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
“Mercy” from The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. Public domain. (buy now)
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest,—
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,—
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice.
It was on this day in 1892 that an early version of the Pledge of Allegiance appeared in The Youth’s Companion magazine. It read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
It was on this day in 1952 that Ernest Hemingway (books by this author) came out with his last novel, The Old Man and the Sea. The novel begins, “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”
It was on this day in 1504 that Michelangelo unveiled his sculpture David. The project was first imagined more than 30 years earlier, in 1463, when the sculptor Agostino di Duccio accepted a commission to sculpt a biblical figure for one of the buttresses of the Santa Maria del Fiore, a cathedral in Florence. Duccio was given a block of marble more than 19 feet high, but he gave up after a rough attempt at the feet and legs. The commission was passed to another sculptor, Antonio Rossellino, who also gave up.
The piece was forgotten for a while, and the hunk of marble sat in a courtyard until 1501, when the Church authorities revived their project. It was about that time that they started referring to the sculpture as David. The Church settled on awarding the commission to 26-year-old Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Michelangelo was undaunted by the huge piece of marble, even thought it had the mistakes of the two previous sculptors already carved into it. He began sculpting in the fall of 1501 and finished less than two years later, in the summer of 1503. A group of artists — including Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, and Leonardo da Vinci — assembled to decide where to move the statue, since the idea of using it as a buttress for the cathedral seemed less practical now that the marble was weakened from years of exposure to the elements, and because the statue was 17 feet tall and weighed several tons. It took a huge effort to move David to its new location outside the Palazzo della Signoria. The diarist Luca Landucci wrote about the David, which he called ‘the giant,’ in his diary: “During the night stones were thrown at the giant to injure it, therefore it was necessary to keep watch over it. It went very slowly, being bound in an erect position, and suspended so that it did not touch the ground with its feet. There were immensely strong beams, constructed with great skill; and it took four days to reach the Piazza […] It was moved along by more than 40 men. Beneath it there were 14 greased beams, which were changed from hand to hand; and they labored till the 8th July, 1504, to place it on the ringhiera.”
It’s the birthday of Ann Beattie (books by this author), born in Washington, D.C. (1947). It was in grad school that she showed some short stories she’d been writing to one of her professors, the writer John O’Hara, and he started sending her stories out for publication. After a few acceptances, he suggested she try submitting to The New Yorker. She got an encouraging rejection letter, so she kept submitting. It took her 22 tries before The New Yorker took one of her stories, but it wasn’t so bad because it had taken her only a few hours to write each of those 22 stories.
She published both her first collection, Distortions, and her first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, in 1976. Her most recent collection, The Accomplished Guest, came out in 2017.
Ann Beattie said, “People forget years and remember moments.”
It’s the birthday of novelist Grace Metalious (books by this author), born in Manchester, New Hampshire (1924). She wrote the scandalous novel Peyton Place (1956) about a small New England town that is filled with sex, rape, murder, and suicide.
Metalious was a stay-at-home mother of three children, and she wrote the novel to help her husband pay the bills. She got the idea for the book in the middle of the night and wrote it in 10 weeks. It was the first work of fiction she ever published. She based part of the book on a town secret about a woman who murdered her father, and when the book became a best-seller, the locals in her town were horrified. It was banned in libraries across the country, and the public library in her hometown didn’t have a copy until the 1990s.
After her death, the book was made into a TV series that became the first ever long-running primetime soap opera, and all primetime serials since then have been based on its example.
It was on this day in 1920 that the first transcontinental U.S. airmail service began, from New York to San Francisco.
The Wright brothers made their first flight in 1903, but it took a while for them to convince the U.S. government that airplanes were a technology worth pursuing. The brothers approached the government three separate times in 1905 hoping to interest them as a customer, but to no avail. The military finally agreed to purchase a plane from the Wrights in 1908, but it crashed during flight trials, killing the military observer and injuring Orville Wright. A year later, the flight trials resumed, and this time the government actually purchased the plane.
Over the next couple of years, the public became more interested in aviation and its potential beyond military use. In 1911, the Post Office Department expressed interest in the new technology. That fall, an aviator named Earle Ovington was sworn in as the first U.S. airmail pilot moments before taking off in his monoplane from Garden City on Long Island. He had a bag stuffed full of letters and postcards. He flew three miles to Mineola — also on Long Island — and when he saw the signal from the postmaster, he dropped the bag of mail from the airplane. The bag exploded when it hit the ground, scattering mail everywhere.
For several years, the Post Office Department sponsored more experimental flights across the country, mostly at county fairs or aviation events. The flights were successful, and the Post Office asked Congress for funding to try airmail service. They finally agreed, and the first airmail flight was in 1918, with service from New York to Washington, D.C. Flights went smoothly, but the public response was lukewarm — people didn’t want to pay the higher airmail postage just for a slightly shorter trip. Airmail pilots ended up carrying a lot of letters paid with normal postage, just to fill their bags.
The Post Office decided that fast transcontinental service would be a major attraction to consumers, and built airfields that went straight west from New York. There were 15 airfields in all, beginning with New York and including Cleveland, Chicago, Omaha, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, Reno, and finally San Francisco. The biggest challenge was crossing the Rocky Mountains in lightweight planes. On this day in 1920, the first service went across the entire country. The experimental flight carried about 100 letters, and landed in East Oakland.
On these early airmail planes, pilots navigated by dead reckoning because their planes weren’t equipped with radios or any sort of navigational tools. One of the young pilots flying the Chicago to St. Louis route was Charles Lindbergh. Twice he encountered bad weather and had to bail out of the airplane.
It still took a while for airmail to catch on. When the first transcontinental service began, pilots flew only during the day, and then put the mail onto trains for the night. The journey from New York to San Francisco was only 22 hours faster by airmail than regular mail. In 1921, mail was flown overnight for the first time, and suddenly mail could reach from coast to coast two to three days faster. The government was impressed and awarded the Post Office Department more than $1 million for the expansion of airmail. The success of these cross-country flights paved the way for commercial airlines, which followed many of the routes designed for airmail pilots.