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.
The Emperor of Ice-Cream
by Wallace Stevens
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
“The Emperor of Ice-Cream” by Wallace Stevens. Public domain. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1977 that the miniseries Roots was premiered on ABC. It was based on Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976) by Alex Haley, (books by this author) who is also famous for collaborating with Malcolm X to write The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965). Haley based Roots loosely on research into his own family’s history of slavery. The saga begins with the young Kunta Kinte, who is captured by slave traders in The Gambia and brought to America. By the end of Roots, Kunta Kinte’s great-grandson is finally freed at the time of the Civil War.
ABC was hesitant to air the miniseries because of its controversial racial content. Almost all of the white characters were depicted as evil, and there were intense scenes of rape and violence. ABC wasn’t sure how white American viewers would react to Roots,so they showed it on consecutive nights rather than spreading it out, and the previews made it look like the well-known white actors were a bigger part of the series than they actually were.
Roots aired for eight nights in a row, and about 130 million people watched at least part of the series. Restaurants and shops cleared out while it was showing, and bars showed it on their TVs in order to keep customers there. Roots became the most-watched program in history at that time.
It’s the birthday of French writer Stendhal (books by this author), born Marie-Henri Beyle in Grenoble, France (1783), a psychological novelist more interested in his characters’ inner lives than in descriptions of them or their surroundings.
Stendhal graduated from public school in his little town of Grenoble, went to Paris, got a job with Napoleon’s War Ministry and worked his way up, living all over Europe and falling in love with women along the way. In Milan, in his late teens, he fell in love with Angela Pietragrua, a 23-year-old woman who was the mistress of one of his superior officers. He later turned her into the character of Gina Pietranera in The Charterhouse of Parma (1839).
He later fell in love with Matilde Viscontini Dembowski, the wife of a Polish general, who was smart, beautiful, and totally unattainable. When she went on a vacation, Stendhal followed her across Italy, trying to disguise himself in green glasses, loitering around the park where she walked, getting himself invitations to the same parties she would be at, and growing jealous every time she flirted with another man. She let him come sit in her parlor and talk to her, but nothing more; she limited his visits to once every two weeks, which nearly drove him crazy.
Stendhal never managed to change Matilde’s mind, but he used all the emotion of his unrequited love to write the book On Love (1822). In it he details the seven stages of falling in love, from admiration to pleasure to doubt to what he calls “crystallization.” He wrote: “Indeed, half — the most beautiful half — of life is hidden from one who has not loved passionately.”
It’s the birthday of poet Derek Walcott (books by this author), born in Castries, Saint Lucia (1930). He grew up reading British poets like William Wordsworth, John Milton, and Andrew Marvell. Walcott got a scholarship to study in Jamaica. From there, he studied theater in the United States, and then went back to the Caribbean and founded the Trinidad Theater Workshop. He taught at Boston University, and became good friends with Robert Lowell, whom he had first met when Lowell and his family visited Trinidad. In 1990 Walcott published his epic poem Omeros, a re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey set on St. Lucia.
In 1992, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. The last book Walcott published before his death in 2017 was Morning, Paramin (2016), a poetry collection in collaboration with painter Peter Doig.
He said: “I come from a place that likes grandeur; it likes large gestures; it is not inhibited by flourish; it is a society of physical performance; it is a society of style. […] I grew up in a place in which if you learned poetry, you shouted it out. Boys would scream it out and perform it and flourish it. If you wanted to approximate that thunder or that power of speech, it couldn’t be done by a little modest voice in which you muttered something to someone else. I come out of that society of the huge gesture. And literature is like that.”