October 21, 2023
Carolina Theatre, Greensboro, NC
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Greensboro, NC. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
September 28, 2023
Crest Theatre, Sacramento, CA
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Sacramento, CA. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
September 17, 2023
The Caverns, Pelham, TN
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to The Caverns in Pelham, TN. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
August 27, 2023
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends return to Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield WI. Singalongs, stories, duets, comedy and a hot band. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
August 7, 2023
Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Ctr, Old Saybrook, CT
Old Saybrook, CT (2nd show)
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Old Saybrook, CT. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
Living a Week Alone
by Robert Bly
After writing for a week alone in my old shack,
I guide the car through Ortonville around midnight.
The policeman talks intently in his swivel chair.
The light from above shines on his bald head.
Soon the car picks up speed again beside the quarries.
The moonspot on the steel tracks moves so fast!
Thirty or so Black Angus hold down their earth
Among silvery grasses blown back and forth in the wind.
My family is still away; no one is home.
How sweet it is to come back to an empty house—
The windows dark, no lamps lit, trees still,
The barn serious and mature in the moonlight.
Robert Bly, “Living a Week Alone” from Like the New Moon, I Will Live My Life. © 2015 by Robert Bly. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of White Pine Press, 2015. (buy now)
Today is the anniversary of the death, in 1769, of Edmond Hoyle (books by this author), considered to be the first technical writer on card games and author of A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, which covers the game from “Some RULES, whereby a Beginner may, with due Attention to them, attain to the Playing it well,” to calculations for players wanting to gamble on the game, to a selection of “CASES Hated,” instances of difficult games or critical moments that a player of whist might encounter.
Very little is known of Hoyle beyond his writing — that he was born in 1671 or ’72, possibly in Yorkshire, and that he might have been a lawyer is essentially the sum of information about the first 70 years of his life. But by 1741 Hoyle was living in London and was engaged in the business of tutoring high society on the rules and finer points of the card game whist.
Whist is a four-person, two-team, trick-taking game that was the premier intellectual card game of the Western World for three or four centuries. The game began in the 1500s as trump. Trump became ruff, ruff evolved to ruff and honours, which then jumped to the name whisk and swabbers [as in “to swab a deck”; swobber] and then, like so many modern pop stars, the game dumped all but a single word to become whisk, finally settling into whist in the 18th century. By Hoyle’s time whist was a game of the upper classes but that it began as an amusement for servants and rough country squires is perhaps reflected in one of its early names, whisk and swabbers, which may have pointed to the original meaning of whisk — to clean — and to the definition of a “swabber” — which was the same then as now: one who mops and, more generally, the lowest-ranking individual who ends up stuck with the job.
For the benefit of his pupils Hoyle began to circulate among them a written handbook of notes on the principles and laws of the game and his students found this so helpful that they encouraged him to publish it. Hoyle expanded his manuscript and produced the first edition of his Short Treatise in 1742 followed by 14 more editions during his lifetime and countless reprintings since his death. The work was so well regarded that the name Hoyle became synonymous with authority on the rules of game play, and so wildly popular that even the rampant plagiarism of the Short Treatise that occurred during Hoyle’s life seemed to do little to harm sales of the original.
Hoyle went on to write a Short Treatise on the Game of Backgammon, and the curiously titled An Artificial Memory for Whist [whose original full title read, An Artificial Memory or An Easy Method of Assisting the Memory of those that play the Game of Whist to which are added Several Cases not hitherto Publish’d — price one shilling and sixpence]. Hoyle wrote short works on chess and the card games piquet and quadrille; a volume on brag, an ancestor of poker; and a book on probability theory; his calculations on the laws of chance are still basic to a number of modern card games. In 1979, 210 years after his death, Hoyle was made a charter inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game, and the phrase “according to Hoyle” has come to signify the highest authority in disputed play.
Hoyle was a constant if careless editor who wrote in a vigorous and original style and who continued to revise and update his original Treatise until his death at 97. There have been numerous literary references to Hoyle, from Lord Byron’s line in “Don Juan” that “Troy owes to Homer what whist owes to Hoyle” to a passage in Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, in which a gentleman returns home unexpectedly and catches his liveried servants “at whist by my fire — and my Hoyle, sir — my best Hoyle, which cost me a guinea, lying open on the table, with a quantity of porter spilt on one of the most material leaves of the whole book. This, you will allow, was provoking.”
Today is the birthday of Newbery and Scott O’Dell Award-winning young-adult writer Karen Hesse (books by this author), born in 1952 in Baltimore, Maryland. In an interview for Scholastic, Hesse says that when she was a girl she dreamed of all the things she could and wanted to become: an archaeologist, an ambassador, an actor, an author. She remembers thinking of herself as someone who was good with words. Her fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Datnoff, believed that the perhaps-10-year-old girl in front of her had what it would take to become a professional writer, and because the teacher believed, the girl did too. Hesse says it took almost 30 years for that dream to come true, and still isn’t sure if that marks her as “extremely patient or just plain stubborn.”
When she began college it was at Towson State as a theater major but she left two semesters later for the University of Maryland where she earned a degree in English and double minors in psychology and anthropology. Sometime after college Hesse married and had two children and, in the tradition of so many artists before her, worked her way through a vast array of jobs: waitress, nanny, agricultural laborer, typesetter, proofreader, substitute teacher, and book reviewer, among others. But she kept writing, in all the spaces around her day jobs, producing stories and poems and book after book. Her first attempt at getting published was a failure, a rejected novel about meeting Bigfoot, but her second idea hit and in 1991 Hesse published her first book for young-adult readers, Wish on a Unicorn.
Hesse very often writes literature that grows out of a historical setting. In the course of writing a children’s book about rain Hesse began researching times and places where people desperately needed and wanted precipitation; from this grew the novel for which Hesse won the 1998 Newbury Medal and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, Out of the Dust, the story of a girl living through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
Hesse might suggest that interest and the catalyst for a story can come from anywhere — she frequently listens to National Public Radio–and it was from an interview on the program Fresh Air that the idea for her 1996 novel, The Music of the Dolphins, grew.
Sometimes Hesse tackles disturbing subjects for her younger readers. In The Cats of Krasinski Square Hesse portrays life in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II and in Witness, she takes on the concentrated racism of the Ku Klux Klan, which was reinvigorated in the 1920s and, in Hesse’s story, is trying to take over a small Vermont town. Of Witness Kirkus Reviews writes: “What Copeland created with music, and Hopper created with paint, Hesse deftly and unerringly creates with words: the iconography of Americana … beautifully written, and profoundly honest.”
It’s the birthday of the man who said, “The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts”: British philosopher John Locke (books by this author), born in Wrington, Somerset, England (1632).
He believed all of our knowledge is derived from the senses. He also believed that we can know about morality with the same precision we know about math because we create our ideas. His Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1688) was an instant success and sparked debate all across Europe.
Two years later Locke wrote Two Treatises of Government (1690) in which he said he believed in Natural Law, and that people have Natural Rights, under which the right of property is most important. He wrote, “… every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself.” He believed government exists to protect those rights and he argued in favor of revolt against tyranny. His ideas were a foundation for much of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Locke said, “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®