Daily Update: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

John of God

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint John of God, Religious (died 1550).

Born as Juan Ciudad in 1495 in Montemoro Novo, Evora, Portugal, today’s Saint grew up working as a shepherd in the Castile region of Spain. He led a wild and misspent youth, and traveled over much of Europe and north Africa as a soldier in the army of Charles V and as a mercenary. He fought through a brief period of insanity, then peddled religious books and pictures in Gibraltar, though without any religious conviction himself. In his 40’s he received a vision of the Infant Jesus who called him John of God. To make up for the misery he had caused as a soldier, he left the military, rented a house in Granada, Spain, and began caring for the sick, poor, homeless and unwanted. He gave what he had, begged for those who couldn’t, carried those who could not move on their own, and converted both his patients and those who saw him work with them. He founded the the Order of Hospitallers, now better known as the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, who care for the sick in countries around the world. One mark of honor to his labors is that this order has been officially entrusted with the medical and dental care of the Pope. He is the Patron Saint of booksellers, hospitals, nurses, the mentally ill, and the dying.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. At the casino we decided to sign the Early Out list as the first and second dealers. When we clocked in Richard was on Flop Poker and I was on Mississippi Stud, but we were not at out tables long, as we got out at 3:15 am. On our way home I did my Daily Update for yesterday, Monday, March 7th, 2015 6 via WordPress for Android, and Richard stopped at Wal-Mart for some Diet Dr. Pepper. We arrived home at 4:15 am, and I went back to bed.

I woke up again at 8:30 am and read the morning paper; I then worked on Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog. Next, I finished reading The Letter of Marque by Patrick O’Brian. Richard went to Zeus On the Go for our lunch, and we watched CSI: Cyber “5 Deadly Sins” via On Demand. I then got back on the computer and did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The Letter of Marque by Patrick O’Brian. I also started reading the next book in the series, The Thirteen Gun Salute by Patrick O’Brian. I then spent the rest of the afternoon working on Advance Daily Update Drafts. At 4:30 pm I watched Jeopardy!. The Total Solar Eclipse began at 6:15 pm, and will continue until 9:38 pm (not that I could see it anyway; it is very blustery and windy outside). Our #7 ranked LSU Baseball team will be playing a single home game with Louisiana Tech tonight, and I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update. And the New Moon will arrive at 7:56 pm. Right now I will finish my Daily Update and take a bath, and then turn in fairly early.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Frances of Rome, Religious (died 1440). I will do the Weekly Computer Maintenance and my laundry, and late in the morning I will head to Mamou for my Dental Appointment at 12:30 pm. If it is not actively storming I might then head to Lafayette to spend some comfy chair time in Barnes and Noble. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the Charlotte Hornets, and our #7 ranked LSU Baseball team will be playing a single home game with McNeese State.

This Tuesday evening our Parting Quote comes from Sam Simon, American writer, director, and producer. Born as Samuel Simon in 1955 in Los Angeles, California, his family was of Estonian Jewish heritage. He grew up in Beverly Hills and Malibu, and was interested in art from a young age, appearing on televised local art programs at the age of five. He once was told by Walt Disney that he would one day work at his studio. He was on his high school football team and served as a cartoonist for his high school paper. He had not wished to attend college, but Stanford persuaded him to apply due to his sufficient grades and proficiency at football; Simon quit the football team after one day. He drew comics for the college newspaper, but was denied admission to a drawing class for not being talented enough. Simon majored in psychology, but did not focus on his academics. While still at Stanford, Simon’s first job was a newspaper sports cartoonist for The San Francisco Chronicle and The San Francisco Examiner. After graduating in 1977 he worked as a television storyboard artist, and later a writer, at Filmation Studios. There he worked on several animated shows, including The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Simon recalls Filmation approving of his work because he was “self-taught and unschooled,”but he felt the majority of what the studio produced was “awful”. On the suggestion of Filmation producer Lou Scheimer who was impressed by Simon’s writing ability, Simon submitted a spec script for the series Taxi which was produced and aired in 1981 during its third season. Simon was hired as a writer, quickly becoming showrunner for its fifth and final season in 1983. He next worked as a writer and producer on Cheers from seasons one to three (1982–1985), writing five episodes. He created, wrote and produced the short-lived sitcom Shaping Up in 1984, alongside Ken Estin; the show starred Leslie Nielsen as a gym owner and ran for five episodes on ABC. Simon also wrote and produced for Best of the West (1981), Barney Miller (1982) and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (1987–1988), and wrote the 1991 film The Super. Simon co-developed the animated series The Simpsons, which premiered on the Fox network in 1989 and has remained on air ever since. The show is regarded as one of the greatest television shows of all time, with Time magazine naming it the 20th century’s best series. Simon served alongside Matt Groening (who conceived the show and the five main characters) and James L. Brooks as executive producer and showrunner for the show’s first (1989–1990) and second (1990–1991) seasons, and was creative supervisor for the first four seasons. He assembled and led the initial team of writers, consisting of John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, George Meyer, Jeff Martin, Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky. Simon crafted much of the world of Springfield and designed the models for many of the show’s recurring characters, including Mr. Burns, Dr. Hibbert, Chief Wiggum and Eddie and Lou, as well as many of the one-time and guest star roles, such as Bleeding Gums Murphy. One of his contributions to the show’s character development was his proposal that Waylon Smithers should be gay, but that this should never have too much attention drawn to it; Smithers’ sexuality became one of the show’s longest-running gags. Although they initially worked well together, Simon and Groening’s relationship became “very contentious” according to Groening. Simon never expected the show to be a success, often proclaiming to fellow staff members “We’re thirteen and out”—meaning that the show would be canceled after the thirteen episodes of the first season. Therefore, he also told the staff that they had creative freedom to do whatever they wanted to make The Simpsons as good a show as possible, regardless of network or public opinion, because he thought it inevitably would not be renewed; he elaborated in 2009 that “really I was saying that to take the pressure off of everyone. I was just saying let’s just go out and make 13 episodes that are really good and really funny.” However, Groening interpreted it as meaning Simon was uncommitted and did not care whether the show was a success or not, as Simon’s career would survive, whereas his own would not. According to John Ortved’s book The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History, when the show became successful Simon resented the media attention Groening received, particularly the praise for the show’s writing; Simon felt that Groening’s involvement was limited, and that he should have been the one receiving credit for the show. As well as Groening, Simon was often at odds with Brooks and production company Gracie Films. Simon left Gracie Films and The Simpsons in 1993. Before leaving, he negotiated a deal that saw him receive a share of the show’s profits every year, particularly from home media, and an executive producer credit despite not having worked on the show since 1993. The deal means he made over $10 million a year from The Simpsons. Simon was a long time fan of boxing, attending fights with his grandfather, but his interest increased particularly after seeing the 1990 heavyweight championship fight between Evander Holyfield and James “Buster” Douglas. He began training and won six out of nine amateur fights; he was also a reserve contestant on the Fox series Celebrity Boxing. In January 1994 Simon co-created with comedian George Carlin the sitcom The George Carlin Show for Fox. It aired for 27 episodes before being canceled in December 1995. Simon served as showrunner throughout its run and directed several episodes. Carlin wrote negatively of his relationship with Simon, saying “Sam Simon was a f—ing horrible person to be around. Very, very funny, extremely bright and brilliant, but an unhappy person who treated other people poorly.” In the late 1990s Simon primarily worked as a director. He directed on the American adaptation of the sitcom Men Behaving Badly in 1996, the Friends season three episode “The One Without the Ski Trip” in 1997, and several episodes of The Norm Show (1999) and The Michael Richards Show (2000). He met heavyweight boxer Lamon Brewster in 1997 and began managing him, helping him rise to the top of the WBO rankings. He considered guiding Brewster to his April 2004 victory over Wladimir Klitschko to win the vacant WBO Heavyweight Championship, with Klitschko the heavy favorite, to be amongst the greatest moments of his life. Before the Klitschko fight, Simon calculated he had spent several hundred thousand dollars funding Brewster, paying him a large salary on top of match fees as well as letting him stay rent-free at one of his houses, and taking only a 10% cut of the match fees; however, he never intended boxing to be a substantial “source of revenue”.  Simon retired from boxing management soon after Brewster became WBO Heavyweight Champion. From 1998 to 2003, he served as a consulting producer and director for The Drew Carey Show, and directed the show’s series finale. Starting in 2002 Simon self-funded, at an annual cost of several million dollars, the Sam Simon Foundation dedicated to rescuing and retraining stray dogs who would otherwise be euthanized. He was also a creative consultant on Bless This House in 1996. Simon then retired from full-time television work, although he still worked in the media, frequently contributing, as a writer and a participant, to Howard Stern’s radio shows. He competed at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) each year between 2007 and 2011, finishing in the money in six events. In 2011 Simon established and self-funded the Sam Simon Foundation Feeding Families program, a vegan food bank which provides food for people and animals in need; the program helps feed some 400 families per day. Simon returned to television production work in 2012, serving as a consultant and director on the series Anger Management for half a day a week. He donated an undisclosed sum to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 2012 for the purpose of purchasing another vessel for their fleet, the MY Sam Simon, which was unveiled in December 2012. Simon was also a board member for Save the Children, and hosted the largest annual fundraiser for PETA, who named him an Honorary Director and their Norfolk, Virginia headquarters building after him. Simon won nine Primetime Emmy Awards and received ten further nominations for his work. In 2013 Simon was awarded the Writers Guild of America Award Animation Writers Caucus lifetime achievement award for his work in animation; the following year the WGA awarded him the Valentine Davies Award for his humanitarian and philanthropic efforts. In late 2012 Simon was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer which later metastasized to his other organs, including his liver and kidneys. He had been feeling ill for some time and had earlier been misdiagnosed. He was given between three and six months to live; chemotherapy treatment reduced the size of his tumors over the following six months. He arranged for his fortune to be left to various charitable causes (died 2015) “In the beginning, I was skeptical [The Simpsons] could be successful, but I was not skeptical it could be good. I was hoping for 13 episodes that my friends would like. It’s a good lesson, isn’t it? If you do something trying to make your friends laugh and that you can be proud of, you can also be successful.”

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