Daily Update: Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

04-26 - John Wilkes Booth Captured

With no Saints to honor today, we note that on this date in 1865 John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was shot and fatally wounded by his pursuers. (Several writers have pursued the theory that Booth was not the man killed, and actually escaped to live either in Texas or Japan; but it has been fairly well established it was Booth who was shot on this date, and that he was really most sincerely dead.)

Lieutenant Colonel Everton Conger, an intelligence officer, learned that John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, and his associate David Herold (both the subject of a massive manhunt since the assassination of the President on April 14th in Washington, D.C.) were at Richard H. Garrett’s farm, just south of Port Royal, Caroline County, Virginia. Before dawn on Wednesday, April 26th, the soldiers caught up with the fugitives hiding in Garrett’s tobacco barn. David Herold surrendered, but Booth refused Conger’s demand to surrender, saying “I prefer to come out and fight”, and the soldiers then set the barn on fire. As Booth moved about inside the blazing barn, Sergeant Boston Corbett shot him. According to Corbett’s later account, he fired at Booth because the fugitive “raised his pistol to shoot” at them. Conger’s report to Secretary Stanton, however, stated that Corbett shot Booth “without order, pretext or excuse”, and recommended that Corbett be punished for disobeying orders to take Booth alive. Booth, fatally wounded in the neck, and paralyzed by a severed spinal cord, was dragged from the barn to the porch of Garrett’s farmhouse.  In his last dying moments, he reportedly whispered “tell my mother I died for my country”. Asking that his hands be raised to his face so he could see them, Booth uttered his last words, “Useless, useless,” and died as dawn was breaking, at the age of 26. In Booth’s pockets were found a compass, a candle, pictures of five women including his fiancée Lucy Hale, and his diary, where he had written of Lincoln’s death, “Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment.”

Last night our #11 LSU Tigers lost their College Baseball game with the Tulane Green Wave by the score of 6 to 9.

The New Moon arrived at 8:18 am, and Richard left at 9:00 am for his dental appointment in Mamou; he was then leaving from there for Baton Rouge to take care of Butch stuff. I woke up at 9:30 am, and started the Weekly Computer Maintenance. (For some reason, the computer keeps turning off in the midst of doing the Weekly Computer Maintenance, so I eventually abandoned doing the maintenance.) I did my Book Devotional Reading, then read the morning paper while eating a breakfast salad. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading and started my laundry.

I spend my day watching MSt3K movies. First, I watched MST3K Episode 816 Prince of Space (Yūsei Ōji), followed by MST3K Episode 818 Devil Doll and MST3K Episode 819 Invasion of the Neptune Men (Uchū Kaisokusen) After I watched Jeopardy!, I then watched MST3K Episode 820 Space Mutiny (which has the rather outstanding continuity problem of having a character working at a spaceship station after her murder). I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update, and missed a call from Richard that he was on his way home. When Richard came in, he told me that his next appointment with the dentist will be on November 1st, and that  he will be going over again to Baton Rouge on Tuesday. When I finish this Daily Update I will do some reading before going to bed.

Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor, so we will instead note that on tomorrow’s date in 1865 the steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 passengers, exploded and sank in the Mississippi River, killing 1,700 people. I will finish my laundry and get my salad supplies at some point, and I will make my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday. Our #11 LSU Tigers (27-15, 10-8) will begin an Away College Baseball series against the Alabama Crimson Tide (15-26, 2-16).

Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Jonathan Demme, American filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer. Born as Robert Jonathan Demme in 1944 in Baldwin, Long Island, New York, he grew up in nearby Rockville Center and attended high school in Miami, Florida, after the family moved there. After graduating from high school he went to the University of Florida wishing to become a veterinarian, but flunked chemistry. He discovered that the campus newspaper had no film critic, so he volunteered for the position, so that he could see movies for free. He also became a critic for a shopping guide in Coral Gables, for which he wrote a glowing notice for Zulu (1964), a film whose executive producer was Joseph E. Levine, the founder of Embassy Pictures, the film’s American distributor. Levine was on vacation in Miami Beach and staying at the Fontainebleau Hotel, and became acquainted with the hotel’s publicist, who was Demme’s father. Impressed by the young man, Levine offered him a job, and Demme worked in the Embassy publicity department in New York before moving to London in 1969. He broke into feature film working for exploitation film producer Roger Corman from 1971 to 1976, co-writing and producing Angels Hard as They Come (1971), a motorcycle movie very loosely based on Rashomon, and The Hot Box (1972). He then moved on to directing, with three films (Caged Heat (1973), Crazy Mama (1974), and Fighting Mad (1974)) for Corman’s studio New World Pictures. After Fighting Mad, Demme directed the comedy film Citizens Band (later retitled Handle with Care) for Paramount Pictures in 1977. The film was well received by critics, but received little promotion, and performed poorly at the box office. Demme’s next film, 1980’s Melvin and Howard, did not get a wide release, but received a groundswell of critical acclaim, and led to the signing of Demme to direct the Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell star vehicle Swing Shift. Intended as a prestige picture for Warner Bros. as well as a major commercial vehicle for Demme, it instead became a troubled production due to the conflicting visions of Demme and star Hawn. Demme ended up renouncing the finished product, and when the film was released in May 1984, it was generally panned by critics and neglected by moviegoers. Meanwhile, in 1981 he directed a series of commercials for the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way. The spots, titled “Eggs”, “Music”, and “Sports”, were produced by Norman Lear and featured Muhammad Ali, Carol Burnett, and Goldie Hawn celebrating Freedom of Expression. After Swing Shift, Demme stepped back from Hollywood to make the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense (1984); the eclectic screwball action-romantic comedy Something Wild (1985); a 1985 video for Artists United Against Apartheid.which featured various international musicians including Afrika Bambaataa, Rubén Blades, Jimmy Cliff, Herbie Hancock, Little Steven, Run-D.M.C., and Bruce Springsteen, and called for a boycott of the South African luxury resort Sun City during Apartheid; a film-version of the stage production Swimming to Cambodia (1987), by monologist Spalding Gray; and the New York Mafia-by-way-of Downtown comedy Married to the Mob (1988). Throughout 1986 through 2004, Demme was known for his dramatic close-ups in films; according to Demme, this was done to put the viewer into the character’s shoes. Demme formed his production company, Clinica Estetico, with producers Edward Saxon and Peter Saraf in 1987. They were based out of New York City for fifteen years. His 1988 documentary Haiti Dreams of Democracy captured Haiti’s era of democratic rebuilding after dictatorship. He also produced a compilation of Haitian music called Konbit: Burning Rhythms of Haiti that was released in 1989. In 1991 Demme won the Academy Award for The Silence of the Lambs, one of only three films (besides It Happened One Night in 1934 and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975) to win all the major categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress). Inspired by his friend Juan Suárez Botas’s illness with AIDS and fueled by his own moral convictions, Demme then used his influence to make Philadelphia (1993), one of the first major films to address the AIDS crisis and which garnered star Tom Hanks his first Best Actor Oscar. He also co-directed (with his nephew Ted Demme) the music video for Bruce Springsteen’s Best Song Oscar-winning “Streets of Philadelphia” from the film’s soundtrack.  Subsequently, his films included an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1998), and remakes of two popular films: The Truth About Charlie (2002), based on Charade (1963), that starred Mark Wahlberg in the Cary Grant role; and The Manchurian Candidate (2004), based on Richard Condon’s 1959 novel of the same name and a re-imagining of the previous 1962 film, with Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep. In 2007, Demme’s film Man from Plains, a documentary about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s book tour in promotion of his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, premiered at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. In 2008 the art-house hit Rachel Getting Married was released, which many critics compared to Demme’s films of the late 1970s and 1980s. It received numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress by lead Anne Hathaway. His 2008 documentary The Agronomist profiled Haitian journalist and human rights activist Jean Dominique. In 2010 Demme made his first foray into theater, directing Family Week, a play by Beth Henley. The play was produced by MCC Theater and co-starred Rosemarie DeWitt and Sarah Jones. Demme spent six years on the 2011 documentary I’m Carolyn Parker, which highlighted rebuilding efforts in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. At one time, Demme was signed on to direct, produce, and write an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2011 sci-fi novel 11/22/63, but later left due to disagreements with King on what should be included in the script. Demme was a member of the steering committee of the Friends of the Apollo Theater in Oberlin, Ohio, along with Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. In 2013 he returned to Oberlin, as part of an alumni reunion during the class of 2013 graduation ceremony, and received the award for Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. In 2016 he returned to the concert documentary format with Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids, which he described as a “performance film but also a portrait of an artist at a certain moment in the arc of his career”, and his last project was a history of rock & roll for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame compiled from footage from Hall of Fame induction ceremonies set to debut in summer 2017. Demme directed music videos for artists such as Suburban Lawns, New Order, KRS-One’s H.E.A.L. project and Bruce Springsteen (died 2017): ”Your antagonist has to be every bit as formidable as your hero, or you diminish the character you’re supposed to care about. For people starting out writing scripts, they’re in that ‘hiss-the-villain’ mode, and you always want to say “Wait, wait, wait. They’re human too. Give them some problems and you’ll end up with a better story”.

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