Daily Update: Saturday, March 7th, 2015

Perpetua and Felicity

On this First Saturday of the month (dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary), it is the Memorial of Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity, Martyrs (died 203).

The First Saturday of each month is dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Turning to our Saints for today, Perpetua was born in 181 to a noble pagan family of Carthage in North Africa, and became a convert to Christianity. She was a wife and mother, and her maid and friend Felicity was also a convert.  The two (Felicity was eight months pregnant) were arrested with other Christians and thrown into prison; Perpetua was allowed to nurse her infant son while in prison. Her family urged her to reconsider choosing to be a Christian for the sake of her child, but she resisted. Two days before the start of the games, Felicity gave birth to a son in prison, who was adopted by a Christian woman. Perpetua wrote of their imprisonment and their sufferings in the earliest surviving text written by a Christian woman. The Christians were then led out to be torn to pieces by wild animals in the arena; Perpetua’s Acts were finished by another hand, describing their martyrdom. In centuries past, the story of Perpetua and Felicity was so popular that Saint Augustine of Hippo warned against giving it the weight of Scripture. They are the Patron Saints of mothers and of expectant mothers.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, then I drove to work in my car and Richard drove to work in the truck. Richard put in for 16 hours of PTO for April 25th and 26th, as he wants to see The Who at Jazz Fest. (My personal opinion is that The Who is the most overrated band in rock history.) I then signed the Early Out list. At the Pre-Shift Meeting, two of my co-workers won Early Out Golden Tickets; I immediately approached both of them to ask if they would sell their Golden Ticket to me, and they both said they would get back to me on it. When we got out on the floor, Richard was the Relief Dealer for the third Three Card Poker table, the second Three Card Poker table, Four Card Poker, and the second Mississippi Stud table; he was then the Relief Dealer for the second Three Card Poker table and the second Mississippi Stud table, and eventually ended up on Mini Baccarat. I was first on the second Three Card Poker table, then was the Relief Dealer for two Blackjack tables and the Switch Blackjack table in our overflow pit, then was back on the second Three Card Poker table. It was relayed to me early that one of the people who had won the Early Out ticket did not want to sell it; the other one blithely said, “I have a whole month to think about selling it!” On my breaks I did my Internet Devotional Reading. On my break after 8:00 am I texted Michelle to ask her to bring CJ’s present to the Callie’s baby shower, as it didn’t look like I would be able to make it, and on my break after 9:00 am I texted Lisa (Callie’s mom) that I would not be able to be at the shower (which was due to start at 11:00 am) until 12:15 pm at the earliest. I then told her that I hated to show up an hour into the shower, and that I hoped to see Callie later today or tomorrow. I was not happy with that outcome; I knew that I would be relatively far down on the Early Out list (due to getting out with no time on the first Tuesday of the pay period, and having to call in on the first Friday of the pay period, I was 16 hours short of having all of my hours), but lately they have been getting out two dozen people on Saturdays – today, five people got out. (And I am feeling quite disgruntled with my co-worker who said she had a whole month to think about selling her Golden Ticket.)

After work I headed home in my car, and set up my medications for next week (I do not have any prescriptions to renew). I read the morning paper while eating some Amish Friendship Bread, then went to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. During my Hour I read the March 3rd, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. When I got home, I got on the computer and did my Daily Update for yesterday, Friday, March 6th, 2015. Our LSU Men’s Basketball team beat #18 ranked Arkansas in their last regular season game by the score of 81 to 78; our Tigers will next play an as yet unnamed team in the SEC Tournament on March 12th. Our #4 ranked LSU Baseball team is playing Baylor in an away game, our LSU Women’s Basketball team is playing a semifinal game in the SEC Tournament with #3 ranked South Carolina, and tonight our New Orleans Pelicans will play a home game with the Memphis Grizzlies. I did not do any First Saturday activities, and after I finish this Daily Update and my dinner (Richard made me grilled cheese sandwiches), I will give up on seeing if Callie is going to come by to visit like her mother said she would and go to bed.

Tomorrow is the Third Sunday in Lent. It is also the Optional Memorial of Saint John of God, Religious. And since tomorrow is the second Sunday in March, tomorrow begins Daylight Savings Time. Tomorrow is the last day of the pay period at the casino, and because of the time change we will work 7 hours tomorrow instead of 8 (in the fall, we work 9 hours instead of 8). On my breaks I will continue reading The Arrivals by Melissa Marr. And tomorrow afternoon our #4 ranked LSU Baseball team will play an away game with Nebraska.

Our Parting Quote on this First Saturday Afternoon comes to us from Gordon Parks, American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director. Born in 1912 in Fort Scott, Kansas, his father was a farmer, and he went to a segregated elementary school. The town was too small for a separate high school, but black students were not allowed to play sports or attend school social activities. When Parks was 11 three white boys threw him into the Marmaton River, knowing he couldn’t swim. He had the presence of mind to duck underwater so they wouldn’t see him make land. His mother died when he was 14; he slept beside his mother’s coffin seeking solace and a way to face his own fear of death, then left home. In 1929 he briefly worked in a gentlemen’s club, the Minnesota Club. There he not only learned the trappings of success, but was able to read from the club library. When the stock market crash brought an end to the club, he jumped a train to Chicago where he managed to get a job as a piano player in a brothel. His song “No Love,” composed in another brothel, was performed over a national radio broadcast by Larry Funk and his orchestra in the early 30s. At the age of 25 Parks was struck by photographs of migrant workers in a magazine and bought his first camera, a Voigtländer Brilliant, for $12.50 at a pawnshop. The photo clerks who developed Parks’ first roll of film applauded his work and prompted him to get a fashion assignment at Frank Murphy’s women’s clothing store in St. Paul, Minnesota. Those photos caught the eye of Marva Louis, the elegant wife of the heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. She encouraged Parks to move back to Chicago in 1940, where he began a portrait business for society women. Over the next few years Parks moved from job to job, developing a freelance portrait and fashion photographer sideline. He began to chronicle the city’s South Side black ghetto and in 1941, an exhibition of those photographs won Parks a photography fellowship with the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Working as a trainee under Roy Stryker, Parks created one of his best-known photographs, American Gothic, Washington, D.C., (named after the Grant Wood painting American Gothic). The photo shows a black woman, Ella Watson, who worked on the cleaning crew for the FSA building, standing stiffly in front of an American flag, a broom in one hand and a mop in the background. Parks had been inspired to create the picture after encountering repeated racism in restaurants and shops in the segregated city. Upon viewing it, Stryker said that it was an indictment of America, and could get all of his photographers fired; he urged Parks to keep working with Watson, however, leading to a series of photos of her daily life. Parks said later that his first image was overdone and not subtle; other commentators have argued that it drew strength from its polemical nature and its duality of victim and survivor, and so the photograph has affected far more people than his subsequent pictures of Watson. After the FSA disbanded Parks remained in Washington as a correspondent with the Office of War Information. Disgusted with the prejudice he encountered, he resigned in 1944. Moving to Harlem, Parks became a freelance fashion photographer for Vogue. He later followed Stryker to the Standard Oil (New Jersey) Photography Project, which assigned photographers to take pictures of small towns and industrial centers. Parks’s most striking work of the period included Dinner Time at Mr. Hercules Brown’s Home, Somerville, Maine (1944); Grease Plant Worker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1946); Car Loaded with Furniture on Highway (1945); and Ferry Commuters, Staten Island, N.Y. (1946). Parks renewed his search for photography jobs in the fashion world. Despite racist attitudes of the day, the Vogue editor Alexander Liberman hired him to shoot a collection of evening gowns. Parks photographed fashion for Vogue for the next few years. During this time, he published his first two books, Flash Photography (1947) and Camera Portraits: Techniques and Principles of Documentary Portraiture (1948). A 1948 photo essay on a young Harlem gang leader won Parks a staff job as a photographer and writer with Life magazine. For 20 years he produced photos on subjects including fashion, sports, Broadway, poverty, racial segregation, and portraits of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali, and Barbra Streisand. Parks composed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1953) at the encouragement of black American conductor Dean Dixon and his wife Vivian, a pianist, and with the help of the composer Henry Brant. His 1961 photo essay on a poor Brazilian boy named Flavio da Silva, who was dying from bronchial pneumonia and malnutrition, brought donations that saved the boy’s life and paid for a new home for his family. Beginning in the 1960s Parks branched out into literature, writing his autobiographical novel The Learning Tree (1963), several books of poetry illustrated with his own photographs, and three volumes of memoirs. He was profiled in the 1967 documentary Weapons of Gordon Parks by American filmmaker Warren Forma. Parks had worked in the 1950s as a consultant on various Hollywood film productions and later directed a series of documentaries commissioned by National Educational Television on black ghetto life. In 1969 Parks became Hollywood’s first major black director with his film adaptation of The Learning Tree. It was filmed in his home town of Fort Scott, and Parks also composed the film’s musical score and wrote the screenplay. He completed Tree Symphony in 1967. Shaft, Parks’ 1971 detective film starring Richard Roundtree, became a major hit that spawned a series of blaxploitation films. Parks’ feel for settings was confirmed by Shaft, with its portrayal of the super-cool leather-clad black private detective hired to find the kidnapped daughter of a Harlem racketeer. Parks also directed the 1972 sequel, Shaft’s Big Score, in which the protagonist found himself caught in the middle of rival gangs of racketeers. His other directorial credits included The Super Cops (1974), and Leadbelly (1976), a biopic of the blues musician Huddie Ledbetter. In 1981 Parks turned to fiction with Shannon, a novel about Irish immigrants fighting their way up the social ladder in turbulent early 20th-century New York. In the 1980s he made several films for television and composed the music and libretto for Martin, a ballet tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., which premiered in Washington, D.C. in 1989 and was screened on national television on King’s birthday in 1990. In 1995 Parks announced that he would donate his papers and entire artistic collection to the Library of Congress. In 1997 the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. mounted a career retrospective on Parks, Half Past Autumn: The Art of Gordon Parks (died 2006): “I suffered evils, but without allowing them to rob me of the freedom to expand.”

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