Archive for January, 2006

Interesting Phone Call

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

In my second consecutive non-Annelle-related post, I, again, wade into the political sphere.

I received a phone call tonight from Illinois Senatorial District 33 candidate Jim Morici. Mr. Morici asked me for a public show of support after giving his basic introductory spiel wherein he mentioned that he is a business owner (he owns a law firm), a father of three (a hockey dad and teeball coach) and that his main focus is on reforming health care to make it affordable to everyone and weeding out corruption at all levels of Illinois government (good luck to him).

I found this announcement from Kent-Chicago Law School, where Mr. Morici will be appearing on January 31st. Sadly, this announcement has more information about Mr. Morici than his website.

Mr. Morici earned a lot of points in my book for two reasons:

  1. I informed him early on that I don’t generally vote Democratic and that my wife, the effervescent Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name), is the only one who does, and he didn’t politely end the call and move on, he continued to talk to me and answered my questions.
  2. He answered my question. Well, actually, he responded to my question, and gave me his opinion, when he knew it was different than mine. He didn’t feed me some line of bs, trying to lie his way to my vote.

I asked him what his position was on Tort Reform.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the idea is that by legislating some formulaic limit to the amount that juries can award in personal injury cases (above and beyond incurred medical costs), malpractice insurance providers will have to pay out less, thereby reducing their premiums to doctors, who can reduce their operating costs, charging the insurance companies less, causing the insurance companies to charge less for coverage and making healthcare more affordable for all.

Mr. Morici doesn’t believe that that is the case nor would it be the effect. His focus would be on regulating the insurance companies, “one of the few, if not only, industries not governed by anti-trust legislation” in setting the price of premiums and costs. He didn’t specify what he would do, but his aim is to further regulate (or, I should say, differently regulate) the medical insurance corporations to lower costs for the uninsured. I asked him to flesh out his web-page and provide some more specific information regarding this on there so I had something to read and to link to. I believe in the power of the internet in the political process and those who take advantage of it will do well. See my posts on Kathy Salvi (one more link). Incidentally, President Bush apparently has similar intentions as well. Mr. Morici did point me toward the Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association site where there should be an article or write-up on a study they commisioned about health care costs, tort benefits and reform. I haven’t found it yet, but when I do, I’ll post a link.

I expressed my pleasure at having a politician or political candidate actually talk to and take time to speak with his constituents or potential constituents and so I promised him that I would advocate for him if I felt comfortable doing so, but at the very least I would link to his site.

I get a good feeling about him. Much as I did about Jack Ryan. (That’s not damning with faint praise, by the way: I’m still upset with the Illinois Republican Party for shooting themselves in the foot by freaking out over a dispute between a husband and wife; granted, it was about what kind of sex they would and would not have and that always makes for odd political candidacies, but he didn’t force anything, he just asked and was denied. He had good ideas and seemed like a good man. It’s a real shame – ed.)

It was clear he wanted a quick three-minute phone call to plant his name in my brain and instead took 20 to 25 minutes to try to convince someone who isn’t wasn’t a likely voter. He still doesn’t have a lock on my vote, but he sure didn’t sound like a liberal weenie trial lawyer elitist democrat (even though he is a trail lawyer democrat ;) ) . I wonder what his tax policy is.

Mr. Morici, if you are reading this, please leave me a comment if you feel I misrepresented any of your views or our conversation.

To my five readers, those of who live in the 33rd district check him out. Hopefully, he will update the site more, and maybe start a blog.

I don’t know anything yet about the incumbent Cheryl Axley. Maybe she’ll call tomorrow.

Damn that global warming!!!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Snow falls in Hawaii.

Where’s Al Gore when we need him most?

Character A…

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

So the most instantly characterizing bit of information about a character, to me, in a story is the name. We’ll start there. While thinking about this process this morning, I felt the need to create the character as female.

I’ll just list as many names as I can think of in … oh … three minutes. I’ll try not to cheat.

Starting… now


And that’s all I got, and I even made up a few.

Hmm… I like Anelle. It’s two syllables, but fits easily on the tongue. It has that protagonist and/or primary love interest feel to it. Villanous names tend to be long and cruel to the mouth.

Anelle would be young (Nellie, Nell, Annie), so we’ll say 18. Pretty.


Anelle called back to her grandmother, “I’ll be right there, Nana.” She put aside the book she had been reading.

The author had stolen her imagination from the first page when she introduced Ronaldo, the mysterious latin bachelor to Lady Angelina, the bored and lonely Dame of the manse. Anelle knew they would end up together, but she couldn’t wait to find out how it happened. That was the thing with romance. There was no question that those fated to get together would do so; what was ever in doubt is how they would find each other, and realize that love had set their names beside each other in his book from the beginning.

“What took you so long? Were you reading another of those trash pulps again?” Nana asked. “You are wasting your special mind with such rubbish.”

“Yes, Nana, of course. What can I do for you?”

“Nellie, be a dear and fetch me some tea?” her grandmother asked, bringing out her best treacle to coat her voice.

Nell hated it when her grandmother used that tone of voice. It always meant work for her. She especially hated it when her grandmother called her Nellie. She started asking her to stop when she turned 16, thinking herself nearly a woman. Two years later she had simply given up and tried not to pay attention.

Sigh. “Sure Nana. Iced or Hot?”

“Hot. This weather has sent a chill to my bones. I wish Mother Nature would decide if it’s going to be summer or winter.”

Nell went to the kitchen and placed the old kettle on the stove and starting fixing a snack for her grandmother. She placed the sugar cellar and creamer on the tray with the plate of ladyfingers and fruit.

The kettle screeched and she poured some water into the teapot with her grandmother’s favorite leaf tea and let it steep a moment. She arranged the pot, the food and the dishes just so on the bed tray.

As she climbed the stairs to her grandmother’s room with the tray, she let her mind wander to Ronaldo and his “sculpted chest and rippling biceps.”

“I wonder if sculpted means it feels like stone. I’ll never learn as long as I’m stuck in this place,” she thought. Then, “That’s not fair. I don’t have it so bad. I just want to know what it’s like.”

So that’s what I have at 11:55 p.m. on Sunday night and I want to stick to my post on Sunday rule. At least, I don’t want to break it the very first day.

We’ll visit Anelle later this week. Please leave me comments and questions about anything to do with this.

OK, one more

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Kathy Salvi finally starting using her blog, with only ten weeks to go before the primary. There are three posts on there. I hope she and her contributors pick up the pace.

Really encouraging though is that commenting is allowed (although it is moderated, understandably, of course). I hope some actual dialogue comes from this.

This ought to be the last political post for a while. Character A premieres on Sunday.


Monday, January 16th, 2006

There’s going to be some serious changes around here. I’ll be getting a plan finalized this week, but this will no longer be a fantasy-football politics-oriented blog. I’ve done that for more than a year now, and I have come to realize that without the horse-race atmosphere of a presidential election, I don’t actually have the gumption to keep going when it’s all over.

I will be using this blog for a writing notebook to train myself in how to write. I will begin with characters. The best stories, I feel, come from interaction of interesting characters. I am about to embark upon a 26 week exercise. Barring any emergency or planned vacation, I will update every day, but I need help from you, my three readers. This will require you to make use of the comments button. Again, I will finalize procedure this week, but here’s how it will work:

  • Sunday morning: Starting with A and progressing through Z, I will create a character sketch with a name starting with the letter of the week. I will provide whatever information about the character that comes to me. I want you to start peppering me with questions about the character. Whatever you want to know. Favorite Color? Age? Hometown? Why do you have that peg leg? Anything you think would be interesting to know, or would make for an interesting answer.
  • Monday afternoon or evening: I will answer the first round of questions, hopefully generating more questions. I will also tell either an interesting anecdote about the character from his/her point of view or provide some background not asked about in questions.
  • Tuesday: This week’s character will have a conversation with last week’s character (starting week B)
  • Wednesday: I will answer any more comments or questions from Monday through Wednesday
  • Thursday: I will dive into where the character lives and breathes, or works or some location important to him/her
  • Friday: Free for all day, this should be some exercise that is suggested by you, dear reader, or perhaps it will be something that was asked that I didn’t have enough space to properly address from a question or comment earlier in the week.
  • Saturday: Another story or anecdote about from or by the character of the week

That is a lot of commitment, but I think I am up to it, but it hinges on having responsive readers. Please leave me a comment sometime this week so that I know there would be willing participants. Otherwise, this will be a solitary exercise, which is also necessary since writing is, itself, a solitary exercise.

At the end of the half-a-year, I will have 26 characters that I can then try out in stories, dialogues, plays, homicides etc. This will lead to plotting, theme and structure. Let’s burn those bridges when we get there though shall we?

P.S. It’s fitting that the googleads are popping up smoking cessation programs. I quit smoking cold turkey on Tuesday January 7, 2006 at approximately 4:30 p.m. Almost one week and going strong.