Daily Update: Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Corpus Christi (Traditional) and Vitus

Today is the traditional date of the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), although in America the Solemnity will be celebrated this coming Sunday. And today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Vitus, Martyr (died 303).

The appearance of a feast to the Body and Blood of Christ was primarily due to the petitions of the thirteenth-century Augustinian nun Juliana of Liège. From her early youth Juliana had a veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a special feast in its honor. In 1208 she had her first vision of Christ in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi. The vision was repeated for the next twenty years, but she kept it a secret. When she eventually relayed it to her confessor, he relayed it to the bishop, who made it a feast in his own diocese. In 1264 Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo in which Corpus Christi was made a feast throughout the entire Latin Rite, the first papally sanctioned universal feast so honored. In most locations it is held the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, to highlight the connection with the Institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. In the United States and some other countries the solemnity is held on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday, and thus on the Second Sunday after Pentecost. Saint Vitus, according to Christian legend, was a Christian saint from Sicily. He died aged about twelve as a martyr during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of medieval Roman Catholicism. In the late Middle Ages, people in Germany and countries such as Latvia celebrated the feast of Vitus by dancing before his statue. This dancing became popular and the name “Saint Vitus Dance” was given to the neurological disorder Sydenham’s chorea. It also led to Vitus being considered the patron saint of dancers and of entertainers in general. He is also said to protect against lightning strikes, animal attacks and oversleeping. Vitus is the patron saint of the city of Rijeka in Croatia; the towns of Ciminna in Sicily, Forio on the Island of Ischia, in Campania, Italy; the contrada of San Vito, in Torella dei Lombardi, in Avellino, Italy; the town of Winschoten in the Netherlands, and the town of St. Vith located in Belgium. Various places in Austria and Bavaria are named Sankt Veit in his honour.

I woke up at 8:00 am, and put in new contact lenses, then I did my Book Devotional Reading. I then read the morning papers, did my Internet Devotional Reading, and said the Seventh Day of my Corpus Christi Novena. I then set up a new Trivia game on FunTrivia.com; one of the games was nominally run by a friend of mine who is no longer online, so after checking with other players on that game yesterday, I set up a mirror Trivia game, but under my own name.

Richard and I left the house at 11:15 am; our first stop was the Post Office, where I purchased a roll of stamps and got some more If It Fits It Ships boxes. We ate a relatively light lunch at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, then we went to Super 1 Foods, where Richard got barbeque supplies (more anon) while I continued reading Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner via Kindle on my tablet.

We returned home at 12:30 pm, and I brought in the flag I had put out yesterday in honor of Flag Day. We then watched MST3K Episode 307 Daddy-O (A drag-racing crooner investigates his friend’s death and becomes a courier for drug dealers. The film is notable for its soundtrack as being the debut film score for John Williams; in the 1994 hit film Pulp Fiction, a poster for Daddy-O is visible during scenes taking place in the 1950s nostalgia restaurant Jack Rabbit Slim’s) with the short film Alphabet Antics (a rhyming tour of the English alphabet). Liz Ellen texted me that her car is in the shop for a blown gasket, and that she might be short of cash for our activities next week when I arrive at her house. I then worked on photos on the computer, and we watched Jeopardy!; we then, at about 5:15 pm, ate our dinner of barbequed steaks, baked beans, and (for me) baked sweet potatoes, which all I ate while continuing my reading of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner via Kindle on my tablet. And when I finish this Daily Update I will get ready to go to bed.

We have no Saints to honor for the next few days, but tomorrow is Bloomsday, as celebrated in the extraordinarily complicated novel Ulysses by Irish writer James Joyce. (I have read the book, but I would have been utterly lost without the Cliffs Notes; even with the Cliffs Notes, it was heavy going.) Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week, and I will continue reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. We may or may not get to see our granddaughter one more time before she and Callie return to South Carolina and my son on Saturday.

On this Thursday afternoon our Parting Quote comes to us from Lois Duncan, American author. Born as Lois Duncan Steinmetz in 1934 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, both of her parents were professional magazine photographers (her middle name was her mother’s maiden name) who took photos for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. She spent her early life in the Pennsylvania, relocating in her late childhood to Sarasota, Florida, where her parents resumed their employment as circus photographers. In Florida she spent her youth among circus performers, including The Doll Family. She started writing and submitting manuscripts to magazines at age ten, and sold her first story at the age of thirteen. At age fifteen, Duncan was photographed by her father while she posed at Siesta Key, and the photo appeared on the cover of the July 9th, 1949 issue of Collier’s magazine. After she graduated from high school in 1952 she enrolled at Duke University, but dropped out in 1953 to start a family with Joseph Cardozo, a fellow student she had met at the university. Duncan continued to write and publish magazine articles; she wrote over 300 articles published in magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook, McCall’s, Good Housekeeping, and Reader’s Digest.  She published her first novel, Love Song for Joyce, in 1958 under the pen name Lois Kerry, followed by Debutante Hill in 1959; the latter was initially rejected for a literary prize because it featured an adolescent character drinking a beer. In 1962 Duncan moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico with her two children after divorcing her husband, and supported herself writing greeting cards and fictional confessionals for pulp magazines. She married her second husband in 1965; they had one daughter, and her other children took his last name. In 1966 she published the novel Ransom, detailing a group of students held captive on a school bus, which earned her an Edgar Allan Poe Award, as well as marking her shift from romance to more suspense-oriented works. In the early 1970s, Duncan was hired to teach journalism at the University of New Mexico; a friend of her who was the chair of the journalism department hired her as a replacement based on her experience writing for magazines, despite the fact that she did not have a degree. While teaching, Duncan enrolled classes at the university, earning her B.A. in English in 1977. In 1970 she published the historical novel Peggy, chronicling the life of Peggy Shippen, followed by the 1971 children’s book Hotel for Dogs, which was later adapted as a 2009 film of the same name starring Emma Roberts. Influenced by her own interest in the supernatural and speculative fiction, Duncan wrote various suspense and horror novels aimed for teenagers. Some of her works were adapted for the screen, the most infamous example being the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer, adapted from her 1973 novel of the same title. After the publication of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Duncan wrote Down a Dark Hall (1974), a Gothic novel following four students at an isolated and mysterious boarding school. In 1976, she published the supernatural horror novel Summer of Fear, which was also adapted into a 1978 film by director Wes Craven. In 1978, Duncan published the controversial Killing Mr. Griffin, a novel that details three high school students’ murder of their high school English teacher. Killing Mr. Griffin was one of Duncan’s major critical successes, and was selected as an American Library Association (ALA) Best Book for Young Adults that year. In the 1980s, Duncan would publish several more horror novels with supernatural themes, including Stranger with My Face (1981), about a teenage girl’s experiences with astral projection, and The Third Eye (1984), also with psychic themes. 1985 saw the publication of another suspense novel, Locked in Time. In 1988 and 1989, Duncan published the thriller novels The Twisted Window and Don’t Look Behind You, respectively. Duncan is credited by many critics and journalists as a pioneering figure of young adult fiction, particularly the teen suspense and horror genres, and has been dubbed the “queen of teen thrillers.” As noted by Emily Langer of The Washington Post, Duncan often “plucked her characters from normalcy and placed them in extraordinary, often dark circumstances,” in contrast to her contemporaries such as Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and Robert Cormier. The ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work by that writer for “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature”. Duncan won the annual award in 1992 and the young adult librarians named six books published from 1966 to 1987, the autobiographical Chapters: My Growth as a Writer (1982) and five novels: Ransom, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Summer of Fear, Killing Mr. Griffin, and The Twisted Window. The citation observed, “Whether accepting responsibility for the death of an English teacher or admitting to their responsibility for a hit and run accident, Duncan’s characters face a universal truth—your actions are important and you are responsible for them.” From 1987 to 1989 Duncan wrote several picture books for young children, some paired with audio CDs of songs for children, including Songs from Dreamland, Dream Songs from Yesterday, Our Beautiful Day, and The Story of Christmas. After the murder of her youngest daughter in 1989 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she would only write one more horror novel, a supernatural thriller titled Gallows Hill (1997). The murder of Duncan’s daughter marked a shift in her writing; saying that she could no longer write about young women in life-threatening situations,  she would spend the remainder of her career writing thematically lighter material, mainly children’s chapter and picture books. Duncan also founded a research centre to help investigate cold cases, which later became the nonprofit Resource Center for Victims of Violent Deaths. In 1992, she published Who Killed My Daughter?, a nonfiction account of her daughter’s unsolved murder. In the 2000s Duncan wrote two sequels to Hotel for Dogs: News for Dogs (2009) and Movie for Dogs (2010), both children’s novels. She would also publish her second collection of poetry in 2007, titled Seasons of the Heart. Her final book, a non-fiction sequel to Who Killed My Daughter? titled One to the Wolves, was published in 2013 with a foreword by Ann Rule. In 2014 Duncan was awarded the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America alongside James Ellroy in New York City (died 2016): “I started writing for young adults because I was one.”

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