Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Fort Lauderdale, FL for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard. A performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
West Bend, WI
Garrison Keillor brings his show to West Bend, WI for a performance of sing-a-longs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends (Fred Newman, Heather Masse, Rich Dworsky, Richard Kriehn & Dan Magraw) bring their show to Big Top Chautauqua for a performance of night of laughter, song and The News from Lake Wobegon.
by Louis Simpson
The storm broke, and it rained,
And water rose in the pool,
And frogs hopped into the gutter,
With their skins of yellow and green,
And just their eyes shining above the surface
Of the warm solution of slime.
At night, when fire flies trace
Light-lines between the trees and flowers
The frogs speak to each other
In rhythm. The sound is monstrous,
But their voices are filled with satisfaction.
In the city I pine for the country;
In the country I long for conversation—
Our happy croaking.
Louis Simpson, “Frogs” from The Owner of the House: Collected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Louis Simpson. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
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.
It was on this day in 1215 that a group of angry English barons renounced loyalty to King John. A month later, an agreement between the barons and King John resulted in the document known as Magna Carta.
King John was not a popular ruler. He launched a series of disastrous military campaigns in France which led to his nickname John Softsword. He increased taxes to pay for his unsuccessful wars. He angered the Church to such a degree that the pope outlawed Christian burial in England and banned priests from performing most services. The king had a reputation for violent rages and it was rumored that he raped the daughters and wives of some of his noblemen. When his nephew Arthur was murdered many people believed that John was responsible. A contemporary chronicler, a monk named Richard of Devizes, said that John was crazy and that he “emitted foam from his mouth.”
John was particularly unpopular with his barons, the group of noblemen who were just one step down from him. Barons were given land and in return they owed the king military service — but they usually paid a levy, called a scutage, instead of serving. They also gave the king regular payments depending on the size of their holdings. John ignored the precedent set by other rulers and demanded extremely high payments, seized land, and seduced the barons’ wives and daughters. When he heard that the wife of one of his most loyal barons had said that John was responsible for the murder of his nephew, John imprisoned the woman and her son and starved them to death. He demanded the scutage levy over and over again — 11 times, whereas the past king had only asked for it three times.
By the final time a group of barons simply refused to pay scutage. They felt he was asking too much and they had no faith in his military campaigns. One of the leaders of this group of rebel barons, Robert Fitzwalter, had a daughter who was rumored to have been raped by the king. On this day in 1215 a group of about 40 barons formally broke their oath of loyalty to the king. They were a minority — there were about 200 barons in England — but although some of the remaining barons openly supported King John, most simply refused to take sides. Less than two weeks later the rebel barons captured London.
John agreed to negotiate with the rebels, who wrote up a list of demands. After days of negotiation the king agreed to sign an agreement known as Magna Carta, which means “Great Charter” in Latin. Magna Carta was “signed” by King John not with his signature, but with a wax seal known as the Great Seal — in fact, John might not have been able to write at all. There was not one single official document. Once all the details were agreed on by both sides, scribes wrote out official copies of Magna Carta in medieval Latin and it was sent to important people all over the country.
The barons were not trying to create a timeless document that would be the foundation for modern legal principles — they were just trying to restore balance to the justice system so that the power of the king was held in check by the power of rich noblemen like themselves. Magna Carta was full of specific rules about feudal issues like the scutagelevy, taxes, bridge building, inheritance fees, Jewish debts, and freedom for widows to remain unmarried after the death of their husbands. Of the original 63 clauses, only three are still law. One defends the rights of the English Church, and one protects certain privileges of London. The third is most famous, and was eventually used to establish the right to a trial by jury. This clause reads: “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, nor will we proceed with force against him, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”
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.®