Today we honor Saint Philip (died c. 80) and Saint James (died c.62), Apostles. Today is also the National Day of Prayer, and the first day of the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Saint Philip was born in Bethsaida, Palestine, and was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Becoming one of the Twelve Apostles, he brought Nathanael to Christ. Little is known about him, but scriptural episodes give the impression of a shy, naive, but practical individual. He preached in Greece and Asia Minor. Various legendary accounts give his form of martyrdom either that of crucifixion or beheading. Gnostic Christians appealed to the apostolic authority of Philip, ascribing a number of Gnostic texts to him, most notably the Gospel of Philip from the Nag Hammadi library. He is the Patron Saint of hat makers and of pastry chefs. Saint James was a cousin of Jesus, and the brother of Saint Jude Thaddeus, and raised in a Jewish home of the time with all the training in Scripture and Law that was part of that life. One of the Twelve Apostles, he was one of the first to see the risen Christ. Becoming the first Bishop of Jerusalem, he met with Saint Paul the Apostle to work out Paul’s plans for evangelization; he supported the position that Gentile converts did not have to obey all Jewish religious law, though he continued to observe it himself as part of his heritage. A just and apostolic man known for his prayer life and devotion to the poor, he was martyred when beaten to death with a fuller’s club at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel. He is the Patron Saint of fullers, of hatmakers, and of pharmacists. As today is the First Thursday of May, today is the National Day of Prayer. On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming a National Day of Prayer must be declared by each following president at an appropriate date of his choice. In 1982 a National Prayer Committee was formed to coordinate and implement a fixed commemorated day of prayer. In 1988 the law was amended so that the National Day of Prayer would be held on the first Thursday of May. A stated intention of the National Day of Prayer was that it would be a day when adherents of all great religions could unite in prayer. I will note that, although I support a National Day of Prayer (we need all the help we can get), I am not in support of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, chaired by Shirley Dobson, which has very strong ties to the evangelical Christian organization Focus on the Family (run by James Dobson, the husband of Shirley Dobson), and which, in my humble opinion, actively seeks to make the National Day of Prayer into an Evangelical Christian event. The website for the National Day of Prayer Task Force notes that “Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.” (I imagine the National Day of Prayer Task Force would not appreciate any participation by Thomas Jefferson, who was a lifelong Deist, and who sought what he called a “wall of separation between Church and State,” which he believed was a principle expressed by the First Amendment.) Finally, today is also the First Day of the Second Weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Having the second weekend of Jazz Fest start on a Thursday is an innovation that began in 1991; it was dropped in the two years following 2005′s Hurricane Katrina, but returned in 2008. Today’s headliners include Ani DiFranco and Jimmy Buffet Acoustic with Mac McAnally.
First up, last night while reading in bed I finished The Complete Science Fiction Treasury of H. G. Wells.
I awoke at 9:00 am this morning; I uploaded the April 2012 photos from my BlackBerry to the hard drive of the computer (easy, as there were no such photos), then uploaded the April 2012 photos from my camera to the hard drive of my computer and changed the battery in the camera. I then got online and found ourselves on the Bourbon Street Webcam from yesterday, and posted the second image to my Facebook account:
I then started my laundry and read the morning papers while eating my breakfast toast. I then did some Advance Daily Update drafts through Sunday, then did my Book Review for The Complete Science Fiction Treasury of H. G. Wells for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts. I then finished my laundry.
At 12:15 pm I left the house; my first stop was at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Grill, where I ate my lunch and continued reading in Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. At the Hit-n-Run, I got my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing (I did not win in last night’s drawing, as usual). At Wal-Mart I got salad supplies, and at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Acadian Cultural Center I got the park regular stamp (backdated to April 26), which I needed for my National Parks Travelers Club stamps for 2012.
I arrived back home at 2:00 pm; Richard had ironed my casino shirts for me. (Thank you very much, Richard.) I filed away the book that needed to be filed in various bookcases, did Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog through next Thursday, and made a Photo CD of the April 2012 photos for Liz Ellen and a Photo CD of the April 2012 photos for my own purposes.
As it is now past 4:00 pm, I will finish today’s Daily Update; I will then watch Jeopardy! with Richard. (It is the Teen Tournament; a senior from Ville Platte was on the show yesterday, but we were in transit from New Orleans and didn’t get to see her. She did not win the quarterfinal match, but since she won $21,000, she has a good chance of being among the top four non-winning contestants who get to be in the Semifinal matches.) I will then eat something for dinner and head for my bed, where I will read a story or two in James Thurber: 92 Stories before going to sleep.
Tomorrow is Friday, which means we start our work week as table games dealers at the casino. I will try to finish my reading of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides tomorrow or Saturday, so that I can re-read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins by Monday for my Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club meeting next Tuesday night. Tomorrow afternoon I will take a nap; after Jeopardy! I will do my Daily Update, then go over to the church for the St. Edmund Spring Fair; not that I care about the Fair to benefit our church’s school, but they have Bingo from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and I’d like to play until 7:00 pm or so before coming home and going to bed.
Tonight’s Parting Quote comes to us from Jackie Cooper, American actor, television director, producer and executive. Born in 1922 as John Cooper, Jr. in Los Angeles, California, his father left the family when his son was two years old. His mother was a stage pianist and former child actress, his maternal uncle was a screenwriter, his maternal aunt was an actress married to a director, and his stepfather was a studio production manager. Cooper first appeared in films as an extra with his grandmother, who would bring him along in hopes of aiding her own attempts to get extra work. At age three Cooper appeared in Lloyd Hamilton comedies under the name of “Leonard” (his mother’s maiden name). He graduated to bit parts in feature films such as Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 and Sunny Side Up. His director in these two films, David Butler, recommended the boy to director Leo McCarey, who arranged an audition for the Our Gang comedy series produced by Hal Roach. Cooper joined the series in the short Boxing Gloves in 1929, signing to a three-year contract. He initially was only a supporting character in the series, but by early 1930 he had done so well with the transition to sound films that he had become one of the Gang’s major characters. He was the main character in the episodes The First Seven Years, When the Wind Blows, and others. His most notable Our Gang shorts explore his crush on Miss Crabtree, the schoolteacher played by June Marlowe, which included the trilogy of shorts Teacher’s Pet, School’s Out, and Love Business. In 1931 Hal Roach Studios loaned Cooper to Paramount to star in Skippy, directed by his uncle, Norman Taurog; when Cooper failed to cry on cue, his uncle elicited tears from him by threatening to shoot his dog. Although Paramount paid Roach $25,000 for Cooper’s services, Cooper himself received only his standard Roach salary of $50 per week. The movie catapulted young Cooper to super-stardom, and he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, the youngest actor ever (at the age of 9) to be nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor. Our Gang producer Hal Roach sold Jackie’s contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in mid-1931, as he felt the youngster would have a better future in features, and Cooper began a long on-screen relationship with actor Wallace Beery in such films as The Champ (1931), The Bowery (1933), The Choices of Andy Purcell (1933), Treasure Island (1934), and O’Shaughnessy’s Boy (1935). Cooper played the title role in the first two Henry Aldrich movies, What a Life (1939) and Life with Henry (1941). Cooper had the typical child-actor problems finding roles as an adolescent. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. During the 1950s he starred in two popular television sitcoms, NBC’s The People’s Choice with Patricia Breslin and CBS’s Hennesey with Abby Dalton. In 1954 he guest starred on the NBC legal drama Justice. In 1961, as his weekly TV series Hennesey was enhancing naval recruiting efforts, he accepted a commission as a line officer in the Naval Reserve with duties in recruitment, training films and public relations. Holder of a multi-engine pilot license, he later co-piloted jet planes for the Navy, which made him an Honorary Aviator authorized to wear wings of gold (at the time only the third so honored in naval aviation history). From 1964 to 1969 Cooper was vice president of program development at Columbia Pictures Screen Gems TV division. He was responsible for packaging series (such as Bewitched) and other projects and selling them to the networks. He reportedly cast Sally Field as Gidget. Cooper acted only twice during this period, once in 1964 when he appeared in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone episode “Caesar and Me”, and again in the 1968 TV-movie Shadow on the Land. Cooper left Columbia in 1969 and started yet another phase of his career, one in which he would act occasionally in key character roles. He appeared in Candidate for Crime starring Peter Falk as Columbo in 1973 and the short-lived 1975 ABC series Mobile One, a Jack Webb/Mark VII Limited production, but mostly he devoted more and more of his time to directing dozens of episodic TV and other projects. His work as director on episodes of M*A*S*H and The White Shadow earned him Emmy awards. Cooper participated in several automobile racing events, including the record-breaking class D cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He also drove in several SCCA road racing competitions. Cooper was named the honorary starter for the 1976 Winston 500 at the Alabama International Motor Speedway, which is now known as Talladega Superspeedway, in Talladega, Alabama. By 1976 he had attained the rank of Captain in the Naval Reserve and was in uniform aboard the carrier USS Constellation for the Bicentennial celebration on July 4. In 1980 the Navy proposed a period of active duty at the Pentagon which would have resulted in a promotion to Rear Admiral, bringing him even with Air Force Reserve Brigadier General James Stewart. Fresh on the heels of a second directing Emmy, he felt his absence would impact achieving a long-held goal of directing motion pictures, and reluctantly declined. Cooper found renewed fame in the 1970s and 1980s as Daily Planet editor Perry White in the Superman film series starring Christopher Reeve. In the commentary track for Superman, director Richard Donner revealed that Cooper got the role because he had a passport and thus was able to be on set in a few hours, after Keenan Wynn, who was originally cast, suffered a heart attack. His autobiography, Please Don’t Shoot My Dog, was published in 1982. He achieved his goal of directing a feature film with 1984’s Go For the Gold. Cooper’s final film role was as Ace Morgan in the 1987 film Surrender starring Sally Field, Michael Caine, and Steve Guttenberg. He announced his retirement in 1989 although he was still directing episodes of the syndicated series Superboy. He began spending more time training and racing horses at Hollywood Park and outside San Diego during the Del Mar racing season. He occasionally returned to the soundstage for retrospective and documentary programs about Hollywood. After his death he was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of his naval service (died 2011): “Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll hear a voice that sounds familiar . . . my wife has fallen asleep with the tube on, and I’ll finally start recognizing the dialogue, look up, and Jesus Christ, it’s me at 14, or 12, or 9, or whatever. Sometimes I’ll sit there and watch it and I can tell myself what’s coming next . . . I remember the dialogue, the scene and the set very well, and then there’ll be a part of the picture I never remembered at all. Because there were times as a kid, as a teenager especially, when I’d be terribly occupied with what I was doing–with my boat, or on a circuit of rodeos and horseshoes, or with my car–very often on some of this stuff when I’d have to go to work. I’d just give the script a cursory glance. I had no training, and I was a quick study, so nobody knew how involved or not involved I was. But I look at that stuff now and I can see I wasn’t involved, and I wasn’t very good.”