The Sword of Orion

SwordSwordIn honor of the upcoming Great Lakes Shipwrecks event, I'm reminded of a maritime disaster referred to in one of my favorite television shows, Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night. In episode 18, Jeremy struggles with the breakup of his family by obsessively researching the literal break up of the Sword of Orion.

The yacht was one of several boats to experience tragedy during the 1998 Sydney-to-Hobart race. 115 Boats began that race, five sank, and six crew were lost. Only 44 boats finished. You can read about it in the detailed and suspenseful book The Proving Ground.

One imagines the Sword of Orion's original owner was paying that useful constellation its due in naming the boat. The AADL offers several books on celestial navigation; it's never too early in the season to learn how to find your way home!

Early December Books to Film

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A Clint Eastwood film, Invictus is based on John Carlin's Playing the Enemy : Nelson Mandela and the game that made a nation.

Set in post-apartheid South African, Matt Damon plays Francois Pienaar, a rugby captain entrusted by Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) with bringing socially unifying sporting glory to post-apartheid South African during the 1995 Rugby World Cup. (Dec. 11th)

The much anticipated The Lovely Bones is based on Alice Sebold's 2002 mega-hit. Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) plays Susie Salmon, a 14 year-old who has been murdered. As she watches over her family --- and her killer --- from heaven, she must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal. Also starring Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon.

Academy-award Director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings), a pre-eminent maker of fantasy and horror films, manages to bring "a kind of dreamy meditation on the fragile boundary between life and death", unexpectedly "soothing and solemn", visually stunning. Can't wait. (Dec. 11th)

A Single Man is based on Christopher Isherwood's novel of the same title. Set in Los Angeles in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, it is the story of a British college professor who is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner. The story is a romantic tale of love interrupted, the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition, and ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life.

Colin Firth gives an award-worthy performance as George Falconer, and the all-grown-up "incandescent" Nicholas Hoult (cherubic in About a Boy) is Kenny - a lithe, graceful, angel of sorts. (Dec. 11th)

Up in the Air is based on Walter Kirn's 2001 novel about Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and after he’s met a fellow frequent-flyer of his dreams. (Dec. 4th)

More November Books to Film

Feature film The Blind Side is based on Michael Lewis's sports biography The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

Teenager Michael Oher, homeless, wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the dead of winter is spotted on the street by Leigh Anne Tuohy who, without a moment’s hesitation, takes him in. What starts out as a gesture of kindness becomes much more as the family helps Michael fulfill his potential, both on and off the football field. Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, and Kathy Bates star in this inspirational film. (November 20th release)

The Road is based on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity. (Starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron , it opens November 25th everywhere).

Newcomer Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Zac Efron star in Me and Orson Welles - based on a romantic coming-of-age novel about a teenage actor Richard Sameuls, who lucks into a role in Julius Caesar as it’s being re-imagined by a brilliant, impetuous young director named Orson Welles at his newly founded Mercury Theatre in NYC, 1937.

Author Robert Kaplow chronicles the roller-coaster week leading up to opening night when the charismatic-but-sometimes-cruel young Welles stakes his career on a risky production while Richard mixes with everyone from starlets to stagehands. When the mercurial Welles casts his eye on the woman with whom Richard himself had fallen in love, all hell breaks loose. (Limited release November 25th).

Hockeytown Heroes

It's been an historical couple of weeks for three former Detroit Red Wings stars. Last week two players, one known to Wings fans simply as The Captain, Steve Yzerman, along with scoring machine, Brett Hull, were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, ON. And then yesterday, after 21 seasons tormenting opposing defenses, Brendan Shanahan decided to hang up his skates. Shanahan won three Stanley Cups with Detroit, Hull won one, and Yzerman won three as a player and one in an executive role with the team. Before Stevie Y came to the Motor City, the team had been mired in a Cup slump for the previous 47 years. Since then, the team has brought four Cups home to the Joe Louis arena. The AADL has a great collection of books chronicling the storied history of the Detroit Red Wings and its players.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame -- Teen Magazine Update

Epic MickeyEpic Mickey

From Mickey Mouse to Jay DeMerit, from Hiroshi Watanabe to William Gibson -- this month's teen magazines are filled with the faces of the famous, or the infamous, depending on your perspective.

Soccer America Magazine features some teams in the news right now -- the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Good news, the U. S. is one of them. Bad news, we have a lot of tough opponents before we make it to the finals.

This month's Giant Robot Magazine is absolutely stuffed full of interviews with famous people, from the aforementioned author William Gibson, writer of cyberpunk classic "Neuromancer" and inventor of the word "cyberspace," to Korean extreme horror filmmaker Kim Jin-Won.

Game Informer Magazine brings us a famous face with new twist -- Disney favorite Mickey Mouse is showing his darker side in new Wii game "Epic Mickey". The magazine also covers how the popular Prince of Persia video game will be getting the star treatment as a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Sports, Manga and Gaming -- Teen Magazine Update!

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This month's teen magazine update focuses on the few, the proud, the fans. All you who love -- really love -- your sport, hobby, game or series, this is for you.

Basketball fans can all rejoice now that the October issues of Dime Magazine is on the shelf. Dying to hear the latest news on O. J. Mayo, Travis Outlaw, and Amar'e Stoudemire? Dime will give you that, and throw in an exclusive, up-close look at some of the bling NBA stars like Lebron James will be wearing this season.

For the tabletop war gamers out there, White Dwarf Magazine is currently featuring the Space Wolves -- with guides to painting and assembly as well as a blow by blow Battle Report describing a clash with Chaos Daemons. Not to be missed!

Last, but not least, Otaku USA's winter issue is out -- providing 32 pages of quality manga for FREE! Of course, really they just want to get you addicted to newcomers "Hero Tales" and "Battle of Genryu," but what the heck. Hey, speaking of otaku...the library will host a fun afternoon of amigurumi crochet November 15 for any fans of Japanese culture and small, cute, crocheted things.

Alright, fans, I've done my part. Now go and feed your passion (with magazines)!

New ALS Study Conducted by UM Professor

According to annarbor.com, a new study will be the first to use human stem cells to treat patients with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The study is being conducted in part by a University of Michigan neurologist, Eva Feldman. Through funding approved by the FDA, the study will be held at Emory University in Atlanta. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is "a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord." It is often fatal and has no known cure at this time.

When Lou Gehrig began showing symptoms of ALS in 1938, little was known about how to treat patients with the disease, and less about the cause of it. In 1939, Gehrig, a two time MVP, six time World Series champion, record setter for most consecutive games played (2,130), and lifetime .340 batter, benched himself early that season due to extreme muscle fatigue. He would never play baseball again. Gehrig retired that year, delivering one of the most powerful sports speeches ever recorded, stating that he was "the luckiest man on the face of this earth." Two years later, the man nicknamed "The Iron Horse" died in his home in New York City at the age of 37.

Football Saturday Parking: The Real Game Has New Option

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Attention Tailgaters! There's a new option for parking near the Big House. The City of Ann Arbor's utility yard at 2000 S. Industrial, near the water tower, will open three hours prior to kick-off. Parking is $25 per car, paid in cash. The lot is alcohol-free and offers several picnic tables and on-site portajohns. Parking is first-come, first-serve so make your game day plan early.

Frisbee is the Ultimate!

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Drop by the Traverwood Branch this Saturday, July 25, from 2-3pm to Make Your Own Frisbee. Dave Morris and others from the Ann Arbor Ultimate Frisbee League will be on hand to show you some smooth frisbee moves that you can try yourself! This program is designed for kids grades k-5.

Free Mouth Guards for Athletes

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This Saturday, July 11 the U of M School of Dentistry will be open for fitting young athletes (ages 5 and older) with Mouth Guards. Athletes under 18 years need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Stay safe and protect your mouth!

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