Tag Archives: Ulysses

Almanac – June 16

BLOOMSDAY – in 1904  James Joyce began a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently used the date to set the action of his novel Ulysses; this date is now traditionally called Bloomsday.

 

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1816 – Lord Byron read Fantasmagoriana to his four house guests at the Villa Diodati –  Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori –  and issued his challenge that each guest write a ghost story, which resulted  in Mary Shelley writing the novel Frankenstein, John Polidori  the short story The Vampyre, and Byron the poem Darkness

 

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1829 – Geronimo born. A prominent leader of the Bedonkohe Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars.


Geronimo” was the name given to him during a battle with Mexican soldiers. His Chiricahua name is often rendered as Goyathlay or Goyahkla  in English.

 

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1881 – Marie Laveau died. Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo, renowned in New Orleans.


Of her magical career there is little that can be substantiated. She was said to have had a snake she named Zombi after an African god. Oral traditions suggested that the occult part of her magic mixed Roman Catholic beliefs, including saints, with African spirits and religious concepts.


Her daughter Marie Laveau II (1827 — c. 1895) also practiced Voudoun, and historical accounts often confuse the two.  Some believe that the mother was more powerful while the daughter arranged more elaborate public events (including inviting attendees to St. John’s Eve rituals on Bayou St. John), but it is not known which (if not both) had done more to establish the voodoo queen reputation.


Marie Laveau was reportedly buried in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans in the Glapion family crypt. The tomb continues to attract visitors who draw three “x”s (XXX) on its side, in the hopes that Laveau’s spirit will grant them a wish.

Some  researchers claim that Laveau is buried in other tombs, but they may be confusing the resting places of other voodoo priestesses of New Orleans.

 

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1963 – Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.


During her three-day mission, in Vostok 6,  she performed various tests on herself to collect data on the female body’s reaction to spaceflight.


After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still revered as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.

 

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1999 – Screaming Lord Sutch died. Cult English singer and musican, and founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, who he served as its leader from 1983 to 1999, during which time he stood in numerous parliamentary elections.


Sutch was also a pioneer of pirate radio in the UK, and worked with the legendary record producer  Joe Meek.


His album Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends was named – unfairly ! –  in a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time, despite the fact that Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Noel Redding and Nicky Hopkins performed on it and helped write it.


Sutch suffered from depression and committed suicide by hanging.

 

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Almanac – February 02

Candlemas Day

Happy Candlemas !

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If on Candlemas Day it be shower and rain
Winter is gone, twill not come again

Or if you prefer…

When the wind’s in the East on Candlemas Day
There it will stick till the 2nd of May

1650 – Nell Gwynne born. Long-time mistress of King Charles II of England, by whom she had two sons.  Called “pretty, witty Nell” by Samuel Pepys, she has been regarded as a living embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England and has come to be considered a folk heroine, with a story echoing the rags-to-royalty tale of Cinderella.

Elizabeth Howe, in The First English Actresses, says she was “the most famous Restoration actress of all time, possessed of an extraordinary comic talent.”

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1709 – Alexander Selkirk [or Selcraig] was resused from Juan Fernandez Island, in the Pacific, by privateer Captain Woodes Rogers.

Selkirk had marooned himself on the island in 1703, following a row with his then captain, Thomas Stradling. His time as a castaway inspired Daniel Defoe‘s Robinson Crusoe [1719].

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1882 – James Joyce born.  Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Joyce is best known for Ulysses (see below), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer‘s Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he perfected.

Other major works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His complete oeuvre also includes three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters.

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1922 – Ulysses by James Joyce  published. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach  in Paris.

Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, 16 June 1904 .Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer‘s poem Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between its characters and events and those of the poem.

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1969 – Boris Karloff died. best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939). His popularity following Frankenstein was such that for a brief time he was billed simply as “Karloff” or “Karloff the Uncanny.”

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Almanac – January 13

1599 – Edmund Spenser died.  English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and is considered one of the greatest poets in the English language.

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1884 – Sophie Tucker born.  Ukraine born singer, comedian, actress and radio personality. Known for her stentorian delivery of comical and risqué songs, she was one of the most popular entertainers in America during the first half of the 20th century,  widely known by the nickname “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.”

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1887 – George Gurdjieff born. Influential Armenian-born spiritual teacher of the early to mid-20th century who taught that the vast majority of humanity lives their entire lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep,” but that it was possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential.

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1941 – James Joyce died. Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent amongst these the stream of consciousness technique he perfected.

Other major works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His complete oeuvre also includes three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters.

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2009 – Patrick McGoohan died. American-born actor, brought up in Ireland and Britain, where he established an extensive stage and film career, with his most notable roles in the 1960s television series Danger Man  and The Prisoner, which he co-created,  a completely new, cerebral kind of series, stretching the limits of the established television formulae.

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2010 – Teddy Pendergrass died.  American R&B/soul singer and songwriter. Pendergrass first rose to fame as lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in the 1970s before a successful solo career at the end of the decade. In 1982, he was severely injured in an auto accident in Philadelphia, resulting in his being paralyzed from the waist down.  He died of respiratory failure,  aged 59.

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Almanac – December 06

1877 – Thomas Edison, using his new phonograph, made one of the earliest recordings of a human voice, reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.

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1890 – Dion Fortune born.   British occultist and author. Her pseudonym (she was born Violet Mary Firth Evans) was inspired by her family motto “Deo, non-fortuna” ( “by God, not fate”).

Of her works on magical subjects, the best remembered of her books are; The Cosmic Doctrine, a summation of her basic teachings on mysticism, Psychic Self-Defense,  a manual on how to protect oneself from psychic attacks and The Mystical Qabalah,  an introduction to Hermetic Qabalah which was first published in England in 1935, and is regarded by many occultists as one of the best books on magic ever written. Though some of her writings may seem dated to contemporary readers, they have the virtue of lucidity and avoid the deliberate obscurity that characterised many of her forerunners and contemporaries.

She also  wrote about the “Magical Battle of Britain”,[ which was a purported attempt by British occultists to magically aid the war effort during World War II. Her efforts in regard to this are recorded in a series of letters she wrote at the time. The effort involved is said by some  to have contributed to her death shortly after the war ended.

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1933 – U.S. federal judge John M. Woolsey ruled that the James Joyce‘s novel Ulysses is not obscene.

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1949 – Leadbelly died. Huddie William Ledbetter, American folk and blues musician, and multi-instrumentalist, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced.

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1969 – Meredith Hunter  killed by the Hells Angels during  Rolling Stones‘s concert at the Altamont Speedway in California.  During the performance by , he  was punched by Hells Angels  serving as security guards. He subsequently drew a gun, and was stabbed to death by Hells Angel Alan Passaro.

Some claim it happened while the Stones were playing Sympathy For The Devil,  thus giving it an extra frisson, but it was actually while they were performing Under My Thumb.

Many commentators have seen this event  as the symbolic end of the Hippie dream, such as it was.

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HAPPY BLOOMSDAY !

Happy Bloomsday !

June 16th  is Bloomsday,  a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived.
The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses, and Joyce chose 16 June 1904 as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle – they walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend.

Bloomsday (a term Joyce himself did not employ) was invented in 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, when John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Flann O’Brien organised what was to be a daylong pilgrimage along the Ulysses route.

They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest) and AJ Leventhal (Registrar of Trinity College, Dublin). Ryan had engaged two horse drawn cabs, of the old-fashioned kind, which in Ulysses Bloom and his friends drive to poor Paddy Dignam’s funeral.

The party were assigned roles from the novel. They planned to travel round the city through the day, visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown.

However, the pilgrimage was abandoned halfway through, when the pilgrims succumbed to inebriation and rancour at the Bailey pub in the city centre, which Ryan then owned. A Bloomsday record of 1954, informally filmed by John Ryan, follows this pilgrimage.

A few particles of Bloomsday miscellania – culled from the internet, so may or may not be true…

In 1956, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath were married by special licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury at St George the Martyr Church, Holborn, on 16 June, in honour of Bloomsday.

In Mel Brooks‘ 1968 film The Producers, Gene Wilder‘s character is called Leo Bloom, an homage to Joyce’s character. In the musical 2005 version, in the evening scene at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, Leo asks, “When will it be Bloom’s day?”. However, in the earlier scene in which Bloom first meets Max Bialystock, the office wall calendar shows that the current day is 16 June, indicating that it is, in fact, Bloomsday.

In 1981 a biography of Leopold Bloom – by Peter Costello – was published. Not read it, but it may have had an influence on the next item…

Bloomsday has also been celebrated since 1994 in the Hungarian town of Szombathely, the fictional birthplace of Leopold Bloom’s father, Virág Rudolf, an emigrant Hungarian Jew.

The event is usually centered on the Iseum, the remnants of an Isis temple from Roman times, and the Blum-mansion, commemorated to Joyce since 1997, at 40–41 Fő street, which used to be the property of an actual Jewish family called Blum.
Hungarian author László Najmányi in his 2007 novel, The Mystery of the Blum-Mansion  describes the results of his research on the connection between Joyce and the Blum family.

On Bloomsday 2011, @11ysses was the stage for an experimental day-long tweeting of Ulysses. Starting at 0800 (Dublin time) on Thursday 16 June 2011, the aim was to explore what would happen if Ulysses was recast 140 characters at a time.

And  Bloomsday 2011 also saw the arrival of our new  Cat from the rescue centre. A beautiful black & white girl, around a year old, she was named Molly, after Leopold Bloom’s wife.

I guess this is a good example of  the consequences of an action echoing down through the years. When Joyce and Nora took that original walk in 1904 they could never have imagined that they were setting in motion a chain of events that would result, 108 years later, of a Cat in Sunderland being named after a character in a novel that wouldn’t even be published for another 18 years.

Molly, incidentally, has moved into music videos with a percussive offering called To My Hellcat [which is, of course, an anagram of Molly the Cat].

Mr. Frankenstein

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