Reviews of Self Help Books I’ve Owned For Several Years But Have Still Never Read

Meditation for Dummies, 2nd Edition by Stephan Bodian

There you were at a Borders going out of business sale. You hadn’t been ripped to shreds. You still had your bonus audio CD included. I bought you with Acrylic Painting for Dummies and got a $10 rebate. Someday I will read you and listen to your CD and find true balance and renewed sense of peace. Or you’ll go out into next year’s garage sale. Good job, Lauren!

 

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here by Paula Begoun

I think I already have all the tools to have the Best Skin of My Life: mild depression and a vitamin D deficiency that makes me really sleepy all the time! But I suppose that someday I’ll crack the cover of your book and probably find out I’ve been doing skin care all wrong. I’ll wake up looking like a forgotten block of cheese in the bottom of a fridge drawer. But I’ll never know I’m wrong if I never open the book! Good job, Lauren!

 

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

First I joined your email list in hopes that I could become motivated with my writing. You talked, much like Stephen King does in On Writing, about just committing to it. Like a job. Like your life depends on it. But here your book sits, untouched and unread. Like 90% of your emails from your mailing list, left to languish in my inbox like a friend you just can’t seem to make lunch plans with. “Ugh, gosh, shoot… Sorry, I just found out I’m working remotely… from Guam. Forever. And they banned lunch there. And reading.” I do like the semi-crumpled paper airplane on the front. I can identify with it. Good job, Lauren?

 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

A successful artist friend recommended this book to me and I rushed out to buy it, insisting to myself I would read it! I would be motivated! Anything was possible!

Yup. Good job, Lauren.

 

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky

My therapist recommended you. You have zebras on the cover, pictures inside too… one picture has a monkey on it. A monkey! Who can say no to a cute little monkey and a book that discusses the management of stress related diseases THAT YOU KNOW YOU SUFFER FROM in an updated and revised edition of this self help classic?!

I can, apparently. GOOD JOB, LAUREN.

Another Great Show Just Ended: Person of Interest

If you’ve spoken to me in the last few years, you’ve probably heard me refer to “my show”. To be fair, there have been a couple “my shows”, but it’s pretty likely I was talking about Person of Interest.

Person of Interest is a show that might have started out like so many Law and Order/CSI/NCIS/NTSF:SD:SUV shows with a slightly more technological premise, but it turned out to be one of the best written, most rewarding, intelligent sci-fi series on TV today.

Yeah. Sci-fi, masquerading as a dramatic crime series. Who knew?

 

Well, to start off, J.J. Abrams knew, along with a great team of writers, producers, and actors… that were all unfortunately employed with CBS. I have to commend CBS for taking a chance on an ambitious series like this, but man did they do everything in their power to make it inaccessible by the means with which normal fans get hooked on shows like this. Their streaming options were (and are) miserable. The show itself didn’t end up on Netflix until Fall 2015, when the first three seasons were made available.

Okay, that was a little ranty and I digress, but it’s part of the reason the show concluded Tuesday night at the end of a truncated 5th season. They only had 13 episodes to wrap up a really ambitious premise.

I’ll give you the basics. A strong, silent ex-military type (Jim Caviezel) teams up with genius billionaire programmer (Michael Emerson) and save people (the titular person of interest) from certain death with the guidance of a big brother-esque supercomputer. But, dear reader, the show is so so so much more. Action, love, humor, more action, drama, and real honest to goodness character development that you hardly ever see on network television.

The people in this show aren’t just some throwaway archetypes from one of the generic crime shows I listed above. They’re written to be complex, with areas of grey in their history and emotions… just like you and I. Okay, yes, so they heal like Wolverine and have nearly perfect accuracy when shooting weapons, but those are minor cliches that are easily forgiven in the grand scheme of a show that evolves into something really meaningful.

The writers also clearly respect their audience. They make references that are pretty accurate to the actual way this technology would work. It’s no CSI: Cyber (also a CBS show), which is so trashy with its technological scare tactics that I’d argue that it’s existence is actually damaging to the collective technological competency of this country. But you know. Let’s renew a show that prompts for an article called, “Let’s Call Out CSI: Cyber’s Hilariously Absurd Technobabble.” That sounds great.

 

For the sci-fi nerds, I’ll give it to you straight. It was more satisfying than the end of Battlestar Galactica and Lost. Yeah. I said it. It’s impressive that when given 13 episodes they were able to wrap things up pretty well. The last season does feel rushed at times when compared to the usual pacing in the show. But it works. The last episode has rated 10/10 or been rated a letter grade of “A” at many TV review blogs.

There’s talk of it being resurrected for Netflix and I gotta tell you, it is an excellent candidate. The fan base cares about this show and “Team Machine” so deeply. I saw a change.org petition to try to save it from cancellation while I was researching this blog post. I mean, things got wrapped well, but you could have more stories for sure.

In conclusion, pretend we are close friends and I am grabbing you by the shoulders. I am shaking you now. I am telling you to watch Person of Interest. It is on Netflix.

The Pope Released a Rock Album.

The days when I post things I wrote for my school newspaper, it does feel a little like cheating. And I’m sorry for that. Maybe in the (holy) spirit of the subject of this article, I should repent in someway. …Ehh, I’m not going to do that. My schedule should calm down soon and I’ll have some time to get down some thoughts and really start writing again. Get you guys some new freshness. But I really did love this article. The nice thing about the internet is that I can share a sample of the album with you. Read, enjoy, and rock.

You may have heard a lot about Pope Francis lately. He’s kind of in right now! He recently visited the U.S., and with lots of audiences and photo ops, he has generally been catching everyone’s attention. He’s the star of a recent ad campaign by Twitter. The Pope has emojis. The Pope is trending. He has multiple hashtags. The Pope is cool. But what you may not know is that he’s cashed in on his “pope culture” moment and dropped an album. That’s right. The Pope has an album. I’ll give you a moment.

Pope Francis’ album, “Wake Up!” was released November 27. The album contains songs in several languages and though I must admit that I am no linguist, I have an appreciation for many diverse types of music and wanted to dive right in. It’s an album by the Pope, for God’s sake! That said, the album actually struggles for a few different reasons.

The songs themselves can be quite pretty, with catchy orchestration accompanied by many talented vocalists and choirs. What often distracts from that is His Holiness himself. The songs often drop out and the Pope’s Greatest Hits are overlaid on the track. Not any singing, just his words. Any enjoyment you might experience listening to the song is undercut by him interrupting. They’re mostly old recordings from him speaking in public places, so there’s feedback and echo. It’s grating. I do find it a very sweet move that these recordings often include the pontiff’s audience cheering or clapping. That’s legit. Include the crowd who cannot get enough of you on the album. Props.

I will say that I was surprised to hear prog rock blended in with the world music vibe. When I say prog rock, I mean bands like Rush and Pink Floyd. Heavy on the synthesizers, encouraging thoughts of our place in the universe – which I suppose is the sort of thing the Pope’s rock album should do.

Here’s the title track off the album – not as prog rock as some of the tracks, but there is some guitar riffs happening.