31 December 2007

Holy Innocents

The feast of the Holy Innocents--the male children under the age of two years ordered to their deaths by King Herod--was on the 28th. That day is also my birthday. I first found out that I shared my day with the Holy Innocents when I was about ten years old. It was a sobering realization. I sometimes joke that it was a good day to be born a girl; I would not have been under threat from Herod. For a while, I thought that there might be some cosmic significance to the day of my birth, that I might be specially called to assist in the pro-life movement or something of that sort. I no longer think that to be the case, although I do remember to pray for the souls of all murdered children and for the conversion of those who perpetrate evil on children on my birthday when I attend Mass (I always go to Mass on my birthday, even though I'm not in the habit of going to daily Mass anymore). It isn't the most cheerful way to begin my birthday celebrations, but it makes me grateful to be alive.

For the last couple of years the homilies that I have heard on that day have not been centered on the pro-life movement or even particularly about crimes against children. They have been about coming to grips with the presence of evil in the world. It's an excellent yearly reminder for me, as it's something I've always had difficulty understanding. Why do floods and fires deprive good people of homes, property and life? Why does fatal illness take parents from their children and children from their parents? Why are people who commit horrific crimes allowed to remain in power while innocents languish in prison? How can a human being order the death of thousands of people who have done him no wrong?

I don't have the answers, but every year I have a particular opportunity to meditate on the questions. Every year I find myself more sensitive to the problems of the world, but at the same time better able to cope with the evils that arise in my path, learning to depend on God to sort things out when I can't do it myself.

18 December 2007

How Musicologists Amuse Ourselves

We generally have an end-of-semester grading party, during which many of us read aloud the more ridiculous answers we get on our exams. Some people may think it's cruel to ridicule students; I say we're not ridiculing the student, we're ridiculing stupid answers, and if you study so little that you think Lully was a woman, well, you deserve to be laughed at a little in the confines of our seminar room.

We parodied some of our worst exam answers by hybridizing them with commercials for a soap opera called "Musicologists of Our Lives" (maybe it was "Days of Our Musicology"--I've had a lot of coffee since then). Here are some of the gems that we made up:

"Gesualdo has killed his student, Heinrich Gabrieli, by stabbing him with a conducting staff, thus causing him to contract the Plague! What will happen next week?"

"Dowland, the well-known 14th Century French composer of Italian madrigals, is about to serenade his girlfriend, Lully."

"William Byrd travels to Venice in 1609 to study with Thomas Tallis, but will Tallis accept him as a student? Will he have to compete with Monteverdi for Tallis' attention? Answers after the break, along with the amazing revelation of the subject matter of Martin Luther's next composition (hint: it's a Florentine carnival song)!"

30 November 2007

St. Andrew's Novena

This is your yearly reminder: St. Andrew's Day is tomorrow (or today already, if you're on the east coast like Lizzy), so get out your novena prayer cards, think of an intention, and pray along with us!

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment when the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, o my God, to hear my prayers and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Fifteen times a day. I like to say five repetitions three times a day; your mileage may vary. I promise, this one works.

26 November 2007

Nuptial Mass, 17th November 2007
St. Paul the Apostle Church, Los Angeles

Preludes: Duruflé, Veni Creator Spiritus; J.S. Bach, Liebster Jesu
Procession of the priest: Introit, Deus Israel
Procession of the wedding party: J.G. Walther, Concerto del Sigr. Albinoni mvt. 1
Kyrie: Palestrina, Missa Assumpta est Maria
Gradual: Uxor tua
Alleluia: Mittat vobis
Offertory: Duruflé, Ubi caritas
Sanctus: Missa Cum Jubilo (Mass IX)
Agnus Dei: Palestrina, Missa Assumpta est Maria
Communion: Palestrina, Surge propera amica mea
Recessional: Walther, Concerto del Sigr. Albinoni mvt. 3

Reception music: Andy Cooney Band.

For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the blog, CatholicNerd and I got married a little over a week ago. Lizzy is the maid of honor that you see in the fetching red dress. The Mass was chanted in English by a friend of ours from Spokane who did a wonderful job. It could only have been more perfect if it had been ad orientem (not possible with that altar because of steps right in front of it), if the choir had been a little more delicate with the Palestrina pieces, and if the parish wedding coordinator had let us have altar candles rather than asymmetrically-arranged floor candles (the wedding coordinator is the American manifestation of Dolores Umbridge; seriously, she's evil and her office is pink). It was beautiful, though, and touched the hearts of many of our non-Catholic guests, and many of the Catholic guests as well. I hope some of them came away with ideas of what Catholic marriage is, and what the liturgy is about.

The priest said it was the most beautiful wedding he'd witnessed in his thirty years of ministry, not because of the music alone--he's done chanted wedding Masses before--but because of the attitude of the people involved. He gave a beautiful homily relating marriage to the liturgy. I wouldn't say we're great friends with that priest, but he understands us and our particular brand of piety in a profound way, and his homily reflected that. I can't remember all of the last sentence of his homily, but I do remember the very last words--his resonant baritone voice boomed out, "...be like God."

People told me I wouldn't hear a note of the music after I started down the aisle. To the contrary, I heard the choirs warming up, I heard the introit chanted beautifully, I heard the organist's articulation, I heard the sopranos be screechy on the Kyrie, I saw the soloist's hands tremble as he held his music for the gradual verse, I heard the second reader consistently sing descending fourths instead of thirds. I heard the priest chanting the Roman canon, and delighted to hear the names of the saints even as I worried about my groom's knees giving out ("nobody kneels here," so the wedding coordinator wouldn't let us have a prie dieu--we knelt anyway, on the bare marble floor). I noticed a lot of things. I was very calm.

I wasn't calm when I got up that morning. I woke up at 3am and couldn't fall asleep again because I felt sick. I paced my apartment for three hours trying not to be sick, was sick at 6am anyway, and gave up and took a shower at 6:30. By 7 my maid of honor and "honorary bridesmaid" were awake, too, and they told jokes and calmed me down enough to eat a bit of breakfast before heading to the hotel where my mother would help me dress and do my hair. I saw CatholicNerd in the lobby just before we left for the church, and he looked wonderful. I guess I didn't look too bad, judging from the look on his face. We were both pretty comfortable by the time we got to the church, making jokes in the sacristy with the altar servers and the priest.

The Mass was solemn, and the reception was a hell of a party. We Catholics know about juxtapositions like that; solemnity loses its savor if you're always solemn, and the sweetness of rejoicing becomes cloying if you have no solemnity to balance it with--it would be like eating cake all the time. The reception was all the better because the Mass was solemn (good food, wine, music, and a large-ish crowd help, too).

We honeymooned in San Diego, and had two bits of Catholic nerdity--on Sunday morning we went to the local Extraordinary Use Mass at 9am (yes, 9am the day after the wedding), which happens to be in a cemetary chapel. On Wednesday as we returned to LA from San Diego, we visited Missions San Diego de Alcala, San Luis Rey de Francia, and San Juan Capistrano. We've vowed to do a novena of visiting missions--nine missions in 90 days--to pray for each other and for a good and fruitful marriage. (No, I've never heard of anyone doing such a novena before--we just made it up.)

Oh, and I bought my first chapel veil in the gift shop at San Juan Capistrano. It's black. I won't wear it all the time, because it would make me a distraction to people at my usual parish, but I'll have it for places where wearing a veil is more common, and that makes me happy.

11 November 2007

Video Game Idea

It would be kind of cool to have a video game in which the object was to slay demons and free other people from the influence of the devils. If you were injured, you would have to find a church in order to replenish your resources--holy water, a new crucifix, a blessing from the priest. On your travels, pick up medals and have them blessed in order to increase your strength via the intercession of the saint depicted on the medal, or receive tips on how to advance to the next level.

The soundtrack would preferably feature plenty of scary organ music for the demon-fighting, and elegant, serene, maybe baroque-ish pieces for inside the churches.

08 November 2007

Your Catholic Oddity of the Week

No, this won't be a series, unfortunately. I just had to share one of my findings with you all.

Can't make it to daily Mass, but want that "just been to church" smell all week? Does your parish just not smell the same as the old church you went to in your childhood? Would you like your home icon corner to reek of holiness, but your landlord is suspicious of the smoke from your incense burner?

Demeter Fragrance has the solution to your problems. Use just one fragrance or combine some to get the effect you want. For our readers who want to smell like a church, we recommend combining "Holy Smoke", "Holy Water", and possibly, "Dust". Our Byzantine friends may want to add a touch of "Bulgarian Rose" to their Holy Smoke.

06 November 2007

Prayer Request

A friend of mine, L., told me last spring that she would not be returning to work this fall, but did not tell me why. She's the sort of person who is quite reserved about her private life. This weekend, a mutual friend told me why L. isn't working this fall. L. and her husband welcomed twin daughters recently, but the initial joy of the discovery of pregnancy last spring was marred by the fact that L. is about 48 years old--the pregnancy was extremely high risk, and I guess she didn't want to tell anyone because she was afraid they'd lose the babies. Both girls were born alive, but very premature, and as often happens in such situations, one baby is smaller and weaker than the other. I was told that both infants are or have been on respirators, and that they are still unsure whether the smaller girl will make it.

Please pray for L. and her husband and their babies. It is a terrible thing when the birth of a child is not the unadulterated joy that it should be because of illness. Pray for the survival and health of the twins, and the patience and mental health of their parents in this very difficult time.

02 November 2007

Musicology Conference, Quebec City, Part I

Games to play when you get bored:

"Spot the Musicologist"--one or more players, a good one to play at the airport. The rules are self-explanatory. Extra points for spotting someone who wrote something you read for a class once. Double points for spotting someone who doesn't appear to be dressed like a musicologist, but who you see at the conference later.

"Guess the Session/Reception"--one or more players. With the conference book in hand, guess which paper sessions or receptions the people you really want to see will be attending. If you guess right, you proceed to the next round. If you guess wrong, you've lost a networking opportunity.

"Catch His/Her Eye"--round two of "Guess the Session/Reception." Having found the person you wanted to talk to, you must now get his or her attention. This is especially difficult if the person you want to talk to is the head of a committee, editor of a major publication, or just plain popular. If you speak to them and they speak back, you win. If they actually use your name at some point or remember meeting you before, double points (unless they work at your school).

If you're really bored, you can always do what I did this afternoon: play hookey. I did a bit of exploring in vieux Quebec today, and when I get home I'll post the pictures I took of the Basilica. It's awfully small for a basilica, but very ornate, and I was privileged to hear the organist practicing a really impressive piece on their 1927 Casavant organ. I'll go to Mass there tomorrow evening (I didn't arrive in time for Mass yesterday--apparently All Saints isn't a day of obligation in Canada--and I'll be traveling on Sunday). A friend went to the noon Mass there today, and she told me the priest celebrated very elegantly and carefully. Hopefully I get to see the same priest.

21 October 2007

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

This morning I went to Mass at St. John Vianney Chapel at Daniel Murphy High School again. Those of you who've been keeping up with the blog know that I attended a lovely extraordinary-use Missa Cantata there a couple of months ago. It was a rather unexciting ordinary use this morning--the extraordinary use is only 4th and 5th Sundays.

They announced this morning that Daniel Murphy High School--and consequently the chapel--are being closed. I'm a bit worried about what is going to happen to the extraordinary use community that has developed there. I don't know if they all travel around to the other once-a-month Masses that are scattered over the city or if they only go to St. John Vianney Chapel. The Missa Cantata was truly wonderful, though, and I sincerely hope it will be able to continue someplace else after the chapel closes next summer.

17 October 2007

Nightly Nursery Rhymes

Two for the boys tonight:

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the boys came out to play
Georgie Porgie ran away.

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner
Eating his Christmas* pie
He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum
And said, "What a good boy am I!"

*Some versions have it as a mincemeat pie rather than a Christmas pie. I generally associate mincemeat with Christmas anyway.

15 October 2007

Random Quotes
From Music History Classes

Professor B. on Mozart's Laudate Dominum: "...and then comes the Gloria Patri. That's a sort of formula that Catholics tacked on to the end of just about everything."

Jane: *stifles a giggle*

Professor B.: "What? Am I wrong?"

Jane: "No, no. You're right."


Professor G., on the ensemble playing the textbook musical example: "Everything's a little slow for my taste. Introducing the Vicodin Consort."


Professor G.'s cell phone rings during the Dufay lecture. "Oh, that's Dufay now! He calls me now and again, but I don't answer because it's too expensive to take cellphone calls from 500 years ago."

14 October 2007

Nursery Rhyme of the Day

I think you'll all recognize the significance of the last line of today's rhyme.

Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn;
Wire, briar, limber lock,
Three geese in a flock.
One flew east,
And one flew west,
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest.

12 October 2007

Churches of Los Angeles:
Greek Orthodox Edition

Here is an exterior view of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sophia here in LA:

There were signs requesting no photography inside the church, but luckily they have some nice shots on their website. It's definitely Westernized, but it's still absolutely gorgeous.

I wonder if Cardinal Mahoney has ever taken a tour of Beautiful Cathedrals of Los Angeles, and noted that his doesn't really fit in?

11 October 2007

Further Adventures in Nursery-Rhyme Land

For all my friends who wondered why I so often say that I am going "home again, home again, dancing a jig" (other than the fact that I am known to dance Irish jigs, and reels, and hornpipes now and again), here is the source of the quote:

To market, to market to buy a fat pig
Home again, home again, dancing a jig
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog
Home again, home again, jiggity jog
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun
Home again, home again, market is done.

09 October 2007

Churches of Los Angeles

Here are some pictures of St. Brendan's Catholic Church on 3rd St.

Unfortunately, the altar is rather small for the space, and there's little to draw the eye to it. It's a fairly pretty church, but could do with some renovation work in the sanctuary. There is a lot to work with, though--pretty woodwork, traditional structure, gorgeous stained glass, a decent-looking organ, and just look at those light fixtures! There are a few odd things about the church, the most striking of which is the the choice of holy water fonts by the doors: they're all tiny table-top fountains, water bubbling out of the top of a square piece of stone with a Celtic knot engraved on the front--the sort of thing you'd expect to find in a catalogue that also sells Book of Kells tea towels and Irish flag suncatchers. There's also a surplus of greenery, literally plants everywhere. A pretty place, but I'm not sure I'd feel entirely comfortable going to Mass there.

06 October 2007

Churches of Los Angeles

A year after its intended beginning, here is the first post of our new occasionally-airing series, "Churches of Los Angeles." Yes, there are certainly some worth seeing!

First up are a few exterior details of St. Victor's, which is near the USC campus. I did not feel comfortable photographing inside that day, because the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration. Rest assured that the interior is even more lovely than the exterior.

05 October 2007

Rhyme of the Day

Because it is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, a rhyme about being kind to animals (and in this case, excellent advice to children):

I love little pussy,
Her coat is so warm;
And if I don't hurt her,
She'll do me no harm.

I'll pat little pussy,
And then she will purr;
And thus show her thanks for
My kindness to her.

So I'll not pull her tail,
Nor drive her away;
But pussy and I
Very gently will play.

I'll not pinch her ears,
Nor tread on her paws;
Lest it should provoke her
To use her sharp claws!

She shall sit by my side,
And I'll give her some food;
And pussy will love me
Because I am good.

Although, if you plan to teach this to children of your own, vocabulary being what it is today, I suggest strongly that you substitute "kitty" for "pussy." People with dirty minds might get the wrong idea.

04 October 2007

Nursery Rhymes #4

Solomon Grundy,
Born on Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday:
This is the end
Of Solomon Grundy.

02 October 2007


What happens when Fellini combines the fashion world with the Catholic Church and sets it to the music of Nino Rota? Something surreal. N.B.: it's probably not a good idea to watch this before bedtime; it might give you nightmares.*

Here's your nursery rhyme of the day:

Hickory dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
The mouse ran down
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dare
The pig flew up in the air
The man in brown
Soon brought him down
Hickory dickory dare.

*After watching this, I realize how unimaginative finger-painted chasubles are. What we really need for the next World Youth Day is LED chasubles.
Nursery Rhyme #2

Two selections today, the first of which is a riddle as well as a rhyme, to promote those logic skills.

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each sack had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St. Ives?

And because it's my bedtime soon:

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown
Rapping at the windows and crying through the lock
"Are the children in their beds? For now it's eight o'clock!"

Or, in my case, quarter to eleven.

01 October 2007

Interestingly, this blog is the number one result in a Google Search for "medieval dresses for young ladies."

To whomever came here looking for that item, I wish you luck finding something affordable.
Nursery Rhymes

It seems to me that nursery rhymes are important parts of our culture, at least as important as folk songs and ballads--they are, after all, related genres. (For those who are unaware, many children's rhymes in English are related to the English and Scottish folksong tradition.)

Unfortunately, I believe that English nursery rhymes are in danger of dying out in the United States. I learned many when I was a child, from illustrated "Mother Goose" books and from the wonderful "Wee Sing" tapes and books. But I assisted with a class last spring that touched on the English ballad tradition, and when the professor and I mentioned some nursery rhymes, most of the students gave us blank stares. I thought this incredibly tragic. Nursery rhymes should not be relegated to the status of curiosities preserved only in books, to have the singing and saying of them supplanted by music like this.

Those of you who have children, or who regularly have contact with the children of friends and relatives, please teach them nursery rhymes. They are as important, I think, as fairy tales, and if you've been reading your Chesterton you know how important fairy tales are.

Here is one of my favorites to make a start:

One misty moisty morning, when cloudy was the weather
I met with an old man, clothèd all in leather.
He began to compliment and I began to grin.
How do you do? And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

09 September 2007

Edi be thu, hevenqueene,
folkes froovre and engles blis,
maid unwemmed, moder cleene,
swich in world non other nis.
On thee hit is wel ethseene
of alle wimmen thu hast the pris.
Mi sweete levdi, heer mi beene
and rew of me yif thi will is.

Thu astiye so dairewe
deleth from the derke night.
Of thee sprong a leeme newe;
al this world hit hath ilight.
Nis no maid of thine hewe,
so fair, so scheene,
so rudi, so bright;
mi levdi sweet, of me thu rewe
and have merci of thi knight.

Erth art tu to goode seede,
on thee lighte th'evendew;
of thee sprong thet edi bleede,
th'oli gost hit on thee sew.
Bring us ut of kar, of dreede
that Eve bitterlich us brew;
thu schalt us into hevne leede;
wel sweet is us thet ilke dew.

Moder ful of thewes heende,
maide dreigh and wel itaught,
ich am in thi luvebeende
and to thee is al mi draught.
Thu me schild, ye from the feende,
as thu art free and wilt and maught, ,
and help me to mi lives eende
and make with thi sune saught.

Blessed be thou, queen of heaven,
people's comfort and angel's bliss,
maid unblemished, mother pure,
such as no other is in the world.
In thee it is very evident that, of all
the women, thou hast the highest place.
My sweet lady, hear my prayer
and show pity on me if it is thy will.

Thou didst rise up as dawn
divides from the dark of night.
From thee sprang a new sun-beam;
it has lit all this world.
There is no maid of thy complexion -
fair, so beautiful,
so ruddy, so bright;
my lady sweet, on me show pity,
and have mercy on thy knight.

Thou art soil for good seed,
on thee the heavenly dew alighted;
from thee sprang that blessed fruit -
the Holy Ghost sowed it in thee.
Bring us out of the misery and fear
that Eve bitterly brewed for us;
thou shalt lead us into heaven -
very sweet to us is that same dew.

Mother full of gracious virtues,
maiden patient and well-instructed,
I am in the bonds of thy love
and all my attraction is towards thee.
Shield thou me from the fiend,
as thou art generous, willing and able,
and help me to my life's end
and reconcile me with thy son.
Gaude Virgo Mater Christi

Gaude, virgo mater Christi,
Quae per aurem concepisti,
Gabriele nuntio.
Gaude, quia Deo plena
Peperisti sine poena,
Cum pudoris lilio.
Gaude, quia tui nati
Quem dolebas mortem pati,
Fulget resurrectio.
Gaude Christo ascendente,
Et in coelum te vidente,
Motu fertur proprio.
Gaude que post ipsum scandis,
Et est honor tibi grandis,
In caeli palatio.
Ubi fructus ventris tui,
Nobis detur per te frui,
In perenni gaudio.

Rejoice, virgin mother of Christ
who through thine ear didst conceive,
upon Gabriel’s message.
Rejoice, for full of God
thou gavest birth without pain,
with the lily of purity.
Rejoice, for the resurrection
of thy Son now shines,
whose death thou mourned,
Rejoice, as Christ ascends,
and, in thy sight, is carried
into heaven by his own strength.
Rejoice, thou who riseth after him
and to whom great honor is due
in the palace of heaven,
Where the fruit of thy womb
is granted us, through thee, to enjoy
in eternal rejoicing.

08 September 2007

Political Stuttering:
Please Educate Me

Last night, over a pint of nice, dark German beer, one of my classmates and I somehow got started on the subject of politics. She mentioned that she has been reading Marx. My first thought was an expletive I will not repeat here. We moved quickly on to European Union and national health care, both of which she, of course favors. I am against all three of these things, but I found I was almost totally unable to articulate my position, beginning with my inability to articulate the Church's position on Marxism--I could only stammer something about "enforced charity," to which my school mate responded "Oh, I've been reading a book by __ and he used that very phrase, saying that people who are against Marx often criticize him for that, even though that isn't what Marx meant at all..." and "So many people only see the evil that's been done by Communist countries, but they did those awful things because they got Communism all wrong...." I couldn't reply to that, and I am very embarrassed about it.

It's been four or five years since I last read The Communist Manifesto followed closely by Leo XIII's classic Rerum Novarum. Can anyone suggest further reading for me, concerning the Church's anti-Communist/Socialist position? Also, I know in my gut that European Union is a bad thing, but other than a vague idea about it possibly erasing individual cultures, I couldn't say why--any suggestions on reading about this?

My knowledge of world politics is really sad because it's not a subject I am interested in, but clearly I do need to learn enough to defend my own position when someone asks me about it.

06 September 2007

I missed yesterday, so today we present two hymns for the price of one!

Tota pulchra es, Maria
et macula originalis non est in te.
Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol.
Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.
Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri.
Tota pulchra es, Maria.

You are completely pure, Mary,
and the stain of original sin is not within you.
Your clothing is white like snow, and your face is like the sun.
You are completely pure, Mary,
and the stain of original sin is not within you.
You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the honoured of our people.
You are completely pure, Mary.

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli
porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
surgere qui curat, populo: tu quae genuisti,
natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem,
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore,
sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.
Requiescat in Pace

Luciano Pavarotti died today. I do not know if he was a practicing Catholic (given that he divorced his first wife in 1996, and married his former secretary in 2003 after they had child together, I would venture to guess not), but he entertained many people the world over and was a hero of sorts for some. I will pray for the repose of his soul, and I hope you will too.

04 September 2007

Ave Regina Caelorum

Ave Regina Caelorum is one of the four Marian antiphons said after compline. It is said from Candlemas through Wednesday of Holy Week.

Ave, Regina caelorum,
Ave, Domina Angelorum:
Salve, radix, salve, porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta:
Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa,
Vale, o valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.

Hail, O Queen of Heaven.
Hail, O Lady of Angels
Hail! thou root, hail! thou gate
From whom unto the world, a light has arisen:
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
Lovely beyond all others,
Farewell, most beautiful maiden,
And pray for us to Christ.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled serious posts to point out the latest addition to the cast of PhD Comics (that's PhD for "Piled Higher and Deeper"): Gerard, the Medieval Scandinavian Philosophy major. In the second comic featuring Gerard, he and long-time character Tajel explain how Humanities differs from Social Sciences.
Sub Tuum Praesidium is a hymn that dates to the third century Coptic Church. It is known as the oldest hymn to the Virgin Mary. The present Latin translation appears to be from the 11th century and has been a popular text for composers, such as Mozart, Obrecht, and Charpentier.

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus,
Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias
in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis
libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to your patronage,
O holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions
in our necessities,
but from all dangers
deliver us always,
O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

02 September 2007

A Week of Mary

September 8 is the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, and to celebrate we will share one hymn a day up to the feast. The Bogurodzica is a Polish hymn dating from the beginning of the 15th century. It appears to be a long hymn, but I could only find an English translation of the first few stanzas.

Bogurodzica Dziewica,
Bogiem slawiena Maryja, u twego Syna Gospodzina,
Matko zwolena, Maryja.
Zisci nam, spusci nam,
Kyrie eleison.
Twego dziela Chrzciciela, Bozycze,
Uslysz glosy, napeln mysli czlowiecze,
Slysz modlitwe, jaz nosimy.
A dac raczy, jegoz prosimy:
A na swiecie zborzny pobyt,
Po zywocie rajski pzebyt.
Kyrie eleison.

Virgin Mother of God
Blessed by God, Mary, by your Son
The Lord, chosen Mother, Mary.
Ask for us prosperity, send it down,
Lord have mercy.
Because of Your Son,
The Divine Child, hear our voices,
Fulfill our desires, hear the prayers we
Send through You, and deign to give us
What we ask: here on earth, a happy
Stay, and after death a sojourn in Heaven.
Lord have mercy.

01 August 2007

You’re St. Theodora!

Theodora was the wife of the ninth-century emperor Theophilus and mother of the future emperor Michael III. Theodora ruled the lands after her iconoclastic husband died. She labored to overturn his heretical policies, chiefly by summoning a council that upheld the veneration of images of Christ and the saints. For this, she is herself honored as a saint by the Orthodox Church. Her feast day is February 11.

Find out which Byzantine ruler you are at The Way of the Fathers!

29 July 2007

A Trad Morning

The choir that I usually sing with is off for its summer break at the moment, so until September I am not obligated to be at a particular location at a particular time on Sunday morning. I decided to explore some places other than my own parish.

There is a Catholic high school half a mile from my house that has Sunday Mass at its chapel, at 9am and 11am. The 11am Mass I have been to before, and it is a run-of-the-mill, pretty quiet Mass in English, although the priest is a better preacher than many. The 9am Mass is in French for the first three Sundays a month, and on the 4th and 5th Sundays Mass is celebrated according to the 1962 Missal.

Today being the 5th Sunday, I put on an ankle-length skirt, 3/4 sleeve blouse, and comfortable sandals, tied a scarf around my head (I've talked about buying a mantilla for ages but never got around to it), grabbed Grandma's missal off the shelf and walked to the chapel. Unfortunately, the website said the Mass started at 9:30, and I arrived precisely at 9:30, only to see the sign in front of the chapel that clearly said 9:00. I started to turn around and go home, but then I thought perhaps I should stay. Even if I only saw half the Mass it might be worth it, and I could hang out at Trader Joe's until the 11am Mass if I needed to.

I am so glad I stayed.

When I first walked in and sat down, I wasn't sure what was going on, but there was a fellow standing in the last pew on the other side of the chapel chanting, and chanting quite well. After a bit I realized he was chanting the Alleluia and the priest was slowly getting into position to read the Gospel. Good sign #1, #2: Chant, and the fact that half an hour into the Mass, the Gospel hadn't been read yet.

The priest chanted the Gospel. It was loud enough for me to hear even though I was at the back of the chapel, although the acoustics meant most of the words were fuzzy by the time they got to me. I caught just enough to make sure that I had found the right page in my missal. After the Gospel, we sat and he read the Epistle in English from the ambo, then we all had to stand again as he read the Gospel in English. His homily was good, starting off with Jesus knowing about the future destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and somehow arriving at temptation, forgiveness, and an exhortation to go to confession. I missed the transition; a bird flew into the chapel through an open window, and I was saying prayers to St. Francis that it would find its way out soon.

The Mass proceeded. More chanting from the fellow in the back of the chapel, joined this time by three or four ladies seated near him. Good sign #3: nobody stared at me when I sang along on the Credo (they used Credo III, thankfully--it's the only one I can sing without music in front of me).

Good sign #4: everything the priest was supposed to say out loud, he sang, and the congregation responded in kind. There was no rosary-rattling.

I had a little trouble following along in my missal, usually having to skip ahead few pages every time he said something out loud because I had underestimated how fast his sotto voce voice was, but I managed to stay mostly on track. I sang along on the Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, which were the traditional ones for the season rather than the ones from the Requiem.

The Mass took an hour and a half, if you include the singing of the Salve Regina and the praying of some prayers for the bishops and the singing of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy after the reading of the Last Gospel. It felt relaxed and perfectly paced. I complimented the gentleman who had been doing most of the chanting afterwards, and told him I used to sing with a schola in Spokane, but I couldn't talk to him long because I felt like I was going to cry--it's been months and months since I heard the Propers chanted. Since last October, in fact.

This is the first genuinely good experience I have had with the 1962 Missal. It was a dialogue Mass, the priest sang well, his Latin pronunciation was clear and easy to understand, and he was obviously well-practiced and very comfortable with what he was doing. His vestments were bright and fit him well. The altar boys were trained and competent. The schola was tiny but they sang in tune and the chants didn't drag. Honestly, I am so happy. Until now I was unconvinced that the Tridentine Mass was, well, beautiful. I had never seen it. But now I have. I will admit that I still prefer a Novus Ordo chanted in Latin, but that is available almost nowhere (the two that I saw were in France).

So, to the trads out there, I get it now.

27 July 2007

Quote of the Day

"Is there any hope left of not being geeky when one has been exploring alternative keyboard layouts* and reading articles with titles like "Psychoacoustically Informed Spectography and Timbre"?

*The Dvorak (nothing to do with the composer) keyboard layout. Google it.

07 July 2007

Motu Proprio

Though Lizzy and I are not, ourselves, particularly partial to the Missal of 1962, the news of the release of the motu proprio liberalizing its use is greeted with joy, joy for our friends who are partial to that version of the Holy Mass. 07/07/07 is a happy day.

01 July 2007

Not Alone

I was chatting after choir rehearsal on Thursday night with B., one of the sopranos. I haven't gotten to know any of my choir mates particularly well even though I've been singing with them for almost a year now, so I've been making more of an effort to hang around after rehearsal and Mass to chat.

I told B. a bit about the marriage prep class I took with my fiancé, and about how startled I was that so many of the couples were already living together. I told her about my fiancé being accepted to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, meaning that he and I won't officially be living together until about 18 months after our wedding, a fact which had prompted one friend to joke, "You're so Catholic that not only are you not living together before marriage, you're not even living together after marriage!"

B. said, "Do you feel like the only ones?"

I said, "Huh?"

B. clarified, "Like you're the only ones not living together before marriage? My husband and I felt like that. We had been living together, but we both converted to Catholicism and realized then that we had to stop living together until we got married. Now we just feel like we're the only ones who don't use birth control."

I hugged her then. It has been feeling exactly like we're the only ones not living together, the only ones planning to use NFP to space our family rather than artificial birth control. For the first time in twelve years, I am not surrounded by a crowd of people who are faithful Catholics. I usually don't notice the effect this has had on me over the last year--slowly making my prayer life more difficult, eating away at my joy in being Christian, and tempting me to look for "loopholes"--B. noted that sometimes her husband scans Church documents looking for loopholes in the policy on condom use, even though he really knows that there are no loopholes and that he and his wife really are doing the right thing, but he is tempted to look anyway because NFP can be difficult.

I told B. that I am so, so glad she told me this, even though it's pretty personal. Living the Christian life is not easy, and it is much, much harder when you are surrounded by a culture and by individuals who don't support your quest for holiness, and who in fact often try to lead you astray. As much as I love the blogging world, there is just no substitute for sitting down with another woman face-to-face and having a talk like that. B. could be me five years down the road. They have two children so far, and their life together hasn't been all peaches and cream, but she says that she feels the presence of God in her relationship with her husband, she knows they are receiving graces because they try to follow God's laws. I was very comforted to hear her say that. It alleviates some of the fears I have; I am reminded to trust in Divine Providence and not be anxious.

14 June 2007

One more random post

I'm posting so much because I'm trapped in the house today waiting for a UPS delivery and I can't think of anything else to do.

I was poking around my computer to see if Caeciliae works in any other applications I have. Well, it works in ComicLife:

That's the Gonzaga Schola, fresh from their performance at the Ascending Voice conference last Thursday at Pepperdine University, with the director Dr. Schaefer (who became the former director pretty much when he took his robe off after this photograph) contemplating a typical Mode V/VI ending. I couldn't figure out how to draw thought bubble lines to the whole group, although I'm sure they all still had chants running through their heads.
New Free Chant Font

Jeffrey Tucker at The New Liturgical Movement posted a link to the new free Gregorian chant font Caeciliae. It's still in the testing stage, but it's very promising. I downloaded it right away to try it out. Twenty minutes of messing around with it in TextEdit later, I managed to produce this:

This is the beginning of the Introit for the Nuptial Mass, in case you didn't recognize it. Learning it seems to go pretty quickly for me, and almost anything I wanted to try that wasn't mentioned in the tutorial came pretty intuitively. Knowing the names of the neumes certainly helps, but there are online reference guides for this if you don't already know them.

The result also seems to be prettier than the St. Meinrad font, though maybe I am imagining things. The squiggly bits in the quilisma are definitely a little more subtle, more like what's in my Graduale Triplex than the St. Meinrad font. The do clef seems different, too. I've never used the St. Meinrad font myself, but I sang from sheet music made with it for years, so I can say that I like the look of Caeciliae better though I can't compare how easy it is to use on the computer.

The font doesn't work in the version of Microsoft Word that I have--I can make neumes, but I can't move them out of their default positions, so for now I have to use it in TextEdit (I work on a Mac). I am not as familiar with TextEdit, so I can't do fancy formatting things and make the text look pretty, but at least I can line the text up under the music. It's also really easy to fix the spacing of the music, since there are two different widths of blank staff space offered.

If you want to make your own chant sheet music at home, I'd say this is a great option even though it's still in the testing stage and the tutorial needs to be fleshed out a little. My fiancé and I are going to have a chanted nuptial mass, and were looking for something a way to include the music for the responses in our programs so the congregation can follow along, and we were afraid that we were going to have to get the music in a PDF from a friend of ours and mess around cutting and pasting with that (the other free chant font I'm aware of, Gregoire, wasn't an option for us because it doesn't work on my computer), but with Caeciliae it looks like we might be able to do it ourselves.
Pretty Things: House Art and Summer Clothes

Inspired by Regina Doman's House Art Journal, I thought I might post a little "house art" of my own. This is my dining table, set for a nice dinner with my parents a couple of months ago:

That's my dad in the background, helping with the cooking. Dad is a very good cook, and his cooking style is a good counterpoint to Mom's; Mom tends to just throw a bunch of things in a pot or a pan, and it comes out tasting good. Dad follows recipes, and because he follows recipes he sometimes does more daring things than Mom does. I'm somewhere in between--I like to try new recipes, but I have a tendency to modify them, usually with decent results, although I've had my fair share of disasters. I modified a recipe for chilled cherry soup yesterday, but didn't reduce the cornstarch enough and used cherries that were sweeter than they should have been, resulting in something of un-soup-like consistency, more like jelly that failed to set. But I'll find something to do with it. My parents used up a whole batch of unset apricot jam as glaze/sauce for pork tenderloin, and I bet my cherry concoction would work well for that, too.

As the weather has heated up properly here in Los Angeles (contrary to popular belief, it is not always 80 degrees here--it tends to be cloudy and in the high 60's in late May and early June), my thoughts have turned to summer clothes. I'm trying harder to be more modest in my clothing choices this year. I used to be very modest when I was in high school, but I've slipped in the last four or so years. My new home in a city famous for immodesty, my position as a teacher's assistant, my impending marriage, and the realization of just how soon I might be be called upon to set an example for children of my own (a thought both exciting and terrifying) has bred new resolve in me.

With that in mind, here is a snapshot of some core items from my summer wardrobe for this year, all of which will also work well into the fall:

The blouses may not fit everyone's idea of modesty--some people object to short sleeves, and some of the shirts are more than two fingers' breadth below my collarbone, but they fit my own standards for the moment, and I confess I do still wear sleeveless shirts sometimes. Consider my wardrobe a work in progress. I don't imagine anyone would object to the skirts, though, which all fall below the knee even when I'm sitting down. I do wear trousers and capris/pedal pushers, but I've worn a hole in my jeans and have decided I'm not going to replace them; I can't find any jeans that are looser-fitting like my dress slacks. I only wear shorts for working out (Irish stepdancing class).

I think I'll be doing well if I can stick to clothes like those shown above. I hope that I am setting an example of dressing in a manner both flattering and modest, for my students and for those around me in this town where there's often far too much flesh on display.

08 June 2007

Meeting Matt

When it hit me that I didn't actually have to stick around Los Angeles all summer (my summer courses are both in the second session), I decided to head to the Catskills to spend some time with my folks at their place. I remembered that Matt of the Shrine of the Holy Whapping lives in New York City now. Matt has been corresponding with Lizzy and I since July 2003, a few months after Lizzy and I started our blog, and just as he and a few friends started their now very popular blog (in fact, Matt and Dan said we were part of their inspiration).

Since the distance from the Catskills to New York City is not quite as insurmountable as the distance between Notre Dame and Gonzaga, Matt and I decided to meet halfway. Poughkeepsie was decided on as the destination for an afternoon of Catholic blogger nerdiness.

After I picked Matt up from the train station and after a couple preliminary wrong turns, we headed to the Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, just north of Poughkeepsie.
We had a charming and informative tour guide, who can be seen in this picture. The house was really beautiful, but as the guide pointed out, rich people seem to build grand houses as temples to themselves, and the Vanderbilts were no exception.

Perhaps this is why, as Matt noted, the railing around Mrs. Vanderbilt's bed looked like an altar rail. On going into the next room, we realized that the oversized adornment at the head of Mr. Vanderbilt's bed vaguely resembled a reredos.

After we'd had our fill of the architecture and interior decor (not that I had nearly enough time to gawk at the gilded Steinway, but we weren't allowed to go back into rooms we'd already passed), Matt and I took a stroll through the beautiful gardens.

The gardens really were lovely. This photo was taken from the inside of a garden structure that, if enclosed, could have been a pretty chapel.

Matt treated me to lunch at one of the many chrome diners that dot the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. Matt had a sandwich called the HBO Special. We're still not sure why it was called that, or whether HBO knows that a diner in Poughkeepsie named a sandwich after them. I had a salad. We didn't play with the jukebox tune selector that adorned the table, although I was intrigued by it.

After lunch we drove around Poughkeepsie itself, admiring the quaint Victorian houses and stopping periodically to examine interesting churches. First up: Christ Church Episcopal.

I wish we could have taken pictures inside this lovely brownstone building, but there were some folks with guitars who appeared to be practicing for a wedding and we didn't want to disturb them. The interior was a lovely combination of rich red walls, lovely stained glass, and dark wood. The ceiling had some pretty carvings that might have been improved by some gilding, or at least gold paint, by way of highlights. There was a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in one of the side chapels, standing in a sea of flowers. The sign had advertised "Missa en Espanol" but the presence of the statue was still surprising.

Next up was First Presbyterian.

The church was locked, so we didn't see the inside, but the outside provided plenty of intricate carvings too look at, as well as some pretty landscaping. Poughkeepsie's First Presbyterian Church also wins the prize for the strangest church sign ever:

Yes, all those worshiping groups are sharing the same building. Amazing.

After passing two sort of ugly Catholic churches that we were not inclined to photograph, I remembered that I'd seen something interesting on the road to the train station. A church calling itself "Anglican Catholic" was there. It was also locked, but the exterior was really lovely. We could almost smell the incense. It wins the prize for prettiest church doors:

Aren't they lovely? The rest of the exterior was pretty too. The stained glass looked quite nice, as did the tower at the back and the statue of the Blessed Virgin in the side yard. I doubt the church is well-attended, though--it didn't even have a parking lot.

On the way to the Anglican Catholic church, Matt noticed an interesting-looking church tower looming above the trees. We headed for it, and found a gem of a Catholic church overlooking the river.

It's pretty clear that Our Lady of Mount Carmel started out as the Italian parish, even though the first pastor was named Michael Riordan:

The interior of the church was lovely, and I particularly enjoyed their Stations of the Cross:

Some of the elements of the interior of the church were new, and some were original to the church. They had an impressive collection of relics displayed on a shelf below a statue of Our Lady, including relics of the True Cross, Pope St. Pius X, St. Lucy, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John Bosco, and others. There were around twenty reliquaries and many of them had multiple relics in them.

The day concluded with meeting a friend of Matt's for coffee. We hung out in the coffee shop for about two hours before they decided to close and kicked us out. We strolled along the river, chatting about liturgy, liturgical music, and other music (Matt's friend majored in music as an undergrad though it isn't his profession currently). It was a really enjoyable day, Catholic nerds hanging out, checking out architecture and chatting about Catholic stuff. I can't think of many people that I could have spent a day like that with, other than Lizzy and my fiancé. I certainly ended up with a slightly different perspective on some aspects of the liturgy, specifically the indult question and legitimate development, about which I may post at a later date.

Hopefully Matt will post his side of the story soon on his blog. He took a lot of lovely pictures of things I didn't photograph, so be sure and watch for an update from him!

31 May 2007

Feastday of St. Joan of Arc, a Day Late

Happy feastday to my mother Jean, to my one-time parish, and to my friend who took Jeanne as her confirmation name.

27 May 2007

Marriage Prep, Los Angeles Style

I promised to keep the few people who read this blog updated on the wedding plans, specifically what it's like to plan a Catholic wedding in Los Angeles.

My fiance and I attended the day-long marriage prep class at my parish a couple of weeks ago. Apparently we are required to do eight hours, and we do them all at one go.

The morning was devoted to a lecture on communication, given by a psychiatrist or psychologist or something (they're all the same to me so I never bother to note who is which). At various intervals we were asked to talk to each other, or to "share" with the other couples sitting at our table (there were about thirty couples in the class, three or four couples to a table). This all became an excercise more of observing other people than of doing anything for my fiance and I. My fiance is the sensitive type of man who is ok with talking about his feelings, and he is also talkative. If something is on his mind, he tells me. Me, I learned ages ago that I couldn't expect him to read my mind and I had to tell him things. If we have a disagreement, we hash it out in a fairly rational manner without raised voices, and it almost always comes down to a misunderstanding--semantics. Only twice in four years have I ever gone to bed angry. We largely felt this lecture to be useless for us, though probably helpful for other people.

The next thing on the program was titled "Spirituality in Marriage" and the lecture was delivered by Father B., a Paulist priest from my parish. We thought it would be about spirituality as a married couple, and were looking forward to the talk, because that is an issue we haven't read much about and are interested in knowing more about.

Unfortunately, it was an hour-long lecture on the wedding itself. Again, useful for other folks, not useful for us, the talkative and liturgy-obsessed couple. I was glad Father B. said that they don't approve of the "bride given away by her father" order of procession, and explained the reasons why. I'll explain in another post, if anyone is curious. I'm sure you can figure out the societal reasons, but there are religious reasons too. Anyway, we were disappointed in the talk.

There were two hand-outs on NFP in our folders, but no one ever really mentioned sexuality at all.

The final lecture was given by a retired professor of economics. My dad, who was a business manager of a school district, snorted when I told him that. The professor of economics got married in the late 1950s, and I think he hasn't changed his view of family finances since then. Needless to say, what worked for a family with one parent working outside the home and only one car in an age before most people went on business trips is not going to work for a two-profession couple both of whom must travel at least a couple of times a year to conferences and such. I refer mainly to the professor's advice that couples have only one checkbook, and share a credit card. I sort of understand his reasoning, but it is completely impractical. His advice on saving money, especially when grocery shopping, was better. I've already started scanning that coupon booklet that comes in the mail every week for things that I need. I am not going to start shaking cans of different brands of corn in an attempt to determine which actually has more corn in it, although I might actually weigh the ten pound bag of potatoes to make sure it weighs ten pounds. When I start buying bags of potatoes, that is.

At the end, we went off in smaller groups, about five couples per group, each with an older couple from the parish. We each introduced our partner, and told how we met, what we liked about the other person, and what we learned that day. It wasn't as sappy as it sounds.

All in all, there was nothing objectionable about the experience. We were disappointed that there wasn't more, though. Less on communication and finances and more on Church teaching about...everything...would have been a big improvement.

26 May 2007


When we die, do our guardian angels get reassigned to some new person because we don't need them anymore, or are angels only ever assigned to one person?

Do our guardian angels continue to pray for us if we die and go to purgatory?

(I know these raise some questions about time vs. eternity, but I'm not going to think about that first thing in the morning.)

24 May 2007

Recipe Time

The challenge: You haven't been grocery shopping in days. You planned to go this morning, but it's lunch time already and you haven't gotten out of the house yet. You have a guest, so you can't just serve up any old thing for lunch, but you're both starving. What do you do?

The solution: Water, cappelini or angel hair pasta, olive oil, canned sliced tomatoes, garlic and basil (if the tomatoes aren't the pre-seasoned "Italian" kind), a pot and a pan. Put the water on to boil. Put the olive oil, tomatoes, and spices in the pan to heat, stirring occasionally. When the water boils, put the pasta in and cook for about a minute and a half. Drain the pasta and put it in the pan with the sauce for about another minute, and serve immediately. Put some parmesan cheese on top if you have it.

Time: Approximately 15 minutes, or less depending on how fast your water boils. It's healthy, easy, satisfying, tasty, and fast. It uses stuff you probably always have around (or should, anyway). Now aren't you glad you didn't decide to go out for pizza because cooking was too much trouble?

08 May 2007

Really Cool Stuff

The mistake of a genius.

This image is from a draft of Franz Schubert's Tantum Ergo. You can see here a note he's rejected and scratched out. You can see the rest of this draft, along with OVER 500 SCHUBERT MANUSCRIPTS (this is exciting to us music-types) ONLINE at www.schubert-online.at. (The button for the English version is at the top, a little to the right.)

The sizes of the photographs they took are quite large--it's like sticking your nose right down to the page, which they probably wouldn't let you do with the actual page because they don't want your nose-print on a Schubert autograph manuscript, but it's ok, you can put your nose to your computer screen and gawk.

*admires the pretty music*
Relics Not Those of Joan of Arc

This article from National Geographic News says that the relics that have long been said to be those of St. Joan of Arc are actually from an Egyptian mummy. Experts suggest a 19th-Century hoax.
Early Music Jokes

Lauda: the difference between shawms and krummhorns.

Neums: Medieval midgets.

Trope: A malevolent neum.

Quaver: beginning viol class.

Cantus Firmus: the part you get when you can only sing four notes.

Hocket: the thing that fits into a crotchet to produce a rackett.

Neumatic Melisma: a bronchial disorder caused by hockets.

More, along with a ton of banjo jokes, here.

(The picture is of a baroque rackett or rankett--you can buy one at the website linked to above, if you have $2000. It's a double-reed instrument, a relative of the bassoon and oboe.)

04 May 2007

More Cheery Than Yesterday

Awesome British stop-motion animation:

Shaun the Sheep! Apparently this show, intended for young children, is so popular in Britain that they're showing it at a later time in the day as well as in the morning, so adults can watch it too. All the episodes can be viewed on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae9ZbstfFEQ

They're all about 6 or 7 minutes long. Good fun.

03 May 2007

I am slowly going crazy, 6 5 4 3 2 1...

Are public school students taught grammar and punctuation anymore? Because I am a T.A. I am reading and marking student essays, and I am amazed by the random acts of violence against adjectives, verb tenses, and punctuation of all kinds being perpetrated by our students.

The apostrophe abuse alone is horrifying, but when combined in the same paragraph with both present-tense verbs and past-tense verbs, a period outside the quotation marks, the excessive use of adjectives...*sigh* Pray that I will be charitable in my comments, and that I retain my sanity until next Wednesday afternoon (the end of exams and my fiancé's arrival for a visit).

02 May 2007

More Prayers

This has not been a good month for friends of my family. A very dear friend named Kathleen is seriously ill and in the hospital--she may be dying. What makes it really tough is that her husband has been suffering from stomach cancer for several years, and so they've been preparing for him to go first; he is totally unprepared to lose her, and they have hardly spent a night apart in the 45 years they've been married. My parents are traveling out of state to be with them, since Kathleen and her husband's children live quite a distance away and can't be away from work for long.

24 April 2007

Eternal Rest

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Elisa Bowen Raboy, and for comfort for her husband Asher. Lisa was my voice teacher, my first voice teacher. She took me on when I was nine and taught me until I graduated from high school. She was more than just a teacher--she was a friend and mentor, almost like a favorite aunt that I saw for 45 minutes a week. She dispensed advice on numerous topics and told me not to sing show tunes like a nun, unless they were from "Sound of Music." She helped me grow up, and imparted a good portion of the love of music that has carried me through to my present career. She died last week of cancer at the age of 54. I didn't know she had been ill because I'd lost touch with her when I went away to college, so this came as a bit of a shock to me.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. She may not have believed in You, but she tried to do good as far as she knew it.

21 April 2007

Monteverdi, Schubert, etc.

I'm working on two term papers at the moment, due next week. (Yes, I'm chewing my fingernails.) One is about sacred contrafacta of Monteverdi's madrigals. For those who don't speak musicologist, the term "contrafactum" (pl. "contrafacta") refers to a new text being substituted for the original text of a vocal work. Thus sacred contrafacta of Monteverdi's madrigals refers to madrigals which were originally secular and have had sacred texts put to them. Apparently not many people study these, preferring to study the madrigals with their original texts. It is somewhat interesting to me, though.

The other paper is about the Schubert controversy. For those of you who weren't reading the journal 19th Century Music or the Arts Section of the New York Times in the early 1990's, the controversy is over whether or not Franz Schubert was homosexual. A lot of evidence has been presented on both sides. The fellow who initiated the discussion put forth some arguments that aren't totally convincing to me, especially in view of the arguments later presented against him, and the folks who have defended him all rely to some extent on his original arguments. Unfortunately, the first person to protest that Schubert was straight (as the myth had always said--though there are composers, like Tchaikovsky, whose homosexuality no one has ever denied) obviously had an agenda--she clearly believes that suggesting Schubert was homosexual sullies his reputation as a composer. Having an agenda doesn't necessarily make her wrong, but it puts her arguments in a bad light. The most convincing article that I've read is an article that our professor obtained for us from the author which has not been published--the author withdrew it, and I'm not sure why, which of course makes me doubtful about the author's conclusions. It's hard to know who to believe.

Honestly, it's not as if we'll ever know for sure whether Schubert liked men or women or both or neither. He isn't around to tell us, and he didn't leave much of a diary. I'm also not sure whether it's worth getting worked up over--yes, it may tell us something about why he was interested in choosing certain texts (like a poem by Goethe about Ganymede) to set, but other composers who were not homosexual set some of the same kinds of texts. So, does it matter? It really only matters to me if we could prove he had a relationship with a specific person who may have influenced his artistic choices. Otherwise, I will pray for his immortal soul and not really care whether he was homosexual or not...once I've finished writing this paper.

17 April 2007

Linguistic Amusements

I am taking a class in Viennese Musical Culture in the Classical Period. The professor always begins and ends his emails to us in German. This week's salutation was "Servus!" Being a Latin-lover and not a German-speaker myself, I was at first extremely puzzled. Then I found an online German dictionary and realized he was just saying "hello."

16 April 2007

Meme time

Swiped from Shortcut to Mushrooms (which is an awesome blog title). I'll only do part of it.


Aprons: Y/N?
I used to wear my apron almost every time I cooked, because I went home for all my meals and cooked almost everything. But now three days a week I'm on campus for lunch and dinner, and when I'm home I'm wearing scrubby clothes. So, only an apron if I'm dressed up.

Baking: Favorite thing to bake?
Jane's special fruit bread, a recipe of my own invention that changes every time. It's basically whole wheat flour, ground flaxseed, honey, yogurt, eggs, and whatever fruit I have lying around (dried apricots, dried or frozen blueberries, applesauce, overripe bananas, and raisins have all been used).

Clothesline: Y/N?
If I had room for one I would.

Donuts: Have you ever made them?

Every Day: One homemaking thing you do every day?
Um...I don't think there is anything that I do every single day.

Handbook: What is your favorite homemaking resource?
My mother. Seriously. I have been known to call just to ask questions like, "How do I get this crud out of the bottom of my pot?" and "How long do those beans really need to soak?"

Ironing: Love it or hate it?
I hate ironing fitted blouses. Trousers and men's shirts I don't mind.

Junk Drawer: Y/N? Where is it?
I am fairly organized in that respect. I do have a drawer in my kitchen for miscellaneous items but it doesn't look like the junk drawer at my parents' house.

Kitchen design and decorating?
Again--apartment. My apartment has its original 1949 metal cabinets which look cool, but the doors are hard to open and close and some of the shelves are bent. Everything is white, black, and silver.

Love: What is your favorite part of homemaking?
Baking, definitely. Other cooking can be fun too, especially on the weekends when I really have time for it.

Mop: Y/N?
Yes, unfortunately. The tile in the bathrooms needs it, and the parquet floor needs a wet go-over once in a while (the dust here is unbelievable).

Quiet: What do you do when you get a quiet moment?
I live alone except for a cat, and even when I'm at school I spend half my time in the library, so most of my time is a quiet moment. I read a lot, and sometimes it isn't my schoolwork.

Recipe card box: Y/N?
I have a section in the bookmarks on my computer called "recipes"--does that count?

Tablecloths and cloth napkins: Y/N?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I alternate between tablecloths and cloth placemats on my table, and cloth napkins generally only come out when I have company.

Zzz's: What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
Making sure any dinner leftovers get put away in the fridge.

14 April 2007

Please say a prayer for a friend of mine--she was supposed to be married in June of this year, but the wedding has been called off. I don't know why the engagement was broken, but she must be very disappointed.

08 April 2007

Easter Homily

There was a really awesome line in the homily that I heard this morning that I'd like to share with you:

"Did any of you watch 'The Tomb of Jesus' a few weeks back? Those folks didn't get the angel's message: they're still looking for the living among the dead."
Christus resurrexit!

Happy Easter, everyone! Rejoice, especially, those of you who will be singing the proper chants. My choir does get to sing the Byrd Haec Dies and a very joyful piece by Schütz, but it just does not seem like Easter to me without Resurrexi. I could have used another week of Lent.

31 March 2007

Before Holy Week...
...one last bit of fun.

Check out the CIA's recruiting site. Especially check out their personality quiz. It's hilarious. The choice of vehicles included submarine, hot air balloon, and horse and buggy. I chose the horse and buggy, of course, although the hot air balloon was tempting.

29 March 2007


That's about as close to squealing as I get--the non-typed version is usually accompanied by a bit of excited hopping. The reason? I called the church, and fiance and I are now penciled into the book for November 17th 2007 10:30am: we're really getting married!

For the first two weeks after we announced our engagement I was excitedly looking at wedding dresses online and flipping through bridal magazines and all of that, but since then "The Wedding" gets shuffled to the back of my mind most days, the front of my mind being occupied with more immediate problems like that paper that's due in a couple of weeks. But once in a while something happens that gives me that little electric thrill of "wow, I am getting married--we are getting married--this time next year I will be a wife."

I'll be sure to keep you updated on all the gory details of Marriage Prep/Engaged Encounter in Los Angeles. I'm trying to be optimistic, and think that surely they won't say anything out of line with the Church's teaching, and there may be some practical advice, and even if some of it seems a bit soppy we will probably get something out of the experience.

19 March 2007

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

Like many unmarried women, I will be praying for my future husband today. The difference is that this year, I know for sure who he is!

I pray also today that St. Joseph will aid my friends who are searching for jobs--there are several of them, and that he will help my parents sell their house.

Last but not least, happy name day to all my friends named Joseph, Jose, Josepha, and Josephine!

08 March 2007

Pink Martini for Spring Break

The Cranky Professor mentioned Pink Martini a few days ago, and I said that Pink Martini rules (they do!), to which the Professor agreed. Check out the clip he posted of the band singing Una notte a Napoli and then check out the clip of Sympathique below (picture quality isn't great, but it's a fun music video).

For me, spring break starts today--huzzah!

03 March 2007

Cross-dressing Wagner and West African Pop

Have I got your attention? The first is an article from the Guardian. As if we didn't already think Richard Wagner was more than a little crazy, there's a possibility he may have had a thing for ladies' clothes.

Our department has an opening for a professor, so over the last two weeks they've interviewed three candidates and us poor, put-upon graduate students have sat through their lectures. Actually I didn't go to the first one, and the other two were interesting. On Tuesday I heard a lecture on the history of music in California, and today I got to hear a lecture on western influences on Bollywood music and a mock class on West African pop (music of Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Mali). This isn't a genre that's ever been on my radar screen before, but I was fascinated by the oldest genre discussed, which is called highlife and originated in Ghana. Get thee to iTunes and look up E. T. Mensah. It sounds a lot like Cuban jazz to me. Very cool stuff.

27 February 2007

I Know Somebody Famous

Well, he's not quite famous yet, but as of last week two of his songs made it into the Adult Contemporary Top 40. He's sharing the chart with people I've heard of, like the Goo Goo Dolls, Christian Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, and Rod Stewart.

His name is Paul Kawabori, and he has a fantastic voice, so if Adult Contemporary is your thing, go to his website and turn up the volume a little.

How do I know him? He sits behind me in the church choir.

22 February 2007

Ashes on My Head

Yesterday I went to Mass at 8am. As I headed from the church to campus, it suddenly occurred to me that I might go through my whole day at school and not see anyone else with ashes on their foreheads, and that someone might try to tell me I had dirt on my head or something. I wasn't sure how many non-Catholics would even know about Ash Wednesday. This is the first year since kindergarten that I have not been at a Catholic school.

By the time I arrived on campus (nearly an hour later despite it only being a 10-mile drive from the church), I was feeling very self-conscious and thinking about washing off the ashes. I resisted the urge and started walking from the parking center to campus. I was thankful that at least the mark on my forehead was a very distinct cross. I passed on the sidewalk two women who were speaking Spanish to each other. I don't speak Spanish but when I passed I am pretty sure that one said something like, "Is it Ash Wednesday already?" to the other.

I only saw two students and one staff member with ashes. Two other students looked at me and said something along the lines of, "Oh, Ash Wednesday." I never really stopped feeling self-conscious, and now I wonder why.

I have never been shy about telling my classmates that I'm Catholic if the subject came up--I am proud to be Catholic, even though it isn't too popular in my profession to be seriously religious, and I have at times been unsure of the reaction that such a revelation might provoke. So far it hasn't been a problem, and in my particular line--medieval and renaissance music--it has been more of an asset, because of my familiarity with the texts the composers set and because I understand the medieval worldview a bit better than my classmates do, since I have something significant in common with it. I do not share my classmates' puzzlement when confronted with a book of music containing several settings of happy texts like Laudate Domino, Benedicite Domino, and the Magnificat, but also two dark, morbid, penitential texts in Italian. It makes perfect sense to me. As does walking around for a day with a cross of ashes on my forehead.

18 February 2007

Dashboard Widget

Mac users--want a new dashboard widget? This one shows you the saint of the day--1970 or 1962 calendar!

17 February 2007

Movie Night

I rented and watched two movies last night. One was "Marie Antoinette" which just came out on video. I'm not sure whether to recommend it or not--I leave it up to your own conscience. I certainly wouldn't show it to anyone under the age of sixteen or so. The costumes were fabulous, especially the shoes (designed, as many have pointed out, by Manolo Blahnik), and I enjoy that sort of visual feast as much as the next clothes-obsessed girl. The music was interesting, mixing period music with rock, which worked for the most part. There was an updated version of "Fools Rush In" the lyric of which was appropriate to that point in the film, but sung very badly. Mostly, it served to underline how silly and extravagant Marie Antoinette was, and it did show a little of the contrast between the Austrian archduchess Maria Antonia and the French queen she became. (The Austrian court may not have been perfect, but it was prudish and pious compared to the French court.) The ending, in which the royal family are being taken away from their palace which has been trampled by the revolting peasants, serves to humanize them at last.

The other movie was much more light-hearted and I enjoyed it more--the pseudo-Bollywood "Bride and Prejudice." I can only really think of two scenes which would offend--the singer Ashanti dances rather suggestively in a scene where she gives a concert (she doesn't otherwise appear in the film), and a brief scene where one of the male characters is very scantily clad and attempting (but failing) to appear seductive. The storyline is adapted from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" (a tale much-loved by the writers of this blog, in case our pseudonyms didn't give it away) and is, on the whole, very faithful to the story.

The Bennett family part is played by the Bakshi family, a nice middle-class Indian couple and their four daughters Jaya, Lalita, Maya, and Lakhi (the "Kitty" character got lost in the shuffle). As you can see, they've even striven to keep the names the same. They've kept, slightly altered, some of my favorite lines from the original--near the beginning of the film, Lalita declares in response to her mother's speculations about the visiting Indian-Englishman, "Any single guy with lots of money must be shopping for a wife" (a paraphrase of the first line of the book, which the BBC put into Lizzy's mouth in their seminal adaptation). Mr. Kohli, the Mr. Collins stand-in, is hilarious as an Indian immigrant who has made it relatively big in Los Angeles (much is made of him having a green card) who comes back to India looking for a "traditional" wife. William Darcy is a wealthy American who comes to India with his friend Balraj Bingley to attend the wedding of another Indian-British friend, and there they meet the Bakshi family. Fun music and dancing, banal lyrics, and amusing cultural misunderstandings ensue. If you like Pride and Prejudice and musicals, give it a try.

[Edited to add: Indian native costume is gorgeous, and the Indian actresses in this film certainly do their costumes justice.]