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+
Blue China Doorknob
by Kay Ryan
I was haunted by the image of a blue china doorknob. I never used the doorknob, or knew what it meant, yet somehow it started the current of images.
using us. We
may be the agents
dreams up or
cabinets. And if
we’re their instruments—
the valves of their
ignorant of it—
the strange, unaccountable
things we betray
were never our secrets
“Blue China Doorknob” by Kay Ryan from The Best of It: New and Selected Poems. Grove Press © 2010. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1775 that the lawyer Patrick Henry spoke at the Second Virginia Convention in Richmond, a meeting of American colonial leaders that included George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The four-day assembly turned into a fierce debate about whether or not to raise a militia and arm Virginia in the fight against the British. On the topic, Patrick Henry delivered a famous speech that probably included the line “Give me liberty or give me death!” At least, some people thought he did.
There was a problem with Henry’s speeches. They were charismatic and passionate, but afterward, no one could remember what he had said. Thomas Jefferson said of Henry: “When he had spoken in opposition to my opinion, had produced a great effect, and I myself had been highly delighted and moved, I have asked myself when he ceased: ‘What the devil has he said?’ I could never answer the inquiry.”
The speech wasn’t written down until 1816, by Henry’s biographer, William Wirt. Wirt talked to people who had been present at the speech and had them reconstruct it from their memories.
It was on this day in 2010 that President Barack Obama (books by this author) signed into law the Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping piece of federal legislation since Medicare was passed in 1965. Universal health care had long been a dream of the Democratic Party. The passage of the bill extended health care to almost 32 million Americans.
Today marks the first day in 1942 when the U.S. government began moving Japanese-Americans from their West Coast homes to internment camps. Between 110,000 and 120,000 people were forcibly relocated.
Some Japanese-American men were drafted into the War even as their families remained incarcerated. The camps remained open until 1945.
He’s written more than a hundred books. The first three of these were collections of poetry, beginning with The Cheater’s Dozen: Eleven Poems, which he “self-published” at the age of 17 by running off copies on a mimeograph machine. Suits for the Dead (1961) and The Carnivore (1965) were published along more conventional lines, and then he tried a novel: Rochelle, or, Virtue Rewarded (1966). His publisher asked him to write a more commercial novel, so he wrote and published The Exhibitionist (1967) under the pen name of Henry Sutton. It was a huge hit — Slavitt says it put his kids through college — so he followed up with a sequel, The Voyeur (1968). It was the first book to be advertised via a billboard in Times Square. The marketing department went so far as to have the dust-jacket model dance on a platform in front of the billboard, but the city cited them for “operating a circus without a license.”
Today is the birthday of novelist Julia Glass (books by this author), born in Boston (1956). She graduated from Yale University with a degree in art, intending to become a painter. She moved to New York City to set up an artist’s studio and began taking copywriting and editing jobs to support herself. She wrote Three Junes, her debut work, at the kitchen table of the Greenwich Village 700-square-foot apartment that she shared with her partner and their two young sons at the time. She often wondered if she should bother trying to write a novel at all. She said: “I’d sit at [the] table and look out the window and think, ‘Why am I doing this? Grown-ups have a bedroom; I have children who will be in college one day; I’m supposed to be doing these editing jobs.’” She recalled that only two people attended one of her readings at a local bookstore.
In the end, it paid off. Three Junes was a big success and won the National Book Award in 2002. She has since gone on to write five more novels, including I See You Everywhere (2008) and A House Among the Trees (2017).
It’s the birthday of Fannie Merritt Farmer (books by this author), born in Boston (1857). She’s known for publishing the first cookbook in American history. As a young woman, she worked as a housekeeper, cooking and taking care of a young girl named Marcia Shaw. Over time, she taught Marcia how to cook, and to help the girl remember what to do, she wrote down simple, precise cooking instructions.
At the time, writing down recipes was almost unheard of. People learned to cook by doing. Measurements were also inexact. Everything was made with a pinch of this and a dash of that. After attending the Boston Cooking School, Fannie Farmer realized that a book full of precise instructions on how to prepare a wide variety of dishes might help many young women become better cooks.
She compiled all the recipes she had ever learned, along with advice on how to set a table, how to scald milk, to cream butter, to remove stains, and to clean a copper boiler. At first, all the publishers turned her down, because they reasoned that these were all things young women could learn from their mothers. Finally, Little, Brown agreed to publish the book if Fannie Farmer would pay for the printing of the first 3,000 copies.
The book went on to sell more than 4 million copies.
It was on this day in 1743, that George Frideric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” had its London premiere. During the famous Hallelujah Chorus, King George II was so moved by the music that he involuntarily rose from his seat. The audience, out of respect for the king, also stood up. Ever since, it has been a tradition that the audience rises during the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®