Daily Update: Saturday, February 18th, 2017

02-18 - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

We have no Saints to honor on this date; but in 1885 Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in the United States.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had been published on December 10th, 1884, in Canada and England; the American publication was delayed because someone defaced an illustration on one of the plates, creating an obscene joke. Thirty-thousand copies of the book had been printed before the obscenity was discovered; a new plate was made to correct the illustration and repair the existing copies. The work has been popular with readers since its publication and is taken as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It has also been the continued object of study by serious literary critics. It was criticized upon release because its coarse language was deemed inappropriate for women and children; it became even more controversial in the 20th century because of its perceived use of racial stereotypes and because of its frequent use of what has become known as “the ‘n’ word”. In 1955 CBS tried to avoid controversial material in a televised version of the book by deleting all mention of slavery and omitting the character of Jim entirely. According to the American Library Association, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the fifth most frequently challenged book in the United States during the 1990s. A 2011 edition of the book, published by NewSouth Books, replaced “the ‘n’ word” with “slave” (although being incorrectly addressed to a freed man) and did not use the term “Injun”. The initiative to update the book was led by Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who said the change was made to better express Twain’s ideas in the 21st century. Responses to this “updating” of the classic work included the publishing of The Hipster Huckleberry Finn which replaced “the ‘n’ word” with the word “hipster”. The book’s description includes the statement “Thanks to editor Richard Grayson, the adventures of Huckleberry Finn are now neither offensive nor uncool.” In 2016 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was removed from a public school district in Virginia, along with the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, due to use of racial slurs. My personal objection to the novel is that it ends badly; once Tom Sawyer re-enters the story the novel devolves into a lazy plot and worse writing.

Richard called in again; I did my Book Devotional Reading, then drove myself to work. The Last Quarter Moon arrived at 1:35 am. Once in ADR I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Today was the first day of the two-day Heavy Business Volume period for Presidents Day (thus, Richard took an extra point for calling in). After the Pre-Shift Meeting I was on Mini Baccarat; halfway through our shift I became the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow, and then had Let It Ride added to my relief string. On my breaks I continued reading The Death House by Sarah Pinborough via Kindle on my tablet.

On arriving home from work I set up my medications for next week (no prescriptions to renew), then read the morning paper. I then went to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration; during my Hour I finished reading the February 6th, 2017 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. While eating lunch at McDonald’s, I continued reading The Death House by Sarah Pinborough via Kindle on my tablet to a good stopping point, then at Wal-Mart I picked up generic Zinc Cold Therapy for Richard. I arrived home at 3:45 pm, and got busy with today’s Daily Update. Our LSU Tigers (9-16, 1-12) are now playing an Away College Basketball game with the Alabama Crimson Tide (14-10, 7-5). In College Baseball, our #4 LSU Tigers opened their season by beating the Army Black Knights by the score of 5 to 0; the Tigers and the Black Knights will be playing the second game of their doubleheader later today. And our #8 LSU Lady Tigers will be playing a home College Softball game with the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles later today, and after that playing a home College Softball game with the Central Arkansas Lady Bears.

Tomorrow is the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time; we have no Saints to honor, but tomorrow is the anniversary both of when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing the United States military to relocate Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II (1942) and of when President Gerald R. Ford rescinded Executive Order 9066 (1976). Tomorrow is the last day of the two-week pay period at the casino, and it will be the second day of the two-day Heavy Business Volume Days period for Presidents Day. On my breaks I will continue reading The Death House by Sarah Pinborough via Kindle on my tablet. Our #4 LSU Tigers will be playing a home College Baseball game with the Air Force Falcons. And our #8 LSU Lady Tigers will play two College Softball games, one with the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles and the other with the Central Arkansas Lady Bears.

Today’s Parting Quote on this Saturday afternoon is from Jean Rouch, French filmmaker and anthropologist. Born in 1917 in Paris, his life was uneventful until he arrived in Niamey, Niger as a French colonial hydrology engineer in 1941. Rouch became interested in Zarma and Songhai ethnology and began to film local people and their rituals. In the 1940s he met Damouré Zika, the son of a Songhai/Sorko traditional healer and fisherman, near the town of Ayorou on the Niger River. After ten Sorko workers in a construction depot which Rouch supervised were killed by a lightning strike, Zika’s grandmother, a famous possession medium and spiritual advisor, presided over a ritual for the men, which Rouch later claimed sparked his desire to make ethnographic films. By 1950 Rouch had made the first films set in Niger with au pays des mages noirs (1947), 1948′s l’initiation à la danse des possédés and Les magiciens de Wanzarbé in 1949, all of which documented the spirit possession rituals of the Songhai, Zarma, and Sorko peoples who lived along the Niger river. Zika and Rouch became friends, and Rouch began in 1950 to use Zika as the focus of his films in demonstrating the traditions, culture, and ecology of the people of the Niger River valley. The first of 150 films in which Zika appeared was Bataille sur le grand fleuve (1950–52), portraying the lives, ceremonies and hunting of Sorko fishermen. Rouch spent four months traveling with Sorko fishermen in a traditional pirogue filming the piece. During the 1950s he began to produce longer, narrative films. In 1954 he filmed Zika in Jaguar, as a young Songhai man traveling for work to the Gold Coast. Filmed as a silent ethnographic piece, Zika helped re-edit the film into a feature length movie which stood somewhere between documentary and fiction, and provided dialog and commentary for a 1969 release. In 1957 Rouch directed Côte d’Ivoire Moi un noir with the young Nigerian filmmaker Oumarou Ganda, who had recently returned from French military service in Indochina. Ganda went on to become the first great Nigerian film director and actor. By the early 1970s Rouch, with cast, crew, and co writing from his Nigerian collaborators, was producing full length dramatic films in Niger, such as Petit à petit (Little by Little: 1971) and Cocorico Monsieur Poulet (Cocka-doodle-doo Mr. Chicken: 1974). Still, many of the ethnographic films produced in the colonial era by Rouch and others were rejected by African film makers because in their view they distorted African realities. He is considered as one the pioneers of Nouvelle Vague and of visual anthropology, and the father of ethnofiction. Rouch’s films mostly belonged to the cinéma vérité school, a term that Edgar Morin used in a 1960 France-Observateur article referring to Dziga Vertov’s Kinopravda. Rouch’s best known film, one of the central works of the Nouvelle Vague, is Chronique d’unun été (1961) which he filmed with sociologist Edgar Morin and in which he portrayed the social life of contemporary France. Throughout his career he used his camera to report on life in Africa, and over the course of five decades he made almost 120 films. With Jean-Michel Arnold he founded the Cinéma du Réel, the international documentary film festival, at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 1978 (died 2004): “Glory to he who brings dispute.”

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