Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Hillary, Bishop and Doctor (died 368). And today is Stephen Foster Memorial Day, and it is Friday the Thirteenth, our first one since May 2016. Today is the birthday of my Internet friend Dwanna (1962).
Today’s Saint was born c. 300 in Poitiers, France to wealthy, polytheistic, pagan nobility. The early life of Hillary was uneventful as he married, had children, and studied on his own. Through his studies he came to believe in salvation through good works, then in monotheism. As he studied the Bible for the first time, he literally read himself into the faith, and was converted to Christianity by the time he had finished reading the New Testament. Hilary lived the faith so well he was made bishop of Poitiers from 353 to 368. He opposed the emperor’s attempt to run Church matters and was exiled; he used the time in exile to write works explaining the faith. His teaching and writings converted many, and in an attempt to reduce his notoriety he was returned to the small town of Poitiers where his enemies hoped he would fade into obscurity. However, his writings continued to convert pagans. He introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church, fought Arianism, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1851 (nearly fifteen hundred years after his death). He is the Patron Saint of backward children, and his aid is invoked against snakes and snakebites. One also runs across his name in English novels; in the context of English educational and legal institutions Saint Hilary’s festival lies at the start of the Hilary Term which begins in January. Stephen Foster Memorial Day is a United States Federal Observance Day observed on January 13th of each year, in accordance with 36 U.S.C. § 140. Foster (born in 1826) is known as the “the father of American music”, and wrote over 200 songs; among his best-known are “Oh! Susanna”, “Hard Times Come Again No More” , “Camptown Races”, “Old Folks at Home” (“Swanee River”), “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”, “Old Black Joe”, and “Beautiful Dreamer”. He died on January 13th, 1864. 36 U.S.C. § 140 took effect on November 2nd, 1966, and the day was first observed in January 1967. Turning to Friday the Thirteenth, the fear of the number thirteen has been given a scientific name: triskaidekaphobia; and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”), attached to phobia (from phóbos, meaning “fear”). The word was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953. While the number thirteen has been considered unlucky since perhaps the Last Supper (which had twelve disciples, plus Jesus), and while Friday has been considered an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects at least since the 14th century, as witnessed by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the combination of the two does not appear to have been considered doubly unlucky until the 20th century. It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. In Finland, a consortium of governmental and nongovernmental organizations led by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health promotes National Accident Day, which always falls on a Friday the 13th. At the casino, I have never noticed that fear of the day affects our business in any great fashion. (In Italy, Friday the 17th is considered unlucky; the 2000 parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth was released in Italy with the title Shriek – Hai impegni per venerdì 17? (“Shriek – Do You Have Something to Do on Friday the 17th?“). Our next Friday the Thirteenth will be in October of 2017. And today is the birthday of my Internet friend Dwanna (1962).
Last night our New Orleans Pelicans in an NBA game beat the Brooklyn Nets by the score of 104 t0 95. Also, our LSU Lady Tigers beat the Lady Missouri Tigers in a College Basketball game by the score of 80 to 71; our LSU Lady Tigers (14-3, 3-1) will next play a Home College Basketball game with the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks (14-1, 4-1) on Sunday, January 15th, 2017.
Upon waking up to get ready for work I did my Book Devotional Reading, posted to Facebook that today was Stephen Foster Memorial Day, and posted to Facebook that today was Friday the Thirteenth. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Before we clocked in Richard and I signed the Early Out list, but we did not get out early. Once we did clock in, Richard was on a Blackjack table until they closed that table and made him the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow. I was on Pai Gow all day, and our guest that was there all day wrote out a positive comment card for both Richard and me. On my breaks I continued reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King.
After work we went over to the Clinic / Pharmacy; I arranged to have blood drawn for lab work ahead of my January 26th appointment with my oncologist on Monday, and I picked up a prescription. Once home I read the morning paper and yesterday’s local paper, then I came to the computer to work on today’s Daily Update. Our bank statement arrived, and I reconciled it with our checkbook and my Checkbook Pro app (the bank said we had 10¢ more than I said we did, so I just corrected the checkbook rather than run down where we were off). And once I finish this Daily Update I will go to bed, as I am quite tired today.
Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor. In the meantime, we note that tomorrow is the anniversary of the date in 1784 when the United States Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain, thereby ending the Revolutionary War (in our favor). Richard and I will work our eight hours, and I will continue reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King. After we get home and I read the morning paper, I will go to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration (the first time since before Christmas, as the Chapel was closed for the last three Saturdays). I will then go to McDonald’s to eat my lunch and to continue reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King.until I get to my allotted portion (halfway through the book). I will then go to the Church for the 4:00 pm Mass for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Meanwhile, our LSU Tigers (9-6, 1-3) will play a Home College Basketball game with the Alabama Crimson Wave (9-6, 2-1). Our New Orleans Pelicans (16-24, 1-6) will be playing an Away NBA game with the Chicago Bulls (19-21, 5-6) tomorrow night, and I will record the score of the game in Sunday’s Daily Update.
Our Parting Quote on this Friday the Thirteenth afternoon comes to us from Jim Simpson, American sportscaster. Born as James Simpson in 1927 in Washington, D.C., he grew up in nearby Chevy Chase, Maryland. He began his broadcasting career with a short-lived radio show, “Hunting and Fishing With Jimmy Simpson,” when he was fifteen. He attended George Washington University in Washington and served in the Coast Guard and Navy Reserve. After several jobs in radio, he began working in television in Washington in 1949. In the early 1950s he shared a half-hour news program at Washington’s WTOP-TV with another TV newcomer, Walter Cronkite, the future anchor of the CBS Evening News. He joined NBC’s Washington affiliate, WRC-TV, in 1955. Simpson broadcast Atlantic Coast Conference basketball games in the early 1960s and worked as a sports reporter at WRC-TV. Eventually he would broadcast many sports at NBC, including football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. For much of the 1960s and 1970s he was generally considered the network’s number two play-by-play announcer, behind only Curt Gowdy. He was in New Haven, Connecticut on November 22nd, 1963 to do the annual Harvard-Yale football game with Lindsey Nelson and Terry Brennan, when word came of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Simpson was quoted as saying to Nelson as they walked through the tunnel of the Yale Bowl, “We will remember this walk and this moment for a long, long, time.” His work on American Football League (and later American Football Conference) telecasts for NBC is perhaps what he is best remembered for. On January 15th, 1967, Simpson (along with former quarterback George Ratterman) called Super Bowl I for NBC Radio. He also called several World Series for NBC Radio, as well as numerous Orange Bowl games and the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final (via tape delay) for NBC television. In 1979 the fledgling ESPN cable sports network brought Simpson on board to provide some needed credibility with sports fans. Simpson broadcast the first NCAA basketball game the network televised, with flamboyant Dick Vitale as the color man. Vitale credits Simpson with helping him develop as a sportscaster. Simpson also called USFL and College World Series games for ESPN, and in 1988 called the Baltimore Orioles’ local telecasts on WMAR-TV, the NBC affiliate at the time. After his sportscasting days Simpson retired to St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Among other firsts he was the initial United States sportscaster to appear live via satellite from Asia, and he was involved in the first American sportscast using instant replay technology. In 1997 he won the Sports Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2000 he was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. In 2005 ESPN brought Simpson back from retirement to do play-by-play for a series of college basketball games in a “turn back the clock” format on the ESPN Classic network (died 2016): “There is no such thing as ‘just another game’.”