Today is the Memorial of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (died 1641), and the Perseid Meteor shower is near or at its peak. And today is World Elephant Day.
Born as Jeanne-Françoise Frémiot in 1672 in Dijon, France, the mother of today’s Saint died when she was eighteen months old, and her father, head of parliament at Dijon, became the main influence on her education. She developed into a woman of beauty and refinement, lively and cheerful in temperament. At the age of twenty-one she married the Baron de Chantal, by whom she had six children, three of whom died in infancy (she was the paternal grandmother of French letter-writer Madame de Sévigné). At her castle she restored the custom of daily Mass and was seriously engaged in various charitable works. Jane’s husband was killed after seven years of marriage and she sank into deep dejection for four months at her family home. Her father-in-law threatened to disinherit her children if she did not return to his home. He was then seventy-five, vain, fierce and extravagant; Jane Frances managed to remain cheerful in spite of him and his insolent housekeeper. When she was thirty-two years old she met St. Francis de Sales, who became her spiritual director, softening some of the severities imposed by her former director. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision. She took a vow to remain unmarried and to obey her director. After three years Francis told her of his plan to found an institute of women which would be a haven for those whose health, age or other considerations barred them from entering the already established communities. There would be no cloister, and they would be free to undertake spiritual and corporal works of mercy. They were primarily intended to exemplify the virtues of Mary at the Visitation (hence their name, the Visitation nuns): humility and meekness. The usual opposition to women in active ministry arose and Francis de Sales was obliged to make it a cloistered community following the Rule of St. Augustine. Francis wrote his famous Treatise on the Love of God for them. The congregation (three women) began when Jane Frances was forty-five. She underwent great sufferings: Francis de Sales died; her son was killed; a plague ravaged France; and her daughter-in-law and son-in-law died. She encouraged the local authorities to make great efforts for the victims of the plague and she put all her convent’s resources at the disposal of the sick. During a part of her religious life, she had to undergo great trials of the spirit—interior anguish, darkness and spiritual dryness. She died while on a visitation of convents of the community. She wrote some exemplary letters of spiritual direction. When her feast day was first inserted into the Roman calendar, the date chosen was August 21st. In 1969 the feast day was moved to December 12th, as close as possible to the anniversary of her death (December 13th, a date occupied by the feast day of Saint Lucy); however, as the United States church celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th, the American church moved the Feast Day for Saint Jane Frances de Chantal to August 18th. Pope John Paul II declared Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of the Americas in 1999; in 2001, when the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe was made an optional memorial in every country, that of Saint Jane Frances was transferred to August 12th. She is the Patron Saint of forgotten people, of widows, and of parents separated from their children, and her aid is invoked by those with in-law problems. And the Perseid Meteor shower is at or near its peak, but Richard and I have scant chance to see meteors, as our drive to work takes us west, and not northeast (the direction from which the meteors radiate). And today is World Elephant Day. Conceived in 2011 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest Pictures, and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand, the day was officially founded, supported and launched by Patricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation on August 12th, 2012. The goal of World Elephant Day is to create awareness of the urgent plight of African and Asian elephants, and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants. African elephants are listed as “Vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. One conservationist has stated that both African and Asian elephants face extinction within twelve years. The current population estimates are about 400,000 for African elephants and 40,000 for Asian elephants, although it has been argued that these numbers are much too high. Patricia Sims continues to lead and direct World Elephant Day, which is now supported by over 65 wildlife organizations and many individuals in countries across the globe.
Last night I continued reading The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems…and Create More by Luke Dormehl via Kindle on my tablet.
On waking up to get ready for work today, I posted to Facebook that the Perseid Meteor Shower is peaking today, and that today was World Elephant Day. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Seventh Day of my Assumption Novena. We clocked in, attended the Pre-Shift Meeting, and once out on the casino floor, Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and Four Card Poker. I was the Relief Dealer for the second Mississippi Stud table, Mississippi Stud, and Three Card Poker. (At some point Surveillance called down on me, for taking/paying the #2 spot with my right hand.) I made out my storelist for Richard, and started re-reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
I continued reading on our way home, and Richard stopped at Wal-Mart to get our groceries that were on my storelist. Once home, I set up my medications for next week (I have one prescription to renew on Monday), and ate my lunch salad while Richard paid the bills. I then plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Pro app, and I am now doing today’s Daily Update. And when I finish this Daily Update, I will go to bed for the duration.
Tomorrow is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Pontian, Pope and Martyr (died 235), and of Hippolytus, Priest and Martyr (died 235 or 236). The Perseid Meteor Shower ends, and tomorrow is International Left Handers Day. We will work our eight hours at the casino, and I will continue re-reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson..
Our Saturday Afternoon Quote comes to us from Lauren Bacall, American actress. Born as Betty Perske in 1924 in the Bronx, New York City, New York, her parents were Jewish (through her father she was a relative of Shimon Peres, the ninth President of Israel, whose last name was Perske); her father was born in New Jersey, and her mother was born in Romania. Her parents divorced when she was five. Bacall took lessons at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts while working as a theater usher and part-time fashion model. As Betty Bacall (taking her mother’s last name of Bacal, with an extra L, as her acting name), she made her acting debut on Broadway in 1942, at age seventeen, as a walk-on in Johnny 2 X 4. Howard Hawks’ wife Nancy spotted her “in a very small picture in Vogue” and urged Hawks to have her take a screen test for To Have and Have Not. Hawks had asked his secretary to find out more about her, but the secretary misunderstood and sent her a ticket to Hollywood for the audition. During screen tests Bacall was nervous; to minimize her quivering, she pressed her chin against her chest and tilted her eyes upward to see the camera. This effect became known as “The Look”, Bacall’s trademark. Hawks signed her to a seven-year personal contract, brought her to Hollywood, gave her $100 salary of a week, and began to manage her career. He also changed her name to Lauren Bacall. His wife took Bacall under her wing, dressed the newcomer stylishly, and guided her in matters of elegance, manners and taste. Bacall’s voice was trained to be lower, more masculine and sexier, which resulted in one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood. On the set of To Have and Have Not Humphrey Bogart, who was married to Mayo Methot, initiated a relationship with Bacall several weeks into shooting and they began seeing each other. On a visit to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on February 10th, 1945, Bacall’s press agent, chief of publicity at Warner Bros. Charlie Enfield, asked the twenty-year-old Bacall to sit on the piano which was being played by Vice-President of the United States Harry S. Truman. The photos caused controversy and made headlines worldwide. Bacall and Bogart were married on May 21st, 1945, after his divorce from Methot; Bacall was twenty and Bogart was forty-five. They were married in the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, Malabar Farm, in the Pleasant Valley area of Richland County, Ohio. The home is now an Ohio State Park. After To Have and Have Not (1944), Bacall was seen opposite Charles Boyer in Confidential Agent (1945), which was poorly received by the critics. She then appeared with Bogart in the films noir The Big Sleep (1946) and Dark Passage (1947) and John Huston’s melodramatic suspense film Key Largo (1948) with Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. She was cast with Gary Cooper in the period drama Bright Leaf (1950). Bacall turned down scripts she did not find interesting and thereby earned a reputation for being difficult. Yet, for her leads in a string of films, she received favorable reviews. In Young Man with a Horn (1950), co-starring Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, and Hoagy Carmichael, Bacall played a two-faced femme fatale. This movie is often considered the first big-budget jazz film. During 1951 and 1952, Bacall co-starred with Bogart in the syndicated action-adventure radio series Bold Venture. During the filming of The African Queen (1951), Bacall and Bogart became friends of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Bacall began to mix in non-acting circles, becoming friends with the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and the journalist Alistair Cooke. In 1952 she gave campaign speeches for Democratic Presidential contender Adlai Stevenson. Along with other Hollywood figures, Bacall was a staunch opponent of McCarthyism. In 1953 Bacall starred in the CinemaScope comedy How to Marry a Millionaire, a runaway hit that saw her teaming up with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable. Billed third under Monroe and Grable, Bacall got positive notices for her turn as the witty gold-digger Schatze Page. In 1955 a live television version of Bogart’s own breakthrough, The Petrified Forest, was performed as a live installment of Producers’ Showcase, a weekly dramatic anthology, featuring Bogart (now top-billed) as Duke Mantee, Henry Fonda as Alan, and Bacall as Gabrielle, the part originally played in the 1936 movie by Bette Davis. Jack Klugman, Richard Jaeckel, and Jack Warden played supporting roles. Bogart had no problem performing his role live since he had originally played the part on Broadway with the subsequent movie’s star Leslie Howard, who had secured a film career for Bogart by insisting that Warner Bros. cast him in the movie instead of Edward G. Robinson; Bogart and Bacall named their daughter “Leslie Howard Bogart” in gratitude. (Their son Stephen Bogart was earlier named for his father’s character in To Have or Have Not.) Written on the Wind, directed by Douglas Sirk in 1956, is now considered a classic tearjerker. Appearing with Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone and Robert Stack, Bacall played a career woman whose life was unexpectedly turned around by a family of oil magnates. While struggling at home with Bogart’s severe illness (cancer of the esophagus), Bacall starred with Gregory Peck in the screwball comedy Designing Woman and gained rave reviews. It was directed by Vincente Minnelli and released in New York City on May 16th, 1957, four months after Bogart succumbed to cancer on January 14th. Shortly after Bogart’s death she had a relationship with Frank Sinatra; they were apparently engaged, but he broke the engagement when news of it was leaked to the gossip magazines. Bacall was seen in two more films in the 1950s, the Jean Negulesco-directed melodrama The Gift of Love (1958), in which her co star was Robert Stack, and the adventure film North West Frontier (1959), which was an immediate box office hit. Bacall was married to actor Jason Robards, Jr. from 1961 to 1969; their only child was son Sam Robards, whose godmother was Katharine Hepburn.. On Broadway she starred in Cactus Flower (1965), Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981). She won Tony Awards for her performances in the latter two; she also had a relationship with Len Cariou, her co-star in Applause. The few movies Bacall shot during this period were all-star vehicles such as Sex and the Single Girl (1964) with Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, Harper (1966) with Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Julie Harris, Robert Wagner and Janet Leigh, and Murder on the Orient Express (1974), with Ingrid Bergman, Albert Finney and Sean Connery. In 1976 she co-starred with John Wayne in his last picture, The Shootist. The two became friends, despite significant political differences between them. They had previously been cast together in 1955’s Blood Alley. In 1978 she wrote her autobiography, Lauren Bacall By Myself; it won a National Book Award in 1980. In December 1980 she was living in The Dakota in New York City; she heard the gunshot that killed John Lennon outside of the building, but assumed that she had heard a car tire bursting or a vehicle backfiring. During the 1980s Bacall appeared in the poorly received star vehicle The Fan (1981), as well as some star-studded features such as Robert Altman’s Health (1980) and Michael Winner’s Appointment with Death (1988). In 1990 she had a small role in Misery, which starred Kathy Bates and James Caan. In 1991 Bacall was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1724 Vine Street. In 1997 a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her. That same year Bacall was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), her first nomination after a career span of more than fifty years. She had already won a Golden Globe and was widely expected to win the Oscar, but it went instead to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient. In the late 1990s Bacall donated the only known kinescope of the 1955 live television performance of The Petrified Forest to The Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media), where it remains archived for viewing in New York City and Los Angeles. Bacall received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997. In 1998 she was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. In 1999 she was voted one of the twenty-five most significant female movie stars in history by the American Film Institute. Her movie career saw something of a renaissance and she attracted respectful notices for her performances in high-profile projects such as Dogville (2003) and Birth (2004), both with Nicole Kidman. She was also one of the leading actors in Paul Schrader’s 2007 movie The Walker. Her commercial ventures in the 2000s included being a spokesperson for the Tuesday Morning discount chain (commercials showed her in a limousine waiting for the store to open at the beginning of one of their sales events) and producing a jewelry line with the Weinman Brothers company. She previously was a celebrity spokesperson for High Point coffee and Fancy Feast cat food. In 2004 she wrote the second volume of her autobiography, Now. The next year her first autobiography, 1978’s Lauren Bacall By Myself, was updated with an extra chapter: “By Myself and Then Some”. In March 2006 Bacall was seen at the 78th Annual Academy Awards introducing a film montage dedicated to film noir. She made a cameo appearance as herself on The Sopranos, in the April 2006 episode, “Luxury Lounge”, during which she was punched and robbed by a masked hoodlum played by Michael Imperioli. In September 2006 Bacall was awarded the first Katharine Hepburn Medal, which recognizes “women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress”, by Bryn Mawr College’s Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center. She gave an address at the memorial service of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. at the Reform Club in London in June 2007. When her granddaughter took her to see “the greatest vampire film ever”, Twilight (2008), she responded by giving her granddaughter the DVD of Nosferatu (1922). She finished her role in The Forger in 2009. Bacall was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Honorary Academy Award, which was presented at the inaugural Governors Awards on November 14th, 2009. In July 2013 Bacall expressed interest in taking the starring role in the film Trouble Is My Business. In November 2013 she joined the English dub voice cast for Studio Canal’s animated film Ernest & Celestine. At the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) for purposes of webpage categorization she is #2 (or, currently, 0000002), with Fred Astaire holding the honor as #1 (died 2014): “Imagination is the highest kite that can fly.”