April 28, 2010

Book Review: Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

In this dual perspective book, we have Lucius and Aurora telling an updated version of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.  Lucius, known by his classmates as "Hooks," is an amputee.  He lost both of his hands in a chemistry accident which forced his family to leave home and start a new life in a new town.  Aurora is a beauty, a dark angel, that has a kind and loving heart.  She and her father have recently lost her mother to cancer.  They start a new life in this new town, as well.

Aurora is instantly welcomed by her classmates; Lucius is instantly rejected.  Yet they form a connection from the moment they lay eyes upon each other on the school bus.  They just know each other.  Still, they end up running in different circles at school.  Lucius becomes a loner.  His only friend is the school security guard who used to be a football hero before he blew out his knee.  Aurora runs with the popular crowd, but sees the shallowness of her companions and watches Lucius from afar.

Their paths end up crossing when both work on the school production of Grease.  Can the beauty see past his hooks and tainted past to the true person underneath?

April 10, 2010

Dopamine vs. Serotonin: The Secret to a Happy Love Life

Ladies and gentleman, I think I've discovered the secret to a happy love life. I will have to warn you, this may sound a little crazy, but the more I think about it, the more this makes sense. If you are in a committed relationship, but that spark you had for each other seems to have died, this could be just the thing to help kickstart it again. If you are not in a relationship, take it in and store it in your memory bank for later. The brain is a powerful thing, and it is governed by chemicals. Understanding how these chemicals work can help you gain understanding and come up with solutions.

April 06, 2010

Movie Review: Ghost Writer

Ghost Writer is a suspense movie that Hitchcock fans will enjoy.  There is political espionage, a femme fatale, suspicious looks, and signs swinging on a dark stormy night.  Ewan McGregor has been hired as a ghost writer for fictional British Prime Minister, Adam Lang, played by Pierce Brosnan.  Lang is facing criticism for his interrogation techniques used on alleged terrorists, and so his image consultants decide he should write a memoir.  The memoir is partway finished, but the original ghost writer was found dead on the beach, and the book needs to be finished.  Ewan, known only as "The Ghost" in this movie, is hired to complete the task.  He is a loner with a cynical streak, which makes him the perfect ghost writer.  He has no family, and no real social ties, except for a previous relationships he calls "complicated."

The Ghost is brought to Lang's beach house where he alternates between interviewing Lang and writing in isolation.  Also staying at the house are Lang's cool, collected wife, Ruth (channeling Grace Kelly) and Lang's assistant and mistress, Amelia (Kim Cattrall).  Lang needs both women, one to be his trusted advisor, and the the other to adore him.

The Ghost is well on his way to getting the job done when he discovers a strange envelope in his bedroom (the room that belonged to the previous ghost writer) that contains photos and items that contradict the stories Lang has been telling him.  Even though the Ghost says "I'm not an investigative journalist," of course he has to get down to the bottom of things.  And he begins to suspect that the previous ghost writer's death was no accident.

The film encourages the audience to follow the trail of the truth along with its protagonist.  The suspense builds beautifully from beginning to end.  Our Ghost is an every man.  He has no connections, and, therefore, can't trust anyone.  In the same regard, no one can fool him.  He has no moral compass but only a desire to know the truth.  And the truth, elusive as it is, isn't fully known or appreciated until the end.  This is a great movie to watch for all of those Hitchcock fans out there.  It does lean on the liberal side, but what movie doesn't these days?