Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Frankfort, KY 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 bring their show to Maryville, TN for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
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
Palm Desert, CA
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Palm Desert, CA for a performance of holiday songs, humor and The News from Lake Wobegon.
Town Hall, New York City
A Prairie Home Companion American Revival comes to Town Hall in New York City with Christine DiGiallonardo, Heather Masse, Rob Fisher and the Demitasse Orchestra, Rich Dworsky, Walter Bobbie, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
by Joyce Sutphen
Dr. Zhivago was playing at the Paramount
Theater in St. Cloud. That afternoon,
we went into Russia,
and when we came out, the snow
was falling—the same snow
that fell in Moscow.
The sky had turned black velvet.
We’d been through the Revolution
and the frozen winters.
In the Chevy, we waited for the heater
to melt ice on the windshield,
clapping our hands to keep warm.
On the highway, these two things:
a song from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
and that semi-truck careening by.
Now I travel through the dark without you
and sometimes I turn up the radio, hopeful
the way you were, no matter what.
Joyce Sutphen, “November, 1967” from First Words. © 2010 Joyce Sutphen published by Red Dragonfly Press. (buy now)
It’s the feast day of Saint Cecilia, who was the patron saint of musicians because she sang to God as she died a martyr’s death. She was born to a noble family in Rome near the end of the second century A.D.
It wasn’t really until the 1400s that people really began to celebrate her widely as the patron saint of music. Then, in the 1500s, people in Normandy held a large musical festival to honor her, and the trend made its way to England in the next century. Henry Purcell composed celebratory odes to honor her and the painter Raphael created a piece called “The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia.” Chaucer wrote about her in the Second Nonnes Tale and Handel composed a score for a famous ode to her that John Dryden had written.
Today, Saint Cecilia is often commemorated in paintings and on stained glass windows as sitting at an organ.
It’s the birthday of novelist George Eliot (books by this author), born Mary Ann Evans in Warwickshire, England (1819). She was raised in rural England. Her mother died when she was a teenager and she left school to serve as mistress of the household. When her brother took over the house with his new bride, Evans and her father moved to a house near the city of Coventry. She became friends with a group of radical intellectuals who gathered in the evenings to debate religion, philanthropy, and philosophy. It was a big departure from the conservative, religious atmosphere of her hometown, and she loved it. After her father’s death, she changed her name from Mary Ann to Marian and moved to London to write.
She became the assistant editor of — and a major contributor to — a radical journal called The Westminster Review. This work introduced her to an even wider group of intellectuals, and she fell in love with one of them, a married philosopher named George Henry Lewes. For complicated legal reasons, Lewes was unable to get a divorce, so in 1854 he and Evans moved in together, shocking their friends — although affairs were routine in their social circles, it was quite a different thing to flout Victorian social convention so openly. Their male friends still visited, but they left their wives at home. Lewes was invited out, but not Evans. She wrote to one disapproving friend: “Light and easily broken ties are what I neither desire theoretically nor could live for practically. Women who are satisfied with such ties do not act as I have done. […] I indulge in no arrogant or uncharitable thoughts about those who condemn us, even though we might have expected a somewhat different verdict. […] I should like never to write about myself again; it is not healthy to dwell on one’s own feelings and conduct, but only to try and live faithfully and lovingly every fresh day.” They lived together for 24 years, until his death.
One of the last essays she wrote for The Westminster Review was called “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” (1856). Her essay began: “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists are a genus with many species, determined by the particular quality of silliness that predominates in them — the frothy, the prosy, the pious, or the pedantic. But it is a mixture of all these — a composite order of feminine fatuity — that produces the largest class.” A year later, she first used the pseudonym George Eliot when she published one of the stories that would be published as Scenes of Clerical Life (1857). When she published her first novel, Adam Bede (1859), it was a huge success and inspired endless speculation as to the identity of the writer. Eventually, with another man accepting the hypothesis that he was the author, Marian Evans admitted that she was, in fact, George Eliot. Reactions were mixed. Some praised her, but many were shocked — not just because she was a woman, but also because she was a woman who had radical ideas and was living in an unconventional relationship. She hated the publicity and considered giving up fiction altogether. But Lewes gave her constant encouragement and her publisher sent her even more money beyond what he had paid for her manuscript.
So she kept writing, producing The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1863), and Felix Holt, the Radical (1866), but nothing matched the success of Adam Bede, and she worried about her decreasing readership. For years she labored away at a new book, a combination of two different stories. The book became too long and she worried it would never sell. Her publisher agreed to bring it out in installments. Middlemarch (1871–72) was a huge literary and commercial success and is considered her masterpiece.
It was about 12:30 p.m. on this day in 1963 that President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. The Warren Commission published a report concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting the president, a conclusion that less than half of all Americans believe. Don DeLillo’s novel Libra (1988) is about the Kennedy assassination. He wrote: “What has become unraveled since that afternoon in Dallas is […] the sense of a coherent reality most of us shared. We seem from that moment to have entered a world of randomness and ambiguity.”
It’s the birthday of Charles de Gaulle, born in Lille, France (1890). He was general and president of France from 1959 to 1969. De Gaulle was a brigadier general in 1940 when he found himself in London after escaping France, which had just fallen to German forces. In an impassioned speech on British radio, he famously said: “But has the last word been said? Must we abandon all hope? Is our defeat final and irremediable? To those questions I answer — No! For remember this, France is not alone. She is not alone. She is not alone. Behind her is a vast empire, and she can make common cause with the British Empire, which commands the seas and is continuing the struggle. I, General de Gaulle, now in London, invite French officers and men who are at present in British soil, or may be in the future, with or without their arms; I invite engineers and skilled workmen from the armaments factories who are at present on British soil, or may be in the future, to get in touch with me. Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not and shall not die.”
The French government declared him a traitor and sentenced him to death for treason, but de Gaulle didn’t give up. His exhortation to “Free France” led to the formation of the Free French Forces, which became the fourth-largest Allied army in Europe by war’s end. They participated in the Normandy landings and the invasion of Germany and eventually liberated Paris.
Military life was ingrained in de Gaulle from childhood. His father was a professor who taught him the history of France, and de Gaulle raced through military history books, reenacting key battles. His uncle, also named Charles de Gaulle, had written a book calling for the union of the Breton, Scots, Irish, and Welsh peoples. In a journal, the young de Gaulle carefully copied a sentence from his uncle’s book: “In a camp, surprised by enemy attack under cover of night, where each man is fighting alone, in dark confusion, no one asks for the grade or rank of the man who lifts up the standard and makes the first call to rally for resistance.”
Charles de Gaulle was known for his regal bearing and fastidious nature, so much so that his imperiousness became a kind of running joke for the citizens of France. A popular gag imagined de Gaulle’s wife, Yvonne, returning from shopping and exclaiming, “God, I am tired.” Her husband is purported to have replied, “I have often told you, my dear, it was sufficient in private if you addressed me as ‘Monsieur le President.’”
He was frugal and at banquets, his quick manner of eating became legendary: plates were snatched away while still full, and de Gaulle spurned fruit, thinking it took too long to peel. He found cheese too small to be of use and once quipped, “How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?” State banquets rarely lasted even an hour.
He meticulously prepared for televised speeches, practicing his lines in a mirror and taking lessons from an actor. Winston Churchill, the prime minister of England, once told President Roosevelt, “De Gaulle may be a good man, but he has a messianic complex.” About Winston Churchill, de Gaulle said dryly: “When I am right, I get angry. Churchill gets angry when he is wrong. We are angry at each other much of the time.”
Charles de Gaulle once said, “I cannot prevent the French from being French.”
On August 25, 1944, Charles de Gaulle entered Paris, which had been liberated the day before. In a famous speech, he cried: “This duty of war, all the men who are here and all those who hear us in France know that it demands national unity. We, who have lived the greatest hours of our History, we have nothing else to wish than to show ourselves, up to the end, worthy of France. Long live France!”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®