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+
In Art Rowanberry’s Barn
by Wendell Berry
In Art Rowanberry’s barn, when Art’s death
had become quietly a fact among
the other facts, Andy Catlett found
a jacket made of the top half
of a pair of coveralls after
the legs wore out, for Art
never wasted anything.
Andy found a careful box made
of woodscraps with a strap
for a handle; it contained
a handful of small nails
wrapped in a piece of newspaper,
several large nails, several
rusty bolts with nuts and washers,
some old harness buckles
and rings, rusty but usable,
several small metal boxes, empty,
and three hickory nuts
hollowed out by mice.
And all of these things Andy
put back where they had been,
for time and the world and other people
to dispense with as they might,
but not by him to be disprized.
This long putting away
of things maybe useful was not all
of Art’s care-taking; he cared
for creatures also, every day
leaving his tracks in dust, mud,
or snow as he went about
looking after his stock, or gave
strength to lighten a neighbor’s work.
Andy found a bridle made
of several lengths of baling twine
knotted to a rusty bit,
an old set of chain harness,
four horseshoes of different sizes,
and three hammerstones picked up
from the opened furrow on days
now as perfectly forgotten
as the days when they were lost.
He found a good farrier’s knife,
an awl, a key to a lock
that would no longer open.
“In Art Rowanberry’s Barn” by Wendell Berry, from Given. © Shoemaker Hoard, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the longest-serving First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt (books by this author), born in New York City (1884) who said, “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” She began a secret courtship with her cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt. During World War I, she went off to Europe and visited wounded and shell-shocked soldiers in hospitals there. Later, during her husband’s presidency, she campaigned hard on civil rights issues — not a universally popular thing in the 1930s and 1940s.
After FDR died in 1945, she moved from the White House to Hyde Park, New York, and taught International Relations at Brandeis University. As anti-communist witch-hunting began to sweep the U.S., she stuck up for freedom of association in a way that few Americans were brave or bold enough to do. She chided Hollywood producers for being so “chicken-hearted about speaking up for the freedom of their industry.” She said that the “American public is capable of doing its own censoring” and that “the judge who decides whether what [the film industry] does is good or bad is the man or woman who attends the movies.”
She said that the Un-American Activities Committee was creating the atmosphere of a police state in America, “where people close doors before they state what they think or look over their shoulders apprehensively before they express an opinion.”
In 1947, a couple years before the McCarthy Era had reached full swing, she announced, “The Un-American Activities Committee seems to me to be better for a police state than for the USA.”
She once said, “We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk.”
And, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
It’s the birthday of physicist and psychologist Lewis Fry Richardson (books by this author), born in Northumberland, England (1881), who was the first to apply mathematical techniques to predict the weather accurately. During WWI, Richardson served as a driver for the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in France. During the intervals between transporting wounded soldiers from the front, he manually computed the changes in pressure and wind at two points. From this information, he wrote his 1922 book, Weather Prediction by Numerical Process. The problem with his theories was that it took him about three months to predict the weather for the next 24 hours. His system did not become practical until the advent of electronic computers after World War II.
It’s the birthday of novelist Elmore Leonard (books by this author), born in New Orleans in 1925. Straight out of college, he got a job at an advertising agency, so he would get up and write every morning at 5 a.m. before going into the office. He published some pulp Westerns, and then started writing crime fiction, and went on to write more than 40 books before his death in 2013. Many of them have been turned into movies, including his novels Get Shorty (1990), Be Cool (1999), and Rum Punch (1992), which Quentin Tarantino made into the film Jackie Brown.
He gave 10 rules on writing, things like “Never open a book with weather,” “Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue,” “Avoid detailed descriptions of characters,” and “Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” He wrote: “Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue. My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
To get inside the heads of the despicable people he writes about, Leonard said: “I [try] to put myself in [a criminal’s] place. He doesn’t think he’s doing an evil thing. I try to see [him] at another time — when he sneezes, say. I see convicts sitting around talking about a baseball game. I see them as kids. All villains have mothers.”
When asked why he writes about criminals, instead of ordinary people, Leonard said, “I just feel more secure in a situation where I know a gun can go off at any time if things get boring.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®