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+
Meeting and Passing
by Robert Frost
As I went down the hill along the wall
There was a gate I had leaned at for the view
And had just turned from when I first saw you
As you came up the hill. We met. But all
We did that day was mingle great and small
Footprints in summer dust as if we drew
The figure of our being less than two
But more than one as yet. Your parasol
Pointed the decimal off with one deep thrust.
And all the time we talked you seemed to see
Something down there to smile at in the dust.
(Oh, it was without prejudice to me!)
Afterward I went past what you had passed
Before we met and you what I had passed.
“Meeting and Passing” by Robert Frost. Public domain. (buy now)
On this day in 1886, John Pemberton perfected a headache and hangover remedy he had cooked up over a fire in his backyard. It contained coca leaves and extract of kola nut, and he advertised it as an “Esteemed Brain Tonic and Intellectual Beverage.” He had been making something called “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca,” but Atlanta had just passed a prohibition law, and he had to come up with an alcohol-free formula. He sweetened the new elixir with sugar instead of wine, and his bookkeeper suggested he name the beverage “Coca-Cola.” The following year, the prohibition law was repealed; and Pemberton decided Coca-Cola was a losing proposition. He sold off his interest in the formula and went back to making French Wine Coca. Coca-Cola is now the most widely recognized brand in the world. In the years since its first appearance, it has developed an underground reputation as a sovereign laundry additive, ham glaze, and rust remover.
It’s the birthday of the memoirist Alexandra Fuller (books by this author), born in Glossop, England (1969). Her memoir Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight was a big success when it came out in 2002. It’s the story of her childhood, growing up in what was then the African country of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
Her parents were white settlers in Rhodesia, trying to make a living as tobacco and cattle farmers, and they were trying to do this as a civil war was being fought between the white government and the black nationalist rebels. Whenever the family left the house, they always traveled in groups, and they had to keep a lookout for mines and booby traps, as well as scorpions, snakes, and crocodiles. By the time she was seven years old, Alexandra Fuller had learned to strip, clean, load, and fire a machine gun.
At the time, she had no idea what the civil war was about. She just knew that her father would be gone for days, fighting what he called “the terrorists.” Her mother would hold down the fort, rounding up stray cattle and killing cobras in the pantry. One of Fuller’s most vivid memories is of watching her mother, pregnant and on horseback, fighting off a group of squatters who were attempting to take over the family farm.
Fuller spent much of her youth trying to figure out the events surrounding her. She said: “I woke up in a society where I wasn’t the right color and didn’t understand the culture or the language. I felt quite peripheral to events. So I watched, very carefully, people and things spinning out of control. I became a spectator … a pair of eyes on a pair of legs.”
Once she left Africa, Fuller decided she wanted to be a fiction writer, and she wrote nine novels, all of which fictionalized aspects of her childhood. But she couldn’t get anything published. So after marrying an American and moving to Wyoming, she finally decided to just write a nonfiction book about what really happened. She started the book in the middle of a Wyoming winter, when she was feeling particularly homesick for Africa, and it took her only six weeks to finish the first draft.
She had long felt tremendously guilty about the fact that her parents were associated with the racist white government of Rhodesia. But when she began to write her memoir, she realized that she could just describe what had happened without making any judgments. She said: “If you pay close attention to racism, it’s ludicrous. I decided to expose it as it is — expose the insecurity it hides.”
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (2002) was a big success. It begins: “Mum says, ‘Don’t come creeping into our room at night.’ They sleep with loaded guns beside them on the bedside rugs. She says, ‘Don’t startle us when we’re sleeping.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘We might shoot you.’ ‘Oh.’ ‘By mistake.’ ‘Okay.’ As it is, there seems a good enough chance of getting shot on purpose. ‘Okay, I won’t.’ So if I wake in the night and need Mum and Dad, I call Vanessa [my sister], because she isn’t armed.”
Her most recent book, Travel Light, Move Fast (2019), is a story about her father.
It’s the birthday of author, actor, and comedian Amy Sedaris (books by this author). She was born in Endicott, New York, in 1961, and she grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s written two satirical homemaking books, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (2006) and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People (2010). Most recently, she voiced the character Princess Carolyn on the Netflix animated series BoJack Horseman.
In an interview with The Believer magazine, she revealed that the whole Sedaris clan is fascinated by anything morbid. “We read everything we can about diseases and physical deformity…We were so protected in North Carolina. In New York, you see it all. But growing up in Carolina, we were never exposed to much fringe culture. … David and I still collect anything we can about physical abnormalities. There’s a place here in New York where you can get antique skin-disorder books in color. They’re really beautiful photographs. But they put black tape over people’s eyes so you couldn’t … recognize them. Like they needed the anonymity, because who else is going to have that growth coming out of their neck, right?”
It’s the birthday of novelist and screenwriter Judith Guest (books by this author), born in Detroit (1936). She started writing when she was 10, but never got past starting, and had the beginnings of several projects crammed in her desk drawers for many years. In the early 1970s, she read a how-to book on writing by Richard Perry, called One Way to Write Your Novel. She promised herself that, this time, she would start and finish a story. Three years later, she published her best-selling first novel, Ordinary People (1976), the story of a teenage boy, Conrad, and his family in the aftermath of his suicide attempt after his brother Buck dies in a sailing accident. The film adaptation won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1980.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®