You belong to three book clubs, your idea of a perfect weekend is

strolling up and down Eighth Avenue at the New York Book Fair, your

bathroom is stacked with back copies of the New York Review of Books,

and you’ve got Amazon, bn.com, and exlibris.com bookmarked on your

computer. Admit it. You’re a bookworm.

Bookworms and people who just plain love to read have a treat in store

for them – that is, if they can get in: Bloomberg and the National

Book Foundation "An Evening with the Winners of the 2004 National Book

Awards" speaking about the "writing life." The National Book Award is

one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards. But then, if

you’re a bookworm, you already know that.

The tour has only three stops – the New York Public Library, on

Wednesday, February 23; the Princeton Public Library, on Thursday,

February 24; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington,

D.C., on Tuesday, March 22. Admission to the Princeton event is

limited first to cardholders and then to a waiting list.

This year’s winners will discuss and read from their books and take

questions from the audience. A reception with the authors will follow.

The winners include:

Nonfiction. "Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder

in the Jazz Age" by Kevin Boyle is part-courtroom drama, part

biography, and an engaging look at race in America in the early 20th

century. Boyle teaches 20th century American history at Ohio State

University.

Young People’s Literature. "Godless" by Pete Hautmann weaves the tale

of a teenage boy who decides to invent a new religion with a new god –

the town’s water tower. Hautmann lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin and

writes fiction for adults and teens. His poker-themed crime novels,

and "The Mortal Nuts," were selected as New York Times Book Review

Notable Books.

Poetry. "Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003" by

Jean Valentine (Wesleyan University Press) brings together more than

70 new poems with selections from eight previous books. Valentine is

the author of 10 books of poetry. She lives in New York City and is

currently a teacher at Sarah Lawrence, the Graduate Writing Program at

NYU and Columbia, and the 92nd Street Y.

Fiction. "The News from Paraguay" by Lily Tuck is an historical epic

that tells an unusual love story in 19th century Paraguay. Born in

Paris, Tuck divides her time between Maine and New York City and is

the author of three previous novels. Her stories have appeared in The

New Yorker.

An Evening with the Winners of the 2004 National Book Awards,

Thursday, February 24, 7 p.m., Community Room, Princeton Public

Library. Free, but tickets are required. Library cardholders may

obtain a maximum of two tickets at the welcome desk or by calling

609-924-9529, ext. 257. Those without library cards will be placed on

a waiting list and notified of availability on February 24.

The New York Public Library event takes place Wednesday, February 23,

at 6:30 p.m., in the Celeste Bartos Forum, entrance on 42nd Street

between 5th and 6th Avenues. Free. Call the National Book Foundation

at 212-685-0261 for reservations.

Singles: It’s a Comic, No, It’s Your Next Date

It’s a cross between stand-up comedy, speed dating, Oprah, and the

Newlywed Game, says Colette Hawley, a New York comedienne and host of

"Dating It," a production that Hawley and her husband, Jack, a

producer, hatched three years ago. "Jack did one show with once comic

dating six different girls. And I said, ‘Well, let me say something

about that – how about this: three girl and three guy comics and let’s

have them date audience volunteers." "Dating It" comes to the Stress

Factory Comedy Club in New Brunswick on Thursday, February 17.

Hawley serves as emcee, as she has for similar shows at Luna Lounge on

the lower East Side of Manhattan, Madison Square Garden’s former

Comedy Garden, and at comedy festivals in Montreal, Minneapolis, and

Vancouver. "I come out and set the stage with the rules. I usually say

something to break the ice like, `I’m married but God knows that’s the

best time to start really dating.’" Hawley’s ice-breaker is followed

by six sexy, young, single comics, three male and three female, who

come out one at a time for a three-minute stand-up routine.

"After the first comic is finished, she sits at a table with two

chairs," says Hawley, who then goes into the audience to scope out a

possible "date" for the comic. "I might say, `Hey, who wants to date

Shawna, I pick someone and interview them, just like Oprah might do,

ask them ‘What do you like about Shawna,’ and so on. Whoever I think

is a) cute and b) has energy gets to go up to the table and have a

three-minute speed date. I hover around them like Endora from

Bewitched."

The comic in the hot seat gets the banter going – and the audience

howling – with cut-to-the-chase quips like, "How long do I have to

wait to sleep with you so that you don’t think I’m loose?" At the end

of the "date," the couple each circle "yes" or "no" on a card

indicating whether they would like to move on with this "relationship"

to the next level of the show or politely stop the match then and

there. The results are kept secret until all of the comics have

performed and dated. If a pair both circle "yes," then it’s a match.

"The audience is completely involved," says Hawley. "Even if you’re

not onstage you get to be the voyeurs and end up picking the winning

couple. After each comic is paired with a "date," Hawley launches into

a slew of Newlywed Game-type questions to test each couple’s

compatibility like, "You are on a first date, and the check comes. Do

you run to the bathroom or fall asleep?" Each man and woman writes

his/her answer on a card so the other can’t see, and then Hawley

compares the answers out loud to the audience.

"I do mortifying and hilarious things," says Hawley. "I might say,

‘It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a person by how they

dance,’ and then I make each dance for 15 seconds." She also makes

them do other things she doesn’t want to reveal before the show to

protect the surprise element. The couple at the end with the most

points is sent by the show on an actual full-length date.

"It’s a genuine dating event, strictly meant for entertainment. The

show is never the same twice," says Hawley, who started out in musical

theater, then segued into comedy five years ago. She adds that one of

the reasons the show works so well is the humor quotient. "If you read

any magazine about relationships, or ask a girl or guy, what’s the

most important quality in a mate, they’ll say a sense of humor. People

want to imagine that they themselves are funny, or they want to

imagine that their life will be filled with laughter, that humor will

make their life fun and help them get through problems. Those are

valid fantasies. Dating is all about fantasy."

In her own life, however, Hawley is suspicious of funny men. Does she

think her husband is funny? "My husband is playful; he thinks I’m

funny. I personally don’t trust funny people, funny men particularly.

I love them but I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with one. If

you think about it, almost all humor comes from a place of anger and

depression. The personal things I know about the funny men I know are

alarming."

– Jamie Saxon

Dating It, Stress Factory Comedy Club, 90 Church Street, New

Brunswick. Reservations necessary. $12. Discounts and coupons

accepted. 732-545-4242.

Submissions

Arts Council of Princeton invites creative works of literature and art

by students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Submissions may be in

English or Spanish with a maximum of 700 words. Illustrations must be

in black and white and no larger than 8.5 by 11 inches. Visit

www.artscouncilofprinceton.org or call 609-924-8777.

Available

Princeton Center for Yoga and Health offers a martial arts program

"Inspire" for children with special needs. Begins on Wednesday, March

2. Call 609-924-7294 for information.

Princeton HealthCare System offers flu vaccines for any person 18 or

over. $20. For appointment call 609-497-4206.

New Jersey State Council on the Arts offers apprenticeships grants for

traditional folk arts. Stipends range from $1,000 to $3,000. Call

609-292-6130 for an application.

Top Of PageVolunteer

Contact of Mercer County seeks volunteers for its 24-hour Crisis

Intervention Hotline. The 10-week course begins Tuesday, March 15,

9:30 a.m. or 7:15 p.m. Classes will be held at Trinity United

Methodist Church in Ewing. Visit www.contactofmercer.org or call

609-883-2880.

Princeton HealthCare System offers an eight-week volunteer training

course for hospice program volunteers. Classes begin on Thursday,

March 10, 5:30 p.m. at 208 Bunn Drive. Call Helaine Isaacs at

609-497-4959 for information and registration.

Fresh Air Fund seeks families to volunteer as hosts for two weeks or

longer this summer. Visit www.freshair.org or call 800-367-0003.

Top Of PageFor Seniors

Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein urges eligible senior citizens and

residents with disabilities in District 14 to apply for the 2004

Property Tax Reimbursement, also known as the senior citizen property

tax freeze. Visit www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/index.html or call

800-882-6497.

Top Of PageSports

New Jersey Devils Alumni Association offers college scholarships to

high school senior hockey players. Call 201-935-6050 for a copy of the

rules and application.

New Jersey Bandits Football seeks spring football team players ages 17

and up. E-mail nj_bandits@yahoo.com or call 732-382-8894 for

information.

Men’s Adult Baseball League of New Jersey is admitting new individuals

and teams for the spring, 2005 season. Individual players must be 18

and up. Visit www.amateurbaseballnj.com or call Dave Micallef at

973-699-8336.

GSBL Wood Bat League seeks players from 14 and up. Visit

www.gardentstatebaseball.com or call 732-382-4610.

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