Ages 18+.

Think "Food" - then watch

Perhaps you viewed them. Perhaps not. Have you viewed them lately? ...Think "Food"... The Big Night; Tampopo; Eat, Drink, Man, Woman; Chocolat.

Info Bits - Mummies!

Mummies! They are in museums, and books, and movies. You can begin with Tutankhamun: The Mystery Of The Boy King. If you want more about Egyptian mummies try Mummies And Pyramids; for mummies from different cultures try Mummies; and for info you forgot to ask try Mummies, Dinosaurs And Moon Rocks: How We Know How Old Things Are. If you like extension activities you can browse The Detroit Institue Of Art site for some good ideas. Now maybe you're ready for a trip to the museum!

Dorothy Uhnak dies at 76

Dorothy Uhnak dies at 76

Before there was Sue Grafton, before there was Patricia Cornwell, mystery fans had Dorothy Uhnak.

Twice cited for bravery by New York City, Ms. Uhnak, a former New York City Transit and NYPD police officer traded in her badge for the pen in 1967.

Her first gripping novel, The Bait starring Christie Opara, won the 1968 Edgar for Best First Mystery. Opara had two more appearances, in The Witness and The Ledger (all are out of print, but may be available through Interlibrary Loan. Uhnak then Uhnak wrote several more titles, including the bestselling The Investigation and False Witness which added a political element -- the victim had ties to the PLO.

Ms. Uhnak was 76.

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...

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.

Ken Lay, ex-CEO of Enron, is dead

Ken Lay

Ken Lay, convicted ex-CEO of Enron, has died.

Lay, 64, was awaiting sentencing on multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy and bank fraud, when he died of a massive coronary in Aspen, Colorado.

In his book, Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story, two-time Pulitzer finalist author Kurt Eichenwald, chronicles the stunning rise and devastating fall of Enron under Ken Lay's leadership.

Last year's documentary, Enron, the Smartest Guys in the Room, directed by Alex Gibney, exposes in shocking video and audio tapes, the depth of the greed and corruption that was part of the upper echelon culture. This much-touted documentary, which was nominated for and/or won several awards, spells out in heartbreaking detail, the thousands of lives wrecked by Enron's collapse.

A tortoise's observations of the human species and much more

Verlyn Klinkenborg, author of other books on the natural world and writer on the editorial board of the New York Times, has created a most disarming tortoise in his latest, Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile. In this wondrous tale or meditation, full of luxuriant language, humor and wry observation of the human species, Timothy in her elder years (yes, it's a female) is resident in the garden of pastor and amateur naturalist, Gilbert White, author, in real life, of The Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne, the village where he lived.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #27

One of the hottest trends in reading is urban fiction. It’s a sure sign that it is no longer just a fad when The New York Times wrote about it. Alternately called street lit, hip-hop, gangsta lit, or urban fiction, it depicts life on the mean streets, and often prides itself in the authenticity and gritty details of drugs, crimes and violence. Lurid book jackets, profanities, explicit sex, and the lifestyle fueled by easy money add to its appeal.

I met T.J. Williams this week. A Princeton University student, he is not your typical street lit author writing in prison, but maybe that is why his debut novel 5 minutes and 42 seconds was so accessible for my first dip into this genre.

Oh, have no doubt, all the gritty elements are there (the drug-dealing, the illicit sex and the street culture) but it is also a thoughtful and often humorous exploration of the meaning of family and sexuality. Give it a try and check out this reading list for other suggestions.

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