Into the Wild

Sean Penn is currently filming Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild (1996) about Chris McCandless' ill-fated Alaskan wilderness odyssey of 1992. Although the book is dramatic enough, it's unlikely Penn will spin off, as Krakauer does, into the intriguing stories of other fanatical adventurers--Everett Ruess, John Waterman, Gene Rosellini--who also ventured off into the wild full of ideals and hubris, never to return. Part cautionary tale, Krakauer also does his bit to counter those who would dismiss the bright, Tolstoy-quoting Jack London-loving McCandless as mere crackpot by setting him within the context of other intensely motivated nature lovers (John Muir, Henry David Thoreau) who also retreated from society into the seductive refuge of nature.

Chappelle's Block Party

You may have missed the live concert in Brooklyn. Then you might have missed it again when it was in theaters. Guess what? We got it! Dave Chappelle's Block Party, complete with comedy from the man himself. Also featuring the livest music from some of Dave's favorite artists: Erykah Badu, Common, Black Star, Bilal, Cody ChesnuTT, The Roots, Jill Scott and more. Will this be the start of more block parties from Dave? We can only hope...

Wordplay (Now Showing at the Michigan Theater)

Wordplay is a movie about crossword puzzles featuring: Will Shortz, the New York Times crossword puzzle editor; the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, Connecticut; and crossword puzzle solvers Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, Mike Mussina, the Indigo Girls, and Bill Clinton. Al Gore tackled a more important topic and was fairly compelling in An Inconvenient Truth. Bill Clinton is extremely charismatic, articulate, and attractive in Wordplay.

Crossword puzzle fans might also enjoy Marco Romano’s Crossworld: One Man’s Journey into America’s Crossword Obsession.

Staff Picks, Summer 2006

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You asked for it and here they are - staff picks from a few of our very well read folks. We asked them to suggest fiction titles and authors that are engaging and fun, nothing dark. Some are old favorites, a few are new stars. It's a long list. Be sure to click on "read more". Hope you'd enjoy them.

Albert's Picks:
The British mystery series by Deborah Crombie.
At Weddings and Wakes by Alice McDermott.
Revenge of the Middle-age Woman by Elizabeth Buchan.
The Young Wan by Brendan O'Carroll.
Saying Grace by Beth Gutcheon.
A Big Storm Knocked it Over by Laurie Colwin.
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman.
The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

From a very shy librarian:
Crazy for You by Jennifer Crusie.
Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes.
Bubbles Unbound by Sarah Strohmeyer.
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn.
Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews.

Amy's picks:
In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant.
The Minotaur by Barbara Vine.

Play! A Video Game Symphony - July 12, Orchestra Hall, Detroit

Video game... symphony? To many people, especially those who remember well the blips and bloops of the 8-bit era chiptune, video game music has come a long way. Coming a year after the popular Dear Friends: Music From Final Fantasy concert, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and conductor Arnie Roth, Play! showcases symphonic arrangements and pieces from games such as Super Mario Brothers, Halo, The Legend of Zelda, and Kingdom Hearts.

This concert is for people who get nostalgic over old consoles, cutting-edge gamers who know the soundtracks to their favorite games by heart, and for people who wonder just how video game music could manage to rise to symphony status.

Artful Reading

May Ray, Ernst, Duchamp = DADA? Yes, but not quite the whole story.
Daughters of DADA at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art is currently showcasing the works of 6 DADA women artists, and “adds a crucial chapter to the current DADA exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art”, writes Holland Cotter, art reviewer of the New York Times.

Perhaps the most outrageous and original among them is the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. With her tin-can bra and shaved head, she treated her body as a living work of art, causing historians today to recognize her preeminence as America’s first performance artist.

Holy Skirts by Rene Steinke is a vivid imagining of Elsa’s story – from her days in Berlin’s seedy burlesques, her many marriages and affairs, to her life among the bohemia of Greenwich Village. Intelligent and sensual, this highy readable novel is a finalist of the 2005 National Book Award.

Buckminster Fuller- Renaissance Man

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July 12 is the 101st birthday of Buckminster Fuller, architect, inventor, engineer and philosopher. Fuller is best known for his invention of the geodesic dome, one of the most revolutionary structural inventions of the twentieth century. Fuller was a rare combination of the romantic and the scientist, one who believed in the possibility of the impossible and with the technical knowledge to bring dreams to fruition. Check out one of his other inventions, the dymaxion house at the Henry Ford Museum.

Grand Jury Prize winners

Prepare for Wednesday's program on the Sundance Film Festival by watching the following Grand Jury Prize winners since 2000:

2000: Girlfight and You Can Count on Me
2001: The Believer
2002: Personal Velocity
2003: American Splendor
2004: Primer
2005: Forty Shades of Blue (on order)

New Books to Film

The Play Ground

The Play Ground

Gotta "Love Me Tender" or at least, love that Michigan Elvisfest on Saturday, July 7th and 8th at Riverside Park located in Ypsilanti's Historic Depot Town. This is the largest Elvis tribute concert in North America! So, shake, rattle and roll with award-winning Elvis tribute artists and Las Vegas impersonators. Events for kids also. "Don't Be Cruel" and wear your "Blue Suede Shoes" to Ypsi this weekend. Friday, July 7, 5 PM - Midnight and Saturday, July 8, Noon to Midnight.

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