Letters to the Simon
Our Readers Respond: In Our Minds, Eyes and Stomachs
By Our Readers
Nov 14, 2007

Welcome to Biotech Nation: A Brief Lesson in Longwinded Writing 

I thought I would take a moment and correct the record for James H. Johnson who reviewed my book "Welcome to BioTech Nation: My Unexpected Odyssey into the Land of Small Molecules, Lean Genes, and Big Ideas."
First of all, Mr. Johnson didn't finish reading the chapter he was so offended by. In fact, he only read the first five short paragraphs - less than 300 words in this 6,000 word chapter.
And how do I know this? Because he first writes "Right. Got it. What'd he say?" and then several sentences later he writes "So, Ms. Gunn, please, what did the guy say?" He eventually writes "And yet she continues. I won't force you to suffer any more, for fear you might lose interest." The reader presumes that the reviewer has read further, and he is saving the reader time and boredom.
And yet ... the point wasn't about what he said, but a mere 500 words later I do quote the gnetleman in question as saying, "That's our Weekend Viagra." But that's not the point. The point is that this well-known chairman of a global pharmaceutical firm then proceeded to grab an entire fistful of the Weekend Viagra and stuff it into his pocket as if they were so many mints.
The first 300 words was indeed a set-up ... intentionally. My consternation was wondering how I was going to relate this story without naming the fellow. Because ... that would be an unnecessary embarrassment - don't you think?
And yet, when Mr. Johnson quotes my text "Perhaps I should call it “The Case of the Invisible Journalist.” Not in the sense that members of the press lurk about, primed to jump out and report some embarrassing incident, relishing an opportunistic invasion of privacy at a time that would strategically do the most damage, political or otherwise," he follows it with this assertion: "Quite clearly, she will soon be engaging in the later."
In fact, the opposite is true. If Mr. Johnson had read a bit further, he would have found that out.
At the end of the review, Mr. Johnson suggests that I would have trouble pitching a publisher in an elevator. Well ... in the acknowledgements at the end of my book, I reveal that it was the publisher who pitched me. She thought up the idea for the book, and even so, I can and frequently do describe the entire premise of the book in a short sentence.
While Mr. Johnson did not see fit to finish this chapter, I see no reason why you should be deprived of my tale of Weekend Viagra, frozen gorilla semen, Phil Lesh and the Grateful Dead, and similar topics. To this end, I have attached the chapter in question.
I only ask that you make your own determination -- Did your reviewer get it wrong?
I'd like to hear from you - yea or nay.

Moira A. Gunn, Ph.D.

Response from James Johnson:

"Dr. Gunn’s claims are unfounded. While using a single chapter to illustrate a book’s major weakness may seem unfair, I believe the opening of Chapter 8 was indicative of the book’s weakness as a whole. I do feel the need to amend one glaring error, which the author was kind enough to overlook: I called her Ms. Gunn, and she is in fact Dr. Gunn, and for that unintentional but disrespectful blunder, I sincerely apologize.  

Dr. Gunn is well respected by her fans, clearly brilliant, and very successful, and many positive reviews of her book are easily accessible online. I therefore have a hard time understanding why this magazine’s opinion dug so deeply under her skin."

Confessions of a "Law and Order" Junkie

Interesting article--thanks for writing it.

Unfortunately, I don't care for Chris Noth, so I only watch episodes with D'Onofrio whom I can never get enough of.  Which finds me at midnight watching (Los Angeles) Channel 13 because he's on every single week night - no "Mr. Big".  Works for me.  Mightily.

I love "deep" method acting and highly nuanced performances.  I didn't get into L&O CI until the season before Noth came back.  Understand D'Onofrio cut his performance frequency as he ended up in the hospital twice from exhaustion.  He has his actor roles & apparently is directing some too. 

Don't have cable enough to see the new season, so thanks for the article.  Yes, D'O is expanding and there is a Wellian flavor to him.  Thanks for pointing it out; I hadn't made the connection.

Will visit your site again. Thanks for what you do.

S Milan


I, for one, am happy with the new theme music. The theme music was the one reason I did not watch Law and Order until a year ago. As soon as I heard it, I turned the channel and did not turn back.
I love the stories with Goren and Eames. I like Chris Noth, but do not care for any of his partners. I thought I was the only one who didn't like Alicia Witt - maybe missing something in her character that everyone else was getting.


Owen Wilson: The Monsters Within and Without 

For movie stars, so much of life is make believe.  None-the-less, most people probably felt that Owen Wilson doesn’t seem like the suicidal type. As if any of us knows what that really means or what goes on in Owen’s personal life.  The ego is satisfied to a degree by success but perhaps little else is.  That satisfaction comes from much less tangible sources that are unique to each of us.  Hopefully, core things such as family and faith contribute to our well being.  Sadly, sometimes they don’t. I suppose the attention you get as a Hollywood star feels good and strokes the ego initially.  However, when you figure out that no one really cares about you the person so much as you the commodity, you may start to detach and become disillusioned.  After many years in this state, your mental health may deteriorate to a point where seemingly happy, you still desperately want to escape.  This is where suicide may seem like a solution to you.  Sad indeed.

Sunday in the Pork with Dave 

Ah yes…the jazz festival.  Where snobs and wannabe snobs gather to soak in tunes that to the untrained ear do truly sound alike.  The dissonant horns, the brushes in a syncopated pattern across the skins, the bassist in his own world and the piano keys and guitar strings echoing scales from another planet.  Every year I read about the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl and think I just missed a great picnic with the world’s largest live muzak ensemble playing in the background.  Ditto the festival in Idyllwild CA.  I am firmly convinced that were it not for my love of guitar, I would not be able to handle most jazz.  It would either be too syrupy like Kenny G or any given Wave tune or too far out like so much free form / improvisational jazz.  Still.  I don’t want to be a hater so I’ll continue to enjoy it as background music while refusing to become a name dropping jazz snob like many of my contemporaries. I will avoid those who only listen to jazz and who poo-poo any other form of pop / contemporary music.  Hypocritically, I quietly give permission for anyone to poo-poo Britney, all Disney “artists”, Madonna and any current R&B.  Ditto Fluff Daddy, Fitty Cent and other mainstream “rappers”. But I digress.  I will continue to believe that jazz is mainly a self indulgent form more for the players than the listeners.  So play away and continue to provide the soundtrack for my picnics, shopping trips, dental office visits and airport layovers.  These are all necessary functions where Hendrix’s Manic Depression just isn’t as good a fit.


Why Are New Yorkers Always So Tired? 

I read your article about New Yorkers being tired after doing a search on "WHY IS EVERYONE SO TIRED", looking for an answer to the same question.  I think that the problem is Global and that everyone thinks it is either them or their area because no one talks about the problem, believe me  nearly ever one I talk to says the same thing, and I myself am, to put it mildly, Knackered.  The only people that do not seem to be affected is Children and I think that is ONLY because they don't think about the issue as they are to busy growing up.  Tiredness in people has got to be through something that is Global, such as Air, Water, Food, something that we are all doing or ingesting.
Yours Faithfully

OJ Simpson, Please Go Away 

I have barely encountered this article, finding it due to some research I am doing on Bigger Thomas and O.J. Simpson, but have found myself compelled enough to respond, although not in a too negative light.  As much as I agree with the majority of the article, I find it unfair for you to call O.J. out to have 'an inner Tupac' when Tupac actually contributed a lot to the communities and the youth, and for O.J. to be compared to Bigger Thomas is highly justifiable, although the context of their respective stories are variously different.
I do not expect you to take any sort of my advice or suggestions as the holy grail, as I am but a reader, but I do wish for you to provide some verifiable evidence when comparing a despicable figure like Simpson to Tupac. Thank you for your time


Robert Redford: Act like Lions, Be like Lambs 

Yeah, but the movie sucks.  I’m as big a fan of Redford’s as anyone but geez…if you’re gonna whack someone off at least have the decency to grab a hold of his Johnson rather than his ear. 

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