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 Hilaire Belloc
As a friend to the children, commend me the Yak;
You will find it exactly the thing;
It will carry and fetch, you can ride on its back,
Or lead it about with a string.
The Tartar who dwells on the plains of Thibet
(A desolate region of snow),
Has for centuries made it a nursery pet,
And surely the Tartar should know!
Then tell your papa where the Yak can be got,
And if he is awfully rich,
He will buy you the creature—or else he will not
(I cannot be positive which).
“The Yak” by Hilaire Belloc. Public domain. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Australian writer Jill Ker Conway (books by this author), born in Hillston, New South Wales, Australia (1934). Her father was a sheep rancher, her mother a nurse, and Conway and her brothers were brought up in almost total isolation on Coorain, their 32,000-acre tract of land. By age seven, Conway already had become one of her father’s main station hands. With her two brothers away at boarding school, she checked fences, prodded sheep from one paddock to another. Jill was educated at the all-women’s Abbotsleigh School and the University of Sydney, where she took an honors degree in history. She then spent ten years as the president of Smith College, the first woman to hold that position. She is the author of The Road from Coorain (1989), A Woman’s Education (2001) and other books.
She said: “You never know what you’ll want to write until it starts writing itself in your head.”
She died in June of 2018.
Today is the birthday of Belva Plain (1915) (books by this author), born Belva Offenberg in New York City. She graduated from Barnard College in 1939 with a degree in history. She wrote multigenerational family sagas of Jewish immigrants, and though critics were not always kind — one called her books “easy, consoling works of generous spirit, fat with plot and sentiment, thin in nearly every other way and almost invisible in character development” — readers loved them, and they were all best-sellers. Her first book, Evergreen, was published in 1978, by which time she was a grandmother in her 60s. It spent a total of 61 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, and was made into a miniseries in 1985. She wrote longhand in spiral notebooks, and produced a novel about every year or so.
She died in 2010.
It’s the birthday of John Lennon. He was born in Liverpool, England, in 1940, during a German air raid, or so the legend goes. The nurses put him under his mother’s hospital bed to protect him. John’s mother, Julia Stanley, was one of five sisters, all of them fierce in their own way; she was the free spirit, and married Freddy Lennon on a whim in 1938. Freddy was away with the Merchant Marine when his son was born and, not really ready for family life, managed to find a ship to be away on for most of the boy’s first five years. Julia, with an absent husband, decided she might as well live the single life, so she gave John to her sister Mimi to raise. In 1945, Freddy returned and invited the five-year-old boy on an outing to the seaside, intending take him to New Zealand, but Julia found them, and the parents decided to make their son choose between them. Since Freddy had been more like a playmate than a parent, John chose him at first, but when Julia walked away, crying, John ran sobbing after her. Their reunion was short-lived, however, because Julia brought him back to Aunt Mimi’s, and that’s where he grew up.
He didn’t show any musical inclination as a child, but he did love drawing and reading, especially Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, and the Just William stories by Richard Crompton. He had a knack for puns and wordplay at an early age, as well as a fondness for absurd humor. He was bright, but often in trouble in school; he had an angry streak that expressed itself through insolence, petty crimes, and tough talk. When Elvis Presley came on the scene in 1956 with his single Heartbreak Hotel, Lennon had a new focus: rock and roll. “Nothing really affected me until Elvis,” he later said. Liverpool kids were among the first in Britain to hear the records coming over from America; they got them from American sailors who docked in the port city. Soon Lennon was listening to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. A year later, he’d formed his own band, the Quarrymen, with some school friends, and soon after that, Paul McCartney and George Harrison joined the band. By 1960, they were calling themselves the Beatles.
It’s the birthday of Irish poet Ciaran Carson (1948) (books by this author). He was born in Belfast. His parents, who met in an Irish language class, made the political decision to only speak Irish at home. The five Carson children learned English while playing in the streets. “I think as a result of that I was always aware of language, how it operates. How if you say it in one language it’s not the same as saying it in another,” he told The Guardian. He’s published 27 books: poetry, prose, and translations, including Belfast Confetti (1990), The Star Factory (1997), Shamrock Tea (2001), and In the Light Of (2012).
He said, “There’s a whole language out there, and one’s role as a writer is to stumble around in it.”
He died in October of 2019.
It’s the birthday of composer Camille Saint-Saens, born in Paris (1835). He was a child prodigy, with perfect pitch and a fantastic memory. He learned the piano and organ, and played the music of Beethoven, Bach and Mozart in recitals. He composed nice waltzes and gallops by the age of five, and wrote his first symphony at sixteen. His first famous opera was Samson and Dalila (1877). He wrote lots of other operas too, but they were less well-known outside of France. He was always surprised that the greater public gave him such high praise, yet constantly wanted to hear Samson and Dalila and ignored his other work. Over the course of his lifetime he composed more than 300 pieces, including thirteen operas, and he was the first major composer to write specifically for the cinema. He toured frequently, conducting his oratorios and premiering his piano concertos all over Europe and the United States, sometimes accompanied only by his servant, Gabriel, and his pet dogs.
Saint-Saens said, “I like good company, but I like hard work still better.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®