An Author and his Therapy Dog

Author Luis Montalvan is scheduled to sign books at Barnes and Noble, 3235 Washtenaw Ave in Ann Arbor, on Aug. 16 at 11:30 am. He will be joined by Tuesday, his therapy dog, and he will discuss his books including Until Tuesday : a wounded warrior and the golden retriever who saved him and Tuesday tucks me in : the loyal bond between a soldier and his service dog. Man and dog have been featured by the Late Show with David Letterman, NPR and National Geographic. Montalvan will answer questions and demonstrate Tuesday's Animal Assisted Therapy techniques.

Muse: The Magazine of Life, the Universe, and Pie Throwing

Currently one of the most popular magazines at AADL is Muse: The magazine of life, the universe, and pie throwing. Although the magazine is published for kids ages 9-14, many adults enjoy reading it, too. Check out the excellent articles on science, history and the arts, plus plenty of humor to keep things in the right perspective. Muse magazine won a 2013 Parents' Choice Gold Award.

Ann Arbor Civic Theater: Noises Off

Ann Arbor Civic Theater will present Noises Off May 8-11. From the synopsis on the A2ct web page: "Noises Off finds a dysfunctional theater troupe mounting a classic farce entitled Nothing On. This comedy-within-a-comedy offers the audience a glimpse behind the scenes during dress rehearsal, the opening performance, and a performance toward the end of the run." Ticket information is here.

Amazon Teen Bestsellers: The Maze Runner

The Kindle Edition of The Maze Runner, by James Dashner currently is #5 on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Teen and Young Adult Books. In the book, sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up in a maze with no memory. If he is to escape, he must work with his community. From Amazon: “Read the first book in the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent." The Maze Runner motion picture is due out in September.

Gravity: Visually Stunning, Prize Winning Film

For an entertaining 90-minute break from Earth, check out the movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. "Houston" down below is the voice of Ed Harris. Space is depicted as a very dangerous place -- a New York Times reviewer called this film a "Jack London tale in orbit."
Last night the film won seven (7!) Academy Awards, including best director, best cinematography, and best visual effects.
In the film, Sandra Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a star scientist and mother who has lost her young daughter. George Clooney is a seasoned astronaut. Following an accident, the two are stranded in space, facing daunting challenges such as trying to avoid a lethal storm of debris.
Alfonso Cuaron wrote the script with his son Jonás. Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is beyond fabulous. State-of- the- art special effects, both analog and digital, made me feel like I was, yes, floating in space.
Rating is PG 13. Currently at AADL there are 680 requests on 40 copies of the DVD and 437 requests on 30 copies of the Blu-ray. Place your order now!

Shirley Temple Black, America's Favorite Child Star, Dies at 85

Shirley Temple, Curly Girl

Shirley Temple sang and danced her precocious heart off for America in the 1930s and 40’s and is the single most popular child-star in film history. Shirley made 23 films during the Great Depression and made Americans smile through some very dark times.

She rose to international fame in 1934’s Bright Eyes and charmed the pants off audiences in a series of films where she was often an orphan with a plucky, “can-do” attitude about life. Shirley’s characters were always precocious with more common sense than any of the adults. Her most successful collaboration was with legendary African-American actor Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. They starred in four films together: The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Just Around the Corner. Their staircase dance number in “The Little Colonel” stands out as a classic musical moment in film history.

Peter Seeger, iconic folksinger and political activist, has died

Pete Seeger, as beloved for his enduring folk songs as for his principled political activism for six decades, has died.

Seeger began his singing career as part of the Weavers in 1948, performing tunes of peace. Just seven years later, McCarthyism caught up with Seeger. The singer refused to testify. After years of legal wrangling, Seeger was convicted of contempt in 1961. A year later that conviction was overturned on a technicality.

For years, Seeger was blacklisted and banned from performing in schools and concert venues. He refused to be silent, writing and demonstrating whenever he could.

He was the inspiration for many folksinging giants, including Joan Baez who said of Seeger: "We all owe our careers to Pete Seeger." and Peter, Paul, and Mary who made famous Seeger's If I Had a Hammer. Other long-enduring Seeger classics are Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Turn! Turn! Turn!.

In 1994, the National Endowment of the Arts bestowed on Seeger the National Medal of Arts. In 1996, he won his first Grammy and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Twelve years later, he won his second Grammy. And just one year later, in a stunning moment of political validation, he performed at a celebratory concert in Washington, D.C. two days before President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

Seeger stayed politically active until the end of his life. In 2011, he marched in New York City with the Occupy Movement. He performed in last year's FarmAid concert and, as a lifelong environmentalist, this past November he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to release the Arctic 30 who were granted their freedom the following month.

In 2012, Seeger published Pete Seeger: In His Own Words.

Seeger, who was 94, died of natural causes.

Pete Seeger is no stranger to area music lovers. He made several trips to perform here. His benefit concert for the Ark is fondly remembered. Check out these Old News articles on this beloved muscian.

Oscar nods to films based on books


This year's Academy Award nominations include 5 out of 9 best pictures that are based on books, all of them non-fiction.

Have a read while you await the award show on March 2 (and don't miss AADL's Academy Awards Preview on Wednesday, February 26 at 7 pm at the Downtown Library).

12 years a slave based on the book by Solomon Northrup
American Hustle based on the book, the Sting Man: inside Abscam
Captain Phillips based on the book, A Captain's Duty by Richard Phillips
Wolf of Wall Street based on the book of the same name by Jordan Belfort
Philomena based on the book Philomena : a mother, her son, and a fifty-year search by Martin Sixsmith

Other award nominated movies based on books include:
Inside Llewelyn Davis based on the book Mayor of Macdougal Street : a memoir (nominated for cinematography & sound mixing)
Lone Survivor based on the book Lone survivor : the eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL Team 10 (nominated for sound mixing)
Dirty Wars based on the book Dirty wars : the world is a battlefield (nominated for best documentary feature)

Lastly one play to film was nominated:
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts (Meryl Streep is nominated for best actress & Julia Roberts for best supporting actress)

20 Feet From Stardom

Last summer I boasted about the wonderful documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom, that my nephew, Jason Zeldes, edited. Today it was nominated for an Oscar. It's simply impossible to sit still when you hear these remarkable women sing!

Jon Stewart's movie based on this book


If you are a fan of the Daily Show, you probably know that host, Jon Stewart, has been in post-production on his movie directorial debut, Rosewater. But did you know that it is based on the book, Then they came for me : a family's story of love, captivity, and survival by Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari ? It is a harrowing story of imprisonment for over 100 days in Iran's notorious Evin Prison and the brutal interrogation he endured. One of the most bizarre reasons he was imprisoned was for an 'interview' he had with Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones who was pretending to be a spy (Jones plays himself in the movie). The segment called Behind the Veil: Minarets of Menace can be found on the Daily Show's website here. According to Bahari's interrogators, this was proof he was making plans to overthrow their government. Bahari later stated that the captors knew it was satire but were looking for anything to keep him locked up. An excellent interview between Jones and Bahari after his release can be found here. Award winning Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal will be portraying Bahari in the movie.

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