Thursday, April 1, 2010

Well March appears to have gone out like a lion -

A big fat wet nasty lion.

It's St. Stupid's Day

here is the history of St. Stupid, directly from the font of all knowledge - Wikipedia:

... According to legend, St. Stupid was the son of a codpiece. It is also told that he had not one mother, but thousands. Wherever a country lass was deceived by a traveling player, wherever a child of questionable parentage was born, St. Stupid was there. He was a clever child who played the fool from an early age. He did not speak until he was in puberty, although he was able from the time he was two. He delighted in confounding and confusing his fellow beings. He did rock imitations. He slept with the chickens and crowed with the roosters. He traveled over most of the known world and much of the unknown world, creating mischief wherever he went. At times he attracted others and together they put on dumb shows where they confounded and swindled their audiences....

An annual parade celebrating the venerable saint is held in San Francisco.

It's Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, today (remember to wash your feet or the feet of someone else, if you are so inclined.)

Amongst the other things going on (remember: don't go to a dinner party with 12 other people) - it a big confessional day - so in honor of that, as has been my wont, I will repost, Confessions of a Fallen Altar boy - tales from my misspent youth as an Altar boy at St. John's. Hear the tales of the beatings by drunken priest, the secret drinking of the sacramental wine, the willful intent to force others to puke up the Eucharist. Those uninterested in the wanton tales of Catholic youth gone wrong need not read the posting.

It's also Census Day.

So complete that census today!

April 1, 1930 -
Josef von Sternberg's Der blaue Engel (Blue Angel), starring unknown german actress, Marlene Dietrich, premiered in Berlin on this date.

Many actresses from the stage and screen were considered for the role of Lola Lola. Early contenders were Gloria Swanson, Phyllis Haver, Louise Brooks, Brigitte Helm, Lya De Putti, Leni Riefenstahl, Lotte Lenya, and many young German starlets.

April 1, 1895 -
Alberta Hunter, blues singer, songwriter and nurse, was born on this date.

After the death of her mother in 1954, Ms. Hunter retired from the music industry and 'reinvented' herself, becoming a nurse working until the late 70's (my grand-aunt worked with her.)

Coming out of her second retirement, Ms. Hunter accepted a 'two-week' engagement in a downtown NYC nightclub that lasted almost six years (until shortly before her death.)

Here's your Today in History -
It's that cruel month - April mixing memory with tax payments. April was the second month in an early Roman calendar, but became the fourth when the ancient Romans started using January as the first month. The Romans called the month Aprilis. It may come from a word meaning 'to open', or it may come from Aphrodite, the Greek name for the goddess of love or it may come from the word meaning 'month that used to be second but now is fourth'.

Small animals that hibernate are usually coming out of their burrows in April. The birds fly back northward or they settle down to have their families. Small people usually fly northwards from Miami to spend the holidays with their mishpocha. The bees and butterflies begin to gather nectar from the first flowers of the season.

In some parts of the world, it's planting time. In other parts, it's the harvest season. And yet in other places, it's the sanity that follows March Madness. Professional baseball begins in April. Then the amateur athletes begin to go outside in the warm weather. Spring cleaning starts and people start mowing their yards again.

Special days celebrated in April begin with the first day of April, when children and grown-ups play jokes on one another. Arbor Day is a day for planting trees, and it is observed on various April days. The Jewish festival of Pescah (Passover) is usually celebrated early in April. Easter is almost always in April, and, with it comes other Christian celebrations such as Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday,and Good Friday.

Unlike most of the other nonfoolish holidays, the history of April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is not totally clear. There really wasn't a "first April Fool's Day" that can be pinpointed on the calendar. Some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of spring.

The closest point in time that can be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior to that year, the new year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration culminated on April 1. With the reform of the calendar under Charles IX, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved to January 1.

However, communications being what they were in the days when news traveled by foot, many people did not receive the news for several years. Others, the more obstinate crowd, refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the new year on April 1. These backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on "fools errands" or were made the butt of other practical jokes.

This harassment evolved, over time, into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April. The tradition eventually spread to England and Scotland in the eighteenth century. It was later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and French. April Fool's Day thus developed into an international fun fest, so to speak, with different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense of their friends and families.

In Scotland, for example, April Fool's Day is actually celebrated for two days. The second day is devoted to pranks involving the posterior region of the body. It is called Taily Day. The origin of the "kick me" sign can be traced to this observance.

    Mexico's counterpart of April Fool's Day is actually observed on December 28. Originally, the day was a sad remembrance of the slaughter of the innocent children by King Herod. It eventually evolved into a lighter commemoration involving pranks and trickery.

    Pranks performed on April Fool's Day range from the simple, (such as saying, "Your shoe's untied!), to the elaborate. Setting a roommate's alarm clock back an hour is a common gag. Whatever the prank, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim, "April Fool!" In Scotland, it usually ends with sodomy.

    Practical jokes are a common practice on April Fool's Day. Sometimes, elaborate practical jokes are played on friends or relatives that last the entire day. The news media even gets involved. For instance, a British short film once shown on April Fool's Day was a fairly detailed documentary about "spaghetti farmers" and how they harvest their crop from the spaghetti trees.

    April Fools everybody

    Today in History-
    April 1, 78 -
    Roman scientist Gaius Brutus Caellus produced the first alkaline battery. No practical use could be discovered for his invention, as it would be nineteen full centuries before the advent of talking Barney dolls, so it became a mere academic curiosity, gradually forgotten until Alessandro Volta used writings about Caellus's novelty to invent the first "wet cell" battery in 1800.

    April 1, 1865
    Ordered to hold Five Forks, Confederate General George Pickett instead fights the "Waterloo of the Confederacy," and lost almost 3,000 troops.


    On April 1, 1976, Max Ernst died. On April 2, he was born. This sort of contradictory behavior was typical of Ernst, one of the founders of the Dada movement.

    The Dada movement’s central philosophy was mackerel, and its importance has been grapefruit.

    April 1, 1984 -
    Legendary Motown singer Marvin Gaye, who had recently moved back in with his parents, physically batters his own father. Minutes later Dad returns with a gun, shooting Marvin twice in the chest and killing him instantly.

    Please stop asking the ermine wrap - I have no idea .

    Confessions of a Fallen Altar boy

    I became an Altar boy because you got out of school early twice a week. You did have to do an early mass (7:00 AM) once a week but what the hell. The priest that ran the program was a frustrated football coach. We would have our weekly meeting and he would roll a blackboard out onto the altar and diagram what we were supposed to do.

    He also told us that when at rest, we should keep our hands loosely clasped at our waist not at crotch level. "You boys do not have balls big enough to walk around holding them," he would warn us.

    The duties of an altar boy are vast and complex. You had to set up before mass –you making sure there was water and wine and enough hosts ready for mass. If you ever wanted to have your little mind blown, open up the jumbo bag o' body of Christ and fill up the receptacle like so much cocktail peanuts.

    Since these are not yet been consecrated you are permitted to handle them. But you had to guess how many parishioners would attend mass because the priest hated waste and if he didn't have mass later that day, he had to consume the remaining hosts (nothing worse that stale Eucharists). But God forbid you didn't have enough and you had to run back in to get some more – that got you a smack to the head.

    Yes, priests were allowed to smack the altar boys around. The priest was holy and you were a snot nosed kid so if the priest hit you – you must have deserved it.

    Then there was the issue of the holy wine. Each priest had his own special mixture of wine and water to create the sacrament. One priest liked sherry. Another liked white wine. The third like the traditional red wine. But monsignor liked his scotch, with just a splash of water for his `Blood o' Christ'.

    "Boyo, don't be stingy with the scotch this morning, tis cold and you didn't pay for it," monsignor would hiss under breath. "And not too much water. Christ wasn't anemic boyo."

    Besides having to dole out the sacraments, Altar boys had to hold the bible for priest during mass. You had to mark the appropriate space for the daily mass and be prepared to open to that page when called upon to do so. Woe was you if you forgot to mark your place or didn't hold the book steady enough or close enough when the priest had a hangover and his sight was blurry. That got you a smack to the back of the head.

    You also had to ring a special set of bells at a specific point in the mass. God forbid you rang them too enthusiastically (to get your friends attention) or worse, missed the cue and rang them too late. That got you another smack to the head.

    You also had to lay out the correct vestments for the day's mass. The little old ladies, who were the handmaidens to priest, would tag them for you and you had to take them out of the garment bag. Sometimes the old ladies were running late or they forgot and you had to guess which garment. That could be you a boot in the ass for the wrong guess.

    One of your main tasks was to play catcher for fallen hosts. For those of you who remember (or know), the priest had to place the body of Christ directly on the tongue of the receiver. The altar boy walks next to the priest, holding a small serving tray on a stick under the chin of the receiver, just in case, the priest dropped the Eucharist or it slipped from the receivers mouth. In that horrific case, the priest had to consume the host himself. Also if someone throws up right after receiving communion, the priest had to re-ingest the pre-digested communion wafer. (Yes, you know where we're going with this.)

    Altar boys would practice the secret art of flicking the tray, so they could force their friends to spit up the host and watch the priest have to eat the pre-moistened host. But you had to do this, without the priest catching you – it meant instant dismissal from the ranks of altar boydom. Yes, I got one or two of my friends in the throat and never go caught.

    Now we come up to the another important function of the altar boy – towel boy. At the end of communion, the priest cleans his hands and finishes the wine (Blood O' Christ) in the chalice.

    The altar boy's job is to pour water for the priest as he rinses his fingers of the Crumbs O' Christ into the chalice and then offer him a hand towel before he finishes off his holy drink. Unlike the attendants in washrooms, no tips were offered for your services. It was just, `hurry it up, we're not washing my dick here' or `Not too much, that was the good sherry you poured today. I'm going to kill you when we get back into the sacristy'.

    At this point, mass was nearly over and if you were lucky so was your torture. Either you had the beatings hanging over your head or you know you could make a quick get away. Once mass was over, you have to stow away the various items that were used during mass and hang up the priest's vestments. If you weren't in trouble or one of the little old ladies were there – you could make a mad dash by to school or to home. If you did something wrong or the priest was already deep into his cups – there could be hell to pay.

    You'd hope for the quick smack to the back of the head. You could get the slow torture of thumbs against the wall. Place you hands straight in front of you then step back about a foot. Then lean against the wall with just your thumbs while the priest busied himself around the altar and sacristy after mass.

    Have a good Holy Thursday

    And so it goes

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