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+
Why I Practice Yoga
by Hayden Saunier
Each breath is a choice
the yoga teacher says.
Oh make me puke, I think.
I’m flat on my back,
in savasana, the corpse pose,
alongside thirty other people.
We’re trying to leave our bodies
while we’re still alive.
I can hear you laughing now
from wherever you went
when you died.
I’ve missed your laugh.
“Why I Practice Yoga” by Hayden Saunier from Tips for Domestic Travel. © Black Lawrence Press, 2009. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is April Fools’ Day, the day for pranks and hoaxes. One such famous April Fools’ Day hoax was the so-called “Jupiter Effect” of 1976. During an interview on BBC Radio 2, British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that a very rare planetary event was about to take place—that Jupiter and Pluto would soon align in relation to Earth, and their combined gravitational pull would momentarily override Earth’s own gravity and make people weigh less. He called it the Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect, and said that if people jumped in the air at exactly 9:47 a.m., they would experience a floating sensation. Moore signaled, “Jump now!” over the airwaves, and within minutes the BBC switchboard was flooded with calls from people who claimed it had worked.
It was on this day in 1826 that Samuel Morey received a patent for his compressionless “Gas or Vapor Engine,” known now as the internal combustion engine. Morey started out working with steam engines in the late 18th century, inventing a steam-powered paddle-wheel boat, for which he tried to find backers. The backing fell through due to “a series of misfortunes,” and though he continued to work with steam engines, he didn’t work with boats much after this.
In the early 1800s, he developed an interest in flammable vapors; in an 1834 letter, he writes: “It is now more than twenty years since I have been in the constant, I may say daily practice of making experiments on the decomposition of water, by mixing with its vapor that of spirits of turpentine, and a great portion of atmospheric air.” He discovered that turpentine, when mixed with air, was explosive, and he designed an engine to make use of this phenomenon. Much like our modern engines, Morey’s had a carburetor, two cylinders, valves, and cams, but rather than using the explosion itself to provide the power, his system forced air into a cooled cylinder, which formed a vacuum.
He wrote, “Is there not some reason to expect that the discovery will greatly change the commercial and personal intercourse of the country.”
It’s the birthday of Czech author Milan Kundera (books by this author), born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1929. Best known for his novels, especially The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1978), and The Joke (1967), he has also written three poetry collections, four plays, and numerous essays and short stories.
Kundera was born into a middle-class family with deep roots in music. His father, Ludvik, was a pianist and musicologist, and Milan also studied musicology and composition as well as literature and aesthetics at Charles University in Prague. He then transferred to the Academy of Performing Arts in the same city, studying scriptwriting and film direction. After he graduated in 1952, the Film Faculty appointed him a lecturer in world history. During the early 1950s, he was expelled from the Communist Party for anti-party activities, and then readmitted in 1956. His early writings, especially his poems, were pro-Marxist, and he was active in the “Prague Spring,” a brief period of Communist reform in 1968. The Soviets banned his books after their invasion later that year. He was expelled again from the Communist Party in 1970, left Prague for France with his wife, Vera, a banned newscaster, in 1975, and was stripped of his Czechoslovak citizenship in 1979. Immortality, published in 1990, was his last novel written in Czech; now he writes in French, and is adamant that he be considered a novelist, not a political writer.
Kundera is just as likely to be inspired by philosophers and composers as he is other writers, and often thinks about his novels in musical terms. In an interview with the Paris Review, he said, “I first thought of The Unbearable Lightness of Being in a musical way. I knew that the last part had to be pianissimo and lento: it focuses on a rather short, uneventful period, in a single location, and the tone is quiet. I also knew that this part had to be preceded by a prestissimo: that is the part entitled ‘The Grand March.'”
Apple was founded on this date in 1976. The company was formed by Steve Jobs, his friend Steve Wozniak, and a man named Ronald Wayne, who had worked with Jobs at Atari. The partners planned to produce and sell Apple personal computer kits, hand-assembled by Wozniak. They weren’t personal computers as we think of them today, but were rather just motherboards.
The company was incorporated the following January, but this time without Wayne; he had lost his nerve after a couple of weeks, and sold his 10 percent share back to Jobs and Wozniak for a little over $2,000. Had he held onto it, that share would be worth around $22 billion USD today.
Wayne said later that he did not regret selling the stock—he said, “I made the best decision with the information available to me at the time.” He went into the stamp and rare coin business, and didn’t own an Apple computer until 2011 when he was given an iPad 2.