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+
The Light We Leave Behind
by Kenneth Ronkowitz
A star chart tells me
that the star I am seeing tonight
is 500 light years away.
It may have died 499 years ago,
and I am still seeing its last light.
Stars are born, they live, and they die.
What is the light that remains when we leave?
If I die after writing this poem, is this my light,
and how long might that light remain and be seen?
I wondered last night and still this morning
about these questions, and still now,
standing again outside
under a mackerel sky dappled, rippled with clouds
and the sun, our family star,
which will also die.
Then, there will be no light remaining.
Perhaps, this is not what you believed.
When it dies, the Earth dies with it.
No last light to come after it.
In its end, the sun will expand
into a red giant
and will vaporize the Earth.
My son rises
and joins me outside
his coffee steaming a small cloud
into the December air.
In this enormous moment,
we look into the sky and universe.
We are a fortnight from the year ending
and hopeful for many more circles
around the sun. We are expanding,
gathering our light, and sharing it
while we can still see it reflected
in those constellating nearby.
“The Light We Leave Behind” by Kenneth Ronkowitz. Used with the permission of the poet.
Today is the birthday of American author Erle Stanley Gardner (books by this author), the creator of smooth-talking criminal lawyer Perry Mason, born in Malden, Massachusetts (1889). He became a typist at a law firm, soaking up legal terminology and trial tactics. With no formal training, he passed the California bar exam and joined a law firm. He found legal practice boring, though. He began writing stories about the people he represented and the things he saw at trial for pulp magazines. Gardner’s stories quickly became popular and he churned out more than 20,000 during his career, giving up his two-fingered typing and dictating to a series of secretaries.
When asked why his heroes always defeated villains with the last bullet in their guns, Gardner answered: “At three cents a word, every time I say ‘Bang’ in the story I get three cents. If you think I’m going to finish the gun battle while my hero still has 15 cents’ worth of unexploded ammunition in his gun, you’re nuts.”
Early characters included Lester Leith, a parody of the “gentleman thief,” and Ken Corning, a crusading lawyer who became the template for Perry Mason. Gardner’s first novel to feature Mason was The Case of the Velvet Claws (1933), which established Mason’s MO: he proved his client’s innocence by implicating another character, who soon confessed.
On this day 65 years ago, in 1955, the Disneyland theme park opened in Anaheim, California. More than 1 million people visited the park in its first seven weeks.
On this date in 1867, Harvard Dental School, the first university-based dental school in the United States, was founded. Before the school’s founding, aspiring dentists went to freestanding trade schools or learned by apprenticeship. The world’s first dental training program had been established in Baltimore in 1840, but dentistry wasn’t considered a branch of medicine, and programs were not included in curricula. Harvard Dental School represented a dramatic change in the way dentistry was viewed.
Prior to the 19th century, your treatment options were extremely limited: If you had a toothache, you went to the barber-surgeon — or even the blacksmith — to have the tooth pulled, with no anesthesia. The wealthy could afford to have the gap filled with a replacement tooth, which could be bought from someone who was willing to sell his or her own teeth. If you didn’t want to pay the premium price, you could buy the teeth of a cadaver. Sometimes these were collected from battlefields, and were called “Waterloo teeth.” A grave robber could get five guineas for a good set of corpse teeth. But buying replacement human teeth came with risks, too: You might contract tuberculosis or syphilis. Some people had dentures made from ivory, porcelain, or even gold. After Charles Goodyear invented the vulcanization of rubber, you could buy “Vulcanite” dentures made of hard rubber. By the middle of the 19th century, dentists were beginning to use nitrous oxide, chloroform, and ether to perform oral surgery painlessly.
It was on this day in 1936 that the Spanish Civil War began. It started with an attempted coup by right-wing forces, who called themselves Nationalists, against the government, or Republicans. General Franco was at the helm of the Nationalists, and the Spanish Civil War was the first major threat of fascism in Europe. Tens of thousands of international volunteers went to Spain to fight on the Republican side, including thousands from the United States.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®