February 24, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Crooners. Shows at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fergus Falls, MN
February 23, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at A Center for the Arts. 7:30 p.m.
Detroit Lakes, MN
February 22, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Historic Holmes Theatre. 7:30 p.m.
St. Cloud, MN
February 21, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Pioneer Place on Fifth. 7:30 p.m.
February 20, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Paradise Center for the Arts. 7:30 p.m.
“Leisure” by William Henry Davies. Public domain. (buy now)
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
It was on this day in 1389 that Geoffrey Chaucer (books by this author) was appointed “clerk of the king’s works” for Richard II. In his official notice, Chaucer was declared to be in charge of “our works at our Palace of Westminster, our Tower of London, our Castle of Berkhamstead, our Manors of Hennington, Eltham, Clerendon, Shene, Byfleet, Chiltern, Langley, and Feckenham, our Lodges of Hathebergh in our New Forest, and at our other parks, and our Mews for falcons at Chering Cross; likewise our gardens, fishponds, mills and park enclosures pertaining to the said Palace, Tower, Castles, Manors, Lodges, and Mews, with power (by self or deputy) to choose and take masons, carpenters and all sundry other workmen and laborers who are needful for our works, wheresoever they can be found, within or without all liberties (Church fee alone excepted); and to set the same to labor at the said works, at our wages.”
It was a good deal for Chaucer — his salary more than tripled from his previous appointment as a manager of customs — but he only stayed in the position for two years. No one knows whether he quit or was fired. His next job was managing a royal forest; and for a few years, there are official records that the government paid Chaucer yearly annuities of money and of wine. In 1399, he took out a 53-year lease for a house on the grounds of Westminster Abbey, and then completely disappeared from the record. His gravestone says that he died in 1400, but since the gravestone was probably erected in the 1550s, there is no evidence that the date is accurate, and no one knows how or when he died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey because he lived there and because of his position as clerk of the king’s works. In the 16th century, a larger tomb was erected for Chaucer, and Edmund Spenser was buried nearby. This began a tradition of burying writers in what became known as “Poets’ Corner.”
It’s the birthday of poet Pablo Neruda (books by this author), born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile (1904). In 1923, when he was 19, he sold all his possessions in order to publish his first book, Crepusculario (Twilight). Because his father didn’t approve of his writing poetry, he published it under the pen name Pablo Neruda. In 1924, he published Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, known in English as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, which made him famous. Neruda always wrote in green ink, because he believed it was the color of hope.
In 1927, he began a second career as a diplomat. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1971.
It’s the birthday of the man who said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” That’s Henry David Thoreau, (books by this author) born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (1817). In 1854, he published Walden, or Life in the Woods, which has become a beloved classic.
He worked as slush-pile reader for New York-based magazines, and at night he wrote his own short stories — things that did not often advance past the slush pile. In fact, he received 204 rejection slips before his first short story was ever accepted. But soon after that, the first novel he wrote was accepted by Random House. It was called The Mercenaries (1960), it was huge best-seller, and it was nominated for the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
He wrote fast, sometimes publishing four books a year. Publishers had reservations about releasing multiple titles in one year by a single author. And for this reason — especially early in his career, when he was furiously prolific — he used pen names. Mystery novelist Donald Westlake was also mystery novelist Richard Stark, and he was Curt Clark, and Timothy J. Culver, and Tucker Coe. And he was Samuel Holt and also Edwin West.
Almost all of his books are set in New York City. His two most famous characters: one a bumbling, disorganized criminal, John Dortmunder, and the other a callous felon named Parker.
Westlake wrote on a typewriter — manual typewriters, not the electric kind — from the 1950s through the 1990s and into the 21st century, up until he died on New Year’s Eve 2008 from a heart attack at the age of 75. His reasoning: “I don’t want to sit there while I am thinking and have something hum at me.” For decades, he wrote in the middle of the night, getting started at 10 in the evening and going through till 4 in the morning. But later he moved his work schedule to daytime — still seven days a week — saying, “I loved it [working at night], but social reality impeded. Now I wander in here at 9 in the morning or so, and come back for a while in the afternoon. I am a very lenient boss.” He usually wrote about 7,000 words in one sitting, which is something like 25 double-spaced pages in 12-point Times New Roman font.
It’s the birthday of (Gaius) Julius Caesar, born in Rome around 100 B.C. He came from an aristocratic family that traced its lineage back to the goddess Venus, but by the time he was born, his parents weren’t rich or even distinguished. And so it was rather ambitious of him to try to become a Roman politician, at a time when it was almost a requirement for all politicians to come from powerful families.
In the last years of his life, Caesar was appointed absolute dictator of Rome. He had ambitious plans to redistribute wealth and land, and he began planning public works and an invasion of Germany. But a group of senators, led by Brutus and Cassius, wanted to bring back the old republic. So they organized an assassination on the steps of the Senate. Caesar died from over 20 stab wounds.
Julius Caesar said, “Which death is preferably to every other? The unexpected.”