Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A New Site For Satisfying My Curiosity

I finally took the plunge and am now a .com-er.  Satisfying My Curiosity has moved to www.satisfyingmycuriosity.com.  You'll still get the great articles you are used to (book reviews, music reviews, travel articles, cultural commentary, etc) but you will also get snippets about things that have piqued my curiosity throughout the week.  So bookmark the page, become a follower, pin an article, share on Face Book, tweet the link, like on Google + and comment.  I hope you will find the new format pleasing to the eye.  And I hope that when you read the content it will enlighten you, challenge you, surprise you, make you laugh or, perhaps, all of these things.


Satisfying My Curiosity's staff of one

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Children's Books You May Want to Re-read...You Might Learn a Few Things

I just found an article in Business Insider about adults re-reading books they read as children.  As kids, our understanding of the world was very superficial.  We read primarily for the story.  As adults, we can now read these books and better understand the depth and the nuances written into these great books. You may find that you would like to introduce them to your kids, grand kids and great grand kids. I grew up in a small town, 900 people, and honestly, I don't remember reading anything until I went to school.  Famous books in the fifties included books by Dr. Seuss, Charlotte's Web, Pippi Longstocking and The Chronicles of Narnia. I guess I was out climbing hay bails or something.  Business Insider and The New York Public Library put out a list of 23 books.  I'll not bore you with the entire list.  If you wish to see it, please go to: http://www.businessinsider.com/kids-books-adults-should-read-2014-2?op=1

Here are ten with a short description of each.   I'm going to try and read them all.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst:  Illustrated by Ray Cruz, this book tells kids that even after the worst day imaginable, tomorrow will be better-a lesson even adults need to remind themselves of once in a while. Being made into a movie. "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst

All-of-a-Kind-Family by Sydney Taylor:  Starring five young sisters in early 20th century New York City, young and old readers alike will learn about classic Jewish traditions as well as some interesting New York history.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett:  Who isn't enchanted by a story of food raining from the sky?  Cloudy is a magical tale that requires a little suspended disbelief, and a darker sense of humor. "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" by Judi Barrett

The Giver by Lois Lowry:  Before The Hunger Games and Divergent, The Giver was a very young adult's introduction into the world of dystopian fiction novels.  It follows Jonas, a 12 year old boy chosen to receive all of the world's memories, both good and bad, to take the burden off of his community from having to know them.

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson: Sometimes it feels like characters in children's books are too likable, but not Gilly Hopkins in Paterson's short novel.  Bouncing from foster home to foster home has given her a mean spirit, but she's also sympathetic.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh:  Already a bit of an outsider, after Harriet's spy notebook gets into the hands of her classmates-who she's been bashing on the pages for months-they decide to make her life hell by humiliating and excluding her at school. "Harriet the Spy" by Louise Fitzhugh

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen:  The gripping tale of 13 year old Brian lost in the back country of Canada with nothing but a small ax, Hatchet details the skills Brian learns in order to survive.

The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone:  With the colorful, fourth wall-breaking illustrations by Mike Smollin, the book also has a surprisingly powerful theme: that we shouldn't be afraid of things before we understand them, as they may not be so terrifying after all.  There is an app for this book on smart phones with additional activities for kids (or adults) to enjoy.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith:  The authors spin off the classic runaway food tale of The Gingerbread Man with a snarky, humorous twist in The Stinky Cheese Man.  It may be the first time kids are exposed to this type of parodying sense of humor. "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales" by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle:  This novel has a unique mix of magic and science in the story about Meg, a girl whose scientist father mysteriously disappears.  With the help of her genius brother and classmate, she embarks on a quest to find out what happened, and meets some puzzling characters along the way.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: Jack London, An American Life

Over the years I've read snippets about the life of Jack London.  Everything I read led me to believe he had been an interesting man.  So when a new biography came out, Jack London: An American Life written by Earle Labor, I had enough interest to buy it.  I am very happy that I did.  The life that Jack London lived was an amazing one.  Amazing because he packed so much adventure, so much love for writing, so much love for animals, so much love for his wife into such a short life.  He was born in 1876 and died at the age of 40 in 1916.  What a life.  This may sound like hyperbole but what a man.  From the beginning,  London longed to succeed.  He had a lot going for him physically.  He was handsome, he was strong from all of the hard labor he did and even though he was shy, he never allowed himself to be bullied.  For him, to lose was not acceptable. He was not afraid to break the law in order to survive.  But during the time he was growing up, in order to survive, you did what you  had to do. Many of the situations he found himself in were places where human cruelty was the norm. By the age of 22 he had worked as a child laborer in a factory,  he was a professional oyster pirate, served time in prison for something he didn't do, ridden the rails as a hobo, worked as a sailor on a seal hunting schooner bound for Japan , marched as a soldier in an army of the unemployed for the betterment of the working man, and searched for gold in the Klondike.  He also became an alcoholic. Front Cover

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Women of a Certain Age Drool Over Sting and Sing Along With Paul Simon

My sister had sent me a YouTube clip of Robert Downey Jr. singing along with Sting. I didn't know Downey could sing. But my focus was on Sting. I looked at that video and asked myself how could I possibly be a woman of a certain age and not have seen Sting in concert. Sting? How about The Police? I'm into this "why not" phase of my life. So I called my sister, who is always ready for some excitement, and said, hey, guess what sis? Sting is doing a series of concerts with Paul Simon and opening night is in your city, which was Houston. Book'em Danno! Now the seats were not inexpensive because we WERE seeing two legends. Off to the concert we go. I had told my sister that after seeing the marathon concerts with Billy Joel and Elton John that the concert probably would last a while. It did. 2 hours and 45 minutes. They could have kept on keeping on. They have an accumulated music history of almost 90 years. Since this was opening night, you could tell they were still working on timing and vocals. Plus putting their two bands together, 15 musicians in all, must have been a fun undertaking. The band included Paul's horn and percussion sections and Sting's great group of guitarists and backup singers. There were definitely times when these musicians were the stars on the stage. Paul Simon and Sting kicked off their 'On Stage Together' tour at the Toyota Center on February 8, 2014 in Houston, Texas.

Sting is 62 and you can tell that Tantric yoga works well for him. He had on a grey long, sleeve tee shirt with a silver jacket. When he took the jacket off in his first full set, well, the ladies in the audience let out an audible sigh. The tee shirt looked like it had been painted on. He may now clip his hair short but none of us cared. His voice is as strong and powerful as ever. He didn't jump around the stage but did do some reggae moves which the audience, meaning women, appreciated. On the other hand, Paul is pushing 75. As with most aging singers, his range is getting very limited. His band would start a song, one that most of us have heard tons of times, but couldn't recognize because the key was so much lower. I mean how can you not know Me and Julio Down by the School Yard? At first, the rendition they performed was not recognizable. The fact is it didn't matter. Paul was engaging with the audience and genuinely seemed to be having a great time. Plus Paul is a true poet. Some of the best lyrics in music have been penned by him. What we liked was Sting would sing a Simon song, like Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a cappella I might add, and then Paul would sing Every Breath You Take, and then they'd sing together. Awesome. It sure brought back those days of slow dancing and first loves. Ahhhh, those were the days.

Of course the crowd was older but there were many 30 somethings and 40 somethings there. I would surmise more for Sting than Paul. In a way they are both losing their fan base to an audience that listens to Eminem and Macklemore. The baby boomers, their bread and butter, are moving on, so to speak. To exemplify this theory of lost fan base, here is an anecdote: While waiting on the phone with a customer service rep, I said I was going to go see Sting in concert. She asked, who? I started to sing Roxanne, and she said, OK, I got it. I don't think she did. My sister and I were compelled to see this show not only to see these musical icons but also before we get to that stage when we ask, Sting who?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Reviews on Three Books for Chicks

Sorry guys but this review is geared toward the ladies.  And ladies when I say "chick lit",  I'm not talking 50 Shades of Grey chick lit.  I'm simply going to review three books about women and their relationships with men.  The first is by the popular author of The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan.  Her books are always about the troubling relationships between daughters and mothers ...and men.  Her latest, The Valley of Amazement, is no different.  This time it's about an American girl living during the early 1900's who travels from San Francisco to Shanghai and then becomes the most popular madam of the most popular "courtesan" house in that jaded city.  Lulu Mimi, as she is known, has a daughter that she names Violet.  And Violet turns into one very precocious child.  She has a ferocious pet cat that terrorizes everyone and she surreptitiously watches as the courtesans ply their trade with both Western and Eastern clients. Of course this being a Tan book, the plot twists and turns, Lulu Mimi is tricked into leaving Violet behind while Lulu Mimi intends for both of them to go to San Francisco, and that is when the story of Violet takes over.   Read more...