Diane M.

Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Antonia Fraser
In January, 1975, Harold Pinter was 44, unhappily married to actress Vivien Merchant, with one teenaged son. At 42, Lady Antonia Fraser, the bestselling author of Mary Queen of Scots ( a book I really enjoyed!), was a noted beauty, the Catholic wife of Hugh Fraser, a Conservative MP, and the mother of six children. When Fraser went to say goodbye to Pinter at the opening night celebration for his play The Birthday party, he responded, "Must you go?" Mesmerized with each other, their night continued "with extraordinary recklessness" until dawn.

Their relationship was a scandal in the UK, "intensely romantic"—and long-lasting. They quickly moved in together, marrying five years later after Pinter's wife finally granted him a divorce.

Must You Go? is Fraser's account of their 33-year relationship, stitched together largely from excerpts from her diaries shortly after Pinter's death from liver cancer in December, 2008.

In addition to a passionate love story, Must You Go? is a record of Pinter's creative process—"a consequence of a biographer living with a creative artist and observing what went on first hand." Pinter, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, wrote his plays in bursts of inspiration. Fraser's book reminds us that he was also an accomplished director, actor, and screenwriter—an activity he regarded as an important art in itself, "not just a 'my-house-needs-painting' exercise."

With the graciousness that no doubt earned her the Sunday Independent headline, "He's grumpy, she smoothes things over," Fraser captures Pinter's sometimes "savage melancholy," his often inflammatory outspokenness, and their remarkably productive lives, filled with work, political activism, family, and many famous acquaintances.
In their "last real conversation," Pinter asked Fraser, "'What are your plans,' pause, 'generally?'" She mentioned the support of family and friends. What she didn't mention was the solace of working on this moving, absorbing memoir.
Diane M., Administration

The Templar Legacy

Monday, November 8, 2010
Steve Berry
If you liked The Da Vinci Code, chances are good that you’ll like this book. The Knights Templar, a small monastic military order formed in the early 1100s to protect travelers to the Holy Land, eventually grew and became wealthy beyond imagination. In 1307, the French king, feeling jealous and greedy, killed off the Templars, and by 1311, the last master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake, (and left his mark on the Shroud of Turin, according to Berry). The whereabouts of the Templars' treasure--and their secrets--have been the subject of legend ever since.

This is the first book starring ex-U.S. Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, who is intrigued when he sees a purse snatcher fling himself from a Copenhagen tower to avoid capture, slitting his own throat on the way down for good measure. Further probing introduces him to the Knights Templar and the fervid subculture searching for the Great Devise, an ancient Templar archive that supposedly disproves the Resurrection and demolishes traditional Christian dogma.

The trail leads to a French village, Rennes-le-Château replete with arcane clues to the archive's whereabouts, and to an oddball cast of scholar-sleuths, including Cassiopeia Vitt, a rich Muslim woman whose special-ops chops rival Malone's. Characters puzzle over anagrams, dead language inscriptions and art symbolism, debate inconsistencies in the Gospels and regale each other with Templar lore, periodically interrupting their colloquia for running gun battles with latter-day Templar Master Raymond de Roquefort and his pistol-packing monks.

Diane, Administration

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Thursday, September 30, 2010
Seth Grahame-Smith

You’ll have to keep reminding yourself this is a work of fiction……

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years…….
Diane, Administration

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Isadore's Secret: Sin, Murder & Confession in a Northern Michigan Town

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Mardi Link
I enjoyed an earlier book by this author and decided to give Isadore’s Secret a try. This was named a Michigan Notable Book this year (2010), and is a rather gripping account of the mysterious disappearance of a young nun in a northern Michigan town and the national controversy that followed when she turned up dead and buried in the basement of the church.

This true story was the basis for the Broadway play The Runner Stumbles and the 1979 film of the same name, starring Dick Van Dyke, Kathleen Quinlan and Maureen Stapleton.  From the book…

..”Swinging planks of lantern light shine through the musty air and onto the dirt floor of the church basement. The oddly glowing rectangles syncopate over the damp ground and illuminate even the darkest, stooped-down corners of the space beyond. The only sound is the ragged breathing of two men, a young parish priest and a much older laborer. Aboveground these men belong completely to this place, in both body and soul. A glimpse of their faces anywhere in the sanctuary, the rectory, the school, the barn, or the gardens would be a welcome sight. But here below, these men of Isadore are interlopers. Only trespassers would sneak silently into the church's sloped underbelly without witness to carry out such a sinful and secret errand as this one. Despite their tools, and their lantern, and their resolve, neither is equipped for the task at hand or for what is to come….”

Diane, Administration

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The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flammel

Thursday, August 12, 2010
Michael Scott

Some people may have first heard of Nicholas Flamel in Harry Potter & the Sorcerers’ Stone, but Flamel is an actual person who was rumored to be a successful alchemist in the late 1300’s.   Flamel’s house still stands in Paris (the oldest stone house in the city – the book has a photo of the house!)

Author Michael Scott uses a gigantic canvas for this riveting fantasy. The well-worn theme of saving the world from the forces of evil gets a fresh look here as he incorporates ancient myth and legend and sets it firmly, pitch-perfect, in present-day California. At the emotional center of the tale are contemporary 15-year-old twins, Josh and Sophie, who, it turns out, are potentially powerful magicians. They are spoken of in a prophecy appearing in the ancient Book of Abraham the Mage, all but two pages of which have been stolen by evil John Dee, alchemist and magician. The pursuit of the twins and Flamel by Dee and his allies to get the missing pages constitutes the book's central plot. Amid all this exhilarating action, Scott keeps his sights on the small details of character and dialogue and provides evocative descriptions of people, mythical beings, and places. He uses as his starting point the figures of the historical alchemist Nicholas Flamel and his wife, who have found the secret of immortality, along with mythical beings, including the terrifying Scottish crow-goddess, the Morrigan; the three-faced Greek Hekate; the powerful Egyptian cat-goddess, Bastet; and Scathach, a legendary Irish woman warrior and vegetarian vampire. While there is plenty here to send readers rushing to their encyclopedias of mythology and alchemy, those who read the book at face value will simply be caught up in the enthralling story. A fabulous read – Look for book 2!

Diane, Administration

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Didn't I Feed You Yesterday? A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos

Friday, August 6, 2010
Laura Bennett

Laura Bennett was trained as an architect, but has since totally switched her life up by becoming a competing on Bravo’s Season 3 Project Runway while pregnant with her 6th child.  She lives in New York City with her husband and too many children.

Here is a sample of what you can expect:

I have a favorite child. I hear you gasping in horror. I actually believe every mother does, just won’t admit it. It’s the dirty little secret of motherhood. Why is it so horrible? It’s not Sophie’s Choice or anything. I’m not saying I don’t love all of my children, just that I don’t always like all of them, at least not every day (or week, or month, or year). I have favorite shoes, and movies and foods, why not a favorite child?  I’m not saying if you’re not my favorite, I won’t help with your homework, the task is just more enjoyable for me with some of my children than with others.  If you swear you have no favorite, and think you are fooling your kids, you’re fooling yourself.  Just because kids are short, they aren’t stupid.

Diane, Administration

**This book is currently on order

When Evil Came to Good Hart

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Mardi Link
Seven year old Mardi Link was in the back seat of the family Ford, on her way to a relative's cottage, when WJR interrupted a ballgame to break news of the grisly discovery. Link is the author of the first nonfiction account of the murders. 'I guess I was struck by the fact that Susie and I were the same age,' Link says. 'I was always intrigued by the case. Who would kill an entire family? And why?' Police asked those same questions.

Link's look at the case is a great example of how a mystery, when well presented, can be even more compelling than one that's been solved. In digging through evidence, reading numerous newspaper accounts from that time, and talking to a score of Good Hart residents, Link explores more than just the Robison case. In presenting the facts, she asks questions about the nature of evil, and comments on loss of innocence in many ways, her own, the town's, the era's. Her descriptions vary from melodic and wistful to hard-hitting, a combination that keeps the pages turning fast.

For the Robisons, she writes, it was to be their first full summer in Good Hart, a result of business success: "It was a simple but enduring dream, shared by thousands of Michigan families, but one that for the Robisons this summer in 1968, lasted just eight days."

Diane, Administration

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Dr. Who New Television Series One, Two and Three (DVDs)

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Top 10 Reasons to Watch Dr. Who:
1.    David Tennant
2.    Dr Who is Not cool, it’s beyond cool
3.    The Tardis, best space ship ever
4.    It’s Time Travel!
5.    It’s Funny AND Scary AND that’s just the Aliens!
6.    Fantastic female characters
7.    The Daleks – the best alien villains made out of pepper pots
8.    The theme music
9.    Your kids will learn something and they won’t even know it      
10.    David Tennant

Diane, Administration

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At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wade Rouse

As he turns 40, Rouse admits to becoming “the ultimate cliché.” He’s mentally and physically exhausted, hates his job, and realizes there is a void in his life that the city is no longer filling. He and his partner, Gary, take a vacation in Saugatuck, Michigan, “a Midwestern Martha’s Vineyard,” and on the spot decide to sell their home in St. Louis and move to the woods.   Of course, they visited in the summer.

Rouse vows to become a “modern-day Thoreau” and sets out to follow 10 life goals, roughly along the tenets espoused by Thoreau in Walden, Rouse’s favorite book. Aided by “I Love Lucy” reruns, Rouse chronicles the escapades of these “two neurotic urbanites” as they ensconce themselves in the woods without magazine subscriptions, malls, Trader Joe’s, HGTV, or lattes. Rouse feels like a Martian confronting the locals at the general store, and suffers extreme anxiety when attempting ice fishing and karaoke. Gay or straight, any reader who has tried to “fit in” somewhere outside his or her comfort zone will readily empathize with Rouse’s rousing and ultimately successful lifestyle change.

Diane, Administration

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Just when I thought I'd dropped my last egg: Life and other calamities

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Kathie Lee Gifford

The title attracted me – not necessarily Kathie Lee Gifford. But I enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, the chapters are short, (really essays, or blog entries) and she’s saltier than I expected – which I also enjoyed.
 In the introduction, Gifford writes that she finds the humor in tragedy and the underlying sadness in laughter. And in all of it there is hope. Among the wacky stories and odd-servations, there is serious fare; for example, she touches upon her husband's infidelity, the sweatshop scandal that plagued her in the 1990s and her father's death. She also writes about her children, religion and various creative pursuits. That's where the title comes in: while Gifford notes she is no longer fertile in terms of reproduction, she is Fertile Myrtle in terms of her creativity and productivity.
Too Pooped To Peak

Recently Frank co-hosted with me on the Today Show when Hoda took a much deserved day off.
 Now, it’s important to understand for the purpose of this essay that this is the way Frank and I met. We were colleagues at Good Morning America in 1982. Frank used to sit in for David Hartman when he was gone and I used to sit in for Joan Lunden when she was either gone or having babies, which was often.
 Later, when I joined The Morning Show with Regis, we continued this arrangement. But now it’s 2009 and much has changed, although there’s no need to discuss my weight.
 The point is, instead of being “two marshmallows sitting by the fire” as a Washington Post critic called us when we hosted the 1988 nighttime Olympics, we can now best be described as “two old farts lucky to be anywhere.”
 In fairness, Frank has only visited me at the Today Show twice in the year since I joined, and has never co-hosted with me, so he’s not familiar with the daily routine, even though I have warned him profusely:
 1. We arrive at 7:30 a.m. at my dressing room
 2. We then proceed to hair and make-up
 3. At 8:15 a.m. we have a production meeting with the producers to go over the topics we all agree should be discussed during our Host Chat at the top of the 10 a.m. hour
 4. At 9 a.m. we return to the dressing room to dress for the show.
 5. At 9:45 a.m. we get our microphones and proceed to the studio

Well, we did steps 1 and 2 perfectly. In fact, I thought at the time that we had done step 3 perfectly too. It wasn’t until we arrived back at my dressing room and Frank began reading production notes, laughing and commenting on them, that I realized Frank had had no idea that the production meeting was for him, too. That is when I started sweating profusely. But I needn’t have worried. After all, Frank is an old pro and very comfortable in front of the camera. But this was different. This was us in front of the camera and America likes nothing better than a good marital train wreck. Well, the one thing that’s for sure about live television is that it starts when it’s supposed to whether you’re ready or not. Everyone agreed Frank looked adorable as we sat down. At 78, he still fills a pair of tight jeans better than any other tight end in history. And his crisp white shirt and blue blazer basically bellowed, “that’s right, I’m hip and I’m happening.”
 We began discussing Michael Phelps, the great Olympic swimmer, and the recent brouhaha over the published picture of him at the unfortunate end of a marijuana bong. Frank made some insightful comments about the temptations young world class athletes have to deal with. Then I asked him, “You’ve always told me that there is an optimum peak in an athlete’s career... what did you tell me it is? 26?”
 “Yeah,” Frank answered. “26 to 30. That’s when everything comes together physically, athletically, and psychologically. That’s basically when an athlete’s at his peak.”

Well, I couldn’t help myself.
 “You mean I missed your peak?”
 (The crew began to chuckle which is always an excellent sign that I’m on to something.)
 Frank blushed, “Well...”
 I interrupted, “I mean it sure looked like a peak... sure felt like a peak. What the hell was it?”
 “You are so bad,” Frank sighed, shaking his head in resignation.

I couldn’t agree with him more.
 P.S. I can’t tell you how many people have commented to Frank about his “peak” since that fateful day. Way too many told him that they had personally witnessed his peak many, many times. I thought that was funny. But it was the many others who told him, “Don’t worry, Frank, you missed Kathie’s too.” That really made us laugh. Sadly, laughing is all old farts are left with.

Diane, Administration

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