Ann Arbor Observer: Meet Jacqui Robbins

The March issue of the Ann Arbor Observer has a particularly good article about Jacqui Robbins, who is a writer, director and teacher in Ann Arbor. This article profiles Robbins, author of the children's books The New Girl. . . .And Me, and Two of a Kind. She also has a piece in the new book Dare to Dream - Change the World, a poetry collection inspired by coverage of the 2011 uprising in Egypt. Around Ann Arbor, Robbins is active in many community organizations including 826 Michigan, where she is president of the board.

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Ed "Hizzoner" Koch, former mayor of New York City, has died

Ed Koch, whose highest-profile job as three-term mayor of New York City made him a national figure, died early this morning at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital.

After serving in the Army during WW II, Koch began his political career in 1952 campaigning for Adlai Stevenson who lost the run for president to Dwight Eisenhower. Koch was elected five times to the U.S. House of Representatives, beginning in 1969. During his fifth term, he ran for Mayor of New York City, beating in the primary such Democratic heavyweights as Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo, and Abe Beame, New York City's first Jewish Mayor (1974-1978). Koch won his first of three mayoral terms in the 1977 general election against three opponents.

Koch's first two terms as mayor were very successful. His feisty personality, blunt talk, and political savvy brought NYC out of bankruptcy and made great strides in cleaning up the City, adding 200,000 housing units and drastically reducing the number of abandoned buildings. The start of his third term was marred by a stunning number of scandals involving key City leaders and the tanking of the stock market in 1987.

After his career as Mayor, Koch immediately launched himself into a dozen new directions. He wrote 17 books, including his 2000 I'm Not Done Yet: Keeping at It, Remaining Relevant, and Having the Time of My Life. He was a popular talk radio show contributor, a TV and silver screen actor (The Muppets Take Manhattan (2011) and The First Wives Club (1998)), a columnist and critic (film and restaurant) for several print venues, and lecturer.

Due to his failing health, he missed the Tuesday night premiere of Neil Barsky's documentary, Koch.

Mr. Koch, who died of congestive heart failure, was 88.

Rose Martin, champion of Ann Arbor's low income citizens, has died

Rose Martin, co-founder and director of Ann Arbor's Peace Neighborhood Center, died yesterday.

PNC was established in 1971 to provide a safe environment for residents of the diverse West Side to get together to solve problems. Co-operation between Peace Lutheran, Trinity Lutheran, and Zion Lutheran Churches made possible the Center at 1111 North Maple Road. Five years later, Ms. Martin became its Executive Director, a position she held for 30 years. Over the years she expanded its services to include working to end violence and drug abuse through educational and economic initiatives.

In 2001, Ann Arbor's Nonprofit Enterprise at Work awarded PNC its Prize for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.

A year later, Ms. Martin published her autobiography, One Rose Blooming: Hard-Earned Lessons about Kids, Race, and Life in America. Former Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon wrote of this book: "It grabbed my heart and forced me to evaluate myself. A fantastic book from a visionary community leader."

When she retired, Ms. Martin went right back to work. She opened Rose's Good Company whose clientele, according to RGC's mission statement is to "...serve individuals and families who have lost hope." The organization's focus is on the unemployed, the homeless, dependent children, ex-convicts and recovering addicts.

Ms. Martin, who was 70, died at a local restaurant of cardiac arrest.

Stan "The Man" Musial, baseball's gentleman player, has died

Stan Musial, the low key, brilliant batter for the St. Louis Cardinals for 22 years, died January 19th.

Musial's career was not just about the numbers -- 475 homes runs, seven batting championships, 3630 hits (half on the road, half at home). It was also about his character as a calm, decent, fair, and polite professional. He loved the game, purely and simply, both the mechanics of his performance and the team player cooperation that made for success on the field.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969, his very first year of eligibility. In 2011, President Obama bestowed on Musial the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S.'s highest civilian award,

Baseball historian/author George Vecsey's biography of Musial, Stan Musial: An American Life was published in 2011.

At his last game against the Cincinnati Reds on September 29, 1963 at the Cards' Busch Stadium, baseball's Commissioner Ford Frick, honored Musial with a tribute so apt, it is immortalized on one of the two Stan Musial statues at the stadium: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."

Stan Musial was 92.

Pauline Phillips, a.k.a. beloved advice columnist Dear Abby, has died

Pauline Phillips who, for decades, enchanted readers with her snappy advice-column answers under the moniker Dear Abby, died yesterday in Minneapolis, MN.

Ms. Phillips began her advice-giving career by helping her identical twin sister, Esther (Eppie) who had launched her own popular newspaper advice column in 1955 for The Chicago Sun-Times. Eppie, whose professional name was Ann Landers, was swamped with instant popularity so Pauline started helping out. When the latter saw how well-received her signature witty answers were, she launched her own syndicated column in The San Francisco Chronicle the following year.

Reader demand for the sisters' advice columns eventually created a rift between the two writers which caused a five-year estrangement followed by reconciliation in the 1960s.

Abby liked to claim that she was more popular than Ann Landers because the latter never mastered the art of the short zinger. In response to this question to Abby -- "Are birth control pill deductible?" -- she answered, "Only if they don't work."

Ms. Phillips' daughter, Jeanne Phillips, began helping her mother with her column in the late 1980s. By 2000, with Abby's health failing, Jeanne officially took on the column.

Pauline Phillips, who suffered from Alzheimer's for many years, was 94.

Patti Page, 1950s pop and country singer, has died

Patti Page, who topped the 1950s charts selling 100 million records, died yesterday in Encinitas, California.

Ms. Page was the first singer to overdub her own harmonies, with the help of Mitch Miller, musician and record producer. In 1948, she was strapped for funds so she used the overdub technique for Confess, which became her first hit single.

Her second number one hit is the beloved Tennessee Waltz . It has sold more than 15 million copies and enjoyed renewed popularity as part of the sound track for the 1983 movie, The Right Stuff, starring Glen Scott, Ed Harris, and Dennis Quaid.

Another of her signature tunes was the popular children's tune, (How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window, her fourth million-copy seller in 1953.

Until recently, Ms. Page who had maintained a busy performance career throughout the decades, gave 50 concerts a year. She was 85 years old when she died.

Robert Bork, controversial legal scholar, Supreme Court nominee, and judge, has died

Robert Bork, an influential conservative legal presence in American history for many decades, has died.

Bork, a former Marine, segued from an attorney in private practice to a professor at Yale Law School. Some of his notable students were Bill and Hillary Clinton, Robert Reich, Anita Hill, and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Bork made first headlines on October, 20, 1973. Richard Nixon, embroiled in the Watergate scandal, demanded that Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox be fired, triggering the Saturday Night Massacre. Both U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out this order. Bork then immediately became Acting Attorney General and complied with Nixon's order, which was found to be illegal in a lawsuit filed in November by Ralph Nader.

Fourteen years later, President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork (who by then was a Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.) for a seat on the Supreme Court. The pushback from Senate Democrats was fierce in light of Bork's support for the South's wish to impose poll taxes and for rolling back key aspects of civil rights. His nomination was rejected and Judge Anthony Kennedy won unanimous approval.

Bork then resigned from the Court of Appeals, accepting a position as senior fellow at the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

He was back in the news for endorsing Governor Mitt Romney for President on August 2, 2011 for the second time (he had also endorsed Romney on December 15, 2007).

Mr. Bork, who was 85, died of heart complications.

Ravi Shankar, sitarist and Friend of The Beatles, has died

Ravi Shankar, India's most famous sitarist due to his embrace of and collaboration with many well-known Western artists, especially the Beatles, died yesterday in California.

In 1952, Shankar performed with Yehudi Menuhin and 15 years later they recorded West Meets East. In 1965, George Harrison began sitar lessons with Shankar. When Harrison then used the sitar on the Beatles' 1965 album, Norwegian Wood and its popularity took off.

Other notable Western musicians who worked with Shankar were: saxophonist John Coltrane (who named his son Ravi]; Jean Pierre Rampal (flutist); and composer Philip Glass.

Two DVDs highlight Shankar's influence on the world of music: Ravi Shankar in Portrait was a live concert that took place in London on July 22, 2012 in Union Chapel. Exactly five months later, again in London,Concert for George was filmed. This event honoring George Harrison was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on November 22, 2002.

Shankar, who had undergone heart surgery last Thursday, was 92.

Sir Patrick Moore, astronomer, has died

England's Sir Patrick Moore has died at the age of 89. For 55 years, the entertaining, monocled people's astronomer introduced viewers to the wonders of the night sky as host of the popular series, The Sky at Night, making this the longest-running TV series in the world with the same host. And oh, what a host. Moore delighted with his ill-fitting suits, his raised eyebrow, and his fervent discourses on astronomy, which he could deliver at 300 word per minute.

His passion began at the age of 7 with a book on the solar system. By the age of 13 the self-taught Moore was publishing papers on the moon's surface based on detailed observations made through his first 3-inch telescope. After serving with the RAF during WWII, he built his own telescope and made further detailed drawings of the moon which were later used by NASA as part of the preparations made for the 1960s-70s moon landings. A first book on the moon soon followed, after which writing took over his life. He produced some 70 books in his lifetime, including this year's The New Astronomy Guide: Star Gazing in the Digital Age.

Beyond astronomy, Moore held a deep passion for cricket and music - notably the xylophone, which he often played in public. And in one historic encounter, Moore played piano while his musical partner, Albert Einstein, played the violin.

The Best of 2012

If you have read all of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2012, you could certainly find something on 100 Notable Books of 2012.

Here is the NPR Complete List of Best Books of 2012 which includes Graphic Novels That Flew Under The Radar, Nancy Pearl's Picks For The Omnivorous Reader.

As the days get shorter and there is just too much to do, try Jane Ciabattari's picks of Short Stories To Savor On A Winter Weekend. For a bit of seasonal reading, there is A Wintry Mix: Alan Cheuse Selects The Season's Best.

The thoughtful and expert picks in Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2012, and the Library Journal 2012 Best of Genre Fiction are always right on. Bear in mind also, The Guardian(UK) Best Books of the Year for some adventurous reading.

On the road this holiday season? Track down one of these Top 10 Crime Fiction Audiobooks, or the The Washington Post Best Audio Books of 2012.

For the ebook readers on your list, here are the current hot titles. They are always available and no gift wrapping necessary.

FOR THE YOUNG READERS IN YOUR LIFE :

Worth another look is NPR's 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels.

American Library Association's 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults and Top 10 List, the complete list of 2012 Notable Children's Books

The New York Times 100 Notable Children's books covers titles for young adults to picture books.

And who could blame them if they want TOYS? Check out Parenting magazine's Best New Toys 2012 and the Best Wii games for kids.

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