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IN MEMORIAM: Nora Ephron, 1941-2012

Nora Ephron quotes.
--My commentary.

ETA The Guardian tribute to Ephron, with some great quotes. Via [personal profile] oursin.

ETA Nora Ephron on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Funny and sweet. Thanks to [personal profile] klwalton.

Reading and Writing

My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be comic stories the next.

I don't care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head, you're also writing your Oscar acceptance speech.

Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.


Movies

I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.

To state the obvious, romantic comedies have to be funny and they have to be romantic. But one of the most important things, for me anyway, is that they be about two strong people finding their way to love.

It struck me that the movies had spent more than half a century saying, ''They lived happily ever after'' and the following quarter-century warning that they'll be lucky to make it through the weekend. Possibly now we are now entering a third era in which the movies will be sounding a note of cautious optimism: You know it just might work.

New Yorker profile of Nora Ephron, plus discussion of Julie and Julia.

--The first movie Nora Ephron wrote was Silkwood -- a brilliant, heart-rending classic, notable for the toughness and realism of its depiction of the women working in the Kerr McGee factory. I was never crazy about Sleepless in Seattle or When Harry Met Sally; Meg Ryan annoys me, but I did like the old couples talking about their lives together in WHMS, and I adored the second leads -- Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher. Julie and Julia was simply a delight.


Sex and Body Image

In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.

What will happen to sex after liberation? Frankly, I don't know. It is a great mystery to all of us.

On big breasts: "If I had them, I would have been a completely different person.”

If pregnancy were a book, they would cut the last two chapters. The beginning is glorious, especially if you're lucky enough not to have morning sickness and if, like me, you've had small breasts all your life. Suddenly they begin to grow, and you've got them, you've really got them, breasts, darling breasts, and when you walk down the street they bounce, truly they do, they bounce bounce bounce.

On a friend who complained that she was losing her looks in her 30s: I am at this moment gaining my looks.

When we were young . . . the amount of time we spent making ourselves look good bore some correlation to the number of hours we spent having sex (which was, after all, one of the reasons for our spending so much time on grooming). But now that we’re older, whom are we kidding?

Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four.

We all look good for our age. Except for our necks.

--Ephron came to my attention and the world's as an essayist on women for Esquire. She wrote about consciousness-raising, padded bras, vaginal deodorants, Linda Lovelace, Betty Friedan, and sexual fantasies with a refreshing honesty, a wry self-revelatory grace. She was a feminist who was open about the flaws of feminism at a time when that seemed like betrayal, but it was also clear that she was a feminist. Those pieces helped shape me. When I read her penultimate collection of essays, I Worry about My Neck, I felt at first as though she'd grown shallow -- well, she was raised in Hollywood by screenwriters and lived most of her life in the hotbed of competitive Manhattan, both cultures where looks mattered enormously. But as I continued to read, I realized she was writing about grief over the death of friends and her own aging. It's not just about how other people perceived her, but about the loss of youth and the imminence of death.


Men

Beware of men who cry. It's true that men who cry are sensitive to and in touch with feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be sensitive to and in touch with are their own.

Summer bachelors, like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be.

"Never marry a man you wouldn't want to be divorced from."
--Her own husbands were all writers: The first, Dan Greenburg, is largely forgotten now, but his research into Sunstone prompted her essay "Wallflower at the Orgy." Her second was Carl Bernstein. Yes, that Carl Bernstein. Her novel Heartburn was about their divorce. When it was made into a movie, Jack Nicholson played the Bernstein character -- which makes Bernstein the only American journalist to be portrayed on film by both Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson. This has to be some kind of record. She spent the final three decades of her life with Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wiseguys.


Marriage and Divorce

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Whenever I get married, I start buying Gourmet magazine.

The desire to get married, which - I regret to say, I believe is basic and primal in women - is followed almost immediately by an equally basic and primal urge - which is to be single again.

“I don't want to be someone that you're settling for. I don't want to be someone that anyone settles for. Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it, isn't it?”
—Walter from Sleepless in Seattle

On The Thin Man: One of the only movies about marriage. Of course it's also about drinking.

Sometimes I believe that some people are better at love than others, and sometimes I believe that everyone is faking it.

The divorce has lasted way longer than the marriage, but finally it's over. Enough about that.The point is that for a long time, the fact that I was divorced was the most important thing about me. And now it's not.


Children

When you have a baby, you set off an explosion in your marriage, and when the dust settles, your marriage is different from what it was. Not better, necessarily; not worse, necessarily; but different.

Suddenly, one day, there was this thing called parenting. Parenting was serious. Parenting was fierce. Parenting was solemn. Parenting was a participle, like going and doing and crusading and worrying.

When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

With any child entering adolescence, one hunts for signs of health, is desperate for the smallest indication that the child's problems will never be important enough for a television movie.

Definition of successful parent: "One who raises a child who grows up and is able to pay for his or her own psychoanalysis."


Feminism

The major concrete achievement of the women's movement in the 1970s was the Dutch treat.

One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don't take it personally, but listen hard to what's going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn't serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you -- whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you." — '96 Wellesley commencement address

We have lived through the era when happiness was a warm puppy, and the era when happiness was a dry martini, and now we have come to the era when happiness is knowing what your uterus looks like.

The Wonderbra is not a step forward for women. Nothing that hurts that much is a step forward for women.

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

I never went near the Wellesley College chapel in my four years there, but I am still amazed at the amount of Christian charity that school stuck us with, a kind of glazed politeness in the face of boredom and stupidity. Tolerance, in the worst sense of the word. Wellesley was not alone in encouraging this for its students, but it always seemed to sad that a school that could have done so much for women put so much energy into the one area women should be educated out of. How marvelous it would have been to go to a women's college that encouraged impoliteness, that rewarded aggression, that encouraged argument.


Society

As far as the men who are running for president are concerned, they aren't even people I would date.

I have for many years been puzzled by the persistence of Hugh Hefner. Why is he still here?
—“Why Won’t Playboy Die?” Newsweek

I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive.

American society has a remarkable ability to resist change, or to take whatever change has taken place and attempt to make it go away.


Food

I’ve written about cooking and marriage dozens of times, and I’m very smart on the subject, I’m very smart about how complicated things get when food and love become hopelessly tangled.

Every time I'm forced to watch them eat egg-white omelettes, I feel bad for them. In the first place, egg-white omelettes are tasteless. In the second place, the people who eat them think they are doing something virtuous when they are instead merely misinformed.

If there is a Nora Ephron signature anything it is that there's slightly too much food. I have a friend whose mantra is: You must choose. And I believe the exact opposite: I think you should always have at least four desserts that are kind of fighting with each other.

And so, Thanksgiving. It's the most amazing holiday. Just think about it -- it's a miracle that once a year so many millions of Americans sit down to exactly the same meal as one another, exactly the same meal they grew up eating, and exactly the same meal they ate a year earlier. The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don't think so.

The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self.
—Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail

You should eat delicious things while you can still eat them, go to wonderful places while you still can ... and not have evenings where you say to yourself, ‘What am I doing here? Why am I here? I am bored witless!’

Everybody dies. There's nothing you can do about it. Whether you eat six almonds a day. Whether or not you believe in God.


“I'll have what she's having.”
― the deli scene, When Harry Met Sally

This entry was originally posted at http://wordweaverlynn.dreamwidth.org/572143.html. Please comment here if you want, or there using OpenID. Or send em a message via carrier pigeon or fortune cookie. I'm dying to hear from you.
Tags: feminism, in memoriam, nora ephron, nore ephron quotes, quotes
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