Enter Laughing

March is International Mirth Month a time to find humor in all things human – and otherwise. And since many of you listen to books on cd in your car, let’s start with Click & Clack, those NPR knuckleheads who host Car Talk. Their newest compilation is Maternal Combustion: Calls About Moms and Cars. Other Car Talk favorites are Born Not to Run and The Hatchback of Notre Dame.

If you haven’t heard the Sweet Potato Queen’s musing on marriage, diets, and panty hose, pull the car over and get The Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men or Sweet Potato Queens’ Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide.

Samba no pé!

If you've ever been to Brazil you know it's that time again. Yup, that's right. It's time for the world's biggest party! Brazilian Carnival starts tomorrow. Can’t make it to Rio de Janeiro? Perhaps these sounds can take you there:

Compilations by Putumayo World Music: Acoustic Brazil and Brazilian Groove
Bossa Nova: Bebel Gilberto by Bebel Gilberto
Funk/rock: Cru by Seu Jorge, who starred in City of God
Classic collections: The Best of Caetano Veloso and The Best of Antonio Carlos Jobim

Have an interesting Carnival story? Post it here!

The Year of Secret Assignments

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty was a thoroughly entertaining book to listen to and I enjoyed it to no end.
Ashbury and Brookfield are two rival high schools in New South Wales, Australia. In an effort to bridge the gap between the schools, the Year 10 students are required to write letters back and forth to a pen pal at the other school. Friendship, romance, humiliation, revenge plots, and a prank war between the schools ensue.
The story is told through letters, emails, diary and journal entries, notes, and notices. The use of different actors helps give each character a more definite personality.

This children's music engages the brain

Some music created for children puts my brain right to sleep. But What kind of cat are you?! by Billy Jonas, is one of the many good ones. The title song asks questions and answers them with challenging words. Later on, the disc offers songs such as "Alien in my lungs" and "Bear to the left." If you're running low on stimulating music for your car or home CD player, this one is lively and fun.

Woof! Woof! It’s Westminster Time


Who will be crowned the 2006 Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show? Sgt. Pepper, the Border Terrier? Jezebell the Shih Tzu? On the Sauce, a St. Bernard, is an early crowd favorite.

All those doggies on parade will get you in the mood for some good old-fashioned man’s best friend stories and no one tells a better animal story than James Herriot. Two favorites are All Things Bright and Beautiful and All Things Wise and Wonderful.

Local Composer Wins Grammy

Last week Ann Arbor-based composer William Bolcom won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Recording for his Songs of Innocence and Experience. He also won a Grammy for Best Choral Performance. The eclectic nature of the work, which is based on the poems of 18th-century poet William Blake, means everyone will find a section to match their musical taste. This performance was recorded at Hill Auditorium as part of the re-opening festivities in 2004.

2006 Grammy Winners

U2 won big last night at the 48th Grammy Awards, taking home an award in every category for which they were shortlisted, including best album (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb) and best song ("Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own"). Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi won best contemporary R&B album. Kanye West protege John Legend won best new artist, and American Idol Kelly Clarkson won best female pop vocal and pop vocal album. So who gets your vote for favorite performance of the evening? McCartney, with his ripping rendition of "Helter Skelter"? Or Sly Stone, just for showing up in that blond mohawk...?

The Origins of Life


There are many ways to participate in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2006: Revolutions In Science project. One approach is to explore in-depth a topic covered in the programs.

The renowned science professor and author Robert M. Hazen offers an accessible and current discussion of the Origins of Life in a 24-lecture expedition on book on cd. Dr. Hazen introduces you to the scientists in the forefront of ongoing research on the evolution of the universe, the theories that have driven that research and the controversies that surround the theories.

Music in the Future

You may have heard about Best Buy's new partnership with independent online music source CDBaby. What else will shape the future of music and the music industry? David Kusek's new book The Future of Music explores the cluster of issues around music and the recording industry as we move into the 21st century, as does the PBS Frontline documentary The Way the Music Died. I certainly don't know where music is heading, but I bet the future will sound something like this...

Six More Weeks of Winter

Famous groundhog weather expert, Punxsutawney Phil, has predicted six more weeks of winter in response to seeing his shadow this morning at Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania. Groundhogs, or whistle pigs as they are sometimes called, are traditionally associated with Candlemas, a Christian holiday that has long been paired with prognosticating.

Though Groundhog’s day has nearly passed, why not repeat the day’s festivities tomorrow and rent Groundhog Day (1997) starring Bill Murray? Or stock up on woodchuck fact and fiction to pass the long winter nights to come.

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