Viva la Vino

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April is Michigan Wine Month and there are events for wine enthusiasts and novices alike: classes, weekend vineyard getaways, wine trails, tastings, festivals. For a complete list of Michigan wine events, wineries, and to preview the new Michigan Wine Country magazine, visit the Michigan Wines web site.

Team Moon

Most people have seen the historic footage of Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon (July 20, 1969) and are familiar with the crew of Apollo 11:Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. But not many have heard of Eleanor Foracker who was a seamstress for ILC Dover, the company that made the spacesuits, or Richard Ellis who tested the suits. Neil “Fox” Mason worked the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia, Kirby Hinson worked on the parachute recovery systems, and Joe Gavin was vice president of Grumman Aerospace Corporation. Thousands of people worked long, hard hours and most never received recognition even though they also played a vital role in one of the greatest projects of the 20th century. Meet some of them in Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh.

Orange Cone Season Returns

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And Paving the Way 2007, MDOT's road repair map, will help you locate major road and bridge projects on state roads. The map covers state trunkline (I, M, and US) routes. Separate Detroit and Grand Rapids maps detail construction projects on state roads in these cities. There is also a regularly updated list of lane closures.

45th Anniversary of Americans in Orbit!

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Forty-five years ago today, John Glenn successfully completed the first American manned orbital mission aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962.
To celebrate the anniversary of this event, NASA has added some interactive features to their website. Visit nasa.gov to take an inside look at the Friendship 7, explore bios and a photo gallery, and conduct virtual interviews with the surviving Mercury astronauts. You can also watch a 30 minute special online on NASA TV: 45th Anniversary of Americans in Orbit, at 7pm on February 20th.

La Perdida

Jessica Abel, known for her comics series Artbabe, has already received a lot of acclaim for her latest graphic novel, La Perdida (The Lost One).
Mexican-American Carla, moves to Mexico City (with a Frida Kahlo obsession and a pair of rose colored glasses) in search of her Mexican heritage and herself. Her naiveté and preconceived notions soon get her into trouble.
Abel’s brushwork is amazing. The black and white artwork, though simple, adds depth to the story. She does some interesting things with the Spanish dialogue to really give you an idea of what it is like for a non-Spanish-speaker.

To the Moon!

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NASA plans to return to the moon by 2020 and hopes to build a moon base by 2024. While you are waiting for the Ares I & V to launch, take a look back at other trips to the moon: Project Apollo and Méliès.

From the Earth to the Moon a superbly done HBO series, produced by Tom Hanks, and based on the book A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin, takes you through the entire Apollo program.

Moon Shot: the inside story of America's race to the moon by astronauts Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton.

First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen.

Méliès the magician contains the 1902 "La Voyage dans la lune" along with other films by Méliès.

Eureka! Land in sight.

This week is the anniversary of the discoveries of two significant land masses. On December 13, 1642, Captain Abel Tasman of the Dutch East India Company first sighted New Zealand. In 1769, Captain James Cook landed and took possession for Great Britain. To read more on New Zealand, try Traveller's History of New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands by John H. Chambers.

On December 14, 1911, the South Pole was located and visited by Roald Amundsen. Although more has been written about Ernest Shackleton, his expedition to Antarctica was in 1914, a few years after Amundsen's discovery. Last Place on Earth is a book by Roland Huntford and then a film based on the rivalry between Amundsen and Scott who came one year apart to the Pole.

Master of Souls

I enjoy traveling by book both in time and place. I quite enjoyed "Master of Souls" a Mystery of Ancient Ireland book 15 of 16 by Peter Tremayne pseudonym for Peter Berresford Ellis a well-respected authority on the ancient celts. It features Sister Fidelma & is set in 7th century Ireland with a well thought out plot. I could see where some of the red herrings were leading me but was pleasantly surprised with the twist at the end.

More information on the series apears at the website The International Sister Fidelma Society.

Another excellent mystery series I recommend is the "Brother Cadfael" series of 20 books set in the 12th century in Shrewsbury, England & written by the late Ellis Peters pseudonyn for Edith Pargeter.

November Books to Films

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, a bio-pic of the celebrated photographer, is based loosely on Patricia Bosworth's Diane Arbus: a biography. There is plenty of Oscar talk for Nicole Kidman who plays Arbus.

A Good Year with Russell Crowe, Albert Finney and the young beautiful Aussie Abbie Cornish is based on Peter Mayle's novel about a London financial barracuda who inherits a Provençal chateau and vineyard.

Remake of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale. Published in 1953, it was his very first James Bond novel. This 2006 film version features a brand new 007.

A young and edgy cast with Greg Kinnear, Avril Lavigne and Ethan Hawke, and directed by Richard Linklater will delight you in an adaptation of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, a hard hit on the fast-food industry.

Passport Preparation Time

If you're planning a trip outside the U.S. after January 7, 2007 that includes re-entry through an airport or seaport, remember that U.S. citizens will need a passport for travel to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. This new rule could mean a 6 – 12 week processing wait so start your preparation now.

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