Daily Update: Thursday, August 6th, 2015


Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

The Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke record that Jesus, while on a mountain top with his disciples Peter, James, and John, became radiant, spoke with Moses and Elijah, and was called “Son” by God. This miracle is unique among others that appear in the Gospels, in that the miracle happens to Jesus himself. It is not recorded in the Gospel of John, despite John’s presence on the mountain. However, the Gospel of John is arranged in a definite thematic pattern, and does not include other incidents in the life of Jesus (such as the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper). Thomas Aquinas (died 1274) considered the Transfiguration “the greatest miracle” in that it complemented baptism and showed the perfection of life in Heaven. The Transfiguration is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, the others being Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. In the Roman Catholic Church the Feast of the Transfiguration was once celebrated locally in various parts of the Catholic world on different days, including August 6th, but was not universally recognized. On July 22nd, 1456, the Kingdom of Hungary repulsed an Ottoman invasion of the Balkans by breaking the Siege of Belgrade. News of the victory arrived in Rome on August 6th; given the importance to international politics at that time of such battles between Christian and Muslim nations, in celebration of the victory Pope Callixtus III elevated the Transfiguration to a Feast day to be celebrated in the entire Roman rite each year on August 6th, on the anniversary of receiving the news of the breaking of the siege. This Feast is of such importance that if it falls on a Sunday the readings for the Transfiguration are read instead of the normal Sunday readings. In 2002 Pope John Paul II selected the Transfiguration as one of the new five Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. (And in case anyone was wondering, it did not escape the notice of many at Los Alamos that the first atomic bomb was deployed in 1945 over Hiroshima on the Feast of the Transfiguration.)

Nedra and I woke up at 5:00 am at her place near Nashville, Tennessee; I got packed up, said my goodbyes (we had a wonderful visit, both for her and her health issues (she is getting a third opinion on whether she has cancer, a lung fungus, or what) and for me) and left at 5:45 am into a thunderstorm (Nedra, being no fool, went back to bed). I managed to find the airport without too much trouble (I do not like a disembodied voice telling me “Turn left 20 yards ahead”, so I got my directions on Google Maps and more or less memorized them; but there are a lot of Interstates in Greater Nashville) and left the rental car off at Alamo. I then checked in, checked my carry-on bag, found my gate, and was all set for my 8:00 am Southwest Airlines flight to New Orleans – then we found that the flight was delayed for two hours due to some unidentified mechanical problem with the plane in Jacksonville. We switched gates, I did my Daily Update for yesterday, Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 via WordPress for Android, and I sent text messages to Richard and to Nedra. We boarded the plane at 9:45 am, and it finally took off shortly after 10:00 am. The flight was uneventful, and I read the July / August 2015 issue of The Bible Today.

We landed in New Orleans at 11:15 am (instead of our original scheduled time of 9:25 am; this is why I favor direct flights whenever possible). At baggage claim my bag went around a few times before I realized it had to be mine; the Crown Royal bag I had attached to the handle to identify it was gone (drat; that was also the bag I used for my sunglasses in the car). I called the La Quinta, and they sent the shuttle for me; I had the same driver as on Sunday, who recognized me and asked me how my friend was doing.  We arrived at the La Quinta in Kenner, I let them know at the front desk that I was collecting my car, and I left New Orleans at 12:30 pm.

By this time I was getting hungry for lunch; I got off of the I-10 at the second LaPlace exit, and had not found the McDonald’s by the time I got to US 61, so I made a right hand turn and took US 61 North until the first time it crossed the I-10, at which point I got back on the interstate. (Note to self: it is the FIRST Laplace exit coming from New Orleans that one wants to take to get to all of the fast food places.) I got off at Sorrento, gassed up the car, and got lunch at about 1:30 pm from the drive thru at McDonald’s. I also called the East Baton Rouge Library, and was told that I could not get a library card (which I only wanted for Overdrive purposes) unless I was living or employed in East Baton Rouge Parish. I stayed on I-10 all the way through Baton Rouge and onwards to the Ambassador Caffrey exit in Lafayette, which I took to head down to the Lafayette Parish Library – Southside Branch to pick up The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (more anon). I then headed home, arriving at the house at 4:15 pm feeling like I had been in transit for some twelve hours or so (actually, only 10 ½ hours, but, still).

When we got home Richard and I talked and watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, and I sent a text to Nedra to let her know I made it home safely; as I did not want to leave the house again, he called in a dinner order to D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse and went over to pick it up. Meanwhile, I got on the computer and started today’s Daily Update. I also deleted my LightFlow app, which would give me audio notifications as long as five minutes after any given email or SMS or phone call arrived; I will just use the stock Android stuff on my phone for audio, and use my LedBlinker app for visual notifications. So I am eating a shrimp platter while finishing up this Daily Update, and when I finish I will get ready to go to bed; I will probably unpack the bare minimum tonight, and do the rest of my unpacking tomorrow. And the Last Quarter Moon is tonight, at 9:06 pm, by which time I hope to have been asleep for some hours.

Tomorrow is the First Friday of the month (dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Sixtus II, Pope and Martyr (died 258), and Companions, Martyrs, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Cajetan, Priest (died 1547). Tomorrow also marks the approximate midpoint of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, assuming that the summer season begins at the Northern Solstice on June 21st. And tomorrow is also the start of the two-day Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday that happens each year on the first and second consecutive Friday and Saturday in August. Also, being a Friday, Richard and I return to the casino for another week of table games dealing, and on my breaks I will go through the mail and such that Richard left on the desk for me to see. I will also, if I have time, start reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North for my Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club meeting on Tuesday evening. After work we will stop at Wal-Mart so that I can get my salad supplies, and once home I will make lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday and eat my Friday salad. Then, I will finish my unpacking, and can start thinking about our vacation in October / November. I should do my First Friday devotions, and tomorrow evening in Richard, Louisiana is the Annual Mass of Petition for Charlene Richard at 7:00 pm, with the Rosary being recited at 5:30 pm.

This Thursday Afternoon brings us a Parting Quote from Marvin Hamlisch, American composer and conductor. Born in 1944 in New York City, New York, his father was a Jewish Viennese-born accordionist and bandleader. Hamlisch was a child prodigy, and, by age five, he began mimicking the piano music he heard on the radio. A few months before he turned seven, in 1951, he was accepted into what is now the Juilliard School Pre-College Division as the youngest student ever accepted. Hamlich furthered his education by taking night classes at Queens College (graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967) and working during the day as a rehearsal pianist for Broadway shows. He eventually began composing songs for stage productions. Although Liza Minnelli’s debut album included a song he wrote in his teens, his first hit did not come until he was 21 years old. This song, “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows”, co-written with Howard Liebling, was recorded by Lesley Gore and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1965. Hamlisch co-wrote the song “California Nights” (also with Liebling), which was recorded by Lesley Gore for her 1967 hit album of the same name. The Bob Crewe-produced single peaked at number 16 on the Hot 100 in March 1967, two months after Gore had performed the song on the Batman TV series, in which she guest-starred as an accomplice to Julie Newmar’s Catwoman. He wrote the music for several early Woody Allen films, including Take the Money and Run (1969) and Bananas (1971). Hamlisch’s first major stage work was in 1972 playing piano for Groucho Marx at Carnegie Hall for An Evening with Groucho. Hamlisch acted as both straight man and accompanist while Marx (at age 81) reminisced about his career in show business. The performances were released as a 2-record set, and remained very popular. Among his better-known works during the 1970s were adaptations of Scott Joplin’s ragtime music (written in the first two decades of the twentieth century) for the motion picture set in 1936, The Sting (1973), including its theme song, “The Entertainer”. It hit #1 on Billboards Adult Contemporary chart and #3 on the Hot 100, selling nearly 2 million copies in the United States alone. In 1973 he won two Academy Awards for the title song and the score for the motion picture The Way We Were (I saw that movie; the music was the best part) and one Academy Award for the adaptation score for The Sting. He won four Grammy Awards in 1974, two for “The Way We Were”. In 1975 he wrote what, for the first 12 years, would be the original theme music for Good Morning America, which was built around four notes. He then composed the score for the 1975 Broadway musical A Chorus Line, for which he won both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize, and They’re Playing Our Song, loosely based on his relationship with Carole Bayer Sager. With Bayer Sager he co-wrote “Nobody Does It Better” for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), which would be nominated for an Oscar. At the beginning of the 1980s his romantic relationship with Bayer Sager ended, but their songwriting relationship continued. In the 1980s he had success with the scores for Ordinary People (1980) and Sophie’s Choice (1982). The 1983 musical Jean Seberg, based on the life of the real-life actress, failed in its London production at the UK’s National Theatre and never played in the United States He also received an Academy-Award nomination in 1986 for the film version of A Chorus Line. In 1986 Smile was a mixed success and had a short run on Broadway. The musical version of Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl (1993) closed after only 188 performances, although he received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Music. Hamlisch was Musical Director and arranger of Barbra Streisand’s 1994 concert tour of the U.S. and England as well as of the television special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert, for which he received two of his Emmys. He also conducted several tours with Linda Ronstadt during this period, most notably on her successful 1996 Dedicated to the One I Love tour of arenas and stadiums. Hamlisch received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 at the World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium. His last projects included The Informant! (2009), starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh. Prior to his death he completed the scores for the musical The Nutty Professor and the HBO movie Behind the Candelabra (2013), also directed by Soderbergh and starring Damon and Michael Douglas as Liberace. At various times in his life he held the position of Principal Pops Conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, The National Symphony Orchestra Pops, The Pasadena Symphony and Pops, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and at the time of his death he was preparing to assume responsibilities as Principal Pops Conductor for The Philadelphia Orchestra. Hamlisch was one of only eleven people to win all four major United States performing awards: the Emmy Award, the Grammy Award, the Oscar and the Tony Award, known collectively as an “EGOT”. Hamlisch and Richard Rodgers additionally are the only two people to have won a Pulitzer Prize as well. At 8:00 p.m. EDT on August 8, 2012, two days after his death, the marquee lights of the 40 Broadway theaters were dimmed for one minute in tribute to Hamlisch, a posthumous honor traditionally accorded to those considered to have made significant contributions to the theater arts (died 2012): “To put something on Earth that wasn’t there yesterday, that’s what I like.”

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