Amanda Gates
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A Musings - July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: This was my most anticipated movie of the year and it didn't disappoint. I thought it was the best of the trilogy. Both my husband and I liked Bane as a villian. The premise was realistically frightening. And even though I was a touch worried about Hathaway as Catwoman, she was fantastic. It left a few questions in our mind, but also moved so fast that we might've missed something. In the end, with the way it ended, it makes me really sad Nolan says he's done. I'd love to see where Nolan and Bale could take it from here.

Spoiled? Not My Kid: I liked Jenny Feldon's post on whether or not she spoils her daughter. She doesn't get everything she wants, but she has all she needs and more. I like the philosophy that we should say Yes more than we say No to our kids. Not in a way that turns them into monsters, but more in a way that it's OK to take 5 extra minutes at the park or get the floor wet because we're splashing in the tub.

Potty training: It seems like when your kid hits 2 years old, the talk of potty training comes up a lot. I've never understood the rush. I get some parents loathe changing diapers; I don't mind it. I know some parents don't want two kids in diapers at the same time; I don't have that concern currently. I also get some kids are really ready. I'm perfectly happy that we can still go places and not have to run to a bathroom every 10 minutes; there will be plenty of years of that in the future. So, I loved this post about Ilana Wiles' daughter not being potty trained because she's not ready. And how that's OK. Amen.

(I also loved Wiles' flow chart on how to know when your kid is ready. Mine falls firmly on the NO side. Again, why rush?)

Killers Runaways video: I don't know why, but The Killers pump me up. It's good music to listen to when I work. So, I was happy to hear the band's new single and see the new video. Same good sound, and I'm glad Flowers lost his mustache.

Crappy Pictures' The Inability of Children to Hold on To Things in the Car: I laugh so hard at Crappy Pictures all the time. Lately our toddler's been holding things in the car (an animal, a car, a ball, his cup) and soon we'll hear, "Where ball/car/water go?" and we know he dropped it. We reach back maybe once, but after that, tough luck, kid. So, this post was hilarious to me this week.

Life of Pi trailer: I wasn't in love with Life of Pi when I read it four years ago. I thought it was a bit long in the middle and I predicted the ending. It was so hyped that I ended up being disappointed. However, the movie looks gorgeous. I think by going into the movie with no expectations of the actual story (because I already know what happens), I might actually enjoy it more.

Your turn!

Posted: Fri, 07/27/2012 - 10:42 |

+ Friends with Kids.

+ The P&G Olympic commerical: You know the one without even clicking, right? I've never been into the Olympic trials before. Ever. But when all the swimming, gymnastics and track and field was on a couple weeks ago, I watched nearly all of it. I was cheering for Dana Torres and Nastia Luiken (bummers) and other athletes who made it, including Rachel Bootsma from MN!

But that commercial! It was on during every commercial break, and will be again once the Olympics start next weekend. And I cry EVERY TIME. Even when I try really hard not to, I still do. But that's OK, because I love it. (Mom 101 has an interesting take over on her blog.)

+ 25 Signs that You're a Cop: I'm obviously not, but my husband is, and nearly every single one of these rings true for him. And I agree with plenty of them, too, including #3, 6 & 9. And #16? People say that to him all the time. (PSA: Don't say that to a cop.)

+ Green Day's new single: It's great. It has the band's mature sound from American Idiot and 21 Guns, with a touch of Dookie-ness to it.

+ Do You Live in a Bubble? quiz: Everyone on Twitter was taking this last week. I scored fairly low (38), which I expected due to my upbringing. But, it's pretty interesting.

+ A Story is Born: A short cartoon from the local Pioneer Press, "Where we take a visit to the sausage factory we call the newsroom and give a Schoolhouse Rock treatment to the birth of a newspaper story." If that doesn't hit close to home, I don't know what would. Hilarious.

+ Parenting 101: I loved Kristen Chase's take on all the parenting books out there ("a racket," she calls them). She writes, "I’ve learned the most about how to parent from other moms (yes, even my own) who frankly and honestly tell their stories. Not just the pretty, happy ones covered in organic cake icing. But the elbow deep in poop ones that might require chemical disinfection."

Your turn!

Posted: Fri, 07/20/2012 - 09:07 | Comments: 4

I love Jennifer Westfeldt. Ever since I watched Kissing Jessica Stein more than 10 years ago, I’ve loved her. She writes smart, fun, flirty films. Her main characters (so her, mostly) are flawed and confused, but really, really good people. I loved her in Notes from the Underbelly, the short-lived comedy a few years back. Ira & Abby was cute, too, and introduced me to the lovable Chris Messina (who will be on Mindy Kaling’s new show this fall). Plus, at the end of the day she gets to go home with Jon Hamm. What’s not to love?

When Friends with Kids came out last year, I knew I would have to see it. It finally came available for rental this week and I watched it last night. Just by who was in the film (Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Edward Burns), you can tell that over the years Jennifer and Jon (who is in all three of her movies) have made some good friends. The cast is excellent and so is the story.

The premise of the movie studies marriage after kids. Can you be happy and in love with kids? After seeing their friends become exhausted people, different people, post kids, Julie and Jason (Westfeldt and Scott), best friends, don’t think you can have all three. So, they decide to have a kid together without the relationship.

And at first, it seems like they have it all figured out. They split time equally. When the baby is with Jason, Julie can going running, cook great food for her friends and go out in the evenings. When you’re married, you’re together all the time. No one gets to leave and sleep at their own place for the night. During the newborn stage, Julie and Jason’s arrangement actually seems kind of perfect.

Ah, but can you have your cake and eat it too? Things aren’t always as perfect as they seem, which is what the movie continues to discover.

I loved that the movie showed all different kinds of relationships. Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm’s characters’ marriage struggles. Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd’s characters’ marriage is hard, but there’s real love there. Julie and Jason show what it’s like to date with a kid. It’s a unique study in relationships. (I kind of wonder if any of Westfeldt and Hamm’s friends wondered who in the movie was modeled after real-life people they know.)

And while I love Westfeldt, the true star of the movie is Adam Scott (Is he the new Paul Rudd? In everything, but cuter and not so ridiculous?). He’s phenomenal. He plays the perfect mix of douchebag, kind best friend, smart ass and loving father. Even when his character is at his worst, you don’t hate him. You feel for him. And when he comes to certain realizations about his life and gets emotional, your heart swells.

Minus the constant swearing in front of the children, which I feel is unrealistic and irresponsible, as well as the casting of Megan Fox (blech), the movie is awesome and completely and truly Westfeldt. I wish she wrote movies every year.

Posted: Thu, 07/19/2012 - 08:26 |

I missed last week due to the holiday, so a couple of these are hold overs. Here's what (and who) I'm loving lately:

+ Anderson Cooper: No, it wasn't a surprise, but it was eloquent and heartfelt. In addition, I respect his views on being a good journalist. Not enough news journalists these days think this way: "For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist."

+ Walking Dead: I'm excited and frightened for Season 3. This Q&A made me even more so. I think the prison is going to be such an amazing location.

+ 10 Bands I Will Be Forced to Listen to in Hell: While I don't agree with all of these (I like REM and The Beach Boys are very nostalgic for me), I still thought this article was pretty hilarious.

+ Flow Free: I was looking for a new game for my phone and found this. I'm officially addicted, and if I do say so myself, I kind of kick ass.

+ The Day I Spanked my Daughter: I love Meagan Francis of The Happiest Mom. A study recently came out about kids who are spanked and a link to depression, so of course, everyone's talking about spanking. Who does it? Is it abuse? I don't even really know how I feel about it yet, but I love Meagan's post. I love how she admits a hard thing, admits a mistake, but also stresses the importance of acceptance of all parents.

She writes, "But when I’m dealing with otherwise kind, reasonable, loving parents, I prefer to start with the benefit of the doubt. That maybe their opinions about whatever I find distasteful might evolve over time (I know that plenty of my parenting opinions have changed over the years.) That maybe the mother in question is working out the way she really feels about the Issue Du Jour. That maybe she is coming from a background that I can’t understand, or dealing with pressures I can’t see. That perhaps the scene I witnessed was a low point in a stressful day."

+ Melinda Gates: She's pledged $560 million to help expand contraception to women around the world. I applaud this. And we need more people like her (with the courage and the money) in this world. From the article, "Supporters of the campaign estimate that this year will see 80 million unintended pregnancies in developing countries. They say 800 women die every day as a result of pregnancy-related complications - the leading cause of death for teenage girls in the developing world."

Plus, I love when doing nothing costs MORE than doing something good: "Simply sustaining the current use of contraceptives by 260 million women in the 69 poorest countries over the next eight years will cost about $10 billion."

It only makes sense.

Posted: Fri, 07/13/2012 - 09:00 |

So I’ve read Tina and Mindy and now I read Lizz. Three comediennes with memoirs. They’re all such smart, witty, courageous women who I feel cracked some major glass ceilings on their way to the top. Like I wrote with Mindy’s book, I hate to compare them to each other, but it’s hard not to. If you want a one-sentence review: While I laughed harder at Bossypants, I related more and just felt more with Lizz Free or Die.

If you’re from Minneapolis, you’d probably agree with me there. Lizz came of age in the absolute best time in Minneapolis. She was dancing at First Avenue before it was First Avenue. Because of this she had connections and was then alerted to when Prince (PRINCE!) was there and she’d head down and dance while he overlooked the floor from the DJ booth. She was even a DJ at First Avenue for a stint. She roomed with a member of Soul Asylum. I mean, come on! So, very, very awesome.

I have the same hatred for cable news that she does, so reading her rants about that broken system of “journalism” is right up my alley. I love the Daily Show, and she’s the co-creator, so it was so interesting to read about how she put that show together. She brought Stephen Colbert over from the Today Show and look where he’s at now. I never listened to the short-lived Air America, but that too would’ve been something up my alley. Winstead played a huge role in getting this new radio station on the air. I never realized all the work it took to create a radio program, let alone an entire radio station, so that part was fascinating.

She also writes about her aging parents and how they lived in a not-quite-assisted-living complex in Bloomington. The place sounds nearly identical to where my grandparents lived, so her stories about the set up of the building, the folks who hung out by the main entrance and watched every visitor who arrived, etc., made me nod my head and laugh out loud.

I started following Winstead on Twitter a few years ago because her hilarious tweets were always getting re-tweeted. And then her mom got sick and passed away right around the same time as my mom and I felt a connection. She only talks briefly about her mom’s death in the book, but there’s a chapter about her dad’s passing, and it’s all very moving, yet with a sense of humor. I admire the way she writes about this time in her life.

It’s quick, it’s inspiring and it’s darn funny. It was a good book to get me out of a book funk.

Posted: Wed, 07/11/2012 - 08:48 | Comments: 2