WTF? I can’t even go to Costco and buy certain cold medicines without being given a body cavity search and my bra size because I might use them to cook meth.

Admittedly, I’m not a doc and don’t understand doc things, but in my limited brain capacity, I figure these drugs were made scrip only for a very good reason. So why the change? Well, it’s not because statins have suddenly become warm and fuzzy. This is being proposed to help those who can’t afford to visit a doc. Huh? Joe or Jane Patient can’t afford to go to a doc, so, hey, let’s let ‘em prescribe drugs for themselves, and, well, gee, big deal if there’s no one to measure their blood levels to make sure the dosage is right. Pharmacists will now be the new gatekeeper. Frankly, this scares the crap out of me.

I’m wondering just how far politics and government can go in order to dilute docs’ control of their patients. Whatever their goal, demoting big drugs to over the counter status just so “poor people” can get them is dangerous and idiotic. I wonder how my doc friends feel about this.

Communication technology

I seem to be on this communication kick. I think it's because the technology is so utterly amazing. If the world were left up to me, I'd be still trying to figure out fire. Given that there are brains more highly developed than mine, they are able to keep me in touch. Doesn't matter if I'm stuck on a train in NY or camping in the mountains at Lake Arrowhead - I'm only a phone call away.

However, as much as I love the latest in telephone technology, I'm not quite sure I'm ready for this...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sentence structure is everything!

Okay, I'm not normally off-color, but I think this highlights a point that I face with my personal writing and with manuscripts that cross my desk. I'm talking about clarity. No matter what our day jobs are, we are invariably faced with the need to communicate in an email or a letter. Since I'm a writer, I can ill afford to have double entendres unless I put them there on purpose. How 'bout you?

This little story brings my point home very well.

The boss had to fire somebody, and he narrowed it down to one of two people, Debra or Jack. It was an impossible decision because they were both super workers.

Rather than flip a coin, he decided he would fire the first one who used the water cooler the next morning.

Debra came in the next morning with a horrible hangover after partying all night. She went to the cooler to take an aspirin.

The boss approached her and said, "Debra, I've never done this before but I have to lay you or Jack off."

"Could you jack off?" she says. "I feel like shit.

Thanks, Shan!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

9-11 Tribute

I've seen a lot of differing reactions regarding 9-11. I'd originally decided to sit this one out. But after seeing this, I changed my mind because it speaks my heart more eloquently than anything I could say.

To those who perished on 9-11, to those who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to those who have fallen protecting my life, my heart blesses each and every one of you.

*Budweiser only aired this once. The intent was to acknowledge this tragic event, not profit from it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Dear Ms. Reviewer, Madame Publicist, Mr. Event Planner, Mr. Senior Newspaper Editor,
It seems as though all correspondence originating from my desk is not as I'd feared; five malfunctioning printers. After careful surveillance, I've determined that the office mascot is to blame.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Writing is hell

I'm struggling with a chapter in my book that's given me fits and starts for months. I just can't seem to find the right tone that makes it rock as much as the other chapters. I had a friend read it and felt it was fine. "So it's not one of your better chaps? It gets the job done."

It gets the job done? Is she pigging mad? I'm considering demoting her from friend status. Who needs supportive and encouraging, dammit? Kindness and love is for pussies. I don't want to merely "get the job done." Each chapter has a reason for being there, and that's to impart information about my characters and move the plot along in an engaging and consistent manner. I don't make space for mediocrity. Besides, it's a key chap - it's the first time my two main characters have seen each other after a contentious breakup.

For one character, the reunion is a complete shock, and I'm looking for that perfect balance of shock that plays well off my other character while allowing space for some tough dialog. After all, I can't have her dragging her tongue along a dusty road forever. Besides, dialog is a huge strength of mine - I own dialog - so what's my freaking boggle? Every time I think I've finished it, I come back the next day and down more Maalox. It's too rushed, it's too trite, it's too this and that. Argh. The hell with it; this has been dogging me for too long, and I've decided that today is the day that it lives up to my standards.

What? The beach, you say? Now? Wait, hold on, let me grab my suit. Erik, Kim, you suckahs are gonna have to wait...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Melancholy Moment

I don’t get out of the Batcave very often but on those special occasions that I do the lunch thing with a friend of mine, I drive by one of my most favorite places; the El Toro Marine Base. It hurts to see it now. The base closed in 1999, and I was one of the few who mourned the loss. Our first home twenty eight years ago was very close to the base, and we’d hear “the boys” winding up their F-15s and Intruders in the morning as they clawed for airspeed to clear the mountains and head off to wherever jets go. We’d hear them screaming back to base for a brief lunch before they tore off again. For years, it was the only way I knew it was lunchtime.

Many neighborhoods hated the jet noise and circulated any number of petitions. I never signed. After all, who was here first? Back in 1942, the only thing around were orange groves and strawberries. The base was built on an old beanfield. It wasn’t until the early seventies that neighborhoods sprang from the ground. My feeling is; you don’t want jet noise, don’t move near a Marine base. While others groused, I preferred to think that was freedom screeching over my roof, and I blessed each and every pilot as they disappeared into the clouds that they’d come home safely.

Even though I wasn’t part of the military, I’d come to think of the ET Marine Base as mine and its soldiers as “my boys.” Back in the day, our little town was filled with jarheads and camouflage. The Iron Mule was spitting distance from the base. It was their hangout, and it wasn’t at all uncommon for a Friday night fight to break out in that diviest of dives. It was part of the charm. The barber shops all had signs in their windows advertising military haircuts at cheapie prices. The dry cleaner was filled with all sorts of multi-colored uniforms. They were an integral part of our community.

One of our neighbors was a jet jockey, and I was always trying to ply him with my killer margaritas in an effort to extort a freebie ride in an F-18. Never happened, and I was reduced to letting my kids ditch class for a day so we could all attend the Air Show and ooh and ahh as flyers strapped all kinds of planes to their butts and perform death-defying tricks.

When my kids were little, they always made me pull over to the side of the road so we could watch a squadron of Intruders and F-15s fly in. Our little nest on top of the bridge had a bull’s eye view of the runway. Those are some of my favorite memories – being with the kids when they were small and untroubled and watching “my boys” do what they do best.

But it’s all changed now. The base is closed as I drive past these days, deserted. The military buildings are cracked and rotting. The family housing where military wives hung their laundry out on communal lines while their kids played on hand-me-down toys has been torn down and stands ready to become something else. Aged curtains ripple in the breeze through the broken windows where young Marines once lived. Loading docks that once bustled with men and women in uniform now stand silent. Slowing my car down, I can almost feel their ghosts against the burning of my eyes. It’s sad to see something that was so vibrant and alive reduced to tumbleweeds and dust. There are weeds growing through the cracks of the runways, a sacrilege to me. The hangers where engineers tested jet engines used to create such ferocious noise that I could hear them from miles away. They now stand silent, and the only thing to be heard are the crosswinds blowing through the open doors.

I can still hear the echoes of platoons as they ran drills around the large track ringing the perimeter of the base. My kids used to wave at them as we sped by, often rolling down the window to tell them they shouldn’t run with a heavy backpack and gun.

The base is gone. In its place, they city is planning on building The Great Park. They already have the balloon ride going on the runway. I suppose it’s a great idea. But it’s hard for me to imagine anyone tearing down the buildings that saw so much action. Many of our Marines deployed from El Toro during the Gulf War. We, of the community, always knew when something was gearing up because we’d see and hear huge troop transports fly in – a truly breathless sight. The idea of people taking balloon rides on that same runway is tough a tough pill to swallow.

I suppose my melancholy derives from the fact that their history is wrapped up in my own. The base was so active and alive, as were my kids and I, and we took so much pleasure in watching them up close and personal. Watching the crows pick at the stuffing from a discarded mattress makes me realize how quickly the years flew by. “My boys” packed up their gear, flew their jets into the skies and were absorbed by other bases. I can’t help but feel left behind.