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+
by Jim Harrison
Let’s not get romantic or dismal about death.
Indeed it’s our most unique act along with birth.
We must think of it as cooking breakfast,
it’s that ordinary. Break two eggs into a bowl
or break a bowl into two eggs. Slip into a coffin
after the fluids have been drained, or better yet,
slide into the fire. Of course it’s a little hard
to accept your last kiss, your last drink,
your last meal about which the condemned
can be quite particular as if there could be
a cheeseburger sent by God. A few lovers
sweep by the inner eye, but it’s mostly a placid
lake at dawn, mist rising, a solitary loon
call, and staring into the still, opaque water.
We’ll know as children again all that we are
destined to know, that the water is cold
and deep, and the sun penetrates only so far.
Jim Harrison, “Death Again” from Jim Harrison: The Essential Poems. Copyright © 2011 by Jim Harrison. Used by permission of The Permissions Company LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of the English poet and novelist Letitia Elizabeth Landon (books by this author), better known by her initials L.E.L., born in London (1802). By the time she was 20, she was widely popular for her romantic poems, which she published under the initials “L.E.L.” Her 1824 collection, The Improvisatrice, made her an international literary star.
Besides publishing several books of poetry, Landon also wrote book reviews, and her first novel, Romance and Reality, came out in 1831. Her work became unfashionable after her death, and it wasn’t until Germaine Greer published an essay about her in 1982 that scholars began to look at her work again.
It’s the birthday of humorist Steve Martin (books by this author), born in Waco, Texas (1945). He’s known as a comedian and actor, but he has also written several plays and novels, including WASP (1995), Shopgirl (2000), and An Object of Beauty (2010).
He said: “The real joy is in constructing a sentence. But I see myself as an actor first because writing is what you do when you are ready and acting is what you do when someone else is ready.”
It’s the birthday of American cartoonist Gary Larson (1950) (books by this author), the creator of The Far Side, a single-panel comic that ran from 1980 to 1995 and became beloved for its anthropomorphic deer, birds, cats, dogs, dinosaurs, snakes, vipers, and cows, often drawn with cat-eye glasses and beehive hairdos. He grew up in Tacoma, Washington.
In Larson’s world, a man sits on a bed in a disheveled room, staring at a chicken perched on his windowsill. The caption reads, “The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression.” And another one in which a kid pushes at a door beneath a sign that says PULL. The sign next to him says, “Midvale School for the Gifted.”
It’s the birthday of one of the best-selling authors of all time: novelist Danielle Steel (books by this author), born in New York City (1947). Growing up, she divided her time between New York and Paris, and she was raised by relatives and family employees when her parents divorced. She married young, and had her first of nine children, daughter Beatrix, when she was 19. That’s also when she wrote her first book, Going Home (1972). She worked at a New York public relations firm during the day and wrote at night. It was her fourth book, The Promise (1978), that was her first big success.
Since then, she’s published 174 books, most of them novels, but she’s also published poetry, nonfiction, and children’s books. She wrote a memoir, His Bright Light (1998), about her son Nicholas Traina. He suffered from bipolar disorder, and committed suicide when he was 19.
One of Steel’s biggest pet peeves is when people ask her if she’s still writing. “What this does is that it immediately puts my writing into the category as a hobby,” she wrote on her website. “As in, are you still taking piano lessons, doing macramé, have a parrot? I don’t have a huge ego about my work, but let’s face it, for me it is a job. A job I love, and I have been doing it since I was 19 years old. … I never say to guys, ‘So are you still a lawyer? … A doctor? … A brain surgeon?’”
And it’s the birthday of a famous dentist, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, born in Griffin, Georgia (1851). He studied dentistry in Philadelphia, and that’s how he got his nickname, but he was only in private practice for a few months when he contracted tuberculosis. He moved west from Georgia, hoping the desert air would prolong his life. He wound up in Tombstone, in the Arizona Territory, in 1880. There he took up with his friends Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, whom he’d met in Dodge City, Kansas. The Earp brothers were involved in a feud with a gang called the Cowboys, made up of the Clantons and the McLaurys. The feud led to one of the most famous shoot-outs in the history of the American West: the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which happened in October 1881.