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 William Carlos Williams
When I am alone I am happy.
The air is cool. The sky is
flecked and splashed and wound
with color. The crimson phalloi
of the sassafras leaves
hang crowded before me
in shoals on the heavy branches.
When I reach my doorstep
I am greeted by
the happy shrieks of my children
and my heart sinks.
I am crushed.
Are not my children as dear to me
as falling leaves or
must one become stupid
to grow older?
It seems much as if Sorrow
had tripped up my heels.
Let us see, let us see!
What did I plan to say to her
when it should happen to me
as it has happened now?
“Waiting” by William Carlos Williams. Public Domain. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of playwright Harold Pinter, (books by this author) born on this day in 1930 in London. He is the author of The Birthday Party (1957), The Caretaker (1959), and Betrayal (1978). He once described the subject of his plays as “the weasel under the cocktail cabinet.” He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 2005, and he died in 2008 at the age of 78.
It was on this day in 1881 that Charles Darwin (books by this author) published what he considered to be his most important book: The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms. At the time, most people thought of earthworms as pests, but Darwin demonstrated that they were beneficial, important for soil fertility and consequently for agriculture.
Darwin had published The Origin of Species in 1859, but he thought that this work was more important — and in fact, during his lifetime it sold much better than The Origin of Species, more than 6,000 copies its first year.
He wrote, “Although the conclusion may appear at first startling, it will be difficult to deny the probability, that every particle of earth forming the bed from which the turf in old pasture land springs, has passed through the intestines of worms.”
It’s the birthday of journalist Daniel Pearl, born in Princeton, New Jersey (1963). He was the South Asia Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal until he was murdered by al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, 2002.
It’s the birthday of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, born on this day in the village of Le Roncole, near what is now Parma, Italy (1813). When Verdi was still a boy, he was hired as the official church organist, but he left when he was 12 to go study in a nearby town, and the people there were so supportive that they set up a fund to send him to the Conservatory in Milan. But when he went to audition, he was rejected, because the Conservatory said that he was “lacking in musical talent.”
So he got a private tutor, and he went on to become one of the most famous opera composers in history. His first opera, Oberto, premiered in 1839, when Verdi was just 26 years old. He wrote Nabucco (1848), Rigoletto (1851), and Aida (1871).
He died at age 87, and one of his friends said that “he died magnificently.” Although he requested a quiet, private funeral, more than 250,000 people turned out for his funeral procession.
He said, “I adored and adore this art; and when I am alone and wrestling with my notes, then my heart pounds, tears stream from my eyes, and the emotions and pleasures are beyond description.”
It’s the birthday of singer-songwriter John Prine, born in Maywood, Illinois (1946). He got a job working at the post office in his hometown, and he started playing in coffee shops, but no one paid any attention to him. Then one day, the film critic Roget Ebert went to see a movie that he didn’t like very much, so he walked out of the theater early and headed down the street to get a beer instead. He happened to go to the bar where Prine was playing as background music. And so instead of writing a movie review that week, Ebert wrote a review called “Singing Mailman Delivers the Message,” and suddenly John Prine had a full house every time he played.
John Prine died of complications from COVID-19 on April 7th, 2020.
It’s the birthday of R.K. Narayan, (books by this author) who was born Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Narayanswamy in Chennai, India (1906). He shortened his name at the suggestion of his friend, the novelist Graham Greene.
One day he was walking down the street when the idea of a fictional town called Malgudi came into his head fully formed, along with the ideas for characters, a railway station, the school, and market, and he set out to write his first novel, Swami and Friends (1935). It was set in Malgudi and so were 13 of the 14 novels Narayan went on to write.
And it was on this day in 1935 that Porgy and Bess had its premiere in New York City. George Gershwin wanted to adapt DuBose Heyward’s novel Porgy to the stage, and so he went down to South Carolina with his brother Ira, and they spent weeks there trying to learn about African-American Gullah culture.
George Gershwin was so pleased with what he called his “folk opera” that he said, “I think the music is so marvelous, I don’t believe I wrote it.”
One of its most famous songs is “Summertime,” with the lyrics:
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high
Your daddy’s rich
And your ma is good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®