Still not on DVD

Despite the rapidly approaching demise of the VHS format, there are still many great (and just plain good) films that haven't yet made it onto DVD--and maybe never will. Below are some of the titles you won't find on DVD yet. Fortunately, we still own them on VHS.

African Queen
Anne of the 1,000 Days
Celine and Julie Go Boating
Downhill Racer
The Great McGinty
The Gunfighter
The Incredible Journey (1963)
The Jazz Singer (1927)
El Norte
Prospero's Books
Show Boat (1936)

The Play Ground

The Play GroundThe Play Ground

"Hallelujah, Hallelujah." Tis the season to sing and hear the glorious Handel's Messiah. We have sung it and listened to it and there is great pleasure in both. The University Musical Society Choral Union and the Ann Arbor Symphony's annual concert is Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December 3 at Hill Auditorium.

Nate the Great

Nate the GreatNate the Great

Remember Nate the Great? His pancake breakfasts? Rosamond? Anne and her dog Fang?

If so (or if not and your curious,) check out the Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.

I think it's time to reintroduce the pint-size detective.
Forget Columbo, hire Nate to get to the bottom of things...

And I bet you didn't know that there's a Nate the Great website, did ya?

The Marseilles Trilogy

Fabio Montale is a marginalized neighborhood cop in the Arab ghetto in Marseilles.

1. Jean-Claude Izzo's Total Chaos is a compelling noir tale of growing up poor and immigrant, especially poor and Arab. The story mixes organized crime, police corruption and compartmentalization, the uneasiness of love and friendship, the requirements of honor, and a keen sense of place (food, drink, neighborhoods).

2. Chourmo

3. Solea (due out in June 2007)

More Good News

Back in June I blogged that famed and beloved political columnist Art Buchwaldwas alive and well despite a warning in the Spring that he only had weeks to live if he didn't undergo dialysis.

Now I'm pleased to report that Buchwald has a new book out Too Soon to Say Goodbye that was featured on the Diane Rehm show on 11-22-2006.

Current political commentary by Buchwald appears in the Washington Post

Depths of Concrete

Paul Chadwick’s 1980s Concrete series has been recently re-released by Dark Horse Comics. The series follow the life of Ronald Lithgow after aliens transplant his brain into a massive body made of rock. Instead of having Concrete seek revenge on the aliens who put him into this predicament, or having him declare his intentions to rid the world of evil-doers, Chadwick explores how Mr. Lithgow (former senatorial speechwriter and average Joe) deals mentally, emotionally, and physically with suddenly having a "nigh invulnerable" body.

In the first book of the series, Depths, we get Concrete’s origin story, complete with aliens and woodland creatures. Also included are some of the early stories, never before collected, in which Concrete attends a birthday party, attempts to swim an ocean, and becomes bodyguard to a rock star. The page layout choices are well thought out and the illustrations are fantastic. Chadwick’s attention to detail throughout adds a lot to the story (especially the 150 panel swim sequence on page 54).

Make it a Michigan Holiday

Planning on getting a tree, wreath or roping this holiday season? The Michigan Department of Agriculture has tips for selecting and caring for Michigan-grown greenery. You can cut your own at a Michigan Christmas tree farm. To get in the holiday mood, visit the Michigan Historical Center. They’ve decked the halls with holiday trimmings and added special winter and holiday displays throughout the galleries. The kids can make decorations for your Michigan tree at the Center’s WinterFest Arts & Crafts Extravaganza this Saturday, Dec. 2nd.

An Apple for Harriet Tubman by Glennett Tilley Turner

There are many children’s books written about Harriet Tubman. This one gives the reader a little known fact about her. She loved apples. When she was a slave she had to pick apples. Slaves were not allowed to eat them. If they even took one bite they were punished. One day Harriet Tubman noticed that the overseer was not around and decided to take a bite of an apple. She was caught and severely beaten. She promised herself that she would become free and eat all the apples she wanted. Harriet Tubman did just that. She ran away through the Underground Railroadand became free. She later bought property and planted apple trees. She ate all the apples she wanted, just like she promised, and invited the townspeople to come and fill their baskets. Glennette Tilley Turner captures the spirit of the young Harriet Tubman and her struggle for freedom in this uplifting children’s book.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (12/3/06)

Hiassen has taken his white-hot anger about the environmental destruction and degradation that he first reported on for his Miami newspaper and played it for laughs in a remarkable number of satirical novels. By making fun of the developers, politicians and "players" in the ongoing assault on the quality of life in his beleaguered home state, he continues to win converts to his cause.

At #1 is Cross by James Patterson: "Alex Cross, retired from the F.B.I., has a chance to track a rapist who may have murdered his wife."

At #4 is Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen: "A single mother takes revenge on her lecherous ex-boss and an annoying telemarketer in the Florida Keys."

At #8 is Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark: "Passengers on a Christmas cruise for charity, including an amateur sleuth, manage to foil two escaping felons."

Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell, 56, has died

Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell, 56, has diedNovelist Bebe Moore Campbell, 56, has died

Bebe Moore Campbell, author of popular best-selling novels about romance and interracial friendships, died November 27, 2006, from brain cancer.

Often compare to Terry McMillan, Campbell’s fiction titles focused on upper middle class African Americans figuring out the balance between having it all, having satisfying romantic relationships, and enjoying friendships that crossed the color line.

Several of Ms. Campbell’s novels used history to frame her stories. Her first fiction title, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine (1992), is based on the life of Emmett Till. Brothers and Sisters (1994) is the story of two bankers, one white and one African American, in post-L.A. 1992 riots. In What You Owe Me (2001), the friends are a Holocaust survivor and an African American. Her last novel, 72 Hour Hold (2005), was based on a family member's struggle with bipolar disorder.

Ms. Campbell was 56 when she died.

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