Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,
Polter-Cow
spectralbovine

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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!
Tags: filk, gilbert and sullivan, medical writing, personal, theatre
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