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Friday, December 29, 2006

A news article

This is about a good friend of mine, Mr. Pat C. Click here to read it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Weekend and Christmas

On Christmas Eve, Alex and I made breakfast. BTW, nine eggs and about ten ounces of shredded cheddar cheese all scrambled together make an excellent breakfast -- or part of one. :)

I went to Josh and Leslie's new townhouse for Christmas Eve dinner. Josh's mother and Julianna were there, as were Leslie's family. It was fitting that I was there, as Josh's best man -- Jen, her mother, and her sister were also there (Jen was Leslie's maid of honor). They've got a nice new place. We talked for a while, had dinner, said some prayers, and then we went to Midnight Mass. I went to Old St. Mary's and sang with the schola out there, and I was in bed by 2AM.

I was going to go to Sarah H.'s family's house for brunch, but I woke up around noon, and by the time I was up and ready to go, it was almost 1:00 PM. I had to be at Aunt Carmen's for dinner at 4:00 PM, so I called and told them that I wouldn't be able to make it.

Stephenie, Kelly and their baby were there already. Aunt Carmen made an awesome dinner, and her dessert was pecan pie -- needless to say, I enjoyed it very much. We fired up Talledega Nights: The Legend Of Ricky Bobby (Uncut). It was pretty dang funny, even a second time.

After that, I had to go back, because I had to work on Tuesday (today).

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday before Christmas

I stayed up until 9:30 AM playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It's such an addictive game. Since I didn't have to work today, I had no second thoughts about doing that.

Today I actually purchased Christmas cards, and wrote in them. Tomorrow, I'll mail them. They will probably not reach any of their destinations until the 28th, unless, for some reason, the mail is much faster than I anticipate it is this time of year.

Today is Sarah H. and Adrienne S.'s birthdays, so here's a type-out to both of them: "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!"

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fun times!

On Friday night, I drove up to Pennsylvania to visit John E. and his family. I arrived late on Friday night, close to midnight, and then John, Paul and I chatted for about an hour. After that, we turned in.

On Saturday morning, we went to Mass bright and early, came back and had breakfast, and, then I began the long process of meeting the entire family and trying to remember names. Sadly, the names I so dutifully memorized have become a blur, and some aren't even there anymore. If y'all are reading this post, I send my humblest apologies.

After chatting for a while, Mrs. E., John and I went to the farmer's market. It brought back some memories of when I used to do that with Mom and Dad when I was little. Ah, the age of innocence, where everything is taken straight from the ground or the animal, instead of processed in huge centers.

After this, we came back to their house, John and I ran out to get bagels, and we brought them back for lunch. Lunch was, of course, excellent. I wouldn't have thought that bagels for lunch would have been a normal family thing -- I figured that it was just a bachelor thing. {grins}

Following lunch, John, Paul and I went for a drive. We were going to go for a hike, but we never actually found the place. I was asleep for almost an hour of this trip, so when I woke up, I was surrounded by bearded men, bonneted women, and horse-drawn-buggies. I thought that I had gone back in time until I saw a bumper sticker that said, "No, Anthony, you have not gone back in time. You're in Amish country." (OK, so there was no bumper sticker that said that, but it makes for a great story.) We finally found where we were wanted to go hiking, but it was already almost dusk, and the car was almost out of gas, so we just drove back. In order to get some exercise, though, John and I threw the football around outside for a bit.

Dinner was interesting. A word of warning to new visitors: in order to get food for dinner, you have to sing our national anthem. For anyone who is confused, this is the national anthem of the United States of America. I began the Canadian one, and there was a bit of a ruckus. But it's a good thing that there was a ruckus, because I don't know any of the words aside from "O Canada!" Dinner was excellent, by the way...

After dinner, I sat around and chatted with the John and his siblings for a while. Clare (right? The youngest?) kept attaching herself to my leg, so I asked both of the littlest (Mary and Clare?) to sit on my feet and I'd give them a ride. As I walked around, I was told I looked like a transformer, so I grabbed a banana to use as a transformer gun.

I'm not sure how it got started, but John did some pushups with Clare on his back. Not to be outdone, I did the same, but I did a second set with Mary. And finally, for the heck of it, I had both of the youngest on my back. I could barely do one...

We fired up Stealth for the older kids and most of the adults, while the younger ones and Mrs. E. watched The Three Caballeros.

Sunday morning, I drove to Front Royal for Mass, and I sung at St. John's for the Tridentine Mass, Gaudete Sunday. We had a small choir to sing. After Mass, I went out to brunch with Dr. P., Christine, Draper, Ken, and Alaina. After that, Ken, Alaina and I went to Rappahannock winery to hear Danny and visit with Sarah. Danny S. was playing there. He plays and sings very well, so I highly recommend that if you have a chance to hear him in concert, you should go. Alex joined us after a little while, and we had a birthday cake for Sarah. Being tired, I left for home instead of and then played Elder Scrolls: Oblivion for a while, and then went to bed.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thursday evening in Front Royal

I went to Front Royal for caroling. Little did I know when I was invited that the girls meant door-to-door. I enjoy caroling, as long as the people I'm singing to know us. Going door-to-door in a neighborhood that I don't know doesn't appeal to me, mostly because, in my case, if I were to get carolers, I'd be a little creeped out, unless I knew them, or I knew their group, or I knew that they were coming. Surprise carolers? I think not... Sorry, girls...

After sitting around and talking/singing for a while with Dr. P, Lizzie, Draper, Christine, Michael and Sylvia, we decided to call it a night and head home. Our first stop was to St. Augustine's to say goodbye to Emma and Laurel. (I should clarify that we were saying goodbye to Sylvia until graduation. She's done for now. However, we were just saying goodbye to Emma and Laurel for the break.) Michael, Draper and I went to the chapel and did some chanting. We got a little experimental with drones and basic harmony, and we were soon joined by Francis. At this point, I really wanted to try two choirs. We all stood facing each other inward: Francis and I faced each other, and I had Michael on my left and Draper on my right, facing each other. In this position, we sang in two choir formation: tenors (M&D) vs. basses (A&F). Michael B. joined us half-way through the Te Deum, the piece we were doing -- surprised the heck out of me: I thought he would be asleep.

At this point, it was getting late, but I really wanted to try something new. Michael B, Francis, and Draper stood on the right side of the choir loft, and Michael C. and I stood on the other side. I was the cantor for choir 1 and Draper was cantor for choir 2. We did the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Angus Dei from Mass IV, with the alternating choirs as appropriate: i.e., I intoned the Kyrie, Michael joined me to finish it; choir 2 did Kyrie #2; choir 1 did Kyrie #3; kept alternating until the final Kyrie, when I intoned, Michael came in on part 2, and everyone came in on the eleison. You couldn't split the Sanctus into choirs too easily, so we just sang it together at opposing sides. The Agnus Dei was similar to the Kyrie: I intoned Agnus Dei 1, Draper intoned Agnus Dei 2, and we all sang Agnus Dei 3.

We closed with the Alma Redemptoris Mater.

I filled up with gas, and I dropped Draper off at his apartment. On the way back home, I had another kind of fun.

I was driving along route 55 when I saw this guy walking down the road. It was about 12:30 AM, far too late for him to be walking. I passed him at first, but I felt pretty bad doing it, so I stopped and reversed. I rolled down the window and asked him if he needed a ride. Without saying a word, he just got inside the car. A but weird, but hey, whatever. I offered my hand and told him my name. He hesitated, but then he shook my hand and said his name was Chris. I started driving, and in an attempt to make small-talk, I commented on how late it was. He didn't say anything. Not expecting that, I asked him where he was headed. He said, "Home."

Now, I have a sense of humor. I can see the humor in this statement, but there's a significant difference between a guy who says something like in a joking manner with a twinkle in his eye to prompt further conversation and/or laughter, and Chris. Chris said it as completely lifeless as he could. I was more disturbed than anything by the complete lack of gratitude/humor/humanity in his voice, and how he didn't really care that I had just picked him and was giving him a lift "home", wherever that was.

Turning to Chris to see if I had missed something (like a look or something to let me know that he was trying to get me to laugh -- there wasn't), I asked him, "Where's home?" He starts looking around my car, feeling things. He then says, "Alexandria." I was shocked. He was sixty miles away from Alexandria. Was he planning on walking there?

Once again, I attempted to make conversation. I reacted notably to his home city, and asked him if he had a plan to get back home. Chris paid no attention to me though, because he was still feeling all over the car. I re-posed the question, to no avail. My car's visor has apparently gotten his attention, and he was eyeing it like a hawk, and feeling it again and again. As he ran his hands all around the visor, he felt the palm leaf, and piped up in a hostile manner: "What the hell is this?" I replied: "It's a palm leaf. It symbolizes the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem one week before He was crucified." It looked as though my guest was about to be rude again and say, "That's stupid." Before he could, I looked straight at him, and said, "I'm Catholic." I then put on my face that says, "Do you have a problem with that?" He shut up pretty quickly -- no surprise there.

I asked him again (with emphasis): "So, Chris, what's your plan for getting home?" He was still being rude, so I guess he thought I didn't deserve an answer.

I changed the subject. "All right, since you don't have a plan for getting back, let me ask you another question: Why are you walking at midnight?" He was quiet for a few seconds, but then he said, "I'm not walking." I'm sorry, Chris, I didn't realize you were so accurate. I was beginning to get visibly annoyed at this point. I was already agitated at how rude he was, but I think that I was holding it all in until this. Truth be told, he was right. He wasn't walking. Once again, I looked at him quickly to see if he had been trying to make a joke, and, once again, he wasn't. He was being blatantly rude. "All, right, I'm sorry. I'll be more precise. Why were you walking, Chris?" He didn't reply. "Chris, why the hell were you walking at midnight down a dark street where I could have hit you and killed you?" Still nothing.

Suddenly, all my doors lock. I turn and look at him. He's got his hand on the door, screwing around with the buttons. I unlock my doors. He locks them again. I unlock them. He re-locks them. I unlock them. This goes on for at least 20 clicks. Finally, I've had it up to my neck with him intentionally being rude to me and now trying to break my car. It took a lot of self-control to not punch him first and ask questions later. But that wouldn't do, so I asked him what he thought he was doing, and why he was trying to break my car. He thought about answering, and then decided that I could know his intentions, so he deigned me with a response: "I'm trying to roll down the window." I explained to him that the switch on that side was broken, so I'll roll down the window for him. I rolled it down half-way. My doors locked again. Once again, taking a decent amount of self-control to keep my anger in check, I re-explained to him that the window switch on that side had not been fixed in the past ten seconds, so if he had heard anything I had told him not even ten seconds ago, he would know that he had to ask me to roll down his window. I then asked him how far down he wanted it. He said, "All the way." It was obvious that he was trying to drown me out, but I rolled it down all the way. My door locked again. I unlocked them and told him to stop doing that.

About ten seconds later, I asked him again, why he was walking down the street at midnight. He gave me the silent treatment again. I was through being nice. I'd done everything he wanted, catering to his whims, and he was still being rude. He still hadn't even thanked me for picking him up. I exploded at him: "Listen, Chris, this silent treatment thing is going to stop right now. Unless you actually use your voice and your mouth to speak English like I know you can, you're getting out. Now, I'm going to ask you one more time: Why were you walking at midnight?" He still didn't say anything. "That's it. Game over. Get out now. Get the hell out of my car. I don't want you in here." As I said this, I pulled over to the median. He seemed to be sizing up his options: a 60-mile walk, or talking. He opted for a 60-mile walk, so as soon as the car came to a stop, he opened the door and got out. I took off, and left him walking along 66.

I then called the police and told them that there was a man acting extremely suspiciously and wearing dark clothes walking along 66. I related in short the above story to them, and they said that they would send out a state trooper to pick him up. I hope that they did, because I'd love to see him spend some time in jail.

Seriously, what else was there I could do? If he had lied to me and made up a story about how his car was broken down, I would never have know, and I would have probably taken him all the way to my exit. We could have had a very pleasant conversation, shooting the breeze, telling jokes, swapping stories (true or not). All he had to do was talk. Since he didn't, I can only assume the worst: that he's a serial killer and he obviously didn't want to talk about much...

In retrospect, I should have started singing some Protestant hymn, "Jesus Loves Me," or something similar. Mr. Crazy Man Chris would probably have started talking at that point...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Last Christendom weekend

Well, starting next week, I'll be a free man, of sorts. Although I won't have to sing at Christendom, I'll still be singing elsewhere...

This weekend has been pretty busy. On Friday, Ryan, Eric, Joe, Ken and I drove down to SC for the funeral of Mama (Ginger) E., MikeE's mother. The morning of the funeral (December 8), Eric, Joe, Ken and I went to early Mass before heading out. Ryan wasn't able to make it to the morning Mass, so we had to catch one that evening. All five of us piled into Eric's Explorer, and we made the trip, arriving at the church about five minutes before the ceremony was about to begin.

It was a sad time for all of us who knew her. I had only met her twice, but it was still sad, losing such a great woman. Her family is all in my prayers as they continue to struggle with this loss...

After the ceremony and the reception, we went to a local Catholic Church and caught Mass, just in time for Ryan. The first thing we noticed about the church was that it looked more like a warehouse than anything. Turns out that it was a run by the Franciscans. To those of you who don't know, this usually implies a great deal of liberality... Here we go: ready?
  • The priest was vested in blue vestments. Blue. Does anyone else see a problem with this? Thank you, I knew I wasn't alone.
  • There were two altar girls. There was also an altar monk. There were plenty of men and other people of the male gender in the congregation. Problem? Call me old fashioned but, back in my day, if you filled the position of acolyte or lector, it meant that you could be ordained to the priesthood. I don't have a problem with the altar monk or the deacon. However, neither the lectorette/congregation "choir" director nor either of the altar girls could ever be ordained.
  • Guess what color the altar girls, the altar monk, and the deacon were wearing? If you named off any color in the spectrum aside from blue, you're wrong... (White isn't a color, but yes, they did have white robes on, too.)
  • At the Our Father, everyone joined hands with everyone else in their rows ... across the church. I did not. The altar monk seemed to be glaring at me for not participating. I glared back.
  • Extraordinary Eucharistic ministers -- unnecessary because of the presence of a fully capable priest and a deacon.
  • Saving the best for last: the Mass was made illicit by the actions of the priest who broke the host before the consecration, because he was acting out the words...
*Whew!* Enough there? If people still wonder why I hold to the Tridentine Latin Mass as the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the top notch, the Royal Flush (or the five-of-a-kind hand of Aces, if you're playing with wild cards or multiple decks), the quadruple-shot of espresso for the soul, etc., I pity them...

On Saturday, I cleaned up the apartment, because we were having guests over. Ken and Alaina were the first to show up, followed not long after by Alex, Ashley, Elizabeth, and Sarah.

On Sunday, I sang with the Christendom choir, and then out at Old St. Mary's. I took TJ, Ellen, and Jason to Old St. Mary's -- which meant simply that I had to take them back to Christendom...

There was a visiting choir at Old St. Mary's, the Ad Hoc Singers. They sang (among other pieces) Mozart's Missa Brevis in B-flat (KV 275), which is a very beautiful and rather impressive Mass.

On Monday, I rode in to work with Ken, and then back with him. I think this is becoming a weekend tradition...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Josh and Leslie's wedding, and a busy weekend...

Friday evening, Josh and Leslie had their wedding rehearsal. I was late in arriving, because I didn't leave work as early as I would have liked to, and, on top of that, I still hadn't picked up the tuxes...

Anyway, after I got it all picked up and I arrived at the church, I soon discovered that I was not the last person to arrive -- Josh, Leslie, and her family were also not there. They were about five minutes behind me.

The rehearsal lasted all of about 30 minutes -- it was very quick for two run-through's. After that, we headed over to Old Town Winchester and had dinner at one of the restaurants there. I forget the name of the place, but it was a very nice place. Dinner was good, and the place was crowded -- recipe for fun times. :)

After dinner, Josh and Leslie gave the bridesmaids and the groomsmen their gifts, as well as gave little speeches about them. My gift was a set of virtual fighting gloves. These will come in handy when I get the urge to beat up someone...

On Saturday, I went to confession at St. Veronica's. After that, I went back to the apartment, and found Josh trying to get the printer to print the wedding programs properly. After trying on his computer as well as mine, we eventually gave up and decided to take it to a place and have it done professionally. Josh told me to go to the UPS store near our place.

I got there, and we had a problem: they didn't have the font that Josh used. That turned out to be not such a big problem: we found one that was extremely close to it in style, and I changed the program so that it would all work. Josh had also made a PDF of the program, but we discovered that Adobe was having a problem printing these in booklet format, double-sided. After spending about 30 minutes re-formatting it with the new font, the UPS assistant and I discovered that the printer wasn't going to print double-sided and in booklet format, no matter what setting we used. With only 45 minutes to spare before I had to put on my tux and get to Josh's wedding, I got directions to the place and booked it over to Kinko's...

At Kinko's, I had 30 minutes to explain to them what needed it get done, as well as do it. Explaining took a while, but the printing began rather quickly and everything was OK. In that time, Josh had gotten ready for the wedding, and he was on his way to the store. When he got there, I went back to the apartment, got cleaned up, put on my tux, and called him to see if he needed help. Turns out he was finished and on his way out. He took 50, because he was already on it -- I took the tollway, because he had a head start on me and we were already late. The wedding was supposed to start at 1:45 PM with the Litany of the Saints. It was 1:30 and I had about an hour's drive ahead of me. I got to the church in about 45 minutes. No, I wasn't speeding! (...much...) Josh was about 20 minutes behind me. The tollway saved me a lot of time.

Did I get flak? Of course. I will gladly take the blame for it, because on the wedding day, the blame rests solely upon the shoulders of the best man (he's the best man for the job!), and the praise rests upon the newly married couple. Not that I subscribe to that policy myself, but in this case, it's for Josh...

Anyway, the wedding was fairly normal. Aside from the groom and his best man being one-and-a-half hours late (because we should have been there at about 1 PM), everything else went fine.

The reception went over pretty well. I hadn't written the speech, but I'd been thinking a whole lot about it, so when it was time to give the speech, I felt semi-ready, but it seemed to be received rather well. There were a lot of other speeches after mine, so any flubs that I made were graciously covered up by the Maid of Honor, the parents of the bride, the brother of the bride, and two of her bridesmaids. At least I felt better about it, anyway.

The dancing was fun. I proved to myself, once again, that I´m not good at it. I hadn't practiced swing in so long that it wasn't even funny. I felt like a lump of clay trying to be graceful and not succeeding...

After the reception, I helped Ken, Alaina, and the family of the bride take all the wedding presents to Josh and Leslie's new townhouse. After that, there was a small party at Sarah's house.

The rest of the weekend was fairly standard: singing at Christendom on Sunday, practicing with the Palestrina choir, and then heading back -- that about sums it up...