National Coming Out Week

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Cities and universities all across the country are celebrating National Coming Out Week. This annual observance takes place during the week of October 11, National Coming Out Day, which marks the anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. National Coming Out Week is a week in which people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or allies celebrate their identities and remember the efforts and obstacles of the pioneering GLBT people who made a difference in this country.

The University of Michigan has an extensive list of GLBT-related events this month, including panel discussions, lectures, a Coming Out Rally, and even a performance by David Sedaris! A complete list of events can be seen at the University's Spectrum Center website. Some events are free and open to the public, and some events require tickets. Check it out and have fun supporting your GLBT friends and family!

As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial

Is there anything funny about global warming? Derrick Jensen, a committed and very serious environmental activist, manages to find some thin threads of humor behind the despair in As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial. In the format of a graphic novel, he tells a fable-like story of the Earth versus big business; environmentalists versus profiteers; creatures (yes, snails and foxes and a one-eyed bunny) versus dam builders. The result manages to score the point: if we don’t change our direction, we will end up where we are headed. Other titles by Jensen include Thought to Exist in the Wild, which presents the case against zoos, and How Shall I Live My Life?, interviews with ten progressive thinkers about resisting the dominant culture of excess.

Furstenberg Park!

Looking for an opportunity to volunteer? This Sunday is the Furstenberg Native Plant Garden Stewardship Workday! From 12-3 pm the park is seeking people to assist with general caretaking (Note: Minors must be accompanied by a guardian). For more information on volunteering at Ann Arbor's parks please take a look at the Volunteer Stewardship Calendar. If you would like to find other ideas for volunteering, you may want to check out The Busy Family's Guide to Volunteering, The Helping Hands Handbook, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, and People Power.

September Books to Films

Man on Wire is based on the book To Reach The Clouds: My high wire walk between the Twin Towers(2002) by Philippe Petit

One August 7th, 1974,@7:15 a.m. a young Frenchmen stepped out on the high wire and walked (Oh, he more or less danced!)across the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, 1350 feet above the sidewalks of Manhattan. It is about Petit’s 6-plus years of dreaming, 8 months of planning, and the actual spell-binding feat itself. Terrific and terrifying!!!

Based on the author's memoirs(1995), (And)When Did You Last See Your Father? is an unflinching exploration of a father/son relationship. Blake Morrison's memories of his childhood are interspersed with scenes in the present, as he struggles to come to terms with his father, and their history of conflict. With a star-studded cast - humorous and heartbreaking at the same time.

Monica Ali's novel Brick Lane (2003) is now a feature film. Nazneen is forced into an arranged marriage to an older man, exchanging her Bangladeshi village home for a block of flats in London’s East End. As she pines for her home and her sister, she struggles to do her duty by her husband until the day a hot-headed local man, bursts into her life. A truly contemporary story of love, cultural difference, and ultimately, the strength of the human spirit. A visual feast.

The film Elegy is based on The Dying Animal (2001), a brutal, short novel by Philip Roth. David Kepesh is an eminent 70-year-old cultural critic (played by Ben Kingsley) who's womanizing ways were ended by a devastating affair he had eight years before with a voluptuous graduate student (Penelope Cruz). Check out the New York Times review.

Book Banning

Censorship is an ugly word, especially to libraries. But the subject of book-banning has once again reared its head into the news in recent headlines. As controversial as selectively censoring materials can be, the topic at least stands as a reminder to us all to appreciate free speech and our right to read all available published works without requiring approval from other citizens. The library has many holdings on the topic of censorship, including 50 Ways to Fight Censorship, Censorship: How Does It Conflict With Freedom?, and The Writer and Human Rights.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #124

A Map of Home* by Ann Arbor author Randa Jarrar hits the bookstores today.

Critics are calling this fiction debut “sparkling”, “intimate, perceptive and very, very funny”. It’s the story of Nidali, an audacious Muslim girl (with a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father) who grows up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas.
As citizens of the world, this family weathered some harrowing experiences that were even funny and wacky at times, but it is Jarrar’s handling of adolescent angst - "stifling parental expectations, precarious friendships, sensuality and first love; and her exhilarating voice and flawless timing that make this a standout”.

You can find Randa Jarrar's profile in myspace. She will be at Shaman Drum on September 15th, at 7:30 p.m., one of only two Michigan stops on her fall book tour.

* = Starred reviews

Julie Salamon's Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids

Julie Salamon’s Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids came across my radar just as a relative’s experience with the American medical establishment personalized some of the issues in the book. The author humanizes the major players—the patients, doctors, and administrators—of a hospital in an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. And at the same time, Salamon highlights the “business” of being a hospital that generates a profit—hospital business is the same as any other business, we learn. Egos, income, demand, and marketing, it’s the same everywhere. Salamon manages to make her major players likeable characters, approachable, and human, all while exploring the contradictions involved in “hospital” business.

45 Years Ago Today Martin Luther King, Jr. Had a Dream

This week and next week you will hear many speeches (including tonight, Barack Obama's acceptance speech as the Democratic nominee), but 45 years ago today, in a 15-minute speech captured here on YouTube, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the greatest orations of the 20th century, a hopeful vision during one of the most fractious periods of American social history that has since served as a rallying point for our country's better nature.

Shopping for School Supplies…?

EPHYEPHY

…While you’re at it, how about picking up a few extra items for the kids served by the Education Project for Homeless Youth? EPHY serves 10 school districts and 9 public academies in Washtenaw County. Learn more about this agency and others like it by visiting this site.
You can also help by donating your Boxtops for Education, found on General Mills products & Kleenex tissue. Children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the U.S. Let’s give ALL of our community’s children the right start when school begins this fall.

August 11th - Happy Birthday Alex Haley!

Alex Haley, AuthorAlex Haley, Author

Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was born on August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York. As a young boy, Alex Haley learned of his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, by listening to the family stories of his maternal grandparents while spending his summers in Henning, Tennessee. According to family history, Kunta Kinte landed with other Gambian Africans in "Naplis" (Annapolis, Maryland) where he was sold into slavery. Alex Haley's quest to learn more about his family history resulted in his writing the Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots. The book has been published in 37 languages, and was made into the first week-long television mini-series, viewed by an estimated 130 million people. Roots also generated widespread interest in genealogy and eventually helped spawn the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation.
Other Haley publications include many well received Playboy interviews (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), his first major book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, A Different Kind of Christmas, a 1990 book about the underground railroad, and Queen, the story of Haley's paternal ancestors. Perhaps one of Alex Haley's greatest gifts was in speaking. He was a fascinating teller of tales. In great demand as a lecturer, both nationally and internationally, he was on a lecture tour in Seattle, Washington when he suffered a heart attack and died in February 1992.

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