Monthly Archives: May 2012

Teen love, cancer and an unfinished sentence

I stepped way outside my normal pleasure reading comfort zone with “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. However, it was a good trip and one I recommend.

The book is narrated in the first person by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16 year old girl with thyroid cancer who is being kept alive by a new miracle drug. Her parents think she is depressed and  force her to attend a support group with other young cancer patients. That is where she meets Augustus, a bone cancer patient/amputee in remission. Initially, she doesn’t want to get involved, but (as you can probably guess) the inevitable happens and they become a couple.

Hazel is also obsessed with a fictional book “An Imperial Affliction,” about a girl with cancer. “An Imperial Affliction” ends in mid-sentence with many plots unresolved, because, it is assumed, that Anna either dies or becomes too sick to write. Hazel is determined to track down the reclusive author to find out how the various fictional stories played out.

The story is a little bit of a romance story and a little tragedy. Green does a good job telling  a story about a depressing subject without the story being depressing itself.

I thought it was a little odd for a middle-aged man to be writing a first-person account through the eyes of a 16 year old girl. His writing seemed very believable, but then again, I’m a middle-aged guy so I don’t have any real reference to judge it.

It’s not all giggles and fun, but “The Fault in Our Stars” is an interesting read and well worth the effort.

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Going out with a bang!

This is almost too good to be true. Man dies of a heart attack while having a threesome and family successfully sues for medical malpractice. I wonder what St Peter had to say to him when he showed up at the Pearly Gates.

On the road again…

Mrs. Poolman and I are off for our annual (more or less) driving trip to Pittsburgh and other northern locations. We will have visited my father and youngest sister (and family) in Pittsburgh and then head over to Mechanicsburg (near Harrisburg) to meet up with my brother and his gang. We’ll be spending the Memorial Day weekend at their new beach house in Stone Harbor, NJ.

Fortunately, we’ll have a lot of activity at our Savannah house. Poolboy and GF have moved in for the week to care for house, pool and pets, and Writer Princess (daughter) will be in and out frequently.

So far the trip has gone very well. We left Sunday morning and broke the 11 hour drive into two days. We can and have done it in one day, but Mrs. P tends to get cranky on long trips.

“After eight hours in the car, just cut my throat and put me out of my misery.”

Not a lot of subtlety there.

Our overnight at a Holiday Inn in Beckley, WV was very nice. It was a new or, at least, remodeled hotel, and we were upgraded to a suite. Don’t you know that only happens when all you are looking for is just a bed for the night? Oh well.

We have spent the last couple of days visiting with family. I did take Mrs. P to lunch at two Pittsburgh traditions. Yesterday, we took Dad and my brother in law to Primanti Brothers. This is a famous sandwich shop that started in Pittsburgh’s “strip district” and has expanded to a number of suburban locations. You can always spot a Primanti Brothers sandwich. The French fries are on the sandwich, not on the side.

Today, Dad had some doctor’s appointments so Mrs. P and I were on our own. We headed out to one my favorite spots from my high school and college years,  Danny’s Parkway Pizza. This sandwich shop and pizzeria on Route 88 near South Park, invented and perfected the “hot hoagie” (sub sandwich) long before Quiznos and Subway discovered the concept. It’s a “hole in the wall” place on a busy highway, but as expected, the hoagies were great. I wonder what happened to the drive in theater that used to be next door. 🙂

We had a very nice birthday dinner for my Dad (87) at my sister’s house. Mrs. P and I provided and cooked the steaks. Everyone had a good time and Dad seemed to enjoy it. But after the all-afternoon doctor’s visit and then a family dinner, he was pretty pooped.

Tomorrow, we head to Mechanicsburg and then on to Stone Harbor.

 

 

 

Great stories from Sweden

I haven’t posted recently, because, among other reasons, I’ve been reading. I just finished Steig Larsson’s  “Millenium Trilogy” (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.)

I have to tell you, I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure I was going to, especially after starting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It takes a long time for Larsson to get down to the “good stuff” in the first novel. Once he gets the main plot rolling, it’s great, but it just takes him awhile to get there.

As I wrote in an earlier post, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is basically a murder mystery involving a family with many dark secrets. The main protagonists are Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist and Lizbeth Salander, a socially odd girl-genius with a mysterious past.

Book two, The Girl Who Played with Fire, involves the same main characters, including Blomkvist and Salander. It focuses much more on the compelling Lizbeth Salander;  her mysterious past; her evil, Soviet defector father; and the acts and plots by the secret police that explain a lot of why Lizbeth is who she is. It grabbed me from the first chapter and didn’t let go.

And if you like The Girl Who Played With Fire, the third book in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is nearly a seamless sequel. The same plot and characters just continue to the third book without missing a beat.

In The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Lizbeth is hospitalized from injuries she sustained in the climax of the previous book and is charged with a number of crimes. The story revolves around Mikael’s and others’ efforts to free her and uncover the conspirators who are trying to get her recommitted to a mental hospital.

The entire series is great. The plots and the characters are fairly complex, but that is part of the attraction of the stories.

Two suggestions…

1.) Don’t worry too much about the Swedish geography. I guess it would be nice to know where all the various locations actually are, but not knowing does not diminish your appreciation of the stories.

2.) ­­It wouldn’t hurt to stick a note card or sheet of paper in the book you are reading and jotting down the names of some of the main characters. There are a bunch of them, and they all have Swedish names that tend to look and sound a lot alike to this American eye and ear. It might help keep track of the good guys and the bad guys.

There are a few scenes in the trilogy that are fairly graphic. Just beware.

Bottom line – It’s a great three-book series. It will keep you up at night because you won’t want to put it down. I recommend it strongly.

We really don’t have much of a life…

…but I feel the need to post something anyway. We have been busy, but not real exciting.

We have spent the last few weekends mostly cleaning up our back yard and pool. The trees in our back yard dump an enormous amount of biomass and pollen in late March through mid April. It takes few weeks to get the yard and pool ready for warm weather use. The sad part is that there are a bunch of cool weekend activities in Savannah this time of year. Two weekends ago was the SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival. This past weekend, 11 sailing ships came to savannah for a “Tall Ship Challenge.”  We were raking, digging, planting, spreading mulch, etc.

We finished up on Saturday and the back yard doesn’t look too bad. We still have some more planting, but the basic work is done.

The pool

The patio

We had a few friends over for our first “open pool” of the season. With the warm and early spring, along with our solar blanket, we have the water temp up to the high 80s and are swimming several weeks earlier than in previous years.

Our friends, Lynn and Sam, came over with their 20-month old twin daughters, Helen and Brittany. Those two just get cuter every time we see them.

“Brittany, show us your ‘surprise face.'”