Yesterday I had a very rare day “off” meaning that my son was living it up with the grandparents, husband had to work and I have myself a nice break. Whenever I have a few free hours, I love to catch a movie and yesterday it was Slumdog Millionaire. About halfway into it, I developed almost a blinding migraine. I have not experienced one in years. But I think watching two hours of orphaned Indian children being put through every possible human horror pretty much sent me over the edge. I am over-the-top sensitive to seeing any harm come to children or animals and I’ve found it nearly intolerable to listen to or watch negative images, harsh music or bleak storylines. Though the movie had a redemptive ending, it wasn’t enough to ward off my exploding head. So I headed home and took a long nap. Why, over the last few months, have I become increasingly sensitive to audio and video cues? I think it’s where my heart and mind have been going lately which is more to the internal, introspective worlds that feed the soul.
Stuff that needs to happen before the 25th:
1) Trail of Lights and Zilker Christmas Tree Lighting
3) Make homemade pasta sauce and cookies for presents
4) Christmas portrait with family
5) Ben’s birthday party
6) Order and mail Christmas cards
7) Charlie Brown Christmas
8) Wrap presents
9) Trick out Santa’s gift for Ben
10) Christmas mix CD
11) Drop off toys to Children’s Shelter
12) It’s a Wonderful Life
13) Forgive family for various crap
14) Forgive myself
So last year my friend John started this great online mag called Shuffleboil.com where he gathered up a bunch of his writer friends and we all contributed to his brilliant work. The mag is something new and great and all his own now, but I was reading through some old posts and I thought I would reinvigorate (and rewrite) some here.
ODE TO WRITERS
When I watch the Oscars, my favorite category is Best Writing. Why it’s not Best Writer, I really don’t know. It’s a crime. I am consistently amazed at novelists, essayists and short story writers who engage me so completely that I dream about their characters and I physically feel as though I’ve been transported to another place and time. It’s magic.
And while I get a lot of pleasure out of my book learnin’ ways and my critically-acclaimed film tastes, I always stand ready to praise the quality of writing that I see on television when merited. Sure, most of the dramas and comedies they pass off as entertainment doesn’t even get a second glance from me. But today, I watched a new episode of Mad Men. I am riveted by how thoroughly I was carried into the dialogue and mannerisms of ad guys in Manhattan in 1960. The characters depict a picture of restraint and rage duking it out over the neatly folded over tear in the book of genders. It is a world of men and their women—whores or saints—peddling through a haze of cigarettes, whiskey and lies. I have never seen such an honest depiction of this time in the evolution of American society and culture. The sixties are here, and everything is about to change. This would be the last few years where openly speaking about “catching a husband” or “private executive bank accounts for men who need to keep certain matters from their wives” would be even remotely socially acceptable. There is one’s inside-your-own-head voice and the one you use to maneuver through daily life. I might even dare to say that the guys in Mad Men are the great envy of many men today.
So while the best writers in the industry—the women and men you depend on for that storyline, those characters, that fleeting escape—are constantly fighting to get their fair share and keep writing and providing for their families, I would like to pitch my own reality show while supporting my fellow writers. This is my small way of bringing the two sides come together. A little win-win never hurt, right? Here goes.
The Write Stuff!
Take a group of sixteen writers and make them compete for a chance to be named America ’s #1 Writer! Prize package includes a lifetime supply of paper, pens, ink cartridges, giant cans of coffee and stress balls (provided by Office Depot). The winner will receive health insurance for his ENTIRE family (provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield), and a steady annual income of $150K per year until death (provided by the network) and 10% of all profits from his or her own work. The winner will also receive a 100% matching 401K and free financial planning (provided by ING). Finally, America’s #1 Writer will have a brand new office outfitted with ergonomically correct chair and desk (provided by IKEA) complete with both a desktop and laptop networked computer (provided by Apple) pimped out with every piece of writing software available. America ’s #1 writer will also receive a t-shirt that says “Hey, America , I’m Your #1 Writer!”
The contestants can be screenwriters, novelists, poets, mystery writers, journalists, whoever calls himself a writer by trade. The sixteen writers will compete in Survivor-style reward and immunity challenges like:
1) Balance as many Jane Austen novels on your head as possible while wearing a corset and walking around a big dining room table—last one standing wins.
2) Write your own life story in 15 minutes with your least dominant hand—whoever has the best penmanship wins.
3) From five racks of clothing, speed to dress like a critically-acclaimed author for a photo shoot. You’re being shot for your book jacket by world-renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibowitz—best book jacket photo wins.
4) With a team, act out the scene from a great American play using mime only—team that guesses the most scenes in allotted time wins.
5) Make your own quills and sell them on the street—whoever sells the most wins.
6) Write a children’s story using only vitamins, safety equipment or dentists as characters and read it aloud—children are the judges, best story wins.
7) Pitch your movie idea to three different studio executives… sort of a writer’s “go-see.” You’ll be transported to each pitch meeting on the back of a Vespa driven by a hot Italian guy or girl—whoever impresses the judges the most wins.
8) Stage a poetry reading titled “Voices of Sorrow, Faces of Poverty: A Consciousness-Raising Event to Benefit the Homeless” in the financial district and promote it however you can– whoever has the most audience members wins.
9) Spelling Bee
10) Start a fire with only two rocks, a stick, a piece of string and a pile of Stephen King books
Notes: The only food provided for the contestants during their time on the show will be Ramen, Slim Jims, rice, Tic Tacs, Saltines and ketchup packets. Limitless cigarettes. Judges are beloved American poet Maya Angelou (regular Oprah guest), hefty humor writer Bruce Vilanch (Celebrity Fit Club) and one of America ’s most famous Academy Award-Winning Screenwriters, Ben Affleck (Project Greenlight)
So cheer up, writers. One of you just may get everything you’ve ever wanted, everything you’ve ever needed and probably more! Just know that this writer has your back, and good luck. We’re all counting on you.
Me: What the @!&*… what the hell time is it…
Me: 3:30 in the freaking morning.. who is calling at…
Husband: Caller ID says it’s Lohan. Whaddya want me to do?
Me: Arrrghhhh…. I’ll take it in the office.
Husband: OK, but tell her that real people need real sleep and…
Me: I know, I know. I’ll handle it.
Husband: Good Luck.
Me: Uh..huh… Hello?
LL: OKOKOKOKOKOK I absolutely KNOW that it is late, but I’m in Paris, and it’s not late here– actually I just had a nice breakfast at this little cafe and…
Me: WHAT!? What do you want, Lindsay?
LL: OK, so I thought I better call now, or I would forget.
Me: Forget what? Forget to remind me that I have yet to get to Paris in this lifetime and you’ve been there, like, fifty times already and you just want to make absolutely sure that I realize how unbelievably underwhelming the City of Lights actually is? I was in the middle of a pretty decent dream involving me and a talking dolphin, so this better be good.
LL: It is. I promise.
Me: OK then.
LL: Well, now that I think about it, it’s probably not a big deal. You go back to bed. I’ll call you later.
Me: Over my dead body. You tell me now, or you permanently lose this number.
LL: OK OK… I was thinking I need to get a makeunder, you know. Just sort of Streep it up a little.
Me: Get your Streep on, as it were?
LL: Exactly! She told me once that she thinks I’m pretty good, and I’m not going to have my looks forever so I better get serious about, you know, serious stuff.
LL: And I’ve been looking at pictures of myself a lot…
Me: As usual…
LL: Uh-huh. As usual and I’m looking, I don’t know, kind of bummed out.
Me: You are bummed out. Your Mother and sister just did a lame ass reality show totally exploiting your celebrity, your Dad’s in jail, you’ve already been in rehab a couple of times.
LL: I know, and it sucks. I just want to hang out, you know?
Me: And I want to sleep. Is that all?
LL: No. I need your help.
Me: That’s what you have agents and managers and “people” for. Go ask them. I’m tired.
LL: Tell me about it. I just got off this shoot and…
Me: OK, not to interrupt but I’m Mom-with-toddler-juggling-bills-dealing-with-clients-cleaning-house-running-errands-staying-groomed-by-myself-tired. Not celebutante tired. That’s a different tired. People run at you in warp speed to make sure you don’t have bags under your eyes. People run away from me because, honestly, my morning hair scares the crap out of them. So go get help from, you know, your help.
LL: But you’re my friend.
Me: (deep sigh) OK… how can I help?
LL: OK Good. So what books should I be reading? Are there any really, you know, super smart people I should be hanging out with? Have you ever read “The Alchemist”? My Reiki woman said that would that make a good movie.
Me: The main character is a shepherd boy– there is a gypsy, but it’s a pretty small role and…
LL: Well screw that. What else? Can you think of anything else?
Me: Well… let me think about it. Would you be willing to gain some weight?
LL: Weight? How much weight are we talking about? Like Bridget Jones or more like Charlize Theron in that death row movie?
Me: I don’t know. I’m just asking cuz that might make a difference in what I recommend. You said you wanted to Streep it up…
LL: Yeah, but that’s like DeNiro. Streep does accents. I can definitely do accents. Didn’t you see The Parent Trap?
Me: I just want to know how far you’re willing to go.
LL: I need to think about it.
Me: Okey Dokey. Just get back to me… at a decent hour. And send me an Eiffel Tower snowglobe.
LL: You have like 15 of those.
Me: Yeah, but I don’t have one from the Lohan. Au Revoir.
A scene from our kitchen…
Me: “Sweetie, there are some things about “Thomas and Friends” that are kind of bugging me. There really is a lot of bad behavior there.”
Fritz: “Yeah, there is. Hubris is usually the big one. Whenever an engine gets too full of himself, something bad happens. Plus there’s a lot of conflict and infighting between them.”
Me: “And I’m not crazy about the whole management-worker dynamic.keeps them in a dark shed under a tarp until he suddenly comes in one day and pulls it off. He says, ‘If you work hard, I’ll let you out’. Then he orders them around like slaves.”
Fritz: “Oh, I don’t know, honey. An engine’s fondest wish is to be Really Useful. I think Sir Topham Hatt has a kindly way with the engines. He mediates their disputes fairly and picks them up when they get down on themselves. He only really chews them out when they do something dumb like blasting through someone’s dining room wall at breakfast.”
Me: “Yeah, I guess so. And what’s with all these people building their houses and setting up barber shops five feet away from a sharp turn in the rails? How do they get insurance, anyway?”
For those of you who have requested the links to my Reality TV column, “My Next Top Reality” on Shuffleboil.com, here they are:
My Next Top Reality: The Price of Pain in Hollywood
My Next Top Reality – Weigh to Go
My Next Top Reality – “Hey! I’m Trying to Eat Here!”
My Next Top Reality – America’s #1 Writer
My Next Top Reality – What the hell sort of happiness is this?
My Next Top Reality – “Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares”