MONDAY, AUGUST 16, 2010
THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER AND SIRIUS
How are you enjoying these “dog days” of summer? For me, however, they are truly the “dog days” of August because I associate the expression with the month of August rather than July.
Webster’s dictionary defines “dog days” as
1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity
What is the origin of the term “dog days?” The answer lies in the stars, dear Sixteeners. It’s a celestial matter involving the brightest star in the night sky - Sirius of the constellation Canis Major (the big dog). The ancient Romans believed that the earth received heat from Siruis. In the summer, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. The ancients thought that its heat, in tandem with the heat of the sun, was responsible for a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They called this period of time, (20 days before and after the conjunction of Sirius with the sun) the “dog days” after the “dog star.”
The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the "dog days" as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the rising of Sirius at sunrise. The 1552 edition of the Book of Common Prayer cites "Dog Daies" beginning on July 6 and ending on August. 17. The Romans extended their "dog days" further into August and I'm with the Romans on that.
ON THIS DAY
The Death of Elvis Presley
On this day in 1977, Elvis Presley was found dead at his Graceland estate in Memphis, Tennessee. The "King of Rock and Roll" was only 42 years old. Not long before his death, I recall my cousins mentioning to me that Elvis hadn’t looked very well lately, that he seemed bloated in his most recent photos. On the day Elvis passed away, I went bowling with another cousin and I remember listening to Elvis music on the radio on the way to the bowling alley.
Elvis' Concerts in Canada
Here’s some Elvis trivia. In 1957, Elvis Presley performed in three Canadian cities. On April 2, he did two shows at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The next day, April 3, 1957, he did another two shows in Ottawa. On August 31, Elvis put on a concert in Vancouver. These five concerts in Canada were the only ones he performed outside of the United States.
The Graceland property was originally established as a farm during the American Civil War by Memphis newspaper owner and publisher Stephen C. Toof. Toof named it after his daughter, Grace. Elvis Presley purchased the property in March of 1957 for $102,500.
The Anniversary of Babe Ruth's Death
Baseball legend George Herman “Babe” Ruth died in New York City of cancer on August 16, 1948. The Bambino was 53 years old. And no, I don’t remember the day Babe Ruth died (ha ha). The Babe was born in Baltimore, Maryland on February 6, 1895.
It wasn’t a bad sports weekend for Toronto fans. The Toronto Argonauts defeated the Montreal Alouettes decisively by a score of 37-22. The Argos are now tied for first place with the Als in the CFL East.
In Anaheim, the Angels romped over the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 7-2 on Saturday. However, the Jays came back to beat the Halos 4-1 yesterday. Ricky Romero was the starter and he pitched seven solid innings to lead the Jays to victory in the finale of the three-game series. Speaking of Romero, the Jays have him locked up for the future. He accepted a five-year, $30.1 million deal with the team.
I’m not as big a tennis fan as I am of hockey, baseball and football. However, I was hoping that Roger Federer would defeat Andy Murray in the Rogers Cup here in Toronto. It was not to be. The Swiss master lost to the dour Scot.
Welcome to Number 16, the fun website that focuses on words, language and literature. It also contains quizzes and opinion pieces. Number 16 is named after my favourite number. I am Joanne Madden and I'm from Toronto, Canada. To find out what I have written on any topic, use the search box directly below. For TV trivia, please check my other website, TV Banter (www.tvbanter.net).
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