Daily Update: Monday, November 14th, 2016

11-14 - Bombing of Coventry

No Saints today, but it was on this date in 1940 when the city of Coventry, England, in the West Midlands, was the target of a massive bombing raid by the German Luftwaffe.

Firemen from throughout the Midlands came to fight the fires caused by the massive Coventry bombing but found that each brigade had different connections for their hoses. Consequently much fire-fighting equipment could not be used. The attack destroyed most of the center of the city; 568 people were killed, 4,330 homes were destroyed and thousands more damaged. Industry was also hard hit with 75% of factories being damaged, although war production was only briefly disrupted with much of it being continued in shadow factories around the city and further afield. The devastation was so great that the word Koventrieren (to “Coventrate”, or to annihilate or reduce to rubble) entered the German and English languages. The 14th century Cathedral of St. Michael’s was largely destroyed, leaving only the outer walls and spire. At 300 feet high, the spire of St. Michael’s was claimed to be the third tallest cathedral spire in England, after Salisbury and Norwich; due to its architectural design (in 1940 the tower had no internal wooden floors and a stone vault below the belfry) it survived the destruction of the rest of the cathedral. The words ‘Father Forgive’ were inscribed on the wall of the ruined chancel and two charred beams which had fallen in the shape of a cross were bound and placed on an altar of rubble. A replica of the Charred Cross built in 1964 has replaced the original in the ruins of the old cathedral on an altar of rubble. The original is now kept on the stairs linking the cathedral with St Michael’s Hall below. Three medieval nails were formed into a cross and the Cross of Nails became a potent sign of friendship and hope in the post war years. There are over 160 Cross of Nails Centres all over the world, all of them bearing a cross made of three nails from the ruins, similar to the original one. They are co-ordinated by the International Centre for Reconciliation. A medieval cross of nails has also been carried on board all British warships who subsequently bear the name HMS Coventry. The new Coventry Cathedral was opened in 1962 next to the ruins of the old.

We woke up in our room at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Pueblo, Colorado at 6:30 am. I did my Book Devotional Reading, we checked out of our motel and ate the Continental breakfast while reading the local paper, and we left at 7:45 am. At 7:54 am the Full Moon arrived. I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Fourth Day of my Novena to Christ the King. We entered New Mexico at 9:30 am, and I continued reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

We entered Texas at 11:15 MST, or 12:15 CST. At 1:00 pm I ate lunch at the McDonald’s in Dalhart, Texas; Richard was not hungry, but ate a roast beef wrap from the ice chest when we started off again. I finished reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, and did my Book Review of the book for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts. I then finished reading the September / October 2016 issue of The Bible Today.

Just after 6:00 pm we checked into our room at the Best Western in Henrietta, Texas, where we stayed two years ago on our way home from vacation. I ate a roast beef poboy, and we called Michelle; Callie and the baby will be leaving early on Wednesday to fly home to South Carolina, and they will not be back to Southwestcentral Louisiana this year. Our New Orleans Pelicans (1-9, 0-2) are playing a home NBA game with the Boston Celtics (5-4, 2-0), but I am going to bed, so I will record the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor (died 1280). We will head for the Waco Mammoth National Monument in Waco, Texas, then get a room down the road. Our LSU Tigers (1-0, 0-0) will play a home College Basketball game with the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagle tomorrow evening.

Our Parting Quote on this Monday Evening comes to us from Glen A. Larson, American television producer and writer. Born as Glen Albert Larson in 1937 in Long Beach, California, he began his career in the entertainment industry in 1956 as a member of the vocal group The Four Preps, with whom he appeared in Gidget (1959). The Four Preps ultimately produced three gold records for Capitol, all of which Larson himself wrote and / or composed: “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)”, “Big Man”, and “Down by the Station.” After working for Quinn Martin on productions including The Fugitive (where he had his first writing credit in 1966), Larson signed a production deal with Universal Studios. His first hit series was Alias Smith and Jones (1971 – 1972), a Western which described the activities of Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah “Kid” Curry, concentrating on their efforts to go straight. (George Roy Hill’s 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, scripted by William Goldman, is commonly believed to have been the inspiration for the series.) Larson was involved in the development for television of The Six Million Dollar Man in 1973, based on Martin Caidin’s novel Cyborg, into the successful series, and was one of the program’s early executive producers. Larson later secured a then-unprecedented $1 million per episode budget for Battlestar Galactica in 1978. Originally, the series was intended to be called Adam’s Ark, and the show incorporated many themes from Mormon theology, such as marriage for “time and eternity” and a “council of twelve.” Larson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had been working on the concept since 1968, and former Star Trek producer Gene L. Coon had mentored him in its early development. Larson initially renamed the series Galactica but was then convinced to include the word “star” in the title in some way, in order to capitalize on the popularity of the recently released Star Wars, eventually deciding on Battlestar Galactica. Even with its generous budget, the series often recycled effects shots; it was canceled after one season. The pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica, titled “Saga of a Star World” in the program continuity, was edited into a two-hour theatrical film released in North America and Europe (a second theatrical release, titled Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack, was compiled by re-editing other episodes of the series). After the series was canceled, Larson went on to create a relatively low-budget sequel to the series, titled Galactica 1980, which was set many years later, when the Galactica had reached Earth. This series was less successful than the original and was canceled after 10 episodes. Larson re-used some of the sets, props, costumes, and effects work from Battlestar Galactica for the light-hearted sci-fi series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in 1979. Based on the comic-book character created in 1928 by Philip Francis Nowlan, Larson co-developed the series with Leslie Stevens. The feature-length pilot episode was released as a theatrical film in March 1979 and grossed $21 million at the North American box office. The weekly television series began in September 1979, running for two seasons until April 1981. In the 1980s Larson had further success as one of the creators of Magnum, P.I., which ran from 1980-88. Additionally, Larson created The Fall Guy, which ran from 1981-86. A later member of the Four Preps, David Somerville, and a session singer he knew, Gail Jensen,  collaborated with Larson to write and compose “The Unknown Stuntman,” as the theme from The Fall Guy; series lead Lee Majors performed this song over the opening titles. Larson’s next prominent series was Knight Rider, which featured science-fiction elements with a light-hearted action-adventure scenario and limited violence. These basic elements characterized many of Larson’s series’ throughout the 1980s with Automan, Manimal and The Highwayman, though all of these shows were unsuccessful and none lasted more than a single season. Larson’s profile declined, though he made a brief comeback in the 1990s with an adaptation of the Ultraverse comic Night Man, which lasted two seasons. In 2003 Battlestar Galactica was remade for the Sci-Fi Channel as a miniseries; it was followed by a 2004 series, that, unlike the original, lasted multiple seasons and followed the Galacticans all the way to Earth. Larson was not involved in any capacity with the new series, which Ronald D. Moore had developed, though he did receive a screen credit as “Consulting Producer.” Much was different in the new series, which was now aimed at mature audiences rather than being family fare like the original. The Cylons were now created by humans, and some of them now even looked human; there was more moral duality, complexity, and nuance in both humans and Cylons; the social commentary was more explicit; and the resolution of the “Earth” problem was different. After the series ended in 2009, a short-lived prequel series, Caprica, followed in 2010. Larson was not involved with this series either, though he was given a screen credit for the creation of certain characters. In February 2009 media sources reported that Larson was in talks with Universal Pictures to bring Battlestar Galactica to the big screen, though any potential feature film would not be based on the recent Sci-Fi Channel series remake, but would possibly be based on the original series. Although Bryan Singer was listed to direct and co-produce, the project stalled for some time before being re-announced in 2011 by Singer himself. The film version was to be no longer a continuation of the original series but rather a complete remake. Despite his success, much criticism has been aimed at Larson for his perceived general lack of originality arising from the fact that many of his television series are seen as small screen “knock-offs” of feature films. The noted sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison once referred to him as “Glen Larceny” for the notorious similarities between Larson’s shows and cinema blockbusters. In his 2011 autobiography The Garner Files, James Garner stated that Larson stole a number of plots of The Rockford Files (which Garner’s production company co-produced), then used them for his own shows, putting different characters in them. Garner’s group complained to the Writer’s Guild and Larson was fined, but Garner felt that the fine had taught Larson nothing when he persisted in plagiarism and later copied the theme music from The Rockford Files for one of his shows. Garner stated that when Larson subsequently showed up on the “Rockford” set, he put his arm around Garner and said “I hope there are no hard feelings, Jim.” After Larson ignored a warning by Garner to take his arm off him, Garner claims that he punched Larson so hard that Larson “flew across the curb, into a motor home, and out the other side.” In July 2011 Larson launched a lawsuit against Universal Studios, alleging a decades-long fraud and claimed the studio had not paid him a share of the profits owed from the television shows he produced while working with them. Larson’s involvement with Universal had begun in the 1970s, and his contractual agreement had secured him net profits from the revenues generated by the shows he worked on as a producer, including The Six Million Dollar Man, Quincy, M.E., Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Magnum, P.I., and Knight Rider (died 2014): “There’s nothing that could dampen my enthusiasm for how much fun it has been to do programs that the audience seems to have enjoyed, and enjoyed a lot.”

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