Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
I Want to Eat Bugs with You Underground
by Julie Danho
The scientist on the radio said that humans
will survive, and, at first, I was buoyed,
but she meant only some of us, the ones
living in tunnels, eating crickets to survive
when the rest had died from mass starvation
after droughts lasted longer and seas rose faster
and wars killed bigger because everyone
wanted what little was left. I’d be fine
with being one of the billions dead unless
you were still alive. Under a down comforter
or by a trash fire, I want to be where
you are. You know how poorly I dig holes,
how angry I get when I’m cold, how twice
I’ve accidentally maced myself and still
you’d take me with you down into the earth,
give me more than my fair share of caterpillar.
Few believe we’re in the middle of the end
because ruin can happen as slowly as plaque
blocking arteries, and only later feels as true
as your hand resting on my hip, both of us
quiet as roses waiting for the bees to arrive.
“I Want to Eat Bugs With You Underground” by Julie Danho from Those Who Keep Arriving. Silverfish Review Books © 2020. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of the world’s most famous womanizer, Giacomo Casanova (books by this author), born in Venice in 1725. His mother, Zanetta Farussi, was an actress, and his father, Gaetano Giuseppe Casanova, was an actor and dancer. Venice at that time was a kind of Las Vegas of Italy, with its gambling dens and courtesans and whose religious and political leaders valued tourism and turned a blind eye to vice.
Casanova is best known for his romantic liaisons, and his name is synonymous with seduction, but his autobiography — the 12-volume, 3,500-page Histoire de ma vie or Story of my life — is the best record we have of 18th-century society and its customs. He began to toy with the idea of writing his memoir in 1780, and took up the project in earnest in 1789, in part to relieve the boredom he felt in his position as librarian to a Bohemian count. He completed the first draft in 1792, and worked on revisions until his death six years later. He tells his story without repentance, but nevertheless with humor and candor in describing his failures as well as his successes. He wrote in the preface, “My follies are the follies of youth. You will see that I laugh at them, and if you are kind you will laugh at them with me,” and later, “I loved, I was loved, my health was good, I had a great deal of money, and I spent it, I was happy and I confessed it to myself.”
On this day in 1917, at 8:35 p.m., President Woodrow Wilson called Congress into special session and asked them to declare war on Germany. Appearing before a joint session of the Senate and House, he said, “The world must be made safe for democracy.”
Today is the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen (books by this author), born in Odense, Denmark (1805). He was the only son of a shoemaker who used to tell him stories from Arabian Nights. His mother was an illiterate washerwoman who was widowed when her son was 11. When Andersen was 14, he told his mother that he wanted to go to Copenhagen. When she asked what he intended to do there, he said, “I’ll become famous! First you suffer cruelly, and then you become famous.”
He intended to find his fame on the stage. He even found a patron, Jonas Collin, who was the director of the Royal Danish Theatre. But Andersen was tall and gawky, and people used to laugh at his attempts to sing and dance; he also experienced poverty worse even than he had known in Odense. He felt like an outsider. These feelings were reinforced when he finally went back to school at Collin’s urging. Andersen was a country boy not used to life in the capital city, he was much older than the other students, and he was a mediocre student at best; his schoolmaster used to pick on him mercilessly. He finally graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 1828, and he published his first story in 1829. It was called “A Journey on Foot from Holmen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager” and it was a success. His writing career was launched.
Andersen followed up that first story with volumes of poetry, plays, autobiographical novels, and travelogues. He published his first collection of fairy tales in 1835. Although his novels did well, his fairy tales were overlooked at first, and it wasn’t until an English translation was published in 1845 that they became popular. Andersen gave us “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Little Match Girl,” among many others — more than 150 fairy tales in all.
Today is the birthday of the French novelist and journalist Émile Zola (books by this author), born in Paris (1840). He invented a new style of fiction writing that he called Naturalism, which he defined as “nature seen through a temperament.” He had been inspired by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859), and he decided to try applying scientific principles of observation to the practice of writing fiction. The result was a 20-novel cycle, a kind of fictional documentary about the influence of heredity and environment on an extended family. It was called Les Rougon-Macquart. Some of the novels of the cycle include The Drunkard (1877), Nana (1880), and Germinal (1885).
Zola said, “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”
And, “If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®