Daily Update: Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Cyril and Methodius and St. Valentine's Day

Today is the Memorial of  Saint Cyril, Monk (died 869) and his brother, Saint Methodius, Bishop (died 885). In the more secular world, today is Valentine’s Day.

Cyril was born about 827–828 to the Greek nobility in Thessalonica, Greece as Constantin. He studied at the University of Constantinople and taught philosophy there. Becoming in turn a deacon and a priest, and serving as librarian at the church of Santa Sophia, he next became a monk, taking the name Cyril. He and his brother were sent by the emperor in 861 to convert the Jewish Khazars of Russia, a mission that was successful, and which allowed them to learn the Khazar’s language. Two years later, he was sent with Methodius to convert Moravians in their native tongue. Though some western clergy opposed their efforts and refused to ordain their candidates for the priesthood, they did good work. Cyril developed an alphabet for the Slavonic language that eventually became what is known today as the Cyrillic. After initial criticism for their use of it, the brothers achieved approval of the Liturgy in the Slavonic language. Cyril may have been appointed a bishop, but if he was, he died before the consecration ceremony, thereby voiding his appointment. Big brother Methodius (born about 815–820) studied at the University of Constantinople, and taught philosophy there. Becoming a priest, he went on the mission with his brother to convert the Jewish Khazars of Russia, and was then sent in 863 with Cyril to convert Moravians in their native tongue. Methodius became a Bishop, and evangelized in Moravia, Bohemia, Pannonia, and Poland. He next became Archbishop of Velehred, Czechoslovakia, but was deposed and imprisoned in 870 due to the opposition of German clergy with his work. He was often in trouble over his use of Slavonic in liturgy, with some claiming he preached heresy; repeatedly, he was cleared of all such charges. He translated the Bible into the Slavonic languages, and pioneered the use of local and vernacular languages in liturgical settings. The two brothers are the Patron Saints of Bohemia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, ecumenism, Moravia, Yugoslavia, and Europe, and of the unity of the Eastern and Western Churches. Finally, today is Valentine’s Day, sometimes known as St. Valentines Day; the feast was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” As it is uncertain whether the feast of this date celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name, the official liturgical celebration of the Saint’s Day was suppressed in 1969. The Saint (or Saints) was not linked to romance until the 14th century; by the end of that century, the use of this day for the sending of notes to one’s love was in full swing. In the second half of the twentieth century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts in the United States, usually from a man to a woman. Such gifts typically include roses and chocolates packed in a red satin, heart-shaped box. In the 1980s the diamond industry began to promote Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving jewelry. The day has come to be associated with a generic platonic greeting of “Happy Valentine’s Day.” As a joke, Valentine’s Day is also referred to as “Singles Awareness Day.” In some North American elementary schools, children decorate classrooms, exchange cards, and eat sweets. (And may you and your Sweet have a Happy Valentine’s Day.)

After not sleeping well, I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading and posted to Facebook that today was Valentines Day. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Sixth Day of my
Lenten Novena. Today we had the Graveyard Shift Pot Luck Dinner, for which we did not bring anything (so I did not eat anything). Today was the first of two Heavy Business Volume Days for the Presidents Day Weekend. I posted to Facebook that I wished Richard a Happy Valentines Day, and at the Pre-Shift Meeting I won a small box of Valentines Day candy. When we went out to the casino floor, Richard was on Macau Mini Baccarat until that table closed; he then helped change Blackjack cards, and spent the rest of the day on Three Card Poker. I was the Relief Dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow, then the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow, and for my last two rotations I also broke Four Card Poker. I did not feel at my best. On my first breaks I reconciled the bank statement to our checkbook, and on my last break I finally did my Daily Update for yesterday, Friday, February 13th, 2015 via WordPress for Android.

On our way home Callie called Richard to thank us for the Baby Carrier gift we sent them from Toys R Us. Once home from work I set up my medications for next week (I have one prescription to renew on Monday), ate my lunch salad, and read the morning paper. Richard moved the Mardi Gras wreath to the back of the front door; I will post a photo of it on Sunday’s Weblog. I then went to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. During my Hour I read the February 9th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. When I got home I took a nap; I had a hard time getting to sleep, so when my alarm went off at 5:00 pm I opted to go back to sleep. Our LSU Baseball team beat Kansas by the score of 8 to 5, and our LSU Men’s Basketball team beat Tennessee by the score of 73 to 55 (our Tigers next play an away game with Texas A&M on Tuesday night). And I did not do my Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the last Ordinary Sunday before the season of Lent. We have no Saints to honor, but tomorrow is the anniversary of the 1898 explosion and sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana harbor in Cuba. (Remember the Maine!) Tomorrow is the second of two Heavy Business Volume Days for the Presidents Day Weekend at the casino. On my breaks at work I will do my Daily Update via WordPress for Android. On our way home from work we will stop at the grocery. Our LSU Baseball team will play one more game with Kansas in the afternoon, and I will make lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday.

Our Saturday afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Shadow Morton, American songwriter and record producer. Born as George Morton in 1941 in Richmond, Virginia, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and then Hicksville, Long Island, where he met his high school sweet heart & future wife, Lois Berman, & formed a doo-wop group, the Marquees. He became friendly with Ellie Greenwich, and did drop-in visits to her and her writing partner (later husband) Jeff Barry when they were working at the Brill Building. Barry doubted Morton’s songwriting credentials (especially considering Morton’s overt attentions to Greenwich) and challenged him to bring in samples of his recent work. Morton left the Brill Building and drove his automobile to a Long Island Beach. Full of inspiration and determination, he spent the evening writing most of his first song while sitting in the dark in his parked car and writing the rest of it in the shower back at home before heading back to Barry. Entitled “Remember (Walking In The Sand)”, Morton then ‘rolled the dice’ and recorded a demo of his song with a long-shot, unknown girl-group local club act that he admired, The Shangri-Las (according to Morton, with the then-unknown Billy Joel on piano in the demo recording), and offered the demo recording to Jerry Leiber, who was then setting up Red Bird Records. The recording “Remember (Walking In The Sand)” by the Shangri-Las reached #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. Considering the scope of this accomplishment, Morton was transformed overnight from a credential-less industry ‘wannabe’ into a young recording songwriter and recording producer. He signed as a staff producer for Red Bird Records, and was nicknamed “Shadow” by record company executive George Goldner because his whereabouts could never be pinned down. He was a key architect in creating the girl group sound of the mid-1960s by continuing to write and produce hit teen melodramas for the Shangri-Las and the Goodies, including “Leader of the Pack”, “I Can Never Go Home Anymore”, “Give Him A Great Big Kiss” and “Sophisticated Boom Boom”. These juxtaposed teen lyrics against a mixture of pop and R&B, with sound effects and inventive percussion. In 1967 his successes continued after the collapse of Red Bird when his production of Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child” became a hit record. The same year he discovered a group called the Pidgeons, who became Vanilla Fudge, and produced their first three albums, which included their hit version of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” followed by a foray into aural collage called The Beat Goes On. The experimentation was largely Morton’s idea, resisted by the band, and poorly received by critics, though it reached #17 in the US Billboard Top 200 based on sales. In 1970 Morton produced the psychedelic heavy rock band Haystacks Balboa, a New York City based quintet who toured nationally as support for Rod Stewart, Ten Years After and Jethro Tull. Later in the 1970s he worked with Iron Butterfly; the group gave an interview to Mix Magazine crediting Morton with producing the hit track “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”. Morton told film producer Larry Schweikart in 2009 that the band was too tight to get the song down, so he faked an equipment malfunction on the soundboard and told them to practice. In fact, he was rolling tape, and he kept giving them the “keep it up” sign, resulting in the long solos and the famous drum solo. He also produced the all-girl group Isis, and worked with The New York Dolls, producing their second albumToo Much Too Soon. Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders would later cover his composition “Great Big Kiss” on his 1979 solo album So Alone. In 1972 Shadow produced the Boston comedy band Gross National Productions’ album P-Flaps and Low Blows. Morton then disappeared from the music industry for several years, and was treated for alcoholism in 1987 at the Betty Ford Center. He later filed a lawsuit with Polygram Records for the unauthorized use of his music, especially two Shangri-Las songs in the 1990 film Goodfellas. He was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006. In 2009 Morton appeared in the documentaryRockin’ the Wall about music’s part in bringing down the Iron Curtain, along with former Vanilla Fudge members Mark Stein and Vinny Martell, as well as David Paich of Toto, Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, Robby Krieger of the Doors, Billy Joel and Joan Jett (died 2013): “Someone told me that “Leader…” is the number one selling record of all time because it’s been put into so many oldies albums, and soundtracks…When I wrote “Leader Of The Pack”, I was told not to produce it! “We will not pay for that!” It was dangerous. They were afraid of the repercussions. “Radio stations aren’t going to play it! Parents aren’t going to let their daughters go out and buy it!” I mean, it’s a song about a young girl falling in love with a motorcycle man.”

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