Daily Update: Saturday, January 7th, 2017

First Saturday - Immaculate Heart of Mary and Raymond of Penyafort and Distaff Day

Today is the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Raymond of Peñafort, Priest (died 1275). Today is also Distaff Day. (If you don’t know what a Distaff is, keep reading.)

The First Saturday of each month is dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Saint today was born about 1175 in Peñafort, Catalonia, Spain to the Aragonese nobility. Raymond was educated at the cathedral school in Barcelona, Spain, becoming a philosophy teacher around age 20. He then became a priest, graduated law school in Bologna, Italy, and joined the Dominicans in 1218. He was summoned to Rome in 1230 by Pope Gregory IX, and assigned to collect all official letters of the popes since 1150. Raymond gathered and published five volumes, and helped write Church law. He was chosen master general of the Dominicans in 1238; he reviewed the Order’s Rule, made sure everything was legally correct, then resigned his position in 1240 to dedicate himself to parish work. He was offered an archbishopric, but he declined, instead returning to Spain and the parish work he loved. His compassion helped many people return to God through Reconciliation. During his years in Rome, Raymond had heard of the difficulties missionaries faced trying to reach non-Christians of Northern Africa and Spain, and started a school to teach the language and culture of the people to be evangelized. With Saint Thomas Aquinas, he wrote a booklet to explain the truths of faith in a way that non-believers could understand. He died in his hundredth year, and he is the Patron Saint of canon lawyers and of all kinds of lawyers in Spain. Today is also Distaff Day, being the day after the traditional date of the Epiphany; in many European cultural traditions, women resumed their household tasks after the twelve days of Christmas. The distaff (a stick designed to hold the unspun fibers while spinning, keeping them untangled and thus easing the spinning process of turning the unspun fibers into spun threads to later be made into fabric) was the medieval symbol of women’s work. Often the men and women would play pranks on each other during this day, as was related by Robert Herrick in his poem Saint Distaffs day, or the Morrow After Twelfth Day which appears in his Hesperides of 1648. (There is not much word on if they still play pranks, but some modern crafts groups have taken up the cause of keeping the spirit of Distaff Day alive.)

Last night, while taking my hot bath, I heard thunder, then rain; and I read the February 2017 issue of Consumer Reports.

When I woke up to get ready for work I had a voicemail from the woman who runs the Adoration Chapel, to the effect that the Adoration Chapel will be closed until Monday due to the weather. I did my Book Devotional Reading. When we left the house to head for work, the truck (that sits outside) had the doors frozen. We got the doors open, but the lock mechanism would not work on Richard’s door, so we elected to take my car to work. It was 26°, and I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Ninth Day of my Epiphany Novena. At the Pre-Shift Meeting I won a special We Appreciate You slip, with a $30 meal voucher, from one of our Pit Bosses. (I honestly cannot recall anything on the day in question, which was January 1st, that I did that was outstanding; perhaps the Pit Boss got wind of me questioning the validity of a We Appreciate You slip (again with a $30 meal voucher), given to a floor supervisor whose action had been cleaning the top of the podium in the pit when the pit went dead.) When we went out on the floor, Richard was on Pai Gow, and I was on Three Card Poker. At one point Richard had to sign a surveillance report in the office, to the effect that he had not observed proper procedure while changing cards (Surveillance did not say precisely what he had been doing wrong). It dropped to 21° at 6:45 am before the sun came up today.

When we got home from work I set up my medications for next week (I have three prescriptions to renew on Monday), then I read the morning paper, then relaxed in the front room, getting sleepier and sleepier; and so I will do my Daily Update for today. I did not do my First Saturday Devotions or go to Mass. Our LSU Tigers (9-4, 1-1) will be playing a home College Basketball game with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-4, 0-1) today, and tonight our New Orleans Pelicans (14-23, 1-6) will play an Away NBA game with the Boston Celtics (21-14, 5-1); I will record the score of those games in Sunday’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow will be the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (Observed). Tomorrow is also tomorrow is the Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, the more-than-penultimate battle of the War of 1812. (News of the Americans beating the British in the battle reached the Eastern seaboard a few days before the ship arrived from Europe with the news that the peace treaty had been signed on Christmas Eve in 1813, or about two weeks before the battle took place.) We will work our eight hours on the last day of the pay period, and I will be reading on my breaks at work. In the afternoon I will start taking down Christmas decorations, and our LSU Lady Tigers (12-3, 1-1) will be playing an Away College Basketball game with the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks (11-4, 0-2)

Our Parting Quote on this Saturday afternoon comes to us from Kitty Kallen, American singer. Born as Katie Kallen in 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, her parents were Russian Jewish immigrants. Her mother died when she was a child, and at the age of eleven or twelve she won an amateur contest by imitating popular singers. When she returned home with her prize, a camera, her father did not believe her, and punished her for stealing the camera. Only when neighbors subsequently visited to congratulate her did Kallen’s father realize she had actually won it. She sang on The Children’s Hour, a radio program sponsored by Horn & Hardart, an automat chain. As a preteen, Kallen had a radio program on Philadelphia’s WCAU and sang with the big bands of Jan Savitt in 1936, Artie Shaw in 1938, and Jack Teagarden in 1940. While performing with Teagarden’s band, she married Clint Garvin, the band’s clarinet player. When Teagarden fired Garvin, Kallen left as well, later annulling the marriage.  Shortly before her 21st birthday, on May 5th, 1942, she sang the vocals for “Moonlight Becomes You”, with Bobby Sherwood and His Orchestra at the second ever session for what was then still called Liberty Records but would soon be renamed Capitol Records. It was her only session for the label. She then joined the Jimmy Dorsey band, replacing Helen O’Connell. One of her recordings with Dorsey was a favorite of American servicemen “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” which reached the No. 2 position in the Billboard charts in 1944. The same year, Kallen performed the vocals for Dorsey’s number-one hit “Besame Mucho”. Most of her singing assignments were in duets with Bob Eberly, and when Eberly left to go into the service toward the end of 1943, she left Dorsey’s band (in part because of anti-semitism) and joined Harry James’s band. Between January and November 1945, she had two songs recorded with the Harry James Orchestra in the top twenty, six in the top ten, and two at the #1 spot: “I’m Beginning to See the Light” and “It’s Been a Long, Long Time”, which remains deeply associated with the end of World War II and the returning troops. In 1948 Kallen married Bernard “Budd” Granoff, a publicist, agent, and television producer. Granoff later was a TV game show producer and worked in a syndication partnership with Chuck Barris, the game-show host. In 1951 Kallen appeared with Buster Crabbe as the Queen and King of Winter at the Lake Placid resort. With the 1954 hit “Little Things Mean a Lot”, she was voted the most popular female singer in Billboard and Variety polls. She followed up the song with “In the Chapel in the Moonlight”, another million selling record, and a version of “True Love” for Decca. Kallen performed at numerous prominent live venues including Manhattan’s Copacabana, Morris Levy’s Versailles, the Capitol Theater, the Maisonette Room at the St. Regis, the Cafe Rouge at the Hotel Pennsylvania and the Plaza Hotel’s Persian Room. As well, she starred on Broadway in Finian’s Rainbow; in the 1955 film The Second Greatest Sex and on numerous television shows including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Big Beat with singer-host Richard Hayes, American Bandstand, and Fred Allen’s Judge for Yourself. The ascendance of rock-and-roll and her struggles with a vocal-cord problem largely sidelined her by the late 1950s. In 1959 she recorded “If I Give My Heart to You” for Columbia Records, and in 1963, she recorded a top-selling version of “My Coloring Book” for RCA. On February 8th, 1960, Kallen received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her final album was Quiet Nights, a 1964 bossa nova–flavored release for 20th Century Fox Records. Her career ended for good in 1966 when she developed blood clots in her lungs; she sued her dermatologist, Norman Orentreich, who had prescribed an estrogen drug, Premarin, for her small facial wrinkles which caused her blood clots, and was awarded $300,000 by a court. She and her husband were deeply involved with the Society of Singers, a nonprofit foundation known as S.O.S. that aids performers who have fallen into dire financial need. Kallen’s death was widely reported in 1978, when Genevieve Agostinello, a woman who had checked into a Los Angeles-area hospital under her name, died. When an Associated Press reporter reached out to the real Kallen, she sang “Little Things Mean a Lot” to convince him she was still very much alive. Another Kallen fraudster popped up in 1989 in New Port Richey, Florida. The woman, Edna Garrett, called in to a Florida radio station, appeared at social events and became a minor celebrity among the many retirees in her community who still adored the once-famous singer. However, Garrett’s inability to sing aroused some suspicions. The charade ended only after the real Katie Kallen’s picture appeared in a supermarket tabloid and ABC News followed up. Her husband died in 1996. In 2008 Kallen joined artists Patti Page, Tony Martin, Dick Hyman, Richard Hayman and the estates of Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan, Woody Herman, Les Brown, the Mills Brothers, Jerry Murad, Frankie Laine, and the gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in a suit against the world’s then largest music label, Universal Music Group, alleging the company had cheated them on royalties. In 2009 Kallen was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame (died 2016) “Bizarre. Crazy. Why me? Why me? What is it? What is it with these people? I said to Budd [her husband], I said, ‘This has got to stop.’ Suppose, indeed, this woman [Edna Garrett] had died, and I had to read my obit again. Couldn’t do it.”

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