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 Christopher Howell
We went to either the Canton Grill
or the Chinese Village, both of them
on Eighty-second among the car lots
and discount stores and small nests
of people waiting hopelessly
for the bus. I preferred the Canton
for its black and bright red sign
with the dragon leaping out of it
and sneezing little pillows of smoke.
And inside, the beautiful green
half-shell booths, glittery brass encrusted
lamps swinging above them.
What would I have?
Sweet and sour?
Chow mein with little wagon wheel- shaped
slices of okra and those crinkly noodles
my father called deep fried worms?
Among such succulence, what did it matter?
We could eat ’til we were glad and full, the whole
family sighing with the pleasure of it.
And then the tea
All of this for about six bucks, total,
my father, for that once-in-a-while, feeling
flush in the glow of our happy faces
and asking me, “How you doing, son?”
Fine, Dad. Great, really, in the light
of that place, almost tasting
the salt and bean paste and molasses, nearly
hearing the sound of the car door
opening before we climbed in together
and drove and drove,
though we hadn’t far to go.
“Dinner Out” by Christopher Howell, from Light’s Ladder. © University of Washington Press, 2004. Used by permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of filmmaker Federico Fellini, born in the town of Rimini in Italy (1920). He said, “All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”
It’s the birthday of novelist Susan Vreeland, (books by this author) born in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1946. She grew up in California, became a teacher, and for 30 years she taught English and ceramics in the San Diego public schools. She wrote a book called What Love Sees (1988), based on the true story of her parents’ friends, a couple who were both blind but who managed a ranch and raised children with the help of a Seeing Eye cow. But she was also busy with her teaching, and for a while she wrote occasional stories or articles, but not much else.
Then, in 1996, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. She had chemotherapy and operations, and for a few months she couldn’t do much but read, and even that was hard for her. So instead, she paged through art books, and she especially liked Vermeer, whose paintings were so calming. She needed more treatment, and she had to take off another year of teaching, and so she started writing stories based on Vermeer. Vermeer only painted 35 paintings, and so Susan Vreeland imagined that he had painted one more, and she wrote a story about that, and then several more stories about Vermeer and the imagined 36th painting and the people who owned it over the years. She said:
“My goal at the time wasn’t to create a novel that would make it out in the big world. It was to have enough time left in my life to finish this group of stories and print out 12 copies, so my husband could give them to members of my writing group so they’d have something to remember me by.”
She did finish them, and she turned them into a novel, and a tiny publishing house in Denver agreed to publish the novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue (1999).
Girl In Hyacinth Blue was a best-seller, and Penguin bought the rights. Vreeland got better, she had found an audience and a passion, so she continued to write books centered on art, including The Passion of Artemisia (2002) about one of the first influential female artists, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Luncheon of the Boating Party (2007), about Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Vreeland’s last novel is Lisette’s List (2014). She died in August, 2017.
It was on this day in 1892 that the first official basketball game was played, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Basketball was the brainchild of James Naismith, a Canadian who was teaching at a YMCA training school in Springfield, which prepared young men to go out and be instructors in YMCAs. Naismith was teaching physical education, but the winters were cold in Massachusetts, and his students were frustrated that they couldn’t go outside. He wanted something physically challenging but that could be played indoors, in a relatively small space. He tried all kinds of new and old games, but nothing worked. Finally he remembered a game he had played as a kid in Canada, a game called Duck on a Rock. He took a few rules from that and adapted it into a game he called Basket Ball. He nailed peach baskets to the balcony on each side of the gym, but the baskets had solid bottoms, so if anyone managed to get the ball in the basket someone else had to climb up and get the ball down. The rules evolved, and basketball caught on fast, helped by the spread of YMCAs. Naismith helped establish the sport at the college level, becoming head coach at the University of Kansas. By the time he died in 1939, basketball was an official Olympic event.
It’s the birthday of poet and critic Edward Hirsch, (books by this author) born in Chicago on this day in 1950. Some of his collections are For the Sleepwalkers (1981), Wild Gratitide (1986) Earthly Measures (1994), and Special Orders (2008).
He’s a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine and The Paris Review, the winner of all sorts of prestigious poetry prizes, a longtime English professor, a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and the author of several books of nonfiction, including The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (2002) and the best-selling How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry (1999). His most recent published book is Stranger by Night (2020). 100 Poems to Break Your Heart, is scheduled for publication in the in the spring of 2021.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®