Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms

Hope your Mother's Day is more pleasant than labor was. (Remember, your mom is one of your favorite parents.)

The United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British version of the day and was imported by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War. However, it was intended as a call to unite women against war. In 1870, she wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation as a call for peace and disarmament. Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.

When Jarvis died in 1907, her daughter, named Anna Jarvis, started the crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Originally the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, this building is now the International Mother's Day Shrine (a National Historic Landmark). From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared officially by some states beginning in 1912. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

Nine years after the first official Mother's Day, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become. Mother's Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. occasions. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.

In case you didn't get you mom a great gift, you can remind her that you will probably be helping with her nursing home costs.

May 11, 12 and 13 are the feast days of Saints Mamertus, Pancras and Servais (or Servatuis or Gervatuis.) These three are known as the Three Chilly Saints not because they were cold during their lifetimes, but because these days are traditionally the coldest of the month. English and French folklore (and later American) held that these days would bring a late frost. In Germany, they were called the Icemanner, or Icemen Days, and people believed it was never safe to plant until the Icemen were gone.

Another bit of folklore claimed, "Who shears his sheep before St. Servatius's Day loves more his wool than his sheep."

Allow you mind to wander to think of all the dirty jokes you can now tell yourself.

May 11, 1944 -
George Cukor's
atmospheric thriller Gaslight, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, premiered on this date

Angela Lansbury was only 17 when she made this, her film debut. She had been working at Bullocks Department Store in Los Angeles and when she told her boss that she was leaving, he offered to match the pay at her new job. Expecting it to be in the region of her Bullocks salary of the equivalent of $27 a week, he was somewhat taken aback when she told him she would be earning $500 a week.

May 11, 1969 -
It's ... the day the Monty Python comedy troupe was formed.

John Cleese and Graham Chapman were introduced to Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin on the set of their British TV series, Do Not Adjust Your Set.

May 11, 1970 -
The song Long & Winding Road by the Beatles was released in the US on this date.

(and the Naked version)

It was their last American release.

May 11, 1974 -
ABC Records
released Steely Dan's Rikki Don't Lose that Number, on this date, (Any Major Dude Will Tell You was the B-side.)

According to an article in Entertainment Weekly, back in 2006, it was revealed that the Rikki in question was Rikki Ducornet, a woman Donald Fagen knew while he attended Bard College.

Today in History:
May 11, 1310
For you fans of the Da Vinci Code, 54 members of the Knights Templar were burned at the stake in France for being heretics on this date.

Established during the Crusades to protect pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, this military order came into increasing conflict with Rome until Clement V officially dissolves it at the Council of Vienna in 1312.

May 11, 1812 -
Spencer Perceval
was a British statesman and Prime Minister. He is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated. On this date in 1812, Perceval was on his way to attend a session of Parliament when he was shot through the heart in the lobby of the House of Commons by a mentally unsound man, John Bellingham, who blamed his financial instability on a casual suggestion of Perceval.

He died almost instantly, uttering the words "I am murdered", and Bellingham gave himself up to officers. He was found guilty and hanged a week later. It is often thought to be illegal to die in the Palace of Westminster, and the place of his actual death and the place of his recorded death are unknown.

May 11, 1888 -
Israel Isidore Beilin
was a Russian-born naturalized American composer and lyricist, and one of the most prolific American songwriters in history. Berlin was one of the few Tin Pan Alley/Broadway songwriters who wrote both lyrics and music for his songs.

Although he never learned to read music beyond a rudimentary level, with the help of various uncredited musical assistants or collaborators, he eventually composed over 3,000 songs, many of which (e.g. "God Bless America", "White Christmas", "Anything You Can Do", "There's No Business Like Show Business") left an indelible mark on American music and culture. He composed 17 film scores and 21 Broadway scores.

May 11, 1907 -
A derailment outside Lompoc, California killed 32 Shriners, when their chartered train jumps off the tracks at a switch near Surf Depot on this date.

Many of them were scalded to death when the steam boiler ruptured.  I bet no one in Lompoc celebrated National Train Day yesterday.

No word on the fate of their groovy fezzes.

May 11, 1949 -
Siam changed its name to Thailand, because everyone was getting tired of those jokes where one guy would say, "Are you familiar with this place?" and the other guy would go "Yeah, Siam," and the first guy would go, "You gonna tell me where we are?" and the other guy would be like, "Yes: Siam." and it would go on and on and they'd never give it a rest.

Had anyone foreseen the glut of restaurants trading on the new name, however - Beau Thai, Thai Me Up, Thai One On, etc—the nation might still be called Siam.  (The country had been known as Siam until 1939, when it changed its name to Thailand for nationalistic reasons. It reverted back to Siam in 1945, but when the political scene changed again, it was once again named Thailand.)

May 11, 1960 -
Four Mossad agents on this date, abducted factory foreman, junior water engineer and professional rabbit farmer Ricardo Klement

(and, oh yeah he was also know as fugitive Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann) from a bus stop in Buenos Aires.

May 11, 1981 -
Jamaican music legend and U.N. Peace Medal recipient Bob Marley died of brain cancer in a Miami hospital at the age of 36 on this date.

Marley had quietly begun a course of radiation therapy at Sloan-Kettering a few months prior, but abandoned it just two days later after word leaked out.

And so it goes

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