About Me

My photo

What can I say about me that isn't already online???

Monday, April 30, 2007

The rest of the weekend, post-Formal

So, yeah. Saturday morning was fun. Lizzie and Emma had to be up for Holy Rood, which began cleaning the church right after the 7:00 AM Mass (recall that I had driven Emma back to her dorm at about 4:00 AM). I had gone back to JD's place, and slept there -- quite soundly, I might add. I didn't wake up until about 10:00 AM, when JD asked me if I was going to get up for choir practice. I didn't really want to, but I did.

Anyway, so after choir practice, I sat around and talked with Lizzie, Emma, Dr. P, Draper, and a few other people about formal and other things. At about 11:15 AM, I headed out. I had to be at the gym at 1:00 PM, and it would probably take me about an hour to get back to the dorm.

The Charger handled extremely well for the trip back to the apartment. I ran my tux and other clothes inside, grabbed a sports drink, and headed out again, arriving at the gym a few minutes before 1:00 PM. I warmed up, and Emily T. (my personal trainer) set about slaughtering my upper body. I should say that as gruesome as that sounds, I felt really good after that workout. My arms felt like they had no strength left at all.

I went to Vespers at Holy Transfiguration, and then went back to Front Royal for the evening, since I had to be out for Sunday morning Mass anyway.

After Mass, I had brunch at Sarah's, then to choir practice. Then, I went to watch the faculty vs. students football game. I had the game pegged the wrong way: the faculty had a lot of really strong-looking guys on their team whereas the students didn't. However, I wasn't thinking correctly: in flag football, strength is good, but speed and agility are better. The students had the faster players -- they did have some competition in that field, but it just wasn't enough.

After that, I went to find Joe P. He told me about the band playing at 6:00 that evening, and I wanted to attend, but Ken and Alaina had invited me to their place for dinner. I usually can't refuse good food, so I accepted. After dinner, Sarah came over, and we all played the Game of Life. I won the first game, but it was through pure, disgusting, wonderful luck. I happened to get the highest salary available, $100K. The second game was more balanced -- I actually got the lowest salary of the salaries selected, $60K. In the first game, Alaina got the lowest selected, $40K. In the second game, she got the highest, $100K.

The last thing i did that night before heading back was birthday singing for Jen P. Happy birthday, Jen!

On a final note, everyone that I took for a spin in the Charger (Emma, Christine, Sarah, and Alex) enjoyed it, or at least told me that they did. My one "complaint" is that it sounded like a Honda when fired up. Anyway, so the Charger is back at Hertz. I'd love to get one, but I wouldn't get the V6 version. If I do get one, it would be the Hemi -- and that's a really big "if". They are fairly expensive cars...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Formal 2007

I had requested a half-day off from work on Friday, so I only planned on working until about noon. With this in mind, I got up at 5:00 AM with the intention of going to the gym early, but, when I saw how clear the tollway was, I headed to work instead. I was there by 6:00 AM, and planned to leave at 10. However, two minutes before I planned to head out, I got a project, and I had to work later than I intended, and thus, I didn't get to go to the gym. I went back to the apartment, showered, worked again, packed up, and headed to Front Royal.

To backtrack just a bit, I asked Emma to formal on Monday and, after she accepted (obviously not before -- that would have been very egotistical of me), I began the process of renting a car from JD. I got her a corsage on Wednesday, but I asked them to modify it a little so that it matched her dress.

As regards the car, I was looking for a Chrysler 300, then a Ford Mustang. JD suggested a Dodge Charger or Dodge Magnum. Any of those options sounded good to me, so he did what he could.

Anyway, so, on Friday, I headed out of the apartment and over to Front Royal to pick up the car. JD had managed to get a silver 2007 Dodge Charger SXT. I picked it up at Shenandoah Ford, and, even after promising to not abuse it, I couldn't resist testing it out. The car looked and handled beautifully. It accelerated quite nicely, and took corners very well. I definitely didn't abuse it, but I put a bit more stress on it then I would normally have done so, had it been my own car.

So I drove over to Dane and JD's, and outside the apartment, I ran into Tambi. She and Dr. P were going to formal together, and she asked for some help with a pocket square. I gave her the red one that I had brought down for Dr. P just in case, and showed her a couple ways of folding it. Since I was running late, though, I excused myself, left her in the capable hands of Ed B., put on my tux (black tux, black shirt, cream vest, white tie), and headed out to pick up Emma. As luck would have it, I wasn't all that late. I was going with Sarah and Dan, Ashley and Dominick, Andy, Maggie, and Iona. It was set to be a fun group. :) Emma came out looking wonderful in her blue dress, and Nikole H. took a picture of us. If I get to see them before this post goes up, I'll post one here -- with permission, of course...

We went out to a little French chalet up in the mountains, somewhere between Front Royal and Harper's Ferry. (We actually got lost on the way up there, but I took it as more of a discovery of what the Charger is capable, and I also continue to be impressed by it's ability.) There were about thirty people at the dinner in all, most of whom were seniors, but there were a few alumni -- at least then, I didn't feel quite so out of place.

Peter K., Pate Q., and Bob T. seemed to be the student masterminds of the event. Peter was the announcer for most of the night, so when we got there, we greeted us, and when it was time to eat, he asked us to please be seated. Mr. Brown was the culinary genius of the evening. If you want to take a look at his menu, here it is:
  • Caramelized Bacon, Almond and Brie Crostini
  • Shrimp Spring Roll with and Apricot Chile Dipping Sauce
  • Grilled Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce
  • Cream of Cauliflower Potato Soup
  • Tartlet Duo: Onion, Prosciutto
  • Orange Salad with Balsamic Drizzle
  • Seafood Risotto with Seared Scallop and Parmesan Crisp
  • Watermelon Intermezzo
  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chipotle Chile Rum Sauce, Fresh Corn Fritters, and Shoestring Sweet Potatoes
  • Chilled White Chocolate Lemon Souffle
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake
It was a lot of food, even in the small portions that he served us. It was a good thing that the portions were so small, because my stomach has shrunk significantly since Christendom, so I can't pack away food like I could in college...

After the dinner, Pate wanted to get a group picture, so we all gathered at the stairs to get a picture. (Thanks to Dampi for letting me use her picture. YOU ROCK, DAMPI!!!) After that, Emma and I headed out, following our original group to formal. Emma and I got onto 81 and headed north. At first, I was really confused by the fact that we were supposed to go to exit 5. It took a few miles, but then it suddenly clicked that exit 5 was in West Virginia. I felt really silly when I realized that, because I was going fairly slowly, looking for telltale signs of an exit 5. To those of you who don't know, once you get on 81N from 66, the first exit number is over 300. I knew that exit 5 was all the way south on 81 in VA, and that it would take us several hours to get there -- and then it dawned on me that the dance was in WV. I'm a little bit slow...

Anyway, the formal dance was being held in the large hall of St. Leo's Catholic Church. It was a very large hall. We arrived just about 11:00 PM, with about two hours left of the dance. As usual, I saw someone I knew outside, and I had to stop and chat with them. Emma was very nice and sweet in letting me continue postponing dancing (although kind of unintentionally postponing it), but after the third person with whom I chatted, I began to catch on to the fact that she wanted to get inside to the dance. Like I said: not all the lights are on upstairs. :)

We danced a few slow dances, a couple swings, and a waltz. I'm definitely out of practice -- however, it's a good thing that I had TJ's help earlier on (as I related in a couple previous posts), because the moves were coming to me, although embarrassingly slowly. There was one dance that I missed with Emma though: Laurel put on a tango (I love tango), so I quickly searched the room, but couldn't find Emma. However, feeling the need to dance the tango, I danced with Sylvia S., and proved that I was even out of practice with the tango.

Over the course of the night, I danced with a few other girls as well: Bridget R., Jenne L. (who had dislocated her hip -- that was an interesting dance), Emily G., and Sarah M. (formerly S.). That is not all of them -- I am just getting old and can't remember all of them. My first "dance" after I danced with Emma was a disco train, though. That was fun. I yelled at several people to get in it. Lizzie chickened out, but Dr. P, Tambi, and Krebsie joined. There was even an alternate train forming on a separate track, and we both merged into one giant one. Later on in the evening, I also heard the Electric Slide. This is by far my favorite line dance. It's easy enough to do, even though it's also easy to mess up -- which I do quite often. Usually though, recovery is quick and practically painless...

Emma, Josepha and I got together and walked around for a bit. We were going to go into the chapel to check it out, but this turned into an "acoustics test", so we grabbed a few other choir members that we could find fairly quickly and went to go sing a couple motets. I have to admit that I rather enjoyed the acoustics of the church, even though it seemed oddly dead. It was harder to fill the church with sound, meaning that we all had to sing louder. :)

About then, the dance was wrapping up. I danced the last three dances with Emma, and then there was the concluding prayer. As people made their exits, I noticed Peachy -- I hadn't seen him in a few months, so we exchanged e-mail addresses so that we could keep in touch more frequently.

After that, Emma and I joined Lizzie, JD, Sylvia, Michael, Kathleen and Andy for discussions on what to do next. It was 1:00 AM, but we still had some energy left. Someone suggested ice cream, and after discussing this for a little while, we all headed out the door. Since Emma and I were the first to head out, we stopped by Martin's and picked some up. Then we went to JD's, where the rest of the folks were waiting, and socialized for a while. I drove Emma back to her dorm sometime between 3:30-4:00 AM.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ocean's Eleven

I've seen this movie before, but it had been a while. I watched both the commentaries on the film, one by the director and screenwriter, and the second by three of the actors. When it was all done, then I watched the movie. It was actually quite fascinating to see all three versions of it. It's really cool to hear commentary on why the movie was made this way or that way, or pointing out an inside joke about a scene. After seeing the commentaries, I watched the regular film, and I caught so much more. This is a very well-made movie, and it's also quite fun. There are a few dancers early on which kind of ruin a couple scenes, but the rest of the movie is great.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Concert, the picnic, and the rest of the weekend

On Saturday, I drove out to Front Royal fairly early in the morning. I was actually quite pleased with myself. I rose early, showered and put on my suit, packed for the weekend, and was out the door in plenty of time for me to casually drive to Front Royal and arrive there in time for choir practice. It was a nice feeling -- no rushing, no "Darn-it-I-should-have-gotten-up-earlier"s, and no speeding. I liked that feeling. I'll have to try being responsible (i.e., not lazy) more often!

Anyway, I met up with the Palestrina Choir and we practiced for about an hour-and-a-half. Practice didn't seem to go too terribly well, but some of us were still a bit groggy (myself included), and thus our voices were not quite ready to cooperate. Dr. P seemed to be a little bit on edge, because we were performing these pieces in a concert in just a few hours, and, although we had them down, we were still messing up here and there, and we didn't quite sound like a unified whole...

Anyway, after practice, I went to Mass, and then into the Commons. John E. had come down from PA for the weekend, so I chatted with him for a little while, and then at 12:30 PM, we loaded up the vans and drove out to Bethesda, MD. We arrived around 2 PM, and practiced in the church. Once again, it was not one of our best practices. Normally, a bad practice doesn't phase me too much, because it's just a practice, but we were cutting it close, and even I was getting a bit worried.

After the choir and schola practiced, Jacinta W. practiced on the organ until about 4 PM, and then confessions began. While she was practicing, the bulk of us went outside and enjoyed the weather. I went back inside and to confession when they began, and then I did my best to avoid the pictures. (Call me what you will, I'm rather self-conscious about the fact that I'm not very photogenic.) Then I went to their 5:00 PM Mass.

This Mass was definitely sub-par in quality to any of the Masses that I attend, whether at Christendom, St. John's, St. Rita's, St. Andrew's -- they've all got them beat hands down. These other parishes that I mentioned do things by the book, whereas this church seemed to be making much more of a show about the Mass than anything else. It was kind of disturbing (the four altar girls didn't help matters either). I spent most of the time thinking to myself, "Just walk out. Leave. They won't mind. Look at the people around me. If they don't mind the way that they are dressed and the way that they are acting, then they certainly won't mind if a properly dressed man leaves because he's offended." But I couldn't bring myself to do it. There was a tinge of reverence for what was happening, and that tinge was enough to make me stay -- but only barely...

Anyway, the choir was supposed to sing the Communion meditation, so I went upstairs with them. Just about that time, the soloist began singing. Sounds rather counter-productive, but it's true. We went upstairs to the choir loft, and then waited through an entire hymn. When it was over, we sang the chant Tantum Ergo, followed by Maurice Duruflé's composition of Tantum Ergo. The congregation looked so shocked that another musical sound was playing in the church, instead of a piano and soloist, and most of them turned around and looked up at us. I saw more than half of those looking at us inquisitively, and the rest were smiling. The people who didn't look up looked frozen, either because they hadn't heard real music like this in some time, or else because they were uncertain about what to do, say, or think. When we were finished, silence reigned for about a second, and then the priest concluded Mass.

Immediately after Mass, we went out a side door of the church, and formed a line to assume our positions. Our concert began immediately after Mass. The priest invited the congregation to stay and listen, but most of them fled (in their defense, the weather outside was simply magnificent). The concert was being offered as part of a Sacred Music series that the church was putting on. I think that we were the fourth choir on their list (they were offering a concert a week), but I could very well be wrong about that. Anyway, whatever the situation was, we arranged themselves in order, and said a quick prayer. We were introduced, and when we came out, we all did a genuflection towards the tabernacle before we began (fortunately, the tabernacle was in the middle of the sanctuary, and not hidden away).

The music we did consisted of the following:After this, Jacinta W. played her three organ pieces:After her three pieces, the choir got back up to finish the concert with:The concert went, in my humble opinion, extremely well. I only heard one glitch, and that was very minor and corrected immediately. But then again, I was so focused on singing my part and blending with the girls next to me (Bridget R. and Christine C.) that I was only watching my music and Dr. P. I also made frequent eye contact with JD, because he's a fellow bass who was standing right across from me, and eye cues are very important. It makes things much easier for me if I can see a fellow section member while I'm singing. Hearing is good, but seeing is a big plus, too.

After the concert, Paul, MC and I packed up the stuff and brought it out to the van. We left the church just before 8:00 PM, and made it back to Christendom just after 9:00 PM. That night, Coffee House was going on at Christendom, but I didn't go. I was a bit tired, so I went to JD's place for a while, where John E. and Breanna H. were, and Emma soon joined us. I was also rather hungry. I sing better on an empty stomach then when I'm full, so I hadn't eaten anything all day. I went to Giant and picked up a sandwich for me, Dr. Pepper for JD, and some Starburst for John. I also grabbed some Doritos, since they were priced 2-for-1. :)

Truth be told, I guess that it took a second trip for the Starburst -- I had completely forgotten about them when I went into the store the first time, and I was almost back to JD's when I remembered them, so I turned around and went back to the store. I'm so ridiculously forgetful sometimes.

After eating and visiting for a while, I drove Emma back to her dorm, and then went back to JD's where Josepha had just arrived. I was pretty tired, so I completely zonked out while she was there. I had no intention of being rude; my spirit was willing to visit, but my eyes said, "I think not..."

The next morning, I woke up to JD asking me if I was going to go to choir practice. It had already started, and I was late.

After choir practice and Mass, I went to LD's in town and had breakfast with JD, Josepha, John E., Brenna H. and another girl whom I should know, but cannot remember her name. We had a good time there, and then headed back to Christendom for the Palestrina choir practice. Following this, I went outside with Lizzie, Christine, and MC to play catch with a water bottle. We ended up having a bit of a water fight, because the cap on the bottle got loose and splashed all over some people. Out of all of us, I think Christine was the driest and Lizzie was the wettest. The poor girl had the worst luck when it came to catching the water bottle when the cap was the loosest. Nevertheless, it was still pretty funny. :)

I was invited to St. Theresa's dorm for an outdoor picnic in the afternoon, so at about 2:30 PM, I headed over there after changing from my suit into jeans and a T-shirt. There were a lot of people over there: Emma and Sarah F., Lizzie, Andy C., Andrew T., Beth F., MC, Laurel M. -- it was a rather large group of people. JD brought along Breanna H. and John E., and a few minutes later, Larry H. showed up as well, bringing the total up to about 18 people, I think. I helped out a little bit with what needed to be done, but for the most part I was there for the entertainment. Mrs. Mary Alice R. (a professor at Christendom, and a good friend of all of ours) came over for a little while and chatted with Laurel, Lizzie, Emma, and me. When the croquet game ended, the football throwing began, and Mrs. R. decided that it was a good time to make her exit before she got hit.

I joined in the tossing of the pigskin, even though I had the worst throwing arm out there -- yes, even more so than the girls. The group changed around a little bit, and it became a game of keep away, with MC being the piggy in the middle, and then eventually died out. I think it had pretty much reached the end of the game when MC and Andy C practiced their climbing on the back porch. Although they put up a gallant effort, they were pretty slow in climbing up the back porch to rescue the fair damsels in distress. I poked fun at them for that. As expected, they challenged me to do better and climb up. I told them that there was no way that I could do it -- I'm not strong enough to act like a monkey.

This ended, and somehow or another, it led to John and MC leaping over Lizzie and Emma where they were lying (completely unsuspecting) on the ground. Screams erupted from them as they saw the two men jump over them, and guffaws erupted from the guys. Then, JD and I joined the girls on the ground, and gave John and MC a bigger challenge (JD and I were on the ends), and they both cleared us just fine. It was highly amusing, although I'm sure that the guys got a bigger kick out of it than the girls. Anyway, it was getting to that point of the evening, so I headed back to the apartment. I wanted to get there before it got too late...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Catholic Relationship Survey

A friend of mine has asked for people to fill out a survey to assist her friend in the completion of her dissertation. Since I've got a few readers, I thought I'd pass the info along. Her blog address is http://dissertationsurvey.blogspot.com, and the survey link is http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=149393467057.

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)

I saw this Wagner opera last night with Dr. P., Tambi, Lizzie, and Emma. The character of Seigmund was played by Plácido Domingo, which made it all that much cooler for me. I was late to the Kennedy Center Opera House, so I missed all of Act 1, but I caught the last two. Overall, the opera was very good. I was very impressed by the cast. I kept hearing Looney Tunes themes in the opera, though, especially in the Valkyries battle cry...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Curious George

This was a very cute movie. I don't really know what else to say about it, aside from the fact that it was cute. :) The DVD I borrowed to watch it was rather scratched up, so I missed a little bit of it, but there was nothing that I couldn't figure out. I'd definitely recommend this movie to people of all ages. It's really cute and it had a lot of very innocent humor.

Makes me want a pet monkey...

Utopia (Atoll K)

This was Laurel and Hardy's last movie together. It had a few problems, but I don't really see why it was their last. Any fan of Laurel and Hardy could easily overlook the glitches in the film and laugh at it for the comedy that it is.

I say this, and it's only the second Laurel and Hardy movie that I've ever seen. This doesn't make me a big fan of theirs, but it makes me a big enough fan...

The Flying Deuces

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are the stars of this 1939 film. It's slapstick and it's quite good. I was expecting it to be a silent film, but I was definitely glad that it wasn't.

Perhaps it's just me, but I saw some very similar mannerisms from a certain Dr. W.H.M. from Christendom in the way that Hardy played with his tie when he was around the French lady that he was wooing...

Sunday and the Baptism

Well, little Kenny Jr. is no longer a catechumen (or innocent heathen, depending upon how you look at the situation). He was baptized yesterday, making him one of the youngest official members of the Church.

After Mass and Palestrina choir practice, JD, Justin, Emma and I went out to Jalisco's for a late lunch before the baptism at 3:45 PM. Emma and I hurried over to the church, and were there about ten minutes before the Baptism, so I helped Ken and Andy C. set up for it. Little Kenny was not too pleased with being bathed twice in one day, so he was a little cranky for the rest of the day...

After the Baptism, we were socializing in the foyer of the church. I saw both Ken's and Alaina's parents, whom I haven't seen in quite some time. At one point, I felt a hand playing with my hair to see how long it was. I snapped back quickly and grabbed it to catch the person in the act, only to be embarrassed by the fact that it was Alaina's mother. It was very embarrassing, but I think that she took it well.

All of us then went over to Ken and Alaina's house and had a bit of cake and more socializing to celebrate the newest addition to the Church. After a little while, Emma, Sarah and I took off. We went back to St. John's to pick up Sarah's car, and then Emma drove back to campus, where I got my car from M.C. After that, I met up with Sarah, Dane, and Pat & Laura S. at Jalisco's. The same waiter that served the table I was at the first time served us again.

After my second meal of the day at Jalisco's, I went back to the apartment, and to sleep.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bryan and Christina's wedding

I arrived in Front Royal about 12:45 PM, 15 minutes after when I meant to get there. The wedding was supposed to begin at 1:00 PM, so I was cutting it really close. However, it didn't actually begin until about 1:40 PM, so I actually had plenty of time. I was singing with Alaina and Kathy R. (formerly, Z.) for the wedding with Jacinta W. on the organ. I think it went over pretty well.

Rumor has it that Bryan and Christina missed the wedding rehearsal -- if that was the case, that would explain a few things, like why, at the presentation of the flowers to Our Lady, Christina went to Our Lady, but Bryan went to St. Joseph.

I booked it out of the church after Mass to get to the reception hall. As I passed the church, I saw the General Lee, which Mr. S. had rented for his son's wedding. It looked really sweet. I didn't see what happened, so I won't say for sure, but rumor has it that it didn't perform really well.

When I got to the reception hall, MikeE and Carissa helped me carry in all the equipment -- which I really appreciated, because otherwise I would have had to make multiple trips and it was raining outside, so if you guys are reading, Thank You!. We were some of the first people there. There was a CD going with some older swing. I fired up the computers, got them working with the sound system, and and began playing music
  • Otis Redding - Sitting On The Dock of A Bay (2:45)
  • Bing Crosby - True Love (3:03)
  • Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody (3:36)
  • Roger Williams - Autumn Leaves (3:03)
  • Simon & Garfunkel - Scarborough Fair/Canticle (3:10)
  • Turtles - So Happy Together (2:55)
  • Frankie Valli - You're Just Too Good To Be True (3:19)
  • Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer (5:10)
  • Mamas & Papas - California Dreaming (2:41)
  • Eagles - Hotel California (6:31)
  • Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (5:56)
By this point, the bridal party was there, and I was to announce them. I had prepared clips from songs that they wanted to enter. In order, the bridal party and their entrance themes:
  • Geoffrey S. and Anna C. - Tim McGraw - Last Dollar (Fly Away) (3:33)
  • Grant C. and Olivia S. - Strawberry Shortcake - Cuppycake (0:42)
  • Jamie S. and Logan H. - Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water (2:41)
  • Alex S. and Beth T. - Frank Miller's 300 - Returns A King, composed by Tyler Bates (0:54)
  • Nate S. and Angela H. - Kenny Chesney - She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy (3:21)
  • Ben S. and Erin M.E. - Vanilla Ice - Ice, Ice Baby (4:18)
  • Robert T. and Holly K. - Carl Orff - Camina Burana Cantiones Profane: O Fortuna (2:34)
  • Alex K. and Melissa M. - Shakira - La Tortura (ft. Alejandro Sanz) (3:36)
  • The best man, Richard S. and the maid of honor, Jessica R. - Will Smith - Miami (2:24)
  • The groom, Bryan Thomas Anthony S. and his new bride Christina Maria S. - Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child o' Mine (5:56)
I let their entrance theme play all the way through, and then launched into the dinner music.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - Tuesday's Gone (7:29)
  • Metallica - Turn The Page (6:06)
  • Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride (4:28)
  • Dropkick Murphys - The Gang's All Here (2:06)
  • Hank Snow - I've Been Everywhere (2:47)
  • Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire (2:37)
  • Alabama - Five O'clock 500 (3:38)
  • Montgomery Gentry - Speed (4:01)
  • Asleep At The Wheel - Hot Rod Lincoln (2:55)
  • John Denver - Country Roads (3:09)
  • Billy Dean - Thank God I'm A Country Boy (2:55)
  • John Michael Montgomery - Letters From Home (4:29)
  • Montgomery Gentry - I Ain't Got It All That Bad (f. Hank Williams, Jr.) (3:23)
The bride and her father's dance was to Es Mi Niña Bonita, and the bride and groom's first dance was Walt Disney's So This Is Love, from Cinderella. I followed that up with Walt Disney's Once Upon A Dream from Sleeping Beauty. At this point, DJ Insomniak from Miami took over and DJ'ed the rest of the dance, so in transition from me to him, I played Jennifer Lopez's If You Had My Love. Judging by the dancing, the people loved the music assortment -- DJ Insomniak played a lot of their requests and mixed in current Latino hits. It made for one heck of a party.

After the reception, I helped clean up, and then a few of us went to Ken and Alaina's house to sit around and talk. When I left there, it was close to midnight, and it was time to go to bed...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pascha

I arrived at Holy Transfiguration for the feast of Pascha just before 9:00 PM. Everything began at 10:00 PM. I brought the two pans of the pasta concoction, my apron (the white one that I got after Dad passed away), and my coat, because I heard it was going to be cold. I reviewed all the music, and was about as ready as I'd ever be.

The Hajmat began at 10:00 PM. It was chilly outside, but I wasn't going to let that get in the way. The people all gathered outside, and the priest read the Gospel proclaiming the resurrection of Christ. Then he knocked on the doors of the church, the doors were opened, and he went inside, followed by the clergy, acolytes, choir and congregation. Normally, I'm always taken in by seeing the church brightly lit up with all the lights swinging as a symbol of the earthquake and the Resurrection, but this time it didn't even occur to me. I was just in a hurry to return to the front of the church with the choir.

We burned through all the Orthros prayers for which I had prepared. I had not practiced them fast enough at all. I need to remember this, so that next year I will be able to keep up cleanly, instead of fumbling every other note...

After Liturgy, I got out of the church fairly quickly, grabbed my apron and headed straight into the kitchen. I spent a little bit of time preparing food for service or other small miscellaneous tasks, then more time cutting up ham, but the rest of the evening was spent doing dishes. I've very glad that I had my apron...

After the party was over and the cleanup was done, I drove Hugh back to his place. We arrived there at about 3:30 AM. I slept there in his guest room, and at 7:15 AM, I was awake, because at 7:30, I had to head out to go to Old St. Mary's to be at the 8:00 AM schola practice. Mass there was at 9:00 AM. I was glad to be there, because I got to sing all the chant pieces with a schola that I knew well before going to St. John's and singing them again with their new schola for the 12:30 PM Tridentine.

I arrived at St. John's in time to hear their choir sing Sicut Cervus during Communion for the 10:30 AM Mass. I was very impressed to hear it done outside of Christendom, and these guys also did not have the usual "church choir" sound. Being a bit biased, I would say that they are not on par with Christendom's choir, but they are definitely one of the best church choirs that I've ever heard. It also helps that they had Christendom choir members in the choir (Julianna K., Draper W., and Ryan O.), and that they were being conducted by a music professional, Julia A., who is going to C.U.A., I believe...

After that Mass, Draper and I got together and practiced the Gradual, Haec Dies. Fortunately, it was the second time that I'd sung it that day, so I wasn't too worried about it. When Draper and I actually sang it, I did make one mistake, but I caught it one note later and corrected it. Thank goodness for schola experience. The rest of Mass was pretty much normal, except that I also sang the Solemn Tone Regina Coeli for Communion.

After all this, I saw Ken and Alaina, as well as Theresa McG., who I haven't seen in quite a while. I then went to Christine C.'s house and met up with her, Michael, Emily, Lizzie, and Katherine to help prepare dinner. Jonathan D. and Dr. P. showed up later on, and we had a fun time, but then the toll of my liturgical triple header caught up with me, and I decided that now would be a good time to head back to the apartment. I swung by Sarah's long enough to wish her Happy Easter again (as well as Draper, Dane W. and Pat and Laura S.) and to pick up my leftovers from Holy Transfiguration.

Oh, and out of two large pans, about 1/3 of the concoction was left.

Have a most Happy and Blessed Pascha, everyone! Christ Is Risen! Christos Anesti! Christus Surrexit!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Great Saturday

I have been very busy today. I attended the morning Liturgy at Holy Transfiguration, which was the Vespers, Blessing the new light, Procession of Triumph, the first proclamation of the Resurrection, and Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the St. Basil. Essentially, it is the same service as what is the Easter Vigil in the West, but this service focuses more on death's realization that it the apparently simply Carpenter from Nazareth that it has taken in is no ordinary man, but is God. It bewails the loss of its power over those whom it has taken in, but has no choice except to surrender the Chosen to the Divine Son of God, while the Chosen rejoice in the triumph over death by God and their release from the captivity of Limbo to heaven.

After the morning Liturgy, I had brunch at Holy Transfiguration. After that, I took Hugh M. to the store to get some food, and then went back to the apartment.

I've spent a lot of time cooking for the Pascha celebration -- good old mac and cheese. I made it using a self-modified recipe given to me by Christine C. It's more of a casserole: a layer of farfalle on the bottom, layered over with slices of sharp cheddar, then a layer of shells, then a layer of mozzarella, then a layer of meat (bacon in one pan, ground beef in the other), then a layer of riccoli, then Colby Jack, then elbows, then alternating rows of extra sharp cheddar and muenster. Top that off with several pats of butter and a drizzling of milk on it, and a enough Parmesan to mostly cover the top, but not enough to permeate the whole thing. The style of layered noodles and cheese came from the original recipe. The end was just the result of my thinking, "What might be good?" I honestly have no idea how it tastes, because I've never made it before -- I just hope that someone likes it. I'll let you know how much is left...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Great Friday

Today at 3:00 PM, Holy Transfiguration had Vespers with the Descent from the Cross. This service consisted of Vespers, and towards the end of Vespers, the image of Christ that had been affixed with nails to the cross last night was removed and brought into the sanctuary. At least, I think that is what happened. I couldn't really tell because I was with the choir on the front left of the church, and this was happening on the front left. Unfortunately, I didn't get a clear view because the priests, deacon, acolytes and the tomb were all in my line of vision.

At the end of the service, there was a second procession, in which Father Joseph was under a small canopy carried by Father Ephraim and Father Charles, and he carried the gilt book of the Gospels. This was carried around the church and around the tomb, after which it was placed in the tomb. After this, the faithful came to the resting place and venerated the Word of God with the customary prostrations as they were able.

In the evening at 7:30, I attended the service of Matins and the burial of Jesus, or the Epitaphios Service. In this service, the focus is on Christ in the tomb, as the faithful look forward to His Resurrection. But until He rises, we continue the fast, abstinence and the solemnities.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Great Thursday

I attended the Vesperal Liturgy this morning at Holy Transfiguration. I've never been before. It was essentially Vespers with the Divine Liturgy immediately after. At the end, there was a little bit of bread, wine, and a dessert. The bread and wine were not consecrated, but they were blessed, with the dessert symbolizing the sweetness of the final victory.

In the evening was the Matins Service of the Twelve Gospels (or Passion Gospels or Crucifixion Service). I've attended this service before, and I'm caught up in the significance of the service every time, although sometimes more than others. The first time, I was really caught up in it, but I did admittedly spend a lot of time wondering how much longer the first Gospel was going to take. The second and third times, I knew how long the Gospels were, so I could concentrate more on what was being said, and actually listen to the Passion.

After the fifth Gospel, everyone prostrates and stays prostrated. During this time, the priest (and the rest of the altar party) walks around the church three times, and on the third time, they process up the center aisle towards a large wooden cross there, and an image of Our Lord is nailed there. All you hear is the sound of a procession, followed by the sound of a (small) hammer hitting (small) nails. You don't need to be familiar with the service at all to know what is going on. You just have to be Catholic.

This is easily one of the most beautiful services ever. It's long, but the twelve Gospels are read in such a way that they tell the entire story of the Passion of Christ as told by all the Evangelists. Simply beautiful, and if you've never been to this service before, it will bring a tear to your eye, unless your heart is made of ice. However, if it is, you've got other problems to worry about -- ice doesn't pump blood that well...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Great Wednesday

This evening, there was Presanctified Liturgy followed by the Anointing Service. I was uncertain about this service, because there were seven Epistle readings and seven Gospel readings before the Anointing Service. I wasn't really sure what to make of it, but eventually it all came together. Father Joseph explained a lot of it in his homily. Then it made sense: this is the service in which the faithful are anointed as Our Lord was in preparation for His Passion. We do this out of repentance for our sins. I'll need to study more about the service to be able to explain it better...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Palm Sunday weekend

On Friday evening, I went to Holy Transfiguration for the Presanctified Liturgy, and then drove out to Christendom. I got there just about 1:00 AM -- I would have driven there first thing in the morning, but I had to be there for choir practice at 9:00 AM, and I knew that I would never be able to get up on time, so I chose to go drive there and sleep in Front Royal instead.

Before practice, Michael and I practiced the gradual, Christus Factus Est. After that, choir practice went well -- at least, I thought it did, but I've been proven wrong many many times. We practiced the responses for the Passion Gospel by St. Luke, and then we were done.

After this, I had choir practice in town from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. It was with a different set of guys, some of whom I have sung alongside before. I think that one also went well. Draper and M.C. will be singing with that group on Easter as well, but they were unable to attend that practice.

After that, I went back to Christendom on my way out of town. I had to pick up some vestments to take to the dry cleaners. I only found one next to some directions, so I grabbed it and headed out. On my way there, I called the cleaners -- it's a good thing that I did, because they were closed, and they were all the way out in Arlington.

I then went to Vespers at Holy Transfiguration, and after that, went back to Front Royal, because of Palm Sunday -- I could not be late on Sunday, and if I slept at the apartment, I would do just that: be late on Palm Sunday.

That night, the guys went to sing at Bridget R.'s window for her birthday. Being a little paranoid about April Fool's Day, I checked to make sure that it actually was her birthday. I called TJ and Matt, and I also checked on Facebook. All three of them agreed that it was her birthday, so I took it that she wasn't trying to pull an early April Fool's Day joke on me and joined the guys to sing for her.

Palm Sunday Mass went well -- or, so I think. I guess that I should say that I don't remember anything bad about the music. There was only one spot that I recall sounding a little odd, but I don't think it was all that noticeable...

After Mass, I was invited to Sarah H.'s house for brunch, so I joined Christine, M.C., Emma, and J.D. at her place. Following this, we had to go back to campus for the Palestrina Choir practice.

Immediately after the Palestrina choir practice, I went to the gym, and TJ D. and Lisa H. once again went through the basics of dancing with me, while I acted like a monkey and generally fumbled through the entire lesson. I have such a hard time remembering dance moves, most especially how they start...

I then headed back to the apartment. Eric invited me to his place for WrestleMania 23, and this is one sporting event that I did not want to miss. Alex came along, and it looked like he was enjoying himself, even though he wasn't as much into wrestling as the rest of us were. I guess it's like me at a football game though. I'm there for the company and the fun times, not so much for the game.

We got back to the apartment about 11:30, and I went right to bed. I meant to get up early (like 6:00 AM) the next morning to go to the gym, but I was unable to. Call me lazy, but I was exhausted. I think it was all the sleeping on couches over the weekend...