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+
by Keetje Kuipers
In the neighbor’s backyard, a woman cuts
her husband’s hair, circling him in the chair
with her clippers, a bee readjusting
its approach. It’s a day so mild no one
cares about anything: the daffodils
slutting themselves at the base of a tree,
the fat dogs doing their best impressions
of the dead. I sit in my car, phone in
my hand, and wonder what makes it so hard
for one person to understand another
while my neighbor gently buzzes the fine
hairs around the ruddy petal of her
husband’s left ear. I look around the yard
and ask myself which metaphor I am––
The winter-downed telephone line? The tree
pimpled with tiny unopened buds? Not
one of them can make it possible
for me to say the thing between us now.
Keetje Kuipers, “Landscape Without” from All Its Charms. Copyright © 2019 by Keetje Kuipers. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of American poet Adrienne Rich, (books by this author) born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1929. She’s written more than 20 collections, including The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems (1955) and Diving into the Wreck (1973), and is known for her feminism and her politically charged poetry. She said: “I have been a poet of the oppositional imagination, meaning that I don’t think my only argument is with myself. My work is for people who want to imagine and claim wider horizons and carry on about them into the night, rather than rehearse the landlocked details of personal quandaries or the price for which the house next door just sold.”
It is the birthday of one of the first well-known female mathematicians of the Western world. Maria Gaetana Agnesi was born in Milan (1718). Her father, Pietro, was a wealthy businessman and her mother, Anna Fortunata Brivio, was an aristocrat whom her father married to raise his status in Milan society.
Maria was a brilliant child. By age five, she spoke French as well as her native Italian. A few years later, she was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and her family called her the “Walking Polyglot.” At age nine, she addressed a group of academics in Latin on the subject of women’s rights and access to education, and soon she was leading complex philosophical discussions between her father and his scholarly friends. She also began to pursue mathematics.
Maria was shy and devout, and she longed to give up her public speaking and enter a convent. Her religious aspirations were dashed, however, when her mother died and she was left in charge of the household and the care of her many siblings.
She maintained her interest in math and philosophy. In 1738, she published Propositiones Philosophicae, a collection of essays based on the talks she gave to her father’s circle of friends. That same year, she began working on a math textbook that she could use to teach math to her siblings. But the book grew into more than just a teaching tool. In it she wrote an equation for a specific bell-shaped curve that is still used today and is known — because of mistranslation of the Italian by a British mathematician — as the “Witch of Agnesi.” Analytical Institutions, which was published in 1748, was highly regarded in academic circles for synthesizing complex mathematical ideas with clarity and precision.
Analytical Institutions and the articulation of the Witch of Agnesi earned her a spot in the Bologna Academy of Sciences. But by that time, she had abandoned mathematics and devoted herself to charity work. When asked a decade later what she thought of recent developments in calculus, she said she was “no longer concerned with such interests.” She was eventually appointed director of a home for ill and infirm women, and she spent the rest of her life caring for the dying until her own death in 1799.
It is the birthday of writer and broadcaster Louis “Studs” Terkel (books by this author), born in the Bronx, New York (1912). His family moved to Chicago when Terkel was 10 years old and his parents ran rooming houses. Terkel remembers all different kinds of people moving through the rooming houses — dissidents, labor organizers, religions fanatics — and that that exposure helped build his knowledge of the outside world.
He is best known for his powerful interviews of ordinary people, which became a series of successful books, including Division Street: America (1967), Hard Times (1970), Working (1974), and Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It (1995). His last book, PS: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening, was released just after Terkel’s death in 2008. He was 96.
And, “I’ve always felt, in all my books, that there’s a deep decency in the American people and a native intelligence — providing they have the facts, providing they have the information.”
It is the birthday of American piano virtuoso and unparalleled showman Liberace. Born Wladziu Valentino Liberace in West Allis, Wisconsin (1919), Liberace was called Walter as a child.. His father, Salvatore Liberace, was a musician who worked odd factory jobs when music didn’t bring in enough money and he encouraged Liberace to pursue music.
Liberace began playing piano at age four and his father held him to high standards. His passion for the piano helped him survive his teenage years, when other children mocked him for not playing sports or his love of cooking.
For a while after high school, Liberace toured the Midwest playing only classical music. But in his early 20s, he began to combine classical music with pop songs, arrangements he dubbed “classical music with the boring parts left out.” One of his first arrangements was a mix of Chopin and “Home on the Range.” He also honed his showmanship during these years, adopting the signature candelabra on his grand piano and dressing in white tie and tails to be better seen in the concert hall. He bought a rare gold-leafed grand piano to match his increasingly theatrical and outsized image. In the late 1940s, he moved to Hollywood and performed for some of the era’s biggest stars.
Liberace was as good at self-promotion as he was at the piano. He played for Harry S. Truman, developed an extravagant Las Vegas act, and earned nearly $140,000 for a performance at Madison Square Garden in 1954 — a record amount for one night of performing. He was widely panned by critics but beloved by audiences.
He died from AIDS-related complications in 1987.
Liberace once said: “I don’t give concerts, I put on a show.”
To his critics, Liberace said: “Thank you for your very amusing review. After reading it, in fact, my brother George and I laughed all the way to the bank.”