Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads: Present and Past

On Tuesday, January 21, from 7-9 pm at Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building, Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray, this year's AA/Ypsi Reads selection, discusses her book as well as signs copies. (With doors opening at 6 pm.)

But you can explore previous AA/Ypsi Reads authors right now. Our online Video Collection includes the AA/Ypsi Reads lectures from Jonathan Weiner, author of the 2006 selection The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Own Time, William Poy Lee, author of the 2008 selection The Eighth Promise: An American Son's Tribute to His Toisanese Mother, Timothy Ferris, author of the 2009 selection Seeing in the Dark: How Amateur Astronomers are Discovering the Wonders of the Universe, Jerry Dennis, author of the 2010 selection The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, and Richard Glaubman, co-author of the 2011 selection Life is So Good.

There are also audio podcasts featuring interviews with Timothy Ferris, Jerry Dennis, and Richard Glaubman.

And if you're looking to expand your AA/Ypsi Reads horizons beyond the authors, check out the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Video Collection Page containing related lectures and discussions from the past nine years.

Blast from the Past: 'Eight is Enough'

Maybe it’s because I was an only child, but as a kid in the late '70s and early '80s Eight is Enough was my favorite TV show. I was devastated when it was cancelled after it’s 5th season in 1981.

Eight is Enough, originally based on the life and memoir of the same name by Thomas Braden, was a family comedy/drama about Tom, his wife Joan, and their eight children, David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas, living in Sacramento, CA. Actress Diana Hyland played Joan, but the actress became ill and tragically died shortly after the first episode aired. The entire show was retooled and Tom Bradford became a widower.

Abby, played by Broadway star Betty Buckley became Tom's love interest in season two. Son Tommy, played by Willie Ames became a teen idol and would later appear on the Scott Baio vehicle Charles in Charge. The brightest star to emerge from Eight is Enough didn't arrive until the final season: Ralph Macchio caused hearts to go pitter pat when he debuted as Abby’s troubled nephew Jeremy. Check out seasons one and two at AADL. Seasons three and four are on order!

Run Run Shaw, movie director, has died

Run Run Shaw, creator of a mammoth movie empire in China and Hong Kong and considered the father of martial arts movies, died Tuesday in Hong Kong.

He and his brother, Run Me Shaw made their first successful film in 1924 in China. Three years later, the political strife in China forced the brothers to move to Singapore, where they continued to produce one money-making film after another.

Next stop, thanks to the invasion of the Malay Peninsula by the Japanese, was Hong Kong where they established their martial arts movie street cred, first with the 'dragon lady' genre, and then with Five Fingers of Death, 1973 (on order)

The Shaw Brothers' movie house empire expanded to the U.S. where their fortunes continued to grow until a serious miscalculation. They rejected Bruce Lee's offer of a contract for several films. Raymond Chow a former Shaw employee, jumped at the chance to work with Lee and the rest is history.

In 1977, Queen Elizabeth knighted him for his philanthropy which benefited orphanages, hospitals, and universities in England, Singapore, and China.

One of his biggest successes was the 1982 science fiction hit, Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Harrison Ford and Sean Young.

Mr. Shaw was 106.

In A World… on DVD & Blu-ray

In a world... where you can check out DVDs at the library... comes an original film that will make you laugh. In In A World... A struggling vocal coach looks to make it big in the world of male dominated movie trailer voiceovers. She uses her talent and takes on her father, who is the reigning top voiceover performer, and his competitive protégé.

The film is hilarious and Lake Bell’s performance is endearing. Critically acclaimed, it won Best Screenplay at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and is one of the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Independent Films of 2013. I got a huge kick out of listening to the voiceovers from the various characters and I was surprised that I enjoyed the film so much.

Queen to Play

Chess is a very popular pastime these days. We even have a large chess board in the youth department Downtown at which families can challenge their skills. This resurgence in interest has spawned a number of movies, and I think the French language film, Queen to Play, is one of the best.

On the island of Corsica, Helene is a hotel chambermaid. She becomes interested in, and then obsessed by the game, and wants to learn more. Enter Kevin Kline, as a retired American doctor (and speaking flawless French), who employs Helene as his house-cleaner, and is as cultured and skilled as Helene is naïve and unaccomplished. He is reclusive and sad and relishes the opportunity to tutor this bright, untested student of chess. No one can believe that Helene’s passion and natural ability for the game will amount to anything.

Oh, they are so wrong!

Blue Jasmine on DVD & Blu-ray

After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal, elegant New York socialite Jasmine moves into her sister’s humble apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again. With the lead portrayed fabulously by Cate Blanchett, she paints the picture of a woman with deep mental anguish as she talks to herself and Hal throughout the film while struggling living day to day in total denial. It is very intense to watch her cope with all the life changes in such a deep psychosis. Blue Jasmine and Blanchett’s performance are wonderful and read Academy Award buzz.

The Snowman

Every winter, when I was little, I would get out one of my favorite books, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. But I would not read this book – because there are no words – only pictures. These pictures tell a magical, yet simple story of a young boy who builds a snowman, only to wake up in the middle of the night and find that the snowman has come alive. The boy and his snowman get into all sorts of mischief during the night, from trying on his dad’s clothes to flying across the big night sky. This cozy story is ingrained in my memory to this day, and carries with it so much nostalgia!

This classic picture book is available in the AADL collection, not only in its traditional format, but now also in the reader format and as well as a movie on DVD.

Hollywood took a big hit this past week -- Peter O'Toole, Joan Fontaine, Tom Laughlin -- all gone

Three silver screen icons -- Peter O'Toole, Joan Fontaine, and Tom Laughlin -- all died within three days of each other.

Peter O'Toole, star of the classic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Lion in Winter (1968), died on Saturday, December 14. He had an enormous body of work that, by his own admission, was performed while he was under the influence. His drinking tales with other famous imbibing actors (Richard Burton, Michael Caine, and Peter Finch), are legendary -- he once cut off a finger tip, sterilized it in his whiskey glass, and stuck it back on his finger. Backwards. He and Finch were denied entry to an Irish pub because it was after hours. O'Toole and Finch whipped out their checkbooks and wrote checks. To buy the pub. The actors and the pub owner (he never cashed the check), became fast friends. When the pub owner died, O'Toole and Finch were invited to the funeral and sobbed loudly. At the wrong gravesite.

O'Toole, a happily self-described hellraiser for much of his life, who was 81 when he died, was nominated for eight Oscars and yet only received an honorary Oscar in 2003 for "...[his] remarkable talents [that] have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters."

Joan Fontaine, whose personal life was as much a part of her celebrity as was her onscreen persona, died Sunday, December 15. Her lifelong public feud with her actor-sister Olivia de Havilland was the stuff of legends. Fontaine won her only Oscar in 1942 for her leading role in Suspicion (1941). A few years earlier, she had been offered the role of Melanie in Gone with the Wind (1939). Insulted by the offer, (she was aiming for the role of Scarlet), Fontaine said, "If it's a Melanie you want, call Olivia." The Studio did, and de Havilland became the darling of millions of movie-goers.

Ms. Fontaine's most famous role was as the unnamed second wife of Maxim de Winter, played by Laurence Olivier in the 1940 film, Rebecca, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.

Ms. Fontaine, who was 96, is survived by her sister, Ms. De Havilland

Last Thursday, December 12th, Tom Laughlin who created the Billy Jack franchise died of complications from pneumonia.

Laughlin wrote and starred in four Billy Jack movies: Born Losers (1967), Billy Jack (1971), The Trial of Billy Jack, and Billy Jack Goes to Washington (2009). Billy Jack is half caucasian, half Indian martial arts expert who sets out to fight racism. Laughlin is credited with creating the concept of 'blockbuster' movie. Laughlin eschewed the standard release protocol for new movies (opening in a few cities, with rolling releases), and released The Trial of Billy Jack nationwide, accompanied by promo ads which aired during the national news. It was a smashing success and studios adopted the model from that day on.

Laughlin died in California. He was 82.

New TV Shows @ AADL: That 70s Style

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Here are some new series at AADL that got their start during the 1970s:

Laverne & Shirley – Season 1
Laverne & Shirley are a hilarious duo who are roommates and work together as bottlecappers at the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. See the sidesplitting situations the girls get themselves into - between themselves and with friends Lenny & Squiggy and Mrs. Babish and Carmine "The Big Ragu." (Aired 1976-1983)

McMillan & Wife – Season 1
Revisit TV's favorite husband and wife detective duo as they take on crooks, murderers, and the windy streets of San Francisco in this first season. (Aired 1971-1977)

Eight Is Enough – Season 1 & 2
For fans of the family-based dramas of the '70s here is the first season of this top-rated dramedy. The series chronicled the lives of a columnist Tom Bradford, his wife and their eight children, and their sometimes-comic, sometimes-dramatic exploits. (Aired 1977-1981)

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

Great Library Collections At Your Fingertips!

If you've always been curious about the treasures hidden deep inside the Vatican Library or the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, wonder no more! The two libraries are in the midst of a four-year project to digitize many of their most important works, including various Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and Gutenberg Bibles. Accessing the digitized content can be done by visiting http://bav.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/.

And if you've always wanted to check out the Vatican and Bodleian Libraries in person but just can't find the time, you're in luck! From DVDs about the collections, to Books about the buildings, to Audiobooks about the people who have shaped them, AADL has you covered!

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