Monday, August 23, 2010

Impulse-Driven Personalities

"I Am Ozzy" by Ozzy Osbourne with Chris Ayres Grand Central Publishing 391 pages $26.99

Ozzy tells us that he believes every day of his life has been an event. Why, you ask? It seems he took lethal combinations of pills and booze for 30 years! Oddly, what came closest to killing him was a fall off of his quad bike -- at 2mph.

(Naturally) he regrets many of his worst behaviors (alcohol, drugs); freely admits he wasn't a very good Dad because he wasn't home much and so on. His apparent mindlessness, shown on the family's TV show (and commented on by many) is a result of his parents having had a glitch on the same gene. It's a rare form of Parkinson's disease.

Never having watched the Osbournes on television, I didn't think this book would interest me very much, but I was so engrossed that I read most of it in an afternoon.

Purist Alert: bad language is his second language.

"Jenniemae and James, A Memoir in Black & White" by Brooke Newman Harmony Books 301 pages $24

Newman writes about an unlikely friendship -- her white, mathematician father and the family's black maid/cook/cleaner. James Newman had a taste for women other than his wife and fast cars. Amazingly enough, he often moved his current mistress right into the family home!

Jenniemae was illiterate, but had a gift for playing the numbers. She won up to eight of 10 games a day, a phenominal record. She claimed God gave her the numbers in dreams.

Her ability to win consistently intrigued James, who pestered her though out their long friendship (mid '40s to 1966) until his death, aged 58, to give him a number. She flatly refused to do it. Until: the day after she had attended one of his commencement speeches at Johns Hopkins University in 1965. She was impressed not only by what he'd said in his address, but at the way that he insisted she attend it as a member of the family with him, his wife and daughter.

Both Ozzy and Newman are/were interesting characters, as different intellectually as they undoubtedly were.

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