May 28, 2000


by May Swenson

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: May 28, 2000

Poem: "Weather," by May Swenson, from Nature (Houghton Mifflin).

On this day in 1951, the BBC broadcast the first Goon Show, a madcap sketch comedy program that featured Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine and Spike Milligan. The rather conservative BBC didn't know what to make of the show, which pushed silliness about as far as it could be pushed, but it ran for 9 years.

It's the birthday of American writer Stephen Birmingham, born in Hartford, Connecticut (1932), author of books about rich people: Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York (1967), Real Lace: America's Irish Rich (1973), California Rich (1980), and Certain People: America's Black Elite (1977).

Itís the birthday of poet May Swenson, born in Logan, Utah (1919), author of nine collections of poetry, including Selected Things Taking Place (1979).

"Analysis of Baseball"

"Analysis of Baseball"

Itís done
on a diamond,
and for fun.
Itís about
home, and itís
about run.

Itís the birthday of Southern novelist Walker Percy, born in Birmingham, Alabama (1916). When Percy was thirteen, his father committed suicide; his mother died two years later in a car crash. Percy and his two brothers were adopted by their father's cousin, a wealthy and educated man who lived in Greenville, Mississippi, in a home visited by historians, novelists, psychologists and poets. Percy left for college intending to pursue a career in medicine. He got his M.D. from Columbia College, and began his residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City at age 25. As a working pathologist, he was called upon to perform autopsies on indigent alcoholics, many of whom had died of tuberculosis. Within a year, Percy contracted the disease himself and spent the next three years in a sanatorium, where he immersed himself in French and Russian literature, philosophy, and psychology. He wrote two unpublished novels before The Moviegoer (1961) came out: it won the National Book Award for fiction in 1962. His other books include Love in the Ruins (1971), and The Second Coming (1980).

Itís the birthday of mystery and children's fiction writer Ian Fleming, born in London (1908). He started writing at the age of 44: his only purpose was to make money and provide entertainment. He found astounding success with his series of espionage novels featuring the dashing hero, James Bond: Casino Royale (1953), Live and Let Die (1954), From Russia, with Love (1957), Doctor No (1958), Goldfinger (1959). Like Bond, Fleming had a taste for cigarettes and gin, luxury, gambling, and beautiful women.

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




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