Daily Update: Thursday, January 5th, 2017

John Nepmucene Neumann, 01-05 - Twelfth Day of Christmas, and Twelfth Night

Today is the Memorial of Saint John Nepmucene Neumann, Bishop (died 1860). Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas (cue the drummers), which means tonight is Twelfth Night, the Eve of the traditional date of the Feast of the Epiphany.

Today’s Saint was born in 1811 in Prachititz, Bohemia (Czech Republic), was an excellent student, and felt the draw early to religious life. As a seminarian at Budweis, Bohemia in 1831 John Neumann studied astronomy and botany in addition to theological topics; he then studied theology at Charles Ferdinand University at Prague in 1833. When the time came for his ordination as a priest, his bishop was sick; the ordination was never re-scheduled as Bohemia had an over-abundance of priests. John decided to go to America to ask for ordination and to work with emigres, so he walked most of the way to France, then took ship for America. Arriving unannounced in Manhattan in 1836, Bishop John Dubois of New York was overjoyed to see him as there were only 36 priests for the 200,000 Catholics in the Diocese of New York (which was all of New York State and half of New Jersey). John was promptly ordained on June 28th, 1836, and sent to Buffalo, where he elected to work in the rural areas around the city. John’s parishioners were from many lands and tongues, but John knew twelve languages, and worked with them all. He joined the Redemptorists at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1840, taking his vows at Baltimore, Maryland in 1841, the first Redemptorist to do so in the United States. Neumann became naturalized as a citizen of the United States in Baltimore in 1848. In 1852 he became Bishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and proceeded to build fifty new churches in his diocese, along with beginning to build a cathedral. He opened almost one hundred schools, and the number of parochial school students in his diocese grew from 500 to 9,000. He wrote newspaper articles, two catechisms, and many works in German. In 1977 he became the first American male citizen, and the first American Bishop, to be canonized. He is the Patron Saint of Catholic Education. Today is also the Twelfth Day of Christmas, with twelve drummers drumming according to the traditional verses. It is worth noting that if I kept all the gifts my true love gave to me, I would by now have twelve partridges in pear trees, twenty-two turtle doves, thirty French hens, thirty-six calling birds, forty golden rings, forty-two geese a-laying, forty-two swans a-swimming, forty maids a-milking, thirty-six ladies dancing, thirty lords a-leaping, twenty-tw0 pipers piping, and twelve drummers drumming, or three hundred and sixty-four gifts. (I hope that my true love also gave me a very large storage locker, along with everything else.) The last verse of The Cajun Twelve Days of Christmas is: “On dem twelfth day of Christmas, my true love she gave to me: Twelve shotgun shells, Eleven duck decoys, Ten pirogue paddles, Nine oysters stewin’, Eight crabs a brewin’, Seven fleur de lis, Six cypress knees, Five poules d’eau, Four pousse café, Three stuffed shrimp, Two voodoo dolls, And a crawfish in a fig tree.” Finally, tonight is Twelfth Night, the Eve of Epiphany. There is a certain amount of disagreement as to when Twelfth Night occurs; there are those who count the First Day of Christmas as being the day after Christmas, which makes Twelfth Night the night of January 6th. This is the counting used by the Phunny Phorty Phellows, the Krewe that ushers in the Mardi Gras Season each year in New Orleans; they always conduct their revels in a streetcar going up and down the streetcar line on the evening of January 6th, rather than on the evening of the night before.

I woke up at 9:00 am, did my Book Devotional Reading, then read the morning papers and ate my breakfast toast. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Seventh Day of my Epiphany Novena, then worked on my Weblog photos for March. I got a call from my oncologist’s office asking if I might want to have my appointment with them earlier than January 26th, but I declined the offer. I then prepared my package to Liz Ellen containing the LSU athletic pants from Wal-Mart.

Leaving the house at 1:30 pm, I mailed Liz Ellen’s package off at the Post Office. I then went to Wal-Mart, exchanged the cords I had purchased yesterday, and purchased ribbons (more anon) and my salad supplies. The First Quarter Moon arrived at 1:48 pm.

When I got home at 3:00 pm, I finished working on my Weblog photos, then put my ribbons in my Sunday Missal. I did not make my lunch salads, as I have a salad in the refrigerator that I will be eating tomorrow; I will make my salads on Sunday after work for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I sent a text to Liz Ellen advising her that I had mailed off her package, and a text to Julie regarding our next trip in New Orleans. (Julie said she is ready when I am; I will check my schedules and get back with her tomorrow.) At 4:30 pm Richard and I watched Jeopardy!, and then I came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update. Tonight our LSU Lady Tigers (11-3, 0-1) will be playing a Home College Basketball game with the Florida Lady Gators (9-5, 0-1), and our New Orleans Pelicans (14-22, 1-6) will be playing a home NBA game with the Atlanta Hawks (18-16, 3-4); I will record the scores of both games in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and tomorrow is the traditional date of the Feast of the Epiphany. It is also the Optional Memorial of Saint André Bessette, Religious (died 1937). And tomorrow is the birthday of Brian, one of the former Assembled (1981). Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week, and on my breaks I will start reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King for my Third Tuesday Book Club. I will also check with our Assistant Shift Manager about putting in the time that I want to take in June to visit Liz Ellen, and the time that Richard and I want to take in August to visit the kids in South Carolina. After lunch I will go to the Chapel to do my First Friday devotions.

Our Parting Quote on this Twelfth Night afternoon comes to us from Frederica Sagor Maas, American playwright, screenwriter, memoirist and author. Born in 1900 in New York City as Frederica Sagor to emigrates from Moscow, she studied journalism at Columbia University and held a summer job as a copy- or errand-girl at the New York Globe. She dropped out of college before graduation in 1918 and took a job as an assistant story editor at Universal Pictures’ New York office at $100 a week. By 1923 she was story editor for Universal and head of the department. A year later in 1924, she had become dissatisfied with her position and left Universal to move to Hollywood. Once in California, she negotiated a contract with Preferred Pictures to adapt Percy Marks’s novel The Plastic Age for film. Based on this, she was signed to a three-year contract with MGM for $350 per week. It was in this period that she wrote the scripts for Dance Madness and The Waning Sex. Her introduction to studio politics did not go well and her MGM contract was not renewed. During 1925 and 1926 she wrote treatments and screenplays for Tiffany Productions, including the well-received flapper comedies That Model from Paris and The First Night. Even before she married Ernest Maas, a producer at Fox Studios, on August 5th, 1927, they sold story ideas such as Silk Legs to studios. Many of these would never get produced; “swell fish” was their term for scripts that never saw the light of day. During 1927 she worked for Paramount and claimed that she did uncredited work on scripts such as Clara Bow’s It, Red Hair, and Hula, and that she had written the story for Louise Brooks’ lost film Rolled Stockings (which was produced in 1926, before Maas began her work at Paramount). An unusually long European vacation in the summer of 1928 made finding steady studio work difficult upon her return. Her husband remained with Paramount Short Subjects division in New York. When a story by the Maas couple was misappropriated and filmed as The Way of All Flesh he left the studio; their original script had been called Beefsteak Joe. The couple returned to unsteady work on the west coast in October 1929. Unable to find steady work, they moved back to New York. From 1934 to 1937 they reviewed plays for the Hollywood Reporter. Another relocation back to Hollywood had Maas representing writers and selling story material for the Edward Small Agency; Maas plied every studio every day with her wares. After a year working as agents, the Maas couple secured writing contracts at Paramount to cull previously purchased material. The war years found the couple back seeking unsteady work and writing for political campaigns. It was in 1941 that they wrote Miss Pilgrim’s Progress, the story that would become The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. Bad representation caused the story to sell for a pittance, and it would not be produced until 1947 when it was rendered almost unrecognizable in an adaptation by Darryl F. Zanuck’s 20th Century Fox for Betty Grable. The Maas couple continued to live a hand-to-mouth existence struggling in Hollywood. During this time they were even interrogated by the FBI for having subscribed to two allegedly Communist publications. Having had enough of writing scripts that could not be sold, Maas took a job as a policy typist with an insurance agency in 1950, quickly working her way up to insurance broker. Her husband took up ghost writing professional business articles and freelance story editing. Ernest Maas succumbed to Parkinson’s disease in 1986 at 94; in 1999, at age 99, and at the urging of film historian Kevin Brownlow, Maas published her autobiography, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood. The book was well received and is still a standard reference for early Hollywood history. At the time of her death Maas was the third oldest person in California and the forty-fourth verified oldest person in the world (died 2012): “I know I’ve been hard on the motion picture industry [in my book] … [T]he facts and the stories I tell – about the plagiarism and the way I was handled and the way other writers were handled – are true. If anybody wants to take offense at the fact that I tell the truth and I’m writing this book … [I] can get my payback now. I’m alive and thriving and, well, you SOBs are all below, because I’ve lived to 99. And I quit the business at 50.”

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