Sunday

Nov. 14, 1999

No Choice

by Norman MacCaig

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: November 14, 1999

Poem: "No Choice" by Norman MacCaig from Contemporary Scottish Verse published by Calder & Boyers.

It's the birthday of humorist P(atrick) J(ake) O'Rourke, born in Toledo, Ohio (1947), the son of a car salesman. After writing for several underground newspapers in the late 1960s, he moved to the National Lampoon magazine, and within 5 years became its editor-in-chief. Known for his rock-and-roll wildness and libertarian conservatism, he opposes government spending, seat-belt laws, the United Nations, aerobics, and taxation without loopholes. In 1987 he published a collection of 21 articles—Republican Party Reptile: Essays and Outrages. Other books include Parliament of Whores (1991) and The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty (1994).

On this day in 1922, the BBC's predecessor, called 2LO London, broadcast its first radio program, consisting of a news bulletin and a weather report, at 6 p.m. (Two days later, the station's first entertainment show broadcast an hour of songs and instrumental music.

On this day in 1916, writer H(ector H(ugh) Munro, known by his pen name "Saki," was killed in the trenches of France, on the Western Front. Munro was shot through the head by a sniper.

It's the birthday of Scottish poet Norman Alexander MacCaig [mk-KEG], born in Edinburgh (1910)—who was one of Scotland's most important men of letters this century. In his early thirties, he issued two collections he later wished he had kept to himself; but Riding Lights (1955), a collection that came out when he was 45, introduced his mature voice, reminding many readers of the polished elegance of John Donne. MacCaig's later collections include Old Maps and New (1978) and The Equal Skies (1980).

It's the birthday of journalist Harrison (Evans) Salisbury [SOLLZ-burr-ee], born in Minneapolis (1908). In 1949 he joined The New York Times and served as its Moscow bureau chief until 1954; in 1955 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his international reporting. In 1970 he started the Times' Op-Ed page. Among his best-known titles are The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad (1969), Behind the Lines—Hanoi (1967), China: 100 Years of Revolution (1983), and Heroes of My Time (published in 1993, the year he died). "I am a writer. I like to write and report, and have since I was in college. There is nothing I would rather do."

It's the birthday of children's writer Astrid Lindgren, born in Vimmerby, Sweden (1907)—who wrote Pippi Langstrump [Pippi Longstocking] in 1945. This was the first of three books with Pippi as its main character—a strangely dressed girl, living alone in her little house called the Villa Villekulla, with her horse and monkey. Having great wealth and physical strength, Pippi personified every child's wish for freedom and power.

It's the birthday of historian Frederick Jackson Turner, born in Portage, Wisconsin (1861)—who was much influenced by his rural Midwestern boyhood. While a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, he rejected the prevailing view that American institutions had been shaped mainly by European ones. During the 14 years he taught at Harvard (1910-24), he developed his view that the frontier had been the key to the development of the United States. American society owed its character to three centuries of westward expansion; the abundance of free land forced frontier settlers to develop specific traits—self-reliance, individualism, inventiveness, restless energy, mobility, materialism, and optimism. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his collection of essays, Significance of Sections in American History (1932).

On this day in 1851, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, was published in New York by Harper & Brothers.

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

 









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