Monday, March 17, 2008

The Onion: George Clooney still looking good.

Back in December, one of my favorite sources of hard-hitting journalism, The Onion, reported some news that still makes me giddy:

Sources: George Clooney Looking Good

The Onion

Sources: George Clooney Looking Good

HOLLYWOOD—Clooney, whose steely gaze has captivated millions around the globe, has attained the highest possible scores in every known measure of attractiveness.

How in the name of all that is holy did I miss this article when it first came out? No matter. From what I understand, this news is still true. He is still looking good. And no one can tell me differently. I mean, did you see the article in the March 3rd issue of TIME magazine? I did, on one of my rare lunch hours at the gym. I almost fell off the Stairmaster. (The online version of the article has a video. And pictures. Lots, and lots of pictures. Oh. My. God.)

And yes, I did hear that my spiritual soulmate is engaged. Thanks for rubbing it in. But can you blame him? Me being already married and a mommy and all? Now excuse me while I go cry myself to sleep.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

PowerPoint breakup.

Wish I'd thought of this back when I was dating. Although once I did create a line chart showing my then-boyfriend (now husband) how the possibility of me saying "yes" to a marriage proposal decreased precipitously the longer he waited.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The unfairness doctrine.

One of the most frequent, and most heartbreaking, complaints you'll hear from anyone suffering from infertility goes something like this: "It's not fair that [insert name here] gets to have children, and I don't."

And by "[insert name here]," I don't mean that we begrudge our families or friends their pregnancies, even though there's always a pang when you hear on the day of a negative pregnancy test that your cousin-in-law, say, is pregnant with her third.

I'm talking about the people who abuse or neglect their kids. Who abuse or neglect themselves, when they have kids. Here, a certain fallen pop star is often mentioned. Example: After the failure of our most recent, and final, attempt to get pregnant, I whined to Dr. R something along the lines of, "It's not fair that Britney Spears gets to have two kids, and I don't." He chuckled sympathetically. "A lot of my patients are mad at Britney right now," he said.

Every day, it seems like I read or hear about some horrible thing some parent has done to their child. Just today, I read a news story about a Dallas woman who threw her two sons off a freeway overpass. Miraculously, they all survived, but I can't tell you how many similar stories I've read recently where the poor kids didn't. In fact, I could make a weekly feature of candidates for "World's Worst Parents." It's enough to make me start a self-imposed news embargo.

I'll tell you this now: I haven't met ONE infertile couple that wouldn't make great parents. These are the people who really want to have a child. They want to shower a child with love and affection. And for those of you who are going to say, "Well, you/they can adopt": yes, infertile people can adopt. But that doesn't take away the pain of infertility. And it doesn't take away the pain of hearing about people who abuse their kids, when you want one so, so badly.

It just doesn't seem fair, and I still haven't heard anything to make me feel better about it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cinequest 18: A conversation with Michael Arndt.

I can't believe it's taken me three days to post this, but that's life with a full-time job and a toddler. Anyway, Friday came close to my idea of a perfect day: I spent it talking about movies at Cinequest's Day of the Writer event. If they had tossed in free martinis and a shoulder rub, I would have achieved Nirvana.

The mega-fabulous Jens Michael Hussey, Cinequest's Director of PR, invited me to lunch with some of the speakers. (Full disclosure: I used to volunteer for Cinequest in the PR department. So it wasn't just my wit and charm that got me invited.) Jens, bless his heart, introduced me to the day's guest of honor: Michael Arndt, who won the Academy Award in 2006 for Best Original Screenplay for "Little Miss Sunshine" and is now working at Pixar on "Toy Story 3."

I'd like to report that success has gone to his head and made him an insufferably arrogant Hollywood a-hole, but I can't. He's really nice, friendly, humble guy. When I told him how much I'd enjoyed "Little Miss Sunshine," his response was, "I was really lucky." Then he went on to talk about the great cast and crew. Then he graciously inscribed the copy of Little Miss Sunshine: The Shooting Script that I'd tucked into my purse. Basically, I wanted to hug him.

Later in the afternoon, Arndt did an interview with Richard Walter (who chairs UCLA's graduate screenwriting program) at the San Jose Repertory Theater and received Cinequest's Maverick Spirit Award. Here are my notes, as least as far as I can decipher:

On how he started out: "I originally wanted to go to film school. I ended up working as a script reader for studios like Fox and Columbia...I wrote a bunch of edgy, dark scripts that didn't go anywhere. Then I decided to do the exact opposite: a script where people would go insane with happiness."

On the idea for "Little Miss Sunshine": "I happened to see a beauty contest on TV with little girls. I thought, what if one of the contestants was this fat little girl?"

On how his life has changed since winning an Oscar: "'Little Miss Sunshine' didn't get made for a long time. By the time it won the Oscar, I was working on staff at Pixar. I went back to work the next day [after the Academy Awards] and it was like, 'That's nice.' At Pixar, no one gives a shit if you won an Oscar. It's Pixar. But it's like working at Disneyland. I was so used to working alone."

On his writing habits: "Now that I'm working at Pixar, I go into an office in the morning and write all day. But when I'm home in Brooklyn, I wake up around 11, go get coffee, goof around, and when there's nothing else to do, I'll start writing. I can work about four or five hours before I'm ready to jump out the window. I'm not someone who believes you have to write every day. A lot of writing is sitting in a room solving problems and coming up with ideas. It's subterranean work."

On how he wrote "Little Miss Sunshine": "I resisted it. I thought it was too small. Then I saw an anime feature called 'My Neighbors the Yamadas." I realized that every family has a story. I wrote 'Little Miss Sunshine in Three Days.' [Three days? Three days? I almost feel out of my chair.] But I had spent five years thinking about the story. So I would just wake up and start writing."

On why "Little Miss Sunshine" worked while his previous scripts didn't: "Previously, I'd start with an idea of a story and the characters were just to fit that idea. But with 'Little Miss Sunshine,' I saw the characters first, and the story evolved. Once they start talking to each other, I just started hearing their voices in your head. And that tells you what they'll do."

On writing comedy: "In comedy, you set up absurd situations, and the more rational the character acts, the funnier it is. Like when the emcee asks Olive where her grandfather is, and she says 'In the trunk'...If you have a distinctive voice, you'll succeed in comedy. Diablo Cody [the screenwriter for "Juno"] has work for the next three years. With comedy, the writer is in control. Action movie writers are a dime a dozen. Comedies are also cheaper to make!"

And speaking of Diablo Cody: "I'm last year's Diablo Cody. It's amazing that the Academy has honored first-time writers two years in a row, and it's exciting that a low-budget, female-centric story can do so well. I'm a great fan of movies from the 1930s and 1940s, which had strong women. Female energy is great comic material. Comedy has become a boy's club, but in 'Juno,' the male characters are peripheral. The main relationships are among the women, and I hope that's a game-changer."

On the character of Duane: "Duane was especially close to me, probably because I read too much Nietzche when I was young. I thought it would be great to have a character take a vow of silence until he achieves a goal. Duane wants to take off and transcend his situation. He's a prisoner in his own home. I'm in love with characters who have a lunar sense of alienation."

On "Little Miss Sunshine"'s alternate ending, available on the DVD, where the family steals the trophy and hightails it out of the pageant: "That came from the mind of Abigail Breslin. It was shot in one take, because that's all we had money for. The original ending hadn't been working. I had eight different drafts of it." But the ending that they finally used "was an example of finally trusting your instincts. The meaning of the story was revealed in the climax. In this case, procrastination really was my friend."

On determination: "I didn't give up. I wrote 10 screenplays, and none of them went anywhere. I didn't have a Plan B. In the end, writing has to be its own reward. Writing is taking an active stance toward life. By writing, you're finding out how you think."

Why doesn't he write novels? "Good novelists see more deeply into life. Screenwriting is about action. Film can't compete with fiction's sense of interiority. Fiction seems like the deep end of the pool, and I'm a shallow guy." [Editor's note: Hardly. I've met shallow guys, and Michael, you are no shallow guy.]

But of all the things Arndt talked about, what really stuck with me were his comments about authenticity in writing. "Emotion is the final frontier," he said. "Honest emotion is the best special effect." (Think about that next time you're forced to watch "Transformers: The IMAX Experience.")

When they stopped the Q&A to give Arndt the Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award, I couldn't believe that 90 minutes had passed.

But I can't forget to tell you the joke with which Richard Walter ended the event.

"How many screenwriters does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bye bye, meds.

I got rid of my extra meds this morning. And as soon as I'd done it, my eyes welled up with tears. That surprised me.

But here's the thing: I didn't get rid of all of them. I still have one partially used Follistim pen in the fridge. But what am I thinking? That I'm going to randomly inject myself in the first half of my cycle, just to see what happens? Yeah, that would be safe.

Oh, the stories we tell ourselves.

Clearly, I'm still holding on to...something.

But if it's this bad with the meds, wait until I start giving away and selling the baby gear.