No Saints today, but today is Halloween, an annual holiday that has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain. We also note that today is the second day of the three-day VooDoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans. Today is also the birthday of my favorite (and only) sister, Liz Ellen (1960).
In the 16th century the name “Halloween” was first found, representing a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even (“evening”), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. The development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time encompassing customs of medieval holy days as well as contemporary cultures. The souling practice of commemorating the souls in purgatory with candle lanterns carved from turnips became adapted into the making of jack-o’-lanterns. The imagery of Halloween is derived from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy). Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, magic, or mythical monsters. Traditional characters include ghosts, witches, skeletons, vampires, werewolves, demons, bats, and black cats. The colors of black and orange are associated with the celebrations, perhaps because of the darkness of night and the color of fire, autumn leaves or pumpkins. Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” refers to a (mostly idle) “threat” to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. (In It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! (1966), the kids say “Tricks or Treats!” which I always thought was odd.) At the VooDoo Music + Arts Experience in City Park in New Orleans, there are separate stages, called cubes: “Le Ritual” features more mainstream music, “Le Plur” features Electronic/Dance, “Le Flambeau” features sounds consistent with the hometown style of the Big Easy, and “Le Carnival” features indie bands, burlesque, and circus acts. In 2012 Voodoo continued its evolution as a musical, cultural and immersive experience with addition of first-ever on site camping. Today the lineups include Django Django, Jane’s Addiction, Steve Angello, and Ozzy Osbourne featuring Geezer Butler, Tom Morello, and Slash. I must also note that today is the birthday of my favorite (and only) sister, Liz Ellen, who, as usual, is the same age as me, less two years, one month, and twenty-five days (1960).
I neglected to mention in yesterday’s Daily Update that my granddaughter sat in the black rocking chair that has been in my family since my great-great grandfather made it for my grandfather in 1901; my granddaughter is now the fifth generation in our family to sit in the chair.
I woke up at 9:00 am, again without alarms, and posted to Facebook that today was Halloween. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, ate breakfast bars and boudin for breakfast, read The Boston Globe, did my Internet Devotional Reading, and continued reading The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian. I also set up my medications for next week.
We (Matthew and Callie, Amy, Richard, the baby, Richard and I) then went in two vehicles to S&P Oyster Co. in Mystic for a very nice lunch. We arrived back home at 2:00 pm, and I called Liz Ellen and left a voice mail (I had called her on our way to the restaurant and left a voice mail then, as well). She called back, but possibly because I had the screen locks still on, twice we lost my audio to her. At any rate I was able to wish her a Happy Birthday. I then read the October 19th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America Magazine, and read the September 2015 issue of National Geographic. Matthew and Callie then dressed up my Kitten as the cutest little penguin, and gave out Halloween Candy to Trick or Treaters. (I had not given it any thought, but a base housing subdivision is chock full of kids.) And I will finish reading The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian after I finish this Daily Update. Our New Orleans Pelicans are hosting the Golden State Warriors tonight, and I will post the score in tomorrow’s Daily Update.
Tomorrow would normally be the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, but tomorrow is the Solemnity of All Saints, a Holy Day of Obligation. Tomorrow is also the first day of National Vocation Awareness Week. In the secular world, tomorrow is the first day of the Month of November, Daylight Savings Time ends, The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana will have the final day of the three-day festival, and tomorrow is the birthday of my friend Jocelyne in West Virginia, who many years ago sat one seat ahead of me in second grade (1958). Tomorrow Matthew will go on duty, and we will not see him again before we leave on Monday. We will relax, and I will do my book review for The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian via WordPress for Android for this Weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts. We will also do our laundry. And our New Orleans Saints (3-4, 1-2) will host the New York Giants (4-3, 2-2) in the noon game.
Our Parting Quote this Saturday as the Trick or Treaters scurry off into the humid gloom of night (unless one’s municipality held Trick or Treat last night) comes to us from Richard Neustadt, American political scientist. Born in 1919 in Philadelphia, he received a BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1939, followed by an M.A. degree from Harvard University in 1941. After a short stint as an economist in the Office of Price Administration he joined the U.S. Navy in 1942, where he was a supply officer in the Aleutian Islands, and stayed until 1946. He then went into the Bureau of Budget (now known as the Office of Management and Budget) while working on his Harvard Ph.D., which he received in 1951. He was the Special Assistant of the White House Office from 1950-53 under President Harry S. Truman. During the following year he was a professor of public administration at Cornell, then from 1954 to 1964 taught government at Columbia University, where he received a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award in 1961. It was at Columbia that Neustadt wrote Presidential Power (1960; a revised edition titled Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership appeared in 1990), in which he examined the decision-making process at the highest levels of government. He argued that the President is actually rather weak in the U.S. government, being unable to effect significant change without the approval of the Congress, and that in practice the President must rely on a combination of personal persuasion, professional reputation “inside the Beltway”, and public prestige to get things done. With his book appearing as it did just before the election of John F. Kennedy, Neustadt soon found himself in demand by the President-elect, and began his advisory role with a 20-page memo suggesting things the President should and should not try to do at the beginning of his term. During the 1960s Neustadt continued to advise Kennedy and later Lyndon B. Johnson. He later founded the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where he taught as a popular professor for more than two decades, officially retiring in 1989, but continuing to teach there for years thereafter. Neustadt also served as the first director of the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP), which was founded as “a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy that engages young people in politics and public service.” After his retirement he served as an advisor to Bill Clinton and as Chairman of the Presidential Debates Commission (died 2003): “Drastic action can be costly, but it can be less expensive than continuing inaction.”
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