July 25, 2014

“Paris is worth a mass.” (“Paris vaut une messe.”)

From 1562 to 1598, a series of bloody wars was waged in France between Catholics and Protestant Huguenots, collectively called “The French Wars of Religion.”

This particular series of European religious conflicts ended with the Edict of Nantes, which was essentially a truce providing some basic religious freedoms to both Catholics and Protestants.

The Edict of Nantes was issued in 1598 by King Henry IV and it’s one of the reasons why he became popularly known as “le bon roi Henri” — “the good king Henry.”

Nine years earlier, Henry had became the legal heir to the throne, after King Henry III was assassinated by a fanatical Catholic monk.

Henry IV was a Huguenot, like his predecessor, when he inherited the crown.

And, although most of the country accepted him as King, many Catholics refused to recognize his authority — especially in the vitally important, Catholic-controlled city of Paris.

Henry decided to try to break the political and religious logjam and reunite the country by converting to Catholicism.

He did so in a very public ceremony at the basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris on Sunday morning, July 25, 1593.

That day, according to legend, he told a friend “Paris vaut une messe.” (“Paris is worth a mass.”)

This famous quote (sometimes given as “Paris veult une messe”) was not actually recorded at the time. It was attributed to Henry IV years later and is probably apocryphal.

However, Henry clearly did embrace the basic idea. He felt it was worth converting if it meant he could gain control of Paris and unite the country under his rule.

Henry’s conversion and his Edict of Nantes did unite the country and bring an end to the French Wars of Religion — but not to religious fanaticism.

In 1610, good King Henry IV was assassinated in Paris by the Catholic zealot François Ravaillac.

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July 10, 2014

“Afternoon Delight” – the song that created a new sex euphemism…

The Starland Vocal Band was among the many rock bands that ended up being a “one hit wonder.”

But their one hit — “Afternoon Delight” — not only became a popular song, it also embedded a new phrase into our language.

The single version of the song was released by RCA Records in April 1976.

It entered the Billboard Top 40 on June 5, 1976 and reached the official peak of pop music fame, No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, on July 10, 1976.

“Afternoon Delight” was written by band member Bill Danoff, a talented songwriter who had previously co-written another big hit with John Denver“Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

The lyrics of the catchy tune make it clear what “afternoon delight” is meant to suggest:

       “Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight
       Gonna grab some afternoon delight
       My motto's always been when it’s right, it’s right
       Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night
       When everything’s a little clearer in the light of day
       And you know the night is always gonna be there any way
       Sky rockets in flight!
       Afternoon delight. A-a-afternoon delight.”

The success of the song quickly turned “afternoon delight” into a popular sex-related euphemism.

The original meaning, as intended by songwriter Danoff, referred to having sex in the afternoon with one’s spouse or steady partner.

In the 1980s, “afternoon delight” became shorthand for an adulterous lunchtime affair with someone other than a spouse or partner.

As Danoff has explained in interviews, the real origin of the phrase actually had nothing to do with sex.

He got it from Clyde’s Restaurant in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.), one of his favorite local hangouts in the early 1970s.

Clyde’s used the phrase as the title of it’s happy hour menu.

The words stuck in Danoff’s mind and inspired him to turn it into a term for a different type of daytime pleasure.

If the lyrics of “Afternoon Delight” are still somewhere in the back of your mind, click the video link at right and sing along with Will Ferrell and the cast of the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). They did a great version of the song

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