Alex Karras, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle, and Hollywood actor, has died

Alex Karras, a Detroit Lion for twelve seasons and an actor for many years, died today in Los Angeles.

In 1958, Karras was a first round draft pick for the Lions. He was a member of the Lions' Fearsome Foursome (a term used in pro football to describe the frontline defense. The other Lions players were Roger Brown, Darris McCord, and Sam Williams. Karras was suspended in 1963 for one year when he was caught placing bets on NFL teams. He returned to the team in 1964 and played for seven more years.

In the mid-1970s, he called the plays, with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football.

His most memorable Hollywood role was in the the 1974 hit western satire, Blazing Saddles in which he played the Mondo.

He and his real-life wife, Susan Clark, who survives, starred in the TV sitcom, Webster (1983-1987) (the first season is on order), along with Emmanuel Lewis. Karras and Clark played the adoptive parents of the orphaned son of a pro football player.

Karras, who was 77, died from complications due to cancer and dementia.

2012 National Book Award finalists have been announced

This morning, nineteen writers moved closer to their dream of winning one of the prestigious National Book Awards for 2012 when they were named as finalists.

The National Book Awards were begun in 1936. A break of several years around World War II ended in 1950 when they resumed. These awards are bestowed on U.S. authors who publish in this country.

Below are some of the authors who made it to the finalists' list.

In the Fiction category, Ben Fountain was one of five authors to get the nod. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Fountain's debut novel, takes place over the 2004 Thanksgiving Day weekend, 19-year-old Billy is between tours of duty in Iraq. His unit, Bravo Company, is being feted at the Dallas Cowboys football game with all the attendant hoopla. A searing look at the toll the Iraq war has taken on those who have served.

The late Anthony Shadid is one of the authors named in the Nonfiction category for his moving House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author took a break from journalism to return to his village in Lebanon to restore the Shadid family's ancestral home. Kirkus Reviews wrote of this book, "A complicated, elegiac, beautiful attempt to reconcile the physical bayt (home) and the spiritual." Shadid, who was shot and kidnapped during his long courageous career as a foreign correspondent, died February 16, 2012, of an asthma attack.

Poet Cynthia Huntington is a finalist for Heavenly Bodies, a collection of poetry that stuns and shocks and provokes with her observations about the sexual revolution, the drug culture, and political upheaval that rocked the 1960s.

The critics were unanimous in their praise of Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin who has written a nonfiction thriller for tweens. Divided into three parts, Sheinkin writes of the development of the bomb, the Soviet spy system that tried to steal it, and the Americans' frantic efforts to keep the bomb out of German hands.

For a complete list of the finalists, check out this link.

The winners in the four categories will be announced on Wednesday, November 14, 2012. At that time two additional special awards will be given: Michigan novelist Elmore Leonard will receive the 2012 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. will accept the 2012 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Sulzberger is the Publisher (since 1992) and Chairman of the Board (since 1997) of the New York Times, positions previously held by his father, the late Arthur Ochs Sulzberger who died September 29 of this year.

Both Sides Now: The Statewide Ballot Proposals on CTN

The League of Women Voters will examine the pros and cons of the six statewide ballot proposals as well as the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti ballot proposals on CTN, Community Television Network, beginning Wednesday, October 10. Viewers can also stream the program on demand from links on the CTN homepage.

The LWV also helps sponsor Vote411.org, the online election source that lets voters build their own ballot with an online voters' guide. Type in your address to see the races on your ballot. Candidates' positions can be compared side-by-side, and you may print out a "ballot" indicating your preferences as a reminder and take it with you to the polls on Election Day.

To double-check your voter registration status, your polling location, view your sample ballot and much more, visit the State of Michigan's Michigan Votes web site.

Ready, Set, Debate: 2012 Candidate Forums

The League of Women Voters will sponsor a series of candidate forums at the Community Television Network Studio from Monday, October 8th ~ Thursday, October 11th, 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The forums will be broadcast on CitiTV, Channel 19 until the day before the election and can also be viewed on the CitiTV website. Candidates for the following offices will be participating in the forum:

Monday, October 8th
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. County Water Resources Commissioner
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. County Treasurer
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. County Clerk/Register of Deeds

Tuesday, October 9th
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. Washtenaw Community College Trustees Board
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Public School Board
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. Ann Arbor District Library Board

Wednesday, October 10th
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Mayoral Race & 5th Ward
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. County Sheriff
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. Board of County Commissioners - Districts 7, 8, & 9

Thursday, October 11th
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. State Representatives - 53rd & 55th Districts
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. 22nd Circuit Court (non-incumbent & incumbent race)
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. County Prosecuting Attorney

The public can submit their questions to candidates via email to FORUM_QUESTIONS@lwvannarbor.org. The League reserves the right to select and edit the questions that will be used in the forums.

View your sample ballot, check your polling location and much more at Michigan Votes.

Jessica Shirvington’s young adult series, EMBRACE, to become a television series

On her 17th birthday, everything will change for Violet Eden. The boy she loves will betray her. Her enemy will save her. She will have to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice.
Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Embrace is a compelling novel of good and evil, seductive desires and impossible choices. A centuries old war between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity chooses a new fighter. It's a battle Violet doesn't want, but she lives her life by two rules: don't run and don't quit. If angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden.
Now, the heroine of Jessica Shirvington's Embrace will have a new incarnation. The CW Network, along with Amblin Entertainment and CBS Television Studios, is developing the supernatural YA novel and its follow-ups into a weekly TV series. Read more here.
Embrace, Shirvington's debut, was followed by Entice on September 4; Emblaze, the third book in the series, is scheduled to publish in March 2013.

Families Fall into this Glorious Season!

Whether you enjoy Autumn by the water, the forest, the ice, on Main Street or at the Farmer’s Market, you must surely check out the Halloween storytimes at AADL!

Register to Vote: It's So Easy

Tuesday, October 9th, is the last day to register to vote in the November 6th general election. You can register to vote for federal, state, and local elections at the Washtenaw County Clerk's office, the Ann Arbor City Clerk's office, the Secretary of State office nearest you and the Family Independence Agency in Ypsilanti. The Michigan Votes Voter Information Center is your one-stop site for information on registering and voting in Michigan.

Hollywood shocked by actor Johnny Lewis's violent death

Johnny Lewis, best known for his role as Kip "Half-Sack" Epps in the first two seasons of Sons of Anarchy, the FX Network motorcycle series that premiered in 2008, died last night at the scene of a shocking crime in Los Feliz, CA.

A spokesman for the LAPD said it appears that Lewis murdered his landlady, Katherine Davis, 81, and her cat on Wednesday. Witnesses say he then attacked a couple of neighbors before heading back to the house and jumping or falling off the roof, landing in her driveway which killed him.

Those close to Lewis, who once dated Katy Perry, were not surprised by his violent end. He had been released from jail six days ago, after pleading no contest in August to burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.

The troubled actor, who also acted in several TV series, including Criminal Minds and The O.C., was 28.

Andy Williams, 1960s crooner who immortalized Moon River, has died

Singer Andy Williams, who skyrocketed to fame with his dreamy rendition of the timeless love song Moon River, died last night in Branson, MO.

Born in Iowa in 1927, Williams and his three brothers performed all across America in the 30s and 40s as the Williams Brothers. After a brief break when two of the brothers were drafted during WWII, they regrouped in 1947 for another six years. In the early 1960s, Andy Williams began his own popular variety show on NBC -- it ran from 1962 until 1971and it included his widely watched Christmas specials. Always generous with his willingness to share the set with other singers, Williams is credited with launching the Osmond Brothers.

In 1961, Williams sang Moon River, written by Henry Mancini for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's; it became his theme song.

In his 2009 memoir, Moon River and Me, Williams wrote movingly of his lifelong friendship with his ex-wife Claudine Longet and of his unwavering belief that her fatal shooting of her boyfriend, Olympic skier, Spider Sabitch, in 1976, was an accident.

During his 75 years in show business, Andy earned 17 gold and three platinum albums.

Williams, who was 84, had battled bladder cancer since late last year.

Stephen Dunham, TV and movie actor, has died

Stephen Dunham, who has starred in several limited-run TV series, and had supporting roles in several movies, died last Friday in Burbank, California.

Dunham, born Stephen Dunham Bowers, had roles in such TV series as Hot Properties (ABC), Oh, Grow Up and DAG (both on NBC), The Bill Engvall Show (TBS) and What I Like About You (WB).

Some of his movie roles included Catch Me if You Can (2002), Traffic (2000) and Monster-in-Law (2005).

In October, he will appear posthumously in Paranormal Activity 4, as husband to his real-life wife, actress Alexondra Lee, who survives.

Dunham, who was just 48, died several days after suffering a heart attack.

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