Saturday, May 21, 2011

Welcome to Baltimore : Preakness 2011

The thousands of out-of-towners pouring into Baltimore today for the 2011 Preakness probably got their first impression of Baltimore from TV shows such as "The Wire." But I hope they take the time to explore a bit more and see other sections of our fair city. Here are a few books to get you in the mood for a day of touring Baltimore -- or just watching the horse race.

"Lord of Misrule" by Baltimore native Jaimy Gordon, a National Book Award winner, is a terrific read about small-time racing -- and hustling.

"The Accidental Tourist" is among my favorites by Anne Tyler, who chronicles the lives of Baltimoreans. The novelist has won the Pulitzer Prize ("Breathing Lessons" in 1989) and was among the nominees for the 2011 Man Booker International Prize.

"Butchers Hill" or any of the other Tess Monaghan novels by Laura Lippman, a prize-winnng mystery writer.

"The Baltimore Book" by Linda Shopes, an intriguing look at social trends that have helped to define the area, including immigration, unionization and white flight.

And if you insist on reading about Wire-ish Baltimore, pick up "The Corner." The non-fiction account of the folks who live in a drug-ravaged section of west Baltimore was co-written by David Simon, who also did the TV series.

Judgment Day Rumors Spread Across The US May 21, 2011

May 21, 2011 will mark the second coming of Christ, or at least that's what some Christian groups believe.

The date was calculated by Harold Camping, the leader of an independent Christian ministry called Family Radio Worldwide, which is based in Oakland, Calif. Camping's date is based on his interpretation of the Bible.

Camping's group isn't the only one following his apocalyptic prediction though. A number of loosely affiliated websites and radio broadcasts have created a movement independent of churches that have organized to proclaim the day as the end of the world.

Billboards, bus stop benches, and travelling caravans of RVs from Bridgeport, Conn. to Little Rock, Ark. are being used to spread the word, according to the AP. Allison Warden (pictured) has been helping to organize the campaign not only through billboards and post cards, but through the web, using her site We Can Know.

Camping, 89, says the Bible acts as a calendar by which the dates of prophecies can be calculated. "Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment," he told the AP.

While this isn't the first time that the end of the world has been predicted, there are many believers that will adhere to the date, even if it passes. "It would be like telling the Wright brothers that every other attempt to fly has failed, so you shouldn't even try," Chris McCann, who works with eBible Fellowship, told the AP