Nov. 11, 2000

Color Values

by Randy Blasing

Broadcast date: SATURDAY 11 November 2000

Poem: "Color Values," by Randy Blasing , from Graphic Scenes (Persea Books)


The trees go to blazes—cranberry swamp
maples, pumpkin birches, honey
sycamores. Once the sun
peaked in June, it was all downhill
into the fire for them, & in the spirit

of fall I burn to see myself at ten
shoulder again my uncle's double-barreled
twelve-gauge my father had me point
at a gilded oaks lowest branch
off the Cass Lake road, my Labrador

frozen in her tracks & my mother's voice
a whisper coaching me
not to pull but squeeze the trigger: one blast
reduced a family of partridges
to dust. Looking at what Id done

with buckshot, I had seen enough to last
a lifetime, doomed as I believed I was
when I found their minute pin
feathers delicately tinged
cinnamon, as if someone loved them also.

Today is Veterans Day, formerly called Armistice Day, established by Presidential proclamation in 1916. It was moved to a Monday holiday back in 1971 - the fourth Monday in October.

On this day in 1938, the song "God Bless America" was first sung by Kate Smith, for whom Irving Berlin had written it.

It's the birthday of novelist Carlos Fuentes, born in Mexico City (1928).

Today is the 74th birthday of comic Jonathan Winters, born in Dayton, Ohio (1925).

It's the birthday of writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., born in Indianapolis, Indiana (1922), now lauded as one of America's most respected novelists, but virtually ignored by critics at the beginning of his career. His early works, Player Piano (1952) and The Sirens of Titan (1959) were at first categorized as science fiction, but Vonnegut's wild black humor was actually anti-machine, anti-technology, and anti-science. Slaughterhouse Five (1969) was based on his experience as a prisoner of war in the basement of a slaughterhouse during the Allies' fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945. After it was published, Vonnegut entered a period of depression during which he vowed never to write another novel. He concentrated on lecturing, teaching, and finishing a play, Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1970) that he had begun several years earlier. Breakfast of Champions (1973), marked the end of his depression, and a return to novel writing. In honor of the event, he subtitled the book Goodbye Blue Monday. Other novels include Cats Cradle (1963), Hocus Pocus (1990) and Timequake (1997). His most recent publication is God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkan, a collection of rewritten pieces Vonnegut originally created for radio, in which he visits with notable dead people.

Its the birthday of novelist Fyodor (Mikhailovich) Dostoyevsky, the son of a doctor, born in Moscow (1821). A revolutionary, he was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death for his participation in a radical discussion group, but at the last minute was sent to prison in Siberia. His novel The House of the Dead (1861), is based on the experiences he had there. Dostoyevsky suffered from epilepsy and the terrible conditions he experienced in prison exacerbated that illness. He was released after 5 years, married and traveled in Europe, then started a magazine with his brother, and published Notes from the Underground (1864) in that. Crime and Punishment (1866) was the first of his major novels, followed by The Idiot (1869) - featuring a hero who, likewise, suffered from epilepsy - and The Possessed (1869). By the time he published his last work, The Brothers Karamozov (1880), he was recognized in his own country as one of its greatest writers.

"Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery of things."

It's the birthday of the first lady famous for her letter writing, Abigail Smith Adams, born in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1744. Shortly before her twentieth birthday, she married John Adams, who was involved in the Continental Congress and went on to become president. Their marriage, which produced five children, was a happy one, but they were often separated for long periods of time because Adams' political and diplomatic business kept him in Philadelphia and abroad. Abigail wrote to him frequently, providing reports of her management of the family farm, news, gossip, and her thoughts about current events.

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




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