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 Grace Paley
My father was brilliant embarrassed funny handsome
my mother was plain serious principled kind
my grandmother was intelligent lonesome for her
other life her dead children silent
my aunt was beautiful bitter angry loving
I fell among these adjectives in earliest childhood
and was nearly buried with opportunity
some of them stuck to me others
finding me American and smooth slipped away
“Family” by Grace Paley, from Begin Again: Collected Poems. © Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000. Reprinted with permission of Union Literary. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1975 that Saturday Night Live had its premiere, with George Carlin as host. The first sketch had Michael O’Donoghue as an ESL teacher attempting to teach English to his Eastern European student, John Belushi. Janis Ian and Billy Preston played music, Andy Kaufman and the Muppets were special guests, and Paul Simon made an appearance.
It’s the birthday of novelist Elmore Leonard, (books by this author) born in New Orleans in 1925. Straight out of college he got a job at an advertising agency, so he would get up and write every morning at 5 a.m. before going into the office. He published some pulp Westerns, and then started writing crime fiction. His books include Get Shorty (1990), Be Cool (1999), and Rum Punch (1992).
He said, “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”
The film To Have and Have Not had its premiere on this day in 1944. It was based on the novel To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway, (books by this author) which was a hard novel for Hemingway to write, and took him about four years. He had been accused of being politically apathetic, so in this novel he tried to engage with the politics of Cuba and Key West, but the result was generally panned by critics. Philip Rahv of the Partisan Review summed it up: “In transcending his political indifference, he has not, however, at the same time transcended his political ignorance.” Hemingway published the novel in 1937, and in 1939, he sold the film, radio, and television rights for $10,000.
The film To Have and Have Not opened on this day at the Hollywood Theater in Manhattan for an exclusive showing, and it grossed $46,200 in its first week at that one theater, and went on to be a blockbuster. It was billed as “Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not,” but in reality it was based very loosely on the novel. A man named Jules Furthman wrote the screenplay, but the government objected to it because it portrayed Cuba in an unflattering way, and in those days — the Batista regime — the U.S. and Cuba were allies. So Warner Brothers told the film’s director that the film would have to be cancelled, even though production had already started.
So the director took it to his friend William Faulkner, (books by this author) a screenwriter on the Warner Brothers payroll. Faulkner took the script and rewrote it, changing the setting to Martinique, imagining a new political conflict, combining characters, dropping others, and rewriting dialogue. But since it had attracted the government’s notice, all the changes to the script had to be sent to the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and the Overseas Branch of the Office of War Information. Since they were on a tight recording schedule, Faulkner was writing each scene about three days before it was shot, and he helped make changes even during filming. Everyone was pleased with the result, but Faulkner himself wrote to his agent: “After being present for a while at the frantic striving of motion pictures to justify their existence in a time of strife and terror, I have about come to the conclusion which they dare not admit: that the printed word and all its ramifications and photographications is nihil nisi fui; in a word, a dollar mark striving frantically not to DISSOLVE into the symbol 1A.”
To Have and Have Not is celebrated as a collaboration between two Nobel Prize winners, although Hemingway and Faulkner did not actually interact during the process of making the film, and apparently Faulkner never mentioned Hemingway at all. And neither one of them wrote the most famous line in the film: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” It was improvised on the spot by the director as a screen test for Lauren Bacall, and she did so well that Faulkner wrote it into the screenplay.
It’s the birthday of the longest-serving First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, born in New York City (1884) who said, “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” During World War I, she went off to Europe and visited wounded and shell-shocked soldiers in hospitals there. Later, during her husband’s presidency, she campaigned hard on civil rights issues — not a universally popular thing in the 1930s and 1940s, or in 2020.
And, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
It was on this day in 1962 that Pope John XXIII convened the first session of the Second Vatican Council, also known as Vatican II, with the goal of bringing the church up to date with the modern world. More than 3,000 delegates attended, including many of the Catholic bishops from around the world, theologians, and other church officials.
As a result of Vatican II, Catholics were allowed to pray with Protestants and attend weddings and funerals in Protestant churches; priests were encouraged to perform mass facing the congregation, rather than facing the altar; and priests were allowed to perform mass in languages other than Latin, so that parishioners could finally understand what was being said throughout the service.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®