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+
by Carl Dennis
Why don’t we set aside for a day
Our search for variety and have lunch
At the same café where we had lunch yesterday
And order the same avocado and Gouda sandwich
On whole wheat bread, toasted and buttered?
Why don’t we stroll again after lunch
To the river and back? I’ll be glad to interpret
Your wearing the blouse you wore yesterday
As a sign you’re still the person I think you are,
That this is the walk you want to take,
The one you didn’t get your fill of before.
And later, why don’t we hope for a sunset
That duplicates the valiant effort of yesterday:
Enough clouds for the light to play with,
Despite a haze that dims the hues?
Isn’t the insight worth repeating
That the end of the day may show itself
To be just as colorful as the beginning,
That a fine beginning isn’t a veil
That the end is destined to strip away?
The same words, but yesterday
They may have sounded a little tentative,
As if we weren’t sure we were ready
To stand behind them. Now if we choose
To repeat them, it means we are.
“A Proposal” by Carl Dennis from Night School. Penguin Books © 2018. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of fiction author Andrea Barrett (1954) (books by this author), born in Boston, Massachusetts. She describes her family as “unintellectual,” and when she developed a passion for reading as a child, her father would tell her to “put the book down and go outside, act like a normal person,” as she told The Paris Review in 2003. She would raid the Bookmobile on its weekly visits to her neighborhood; the driver let kids read from any shelf they could reach, and she was tall, so she was reading grown-up books at a young age. She attended middle school and high school very sporadically and didn’t graduate, but she had strong SAT scores and was accepted to Union College anyway; she was part of the second class of female students in what had previously been an all-male college. She earned a degree in Biology, and her novels and stories reflect her interest in science, particularly women in science.
She said: “I’ve never known a writer who didn’t feel ill at ease in the world. … We all feel unhoused in some sense. That’s part of why we write. We feel we don’t fit in, that this world is not our world, that though we may move in it, we’re not of it. … You don’t need to write a novel if you feel at home in the world.”
On this date in 1973, NASA launched the fourth and final Skylab mission. NASA’s goal for the project was to find out if it was possible for humans to live and work in space for extended periods of time. The station itself was launched on May 14, 1973, and there were four missions with three crews; the first mission was unmanned and involved the launch of the station by a Saturn V rocket. The first crew spent 28 days aboard Skylab; the second, 59 days. The third and final crew, launched on this date, spent 89 days in space, a record that stood for more than 20 years. Skylab served as a solar observatory, a microgravity lab, a medical lab, and an Earth-observing facility. Astronauts on the fourth mission also observed Comet Kohoutek, which was passing near Earth at that time. NASA was also interested in whether quality of life could be maintained in a space station; the astronauts had two hours’ free time every evening, during which they could play cards or darts, read, or listen to music. Skylab 4 commander Gerald Carr said, “The most fun was looking out the window.”
NASA had originally planned for Skylab to continue orbiting for up to 10 more years while the Space Shuttle was being developed, but unexpectedly high solar activity — which heated the Earth’s atmosphere and created excessive drag on the space station — caused Skylab to malfunction in 1977, and it eventually fell back to Earth in 1979. Pieces of it fell in the Shire of Esperance, near Perth in southwestern Australia; the Shire fined the United States 400 Australian dollars for littering. The fine remained unpaid for 30 years, until a radio host named Scott Barley raised the funds from his morning show listeners.
It’s the birthday of author Chinua Achebe (1930) (books by this author). He was born in Ogidi, Nigeria; his parents were evangelical Protestants, and he was named “Albert” after Queen Victoria’s husband. When he went to university, he rejected his English name in favor of his more traditional Igbo middle name, “Chinua.” He joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Service in 1954, and it was at this time that he wrote his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958). It’s the story of a powerful Igbo leader who meets his downfall when he refuses to take seriously the intrusion of the missionary church and the British system of government into his community. In the book, Achebe writes: “The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” It’s the most widely read book of African literature, and has been translated into 50 languages.
Achebe died in 2013.
It was on this day in 1907 that Oklahoma joined the Union, becoming the 46th state. It’s one of the top natural gas-producing states in the U.S. There are 25 Native American languages that are spoken in Oklahoma, which is more than any other state in America. It’s one of most tornado-prone areas of the world, averaging more than 50 tornadoes a year. And it’s the setting for the opening of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
It’s the birthday of Jean Fritz, (books by this author) author of books for young readers, born in Hankow, China (1915), the only child of American missionaries. She’s written a number of historical novels and biographies related to American history, including Where Do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Columbus? (1980), Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? (1977), And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? (1973), Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? (1974), What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? (1976), and Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? (1976). And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? was named a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year.
Her autobiography, Homesick, My Own Story (1982), won a Newbery Honor Book Award and a National Book Award. It’s based on the journals she kept while growing up in Hankow, China. Jean Fritz died on May 14th, 2017.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®