30 September 2005

White Night

Notte Bianco- September 22nd.

Something I don't miss about Canada is the total lack of co-ordinated cultural events. It seems everywhere in Europe has at least one big all night culture party a year, Amsterdam has two. Rome has just one. In September. And it rains alot and hard intermittently throughout the whole night, but it still is fantastic to see that it can happen.
The evening began with Roberto Benigni doing comedy based on Dante's Divine Comedy on the Campodoglio. The place was wicked crowded, but of course it would be, with Benigni doing hilarious historical comedy in the historical centre.

Chiara and I got into the action around 11pm with Chiara's brother and girlfriend


28 September 2005

Today's a nice one

Today was a good day. Starting with the hilarious midaventure at the colosseum and being followed up by a full day of aimless wandering through streets side streets museums churches cafes and shops. Just solo drifting. this is what good a day off can do.


27 September 2005


Italians are notorious for their flashy sense of style. You haven't seen extravagant style till you've seen Italian daily wear. They lpull it off though; they look well put-together. It's a part of their culture: appearances and style are almost more important than what's behind. Not in a shallow way, but this concerns "flair" and presentation. The worst thing you can do in Italy is pull a brutta figura (literally: ugly figure, like the frenglish word faux pas). Or not treat somebody respectfully, with the deference they've earned through age or social position. This sense of presentation of image is related to an anglophiliac dress style as well. Very hip here in Italy is clothes with English writing on them, because English is the global business language, and english movies and music are everywhere, though most Italians can speak only very little english. Perhaps because of this Englishness is a hot commodity. In clothing this is most often manifest as sweatshirts with Britain or England written on them, with Union Jacks of various sizes and shapes. But something else is coming up, style-mavens, check the hottest nuova moda: Canada.

Canadian flags or the word Canada on garments that have obviously never set foot anywhere near Canada is awesome. Big getting bigger. I told one guy wearing one that I liked his shirt, that I was from Canada and had actually seen beavers and he had no fucking idea what I was talking about. I had to point at his shirt and say Canada and then he got it and laughed nervously. He didn't know shit about Canada, which is embarassing. But the point is for him and tonnes of other English-loving Italians Canada has cultural cachet. I've even seen a zipper sweatshirt, like a warm-up jersey, with the words "NOVA SCOTIA" on the back. Nova! Scotia! motherfuckers!! I almost bought a long sleeve shirt with Vancouver Canada and a canoe paddle on the front! In fact, I've been tempted to build a whole wardrobe of faux Canada gear, but that seems a bit excessive. I wear my Canadianness on my inside.


26 September 2005

The Rally

Saturday September 24th 2005 saw a huge antiwar protest in Washington DC and a small one here in Rome across from the American Embassy. I was at the one in Rome. It was a real success for the relatively new US Citizens for Peace and Justice group, of which I am a member. At times the Carabinieri stationed in front of the US Embassy outnumbered the protesters but we were in the end about 200 strong. Certainly a few dozen more than the "dozens of protesters" mentioned on cnn.com. However getting mentioned on cnn as well as getting onto French and Italian TV was certainly encouraging. One of the general thrusts of the protest, besides the obvious peace message, was for passers by to critcally examine their news media. It seems, on the surface anyway, to have been widely reported on, in conjunction with the big protest in Washington DC. In Europe at least. We can only hope this reflects a growing anti-war sentiment. Let's fight the good fight. Fuck Bush- "Worst President Ever" indeed


16 September 2005


My coffee ritual in Canada (when I would drink the bean juice) usually involved sitting around drinking a whole bunch of drip coffee with like minds. Then when I was working in cafes I would sometimes make myself a frothy double caramel/vanilla latte between strawberry whip-its.

Coffee's different here:

No matter where in the city you are you can get a tremendous cup of coffee (espresso) for about sixty cents. Not fancy, just the best fucking coffee you can imagine. And you don't need to sit around dragging the experience out, you just rock your coffee pronto, and hit the road.

Though Italians are not the most efficient people, they can get a coffee done quickly and properly. That's just one of the things they taught me.


10 September 2005

Romulus Tours

So tour guiding is a finicky industry. The unregulated English speaking tours can really be given by anyone who's capable of saying "Would you like a free tour?" Then as long as they can sell these people on another tour, they can make a living. There is no quality control and no regulations, which is why there are so many illegal (ish) tour guiding outfits here in Rome.

Plus one more.

Introducing Romulus Tours. Romulus the most famous brother killer since Cain slew Abel has spawned another unregulated tour industry upstart. Courtesy of me.

I've always hated working for the man. But in this most recent instance that man was just a hyperdefensive guy who offered very little in the way of support, but was happy to take the profits from my hard work (What Marx would call my "surplus labour.") But because the tour guiding industry here really has very little in terms of overhead (printing costs for flyers, maybe a website) he really didn't have much in the way of "Means of Production" to lord over me.

So I'm printing my own business cards and starting up another fledgling enterprise I may or may not be around to see to fruition (See MaxCap Comedy Enterprises). But the important thing is I get to be my own boss, which means I'm gonna get a huge fucking raise, and sweet perks. Coffeemaker for the office, staff outing to a soccer game tomorrow. You bet I'm gonna treat myself well, because I'm the only employee I've got. And I know hard workers like me are hard to find. I'd hate to lose me.


07 September 2005


Oh, Amsterdam, we missed you.

Time in Amsterdam was outstanding, we had a fine apartment with a mini dvd player to enjoy cinema classics such as Groundhog Day, Roman Holiday, and the Three Amigos. We also went out. Including back-to-back-to-back nights at Boom Chicago. It was even better than I had expected. Firstly, there were plenty of familiar friendly faces, secondly, not much had changed (or the more they changed, the more they stayed the same), also the comedy calibre was still whipcrackingly good. But it was nice to go back to Amsterdam over a year after my international exchange, and still feel like everybody knows your name (or at least kinda recognizes your face)

Also, I got back on the Boom Chicago stage.
First on Thursday for the Improv Jam, when any old person can get up and do a make-em-up for their equally drunk friends. It's not a great Boom! show, but good improv fun for whomever wants to play.

I played a few games and it felt good, to feel the cold comforting steel of improv comedy in my hand once again. And wield it like a weapon. Unfortunately everything was upstaged by a woman we shall call Raffaella. This deeply disturbed young woman suffering from severe dissociation from reality plus Tourette's plus general craziness came on for a couple games and really tilted all our heads sideways. Of course it took a while to realize she was crazy, at first she just seems like a bad improviser, or maybe nervous, or just has a bad perverted sense of humour. But by the time she snuck up on stage for the second time, the starkness of her madness was apparent to all. Probably coinciding with the time she announced "I want the ugly nigger!" or maybe it only hit home with the "I had an abortion" line, apropros of nothing.
Yes actually, it was awkward. Quite.

But it also gave us all something to talk about after.

In other news the rest of Amsterdam was all-star awesome. We had good times with some school-like chums from years past: Creaseless Ben, Ria, Silvia, Jesse, Jackie Treehorn and the like.

All in all it was an excellent reunion of Chiara and I with that fair city and erstwhile home. It reassured us as well that if we made our way back to Amsterdam for some living, we could still enjoy that towns total radness. From old friends to boat rides, improv to joint smoking, a possible masters degree, plus the lekkerness of their fritjes, we could certainly do worse.


Koeln, Colonia, Koln or Cologne

...anyway you spell it it's an alright city. Chiara and I arrived after an overnight sleeper train. Man, that was awesome. I guess, not so much for most people, but i felt like a 'tween at a slumber party! Neat little beds! Sheet-type sleeping bags! Went to bed with the rocking rhythm of the train and woke up in Cologne. Like they did in the good old days.

We had only one day there in Cologne, but i turns out that was enough. Saw the Dom (Big Church), climbed its' (big) tower. Went to the chocolate factory (yes, it's real), and then rode some bikes on the Rhein. We went to a sculpture park, which is just a big park with big outdoor sculptures in it, it was great. I know the essence of storytelling is details, but there's none here. You know, not everything here is gonna be gold, rich in descriptive imagery. That could be helped by a generous portion of modifiers and enriched detail of happenings, but won't be. It's my blog, so i lays it down however I wants.