30 April 2006

Political Losers

There are two political losers here in Italy: Silvio Berlusconi, the loser of the election, and Romano Prodi, the winner.

Berlusconi has been quoted as syaing "I have not and will not make any telephone call, because why should I give them good wishes?" Silvio, a classless act until the end, has refused to concede defeat in the election, and may likely never do so. What a loser. What a sore loser.

Romano Prodi, the head of the new government of Italy (by the slimmest margin imaginable: .01%) had votes in the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament today. His coalition has a workable majority in the Lower, but not the Upper House. And todays votes show a country that may never pull its head out of its ass. I'm still hopeful that Prodi can work some co-operation out of his coalition partners, but this is not an auspicious beginning. An auspicious beginning would have involved the coalition partners agreeing on something, anything. Anything at all.

No such luck.

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26 April 2006

April Baby Showers

Hey Friends,

BABY BOY!

I’ve been back in Italy from Canada for about a month. Which means I missed the birth of my nephew by about the same amount of time. Not the strongest planning on my part. The disappointment of not being there for the birth is commingled with the proudest pride in all of uncledom that I feel. And I have been enjoying the news and stories about my main little man Roan Grace Morgan Millar, from his proud parents- my brother Darren and his girlfriend Amber. That’s the awesomest thing for sure.



IMPROMPTU!

In other good news: Improv Theatre is finally coming to this ancient European capital. It’s certainly not escaped my notice that even though there is English language theatre and even English historicomical theatre here, there is no improvisation, or improvisers. So I’ve decided to create them.
In association with the English Theatre of Rome and my own Maxcap Enterprises I’m co-producing and leading a two weekend long beginners improv workshop in late May complete with a performance on the final night. I plan to take participants from raw beginners to neophyte amateurs, and hopefully build a little improv momentum here: coax some potential improvisers out of their shells, and more experienced improvisers out of the woodwork. I’m shooting for 15 participants, which seems achievable. If you know any English speakers who could use some (more) improv and live in Rome let them know, send them my email. Let’s get it started.

ISCHIA!

Last weekend Chiara and I went and spent the weekend on the island of Ischia, a fancy pants island, in a four star hotel.In the off-season, these hotels offer sweet package deals to pamper the guest. We enjoyed three great meals a day, pool time (with sunburn!), and some massages and island touring for bargain basement prices.
Unfortunately the day after we returned I went to work and realized that this summer is going to be hecticissimo. Tourism, which is never slow in Rome, is already up, and I expect a busy, sweaty, hot, dehydrated, farmer-tanned summer.

But please, come visit.

Hope all is well for you wherever you are. Keep doing it.

Ryan Millarone

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Clumsy

Today is a day off midweek. Fact is, the Pope is a tough act to compete with. Tours are for tourists, not pilgrims. Wednesday is the day il Papa rolls up the steps of St. Pete’s in his white Jeep and drops a message on the attendant throngs of eager "big C" Catholics.
I went last week for my first time. I admit I got swept up in the excitement and couldn't help adding my shout-outs of “POOOOOOPE!” to the polite applause when the Benny appeared before us. The experience was also coloured by witnessing it with a couple of friendly Catholic faces. One, a fellow tour guide, is a student at the private Opus Dei University here in Rome. His friend, Tara works at Vatican Radio. I asked her about the Pope’s iPod (yes he has one) and I got a little inside scoop (I blogged it about a month ago with a link to the article).
Anyway, it was neat, but religion tires me. And that, coupled with the fact that I couldn’t get a tour started last Wednesday meant I didn’t bother going to work today.

This gave me the day to get some things done, and check on the progress of my Italian: I visited the tailor, the bank, the hairdresser, the grocery store, and the watch repair shop.

Language Assessment: Communicable Italian, and marks for effort, but the result is a clumsy mangling of this beautiful lyrical language.

A sampling:
“I want to put here the money,” as I tried to deposit some cash into my bank account
“I like the hairs this long, but I want less,” describing my desired haircut to the stylist
“You make the ‘tailor’? Can you cut these?” To the tailor, asking him to hem my trousers.

However much I sounded like the caricature of "foreigner", I got all my tasks done. So it’s a solid D+. maybe even a D++.

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19 April 2006

Roma Independent Film Fest

What follows is an article I wrote about the Roma International Film Fest. I wrote it for my friend Howard, who was the press co-ordinator (or something) and wants me to get it published.

Ummmm. It's on my blog. Done.

Canadians Represent Rome Indy Film Fest


The Rome Independent Film Fest puts the emphasis on International. In only its fifth year it has a menu of 100 films from 70 different countries. The particular international flavour I’ve been missing whilst living here in Rome, has been that j’e ne sais quoi from my home country Canada. So it was for the Evento canadese last Friday April 7 that my Italian girlfriend and I made our first visit to the RIFF. Some notes about the RIFF: it seemed unorganized; anyone could just walk on into the theatre without a clue to what’s playing. Or people, like us, could walk in over half an hour early because the event was behind schedule. On the plus side, anyone could just walk in because the films are free. Also, people may have had trouble finding the theatre because the web site (www.riff.it) is difficult to navigate. We, however, made it Friday evening, only slightly early. We used the excess time to take advantage of the maple leaf lapel pins and beaver bookmarks on the banquet table.

Two Canadian films comprised the Evento canadese. The first, Between Midnight and the Roosters Crow, is Nadja Drosts exploration of a Canadian oil company’s complicity in social and environmental injustice in Ecuador. It may come as no surprise that the oil company, Encana, despite lip service to Corporate Social Responsibility, is actually a pack of exploitative dirtbags who care little about the Ecuadorian farmers. It certainly came as no surprise to me.

The lack of originality in the material is hardly a fault of the film-maker, but the films earnest tone delves into desperation at times. However, if you’re immune to the plight of those farmers you’re either heartless, an oil company executive, or most probably both. Though it doesn’t necessarily make for the most dynamic film, I didn’t hate watching it, and the DIY-style exposes the very real passion of the film makers.

The next film was The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico. This film is a pseudo documentary comprised of grainy concert, studio, and home movie footage, spliced with interviews with friends and country music stars who know the late, sad genius Guy Terrifico. Even Merle Haggard, who once punched Guy out in Nashville, is interviewed while recording music for a new Guy Terrifico tribute album.

The story follows in the Canadian mockumentary tradition of FUBAR in that it embraces the ridiculousness of its subject and - by treating it with honesty and pathos - creates an excellent film. It tells the story of the life (and hard times of) Guy Terrifico. A troubled man who follows his dream of being a country music superstar. Before he makes it big he wins the lottery and accelerates his self-destructive lifestyle, leading to his tragic “hump the drum” phase and ultimate demise. This class clown never really gets the chance to show the world how smart he really is, because before long he’s gone.

The events and flashbacks all flesh out the portrait of a troubled but talented musician, and showcase the talents of a gifted filmmaker. The film shows a confident auteur with a sensitive and wry vision. The deft hand of writer/director Michael Mabbot helps us appreciate the genius of Guy Terrifico. An achingly sweet portrait of “a real asshole.” Smart and funny with verisimilitude in the vicissitudes - and that’s what one wants in a mockumentary. Thanks also to Mabbot for setting Terrifico’s home base in Vancouver.

After the films I was ready to chase a handful of percocets with a fifth of whiskey and listen to some heartbreakingly beautiful country, but instead we managed to tag along to a RIFF dinner function for volunteers and guests of the festival. The night was a microcosm of what a film fest is about: both great and pretty good films, networking, inspiration, and slipping in the side door to be part of the action. Next year we can hope for better organization to showcase films, and at least one more free lunch.

Ryan Millar
rsmillar@gmail.com

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Stick em Up



My girlfriend is really the best. She returned home tonight with a WORLD CUP 2006 STICKER BOOK AND PACKS AND PACKS OF STICKERS. Nothing better suited to stoke my world Cup fever. I'm doing well on collecting stickers of the Australian national team, and other teams I don't care about. Plus I already have 2 Ruud van Nistelrooy. Other than that Pringles commercial where he juggled the Pringles tin, I don't have much time for that guy.

But I do have time for football stickers. It's like a trip down memory lane, only sooooooooo 2000 and 6!!

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Unlikely Ally


The AntiWar movement in the USA has some unlikely allies. The typically leftwing granola eating well-educated recyclers who actively stump for peace have been joined in Nashville by activists campaigning with a complementary message: that God (in whose name military action has been invoked) hates the USA !

Perhaps this is a clever slogan challenging the fundamentalist doctrine of President G.W. Bush?...
Naaah.

Reverend Fred Phelps and his Kansas congregation believe God hates the USA because the country condones homosexuality. To express his displeasure the Holy Creator has been blowing up American soldiers in Iraq, which arguably the omniscient Great One would know (being omniscient) is the best way to encourage regressive legislation and hate crimes, which apparently he endorses. It’s certainly endorsed by the Kansas parishioners who sport signs reading: Thank God for Dead Soldiers. Rev. Phelps has been making headlines (again) with his “congregation” of about seventy people whom are mostly relatives, supplemented by other like-minded folks. That is to say, other raging inbred bigots. They've been protesting to draw attention to their cause.

Sure their message is slightly convoluted (America went to war in Iraq so God would have a platform to punish not homosexuals themselves, but United States lawmakers?) It's tough to follow. But fortunately they’ve chosen high-profile venues to stage their protests.

Funerals of dead soldiers.

Now, I hate war in general and particularly I hate this unjust, profit-driven debacle of idiotic, narrow-minded, death-toll-raising-retardedness as much as the next granola eater. But dead soldiers + protesters of any sort is an equation that doesn’t add up to anything other than unspeakable cruelty i.e. something that Jesus definitely would not do.

However, Phelps and his family of fuckwits have been travelling to funerals of dead young men and women to promote the Good Word. That’s un-fucking-believable. I would argue that people who go to war are either stupid, ill-informed, blindly patriotic, desperate, na├»ve, have played too many first person shooters, or some combination of the above; but when somebody has died for something, well I think that’s about the time to try and convince somebody still living that they’re making a mistake, rather than trying to convince somebody who presumably has already realized, in that split-second their life flashed before their eyes, that they’ve made a mistake. And the families deserve peace.

If the Rev. Phelps can be considered a soldier in the Army of the Lord than I would certainly thank God for one dead soldier. You know who I'm thinking of.

And God, if you're listening, and Phelps has it all ass-backwards, as I suspect he does, to really drive the point home about how hate crimes in America are unacceptable, maybe you could raise cab fares in the Bahamas so American tourists will really feel the pinch and thus perhaps be more sensitive to alternative lifestyles when they return home from their holidays.

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18 April 2006

A New Wave

A big part of the party this weekend and for the whole Rome Independent Film Fest were Jason and Bruce. Writer/Director and Producer repectively of “A New Wave” a bank heist caper film that had its world premiere in Rome. These guys were awesome. I mean look at ‘em.





Sure we were well into running the RIFF closing gala with our hot drunken dance party, (as you can tell by the fact that both non-smokers are smoking) but you get the idea.

We charged through the party right to the finish line, powered by limoncello and sponsored by a hearty dose of Fitty Cent on the sound system.

Yes, in fact we did party like it was your birthday.

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Ironed Out



Creaseless Ben Kreukniet rolled into town from Amsterdam and we really had a great party this weekend. We didn’t get to play all that much chess, but we did get a classic fight-until-there-are-hardly-any-pieces-on-the-board game done over some tall icy jagrs at “Lancelot” a basement games bar in San Lorenzo.



For the record. I won. But in terms of who had the most fun this weekend I think it was a three way tie between him, me, and Chiara.

There are plenty of good times to be had when one just goes with the flow. That's Ben's philosophy and it was reinforced this weekend.

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New Phone

I got a new phone because I was tired of having a phone on which I can only send and receive phone calls. C’mon, a phones gotta be a camera too!

Actually, it’s a bit of a disappointment. Like any kid that wants a new toy really bad, then gets it and finds out it really was the anticipation that was the best thing.

However, I got some hot shots of the Colosseum. With my phone.




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17 April 2006

Baby

Here are the new parents




And this is why they're so happy.




It's pretty important to have more baby pictures up here. That's what us Uncles do

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16 April 2006

IT'S A BOY!

I'm an Uncle
!!!!

This morning, Saturday April 15th my nephew Roan Grace Morgan Millar was born in Victoria BC Canada. 10:16 BC time, weighing in at 8lbs 5oz this big beautiful baby is the coolest thing to happen in a long long time. Everything's different now, and better. My brother's so happy. I could hear him glowing on the phone.


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14 April 2006

Sad Season

The Canucks needed to win. They lost. Story of the season. Boo. Double boo. How can a team that's so good just end up sucking so bad. Speaking of the Canucks, but not sucking. I took Creaseless Ben out in Rome last night, and that was rad. We went to an American themed Bar/Pizzeria where we had some real Italian pizzas named after American sports teams. I had the Vancouver Canucks pizza obviously, which is tomato, mozzarella and pineapples. Oh it was good, sure. But in the end it tasted bitter, like defeat.

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12 April 2006

Hung Electorate

Italy voted. Almost all of Italy's 44 milion eligible voters voted. 83%. And they pored to the polls to announce their overwhelming preference for...both candidates.


69 year old incumbent Silvio Berluscioni's centre right coalition won about 50% of the votes.



66 year old Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition took the other 50%.





What a clusterfuck.


Romano Prodi has provisionally claimed victory in both the House and The Senate. Based on his slim majority he has control of both House and Senate with many more seats (particularly in the more powerful Senate) than his rival. Berlusconi has alternately offered a unilateral coalition where everybody can govern together as one big happy centre-left-right coalition with 100% of the votes. Or threatened to declare the results invalid.

The irony is Berlusconi rammed through legislation in the last couple of months to give whomever has the slimmest of majorities a mandate. He did this, of course, because he liked the job of Prime Minister and thought this would be the one way he could hold onto it. He has been, as they used to say, hoisted by his own petard. Prodi and co. have accused Berlusconi of "falsifying reality" and being a big crybaby loser.

Now comes the difficult part. Even if Prodi gets to hold on to his very slim majority and keep his coalition together he is inheriting a country that is deeply deeply fucked. Not only does Italy have an economy with zero growth, huge public program expenses, and an aging population, they are also mired in tradition. They do not take kindly to change, especially if that change involves lifestyle sacrifice and, heaven forbid, innovation. Prodi, if he wants to save Italy from ever increased fuckedness will need to make some unpopular decisions. These could prove unpopular. And unpopularity is anathema to the politician.

At any rate, nobody will really do anything for the next little while as the clusterfuck of the election is sorted out. A whole lot of back and forth is to be expected, with Berlusconi using his stranglehold on Italian media to paint himself in a sympathetic light, and portray Prodi as the man who wants to take wealth out of the pockets of ordinary Italians. And maybe even call him a cheater. As Italy tries to decide who won, Italians will be the real losers. The incompetent government they barely voted out cripples any real progress that can be made.

Allegations of election tampering may be made. But how could that be possible? I mean they used American election technology. Oh wait. That America? Democracy's most spectacular car crash exported their election technology? Who would buy that shit? Yup it's true: Berlusconi did. Hoping the American vote-rigging system could provide him a very slim majority that would allow him to govern (thanks to the legislation he recently forced through). Only something went wrong. With the cheating.

Forgive me for not feeling sorry for anyone but the Italian people and the expats who have to live here.

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11 April 2006

This Week

Stuff in this week:

Creaseless Ben, the Dutch good time party machine is coming to Rome for

Easter. Things are a little nuts in the Vatican this week, because Easter is Important here in the heart of Catholicism.

Chiara and I are going on a vacation next weekend...TO A SPA HOTEL THING! Off the coast of Naples. relaxation, swimming hydromassage and fullforce bourgeousie pampering. Thank Discounts it's the off-season.

Rome International film fest is in town this week. Which means I should write an article on the Canadian event Chiara and I went to where we saw the life and hard times of Guy Terrifico. It was sweet, but I don't want to give away all my article content, which mostly relates to how and why the movie was sweet, and the funness of hanging out with film fest attendees. Colour us "hanger ons."

vancouver canucks: bad + losers. AS Roma: awesome + winners maybe making Champions League.


And finally the awesomest of all THERE IS A NEW BABY MILLAR COMING. (of whom I will be Uncle, not Father). Any day now.... awesome awesome awesome!!!!

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07 April 2006

Last Class

I'm done with the English teaching. Today we studied the simple past first class, with the really noisy kids, then proceeded to spend time singing "Imagine" by John Lennon. The kids love to sing, and Imagine is an easy enough song to sing, with simple and powerful lyrics. One of the classes was a little disappointed initially because they were keen on McCartney. And no, I don't mean Paul. I mean Jesse, his son.

Clearly I'm getting old. Who the fuck is Jesse McCartney?

Anyway, overcoming that initial disappointment we really enjoyed the two classes of Imagining a world of peace.

Between these classes I finished watching Robin Hood: Principe i Ladri with one of my other classes. Fortunately class finished before "Everything I Do, I Do For You."

And now I'm done. i'm gonna miss those kids and their friendship. And especially the hero worship and little crushes.

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06 April 2006

The Biggest Dickhead


South Africa’s Mail & Guardian carries this item:

”Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was accused on Tuesday of dragging his country's already raucous general election campaign into the gutter when he declared that those who voted against him would be "dickheads". Speaking to journalists about the expected outcome of the election, Berlusconi said: "I have too much respect for the Italians to think there are that many dickheads around who'd vote against their own interests."

from: newsdissector.org

I can't believe this guy. I really can't believe this guy. A dickhead who votes against Berlusconi is my kind of dickhead.

P.S. The Italian word he used is actually "coglione" which means balls, but I like the Mail & Guardians translation. There's a show going on tonight at one of my favorite clubs in Rome called "Siamo Tutti C*glione" (we're all dickheads). We'll find out on Monday if there's enough dickheads here to turf Il Cavaliere and his rightwing coalition out on their rich, corrupt, well-padded asses.

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02 April 2006

Oh Brother

I couldn't believe it...the Canucks playing an afternoon game! That meant I could stay up and listen to the game on internet radio. Listen to them get crushed 6-2. After opening the scoring. Jesus.
What sad fuckers. It's amazing how excitement can turn to disappointment so quickly. It only took 12 seconds in the frist period for the Canucks to go from winning 1-0 to being down 2 to 1. And they were behind all the rest of the game. I'm going to bed.
I would've at least enjoyed a hockey game instead of a blowout.

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