How often do you actually gasp with surprise anymore? Towards the end of Crazy, Stupid, Love, the many plot strands of this movie come together and there is a “reveal” that is truly unexpected.

 I applaud director Glenn Ficarra for adeptly weaving together so many relationships and wonderful performances, especially by Emma Stone. She and Ryan Gosling have a chemistry, rivaled only by that between Gosling and Steve Carell. When the last two have a falling-out, it’s almost more upsetting than the breakup of Carell and Julianne Moore. Gosling, as the epitomy of cool confidence, is a pleasure to watch. (There is a scene that will have you running to the library catalog to see if Dirty Dancing is on the shelf)

Go now, and have the time of your life-

Although Philosophy often intimidates me, I have to be honest, and say that I never have taken the Philosophers too seriously. This most likely stems from my Introduction to Philosophy course in college where my professor spoke constantly of driving his Porsche, ended every sentence with “and I have written a paper about that so see me after class if you would like a copy…” and did not appreciate my brilliant final essay that featured a conversation between myself and a Philosopher-like character who frequently declared “and I have written a paper about that so see me after class if you would like a copy.” (He apparently did take Philosophers, and himself, very seriously…)

So I was very excited when I discovered Great Philosophers who Failed at Love by local author, Andrew Shaffer–now whenever a Philosopher evilly asks me about Dualism just to see me squirm, I can just casually lean against a door frame and reply “Nevermind that, so how is your love life?” Because, judging by the love lives of the Philosophers included in Shaffer’s book, they won’t be able to resist changing the subject to their scandalous romantic escapades. Just how saucy are these philosophers? Here are a few examples:

♥ French Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau apparently enjoyed flashing.

♥ Ann Rand dedicated her masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged, to both her husband and her lover…but then had her lover’s name removed when she found out he was cheating on her (with a woman other than his wife).

♥ French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre liked to call himself a “literary Don Juan” and, at the age of 74, remarked to one of his lady friends that he was currently dating nine women (not counting his long-time lover, Sylvie Le Bon and her girlfriend, of course)!


Although all the tawdry details kept me turning the pages, it is Shaffer’s snarky comments that truly make this quick read absolutely delightful. And the text is printed in navy blue which was super neat and lovely to read.

I highly recommend Great Philosophers who Failed at Love as well Shaffer’s multiple other personalities found here:
and here:
and here:
and here:
and a few other places as well.

Here it is, the hot book of the summer! A sensation in England, the movie adaptation, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, is already in pre-production and is scheduled to hit the local multi-plex in 2011. Just published in the US, One Day by David Nicholls doesn’t disappoint.

Emma and Dexter meet on July 15, 1988, the day they’re graduating from university. While there’s an instant connection between them, they go their separate ways the next day. For the next 20 years on the anniversary of their first meeting, we take a look at their lives, how they’ve grown and changed (or not), the mistakes they’ve made and their triumphs. Through it all, they remain best friends, turning to each other in good times and bad, weathering disappointments and a falling-out. Dexter becomes a tv presenter, slips into a black hole of alcohol abuse and drugs and struggles to right himself. Emma endures dead-end jobs and unhealthy relationships until finally realizing her dream of becoming an author. The constant in each of their lives is the other, an extraordinary friendship that transcends time and distance. Finally, in the end, the true significance of July 15 is revealed.

Witty, thoughtful, somber, quirky, hilarious – this is a story that will bring you to tears and also make you laugh out loud. That movie has a lot to live up to.

TrainsThose Stimulus dollars are raising the hopes of train-loving Quad-Citians; they are starting to dream of  riding the rails to Chicago and  Iowa City, and perhaps to even more exotic lands.

Trains are very cinematic and are excellent vehicles (ha!) to further the plot of mysteries and novels. In Falling in Love, DeNiro and Streep meet  and, of course, fall in love, on a commuter train. The Station Agent, a great indie film, is about a loner who inherits a train depot. Against his will,  he develops friendships with those he meets at his station.

Novels made into films include Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery , John Godey’s The Taking of Pelham 123 and Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train – turned into a  wonderfully funny and creepy  Hitchcock movie.

Here’s hoping you find love and romance rather than crime, terrorism and murder on your next train ride.