Sunday, January 1, 2023

Book Club Book Review

I thought it might be a fun exercise to look back at the books the book club I belong to read this past year. We don’t plan the year out in advance; instead the process is more organic and subject to the whim of whomever is hosting next. Below is a summary of each book, but here are some stats to pique your curiosity.

Of the 11 books we read this year,

-          9 of them are already movies or TV series (or are in the works). That is a very strong majority!

-          3 took place today, one took place in the 17th century, one 1905-24, one in the 1940s, one in the 1960s, three in the 1980s, and one was fantasy so no time period.

-          Locations included California, New York, Maine, Rhode Island, Romania, Norway, Sweden, and England


Of the 11 books, I did not read three (The Mercies, The House in the Cerulean Sea, I Must Betray You). I normally pride myself on reading all of the books assigned, but this was a humdinger of a year.


The books that I particularly enjoyed and would recommend to just about anybody are:

-          The Rose Code. I love a good book with a great story that also actually really happened. This book had three very well-developed main characters that opened a window to what it was like in England during the war.

-          Lessons in Chemistry. A reminder of how different things were not that long ago, also with interesting and appealing characters.

-          The Personal Librarian. Another book based on a true story (who knew?) giving us a taste of racial relations a hundred years ago.


I would love anybody’s input on their favorite book club reads and why.  Enjoy mine!

Tiny Beautiful Things Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of essays compiled from Cheryl Strayed's "Dear Sugar" advice column, which she wrote anonymously, over a period of time.

Olive Again Olive Again is a novel by Elizabeth Strout and is a sequel to Olive Kitteridge. The author tells the story of Olive, her family, and little community of Crosby, Maine.

I Must Betray You Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania.

The Mercies A tale of a 17th century Norwegian fishing village devastated by a storm that swallows husbands, brothers and fathers, leaving the women to survive alone.

Anxious People A comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

In Five Years A love story about Dannie Kohan, a high-powered corporate lawyer who has everything planned out. The story opens on the day she interviews for her dream job, nails it, and gets engaged to her longtime boyfriend—all according to her five-year plan. But she gets a glimpse of what her life will be like in 5 years and cannot reconcile her plan vs reality.

The Rose Code A beautiful blue-blooded debutante, a tart-tongued London shop-girl, and a shy crossword-solving spinster join the war against Nazi Germany as codebreakers of Bletchley Park, only to find that the real puzzle lies inside the Park itself as a traitor sets them against each other in a betrayal reaching past the end of the war.

The Marriage Plot The Marriage Plot follows the life of Madeleine Hanna, a literature student at Brown University in the 1980s, as she faces the trials and tribulations of her relationship with her boyfriend Leonard Bankhead, who suffers from manic-depression, as well as her close “friendship” with another student, Mitchell Grammaticus.

Lessons in Chemistry Lessons in Chemistry follows a single mother Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist in a man's world—1960s America—as she becomes an unlikely cooking-show host and the role model her daughter deserves.

The House in the Cerulean Sea A love story about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place―and realizing that family is yours.

The Personal Librarian A novel about J. P. Morgan's personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who hid her true identity and passed as a white woman.

Thanks for reading!



Saturday, December 31, 2022

So Long. Please Write.

Here we are.  December 31st.  End of another year.  And what a year it was.

Some huge changes -- both good and bad -- in our lives.

Tomorrow will be the last day of our annual family Holidailies blog.  It is a fun tradition that we've been doing for 11 years.  It's fun for me to go back and read some older entries.  To see what my family members were thinking and writing about at the time.  I'm proud of us that we've kept this up, even in years when it wasn't so easy to produce a new blog entry every day for the month of December.

This got me thinking about writing generally.  I've been writing "for fun" ever since elementary school.  The year before the pandemic, I arranged a lunch with a pair of my elementary school teachers.  One of them, who is no longer with us, was my teacher for both 3rd and 5th grades.  When we had lunch, she actually brought a short story I had written either in 3rd or 5th grade.  She saved it all of these years.  I couldn't believe it.

I've written for several literary publications throughout high school and college.  I majored in Communications with a "Publishing" concentration which had me writing plenty.  In law school, I even wrote my way onto the Law Review.

I've penned poems, short stories and even songs (including the song we danced our first dance to at our wedding).  I've written five full length screenplays -- one of which got optioned but never produced.  I've contributed 100+ blog entries to this and another blog.  I've even written about two thirds of a novel that I think isn't half bad.  Now if I can only find the time to finish it.

Professionally, I've worked in advertising and as a lawyer -- both very communication-heavy careers.

Writing is both easy for me and excruciatingly hard.  But, as my friends and family will gladly tell you, I'm rarely at a loss for words.

Can't wait to see what I produce in 2023.

As always, thanks for reading!


Friday, December 30, 2022

A Brief Reflection On 2022

Usually I use this blog to be a silly goose so I figured why not use my last entry to be ~vulnerable~. Yes, the “V” word. 

2022 was an eventful and overall good year for me. I made a number of life changes, including but not limited to moving across the country and out of my childhood home. 

I made significant steps forward with my career; I acquired representation (a manager and an agent) and I finally feel like I’m in a community of other people pursuing the same thing as me. 

And lastly, I feel that I became closer with my friends and family.


I think that my favorite part about this year is that it felt long and eventful. So much happened and it’s the first year in a while that I haven’t felt like life was breezing by. 2020 and 2021 were both a blur for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on! 

Sound off in the comments why you think those years went by quickly and were uneventful. 

And thanks for reading!


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Christmas Carol Spin-offs

May be some movie spoilers in here, fair warning. 

On Christmas Day, my family and I often like to watch either a new movie or a Christmas movie. This year we did both: we watched Spirited starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds. It was a funny holiday musical about a company that changes one Scrooge-like person a year, reflecting the original Dickens story. In this case, Will Ferrell plays the original Scrooge, who decades later is now the Ghost of Christmas Present. He tried to save the young, supposedly unredeemable man played by Ryan Reynolds, and they bond during this experience.

It was a fun movie and we all enjoyed it. But the real story here was later that evening, we were chilling reading our respective books, when I’d finished the one I was reading so I decided to go upstairs and look for something else to read before I could go buy the sequel the next day.

I picked up this book from my shelf that was new that I’d never read. I was pretty sure my parents had gotten it for me last Christmas, but I never got around to reading it. The book is called “The Afterlife of Holly Chase”. Reading the inside cover, I felt like I was having deja-vu. The description said it was about a spoiled 17 year old girl, who was the chosen Scrooge of a company called Project Scrooge that tried to change one person each year for the better. She failed to change and then died a few days later, and was placed in the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past. The company picks a new Scrooge five years later, who happens to be a handsome young man, and the girl and the Scrooge bond.

I’ve since almost finished the book, but I was just struck by the similarities of the concepts of this book and movie. They’re both ultimately quite different plots and the details are all individual, but to me I was pleased to find something similar to the mood that the movie had just put me in. I’d recommend both of them.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

What Is The Meaning Of Christmas?

Christmas means different things to different people. I think the overarching meaning is to try to have an open and loving heart, displayed with acts of kindness to those you know, don’t know well, or don’t know at all even if only this one time of year. This spirit transcends religions and beliefs, and is definitely contagious.

Who really knows which origin story is accurate? Did it all start with St Nicholas? Or the Coca-Cola ads from like a 100 years ago? Frankly, who really cares. It’s here now and has to be contended with each year.

For many, it is such a desirable time of year that they try to extend the life of the season; I know people who will put up their trees the day after Halloween. Yes, you read that right. Sadly, I knew somebody who was very ill and knew she was not going to make it to her next Christmas so she chose to celebrate Christmas in July. It was that important to her.

For me, Christmas is spending time with loved ones, reaching out to those I don’t connect with often, reliving fun family traditions, re-energizing with a break in the grind, and those special little surprises that I didn’t expect.

Ok, so you thought this was going to be a run-of-the-mill essay about the holiday. Nope. For those of you who have read this far, prepare to be rewarded. I asked the Chatbot that has been in the news to write an essay answering the same question. The Chatbot is supposed to be able to do my work for me. You can see my answer above; you can see three versions of its answer below. In this case, I think I as a human writer did a better job. Nonetheless, the bot wasn’t horrible. Crazy times we live in! (For those who want to play, the address is

Tell me the meaning of Christmas

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. It is a time for families and friends to come together and exchange gifts, enjoy festive meals, and celebrate the holiday season.

Tell me the modern day meaning of Christmas

Christmas is a time of celebration and joy, where people come together to exchange gifts, enjoy festive meals, and spend time with family and friends. It is a time to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and to reflect on the meaning of the season.

What is the meaning of Christmas?

Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time of joy, giving, and family gatherings. It is also a time to remember and reflect on the true meaning of the season, which is to celebrate the love of God and the gift of His son, Jesus Christ.

Thanks for reading!



Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Frosty's Review of "A Beautiful Noise"

My family and I saw the show "A Beautiful Noise" on Broadway tonight.  It is basically a musical telling of the story of Neil Diamond's life using his music. We enjoyed the show a lot.  The performances were very strong and the ensemble was used very well throughout the show.  Will Swenson, as the younger Neil Diamond definitely stood out.  His performance is such a spot on imitation of Neil Diamond that I wonder if they would ever be able to find a replacement if Will Swenson leaves the show before it closes.

There were several key takeaways for me personally that I thought were worth sharing:

First, it became apparent to me watching the show that there is a lot of Neil Diamond's music that I DON'T know.  Surprising, right?  The guy had 39 songs that hit number one on the charts.  There were plenty of songs that I did know, of course, including several that I more closely associate with the artists that originally recorded them than I do Neil Diamond.  I looked it up and Sweet Caroline was released when I was only 3 years old.  That song I know but there were many others performed throughout the show that I was unfamiliar with.

Second, I didn't know that Neil Diamond suffered from depression.  In fact, the framing device for the musical is sessions between Diamond and his therapist.  Apparently he has dealt with the "dark clouds" since his childhood.  Who knew?

Speaking of "who knew?", I also learned (courtesy of a letter from Neil Diamond in the Playbill) that he retired from performing due to a 2018 diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease.  Maybe more diehard Neil Diamond fans in the crowd were aware of this but I sure wasn't.

The show is a colorful, interesting telling of an interesting life filled with some/lots of music you will recognize depending on your level of Neil Diamond fandom.  If you are in New York while it is playing (and you have already seen Some Like It Hot which was definitely superior), I would recommend it.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, December 26, 2022

A Comprehensive Ranking of my Family Members

When I don’t know what to write for the day I often default to a ranking, usually of my favorite books, shows, and movies. Today, I give you a comprehensive ranking of my (nuclear) family members.

#1 My mom. Does a lot for the family, very giving and kind.


Also #1 My dad. Nice man, loves his family. Does a lot for them.


Also #1 My sister. Silly goose, brings good vibes to the house. 


#2 Our dog, Mickey. Not alive, been dead a long time actually. I’d give her bonus points for being completely silent for the last 12 years, but I did used to have to clean up her poop, so minus a bunch of points for that.


#3 My brother. Not real, don’t have one.


#4 The turtles that we used to have. They pooped a lot as well. Haven’t seen the three number ones poop ever; that’s the main reason they’re number one. 

Thanks for reading!