Recent doings in Madison

<p>Literary Lunch: Book Festival 'getting better each year'</p>

<p>By Heather Lee Schroeder
October 28, 2004</p>

<p>Appetizer: Madison's must-not-be-missed literary event during the second half of October is an appearance by political activist and writer Tariq Ali.</p>

<p>He will deliver a talk titled "War and Democracy: Iraq and the United States" at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre. The event is co-sponsored by Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative and the Madison Area Peace Coalition and is free and open to the public.</p>

<p>Ali is the editor of the New Left Review and has written several acclaimed books, including his latest, "Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq." He is at once a firebrand of the left, challenging the status quo and asking tough questions, and one of the most rational political voices of his generation, hammering his vast multi-disciplinary knowledge into insightful essays, books and commentary.</p>

<p>Minnesota author Erin Hart will read from her latest book, "Lake of Sorrows," at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, at Booked for Murder, 2701 University Ave. Hart's previous book, "Haunted Ground," was one of my favorite mysteries last year.</p>

<p>Entree: Although the numbers are still rough and attendance figures are still being tallied, Wisconsin Book Festival staff say preliminary attendance at this year's more than 100 events was around 10,000 people. That number is up from the first year's 8,000 and down from last year's 14,000, but 2003's attendance figures included CineFest (the Latino film festival that landed on the same weekend and paired up with the Book Festival) and several well-attended Milwaukee events.</p>

<p>Book Festival Director Alison Jones Chaim said 10,000 is right in line with her own expectations.</p>

<p>Her boss, Wisconsin Humanities Council Director Dean Bakopoulos, was cautious about next year's festival when I spoke to him a few weeks before this year's events, citing the need for funding and public interest to keep the event going. This week, however, Bakopoulos was full of optimism and ideas for the 2005 festival. "This year we were up against Overture and the presidential debates," he said. "I was pretty worried going in, so I was thrilled by the attendance. I also was really happy about the content of the events, which I think is getting better each year."</p>

<p>Indeed, the 2004 Wisconsin Book Festival was a thrilling rush for those of us who attended. From energized political debate to the opportunity to hear up-and-coming authors (like Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, who was nominated this week for a National Book Award), the events were exciting, informative and sometimes just downright sassy (like the "Daily Show" event).</p>

<p>Bakopoulos was particularly enthusiastic about the events that went beyond a standard author reading, like the "To the Best of Our Knowledge" interviews and the "Why I Vote" event. "Literary events can mean something more than a reading," he explained. "These were events with more impact and that were more provocative."</p>

<p>That line of thinking will influence next year's festival. Bakopoulos said he and Jones Chaim have already begun to talk about how they can incorporate a meaningful humanities element into next year's events. That may mean the focus switches from the quantity of events to the quality of events, and organizers may end up choosing themes and questions they want to explore and then determining which authors will be invited to discuss those themes.</p>

<p>"We've been approaching it trying to get as many authors as we can," Bakopoulos explained. "We have sometimes signed up authors without knowing what we're going to do with them."</p>

<p>That approach was great for the first three years because it helped cement the festival's reputation among attendees and publishers, but even I have to admit the plethora of choices at the festival can sometimes be daunting.</p>

<p>The festival's attention must first turn to fund-raising, though, in order to make sure there's enough funding to pay for next year's programming. Currently, the festival relies heavily on foundations (like The Evjue Foundation Inc.) and corporations for financial support, but Bakopoulos says he and Jones Chaim plan on bringing the fund drive back to the community. Already the more active outreach done at the festival events has begun to reap benefits. Jones Chaim said attendees gave generously at the events, and some donation envelopes have started to come back to the festival. "Last week, we got a check for $15," Jones Chaim said. "The woman who sent it in wrote, 'This is what I could have paid for a ticket. The evening was worth much more than this, but this is all I could have afforded.' "</p>

<p>That kind of community support is what Jones Chaim and Bakopoulos are hoping to garner with their fund drive. Bakopoulos said he wants to raise around $20,000 from the community. "I know people are already giving to a lot of things in this town," Bakopoulos said. "I also think a lot of times people don't think a $20 donation will help, but with the book festival, it does."</p>

<p>Dessert: The Wisconsin Academy Review/Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops Short Story Contest is calling for entries in this year's contest, but the twist on the popular event this year is that literary agent Betsy Amster has agreed to review the first-place short story. (Amster, who is president of the Los Angeles-based Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, made an appearance at this year's Wisconsin Book Festival.)</p>

<p>The contest deadline is Dec. 6, and both poets and fiction writers are invited to enter in their respective genres. Novelist Larry Watson ("Montana 1948") will serve as lead judge for the short story entries, and poet and public radio personality Jean Feraca will serve as lead judge for the poetry entries.</p>


<p>MADISON — Nine University of Wisconsin-Madison students will square off against poker superstar Phil Hellmuth Jr. to crown the Intramural Sports Texas Hold ‘em “Champion of Champions.” </p>

<p>The event will take place from 7-10:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, in the On Wisconsin Room of the Red Gym. The event is free and open to the public. </p>

<p>Hellmuth, who attended UW-Madison in the late 1980s, is one of the biggest celebrities in the world of professional poker. He has won the World Series of Poker nine times, collecting $3.6 million in winnings. He began playing cards at Memorial Union and ultimately left the university to launch his professional career. </p>

<p>In Texas Hold ‘em, each player receives two cards — known as “hole” cards — face down. The next five cards are all common cards dealt face up, meaning any player can use any of the latter to make a hand. Players bet at each stage of the deal, and have the option to go “all-in,” wagering all of their chips on a single hand. </p>

<p>“I have the innate ability to understand what people are doing at the poker table and away from the poker table, and I can tell if they’re lying,” Hellmuth told On Wisconsin magazine in 2003. “I think that maybe I’m the best in the world at reading people in poker.” </p>

<p>Students in the competitions each won a smaller “satellite” Intramural Sports tournament to qualify for a seat at the final table. No money is associated with the tournament and the only prizes are Intramural Sports T-shirts, along with books and DVDs signed by Hellmuth. </p>

<p>For spectators, Hellmuth will wear a microphone and there will be a table microphone to capture banter and other sounds at the table. Images of common cards will be projected onto a large screen, if technology allows. Time permitting, Hellmuth also may sign autographs. </p>

<p>For more information or rules for the competition, contact Michael Warren, (608) 265-3828, <a href=""></a> or visit <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>UW to add $134 Million science building.</p>

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