Apr. 21, 2000

The Old Man's Complaint

by Anonymous

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: April 21, 2000

Poem: "The Old Manís Complaint," Anonymous, late 17th Century.

It's the birthday of novelist THOMAS McMAHON, was born in Dayton, Ohio (1943). He got his doctorate in biomechanics from M.I.T. His particular field of study was animal locomotion, and he helped to design tracks that were tuned to runners. He was also the author of three novels on such subjects as the development of the atomic bomb and beekeeping in the mid-19th century. His last novel was Loving Little Egypt (1987).

It's the birthday of playwright and novelist KOLO OMOTOSO, born in Akure, Nigeria (1943). His background is Yo ruba, and when he was little, he used to listen to traditional tellers of folktale, which made him want to tell his own stories. In 1995, politics became quite personal when the Nigerian government executed his friend, Ken Saro-Wiwa, along with eight other dissidents. One of his more famous novels is Just Before Dawn (1988).

It's the birthday of comedienne and writer ELAINE MAY, born Elaine Berlin in Philadelphia (1932). Her father was Jack Berlin, an actor in Yiddish Theater. Elaine dropped out of school when she was 14. She planned to be an actress, but then she met a boy named Mike Nichols in Chicago. The pair took to doing improvisational comedy, billing themselves as Nichols & May. They were two of the founders of The Compass Theater, which led to Second City, which led to Saturday Night Live. She pursued a career directing and writing movies — The Heartbreak Kid and Heaven Can Wait. She adapted scripts for the movies The Birdcage and Primary Colors.

It's the birthday of humorist JOSH BILLINGS (Henry Wheeler Shaw), born in Lansboro, Massachusetts (1818). When he was 40, he started to write, and submitted an essay to a newspaper called "Essay on a Mule." He said, "A reasonable amount of fleas is good fer a dog — keeps him from broodin' over bein' a dog."

It's the birthday of novelist CHARLOTTE BRONTE, born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England (1816). Her father got a job as a rector and moved the family to a grey stone parsonage overlooking a graveyard. Their mother died the next year. In their isolation, Charlotte and her sisters played games of make-believe on the moors. Two older sisters died from malnutrition and bad sanitation, and Charlotte became the oldest child. She was forced to work as a teacher and a governess — work she hated, especially since she didn't like children much. She went abroad to teach in Brussels, and fell in love with a married man, writing him passionate letters that she never sent. When she returned home, the three surviving sisters decided to publish their own poetry, later turning to novels. Emily's Wuthering Heights and Anne's Agnes Grey were both accepted, and then Charlotte's second novel, called Jane Eyre (1847), came out. Itís a story about a poor governess without a family who falls in love with the moody, mysterious Mr. Rochester — and it was well received. Charlotte survived her sisters, visited London, wrote two more novels, and even married at the age of 36. She was pregnant when she died in 1855.

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