Daily Update: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Maria Goretti and Eid ul-Fitr

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (died 1902). And tonight at sunset (inshallah) is Eid-ul-Fitr, the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

Today’s Saint was born in 1890 in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, by the time she was six her family had become so poor that they were forced to give up their farm, move, and work for other farmers. In 1896 her family moved to Ferriere di Conca. Soon after, Maria’s father died of malaria, and the family was forced to move onto the Serenelli farm to survive. While her brothers, mother, and sister worked in the fields, Maria would cook, sew, watch her infant sister, and keep the house clean. In 1902 at age twelve, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farm-hand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape the girl, who fought and yelled that it was a sin and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her into submission, then stabbed her fourteen times. In a dying deposition, in the presence of the Chief of Police, Maria told her mother of Serenelli’s sexual harassment, and of two previous attempts made to rape her. She was afraid to reveal this earlier since she had been threatened with death by him. She survived in the hospital for two days, forgave her attacker, asked God’s forgiveness of him, and died holding a crucifix and medal of Our Lady. While in prison for his crime, Serenelli had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where a young girl, dressed in white, gathered lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared. After his release, Serenelli visited Maria’s still-living mother and begged her forgiveness. She forgave him, saying that if Maria had forgiven him on her deathbed then she couldn’t do less, and they attended Mass together the next day, receiving Holy Communion side by side. Her mother attended her daughter’s beatification in 1947, and both she and Serenelli were at her canonization ceremony in 1950. Serenelli later became a laybrother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, living in a monastery and working as its receptionist and gardener until dying peacefully in 1970. Saint Maria Goretti is the Patron Saint of teenage girls, modern youth, victims of rape, crime victims, and of Children of Mary Sodalities. Turning to the end of Ramadan, Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity” or “holiday”, while Fiṭr means “breaking the fast”, so Eid-ul-Fitr is “the holiday of breaking the fast”. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The first day of Eid-ul-Fitr, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. (Determining when an Islamic month begins is more of a work of art than a work of science; for this weblog, I am relying on the ruling from the Fiqh Council of North America.)

I woke up at 7:30 am, and started the Weekly Computer Maintenance. (The Weekly Backup did not do its thing last night, as I was not awake to make sure that the Backup Drive was on, so I started that as well.) I did my Book Devotional Reading and started my laundry, then did my Internet Devotional Reading. I then ate my breakfast toast and read the morning paper. I then did my Daily Update for yesterday, Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, by which time Richard had woken up (he is all stiff from wrestling with putting up the ceiling fan in the guest room all afternoon yesterday).

I left the house at 11:00 am, and left off an in-town bill payment; I then went to Valero, where I gassed up my car and purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing. I then left off another in-town bill payment, and headed down to Lafayette. Once in the Hub City, I stopped at Cracker Barrel, where I purchased a set of LSU auto coasters and a set of Saints auto coasters. At Piccadilly Cafeteria I ate my lunch and continued reading Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf. At the Lafayette Public Library – Southside Branch I picked up The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (our next Third tuesday Book Club book). I then went to Barnes and Noble, where I put in some comfy chair time and read the July 4th – July 11th issue of Sports Illustrated.

Arriving home just after 4:15 pm (Richard had gathered the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb), I watched Jeopardy!, then repaired to the computer. I finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance, and worked on my genealogy. Richard went to Little Caesars and brought back pizza pizza, which we ate for dinner. And now I am doing today’s Daily Update; when I finish I will start the Weekly Virus Scan and get ready to go to bed.

Tomorrow is the first full day of Eid-ul-Fitr in the Islamic calendar. Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor; instead we will recall that tomorrow is the anniversary of the first loaves of sliced bread being sold in 1928 in Chillicothe, Missouri. (Being a person who likes her breakfast toast on her days off, and also being a person who has made homemade bread on occasion, I do realize that sliced bread is great.) I will finish my laundry, get my salad supplies, and make my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday.

Our Parting Quote this Wednesday evening comes to us from Jerry Weintraub, American talent agent, concert promoter, film producer and actor. Born as Jerome Weintraub in 1936 in Brooklyn, New York, he was raised in the Bronx, and his father was a gem dealer. While growing up, he worked as a theater usher and as a waiter in the Catskills. After several years at MCA, where he first started work as a mailroom clerk, he left and formed his own personal management company. While at MCA, he was assistant to Lew Wasserman, whom he thought of as a father figure. In the 1960s, he co-founded the vocal group The Doodletown Pipers. Among the acts that Weintraub managed at this time were Paul Anka, Shelley Berman, Pat Boone, Joey Bishop, The Four Seasons, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett and singer Jane Morgan, whom he would later marry in 1965, when he was 28 and she was 41. Weintraub was the manager of singer and actor John Denver whom he signed in 1970. Weintraub first saw Denver performing at a small club in Greenwich Village and liked his easy, “mountaineer’s” manner. Weintraub produced a dozen television music specials starring Denver, winning an Emmy for one of them. Denver and Weintraub’s professional relationship ended acrimoniously, however. Meanwhile, in 1970 Weintraub convinced Elvis Presley and his manager, Col. Tom Parker, to do his first national tour, something they had not considered, as Elvis was by then a successful film star. The tour, with a modern sound system created for it, helped develop Weintraub’s career as a concert promoter. He next promoted a tour for Frank Sinatra in 1974, whom Weintraub first put in Madison Square Garden’s boxing arena. For the previous six years, Sinatra had basically retired due to the failure of his last album. Weintraub convinced him to do a tour, which led to Sinatra’s transformation from saloon singer to stadium singer. Bob Dylan signed with Weintraub in 1978 after watching a Neil Diamond concert in Las Vegas, knowing that Weintraub had managed the impressive event. He began a world tour beginning in Japan which continued through Europe and the U.S., in total performing 114 shows in front of two million people. Weintraub also managed or promoted concerts for such musical acts as Cuba Gooding, Sr., the Main Ingredient, The Carpenters, The Moody Blues, and The Beach Boys. Weintraub’s first film as a producer was Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975). Until then, United Artists producer David Picker had dismissed the script and would not make the film. A short time later, Weintraub was hosting a party for John Denver in New York, and among the guests he invited was Altman, whom he admired but had never met. “Altman pulled Weintraub aside,” recalls the film’s screenwriter, Joan Tewkesbury, “and over a shared joint” Altman told Weintraub about the script. After another meeting with Altman, Weintraub was hooked on the story. However, no studio wanted to work with Altman, telling Weintraub that the director was a “pain in the ass”. Weintraub eventually managed to find investors and gave Altman the $2 million he needed to make the film. Following Nashville, Weintraub’s credits as producer over the next few years included Oh, God! (1977, starring John Denver), September 30, 1955 (1978), Cruising (1980), All Night Long (1981), and Diner (1982). The success of The Karate Kid (1984), the same year he got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, led Kirk Kerkorian, then owner of MGM/UA, to appoint Weintraub as chairman and CEO of the neglected United Artists division, with Weintraub acquiring a minority stake, but clashes between the two men led to Weintraub’s departure after five months. He produced the first sequel to The Karate KidThe Karate Kid, Part II (1986). In 1986 the National Association of Theater Owners named Weintraub the Producer of the Year. Weintraub formed Weintraub Entertainment Group (WEG) in February 1987 with $461 million in financing from Columbia Pictures, Cineplex Odeon and others. WEG also signed a 20-year distribution deal with Columbia, and planned to release seven or more movies per year. He next produced The Karate Kid, Part III (1989). In 1990 WEG filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Weintraub then produced for Warner Bros. WEG also subsequently settled a suit brought against it by Columbia. In 1991 he was named to the board of the Kennedy Center. Weintraub’s later films as producer were Happy New Year (1987), Pure Country (1992), The Specialist (1994), The Next Karate Kid (1994), Vegas Vacation (1997, in which he played the small role of “Gilly from Philly”, a high roller casino gambler with two pals), The Newton Boys (1998), The Avengers (1998), Soldier (1998), Nancy Drew (2007), The Karate Kid (2010), and the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven, in which he founded the company JW Productions. In addition to producing Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), he appeared in all the Ocean films. In 2007 a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him. On a 2010 television appearance of The View, Weintraub made a handshake deal with Whoopi Goldberg to play the next God in a future Oh, God! sequel, should a favorable script become available. A television documentary film about Weintraub’s life, called His Way, directed by Douglas McGrath, was broadcast on HBO in 2011. That same year he wrote his autobiography, When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man. He was executive producer of HBO’s series, The Brink, and HBO’s Behind the Candelabra in 2013, an Emmy-winning drama about the last ten years in the life of pianist, Liberace. In 2014 he also won an Emmy as co-producer of Years of Living Dangerously, a television documentary about global warming. Weintraub was a loyal supporter of the Republican Party, and was friends with George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. He also had a strong spiritual side, which he once described to television host Larry King. He was a devotee of The Lubavitcher Rebbe and believed in his mystical powers. Weintraub was also involved in various philanthropic endeavors, from aiding health education, promoting the arts, and working alongside George Clooney to end genocide in Darfur (died 2015): “When I believe in something, it’s going to get done.”

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