Death by Pinterest

Sometimes I wonder "how will I know when I've 'made it?'" I think the obvious answer is when I have a sandwich named after me.  I mean, what else do you need as affirmation, clearly.

In the meantime, I was able to check this off my life goals list -  Write a Screenplay.

So, it's a parody of Pinterest parties, among other things, and features a cameo by my infant son. Presto!

I have strong feelings about all social media, so much so that I refer to these feelings sagely!/annoyingly/sincerely as my "digital politics." Yawn, right?

It's just that I've been to so many over-grammed, over-planned, craft explosion birthday parties for babies and young children. I'm wowed by the effort, but sometimes I wonder, who is this party really for? I respect the handicrafting and enthusiasm of the planners, but sometimes, can we admit creative people of the world, we can go a bit, yes, overboard? I'm right along there with overachievers of the world, but to quote myself quoting a character quoting myself "too much is too much."

Without going so far as to incite full on Mommywars, I'll leave it at this - it's fine if you want to forgo sleep and sanity and shell out as much on your kid's party as a mini-mitzvah. If it's something you really enjoy, please, by all means. I will come to your party and sincerely enjoy your real-life polar bear and marvel unironically at the handknit eskimo napkin rings while I drink artisinal cocoa from an ombre mason jar.

But doing something like that myself, well. It's not my cuppa tea.

I mean mason jar of tap water.

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Also, check out all the other new episodes this season here, including this Footloose parody about moms embarrassing their progeny through dance.

(Being a staff writer on Season 2 of Pretty Darn Funny, especially being in a writer's room, has been more fun than most things. Sorry, copywriting. I've heard the siren call of screenwriting. And its call is even more seductive when I get to work with my husband. I'm proud of all the hard work of all the cast and crew, especially Jared and Jeff. And now, I'm ready to have my husband back.)

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Nursery Rhymes For Modern Babies

Has anyone actually read these things called nursery rhymes? They're, what's the word, ghastly? Yes, I'll try ghastly for 200.

The fact that we read these R-rated relics to babies is a tad strange. Although rhymey and sing-songy and deliciously bite-sized, they are really just EPITAPHS OF DOOM AND GLOOM.

Poverty (Pop Goes the Weasel), Violence (Fee Fi Fo Fum), Widespread Disease (Ring a Round o Roses), Sexual Scandal (Georgie Porgie), Hunger (Old Mother Hubbard), Obesity (Handy Spandy Jack o Dandy) Domestic Violence (Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater), Decaying Infrastructure (London Bridge is Falling Down), A Pig Who is Unjustly Excluded from Grocery Shopping! (This Little Piggy).

They are so dark and violent. The line "Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread"?  A man who locks up his wife in a giant gourd?  No wonder babies scream out mid-night. Maybe what I mistook for cutting molars is a vivid nightmare about bones being removed to make a loaf of sourdough! And yet. And yet.

They're sorta cool. But honestly, they're not really relevant anymore.  If we insist on exposing our kids to these dark little ditties, we should at least put them in am updated, recognizable context. Right? Like modernize them a bit.

Jack Splatz ate only trans-fats
His wife was a strict vegan
They lobbied against Bloomberg's soda tax
Because they can't live without caffeine

Here comes Mister White Collar
Makes all his money on the high dollar
When stocks go still, he launders the bills
He's an admirable Wall Street baller

Fly, fly, fly,
Little drone fly
Get civilian kiddies
And don't bat an eye
Run, Run, Run
Little kiddies run
The drone will pass you overhead
And scorch you like the sun

Hepatitis B
Got Jacky D.
Hepatitis B
Got Marcie P.
Hepatitis B
Got Pauly D.
But Hepatitis B.
It won't get me!

Tina met a man at an LA club
Who smelled of malt and rye
He slid a rufie into her drink
And waited for time to pass by

Hey diddle diddle
Our nation has too much credit card debt
Hey, ho.

Goodnight. The world has gone to pot! If you need me I'll be boarding up the windows on my house and stockpiling water and wheat! See you in the millenium!

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I think he's trying to tell me something

I was working on some freelance this morning and I quickly ran upstairs to get something. When I came back, Milo was on tip-toe in front of my desk, dragging the mighty mouse around in Illustrator and clicking away to his heart's content. So pleased with himself.

This is what he created.

I can't decide if I'm happy he has shown interest in design at such a tender age, or kinda bummed that the first thing he did was use the graph tool. 

What is he trying to tell me? Does he want to be an artist or an actuary?! 

Speak, largely lexicon-less child, speak!

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Jared is in production! This is good, but I don't see him as much as I'd like to once pre-pro starts. However, he does love me enough to wine and dine me, minus the wine. We went to Sundance Foundry Grill to celebrate our love. For food. Milo was mesmerized by the fire, and the yuppies.

Milo contemplating the subtleties of the amuse-bouche. And . . . he likes it!

Apres-lunch, we walked around bumping into rich skiers, looking at pictures of celebrities before they were famous, and admiring matte gold jewelry I can't afford.

Jared is STILL doing production work, Milo is sleeping in some weird position, leaving me to my devices. SOO I just made my gift to you, dear friend/acquaintance/parole officer -- a VALENTUNE!

Here's a playlist just for you, cause we like, like each other and stuff.


Cuddle up with your spouse, significant other, or Nora Ephron and enjoy yourself. But not too much. This is a Thursday night after all.
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The Girl Crush

Happy Valentine's Day (this week). In honor of this most venerated holiday, I'd like to talk about a different kind of love. The Girl Crush.

Though unable to date the phrase back to its first use, I think I first heard it floating around female lexicons somewhere around the year 2000, probably, knowing the crowds I ran in, in reference to the arthouse crossover Amelie.

The titular character was disgustingly adorable - a twee brunette with large brown eyes and a heart of gold. She talked to her bedroom decor, played elaborate puzzles with a garden gnome and dressed not unlike the Lone Ranger all in her twisty-turvy plot to find love. And France be damned if it didn't work. Men and women the world over were immediately and severely enamored with Audrey Tautou.

Amelie Poulain, about to eat the undeniably twee dessert, creme brulee.

Today, the phenomenon of the girl crush is alive and swinging. My mom has a girl crush on Catherine-Zeta Jones. My brother-in-law has a bromance with Hugh Jackman. Plenty of straight-as-a-door manly men have their hickory-hard hearts carved with Steve McQueen's initials. Jared loves Woody Allen, but "only for his brains." Is anyone exempt from developing these same-gender, non-romantic attachments?

What propels hetero men and women the world over to develop these levels of admiration (is it love, envy, respect?) and then publicly designate them as such?

I was sure I didn't have any.
Not so.

Thinking back, not only do I indeed have girl crushes, my earliest GCs significantly predate Amelie. I think I've had them all along.

My first GC was Princess Buttercup. I thought she was like a cooler, real-life version of a Disney Princess. She had the perfect early nineties wave of long blond locks. She taught me not only did you have to have a dash of ladylike wit and grit, you had to be a fox to snag someone like young Cary Elwes. And wow, she's aged so well. I hope to look like her at 45.

Marry Sean Penn, a man way less attractive than me? As you wiiiiiissssh.

Next came Mia Hamm. Any young girl who hoped to play competitive soccer idolized Mia Hamm. I remember reading books about her, looking into UNC soccer camps, hanging posters of her in my room, and fighting tooth and nail to get the number 9 jersey on my team. (I lost, becoming number 10 for the rest of my career, which I later found out was a more "important" number anyway worn by Pele, Maradona, and now Messi).

 And she's an Olympian. Check. 

Gwyneth Paltrow. I developed a GC on her about the same time Brad Pitt did. I loved her in Emma and Great Expectations and I quickly decided I would never cut my hair again because she wore her blond hair so well. I thought she had class, style, and her alien-like body was made for designer clothes. And so, when I wrote pretty mediocre poetry in my school lit mag, I used "Gwyneth" as my penname. This GC probably died along with my high school poetry career.

I grew my hair. I grew my hair for you. And all the things you do. And it was tinted yell-ow.

I saw Big Fish when it came out and I remember thinking that Marion Cotillard was really beautiful in an interesting sort of way. She was like an even cuter French version of Audrey Tautou. I still think she's probably the most beautiful actress working today.

Then of course comes the trio of musician CGs.

Robyn, my fearless Swedish pop-pixie, who dances and dresses like a 5-year old and makes KILLER tunes to work out to. . .

. . . Oh Land, who is way too pretty to be anything other than a model, but has managed in spite of her Danish goodlooks  to become an avantgarde musician. (In another life, I could have made performance art for a living). . . .

. . . and Chan Marshall aka Cat Power. She is a fierce embodiment of Woman, power, confidence, and I love her voice. I want to sound like her when I talk, sing, or sneeze.

And rounding things out in GC land is the fictional Liz Lemon. Because she gets to say and do the dorky things I say and do, only she does them in public. She is either my fictional clone, or BFF. And because when I saw this scene for the first time, it was night and I was eating cheese, and I probably did a spit take.

and Yoko Ono.

Just kidding.

Okay. Now tell me I'm not alone here.  Confirm to me that the girl crush (and bromance) is a thing. Go.
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Ten Times Ten

The boy is ten months old. Question Mark!
The mom is in love. Double Exclamation Mark!

There's that axiom that you don't know what it will feel like to love someone so much. That's true. You could try though. For me it's like this. Imagine swimming in a newly liquid sky through puffy cartoon clouds and that your arms stretch so far you can pull the entire world into your chest and hug it tight toward you, and then you craugh, which is a word I just made up that combines a deep belly laugh stirred up with a long, cleansing cry. Now cover that in cheese, not nacho cheese in a can type crap, but real good, real sharp cheese that's so pricey you can only afford to buy a few ounces at a time. Mix in all the chemical electric neurological reactions you will ever feel, from endorphins, seratonin, dopamine. This feels like the emotional analogue to the most designer drug. I'm sure Freud would have a field day here. But Freud is a schmohawk. And he never met this baby.

The intense love thing makes sense though. The Mormon faith teaches that the way to really love someone with pure, enduring, Christlike love is to serve them. Love=service. By that mark it becomes clear. I'm in the service of this little guy pretty much all day, every day, every week, etc. It came more natural to me that I would have guessed.

He is the most gentle, happy, intuitive, mild-mannered baby and little observer of life.  Sometimes he's so observant and focused I think he's an undercover baby journalist, taking notes on how often I clean his highchair and the kitchen in general, which is not. Muckracking all the day long. My baby Upton Sinclair.

Speaking of which, in addition to his normal developments, I am pleased to announce he is also reading The Jungle with perfect diction. With a head so big, I'd be disappointed with any lesser performance.

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2012: Read

My favorite books this year were both nonfiction (one biography). I don't think that's ever happened. I've always enjoyed well-written nonfiction and duly acknowledge, when done right, it's as potent a form storytelling as anything else, but it has never held the near-magical, whizzpop allure for me that fiction does. Being said, it's taken a few fantastic journalists to top my list this year.

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max
Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten

Most Evil by Steve Hodel
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
And Then We Came To The End by Josh Ferris

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story
Obviously, I enjoyed Max's piecing-together of my foremost literary idol and muse. Easy sell.

All writers "borrow" and I steal from him probably more than anyone else, just as he stole from DeLillo and Pynchon, and they stole from . . . .etc. I've written about DFW before, and my admiration for the man has only grown since I fortuitously stumbled across him my first week in the MFA. I've read about half of his work posthumously, and even more interviews and microbiographies, and I'm sure more will continue to surface. I knew a lot about him back then, and what I knew I greatly respected, but I loved this more complete portrait of the artist as a young (and brilliant) man.

As a undergrad, he was often a mess - a depressive, cocky, sweaty schlub - that much I knew - but it was nice to see how Max unearthed some new material that helps in understanding why he was those things. He was a gentle, polite midwesterner, in love with love and ideation and the Big Questions, but underneath he was battling some very real demons, including the depression that would ultimately claim his life. Though I don't find all his works brilliant (a handful's uber-postmodernism get in the way, big-time) DFW has always held some cosmic pull for me, and I'm starting to understand why.

I guess I could put it this way - I've read many books and stories and felt like I truly understood what the author (or characters) were getting at or going through. This empathy comes easy for me. What has NEVER happened, is that as I read about his life, I felt like he was somehow - in some metaphysical, corndog way - able to understand me. I'm reading all about his Illinois childhood and love of reading and sports and junk culture and all that, and I feel like as I'm reading about his life, he is understanding mine. There are major and syrupy logic problems here, which of course DFW, a born logician, would love to refute if he were living.

Also, I loved this essay he wrote on cruises in the 90's. I just reread it after I went on my inaugural cruise last week and it made me laugh even more the second time.

Fiddler in the Subway
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten came out of nowhere for me. I'd never even heard of the man. My father-in-law gave Jared this book in the spring, and the two of us kept stealing it off each other's nightstands for months. We'd be in bed each reading our books, and one of us would laugh out loud, or say "did you read this one? This one is great."

It's not often that I've loved any complication of stories in its entirety, but I'd say that was the case here. He's a very funny writer and he's picked some grand topics. All of its enjoyable, but my favorite stories actually come closer to the end of the book. "The Armpit of America" made me LOL a few times, "Doonesbury's War" and "None of the Above" were some of the best non-political political essays I've read in a long time, and "Fatal Distraction" left me in tears. Like, ugly, crying-alone-in-my-bed-in-pajamas-at-11-in-the-morning- tears.  Recommended.

The others I will only say a little about.

Most Evil. Most fascinating story of a Marquis de Sade type serial killer, (written by his homicide detective son!) Quick, someone make a miniseries!

Outliers. Finally got around to reading this, though it's been on my nightstand for more than a couple years. It's interesting, easy. I'm amazed how often I'm able to join conversations based on what I've learned from these stories.

And Then We Came To The End feels close to home for anyone who's worked in an office for a long period of time, where your co-workers somehow spend more time with you than anyone else, and you know about their medical problems in more detail than you should, and their love lives, and you've memorized there wardrobe entirely. Even funnier if you've worked in advertising. You'll get all the inside jokes and there are some ones in there that ring both hilarious and true.
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2012: Music

Don't you know I only listen to NPR now? And old mix CDs with the likes of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Fleetwood Mac and whatever my friend Sam gave me in college? And like, lots of Robyn when I'm working out?

I'm changing the title of this category.


Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Any episode with Paula Poundstone.
Just look at that face. And tie.

Music in 2012. I think? Anything worth hearing? I sort of feel weird about Paula's image representing this category.
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2012: Film

The way I typically designate a good film is based on the following, rigorous criteria:

1. There is a story
2. The story works
3. I feel an emotion other than boredom, irritation, or complete and unresolved confusion
4. The absence of Katherine Heigl

That's it. I don't necessarily have to agree with the filmmaker's intent, any moral, worry about the fps rate, or anything else. It's just got to nail the 4 principles and I will probably like it. Of course last year I saw movies that didn't qualify, of which there are legion.

Young Adult
Silver Linings Playbook
Anna Karenina

The "Am I Crazy? or Is this Movie About a 'Crazy' Guy Awesome?" Award:

Take Shelter.

Okay. Technically this movie came out in 2011, which means it basically gets to theaters near me a year later. And it was the best I saw last year. So I'm counting it. Contemporary stylists should take note. This is how style works, when in the service of a rock solid script. For anyone who has ever wondered "am I crazy?" "Am I making all this up?" "Can Michael Shannon actually act, contrary to what he demonstrates in Premium Rush?" these answers and more await you. And does Jessica Chastain.

The Emperor's New Clothes Award:  
The Andersons (Wes, Paul)

Everyone on earth shouted praises of these two last year and I wanted to join on in. But you guys, the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes. Maybe he's wearing like a teensy codpiece or something, but not much more.

Moonrise Kingdom. This one plays like Wes Anderson parodying Wes Anderson. I'm fine with a filmmaker having a signature, but this one feels like a flaccid Anderson just pushed "GO" on the Generate Wes Anderson Movie machine and this little tchotchke of a movie spat out.  Plus, I'm not too keen on movies where I don't feel a single emotion (other than boredom) for an hour and a half. I long for the halcyon days of Rushmore, the movie which I fear Anderson will never surpass.

The Master. I loved the premise. Loved. I loved the performances. I loved the cinematography. I wanted to love the story. I wish someone like Aronofsky or Peter Weir would have made it instead. Or Sidney Lumet arisen from his grave. Actually, I wish someone would still yet take another shot at this concept, with a new screenplay.

Movies I Sill Want To See, That Might've Made One Of These Lists Had I Not Had a Baby, Thus Preventing Me From Going To The Movie Theatre,  And While We're At It, Sleeping, Hanging Out With Friends, Exercising,  And Reading The Moviegoer By Walker Percy Which Has Been On My Nightstand For Months And Which I Have Failed To Read For The Third Time But Is Thematically Connected To This Post, In A Way:
Zero Dark Thirty
Promised Land
Les Mis
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ruby Sparks
The Impossible

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2012: Television

(I don't see many shows as they air. Because, Netflix. So this is more of a personal chronology of exposure, rather than what actually premiered.)

The Wire
The Cosby Show

The "Can This Show Get Any Better?" Award
Breaking Bad

New Girl
I find Zooey Deschanel intolerable. There. I said it. Let the hate mail commence.

*Someday I will emotionally steel myself to write about this series and why, despite pushing 25-years-old, it's my favorite show ever.
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