May 19, 2000

No Brainer

by Gerald Locklin

Whose Double Standard Is It Anyhow?

by Gerald Locklin

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: May 19, 2000

Poems: "No Brainer," and "Whose Double Standard Is It Anyhow?" by Gerald Locklin, from This Sporting Life and Other Poems (JVC Books).

Itís the birthday of director and screenwriter Nora Ephron, born in New York City (1941). Her parents were both playwright/scriptwriters who used scenes from Ephron family life in their scripts. In the early 1960s, they based a play called Take Her, Sheís Mine on Noraís letters home from college. Films she has written and/or directed include Heartburn (1985), When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and Youíve Got Mail (1998).

Itís the birthday of diet writer Jane Brody, born in Brooklyn (1941). As a columnist for the New York Times and Family Circle, sheís nudged Americans towards accepting the idea that diet and lifestyle—particularly regular exercise—are major influences on health.

Itís the birthday of writer Paul Erdman, born in Stratford, Ontario (1932)a Swiss banker turned jailbird, turned mystery writer. His first writing attempt while in prison was the Edgar-winning financial mystery The Billion Dollar Sure Thing (1973).

Itís the birthday of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, born in Chicago (1930). A Raisin in the Sun (1959) was the first play by a black woman ever to appear on Broadway.

Itís the birthday of black separatist Malcolm X (originally named Malcolm Little) in Omaha, Nebraska (1925). His home was firebombed by white racists; his father was killed by a trolley car, with murder suspected; three of his four uncles were murdered by whites. Malcolm turned to a life of drugs and petty crime, for which he was imprisoned when he was 21. In jail he was converted by Black Muslims. In the last year of his life, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca, was converted to orthodox Islam, and modified his views, saying he no longer believed whites to be innately evil. He was assassinated the next year while giving a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem (1965). Three years after his death, The Autobiography of Malcolm X came out. Written by Alex Haley based on interviews conducted shortly before the assassination, it was a huge best seller.

Itís the birthday of politician Ho Chi Min (original name Nguyen That Thanh), born in the central Vietnamese village of Kim Lien (1890). He worked as a cook on a French Steamer, and visited many cities, included Boston and New York. He lived in London for two years, then settled in France, where he worked as a gardener and a waiter. During his six years in France he became an active socialist, and later trained as a communist in Moscow. From 1941 he led the Vietminh, first against the Japanese, then against the French, and finally against the United States, until his death in 1969.

Itís the birthday of coloratura soprano Dame Nellie Melba (originally Helen Porter Mitchell), born in Melbourne, Australia (1859). For her operatic debut in Brussels (1887), in which she sang the part of Gilda in Rigoletto, she used the name "Melba," a shortened version of the city where she was born. She was quite a popular diva in her day: she was made a Dame of the British Empire, and Melba Toast and Peach Melba were named after her.

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




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook

The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »