Wednesday, November 11, 2015

May the day bring you endless joy

Today is Diwali, the Festival of Lights, one of the biggest and brightest of all the Hindu celebrations. An ancient festival celebrating the triumph of light over dark and good over evil; the day is also significant in other religions including Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word, “deepawali”, meaning “row of lights”. The day is also the beginning of the Hindu New Year.

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month ... World War I ended on this date in 1918 -

It's Veterans Day in the United States and Armistice Day for many in Europe (and it's Singles Day in China, 11/11- it's considered China's Anti-Valentine's Day, but we're not going to discuss that now.)

I'd like to thank our veterans for having fought, and in many cases died, to preserve my liberties -

and I'd like to apologizes for having made such foolish use of them.

November 11, 1943 -
The under-appreciated wartime-drama Sahara, starring Humphrey Bogart premiered on this date.

The movie utilized real soldiers as background artists and extras. They had been situated close by to the production at Camp Young, California where they were in training.

November 11, 1947 -
Elia Kazan's searing expose of anti-Semitism, Gentleman's Agreement, starring Gregory Peck premiered in New York on this date.

Gregory Peck did not get along with director Elia Kazan. Kazan told the press he was very disappointed with Peck's performance and the two men never worked together again.

November 11, 1958 -
The (relatively unknown) British-comedy The Horse's Mouth, starring Alec Guinness, opened in the US on this date.

Joyce Carey, the author of the novel which inspired the film, based the role of the self-destructive painter on his good friend, the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

Do yourself a favor and watch this one.

Today in History:
November 11, 397
St. Martin of Tours, another in the series of anorexic visionaries is a patron saint of France, soldiers (he is known as the he man's saint), reformed alcoholics and winemakers. When the armistice fell on the Saint Martin’s Day, November 11, 1918, the French people saw it was a sign of his intercession in the affairs of France.

Martin, after another of his life long practice of fasting, has a dream about Jesus wearing the cloak he had recently given to a naked beggar. Pieces of Martin's actual 'cloak' were revered as holy relics and the derivation of the name of the priest who looked after these relics became 'chaplain'.  (My father-in-law always reminded us that today is the day when the grapes you pressed and bottled turned into wine.)

And now you know.

November 11, 1215 -
The Fourth Lateran Council met on this date. They adopt the doctrine of transubstantiation, meaning that bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

This means all Catholics are essentially cannibals on a feeding schedule, but who am I to judge a theology of which I am a nominal member.

November 11, 1634 -
Following pressure from Anglican bishop John Atherton, the Irish House of Commons passes "An Act for the Punishment for the Vice of Buggery". Seven years later, the good Bishop Atherton is himself is found well hanged under the Act.

I guess the religious right has always been a little loose on this issue.

November 11, 1821 -
Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, Russian novelist who wrote Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, was born on this date.

November 11, 1921 -
One year after unknown soldiers were simultaneously buried at Westminster Abbey, London, and the Arc de Triomphe in France, President Warren G. Harding dedicated the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (a white marble sarcophagus in Arlington National Cemetery.)

The tombstone itself, designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, was not completed until 1932, when it was unveiled bearing the description “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels.

November 11, 1925 -
Something I'll always remember - when I was a kid, I shook hands with Orville Wright. Forty years later, I shook hands with Neil Armstrong. The guy that invented the airplane and the guy that walked on the moon. In a lifetime, that's kinda wild when you think about it.

Jonathan Winters, the great improvisational comedian and actor, was born on this date.

November 11, 1969 -
The Beatles with Billy Preston released Get Back in the UK on this date.

Get Back was going to be the title of the album. The concept was The Beatles "getting back" to their roots and playing new songs for a live audience without any studio tricks. This song came closest to capturing that spirit, but the album became something completely different when they decided to scrap the idea of a live album.

November 11, 1978
A perennial favorite suicide location, the renovated Hollywood Sign is unveiled, due in large part to the public campaign to restore the landmark by pornographer Hugh Hefner and shock rocker Alice Cooper.

The original sign was built in 1923, and said "Hollywoodland".

And so it goes

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