Daily Update: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Philip and James

Today is the Feast of Saint Philip (died c. 80) and Saint James (died c.62), Apostles, and today is the second of three Minor Rogation Days in the Catholic Church.

Saint Philip was born in Bethsaida, Palestine, and was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Becoming one of the Twelve Apostles, he brought Nathanael to Christ. Little is known about him, but scriptural episodes give the impression of a shy, naive, but practical individual. He preached in Greece and Asia Minor. Various legendary accounts give his form of martyrdom either that of crucifixion or beheading. Gnostic Christians appealed to the apostolic authority of Philip, ascribing a number of Gnostic texts to him, most notably the Gospel of Philip from the Nag Hammadi library. He is the Patron Saint of hatters, of pastry chefs, of Cape Verde, and of Uruguay. Saint James was a cousin of Jesus, and the brother of Saint Jude Thaddeus, and raised in a Jewish home of the time with all the training in Scripture and Law that was part of that life. One of the Twelve Apostles, he was one of the first to see the risen Christ. Becoming the first Bishop of Jerusalem, he met with Saint Paul the Apostle to work out Paul’s plans for evangelization; he supported the position that Gentile converts did not have to obey all Jewish religious law, though he continued to observe it himself as part of his heritage. A just and apostolic man known for his prayer life and devotion to the poor, he was martyred when beaten to death with a fuller’s club at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel. He is the Patron Saint of apothecaries, pharmacists, and druggists, of fullers and milliners, and of Uruguay. This Tuesday is the second of three Minor Rogation Days (the three days before the Feast of the Ascension), and is a day when we ask for the blessings of God upon our crops and our undertakings. The Minor Rogations were introduced by Saint Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, and were afterwards ordered by the Fifth Council of Orléans, which was held in 511, and then approved by Leo III (795-816). They were removed from the General Calendar in 1969, but I note them in this weblog.

I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Fifth Day of my Ascension Novena. (Due to Louisiana’s deep Catholic roots, several Parishes are named for Feasts (Assumption and Ascension Parishes),  the Blessed Virgin Mary (Saint Mary), and Saints (St. Landry, St. Charles, St Bernard, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist), along with the usual crop of Parishes named for political figures, explorers, Indian tribes, Indian chiefs, and whatnot. So it is hard for me to type of my Ascension Novena without thinking of Ascension Parish, down south from East Baton Rouge Parish.) When we got to the casino we signed the Early Out list; only one or two people got out early, and we were not among them. Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and a Blackjack table; I was on on a Blackjack table, closed the table, on the Sit-Down Blackjack table, closed that table, changed Blackjack cards, and then was on Three Card Poker for the rest of the day.

After we clocked out I went to the Pharmacy, but my prescriptions were not in yet; I was told they were awaiting the confirmation from my doctor (my psych) to renew the prescriptions. (More anon.) On our way home Richard got groceries at Wal-Mart. When we got home the mail had already been delivered; I ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper, then took a nap until about 5:00 pm. I worked on a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts, then worked on my July 2016 photos for this weblog. At 7:00 pm Richard made dinner of grilled ribeye steaks and baked sweet potatoes. And when I finish this Daily Update I will do some reading and head for bed.

We have no Saints to honor tomorrow (nor will for a few days) but it is the third of the three Minor Rogation Days. Tomorrow is Star Wars Day (as in, May the Fourth be with you). And the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower should occur in the predawn hours (weather permitting), radiating from the southeast. Tomorrow at sunset begins Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day or Holocaust Day), Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its allies, and of commemoration for the Jewish resistance in that period. It being a Wednesday, I will be doing my laundry and the Weekly Computer Maintenance; I will also call my psych’s office about my prescriptions, write a letter to Matthew and Callie, and package up my stuff to return to Amazon. I hope to have all of this done by the late morning, at which time I will head to Lafayette to put in some comfy chair time at Barnes and Noble.

Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Herbert Blau, American theater director. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926, his major outlet as a child was baseball, and his only theater experience was a grade school play. He went to New York University and earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1947. While there, he wrote a couple of plays, and at the urging of a friend sent them to Yale and Stanford along with an application to their drama schools; both offered him fellowships. At this point he had still never seen a play. He was doing very well in his engineering studies, so he spent much of his senior year going to performance after performance and reading Shakespeare and Chekhov. At Stanford he earned a master’s degree in drama. He switched to English, earning a Ph.D. with a dissertation on T. S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats. As co-founder (with Jules Irving) of The Actor’s Workshop in San Francisco (1952–1965) and co-director of the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center in New York City (1965–67), Blau introduced American audiences to avant-garde drama in some of the country’s first productions of Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, and Harold Pinter. Through a chain of acquaintances, the troupe was asked to put on a play at San Quentin State Prison in 1957 to replace a traditional variety show done by inmates. The Beckett play Waiting for Godot was chosen after prison officials specified that none of the actors could be women. The prisoners, used to waiting themselves, loved it, and started their own drama group as a result. The performance became the subject of a 2010 documentary, The Impossible Itself, and a legend in the development of absurdist theater. Beckett himself thought the review in the prison newspaper reflected the best understanding of the play he had seen. This same production of Waiting for Godot represented American theater at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, even after extra-legal State Department maneuvers during the second Red scare denied travel permission for unstated political reasons to a member of the company. Blau went on to become a passionate voice for less conventionality in theater. In his 1964 book The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto, he denounced the “failure and fatuousness” of the American theater. The book generated considerable attention in theater circles, most of it positive, and the next year the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center hired Blau and Irving as joint directors. Irving stayed until 1972, but Blau left after two years. In 1968 Blau signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. In 1971, after three years as a dean and provost at the newly formed California Institute of the Arts, Blau formed the experimental group KRAKEN, where he continued presenting challenging productions for another decade. The two books that emerged from that work, Take Up the Bodies: Theater at the Vanishing Point (University of Illinois Press, 1982) and Blooded Thought: Occasions of Theater (Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982), received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. In 2011 he wrote As If: An Autobiography, Volume 1 (he never got around to Volume 2) (died 2013): “There are times when, confronted with the despicable behavior of people in the American theater, I feel like Lear on the heath, wanting to kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!”

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