Saturday

Nov. 28, 2009

Bouquet

by Jerry Roscoe

Today is my daughter's fourteenth birthday
So I bought her roses—five red, nine pink—
To commemorate impending womanhood. She liked
Them I think better than the balloons her mother
& I would sneak into her room while she slept
To celebrate birthdays one through thirteen.
Or maybe she was just humoring me
Who had just turned fifty & looked ridiculous
Standing there in her doorway, holding them
Like a torch. "Soon enough," the Fates were
Whispering, but I doubt she heard them,
Soon enough she would. Still she left off
The internet, cradled & squeezed the thorny blooms
& gave me an authentic look not what I usually get.

"Bouquet" by Jerry Roscoe, from The Unexamined Life. © Custom Words, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of William Blake, (books by this author) born in London (1757). He wrote Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794) and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790). He lived in poverty, ignorant of the rest of the literary world of London, scraping out a living from his trade as an engraver and writing and drawing under inspiration he considered divine. He said about his long poem Milton, "I have written this poem from immediate dictation, twelve or sometimes twenty lines at a time, without pre-meditation and even against my will." He lived in a world of dreams and visions. One day, he and his wife were sitting naked in their garden, reciting to each other passages from Paradise Lost. Blake was not embarrassed when a visitor came by. He said, "Come in! It's only Adam and Eve, you know."

And,
"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

It's the birthday of the comedian who has interviewed Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, John McCain, Tom Cruise, and Tom Hanks, and on whose show Senator John Edwards announced that he was running for president of the United States. Jon Stewart, (books by this author) the host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, was born in New York City on this day in 1962. He was raised in New Jersey.

Stewart took over as the host of The Daily Show in January 1999. For the previous 15 years — since he'd graduated from college with a psychology degree — he had worked as a bartender, busboy, shelf-stocker, construction worker, soccer coach, puppeteer for children with disabilities, and he'd been employed by the State of New Jersey and the City University of New York.

All this time Stewart was trying to make it on the New York comedy scene. He lined up a gig at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village but was jeered off stage halfway through his act. Then he got a nightly 1:45 a.m. slot at the Comedy Cellar; his audience at first consisted mostly of the place's bartenders and staff. He became a friend and frequent guest on David Letterman's Late Night and was a candidate to replace him on NBC when Letterman left for CBS. Conan O'Brien got Letterman's spot in 1993, but Stewart got his own MTV show, which had the second-highest ratings on the network but was cancelled after two seasons. In 1999, Comedy Central's The Daily Show picked up Jon Stewart.

In 2007 a Pew Research poll indicated that Jon Stewart ranked as the 4th Most Admired Journalist — tying with Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Dan Rather, and Anderson Cooper. When Senator John Edwards announced his candidacy for president on The Daily Show, Stewart replied: "We're a fake show, so I want you to know this may not count."

Each morning on the day of the show, Stewart and the Daily Show team of writers gather for a morning meeting. They sift through material gathered via TiVo, Web sites, newspapers, and magazines looking for — as one show producer said — stories that "make us angry in a whole new way." In an article titled, "Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?" New York Times writer Michiko Kakutani reported on The Daily Show ritual: At lunchtime, Stewart is scrutinizing the jokes that will appear at the top of the night's show; by 3 p.m., a script has been written; at 4:15, there's rehearsal, followed immediately by rewrites; and then show is taped in front of a live audience in the studio at 6 p.m.

Stewart, who proposed to his wife through a crossword puzzle with the help of puzzlemaster Will Shortz, is also the author of a few books, including America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (2004), which held the No. 1 New York Times Bestseller spot for 18 weeks in a row. He hosted the Academy Awards in 2006 and 2008.

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

 









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