The Play Ground

Sandra Storrer directs Eve Ensler's Obie-winning play, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, a series of ribald, explosively funny monologues exploring a woman's relation to her body, sexuality, and language. Originally a one-woman show, it is now regularly cast for 3 monologists. Cast: Grace Morand, Judy Dow Rumelhart, Linda Carter. A benefit for SafeHouse, the local shelter for battered women and their children. The Ark, 316 S. Main. General admission $20 in advance at Herb David Guitar Studio, the Michigan Union Ticket Office, & all other Ticketmaster outlets; $25 at the door. Saturday, February 4 at 2pm, evening show sold out.

Betty Burzon, longtime gay activist, dies at 78

Betty Berzon

Betty Berzon, influential psychotherapist and author who championed gay rights for more than 30 years, died Tuesday, January 24, 2006.

Born January 28, 1928, Dr. Berzon was a pioneer in providing therapy to gay clients in the early 1970s, just a few years after she came out publicly and more than twenty years after her conflicts with her own sexuality led to a suicide attempt.

Berzon was the author of several important books on homosexuality, including Permanent Partners: Building Gay and Lesbian Relationships that Last (revised edition, 2004). In 1979 she edited Positively Gay: New Approaches to Gay and Lesbian Life, which she edited beginning in 1979 and which has remained in print ever since.

New Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (1/22/06)

There were three new titles last week and three this week. Romance and mystery/suspense are still what most people are buying and reading these gray winter days and long cold nights.

At #1 is The Hostage by W.E.B. Griffin: the military investigates the murder of a diplomat and the kidnapping of his wife who has ties to the Iraq oil-for-food scandal.

At #6 is All Night Long by Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Quick, Amanda): the death of a friend leads a journalist back home to Northern California and an old cold case of murder.

Matisse biography wins the 2005 Whitbread

Whitbread winner

Hilary Spurling, author of Matisse, the Master, captured the 2005 Whitbread Book of the Year after a hotly contested discussion among the judges. Even more surprising is that it was a children's, The New Policeman by Kate Thompson, which nearly took the much-sought-after literary prize.

The Whitbread Book of the Year is selected from the five finalists in the following categories:

Fiction
Ali Smith for The Accidental

History Bits: African American Dance

Mr Bojangles is a part of 20th Century African-American history. Rap A Tap Tap is a book that shares a part of the Bojangles story with children. Add the sounds of Stars at the Apollo and share the era with family.

History Bits - African American

A bit of African-American history can start in picture books with Charlie Parker Played BeBop and a recording of his music Diz 'n Bird at Carnegie Hall for ambience.

Caldecott and Newbery Medal Winners

The word is in on the Caldecott and Newbery Medal Winners for 2006! Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka won the Caldecott Award. In this loving story vibrant swirls of color and simple, elegant text capture the child's eye view of sweet moments with Nanna and Poppy. This year's Newbery Winner is Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins, a 1960's teen story that is filled with poetry, haiku and fascinating characters trying to find their place in the world.

Toot and Puddle Wish You Were Here by Holly Hobbie

A bee stings Toot when he takes a trip to the Wildest Borneo. He comes down with a case of the Violet Virus and turns blue. When he returns home, Opal and Puddle try to nurse Toot back to health and find the cure in a nearby meadow. Holly Hobbie's latest in the Toot and Puddle series is a fun adventure that kids will love.

Looking for Alaska named 2006 Printz Award Winner

Looking for Alaska by John Green introduces you to 16-year-old Miles “Pudge” Halter who heads off to seek his Great Perhaps at an Alabama boarding school, where new-found freedom, guilty pleasures and an enigmatic girl named Alaska hurl him into life.

Honor books include Black Juice by Margo Lanagan, I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth by Elizabeth Partridge, and A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson.

Less freak, more economics?

If you liked Freakonomics, try The Undercover Economist. Subtitled "Exposing why the rich are rich, the poor are poor, and you can never buy a decent used car," this book by Tim Harford seems a bit -- but just a bit -- more hardcore than Levitt's book.

Of course, my metric is how hard one is to read right before I go to sleep compared to the other. It probably wouldn't stand up to the scrutiny of either economist.

In any case, if you'd like to find out how you might avoid self-selecting a higher price for essentially the same items, Harford has the answer: the price of lower prices is eternal vigilance.

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