30 November 2005

Smokers Cough

It's been about a year since i've been a regular smoker, so why do I have this nagging smokers cough? I think it's this city. Traffic. Pollution. Chaos. It reminds me, "Vancouver BC you got some beautiful trees..." Rome, not so much.
Which is why I figure i've been holding this nasty incessant cough for almost two weeks now. We'll hope it's that and not croup. It's almost enough to make a guy start smoking again; at least then I can suck in the pollution I want: sweet sweet nicotine. Though I can't think it'll help the cough.

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28 November 2005

Siena

Chiara and I went to Siena for the weekend. Siena is a totally sweet little medieval town. Home of the pretty-world-famous Palio, where contrade (districts) race horses in the square. It's a hundreds of years old big deal. Districts like the Ostrich compete against the Gryphon and the Caterpillar and stuff. I've never been, but I bet it's hot shit.
It's also less likely to be raining in July. As opposed to late Novemeber when we went. However we still squeezed out a good visit, including Saturday night dinner with two friends from there. Girls that we knew in Amsterdam. Their Englishisn't very good but the shoe was on the other foot as I struggled with my Italian and missed all the subtle jokes.
But it was, most of all, nice to get away, and ncie to see some of the boot, and nice to see some friends. The puddles don't matter much in a hilly town, as long as you don't stand at the bottom.

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23 November 2005

I'm not the best teacher...

Today was, all-in, a lowlight as far as teaching is concerned.

Class 1: No regular teacher. Signora Marguerita Ricerca was going to bring in Cat Stevens "Father and Son," I had the words printed out we would follow along and have a limited conversation about parenting, letting go, growing up yadda yadda. No teacher. Ryan's 8am brain paralyzed with slow confusion. I hand out the papers, and read the words aloud anyway. Tonelessly, joylessly, with little explanation. Not much is going on, entertainment or educationwise, so I switch up tactics: I unhelpfully draw two stick figures on the chalkboard and label them "Father" and "Son." The son is shorter and dad has male-pattern baldness, like my own dad. But of course the best way to tell them apart is the labels. In English. There it is! Education! Well, no, not really. So then I try to talk about Cat Stevens conversion to Islam and his well publicized run in with airport authorities. "Do you think the man who wrote 'Father and Son' could be a terrorist?" I ask. No response. You could hear the energy leak out of the class like it was a bike tire.

I also draw a picture of a stickgirl with bone straight hair labelled "daughter," and a curly haired triangle dress wearing mother. Class still leaking. Gender equality and diversity dealt another blow. Conservative family values given a crude stick-figure vote of support.

Class. Failing. Badly.

So, I sat down and did nothing.

What was to be done in that situation? Not so much a rhetorical question as a very pressing one for which I had no answer.

So I continued to do nothing. For a few more minutes. Then, mercy of mercies, somebody asked me about Thanksgiving. So I explained it as best I could. A harvest festival dinner we eat with Indians, I said. Also now teaching revisionist history. I also drew a turkey. What can I say? I was on a roll.

Class 2: Again, no teacher. I handed out a gruelling 100 word assignment on Canada and threw chalk at a child. Not hard, but also not necessary.

Class 3: Yet again, no teacher. The worst. I left before the bell because the kids were so uncontrollable. I sulked out of the room. Earlier on I had told them: "I know this stuff you guys," in my best ingratiating, buddy-buddy, substitute teacher voice, "I'm not doing this for me."
A new low.

Class 4: With teacher. Alright. The kids moderately well behaved with a stronger grasp of English. But they always are better behaved and more engaged. At any rate 1 out of 4 is actually not a very good ratio. Next week I'll fight any kid who talks out of turn and not do any more worse-than-useless narrow-minded chalk drawings.

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22 November 2005

One of Those Days

Been feeling sniffly and under the weather. A grating dry cough and a bitter winter chill. I'm trying to stave off the cold by doing a little christmas shopping. On the agenda is also winter clothes. Because, though i'm Canadian, it's fucking cold over here. See earlier rant on this blog in about July complaining about the heat, and exactly reverse it. Thanks.

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18 November 2005

Rapped!

I have a friend who is known by all as DJ John. A decent guy from LA, semi permanently living here in Rome. Makes his living as a dj (hence "DJ John") and tour guiding (hence how we know each other). We were chatting the other night and of course DJ plus rapper doesn't always equal Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince buuuuut: we made plans to meet in his studio and make some beautiful music together.

So last night we hit the studio. He made some beats and I made some rhymes. I’m not sure the music was homogenously beautiful; a train wreck here, stumbled words there, but man was it nice to feel some creative juices flow. I was nervous at first what am I gonna say? But I got over it in a hurry because once it hits your lips...
I dug getting on the mic. I missed it. Between buying the new skateboard and freestyling again it's like i'm having a late 20's crisis. I hear when you hit forty guys buy a sports car or something and try and be youthful again. Kinda like i'm going through that phase a little early. But the truth is: it's alot of fun. And i miss being creative. Tour guiding, as my friend Kaya said, isn't production; it's reproduction. It's nice to make some production. Even if they're wobbly, occasionally repetitive, freestyles.



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13 November 2005

Italy vs. Netherlands

Man, I love the Dutch football team, and hate on the Italians. BUt that's changing, and how. The Italians undressed the Dutch to win in their friendly last night by a comfortable 3 to 1 margin. The Italians were creative and disciplined and, well, way better. I'm glad I moved to Italy and got out of Holland and their shitty football team. Except, let it be said, for Kuyt, a striker who impressed me with his creative play. He looked threatening everytime he touched the ball. Also Vennegoor of Hesselink impressed me with his long last name- Vennegoor of Hesselink- and the way they fit it onto his jersey. Other than that though, it was really all Italy. Time for me to get a tight eurojersey and a ludicrously over the top haircut and climb onto the bandwagon in time for World Cup 2006. Viva Italia.

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Skateboarding Like the Good Old Days

I went skateboarding today. Just for a little while. It reminded me of skateboarding oh say fifteen years ago in two ways: One is was really fun. Crisp november sunshine, greasy wheels and me splashing around, not accomplishing much but having fun. Good clean wholesome fun. Two: people looked at me like I was an alien. I guess they don't have Tony Hawk Pro Skater in this country or something. Danny Way can huck a huge 360 over the Great Wall of China, but here in Pietralata (my neighborhood) they remain blithely unaware of the recreational possibilities of a four-wheeled plank. I guess that's why it's called the old world.

*****Update******

Skateboarding those few days ago, in the sun, alone, getting sweaty. Pushing around ollieing a little, it reminded me how much I enjoy skateboarding. So I bought myself a new deck. It's been proper 5 years or more since i've had a crisp deck beneath my feet. Not that it makes a huge difference when one is just rolling to the bus stop, but I forgot how good it feels. So I bought a new one. Not a good deal, but a sacrifice worth making. I think of Tony Hawk still skating at, what is he, 40 now? And I realize that it's not so crazy. I suppose you could make the case that he's really fucking good and a pioneer and the emperor of a multimedia skateboarding empire so it makes all kinds of sense for him to continue, but who's gonna stop me? Not you, surely.

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10 November 2005

Also Teaching High School

I've also been teaching some high school English classes. You may have noticed how poor the high school teachers grasp of English is. I have. Also: they're not really feeling the Millar. The kids do, we generally have what I like to call "rapport". But the teachers don't really feel me. Part of it is probably resentment of my awesome English: what can I say? my English is mega-bitchin', I can fuckin' dance syntaxperfect English circles around their halting pidgin' shit, but touting that is like making fun of handicapped people: a pretty dick thing to do. It's not cool to brag about things you can take for granted is it? No. So I won't, but it has been posited that the old guard doesn't totally appreciate a slack ass giovanni straniero coming in to show off his fancy English.

The other reason they don't like me is because not only do I speak English and not much Italian, I really don't understand how to rock the class Italian style. It's a weird, i'd go so far as to say "foreign," culture. The kids stand up when the teacher enters the room and address them as "professoressa." They live in fear of getting their name put down in the class ledger. This exceedingly polite decorum based protocol is mitigated by a low-level continuous disinterestedness, a kind of perpetual whisper in the areas of the class that aren't being directly talked to. Having no idea and no plan and no experience teaching english I just haphazardly wing those motherfuckers, which I suppose doesn't endear me to the teachers. However it works. Or it has so far. One class has just recent acquired alot of Todd Bertuzzi fans, having mentioned him as a great hockey player and having an Italian last name. Not only that but they dig Todd Bertuzzi in English.

I have determined that I likely log some time on the conversationometer in the staff room but hopefully dogged persistence, some cultural sensitivity and the fact that next week I will arrive on time should smooth things over.

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07 November 2005

Babysitting Director Tutor

Today is the day of my first English/Theatre class. It's for 30 kids aged 6 to 12. How the fuck is it going to work? Good question. Soemthing i've learned in living here inItaly is that Italians speak on average 0% English. Maybe "Bye-bye" is the standard and entirety of their english. How they're going to learn English in a group of thirty I don't know. I can't think much will get accomplished. On the other hand theatre wise me and my coleader plus 30 kids equals (this is a guess) close to 5% productivity theatre wise.

In other news I've worked with kids before of varying ages. The developmental similarities between a six year old and a twelve year old are not great. Hmmm. I think we'll dance alot.

*****UPDATE*****

We danced alot.

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02 November 2005

These Fucking Leeches!!

Hey?
Does anybody read this shit I write? Or just mindless internet zombies (or internet trolling programs) that post thoughtful comments like:

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I will pay $10 - $50 hour to work at home using your computer. No boss, set your own hours, easy work, start making money today!

Come and check it out if you get time :-)


Thanks Silver Fox!! I'm glad you like it. I will never visit your site you fucking leech.

or good ol' Willie B.:

Willie B. said...
I enjoyed your post, it was quite interesting and insightful. I have a related site that focuses on manage depression you may like too. It pretty much covers manage depression related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)


or this guy (sounding strangely like Willie B.:

I have a high school science projects site. It pretty much covers high school science projects related stuff?!? I have a related site that focuses on manage depression you may like too. It pretty much covers manage depression related stuff!?!
Really? Fuck you.

You'd think from my anger that this was the first time I discovered that people exploit and use the internet for personal gain, and that they're ruining my bleeding heart-art, my blog that I work so hard on. The answer to the first question is no, to the second yes.

Oh spam, why do you spam me so?


....the good news is I've just discovered how to delete any comments that relate to highway construction projects, big profits or penises or any of that other shit. I will now randomly delete spam comments, though some I will leave- on the off-chance that someone reading this may be interested in sites that "pretty much cover related stuff."
If you are interested: "surf on over. :-)"
These Fucking leeches! geez.

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Canada...America's Hat!

Hey Canada and Friends,

Just want to send out a Happy Hallowe'en message, I hope all had fun in the pumpkin patch last night.Here the festivities were a little subdued, though I managed to partake in a little costume watching at an Irish pub here in town. The highlight of the night may have been the scooter trip to the farside of Porta Maggiore for a delicious custom-made turkey burger from the gourmet no-frills van. The wrong side of the tracks yes, but tasting so right...

In other good news, Chiara is defending her thesis and then graduating next week, and we're all pretty happy to be clearing the thesis and the attendant stress off the radar. She's already started a job at SKY TV working in the archives. In a not unrelated development we may soon be getting satellite TV, at which point I will in all likelihood become a frequent nocturnal hockey watcher, daylight be damned.

Last week I began teaching English once a week as the madre lingua inglese substitute in an Italian high school. Kids are the same all over, only just a little more rambunctious and noisy here in Italy. It's not too bad. It's also imoprtant I think to have a native English speaker converse with the kids; i'm not saying their regular teachers speak poor English, but let's just say they don't exactly light up the classroom with clear, error-free English. On the other hand, their knowledge of grammar rules far outstrips mine. Anyway, I get to go once a week and speak slowly about hockey, music, and video games and I'm not complaining. And if I do, I do it sloooowly.

The other upshot is that I get to practice a little Italian with the kids. It helps to not just sheepishly order a coffee with a hopeful smile on my face. In the class I get to shout "Silenzio!" or "Basta!" in a commanding voice. Sometimes they quiet down, but regardless it bolsters my confidence with the language.

The tour guiding is slowing down so it's nice to have some other things to keep me busy.

In other news I'm starting to sniff around in the mid-distant future at some grad school ideas. Something in Sustainable Urban Design Management... or at least a program that has one of those words in the title. Probably. Just preliminary sniffing, mind, but sniffing.

So that's it really. The novelty of this place has long since worn off, but the familiarity of the routines and patterns is comforting. It's a big big city, but I'm making my way.



Ciao a tutti

Ryan Fonzarelli

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Digital Age

I just got Chiara a digital camera for her graduation. It's a C+ probably. Decent enough. And once I figure out how to size images properly I will be able to post real images of real stuff that I've seen, as it appears to me and my girlfriends camera.

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01 November 2005

Black Birds

I came out of Termini Station today near five o'clock heading to Italian class, and up in the sky over Piazza Cinquecento (500 Square) were what must have been thousands of blackbirds. Maybe starlings, maybe some other bird easily identifiable to the casual birdwatcher, yours truly usually not included. The point is: it was a spectacular flocking of flocks. Dipping, swishing, and congregating, and doing only they collectively know what. The timing of it reminded me of the Vancouver to Burnaby migration of the crows every evening in Vancouver.
A blackcloudy sky on a graycloudy day.

News: This was recently on the news. Nobody in Vanocouver covers the flight of the crows, while here the black birds get a whole segment. Slow news day, or comprehensive coverage of current events?

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