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+
The End of the Holidays
by Mark Perlberg
We drop you at O’Hare with your young husband,
two slim figures under paradoxical signs:
United and Departures. The season’s perfect oxymoron.
Dawn is a rumor, the wind bites, but there are things
fathers still can do for daughters.
Off you go looking tired and New Wave
under the airport’s aquarium lights,
with your Coleman cooler and new, long coat,
something to wear to the office and to parties
where down jackets are not de rigeur.
Last week winter bared its teeth.
I think of summer and how the veins in a leaf
come together and divide
come together and divide.
That’s how it is with us now
as you fly west toward your thirties
I set my new cap at a nautical angle, shift
baggage I know I’ll carry with me always
to a nether hatch where it can do only small harm,
haul up fresh sail and point my craft
toward the punctual sunrise.
“The End of the Holidays” by Mark Perlberg, from The Impossible Toystore. Louisiana State University Press © 2000. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of President Richard Milhous Nixon (books about this historical figure), born in Yorba Linda, California (1913). He grew up poor in a Quaker family in the town of Whittier, where his family ran a grocery store and gas station. He won a scholarship to Harvard, but his parents needed his help in the store, so he attended a local college. He went on to Duke University School of Law, then returned to Whittier to work as an attorney. During an audition for a community theater production, he met a high school stenography teacher named Pat Ryan. He was immediately smitten, although it took her longer to come around; at first she was uninterested, but he was so determined that he even drove her to dates with other men. After they started dating, it was another two years before she finally agreed to marry him. He called her his “Irish gypsy.” In one letter, Nixon wrote: “Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. Let’s go for a long ride Sunday; let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all, let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours.”
He served in the Navy during World War II, and he learned to play poker, which was forbidden under his strict Quaker upbringing. He asked a friend for a guaranteed way to win, and the friend said sure, but it’s a boring way to play: drop out of every hand unless you’re sure you have the best one. Nixon did just that, staying away from high-stakes hands, winning $20 here and $40 there. By the end of the war, he had made almost $10,000, and he used his poker earnings to fund his first political campaign. He unseated a five-time Democratic congressman and was elected to Congress with 60 percent of the vote.
It’s the birthday of French writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir (books by this author), born in Paris (1908). She’s the author of novels and autobiographical works, including Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1958), but she is best known for her influential study of women in society, The Second Sex (1949). Gloria Steinem said: “If any single human being can be credited with inspiring the woman’s movement, it’s Simone de Beauvoir.”
It’s the birthday of the New York Times lead fiction critic Michiko Kakutani (books by this author), born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1955. The daughter of a Yale mathematician and herself a Yale graduate, Kakutani worked as a reporter before becoming a book critic at the Times in 1983. Since then she has made a reputation for herself as a fearsome reviewer, one who is unafraid to take on the famous and distinguished.
Many writers whose work has been the subject of Kakutani’s stricture have had a few words to say about her, including Salman Rushdie who called her “a weird woman who seems to feel the need to alternately praise and spank.” Susan Sontag said, “Her criticisms of my books are stupid and shallow and not to the point,” and Jonathan Franzen called Kakutani “the stupidest person in New York City.”
The Pulitzer Prize committee disagrees, having given Kakutani the award for criticism in 1998.
It’s the birthday of Cassandra Austen, born in Hampshire, England (1773). She was a good watercolor painter, and she was extremely close to her sister, novelist Jane Austen. Neither one of the two sisters ever married and they shared a bedroom all of their lives. When they were apart from each other — when one traveled to visit distant relatives and the other stayed home — they wrote letters, hundreds of them. And it’s from these letters between the Austen sisters that scholars have been able to piece together many of the details about Jane Austen’s life.
We also know what Jane Austen looks like because of drawings by her sister Cassandra. One of Cassandra’s illustrations of Jane is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®