Michael Hastings, brilliant journalist who brought down a General, has died

Michael Hastings, author and award-winning journalist for Buzzfeed, died yesterday in Los Angeles.

In the June 22, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Hastings wrote a blistering piece on then-General Stanley McChrystal who was commander of American forces in Afghanistan. Quotes from McChrystal and his aides were so highly critical of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that the General resigned shortly thereafter. Hastings received a 2010 Polk Award for this article.

Hastings' early career as a driven, heat-seeking missile for the truth included writing for Gentleman's Quarterly and Newsweek. Then in 2007, Hastings' world was rocked. He and his fiancee, Andi Parhamovich were both stationed in Baghdad (he was writing for Newsweek; she was an aide worker for The National Democratic Institute. Andi died in an ambush on January 17th and Hastings returned to his parents' home in Vermont, where holed up in their attic for two months while he wrote I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story (2008), a keening, bitter, loved-filled tribute to Andi.

Hastings' last hard copy book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War on Afghanistan came out last year. His last book, published earlier this year in Kindle-only format, is
Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama's Final Campaign

Superman flies back into theaters this weekend in Man of Steel!

Inspired by comics such as Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright, Man of Steel tells the story of Clark Kent's transformation from lonesome farmboy to greatest hero the world has ever known. A survivor of the distant alien planet of Krypton, Clark struggles to determine his purpose in life on Earth. Knowing his tremendous power may inspire fear in others, he keeps to himself, a secret guardian angel. But with famed reporter Lois Lane on his trail, and the murderous kryptonian General Zod seeking vengeance, Clark must choose whether to claim his birthright and step into the light as Earth's protector.

With 75 years of history behind him, Superman has a mighty presence at the library and AADL can help you go up, up, and away! Having seen the beginning, why not check out the end? Find out the answer to the question "What would Superman do if he knew he was dying?" in the Eisner award-winning graphic novel from Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly, All-star Superman. Or read all about how the hero has developed and influenced the world in journalist Larry Tye's Superman: The High Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero. You can even discover how the superhero helped thwart real-life villains.

The League of Women Voters Ask: What's The Question?

You decide, you submit, and the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area will ask the candidates for the 3rd & 4th Ward Ann Arbor City Council August 2013 Primary. The public may submit questions to candidates via lwv.ann.arbor.area@gmail.com on a link at LWVAA website. The deadline for questions is Thursday, June 20, 5 p.m.

The Candidate Forums will be held Wednesday, July 10th, at the Community Television Network Studio, 2805 South Industrial in Ann Arbor. The forums will be broadcast until the day before the election and can also be viewed on the CTN website.

Jean Stapleton, a.k.a. Edith Bunker to a whole generation of adoring fans, has died

Jean Stapleton, who forever endeared herself to millions of TV viewers in her role of the ditzy-but-wise Edith Bunker, has died.

As Edith Bunker, sweet wife to the unapologetic, stuck-in-his-ways, working class Queens, NY conservative bigot Archie Bunker (played by the late Carroll O'Connor) in the popular 1970s sitcom All in the Family, Stapleton packed whole essays of timid disagreement into her nasally, softly screechy "Oh, Archie" or "Oh, my!". And when Archie would go too far and Edith stood up to him, Archie cowed and audiences cheered.

Ms. Stapleton played against character. She was a strong feminist playing the role of a meek, submissive, taunted housewife to Archie's often-derisive persona. As the women's movement gained traction on the national political stage, the shows' writers kept pace. One of the most memorable episodes centered on Edith's rare flare-up, pushing back against Archie's resistance to her volunteer work in a senior citizens' residence.

In addition to the four consecutive Emmys that the show won, Ms. Stapleton earned three (19721, 1972, and 1978) or her own.

For those who thought glass would shatter on a weekly basis with the opening song of All in the Family, sung by O'Connor and Ms. Stapleton, whose latter contribution was to hit impossibly loud off-key fingers-down-the-blackboard notes, it may come as a surprise to learn that Ms. Stapleton had a lovely voice, as evidenced by her extensive work on Broadway, the movies Bells Are Ringing (2005), and TV (she sang with The Muppets).

Ms. Stapleton, who was 90, died Friday in New York.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) from New Jersey, has died

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey, who was the last living World War II veteran serving in the U.S.Senate as well as its oldest member (he turned 89 in January), died early this morning at a New York Hospital.

Sen. Lautenberg was a first-generation American (his parents were Polish and Russian). He and two childhood friends founded the first automated payroll system in the U.S. (ADP -- Automated Data Processing) which became a worldwide company.

In 1982, Sen. Lautenberg won his first term in the U.S. Senate and retired at the end of 2000. Just two years later, he was drafted by NJ Democrats to save the 2002 Senate race from sinking due to the multi-scandal-ridden career of Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli. He won that election and the election of 2008 with wide margins.

Sen. Lautenberg was one of the most liberal members of the Senate and proud of it. He won successful legislative battles to ban smoking on airplanes and to prevent domestic abusers from owning guns. He tightened the drunk driving laws and was instrumental in getting the drinking age raised to 21. He was one of the most active Senators -- he cast his 9000th vote in in December of 2011.

As his health failed earlier this year, he announced that he would serve out this term and not seek re-election in 2014.

Sen. Lautenberg died of complications stemming from viral pneumonia.

Father Andrew Greeley, bestselling novelist and Catholic scholar, has died

Father Andrew Greeley, devoted and devout Chicago Catholic priest, author of forward-thinking (read: controversial) scholarly articles on the future and relevancy of the Catholic Church, and bestselling author of mysteries and stand-alone romances that were so steamy, they earned him the label,of a clerical Harold Robbins, has died.

Father Greeley was ahead of his time on a number of social issues that still make headlines today. He believed in the ordination of women. For decades he urged the Catholic Church to relax its stand on birth control and divorce. He never stopped pushing the Church to stop defending and hiding priests guilty of child sex abuse. He did, however, never waver in his support of the Church's opposition to abortion.

It was his bestselling novels and the popular Father Blackie Ryan mystery series (i.e., The Bishop in the West Wing (2002) and The Bishop in the Old Neighborhood (2005) that really put him at odds with the Catholic Church, so much so that Cardinal Bernardin (Chicago) rejected Father Greeley's million dollar pledge from his book royalties.

In 2008, Father Greeley published the last Blackie Ryan mystery -- The Archbishop in Andalusia. That same year his clothing got caught in a taxi's closed door. The resulting head injury ending his writing and speaking career.

Father Greeley, who was 85, died in Chicago at home.

Jack Vance, science fiction writer, has died

Jack Vance, one of the most underappreciated masters of science fiction and fantasy and mystery, died Sunday at his Oakland, CA home.

The award-winning author (he won an Edgar, a Nebula, and a couple of Hugos, among others) got his start writing short fantasy stories for pulp magazines in the 1940s while serving in the merchant marine during WWII. In 1950, he published the first of his Dying Earth stories, which have since been collected in Tales of the Dying Earth (2000).

Vance had a unique, beautiful writing style that was described by fellow science fiction writer, Norman Spinrad as a "...baroque tapestry..." Vance was not much of a Gadget Guy. He found gadgets boring and said that his forte was telling "...a history of the human future."

Two of his closest chums, Frank Herbert and Poul Anderson built a houseboat together which they used on the Sacramento Delta.

Vance was 96 when he died on Sunday.

Author Mia Couto wins the 2013 Camoes Prize for Literature

Mia Couto, born in Mozambique of Portuguese parents, has won the Camoes Prize for Literature for 2013. The Camoes, one of the prestigious international literary awards, is given to writers of the Portuguese language.

Couto, who pens novels, short stories, poetry, attended medical school (he is a professor of ecology), was a key player in Mozambique's struggle to achieve independence which it did on July 25, 1975, in part due to Couto's articles in the newspaper A Tribuna.

His first poems were published at age 14 in a Mozambique newspaper. His first novel Terra Sonnambula was published in 1992; 16 years later it was translated into English (Sleepwalking Land. In 2000, he wrote O Ultimo Voo do Flamingo, which was translated into English, The Last Flight of the Flamingo in 2004.

Couto was the first African writer to receive, in 1998, the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Couto, who is 57, has a home in Maputo, Mozambique's capital, but spends the majority of his time in the coastline forests pursuing his multiple interests in the legends, myths, and ecological offerings that he loves.

When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky by Lauren Stringer

In 1913 Paris, two Russians, Igor Stravinsky the composer and Vaslav Nijinsky the dancer/choreographer, took the western European art world by storm when the Ballet Russes premiered The Rite of Spring on May 29th. This book, composed with much alliterative, musical language, and onomatopoeia, tells the story of the friendship and collaboration between composer and dancer. Focusing on the changes to their work and personal styles that resulted from their meeting to the culmination of their efforts, the ballet The Rite of Spring, the story conveys their composition process in a lively, upbeat fashion, with a percussive vocabulary. Children may be surprised to learn about the commotion the composition caused, and the riotous ballet is sure to catch their attention. Vibrantly colored illustrations, inspired by Matisse and Picasso, of the musical notes, instruments, and dancers depicted, enhance the tone of the story and complement the text well. Stringer trusts readers with a challenging and exciting account of the transformative power of visionary, risk-taking art.

If you're feeling inspired after reading the book, try making up your own dance to the music. NPR Music is inviting "professionals and the public alike to take the last minute of Stravinsky's inimitable score — in an exceptional performance by conductor Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra — and create a new video to go along with this music." Follow this link for more information, or to see some of the submitted videos. Happy Dancing! Happy Spring!

Ray Manzarek, co-founder and keyboardist of the rock group The Doors, has died

Ray Manzarek, keyboard genius and co-founder (with the late Jim Morrison) of The Doors died yesterday in Rosenheim, Germany.

A chance meeting on a California beach in 1965 between Morrison and Manzarek sparked one of the most successful rock bands in U.S. music history. After Morrison's death in 1971, Manzarek stayed busy in the music world, working with the punk band X and collaborating with Michael McClure on the documentary Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rossett and Grove Press (2008).

Manzarek loved to tell the story about how The Doors seriously aggravated Ed Sullivan on September 17, 1967 for their first and only appearance on his variety show. Sullivan made the band swear they would NOT sing the word 'higher' when performing Light My Fire ("You know that it would be untrue, You know that I would be a liar, If I was to say to you, Girl, we couldn't get much higher"). The group promised -- "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure." -- and then performed it as written. Sullivan cancelled all their future performances.

Mr. Manzarek, who was 74, had been battling bile duct cancer.

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