Hot Theater Date: Impossible Marriage

A quirky comedy written by award-winning playwright Beth Henley is coming up Dec. 4-12 in the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre Studio Series. The play "Impossible Marriage" tells the story of an eccentric family as they try to prepare for the wedding of an unlikely couple. The show will play in A2CT¹s 40-seat Studio Theater at 322 W. Ann St. Ticket information is here. Henley's other works include Crimes of the Heart and The Miss Firecracker Contest.

AADL Productions Podcast: David Alan Grier

When David Alan Grier was in town to promote his book, Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth, Eli had a chance to chat with him about growing up in Detroit and his time in Ann Arbor while attending the University of Michigan in the late 1970s. DAG also talks about his work on In Living Color and Dancing with the Stars; celebrity and the internet; and Obama's inauguration.

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Youth Music Notes -- A Celebration of Silliness

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As the famous commercial says, sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don't. Fortunately for those times you do feel like a nut, the youth department has a great collection of goofy, zany and downright hilarious music.

Disney's Silly Classical Songs is great place to begin the journey of silliness. All your favorite Disney characters sing along to famous pieces of classical music. You'll never hear Beethoven's Fifth the same way again. A great CD for future fans of classical music humorist P. D. Q. Bach.

Singin' In the Bathtub lets you hear comedian and author John Lithgow sing his favorite silly songs, including "At the Codfish Ball" and "From the Indies to the Andes In His Undies". These are classics of silliness, folks.

Anytime you feel your family could use more humor -- long car trips for instance -- come in and pick up a little lighthearted fun. Happy listening!

Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon

I am not always thrilled (possibly an understatement) when an author opts to read his or her own book for the audio version. However, this is not the case when the author is Garrison Keillor. I enjoyed every moment of the 8 hours spent listening to Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon.

Keillor’s books delightfully compliment the NPR radio program A Prairie Home Companion. I found Pontoon to be more plot intensive than some of Keillor’s other novels. The book begins with the death of an elderly member of the community and goes on to detail various reactions to the passing. It is both thoughtful and funny. During the final disc I had to pull my car over because I was laughing so entirely. Perhaps worth noting (perhaps not) is Keillor’s elegant use of simile. One such comparison found in Pontoon: “It looks like the desiccated cadavers of squirrels run over by trucks.” What more does a novel need?

If you enjoy Pontoon, you might want to check out these audio books:

Home On The Prairie : Stories From Lake Wobegon
Homegrown Democrat : a Few Plain Thoughts From The Heart Of America

Sixty Six, on DVD

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The film is set in 1966 England and centers around 12yr old Bernie. Young Bernie is ignored by his family, which is comprised of an eccentric, obsessive compulsive father, an annoying, attention-hogging brother, and a doting, quirky mother. In studying for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah he discovers that this will be the biggest day of his life, the day he will become a man. Which means this will be his day to shine, a day when all attention will be focused on him and not his brother Alvy! He soon begins planning the perfect Bar Mitzvah, which will be far better than Alvy’s, complete with live music, planned seating, and plenty of gifts. But wait. His plan is foiled at the start of the World Cup, and England making into the finals- which will take place on the same day as his Bar Mitzvah. How will Bernie make it through all this competition? If you liked Billy Elliot you’ll enjoy this coming of age tale.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #181

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In Chemistry for Beginners*, for Dr. Steven Fisher, the female orgasm is his life’s work. At the brink of the breakthrough of a miracle drug that could cure female sexual dysfunction (think Viagra), one of his test subjects – Annie G is wracking havoc with his data, his scientific mind and his carefully guarded heart.

This engaging and smart, romantic comedy (no longer an oxymoron, thanks to Anthony Strong - a pseudonym for Anthony Capella) is presented in the form of a scientific paper, complete with footnotes (totally believable and absolutely hilarious) and illustrations. The uniquely contemporary male perspective, memorable quotes, satirical jabs at academia, clinical research, and the drug business will surely entertain. The tentative and problematic courtship is tantalizing (think D.H. Lawrence's Lady C.), at times heartbreaking, and oh so itchy sexy.

Easily the best romance of the year, from a newcomer to the genre. Best quote: "Sex is biology, love is chemistry". And some of the best sex scenes since Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

* = Starred review

Simon's Cat

If you are a cat lover check out the hilarious wordless comic strip collection called Simon's Cat by Simon Tofield. Tofield, a British animator, started with animated shorts of the same name, available for free on his website. Tofield does all the characters including the 'meows'.

Here is one of my favorites:

If you are interested in knowing more about cats and caring for one, AADL has many books to choose from, click here for a list

826Michigan books for you

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The library owns a few books put out by 826Michigan (the fabulous local non-profit that offers tutoring and workshops, and supports writing endeavors for kids age 6-18.) They have many books that are samples and collections of students’ work, highlighting the best and brightest of writing talent that will knock your socks off. True Stories and Tall Tales culminates a year’s worth of work at Ypsilanti’s Childs Elementary School and features histories, fantasies, and other such silliness written by the students, while lead by 826Michigan volunteers.

Another book written by 826Michigan students, and other 826 chapters across the country, is Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama. Which is essentially just that: a collection of letters written by kids and addressed to President Obama. Some are funny, some are heartfelt, all are worth reading.

If you’re looking for more works put out by 826, or some McSweeney’s titles, or want to hear more about what they do there, check out the shelves at the Liberty Street Robot Repair and Supply Shop at 115 E. Liberty.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #172

Bich Minh Nguyen's memoir Stealing Buddha's Dinner was named one of the 2008 Michigan Notable Books and the Chicago Tribune Best Book of 2007. It received the 2008 Kiriyama Prize and the PEN/Jerard Award. It has been selected by the Michigan Humanities Council as the current The Great Michigan Read.

In Nguyen's fiction debut Short Girls, narrators (in alternate chapters) Van and Linny Leong, estranged sisters who have chosen divergent paths since their latch-key days, returned home to celebrate their father’s U.S. citizenship and his reality TV debut to demo the Leong Arm - an invention for short people.

With keen insight, humor and compassion, the author examines what it means to be short – from stature, identity, expectations, ambition, to the distance between us. Beautifully written and expertly told, this is ultimately a universal tale about sisterhood; the cultural and family history that binds us; and the rights to set the standard by which we are measured.

Readers of women's fiction on the theme of sibling relationships might also enjoy The Almost Archer Sisters by Lisa Gabriele, or Julia Alvarez's wonderful portrayal of the immigrant experience in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. For pure entertainment value - there is nothing more delightful than Jennifer Weiner's In Her Shoes.

* = Starred Reviews.

Mr. Show on DVD

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Laugh with Bob and David again, or introduce yourself to Mr. Show with Bob and David. The hilarious Mr. Show, starring Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, is a sketch comedy series that ran on HBO from 1995-1998. The offbeat, and not always politically correct, sketches featured occasional recurring characters, and each sketch transitioned into the next, creating a seamless flow of hilarity, with nods to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. If you’re itching for some funny, have a "tofutti break" and check out both discs of Seasons 1 and 2, available on DVD at AADL.

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