Apr 22, 2014

On Love and Science: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion, was a book club selection and I one I'm very glad I read. It's light and fun but has stuck with me. An unusual combination.

In the Rosie Project, Don Tillman, a genetics professor, is a man of precise order. He schedules his days to the minute, literally, and he constantly looks for ways to streamline daily activities. For instance, rather than waste time deciding what to make for dinner each evening, he eats the same thing every Monday, every Tuesday and so on. Further, he has his pantry shelves organized by the day of the week so his weekly Monday dinner ingredients are all together, same with Tuesday, etc. No variety but maximum efficiency.
 As the book continues, Don works with the same scientific efficiency to find a wife. Repeatedly he is confronted with the reality that science doesn’t work that way. Or is it love that doesn’t work that way?

You can read my complete review of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion on Nudge.

Apr 21, 2014

My Week In Books and Love by the Morning Star

I’ve been a bit of a machine with books lately and while I write reviews of some of them for various outlets, a lot just slip by unmentioned. I’m going to attempt a regular feature where I discuss the books I’ve finished in the previous week. Some weeks will be silent if I haven’t finished anything. Others might feature one book while other detail many. We’ll see.

This past week I read an early draft of Love by the Morning Star by Laura L. Sullivan. This YA book is the third by the author and is scheduled for publication in early June. In Love by the Morning Star, which takes place during the early parts of World War II, Anna and Hannah (unrelated) both find themselves undercover in the home of a wealthy family. Hannah, half Jewish, is escaping persecution in Germany, and Anna is on an ill-defined undercover mission. It’s not a bad set-up for a story! And yet it is. The story I mean.

The thing about successful YA novels about World War II is that there are so many to pick from. One of my most recent favorites is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2012), which was a much less innocent look at Nazi Germany, but is much more captivating. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006) is pretty wonderful and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1958), you might have heard of it, is a must read.

Young adult fiction targets a broad age range (10-15?) and I think most readers within that grouping would be disappointed by Love by the Morning Star. But, perhaps for parents of children at the lower end of the range, Love by the Morning Star is an okay introduction to the much more exci5ting reading that awaits them.

Apr 16, 2014

Worst Date

We all have out first date and our worst date stories. With Wonder Boy, I can reflect on a first date dressed as Michael Jackson and a worst date (seventh date) that ended in the hospital.

In November 2003 Wonder Boy and I ventured out to the mall to buy a wedding gift for friends and had plans to grab dinner afterwards. About halfway into our drive, I was writhing in pain in my seat, doubled over with sever cramps. Wonder Boy looked over and saw me pale and white knuckling the Oh Shit handle of his car.

"Can you stop somewhere please?" I asked.

He pulled over to a lovely gas station called Swifty.  The kind that has a bathroom in an outside cement stall. Only slightly more modern than a outhouse. I dashed in and had a lot of what I'm going to refer to as Personal Time.

After about 10 to 15 minutes, Wonder Boy knocked on the door to check on me. "Go away!" I yelled. Repeat that interaction 10 minutes later. And again. Maybe even again?

Finally I came out and said I needed to go home. As Wonder Boy pulled into my apartment complex driveway, he leaned over and said, "Pretty romantic seventh date, huh?" Rather than be embarrassed about what was happening to me, I just looked at him and said,"You've been counting our dates?!?!"

After he left and I was back in my apartment, I continued to have Personal Time. So much Personal Time, in fact, that I decided I need to see a doctor. (No need for specifics.) I called my mom but she wasn't home. I tried a few other people and then decided to call Wonder Boy, a nurse, and ask him to come back and take me to the hospital. The romantic evening couldn't get any worse so why not?

At that point in time, Wonder Boy was still new to town and was relying on me to direct him to a hospital. The only one I was confident about finding was the most urban of the bunch and had a colorful waiting room that included people high on drugs and alcohol, people handcuffed to chairs and chaos everywhere.

After a visit with a doctor WEARING A TOP GUN JUMPSUIT, we were sent home with directions on how to take care of my Personal Time issues.
And that is my worst date ever.

Apr 9, 2014

Bruce Springsteen, Live in Cincinnati and Looking Good

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to how I feel about Cincinnati and why I’m proud to call this city my home. The feeling is seemingly infectious, with people all around me proudly endorsing the city. But last night, when Bruce Springsteen asked the crowd at U.S. Bank arena if anyone was from New Jersey, thousands of Tri-States started clapping. We aren’t from New Jersey, but at that moment, we wanted to be.

Bruce has that effect on people.

The concert was a good reminder for me about the draw of stadium shows. Attending the concert was a birthday gift for Wonder Boy and it also firmly established that 39-years-old can look pretty good and so can a 65-year-old. I mean, damn. If we can all sport guns like Bruce Springsteen at 65, go crowd surfing and be the obvious star on a stage sporting 16 other outstanding musicians from the E Street Band and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, then good for us.
One thing I love about big shows is how much leeway the musician has because people are So. Excited. to see the artist. For instance, when Bruce Springsteen played Hungry Heart, the crowd sang the first verse on their own. I’m used to seeing that happen at the refrain or at some point mid-song. But last night people started the song with no accompaniment from Bruce Springsteen and it didn’t matter. I can’t imagine any of the indie rock bands I see pulling that off.
Bruce Springsteen has been making albums since 1973 and the crowd’s diversity reflected the longevity of his career as well as his place in the musical canon. With little exception, people were on their feet for the entire three hour and seven minute show … all 26 songs. Throughout the concert there was a rumble that sounded like a deep “Boooooo” but was really people yelling “Bruce.”
After he finished his closing song, a beautiful solo of Dream Baby Dream, I felt privileged to have attended the concert. Happy to have taken my husband to a show he really wanted to see. And really motivated to start lifting weights so I look as good in a sleeveless T-shirt as Bruce Springsteen.
I think the phones-as-lighters phenomenon at the end of concerts is pretty goofy. And looks sort of awesome.