The Play Ground

The Play Ground

Murray Burns. Chuckles The Chipmunk. Nick, Wilbur Malcolm, Theodore, Raphael Sabatini, Dr. Morris Fishbein, Woodrow, King, Rover, Lefty, Chevrolet, Big Sam Burns.
The Play Ground has never forgotten the first time he saw A Thousand Clowns with
Jason Robards, Barbara Harris, Gene Saks and Martin Balsam. Never mind that
cast of thousands himself, Barry Gordon as a very man-like child. Funny, tragic, sad.
Bring your tissues and your empathy to the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre from March 2-5 or
borrow the Robards version from our library.

Music in the Future

You may have heard about Best Buy's new partnership with independent online music source CDBaby. What else will shape the future of music and the music industry? David Kusek's new book The Future of Music explores the cluster of issues around music and the recording industry as we move into the 21st century, as does the PBS Frontline documentary The Way the Music Died. I certainly don't know where music is heading, but I bet the future will sound something like this...

A Few DVDs for Black History Month

Just released on DVD and soon to be available here at AADL is 1994's A Great Day in Harlem, left, a documentary that explores Art Kane's famous 1958 photograph featuring 57 legendary jazz musicians. Other recent titles include: Brother Minister: The Assassination of El-Hajj Malik Shabazz, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, The Rosa Parks Story, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Super Fly, and this year's Hustle and Flow, starring Academy Award nominee, Terrence Howard. Two other classic films, Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather, are on order.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

February 4, 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Though he was an accomplished theologian and writer, Bonhoeffer is best known for his resistance to the Nazi regime and his involvement with plots to assassinate Hitler. On April 5, 1943, Bonhoeffer was arrested for his subversive activities and he spent the rest of his life in prison. He was hanged at Flossenberg on April 8, 1945.

A number of books about or by Bonhoeffer are available at the library, including Letters and Papers from Prison, Christ the Center, The Cost of Moral Leadership: the Spirituality of Bonhoeffer, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Man of Vision, Man of Courage.

The library also has a documentary about Bonhoeffer called Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace. Also, PBS will be showing a more recent documentary called Bonhoeffer. It will be shown on Detroit Public TV on Sunday, February 12 at 3pm.

The Worst of 2005

The nominees for this year's Oscar awards have been announced, but let's be honest...the awards we really care about are the ones for the worst movies and performances of the year! This year's Razzie nominations have been announced and the masses are waiting with great anticipation to see who will end up at the bottom of the list!

Will The Dukes of Hazzard win the Worst Picture award? Will Tom Cruise cap off an embarrassing 2005 by winning Worst Actor for War of the Worlds? He'll have some serious competition from Will Ferrell, who has the distinction of being nominated for both Bewitched and Kicking and Screaming. The award for Worst Actress will probably come down between Jessica Alba for Fantastic 4 and Jennifer Lopez for Monster-in-Law.

So, what are the worst movies and performances you've seen this year?

Best Documentaries of 2005

Quick, can you name last year's Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature? (Answer under "read more," below). In the wake of all the media hype over popular feature films, documentaries usually get short shrift. Oh sure, you'll recognize March of the Penguins when this year's nominations are announced Tuesday morning, but that's largely because the sub-zero chick-rearing practices of the Emperor penguin featured prominently in America's perennial culture war last year. But many other excellent documentaries from 2005 (including Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man, left, one of the best-reviewed films of the year) won't be among the nominees either, whether due to a lack of interest on the part of an obscure group of Academy voters or equally obscure Academy rules....

Origins of Existence: An Astrophysicist's View

Fred Adams, professor of astrophysics at the University of Michigan and a world-renowned theorist on star and planet foundation, talks about his book Origins of Existence: How Life Emerged in the Universe on Community Access Cable Televison Channel 17 on Tuesday, January 31 at 3:30 p.m.; Thursday, February 2 at 1:30 p.m.; Friday, February 3 at 5:00 p.m.; and Saturday, February 4 at 1:30 p.m. The program was originally recorded in April 2003 as part of the library's 'Booked for Lunch' series, now known as 'Sunday Edition'. Among Dr. Adams' many provocative ideas is that life began inside our planet, not on its surface -- and that the universe exists in a forest of universes in space-time. His talk is also available on VHS Video at the library.

Happy Birthday Paul!

Today (January 26) Paul Newman turns 81. He is a very notable contributor to film as both an actor and director and a personal favorite of mine. Here are some of my favorites:

The Sting (1973), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), The Color of Money (1986), and The Hudsucker Proxy (1994). He also directed Rachel, Rachel (1968), The Glass Menagerie (1987), and more.

Did I miss any??

Olympic DVDs

On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics, actually called "The International Winter Sports Week," began at Chamonix in the French Alps. This year the XX Olympic Winter Games will be held in Turin (Torino in Italian), Italy from February 10-26.

The library's DVD collection includes several titles that have something to do with the Olympic Games, including Miracle, The Real Olympics, The First Olympics, Criterion's release of Tokyo Olympiad, One Day in September, Chariots of Fire, and this movie that was so moving it nearly brought me to tears.

So, what's your favorite Olympic event?

Venice Shines in Films

The recently released movie Casanova was made even more enjoyable by its luscious setting in Venice, Italy. Of course, Venice has been used as a setting in numerous films. Some of the most memorable are Death in Venice, Summertime, Wings of the Dove, Bread and Tulips and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Venice also appears prominently in less 'arty' films ranging from the James Bond vehicle Moonraker to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Are there others that appealed to you? What's your favorite Venice film?

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