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.]

14 February 2007

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Or, if you prefer, happy Sts. Cyril and Methodius Day!

05 February 2007

Pretty Spring Things

Because I'm a girl, because I live in ├╝ber fashion-conscious Los Angeles, and because it was 80 degrees here today, my thoughts have turned to pretty spring dresses. So I'm going to steal a little thunder from Colleen Hammond's Dressing With Dignity blog and post pictures of some things that went down the runways at Fashion Week in New York that are pretty and pretty modest.


Ellen Tracy:

Oscar de la Renta (skirt could be a few inches longer, but the print is lovely):

Alfred Fiandaca:

04 February 2007

Spokane Spokesman Review Cartoon

In case you can't read what it says, the Blessed Virgin has a pin that says "Spokane Diocese" and she is saying, "Good news: we're almost out of bankruptcy." Christ's leg says "credibility" and he is saying, "Financial bankruptcy, maybe."

The Spokane diocese, like many others, has its problems, but I do not think it is morally bankrupt, nor should a newspaper or cartoonist use the image of the Pieta in such a fashion. When the cartoons of Mohamed came out a couple of years ago, the Spokesman Review said it would never run such cartoons because of the effect they have on people. Apparently this does not apply to Catholics.

If you wish to write to the editor and protest, the email address is editor@spokesman.com.