Daily Update: Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Our Lady of Lourdes

Today is the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.

On February 11, 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl from Lourdes, France, admitted, when questioned by her mother, that she had seen a “lady” in the cave of Massabielle, about a mile from the town, while she was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. Similar appearances of the “lady” took place on seventeen further occasions that year. On March 25, she was told by the Lady: “I am the Immaculate Conception” (“que soy era immaculada concepciou” in the local dialect). In 1860 the local bishop finally declared that “The Virgin Mary did appear indeed to Bernadette Soubirous.” Pope Pius IX authorized the local bishop to permit the veneration of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes in 1862. The visionary was canonized as a saint after her death in 1879, and many Catholics believe her apparitions to have been of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The verity of the apparitions of Lourdes is not an article of faith for Catholics; nevertheless all recent Popes have visited the Marian shine. Although never formally encouraged by the Church, Lourdes water has become a focus of devotion to the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Since the apparitions, many people have claimed to have been cured by drinking or bathing in the water from the shrine, and the Lourdes authorities provide it free of charge to any who ask for it. (The parish that Liz Ellen and I belonged to when we were finishing out high school in Slidell, Louisiana was Our Lady of Lourdes, and each spring they would hold the Lourde’s Fair, which we always thought to be an odd name.)

I woke up at 7:00 am today, with the help of my alarm clock, which I actually paid attention to today. Richard had gotten me an LSU t-shirt at the game last night, which I wore today. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, started my laundry, fixed my breakfast toast, and ate my toast while I started the Weekly Computer Maintenance, did my Internet Devotional Reading, and said the Third Day of my Lenten Novena.

I left the house at 9:00 am and drove up to Mamou for my six-month dental appointment. I got a clean bill of health, although I did find out that the husband of our dentist’s nurse died suddenly yesterday evening. (Another reminder that one should always be right with God; we know not the day nor the time.) My next appointment will be on August 12th.

When I got back home I read the morning paper, which had arrived while I was up in Mamou. I also finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance by starting the Backup, finished my laundry, and rolled our loose change and pulled the coins we had that I can put into my National Parks coin folder. I also got an Email from the Table Games Scheduling Department telling me that our request to have February 17th (Mardi Gras) off was denied, with the reason given “Cannot give anyone off this week.” (Richard and I will talk to the Graveyard Shift Manager, and see if he might be able to get Mardi Gras off for us). Finally, I started the Weekly Virus Scan.

Richard and I left the house at 1:15 pm; our first stop was the Hit-n-Run, where I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing. We ate Chinese at Peking for lunch, then took a ride through the countryside in search of wild kitties (we did not see any until we came back into town). We arrived home at 2:30 pm, and I worked on taxes, first running Cody’s W-2 through Turbotax to see if he owed money and, if so, how much he would owe (I sent a text to Michelle with the results). I then worked on Michelle’s taxes and our taxes, taking a break at 4:30 pm to watch Jeopardy! After Jeopardy! I finished the taxes, E-filed Michelle’s 2014 state and federal tax returns (and printed out a hard copy, along with a PDF copy on the computer), and E-filed our 2014 state and federal tax returns (and printed out a hard copy, along with a PDF copy on the computer). Michelle came by to check on her mail and to pick up Cody’s W-2. Michelle will be getting a refund on both her federal and state taxes, and we also will be getting a refund on both, and since I E-filed, we should be getting our refunds in fairly short order. I then ironed my Casino pants, aprons, and shirts. I am now eating my dinner of barbecued pork steak, steamed fresh broccoli, and boiled whole potatoes, and the NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Indiana Pacers has just begun (I will record the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update). After I finish eating and finish with my weblog and with the computer for this evening, I will take a bath (which I ended up not doing last night; I was so tired that I went straight to bed). Today I feel that I have been quite productive, having done all of my laundry and the ironing of my casino clothes, having done all of the Weekly Computer Maintenance, and having done all of the taxes. And the Last Quarter Moon will arrive at 9:52 pm.

We have no Saints for a few days, but tomorrow is the Celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday, which occurred on tomorrow’s date in 1809. I have no real need to wake up early tomorrow, so I will probably sleep in. My major project for tomorrow (besides getting salad supplies, getting eggs so that I can make deviled eggs on Friday for the Graveyard Shift Pot Luck Dinner on Saturday, and making lunch salads for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) will be filling out the form for my National Park Travelers Club to get credit for the National Parks I visited in 2014. And our LSU Women’s Basketball team will be playing South Carolina in an Away game.

Our Parting Quote comes to us this Wednesday evening from Peter Benchley, American author. Born in 1940 in New York City, he was the son of author Nathaniel Benchley (died 1981) and grandson of Algonquin Round Table founder Robert Benchley (died 1945). His younger brother, Nat Benchley, is a writer and actor. After graduating from Harvard University, he worked for The Washington Post, then as an editor at Newsweek and a speechwriter in the White House for President Lyndon Johnson. Doubleday editor Tom Congdon saw some of Benchley’s articles and invited him to lunch to discuss some ideas for books. Congdon was not impressed by Benchley’s proposals for non-fiction but was interested in his idea of a novel about a great white shark terrorizing a beach resort. The idea was inspired by the several great white sharks caught in the 1960s off Long Island and Block Island by the Montauk charterboat captain Frank Mundus. Congdon offered Benchley an advance of $1,000 leading to the novelist submitting the first 100 pages. Much of the work had to be rewritten as the publisher was not happy with the initial tone. Benchley worked by winter in a room above a furnace company in Pennington, New Jersey, and in the summer in a converted turkey coop in Stonington, Connecticut. Jaws was published in 1974 and became a great success, staying on the bestseller list for some 44 weeks. Steven Spielberg has said that he initially found many of the characters unsympathetic and wanted the shark to win. Book critics such as Michael Rogers of Rolling Stone Magazine shared the sentiment but the book struck a chord with readers. Benchley co-wrote the screenplay with Carl Gottlieb (along with the uncredited Howard Sackler and John Milius, who provided the first draft of the memorable USS Indianapolis speech) for the Spielberg film released in 1975. Benchley made a cameo appearance as a news reporter on the beach. The film, starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, was released in the summer season, traditionally considered to be the graveyard season for films. However Universal Studios decided to break tradition by releasing the movie with extensive television advertising. Tautly edited by Verna Fields, featuring an ominous score by John Williams and infused with such an air of understated menace by director Steven Spielberg that he was hailed as the heir apparent to “Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, Jaws became the first movie to gross $100 million at the US box office. It eventually grossed $450 million worldwide. The film spawned three sequels, none of which matched the success of the original critically or commercially, and two video games (Jaws in 1987 and Jaws Unleashed in 2006) which both met with mostly negative critical attention. The film was also adapted into a theme park attraction at Universal Studios Florida (in Orlando, Florida and Hollywood, California), and two musicals: JAWS The Musical!, which premiered in the summer of 2004 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival; and Giant Killer Shark: The Musical, which premiered in the summer of 2006 at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Benchley estimated that he earned enough from book sales, film rights and magazine/book club syndication to be able to work independently as a film writer for ten years. His reasonably successful second novel, The Deep, was about a honeymooning couple discovering two sunken treasures on the Bermuda reefs (17th century Spanish gold and a fortune in World War Two-era morphine) who are subsequently targeted by a drug syndicate. This 1976 novel is based on Benchley’s chance meeting in Bermuda with diver Teddy Tucker while writing a story for National Geographic. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1977 film release, along with Tracy Keenan Wynn and an uncredited Tom Mankiewicz. Directed by Peter Yates and starring Robert Shaw, Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset, The Deep was a moderate success, and one of the Top 10 highest grossing films in the US in 1977, though its box office tally fell well short of JawsThe Island, published in 1979, was a story of descendants of 17th century pirates who terrorize pleasure craft in the Caribbean, leading to the Bermuda Triangle mystery. Benchley again wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. But the movie version of The Island, starring Michael Caine and co-starring David Warner, failed at the box office when released in 1980. During the 1980s he wrote three novels that did not sell as well as his previous works. However, Girl of the Sea of Cortez, a beguiling John Steinbeck-type fable about man’s complicated relationship with the sea, was far and away his best reviewed book and attracted a considerable cult following its publication. Girl of the Sea of Cortez signposted Benchley’s growing interest in ecological issues and anticipated his future role as an impassioned and intelligent defender of the importance of redressing the current imbalance between human activities and the marine environment. Q Clearance, published in 1986, was written from his experience as a staffer in the Johnson White House. Rummies (aka Lush), which appeared in 1989, is a semi-autobiographical work, loosely inspired by the Benchley family’s history of alcohol abuse. He returned to nautical themes in 1991′s Beast written about a giant squid threatening Bermuda. Beast was brought to the small screen as a made for TV movie in 1996, under the slightly altered title The Beast. His next novel, White Shark, was published in 1994. This story of a Nazi-created genetically engineered shark/human hybrid failed to achieve popular or critical success. In 1999 the television show Peter Benchley’s Amazon was created, about a group of plane crash survivors in the middle of a vast jungle. In the last decade of his career he wrote non-fiction works about the sea and about sharks advocating their conservation. Among these was his book entitled Shark Trouble, which illustrated how hype and news sensationalism can help undermine the public’s need to understand marine ecosystems and the potential negative consequences as humans interact with it. This work, which had editions in 2001 and 2003, was written to help a post-Jaws public to more fully understand “the sea in all its beauty, mystery, and power.” It details the ways in which man seems to have become more of an aggressor in his relationship with sharks, acting out of ignorance and greed as several of the species become increasingly threatened by overfishing (died 2006): “I don’t believe in blaming inanimate objects for anything.”

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