29 May 2006

Cirque du Soleil

Was amazing. We saw Allegria. Cirque du Soleil has always mved me to near tears. This was no exception.
A beautiful panoply of arts costume music acrobatics and the whole shebanf, all rolled up in the whole ball of wax and taken the whole nine yards.


Improv Show!

Finished my workshop yesterday and then last night an actual improv show starring the workshop participants and hosted by me. It was unfuckingbelievable!! Truly theatre magic. The show wrapped up in just under two hours (including intermission) but the audience, including many friends and family, but also about one quarter regular English Theatre of Rome supporters, were cheering for more. Time flies when you're having fun. It certainly flew for us on stage as well.
Everybody stepped up into their roles, attacked the games, created solid scene work.
I have seen improv shows with people who consider themselves "improvisers" that weren't half as good as these people. These raw rookies. Of seven only 2 had any experience with improv before. Ever.

As you can imagine I'm feeling quite proud and happy. I was thrilled to be able to get these workshops going, and then as we were trying to get participants I was worried that the workshop wouldn't fly.
But the workshops flew, and the participants all learned alot, and then displayed all that and then some last night.

I was so excited that I couldn't sleep for god knows how many hours after I got home. I really felt like I was on some heavy stimulants, and I guess I was, adrenaline, pride and the excitement of possibility.
Only melatonin and the tranquil soothing playstation could get me to finally nod off.


25 May 2006

Toilet Science

This was in our hostel in Reggio Emilia.

If you can see here, from the support bar, and low-on-the-side-flusher, this is a handicapped bathroom. With no toilet. Apparently a wheelchair-bound cripple who can't walk will be able to squat over a hole in the ground to defecate. A medical miracle.
Or that place really doesn't care about the shitting needs of handicapped people.


23 May 2006

Reggio Emilia

...is perfect.
It's a little like Italian Pleasantville, but more genuine. Reggio Emilia is a 40 minute train ride from Bologna, and right smack dab in the heart of the "Red Belt." Left wing politics rules the day and in addition to being the birthplace of Parmesan cheese it also birthed the cutting edge Reggio philosophy of early childhood education.
Chiara and I went up to meet up with one of the key North American practitioners of the Reggio philosophy and all aorund great lady, Mary Hartzell. We had fanastic dinner with her and a great time exploring the town. We saw the building that gave us the Italian flag.

We also saw the opera house and their big ass park and lots of happy well-adjusted people. Of every colour of the rainbow. Tonnes of immigrants in the city and they all seemed legally gainfully employed, integrated and pregnant. Actually everybody was pregnant, not just immigrants.
Everybody was so helpful and pleasant, the streets were so clean, that I started to get nervous. A little weirded out by the whole affair.
In the end I was won over: Reggio is a great, arts focused left-leaning centre of innovation. With great cheese.


Improv Observations Day 2

Day 2 of my improv workshop was better of course. We moved on, got up on our feet doing scenes. BUt they weren't very good. And fair enough, they're raw rookies, and they're certainly held back by conditioned inhibitions, but still progress being made. However the lateral movement of awareness doesn't overnight translate into brilliant improvisation. However I have seen enough from a couple students to prepare me to give them the tap afterwards and coax them to do some more. I've scouted some prospects in other words. Additionally I still think we can put together a decent enough show. One with a few laughs during and some proud feelings afterwards.


21 May 2006

Improv Observations

After the first day of my improv workshop i'm riding a high: we had lots of fun, made alot of progress with some raw rookies and are well on our way to being able to internalize and reflect the tenets of improvsiation theatre. Then make a kickass show next Sunday. The thing that threw me the most today was how turned inside out everybody seemed as they tried to mentally grasp improv. Improv makes sense to other parts of us other than our intellectual self. It aids my observations that I just read "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, certainly. But I saw firsthand people confronting the confusion of having a body and mind that wants to make story and agreement happen on stage, but a brain that craves it to make more, greater, sense, and an ego that wants to hide the sensitive parts. It creates some tension, and midway through hour four most people actually seemed to have their head tilted a little to the side as if looking at the room skewed could make everything else going on seem more right.


World Cup Upset

I don't know what's gonna happen in this years Mondiale. It's anybodies game. Sure Brazils the favorite, but Ronaldo is fat, Ronaldinho is only ok, Cafu is like 50 and so on and so forth. Who knows whaich dark horse could come in and rock the boat.
And the season is ripe for upsets. F'r'instance Canada's U-20 men's team dealt brazil's a 2-1 loss in a friendly. Sure it has no actual bearing on the World Cup, but it makes this Canadian hyped for the World Cup of Surprises.
Canada better at football than Brazil


19 May 2006

Workin' It

After much hoping and stressing it's happening. My improv workshop begins tomorrow morning here in Rome. Somewhat gainful artful employment, teaching keen raw beginners the sweet art of make-'em-up follies. I've been psyched on it for awhile but now that it's happening I'm a little nervous about meeting the other follks. It's like the first day of school all over again. And i'm the new kid and the teacher.
However the nerves'll settle once we start fucking around. which will be immediately.


17 May 2006

30 degrees

It's supposed to be 30 degrees celsius tomorrw.
C'mon weather, it's only May. This is ridiculous.


Unsurprising Soccer Scandal

Last week saw the surfacing of allegations that Juventus, among other teams were involved in influencing referee appointments in Serie A. Luciano Moggi the director general and Managing Director Antonio Giaraudo as well as the whole board of Juventus and Franco Carraro the head of the Italian Football Federation. Moggi who's been suspected, or known, to be a Machiavellian up-to-no-good-behind-the-scenes sleazeball asked reporters at his first public statement not to ask him any more questions. "My soul can't bear it," he said. "It's been killed." My heart too, bleeds bright red blood for this poor, maligned victim.

The allegations against Juventus and Moggi include not just colluding on referee assignments: they are also being investigated for what we call kidnapping. The occasion where a referee and two linesmen were trapped in a locker room at the end of a game in which Reggina beat Juventus in November 2004 may not have just been the case of a lost key. It's called gangland punishment. A threat and a warning. Anyway if the allegations should be proven the teams investigated (Lazio, Fiorentina, AC Milan and Juventus could all be moved out of Serie A, thus giving AS Roma a spot in the Champions League.

But the real scandal here is that this country allows this activity to carry on for so long. Juventus has been suspected of machinations for many many years, but nothing has happened until now. But it's not surprising in this country that has strong underworld, off-the-book, business economy, a passion for the sport of football, and a code of honour that only tangentially involves law-obeyance as a virtue, that this could happen.

I also hope this doesn't hurt the Azzuri chances in the World Cup.


16 May 2006

Going Dutch

I must have given a good tour today. I got a tip. From some Dutch people. And, forgive my stereotyping, but the Dutch are cheap, that's why it's called "going Dutch" when you go on a date but don't pay for your date's dinner or movie ticket, or bar tab. And these two Dutch guys tipped me. I don't mean to make a big deal about it, but it sure made me proud. That's a hallmark of success.


12 May 2006

Sticker Book Update

Let it be known that my WorldCup 2006 Sticker book is coming along very nicely. I've got a little under half of the stickers I need. But I've been going to different newspaper stands around town buying stickers so I don't get Philip Cocu or Josip Stoko again.
At any rate, I've got all of Ghana.Team photo, players, and logo. What do you got?



Tom Tomorrow

Thanks Tom Tomorrow for summing up the problem with America, and using a shit sandwich metaphor


11 May 2006

New Presidente

Italy's very popular president Carlo Ciampi declined to stand for the presidency again. He would've been a shoo-in, because he's so damn lovable, but he was just too old. The guy's 85. And the Presidency is a seven year term. Do the math. 85 is an alright age for retirement, but 92 seems to be just a wee bit over the hill. Check the photo of him te4lling that spring chicken Papa Ratzinger how it is.

So the elected a new president yesterday. Giorgio Napolitano. Age: 80.

This country really struggles for many reasons, one I think we can identify from this situation: being stuck in the past. Napolitano seems like a good choice, he's a little left wing and an upright guy. Problem is he's 80 fucking years old!

You want me to believe there's no respectable politician in this country under the age when most people move into assisted care living? No. There are, it's just Italy is mired in tradition and deference for seniority. Respect your elders and all that is useful, but at a certain point, oh say 80 years of age, it becomes moot.
Even the Catholic Church (which is a real old guys club) won't let Cardinals over the age of 80 elect the new Pope.
Granted, Italy has longest life expectancy next to Japan, but come on. I mean seriously, come on.


07 May 2006


Some of the raddest street art here in Rome
is courtesy of the stencil artist Sten.

These are only a couple samples of his work that's he got up all over town.
Especially in the hip Commercial drive-y San Lorenzo area.

There's also some sweet quirky characters lurking around:

This guy lurks behind the public phone near the "Green Bar" I go to near Vatican City.

This goblin is right across the street from the Colosseum

I really dig the street art here in Rome, the characters and people populating the streets, though there's also a fair amount of shitty tagging. Maybe they should get the Sheriff on the problem.

He's around. Maybe he can clean up the streets.


06 May 2006


Umm, I'm not sure what the scoop is here. Cops are supposed to be authoritative, but Segways, while cool technology, were certainly comical well before the feckless Gob Bluth appropriated it, and made the Segway more laughable than ever.

For the record, I still can't wait to try one. But I wouldn't want to chase a mugger in one.


05 May 2006

Crisis Averted

SO i've got tickets to the World Cup. Awesome! Brazil vs. Croatia. The unawesome news is that those tickets are in Vancouver Canada. And I'm not. At my old apartment.
But I managed to get in touch with the courier company and got some old fashioned friendly helpful Canadian service: the first woman was curious how I ended up in Italy from Vancouver. The next guy wanted to know who my pick was for the World Cup. He agreed that Brazil Croatia was a good choice, because South american games don't end 0-0.

And to boot, they're re-routing those precious tickets back to a place where they can end up in my mitts, so I can see the game when I go to Germany.

Good news. (though I don't have the tickets in my hands yet, the optimismeter has inched up some points).


02 May 2006


Just to give you an idea of how loosy-goosy these Italians are with the parking. My girlfriend, who is the least Romanic of drivers I know, still finds it convenient to park on the sidewalk.


Teaching Lessons

I'ma teacher again. I guess a private tutor really.
A friend of a friend is going on a sabbatical of sorts and is foisting some clients onto me. It seemed like an alright plan, something to break up the tour guiding routine, and hopefully I can pry a little Italian out of these people, whose age range is from 14 to 60, and hopefully spend a little more time with some real Italians. I guess I should be more grateful for more work, but I'm kinda "mm" about the whole thing. However as long as they don't ask why there's a piece missing in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel I should enjoy my working holiday from the very, very, very busy Vatican.