December 16, 2018
Garrison Keillor returns to Crooner’s with singer Christine DiGiallonardo & pianist Richard Dworsky. Shows at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
New York, NY
December 2, 2018
A mini Prairie Home reunion featuring Garrison Keillor, Rob Fisher, Fred Newman, and Heather Masse and Christine DiGiallonardo.
November 3, 2018
Garrison Keillor performs with duet partner Lynne Peterson and longtime collaborator & pianist Richard Dworsky.
5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
A live performance at the Brady Theater
Long Beach, CA
A live performance at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center
Excerpt from Paradise Lost
by John Milton
(Eve speaks to Adam)
With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild, then silent night
With this her solemn bird and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heav’n, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistring with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,
Or glittering starlight without thee is sweet.
Excerpt from Paradise Lost by John Milton. Public domain.
It’s the birthday of poet John Milton, (books by this author) born in London (1608). He spent most of his life writing political tracts. He sided with Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War, and he advocated for freedom of the press, freedom to divorce, and the moral right of the people to overthrow a monarch. He got a job as Secretary of Foreign Tongues, composing official materials for the Commonwealth in Latin. Just three years after his appointment, he went totally blind from glaucoma at the age of 43. So from then on, he had to dictate. His main assistant was the poet Andrew Marvell. After the Commonwealth was overthrown in 1660 and Charles was restored to the throne, Milton feared for his life. But partly through the interventions of Marvell, he was spared, and retired to the country.
And it was there that he dictated his great epic poem Paradise Lost to a collection of nephews, friends, and hired scribes — and maybe his daughters, although there is plenty of debate about whether the girls had even been taught to write. He often composed in the early morning, in bed or sitting in a rocking chair, reciting lines to himself until someone came to write them down. After scribes had written down Milton’s words, he would have them read the passage back to him so he could correct it. When it was finally completed to his satisfaction, Milton sold Paradise Lost in 1667. He agreed on a price of four £5 payments — the first upfront, the second after it sold 1,300 copies, the third after a second edition was brought out and sold as many copies, and a fourth payment after a third edition of the same volume. Milton made £10 on Paradise Lost before his death in 1674.
Milton coined more than 600 words, including the adjectives dreary, flowery, jubilant, satanic, saintly, terrific, ethereal, sublime, impassive, unprincipled, dismissive, and feverish; as well as the nouns fragrance, adventurer, anarchy, and many more.
It’s the birthday of writer and illustrator Jean de Brunhoff, (books by this author) born in Paris (1899). He was a professional painter, and his wife, Cecile, was a classically trained pianist. They had two sons, and when one of them got sick, Cecile made up a story about an elephant to distract him. The boys loved the story so much that they went ahead and told it to their dad and asked him to draw some pictures. He did, writing the story along with it, and his older brother, a publisher, thought it was great. In 1931, The Story of Babar was published, and it was an immediate success. So de Brunhoff wrote six more Babar books. But only three of them were published before he died of tuberculosis, at the age of 37. The writer Ida Treat said that he was “tall, slightly stooped, with a smile that was somehow younger than his age … and the eyes were beautiful: the eyes of a man who lives much alone, who looks at the world and is not of it, mountaineer eyes, and a quick boyish smile.”
De Brunhoff’s oldest son, Laurent, was a talented artist as well. Ten years after his father’s death, Laurent de Brunhoff was 22 years old and had studied at an art school in Paris, and he decided he was ready to resurrect his fathers’ series. He has been writing and illustrating Babar books ever since.
On this date in 1793, Noah Webster established the first daily newspaper in New York City. Called American Minerva, Webster used it as a vehicle to spread his pro-Federalist views and counteract what he saw as too much French propaganda in the fledgling United States. In 1797, he changed the name to the Commercial Advertiser; he remained at the helm for four years. After Webster left the paper, he moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he began work on the first of his famous dictionaries. Eventually, the paper merged with the New York Globe in 1904, and it was later bought by The Sun.
On this date in 1979, a panel of scientists declared the smallpox virus to be eradicated. It’s the first and only disease to be driven to extinction through human efforts.
The disease itself has probably been around since at least 10,000 B.C.E. Evidence of smallpox scars has been found on Egyptian mummies, and the decline of the Roman Empire coincides with a particularly bad outbreak that claimed 7 million people. It spread from northern Africa throughout Europe and Asia, and came to the New World with Spanish explorers. British forces used it as a biological weapon against Indians in the 18th century.
Credit for the vaccine, and the science of immunology, usually goes to Edward Jenner, an English doctor. Jenner was one of thousands of English children who had been inoculated with live smallpox in 1757. He developed a mild case of the disease and recovered. He grew up to become a doctor, and in the course of his practice, he heard a milkmaid brag that she could never catch smallpox because she’d already had caught cowpox from the cows. Cowpox was closely related to smallpox, but it had much milder effects on its human victims. So Jenner injected fluid from a cowpox sore into the arm of an eight-year-old boy. And six weeks later, he injected the boy again, this time with live smallpox. The boy showed no symptoms, because his body had developed antibodies. Jenner devoted his life to promoting the practice of vaccination, and vaccinated the poor for free. Less than 50 years later, the British government passed a law to provide free smallpox vaccinations to all infants.
In spite of Jenner’s efforts to advance public health, smallpox still had a devastating effect in developing countries where vaccination wasn’t practiced. In 1967, the World Health Organization announced a campaign to eradicate the disease worldwide. The last naturally occurring case of smallpox was diagnosed 10 years later, in 1977, and a panel of scientists certified the disease’s eradication on this date, two years after that.