Jun. 9, 1998

Tennis Elbow

by Jim Hall


Today's Reading: "Tennis Elbow" by Jim Hall from TENNIS AND THE MEANING OF LIFE, published by Breakaway Books (1995).

It's the birthday in Miami, Florida, 1956, of crime novelist, PATRICIA CORNWELL, creator of the medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta, who tracks down deranged killers in novels like Body of Evidence, All That Remains, and From Potter's Field, a series Cornwell began in 1990. She got her first writing job at the Charlotte Observer, moving from copy editor on the graveyard shift to crime reporter in just a few months' time. Her first Scarpetta book, Postmortem, was rejected by seven publishers until Scribner's picked it up for a small advance; two years ago she signed a three-book deal with Putnam for $24 million.

It's the birthday of The New Yorker cartoonist, GEORGE PRICE, born in Cotesville, New Jersey, 1901. He started out in the 1920s in ad art, and submitted a couple of drawings to The New Yorker in 1929. In 1932, he submitted the first of 1,200 cartoons for the magazine. A Price cartoon often featured married couples with droll one-line captions, like the old guy in a Mets T-shirt with one hand on a door knob announcing to his wife, "I'll be on the porch, pushing ninety." Price died three years ago, 93 years old, still drawing New Yorker cartoons.

HONG KONG was leased to BRITAIN on this day in 1898. The island was originally ceded to England in 1842 after China lost the first of two conflicts called the Opium Wars. Hong Kong became the main entry point for Western goods into China. After winning the second Opium War Britain got even more land and was granted a 99-year lease on Hong Kong. It expired last July, and Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control.

It's the birthday in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1893, of the playwright and short-story writer S.N. BEHRMAN, who said he grew up reading "Horatio Alger and Shakespeare in equal parts." He wrote more than two dozen comedies in 40 years, nearly every one of them a hit — stories about wealthy, witty intellectuals that came out in the 1920s and '30s, like Meteor, Brief Moment, and Biography.

It's COLE PORTER's birthday in Peru, Indiana, 1892, the man who said "I am spending my life escaping boredom. I'm a hard-working boy from Indiana and I'm engaged in the business of entertaining myself, which enables me to entertain, as much as I can, the world." He wrote hundreds of great songs — "Night and Day," "Begin the Beguine," "Too Darn Hot," "I Love Paris" — and a string of musical comedies for Broadway. He was one of the few songwriters of his generation who actually read music, and during the 1920s and '30s his specialty was a sophisticated, clever rhyme set to an elegant tune.

It's GEORGE STEPHENSON's birthday, the main inventor of the railroad engine — Northumberland, England, 1781. He had almost no schooling as a boy, and only learned to read and write when he was 19 years old. He was a genius with his hands, though, and got a name for himself fixing clocks and steam engines. He built his first locomotive in 1814, not for passengers, but for coal; on July 25 his steam-powered engine, the Blucher, drew eight wagons with 30 tons of coal, 4 m.p.h., out of the mines in Killingworth, England. He improved on the design and in 1825 ran the first passenger line between Darlington and Stockton, England, with 450 people riding along at 15 m.p.h.

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




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