I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

This is an usual book in that it is not really a memoir and not really a humor book. I'm just not really sure what it is. And maybe that's what Poehler wants. If you try to find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc...you won't find her. She pretty much has no on-line presence. In the book she explains this with a few stories of how she sent texts to the wrong people (One Christmas she was wrapping gifts with an assistant she was planning on firing and got up to text her then husband Will to let him know what she was doing and when she'd be home and happened to mention that she'd be firing this woman. She didn't send the text to Will, but to the woman, who did not say a word that night, but called later telling her that maybe they needed to talk.) and emails going to the wrong people or with pictures that had the wrong captions attached to them. She insists that if she cannot manage something that simple, being on-line would end up being a disaster. But maybe she is just keeping a tight control over her image and in this day and age where "celebrities" are everywhere taking pictures of their food and posting it and going on Twitter detailing every move they make, it's a relief to find someone who wants to keep her life to herself. It took me about a week and a half to read this book that is only 329 pages, which is rather odd for me and when I finished I thought that I had really enjoyed it and that it was really funny. I collect quotations and when I read a book I mark down the page number where a quotation is that I want to go back to. I had written quite a few. When I sat down to go back and look at them, they just weren't as funny as I had thought they were. I found that the book wasn't as good as I had originally thought it to be, perhaps because I had taken it in such small bites over a long period of time.  My book club was not fond of this book because they objected to the language and vulgarity that they believed she used for shock value. That sort of thing really does not bother me and I don't know that that is really why she wrote it that way.

That being said, I did enjoy the comedic parts put in that did not necessary have anything to do with anything. When she talks about having her first child, she puts in a "birth plan" that had me rolling in laughter it was so funny. I've always thought birth plans were so ridiculous as the birth of a child is one of the things in life that you cannot control and nothing is going to go according to any plan you could come up with. Here's a sample of hers: We have chosen to give birth  in a hospital because of the outstanding facilities it makes available to us. We would also like to deliver our baby in a hospital since we spent most of our twenties getting stoned and watching episodes of ER, and so we know that delivering a baby is the best way to cheer up an attractive but beleaguered doctor...Those we plan to have present at our birth include: Baby, Mother, Father, Grandparents, Lawyers, Agents, Lottery Winners, Lookie-Loos, Midwife, First Wife, Life Coach, Finnoula the Doula, Unexpected Ghosts, Bossy Astrologist, and the entire cast of Cheers...Speaking of music, we will arrive with our own. We plan on delivering our baby to the soundtrack of Pink Floyd's The Wall while simultaneously watching The Wizard of Oz. If this kid works with us, we guarantee your mind will be blown! [Actually you are supposed to listen to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album.]...If drugs become necessary, we would like to go all in. We are talking epidural, helium, and roofies. The mother would like to ask one last time why no one is taking seriously her request for nitrous oxide...If delivery assistance is needed, we prefer "suction" over "forceps". If episiotomy is needed, we prefer "buttonhole" over "backstich". If cesarean is needed, please inform us early so we don't have to go through the above first...Thank you in advance for your support of our choices. We look forward to a wonderful birth. We are excited but mostly scared. Have you SEEN the mother? She is TINY! How is this going to WORK exactly? Please advise.

Instead of talking about her divorce to Will Arnett, she instead offers up a list of "divorce books" to read, which I really preferred reading anyway. The first one is I Want a Divorce! See You Tomorrow, which is for divorced couples with kids who have to find a way to deal which other on a constant basis for the rest of their lives.  The second one is Get Over It! (But Not Too Fast!) and deals with finding out who your real friends are and how to get yourself together. The third one is Divorce: Ten Ways To Not Catch It! and helps you handle the friends who go on and on about how they won't get divorced because they work so hard on their marriage and the divorce voyeur who wants to know every detail.  The fourth one is Hey, Lady, I Don't Want To Fuck Your Husband! and deals with attending weddings and events without a plus-one. The fifth one is God Is In The Details! and helps you navigate all the intimate details people want to know. My all time favorite is the sixth one, which is only one sentence long and is titled The Holidays Are Ruined!

She has an interesting chapter giving sex advice for both men and women. For the women: Try not to fake it, Stop being so goal oriented when it comes to sex, Keep your virginity for as long as you can, Don't have sex with people you don't want to have sex with (every time you see that person the first thing you will think is "I had sex with you."), Don't get undressed and start pointing out your flaws or apologizing for things you think are wrong with your body (Men don't notice or care. They are about to get laid!), Get better at dirty talk, Don't let your kids sleep in your bed, You have to have sex with your husband occasionally even though you are exhausted, Don't make fun of men, Stay away from pics and video, Laugh a lot and try new things with someone you love. For the men: We don't need it to last as long as you think. (Hurry up. We are so tired.), We don't want to remember your penis, You can't fall asleep right after (Remember, if you fall asleep we will stare at you and evaluate you. This is a very vulnerable time when we may decide we don't want to have sex with you again.), Keep it sexy, Cool it on the porn and jerking off, Be nice, tell your woman she is hot, never shame her, and never hurt her, Work on your dirty talk too, If you don't get an erection, we know it's usually not because of us, Stay away from orgies, Open and up and try new things with someone you love, and If you don't eat pussy, keep walking.

In one chapter, where she talks about her parents, she offers up what she learned from them and I have to say, they are words we can all live by. From her mom: Make sure he's grateful to be with you, Always have a messy purse, Guilt works, Monty Python is funny, Have fun dancing, Your female friends will outlast every man in your life, Love your kids and hope they do better than you did, You don't want to be the sexy mom, Memorize poems, A home-cooked meal isn't so important, Follow sports and leave the room if you're a jinx, Be careful. From her dad: Ask for what you want, Know how to shoot a free throw and field a ground ball, There are ways around things that aren't always legal, Keep trying, Never remember anyone's name, Girls can do anything boys can do, Street smarts are as important as book smarts, You can have a chaotic childhood and still provide a stable home, Tell everyone you meet what your daughter does until your daughter asks you to stop, Don't listen to experts, Everything in moderation.

As for her professional life, you do get a lot of detail on that, sort of. She explains how the Upright Citizens Brigade came about and some of the things they did and what they are up to now. She spends a short chapter on SNL which flows seamlessly from one brief moment to another, telling nice anecdotes that tell you nothing, really. She also goes into detail about how the show Parks and Recreation came about and it's struggles and then lists the main actors from it with a paragraph about the person and things like "favorite memory" and "funniest moment on show" with this person. Again, she does not delve too deeply. And don't expect to find Tina Fey. She's practically non-existent. This is her book, however, and her life, so she can reveal what she chooses to. But if you read carefully, you can catch glimpses of her between the lines. Also, when she talks about her two boys she seems to be quite open and honest and sweet.

That being said, there is one disturbing chapter that does not quite come across in a good way for her. When she was on SNL in 2008 she did a highly offensive skit involving a doll that was all twisted up because it was disabled. Amy was playing Dakota Fanning who the doll was appearing with her in a movie called Hurricane Mary.  Amy did not write the script and had rehearsed it once and was given the doll right before she went on stage. She ends up receiving a very irate letter from the wonderful actor Chris Cooper's wife, Marianne who had wrote the script for the movie Hurricane Mary about twins Alba and Anastasia Somoza who had cerebral palsy and their mother's fight to ensure they got an equal-opportunity education. The thing is she waited years before getting around to writing back to them and trying to make it right with Anastasia, who was watching that night, because she had a hard time fulling coming to terms that she had done anything wrong herself. Whether she knew it was about a real person or not, she knew the skit was about a disabled person. Of course, this was SNL, and how much actual say she had, or control over anything, is also something to think about. The more important point is that if you do the math, she reached out to Marianne to apologize around the same time this book was being considered to be written. If that's what it took to poke her in the butt and get her to do the right thing, then so be it.

She is also quite open about being insecure about her looks from an early age and in her business looks always matter. In her last chapter she talks about how her phone is trying to kill her. Most of the planet will probably agree with her on this when they read it. I have to laugh because I have a simple flip phone that can only text and call. That's all I need. Her solution is try to beat it at it's own game, since we can't destroy them. So her, Meredith Walker, Amy Miles, and others started up a web series called Smart Girls at the Party. It's a Charlie Rose type interview show that celebrates "the curious girl, the nonfamous, the everyday warrior."  And it ends with a spontaneous dance party, because dancing is important. Everything should end with spontaneous dancing, including this review. 

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