Yes Please, Amy Poehler

This is not brand new information: we love Amy Poehler. We’ve paid tribute to her on her birthday, we’ve endlessly praised her and her comedy wife Tina at the Golden Globes, we cry at all her Ask Amy videos, and today we raise our glass to her as an author. Her very first memoir/autobiography/life bible comes out today and it has the perfect title for how we view everything about her – Yes, Please. Amy P on SNL? Yes, Please. Amy P on Parks and Rec? Yes, Please. Amy P and her Smart Girls, Yes, Yes, Please.

It’s fair to say that we’ve been counting down the days for her book to come out, and our admiration and obsession aside, Amy is an interesting person who has lived a life/lives that I would want to hear about. As someone who grew up from a working class family in Massachusetts and eventually ended up on the most revered sketch comedy program ever to being one of the most beloved celebrities today, I’d want to know about their life, even if it wasn’t Amy. But I mean, it’s better because it is her.

This is the real author’s photo from the book. I mean, come on.

One of the reasons I love her is that in every interview I read or see of hers, she manages to churn out not only a hilarious response, but also give out heartfelt and genuine anecdotes. It’s one of the reasons I think so many people want to be her best friend. It’s like the Mindy Kalings or Jennifer Lawrences or Emma Watsons of the world – there’s a certain accessibility to them in which their aura of “celebrity” doesn’t get in the way of you becoming one of their friends.

A few months ago, Amy attended BookCon in NYC and sat down with her pal Martin Short to talk about the book. Martin told the crowd that he read it and the best part about her book is that reading it is like speaking to her IRL. It’s absolutely in her voice, and that’s what makes it so wonderful and honest.

As for Amy, she described Yes, Please as a book that doesn’t divulge tooo much into her personal life, and gets away with it by evading the reader with humor. She also says her book is an “attempt to speak to the feelings of being young and old at the same time”, because she’s kind of at an intersection of her life where she feels like she’s lived so much but still has so much more to live. And I think that’s what a lot of people who ‘look up’ to her need to hear right now. It’s not necessarily all about her life and what’s happened to her, but it’s what she’s learned and she shares those life lessons with us plebeians who aren’t worthy to hear such sage advice.

But if any of her past interviews are any indication of what her book’s going to be like, then get ready for one of the best books you’ll ever read in your life. Here are just a few of my favorite Poehler convo nuggets that will not only want to make you read her book, but have you saying, Yes. More, Please.

On her best mistake: “Thinking everything is going to run smoothly all the time. It won’t – things will always go wrong – but it never hurts to be optimistic.” {O Magazine, 2014}

Now that I have little kids, I’m up at 5:30 a.m. no matter what. Sleep at this point is just a concept, something I’m looking forward to investigating in the future. But I’d like to say that I maintain that same sense of play and creativity and spontaneity—of being able to get into a room with people and say, “Let’s waste some time.” When you’re a creative person, even when you’re in a position of power, you still have to be able to straddle those two worlds. Power sometimes comes down to knowing the vocabulary, figuring out how the system works and how to work within it. You need to believe that you deserve to be in the room once you get there.

I like to do things that challenge me and make me nervous. You learn early as an actor that creating your own material is the only way to have any control. Hollywood is like a bad boyfriend. You can’t stand around and wait to be asked to dance. I used to say that I wanted to make great art with people I love. Now I have an addendum to that goal: to get things on the air. {Elle Magazine, 2014}

{In which she schools Neil Brennan on being a woman}

I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading, like, “All right, everybody, now we go over here. All right, now this happens.” {Glamour, 2011}

Sometimes when you get too worried about how you look, or about how something’s gonna go, you kind of lose what made you special in the first place. I think that ASSSSCAT will really do that to you, really remind you that things are supposed to be dangerous, you’re supposed to feel uncomfortable, you’re supposed to enjoy not knowing, trusting your partner, and not falling back on the same stuff, and I think that that does that for me. It’s the kind of thing that every time, even when I’m really tired, or I feel kind of burned-out, or I feel like I don’t have anything—every time I go out and do it, I feel a thousand times better.  {The A.V. Club 2008}

“You know when you look in your closet and you’re like, Nothing’s working? I say, give yourself a theme. Rashida Jones and I have a game: We decide for three months how we’re going to dress, like Japanese Executive, Little House on the Prairie, Female Sailor on Leave. A couple of months ago, our look was Eighties Art Dealer: black blazers with shoulder pads, high-waisted jeans, air-dried hair and big eyebrows.” {Good Housekeeping, 2014}

 

If I wanted to give you advice as a Bostonian, I would remind you that: (with accent) “Just because you’re wicked smart it doesn’t mean you are better than me.” {Harvard College Class Day speech, 2011}

We’re ushered to a table in the back of the restaurant, and Poehler quickly orders her breakfast without consulting the menu. “Everything here’s good,” she declares. I place an iPhone on the table to record our interview. “Do you need me to hold the phone?” she asks. It’s not necessary, I tell her, iPhones are great at recording conversations. “That’s good to know,” Poehler says. Her eyes dart around the restaurant, then she leans and whispers, “…for spying purposes.” {Paper Magazine, 2013}

 

Always remember your kid’s name. Always remember where you put your kid. Don’t let your kid drive until their feet can reach the pedals. Use the right size diapers…for yourself. And, when in doubt, make funny faces. {The Daily Beast, 2009}

I would say my interview style is Morley Safer meets Kermit the Frog, with a dash of Christiane Amanpour. And a pinch of Dinah Shore wrapped in the shell of Lois Lane. My goal is to be the Edward R. Murrow of girls.  {The Huffington Post, 2008}

Grab your copy of Yes, Please today!! (we are seriously not even being paid for this we just love her so much}

Man Crush Monday: LeVar Burton

Today’s Monday man crush is a fellow you may not have thought about since you were reading books written and illustrated by Jan Brett*. I’m talking about the one and only LeVar Burton, the pot of gold at the end of the reading rainbow.

Before we get started, let me just tell you that if you’re looking for a post about liking LeVar Burton ironically, or any 90s nostalgic millennial nonsense like that, this isn’t the post you should be reading**. Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. is almost absurdly man-crushable – but you don’t have to take my word for it!***

Bringing Reading To Public Television

I know, I know. Public television is already the books of TV. But let’s go back to 1983, when Reading Rainbow started. Most people didn’t have 1000 channels***. They had, like 5 or so, and one of them was probably the local PBS affiliate. Most of the stations were showing 80s mom television during the day (meaning soap operas and talk shows by people who weren’t Oprah). PBS was basically it for kids programming, so this little show about books had a huge potential audience.

The producers of Sesame Street intended for their show to reach kids who weren’t necessarily getting pre-preschool learning prep at home. Reading Rainbow filled a similar role for older kids whose parents weren’t big into books, or maybe just didn’t have the time or language skills to promote reading.

Reading Rainbow had a lot going for it. The awesome celebrity guests – Eartha Kitt, anyone? – kept parents from changing the channel. The show format was almost genius in its simplicity, and the theme song was crazy-good – but the real draw was LeVar as a host. He was upbeat but didn’t use that stupid “talking to kids voice,” and he was enthusiastic about the theme of the episode, but never pedantic. Burton had the same quality as Mister Rogers (and, I’d argue, Amy Poehler in her Smart Girls series) – an adult who recognizes kids as full people.

Bringing Diversity To Public Television

Think about most of the men on children’s programs. So many white guys, right? Look, some of my best friends are white guys. But it’s really important for all kids out there to have a man on TV who actually looks like he could be their dad or uncle.

It’s not only that TV has an over-abundance of white people. People of color are also less likely to be represented positively.  Negative representation does a number on kids’ self-concepts. Remember that bummer of a social experiment where kids choose between white dolls and Black dolls, and all of the kids pick the white doll because they’ve internalized that the Black doll is “bad” and “stupid?” That’s what I’m talking about here. But for 30 years, kids at least had LeVar Burton on PBS – an affable, smart, cool relative- or neighbor-type.

White kids needed LeVar too, especially white kids growing up in predominantly white communities. Familiarity breeds … well, familiarity. That’s why my  inner-city childhood was so great – I didn’t grow up thinking of white people as the default humans. Watching LeVar Burton talk about Chris Van Allsburg books isn’t going to stop racism, but it at least helped white kids grow up thinking of one man of color as a nice, friendly guy who’s into books — and it might be some of the only exposure to that kind of representation that those kids have.

KUNTA KINTE, EVERYBODY

As two ladies who might like Event Television more than actual events, it’s a bummer that we missed out on the huge TV sensation that was Alex Haley’s Roots. But having seen it on cable later on, it really was a miniseries worth the hype.

Burton played the young Kunta Kinte, a young man who is kidnapped in Africa and sold into slavery in the United States. He was only 20 at the time, but Burton was such a pro — perfectly expressing the transition from a young warrior-in-training to a man struggling against the slave system by trying to escape and resisting a name change.

For my generation, LeVar Burton is the man from Reading Rainbow, but for people a little older than us, he’s Kunta Kinte. If you only know Burton from PBS, I suggest you find a copy of Roots and give it a watch.

Star Trek, If You’re Into That

We’re not into Star Trek. Like, at all. But we have it on good authority that people who are into Star Trek are real into Star Trek. So for those people, Burton’s tenure on the sci-fi show is probably one of their favorite things about him. Even if you’re not into space shows, you’ve got to admit that having a career portfolio that spans children’s television, science fiction and historical drama is pretty fantastic.

LeVar Burton Is Totally Cool With Himself

Some of the stuff LeVar did for Reading Rainbow was straight-up silly, which is awesome. He wore medieval regalia and got transformed into a troll, all for the sake of reading. What is more attractive a guy who is so comfortable with himself that he’d rather have fun than look cool? Burton even said “I fly my geek flag proudly.” Honestly, that’s the coolest ever.

Everyone Loves LeVar

When was the last time you heard anyone talk smack about LeVar Burton? NEVER. And as children who grew up with Reading Rainbow become adults, Burton is in big demand. In the past few years alone he has made guest appearances in The Colbert Report, Community, and Wish I Was Here.

There’s An App For That

Do you really think that someone as awesome as LeVar Burton would get left behind the current wave of technology? Please. In the 80s, meeting kids where they were meant going to public television, but in the 2010s, kids are on the iPad. Seriously, if you ever have trouble doing something on your iPad, give it to the nearest three-year-old and they will be able to fix it for you. And then they will refuse to give it back for hours because toddlers LOVE tablets. The Reading Rainbow app promotes reading to kids who are less exposed than ever to tangible books – you know, the kind with pages and covers and stuff. You can read more about it here, but this app – like LeVar himself – is basically a huge deal.

 

* I get that Reading Rainbow repped all childrens’ books, but why did it always seem like it was Jan Brett’s Scandinavian kinder in knit woolens? Did my first-grade teacher just have one videocassette? Going forward, please realize that my memories of Reading Rainbow might be from one episode watched multiple times.

** DON’T LEAVE. You can still read our other posts. Here’s a Baby-Sitters Club musical libretto, and here’s a live-blog of Sharknado. AND THAT’S JUST TWO OF OUR THINGS.

*** Here’s where I ask you to take my word for it. Actually.

****  ⅔ of which are somehow the same channel listed multiple times. Be better, Time Warner.

 

Best of C+S 2013: The Greatness That is Amy Poehler

It’s Day 2 of our ‘Best of’ series, and we bring you our blog’s patron saint, Amy Meredith Poehler. You’ll find her sprinkled all over Cookies + Sangria, so since we could only pick one, we decided on one of the main reasons we love her – she’s not just a celebrity that entertains us and carries on with her daily life – she uses her platform in the public eye to make a difference and inspire. Keep doing yo thang girl. 143 AAF LYLAS.

~~~

Amy Poehler: Sage to All

{originally posted April 24th}

If you know either Molly or I, or have even been reading this blog for a while, you know that we have a special place in our heart for Amy Poehler. So naturally, I follow (read: stalk) everything she does. Amy started a website/YouTube channel a while ago called Smart Girls at the Party, which inspires, encourages, and features young, smart, women. All their featured shows are fantastic (and even involve dance parties!), but one of my favorites on the site (and on the internet) is Ask Amy.

This is a series of short videos in which Amy answers viewer questions, and focuses on one topic per episode. You may have seen the latest episode make its rounds on the internet.

I Love You Boston

As you can tell, she approaches these videos and topics from an honest, earnest place, and genuinely wants to give advice to everyone watching. What’s touching about this particular episode is that Amy, who is a Boston-area native, is clearly fed up with last week’s horrific events, and her downcast and fed up demeanor exemplifies exactly what I’m assuming all of America is feeling right now. And while we may not have all the answers to what’s going on, there is something we can do to prevent from becoming too saturated with the bad things in the world.

Sigh. I love her so much. Here are a few of my favorite episodes, but I suggest you check the whole site out!!

Goodbye
“The only thing we can depend on is change… Life is just a series of moments… a string of pearls that make up the necklace of your life and every once in a while to complete the circle, you need to end a chapter.” (Bonus Abel at the end!!!)

Decisions
“Most decisions aren’t final. Feelings change all the time. You can always change your mind and taking risks and making choices is what makes life so exciting because we never know whats going to happen. Every day something new comes our way. Isn’t that exciting?”

Letting Go

“Let go of the idea of trying… Letting go suddenly is an act of faith and the universe provides for you what is really meant to be.”

Courage

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it.”

Stress
In which Amy sits in a bathtub and calls herself a crazy person.