Mar. 5, 1998


by Raymond Carver


Today's Reading: "Blood" by Raymond Carver from WHERE THE WATER COMES TOGETHER WITH OTHER WATER, published by Random House (1986).

It was on this day in 1953 that JOSEF STALIN died in Moscow. A few months earlier he'd accused a group of Soviet doctors of poisoning his government officials -- the so-called "Doctors Plot" Stalin cooked up as a reason to start another party purge. But before the executions and deportations could get underway, he died of a brain hemorrhage.

The Soviet composer SERGEI PROKOFIEV died a few hours later, also in Moscow. Stalin had taken a personal dislike to Prokofiev's music, and five years earlier the Soviet Composers Union had denounced Prokofiev for using too much dissonance and not enough patriotic themes and forced him to admit his failures. Prokofiev wrote almost nothing after that.

It was on this day in 1946 that Winston Churchill coined the phrase "THE IRON CURTAIN." He was giving a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri and warning against Soviet aggression.

It's the birthday of biologist LYNN MARGULIS, in Chicago, 1938, who said that living cells, including the cells in the human body, are derived from bacteria and microbes that lived in the sea more than two billion years ago. Her theories have changed the way we look at the origins of life, particularly the importance of microbes.

The Brazilian composer HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS was born on this day in Rio de Janeiro, in 1887. After a few cello lessons from his father, he was almost entirely self-taught - taking to the streets of Rio to play his cello anywhere anyone would listen, usually in cafes and restaurants.

It's the birthday in Wilmington, Delaware, 1853, of HOWARD PYLE, who's best known for the 1883 book The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, which he both wrote and illustrated.

It's the anniversary of the BOSTON MASSACRE, 1770, in which five men were killed in a skirmish with British soldiers. It happened on State Street, which was then called King Street, and started when a crowd of about 60 threw snowballs and stones at the British. The soldiers fired and the first to fall was the former slave, Crispus Attucks.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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