28 January 2005

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas Posted by Hello

Lizzy beat me to it, but perhaps I can offer more particular greetings to my friends Tom R., Thomas K., Thomas P., Tommy B., Tom N., and Tom H. on their patronal feast!
Happy Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas!

Eglise St-Thomas d'Aquin, Paris

27 January 2005

More Teen Girl Squad!!!

"Worldwide starlets get much boys!"

25 January 2005

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul Posted by Hello

21 January 2005

Tacky Item of the Day

Gavin's reaction upon seeing this eBay item: "A gift for your favorite anti-pope?"

18 January 2005

A Nice Place to Spend a Rainy Afternoon

One can't spend much time in Paris without hearing about the Shakespeare and Co Bookshop, but for several weeks after I arrived, I avoided going to it, perhaps wanting to find my way around without the really touristy things like that getting in my way. But since I ended up spending a lot of time in the Latin Quarter, I quite stumbled on the store, like many of my other favorite places. The first time I went in, I was stunned-- not by the floor to ceiling bookshelves, the wishing well, or even the smell of books--but by the people speaking English. Being in the middle of French studies, English can sometimes sound harsh, loud, and very foreign, and I was almost more interested in the people in the shop than the books. There were college kids backpacking their way around France, students who needed a quick English-language fix, French teachers and students of English, and then there was me.

I didn't buy anything the first time I was there; I just wandered the front room, not quite brave enough to wander farther back and explore the other sections. It was only after I made it past the wishing well that I noticed the smell and colors of the books that line the walls like tiles in a mosaic. I wasn't close enough to tell what the image was, so I had to come back.

This next visit was a dreary day, and I was wandering the Latin Quarter with one of my friends. Drawn by the 3€ Penguin Classic bin, we spent much of the afternoon there. I hadn't realized there was a second floor, up a steep and narrow staircase, covered in a worn-out rug, but we ended up there, in the reading library. It was very fun, browsing the titles that aren't for sale and listening to backpackers arrange stays at the Tumbleweed Hotel, since it's possible to stay at the shop (yet another thing I didn't know). This time, I also ended up finding some C.S. Lewis and Henry James. The books are a bit expensive, but I can see how it's become such an important place for anglophones. And in any case, I'll go back, to read more upstairs, maybe meet travellers, and just spend rainy afternoons lost in a book.

If you have never been to Shakespeare and Co., here is a Virtual Tour of the shop!

11 January 2005

Guess what I learned today? Pianos do exist in France!

After several months with no piano, I was beginning to despair of ever finding a piano where I could practice in this crazy city. Instead of my usual prayers to St. Gregory and St. Cecelia that my piano teachers won't gang up and kill me in 6 months, I went so far today as to humiliate myself in the biggest piano store I've ever seen, asking if there was anywhere to practice. With a look that said that he wanted me out of his store as soon as possible, the piano-salesman handed me a flyer for a piano cafe, like an internet cafe, but with pianos instead of computers. It costs between 8 and 10 Euros per hour. It seems a little expensive to me, but since I haven't found anything else, I'm running out of ideas.

Anyone have any better ideas (I hope?)?

07 January 2005

Romy is writing a fabulous Love Story set in our favorite city. She's written two parts, and I'm eagerly awaiting more. I find it very comforting to read stories about Paris by one who knows it well, so go check it out!

05 January 2005

"Bonjour Messieurs-Dames... un moment de poésie..."

I've never had to spend much time on public transportation, so a 30-minute metro ride to school every day has been an interesting experience, especially days when traffic is "perturbé." I wasn't terribly surprised to see musicians on the metro (mostly accordions, for some reason), but puppet shows, dancers, karaoke, preachers, and people who tell their life story and ask for money are still a little strange to me. Last week I saw kids dragging a market cart with music to sing to, which is probably the most disconcerting. On the RER, a woman had pins and pens for sale, at the same time when another woman stood up and decided to sing a very pretty song, I'm guessing in Arabic.

I'm beginning to really dislike the accordions, because they really aren't good. They mumble something along the lines of "bunjeurmesserdamz," play atonal renditions of Jingle Bells, and collect money in Carte Orange holders. It's especially strange to see accordion players being escorted off the metro, since metro station music is mostly regulated by the RATP.

The funniest, and the person I see the most, is a man who sells poetry. He boards the train and announces "good day ladies and gentlemen, a moment of poetry." He speaks slowly and clearly, and I can understand most of his description of the beautiful words of Victor Hugo and his request for some money. It's not as annoying as the other metro-people, perhaps because he's funny, not intimidating, and if you do give him money, you'll have a poem to pore over with your dictionary.

Maybe one day, I'll have une petite pièce, and I'll buy myself a moment of poetry. Maybe I won't understand it at all, even with my dictionary, but it'll just be life as usual on the metro.

04 January 2005

Lizzy's Long Promised Disney Distraction

I can now say I've visited the Third Happiest Place on Earth. How does that work, you ask? Disneyland California is the Happiest, Disneyworld is the Second, so Disneyland Paris is the Third.

It had never occured to me to go to Disneyland at all this year, but I ended up going with some friends from school at the beginning of December. It's about a half hour on the RER, but as soon as you get off the train, you know you're in Disneyland. Upon seeing the gates, my friends and I were instantly reverted to five-year-olds.

We couldn't wait to get past the gates and into the park, but, unlike five-year-olds, we stopped every few seconds to take pictures, since everything was decorated for Christmas and covered in lights. When we finally had our tickets and stepped into Main Street USA, we were in a completely different world. It was a little misleading, because the shop signs would say something like "Honest Henry Hatfeather's Gentleman Hats" and inside there would be overpriced baby clothes blazoned with Disney characters and mouse ears. In fact, I didn't find a hat shop, like the Mad Hatter's Shop I remember from Disneyland California, although there were lots of Sorceror's hats with Mouse Ears.

We were four of the tallest five-year-olds in the park, and, standing in line for the Teacups, we saw that we weren't the only ones.

I think my favorite parts were all the tiny details in the buildings and the rides, and not the Small World ride, unlike when I was five. The colors were bright and cheery, although there were a lot more screaming children than I remembered. And, of course, the Peter Pan ride was very, very fun.

I also ran into a certain mouse. Ha, fooled you.
Posted by Hello
St. Catherine's Identity Crisis

I was given a book for Christmas which contains novenas to quite a few saints. I consider it to be a very useful book. It's also a very pretty book; it has reproductions of the sort of soft-focus, prettified prayer cards that I think of as falling out of my grandmother's prayer books. I happily flipped through the book, thinking of how useful it would be to have these novenas to so many saints, and wondering when I would start one.

Lizzy and I both have a particular affiliation with the name Katherine/Catherine, and thus with saints who bear that name. So, of course, I paid particular attention to the novena to St. Catherine of Siena. I have always considered her a bit odd, and preferred St. Catherine Laboure or St. Katherine of Alexandria as a patroness, but being both a Catherine and a Dominican, as well as a Doctor of the Church, it wouldn't be a good idea to ignore her merely for being odd (and compared to some saints, she wasn't odd at all--see the Shrine of the Holy Whapping archives for details on odd saints). I read through the short biography provided, and the prayers. Then I looked at the picture.

Right away, I noticed something was off. She wasn't wearing her Dominican habit. She was wearing some kind of robes that were pink and mint green. Pretty far from her usual black and white. I had also just read the other day about martyrs being depicted with palms, and this lady was holding palms. But Catherine of Siena wasn't a martyr. She was also wearing a crown. No way was this St. Catherine of Siena. Then I looked down by her feet. There it was--the wheel. The Katherine Wheel. Not St. Catherine of Siena's wheel, but St. Katherine of Alexandria's wheel--the one that was used to kill her. This picture was definitely the Alexandrian martyr, not the Italian Doctor.

The good ladies who wrote this volume have also written a book called Holy Cards. Taking this into consideration, how could they mix up these two saints? This isn't exactly a typo. I would consider it a major faux pas to mis-label the image of a saint who is so obviously a different saint, just because they share a name. Perhaps they will come out with a new volume that contains a different holy card. I certainly hope someone has pointed out this glaring error to the authors, and if not, I may do it myself. The rest of the book is quite nice, though.

02 January 2005

Gonzaga Choral Recordings

The Gonzaga University Choir, Schola, and Chorale have released a set of three CD's. "Rise Up, My Love" features the choir and schola, "Ribbons in the Wind" is a sampler of all three groups, and "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" is all schola, all the time. (Can you tell that the schola is Dr. Schaefer's pet project?) If I do say so myself, they're pretty good. The schola alone is considered to be in the top 1% in the nation, evidenced by our invitation to sing at the national American Choral Directors Association conference in LA next month.

The Gonzaga Music Dept. is selling the CD's for $10 each, though I don't believe they are listed on the website yet. If you're interested, contact me or Lizzy for track listings and contact info on the Music Dept.