Answer This!, a film by University of Michigan alum Christopher Farah, takes you out to the bars of Ann Arbor, where diehard trivia teams—like the Ice Tigers —face off for a glory far greater than a round on the house.
The movie follows Paul Tarson, a U of M graduate student played by Christopher Gorham. Afraid to make any decisions about his post-academic life, Tarson redirects his intellectual energy toward a citywide pub trivia tournament, much to the disappointment of his professor father, played by real life U of M Professor Ralph Williams.
Funded in part by the now suspended Michigan Film Office incentives program, Answer This! was filmed almost entirely on the U of M campus and around Ann Arbor. It is the first movie to receive official sanction from the university.Farah said it was important for him to locate the film in his hometown. He and his brother Mike Farah, who produced the film, tried several bigger, broader scripts before settling on Answer This!.
“None of those stories really resonated with us,” said Farah. “We wanted to do something that would kind of take us back to something we could really connect with.”
Farah uses the locations in the film to create that same hometown feeling for moviegoers.
“What we did,” said Farah, “was try to take a lot of those places that go beyond the really famous Ann Arbor spots...no matter what town or what city it’s in, people can relate to those kind of places, whether it’s a great corner bar or a pond or rope swing that only they knew about back where they were growing up.”
For audiences from Ann Arbor, this has the effect of making the familiar seem epic.
“A sidewalk outside Ashley’s feels so big in the movie...When you walk by it, it just kind of feels like a sidewalk. But in a movie, it feels like A SIDEWALK,” said Farah. “It’s taking that Ann Arbor that we know, and is somehow blowing it up to cinematic proportions.”
Answer This! opens this weekend in Ann Arbor, Novi and Grand Rapids.
A crowd of about a hundred gathered on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor to talk and listen. Many in the crowd have been inspired by the anti-corporate protest that’s been taking place on Wall Street for the past several weeks. Others were just curious.
Today, the doors will close for the final time at the Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor. It’s a significant milestone marking the final days of the Ann Arbor-based bookseller.
“Well it's so sad….we’ll miss’em…great store,” one longtime Borders customer said as she walked out the door of the bookseller's flagship store. That is the feeling of many people who stopped by the Borders store in Ann Arbor on its last day.
What’s left on the shelves at your local Borders bookstore is expected to be gone in about another month. The liquidation sales have been going on for nearly a month at Borders 399 bookstores across the U.S., including the company’s 26 Michigan locations.
The Ann Arbor-based bookseller ended its fight to stay alive in July after repeated unsuccessful attempts to find a way out of bankruptcy-protection.
Richard Kaye is with Hilco, one of the companies handling Borders’ liquidation. He says overall Borders’ ‘Going out of Business’ sales are proceeding as expected.
The number of foreclosure filings dropped significantly in cities across Michigan during the first six months of the year. Daren Bloomquist, with Realty Trac, says this not necessarily good news.
“We’ve probably seen the peak of foreclosure activity in this cycle. But it may take a while to really to clear the decks and get all the foreclosures that have built up over the last few years sold on to the market.”
Ann Arbor’s police chief says there is one, possibly more sexual predators attacking women in his city. Police are investigating a string of 6 sexual assaults that occurred in the past nine days near the University of Michigan campus.
Police Chief Barnett Jones says young women in Ann Arbor should take precautions and should avoid walking alone at night.
"It is very upsetting when I have to stand up here in front of you to tell people in my community that we have a predator….or predators out there…preying upon women in our community.”
A quintet of musicians has been traveling across the state for the past 10 days. They don’t have a tour van or a u-haul stuffed with instruments. Instead, the guys are pedaling their bikes from Holland to Detroit…with their instruments in tow! They're also raising money for various charities along the way.
How much does it cost to educate a child in Michigan?
The answer to that question is causing controversy for Gov. Rick Snyder.
Greenhills School -- where Gov. Snyder's daughter attends -- in Ann Arbor released a video asking for donations. In the video, officials from Greenhills claim that $20,000 per year per student isn't enough to keep the school running.
Michigan public schools receive an average of $6,846 per year per student, and that number has dropped since Gov. Snyder took office.
As the debate over deep cuts to the state’s per pupil allowance in education funding continues, Greenhills School in Ann Arbor has released a fundraising video in which school officials say the $20,000 per year tuition per student is not enough to keep the school running.
The video features students and faculty from the school, where Gov. Rick Snyder sends his daughter, reading from a script and saying that money raised from an annual auction was necessary to keep the school going. One student, who is not identified, says, “Tuition alone does not cover the costs of a Greenhills education.”
The video asks viewers to consider a donation of “$10,000, $500 or $50″ to help the school defray the school’s operational costs.
At the same time that the school to which Snyder sends his own child can’t make ends meet with funding of $20,000 per pupil, the governor recently pushed through and signed legislation that cuts per pupil public school funding by $370 per student, bringing state funding to $6,846 per student. Some schools could qualify for an additional $100 per student if they adopt what Snyder and GOP lawmakers call “best practices.” Those practices include reducing employee costs by forcing an increase in insurance cost sharing and privatizing or consolidating some services.
According to an opinion piece from the Battle Creek Examiner, academic and athletic facilities at Greenhills include Smartboard technology in all classrooms, a state-of-the-art theater, an indoor batting cage, a climbing wall, and a weather station. The average class size is 15 students and the school scores 100 percent college entrance rate for graduates.
My American Unhappiness, the second novel from Dean Bakapoulos, the author of Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, is about an unhappy (surprise!) man working in the humanities in Wisconsin who makes a series of terrible decisions for the ostensible purpose of getting married and keeping his family together.
While the main action of the novel takes place in Madison, WI, the protagonist, Zeke Pappas, has a number of connections to Michigan. His time at the University of Michigan features many references to university and Ann Arbor town life including [mild spoiler alert!] Alice Lloyd Hall, the Fleetwood Diner, and beloved professor Ralph Williams’s popular Shakespeare class.
Attorneys for Borders will be back in court this week asking a judge to give the troubled Ann Arbor-based book store chain more time to exit bankruptcy protection. When Borders filed for bankruptcy protection in February, the hope was the bookstore chain would be able to quickly turn itself around. That apparently isn’t happening.
""It must be something in the water." - Paul Tinkerhess.
Last Sunday, I walked around a neighborhood in Ann Arbor's west side and witnessed a new music phenomenon - the Water Hill Music Festival - where neighbors played music from their front porches, backyards, and garages.
The idea for the festival came from Paul Tinkerhess, a local business owner and musician.
"The concept is simple," Tinkerhess said. "On the afternoon of Sunday, May 1st, everyone in the neighborhood who either is a musician or wants to pretend to be a musician is encouraged to step out onto their front porch and play music. That's it. Or half of it. The other half is that we are inviting all the other neighbors, and the rest of the world, to wander through the neighborhood that afternoon and enjoy something like a music festival with a lot of stages."
The neighborhood in Ann Arbor's west side, dubbed "Water Hill" by Tinkerhess, if filled with musical talent.
I caught a small fraction of the festival, and made this video:
On Sunday, May 1 from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m., musicians who live in the city's Water Hill district will sit out on their front porch or lawn, and put on a show. It's called the Water Hill Music Fest, and more than 50 house in the neighborhood will participate.
On a normal Saturday in April, a few hundred people visit the Ford presidential museum in Grand Rapids. But, if Congress can’t reach a budget deal by midnight tonight, the Ford museum’s doors will stay locked over the weekend.
A report in the Wall Street Journal suggested Borders plans to move its headquarters from Ann Arbor. But company spokeswoman Mary Davis insists no final decision has been made.
"We are looking at a number of options all around the greater metropolitan Detroit area including Ann Arbor. News reports are making it sound like the decision is final and we are moving out of Ann Arbor. That is not the case."
The Wall Street Journal reported late last night that Borders will outline its future plans to a group of its creditors today. Part of those plans involves moving out of the company's Ann Arbor headquarters. The company has said the building no longer serves Borders needs. Borders issued a statement saying the company will look for a new facility in metro Detroit.
Borders filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Since then, Borders moved to close more than 200 bookstores, including four in Michigan. Borders hopes to exit bankruptcy protection later this year, possibly in late summer or early fall.
Borders, once a leader in the nation's book selling industry, has struggled in recent years as book buyers have moved online.
Borders Group Inc. plans to tell publishers and landlords Wednesday it has achieved major cost savings, including more than $30 million in rent reductions, and that it will move out of its Ann Arbor, Mich., headquarters for cheaper office space in the greater Detroit metro area.
Presenting its business plan to an unsecured creditors committee, predominantly made up of publishers and landlords, Borders also plans to say it has now closed about 50 superstores as part of efforts to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to people familiar with the matter. Altogether, Borders will close 226 by the end of next month, although a handful of additional stores could be closed, depending on negotiations with landlords, the people said.
News organizations around the state were quick to pick up the report:
A federal bankruptcy judge has decided to give Borders Group another 90 days to review leases for its bookstores. The Ann Arbor-based bookstore change is working to emerge from bankruptcy later this year. Borders is already closing 200 bookstores across the country, including 4 stores in Michigan. Borders is expected to announce plans to close additional stores and renegotiate leases on about 600 other outlets.
Tony Dearing is AnnArbor.com's chief content officer. He posted a comment over the weekend on AnnArbor.com about the layoffs. Here's what he wrote:
While personnel issues are an internal matter and we don't discuss them publicly, I can confirm that we reorganized our newsroom this week to put our focus more squarely on local news coverage. As a new organization, we have tried a lot of things. Now that we are well into our second year, the community has told us very resoundingly that what it wants most from us is hard news coverage, particularly in the areas of government, education, police, courts, health, the environment, University of Michigan sports, and business. These areas of coverage account for all but a tiny percentage of our readership and revenue. Meanwhile, we also have put a lot of effort toward other things -- including lifestyle topics like Passions and Pursuits, The Deuce, Homes and some areas of Entertainment coverage -- that our community has shown much less interest in, and we are scaling back in those areas.
We have made tremendous progress since we launched, and we continue to be very happy with the growth we're seeing in audience and revenue. But from the beginning, we said that we would be shaped by what the community wants, and the community wants us to focus more sharply on local news reporting. We have repositioned ourselves to throw our energy and resources into our local news coverage and that is how we will operate moving forward as we continue to grow.
During the interview Young asked Hamilton about her time in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Young says, "like a lot of Americans, you thought, 'Ann Arbor, Michigan… cheese cubes.'"
You can hear Young's comment in the audio here. It's at the 6 minute mark.
That comment sparked one listener to write in. Phillip wrote:
I do hope that someone from your Michigan network of stations will contact the host of Here and Now about her comment yesterday regarding Ann Arbor; specifically, in an interview with the chef/ author of Prune, the host remarked something to the effect that "When most of us think of Ann Arbor, we think of cheese cubes..." Give me a break!
Well, we did share that comment with the producers at Here & Now and host Robin Young wrote back:
OY YI YI!!!!
The cheese cube kerfuffle!!
We're going to address on a letters segment on air, but I've been writing the (many!) people who've written.
Just to clarify.. what I said was, "YOU" (meaning the author) thought Michigan meant cheese cubes. This is what she writes in the book! Then I went on to say, but you found otherwise.
I buy from Zingermans!! I don't think Ann Arbor means cheese cubes!
The company handling the liquidation sales at some 200 Borders Books stores announced today the sales will begin Saturday. Hilco Merchant Resources of Chicago issued a press release saying the liquidation will begin with 20 to 40% on all merchandize with some exceptions. Over $350 million of inventory including books, magazines, music and movie media, calendars, posters and more will be liquidated.
Borders Books’ successful trip through bankruptcy is contingent on deals with publishers. Borders filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday.
Court documents show the Ann Arbor-based bookseller owes more than $150 million to 7 publishers, including Simon & Shuster, Random House and Penguin. Borders has also been delaying payments to publishers since December.
Independent bookstore owners are not sure whether Borders Books expected bankruptcy filing this week will be good news for their businesses.
Analysts expect Borders will close 200 or more stores as part of any bankruptcy plan.
When Borders Books and other mega-bookstore chains started opening 40 years ago, it seemed like the end for many small local bookstores. They found it difficult to compete with the big stores with their wider selections, coffee bars and other amenities. But the obituary for the corner bookstore was a bit premature.
Now that online book sales and e-book readers are shrinking the market for big-box bookstores, the smaller footprint booksellers suddenly have a brighter future. Deb Leonard is the executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Bookseller Association.
“Those independent stores in those neighborhoods will benefit because people need a place to go.”
Leonard says, in some cases, local bookstores might consider taking over former Borders locations.