Alleluia! Today is the Fifth Sunday of Easter, known as Cantate Sunday. It is also the Feast of Saint Philip (died c. 80) and Saint James (died c.62), Apostles. Today is also the final day of the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Cantate Sunday gets its name from the first word of the Introit at Mass on this day, “Cantate Domino novum canticum”, “Sing to the Lord a new song”, in the same way that Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) and Laetare Sunday (the Fourth Sunday of Lent) received their names. These names, which are as old probably as the twelfth century, appear to have been in common use in the Middle Ages and to have been employed to signify the date in secular affairs as well as ecclesiastical. John of Salisbury, Bishop of Chartres (d. 1182), was one of the earliest writers to use the name of Cantate Sunday. Turning to today’s Saints, 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 hatters, of pastry chefs, of Cape Verde, and of Uruguay. 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 apothecaries, pharmacists, and druggists, of fullers and milliners, and of Uruguay.. Today is also the last day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Although it has been going on since 1970, and since 1973 I have never lived more than three hours away from New Orleans, I always refused to consider going because I am not a fan of jazz music. In 2009 I finally went to JazzFest with Richard and the kids (including Callie); I had a great time, not least because we saw Neil Young, whose set ended just before a torrential downpour. (Everything we had with us, or was wearing, got soaked, except for the cellphones, due to my foresight in bringing several Ziploc plastic baggies with me.) This year Richard went on his own to see The Who, and had a wonderful time. This final day of Jazz Fest features Feufollet, Jason Marsalis, The Meters featuring Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter, Jr., & Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, The Radiators, Buckwheat Zydeco, Buddy Guy, the O’Jays, Steve Winwood, and Lenny Kravitz.
Yesterday evening American Pharaoh (sired by Pioneerof the Nile out of Littleprincessemma) won the Kentucky Derby by a length from Firing Line and Dortmund, with Frosted finishing strongly in fourth. (The horse that was going to be ridden by Calvin Borel, El Kabeir, had to be scratched from the race on May 1st due to a hoof problem.) And our #1 LSU Baseball team lost the third game of their three-game away series with Mississippi State by the score of 7 to 8. (Our Tigers will next play the first game of a home three game series with Missouri on May 8th.)
I removed the polish from my toenails and did my Bathroom Devotional Reading. The interior lights in the truck had a short, but we managed to get them to go out for our trip to the casino, with me doing my Internet Devotional Reading along the way. We had the Graveyard Pot Luck Dinner today, in honor of our pit clerk Linda (today was her last day, and the last day for all the other pit clerks). Richard started out on Four Card Poker, closed that table, went to Let It Ride, closed that table, and spent the rest of the day dealing Blackjack, except for the period from 10:15 am to 10:35 am, when they had him open up a second Pai Gow table before sending him back to his Blackjack table. I had a very easy day on Mini Baccarat; my table was dead from about 5:30 am, and we had a twenty-minute break every forty minutes for almost the entire day.
On our way home I continued reading the May 4th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine via PDF on my Galaxy S-4. When we got home Michelle was helping her friend write the friend’s paper. I put fresh polish on my toenails and read the Sunday papers while eating my lunch salad. I then got on the computer to work on today’s Daily Update for a bit. I left the house at 1:45 pm; my first stop was the ATM, but it was temporarily not dispensing cash, so I went to Winn-Dixie, got a couple of 20 oz bottles of Diet Coke, and got cash back on my transaction. I then went to the Church Fair, and from about 2:15 pm until 4:45 pm I played Bingo; at 25¢ per card, I played four cards per game (total $1.00 per game) for about 24 games, and won nothing. I also saw Callie’s mother Lisa, who said that she is going up there on the 18th for about a week, then leaving the kids to their own devices once the baby is born. She also told me that they are planning to come down in October to have Scarlett baptised, and that the kids will want me to check what is needed at our church for that to happen. I understand that they want Scarlett baptised in our town, at our church, with family and friends around, rather than up in Connecticut, but I have theological problems with not baptising the baby until she is five months old, and I also have doubts that they can just come down and get the baby baptised at our church just like that [finger snap]. At 4:45 pm I left the Fair and went to McDonalds, and read some more of the May 4th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine via PDF on my Galaxy S-4 while eating my burger and fries. I then went over to the Church at 5:15 pm and went to Confession; after I lit my candle and said my penance, I read about half of the May 2015 issue of The Acadiana Catholic, our diocesan newspaper. I then participated in the 6:00 pm Mass, and got home at 7:15 pm to finish this Daily Update. And the Full Moon will arrive at 10:45 pm.
We have no Saints to honor tomorrow (nor will for a few days), but tomorrow is Star Wars Day (as in, May the Fourth be with you). And the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower should occur in the predawn hours (weather permitting), radiating from the southeast. We will be at the casino for the first day of our two-week pay period, and after work I will pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. And I have nothing scheduled for the afternoon, except perhaps catching up on my sleep, unless I go over to the Rectory at Church to get baptismal information for the kids.
Our Parting Quote on this afternoon of Cantate Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Alleluia!) comes to us from Herbert Blau, American theater director. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926, his major outlet as a child was baseball, and his only theater experience was a grade school play. He went to New York University and earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1947. While there, he wrote a couple of plays, and at the urging of a friend sent them to Yale and Stanford along with an application to their drama schools; both offered him fellowships. At this point he had still never seen a play. He was doing very well in his engineering studies, so he spent much of his senior year going to performance after performance and reading Shakespeare and Chekhov. At Stanford he earned a master’s degree in drama. He switched to English, earning a Ph.D. with a dissertation on T. S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats. As co-founder (with Jules Irving) of The Actor’s Workshop in San Francisco (1952–1965) and co-director of the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center in New York City (1965–67), Blau introduced American audiences to avant-garde drama in some of the country’s first productions of Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, and Harold Pinter. Through a chain of acquaintances, the troupe was asked to put on a play at San Quentin State Prison in 1957 to replace a traditional variety show done by inmates. The Beckett play Waiting for Godot was chosen after prison officials specified that none of the actors could be women. The prisoners, used to waiting themselves, loved it, and started their own drama group as a result. The performance became the subject of a 2010 documentary, The Impossible Itself, and a legend in the development of absurdist theater. Beckett himself thought the review in the prison newspaper reflected the best understanding of the play he had seen. This same production of Waiting for Godot represented American theater at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, even after extra-legal State Department maneuvers during the second Red scare denied travel permission for unstated political reasons to a member of the company. Blau went on to become a passionate voice for less conventionality in theater. In his 1964 book The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto, he denounced the “failure and fatuousness” of the American theater. The book generated considerable attention in theater circles, most of it positive, and the next year the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center hired Blau and Irving as joint directors. Irving stayed until 1972, but Blau left after two years. In 1968 Blau signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. In 1971, after three years as a dean and provost at the newly formed California Institute of the Arts, Blau formed the experimental group KRAKEN, where he continued presenting challenging productions for another decade. The two books that emerged from that work, Take Up the Bodies: Theater at the Vanishing Point (University of Illinois Press, 1982) and Blooded Thought: Occasions of Theater (Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982), received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. In 2011 he wrote As If: An Autobiography, Volume 1 (he never got around to Volume 2) (died 2013): “There are times when, confronted with the despicable behavior of people in the American theater, I feel like Lear on the heath, wanting to kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!”