Aug. 29, 2000

Looking For Blues

by Michael Chitwood

Broadcast date: TUESDAY, 29 August 2000

"Looking for Blues," by Michael Chitwood, from Whet (Ohio Review Books).

It's the birthday of choreographer Mark Morris, born in Seattle (1956). He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group at the age of 24, and has created over a hundred dances for them. He's also choreographed for many ballet companies, and worked for a time for the national opera house of Belgium, where he created several evening-length dance works, including The Hard Nut (his version of The Nutcracker), and Dido and Aeneas--in which Morris played Dido, Queen of Carthage.

It's the birthday of animal scientist Temple Grandin, born in Boston (1947). Diagnosed as autistic at 2, she, like many autistic children, hated to be held, and fended off her mother's hugs. She shunned company, was prone to tantrums, and had limited language skills. But one summer while visiting her aunt's cattle ranch, the girl was fascinated by a "squeeze chute" used to hold animals that were being inoculated. Yearning to be hugged, but fearful of any human touch, young Grandin tried the machine out on herself, and found it both exhilarating and relaxing. She later designed a similar machine for herself, which schools and institutes for autistic children use in their treatment programs. She has also designed many other pieces of equipment for the gentle handling of livestock. Five years ago she published her memoir, Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports from My Life with Autism (1995).

It's the birthday of poet Thom Gunn, born in Gravesend, England (1929). Shortly after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge, he brought out his first book of poems, Fighting Terms (1954), then moved to San Francisco, where he has lived ever since. His collections include The Man with Night Sweats (1992), Jack Straw's Castle (1976), Positives (1994), and Boss Cupid (which came out in April, 2000).

It's the birthday of alto sax player Charlie Parker, born in Kansas City, Kansas (1920), the founder, along with Dizzy Gillespie, of bebop. In 1946 Parker recorded his classic bebop tunes "Ornithology," "Yardbird Suite," and "Night in Tunisia."

It's the birthday of filmmaker Preston Sturges, born in Chicago (1898) to wealthy socialites. He started writing plays as a young man, and had a Broadway hit with his comedy Strictly Dishonorable (1929). After that he moved to Hollywood to try screen-writing. This led to The Great McGinty (1940), which he wrote, then talked Paramount into letting him direct. His other screwball comedies include The Lady Eve (1941), The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), and Unfaithfully Yours (1948).

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




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