Why is the reaction to a solar eclipse such an anomaly?

If only people watched, sung about, and worshiped the Sun and Moon and the Earth and the rest of Nature and the universe everyday as much as they do on days when they happen to align for a couple of minutes like they did yesterday, Aug. 21, 2017. A cosmic testament to the ancient short attention span of the human race.

During the eclipse, you’ll be able to see and photograph the structures in the Sun’s corona. Credits: Miloslav Druckmüller, Martin Dietzel, Shadia Habbal, Vojtech Rusin

An anomaly is defined as “something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.” An eclipse is to be expected. Even surprising things are to be expected from Mother Nature, Earth Mother.

#eclipse2017 #totaleclipse

Happy Birthday to Robert Stone

According to today’s Writer’s Almanac, Stone wrote:

“Writing is lonely. […] But most of the time you are in a room by yourself, you know. Writers spend more time in rooms, staying awake in quiet rooms, than they do hunting lions in Africa. So, it’s a bad life for a person because it’s so lonely and because it consists of such highs and lows, and there’s not always anywhere to take these emotional states. […] It’s a life that’s tough to sustain without falling prey to some kind of beguiling diversion that’s not good for you.”

Can you relate?

Take care of yourself and each other. Take care of your father and your mother because they’re the only ones you’ll ever have. Take care of your brothers and sisters, they, too, are unique to you and will usually be there when you need them most, just as you should be there when they need you. Take care of your friends because they, too, are unique to you and you’ll never have any others just like them. Take care of your home, because it, too, is unique to you and you’ll never have any other just like it. ~ cjzurcher

Picture taken at Lavender Pond Farm in Killingworth, Connecticut
Picture taken at Lavender Pond Farm in Killingworth, Conn.

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Brian Williams? Mass Media war poetry on national television?

This is f—-ed up!

What is he thinking?

Is that what people watch on their living-room-wall-size tv’s?

Brian Williams: “We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said.

“I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen, ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’ And they are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making, what is for them, a brief flight over to this airfield.”

Why not quote MLK?: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” MLK, Jr. Let’s get a grip, people.

Happy Birthday John Steinbeck

It’s the birthday of John Steinbeck. See The Writer’s Almanac for Feb. 27 for more details. 

In Chapter 17 of The Grapes of Wrath, he wrote

The cars of the migrant people crawled out of the side roads onto the great cross-country highway, and they took the migrant way to the West. In the daylight they scuttled like bugs to the westward; and as the dark caught them, they clustered like bugs near to shelter and to water. And because they were lonely and perplexed, because they had all come from a place of sadness and worry and defeat, and because they were all going to a new mysterious place, they huddled together; they talked together; they shared their lives, their food, and the things they hoped for in the new country. Thus it might be that one family camped near a spring, and another camped for the spring and for company, and a third because two families had pioneered the place and found it good. And when the sun went down, perhaps twenty families and twenty cars were there.

In the evening a strange thing happened: the twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream.

It’s the birthday of Judy Blume, born in Elizabeth, New Jersey (1938)

From today’s Writer’s Almanac

It’s the birthday of Judy Blume, born in Elizabeth, New Jersey (1938), the best-selling author of more than two dozen books for young people.

She was 27 years old, with two preschool-aged children, when she began writing seriously. For two years, she received constant rejections. Then in 1970, she had her big breakthrough, with the young adult novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. It’s the story of 11-year-old Margaret Simon, the daughter of a Jewish father and Christian mother, and her adolescent attempts to make sense of things like religion, boys, and menstruation. The book was banned in many schools and libraries. It’s one of the most challenged books of the last third of the 20th century. But it’s also beloved by many, and it has been a big best-seller over the years.

She lives mostly in Key West, where she writes at a desk facing a garden. In the summer, she writes in a small cabin on Martha’s Vineyard. She always writes in the morning. When she’s working on a first draft, which she says is the hardest part, she writes seven days a week, even if only for an hour or two a day.

Blume is also the author of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972), Blubber (1974), The Pain and the Great One (1974), Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself (1977), Superfudge (1980), Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson (1993), and recently, Going, Going, Gone! with the Pain and the Great One (2008). Her books have sold more than 80 million copies.

Yusef Komunyakaa, Poetry Reading 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23

Where: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 121 Wall St., New Haven

Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection

Celebrated for his powerful and carefully crafted poems, Komunyakaa has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and the Louisiana Writers Award. About his work, the poet Toi Derricotte wrote for the Kenyon Review, “[Yusef Komunyakaa] takes on the most complex moral issues, the most harrowing ugly subjects of our American life. His voice, whether it embodies the specific experiences of a black man, a soldier in Vietnam, or a child, is universal. It shows us in ever deeper ways what it is to be human.” The Beinecke Library acquired the papers of Yusef Komunyakaa in 2014.

Contact: nancy.kuhl@yale.edu

Langston Hughes’ birthday today

Today is the birthday of the man known as “The O. Henry of Harlem,” American poet Langston Hughes (1902). In 1926, he was working as a busboy at a hotel in New York City when the poet Vachel Lindsay arrived for dinner. Hughes placed some poems under Lindsay’s dinner plate. Intrigued, Lindsay read them and asked who wrote them. Hughes stepped forward and said, “I did.” And that’s how he came to publish his first volume of poetry, The Weary Blues (1926), at the age of 24.

When asked what he wrote about, Langston Hughes answered, “Workers, roustabouts, and singers, and job hunters on Lenox Avenue in New York, or Seventh Street in Washington or South State in Chicago — people up today and down tomorrow, working this week and fired the next, beaten and baffled, but determined not to be wholly beaten, buying furniture on the installment plan, filling the house with roomers to help pay the rent, hoping to get a new suit for Easter — and pawning that suit before the Fourth of July.”

For more visit www.writersalmanac.org.