Amanda Gates
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A Musings - June 2011

Half Baked was my third Kindle book, and the first one with typos—oh my gosh, the typos! Anyone else have a Kindle and had to deal with that? Or, was the hard copy of Half Baked riddled with typos, too? Anyway, Half Baked is a memoir of a Minnesotan couple who deal with infertility issues, get pregnant, have a very premature baby and all that follows. Author Alexa Stevenson has blog and she’s quite humorous. Her book is very funny, too.

At first, reading about Alexa’s infertility issues and early pregnancy... well quite frankly, the woman drove me nuts. She’s very open about her neurotic nature and understands this about herself. However, it was TOO MUCH at some points and I wanted to just shake her and tell her to calm the eff down.

But, crazy thing, once she had her daughter at 1 pound 11 ounces, she snapped out of it. All of a sudden she was cool as a cucumber, taking in every single thing the doctors said and absorbing it and then remembering it for later. She was her child’s most dedicated advocate, unemotional, serious and not one bit neurotic. It was amazing. And inspiring.

In Half Baked, you learn about the amazingness of the NICU. The fact that a baby that small can survive—not easily, of course—and thrive and grow up like a normal kid is a pure miracle. Another miracle. Because having the baby in the first place is a miracle, too.

At one point, Alexa wrote about how maybe she was too serious, too cool when it came to her daughter’s health. She was the one who was always there. She was the one with all the information. And each time something bad happened to Simone, she was the one who had to break the news to family and friends. And she did it without crying, while they cried to her. She had to console them. Reading that part of the book as my mother was losing her own life battle… well, it hit home. I felt the same way sometimes. “Um, hi, this is happening to me. Why do I have to make you feel better about it? Why do I even have to talk to you?”

So, once I got passed wanting to shake Alexa, the book was really quite a story. I loved how she explains not knowing how to end the book, because Simone’s battles never end, but you have to end somewhere. But, at least she still has her blog, for those who don’t want the story to end.

Posted: Thu, 06/23/2011 - 10:26 |

I watched Sports Night when it first aired back in 1998. I loved the show, and I was disappointed when it was canceled just two seasons in. I loved it so much, that a few years ago when the complete season came out on DVD, I added it to my Amazon Wish List. But I never got it. Well, after a decade or so, it’s easy to forget why you used to love something. Was it just Peter Krause that I loved? Felicity Huffman? Because since The American President, The West Wing and Studio 60, Aaron Sorkin can pretty much do no wrong by me? Probably all of the above.

When I discovered recently that I could stream the whole series on Netflix, I jumped. And from the first two minutes of the first episode, I remember why I loved it (yes, it was all of the above, and more, like Joshua Malina, a Sorkin muse of sorts). Minus the laugh track, of course. Man, I hate laugh tracks. (Fortunately, Sports Night ditched the laugh track part way through the series.)

The thing about watching this Sorkin show again, though, is I’m seeing all the creator’s fingerprints. See, back then, I really had no idea who Aaron Sorkin was. Those were the David E. Kelley days. (Bygones. Poughkeepsie. Bobby Donnell. They all deserve their own blog posts.) But after my love for The West Wing, I learned more about Mr. Sorkin, and he’s (obviously) all over Sports Night.

+ The Walking. Sorkin is known for making his characters walk the halls. It’s made fun of relentlessly, with SNL-type spoofs of people just walking in circles while talking, ending up back where they started. He did the same in Sports Night; they don’t walk as much at CSC as at The White House, but walk/run they do.

+ The Repeated Questions/Statements. Sorkin likes to make characters repeat themselves. I don’t know if his characters are slow or hard of hearing—or, more likely, he thinks the viewers are slow or hard of hearing—but characters are always asking for other characters to repeat themselves. Or, if they’re not doing that, they’re at least repeating a part of the conversation, for emphasis, over and over or before they exit the scene. Thing is, I actually like this technique.

(Somewhat of an example)

Casey: I speak four languages.

Dan: You speak three languages.

Casey: I speak four languages.

Dan: You speak German, French, and Italian.

Casey: I dabble in a little English.

+ The Speeches. Sorkin pretty blatantly, and unapologetically, hits home his agendas in every show. In just the first few episodes, we already had quick-talking speeches about legalizing marijuana, the poor showing of the democratic party (remember, this is 1998), the rights of gays, the ridiculousness of professional athletes being put on pedestals even if they’re criminals (I mean, this is a SPORTS show and he holds no bars having his sports ANCHORS take athletes down a notch), the barbaric nature of hunting wild game, the confederate flag being flown, and so on.  

+ The Female Lead. Whether it’s Dana Whitaker (Felicity Huffman) or C.J. Cregg (Alison Janney), Sorkin gives females some pretty good, meaty and funny roles. Sure, there’s usually a love triangle going on, but these women are also successful, smart and, again, funny all on their own.

I consumed this show so quickly, and now I miss it. (And what the heck happened to Sabrina Lloyd? A couple guest spots here and there really doesn’t seem like enough. I loved her, too.) I like that, unlike, say, Veronica Mars, the show knew it was ending and wrapped (almost) everything up nicely.

Any other Sorkin fans out there? I didn’t even get into The Social Network, which was also great and all-Sorkin-everywhere. What other techniques does he exploit well (or not so well)?

Posted: Thu, 06/16/2011 - 14:40 | Comments: 3