Turns out the problem is something called the inverter, not the screen itself. So it should be about a $30-$40 fix. Totally worth fixing, IMO.
This has been a good wake-up call, though, as I realize I should be constantly shopping for a "new" laptop just to keep up with all the innovations and technology. Just in case my current laptop dies ignominiously.
Speaking of new things... did you guys hear about this new OS called Microsoft Windows 8? OMG everyone hates it!!!