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Behold the Lord High Medical Writer! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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April 2nd, 2008


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05:55 pm - Behold the Lord High Medical Writer!
I just got back from an American Medical Writers Association conference, a regional one this time. It was a big deal for me because I volunteered to write and direct the annual skit/spoof/farce/musical comedy. Below, I present to you my original script:

The Wrik*do
by spectralbovine, with acknowledgements to William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

Enter the NOBLEMARKS, punctuation marks of all sorts, ranging from question marks to slashes.

NOBLEMARKS (to the tune of "If you want to know who we are"):
If you want to know who we are,
We're punctuation marks that you use
For medical writers, by far,
We're the things that you most confuse.
          That comma does not go there!
          A colon would better fare.
          Stop pulling out all your hair, oh!

The "Oh" fades away as COMMA-POO enters very diplomatically.

COMMA-POO (to the tune of "A wand'ring minstrel I"):
An Oxford comma I,
          A mark of punctuation,
          A perfect demonstration
Of clarity and style!

COMMA-POO: Greetings, townspeople of Titipu-nctuation! My name is Comma-Poo. Where might I find Period-Yum?
PISH-DASH: And what may be your business with Period-Yum?
COMMA-POO: I am to marry her!
PISH-DASH: I think you will find that to be a very difficult task, even for such a specialized, educated [pause], and respectable comma as yourself.
COMMA-POO: And why might that be?
PISH-DASH: Because she is to be married to Dodo, the Lord High Medical Writer, this very afternoon. And here he comes!

NOBLEMARKS (to the tune of "Behold the Lord High Executioner"):
Behold the Lord High Medical Writer,
     He's who you get to write your final report.
   When tensions rise with collaborators,
     Who will provide you with a witty retort?
        Refer, refer,
     To the Lord High Medical Writer!

DODO enters, very pompously.

DODO (to the tune of "I am the very model of a modern major-general"): I am the very model of a modern medical writer—

ALL: Wrong show!

DODO (to the tune of "I've got a little list"):
As some day it may happen that an edit must be made,
     I've got a little list—I've got a little list
Of grammatical offenders that to rest now must be laid,
     And that never would be missed—that never would be missed!
There's the compound-complex sentences that go on for too long
The sentence fragments that when read sound like they're from King Kong
All commas that don't separate, set off, or clarify
Unnecessary adverbs that always end in L-Y
And lack of parallelism in items in a list
          They'd none of 'em be missed—they'd none of 'em be missed

Exeunt all but DODO and PISH-DASH, who pulls out a message.

PISH-DASH: Dodo, I have a message for you from the Wrik*do.
DODO: The Wrik*do? Did he catch me playing Scrabulous? [reads message] He says I haven't edited anything in one full year! And if I don't perform an edit by tomorrow...I'll be demoted!
PISH-DASH: Demoted?
DODO: To Medical Writer I! Do you know how many years it's taken me to get to Lord High Medical Writer? I had to go through Medical Writer II, Medical Writer III, Senior Medical Writer, Super Medical Writer, Director of Medical Writing, and Ultimate Overlord Ninja Medical Writer.
PISH-DASH: Well, I have it on good authority that there's a new comma in town, and he's after your woman...
DODO: Works for me!
PISH-DASH: And here she comes!

Enter PERIOD-YUM, PERIOD-BO, and PERIOD-SING, a trio of periods.

TRIO (to the tune of "Three little maids from school are we"):
Three little dots who stop are we,
     Round as an end mark well can be,
     Halting a sentence finally.
       Three little dots who stop!

PERIOD-YUM: The flow of your thought we'll terminate. [chuckle]
PERIOD-BO: Job titles? Those we'll abbreviate! [chuckle]
PERIOD-SING: I like the word "defenestrate"! [chuckle]

TRIO:
Three little dots who stop!
Three little dots look like eclipses,
          Best friends for years, joined at the hipses,
          Standing together form ellipsis—
Three little dots who stop!

DODO: It's been so long since I've seen you, Period-Yum!
PERIOD-YUM: Well, the FDA website has been keeping us busy. Have you seen it? It's 2-dot-3-dot-312-dot-22-dot-everything. It's positively exhausting!
DODO: I hope you're not too tired for a little...dotting your i tonight after the wedding.
PERIOD-YUM: Try it and I'll cross your t.

Everyone looks at each other awkwardly. Exit DODO and PISH-DASH. PERIOD-BO and PERIOD-SING also back away slowly. Enter COMMA-POO.

PERIOD-YUM: Comma-Poo!
COMMA-POO: Period-Yum! [goes in for a kiss]
PERIOD-YUM: But no! We mustn't!
COMMA-POO: I suppose you're right. It wouldn't be proper. Why are you marrying that guy anyway?
PERIOD-YUM: Hey, wait, you're the one who skipped town!
COMMA-POO: But that was because of Dash-isha!
PERIOD-YUM: There was another woman?!
COMMA-POO: Well, she thought so. She became obsessed with me, and the only way to break free of her clutches was to escape, disguised as an apostrophe.
PERIOD-YUM: She must have been really horrible!
COMMA-POO: Oh, she was. I hope you never have to...talk to her.
PERIOD-YUM (hearing something): Do you hear something?
COMMA-POO: It sounds like...an overinflated sense of self-importance.
PERIOD-YUM and COMMA-POO: Dodo is coming!

Enter DODO.

DODO: Comma-Poo, just the punctuation mark I wanted to see.
COMMA-POO: Yes, I wanted to talk to you about Period-Yum.
DODO: So did I. Prepare to be EDITED!
PERIOD-YUM: No, he's an—

Enter DASH-ISHA.

DASH-ISHA: O HAI THERE.
COMMA-POO: Dash-isha!
DASH-ISHA: I CAN HAZ COMMA-POO NAO?
COMMA-POO: You can see why I ran away.
DASH-ISHA: IM IN UR FINALE STEELIN UR PROTAGONISTS.
DODO: Let's discuss this like rational people!
COMMA-POO: Does she look like someone rational?

DASH-ISHA lies down on the ground, horizontal like, say, a dash. Or half an equal sign.

DASH-ISHA: INVISIBLE EQUAL SIGN.
DODO: Quick, hand me a dictionary! [Comma-Poo hands him an OED; he throws it at Dash-isha, knocking her out] Okay, that should buy us some time.
COMMA-POO: We're in quite a predicament now! She wants to marry me, and I want to marry her, and she is going to marry you, and you want to edit me.
DODO: I think I know how to solve this conundrum!
PERIOD-YUM: How?
DODO: Let's sing a song about it!

PERIOD-YUM (to the tune of "Here's a how-de-do"):
Here's a how-de-do!
I love Comma-Poo,
     But you're going to cause a comma
     Splice that will just lead to drama.
It sucks to be you!
Here's a how-de-do!

COMMA-POO:
Here's a how-de-did!
Of her to be rid,
     I would gladly die and all that.
     Oh em gee, she speaks in LOLcat!
Must get myself hid.
Here's a how-de-did!

DODO:
Here's a how-de-done!
This ain't any fun!
     Hierarchal job demotion
     Or grammatical commotion.
Don't like either one!
Here's a how-de-done!

DODO: Well, that just made things worse.
COMMA-POO: And here comes the Wrik*do himself!

Enter WRIK*DO.

WRIK*DO (to the tune of "A more human Mikado"): A more profane Wrik*do never did in this tow—
DODO: Don't sing! It's a baaaaaaad idea right now.
WRIK*DO: Why? What's going on? And what the devil is this woman doing on the ground?
PERIOD-YUM: She called it an "invisible equal sign," Your Highness.
WRIK*DO: I see. Dodo! Have you found yourself a nice edit to earn your salary?
DODO: Yes! Yes, I have! [to Comma-Poo] I'm sorry, there's nothing for it. I am prepared to delete this comma in your presence! When I say I will do something, I do it! That's a value instilled in me by my parents, Ayn Rand and God.
PERIOD-YUM: Your parents were Ayn Rand and God?!
WRIK*DO: Dodo, you never told me that!
DODO: No! My parents, Ayn Rand and God! I learned from them!
COMMA-POO: I think I can be of assistance. [does Super Ninja Oxford Comma motion] Whom did you learn from, Dodo?
DODO: My parents, Ayn Rand [pause], and God.
PERIOD-YUM: Oooooooh.
WRIK*DO: Are you an Oxford comma?
COMMA-POO: I am, indeed! Also known as a serial comma. My favorite is Frosted Flakes.
WRIK*DO: Fetch me the AMA Manual of Style!
PERIOD-YUM: I tried to tell you before...
DODO: Tell me what? What's going on?

A Noblemark enters with the AMA Manual of Style, hands it to the Wrik*do, bows, and exits.

WRIK*DO: According to regulation 8-dot-2-dot-1-dot-2-dot-2—
PERIOD-YUM: My goodness!
WRIK*DO: —the serial comma is approved for usage. And you were going to edit him out? Lord High Medical Writer, indeed!
DODO: I didn't know! In fact, I kind of thought he looked like an apostrophe! Tell him, Comma-Poo!
WRIK*DO: Comma-Poo? Why, that's my son!
DODO: Your son?! Do you think anyone could have told us that sooner?
WRIK*DO: Where's the fun in that?
PERIOD-YUM (noticing Dash-isha mewing sleepily): I think Dash-isha is coming to.
DASH-ISHA: Y HALO THAR.
WRIK*DO: Dodo, as punishment for both your incompetence and almost editing my son, I sentence you to...
DODO: I know, I know...here comes Medical Writer I again.
WRIK*DO: Oh no, I've cooked up something far more...lingering. I sentence you to marry Dash-isha!
DASH-ISHA: I CAN HAZ MEDIKUL RITER?
WRIK*DO: Yes, Dash-isha, you can haz whatever you want.
COMMA-POO: And now I am free to marry Period-Yum!
PERIOD-YUM: Oh, how wonderful!
COMMA-POO: Your Majesty, we'll name our first semicolon after you!
WRIK*DO: Splendid! So, it looks like everyone is happy.
DODO: I'm not!
WRIK*DO: You're a medical writer, Dodo. Get used to it.

Would you like to hear about my travails in writing such a mess? Or perhaps the even greater travails in mounting a performance of said mess in 48 hours in between all sorts of other conference activities? Would you like to see it for yourself? Then tune in next time, when all will be revealed!
Current Mood: creativecreative
Current Music: Limp Bizkit - My Way

(17 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kibarika
Date:April 2nd, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Sunil, I love you. Were I an unattached red-headed Indian woman, I'd pursue you thoroughly.

Instead, I ask your permission to share this with my local G&S list, as it is a brilliant parody and we need some stress relief right about now (we go into tech week in just a couple weeks. Ack!)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 2nd, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Sure, go ahead! You can give my e-mail address, too.

Actually, if you can wait, I can send you the final version in a couple days, with more specific stage directions and such. Also, I have a video.

Edited at 2008-04-03 04:00 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:electricmonk
Date:April 2nd, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I wish I knew Gilbert & Sullivan so I could be properly impressed, but I'm pretty entertained by the name "Comma-Poo" alone.

Also, this made me run to facebook to see if you have Scrabulous, but you don't. Boo.
[User Picture]
From:incidentist
Date:April 3rd, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
(Link)
Oh man. I LOLed like a frickin cat. The ending is a masterpiece!
From:serrana
Date:April 3rd, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, dear Lord. I'm tremendously entertained. Which, given that I spent the afternoon dealing with my parents, a potentially-rabid raccoon and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, is saying something.

(YA RLY. Serial comma or no serial comma, it's been an interesting day.)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 3rd, 2008 02:55 am (UTC)
(Link)
I think you'll appreciate this story, then.
[User Picture]
From:the_narration
Date:April 3rd, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
(Link)
I don't know much Gilbert and Sullivan, but that was fun. I particularly chuckled at "I like the word 'defenestrate'!" because hey, who doesn't? It's a great word.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 3rd, 2008 03:41 am (UTC)
(Link)
That was totally a filler line because I couldn't come up with anything and it scanned well. So I just left it.
[User Picture]
From:alliterator
Date:April 3rd, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
(Link)
Holy crap, that was hilarious. Especially:
DASH-ISHA: O HAI THERE.
COMMA-POO: Dash-isha!
DASH-ISHA: I CAN HAZ COMMA-POO NAO?
COMMA-POO: You can see why I ran away.
DASH-ISHA: IM IN UR FINALE STEELIN UR PROTAGONISTS.


Even though I know nothing about The Mikado at all.
[User Picture]
From:harper47
Date:April 3rd, 2008 09:20 am (UTC)
(Link)
Bravo! I'm not the biggest G&S fan but this is brilliant. Well done.
[User Picture]
From:daynr
Date:April 3rd, 2008 10:48 am (UTC)
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So that's where you were!
[User Picture]
From:soleta_nf
Date:April 4th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC)
(Link)
That's a value instilled in me by my parents, Ayn Rand and God.
PERIOD-YUM: Your parents were Ayn Rand and God?!
WRIKADO: Dodo, you never told me that!
DODO: No! My parents, Ayn Rand and God! I learned from them!


You are brilliant. That is all.
[User Picture]
From:soleta_nf
Date:April 4th, 2008 11:47 am (UTC)
(Link)
Also, ooohh, you're listening to Limp Bizkit! That takes me back.
[User Picture]
From:aveline
Date:April 5th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
PERIOD-YUM: Your parents were Ayn Rand and God?!
LOL this all kinds of awesome.
[User Picture]
From:cofax7
Date:April 8th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hah!

Very funny. LOLCATs ftw.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 8th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The next post has a link to the performance! Although the LOLcat joke was a disaster. Le sigh.
[User Picture]
From:soundingsea
Date:April 11th, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hee! Took me a few minutes to realize that this is quite serious. You're brilliant.

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