Gr8chefmb's Blog

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Ghost Rider – Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart June 28, 2010

In honour of an award-winning documentary having been released as well as a celebration of their nearly 40 years of seriously, awesomely cool music, I recommend this book to everyone. Written by the talented drummer/lyricist of legendary Canadian rock band RUSH, Neil Peart underwent a series of unspeakable tragedies-the loss of his daughter in a tragic car accident and then the death of his wife due to cancer and a broken heart almost a year later. He was left to contemplate whether or not he was interested in continuing to live, and if so, what that life would be like. I cannot even begin to imagine trying to come back from something like that, but Mr. Peart did find a way. Due to circumstances, the band was on a five-year hiatus. This memoir details those tragedies as well the way he found to cope. He hopped on his trusty BMW motorcycle and traveled over 55,000 miles from Quebec to Alaska to the Antarctic Circle down through the western parts of Canada and the United States into Mexico and further down into Central America. During his travels, he slowly came back to humanity and eventually found the photographer who was to become his second wife. He did return to continue his work with RUSH bandmates Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, releasing ‘Vapor Trails’ which featured several songs about his sojourn. The band returned to the road and ended that tour with three amazingly successful dates in Brazil, including one show performed for the largest audience ever in the band’s history.

Even if you don’t love this band and their music, you will love this book. Mr. Peart’s writing style is somewhat wry, but it is extremely descriptive and full of humour. As private a person as he is, he lets the reader into his psyche as he stuggles to cope with the events of his life. That storyline alone will touch the reader to the core. This book will also appeal to armchair travellers as well as motorcycle enthusiasts all over. Mr. Peart also has an insatiable interest in the world around him and constantly reads. He also recommends various books throughout this narrative-sort of like a book review within a book review. A plus is that he includes lyrics he has written and the band has recorded, some of which seem extremely applicable to his life even though they were written well before the tragedies. If you are a fan of this band, it is almost like a playlist in your head as you read the lyrical snippets. He also indirectly gives clues for areas to visit that are off the beaten track.

No one could ever completely get over the pain of losing one loved one, let alone two. However, he has managed to find a way to survive and even thrive. He and his new wife celebrated the birth of their daughter in August 2009. The band continues to record and tour. Neil, Alex and Geddy have continued to be honored and their strong friendship is evident in everything they do together. The life-affirming outcome alone is so worth reading this book.


For the love of the game… March 22, 2010

For as long as I can remember, I have loved baseball. I don’t know why, really. I have no athletic ability whatsoever…LOL! I have that same feeling that is displayed so ably and touchingly by Kevin Costner in his baseball trilogy of movies [Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For the Love of the Game]. I guess there is something satisfying in hearing the crack of bat against ball and racing against time (and opponents) to score. I love watching games on TV and/or listening to them on the radio, but I am happiest when I can attend games in person. I love the sights, smells and sounds of the ballpark. When I can’t attend in person or watch on TV, I listen to the games via that most blessed tool, the internet. It gives me a sense of history to listen to games and imagine the action on the field, much as I suspect fans did before the advent of television.

I have been a fan of the Texas Rangers since they moved to Texas after being the Washington Senators for such a long time. I have memories of old players from the 1970s and 1980s, such as Gaylord Perry and Nolan Ryan. My appreciation grew even more in the 1990s and on to today. I have cheered when they have won, especially when they had some awesome seasons. I have cried when they came up short, as they so often have. I still entertain the hope and the wish that they will make it to the World Series and win it.

I love reading about the history of the game and players’ biographies. I absolutely LOVED Ken Burns’ miniseries documentary. In fact, his documentary led to some of my favorite authors and sports writers as well as introducing me to old-school players of which I was not aware, such Buck O’Neill and so many others. Currently, I am finishing reading for a second time ‘The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship’ by David Halberstam. This was a great read and I would recommend it to anyone. I also thoroughly enjoyed Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir, ‘Wait Till Next Year,’ of growing up in the 1950s and rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers in their quest to finally win the pennant (which they did in 1955 and then moved to Los Angeles).

The spring training is almost over and the regular season will start. As always, I am hoping that the Texas Rangers will have their ‘next year’ THIS year. We’ll see… I will be cheering for them and hoping against hope. 🙂