Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard is a solid autobiography from the successful Hollywood actors (and director in Ron's case). It's a good story of them growing up, with their parents help all along the way.

Things got started when their actor father Rance took 3 1/2 year old Ronny with him to see a casting director in New York City in 1957 and left word that he had a son who was a fine actor. Ronny got a part out of that and then in 1958, the family moved to Los Angeles at the suggestion of Rance's agent who said parts more plentiful there. 

Rance was getting scattered work, but Ronny regularly got acting jobs, as he says, almost every part he auditioned for. Ronny and later Clint were tutored by Rance who taught them to prepare for auditions and parts as professionals, not requiring excessive retakes and focusing on getting the emotions of the role right. Additionally, their father always spoke to them very matter of factly, explaining to them the adult behavior they often witnessed on sets. 

Ronny landed in 1960 a regular role as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and Clint as a child had a starring role in the series Gentle Ben and went on to act in many Star Trek shows and other vehicles. Ronny later played the role of Richie Cunningham on Happy Days and had a large part in the 1973 movie American Graffiti from George Lucas. He then went on to make movies, with his first real job as a director on the movie Grand Theft Auto when he twenty-three.

The book is an interesting and nice story about brothers growing up with lives very different than most, being show-business kids starring in hugely popular TV shows and having to navigate public school and comments from classmates. There were other problems to contend with, including Clint's drug addiction, but the family remained close and supportive. Ron also notes how much later he was an executive producer on and offscreen narrator for the show Arrested Development, and in the final season, there's an episode where Ron, his wife Cheryl, their four kids, and Ron and Clint's dad appears.

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig is a nice read made up of short vignettes, with below from some of them:

A thing my dad said once when we were lost in a forest - If we keep going in a straight line, we'll get out of here. 

It's okay - It's okay to be broken. It's okay to like what you like. It's okay to be who you are.

Power - Our perspective is our world, and our external circumstances don't need to change in order for our perspective to change.

To remember during the bad days - It won't last. You have felt other things. You will feel other things.

One beautiful thing - Experience one beautiful thing a day. Just give yourself one simple reminder that the world is full of wonders.

Rain - You don't have to be positive. You don't have to feel guilty about fear or sadness or anger. You don't stop the rain by telling it to stop. It never rains forever. The storm may knock you off your feet. You will stand again.

Experience - We are not what we experience. If we stand in a hurricane, it doesn't matter how violent or terrifying the hurricane is, the hurricane is not us. The weather outside and inside us is never permanent.

Ferris Bueller and the meaning of life - This is a movie about Cameron. He is the emotional center of the film and makes the most significant transformation.

Growth - We grow through hard times. Growth is change. When everything is easy, we have no reason to change.

Clarity - You are here. And that is enough.

Realization - I used to worry about fitting in until I realized the reason I didn't fit in was because I didn't want to.

Aim to be you - If you aim to be something you are not, you will always fail. Aim to be you. 

Forgiveness - Forgiving other people is great practice for forgiving yourself when the time comes.

On Animals by Susan Orlean

On Animals by Susan Orlean is a solid book by the author of The Library Book, The Orchid Thief, and Rin Tin Tin among other nonfiction works. On Animals features various animal stories, with Orlean both as a third-party observer and first-party participant, and she notes "all of these creatures serve a purpose, even if that purpose is to have no real purpose other than to give a warm, wonderful, unpredictable texture to my life every day." 

Orlean provides compelling writing on both domesticated and wild or working animals, with some of the chapters that stood out noted below:

The It Bird - on raising chickens and how popular it's become

The Lady and the Tigers - including how there's more tigers in captivity than the wild

Little Wing - on homing pigeons and both that it's unclear how they navigate their way home, and if their owners move, they'll fly back to their original home if not enclosed

Where's Willy? - about Keiko, the orca star of the movie Free Willy, and the effort to release him to the wild, something never previously done with a captive killer whale

Lion Whisperer - about Kevin Richardson and his lions, also covers how little of the African wild is actually wild and the horror of lion hunting and negative effects of lion cub petting businesses

The Perfect Beast - on pandas and how unique they are

Lost dog - on the story of one couple's effort to find theirs

Farmville - on Orlean's life with animals and her moving from the New York countryside to Los Angeles