Toasting wine for everyone

If like me, you are fascinated by wine and attitudes surrounding it, be sure to come hear International Wine Judge Ron Sober discuss wine snobbery and why it's not necessary, on June 18 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of the downtown library. Beforehand you may want to read up on wine snobbery, in one of many fine wine books at the library.

Michael Vick to Work with Humane Society on Teen Dogfight Prevention

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Michael Vick, convicted, bankrupted, and imprisoned because of his dogfighting business, left prison before dawn this Wednesday morning. He returned to VA to serve the last portion of his sentence under house arrest. His plans after his official July 20th release include a return to NFL play, as well as participating in a partnership with the Humane Society. The partnership would target teen involvement with dogfighting. I wonder if he'll also adopt a rescued dog as a companion animal? For some entertaining and heartwarming stories about rescued and rehabilitated dogs (including an episode about the Vick dogs), check out this great National Geographic mini-series. Try Dogtown: New Beginnings and then there's more quality doggie time to be had with Dogtown: Second Chances. The library also has a great selection of books on how to retrain and help your own adopted dog adjust to his or her new life with you.

First Woman to Row Alone Across an Ocean

Tori Murden McClure has an AB from Smith College, a master’s in divinity from Harvard, a JD from the University of Louisville, and an MFA from Spalding University. Very impressive -- as is her new book, A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean. Currently vice president at Spalding, McClure is the first woman to row alone across an ocean. This beautifully written memoir offers readers a spectacular blend of adventure, romance, and self discovery.

Vacations to Enrich Your Life

On our new book shelf here at the AADL you can pick up a copy of The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life, written by Pam Grout & published by National Geographic. The author's intent, as she states in the introduction, is to alter your idea of what vacation is meant to be and offer you the potential to change your life. The experiences are divided into four categories: arts and crafts getaways, learning retreats, volunteer vacations, and wellness escapes. Even if you can't afford some of the fabulous ideas set forth in this book, it's still enjoyable to read about them. Consider a three-day mahout (elephant wrangler) training course in Thailand. Spend a month working for African Impact, a lion rehabilitation center in Zimbabwe. Master the art of blending scotch at the Glengoyne Distillery in the Scottish highlands. Ride horses to Machu Picchu's sacred sister city, Choquequirao, Peru.
The trip that caught my attention is run by COBATI (Community-Based Tourism Initiatives) in Kampala, Uganda. Instead of a typical African safari package that does little to benefit the locals, COBATI homestays offer the amazing opportunity to stay in small, rural villages and learn about the real Uganda. Visit banana plantations, stay with midwives, learn beekeeping & mushroom growing, attend community weddings, visit flower farms and see homesteads with Ankole longhorn cattle (indigenous to Uganda for at least seven centuries). Interested? Visit www.cobati.or.ug or head to the library for a copy of this unique travel guide.

Battlestar Galactica and the United Nations

Battlestar Galactica and the United NationsBattlestar Galactica and the United Nations

Last night marked the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, the Sci Fi channel’s critically acclaimed TV series. In Battlestar Galactica, a nuclear war sends the last survivors of the human race drifting through the universe, fleeing from the Cylons (a race of machines identical to humans in almost every way) and searching for a new home, a legendary planet called Earth. BSG has been praised for its extremely relevant commentaries on different social and political issues, the main one being moral relativism in a time of war.

On Tuesday, March 17, the United Nations hosted a panel of UN representatives and the creators and cast of Battlestar Galactica to raise awareness about humanitarian concerns. The panel used episodes of the TV show to exemplify and discuss issues of human rights, terrorism, children and armed conflict, and interfaith reconciliation and dialogue.

Invisible Wall

At the age of 93, Harry Bernstein started writing a book about his childhood in a mill town in Northern England, where an "Invisible Wall " seemed to separate the Jewish and Christian families. At the age of 96, Invisible Wall: a Love Story that Broke Barriers was published and filled with the memories of Harry's absent alcoholic father, hardworking loving mother, characters from both the Christian and Jewish side of the street, and of course the forbidden romance between his older sister Lily and a Christian boy, Arthur, that lived on the other side of the "wall". Berstein describes the neighborhood with vivid recollection and makes you feel as if you are walking the cobblestone roads with him. If you read and enjoy this book, you might try Bernstein's later memoir The Dream centering around his family's journey to America when he was 12.

Fireflies in December

Fireflies in December is the debut novel of Jennifer Erin Valent about a 13 year old girl, Jessilyn, and her parents taking in her best friend Gemma, after Gemma's parent were tragically killed in a house fire. The problem is, the year is 1932, Gemma is black, the Lassiters are white, and they live in a small Virginia town. Jessilyn is the character of dreams, taking cues from her father and speaking out against the threats coming from her small prejudiced community. The tone and speech in the novel take you to the south to a time where the people faced struggles not only from the Depression but from intolerance as well. The plot of this novel reminds readers of the evil that ordinary human beings are capable of doing, even in the name of righteousness. If you don't mind some moderate religious undertones, this book is heart-warming yet bittersweet and reminds us that even in the face of violence and terror, goodness can still surround us.

Happy Birthday Diane Arbus!

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March 14, 1923 was the birthday of one of my favorite photographers, Diane Arbus. Born in New York City, she ran a fashion photography studio with her husband for many years before starting the work which she is best known for - portraits of people outside of the mainstream, often on the fringes of society (think families, giants, creepy socialites, circus freaks, and normal people in unusual and/or disturbing situations). Here at the AADL we have several options for you to investigate the world of Diane Arbus. Check out Diane Arbus:Revelations for a hefty retrospective of her work. You can also try Untitled/Diane Arbus, Diane Arbus:Family Albums, Diane Arbus or Hubert's Freaks:the rare-book dealer, the Times Square talker, and the lost photos of Diane Arbus for a glimpse into her offbeat photography.
For a fictional account of Diane Arbus, check out the DVD Fur:An imaginary portrait of Diane Arbus, which stars Nicole Kidman as Arbus and is loosely based on Patricia Bosworth's Diane Arbus : A Biography.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #150

It is 1962, Jackson, Mississippi. 22 year-old Skeeter has a college degree but it worries her mother that she does not have a ring on her finger. Aibileen, a black maid, is heartsick over losing her son but no one could doubt her devotion to yet another white child she is raising. Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short and sassy, with a sharp tongue that gets her fired left and right. But boy, could she cook!

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk.

In pitch-perfect voices, debut novelist Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town; and the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers, and friends view one another.

"A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't".

Happy Birthday Art Spiegelman!

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"Art Spiegelman... to the comics world is a Michelangelo and a Medici both, an influential artist who is also an impresario and an enabler of others." (The New York Times Magazine). Born February 15, 1948, Art Spiegelman is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel Maus, based on his parents' survival of the Holocaust. If you have never read the Maus series, you should definitely add them to your "must read before I die" list. Spiegelman's hauntingly simple black and white drawings depict Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, Poles as pigs. If you think of graphic novels or comics as "fluff", Spiegelman's powerful work will change your mind.

Here at the AADL you can also find In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman's account of life after the September 11th attacks (Spiegelman and his family bore witness to the attacks in their lower Manhattan neighborhood: his teenage daughter had started school directly below the towers days earlier, and they had lived in the area for years). We also have many other Spiegelman works like Breakdowns : Portrait of The Artist as a Young %@&*!, and the offbeat Little Lit : It Was a Dark and Silly Night for children, featuring comics by Lemony Snicket, William Joyce, and Neil Gaiman, to name just a few.

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