Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 MORE Movie Remakes for Moms (and Dads)

There are movies out there that would be spectacular if reincarnated as family satires.

Backseat Fight Club and Minivan Driver would nothing short of brilliant.

As well as these:

What movies would you like to see on this list?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

7 Things The Duchess of Cambridge Will Never Say

Congratulations Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! You have given birth to a son! Finally the real royal baby can stand be held up.  

And that means you, Blue Ivy and North West, can now be swaddled and put back down in your super-fancy-yet-plebian cradles.

Now, of course, all these little people are cuddly and innocent, beautiful and sweet. They can't help it if their parents are uber-celebrities.  They can't help it if the whole world rabidly scrutinized the minutiae of their mothers' pregnancy.  

And they can't help that while motherhood may be one big club, uniting women in a common experience, the media makes celeb mothers out to be the Grand Poobahs (I was going to say Grand Pub-ettes or Grand Pub-esses, but that sounds NASTY), and the rest of us the mommy minions.  

And now Kate Middleton is the latest Top Mom.  

I know celebrity/society/royal moms have their pressures too.  It would be horrible to have everyone saying how awful it is that mothers are expected to drop their baby weight immediately, while secretly wondering why you still weigh more than a seven year old.  And -- I'll give them the benefit of the doubt -- maybe some of them are just as tired/anxious/crabby with their spouses/fed up that their kids won't cooperate as we normal moms are.  


Call me crazy, but the image pressure is something I think I could handle, especially if I had a cook, a trainer, a gazillion-dollar project to look fierce for, and the good genes that got me to the top in the first place.  

That kind of motherhood and mine are on two planets. 

Which is why I get a chuckle thinking about the Duchess saying the following:

  • Yessssss!  My girlfriends all chipped in and bought me the Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced of my regist-reeee!!!

  • IKEA's children's furniture has been the answer to our baby-stuff storage problem.

  • Psst!  Prints will set you free --  if the baby spits up all over you, no one's any the wiser!

  • Sure come on over!  Our place is nastier than a staph infection, but full of love. 

  • (Sob!) The bitchy mum crew at Mummy/Baby yoga taped a "Wide Load" sign on my bum while I was doing down dog.

  • Oh, hell no, you did NOT just shush us. You never heard a baby cry before at the movies?  

  • Screw the nursing cover thingie, I'm just gonna whip out a boob.

What would you pay money to hear the Duchess say, or any other Top Mom, for that matter?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

After Trayvon: What Do I Tell My Son?

What do I tell my son?

I heard the verdict.  

First I was shocked. Then I cried. I thought of my spirited little guy, resting peacefully in his Batman-sheeted bed.  I resisted the urge to run into his room and hug him as tightly as I could.  My thoughts raced to all the parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, wives and husbands out there who love a sweet brown boy.  Or man.  

Now I am enraged.

I listened to George Zimmerman's fuckwad of a brother say "The world saw what Trayvon Martin did to my brother."  (He actually dared to utter those very words!!!)  That his brother was sorrowful.  That Trayvon Martin's death was unfortunate.  That Trayvon Martin was, in fact, armed with the sidewalk.  That we must honor what the jury decided, because they did so based on the facts.  That his brother was legally armed, and entitled to protect himself when he thought his life was in danger.

First George Zimmerman's life was endangered because he brought to fruition exactly what he feared, what he wanted to believe.  That a black teenager walking through that gated community wearing a hoodie, looked suspicious -- out of place -- and was up to no good. By continuing to follow him, ol' Georgie confirmed his own conjecture.  

Second, we still don't know the facts, what happened that night.  Will we ever?  What we know is what George Zimmerman told the jury and the piecing together a story based on recordings and recollection.  The jury was not armed with facts, but a reconstruction thereof.  They were armed with the case presented, not absolute fact.  

And let's remember that the legality of "stand your ground" is like something out of a medieval farming village, and makes our country look positively barbaric among the leading nations of the world.  But that is another matter altogether.  

Brother of George, I heard your snippy retorts to Piers Morgan.  Your denial to the point of mocking of the race card in all this.  As much as I'd perversely love to see someone else take the law into their own hands against you and your bro, I get it - your allegiance is to your loathscum of a brother.  You are relieved for him and sick of the media circus that has been your family's life for over a year.

I will give you that.

But please, tell me as the mother of an almost five year old brown boy, what I am to think?  What am I to tell my son?  Don't give me the bullshit that all parents of all colors have to advise their children how to stay safe.  

It is different for black and brown men, and if you don't acknowledge that you are either stupid, crazy or in complete denial of the unfathomable depths of American racism.  

So someone please tell me, what should I tell my baby when he's old enough to navigate the world alone?  

Do I tell him that black life doesn't matter?  Do I drill the stories of the Scottsboro boys, Emmett Till and the Central Park Five into his head so that he'll know that black and brown men are guilty until proven innocent? Do I tell him daily that in many states his life matters less?  That he must lead the most exemplary of lives, and still "they" -- the people who look like his father's side of the family -- that many of them might be out to get him? 

I do know to tell him not to loiter or hang around on street corners.  To comply with instructions and not to talk back to the police if he is ever stopped.  To only have the most positive associations because if there is one bad apple in the bunch and something goes down, he will likely be implicated.  And still, after all that, to know how to hang with the "homeboys" just enough not to be labeled as "stuck up,"  "oreo" or "fuzzy" (or whatever the colloquialism is for standard-English-speaking, mixed-race kids).  

My grandfather talked about doing the right thing in the 1940s.  Supposedly, doing the right thing would keep a brown or black person safe, if not show the world his/her worth. "Do not congregate on street corners!" my grandfather would proclaim, fuming about those who'd idle away the day in front of some storefront.  

As middle and upper class African Americans, we know the rules.  We've played the game.  I mean, hey, we have a black president! 

Unfortunately (your word Brother of George), no matter how well you play the game, you can still lose.  

So tell me, what do I tell my son?

What the hell do I tell him?  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mom in the Spotlight: Dance Artist, Kristina Fluty

Mom's New Stage is uber lucky to be able to feature the fabulous dancing mom, Kristina Fluty.  Currently, Kristina is a celebrated member of the Chicago dance community as a performer, dancemaker and teacher.  She is also mom to a 2 year old little boy.  Her wisdom in terms of movement and motherhood make me wish I could make myself into a sponge and attach myself to her heart center.   

I am tremendously inspired by her, and I know you will be too!

How has being a mom affected your dance life?  How would you like it to?

I really appreciate how the logistical slowing down from busy artist to mom-and-more-discerning artist has changed me on a cellular level.  I have more patience now (or at least I am trying) and I appreciate being in the present moment more in a very practical way.  

This means that my notions of what it means to have a movement practice have changed.  I value my studio time so much more now.  Also, my body is so different!  I was always working with the fundamental idea that we must dance with the bodies we have RIGHT NOW.  That has taken on a whole new meaning since my actual dancing time is so precious and I have to embrace my new physicality.  I feel like I bring this renewed awareness and approach to my performing and teaching.  

I would love to be able to incorporate my son into my dance practice more (have you seen that video of the toddler at a big contact jam in Europe somewhere?). I love dancing with Gus - we roll all around our living room and any studio when we get a chance, and he is starting to sing and exhibit really refined dynamic qualities (it's a little scary!).  It’s so lovely to see his pure joy in his movement, and a good reminder for me to relish in the beauty of being able to dance, period. 

I am not a big fan of most dance reality TV shows, but I know many dancers who are.  Where do you stand on these?

I really have to admit that I am gravely dismayed by the little bit I have seen (we don’t have cable) and I hate these shows.  I recognize that the people on them are usually very talented, and I do appreciate that this industry has raised awareness of dance in general.  However, I disagree with the paradigm and aesthetic that they promote.  

You are comfortable in many dance forms.  Is there one in particular where you feel most at home?

Oh, definitely contemporary/modern, and a very specific aesthetic at that.  I have been dancing with Molly Shanahan for ten years now, so that is where I feel most at home other than my own work.  Actually, maybe I feel MORE comfortable in her work than in my own...a whole other conversation.  I have found a really yummy "home" style that blends my Laban/Bartenieff training with my years of work with Molly and many other endeavors.  I’m an advocate for dancers really digging in to discover/uncover their own movement style.

Photo: William Frederking

Advice for mothers in the arts?
Be true to yourself, even as that Self is changing everyday.  You CAN be an artist and a mom - but maybe not right at this moment.  Some things might have to go on the back burner, but they don't have to go away.  You ARE an artist - it's a way of being in the world - even when you are covered in baby schmutz or driving your kids to school.  You are an artist in how you play and engage with your child.  We need more artists as parents in the world raising kick-ass kids!  (With all due respect to every other type of parent in the world also raising awesome kids.)

Name a choreographer or company would you love to dance for?  Or even a Broadway show you'd love to be in?

Ok, I am going to work really hard at just giving you a list without any justification or explanation:

Miguel Gutierrez, David Dorfman, Wil Swanson, Tiffany Mills, Crystal Pite, Azsure Barton, Batsheva, Forsythe, The Seldoms, Khecari.

Trisha Brown in the '70s, Mary Wigmann, LABAN!!!  (He did some really delicious romping around naked in the mountains that would have been fun.)

And last but not least - anything Fosse.

Photo: Carl Weidemann

The moment as a mom you're sure was payback for something horrible you'd done in this life or another?

When Gus had just turned a year old, we had a minor bicycle accident with him in the new seat I had just bought.  Aside from having my first real experience with gut-wrenching fear, I felt like the worst mother in the world.  His eye swelled up, the bruising was terrible, and I just kept thinking, “I did this to him.  I made this happen to my precious little boy.  How could I be so stupid, so irresponsible, so careless?”  It definitely felt like a punishment.

And it didn’t stop there.  A couple of months later, we noticed that two of his teeth were chipped, and we wondered if it had happened/started in the bike accident.  Another month passed, and we noticed that those spots were decaying.  So that has been something else we have had to deal with that definitely felt like karma. We kept asking, “What did we do to deserve this??” as you often will in these situations where you don’t really have control.

And when do you ever have control, anyway?  We certainly went to the emergency room when we wrecked, and we have had his teeth fixed, but that doesn’t make the worry and self-doubt go away. 

The best thing about dealing with other parents?  The worst?  

I love how parents can come together and talk about anything child-related, strangers and friends alike.  Our children unite us in that way.  But there are a million ways to skin the parenting cat, so that can also lead to disagreements and mud-slinging.  I have found that most of my friends and colleagues who are also parents are genuinely respectful of each other and our practices, and the only place I experience the rudeness is on internet forums.  I try to just focus on my family and take heart that we are doing what is best for us.

What would your 24 year old self say if she could see you now?  (Please tell me you aren't 27.)

I'm 36 in September!  It's funny to see this question because I was just reading through some old journals last night in the throes of insomnia.  

My 24 year old self would probably tell me to look around and appreciate that I am just where I want to be, and where I thought I might be when I was her age.  How crazy is that?  I always was a planner.  But she would also punch me in the arm and say, hey lady - enjoy this!  She would probably wrinkle her nose with disdain and judgment at the homebody I can be these days.  She might tell me I could let loose a little more and not worry so much about everything - money, other people's opinions, where my kid is going to go to school. 

On another note, she would be really proud of me, because she would see that I was able to disentangle myself from a really dysfunctional romantic relationship I was in at that time.  She would be impressed that I made some hard decisions about my career and looked really deeply inside of myself to determine exactly what I wanted as an artist.  She would be grateful that I was not afraid to drop my preconceived notions to pursue those things.  

Kristina Fluty is celebrating her tenth year as a movement collaborator with Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak, and has worked with many other choreographers in Chicago, Nashville, and New York.  She holds an MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling and a Laban/Bartenieff certification from Columbia College Chicago, where she is also an adjunct faculty member.  Other faculty positions include The Theatre School of DePaul University and The University of Chicago.  She teaches dance regularly throughout the city, including at Lou Conte Dance Studio/Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Thodos Dance Chicago.  Kristina currently works with individual professional artists and dance companies in Chicago in the facilitation, support, and research of personal creative process. In addition to the framework of Laban/Bartenieff studies, her influences include the Feldenkrais Method, Body-Mind Centering, Authentic Movement, Continuum, and Contact Improvisation.  

You can find Kristina's classes regularly at Lou Conte on Wednesdays at 3:30 (Adv/Pro Modern) and at Berger Park on Tuesdays at 6:30 (Beg Modern and Int Phrasework).  She will be facilitating Fieldwork, a feedback forum for works in progress, at Outer Space on Saturdays in the fall, and other workshop series ideas are in the works.  Keep an eye out for Kristina's new project with dance artists Rebecca Salzer and Liz Burritt, premiering in Chicago in Spring of 2014.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Wear Shorty Shorts?

Apparently Daisy Dukes, the shorts that hug a gal's bottom in a love embrace and occasionally let some cheek spill out, are all the rage this summer. 

They may not be hurting anybody, but they're driving me positively bonkers. 

They're bringing up a lot of issues for me.  

I am from the school of "dress for the body you have, not the body you want."  Not everyone can wear everything.  Not every style looks good on every body.  

To me, it is an art form to discover and honor the meeting point of what flatters you, and what makes you feel good. When I see large, untoned bottoms and thighs in Daisy Dukes I get very WTF-y. And even shorty-short rockin' thin girls should abide by the the saying, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

I was recently in New York, and I live in Chicago. I cannot for the life of me, understand why anyone with legs of any size would want to wear shorty-shorts, in cities like these.  Your bare legs, not to mention the skin centimeters away from your lady bits, on the seat of a public bus, train or even taxi?  Euw, eeeuuww, and eeeeuuuuwww!!!!!!

Then, there's the attention factor. You come into contact with a lot of folks on city streets.  Men and women of all sexual orientations can't help but give you a once over when you wear Daisy Dukes.  Being the object of a straight man's leering has always made me uncomfortable. That "Hey, baby, can I get yo digits?" kind of skeevy attention sends me in search of a Hazmat shower.   
I like being on the receiving end of a thoughtful and/or subtle comment because I look elegant -- because I have left something to the imagination, or because I have almost dared him to think there's anything sexy going on (like when I am in my just-shy-of-disintegrating yoga pants).  

Of course, a woman can wear anything she wants, WITHOUT ASKING FOR IT.  I, personally, however, have always shied away from showing too much skin in public.  Shied away from too much of that overtly sexual brand of attention. 

I am not overweight, far from it.  Yet my legs have always been muscular, not lean and long. Even when I was dancing every day, and was ripped, I never would have worn Daisy Dukes. NEVER.  In my mind, those were best left to my leggy peers.  If I were to rock shorty shorts, I'd leave them for the beach -- a more appropriate place to experiment with casting body issues aside and showing more skin than normal.   

At the beach everyone is showing skin, so booty shorts are no biggie.  

At the beach my carefully selected suit hides my flaws and emphasizes my gifts. My arms and my waist.  I know exactly what I'm putting out there.

Sometimes, when it comes to what my body looks like, I might know and think too much.  

Which is why wearing Daisy Dukes, especially when you have thick legs seems blissfully unaware, defiant even.  It's like giving the finger to the cannots and should-nots of fashion.  To body issues.  To the opinions of others. 

There is something fabulous about a woman who is comfortable in her own skin.  Who wears what makes her feel happy and free and sexy in the summer sun.  

It must be awesome not to care. Because when does it end? There is always someone who will find fault in something about you.  
And there is always someone, in addition to yourself, who will love your body exactly the way it is.  

But still I wonder, is that woman really comfortable or is she hoping to use her bared skin as currency for validation or love?  Is she still comparing herself to some perceived ideal and wearing short-shorts out of bravado?  Or is she just doing it because she can?

Or am I projecting my host of body issues onto that woman, while she is perfectly content with herself?

I would love to know.

When I see young women dressed this way, I can't help but think of my daughter.  I hope I can save her from the extreme body issues I've battled within myself and still do. 
As a female in America, however, I'm not sure how she can escape.  

I hope she always has fun with her clothes.  I hope she can dress in a way that reflects her spirit and makes her feel happy and pretty.  And even sexy, yet elegant. I hope her body is something for her to enjoy, and not something to agonize about. 

But she's gotta know, if I catch her in something overly revealing, Mama will be swinging her purse at undesirable suitors. 

That and wrapping her up in an emergency muumuu to take her little behind home.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

I Love Oversharing

I'll admit it.

Summer's gotten the best of me.  

By that I don't mean I am lounging by the pool immersed in a hilarious book like Paige Kellerman's At Least My Belly Hides My Cankles.  

Nor do I mean I'm sitting on a park bench reading the kick ass anthology, featuring some of the funniest mom bloggers in the business, I Just Want to Pee Alone.

And no, I'm not sipping a glass of Viognier finally catching up on the dozens of New Yorker issues that I have been hoarding with the best of intentions. 

I have my two kids, aged 3 and 4.5, at home with me three full days a week, and I swear they are trying to kill me.  By 11 a.m. I am considering giving someone a horse tranquilizer.  When they refuse to nap I start thinking about booking myself a one-way ticket to Papua New Guinea.  And by bedtime, which has more in common with a biker bar brawl than a peaceful childhood ritual, I'm ready to climb into a barrel of gin. 

I know some of you do this every day all year round, and are now rolling your eyes so hard you're actually burning calories.  

But it's all what you're used to, you know? 

Anyway, I'm not teaching very much this summer, and I am WAY better when I work. I teach dance part-time and somehow that little bit of framework outlines all the supposed to's for me.  

It tells me when I'm supposed to plan classes. Write. Do social media stuff.  Be with the kids, cook, shop, and socialize.  And when I get to hang out with Hubby.  It feels like a disciplined person going into a grocery store with a carefully planned list.

Now all this unstructured time makes me feel like I can't make toast and somehow landed as a contestant on Top Chef.  I spend eons trying to figure out what to do, and come up with some slop that would be rejected by a whole colony of subway rats.   

I can't get anything done.

So there, you have it.  My big share of why lately, this blog has been as busy as a bikini shop in Antarctica.  

Since Mom's New Stage has been rather empty, I'm only too happy to share the work of my blogging buds who have been serving up the awesome.  

As a blogger, you can never overshare.  

Here goes...

1.  Johi of Confessions of a Corn Fed Girl and I both do a Friday interview series and decided to interview each other.  Johi's piece, "What You Mock, You Become"  in IJWTPA, was one of those that I read and wondered how this woman had stolen my soul.  Johi is a hoot, and I credit her with giving me permission to tell the world that George Constanza is my soul mate. I only wish I'd been more wine-fueled when I wrote up her questions.

2.  Ever felt when you talk to your kids you sound less like something from a time-honored parenting book, and more like the bitchy girls' table in the middle school cafteria?  No?  Well then, please take your perfect self and go hunting with Dick Cheney.  If you're like me, i.e., not that parenting superhero, Nicole Leigh Shaw's post on passive-aggressive parenting will make you feel way less alone.

3. Kerry of House TalkN is up to amazing things, including the That's What She Said Tour.  Actually it's not a tour yet, but it will be.  If you don't know this blogger you need to sidle on up to her STAT.  Her post about doing the "crazy mom walk" over to her daughter and then having to check herself and correct herself is a treat for the imagination (you know that walk), the soul and the eyes.  

4. Inspired by July 4th festivities, Frugie of The Frugalista Blog wrote a thoughtful and honest piece about our country.  If you like big ol' heaps of jingoism on your American pie, this post isn't for you.  Actually, I take that back.  It is PRECISELY for you.

5.   The 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year have been announced.  I was not one of them and spent a sad evening being Grumpalicious with my family and crying into my G&T.  C'est la vie.  I am thrilled for the winners, which include some bloggers who should be ruling the world by now.  If you are looking for some more knock-your-socks off blogs to read, start following some of these babies.  

And don't forget to like, follow, pin, stalk, show up on the doorstep of, and promise your next-born child to the bloggers I mentioned!  

I'm totally kidding.  

They probably don't need any more children.

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