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 Edgar Allan Poe
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfum’d sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand!
The agate lamp within thy hand,
Ah! Psyche from the regions which
Are Holy land!
“To Helen” by Edgar Allan Poe. Public domain. (buy now)
Snow fell in Florida on this date in 1977. Two fast-moving arctic fronts slammed into Florida, and meteorologists braced themselves to deliver the unlikely forecast: a chance of snow. The flakes first started falling in the predawn hours and continued throughout the morning. Schoolchildren raced out of their classrooms to try and catch the flakes on their tongues. Radio stations played “White Christmas,” even though the holiday had passed almost a month earlier. And 150,000 migrant farmworkers lost their jobs statewide as the frigid temperatures decimated citrus and vegetable crops.
Miami only got a trace of snow, so it didn’t get recorded in the record books, but Tampa recorded over two-tenths of an inch, effectively bringing the city to a standstill.
It’s the birthday of James Watt, born in Greenock, Scotland (1736). There were steam engines before Watt became interested in them, but they couldn’t do much real work; too much steam was lost when it condensed inside the chamber as it cooled, and the engines used too much coal to be worthwhile. Watt became obsessed with the problem and spent two years making little model steam engines, one after another. He went through all his money, and his wife died; finally, he had to give up the project and go back to work to recover his fortune. “Of all things in life,” he wrote, “there is nothing more foolish than inventing.” Soon a mine owner who hoped to pump water out of his mines offered to buy out Watt’s partner. Watt advised his partner to accept the cash: “Consider my uncertain health, my irresolute and inactive disposition, my inability to bargain and struggle for my own with mankind: all which disqualify me for any great undertaking.” His sponsor did sell, but the mine owner asked Watt to work on the engine again; six years later he had solved the condensation problem, and by the time he died, his name was known all over the country.
Today is the birthday of Dolly Parton (works by this artist), born in Sevier County, Tennessee (1946). She was one of 12 kids, born and raised in a little cabin in the Smoky Mountains. She grew up “dirt poor,” in her words, and her father paid the doctor who delivered Dolly with a bag of oatmeal. One day, when she was about eight or nine years old, her ambition kicked in. “I didn’t hear a voice, but it was a knowing that came to me,” she remembered, “and it said, ‘Run. Run until I tell you to stop.’” She first started performing professionally when she was 10, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry when she was 13. The day after she graduated from high school, she went off to Nashville. She had her first number one hit with “Joshua” in 1971.
She had a big year in 2019: she started her own podcast, “Dolly Parton’s America,” Netflix launched a series of eight standalone TV show episodes based on some of her greatest hits, she co-hosted the Country Music Awards, and she was featured in Ken Burns’s documentary series “Country Music” on PBS.
It’s the birthday of Patricia Highsmith (books by this author), born Mary Patricia Plangman in Fort Worth, Texas (1921). She wrote suspense novels in which unspeakable crimes often turned out to have been committed by unexpectedly mild-mannered people. Although Alfred Hitchcock filmed her first novel, Strangers on a Train, Hollywood wasn’t interested in any of the others; they were too morally ambiguous. Many of the characters were homosexual; good characters weren’t necessarily rewarded, and murderers weren’t necessarily punished. Her work sold much better in Europe, and she spent most of the rest of her life there, living as a semi-recluse with a menagerie of cats and dogs. Finally, after her death from leukemia in 1995, her novel The Talented Mr. Ripley was made into a film, 45 years after its original publication. She said she liked writing suspense because the genre was inherently lively, and the writer didn’t have to provide constant action. In fact, she said, “I think most of Dostoyevsky’s books would be called suspense books, were they being published today for the first time. But he would be asked to cut, because of production costs.”
It’s the birthday of novelist Julian Barnes, (books by this author) born in Leicester, England, in 1946. His parents were French teachers, and he studied French literature at Oxford. And after he graduated, he spent awhile working as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. He wrote a couple of novels, and then he went back to his study of French literature, and he wrote a novel about a retired doctor named Geoffrey Braithwaite who is an amateur Flaubert scholar trying to hunt down the truth about Flaubert’s life. The novel was really about Flaubert more than Geoffrey Braithwaite, and Julian Barnes got to imitate and parody a lot of Flaubert’s style and habits and ways of cataloguing things. The book was Flaubert’s Parrot (1984), and it was a big success. He’s been writing ever since, novels, short stories, and for a few years, he was the London correspondent for The New Yorker. His most recent book is The Man in the Red Coat (2019); his novel The Sense of an Ending won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011.
It’s the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee (books about this historical figure), born in Westmoreland County, Virginia (1807). He did not approve of the secession and many people think he didn’t approve of slavery, and he was loyal member of the United States Army. But he was even more loyal to Virginia, where his family had deep roots. In 1861, President Lincoln offered him command of the entire Union Army, but Lee knew that Virginia was about to secede, so he declined, left the United States Army, and became a senior military advisor to Jefferson Davis. He went on to serve as General-in-Chief of the Confederate army.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®