Sunday, May 01, 2011

Happy May 1st!

Today is the first day of May - May Day, as it's often called, or Labor Day as it's known in much of the world outside the US of A. This is a more important date than you might otherwise realize, and for reasons other than marking the transition from spring to summer, recognizing the efforts of laborers around the world, and celebrating fertility (what did you think that Maypole represented, eh?).

"Mayday!" is, of course, the internationally-recognized distress call. It's use in this context has nothing to do with May 1st, but is a corruption of the French term m'aider, meaning help me.

Dr Jonas Salk's vaccine against infantile paralysis, or polio, was made available to the public for the first time on May 1st, 1956. Dr Salk's vaccine was injected into the patient, but a second vaccine, developed later by Dr Albert Sabin, was able to be taken orally. Together, the two vaccines have largely eliminated polio as a crippling disease of children (and adults).

And it was on May 1st of 1786 that Mozart's great opera The Marriage of Figaro had its premiere in Vienna. As you know, I am no particular fan of opera ...

... but the wonderful Danish musical comedian Victor Borge can make even opera fun ...


And that, Dear Readers, is it for this cool and pleasant May Day morning here in Northern Virginia.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

7 comments:

allenwoodhaven said...

Love the cartoon! It has obviously been saved for years and I'm glad you did. I'll be paraphrasing it in the future whenever opera comes up....

Melissa B. said...

Happy May Day! We here in Fairfax, of course, celebrated with unusually chilly and dreary weather, correctamundo?

Bilbo said...

allenwoodhaven - that is one of my favorite opera-themed cartoons...sums up my opinion of opera better than almost anything else!

Melissa B. - yes, the weather was cool and dreary, but we spent the afternoon at a barrel tasting event at Linden Vineyards, so it ended up being much more enjoyable than it otherwise might...nothing like some good wine and a nice lunch to take the edge off the crummy weather!

Banister said...

My grandfather, like you, is not a huge fan of opera, but to please my grandmother, he goes.

One time early in their marriage they were at a performance of La Boheme and in the last act it takes Mimi a very long time to die. Beautiful music, beautiful singing, but the death scene does go on for a while.

It had been a long day at the bank, and grandfather fell asleep. It wasn't so bad until he started to snore gently. Grandmother shook him, and startled out of sleep he said in his normal speaking voice, "God, isn't she dead yet?"

I asked my grandad how long it took to work his way out of that particular dog house.

"You know those little velvet boxes jewellers use? Well it took two of the little square ones and one of the long flat ones."

Bilbo said...

Banister - great story - thanks for sharing it! I think I would really like your grandfather.

Banister said...

Thanks. I think you'd like both my grandfathers, and my one remaining great-grandfather. Dad as well. The five of you seem to think alike.

Check your Yahoo mailbox. I sent you a note yesterday. Look in the spam or junk folder. Yahoo is terrible about putting mail from rival email companies into a junk folder, which is why I went to Gmail.

KathyA said...

May is my favorite month of the year!! And I LOVE Victor Borge!!