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+
827 The Only News I know
by Emily Dickinson
The Only News I know
Is Bulletins all Day
The Only Shows I see—
Tomorrow and Today—
The Only One I meet
Is God-The Only Street—
If Other News there be—
Or Admirabler Show—
I’ll tell it You—
“The Only News I Know…” by Emily Dickinson. Public domain. (buy now)
Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket on this date in 1926. Goddard had been interested in outer space since he read H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds as a boy of 16 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Though he’d always been interested in science, he started thinking seriously about rockets the following year, in 1899. As he recounted in his autobiography, he was up in a cherry tree, preparing to prune its dead branches, when he began to daydream: “It was one of the quiet, colorful afternoons of sheer beauty which we have in October in New England, and as I looked toward the fields at the east, I imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars, and how it would look on a small scale, if sent up from the meadow at my feet.”
Eight years later, while studying at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Goddard began experimenting with a rocket that was powered by gunpowder. He had a theory that a rocket engine could produce thrust even in the vacuum of space, without any air to thrust against. The government wasn’t really interested in the idea of space travel, so he had a hard time getting grants for his research, and he ended up paying for most of it himself. Finally, a grant from the Smithsonian Institution enabled him to do research and publish a paper on “A Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes” in 1920. In the paper, he speculated that rockets could be used to reach the moon.
The New York Times heard about his paper and ridiculed him. He went from being a relative nobody to a laughingstock literally overnight. But he persisted, and on this date in 1926, he completed the first successful launch of his liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts. Similar to a blowtorch, his rocket was equipped with two lines running from a fuel tank into a combustion chamber; in this case, the lines delivered gasoline and liquid oxygen. The rocket achieved a height of 41 feet and an average speed of 60 miles per hour. Unfortunately, his wife Esther’s movie camera ran out of film, so there’s no record of this first foray into space exploration.
Today is the birthday of Sid Fleischman (books by this author), born Avron Zalmon Fleischman in Brooklyn, New York (1920). Fleischman grew up in San Diego, and as a teenager toured the country with vaudeville acts as a magician. After college he became a journalist, and then he started writing suspense novels and screenplays.
One day, his daughter Jane came home from school with the autograph of a children’s author. Fleischman’s wife, Betty, pointed out to the children that their father was also a writer. Jane said, “Yes, but no one reads his books.” So he started in at once, and his first of many children’s books, Mr. Mysterious & Company, was published in 1962. He won the Newbery Award in 1987 for his novel The Whipping Boy (1986), which tells the story of a spoiled European prince and his servant who receives the prince’s punishments, because it’s a crime to strike the prince. He also wrote a memoir: The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer’s Life (1996).
He said: “The books we enjoy as children stay with us forever — they have a special impact. Paragraph after paragraph and page after page, the author must deliver his or her best work.”
It’s the birthday of poet César Vallejo (books by this author), born in Santiago de Chuco, Peru (1892). As a young man, he worked as a miner, and then as a cashier at a sugar plantation that employed slave laborers. He was horrified by the exploitation of poor workers, and he became a socialist.
In 1920, he was at a festival in his hometown — a festival that deteriorated into lootings and arson. He was mistakenly arrested and thrown in jail, and he spent the next four months writing the poetry that would appear in his first major collection, Trilce (1922).
Hawthorne sent the manuscript to his publisher, James Fields, in February of 1850. Fields went to work getting the novel typeset, and he also did what most American publishers did in those days: worked to get a version published in England at the same time. There were no American copyright laws, so it was extremely difficult for American authors to make money on their books. England, on the other hand, did have copyright laws, so if American authors could get a British version published they could make some money there. However, Fields didn’t quite get everything in place by March, so by the time The Scarlet Letter was published in America, there were stolen versions all over Britain.
Fourteen years after The Scarlet Letter was published, Hawthorne had still made less than $2,000 from it. But it was a big seller. The first edition, a run of 2,500 copies, sold out in 10 days. The Scarlet Letter tells the story of the exiled Hester Prynne, who has a child out of wedlock and is forced by the community to wear a large scarlet letter “A” — for “adultery” — on her chest.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®