Today is the Memorial of Saint John Nepmucene Neumann, Bishop (died 1860). Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas (cue the drummers), which means tonight is Twelfth Night, the Eve of the traditional date of the Feast of the Epiphany.
Today’s Saint was born in 1811 in Prachititz, Bohemia (Czech Republic), was an excellent student, and felt the draw early to religious life. As a seminarian at Budweis, Bohemia in 1831 John Neumann studied astronomy and botany in addition to theological topics; he then studied theology at Charles Ferdinand University at Prague in 1833. When the time came for his ordination as a priest, his bishop was sick; the ordination was never re-scheduled as Bohemia had an over-abundance of priests. John decided to go to America to ask for ordination and to work with emigres, so he walked most of the way to France, then took ship for America. Arriving unannounced in Manhattan in 1836, Bishop John Dubois of New York was overjoyed to see him as there were only 36 priests for the 200,000 Catholics in the Diocese of New York (which was all of New York State, and half of New Jersey). John was promptly ordained on June 28, 1836, and sent to Buffalo, where he elected to work in the rural areas around the city. John’s parishioners were from many lands and tongues, but John knew twelve languages, and worked with them all. He joined the Redemptorists at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1840, taking his vows at Baltimore, Maryland in 1841, the first Redemptorist to do so in the United States. Neumann became naturalized as a citizen of the United States in Baltimore in 1848. In 1852 he became Bishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and proceeded to build fifty new churches in his diocese, along with beginning to build a cathedral. He opened almost one hundred schools, and the number of parochial school students in his diocese grew from 500 to 9,000. He wrote newspaper articles, two catechisms, and many works in German. In 1977 he became the first American male citizen, and the first American Bishop, to be canonized. He is the Patron Saint of Catholic Education. Today is also the Twelfth Day of Christmas, with twelve drummers drumming according to the traditional verses. It is worth noting that if I kept all the gifts my true love gave to me, I would by now have twelve partridges in pear trees, twenty-two turtle doves, thirty French hens, thirty-six calling birds, forty golden rings, forty-two geese a-laying, forty-two swans a-swimming, forty maids a-milking, thirty-six ladies dancing, thirty lords a-leaping, twenty-tw0 pipers piping, and twelve drummers drumming, or three hundred and sixty-four gifts. (I hope that my true love also gave me a very large storage locker, along with everything else.) The last verse of The Cajun Twelve Days of Christmas is: “On dem twelfth day of Christmas, my true love she gave to me: Twelve shotgun shells, Eleven duck decoys, Ten pirogue paddles, Nine oysters stewin’, Eight crabs a brewin’, Seven fleur de lis, Six cypress knees, Five poules d’eau, Four pousse café, Three stuffed shrimp, Two voodoo dolls, And a crawfish in a fig tree.” Finally, tonight is Twelfth Night, the Eve of Epiphany. There is a certain amount of disagreement as to when Twelfth Night occurs; there are those who count the First Day of Christmas as being the day after Christmas, which makes Twelfth Night the night of January 6th. This is the counting used by the Phunny Phorty Phellows, the Krewe that ushers in the Mardi Gras Season each year in New Orleans; they always conduct their revels in a streetcar going up and down the streetcar line on the evening of January 6th, rather than on the evening of the night before.
I neglected to mention in yesterday’s Daily Update that Richard mowed the grass. (In SouthWestCentral Louisiana, one mows the grass in just about every month, at least once.)
I set my alarm clock for half an hour early, and upon waking up I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading. We drove to the casino in separate vehicles, and while waiting in the Hallway to Nowhere for the Early Out list to be put out I did my Internet Devotional Reading. We signed the list, with me at the top, and Richard with four less hours than me. When we clocked in, Richard was on Mississippi Stud, and my Three Card Blackjack table was closed, so I was an Extra. Our Pencil said he needed someone to go to Three Card Poker to send the dealer there to see the Assistant Shift Manager; no one moved, so I volunteered. So, I started dealing on Three Card Poker; Richard was taken off his table (no time), and all of the other people on the list were out, and my Three Card Poker Dealer was not yet back. Richard, after he clocked out, got my usual bottle of Diet Coke from the vending machine, and then saw that the dealer I had taken out was still in the Shift Office, arguing about her write up for procedure errors. So he came back out to the floor and took over Three Card Poker, and I was out at 3:15 am. I waited for Richard (as the Three Card Poker dealer finally signed her write up (there was no point in her arguing, as the Surveillance tape was checked not once but twice), and Richard and I headed homeward. (If I had been a lazy slug and not volunteered to take the dealer off of Three Card Poker to go to the office, I’d have been the first one out, with no time; so no good deed goes unpunished.) Richard peeled off in the truck to get groceries at Wal-Mart, and I arrived home at a little after 4:00 am and went straight to bed.
I woke up at 10:30 am and started my laundry, then I read the morning paper. I then checked Amazon.com for the status of my Where’s George? stamp that I ordered last month; it is being “prepared for shipping”. Richard and I left the house at 12:00 pm and ate Chinese for lunch at Peking; we then went to Fantastic Sam’s, and both of us got haircuts. While waiting on Richard’s hair to be cut, I started reading Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell. We got home at 1:30 pm, and I finished my laundry and ironed my casino pants, apron, and shirts. I then did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog, and continued reading The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian. We watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, and I will finish today’s Daily Update and take a hot bath and do some reading. Tonight our LSU Men’s Basketball team will be playing #9 ranked Kentucky at home; I will report the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update. And I can record here that I am less than charmed with freshman Ben Simmons; he is apparently the best thing to hit college basketball since they quit using peach baskets (which is a good thing), and he plays for LSU (also a good thing); but it appears to be a done deal that he will declare for the NBA draft after he finishes his freshman year of college (if not before). Whatever happened to college players staying four years, and helping their teams make it to the Final Four? I do not object to the kid wanting to make obscene amounts of money (I would not mind doing so myself), but I do object to him treating my Tigers as nothing more than a one-season springboard. Although, if this is the future of college basketball, and no player will stay for four years if said player has a legitimate shot of turning pro at the age of 19, then the nine-day’s-wonder player may as well be at my school that at some other school.
Tomorrow is the Traditional date of the Feast of the Epiphany, the Optional Memorial of Saint André Bessette, Religious (died 1937), and the birthday of Brian, one of the former Assembled (1981). I will wake up early and do the Weekly Computer Maintenance, then I will head for Lafayette to return Library of Souls to the Lafayette Public Library, to eat lunch, and to put in some comfy chair time reading at Barnes and Noble (and I have a gift card for Barnes and Noble that I can use). Tomorrow night we will light a fire outside, and Richard will also barbeque steaks. And tomorrow evening our New Orleans Pelicans will host the Dallas Mavericks.
Our Parting Quote on this Twelfth Night comes to us from Frederica Sagor Maas, American playwright, screenwriter, memoirist and author. Born in 1900 in New York City as Frederica Sagor to emigrates from Moscow, she studied journalism at Columbia University and held a summer job as a copy- or errand-girl at the New York Globe. She dropped out before graduation in 1918 and took a job as an assistant story editor at Universal Pictures’ New York office at $100 a week. By 1923 she was story editor for Universal and head of the department. A year later in 1924, she had become dissatisfied with her position and left Universal to move to Hollywood. Once in California, she negotiated a contract with Preferred Pictures to adapt Percy Marks’s novel The Plastic Age for film. Based on this, she was signed to a three-year contract with MGM for $350 per week. It was in this period that she wrote the scripts for Dance Madness and The Waning Sex. Her introduction to studio politics did not go well and her MGM contract was not renewed. During 1925 and 1926 she wrote treatments and screenplays for Tiffany Productions, including the well-received flapper comedies That Model from Paris and The First Night. Even before she married Ernest Maas, a producer at Fox Studios, on August 5, 1927, they sold story ideas such as Silk Legs to studios. Many of these would never get produced; “swell fish” was their term for scripts that never saw the light of day. During 1927 she worked for Paramount and claimed that she did uncredited work on scripts such as Clara Bow’s It, Red Hair, and Hula, and that she had written the story for Louise Brooks’ lost film Rolled Stockings (which was produced in 1926, before Maas began her work at Paramount). An unusually long European vacation in the summer of 1928 made finding steady studio work difficult upon her return. Her husband remained with Paramount Short Subjects division in New York. When a story by the Maas couple was misappropriated and filmed as The Way of All Flesh he left the studio; their original script had been called Beefsteak Joe. The couple returned to unsteady work on the west coast in October 1929. Unable to find steady work, they moved back to New York. From 1934 to 1937 they reviewed plays for the Hollywood Reporter. Another relocation back to Hollywood had Maas representing writers and selling story material for the Edward Small Agency; Maas plied every studio every day with her wares. After a year working as agents, the Maas couple secured writing contracts at Paramount to cull previously purchased material. The war years found the couple back seeking unsteady work and writing for political campaigns. It was in 1941 that they wrote Miss Pilgrim’s Progress, the story that would become The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. Bad representation caused the story to sell for a pittance, and it would not be produced until 1947 when it was rendered almost unrecognizable in an adaptation by Darryl F. Zanuck’s 20th Century Fox for Betty Grable. The Maas couple continued to live a hand-to-mouth existence struggling in Hollywood. During this time they were even interrogated by the FBI for having subscribed to two allegedly Communist publications. Having had enough of writing scripts that could not be sold, Maas took a job as a policy typist with an insurance agency in 1950, quickly working her way up to insurance broker. Her husband took up ghost writing professional business articles and freelance story editing. Ernest Maas succumbed to Parkinson’s disease in 1986 at 94; in 1999, at age 99, and at the urging of film historian Kevin Brownlow, Maas published her autobiography, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood. The book was well received and is still a standard reference for early Hollywood history. At the time of her death Maas was the third oldest person in California and the forty-fourth verified oldest person in the world (died 2012): “I know I’ve been hard on the motion picture industry [in my book] … [T]he facts and the stories I tell – about the plagiarism and the way I was handled and the way other writers were handled – are true. If anybody wants to take offense at the fact that I tell the truth and I’m writing this book … [I] can get my payback now. I’m alive and thriving and, well, you SOBs are all below, because I’ve lived to 99. And I quit the business at 50.”