Daily Update: Monday, January 11th, 2016

Plough Monday and College Football National Championship 2016

We have no Saints to honor today (today is the First Day of Ordinary Time), but today (being the Monday after the traditional date of Epiphany) is Plough Monday. And tonight is the College Football Playoff National Championship between #2 Alabama and #1 Clemson. (Go Tigers!)

As yesterday was the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which closed out the Christmas season, today is the First Day of Ordinary Time. As this is the Monday after the traditional date of Epiphany, today is Plough Monday, the traditional start of the English agricultural year. References to Plough Monday date back to the late 15th century. The day traditionally saw the resumption of work after the Christmas period. In some areas, particularly in northern England and East Anglia, a plough was hauled by a plough boy from house to house in a procession, collecting money. They were often accompanied by musicians, an old woman or a boy dressed as an old woman, called the “Bessy”, and a man in the role of the “fool”. At the frolic, or banquet, later that day, the whole village would join in Mummers’ plays. If one refused to give money, then the plough would be used to plough up the miscreant’s front yard. ‘Plough Pudding’ is a boiled suet pudding, containing meat and onions; it is from Norfolk, and is eaten to celebrate the day. The Plough Monday customs declined in the 19th century but have been revived in the 20th century; they are now mainly associated with Molly dancing and a good example can be seen each year at Maldon in Essex, a mere 4,700 hundred miles from SouthWestCentral Louisiana. The College Football Playoff National Championship is the championship game of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), part of the establishment of the College Football Playoff (CFP) that began at the end of the 2014 college football season. Under the prior Bowl Championship Series (BCS) format, the game was known as the BCS National Championship Game. Under the older Bowl Alliance and Bowl Coalition systems, the championship game simply used the name of the bowl game in which it was played. The participants in the title game will be the winners of two semifinal games between the nation’s top four teams, as chosen by the College Football Playoff selection committee. This year, #1 ranked Clemson beat #4 ranked Oklahoma in the Orange semifinal game, and #2 ranked Alabama beat #3 ranked Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl semifinal game, with both games played on December 31st, 2015. The location of each year’s championship game will be determined by the playoff group’s leaders, which will consider bids to host the event from various cities and then makes a final selection, in a similar fashion to the Super Bowl or the NCAA Final Four. When announcing it was soliciting bids for the 2016 and 2017 title games, playoff organizers noted that the bids must propose host stadiums with a capacity of at least 65,000 spectators. Leaders say the championship game will be held in a different city each year, and cities cannot host both a semifinal game and the title game in the same year. The winner of the game is awarded a new championship trophy instead of the “crystal football,” which has been given by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) since 1986; officials wanted a new trophy that was unconnected with the previous BCS championship system. The new College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy is sponsored by Dr Pepper, which paid an estimated $35 million for the sponsorship rights through 2020. The 26.5-inch high, 35-pound trophy was unveiled on July 14, 2014. The game will be broadcast on ESPN through 2026. (Normally I pull for the SEC team, but the SEC team in this year’s matchup is coached by He Who Must Not Be Named, so Go Tigers!)

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, then gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, and once at the casino I called the Pharmacy and renewed two prescriptions. For the first day of the two-week pay period, Richard was on Mini Baccarat; I started out on Three Card Blackjack, closed that table, and was on a regular Blackjack table for the rest of the day.

After we clocked out at 11:00 am, we went over to the Clinic / Pharmacy; I picked up my prescriptions, and Richard got blood drawn for lab work ahead of his appointment on January 18th with the Nurse Practitioner at the Clinic. We stopped at McDonald’s in Kinder to pick up lunch, and on our way home I read the January 11th, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated. Richard stopped at Super 1 Foods for charcoal. Once home I read the morning paper, then took a nap.

I woke up at 5:15 pm; I had a text message from my friend Nedra in Tennessee (who has a new private phone number), and my Where’s George? stamp finally was delivered by Amazon. I will go ahead and finish today’s Daily Update, then hang out in the front room; Richard will have barbeque ready for kickoff of the game at 7:30 pm, and we will watch at least the first quarter. (Go Tigers!)

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, Religious (died 1700). It is also the birthday of our Casino coworker Christine (1960). We will go to work half an hour early and sign the Early Out list. And I do not have anything planned for tomorrow afternoon and evening. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the Los Angeles Lakers (who are having a worse season than our Pelicans) tomorrow evening.

Our Parting Quote this Monday afternoon comes to us from Anita Ekberg, Swedish-born actress. Born as Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg in 1931 in Malmö, Sweden, as a teenager she worked as a fashion model. Ekberg entered the Miss Malmö competition in 1950 at her mother’s urging, leading to the Miss Sweden contest which she won. She consequently went to the United States to compete for the Miss Universe 1951 title (an unofficial pageant at that time, the pageant became official in 1952) despite speaking little English. Although Ekberg did not win the Miss Universe pageant, as one of six finalists she did earn a starlet’s contract with Universal Studios, as was the practice at the time, and never returned to live in Sweden. As a starlet at Universal, she received lessons in drama, elocution, dancing, horseriding and fencing. She appeared briefly in the 1953 Universal films Abbott and Costello Go to Mars and The Golden Blade. Ekberg skipped many of her drama lessons, restricting herself to riding horses in the Hollywood Hills. Ekberg later admitted she was spoiled by the studio system and played instead of pursuing bigger film roles. The combination of Ekberg’s voluptuous physique and colorful private life (such as her well-publicized romances with Hollywood’s leading men, such as Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, Yul Brynner, Rod Taylor and Errol Flynn) appealed to the gossip magazines, and she soon became a major 1950s pin-up, appearing in Playboy. Additionally, she participated in publicity stunts; she once admitted that an incident in which her dress burst open in the lobby of London’s Berkeley Hotel was prearranged with a photographer. She guest-starred in the short-lived TV series Casablanca (1955) and Private Secretary. She had a small part in the film Blood Alley (1955) starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall. She appeared alongside the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy act in Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956), both for Paramount Pictures. For a time, she was even publicized as “Paramount’s Marilyn Monroe.” Paramount cast her in War and Peace (1956) which was shot in Rome, alongside Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn. Meanwhile, RKO Pictures gave the actress her first leading role in an early disaster film Back from Eternity (1956). She married actor Anthony Steel in 1956. Ekberg starred in the British drama Interpol with Victor Mature and in Valerie (both 1957) with Sterling Hayden. She then co-starred with Bob Hope in Paris Holiday, and with Philip Carey and Gypsy Rose Lee in Screaming Mimi (both 1958). She was then in a  European film, Sheba and the Gladiator (which had no gladiators in it) (1959), and divorced from her husband. Director Federico Fellini gave Ekberg her best known role in La Dolce Vita (1960), performing as Sylvia Rank, the unattainable “dream woman” of the character played by Marcello Mastroianni. The film features a scene of her cavorting in Rome’s Trevi Fountain alongside Mastroianni, which has been called “one of cinema’s most iconic scenes”. She then accepted a role in The Dam on the Yellow River in 1960. She then appeared in Boccaccio ’70 (1962), a film that also featured Sophia Loren and Romy Schneider. Soon thereafter, Ekberg was being considered to play the first Bond girl, Honey Ryder in Dr. No, but the role went to the then-unknown Ursula Andress. She married actor Rik Van Nutter in 1963. Ekberg co-starred with Andress, Sinatra and Martin in the western-comedy 4 for Texas (1963). Fellini would call her back for two more films: The Clowns (1972) and Intervista (1987), in the latter of which she appeared as herself, in a reunion scene with Mastroianni. In 1975 she divorced her second husband, and never remarried. Her last work was in 1996’s Bambola, a French-Spanish-Italian erotic melodrama film written and directed by Bigas Luna. She welcomed Swedish journalists into her house outside Rome and in 2005 appeared on the popular radio program Sommar, and talked about her life. She stated in an interview that she would not move back to Sweden before her death since she would be buried there. In July 2009 she was admitted to the San Giovanni Hospital in Rome after falling ill in her home in Genzano according to a medical official in the hospital’s neurosurgery department. Despite her condition not being serious, Ekberg was put under observation in the facility. In December of 2011 it was reported that the 80-year-old Ekberg was “destitute” following three months in a Rimini hospital with a broken hip, during which her home was robbed of jewelry and furniture, and her villa was badly damaged in a fire. Ekberg applied for help from the Fellini Foundation, which also found itself in difficult financial straits. Her funeral service was held at the Lutheran-Evangelical Christuskirche in Rome, after which her body was cremated and her remains were buried at the cemetery of Skanör Church in Sweden (died 2015): “If you want la dolce vita, it is how you look at life. When I go back to Rome, my roses will be in bloom again.”

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