Sh*t my Dad Says, by Justin Halpern
Sh*t my Dad Says, by Justin Halpern is a hilarious accounting of a son's relationship with his father that unfolds in an unorthodox way. When 28 year old Justin Halpern was dumped by his girlfriend, he found himself on his parent's doorstep, and at a crossroads in his life. He began to record all the ridiculous things his 73 year old father told him, and post it on Twitter. More than a million people are now following Mr. Halpern, who Justin states is "like Socrates, but angrier and with worse hair". Mr. Halpern is a Viet Nam vet, and spent his career doing cancer research as a doctor of nuclear medicine. Mix in a little Archie Bunker and Al Bundy, and you have Mr. Halpern! When I heard that a book was to be written based on the Twitter account, I couldn't imagine how it would come together, but I was pleasantly surprised with a touching all-American story about an offbeat relationship between father and son. In between the family stories are Halpern's quirky words of wisdom often laced with obscenities, but it will leave you laughing out loud. A quick and easy beach read.
May 2010 Archives
Sh*t my Dad Says, by Justin Halpern
Will Smith: A Biography, by Lisa A. Iannucci
I've always been a big fan of actor Will Smith, and now that I've read Lisa A. Iannucci's Will Smith: A Biography, I have even more respect for the artist. I also found out that some of my impressions of the actor are misconceptions. Although Will is indeed from West Philadelphia, he did not come from a broken home, although his parents did divorce after the children were gone. His parents were hard working middle-class people. He is a rapper, but his music does not promote domestic violence, crime or sex like some other artists. His father showed him how drugs can mess up someone's life, and, apparently, Will has avoided that pitfall that has haunted many celebrities. This book is uplifting in many respects. Will has been able to raise a fine family with second wife, Jada Pinkett, while pursuing his music and acting careers. He and his wife have given back to the community by sponsoring a public school. The many movies he has released around July 4th have become "blockbusters". Critics say Will is cordial and polite to everyone, and makes everyone feel like his friend. He works hard at his craft, trying to learn as much as he can about his characters. What impresses me most is that Will seems to be a loyal, loving family man who has not let success go to his head.
The Birthday Ball, by Lois Lowry
Sixteen year-old Princess Patricia Priscilla and her cat Delicious are absolutely bored with castle life and seek to have an adventure outside the castle walls before the princess' upcoming birthday ball, when she will have to select one of the awful noblemen to marry. Trading places with her chambermaid and disguised as a peasant, Patricia attends the village school and makes friends with the locals. A very funny read for grades 3 and up, one that a parent and child would enjoy reading together. As in The Willoughbys, Lowry doesn't shy away from larger words, which add to the humorous descriptions and dialogue in the story. The characters (especially the less than appealing suitors) are brought to life with fabulous ink illustrations by Jules Feiffer.
Theater, by David Mamet
Forget everything you ever heard about theater from the likes of Stanislavski, Adler or Strasburg! American playwright David Mamet presents a simpler acting system in Theater. Mamet admits his philosophy can be considered "heretical", but he believes all you need is a playwright and the actor(s) to engage the audience - which is the whole purpose of the play. He writes that the Director just gets in the way. Once the Director sets the blocking, he should let the actors perform using their own interpretation. Surprisingly, Mamet gets political, talking about Totalitarian Theater (State-sponsored Theater used to indoctrinate the public) versus Free-Market Theater, which he calls "true" theater. Since the State pays for theater in a Totalitarian regime, it uses the media to reinforce propaganda and exercise thought control. Free-market theater is paid for by the audience and is truly free speech. Mamet also warns about using a very ornate set that might draw the audience's attention from the play text. He feels that the Director does not need to interpret the script, or tell actors how to think and act. Good actors know the best way to perform the scene. He makes a strong case for no Director. I must admit, I was very skeptical at first, but Mamet makes a lot of sense. Whether you're an actor or part of the audience, I recommend this book highly because it will really open your eyes - whether you're an expert or not. It's sometimes technical, but it's well worth the effort.
The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry
At the same time the four Willoughby children are plotting to become orphans, their parents are planning how to get rid of them! Find out if this hilarious parody of children's literature will have a happy ending.