Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol: A Review

Recently, I picked up a copy of Dan Brown's newest novel The Lost Symbol (Doubleday, 2009). Although I hated Brown's last novel (the best-selling cheese festival, The Da Vinci Code), and doubted whether I even had the time to read all 509 pages of this one, I decided to give it a try.

I started reading it last week, but I only made it through the second sentence. Here is why:

"The secret is how to die.
Since the beginning of time, the secret had always been how to die" (3).

That is a direct quote, folks: the first two sentences of the book.

"Since the beginning of time"...come on, Dan Brown, you're a professional novelist! You can do better than a college freshman!

Call me picky, but that's why I stopped reading the book. I couldn't get past those lame first sentences. Besides, I still need to finish the fourth Twilight novel.

Better luck next time, Mr. Brown.

(Also, just in case anyone was wondering, I didn't buy the book. I checked it out of the library using one of those handy self-check-out machine that make it possible for you to check out any book, DVD, or CD without worrying about whether or not the librarian is judging you.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ballet Recitals and Little League Failure

Last month my oldest daughter had her first dance recital. She did about as well as any five year old could do with limited dance experience and a tea cup tied to her head.

Going into the recital, I was nervous for her. I had spent the past week worrying that she would be the kid everyone in the audience felt sorry for. Images of her tripping over her ballet slippers or falling off the stage kept me awake at night.

Worst of all, I spent too much time worrying that I would finally learn what it must have felt like for my parents to watch me embarrass myself during the one summer I played little league baseball. I was an extraordinarily untalented right fielder back in '87. To this day I don't blame my parents for wearing dark glasses and false beards at each game. I would have too. After all, what parent wants to admit that their kid's the one who clears his throat every time the coach tells him to "choke up," or who squints like Popeye every time someone tells him to keep his eye on the ball?

Fortunately, after watching the opening act of the recital--a thrilling tap-dance number by a chorus line of elderly hoofers--I realized that I had nothing to be embarrassed about.

As it turned out, my daughter did a fine job. All the worry was for nothing. Still, one of the hardest parts of parenting is letting your kids get into situations where they could fail and bring shame upon the family. But these situations are a part of growing up. If you deny them to your kids, you run the risk of them turning into Boo Radley--or worse, professional bloggers.

Of course, I sometimes wonder if I would have been better off as a Boo Radley than a failed little league right fielder. I mean, that definitely would have stopped my chain-smoking ex-coach from suing my parents.