Gr8chefmb's Blog

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Wait Til Next Year! October 19, 2010

One of my favourite books is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir Wait Til Next Year. She talks about growing up in the 50s and 60s as a Catholic girl rooting for the perpetual underdog Brooklyn Dodgers. I discovered Ms. Goodwin while watching Ken Burns’ epic Baseball miniseries, as well as other baseball writers. I was excited when Ms. Goodwin published her memoir for two reasons. I love reading biographies and I love reading about history. This one book hit both of these points, and I could kind of sort of relate, having been born and raised Catholic.

It was interesting reading about the trials and tribulations of the Brooklyn Dodgers, especially agains the backstory of the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. I could so relate to the author’s feelings about the Brooklyn Dodgers because I have felt the exact same way about my beloved Texas Rangers. Every year, when the Dodgers failed to win playoffs, let alone the World Series, the rallying cry was ‘Wait until next year!’

I have been a lifelong fan of the Texas Rangers, even when I was really too young to understand the game. I have stood by them in good times and bad; commiserated with other fans over bad pitching staffs and silent bats; and gotten disgusted with bad signings (Chan Ho Park comes to mind!). Every year, I anticipate the start of the new season in the hopes that this will be our year, only to be disappointed again. My hopes were raised in 1996 when the Rangers reached the playoffs for the first time only to fall out of the first round. My own personal rallying cry has been ‘Wait until next year!’

The playoffs this year have been amazing, nail-bitingly close, and mind-blowing. I really hope and pray it continues for the Rangers all the way to end with them winning the pennant. This could be our ‘netxt year.’ Go Rangers!

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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.