City Pulse - Arts and Culture <![CDATA[Book reviews: Notes from Neil]]> Thursday, Dec. 18 — As promised, the final three genres, with my favorite three titles in each. A friend wrote after last week that my list didn't match hers because we didn't read many of the same books. To which I say "perfect!" Let's help each other discover great things to read. Here's what we're reading: ]]> <![CDATA[Turner-Dodge grand re-opening gala]]> <![CDATA[Holiday Cheapskate]]> <![CDATA[Ford focus]]> Author Richard Ford is on the road again promoting his newest book, “Let Me Be Frank With You.” Along for the ride is Frank Bascombe, the peripatetic protagonist in the book’s four novellas, as well as three of Ford’s other novels. In a phone conversation last week from a hotel in Oxford, Miss., Ford, 70, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the book’s popularity; a recent lecture in Pittsburgh attracted 1,000 readers. A commonly held belief by critics and reviewers that novelists sometimes turn to novellas or short story collections to fulfill contracts, but Ford bristles at that suggestion: “It’s not a knockoff by any means." Ford said he didn’t take on a novel because he “didn’t have the chops for it.”]]> <![CDATA[Gimme some truth]]> ]]> <![CDATA[Turn it down]]> ]]> <![CDATA[Book drop]]> Festivus isn’t the only December holiday “Seinfeld” gave us. In the 1995 episode “The Label Maker,” the all-too-common practice of giving someone a present that some one else had recently given you got a name: Regifting. The term caught on, and 13 years later, Dec. 18 was declared National Regifting Day by the State of Colorado. ]]> <![CDATA[History lesson]]> “Annie” is back, and it’s more than just overplayed hits. Part musical fantasy time capsule, part political commentary, the 37-year-old show feels strangely relevant in a post-recession world. More importantly, the freshly revived touring production is a polished machine designed to entertain.]]> <![CDATA[Book reviews: Notes from Neil]]> Thursday, Dec. 11 — Happy Holidays, fellow readers! You know the end of the year is nearly upon us when I start in on my favorite reads roundup. I'm taking a slightly different approach this time, I've come up with seven categories of books I read the most, and picked my favorite three titles of 2014 in each. Not "the best" titles - that's way too subjective. Just the three in each genre that gave me the greatest pleasure to read and stayed with me the longest after I finished. Starting with four categories this week, I'll finish with three more next week. And as always, I cheated a bit by throwing in some deserving Honorable Mentions. Here's what we're reading: ]]> <![CDATA[Last minute gift guide: The vinyl frontier]]> Who knows why interest in vinyl records is waxing these days. Perhaps it’s the soothing crackles and pops of a needle sneaking through the grooves, or maybe it’s just nostalgia for dust jackets and liner notes. But for Records Redone, albums are both the message and the medium. ]]> <![CDATA[Last minute gift guide: Baby’s first christmas]]> <![CDATA[Last minute gift guide: Made in lansing]]> If you’re looking to keep your holiday dollars local, consider one of these gifts: ]]> <![CDATA[Lat minute gift guide: Hunger never takes a break]]> Whatever you call it — tzedakah, zakat, alms, shabdosh, charity — this is the time of the year when people in mid-Michigan start to think about giving their time, money or food items to nonprofit organizations. The Greater Lansing Food Bank is a leader, distributing to seven counties and over 120 food pantries to families in need. Not only does the Food Bank receive food, but it also supplies shampoo, toothpaste, dog food and a variety of miscellaneous supplies that are needed for everyday life. ]]> <![CDATA[How deep the rabbit hole goes]]> While browsing the eclectic works along the walls of East Lansing’s Saper Galleries, it’s easy to feel like you’ve tumbled down one hell of a cultural rabbit hole. The pieces come from eras throughout time and from all over the world, with styles and media as varied as the subject matter. If there’s could be a factor that lends consistency to this artistic smorgasbord, it’s the enthusiasm for the works by the gallery’s owner, Roy Saper. With energetic aplomb, Saper can illustrate the ways of how well deserved an exhibit’s home on his walls can be. ]]> <![CDATA[‘Miracle’ workers]]> The antique furniture and appliances, non- English words in spoken English, the guilt, and the stubbornness should all be familiar to anyone who grew up in a working class, ethnicreligious home. Playwright Tom Dudzick nails the Polish-Catholic family in “Miracle on South Division Street,” which is no doubt transcribed from his own experience. In spite of its familiar character types and “traditional values”-themed story, Williamston Theatre’s production, directed by Rob Roznowski, feels refreshingly original.]]> <![CDATA[Mario world]]> <![CDATA[The billionaire up there]]> The 19th national tour for “Annie” makes its way to East Lansing next week, 37 years out from its debut on Broadway in 1977. Its origins go back further still if you consider the beloved Depressionera comic “Little Orphan Annie” the musical was based on. The comic’s author, Harold Grey, probably had no clue back in 1924 when the strip debuted that his cartoon would be responsible for inspiring timeless hit songs like “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Maybe” and the eternally optimistic “Tomorrow.” ]]> <![CDATA[Turn it down]]> ]]> <![CDATA[New in town]]> <![CDATA[Extending last call ]]> FRIDAY, Dec. 5 — Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is against allowing bars to stay open an extra two hours until 4 a.m., as a bill working its way through the state Legislature would permit.]]>