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+
Advice from a Bat
by Michael T. Young
Hunt only at night. Fly erratically.
Defy even your own expectations.
Feed on beetles, moths, and mosquitoes,
whatever is small and annoying.
Cultivate the myths about you
until every predator fears your legend.
When hunting, be guided by a language
only you can hear. The same is true
when courting the one you love.
Clean fangs and fur nightly. Crawl
or climb to confuse the observant.
Retreat to a cave no one believes in.
Let the day and the world pass
while you sleep, and sleep upside down,
ready to wake and fall into flight.
“Advice from a Bat” by Michael T. Young from The Infinite Doctrine of Water. © Terrapin Books, 2018. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of actress Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles, California (1926). As a child, she was passed around between her mother and a series of foster parents. Eventually, she wound up with her mother’s friend Grace McKee, who worked in the movie industry. Grace worshiped movie stars, and she told Monroe that she would be a movie star herself one day. She taught Monroe to act like the women she saw in movies; she took Monroe to beauty parlors, she dressed her up in fancy clothes, and had her practice smiles and pouts in the mirror.
After Grace McKee got married, Monroe had to live for a while in an orphanage, and at night she would stare out the window at the water tower of RKO Studios. She spent the next several years moving from house to house, living with various distant relatives and friends of the family. She told children at school that her parents had died in a car accident.
After she went through puberty, her clothes were much tighter, but the family she was living with couldn’t afford to buy her new ones. Walking to school, men started honking their horns at her and waving, and she’d wave back. She said, “The whole world became friendly.” To avoid returning to an orphanage or another set of foster parents, she was married at 16 to a man named James Dougherty.
During World War II, Monroe got a job at an aircraft factory called Radioplane, where she sprayed glue on fabrics and inspected and folded parachutes. She was working at the factory when a group of photographers showed up to take pictures of women working for the war effort. The photographers noticed her right away, and they persuaded her to become a model. She bleached her hair and began to appear on the covers of magazines.
She got her big break in the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Everyone had been trying to sell her as a “love goddess,” but it turned out that she had a gift for comedy.
She died just nine years after that first big success, but her life has been an inspiration to many writers. She has been the subject of more than 300 biographies, including a partially fictionalized biography by Norman Mailer. The poet Sharon Olds wrote a poem about her death. In the novel Motor City (1992), author Bill Morris wrote a fictional version of her wedding day with Joe DiMaggio. Joyce Carol Oates wrote the novel Blonde (2001) about her, and it was nominated for the National Book Award.
Marilyn Monroe said, “I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful.”
Today is the birthday of Charles Kay Ogden (books by this author), born in Fleetwood, Lancashire, England, in 1889. An editor, translator, journalist, and linguist, Ogden occasionally used the pen name “Adelyne (for “add a line”) More” in his articles. He was a bit eccentric, collecting clocks, shoes, music boxes, and masks. He went to Cambridge and founded the Cambridge Magazine in 1912, and he stayed on as the editor for its full 10-year life. The magazine published foreign press extracts during World War I and came under fire for maintaining a neutral stance about the war; some accused its editors of spreading “pacifist propaganda.” He also formed the Heretics’ Society while at Cambridge, and the Society hosted talks by people like G.K. Chesterton, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Virginia Woolf.
He wrote a monograph in 1923 called “The Meaning of Meaning,” in which he explores the psychological and philosophical underpinnings of language. From 1925 until his death in 1957, he worked on what he called BASIC English — British, American, Scientific, International, Commercial — a simplified, English-based language of 850 core words designed for international uses. George Orwell was a fan of the enterprise at first, but then turned away from any attempt at universal languages, and modeled his “Newspeak” from Nineteen Eighty-Four after BASIC English. Ogden translated James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake into BASIC English; Joyce’s “Well, you know or don’t you kennet or haven’t I told you that every story has an end and that’s the he and the she of it. Look, look, the dusk is growing. Fieluhr? Filou! What age is it? It saon is late” became “Well are you conscious, or haven’t you knowledge, or haven’t I said it, that every story has an ending and that’s the he and the she of it. Look, look, the dark is coming … Viel Uhr? Filou! What time is it? It’s getting late.” Joyce’s aim was to expand the English language, and Ogden’s was to simplify it, but the two men found each other’s ideas fascinating.
On this day in 1974, Henry Jay Heimlich published his “Heimlich maneuver”in the Journal of Emergency Medicine. The article was called “Pop Goes the Café Coronary.” Less than three weeks later, the maneuver was used successfully in a restaurant in Bellevue, Washington. As of 2006, the American Red Cross recommends the “five and five” approach: five sharp blows to the back, followed by five abdominal thrusts if the back blows are not effective.
It’s the birthday of writer and neuroscientist Colleen McCullough (books by this author), born in Wellington, Australia (1937). She studied neurophysiology, and worked in Sydney and London before landing a job as a research associate at Yale. She spent 10 happy years there; she was good at her job, and it gave her time to pursue her hobbies. But when she discovered that her male colleagues were making twice as much money as their female counterparts, she decided that she needed a backup plan. She said, “I loved being a neurophysiologist, but I didn’t want to be a 70-year-old spinster in a cold-water, walk-up flat with one 60-watt light bulb, which is what I could see as my future.”
Although she had never tried to publish anything, she decided to try her hand at professional writing. She began writing in the evenings after work, and she based her first novel on a situation she had encountered at Yale, working with a middle-aged woman and her husband, who was a much younger man with developmental disabilities. Her novel Tim (1974) was a modest success.
A few years earlier, one of her colleagues at Yale, the classics professor Erich Segal, had published the wildly popular novel Love Story (1970). Before writing her second novel, McCullough interviewed Yale students about what they loved about Love Story. She distilled those elements, used an Australian setting, and wrote a long romantic novel about an illicit love affair between a beautiful young woman and a Catholic priest, following three generations on a sheep farm in the Australian outback. That novel, The Thorn Birds (1977), became an international sensation, selling more than 30 million copies. The American paperback rights sold for a record $1.9 million. She quit her job and moved back to Australia, to Norfolk Island, where she lived for the rest of her life. She wrote more than 20 books, including An Indecent Obsession (1981), Morgan’s Run (2000), and Bittersweet (2013). She died in 2015.