Oct. 11, 2001
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Poem: "Airing Linen," by Henry Taylor from The Flying Change (Louisiana State University Press), and "Jump Cabling," by Linda Pastan from Light Tear (Dits Press - Cleveland Western Reserve).
Wash and dry,
sort and fold:
you and I
are growing old.
When our cars touched,
When you lifted the hood of mine
To see the intimate workings underneath,
When we were bound together
By a pulse of pure energy,
When my car like the princess
In the tale woke with a start,
I thought why not ride the rest of the way together?
It's the birthday of novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard, born in New Orleans, Louisiana (1925). In 1949, he went to work as an advertising copywriter, a job he hated. He would write fiction in the mornings before work, or, as he said, "Sometimes I would write a little fiction at work, too. I would write in my desk drawer and close the drawer if somebody came in." In 1951, he published his first short storya western, and in 1953, his first novel, The Bounty Hunters. Over the next 10 years he published more than 30 short stories and five novels, including Escape from Five Shadows (1956), and Hombre (1961). In 1961, Hombre was chosen one of the best westerns of all time by the Western Writers of America, and Leonard finally decided he could give up advertising and write full time. Shortly thereafter, two things made Leonard decide to switch genres. First, the market for westerns was drying up. Second, he was asked to write a day-in-the-life feature on Detroit policemen for a local paper. So he wrote his first crime novel, The Big Bounce, which was rejected by 84 publishers before coming out in 1969. Since then, almost all his booksincluding Fifty-Two Pickup (1974), Stick (1983), Glitz (1985), Get Shorty (1990), Rum Punch (1992), Maximum Bob (1991), Out of Sight (1996), and Be Cool (1999)have been critically acclaimed best sellers. Critics have compared his lean writing style to people like Ernest Hemmingway and John Steinbeck. Leonard has said that he intentionally avoids style, stating, "When I go back and edit and something sounds like writing, I rewrite it. I rewrite constantly, four pages in the basket for every one that survives."
Elmore Leonard's Rules on Writing:
" ... Think of what you skip reading in a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking a shot at the weather, or has gone into a character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care ... "
It's the birthday of choreographer Jerome Robbins, born Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz, in New York City, New York (1918), who was one of the few modern choreographers to have conquered both classical ballet and the Broadway stage. In 1940, he joined the Ballet Theatre, which is where he staged his first ballet, Fancy Free, in 1944. This was later turned into the musical On the Town, which was both a Broadway show and a 1949 film starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. He was not the first choreographer to work on Broadway, but he was the first to direct as well as choreograph. His hits included West Side Story, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof.
It's the birthday of novelist, poet and journalist François Mauriac, born in Bordeaux, France (1885). Although he is not well known in America, Mauriac has been called one of the "most important and prolific French authors of [the twentieth] century." A Roman Catholic who incorporated his religious beliefs into his fiction, he was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1952.
It's the birthday of physicist and psychologist Lewis Fry Richardson, born in Northumberland, England (1881), who was the first to apply mathematical techniques to predict the weather accurately. During WWI, Richardson served as a driver for the Friends' Ambulance Unit in France. During the intervals between transporting wounded soldiers from the front, he manually computed the changes in pressure and wind at two points. From this information he wrote his 1922 book, Weather Prediction by Numerical Process. The problem with his theories was that it took him about three months to predict the weather for the next 24 hours. His system did not become practical until the advent of electronic computers after World War Two.
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