Liza at the Plaza

On a recent edition of Inside the Actor’s Studio it was revealed that the antics of Eloise, the free-spirited 6-year-old living in New York’s Plaza Hotel, were based on the adventures of Liza Minnelli as a child. Author Kay Thompson was Liza’s godmother and she witnessed the red-ribboned imp whirling around in designer shoes and calling room service for a meal. Julie Andrews plays the “rawther” fabulous and loving Nanny in the film.

History Bits - Flint, MI.

LUTHER T. FARRELL has got to get out of Flint, Michigan. He would rather be known as a Philosopher, rather than "The Sarge's Son". Michigan author Christopher Paul Curtis (website) tells another great story in Bucking The Sarge.

History Bits - Willow Run

Learning History through fiction is a great way to learn about Michigan roots, whether reading on your own, or as a family read-aloud activity. Patricia Reilly Giff's new book, Willow Run, follows a young girl's family to the B-24 Bomber Factory as they look for work during World War II at the Willow Run plant.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #8 (of a new series)

If you liked Twilight, I have another one for you.

Down-under novelist Keri Arthur gives us a sexy, supernatural tale in Full Moon Rising in which Riley Jenson, a rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf must find her missing twin brother Rhoan, to prevent some shifty cloning that could spell doom for humans as well as the supernatural races.

Standing in her way is her werewolf vulnerability to the moon heat when her need to mate becomes all-consuming, and the object of her desire who might just be the enemy. Couldn't put this one down either. Reviews.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists!

There once was a guitarist named Ted
Who turned to a Pharmacist and said
“I shall come to the Pig
And dance such a jig
That they’ll cheer ‘til we all go to bed.”

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Live at the Blind Pig on Wednesday, March 8. All ages show, $10 cover, with special guests The Duke Spirit and Les Aus. Jigs not guaranteed... but if we can get him to play “Me and Mia” or “The High Party” he usually does. (Incidentally, that’s the same night as the Pioneer High School career fair. Professionals such as yours truly will be there to talk about what we do. Hope to see you there! )

Adieu, Barney Fife!

don knotts

America's favorite deputy, Barney Fife, died last Friday of pulmonary and respiratory complications. From 1960-1965, Don Knotts was pitch-perfect as the nervous ninny sidekick to Mayberry's unflappable Sheriff Taylor--a legendary pairing, if endless re-runs of "The Andy Griffith Show" on TV Land are any indication. "Three's Company" aside, I was always happy to see Knotts as a kid, whether on the small or big screen. In the latter category, Knotts starred in the partly-animated The Incredible Mr. Limpet and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again. Knotts was 81.

Octavia E. Butler, 6/22/1947 - 2/25/2006

Author Elizabeth Bear reports in her journal that Octavia Butler passed away this weekend as the result of a stroke.

In 1995, Butler became the first science fiction writer ever to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant." Her novel Parable of the Talents won the Nebula Award for best novel in 2000. She also received both a Nebula and a Hugo award for her novelette "Bloodchild," collected in Bloodchild, and Other Stories, and won a Hugo in 1984 for her story "Speech Sounds."

Enter Laughing

March is International Mirth Month a time to find humor in all things human – and otherwise. And since many of you listen to books on cd in your car, let’s start with Click & Clack, those NPR knuckleheads who host Car Talk. Their newest compilation is Maternal Combustion: Calls About Moms and Cars. Other Car Talk favorites are Born Not to Run and The Hatchback of Notre Dame.

If you haven’t heard the Sweet Potato Queen’s musing on marriage, diets, and panty hose, pull the car over and get The Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men or Sweet Potato Queens’ Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide.

The Play Ground

The Play Ground likes to sample all of Ann Arbor's cultural offerings so
The University of Michigan Museum of Art is one of our favorite haunts.The Museum will be closing in July to get ready for its expansion so hurry over to view the current, fabulous exhibit: Landscapes of Longing: Journeys through Memory and Place. With subjects as disparate as life along the highways of early modern Japan, the great stone temples of Cambodia’s ancient royal city of Angkor, scholars’ retreats among the soaring mountains of China, and a series of meditatively abstract seascapes by one of our great contemporary photographers. Try this good primer before you go: How to look at Japanese art by Stephen Addiss.

While You're Waiting... see Ralph Fiennes in The Constant Gardener or David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, try Cronenberg's 2003 film Spider, starring Fiennes as a tormented and mentally imbalanced man who mutters through his memories and paranoid fantasies in Cronenberg's characteristically strange world. see Good Night, and Good Luck., catch The Best of See it Now and The McCarthy Years, two parts of a new documentary series profiling Edward R. Murrow's life and groundbreaking journalism. see Capote, read the book, watch the 1967 film, or see a few other reasons why Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves the Academy Award for best actor. see Brokeback Mountain, check out 1971's The Last Picture Show for another example of screenwriter Larry McMurtry's deft handling of love and loss in rural western America.

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