Friday, December 23, 2005

The Forefeast of Nativity

The Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord begins on December 20. From now on, most of the liturgical hymns will be concerned with the birth of the Savior.

From the 20th to the 23rd we sing the Troparion (Tone 4) "Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all. Adorn yourself O Ephratha, for the Tree of Life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave. Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the fruit divine; if we eat of it we shall live forever and not die like Adam. Christ is coming to restore the image which He made in the beginning."

We also sing the Kontaion (Tone 3) "Today the Virgin comes to the cave where she will give birth past understanding to the Word from all eternity. Rejoice, O universe, when the tidings are proclaimed. Glorify, with the angels and shepherds, the one Who chose to be manifest as a newborn Child, while remaining the eternal God."

At Compline on this fourth day of the prefeast of the Nativity (at Ode Five of the Canon) we sing, "Let us purify our minds, washing ourselves with the divine Mysteries; let us draw near in soul and body to Bethlehem, that we may behold the fearful dispensation of the birth of the Lord."

Taken from OCA.ORG

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Vietnam Delight

Last night after Paraclesis we met up with Sara's dad and sister for dinner. Earlier in the evening we had mentioned going to a Greek spot for some falafel, and this set my appetite hungering for such delights. So, service ended (Which BTW is such a beautiful and refreshing service) and we scurried out to our little car anticipating nourishment. Sara rang her father while I drove merrily down the road. As I listened in to her conversation and slowly deciphered the message, great disappointment set in. The message paraphrased in my mind read like this, "No falafel, pita, or tahini tonight...instead you will eat noodles in hot water."

With great sorrow and frustration we drove past the beloved Greek spot, our faces pressed to the glass in longing, and instead pulled up to the Vietnamese establishment PHO 99. Now I consider myself to be rather open-minded and even a bit adventurous when it comes to exotic and ethnic foods, but for some reason or other Vietnamese fare has always slipped under the radar. I simply had no real interest in it, and I have no idea why. All I know is we were at PHO 99 and I clearly did not want to be.

We walked in the door of the restaurant and were greeted by a warm halogen glow with neon highlights. Purple Vinyl booths enclosed the room filled with faux marble formica tables and small wooden chairs. The black carpet was a nice anchor to semi-wild aesthetic. A young vietnamese man with randomly placed highlights in his hair quickly came over with ice water...ice water with lime (Nice touch).

At this point I was beginning to calm down a bit, if it wasn't Greek, at least it was interesting. To be honest, standard Greek fare can grow a bit dull with time. With my reservations waning and Basil happily drumming out a standard 1-2 beat with his chopsticks, I opened the menu to see what we were in for.

Pho (rhymes with duh) is a traditional Vietnamese noodley soup of sorts. Like curry it comes in 700 varieties each with its own nuance. Judging by the menu at PHO 99 they are 1/7 of the way to having every conceivable version. Pho with rice noodles, vermicelli, big noodles, small noodles, they had no shortage of noodles. Pho with beef, pork, fish, shrimp, and tofu. When I say beef and pork I'm not simply referring to hamburger. This was a veritable "pick yer part", and the combinations were endless.

I nervously chose the shrimp pho (Pho Tom). I say nervously because shrimp can often be hit or miss as far as quality is concerned. If shrimp is overly "shrimpy" then it's a simple problem of less than fresh shell fish(yuck). Before the pho showed up our hip Vietnamese water boy brought out a plate with a large cutting of fresh basil; a pile of bean sprouts; freshly sliced jalapeno; and a quartered lime. Next came the pho. Which is a very simple presentation composed of broth, noodles, white onions, green onions, cilantro, and shrimp. All the doctoring is up to the eater, a concept that I love!

So, I grabbed a couple limes, several basil leaves, some hoisin sauce, and a gave topped it off with Sri Acha (red chili sauce with garlic). With chopsticks in my left hand and a soup spoon in my right(asian style) I was ready to eat. I lifted the first ladle of broth to my mouth and slurped the hot liquid in spraying my pallette with delightful sweet, spicy, and sour. Next, a chop stick that felt more like a large talon sunk it prongs into a shrimp strangled by about a foot of noodles. The texture was amazing and the shrimp tasted nearly perfect. The cold that I had at the beginning of the meal by the end had run off screaming in terror. My sinuses were clear and my brow was covered in a light mist of perspiration. I felt like a kung-fu champion...seriously.

So, the next dusty strip mall you pass that has the Pho going on, do yourself a favor and stop in for some love.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Memory Eternal!

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the repose of blessed Father Alexander Schmemmann. May his memory be eternal!

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Short to the Bread...and how i never win anything.

Podcast: Eat Feed
Prize: Tin of Walker's Shortbread
Big Winner: See for yourself

The Nativity Feast will be a crunchy one.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005


It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts. Yet now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks, with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ.

-Dorothy Day

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Ad Banner of the Day

Good day children of the revolution! I want to introduce a new and regular feature on the Munkee, Ad Banner of the Day. So let's get started with today's Ad Banner of the Day:

Army Helmet Sweatband

Nice one right? Okay, feel free to share your own.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Out of the mouths of babes...

Last night in the car on the way to Paraclesis I had NPR playing. As we neared St. Barnabas they were airing a speech from Bush who was talking about victory being on the horizon in Iraq. Yeah. At the end of the speech two-year-old Basil who was listening quietly from the comfort of his car seat piped up, "He's a mean man." This was a moment of both great surprise and hilarity, so it was difficult to hold the back the immense laughter gathered behind our lips. Surprise because Sara and I have never spoken to Basil about the President or really anything political (he is two after all). Hilarity, well because it's funny you dolt!

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