Posted in Around Town, Books, Uncategorized, Writing

Putting the Me in Media

I didn’t make it out to UCLA for the LA Times’ Festival of Books this year. “Festival of Books” is something of a misnomer…the event could be called “Festival of Panels” or “Festival of Opinions” or even “Festival of Talking Heads.”

Anyway, here’s a link to a short article about the “New Media: Blogging and Beyond” panel. Kevin Roderick of LA Observed :

…commented on the transition from print to blogging. “I had to make a transition, learn to put more of myself in the writing ⎯ even in print because I think readers are hungering for much more of a connection with the writers and journalists they read.”

In this age of information, we crave community. Information is important, it is a tool for effecting change–but without community, information does not have a context.

We are all suspicious about where information comes from. In the early days of television, when it was time for a commercial, they used to say, “And now, a word from our sponsor.” At this point we know/feel that every word we hear on television has been approved by the sponsor. We get our news from someone trying to sell us something. Ugh.

That’s part of the immense popularity of political blogs. We get information that traditional media outlets don’t cover. The writer’s opinion comes through as well. It only makes sense that we would want to know a little about the person who is doing the reporting.

Posted in Around Town, Uncategorized, Writing

Natasha Wood – Rolling With Laughter

My friend Natasha Wood has a show at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood entitled Rolling With Laughter. Monday & Tuesday evenings, 8:00 pm, through May 8, 2007.

Go. See. It is fabulous!!!


Final two weeks before London and Edinburgh!!!
conceived and performed by Natasha Wood
written by Natasha Wood and Beverly Sanders
directed by Cameron Watson

Tickets are half price on & or you can quote “wheelies” at the El Portal box office.

Monday & Tuesday nites at 8:00 pm at the El Portal Forum Theatre
5269 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA
It’s a one hour and five minute ride of a lifetime – apparently!

“Wood has a graciousness and lack of sentimentality that serves the work very well…It shows us that sometimes the greatest liabilities can be turned into remarkable advantages.”–Backstage West – Pick of the Week

“an UNFORGETTABLE solo show that everyone should see!
Do see this show! It will be one of the most rewarding sixty minutes of your life!”–Tolucan Times

This production is ONE OF A KIND!”–Accessibly Live Off-Line

“Thanks to the godsent team of Watson, Sanders and Wood, the indelible ROLLING WITH LAUGHTER provides a SPECTACULAR evening bombarding us with laughter yet subtly guaranteeing to make almost everyone leave the theatre with a new spark of hope…”–Entertainment Today/Review – Critic’s Pick

Posted in Grindstone

Jessica Starr

Hello from Oregon. I’m here in Forest Grove, northwest of Portland. I’m visiting my mom, who is in the hospital. Usually, being in the hospital is not a good thing. It means something bad has happened.

In this case, being in the hospital is good. My mom is bipolar, and she is having a manic episode. She needs to be in the hospital right now; she needs care, and she needs medication to facilitate a reduction of the mania.

“Mental health care is broken in our country.” This is what Ann, one of the Emergency Department (ED) nurses at St. Vincent’s Hospital said to me at 5:15 am this past Sunday morning. We had arrived at ED at 1:30 am, and it was full of other patients, including a larger-than-usual number with some form of mental illness. St. Vincent’s psych unit was full, and other patients were already in line to get in there.

“There are no psychiatric beds available–in the whole state of Oregon.” I had just settled into the idea that I might need to schlep the 90+ miles to Corvallis or someplace else in Oregon to find a psych unit with an available bed when Ann (the nurse) said this.

Enter Jessica Starr, superhero. I love it when people have a name that describes them perfectly. Jessica is one of the social workers at St. Vincent’s Emergency Department. Thanks to Jessica’s determination, perseverance, and tenacity, my mom was transferred to a geriatric psychiatric unit at Tuality Forest Grove Hospital (less than 10 miles from my mom’s apartment). A hospital-to-hospital transfer is a big deal because of the legal and financial issues involved.

I overheard a little of what Jessica had to do to find a place for my mom. She had to persuade the physician that my mom was “that bad.” She had to emphasize the many hospitalizations over the past 15 years. She had to confirm that the payor source (in this case, Medicare parts A, B and D) was in place and would cover the stay.

Jessica waded through several phone calls to make the right thing happen. I happened to be standing near the nurse’s station when Jessica got the final okay for the transfer. She hung up the phone, heaved a smiling sigh of relief, then held up her hand to me for a big ole high five.

When we got to Tuality Forest Grove, one of the employees told me that there are only 14 geriatric psychiatric units left in the entire United States. I felt like we’d won the lottery.

Jessica, you rock.

Posted in Uncategorized

Change, or Stay the Same?

The Virginia Tech tragedy has unleashed a firestorm of public comment at the New York Times web site.  Those who believe in gun control have had their worst fears confirmed.  Those who believe that gun ownership is a right talk about the lack of mental health care for those who need it.  Or else they want to pretend that the guy who did the shooting lived in some kind of vacuum and was not influenced by anything external.

It is hard to embrace diversity in a time of grief, but free speech is the American way.  Is there a lesson to be learned from this tragedy, something that needs to be changed?  Or do we go back to business as usual?

Let’s start with some strong federal laws regarding gun ownership.