Read and Review: Ambling into History, by Frank Bruni.

Posted January 23, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Read and Review

Tags: , , , , , ,

I know you are not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I did. When I first saw this book, I knew that I wanted to read it. I love the picture of Pres. Bush on this book. The picture and title perfectly captures the laid-back, down-to-earth attitude of our 43rd president.

122010__ambling_lI finished this book yesterday, and I think I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t super fantastic. Frank Bruni was a journalist that followed the Bush campaign around during the elections of 2000. I enjoyed seeing Bush act and behave as a human being: Bruni portrays him as being funny (often at inappropriate times), a prankster (also at often at inappropriate times) and at times showing great depth and intelligence. The big question Bruni asks in this book is: how can a man who thinks “misunderestimate” is a word be a good leader of the most powerful nation in the world? Will he take the presidency seriously? In the end, (at least from this books perspective of shortly after September 11th) Bruni thinks that this guy might just have a chance.

At times, I felt like Bruni was maybe a little too harsh in constantly pointing out Bush’s flaws as a presidential candidate. Although, the point of the book was to show how this fellow, the most unlikeliest presidential candidate that has been seen in quite some time, attempted to transform himself and play politics.

Bruni was fair in his observations and criticisms, though, as he also poked fun and pointed out flaws in the other candidates, and even himself and the other journalists.

The book itself seems to amble around in the telling of the story, but for me that was part of the enjoyment. My favorite sections are the chapters in which Bruni relates the hardships of the journalists being on the campaign trail. (See my Teaser Tuesday quote about smoking next to jet fuel 🙂 The mental image he portrays about these sleep and shower depraved guys cramming into a hotel room to watch “Sex and the City”.

This book was published back in 2002, during a time when Bush’s approval rating was riding high. I wonder how different the book would have been written if it were published today? This book and the current public opinion of Bush makes me wonder will there ever be a book written that portrays him in a positive light? There might be, but it may not be any time soon. Now that the door is closed on his presidency, the benefit of history and forgetfulness might be on his side. Only time will tell. In the mean time, I would recommend this book. It isn’t too critical of Bush, but nor is it too worshipful of him. I think Bruni tries hard (and for the most part succeeds) to present a fair and balanced view of him and everyone involved in the election mess of 2000.


Teaser Tuesdays: The Presidential Edition

Posted January 20, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Teaser Tuesdays

Today’s teaser is from the book “Ambling into History: the unlikely odyssey of George W. Bush by Frank Bruni. I thought I would read something presidential since the inauguration is this week.

In this chapter Bruni is writing about the hardships of following a candidate on the campaign trail. In this passage he is covering smoking. Here it is:

“On three occasions, several of us lit up only a few yards from the campaign plane — we had just been in the air, and deprived, for two or three hours — and were threatened by airport officials with $10,000 penalites. It was apparently not a good idea to strike matches or play with any kind of fire on a tarmac, around all that jet fuel. Who knew?” — Ambling into History, by Frank Bruni, page 192.

This book has been very funny. Bruni has a great sense of humor and it is making this book a great read. The book is primarily about the 2000 presidential elections told from the point of view of a reporter following President Bush (then governor Bush) around during the election. I can’t wait to finish it!

Faith ‘n Fiction: Good Morning, Mr. President!

Posted January 17, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Faith 'n Fiction

Amy who hosts Faith ‘n Fiction has asked a great question this week: who is your favorite fictional president, and who is your least favorite fictional president.

There have been so many good presidents on movies and tv. My absolute favorite has to be Harrison Ford’s Pr. James Marshall in the movie “Air Force One”. As unlikely as the movie would be in real life, I loved the idea of a president taking action, it was a great movie! I also really liked President Palmer in 24.

My least favorite? Pr. Charles Logan from “24”. The guy was creepy, and totally crossed the line of acting in the best interest of the American people. Plus, it was just a really good season of “24”.

My final conclusion? Jack Bauer for President!

Does anyone know any good books about fictional presidents? I don’t think I’ve actually read any.

Booking through Thursday: La-la-LA!!!!

Posted January 15, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Booking through Thursday

This weeks Booking through Thursday questions is:

“If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.

So, today’s question?

  • What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
  • Why?
  • And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them? “

That’s a great question. I love to read, but it’s nice to remember that there are other ways to tell stories, such as poetry or music. There are some songs that I absolutely love, and the story they tell can be fun or moving, romantic or sad, depressing or HAPPY HAPPY!!!

I usually prefer older music, such as classical works or opera, but there is a variety of new songs that I like to. Usually my wife is the one to find them and then she plays it for me. I have no idea where she finds these songs at, but she is trying to make sure that I can have at least some idea about what’s popular out there. She is doing her best to make me not look like the nerd I am.

My absolutely favorite song is one that very few of you have heard. I call it “All My Love”, and my wife wrote it for me when we got married. I didn’t know she was going to sing a song during our ceremony. We had had rehearsal even, and I was struggling to remember what I was supposed to be doing during the ceremony, and then suddenly, everything was different! She pulls out a microphone and starts singing a song she had written, and our friend Jonathan played it on the guitar (He’s the most brilliant guitarist I’ve ever heard). It was beautiful, well-written, and I compare all other love songs to that one.

My wife is beautiful and creative. Her creativity is one of the things that first attracted my attention to her (and, no one can make me laugh like she can! And she can make a mean cup of coffee!) I currently have the song on my MP3 player even. I love it. The song tells about her disbelief that she could end up with a great guy like me (Ha ha, the poor thing), and the wonder of discovering what true love really is. I know I am coming from a slightly prejudiced point of view here, but I really think that that song could be a hit song if someone famous sang it (well, someone famous who was also a good singer). My wife is a very talented writer and poet, and that song was the

This was a good question. It is bringing to mind all the reasons why I love my sweetheart! And after 8.5 years of marriage, that is a good thing. There is a line in that song that says “As endless as the stars above, may our love always be”. I love that line, every time I hear it my heart thrills. I am happy to say that I do get to spend the rest of my life, and all of eternity, with my best friend.

Read and Review: The Night Trilogy

Posted January 14, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Read and Review

Tags: , , , , ,

base_media2     I finished “The Night Trilogy” by Elie Wiesel. It consists of the books “Night”, “Dawn”, and “Day” (previously called, The Accident.) In the first book, Night,the author relates his real-life experiences during the Holocaust and his time spent in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. It is a masterpiece of tragic, holocaust literature. It was also one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read, but that was no fault of the author. Wiesel wrote his heart out. He, very simply and efficiently, wrote what he experienced in the concentration camps. This book has left me speechless. There is just nothing I can say other than: you must read it. And learn from it.

     The second book in the trilogy, Dawn, is a novel. That story is fiction, though Wiesel said in some sense the main character is him, or what he might have become if circumstances in his life had been different after he was released from the Nazi death camps. The story is about a young man named Elisha who joins a Jewish underground movement and is ordered to execute a British soldier at dawn. The story is brief and poignant, as he struggles with this decision, debates whether he will do it or not. That one question, will he do it or won’t he?, kept me turning the pages to the very end. (It was 87 pages long.) If you want that question answered, you will have to read it for yourself.

     I was hoping that Day   would be a little more cheerful, or at least have a happy ending, or a hopeful ending. (It didn’t, really). This was my least favorite book of the three, but it still challenged my thinking. In it, Wiesel explores the question, “How can a person be expected to forget a tragedy of this magnitude (WWII) and go on to lead a normal life, to love, and believe in God?” I learned much in this book about Holocaust survivors, however. For the most part, I learn what I know about WWII from watching movies, reading books, and taking history classes. Primarily, these 3 sources of information deal with what happened during the war, which is important. Day helped me see the effects on Holocaust survivors after the war was over: the emotional damage, the despair they still live with, their loss of faith in God  and their belief that He is good and kind. Wiesel seems very bitter towards God, and it is very evident in his writing. His exploring of his own emotional damage was the most enlightening to me. People in the book kept telling him to forget what happened, to live and to love. You can almost feel his anguish and despair as he knows that he can’t.

These books are very brutal and real. Wiesel’s writing style is simple and efficient. If you are a quick reader, then it won’t take you more than a few days to read all three. But I will warn you, they will leave you feeling very grieved about the tragedies that took place during WWII, and it makes me wonder how many more such tragedies are going on even today that no one knows about? In his introduction to the book, Wiesel says that he writes these things in order that the dead might always have a voice, and to deny the enemy the final victory: the world forgetting what happened during one of the darkest time periods in our history. May we never forget!

Sneak Peak Tuesday!

Posted January 13, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: General

Since a couple of you asked, I will go ahead and post the rest of the paragraph of my Teaser Tuesday post. Elisha, the character in the book, is recalling his first assignment/attack as a part of a Jewish underground resistance movement against the British shortly after WWII is over. Elie Wiesel writes in “Dawn”

“I saw the legs running like frightened rabbits and I found myself utterly hateful. I remembered the dreaded SS guards in the Polish ghettos. Day after day, night after night, they slaughtered the Jews in just the same way. Tommy guns were scattered here and there, and an officer, laughing or distractedly eating, barked out the order: Fire! Then the scythe went to work. A few Jews tried to break through the circle of fire, but they only rammed their heads against its insurmountable wall. They too ran like rabbits, like rabbits sotted with wine and sorrow, and death mowed them down” (p. 165)

I reviewed Dawn briefly in a previous blog. I am moved by the imagery in this passage. The character Elisha often questions his motives about fighting for his freedom. He wonders if he is now any better than the Nazi’s were. At one point in the book he sees himself in a vision wearing an SS uniform. Powerful stuff, and will cause you to rethink issues.

Now, I think I need to read something funny and light-hearted. 🙂

Teaser Tuesdays: “The Night Trilogy” by Elie Wiesel

Posted January 13, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Teaser Tuesdays

Thanks to MizB at Should be Reading for hosting Teaser Tuesday! Here’s mine:

“I saw the legs running like frightened rabbits and I found myself utterly hateful. I remembered the dreaded SS guards in the Polish ghettos.” From: The Night Trilogy: Dawn, by Elie Wiesel, page 165.

Oh, if only I could post the rest of that paragraph! What a heartbreaking, and thought-provoking paragraph it is.