The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion

NY bridge

Don Tillman’s loyalty, self-sacrifice, and problem solving genius, make him welcome as a friend. We first met Don in the “Rosie Project,” the story of a high functioning Asperger’s individual in search of a “mate.” Don exhibits marvelous STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills, a phenomenal memory, but he woefully lacks social skills. He holds to an extraordinary rigid moral-ethical code, based on logic and conventional norms rather than religion. Among his virtues or symptoms, Don could not tell a lie. Paul Levine, who also includes Asperger’s spectrum characters in his novels, subscribes to the same truth-telling characteristic. However, in “The Rosie Effect, Don, the compulsive truth-teller and honest man, learns to spare the feelings of others by shielding them from the truth. Unfortunately, he hopelessly tangles himself in the thickest web of deceit. His growing cohort of friends risk all to assist him extricate himself before the authorities and Rosie catch up with him.

In his first two and extremely successful novels, author, Graeme Simsion brings moments of genuine hilarity as well as deep pathos. His intense research allows his characters the freedom to walk, jog and subway about New York City, Columbia University, genetics, nutrition, human development, psychology and the pub scene. Ask Don to make you a cocktail sometime.

The devious Simsion snaps snares, large and small, catching his readers off guard. Just when Don seems to have escaped one threat, the trapdoor drops Don, and often his friends, into a deeper quandary. Through the Rosie Effect, Simsion takes the reader for a ride to a most unpredictable destination. Getting there is more than half the fun. Looking forward to the further exploits of Don Tillman and company.

 

Review (© 2015 Donald J. Mulcare)

Brooklyn Bridge, Nancy Ann Mulcare, Alcohol ink on yupo (© 2015 Nancy Ann Mulcare)

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Groundhog mayday

winter

The groundhog stared at the radio as the reporter excitedly updated the news, “The posse has him cornered in a line shack west of Punxsutawney. They expect to call in a drone strike any minute now. We’ve had enough of this winter, that over-sized rat has gone too far this time, why couldn’t he have just stayed in his hole and let the spring come early?”

Phil sniveled, “They’re going to shoot the messenger because they can accept the fact that climate change is the result of their own stupid excesses. Sure, they burn fossil fuels and cut down the trees, what do they expect? They want a scapegoat, so they picked me to pin their sins on.”

He lifted a trap door and dropped through the floor to his tunnel without bothering to turn off the radio. He was a quarter mile behind the encircling humans, watching when the first drone strike incinerated the line shack. “Go ahead, dummies,” he chuckled, “add some more carbon dioxide to the ozone layer. It will come back to haunt you. Meanwhile, I’ll find another abandoned house to keep me warm for the rest of this interminable winter.”

I’m Dreaming of a Blue Advent

Many lose sight of Advent amid the Thanksgiving-Black Friday-anticipated Christmas-commercial season. How can Advent hold its ground against this materialistic intrusion? Some regard Advent as “Little Lent.” After all, at least where I live it wears the hand-me-down purples of the penitential weeks between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Perhaps Advent needs its own distinguishing color to express its unique role in the Liturgical Year?

What is Advent anyway? It might be considered the season of Isaiah and joyful Psalms; a time of expectation and reassurance to those who faithfully await the coming of the promised one; a tender season of resting in the arms of our loving mother. Advent emphasizes joy and anticipation, not fasting and penance.

Some Christian denominations, including Roman Catholic parishes employ blue vestments during Advent. The web page of Saint James Episcopal Church of Richmond, Virginia explains this choice:

“Following the tradition of the Sarum Rite (an old English rite), Blue is the color for Advent. During the Middle Ages, when blue was an expensive color to reproduce, purple was often used instead. This is why you still see some churches using purple in Advent. Also, purple was used by churches that followed the Roman rite as opposed to the Sarum Rite. Theologically, however, blue is the proper color for this season, because Blue is the color of the Blessed Virgin, and Advent is all about Mary as we await with her the arrival of the Incarnate God. Blue is the color of hope, expectation, confidence, and anticipation. These are all adjectives which describe the season of Advent.”

Indeed Advent has a Marian flavor. It includes the feast of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe. It presupposes the cooperation of Mary in the incarnation and the nativity. So blue, a Marian color would fit the season.

Here in the North Temperate Zone, Advent coincides with the longest and darkest (and sometimes coldest) nights of the year. As darkness replaces light some humans suffer depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder). A sure cure for SAD is light, celebration, and a promise of better days. Again, dark blue skies connect with the theme of Advent. From those heavens comes the brightest and warmest of all gifts–the greatest reason to shed SAD in favor of JOY.

May the building joy of the Advent season culminate in your most glorious Christmas, ever!

RSVP

How do you separate the spirit of Advent from the Christmas rush?

In what special ways do you observe Advent’s joyous season of expectation?

Do you believe that the color (purple, blue or __________) of vestments’ would underscore Advent’s unique place in the Liturgical Calendar?

Text-(© 2013 Donald J. Mulcare)

Winter/alcohol ink on yupo(© 2013 Nancy Ann Mulcare)

Grace in the Wilderness: Reflections on God’s Sustaining Word along Life’s Journey, by Brother Francis de Sales Wagner, O.S.B.

waves-yupo

Brother Francis de Sales offers his readers a source of joy, leading them into the desert where they feast on the reality of God.

The Liturgical New Year will soon dawn, a time for new beginnings, not only with reflections on the saints of the day, but the profound messages of the scriptural cycles found in the weekend liturgies. Grace in the Wilderness guides the reader with daily meditations organized by common theme, using the table of contents and in relationship to the three liturgical cycles, using a Liturgical Year Index.

These meditations, the “fruits of (Brother Francis’) prayer, study and reflection (were) primarily gathered from posts on (his) personal blog (first, yokeofchrist.blogspot.com, and, later, pathoflifeblog.blogspot.com) from 2009 to 2013.”

He encourages other blog writers with these words: “Each meditation was written as an individual piece at a certain point in time. It so happens (after I finally heeded blog readers who urged me to collect the posts into a book), that when they were gathered, adapted and organized thematically, together the reflections seemed to coalesce around the theme outlined” in the table of contents.

Brother Francis de Sales’ reflections remind us that the God extends grace to aid us through our journey across the wilderness of life. God nourishes through the conversation of prayer and the feast of frequent participation in the Eucharist. God guides us to conversion from a world-oriented heart to a heart exploded with love for our Creator. The author reminds us that everything about us calls us to recognize the presence, actually the hand of God. The world celebrates the “Holidays,” forgetting their significance in a blitz of commercialism. Instead, those called to ride the rhythm of the liturgical year celebrate the deeper meaning of giving thanks, waiting through Advent for the coming of the Messiah and the celebration of Epiphany. We celebrate Easter best after a sincere Lent, meeting the Messiah on the road to Emmaus, not the warrior king but the suffering servant now raised from the dead.

We are called to the wilderness to empty ourselves of the world, but are reminded (by Saint Paul”: “Do not worry about anything,” he urges, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Treat yourself to a gift for all seasons, liturgical and otherwise by including a meditation from Grace in the Wilderness: Reflections on God’s Sustaining Word along Life’s Journey in your daily spiritual exercises.

Wagner, Br. Francis de Sales. Grace in the Wilderness: Reflections on God’s Sustaining Word along Life’s Journey. St. Meinrad, IN: Abbey Press. 2013

(© 2013 Donald J. Mulcare)

Figure: Rhythm in Glass, Alcohol Ink on Yupo by Nancy Ann Mulcare, © 2013

Do you see what I see?

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Hermann Rorshach’s inkblots provoked responses based on what already existed in the viewer’s mind. If you don’t like inkblots, how about interpreting the images in clouds?

I look for faces, and usually find them.

Nancy, my creative wife loaned me the images presented here. If not inkblots, these close relatives come from a growing school of artistic expression: Alcohol Ink. No, the artists  don’t drink the alcohol. They apply alcohol soluble inks to ceramic tiles or “yupo,” a plastic material that in some ways resembles paper .

The results often dwell in the realm of the abstract, allowing the mind to interpret them as it wishes. Turning the tile, 90, 180 or 270 degrees allows many more interpretations, perhaps more meaningful than the first. The titles I use reveal my interpretations or prejudices. Feel free to release your imagination as you view these images.

southwest

I see the Southwestern USA, like New Mexico. Do you see the person?

waves-yupo

Is the image above made from molten glass? Stained glass? Or something else?

sea2

Seashells?

sea

Scallop shell?

flowers

A flower?

feathers and flowers

Flowers?

mystical-forest  Trees or forest?

SN-air (2)

Sea slug (Nudibranch) (http://www.bing.com/search?q=nudibranch&form=UP97DF&pc=UP97&dt=071813) or Alcohol Ink Image?

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Nerve network in your brain trying to figure this one out?

DSC05823

A tile drying on the back deck. Just ignore Nancy’s foot.