Alleluia! Today is the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Cantate Sunday), and the Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle (died 80). Today is also Mother’s Day. Richard’s brother Butch in Baton Rouge has his birthday today (1941), as does Logan, one of the Assembled (1984).
Cantate Sunday gets its name from the first word of the Introit at Mass on this day, “Cantate Domino novum canticum”, “Sing to the Lord a new song”, in the same way that Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) and Laetare Sunday (the Fourth Sunday of Lent) received their names. These names, which are as old probably as the twelfth century, appear to have been in common use in the Middle Ages and to have been employed to signify the date in secular affairs as well as ecclesiastical. John of Salisbury, Bishop of Chartres (d. 1182), was one of the earliest writers to use the name of Cantate Sunday. Our Gospel is from John 14:1-12: Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.” According to the Acts of the Apostles Matthias was chosen by lot to become an Apostle to replace Judas Iscariot (who had betrayed Jesus to the authorities, and who had then committed suicide). He was on the short list (along with Joseph called Barsabbas, also known as Justus) because he had been with the other Apostles from the time of the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist to the Ascension of Jesus after his Resurrection, and when the other Apostles drew lost, Matthias was chosen. He is never mentioned again after his selection as an Apostle. Legend holds that he preached the Gospel for more than thirty years in Judea, Cappadocia, Egypt and Ethiopia, and that he was especially remembered for preaching the need for mortification of the flesh with regard to all its sensual and irregular desires. Legend also states that he was martyred by stoning (no word on if he was stoned by those not willing to morify their flesh). He is the Patron Saint of tailors, carpenters, the virtues of hope and perseverance, and his aid is invoked against alcoholism and smallpox. And as today is the Second Sunday of May, today is Mother’s Day in the United States. Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia was born in 1964, and as far back at 1876, she was on record as having said, “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.” On May 12th, 1907, two years after her mother’s death, Jarvis held a memorial to her mother and thereafter embarked upon a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday. In 1912 she trademarked the phrases “Second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. She was specific about the location of the apostrophe; it was to be a singular possessive, for each family to honor their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world. She succeeded in making the holiday nationally recognized in 1914; on May 8th of that year the United States Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day and requesting a proclamation, and on the next day, May 9th, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day. By the 1920s, however, Jarvis had become soured by the commercialization of the holiday, saying “What will you do to route charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest, and truest movements and celebrations?” and “A maudlin, insincere printed card or ready-made telegram means nothing except that you’re too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world.” Although she had been the one to suggest wearing white carnations to honor one’s mother, she was appalled that florists were making money from the sale of carnations, and turned against the industry with a vengence. She also fought against charities that used Mother’s Day for fundraising, no matter how worthy the cause; she was dragged screaming out of a meeting of the American War Mothers by police and arrested for disturbing the peace in her attempts to stop the sale of carnations for charity, and even wrote screeds against Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother’s Day to raise money for charities that worked to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates. She eventually became a recluse in her home. In one of her last appearances in public, Jarvis was seen going door-to-door in Philadelphia, asking for signatures on a petition to rescind Mother’s Day. Jarvis spent her last days deeply in debt and living in the Marshall Square Sanitarium, a now-closed mental asylum in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She died on November 24th, 1948; Jarvis was never told that her bill for her time at the asylum was partly paid for by a group of grateful florists. The International Mother’s Day Shrine in Grafton, West Virginia, has been a designated a National Historic Landmark since October 5th, 1992. (My attitude toward’s Mother’s Day has always been deeply ambivalent, if not downright hostile, as my relationship with my mother was not of the best; I have always maintained that our relationship improved markedly when she died in 1985.) Today is also the birthday of Richard’s brother Butch in Baton Rouge. As the oldest son in the family, he was named after his father, and was nicknamed Butch from the Popeye comic strip, as his father wanted his son to have a tough nickname. In Baton Rouge his friends know him as Jim (as he was named James); but he will always be Butch to everyone in the family (1941). Finally, today is the birthday of one of the Assembled, Logan (1984).
Last night I made the executive decision to stop reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, as I totally ran out of time to read the book. (More anon.) And our #21 LSU Lady Tigers lost the final game of the SEC College Softball Tournament to the #18 Ole Miss Lady Rebels (who have now won their first SEC College Softball Tournament championship) by the score of 1 to 5; our Lady Tigers will find out tonight when, where, and who they will play at the NCAA College Softball tournament regionals.
When I woke up, I was not feeling well; I almost called in, but Richard reminded me that today was a Heavy Business Volume Day, with each call-in or tardy counting as two call-ins or tardies, so I took my shower and felt better. I posted to Facebook that today was Mother’s Day and did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Today, the last day of the two-week pay period, was a Heavy Business Volume Day at the casino; as is usual for Mother’s Day, the women on the shift had priority on the Early Out list. (The men get their turn on Father’s Day.) However, Richard and I had driven in together in the truck, and I did not want to sign the list, go home, and make Richard catch a ride with someone home at the end of the shift. They also had carnations for the women to wear, and I selected a white carnation. When we clocked in, Richard was on Mini Baccarat and I was on Pai Gow.
On our way home from work Richard tried to call Butch to wish him a happy birthday, but Butch had his phone off the hook (Butch is old school with a land line), as he hates getting birthday greetings on his birthday. I told Richard that I would not be going to my Third Tuesday Book Club meeting on Tuesday, and we agreed that I would go with him on that day to Baton Rouge to see Butch and take him to lunch and various appointments. We stopped at Wal-Mart, where Richard got some cash for us and cat food; he was going to get barbeque for his lunch, but the one barbeque place he stopped at had one person working the counter and eight people in line, and the occasional barbeque truck that is set up on our end of town was not there. When we got home I read the Sunday papers. I then came to the computer and wrote my regrets letter to my Third Tuesday Book Club that I would not be at the May meeting on Tuesday (I will also not be at the June meeting, as the day of our meeting is the day I will be leaving to visit Liz Ellen in Kentucky.) Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. And I will now finish this Daily Update and continue reading The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Times by Jean-Charles Nault, Translated by Michael J. Miller before going to bed for the duration.
Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Isidore, Farmer (died 1130), and the Remembrance of Servant of God Edward Joseph Flanagan, Priest (died 1948). Tomorrow is Peace Officers Memorial Day, and one’s 2016 Louisiana Income Taxes are due tomorrow. Finally, tomorrow is the birthday of my Internet friend Gail in Georgia (1948). Tomorrow is the first day of the new two-week pay period at the casino, and I will continue reading 13 Things that Don’t Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by Michael Brooks via Kindle on my tablet. In the afternoon I will do a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts. Tomorrow evening our #11 LSU Tigers (35-17, 18-9) will be playing a home College Baseball game with the Northwestern State Demons (it will be their last home game of the regular season; they will finish the season with a three-game away series with the Mississippi State Bulldogs).
Our Saturday Afternoon Quote comes to us from B.B. King, American blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. Born as Riley B. King in 1925 on a cotton plantation called Berclair, near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi. His parents were sharecroppers, and when his mother left his father for another man when the boy was four years old, he was raised by his maternal grandmother in Kilmichael, Mississippi. He always considered the nearby city of Indianola, Mississippi to be his home. He sang in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. King was attracted to the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ because of its music. The local minister led worship with a Sears Roebuck Silvertone guitar. The minister taught King his first three chords. It seems that at the age of twelve he purchased his first guitar for $15.00, although another source indicates he was given his first guitar by his mother’s first cousin. In November 1941 “King Biscuit Time” first aired, broadcasting on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. It was a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues, and King listened to it while on break at a plantation. A self-taught guitarist, he then wanted to become a radio musician. In 1943 King left Kilmichael to work as a tractor driver and play guitar with the Famous St. John’s Quartet of Inverness, Mississippi, performing at area churches and on WGRM in Greenwood, Mississippi. He followed his mother’s first cousin to Memphis, and after an abortive first visit left Mississippi for West Memphis, Arkansas in 1948. He performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, where he began to develop an audience. King’s appearances led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later to a ten-minute spot on the Memphis radio station WDIA. The radio spot became so popular that it was expanded and became the Sepia Swing Club. Initially he worked at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, gaining the nickname “Beale Street Blues Boy”, which was later shortened to “Blues Boy” and finally to “B.B”. He bought an electric guitar, and in 1949 began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. Many of King’s early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records. King assembled his own band, the B.B. King Review, under the leadership of Millard Lee. The band initially consisted of Calvin Owens and Kenneth Sands (trumpet), Lawrence Burdin (alto saxophone), George Coleman (tenor saxophone), Floyd Newman (baritone saxophone), Millard Lee (piano), George Joyner (bass) and Earl Forest and Ted Curry (drums). Onzie Horne was a trained musician elicited as an arranger to assist King with his compositions. By his own admission, King could not play chords well and always relied on improvisation. King’s recording contract was followed by tours across the United States, with performances in major theaters in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and St. Louis, as well as numerous gigs in small clubs and juke joints of the southern United States. During one show in Twist, Arkansas, a brawl broke out between two men and caused a fire. He evacuated along with the rest of the crowd but went back to retrieve his guitar. He said he later found out that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named the guitar Lucille (a name he gave to all of his Gibson ES-355 guitars), as a reminder not to fight over women or run into any more burning buildings. Following his first Billboard Rhythm and Blues chart number one, “3 O’Clock Blues” (February 1952), B.B. King became one of the most important names in R&B music in the 1950s, amassing an impressive list of hits including “You Know I Love You”, “Woke Up This Morning”, “Please Love Me”, “When My Heart Beats like a Hammer”, “Whole Lotta Love”, “You Upset Me Baby”, “Every Day I Have the Blues”, “Sneakin’ Around”, “Ten Long Years”, “Bad Luck”, “Sweet Little Angel”, “On My Word of Honor”, and “Please Accept My Love”. This led to a significant increase in his weekly earnings, from about $85 to $2,500, with appearances at major venues such as the Howard Theater in Washington and the Apollo in New York, as well as touring the entire “Chitlin’ circuit”. 1956 became a record-breaking year, with 342 concerts booked and three recording sessions. That same year he founded his own record label, Blues Boys Kingdom, with headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis. There, among other projects, he produced artists such as Millard Lee and Levi Seabury. In 1962 King signed to ABC-Paramount Records, which was later absorbed into MCA Records, and which itself was later absorbed into Geffen Records. In November 1964 King recorded the Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater. King was an FAA certified private pilot and learned to fly in 1963 at what was then Chicago Hammond Airport in Lansing, Illinois From the late 1960s new manager Sid Seidenberg pushed King into a different type of venue as blues-rock performers like Clapton and Paul Butterfield were popularizing an appreciation of blues music among white audiences. King gained further visibility among rock audiences as an opening act on the Rolling Stones’ 1969 American Tour. He won a 1970 Grammy Award for the song “The Thrill Is Gone”; his version became a hit on both the pop and R&B charts. It also gained the number 183 spot in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In September 1970 King recorded Live in Cook County Jail, during a time in which issues of race and class in the prison system were prominent in politics. King also co-founded the Foundation for the Advancement of Inmate Rehabilitation and Recreation, tying in his support for prisoners and interest in prison reform. King was best known for playing variants of the Gibson ES-355 guitar. In 1980 Gibson Guitar Corporation launched the B.B. King Gibson ES-355 Lucille model. King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and maintained a highly visible and active career, appearing on numerous television shows and performing 300 nights a year through the 1980s. In 1987 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The next year King reached a new generation of fans with the single “When Love Comes to Town”, a collaborative effort between King and the Irish band U2 on their Rattle and Hum album. In 1991 Beale Street developer John Elkington recruited B.B. King to Memphis to open the original B.B. King’s Blues Club, and in 1994, a second club was launched at Universal Citywalk in Los Angeles. In 1995 his insurance company and manager asked him to fly only with another certified pilot. As a result, he stopped flying around the age of 70. With David Ritz he wrote his autobiography, B.B. King: Blues All Around Me, in 1996. In December 1997 he performed in the Vatican’s fifth annual Christmas concert and presented his trademark guitar Lucille to Pope John Paul II. In 1998 he appeared in The Blues Brothers 2000, playing the part of the lead singer of the Louisiana Gator Boys, along with Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley. In 2000 he and Clapton teamed up again to record Riding With the King, which won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. In 2004 he was awarded the international Polar Music Prize, given to artists “in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music.” In 2005 Gibson made a special run of 80 Gibson Lucilles, referred to as the “80th Birthday Lucille”, the first prototype of which was given as a birthday gift to King, and which King used thereafter. In 2006 King went on a “farewell” world tour, although he remained active afterward during the last years of his life. It started in the United Kingdom, and continued with performances in the Montreux Jazz Festival and in Zürich at the Blues at Sunset. During his show in Montreux at the Stravinski Hall he jammed with Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn, Gladys Knight, Leela James, Andre Beeka, Earl Thomas, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin, Barbara Hendricks and George Duke. In June 2006 King was present at a memorial of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail was erected. The same month, a groundbreaking was held for a new museum, dedicated to King, in Indianola, Mississippi; the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened on September 13th, 2008. Meanwhile, in late October 2006, King recorded a concert album and video entitled B.B. King: Live at his B.B. King Blues Clubs in Nashville and Memphis. The four-night production featured his regular B.B. King Blues Band and captured his show as he performed it nightly around the world. Released in 2008, it was his first live performance recording in over a decade. In 2007 King played at Eric Clapton’s second Crossroads Guitar Festival and contributed the song “Goin’ Home” to Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (with Ivan Neville’s DumpstaPhunk) and the song “One Shoe Blues” to Sandra Boynton’s children’s album Blue Moo, accompanied by a pair of sock puppets in a music video for the song. In the summer of 2008, King played at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, where he was given a key to the city. Also in 2008, he was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. King performed at the Mawazine festival in Rabat, Morocco, on May 27th, 2010. The next year King performed at the Crossroads Guitar Festival with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, and Eric Clapton. He also contributed to Cyndi Lauper’s album Memphis Blues, which was released on June 22nd, 2010. In 2011 King played at the Glastonbury Music Festival, and in the Royal Albert Hall in London, where he recorded a concert video. Rolling Stone ranked King at No. 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. On February 21st, 2012, King was among the performers of “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues”, during which President Barack Obama sang part of “Sweet Home Chicago”. King recorded for the debut album of rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T., who also hailed from Mississippi. On July 5th, 2012, King performed a concert at the Byblos International Festival in Lebanon, and on April 28th, 2013, King appeared at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. On October 3rd, 2014, not feeling well enough, King had to stop his live performance at the House of Blues in Chicago, Illinois. A doctor diagnosed King with dehydration and exhaustion, and the eight remaining shows of his ongoing tour had to be cancelled. King did not schedule any additional shows for the remainder of the year. He was married twice, and allegedly fathered fifteen children with different women. On May 27th, 2015, King’s body was flown to Memphis. The funeral procession led down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”, as mourners called out “BB”. Rodd Bland, son of the late blues singer Bobby “Blue” Bland, carried the latest iteration of King’s famous guitar “Lucille.” Thousands lined the streets to pay their last respects. His body was then driven down Route 61 to his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi. On May 29th, 2015, King’s body was laid out, in a purple satin shirt and a floral tuxedo jacket, flanked by two black Gibson guitars, at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, in Indianola. Fans lined up to view his open casket. On May 30th, 2015, King’s funeral was held at the Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Indianola, Mississippi. He was buried at the B.B. King Museum (died 2015): “When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille.”