You may have heard about the 2013 FIRST Championship held at the Edward Jones Dome recently. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was started in 1989 by Dean Kamen to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders. This year's event drew over 10,000 students from 37 countries to test their engineering skills and teamwork.
FIRST calls the robotics competition for high school students the varsity Sport for the Mind. Teams of 25 or more students work with professional mentors to create a brand for the project, raise funds, and design and build robots to compete in the annual championship.
A brave cadre of volunteers and a nationwide network of animal-care operations who came together to rescue many household pets who had been stranded in the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In turn, many of these dogs rescued their adoptive families from woes only humans know. Pet and human lives were mended in the process and fear and confusion lost out to unconditional love. "Mine" is a documentary film that tells this story and more.
I occasionally chuckle (and sometimes groan) at the titles of the paperback mysteries on our shelves. The lighthearted, cozy mysteries feature titles with puns, rhyming, alliteration and popular culture references.
We have Michelle Rowen's "Blood Bath & Beyond" and Denise Swanson's "Little Shop of Homicide." The jokey title is usually a sign that the mystery will focus less on blood and gore and more on feisty characters and wacky situations.
Fans of the character Thursday Next, created by Jasper Fforde, are already familiar with the writer's great gift for finding humor in bureaucracy with a bit of magic thrown in. Fforde's latest, entitled "The Last Dragonslayer," is the beginning of a new series.
Simon Rich used to write sketches for Saturday Night Live. If the SNL take on dating sounds like your idea of a good time, "The Last Girlfriend on Earth: and other love stories" is the book for you. This collection is a wonderful smattering of views on love in a variety of genres from soft sci-fi to literary chic, but they all are hilarious and most are irreverent. "I Love Girl" illustrates the wooing rituals during the cave man period were a bit more strenuous than current online dating. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" tells the full story of the Big Red Wonder, and it's not all peppermints and sugar plums. The book also includes an ex-exorcism, the catastrophic repercussions if your former boyfriend is the invisible man, and gives an idea of what your dog would write in a personal ad.
Jane Yellowrock, one of my favorite characters in urban fantasy, is back for an action packed adventure in "Blood Trade" by Faith Hunter. As far as she knows, Jane is the last of her kind. She is descended from the Cherokee skinwalkers. She has the ability to shift into various animal shapes to aid her in her chosen profession...vampire hunter. Jane shares her soul with Beast...a mountain lion...who is a ferocious fighter.
Through an unexpected turn of events, the vampire hunter finds herself employed as the Enforcer for the Master Vampire of New Orleans. Her latest adventure is taken on without his consent. Using a loophole in the Vampire Carta, Jane accepted a vampire hunting job in Natchez, Mississippi. Rogue vampires that look on humans as prey are are terrorizing his city.
In addition, they seem to have the ability to heal from fatal wounds. Jane must not only survive the attacks on her. She must investigate to determine the origins of the vampires new found abilities.
What does the music of Earth, Wind and Fire have to do with a French subtitled film about a quadriplegic nobleman and his caretaker from the projects? Watch "The Untouchables" and find out.
This Golden Globe nominated comedy/drama broke box office records in its native France. On-location scenery, smart dialogue and '70s funk music make for some uplifting movie moments.
Based on a true story, the film delicately and humorously tells the story of two men from vastly different lifestyles who come together when one becomes the others caregiver. Their story says a lot about what truly paralyzes a person.
Since discovering the Nameless series many years ago, I have been a fan of Bill Pronzini. "Nameless" is an old school private detective throwback ala Mike Hammer. He has starred in over 35 books. I have enjoyed them all including his latest two "Femme: a "Nameless Detective" novella" and "Kinsmen: a "Nameless Detective" novella."
The 2013 Pulitzer Prizes were announced April 15. The winners include: