23 May 2005

Roman (Working) Holiday

So today was day 1. The tour outfit that hired me on is Three Millennia. I spent all day at St. Peters Basilica first watching a tour, then wandering around trying to construct my own in my head.
The good news :

There is tonnes of interesting things to talk about.

It's busy, ie. full of potential clients

There are performance rewards: ie. tips and comissions for sales and extra charm

The Bad News

There's all kinds of dates and facts and Clementine This and Sixtus That to know. Barberini hired Bernini to do this, and Alexander hired Maderno to do that in 16this, but it was originally Rafael or some other blah blahand wasn't finished until 16that. And those are just the names I remember, believe me there are plenty I don't. So many famous guys, so many last names ending in vowels, so much history. And the dates. Also the dates.

By busy and full of potential clients I mean I've gotta go hump up a cold call on people heading to the Basilica. Me and all the other English tour vultures out there. There is etiquette and protocol to be followed, and the new guy certainly doesnt want to make any enemies.

Speaking of enemies, the other bad news is it is somewhat illegal. Apparently all you get is a slap on the wrist if you are caught trying to hock a tour, but still you don't want to be fingered and have the attention of the man drawn to you, constantly clocking you. The attention you need, of course, is that of the clients. However there are uniformed and plainclothed officers patrolling the area between Piazza Risurgemento and St. Peters Square. One must exercise due care to elude. It's kind of like a video game Accumulate as many clients as you can without being caught by the officer. If you're caught, start back at zero. Later in the day. Or another day. And I'm not sure how many lives you have. But of course they can't deport this EU Citizen. Or can they?

Anyway I'm heading back for more immersion tomorrow. Im putting together a decent tour, though it may be a little lite. I will of course add to it, subtract from it, and really work on 2 things. One, the jokes. Tasteful, respectful, witty comments about the uniforms of the Swiss Guards and the hubris of the artists. And two, the line i'll cast at the end about tips. So that I get them. In between the jokes and before the tips bit i'll load up on facts.
As it is the beginning, i am optimistic. Im honing my busking skills, a stand up slash story telling routine and the fine art of interpersonal sales. It should be fine. Don't worry.


20 May 2005

Rags or Riches?

So I had another job interview this morning. in Campo di Fiori, al centro. A famous square (find me one that isn't!) with a pricy produce market. For a tour guiding outfit. Unlicensed, but seemingly reputable, they offer a job giving free tours, working on (shudder) comission. It's certainly better than nothing (well, possibly). But I would be giving a free tour of the Vatican, working for tips, and then offering people the paid tour that afternoon or evening. By offering, I mean selling. Those who take the paid tour put some money in my pantalone. I'm not sure i've got the job, i've been remarkably uncharismatic and down at all my job interviews thus far. I think it's the heat, the pollution and the fact I don't have a job yet. I know boo hoo, it's only been two weeks. But my shallow wells of wealth are drying up rapidly. So rapidly in fact that i've got eurosigns in my eyes at the thought of working for comission. But hell, watch a few tours, poach a few bits, strike up a little patter and strike it rich. Allegedly the money can be quite good, if people take the tour, and if they feel sufficiently grateful or shamed into tipping. It just remains to be seen if I get the job, and then if I can handle hocking my wares outside the Vatican. To which those who know me would reply. Um, yeah Ryan, I think so.
So that's another phone call to wait on.
Meanwhile, let's play ping-pong on the porch.
Si? A presto...


17 May 2005

Find The Goose

I don't think it's too soon to talk about this, but it may be...

So without going into aaaaallllll the details, some of The Boys had organized a send-off for me a couple nights nigh departure in Vancouver. I had no idea what to expect, knowing only that Geordie and Brad were in charge, which left me a little worried, but certainly excited for an adventure of some sort. When i got to Brad's we had a glass of scotch and relaxed. Then Geordie and Jamie showed up, and i was politely asked to strip naked. Then i was given a choice of two pills. Yes, like Neo. Only I was instructed to put mine up my ass. Much more futuristic, i think. This i did. Then i was tied up and blindfolded. Fortunately the blindfold was redundant because Brad instructed me to wear my glasses, not my contacts, and so when those were taken away i was already pretty fucking blind. and vulnerable. and scared. and cold (except for the sweet salubrious scotch).
Then i was carried out of the door and down the stairs (hitting my head only once), and thrown into the backseat of Geordie's car, where i languished to the rocking thrums of Canadian rock for the better part of an hour.
Then i was hauled out of the car, by my friends, who had now devised a syatem for doing so. Then i sat on a wooden dock. I could tell it was a dock because of the seasaltiness of the air and I could hear the knocking of a boat. I had earlier had insider information that i was going to be taken to Grey Rocks Island, home of Captain Lucas Brontz, but for the sake of a good story* It was then that I realized I was going to Grey Rocks.

In the distance I could hear some chanting and rythmic thumping. The chant sounded like "Bind the Moose! Stump the Moose!" But it was too muffled to clearly make it out. After being unceremoniously tossed (gently) into the boat I enjoyed the cold seabreeze for a few long moments, as the cryptic chant also confronted my ears.

When I arrived on the island I was hoisted onto the shoulders of some bodies belonging to familiar voices. I was then carried to the cold deck and laid down, while secret planning happened. A circle happened around me, I was still trussed up. Every person in turn came and smacked a cold wet dirty hand on me (imprinting me with a clay handprint I later learned) and said something nice and something not nice. A humbling and sweet part of the celebration, as I acknowledged yes I have flirted with Ryan Beil's mom (only a little) and yes, I do overact a bit for the camera. But also there's good things about me too, it's nice to be appreciated.

After this I was finally free of my bonds and the blindfold was removed. Of course due to my remarkably poor eyesight, I was still unable to see. Then my mission was announced : "Find the goose, confront the goose." Now it all made sense. Sort of.

I did find the geese. Stumbling in the dark. And no they weren't geese shaped planter with a bottle of champagne inside. Or some sort of goose-puzzle for me to find. These were real live angry geese and I was blindly squinting trying to figure out what they were doing. My lack of vision was compensated by the fact I could just follow the hissing. Finally after nearly getting stabbed in the face with a goose beak, we called that part of the evening quits and enjoyed some mantime half naked by the fire smoking joints and drinking beer.

There was a solid crew of good friends and we enjoyed a party well into the evening hours before driving home to the smooth haunting sounds of Canada's own Tragically Hip, Day for Night.


13 May 2005


Last night was, though i admit it rather bashfully, my first real visit to the gay bar. A hip, sensitive guy like myself, who shares more in common with the fags on queer eye than the shmucks really should be partying there more often, i know. Especially when there's the prospect of watching hot girl-on-girl action in their natural habitat, but it just hadn't really come down the pipe. There had been talk in Amsterdam of going to The Cockring, but really everyone was just more interested in getting their picture taken with the giant ring out front. At least, that's the way it was withmy circle of friends.

But last night Chiara's friend Luca and his housemate Marco took us to Gloss, deep in the party district of Rome. because Luca knows the bouncer, we were able to slip in sans-cover charge. However once inside we realized it was a little quiet. I expected more craziness from the gaybar, as i'd built it up in my narrow little mind to be a hotbed of pink-shirted hedonism. I was disappointed. However shortly thereafter the drag show started, hosted by a handsome queen with a razorsharp tongue. She took a liking to this Australian guy who was there visiting and tried to wow him with her English. These comments were the part of the show that i understood, and i was gratefully for the hot Aussies attendance. She then introduced the Mystery Guest- a truly scary looking woman doing an impression of a haggard old Italian singer. Apparently the impression was spot on, however the queen was truly creepy with an almost dinosaurlike face and a tendency to exagerate her already exagerated features.
A hilarious novelty act, but the kind of main course that leaves you with a stomach ache. As Luca said later, I'm not going to sleep tonight.


12 May 2005

One week

So i've been here a week and this motherfucker still hasn't found a damn job. I mean, despite the fact that my Italian is crappy and the city is enormous and full of Italians, my near-irrepresible positive outlook had me firmly convinced that i'd be sitting in the lap of luxury almost immediately upon arrival. By lap of luxury i mean at the head of a walking tour or the front of an ESL class.
However, though this hasn't materialized, all is not lost, there are emails up in prospective employers inboxes as i write this.
As i write this i'm not far off from my first job interview, which because i don't want to jinx it, will not yet be spoken of.

I arrived safe and sound, with even time for a stopover in Olde London Towne. Time enough for some afternoon pints on the Thames with everyones favorite, David Frederick Symonds. My flight had certainly left me parched, so i was happy for the company and whistlewetters.
Speaking of whistle-wetting, I watched Sideways on the flight over. This is a movie i was hellbent on seeing, so i was thinking i had good fortune. The problem was that all the swearwords had been overdubbed. The overdubbing job was decent, however, just noticeable enough to draw me right out of the film. And the content created a whole other layer of pathos than that on display in the movie.

Eg. I'm gonna get you loved. Instead of i'm gonna get you laid. Enough said (or unsaid).

You don't know squid. C'mon, please.

and of course: You just wanted to fool me first! Instead of fuck me first. Obviously.

I guess they did this so kids wouldn't be exposed to the filthy language in the unexpurgated version of the movie, but why kids would watch a movie about two sad middle-aged men in the throes of mid life crises over cartoons, i'll never know.
Here's why i'll never know: they never would. cartoons win, every time. And if its not cartoons well then a rerun of The Fresh Prince also trumps 2 old guys sniffing wine.

I however would've really enjoyed the movie, if it hadn't been all chopped up.

This rant probably also has to do with the fact that i didn't sleep a wink on that flight.

I did however, get knocked the fuck out on my flight from London to Rome, because daytime pints after a sleepless transcontinental flight put me in the mood for zees.