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The Rack is Off the Hook

kevlar braDoes anyone make a minimizer bra that doesn’t look and feel like a bulletproof vest? I just want to contain the girls; I don’t expect to take enemy fire.

–Julie Jaret, this morning

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Help!

How much do you spend on your kids’ b-day parties? 

Our younger daughter is turning 13 on July 30th. Since most of her friends aren’t around during the Summer, the poor kid’s only had maybe one party, ever, and it was a few years ago. She really wants to rent a space and bring our strobe and disco lights, fogger, etc. (we own that stuff b/c we have a big Halloween party each year) and have a dance party. 

I’m making myself crazy.  Please weigh in!

xo

Isn’t my sister the best? Look at the awesome shirt she got me!

Isn't my sister the best?  Look at the awesome shirt she got me!

Declaring my Independence from Tzures*

*Noun. tsoo r-is (Yiddish) Aggravation, frustration; “Oy, the tzures I’ve got, you should know from it.”

Lately, I feel like as soon something good happens, Big Corporate (in either brick-and-mortar or meat form) comes along and takes a steaming dump on it.

There’ve been a handful of instances of this the last couple years. Some you know about, some I can’t discuss. Some have been fixed, others may never be. They all stink.

The latest in the shit-on-my-happiness processional has to do with our upcoming move. We got some good offers on our house and found a nearly-perfect one to buy in our new area. Everything was rolling along smoothly to close the sale of the old and the purchase of the new in time to settle in before the kids start their new school. We’re supposed to move in less than two weeks, but now our buyer’s mortgage company says we need to bump the closing well past that date. Which also bumps our purchase of the new home (and, incidentally, bumps the people we’re buying from and the closing of their new home). I’ll spare you the clusterfuck of rescheduling movers, rerouting mail, resetting dates for utilities to be shut off and how annoyed I’ll be if we lose our interest rate.

I’m up to my eyeballs in boxes (well, if I’m reclining…) and between the housing issues, film stuff I can’t talk about and having the kids home from school, I’ve got plenty of excuses to choose from when berating myself for my lack of progress on the writing front.

But I’m damn lucky and I know it. There aren’t many people I’d wanna swap problems with. I’ve done a lot that I’m proud of and I’ve got lots to look forward to. (That makes me the very picture of mental health, doesn’t it? Yeah, I thought so, too.)

So, I guess I’ll just keep plugging along and try not to kvetch.

The answer is "nothing."

The question was “What is she smoking?”

Did it throw you in my last post when I got all metaphorical and shit? Sorry ’bout that. I just felt like touching base but everything had (has) kinda been in limbo, so there wasn’t a whole lot to share, really. Things have been inching in a forward-like, slo-mo-momentumish direction, so I can’t bitch… too much.

I’ve got a conference call later today with Hot & Smart Chick Manager and Incredibly Cool & Smart Producer Who’s Nevertheless a Fan of My Work to talk about my next draft of THE MIDDLE AGES. They both dig my new treatment and I’m excited to get back into it. (If you’ve been reading here a while, you may have noticed that this script is taking forfuckingever to finish. It kills me that it’s been this long, but to be fair, in the time it took me to write a few unique drafts of TMA, I had a movie made, engaged in a legal battle and kept the wife-and-mom plates spinning on their respective sticks. I might slow down, but I’ll never stop.)

During this limbo period, I’ve been working out like a fiend — Pilates and kickboxing classes. Love them both. Unfortunately, these particular classes are scheduled consecutively, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I hate to miss a class, so I’ve been doing an hour Pilates class, catching my breath for 15 minutes, then jumping into an hour kickboxing class. It’s fun to imagine the people I’m punching and kicking as I pant and wheeze.

Aside from all that, we’re fixing up the house, trying to get it in sell-shape with hopes of moving up near my sister and her family outside Atlanta. Manual labor is hard. Especially after Pilates and kickboxing.

And, it’s time I say it here: I love David Cook. Have a thing for Jason Castro, too, and would happily sit at his feet and listen to him and his acoustic for hours. But I’ve loved Cook since his audition. Love his intensity and his choices and his haunting voice. I’ve watched Idol off and on most seasons, but was never this passionate about any of the contestants ’til Cook. There’s a kind of magic there.

I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I think it’s the difference between Good and Great. Lots of people have talent and proficiency. Lots of people work hard and study their craft. Few of those are great. Maybe it has something to do with energy, vibrations, frequency… like, some people think and work and transmit on a higher level…

No, really. I swear, I’m not smoking anything.

Hello, from the precipice of the Cliffs of Insanity!

I started climbing in ’02 – sometimes giving it my best effort, sometimes lazily. Always reading and listening and watching and learning. Eventually, I pulled close enough to touch knuckles with the people on top.

Then I really dug in and took a leap of faith… and the Universe lowered a rope to help me up and let me grab a rock and catch my breath before fighting again.

It’s been a while – longer than I’d hoped — but this week there may finally be Movement in the Right Direction on a couple of work fronts.

Time to dig in again, ‘cause ready or not, the Universe has been more than fair.

Taste This

A couple weeks ago, I went to LA. I’ve been dying to get back there since my last trip in ’05. (I know it’s a little strange that I signed with Way-Cool Manager in ‘06 and had a movie made in ’07 without a visit to LA, but Bizarro World is my natural habitat).

This time, I flew out for a meeting relative to my lawsuit but decided to stay a couple extra days and make the trip productive.

Here’s something I noticed: Hollywood feels different when you’re part of it than when you’re merely visiting. After I picked up the rental car, I headed toward the hills and got my first post-production glimpse of the Hollywood sign — and couldn’t help grinning like the dork I’ll always be.

Spent my first night, Saturday, in Pasadena at a close friend’s place. Coming from Florida — which has the topographic relief of plywood — I loved Pasadena and the mountains all around. Met some friends out that night at NeoMeze, a funky restaurant in Old Town, and made merry ‘til the time difference (and lingering laryngitis) caught up with me.

Sunday morning, I drove back to LA and met an exec-friend for brunch at La Conversation in Beverly Hills (I recommend the French Toast). Snagged a nice little table on the sidewalk beside a couple of older guys discussing a script. I didn’t recognize their faces, but I bet I’d recognize their names. Anyway, I hadn’t seen this exec-friend since we were children (our moms are best friends) so it was fun getting to know her a bit and catching up on our lives.

Afterward, I tooled over to the less-glamorous side of town to check into the hotel I’d call home for the next few nights. There, I discovered my room got no cell reception and no internet and I had a brief hyperventilish 28 DAYS LATER moment.

Ran back down to the lobby to make contact with the outside world, then picked up a friend and went to Doughboys. I enjoyed a gallon-mug of latte and some good conversation.

Quick wardrobe change, then up to Studio City to do dinner with 2.5 cousins. They took me to Genghis Cohen, which is the best name for a Chinese restaurant, ever (and is, in fact, not in Studio City, but just a few minutes from my freaking hotel). The food and atmosphere were terrific -– plus, my cousin’s husband pointed out Mary J. Blige at the table behind us, and their adorable 18 month-old son ran smack into Elle Fanning outside the restroom. I loved the place.

But now I was running late to my own damn party. On my girlfriend’s recommendation, I’d invited a bunch of friends to Three of Clubs on N. Vine. Driving down from Studio City in the dark I couldn’t find Vine. Then I couldn’t find the address. Then I couldn’t find the damn entrance to the joint. About two hours late, I finally found my way into the pitch-dark bar. Some voices called out to me, “Norm”-like, when I entered, but it was a few minutes before my eyes adjusted enough to make out who-all I was hugging. Fun little bar, great time with great friends. Or whoever those people were.

Driving back to my hotel in the dark… bright lights of Hollywood all around… that dorky grin again…

We’ll skip Monday, which was an all-day meeting, the reason for my trip, and largely uneventful. (Perhaps, one day, I’ll share the “eventful” bits…) I will say, though, that my litigation attorney is brilliant and if y’all are ever involved in a lawsuit, you should be so lucky as to have him in your corner.

Monday night the laryngitis threatened a relapse, but a girl’s gotta eat. A delightful pro-writer-dude I’ve known online for a while met me at trés cool Sushi Roku in Hollywood. The food was delicious –- I’m sure my chopsticks were a blur — and I chugged buckets of hot green tea, miso soup and wee cups of sake and somehow held onto my voice, which I needed for…

…Tuesday — and my morning meeting with the Incredibly Cool & Smart Producer Who’s Nevertheless a Fan of My Work at a Starbucks in Beverly Hills. Not one to shun tradition, I got lost and wound up an unfashionable 20 minutes late. Luckily, she didn’t hold it against me, Gomer From Out of Town that I am. We got to know each other and swapped life stories and gossip for a while. Then she proceeded to give me in-depth and dead-on notes on THE MIDDLE AGES –- verbally, off-the-cuff, with nothing in hand but her iced coffee. And she told me not to worry about writing any of it down, she’d email it to me later (which she did: six pages’ worth of insight all geared toward helping me fulfill the promise of my premise). When I learn to chisel busts out of marble, I am so doing hers first.

From there, I had to rush off to meet my transactional attorney for lunch. We’ve spoken on the phone hundreds of times since he negotiated my script option, but this was the first we’d met. I was enjoying the bird’s-eye view of Beverly Hills from his lobby, when he came out and greeted me with a big hug. Good thing, too, ‘cause I had one for him that was long overdue. We’d planned a little party, but my Way-Cool Manager was home with the flu and my litigation attorney was fluish, too, so it was just the two of us at Mr. Chow. The fact that I’d heard of the restaurant should’ve tipped me off to its hot-spotness, but I was enjoying the company and the food so much, I almost missed seeing Keenan Ivory Wayans and Kevin Sorbo. (Not together -– let’s not start any rumors…) I’m not a neck-craning celebrity-watcher, so I can’t tell you who else was there that didn’t happen to walk in front of me.

After lunch, I headed off to my Way-Cool Manager’s office to meet his Equally-Cool Partners. One of the partners — I’ll call her Hot & Smart Chick Manager — I’ve spoken with on the phone a few times and gotten some kick-ass notes from, and I was especially looking forward to meeting her. She was just as smart and hot in person and we talked all over the industry and the town and my work and my career and before I knew it, I’d overstayed my parking meter by like 30 minutes.

Brett had told me he’d gotten a $47 parking ticket in LA, so I expected the envelope on the windshield. Didn’t expect the ticket to be $140, though. (Apparently, they don’t like you to park along Wilshire after 4pm. Now you know.) And to think, I’d parked at the meter ‘cause I wanted to avoid paying $12 for parking…

By now, it was nearly 5pm and I was freaking exhausted and losing my voice again. I dragged myself into Rite Aid, bought some lozenges and a crappy nukable dinner and ate them in my room. (The room didn’t have cell or internet access, but it did have a functional microwave.) I was in bed by 7pm, watched two hours of Idol boys, then conked out — ready to step off the Hollywood treadmill and get back home to my own personal chaos.

Reliving the trip through this post, I’ve noticed a few things:

~I ate my way across Los Angeles. Lucky for me, I have very little social life here at home, else I’d be a house.

~I know (all too well) that there are a lot of greedy assholes in Hollywood, but the gods of such things have smiled upon me and hooked me up with The Good Guys.

~If you want to see celebrities when you visit LA, go out for Chinese.

Box O Chocolates

I just finished Diablo Cody’s book, “Candy Girl.” It’s a fun, fast read. She and I aren’t so very different. Similar privileged upbringings – Chicago Catholic vs. Upstate New York Jew. When I first started dating my hubby, there was a brief period in which I toyed with idea of working in a men’s club at night so I could quit my straight job and write during the day. I never auditioned or even entered a club with that in mind, so I don’t know if I could or would have really done it, but it was cool to read DC’s account and see what I missed.

Went to a matinee of JUNO a couple weeks ago. First movie I’ve seen in the theater by myself in years. It was in the biggest theater of the 22-plex at our mall and I was all alone in there until the lights went down and a few other people wandered in. I was disappointed at first, thinking it would’ve been cool to watch it in there alone, but then I realized how very dark it got and how something or someone could be hiding behind any of those seats and I knew I’d be watching over my shoulder more than watching the screen, so it was probably a good thing the others arrived. And I really dug the movie, too. Ellen Page is fabulous. The whole cast was, really. I can’t or won’t comment on its Oscar-worthiness, ‘cause I’ve loved and hated other Oscar winners and contenders and nobody asked me, anyway.

Saw STRANGE WILDERNESS yesterday, ‘cause hubby and I were in need of some highbrow entertainment. If you like stupid, stoner humor, it pays off. I was in the mood for stupid, stoner humor, so I laughed a lot. I’ve missed Steve Zahn.

Starting in October, I had this stiffness in my upper back that would come out of nowhere, stick around a few days, then disappear and return the next month. Recurring, chronic pain isn’t my bag, so I had my first-ever chiropractic adjustment a few weeks ago. The doc folded me into some impossible positions, squeezed ‘til I crunched, then released me. My back was stiff and tender in new places for a few hours, but that went away and I’ve felt better ever since. I give Chiropractic Treatment a recommend.

I’m trying to read “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. I loved the show on Broadway and I knew when I started that the book is very, very different, but I’m having a hell of a time getting into this story and I’ve already given it about 150 pages. Not sure how much more I can give before I bail.

Recently watched THE TEN via NetFlix. I thought it was clever and fun. I love Paul Rudd. Funny is sexy.

Also watched MR. WOODCOCK and determined that since Billy Bob Thornton and Susan Sarandon don’t have to be in shit movies, it must’ve once been a pretty good script. But, wow. That was a Stupid Movie. Not Funny-Stupid, like STRANGE WILDERNESS and other silly movies I occasionally enjoy like cheap candy. Just Really Fucking Stupid-Stupid.

Tomorrow, Munchie, Malfoy and I are seeing the Hannah Montana concert movie. I bought the tickets before Christmas and I’m glad I did – some of the screenings are already sold out. I don’t mind Hannah Montana – Miley Cyrus seems like a sweet girl (better than Britney, if we’re talking role models) and I’m sure Daddy Cyrus will make an appearance in the movie to keep the moms interested. I’ll survive.

I hope the swirling rumors about progress in the strike talks are true. I’m ready to pull my “Writer” hat back on and bump the hausfrau gig to the back burner again… ‘cause y’know I’ve got the best of both worlds!

Thou shalt not…

…break into my husband’s car and steal his ipod and his satellite radio.

Yeah, merry frigging Christmas. At least the folks at Sirius were nice enough to replace the unit for free, since we’ve been nice enough to subscribe to their service for like three years. And whoever buys or is gifted with Hubby’s radio will be unhappy to find it’s been deactivated and won’t work. Punk-ass kids.

Speaking of commandments, most of y’all know there’s a lot of talk about boycotting the movie, THE GOLDEN COMPASS. (I contend the mediocre box office has more to do with a lack of interest in Nicole Kidman and a lack of scenes wherein Daniel Craig is disrobed, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

As a writer, I hate the idea of anything that feels at all like censorship, but as a mom, I fully understand the primal need to protect my kids.

I’ve read info from a number of Catholics and Christians who are up in arms and spreading the word that Philip Pullman, author of the books on which the film is based, is atheist — which is true, and people of religion certainly should consider this before choosing to take their kids to the film. But some of these folks are also mixing in inflammatory stuff that isn’t true, intended, I imagine, to up the indignancy level.

Hypocrisy pisses me off. (“Thou shalt not lie” anyone?)

We all have to do what’s right for us and our families, so in the spirit of making well-educated choices, I’m sharing an article about THE GOLDEN COMPASS (link below) which states in part (emphasis added):

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office for Film and Broadcasting gave the film, which is rated PG-13, a warm review. The film is not blatantly anti-Catholic but a “generalized rejection of authoritarianism,” it said.

While noting the story’s “spirit of rebellion and stark individualism,” the office said Lyra and her allies’ stand for free will in opposition to the coercive force of the Magisterium is “entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching.”

Sister Rose Paccate, director of the Pauline Center of Media Studies in Culver City, Calif., said the books portray benevolence toward children and a God figure — just one that’s much different than the one Christians know.

She sees irony in calls to shun the film, considering that one of Pullman’s central themes is that people should not follow orders and forfeit critical thought.

“If you just say ‘no’ to your kids without engaging in a conversation, they’re going to see the movie anyway and all you’re teaching them is power, not really teaching your values,” Paccate said. “If we have faith, what are we afraid of?”

Donna Freitas, a visiting assistant professor of religion at Boston University, goes a step further, calling the books a “theological masterpiece.” Pullman’s intent aside, she views the trilogy as a treatise on Christian belief.

To Freitas, the series’ mysterious “Dust” — portrayed in the books as connected to original sin — represents the Holy Spirit. Pullman is not attacking religion but those who use power to corrupt, she said.

Freitas, who co-authored a book on Pullman and religion, says that “ultimately, the arch of the trilogy is about revealing God.”

Full article here.

A friend I sent this info to thanked me for taking a stand, but I’m neither for nor against the film, really. I haven’t seen it and don’t know anyone involved (although I’ve met Chris Weitz, and he seems very cool and genuine). Is it still “taking a stand” if the only stand I take is to make informed choices? I’m not trying to talk people out of skipping the film, but an uninformed, lemming-like boycott is the kind of fanatical response that scares the living hell outta me.

Maybe I’ll lobby for an 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt think for thine own self.”

Oh. Snerk!

Waitaminute. I take it back. That’ll never fly…

Jiffy Lube

I’ve been kinda at a loss for what to write here, lately.

There’s the strike, but, sadly, I live too far away to walk the picket lines and risk bodily injury from Carson Daly’s monster truck or Jay Leno’s donuts. I’m not on the WGA negotiating committee. Nick Counter isn’t my crazy neighbor’s ball-gag wearing gimp (anymore).

So I really have nothing fresh to feed the inquirement of the Strikeosphere. Sure, I can regurg strike intel from other sites, but why? I have it on good authority that Nikki Finke is about as close to accurate as strike reporting can get, so, you want the info? Go there.

I’m an equal opportunity linker and I think it’s smart in any dispute to know where your opponent’s coming from, so be sure to check the AMPTP’s site, too.

With all this excitement, sometimes it’s easy to forget that there is other stuff going on in my world.

F’rinstance, tonight’s the last night of Chanukah. Which now gives us about two weeks to get ready for Christmas (mixed family + 2 kids = not cheap). Munchie’s 9 now, and at an age where she’s pretty sure there’s not really a Santa Claus, but is afraid she won’t get any presents if she doesn’t believe. (She debunked the Tooth Fairy last year. Thank god. I was starting to worry she wasn’t as bright as I’d thought.)

A few nights ago, Munchie asked if the phone calls she gets on Christmas each year are really from Santa. I responded, “How should I know? I’m Jewish. Ask Daddy.”

I am not taking that bullet.

In other news, THE MIDDLE AGES is “done” in that not-really-doneish way that screenplays ever are. I may get notes from a couple more brutally-honest-writer-friends, and then maybe I’ll have more work ’til it’s done-done. But for now, it gathers virtual dust, awaiting the end of the strike, so my way-cool manager can do his thing.

I’m marinating a new spec idea, but haven’t begun actually stringing words on it, yet. I don’t wanna get write-rusty, though, so, in an effort to stay, erm… well-lubed, I’m gonna start blogging more. ‘Course, I say that now… (edited to add: Jeezus — could I mix more metaphors?!)

I do hate blathering aimlessly. I spec’ed a “Seinfeld” once, but even the show about nothing was still about something. I’ll try not to bore. No promises, though.