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+
Stopping by Blogs on a Frosty Evening
by Jonathan Potter
Whose blog this is, a neo-con,
His book is available on Amazon.
He will not see me lurking here;
My comments all will be anon.
My online friends won’t think it queer
If I blog while drinking a six-pack of beer
Between dinner and the ten o’clock news;
It fills my comments with good cheer.
My wife has the spouse-of-a-blogger blues
And asks me if I’ve noticed her cues.
The only other sound’s the click
Of mouse and key as I peruse
This blog and the next one till I’m sick
Of beating a dead horse with a stick
And another evening’s burned its wick,
And another evening’s burned its wick.
Jonathan Potter, “Stopping by Blogs on a Frosty Evening” from Tulips for Elsie. Published by Korrektiv Press, © Jonathan Potter. Used by permission. (buy now)
Today is Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May, commemorating the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862 when 8,000 well-armed French troops were routed by 4,000 ill-equipped Mexican soldiers. It wasn’t a crucial battle in the course of the war, but became a symbol of Mexican pride and a celebration of Mexican culture in the United States. Cinco de Mayo isn’t widely celebrated in Mexico outside the state of Puebla but it has been adopted by many Americans regardless of their heritage, much like St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest. It’s been celebrated in California since 1863 and grew in prominence in the rest of the country along with the Chicano movement of the 1940s. It wasn’t until beer advertisers decided to promote the holiday heavily in the 1980s that American celebration of Cinco de Mayo became widespread.
It’s the birthday of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (books by this author), born in Copenhagen (1813), the son of a wealthy wool merchant who left his son enough money to be financially independent for the rest of his life. Kierkegaard rarely left Copenhagen, but he enjoyed going to the theater, taking carriage rides out into the country, and chatting with people he met, including servants and laborers, whom wealthy people would ordinarily ignore.
Kierkegaard is widely considered the father of existential philosophy. His work touched not only philosophy, but also theology, psychology, literary criticism, and fiction. He also came up with two concepts that are commonplace to us today: One is “subjectivity,” the idea that we all perceive the world — and “truth” — differently; and the other is the “leap of faith,” that faith is not possible without doubt. One must doubt the existence of God to have faith in the existence of God. Belief without doubt is just credulity. He published several books at his own expense, including Either/Or (1843), Works of Love (1847), and The Sickness Unto Death (1849). Kierkegaard was unknown outside of Denmark until the early 20th century when his work was discovered by European writers and philosophers. He influenced writers like Henrik Ibsen, Franz Kafka, and Albert Camus.
Today is the birthday of journalist Nellie Bly (books by this author), born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania (1864). When she was 16 her family moved to Pittsburgh where she read an editorial in The Pittsburgh Dispatch titled “What Girls are Good For.” (The paper’s answer was “not much,” at least, not outside the home.) She wrote a furious reply and signed it “Little Orphan Girl.” The editor was so impressed that he invited her in and offered her a job. She took it, and she borrowed the name “Nellie Bly” from a Stephen Foster song to use as her pen name.
Unlike most female journalists of the time, she didn’t write about fashion or gardening though. She wrote about the poor and the way women were exploited in factories, sometimes posing as a sweatshop worker to report from the inside, which made companies nervous. They threatened to pull their advertising so she was demoted to a beat that was deemed more suitable for a lady. She turned in her letter of resignation along with her story. She went to New York in 1887, and after several months with no job prospects she talked her way into an opportunity with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Her assignment was to cover the notorious Blackwell’s Island Women’s Lunatic Asylum and she went undercover, convincing doctors and judges that she was mentally ill. She was committed to the asylum and lived there in appalling conditions for 10 days. She wrote, “I have watched patients stand and gaze longingly toward the city they in all likelihood will never enter again. It means liberty and life; it seems so near, and yet heaven is not further from hell.”
In 1914 she went to work for the New York Evening Journal as America’s first female war correspondent. She wrote from the front lines of World War I for almost five years. She returned Stateside in 1919 and died of pneumonia in 1922.
It’s the birthday of the man who said, “No man is lonely while eating spaghetti”: Christopher Morley (books by this author), born in Haverford, Pennsylvania (1890), the prolific author of a hundred books, including novels like Parnassus on Wheels (1917) about a travelling bookshop, and Kitty Foyle (1939), a sentimental best-seller about an Irish-American office girl.
Morley said, “You can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®