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+
Yellow Lab Outside the Coffee Shop
by Greg Watson
The yellow lab outside the coffee shop
today cannot sit still; but instead
radiates the ever-expectant energy
of a thousand hummingbirds,
tail sweeping back and forth
across the gray, littered sidewalk.
Sits without touching the ground,
knowing that any moment
the one who matters most will emerge,
slip his worn leash from the bench
and the day will suddenly fall into
place: every sound, sight, and aroma
discovered anew, the sun thrown
everywhere at once, with a cool lake
of shadow following, following,
as if it had somewhere to go.
“Yellow Lab Outside the Coffee Shop” by Greg Watson from When the Music Remains. © Nodin Press, 2011. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of cartoonist, novelist, and playwright Jules Feiffer (books by this author), born in the Bronx in 1929 — the year the Great Depression began, but also the year that several comic strips like Tarzan and Buck Rogers were born. Money was tight and his mother helped feed the family by drawing fashion designs and selling them for three dollars apiece. Feiffer hated going with his mother to look at the shop windows along Fifth Avenue and thought she was dragging him along just to torture him. She always encouraged him to draw and gave him a drawing table for his room when he was 13.
After working for 10 years as an apprentice to cartoonist Will Eisner, Feiffer’s first solo professional gig came when The Village Voice hired him to pen a weekly strip called Feiffer. It was one of the first comic strips to deal with adult themes like sex and politics, and it ran for 42 years.
It’s the birthday of British playwright Christopher Hampton (books by this author), born in Faial in the Azores archipelago (1946). He wrote the movie Dangerous Liaisons and also about 20 films that never got produced. He co-wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Sunset Boulevard, adapted Chekhov’s The Seagull for the stage, wrote the screenplay for the film Atonement (2007), adapted from Ian McEwan’s novel; and translated several plays by French playwright Yasmina Reza, including ‘Art’ (1994) and God of Carnage (2006). Hampton was knighted in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to drama.
It’s the birthday of comedian Ellen DeGeneres (books by this author), born in Metairie, Louisiana (1958). When DeGeneres was 21, she fell in love with Kathy Perkoff, a 23-year-old poet. Perkoff was killed in a car accident, and Ellen turned once again to comedy as a coping strategy. She wrote a monologue called “A Phone Call to God,” and performed it at her first stand-up gig in New Orleans. It was a big hit and launched her comedic career. A booking agent from The Tonight Show caught her act at the Improv in Hollywood, and host Johnny Carson invited her to appear on the late-night talk show in 1986. These days she hosts her own daytime talk show, Ellen.
It’s the birthday of children’s book author and editor Mary Mapes Dodge (books by this author), born Mary Mapes in New York City (1831). Mary Mapes Dodge’s husband committed suicide and she needed to earn a living. She moved from New York to her father’s farm with her young sons and began writing in the attic. She published the children’s book Hans Brinker; or, The Silver Skates (1865), which became a best-seller. In the 15 years after it was published, it received more reviews than any other children’s book in America.
In 1872, Charles Scribner and two of his partners were thinking of developing a magazine for children, and they wrote to Dodge to ask for her advice. She replied: “The child’s magazine, needs to be stronger, truer, bolder, more uncompromising than the [adult’s]. … Let there be no sermonizing either, no wearisome spinning out of facts, no rattling of the dry bones of history. A child’s magazine is its pleasure ground.” They were impressed enough by her response that they asked her to edit the children’s magazine, which became known as St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas became one of the most successful children’s publications of all time. It included work by writers such as Louisa May Alcott, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Alfred Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, and Mark Twain. The magazine also encouraged young people to submit stories and poems for publication. Among the writers who first published their work in St. Nicholas were Ring Lardner, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, Edmund Wilson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It’s the birthday of Irish statesman, co-founder of Amnesty International, and winner of the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, Seán MacBride, born in Paris (1904). He’s the son of Maud Gonne, the woman whom poet W.B. Yeats worshipped and embraced as his Muse. Sean’s father was Major John MacBride, a military leader whom Gonne chose to marry over Yeats and whom Yeats considered a “brute.” John MacBride and Maud Gonne separated when their son was a child, and Sean grew up in Paris with his mother, speaking French as a first language. He was still in France, age 12, when his father was executed for helping to lead the Easter Rising, the 1916 rebellion where Irish nationalists took over government buildings in an effort to force the end of British rule of Ireland.
But not long after the Easter Rising, Sean MacBride headed to Ireland, joined the IRA, and fought in the Irish War of Independence from Britain. Then he was imprisoned by the new Irish Free State’s government during the Irish Civil War that followed because he was opposed to the terms of the Anglo-Irish treaty, which had come at the end of the war. When Sean MacBride got out of jail, he went to law school.
He worked as a lawyer for human rights cases around the world, investigating abuses by governments against civilians, especially ones that happened in times of war. He was one of the founders of the human rights group Amnesty International and held several United Nations posts throughout his life, including Assistant Secretary-General and President of the General Assembly. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 (exactly 10 years after Martin Luther King Jr.) for mobilizing “the conscience of the world in the fight against injustice.” About a year after that, he was given the Lenin Peace Prize, making him at the time the only person in the world to get both Nobel and Lenin Peace Prizes.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®