Daily Update: November 21, 2010

Christ the King and Presentation of Mary

Today is the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the church year (next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent). Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925, in response to growing nationalism and secularism, and set the date to be the last Sunday in October, so that it would immediately precede the Feast of All Saints on November 1. In his 1969 motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis, Pope Paul VI gave the celebration a new date: the last Sunday in the liturgical year. Through this choice of date “the eschatological importance of this Sunday is made clearer”. Today is also the Feast of the Presentation of Mary. According to the the apocryphal Infancy Narrative, the Protoevangelium of James, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would bear a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Mary remained in the Temple until puberty, at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God. For the Roman Catholic Church, on the day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “we celebrate that dedication of herself which Mary made to God from her very childhood under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who filled her with grace at her Immaculate Conception.”

I was running late this morning; Richard peeled my breakfast eggs for me (thank you, Richard), and I remembered to bring the audiobooks back for my co-worker who had lent them to me for my trip last month. Once we got to the casino, the co-worker whose schedule I get every week and send to her in a text message gave me a large LSU glass (with a top) to thank me for the scheduling text messages. Once our work day started, for the last day of the pay period, I spent the first two hours dealing Mini-Baccarat. During my next hour on a blackjack table, one of our pit bosses came over to tell me that what I had done with my guest yesterday on the Mini-Baccarat table (reminding said guest, when all the money he had on the table was placed on a bet, that he had commission that still needed to be paid) was the right thing to do, and that I had done nothing wrong. About 5:40 am, I took some generic Aleve© because my lower back was bothering me, with my sciatic nerve sending pains down my right leg. Once they closed the blackjack table I had taken over, I spent the next three hours being the relief dealer for two blackjack tables; then they had me open up a Mississippi Stud table, where I was for my last hour of work. When I was not on the floor, I was in the break room addressing Christmas cards.

The Full Moon arrived at 11:27 am, or about half an hour before Richard and I got home from work. I ate my lunch salad while reading the Sunday papers; then I got online, did my Book Review for The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death by H. P. Lovecraft, Introduction by Neil Gaiman for this weblog and for my Goodreads account (and thus, to Facebook), did my Daily Update for yesterday, November 20, 2010, and did an Advance Daily Update Draft for this coming Tuesday.

By this time it was just about 3:00 pm; after opening up my package (Angel Chimes, with extra candles, and a Gumdrop Tree with two bags of Gumdrops, both for the Christmas season) I got out my Counted Cross-Stitch project, and worked on that while watching the New Orleans Saints vs. the Seattle Seahawks on TV. When Richard would get mad at how the Saints were playing, he would switch over to the LSU Men’s Basketball game against #19 ranked Memphis.

At 5:30 pm I put my Counted Cross-Stitch project up (I am now projecting having it done by November 30, and taking it to the frame shop in Lafayette on December 1), and at 5:45 pm, Richard and I went to the 6:00 pm Mass. It was said by Father Monsignor, who I think of as Monsignor Longwinded, as I have never been to a Mass that he has said that didn’t last fifteen minutes longer than a normal Mass. (It does not help that when he chants – or tries to chant – he sounds exactly like a child playing a recorder.) For reasons having to do with the fact that I am getting behinder and behinder on everything I need to do (I can’t start the Hard Candy until I am done with my Counted Cross-Stitch project), I came out of Mass feeling discouraged.

Once home, I began tonight’s Daily Update; while I was at Mass, I got the text alerts to the effect that the New Orleans Saints beat the Seattle Seahawks by the score of 34 – 19, so that they are now 7 and 3 for the season thus far (they play the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving), and that our LSU Men’s Basketball team was beaten by #19 Memphis by the score of 61 – 70, so that they are now 2 and 2 for the season thus far. And as it is now nearly 8:00 pm, I am forgoing eating dinner, as I need to get to bed ASAP.

Tomorrow is Monday; I will be working and addressing Christmas cards during my breaks at work, and in the afternoon working on my Counted Cross-Stitch project while I do the Weekly Computer Maintenance.

Our Parting Quote on this last Sunday of the church year comes to us from Hadda Brooks, African-American pianist, vocalist and composer. Born as Hattie L. Hapgood in 1916 in Los Angeles, California, her grandfather introduced her to theater and the operatic voices of Amelita Galli-Curci and Enrico Caruso. In her youth she formally studied classical music with an Italian piano instructor, Florence Bruni, with whom she trained for twenty years. She attended the University of Chicago, and later, returned to Los Angeles. She began playing piano professionally in the early 1940s at a tap-dance studio owned by Hollywood choreographer and dancer Willie Covan. For ten dollars a week, she played the popular tunes of the day while Covan worked with such stars as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Shirley Temple. She was married briefly during this period to a Harlem Globetrotter named Earl “Shug” Morrison in 1941, and toured with the team when they traveled; he died after a year of their marriage from pulmonary pneumonia. She actually preferred ballads to boogie-woogie, but worked up her style by listening to Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, and Meade Lux Lewis records. Her first recording, the pounding “Swingin’ the Boogie,” for Jules Bihari’s Modern Records, was a sizable regional hit in 1945, and another R&B Top Ten with “Out of the Blue,” her most famous song. It was Jules Bihari who gave her the recording name Hadda Brooks. Clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman recommended Brooks to a film director friend of his who placed her in the film Out of the Blue in 1947. Encouraged by orchestra leader Charlie Barnet, she practiced singing “You Won’t Let Me Go,” and the song became her first vocal recording in 1947. She usually played the small part of a lounge piano player in films, and often sang the title song. “Out of the Blue” became a top hit for Brooks, “Boogie Woogie Blues” followed in 1948, and she appeared in In a Lonely Place (1950) starring Humphrey Bogart, and in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) with Lana Turner and Kirk Douglas. She became the first African-American woman to host her own television show in 1957. The Hadda Brooks Show, a combination talk and musical entertainment show, aired on Los Angeles’ KCOP-TV. The show opened with Brooks seated behind a grand piano, cigarette smoke curling about her, and featured “That’s My Desire” as her theme song. She appeared in 26 half-hour episodes of the show, which were broadcast live in Los Angeles and repeated on KGO in San Francisco. She commuted to Europe in the 1970s for performances in nightclubs and festivals, but performed rarely in the United States, living for many years in Australia and Hawaii. In 1986 manager Alan Eichler brought her out of a 16-year retirement to open a new jazz room at the historic Perino’s in Los Angeles, after which she continued to play nightclubs regularly in Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York, to rave reviews. In 1993 Brooks was presented with the prestigious Pioneer Award by Bonnie Raitt on behalf of the Smithsonian-based Rhythm and Blues Foundation, in a ceremony held at the Hollywood Palace. She resumed her recording career with the 1994 album Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere for DRG. Meanwhile Virgin Records had acquired the old Modern catalogue and because of Brooks’ new-found success issued a compilation of her 40’s and 50’s recordings entitled That’s My Desire in 1995. They also signed her to record three new songs for the Christmas album Even Santa Gets the Blues (1995), made more unusual by the fact she had releases on the same label made 50 years apart. Her 1996 album for Virgin, Time Was When, featured Al Viola (Guitar), Eugene Wright (Bass) and Richard Dodd (Cello), and she wrote two of its songs: “You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Crazy” and “Mama’s Blues.” She began playing at hip nightclubs like actor Johnny Depp’s Viper Room, New York’s Algonquin Hotel and Michael’s Pub and such Hollywood haunts as Goldfinger’s, the Vine St. Bar and Grill and the Hollywood Roosevelt Cinegrill. Brooks returned to movies with a cameo in Jack Nicholson’s film The Crossing Guard (1995), directed by Sean Penn, in which she sang “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere.” She celebrated her 80th birthday by performing two full shows at Depp’s Viper Room. Three years later she made another singing appearance in The Thirteenth Floor (1999). Her last performance on screen was an acting role in John John in the Sky (2000). In 2000, the Los Angeles Music Awards honored her with the “Lifetime Achievement Award”. In 2007, a 72-minute documentary, Queen of the Boogie, directed by Austin Young & Barry Pett, was presented at the Los Angeles Silver Lake Film Festival (died 2002): “I am a very sentimental ballad singer, I have put various other songs in my repertoire to vary it up, you know put a little variety or change the mood, but I am really a lyric pusher and a ballad singer and that’s exactly what I would want them to think of me as.”

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