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
by Gary Johnson
Let us praise good workers (you know who you are)
Who come gladly to the job and do what you can
For as long as it takes to repair the car
Or clean the house – the woman or man
Who dives in and works steadily straight through,
Not lagging and letting others carry the freight,
Who joke around but do what you need to do,
Like the home caregiver who comes daily at eight
A.m. to wash and dress the man in the wheelchair
And bring him meals and put him to bed at night
For minimum wage and stroke his pale brown hair.
He needs you. “Are you all right?” “I’m, all right,”
He says. He needs you to give him these good days,
You good worker. God’s own angels sing your praise.
“Good Workers” by Gary Johnson. Used with permission of the author.
It was on this day in 2001 that Apple Computers introduced iTunes. Since that day, more than 25 billion tracks have been downloaded from the iTunes store. Six years later, on this day in 2007, Apple unveiled the iPhone. Afterward, they made available a software development kit, the set of tools enabling a person to create a third-party application, or app.
It’s the birthday of Cassandra Austen, born in Hampshire, England (1773). She was a good watercolor painter, and she was extremely close to her sister, novelist Jane Austen. Neither one of the two sisters ever married and they shared a bedroom all of their lives. When they were apart from each other — when one traveled to visit distant relatives and the other stayed home — they wrote letters, hundreds of them. And it’s from these letters between the Austen sisters that scholars have been able to piece together many of the details about Jane Austen’s life.
We also know what Jane Austen looks like because of drawings by her sister Cassandra. One of Cassandra’s illustrations of Jane is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
It’s the birthday of adventurer and author Richard Halliburton, (books by this author) born in Brownsville, Tennessee (1900), the son of a civil engineer. He went to a prestigious New Jersey prep school, edited the student newspaper at Princeton, and then set off on the dizzying array of adventures around the world that would make him famous. To fundraise for these adventures, he wrote books about them. Many of his books became best-sellers.
On one of his first major trips, he traveled down the Nile River, headed over to India and Thailand, and climbed Mount Fiji; he wrote about these escapades in The Royal Road to Romance (1925). On one trip he borrowed an elephant from the Paris zoo and rode it across the Alps. On another trip he decided to follow the ancient path of Ulysses around the Mediterranean Sea; he wrote about these wanderings in The Glorious Adventure (1927). His next big adventure was around Central and South America, where he swam across the Panama Canal. Tolls for crossing the Panama Canal are assessed based on weight, and ships routinely pay over a hundred thousand dollars for a single crossing. But since Halliburton swam across, his toll was just 37 cents — a record for the lowest toll ever. He wrote about his Latin American adventures in New Worlds to Conquer (1929).
On Christmas Day 1930, he set out on another one of his epic adventures. It was a trip around the world in an open-cockpit biplane. It would last 18 months and include stops in 34 countries, and it began in Los Angeles. There was a stop in New York, and then the British Isles, France, Gibraltar, Morocco. He and his co-pilot flew across the Sahara, made a stop in Timbuktu, spent time in Algeria, and landed in Persia (now Iran). They made a stop in Iraq, where they gave a joyride to the school-aged Iraqi prince, flying him up over his school’s playground.
Once, when he was young, he had announced to his father — an engineer — that he himself planned at all costs to avoid living an “even-tenored” life. He said: “When impulse and spontaneity fail to make my way uneven then I shall sit up nights inventing means of making my life as conglomerate and vivid as possible. … And when my time comes to die, I’ll be able to die happy, for I will have done and seen and heard and experienced all the joy, pain and thrills — any emotion that any human ever had — and I’ll be especially happy if I am spared a stupid, common death in bed.”
He was spared a common death in bed. In 1939, he attempted to sail a Chinese junk from Hong Kong to San Francisco. It was 75 feet long, had a dragon painted on it, and was run by a diesel engine. The idea was to land at Treasure Island, in the Bay between San Francisco and Oakland. It was bad from the beginning. He was caught in a typhoon near Midway Island a few weeks after setting out. He sent out a couple messages: “Wish you were here instead of me” and “Southerly gale. Heavy Rain Squalls. High sea … lee rail under water.” He was never heard from again and was presumed dead shortly later, age 39.
The Fisk School, today known as Fisk University, first opened its doors on this day in 1866, in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the first American colleges founded for black students, the original school was housed in the abandoned Army barracks of Union soldiers, a facility provided by a Missouri general and abolitionist, Clinton Fisk. With a mission to provide an education for anyone who wished to learn, regardless of race, the school’s first students ranged in age from seven to 70.
The funds for its construction were raised by the school’s Fisk Jubilee Singers, a touring performance group composed primarily of former slaves. Following the old underground railroad route on their first tour, the Singers sang spirituals like “The Gospel Train” and “Oh Rise and Shine!” in private homes and churches; they’d emptied the struggling school’s treasury to pay for their expenses, hoping that the investment would pay off. Only two years later, the group’s renown was such that they performed for President Grant in the White House and Queen Victoria in England.
Mark Twain wrote about the Fisk Jubilee Singers: “I heard them sing once, & I would walk seven miles to hear them sing again…this is strong language for me to use, when you remember that I never was fond of pedestrianism.”
It was on this day in 1493 that Christopher Columbus, navigating the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria near the coast of the Dominican Republic, on his way to what he believed was a route to Asia, wrote in his journal that he’d seen three mermaids. He seemed unimpressed by them, however, noting that they “came up very high out of the sea: but they are not as beautiful as they are painted, as in some ways they are formed like a man in the face.” What Columbus and his men actually saw were most likely manatees, the slow moving mammals that can only live in warm water and have particularly expressive and human-like eyes.
Columbus actually wrote that he saw, “sirenas,” the Italian word for mermaids — half-woman, half-fish. The word’s etymology comes, of course, from the Sirens of Greek mythology, but the connection is a somewhat garbled one. The mythological Sirens, like those Homer wrote of in the Odyssey, were in fact female bird creatures. Although they lived on islands so they could sing to sailors, luring them to shipwreck, the Sirens were “winged maidens” who lived in flowered meadows. It was in later retellings that the Sirens were sometimes miscast as aquatic animals, conflating them with mermaids. The biological order of aquatic mammals that live in the coastal waters and swamps of the Caribbean — the order of which manatees are the primary species — is named Sirenia.
It was on this day in 1956 when the “Dear Abby” advice column first appeared in print, in the San Francisco Chronicle. Purportedly written by Abigail Van Buren, the pen name of Pauline (Friedman) Phillips.
Three months before, her identical twin sister, Esther, or “Eppie” Friedman, had taken over the Ann Landers advice column at the Chicago Sun-Times. Phillips had been born Pauline Esther Friedman just 17 minutes after her big sister, Esther Pauline Friedman; Pauline Esther would become Abby, and Esther Pauline would take the name Ann. But first, the twins attended college together, where they’d co-written that gossip column, and even married in a joint ceremony on their 21st birthday.
After Esther, or Ann Landers, won a contract for the following year and appeared on the popular game show What’s My Line? Pauline, or Abby, reportedly responded by offering her column to the Sioux City Journal, the sisters’ hometown paper in Iowa, for a reduced rate — as long as they wouldn’t publish her sister’s column, too. Although the women publicly reconciled in 1964, rumors of their competitive infighting persisted for the duration of their careers.
Esther, or Ann Landers, passed away in 2002. Her column, now written by her former editors, became “Annie’s Mailbox.” The “Dear Abby” column is still read by more than 110 million people every day. It’s written by Pauline’s (that is, Abby’s) daughter, Jeanne.