Saturday, December 22, 2007

Of Health Care and Health Insurance

Two different things, those. But to listen to most politicians, they're the same. Bush talks about universal healthcare as just going to the emergency room -- no problem, everybody has healthcare.

Not long ago (November 27), my 15-year-old nephew broke his collarbone. He's on his high school's basketball team; during a game he dove for a loose ball and another player fell on top of him, elbowing him in the upper chest. Voila, broken right clavicle. My dad, who was in the bleachers, took him to the ER. I was at home to receive the call, picked up my sister (nephew's mom) and took her to the ER to meet them. Two or three hours and a couple of x-rays later, we all could breathe a sigh of relief and go home.

But until we remembered that he was injured during a basketball game, the entire event was looking like a major crisis.

My sister (hereinafter referred to as "Single Mom") had back surgery in mid-October and was still recovering. Her kind, loving employer had terminated her without notice and had not notified her of her COBRA eligibility until the surgery bills started coming in. Nephew, of course, also had his health insurance through her employment. Single Mom had only recently made her COBRA election: insurance coverage just for herself. The premium for her two-person family was just too expensive. We (me helping her out) had just found Cover Kids, the state's children's health insurance initiative, and she had filled out paperwork to get Nephew signed up; his coverage would start December 1st. But as of the moment of injury, Nephew was uninsured.

This is the sort of thing that can strike terror in the heart of any sane person. Especially one who's been not working for a few months. Fortunately, since Nephew was injured during a game, his school and their insurance (for which the players' parents do pay a premium) are taking care of everything.

This instance, to me, underscores the need for affordable health insurance available to everyone in the country, regardless of employment, income, or pre-existing conditions. Health insurance is just too damn expensive -- and it's not just the for-profit healthcare industry. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the largest insurance company in the state, is a not-for-profit organization. Of course, they're building a huge new multimillion-dollar headquarters in Chattanooga, but they're still a nonprofit.

John Edwards is right when he says that companies like BCBST are not going to voluntarily give up the power they have in Washington. Neither are the drug companies or the healthcare corporations. We cannot invite them to the negotiating table and expect that they won't fight tooth and nail to keep (or increase) their power. And our current government can't or won't do anything about them; hell, the Medicare drug coverage law proved that by forbidding itself from negotiating lower drug prices.

We need universal healthcare, with an emphasis on prevention as well as treatment. And the only presidential candidate we have who'll fight for it is John Edwards. That's one reason I'm voting for him on February 5th.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Of Writing and Striking

My union has been on strike for nearly a month now.

My union is, of course, the Writers Guild of America. I'm an emeritus member, which means I haven't actually worked as a writer (for film or TV) in ages, but I'm still a member. And I'm proud to support my striking brothers and sisters in their cause, especially on the issue of DVD residuals. Even though nothing I've ever written has been released on DVD, I strongly believe that we deserve more than a measly four cents of the price of a DVD.

Being in Nashville during this time has been hard. I'm still very attached emotionally to the TV world; heck, at least twice in the last week I've attempted to give someone my old screenname (writetv) instead of my current one (ex-tvwriter). I want to support my fellow scribes, but at the same time I'm participating in NaNoWriMo again (or trying to) and still looking for a job (doing anything really, although getting paid to write again would be really nice). And even though writing my NaNo novel isn't for money, and I know that some writers will work on spec scripts during a strike, it's felt... odd working on it while all this has been going on.

I don't know, maybe that's just an excuse for procrastinating, for surfing the web when I should be writing, for why I won't make it to 50k this year (again). But it just feels weird. I want to be there with my friends (whoever might remember me, anyway), walking the picket lines, protesting and networking at the same time.

Heck, I think sometimes I just really want to be back in L.A.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

So much nitwittery, so little time

Yes, I'm aware it's late July and I'm just now doing my first post of 2007.

I'm still unemployed, still looking for gainful employment. In the meantime, I've decided something.

I've been clipping articles from The Tennessean for months now, filing them away in an expandable folder labeled ISSUES. They're articles about a bunch of stuff that I'm interested in, from television to politics to dieting and so forth. Some are long pieces, like the two-parter they ran recently about fathers and DNA testing and child support. Others are small little single-paragraph things, like the one a few weeks back about the head of the VA resigning. Most of them are about things that, in one way or another, really piss me off.

I've decided that I'm going to start pulling out one of those articles every few days and I'm going to write about it. Whatever it was that made me want to clip it in the first place, that's what I'm going to write about. Then I'm going to post that essay (or whatever you want to call it) here. Then I'll pull out another article.

Call it practice for writing regularly again. Call it trying to become a better writer so maybe I can submit some of my work someplace. Call it... call it writing.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaNo NaNo

On Monday I did something I'm not entirely sure was the smartest thing to do -- I signed up for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The object of which is to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days, specifically the thirty days of November.


I've never written a novel before. TV scripts, yes. Magazine articles where I got paid by the word, yes. Fanfiction stories, yes, although none of those have been very long. This will be the first thing I've attempted that's longer than the 60-ish pages of a TV script, or the roughly 40kb of my longest fanfic story.

Double oy.

Yes, I have an idea. And since my day job and I recently parted ways, I sort of have the time. See, I'm also embarking on Dan Miller's 48 Days to the Work You Love plan today, too.

Why yes, I am insane. Thanks for asking.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Keith Olbermann Seriously Rocks

I've been watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC regularly for the past couple of months, becoming more and more of a fan. I've always enjoyed his sardonic sense of humor (not to mention his ongoing feud with "Billo"), but in the last few weeks especially I've developed a tremendous respect for the man. His occasional "special comments" on the show are both poignant and pointed, decidedly left-leaning (which I have no problem with, since I lean to the left myself), and always thought-provoking.

In tonight's special comment, Olbermann quotes from the late, great Rod Serling's closing narration from the excellent Twilight Zone episode, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street":

"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

Olbermann then adds his own Serling-esque observation:

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

As I said, Keith Olbermann seriously rocks.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Yay Me!

I successfully edited my profile to add a picture (not of me, don't have any), changed my template from the brownish one I started with to this nifty blue one, and then edited said template to add links to some of my favorite sites and blogs!

This is a major accomplishment. I'm a total dimwit when it comes to all that stuff; I've always used FrontPage to do my websites so I wouldn't have to bother with html and ftp and whatever. But I think I'm getting the hang of this, so I'm going to try to post more often. Note the operative word: try.

Monday, August 28, 2006

My Reality TV Conundrum

I hate reality TV. As a genre, and on principle.

I suppose I still blame the genre for the death of my TV-writing career. Specifically, I blame Survivor. That show premiered in 2000; my last writing job was in 1999. As my agent and I were hustling for work during the 2000 staffing season (June and July), all anybody could talk about was Survivor. Nobody was looking for one-hour drama writers. The networks were cutting their "scripted" show budgets to the bone so they could add lots and lots of reality shows in midseason when all the "scripted" shows they'd foolishly ordered tanked. I stuck it out for another year, then threw in the towel and moved back to Nashville, vowing that I would never, ever, EVER watch a reality show.


Sometime later I stumbled across a show called The Amazing Race. And wow, was it ever. That thing was every bit as exciting as some of my favorite one-hour shows. It had real drama -- conflict, romance, humor, interesting characters -- and what I liked best, real situations and real world locales. Not that staged crap like on Survivor. Despite my best efforts, I was hooked.

But I swore to myself, that would be the only one. No more. Ever.


Clean Sweep on TLC. I didn't care for Trading Spaces, didn't like the concept and the designers were too out-there. But Clean Sweep was it. No more reality shows.

Then came What Not to Wear, also on TLC. Me, watching something about clothes! Preposterous! But I liked the "real person" aspect of the show, despite the fact that they took their real people to New York to shop. Again, I promised myself this would be my last reality show. Three was plenty.


Project Runway did me in. I watched a little at the end of the first season, enough to know who Jay and Wendy Pepper and Austin Scarlett were. When season two premiered, I paid more attention -- to the point of mumbling about those idiot judges keeping that lunatic Santino around forever. Now we're deep into season three, and God help me, I am totally hooked. Addicted. It's Appointment Television. And I've even got somebody new to yell at the TV screen about every time those idiot judges don't get rid of him -- Jeffrey. He's rude to the point of being cruel, overly full of himself, and half the time I hate his designs. The couture gown last week I just didn't get (yellow and black plaid?), and this week's outfit was tacky. If he survives next week and Uli or Laura get cut (Michael is a shoo-in for the top three, he's brilliant), I'll be majorly disappointed.

I still hate the whole genre of reality TV on principle. And you will never, ever catch me watching Survivor.

American Idol, now, that's a different story...

EDITED TO ADD: I started writing this on 8/28, but posted it on 9/14. Blogger kept the first date. Don't know what will happen after I re-post...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Obligatory Welcome Post

Hi, and welcome to my blog. I'll be using the site to write about a bunch of things -- TV of course, both then (when I wasn't an "ex") and now; politics; issues I care about; personal stuff... basically, whatever comes to mind.

I probably won't be posting daily; there's too much else to do to worry about doing my daily post. I won't be doing posts that are just a bunch of links; if I have something to say about something I found someplace else, I'll link to it, but what you'll find here will be my thoughts.

Feel free to comment if you want, or not. Just don't do that comment-spam thing, 'cause I'll just delete your ass.

I'll most likely do several posts in the next little while, as I get the hang of using Blogger and work out the things I want to write about. So... hi, and welcome.