Sleepless Emails and Julia Child

By John Winn

In case any of you haven’t been busy watching Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie marathons, you’re probably aware that novelist, screenwriter, and super cool aunt extraordinaire Nora Ephron has died.  As my colleague Alex Harris has noted, Ephron’s reach was wide-ranging, from novels, screenplays–to no surprise, film.  Her long, storied career also spanned multiple generations, from Boomers to the very first Milennials *cough cough me cough cough*. A full list of all the movies she’s made and careers she launched would do her no justice, so you’re going to have to settle with my extremely subjective opinions of her work–specifically, Sleepless in Seattle.

  1993 was a very special year for me.  In addition to being the year Sleepless came out, it was also the year I turned 10 years old.  Ages 11 and 12 kind of sucked, but I’ll spare you the soap opera drama for another day.  All you need to know about 1993 is that it is the first year I became aware of VHS–I mean, really, really became aware of it. Like many families around that time, our Friday nights (and Saturdays, and Sundays) revolved around movies.  One or several of us would run out to the local Blockbuster and rent two or three for the weekend, but to be honest they were all mostly a blur–except maybe Terminator 2, and of course Sleepless in Seattle.

In addition to being one of my earliest memories, Sleepless was also the first serious romantic comedy that I ever had the chance to see.  Tom and Meg previously been in Joe Versus the Volcano which my brother Pat liked, but their chemistry onscreen could not be understated. Sleepless in Seattle was a step above that.  The movie touched on the familiar themes of heartbreak and loss that are central to almost all romantic comedies going back to An Affair to Remember ( Which Sleepless is based on), but it had none of the sex and innuendo that lesser movies would entail. It also dealt with the thorny topic of death and being a single parent, which would become Hanks road to Oscar glory in Philadelphia and later, Forrest Gump.

Besides the very adult subject matter, the movie had two of the hottest stars of its day.  Tom Hanks was just starting to show the serious acting chops he displayed briefly in Joe, and Meg was basking in the success of another Nora Ephron film, When Harry Met Sally.  The onscreen chemistry between the two could not be underestimated.  For those of you under 30, imagine if Paul Rudd and Emma Roberts did a bunch of movies together.  I know it’s difficult to picture, but work with me here.

Movie stars aside, what Sleepless in Seattle had going for it was subtlety. It helped that Meg and Tom were much older, but also that Ephron knew how to weave a story about two compelling characters without making them overly quirky or resorting to gimmicks (It also happened to be the only movie I’ve watched where Rose O’Donnell was tolerable, but that’s a topic for another day). Ephron would try to duplicate the same experience with You’ve Got Mail, but for some reason it fell flat.  Julie and Julia rocked, and if anyone says otherwise I’m gonna cut a bitch.

I could go on and on, but my studio executive editor is telling me to shut it down.  In any case, Nora, we wish you Godspeed, and may your Heaven be filled with Nathan’s hot dogs.

  Social Media Coordinator (and managing editor) John Winn is Hennen’s Twitterer in Chief.  In addition to writing for Hennen’s, His work has been featured in A Twist of Noir, Lightning Flash, Racket Magazine, and plenty of other online magazines.  He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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To Be or Not To Be (Influential)

By Alexandria Harris

It’s a good time to ponder existence because this past week has been slightly morbid. Only we’re not going to look at our own mortality–that has a tendency to scare people and we’re just starting to become friends (I hope).

Today the window closes on how much people are willing to hear depressing news, so I thought I’d take my chance. (If you’re wondering about the window I’m referring to, it is as follows: Monday you’re either depressed or overly positive; Tuesday is usually the worst day of the week because you’ve either sunk lower or lost your delusions, Wednesday is the middle of the week so you’re starting to climb the mountain; Thursday you’re embracing positivity and can see the light at the end of the tunnel; and Friday = FREE AT LAST).

Yesterday was especially morbid because it was the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. If you didn’t notice it by how many times they played Man in the Mirror on the radio, you probably heard it on the news. Since PYT is my favorite song (of his) I had it on repeat. At a point where I had entirely too much time on my hands, I had an entire choreographed dance to PYT and my family and friends frequently got together to do the Thriller dance.

However Nora Ephron’s passing may be more relevant to you. I found it relevant and I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea who she was until today because you can’t get away from her name on the Internet and she’s trending on Twitter.

For those who might have been like me (the majority of you who aren’t, humor me) Ephron’s work includes Silkwood, Heartburn, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Julie and Julia. She was a writer, director, novelist, producer, and obviously multi-talented. Her work was able to reach across gender lines to be enjoyed by all. It’s also inspiring how she set the bar for women directors like Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides), and other directors.

Basically she set the bar high for future female directors and novelists. It’s always sad when someone this talented and influential passes away, but there’s always a semblance of hope that the legacy they leave inspires people to great things. Her passing jump started my curiosity not just in her work, but to see who were the most influential writers today. As good timing would have it, The Daily Beast featured a slideshow list from Newsweek of columnists, bloggers, and writers who they believe are the most influential. Some I haven’t read, some I’ve obviously read, and others I’m not sure why they’re on the list. For those of you not visiting the link and for my news oriented people who care, I’ll list the ten below:

1. Ezra Klein, Wonk, The Washington Post
2. Robert Wright, Co-founder, Talkingheads.tv
3. Matt Yglesias, Blogger, Slate
4. Ross Douthat, Columnist, The New York Times
5. Arianna Huffington, Editor in Chief, The Huffington Post
6. Ed Morrissey, Blogger, Hot Air
7. Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo Blog
8. Glenn Greenwald, Writer, Salon
9. Jonathan Chait, Writer, New York Magazine
10. David Frum, Writer, The Daily Beast

And to continue my quest to be real, I’ve only been indirectly influenced by Arianna whose Huffington Post reach is a monolith threatening a world takeover. However, I’m young and pretty sure I’ll be forced to collide with the others’ work soon enough.

Jackson and Ephron left a powerful legacy. We are still being influenced by writers, bloggers, journalists today which shape how we view the world and the legacies we want to leave. Influence can be a powerful and dangerous thing.
It can also be life-changing.

Alexandria Harris is a writer and recent college graduate. When she isn’t writing, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, or working in her father’s company, she tweets regularly on her account @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin