Daily Update: Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Philip and James and 05-03 - World Press Freedom Day 2017

Today is the Feast of Saint Philip (died c. 80) and Saint James (died c.62), Apostles, and today is World Press Freedom Day.

Saint Philip was born in Bethsaida, Palestine, and was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Becoming one of the Twelve Apostles, he brought Nathanael to Christ. Little is known about him, but scriptural episodes give the impression of a shy, naive, but practical individual. He preached in Greece and Asia Minor. Various legendary accounts give his form of martyrdom either that of crucifixion or beheading. Gnostic Christians appealed to the apostolic authority of Philip, ascribing a number of Gnostic texts to him, most notably the Gospel of Philip from the Nag Hammadi library. He is the Patron Saint of hatters, of pastry chefs, of Cape Verde, and of Uruguay. Saint James was a cousin of Jesus, and the brother of Saint Jude Thaddeus, and raised in a Jewish home of the time with all the training in Scripture and Law that was part of that life. One of the Twelve Apostles, he was one of the first to see the risen Christ. Becoming the first Bishop of Jerusalem, he met with Saint Paul the Apostle to work out Paul’s plans for evangelization; he supported the position that Gentile converts did not have to obey all Jewish religious law, though he continued to observe it himself as part of his heritage. A just and apostolic man known for his prayer life and devotion to the poor, he was martyred when beaten to death with a fuller’s club at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel. He is the Patron Saint of apothecaries, pharmacists, and druggists, of fullers and milliners, and of Uruguay. Today is also World Press Freedom Day. The United Nations General Assembly in 1993 declared May 3rd to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991. UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger. UNESCO also marks World Press Freedom Day each year by bringing together media professionals, press freedom organisations and UN agencies to assess the state of press freedom worldwide and discuss solutions for addressing challenges. Each conference is centred on a theme related to press freedom, including good governance, media coverage of terrorism, impunity and the role of media in post-conflict countries. This year’s conference is in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the theme for 2017 is “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies”.

Last night while taking my bath I continued reading The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot by Jonathan Witt and Jay W. Richards.

I woke up today at about 9:30 am; we had thunderstorms going on (which lasted all day). I had a text message from my friend Pam that she will have The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah for me to borrow at the Wal-Mart Vision Center. I posted to Facebook that today was World Press Freedom Day, did my Book Devotional Reading, and started the Weekly Computer Maintenance. I read the morning paper, did my Internet Devotional Reading, finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance, and started the Weekly Virus Scan. Richard then went to get tacos for our lunch, and I finished my laundry. Our cable then went out with the weather, and we watched Band of Brothers Episode 2 “Day of Days” on DVD. Then we watched MST3K Episode 911 Devil Fish (Shark rosso nell’oceano). Richard took a nap, and I watched MST3K Episode 1001 Soultaker. Our mail brought me my Gadget Guard Galaxy Note 4 Screen Protectors, and I installed one of them on my phone. I then watched Jeopardy!, and Michelle came by to check her mail and pick up a package; she said she would hang over here Thursday and Friday of next week. Richard woke up, and we watched MST3K Episode 1002 Girl in Gold Boots; Richard also called Lele, and confirmed that we will be taking her to Lafayette tomorrow for her doctor’s appointment. Richard was going to get a pizza then, but our street was flooded at the far end, and the police were ready to shut down the main road, so he went to Crispy Cajun instead. And I am tired, so I will end this Daily Update and do some serious reading before going to bed.

We have no Saints to honor tomorrow (nor will for a few days). Tomorrow is Star Wars Day (as in, May the Fourth be with you). The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower should occur in the predawn hours (weather permitting), radiating from the southeast. Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer. And tomorrow is the First Day of the Second Weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. We will be taking Lele to Lafayette for her appointment, and then eating lunch at Zeus. When we get home I will go to Wal-Mart and pick up my book and my salad supplies, and in the afternoon I will make my lunch salads for Friday and Saturday, and I will iron my casino pants, apron, and shirts.

Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Herbert Blau, American theater director. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926, his major outlet as a child was baseball, and his only theater experience was a grade school play. He went to New York University and earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1947. While there, he wrote a couple of plays, and at the urging of a friend sent them to Yale and Stanford along with an application to their drama schools; both offered him fellowships. At this point he had still never seen a play. He was doing very well in his engineering studies, so he spent much of his senior year going to performance after performance and reading Shakespeare and Chekhov. At Stanford he earned a master’s degree in drama. He switched to English, earning a Ph.D. with a dissertation on T. S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats. As co-founder (with Jules Irving) of The Actor’s Workshop in San Francisco (1952–1965) and co-director of the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center in New York City (1965–67), Blau introduced American audiences to avant-garde drama in some of the country’s first productions of Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, and Harold Pinter. Through a chain of acquaintances, the troupe was asked to put on a play at San Quentin State Prison in 1957 to replace a traditional variety show done by inmates. The Beckett play Waiting for Godot was chosen after prison officials specified that none of the actors could be women. The prisoners, used to waiting themselves, loved it, and started their own drama group as a result. The performance became the subject of a 2010 documentary, The Impossible Itself, and a legend in the development of absurdist theater. Beckett himself thought the review in the prison newspaper reflected the best understanding of the play he had seen. This same production of Waiting for Godot represented American theater at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, even after extra-legal State Department maneuvers during the second Red scare denied travel permission for unstated political reasons to a member of the company. Blau went on to become a passionate voice for less conventionality in theater. In his 1964 book The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto, he denounced the “failure and fatuousness” of the American theater. The book generated considerable attention in theater circles, most of it positive, and the next year the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center hired Blau and Irving as joint directors. Irving stayed until 1972, but Blau left after two years. In 1968 Blau signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. In 1971, after three years as a dean and provost at the newly formed California Institute of the Arts, Blau formed the experimental group KRAKEN, where he continued presenting challenging productions for another decade. The two books that emerged from that work, Take Up the Bodies: Theater at the Vanishing Point (University of Illinois Press, 1982) and Blooded Thought: Occasions of Theater (Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982), received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. In 2011 he wrote As If: An Autobiography, Volume 1 (he never got around to Volume 2) (died 2013): “There are times when, confronted with the despicable behavior of people in the American theater, I feel like Lear on the heath, wanting to kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!”


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