Golden Age of Magic...

...stage magic, that is. Anyone with even a passing interest in the magicians of the 1920s (or anyone who just wants to read a good historical mystery) should try out Carter Beats the Devil, by Glen David Gold. The action starts when Warren Harding (generally considered to be the worst president in American history) is torn apart (then eaten, by a lion, on stage, in front of a live audience) during a trick called "Carter Beats the Devil", performed by the famous magician Carter the Great. Though it is revealed to be just a another clever illusion (and the President is clearly seen walking off stage after), Harding is found dead a few hours later, and the police would like to have a word or two with Carter...

Death Becomes Them

Dead or Alive

AADL Select Sites : Reference Tools

A macabre site for the morbidly curious, Dead or Alive? features the vital status of “reasonably famous people” from all walks of life: sports stars, scientists, politicians, movie stars and more. A mysterious administrator obsessively updates the site, which to date catalogues 7430 people, more of them listed alive than dead. View site statistics and deaths arranged by cause (more “reasonably famous” people have been killed by volcanic eruption (3) than balloon crash (1), for example), or compare the status of people in different fields. If perusing the lists does not prove addictive enough, the site features quizzes that regenerate every 15 minutes.

Should accuracy concern you, the site claims to have made only one confirmed mistake in the status of a person in three years.

Jesse Owens Remembered

On May 25, 1935, Jesse Owens set three world records and tied a fourth. Representing Ohio State at the Big Ten track and field event at the University of Michigan, despite an ailing back, Owens tied the world record in the 100 yard dash and set the record in the broad jump, the 220 yard dash and 220 yard low hurdles. This was the first time anyone had ever set three world records and broke a fourth Jesse was born in 1913, the son of a sharecropper, and grew up in Cleveland. He began competing in track and field in high school. His second claim to fame was winning four gold metals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. Owens went on to become an accomplished speaker and supported athletic programs for underprivileged youth.

Michigan Field Guides

With Memorial Day and summer vacations just ahead, these field guides will enrich your hikes, bike rides, and camping trips.

Birds: National Geographic Field Guide to Birds: Michigan
Mammals: Mammals of Michigan Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
Reptiles and Amphibians:
Reptiles and Amphibians of Michigan Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
Michigan Turtles and Lizards by James H. Harding and J. Alan Holman
Michigan Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders by James H. Harding and J. Alan Holman
Michigan Snakes by J. Alan Holman
Insects: Insects of the Great Lakes Region by Gary A. Dunn
Butterflies: Michigan Butterflies and Skippers by Mogens C. Nielsen
Butterflies of Michigan Field Guide by Jaret C. Daniels
Fish: Fishes of the Great Lake Region by Carl L. Hubbs
Trees: Michigan Trees by Burton V. Barnes and Warren H. Wagner
Trees of Michigan by Linda Kershaw
Wild Flowers: Michigan Wildflowers in Color by Harry C. Lund
Wildflowers of Michigan Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
Stars: Michigan Starwatch by Mike Lynch

A Marriage Made in History

Modern marriage may seem to be in flux, but most of what we see today has been seen before, according to Stephanie Coontz whose book Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage is featured this week in five-minute e-mail chunks at DearReader.com. The book came out in hardback a year ago and in paperback in February. Coontz also wrote the popular 1992 book The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap.

Jane Kenyon- 1947-1995

Today, May 23, is the birthday of Jane Kenyon. She was born in Ann Arbor in 1947 and attended the University of Michigan. Her first book, Let Evening Come was published in 1990. Kenyon's poetry is known for its quiet yet profound reflections and in her years with her husband, Donald Hall, on her life with him at their farmhouse in Wilmot, New Hampshire.

Her final poems describe her struggle with depression and the leukemia which finally took her life in 1995. Shortly before her death, she and Hall were interviewed by Bill Moyers for a television documentary, A Life Together. Following is a poem that pays tribute to her dog, Biscuit:

Peter Viereck, Pulitzer Prize poet, has died

Peter Viereck

It's been a hard for month for poets. Last week, America lost two noted Pulitzer Prize winners -- Stanley Kunitz died at age 100 on May 14, 2006, and now Peter Viereck has passed away at 89.

Viereck was as passionate about his idea of conservatism as he was about poetry. He won the 1949 Pulitzer for his very first collection of poetry, Terror and Decorum.

As we are seeing by today's headlines, Professor Viereck's strong beliefs that "...conservative is not to be satanic..." could be part of the national dialog.

Professor Viereck died May 20, 2006.

Deconstructing the 'Mommy Myth'

If you are interested in feminism, motherhood and the ways that the popular media are portraying and shaping the image of mothers be sure to watch Susan J. Douglas speak on her book The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women on Ann Arbor's Community Television Cable Channel 17. Douglas, Professor of Communications at the University of Michigan, examines how the mass media have promoted a conception of motherhood which result in unrealistic demands on women. Based on extensive scholarly research, the book is an accessible (and occasionally humorous) look at popular magazines, radio and television and their portrayals of the 'ideal' mother. The program, part of the Library's Sunday Edition author lecture series can be viewed on Tuesday, May 23 at 3:30 p.m.; Thursday, May 25 at 1:30 p.m.; and Friday, May 26 at 5:00 p.m. Video recordings of the program are also available to be borrowed from the library in both VHS and DVD format.

Anniversary of a famous crime

On May 23, 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, bank robbers accused of twelve murders, were gunned down by a law enforcement posse in Gibsland, LA.. Romanticized by the film, Bonnie and Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the real life criminals grew up in poverty striken families in rural Texas. When the Depression came, they hit the road, devoted to each other and knowing their ultimate demise was death. Cult heroes like Robin Hood or Jesse James, they embodied a fantasy of freedom for the downtrodden.

Leonard Cohen--I'm Your Man

This summer, movie audiences can look forward to major Hollywood films such as Miami Vice, directed by Michael Mann, Superman Returns, directed by Bryan Singer, and Lady in the Water, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

For those looking for an alternative to the summer blockbusters, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man might be just right. Long-time fans of singer and writer Leonard Cohen will especially enjoy seeing Cohen himself reflect on his life's work.

For those new to Cohen, the library has many of Cohen's albums and writings, including
The Essential Leonard Cohen, Cohen Live, The Best of, and I'm Your Man.

Ten New Songs, released after Cohen spent several years in seclusion as a Buddhist monk, is also available in the library's collection.

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