Jun. 11, 2008

Rye Whisky

by Anonymous

I'll eat when I'm hungry, I'll drink when I'm dry;
If the hard times don't kill me. I'll live till I die.

I'll tune up my fiddle, and I'll rosin my bow,
And make myself welcome wherever I go.

Beefsteak when I'm hungry, red liquor when I'm dry,
Greenbacks when I'm hard up, and religion when I die.

They say I drink whisky; my money's my own,
All them that don't like me can leave me alone.

Jack o' diamonds, jack o' diamonds, I know you of old,
You've robbed my poor pockets of silver and gold.

Oh whisky, you villain, you've been my downfall;
You've kicked me, you've cuffed me, but I love you for all.

I'll buy my own whisky, I'll make my own stew;
If I get drunk, madam, it's nothing to you.

My foot in the stirrup, my bridle in my hand,
A-courting fair Mollie, to marry if I can.

I've no wife to quarrel, no babies to bawl;
The best way of living is no wife at all.

You may boast of your knowledge, and brag of your sense,
'Twill be all forgotten a hundred years hence.

"Rye Whisky". Traditional.

It's the official state holiday of Hawaii, Kamehameha Day. It's a holiday that's been celebrated since 1871, when the ruler of Hawaii named the holiday in honor of his grandpa, Kamehameha the Great, who established the kingdom of Hawai'i — Kamehameha, a man known as "Napoleon of the Pacific." Today, the festival includes hula dancers and a floral parade and traditions that celebrate ancient Hawaii, because Kamehameha the Great tried to preserve these ancient traditions and not lose them to the influence of Europeans.

Today is the day that listeners first heard FM radio, when the American inventor Edwin Howard Armstrong gave a demonstration in Alpine, New Jersey, in 1935. FM stands for "frequency modulation," because Armstrong's idea was to create sound by varying the frequency of a radio wave instead of varying its amplitude, which is what happens in AM radio. FM was much clearer than AM; it had much less static. For Armstrong's demonstration, listeners got to hear classical music and the sound of water being poured.

Today is the birthday of the novelist William Styron, (books by this author) born in Newport News, Virginia, in 1925. He served in the Marines, and then he worked at a publishing house, but he got fired, so he decided to try writing full time. He was only 26 years old when his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, was published (1951.) It's the story of a young Southern girl who commits suicide, and he wrote it after he heard about the suicide of a girl he used to date, but the critics were convinced that he was the heir to William Faulkner and the next great storyteller of the South. He didn't like this very much; he said, "I don't consider myself in the Southern school, whatever that is," and he said that the main character "didn't have to come from Virginia. She would have wound up jumping from a window no matter where she came from."

He moved to Paris, and he helped found The Paris Review. He wrote a couple of novels that got some attention and mixed reviews, but then he wrote The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), a fictional account of the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, and it was an influential book, a book that got a lot of attention because it came out at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The book won a Pulitzer Prize and at first it got great reviews, but then there was a backlash against Styron for his attempt to portray a black man, and people started to question whether he was stereotyping black culture. Styron was upset, and it took more than 10 years for his next novel to be published, the novel Sophie's Choice (1979), about a Polish Catholic Holocaust survivor. It was also a controversial novel, and also a very popular novel; it was at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List and won the American Book Award for fiction.

Styron liked to follow a routine, but unlike many writers who wake up early and write every morning, Styron would sleep until noon, stay in bed for an hour thinking, write in the afternoon, have a late dinner, and then stay up until the middle of the night. He said, "Most books, like their authors, are born to die; of only a few books can it be said that death has no dominion over them; they live, and their influence lives forever."

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




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