28 June 2008

Things I love about Los Angeles...
...other than the diversity of the inhabitants, which is what everyone else says when asked what they like about L.A.

1. The delightful variety of architectural styles. In one block of a residential neighborhood, you will find ranch, mission, Tudor, cottage, and colonial, all in a row. None of these styles are native to Los Angeles, and all are meant to evoke some other location, but the combination of these styles is very Los Angeles.

2. The unspoken traffic laws (expect two people to turn left just as the light changes, but feel free to honk and curse if three cars go) give me a strange sort of pleasure, a feeling of being an insider.

3. The stories everyone has about the time they saw a celebrity. My story: I gawked at Clint Eastwood from a distance of twenty feet, when he attended an awards show at the same hotel where I was attending a conference. He is just as handsome in person, even if he is about 168 years old by now.

4. The night-time noises in my apartment complex. The birds sing at night when the weather is warm, because that's when the sprinklers are on, and the birds come to bathe in the running water. Bird-song, combined with the hum of my neighbors' air conditioners (I never use mine), provides a veritable symphony to lull me to sleep at night--or to stay up and listen to, as I'm obviously doing now.

5. The fact that I can walk to my choice of four grocery stores, a farmer's market, two Catholic churches, a mall, a movie theater, two parks, several museums, and any number of restaurants--and that the weather rarely interferes with my walk.

6. The many opportunities for prayer. Besides the obvious dangers of driving in city traffic, I have long followed a tradition imparted to me by my school teachers of saying a Hail Mary every time I hear a siren. I hear a siren about three times a day here, much more often than in the smaller towns I've lived in. I've added to that saying a Glory Be every time I see a homeless person, so there are many more incidences of prayer throughout my day than I made for myself before.

19 June 2008

Hail Mary

Here is a page with versions of the Ave Maria in several different languages. I wish there were recordings of people saying them to go with it.

One of the versions is labeled "Bernadetta Soubirous." I think what they mean by this is that the prayer is in Gascon, an Occitan language; St. Bernadette reported that the Blessed Virgin spoke to her in Gascon, not in French.

14 June 2008

Why I love Brideshead Revisited
Or: Why not to seek religious instruction from a 14-year-old

"I've had a long talk with a Catholic--a very pious, well-educated one, and I've learned a thing or two. For instance, that you have to sleep with your feet pointing East because that's the direction of heaven, and if you die in the night you can walk there. Now I'll sleep with my feet pointing any way that suits Julia, but d'you expect a grown man to believe about walking to heaven? And what about the Pope who made one of his horses a Cardinal? And what about the box you keep in the church porch, and if you put a pound note with someone's name on it, they get sent to hell. I don't say there mayn't be a good reason for all this," he said, "but you ought to tell me about it and not let me find out for myself."
"You can see he's a long way from the Church yet," said Father Mowbray.
"But who can he have been talking to? Did he dream it all? Cordelia, what's the matter?"
"What a chump! Oh, mummy, what a glorious chump!"
"Cordelia, it was you."
"Oh, mummy, who could have dreamed he'd swallow it? I told him such a lot besides. About the sacred monkeys in the Vatican--all kinds of things."
"Well, you've considerably increased my work," said Father Mowbray.

--Brideshead Revisited, Book II, Chapter II