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+
Brothers Playing Catch on Christmas Day
by Gary Short
Only a little light remains.
The new football feels heavy
and our throws are awkward
like the conversation of brothers
who see each other occasionally.
After a few exchanges,
the passing and catching
feels natural and good.
Gradually, we move farther apart,
out in the field,
the space between us
filling with darkness.
He leads me,
lofting perfect spirals
into the night. My eyes
find the clean white laces of the ball.
I let fly a deep pass
to his silhouette.
The return throw
cannot be seen,
yet the ball
falls into my hands, as if
we have established a code
that only brothers know.
“Brothers Playing Catch on Christmas Day” from 10 Moons and 13 Horses, by Gary Short. Copyright © 2004 by University of Nevada Press. All Rights Reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the University of Nevada Press. (buy now)
It’s the 85th birthday of Elvis Presley (works by this artist), born in Tupelo, Mississippi (1935). He learned to play the guitar when he was 12 but never really learned to read music. He just knew how to mimic what he heard. He loved all kinds of music, and his friends said that he could reproduce perfectly almost anything he heard on the radio.
He had no clear ambition to become a professional musician. After high school, he got a job as a truck driver for the Crown Electric Company and he began studying to become an electrician. His career as a recording artist only came about because of his love for his mother.
At the time, the Sun Record Company had a special recording studio where anyone could come in and pay a small fee to record personal records for themselves. In the summer of 1953, Elvis scraped together $4 to record two songs, “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” as a present for his mother.
The recording engineer that day liked Elvis’s voice and somehow those recordings made their way into the hands of producer Sam Phillips who specialized in recording “hillbilly music.” Phillips called Elvis back into the studio to see if he might have some real talent. Elvis sang a few slow ballads, which were his favorite songs to sing, and Sam Phillips wasn’t too impressed. And then, in between takes, Elvis and the other musicians started fooling around and singing a blues tune called “That’s All Right, Mama.” Sam Phillips asked them to start over from the beginning and recorded the song. He then rushed the record to the biggest DJ in Memphis.
Elvis went on to record 149 songs that made the top 100 in the Billboard’s pop charts, including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
Today is the birthday of the writer, pacifist, and educator Emily Greene Balch (books by this author), born in Jamaica Plain, Boston (1867). An avid painter, she also published a book of poems, The Miracle of Living (1941). Along with her longtime friend Jane Addams, she co-founded The Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, and in 1946, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her years of service.
Balch said: “Human nature seems to me like the Alps. The depths are profound, black as night, and terrifying, but the heights are equally real, uplifted in the sunshine.”
It’s the birthday of physicist Stephen Hawking (books by this author), born in Oxford, England (1942). He went to Oxford University, but never attended lectures. He was bored with most of his classes, because they seemed too easy, and it was only after an oral exam that his professors realized how smart he was. He went on to get a Ph.D., and he was just starting to find his courses interesting when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that slowly destroys a person’s ability to move any part of their body, while leaving the brain itself unharmed. His doctors expected him to live only two to three years more.
At first, Hawking was utterly depressed and considered giving up on everything. But then his condition seemed to stabilize, and he got engaged to one of his classmates. He said: “[I realized that] if we were to get married, I had to get a job. And to get a job, I had to finish my Ph.D. I started working hard for the first time in my life. To my surprise, I found I liked it.”
Hawking decided to focus his studies on the mysterious astronomical objects known as black holes, and he developed new theories about how they function and what role they may have played in the origin of the universe.
Hawking decided to sum up all the research on physics and astronomy in a book for nonscientists called A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (1988). His publishers told him that in order for the book to be successful, he had to avoid math altogether. They estimated that he would reduce his readership by 50 percent for every mathematical equation he included. So he included only one: E=mc2. A Brief History of Time went on to sell more than 10 million copies in its first 20 years.
Steven Hawking died in March 2018 after an illustrious life as a scientist and public figure. Four years before his death a biographical movie, The Theory of Everything (2014), was released to positive reviews. Its star Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking.
On this date in 1877, Lakota Sioux warrior Crazy Horse fought his last battle against the United States Army, half a year after the Battle of Little Big Horn in June 1876. The battle took place at Wolf Mountain in Montana against General Miles’ army; Crazy Horse and his band had engaged the army throughout the fall and winter. By January, they were weakened and hungry. In May, Crazy Horse led his remaining people to Fort Robinson and formally surrendered.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®