Daily Update: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

12-02 - Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David

On this Saintless day, we note that in 1804, in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, First Consul of the French Republic Napoléon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of the French, the first French Emperor in a thousand years.

In the classical French tradition kings underwent consecration (sacre) rather than a coronation because of the anointment conferred by the archbishop of Reims. Napoléon blended Roman imperial pageantry with the purported memory of Charlemagne, and the coronation was held in Paris in the somewhat involuntary presence of Pope Pius VII. Because the traditional royal crown had been destroyed during the French Revolution, the so-called Crown of Napoléon, made to look medieval and called the “crown of Charlemagne” for the occasion, was waiting on the altar. While the crown was new, the sceptre was reputed to have belonged to Charles V and the sword to Philip III. There were two orchestras with four choruses, numerous military bands playing heroic marches, and over three hundred musicians. A 400-voice choir performed Paisiello’s “Mass” and “Te Deum”. Having been thrice anointed by the Pope with a benediction, Napoléon unexpectedly turned and, forestalling the Pope, removed his laurel wreath and crowned himself (to mark his independence from the Church), and then crowned the kneeling Joséphine with a small crown surmounted by a cross, which he had first placed on his own head. According to government tallies, the entire cost of the coronation was over 8.5 million francs. (Eleven years later he was sitting on a rocky island a thousand miles west of the coast of Africa.)

Last night I found that our LSU College Football team has returned to the College Football Playoff Rankings, at #21. And our New Orleans Pelicans lost their game with the Memphis Grizzlies by the score of 104 to 113.

I woke up at 8:00 am, started the Weekly Computer Maintenance, did my my Bathroom Devotional Reading, finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance, did the Weekly Virus Scan, did my Internet Devotional Reading, and said the Fourth Day of my Novena to the Immaculate Conception. I then started my laundry, and ate my breakfast toast while reading the morning paper. Richard took a nap, and I finished addressing my Christmas Cards, and finished my laundry. Richard woke up at 12:15 pm, and I ironed my Casino pants, aprons, and shirts.

Richard and I left the house at 1:00 pm in the car; our first stop was the car wash, where we used one of the two coupons we had to wash the car. I mailed the Christmas Cards off at the collection boxes next to the Post Office, and at the Hit-n-Run Richard got gas for the car while I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing. We then headed for Lafayette, and I finished reading the November 16th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine and started reading the November 23rd, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. We ate a late lunch at Zeus Greek and Lebanese Cafe, then went to Best Buy, where I purchased some necessary items. We then headed home; along the way I finished reading the November 23rd, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine and read the December 2015 issue of Consumer Reports. At the Wal-Mart in Crowley Richard got some groceries.

We arrived home at 4:30 pm, and I watched Jeopardy!. Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb, then we lit the Advent Candle. I then retreated to the computer and did Advance Daily Update Drafts through next Tuesday. Michelle came by for a bit, and I put Richard’s Black Ice Screen Protector (which came in the mail today) on his Galaxy S-4. Tonight our New Orleans Pelicans are playing an away game with the Houston Rockets, and our LSU Men’s Basketball team is playing a home game with North Florida; I will give the scores of the games in tomorrow’s Daily Update. And once I finish this Daily Update, I will take a bath and do some reading.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest (died 1552), and the anniversary of when I was hired again by the casino (after being terminated, due to my colon cancer surgery and recovery) in 2001. I will start putting up Christmas Decorations tomorrow, and at some point we will go to the store for me to get my salad supplies. I will also make my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday.

Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Odetta, American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter, and human rights activist. Born as Odetta Holmes in 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama, she grew up in Los Angeles, California, and studied music at Los Angeles City College while employed as a domestic worker, having had operatic training from the age of 13. Her mother hoped she would follow the same career path as Marian Anderson, but Odetta doubted a large black girl would ever perform at the Metropolitan Opera. Her first professional experience was in musical theater in 1944, as an ensemble member for four years with the Hollywood Turnabout Puppet Theatre, working alongside Elsa Lanchester; she later joined the national touring company of the musical Finian’s Rainbow in 1949. The next year she decided to concentrate on folksinging; she made her name by playing around the United States: at the Blue Angel nightclub (New York City), the hungry i (San Francisco), and the Tin Angel (San Francisco), where she and Larry Mohr recorded Odetta and Larry in 1954 for Fantasy Records. A solo career followed, with Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues (1956) and At the Gate of Horn (1957). In 1961 Martin Luther King, Jr. anointed her “The Queen of American folk music”. In the same year the duo Harry Belafonte and Odetta made #32 in the UK Singles Chart with the song “There’s a Hole in My Bucket”. Many Americans remember her performance at the 1963 civil rights movement’s march to Washington where she sang “O Freedom.” She considered her involvement in the Civil Rights movement as being “one of the privates in a very big army.”Odetta Sings Folk Songs was one of 1963′s best-selling folk albums. Broadening her musical scope, she used band arrangements on several albums rather than playing alone, and released music of a more “jazz” style music on albums like Odetta and the Blues (1962) and Odetta (1967). She gave a remarkable performance in 1968 at the Woody Guthrie memorial concert. She also acted in several films during this period, including Cinerama Holiday (1955), the film of William Faulkner’s Sanctuary (1961) and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974). In May 1975 she appeared on public television’s Say Brother program, performing “Give Me Your Hand” in the studio, in addition to speaking about her spirituality, the music tradition from which she drew, and her involvement in civil rights struggles. In 1976 Odetta performed in the U.S. Bicentennial opera Be Glad Then America by John LaMontaigne, as the Muse for America, with Donald Gramm, Richard Lewis and the Penn State University Choir and the Pittsburgh Symphony. The production was directed by Sarah Caldwell who was the director of the Opera Company of Boston at the time. Odetta released only two new albums in the 20-year period from 1977-1997: Movin’ It On in 1987 and a new version of Christmas Spirituals, produced by Rachel Faro, in 1988. Beginning in 1998, she re-focused her energies on recording and touring and her career took on a major resurgence. The new CD To Ella (recorded live and dedicated to her old friend Ella Fitzgerald upon hearing of her passing before walking on stage), was released in 1998 on Silverwolf Records, followed by three new releases on M.C. Records, which cemented a partnership with pianist/arranger/producer Seth Farber and record producer Mark Carpentieri, including: Blues Everywhere I Go, a 2000 Grammy Nominated blues/jazz band tribute album to the great lady blues singers of the 1920s and 1930s; Looking for a Home, a 2002 W.C. Handy Award nominated band tribute to Lead Belly; and the 2007 Grammy Nominated Gonna Let It Shine, a live album of gospel and spiritual songs supported by Seth Farber and The Holmes Brothers. These new recordings and an active world touring schedule created the demand for her guest star appearance on fourteen new albums of other artists (between 1999 and 2006), and the re-release of forty-five old Odetta albums and compilation appearances. On September 29, 1999, President Bill Clinton presented her with the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Medal of Arts. In 2004 Odetta was honored at the Kennedy Center with the “Visionary Award” along with a tribute performance by Tracy Chapman. In 2005, the Library of Congress honored her with its “Living Legend Award”. The 2005 documentary film No Direction Home, directed by Martin Scorsese, highlighted her musical influence on Bob Dylan, the subject of the documentary. The film contained an archive clip of Odetta performing “Waterboy” on TV in 1959, and her songs “Mule Skinner Blues” and “No More Auction Block for Me”. In 2006 Odetta opened shows for jazz vocalist Madeleine Peyroux; that same year she toured the US, Canada, and Europe accompanied by her pianist, which included being presented by the United States Embassy in Latvia as the keynote speaker at a Human Rights conference, and also in a concert in Riga’s historic 1,000 year old Maza Guild Hall. In December 2006 the Winnipeg Folk Festival honored her with their “Lifetime Achievement Award.” In February 2007 The International Folk Alliance gave an award to Odetta as “Traditional Folk Artist of the Year.” On January 21, 2008, Odetta was the Keynote Speaker at San Diego’s Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration, followed by concert performances in San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and Mill Valley, in addition to being the sole guest for the evening on PBS-TV’s The Tavis Smiley Show. In the summer of 2008, at the age of 77, she launched another North American tour, with concerts in Albany, New York and other cities, singing strongly and confidently from a wheelchair. Her set in recent years included “This Little Light of Mine (I’m Gonna Let It Shine)”, Lead Belly’s “The Bourgeois Blues”, (Something Inside) So Strong”, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and “House of the Rising Sun”. Her last concert before thousands of people was in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on October 4, 2008, for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and her last performance was at Hugh’s Room in Toronto on October 25, 2008. She had hoped to perform at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 (died 2008): “No one can dub you with dignity. That’s yours to claim.”

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