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 Jim Daniels
Last week my mother had eyebrows tattooed on.
She asks how they look. She’s legally blind—
I could tell her anything.
It’s been raining all day, shame’s mad swirl
circling the house. No more cigarettes, coffee.
No more booze. You’ve got to keep going, I tell her.
I could be Annie in her cute red curls. You can
bet your bottom dollar. Pretty soon I’ll be
tap-dancing on the coffee table, or up in my old room
crying. She’s fingering the earphones of her books-
on-tape machine. She’s been saving up things
to tell me. She ticks them off like the giant
grocery list graffitied to her fridge. I’ve collected
scraps of her old handwriting, the graceful swirls
of confidence. 75 years of good vision. She’s rounding
everything off into simple shapes. I’m staring
at the all-weather eyebrows. A cartoon looking
for the punch line. I run my finger over them.
She startles, then relaxes. It made her sneeze,
my father offers up from the kitchen
where he’s spending a lot more time. Your father
stopped saying ‘Bless you’ pretty fast.
Good. Great. Fantastic. Exquisite. The eyebrows
to top all eyebrows. The king and queen of eyebrow.
Listen to the rain, she says.
Just listen to it coming down.
Jim Daniels, “Cosmetic” from Birth Marks. Copyright © 2013 by Jim Daniels. Used by permission of The Permissions Company LLC on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org. (buy now)
On this day in 2008, the Wall Street investment firm Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, causing the S&P to lose more than 500 points by day’s end, and costing its 26,000 employees their jobs. Lehman’s collapse was the largest bankruptcy in world history. Investors, including the pension funds of many middle-income Americans, saw Lehman’s stock plummet 96 percent by the close of the day. One of only five investment banks on Wall Street, Lehman was a 158-year-old storied institution that had survived all manner of economic crisis, including the great railroad bankruptcies of the 1800s. As technology made trading stock easier, it became less profitable for large banks, and Lehman sought out riskier and riskier investments. They bought up large bundles of mortgages in a housing market that in recent years had seen a doubling and tripling of home values. A large number of these were subprime mortgages, sold to homeowners and investors that should have never been approved, and were unable to pay them back, making them virtually worthless.
He became best known for his series of five novels called the Leatherstocking Tales, including Last of the Mohicans (1826), about frontier violence and adventure. At the time, most Americans read English literature about kings and queens, because they thought it was more romantic than their own difficult, colonial lives. James Fenimore Cooper was the first American author to make the wild, untamed life in America seem romantic.
It’s the birthday of Mary Clarissa Agatha Miller, better known as mystery writer Agatha Christie (1890) (books by this author), born in Torquay, Devon, England. Christie had an unconventional childhood: her parents didn’t send the children to school, preferring to keep them home and teaching them piano and violin. Christie taught herself to read at an early age, which displeased her mother, who thought she had plenty of time for that later on. Her mother did enjoy scary stories, though, as did her older sister, Madge, and the three of them delighted in making up thrilling tales.
Christie married in 1914, just before the advent of World War I. While her husband was at war, she worked at a pharmacy, where she learned quite a lot about poisons, knowledge that became useful for her books later on.
On a dare from her older sister, she wrote her first mystery novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). The book was rejected several times before finally being published and was only a modest success, but it did introduce the character of Hercule Poirot, an extravagantly mustached Belgian detective. Poirot would prove to be immensely popular with readers, appearing in more than 33 Christie mysteries, but Christie was tired of him by the 1930s. She wrote in her diary that she found the character “insufferable and an egocentric creep.” When she finally killed him off in the novel Curtain (1975), The New York Times ran a full-page obituary for his character.
Her favorite character was Miss Jane Marple, who first appeared in The Thirteen Problems(1925). Marple was an amateur detective whom Christie based on her grandmother and her grandmother’s cronies. When asked why Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple never appeared together, Christie answered, “Hercule Poirot, a complete egoist, would not like being taught his business or having suggestions made to him by an elderly spinster lady.”
After her novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) became an international best-seller, Christie was a phenomenal success for the rest of her life, writing more than 80 novels, including Murder on the Orient Express, and 30 short-story collections. Her play The Mousetrap, which was first written as a radio sketch for the 80th birthday of Queen Mary, is the longest-running play in history. It was first staged in 1952 and has been running continuously ever since. Christie was made a Dame of the British Empire (1971). Her novels have been adapted for film, stage, video games, and even anime.
Christie’s victims have been strangled by a raincoat belt and a ukulele; stabbed with a corn knife; jabbed with a venom-tipped dart; drowned in an apple tub, and crushed by a bear-shaped marble clock.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®