Daily Update: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Turbius de Mongrovejo and Purim

Today is Wednesday of Holy Week. Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Turibius de Mongrovejo, Bishop (died 1606). Today is also the birthday of Richard’s brother Michael (aka Slug) here in town (1943). Finally, tonight at sunset we will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim.

In the Gospel readings for Wednesday of Holy Week, Judas went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. At the Last Supper, Jesus then astounded his disciples by saying, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Thus, this day has also become known as Spy Wednesday. Today’s Saint was born in 1538 at Mayorga de Campos, Leon, Spain, of the nobility, and became a lawyer and a Professor of law at the University of Salamanca, and Judge of the Court of the Inquisition at Granada. When the position of Archbishop of Peru became vacant he was selected as the best person to fill the vacancy, even though at the time he was still a layman and protested his unworthiness for the position. He was ordained priest, then bishop, then headed for Peru. He arrived at Paita, Peru, 600 miles from Lima, on May 24th, 1581. He began his mission work by travelling to Lima on foot, baptizing and teaching the natives. Three times he traversed the 180,000 square miles of his diocese, generally on foot, frequently defenceless and often alone; exposed to tempests, torrents, deserts, wild beasts, tropical heat, fevers and sometimes threats from hostile tribes; baptizing and confirming nearly one half million souls. He founded the first seminary in the Western hemisphere. He consistently fought for the rights of the natives against the Spanish masters, and organized councils and synods in the New World. He is the Patron Saint of Peru, of Latin American bishops, and of native rights. Today is also the birthday of Richard’s brother here in town. His father wanted his sons to have the nicknames Butch, Slug, and Spike (so far as I can determine, because they were characters in the original Nancy comic strip); so the first son, James, was nicknamed Butch, and the second son, Murphy Michael (the one whose birthday is today) was nicknamed Slug. Fourteen years and three daughters later, Richard arrived; and his sisters refused to let him be called Spike, so Richard he remained. However, there is a Spike in the family – the elder son of Slug, so the legacy lives on (1943). And turning to tonight’s Jewish holiday, the first religious ceremony ordained for the celebration of Purim is the reading of the Book of Esther (the Megillah) in the synagogue, a regulation ascribed in the Talmud (Megillah 2a) to the Sages of the Great Assembly, of which Mordecai (the cousin of Esther) is reported to have been a member. Originally this enactment was for the 14th of Adar only; later, however, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi (3rd century CE) prescribed that the Megillah should also be read on the eve of Purim. Further, he obliged women to attend the reading of the Megillah, inasmuch as it was a woman, Queen Esther, through whom the miraculous deliverance of the Jews was accomplished. Oddly enough, the Hebrew text of the book does not mention God at all. During the public service in many congregations, when the reader of the Megillah mentions the name of the villain Haman (54 occurrences), there is boisterous hissing, stamping, and rattling. Since the Book of Esther is long, with many descriptions, the term “megillah” is now also slang for “A tediously detailed or embroidered account”.

Last night our New Orleans Pelicans lost their home game with the Miami Heat by the score of 99 to 113, and our #10 ranked LSU Tigers won their baseball game with UL-Lafayette by the score of 8 to 5.

The Penumbral Lunar Eclipse began at 4:39 am, the Full Moon arrived at 7:04 am, and the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse ended at 8:54 am. I woke up at 8:30 am, started the Weekly Computer Maintenance, did my Book Devotional Reading, started my laundry, ate my breakfast toast while reading the morning paper, and did my Internet Devotional Reading. I then finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance, and started the Weekly Virus Scan. For lunch I made grilled cheese sandwiches, and I finished the Weekly Virus Scan. I also started reading The Truelove by Patrick O’Brian. We watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, and at 6:00 pm left the house and went down to Crowley to eat dinner at Fezzo’s. When we came back into town we stopped at Wal-Mart, and Richard got bread and some other groceries. We arrived home at 8:00 pm, and I am going to finish my Daily Update now and head towards bed.

Tomorrow is Holy Thursday, also know as Maundy Thursday. Tomorrow is the Remembrance of Venerable Óscar Romero, Bishop (died 1980), and the Jewish feast of Purim continues. I will get up early, as I will be leaving the house at 8:45 am for Lafayette to attend the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral at 10:30 am. I will get lunch on my way home and also stop at the grocery store for my salad supplies. Once home I will finish my laundry, iron my Casino pants, apron, and shirts, make my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday, watch Jeopardy!, and do my Daily Update. At 5:45 pm I will leave the house again to attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at my church, and when I get home I will go straight to bed. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the Indiana Pacers tomorrow evening, and our #10 ranked LSU Tigers will be playing the first game of a three-game away series with #2 Texas A&M tomorrow evening as well; I will record the scores of the games in my Friday Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote for the evening of Wednesday of Holy Week comes to us from Cindy Walker, American songwriter, singer, and dancer. Born in 1918 in Mart, Texas, the daughter of a cotton-broker, her mother was a fine pianist, and her maternal grandfather was a noted composer of hymns. From childhood Walker was fond of poetry and wrote habitually. As a teenager, inspired by newspaper accounts of the dust-storms on the American prairie-lands in the mid-1930s, she wrote the song, “Dusty Skies” (later recorded by Bob Wills and his band). In 1936 (when she was in her late teens) her song “Casa de Mañana” was performed by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (as part of the Texas Centennial celebrations). By the end of the decade Walker was singing and dancing in Texas stage shows. In 1940, at the age of twenty-two, she accompanied her parents on a business trip to Los Angeles, California. As they were driving down Sunset Boulevard she asked her father to stop the car near the Bing Crosby Enterprises building. Walker went inside the building to pitch a song and emerged shortly afterward to ask her mother to come play the piano for her; Bing Crosby’s brother Larry Crosby had agreed to listen to the song. She sang “Lone Star Trail” to him, accompanied by her mother. Larry Crosby was impressed and aware that his brother was looking for a new Western song to record. The next day Walker played guitar and sang “Lone Star Trail” for Bing Crosby at Paramount Studios (where he was making a movie). Crosby arranged for her to record a demo with Dave Kapp of Decca Records, who was also impressed and offered her a recording contract. “Lone Star Trail” was recorded and became a top-ten hit for Bing Crosby. Walker remained in Los Angeles for 13 years. In 1940 she appeared as a singer in the Gene Autry Western Ride Tenderfoot Ride. The Decca recording contract led to Walker recording several songs with Texas Jim Lewis and His Lone Star Cowboys, including “Seven Beers with the Wrong Man” in 1941, which was also filmed as an early ‘Soundie’ (a precursor of music videos). In 1944 she recorded a song (not her own) which became a top ten hit, “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again”. Walker successfully pitched her songs to Bob Wills and began to regularly contribute compositions for recordings and the movies that Wills made in the 1940s.The collaboration was extremely fruitful: Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys eventually recorded over 50 of her songs, including “Cherokee Maiden” (1941), “Dusty Skies” (1941), “Miss Molly” (1942), “Sugar Moon” (co-written with Bob Wills; 1947) and “Bubbles in My Beer” (1948). Bob Wills and his band performed her first top-ten country hit, “You’re From Texas” (1944). In 1948 the following Walker-penned songs were hits: “Oklahoma Waltz” (recorded by Johnny Bond), “Warm Red Wine” (Ernest Tubb) and “Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me” (Eddy Arnold). During the 1950s Walker continued her success as a writer of popular songs. In 1952 Hank Snow had a hit with her “The Gold Rush is Over” and in 1955 Webb Pierce had success with “I Don’t Care”.  Another Walker song was “Blue Canadian Rockies” recorded by Gene Autry (which featured in Autry’s 1952 movie of the same name). After her stint in Los Angeles she returned to Texas in 1954, living at Mexia in a modest three-bedroom house with her widowed mother, Oree.  In 1955 Eddy Arnold pitched her the song-title “You Don’t Know Me” when they met during a WSM deejay convention in Nashville. From this title Walker wrote a song for Arnold which has been recorded by numerous artists over the years, most successfully by Jerry Vale (1956); Lenny Welch (1960); Ray Charles (1962); and Elvis Presley (1967). Walker’s song,”Anna Marie”, was a hit for Jim Reeves in 1957 and the beginning of another productive artist-writer association which culminated in “This is It” (1965) and “Distant Drums” (a posthumous hit for Reeves). “Distant Drums” remained at No. 1 on the British charts for five weeks in 1966. In 1961 Eddy Arnold had a minor hit with Walker’s “Jim, I Wore a Tie Today”, a moving song about the death of a cowboy. She wrote the song “Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)”, which was recorded by Roy Orbison (who also recorded a version of “Distant Drums”). She originally had little confidence in “Dream Baby”, but Orbison’s recording was a hit in both the US and Britain in 1962. In 1964 Fred Foster of Monument Records “tempted her back into the studio to record an album, Words and Music by Cindy Walker. Her song “In The Misty Moonlight” was a hit for both Jerry Wallace (1964) and Dean Martin (1967). “Heaven Says Hello” (recorded by Sonny James) and “You Are My Treasure” (Jack Greene) were hits in 1968, both written by Walker. Blue Canadian Rockies” was revived in 1968 by The Byrds on their influential country-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. In 1970 she became a charter member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1981 Mickey Gilley’s version of “You Don’t Know Me” was a hit in the country charts. A year later Walker had her last major hit with Ricky Skaggs’ reworking of “I Don’t Care”. In her personal life she shunned the limelight. It was often reported that she never married, though in an interview with the New York Times shortly before her death Walker stated she once had “a very short-lived marriage”. Walker’s custom was rise at dawn each day to write songs; she typed her lyrics on a pink-trimmed manual typewriter, and her mother helped work out melodies for her daughter’s words. Each year Walker and her mother would operate from an apartment in Nashville for five months or so in order to market the songs. It has been estimated that more than 500 of her songs have been recorded and that her songs made the top-forty charts (country or pop) more than 400 times. In September 1997 Walker was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the next year she was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2001 the Country Music Television network honored the 40 Greatest Women in Country Music. The women were selected for their contribution to the genre by a survey of hundreds of American artists and music historians, and Walker was ranked at number 32 in the list (died 2006): “The songs just sing themselves to me. They kind of write themselves. I just stand back and listen.”

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