Amanda Gates
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A Musings

Hello! Happy new year! It’s been a busy few months with sickness, holidays and crazy work schedules, but 2013 is here and I’m much overdue for a blog post. So, here are some things I’m loving this week (or loving lately).

Scrubs: My husband started streaming Scrubs and I’ve been watching intermittently along with him. We both watched this show when it originally aired, but it’s been just as hilarious now (if not more) as it was then. It still feels relevant, it’s just really silly (a type of humor we can appreciate), and a lot of fun to watch again. I remember how weird it was when it first started as one of the only comedies on television without a laugh track, and now that’s the way I prefer it. I love a little something about every character and it’s going to be sad to watch them go, once again. "I miss you so much it hurts sometimes."

Alias: Felicity was my rediscovery of 2012 and after I was done with that, I wondered if I should watch Alias. It came up on Netflix last fall and I started watching it and got hooked. I’m only in about a season and a half, and now will probably have to wait until maternity leave to finish up, but I enjoy the ass-kicking nature of Sydney Bristow. I also am appreciating Bradley Cooper in a way I never have; he’s not playing a d-bag, who knew?! The only thing that’s a bit annoying is the recap-like dialogue that happens sometimes, but I understand shows with complex storylines usually have to use this device.

The NFL and the Concussion Crisis: This is a two-year old article, but it came up in a Twitter conversation last week when the news of Junior Seau’s brain tests came out. This article was fascinating (and noted several articles of a similar nature). It really puts in question the ethics of the sport. Do we know the extent of injuries endured? Does it matter, if the men playing are fully aware of the consequences? Is it barbaric? How does class fit in? And how do you feel about your children joining high-impact sports? Many of the women on Twitter were saying a flat-out NO to these sports, and said their husbands were in complete agreement. Is it worth the risk? (Why do we even have to think about these things? Parenthood is already hard enough.)

Robert Langdon: A Love Story: Following the news of Inferno and its spring release, Maureen Johnson tweeted this essay she wrote about Dan Brown’s famous character back when The Lost Symbol came out. I thought it was hilarious, and even a sweet overture to the antihero, the geek in loafers, the scaredy-cat who wields nothing but a pen and a brain. Johnson writes how not only does Langdon give the impression that any nerd could save the world, but that the true bad guys are bad through puzzles that just need to be solved. And wouldn’t that be a nice change from the way the world is today? I’ve read all the Langdon books, and while they’re not great literature by any means, they’re gripping, read-it-in-three-days stories that are a ton of fun. Looking forward to Inferno.

Threshold: This essay by a New Yorker cover artist was one of the better things I read after the Newtown tragedy. After chaperoning a field trip for his daughter’s school, he writes, “Teaching was not, I concluded at one point, a profession in which I could survive for even one day.” Teachers are to be appreciated, for sure. His wife is a teacher and reading her thoughts on the Newtown situation were interesting, too. He ends on an excellent point, having to do with the drastic underfunding and under appreciation of the places (and people who) we send our kids to every single day.

Mommy Shorts Resolution Review: Ilana follows up on her daughter Mazzy’s 2012 "resolutions." It’s a hilarious look back at many of things she hoped her daughter would do in 2012, and many of the things she didn’t do at all. My child is about Mazzy’s age, so I so appreciate Ilana’s honesty when it comes to her toddler’s complete resistance or indifference to things (like, “I haven’t touched dinner since 2010.” I hear you, Ilana.)

A few other awesome pieces on the web: Jason Good's Sequester Her!, Lady Edith and the advantage of untraditional beauty, and Take Better Pictures with your Phone (something I strive to do, but it's hard to learn how).

What do you love this week?

Posted: Fri, 01/18/2013 - 15:16 | Comments: 1

One of my goals for 2012 was to read 25 books. I’m at 21.5 right now, so I might just fall short, unless reading Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel several times a week counts for anything. Anyway, I’ve neglected to update here about my most recent reads, so here’re a few:

No Biking in the House without a Helmet: Journalist and author Melissa Fay Greene writes this memoir about her (and her husband’s) journey through parenthood. They had children of their own, yet once those children started growing, the Greene’s felt they had more parenting to offer. Greene writes about her learning process through the adoption system and then of each subsequent adoption of children from both Bulgaria and Ethiopia. I liked the book a lot. Here’s what I wrote on Goodreads:

"While the book dragged in a few places (some chapters felt unnecessary or redundant), I really enjoyed the extended peek into this blended family. I learned quite a bit about adoption. I also really respected this couple's parenting of all their children. They set high expectations, but didn't hover. They swore, laughed off things like broken lamps or windows, empathized with the loss of a rodent-like pet, etc. They seemed fairly laid back, in general, and their kids turned out to be respectful, highly intelligent, accepting individuals. I admired the way the parents kept their adopted children's culture and extended family in the forefront and the fact that they gave hundreds of dollars to parents/grandparents/cousins in Ethiopia (which was mere pennies to the former, but an EDUCATION for latter). The response was always, "Of course we can help. Here you go." Amazing.

Of course, this is a very well-off family (when the dad is a defense attorney for NFL stars, I'm guessing you make some bank), who can afford trips to Africa many times in life. Not everyone has this ability, of course, but if adoption is something you're curious about, she sheds some light, for sure. And even offers some tips on blending families like this."

Lost in Shangri-La: Another WWII book, which if you’ve read about my book choices in the last five years, you know I’ve veered this way several times. However, this was a book from even another aspect of the war (not Japan or Europe, like many others), and tells of the true story of a sightseeing plane crash on the island of New Guinea where all but three WWII servicemen and women passengers were killed. Those three who survived (two men, one awesome lady) had quite the experience, first surviving and then getting rescued. While this wasn’t as gripping as a book like Unbroken, it was still good; I liked the people and I liked learning about the natives of New Guinea (who had no idea how this war, and this plane crash, was going to change their lives forever, unfortunately).

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: I’d heard Elna Baker on This American Life before, but I didn’t put two and two together until about halfway through the book. Baker takes us through her struggle with her faith (Mormonism) and her body image (she was overweight, then lost a bunch) and her love life (which directly corresponded with the previous two struggles). She’s a comedian, so there’s a lot of self-deprecating humor in the book, which makes for an enjoyable memoir in my opinion. Learning about Mormonism through her eyes was definitely interesting, but I’m still not quite sure, even after the book, how she feels about it. Though, it’s a strict religion (she says if she were to leave, for example, she couldn’t attend her sibling’s wedding), so I can see why she struggles so much. Her love life dominates the book, because being a virgin Mormon in a “Sex and the City” New York City is a pretty hard thing to be, it seems. In the end, it was a quick, funny read, with some heart, but also felt like “another funny lady writes a book.”

Dreams of Joy: I read Shanghai Girls more than a year ago, and at the end of my copy there was a teaser for Dreams of Joy, its sequel. The teaser grabbed me enough to put this book on my Kindle library list and it finally came through. I don’t want to give a ton away, especially if you haven’t read ‘Girls’ first. But this book gives us a peek into Communist China in the late 1950s (another topic I haven’t read a ton about) and, wow, China was a scary place then. The story was not uplifting by any means, however the parts that really resonated with me were about the love between a mother and her daughter, or more so about the lengths a mother will go to save/protect/support her child. It was amazing lengths, and I could relate, as a mother myself, but also as a daughter. While it started out a touch slow (lots of build up, which was necessary in the end), I actually think I enjoyed this book better than its prequel.



Posted: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 12:29 |

Two months ago I listed what I planned to watch on TV this fall. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everything, and true, some shows had to go. An update.


Walking Dead is, ahem, killing it this season. Cheesy dialogue still remains, but the Governor and Woodbury are quite intriguing additions.

New Girl: Keeps getting funnier. And while the sexual tension, will-they-or-won’t-they storyline is so predictable in comedies, I do enjoy the fondness and roommate love Nick and Jess have for each other. I love that Jess can bring Nick’s old-man grumpiness down a peg. And Schmidt steals the show.

Parenthood: Obviously. It’s a joke how much this show makes me cry. But I love it. Ray Romano is excellent (even if it’s looking bad for Mark, who I also love). Also cool to see another FNL alum on set.

The Office: I know! I was ready to give up on this show last year. But having Greg Daniels back in the writer’s seat has made an incredible difference. Some of the discomfort from early seasons is back, as are the classic pranks. I don’t love that they’re turning Andy into Michael – seems too easy - but I do enjoy the idea that this whole documentary is really about Jim and Pam and their journey.

Parks & Rec: Leslie and Ben make me so happy. The end.

Also still watching: The Voice, HIMYM, Bones, Raising Hope, The Middle, Modern Family, Big Bang, and Up All Night (though I wish they still worked on the Ava show and I’m not sure about the multi-camera change coming up; feels like they’re giving up?).


Go On: It’s not perfect, but I keep watching it for a few personal reasons. The content hits home, it’s feel-good, and, what can I say, I’m loyal to Matthew Perry.

Gave up:

The Mindy Project: This show is funny. It is. But Mindy got a little “too much” for me and I just couldn’t keep up with one more show.

Guys with Kids: We watched one episode, but can’t keep up. Though Tempestt Bledsoe brings back some Cosby memories! (Speaking of, The Cosby Show is on TV Land now and I try to catch an episode whenever I can. It’s my Friends of the 80s.)

Never started:

We just couldn’t bring ourselves to commit to the new hour-long dramas: Revolution, Last Resort or Elementary. And couldn’t make myself watch Animal Practice, either (doesn’t matter – but replacing it with Whitney? I don’t get NBC.)

What are you still watching? What did you give up on?

Posted: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 08:31 | Comments: 1

J.K. Rowling: She’s kind of all over the place again doing publicity, since A Casual Vacancy was released last month. And I think she’s just a joy. She’s serious and aloof, but she also has such a dry sense of humor and an honesty to her that’s so refreshing (maybe that’s because she’s English). I really enjoyed this profile of her, Mugglemarch, from The New Yorker. Also, she was on The Daily Show a couple weeks ago. She and Jon Stewart talked about everything from Potter to politics and her views on our system were quite fascinating. Last, I’m 30 pages into Vacancy, and while that’s not far enough to say I love it, it’s a pleasure to read her writing again. It’s much more adult and serious this time, but it’s still very Rowling.

Is it Possible to Rethink ‘Unpopular’? TED Talk: I enjoy Erika Napoletano’s tweets and blog posts (I’ve mentioned her in my Friday posts before). Now she has a TED talk and I found it quite enjoyable. She talks about how she just gave up on being polite and letting negative people inside her life (as a brand expert, she relates this idea to businesses as well). She wants people to embrace “unpopular” by Being Honest and Stop Apologizing. “When are you going to admit there’s something glorious about being you?” she asked. It left me inspired.

Electoral Precedent Cartoon: This cartoon looks at “The problem with statements like, ‘No <party> candidate has won the election without <state>,’ or ‘No president has been reelected under <circumstances>.’” For example, “No one can become president without getting marred. Until Buchanan did (1856),” and “No Republican has won without Vermont. Until Bush did (2000).” It’s fun! [Hat tip MinnPost]

The Kindergarten Canon—Must Read Picture Books for Preschoolers: Sure, this is only one man’s opinion, but boy did this list of 100 book bring back some memories (and some additions to my kid’s wish list). There’re some true classics (Snow White, Three Little Pigs), but newbies too (Knuffle Bunny). Some of my favorites: Caps for Sale, George and Martha, The Poky Little Puppy and Strega Nona (I loved my Tomie dePaola books).

The Walking Dead: There was A LOT of hype for this season premiere, and in my opinion it didn’t disappoint. Each segment got scarier until the end when the prison hallways were like a haunted house from my nightmares. (And it kept me up that night, hoping not to dream about zombies. So, while no sleep sucks, it shows it stuck with me.) While I enjoy the show, I usually scoff at the cheesy dialogue regularly throughout each episode. But, that was at a minimum this time—probably because they were too busy killing the dead—I think I only laughed once or twice at the cheese. The characters have grown a bit, and I’m excited to see what the next few episodes bring (more death, apparently).

Your turn!

Posted: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 09:49 | Comments: 2

Forgive me for my absence. I’ve still loved many things, but life’s been busy lately. Also forgive me for listing some things here that are a bit old, but I post them because they’re awesome and if one person reads them who hasn’t yet, well, job done. And because I’ve been gone awhile, this is rather long.

Parenthood: Thank you NBC, for bringing back one of my favorite shows with some of my all-time favorite TV actors (Peter Krause, Lauren Graham). Now excuse me while I use two Kleenexes per episode. ::SNIFF::

You Know That Bubble You Live In? I pretty much love every post written by Liz. Sure, probably because our values seem to align, but in the end, here’s a well-off mom, with a full-time job, admitting most days that she’s just doing her freakin’ best. In this post she asks something I think every day, amongst the hate and the snark found in the news, in politics, on Twitter (and Facebook, which I stay off for a reason): “I’d like to ask, what the heck is going on in the world when we start to lose our sense of empathy?”

While I think parenting is hard now, with an energetic toddler who loves the word “no,” I also think I would love to keep him at this innocent age forever, when he can’t see or experience bullying (besides the occasional bite from the other two year old at daycare), can’t see or experience hardship, can’t see or experience hate. Because my heart already breaks for him and the fact that I can’t protect him from this garbage much longer.

Raising Successful Children: My friend Emily pointed me to this article about types of parenting. We’ve heard about all of them, of course, and it’s hard to know which type of parent you’ll become. I mostly believe you’ll become similar to your own parents, since that’s the only type of parenting you really know. Mine never pushed me to do anything (like more AP classes, competitive sports), but they did encourage and they did set expectations. I hope to be similar in that realm.

This article also talks about not doing things for your child that they’re capable of doing on their own. This one I struggle with a bit more, at least so far in the toddler stage. Can he find that matchbox blue Porsche on his own? Most definitely, but not without getting angry and frustrated (which is normal and fine!). But also? It’s in my nature to nurture and I just like helping him do things. But will I do his science project after he goes to bed? Um, no.

How to Make A Friendship Outlast Your Vote: I retweeted this post by Miss Zoot earlier this week, but have a few more thoughts other than “great post.” I’ve known (I know) people who have said things like, “Oh, I don’t think I could ever be friends with someone [of opposite political views].” I find this unbelievable, and was happy to read a post reflecting some of the same thoughts I’ve had for years. While I definitely swim with a school of people with similar views as me (and boy do we have fun preaching to the choir), I have family and friends who fall opposite me. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s easy enough not to talk about those things and all get along. Heck, I even married someone who was apart from me on several issues when we first met. And here we are 8 years later, continually moving toward each other. [Example: 8 years ago I wouldn’t have allowed a gun in my home. Today, well, my husband is a police officer. And I think much differently about gun laws.] It’s possible to connect with, and even love, people with opposing political views.

Stand Up, by Chris Kluwe: And while I try not to post about political issues here, for the above reasons of believing we can all get along by not shouting in each others’ faces all the time, I also don’t want to remain silent about an issue that needs support. A value of civil rights that was instilled in me by my mom, who was one of the most non-judgmental, accepting people I’ve ever known. A woman who held the hand of her HIV-positive friend every time he went into the hospital; I bet in the early 90s he never thought he’d outlive her. Never once in my life did I hear in our house that there was anything wrong with this lifestyle. All I heard, and saw, was love.

Which is why I think it’s beyond awesome that Kluwe has been so outspoken about equality under the law. It’s people like this, professional athletes, who really need to come out in support. Men who play the manliest game out there, who tons and tons of young boys (and girls) look up to. These kids need to see it’s cool to be accepting. It’s cool to support your friends. It’s cool to be who you are. That they’re not alone in their struggles. Bravo, man. I hope athletes like Adrian Peterson, LeBron James, Joe Mauer (though the Twins organization has publicly come out against the ammendment to ban gay marriage that's on the ballot this November), Peyton Manning, etc., feel the urge to do the same.

It All Vanishes: Sundry is another whose posts I never miss. And man, some days she just hits home and makes me cry. The passage she quotes comes from a book she read and I never would’ve read it (and cried at it) if she hadn’t posted it. I’ll fully admit I think about how life might be easier if only my kid could do ‘this’ or ‘that.’ But this post was a great reminder that soon enough, he’s not going to need me in this way anymore. ::sob:: (And on the same day, A Girl and a Boy posts a lovely piece with similar sentiments. You guys are killing me!)

West Wing reunion for a political ad: To end on a funny note, nearly all the favorite players from The West Wing made a video to educate viewers on non-partisan judicial ballots (they're easily skipped over apparently; I learned something!) and support a co-star's sister who is running in Michigan. Josh throws a fit, C.J. talks matter-of-factly, the President ends the convo with words of wisdom, they walk, they talk. It's fabulous. If only it was the real world. Let's keep making these, guys, because I miss you so!

Your turn!

Posted: Fri, 09/21/2012 - 09:18 | Comments: 5

Last year I gave my thoughts on some of the new shows to hit primetime. I think I did a pretty good job, too; nearly all I predicted to get cancelled did. (Once Upon a Time hung on; I’m impressed (I don’t watch it).) I don’t have as strong of opinions this time around, but here’s what I’ll be watching for sure and also what I’ll be checking out as potential additions. (It’s long. I unapologetically love TV.)


A pretty dead night for us. We’ll either watch DVR’d shows or football, in addition to:

America’s Funniest Home Videos: We get quite the kick out of this show in our house, so it’s always on while we’re cooking dinner.

Walking Dead: My husband convinced me to watch this show and while it still scares me, I can’t look away. I’m very excited for the third season to see what Woodbury and the prison settings bring to the group.


Like I said last year, I just love everything about this show. I think it’s getting ready to wrap up though (Jason Segal’s ready to move on to bigger things; I thought NPH should’ve been picked for Regis’ spot, but he has big things in store, I'm sure), and while I’ll miss it, I can’t wait to see what happens.

Bones: Moved to Mondays! Brennan’s on the lam without Booth; we have a great, new regular villain; the Jeffersonian team needs to save the day…. It’s all very exciting. I love Brennan and Booth together.

Revolution: I’m actually kind of intrigued. I don’t know if we can fit another hour-long drama into the schedule, but I think I want to give this a shot. Plus, I enjoy Billy Burke.


Tuesday has become the new Thursday. Too many shows, something will have to give.

Raising Hope: We get a kick out of this show. Just the right amount of silliness. Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt are the true heart and humor of the show.

New Girl: A year ago I was worried this would just be a show about a dumb girl living with dumb guys. It’s not. This show just got funnier and funnier with every single episode. Quotable lines, awesome references (See CeCe Run, “C'mon, man, I'm not going to get Winklevossed because of your sloppiness.”). Can’t wait for new episodes.

The Mindy Project: I think this looks cute. My husband isn’t sure, but I think/hope this will be right up my alley.

Happy Endings: At the end of last season, I said this was a show I wouldn’t mind picking up this year. We watched a few and laughed at them all. But then they put it on against New Girl!

Go On: We watched the pilot a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it. I really do love Matthew Perry and want to see him succeed (He has some gray hair and looks so distinguished in this show). This show seems to have some heart and lots of humor. Will it last? I don’t know. But I want to watch a few more episodes at least. It’s after The Voice, which is a good lead in, but on the other hand it's against Happy Endings and New Girl, which is a tough spot.

Parenthood: It’s back! Will Sarah say yes to Mark’s proposal? How will Crosby and Jasmine do as a married couple? Will Amber stay on the right path? Hattie goes to college! I just love, love, love this show. Bring on the drama and let the tears flow.

Southland: We love this show, too. It’s back in February for 10 episodes.


We might need to use this day to watch some of the shows from Tuesday.

The Middle: I said it last year and I’ll say it again: This is a great show. It’s a true image of middle-class America. The complete opposite of (and more realistic than) Modern Family. An average looking family struggling to buy groceries and fix the dishwasher, wondering how they’ll get from day to day, while exhibiting questionable parenting. But at the end of the day, there’s love. I tear up at the end of nearly every episode.

Modern Family: While I can’t relate to this show in its richie-rich feel, it’s still hilarious. I feel sorry that Jay is going to become a father in his grandfather years (why do shows always have to add new babies?), but it adds a new element I suppose.

Animal Practice: OK, so I love that Justin Kirk is in primetime, but why on a show like this? Why with a monkey. Why? I think I’ll watch the first few episodes in support of Andy Botwin, but I don’t have high hopes that I’ll love it, or that it’ll make it to a full season.

Guys with Kids: I don’t know. Looks kind of funny? Maybe we’ll tune in between The Middle and Modern Family.


Thursday is going to look a lot different next year, that’s for sure.

The Big Bang Theory: We gave up on 30 Rock last year, so now at least we won’t have to DVR anything while we watch Big Bang, which is still hilariously good. Though Sheldon’s become a caricature of his original role and that’s a little sad to me. But I love the ladies of the show!

Up All Night: Kind of like Modern Family in its rich-people feel, but we loved every episode of this show last year. And while I didn’t appreciate Ava in the beginning, her character really grew on me by the end. I’m excited it’s back.

The Office: I was about to give up. If this wasn’t the last season, I wouldn’t be watching. But, I’m going to see my once-favorite show through to the end.

Parks & Rec: At least this show came along to take the place of The Office in my heart. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Leslie and Ben and everyone else. Ann with Tom? It’s a train wreck and I have no idea where the writers are going with that one.

Elementary: I’m intrigued. I haven’t gotten into any of the other Sherlock shows that have come up in the past few years, but I do love Lucy Liu (she was excellent on Southland last season), so I think I want to give this a shot, too.

Last Resort: I just don’t quite understand the premise, and how it can possibly be made into a series, but I just finished re-watching Felicity and Scott Speedman is on my radar. I’d like him to succeed. I don’t think I’ll end up watching it though…


Shark Tank:
We dig this show.

Community: Now on Fridays? Well, that’s the final nail in its coffin, so we’ll probably just watch until it’s over.

So, what will you be watching? What new shows are you excited for? What have you given up on?

Posted: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 08:57 | Comments: 1

Gone Girl: I'll write more about this soon, but it's been a LONG time since I've read a book I could NOT put down. I'm only halfway through and it's only getting better. Excellent storytelling, great characters, good mystery... the reader is pulled in many directions with regards to who you side with. So good!

The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater: This post is hilarious. I am in no ways a terribly healthy eater, but I think this post humorously breaks down why it's so hard to be perfect when it comes to this aspect of life. So many opinions! We just do our best in our house, and oftentimes that means chicken nuggets, frozen pizza or Easy Mac.

Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell on Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me: I love these two. I've loved her since Veronica Mars, him from Parenthood. Them together from the Sloth video. They seem like the cutest couple in the world. And they prove why on this short piece from the radio. I want to see their new movie coming out, even if it's due to be pretty silly.

McKayla Maroney isn't a Mean Girl: I love nearly everything Mary Elizabeth Williams writes on Salon. She oftentimes picks the less popular stance, but makes total sense while doing it. She's not afraid to say, Majority of America, you're idiots. I felt so bad for our gymnastics team this year, because they were ridculed for not only their performances but for how they looked. (And that is why social media sucks.) This piece comes to the defense of Maroney's facial expressions.

The Lies Every Parent Tells: This article isn't necessarily about lying to your children (though it talks about that too), but lying FOR your children. My mom was a huge talker. And open book. However, she married a reserved Norwegian man and proceeded to have a reserved Norwegian daughter. So, when it came to being an open book, she had to make sure she wasn't TOO open about the rest of us. We had many discussions where I'd say if people ask how I am, tell them I'm fine (where I live, where I work), but as far as any more intimate details than that, you must stop talking. She responded well to this, knowing that our personal stories were not hers to tell. Though I'm sure it could've seemed evasive to her friends who talked about every personal detail of their kids' lives. Anyway, I liked this article because it reminded me of how my mom was and how I want to be.

Tiger Mums, It's Best to Underparent: I liked the themes in this article that reflected on teaching your child risk, respect and also that mom and dad have their own lives too. That was one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp in Tiger Mom. When she would spend her weekend driving her daugther two hours both ways to lessons. What are you teaching her about 'me time'? Nothing. (But then Chua came right out and said she didn't understand 'me time.')

Parenting a Child with Anxiety: As a kid who thought about throwing herself down the stairs to break her arm so she wouldn't have to play in a piano recital (no, I never went through with it), this article really resonated with me. Best tip: Don't Push.

Your turn!


Posted: Fri, 08/10/2012 - 08:49 | Comments: 2

As I said in my Goodreads review: Dear Eugenides Editor, Just because your author has won the Pulitzer Prize doesn’t mean you should stop editing him altogether. This book could’ve been 100 pages shorter and 100 times more entertaining. Sincerely, A.

I didn’t care much for The Marriage Plot. In the first quarter of the book, I had a really hard time relating to the self-involved, over-indulged college students who sat around talking about philosophy all day. While maybe that’s what college is like for some, it’s not what it was like for me. I wanted to shake these kids and say, “This stuff doesn’t matter. Learn some transferrable skills. Prepare for the workforce. This isn’t real life!”

I couldn’t connect with Eugenides’ female lead, and the two male leads seemed like major d-bags, so I didn’t like them either. The detail was so extreme (a half-page describing her typewriter), that I ended up skimming to the dialogue most often.  There was nothing in this story to grab me, and while I don’t always need that (Middlesex wasn’t extremely grabby either, but it was so much better), this book needed something to make me actually care.

There’s a bit of discussion about manic depression, which I did find fascinating. It seems like it’s a no-win situation and really unfortunate that we haven’t gotten farther in terms of treating mental illness in this country. The relationships of the college kids and their parents were also pretty interesting, if lacking in depth for some. But, some could maybe pick out their own child-parent relationship from one of the three.

I admit that I’m at a time in my life when I can’t just sit back and sink into a long drawn-out character tale; I have too many things rolling around in my mind these days that I need a book to take me away and this one didn’t do it. My mind wandered instead, and that made reading it all the more frustrating. Other readers may be just in the right place in life for a story like this, though.

And finally, I’ll also admit that Jennifer Weiner’s gotten to me with her arguments about male writers being reviewed in the New York Times. “If a man writes about a family, it's like, oh, he's really writing about America," Weiner says. "If a woman writes about a family, it's just assumed that she's writing about herself." If a woman had wrote a book like this, it would’ve been called Chick Lit and not given the time of day by the NYT. However, I think it could’ve been way more exciting and a lot more fun to read.


Posted: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 10:53 |

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