30 August 2006

Tattoo

I got a new tattoo. It was fun going under the gun again. As soon as I get a new camera, i'll take a picture of it.

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AS Roma Canucks

Last Saturday night Chiara and I spent in the mountains of Umbria at her fathers mountain house. A little town called Ospedaletto with one store, a bar, and two little churches. However, we didn't hanmg out in town at all, because we were celebrating Chiara's little sister Giulia's 8th birthday. And whatta party. Cakes and tarts and chips and Coca-Cola and the other vacationers on the street, we partied from midafternoon until midevening.

Fortunately everything wrapped up early in the evening because there was something else I was quite excited for that Saturday (as if the birthday weren't enough). It was the Italian Supercup of Football featuring the only 2 high performing teams from last season not tainted by scandal: AS Roma (my team) and Inter Milan. Known simply as "Inter," or "The Milan team not owned by that skeevy piece of shit Berlusconi." It promised to be a high calibre match with both sides fielding plenty of World Cup talent; for Roma: heroic but still not fully fit Francesco Totti, promising but overly elbowsmashing Daniele De Rossi and consistent Simone Perrotta all Italian nationals. For Inter: awesome Argentine striker Hernan Crespo, mediocre-but-thinks-he's-awesome Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Brazilian horse-like attacker Adriano, French midfield lynchpin Patrick Vieira and Portuguese talisman and former European player of the year Luis Figo, plus Italian diving instructor and semi-final game-winning goalscorer Fabio Grosso and centreback headbutt target Marco Materazzi (who also scored two key goals, let's not forget).

Plenty of strong players on both sides, but certainly Roma went into the game the underdog. I knew this, and was appropriately nervous as the living room was cleared for my fan centre, the little tiny TV tuned into RAI 1. Nobody could've (or did) predict the explosiveness of Roma's attack in the first half, they came out strong and confident, pulsing forward on the attack and were rewarded in the 13th minute with a goal from the always delightful Mancini, then TWO MORE within 11 minutes from second stringer (now first string?) Alberto Aquilani.

Holy Shit! What an upset, going into the half underdog Roma was leading 3-0. That's too good to be true. And Patrick Vieira scored just before the halftime whistle meaning Roma was leading 3-1. Things were looking good.

Until they started playing football again. Roma just got worse, and Inter got better. Final score 4-3. Roma narrowly able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And people wonder how I can be a big Roma tifoso after living here for only a year and a half. Well, I have experience with supporting these types of hometown teams. I refer specifically to the Vancouver Canucks who spent the last NHL season battling for first in their division. Only to miss the playoffs. Entirely. As in they didn't even finish eighth. My god, what an implosion. Much like my AS Roma managed to do in one night. For the SuperCup. They call it the Super Cup. We had it, and we lost it. *sigh*

It was the source of much smugness in the mountains that night. Those who cared not about the game would've been begrudgingly congratulatory had Roma won and I was happy contented themselves with a smug sympathy. However the season is young, and Roma had 34 minutes of awesome football, in which Totti did next to nothing. If they can beef it up to 60 minutes, and Totti does something (anything) we might scrape a win out of it.

Look out Champions League, we're just gonna get better.


Right?

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28 August 2006

TOPSY TURVY TIMES

**This article was written for Tiscali Europe on July 21st. Seeing how I'm writing a new calicopoli article, I thought i'd include this one for reference. Any inaccuracies result from subsequent backpedalling on the rulings. Apologies for the late posting, though really I answer to no one here.

For Italian football this year has truly been the best of times, and the worst of times. And the drama continues. The scandal and allegations of match fixing in Italy's premier league, Serie A certainly qualify as the worst of times. In fact, those allegations and questions plagued the Italian team in the build-up to, and the early matches of, this year's World Cup in Germany. Questions at early press conferences there focused on the sports tribunal taking place in Rome, relegating the onfield play in Germany to an afterthought. Of course, as Italy recovered from an early stutter against Team USA to show a remarkable cohesiveness, focus, and will to win, the onfield play became the story again. And with Italy's dramatic penalty shootout victory over France in the World Cup finals, the dream came true. What had hardly seemed imaginable leading up to the World Cup had manifest itself as Italy not just playing well, but winning the Jules Rimet trophy against rivals France, whom they lost to in the EURO 2000 final. The fact that it came to penalty kicks, which Italy had engaged in three times before, and been three times disappointed made it that much sweeter. So it is indeed 'the best of times.'



However, as the heady excitement of the World Cup glory ebbed, the decisions of the sports tribunal were announced; in fact it came just 120 hours after Grosso stroked home the winning penalty kick. The news is not good, not for the fans, the clubs implicated, or Italian football in general. Juventus, the club at the centre of the scandal, around whom rumours of cheating have swirled for years, was the hardest hit. Relegated to Serie B with a 30 point penalty as well as bans for former general manager Luciano Moggi and ex chief executive Antonio Giraudo of 5 years each, the maximum allowable. The exodus of top talent from the team has already begun, and will continue.



Fiorentina, who finished fourth this year, just ahead of AS Roma, will finds themselves not in the Champions League, but relegated to Serie B with a 12 point deduction and a 3.5 year and 4 year ban for their President and honorary president respectively.



Lazio has been relegated to Serie B with a 7 point deduction and a three year ban for their president.



AC Milan, the team of Silvio Berlusconi was not relegated, but penalised with a 15 point deduction for next year as well as a 1 year ban for their Vice President Adriano Galliani.



All of these sentences are provisional and pending appeal, but time is not on the side of the clubs, as FIGC, the Italian Football Federation must hand in the names of the clubs they are entering into the Champions League and the UEFA cup by July 25. All four clubs deny the allegations.



Already Barcelona has claimed defenders Zambrotta and Thuram from Juventus, who played each other in the World Cup Final. Wednesday saw Brazilian midfielder Emerson, and Italian national team captain Fabio Cannavaro reach agreements with Real Madrid. Thirteen of Italian's World Cup Winners play for the four penalized teams and so far three are gone, and many more are expected to depart for other top flight teams. Media in England are slobbering at the chance to claim some of Italians champions for their sides.



In the end the corruption and match fixing rife in Serie A have been dealt with severely. The pleas for amnesty have fallen on deaf ears. We can now only hope that the fallout of these "worst of times" will be that the image and substance of Serie A will be cleaned up and restored. But there's no question that it will take a long while for Italy's football reputation to be rebuilt on the national stage. Except… wait, these are also "the best of times" and Italy, as World Cup winners, can take comfort in the fact that their football has shown itself the best in the world. Let's hope that image is the lasting one. And the football this year in Serie A, and Serie B, is played with fairness, dignity and passion.

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Bye Bye Pluto


This is a belated farewell to Pluto, who was drummed out of galactic planetary status last week by a bunch of asshole scientists who determined that its lack of "dominance" in its orbit warranted downgrading it from planet, to "nothing, really." The International Astronomers Union just bequeathed a financial windfall to textbook publishers, and made kids and high school teachers sad and wistful. If Pluto had retained its planet status, it's likely that that would've warranted the inclusion of a bunch of other junk in the Milky Way, giving us a solar system of some 50 planets. In the end one less planet to memorize, so much the better. But for me, Pluto will always remain the tiny, icy, useless pseudo-planet that's really really far away and inconsequential, but a planet nonetheless.

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24 August 2006

Comeuppance


Adesso, il mio cellulare non funzione. Non si serve nessuno. Va funcolo, borseggiatore.

My cellular phone gone but not forgotten. It's since been blocked by the phone company: if I can't use it, nobody can.

I will continue to imagine that it was blocked to teach the criminals some sort of "crime doesn't pay lesson." Maybe now they will go straight and give up their life of crime, and maybe invent something really useful, or follow their dream to be a back-up dancer, or what have you.

But you and I both know, that I did it because I'm a vindictive prick, and I hate those assholes, wherever they are.

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21 August 2006

Humble Pie

I try on just about every tour to warn people about the pickpockets in this city, whom are many and effective. Not to make them paranoid but just to be aware. It's a problem in this city, and every guide book will warn you, but still, it happens.

Yesterday, I had a 10:00am tour. I left the house a little after 9:00. Running late, I rushed out of the door, quicly locking our giant front door and heading downstairs and out the front gate at the end of the ramp leading down to the door of our building. It was only as I was going to catch the bus that I realized I had forgotten my cel phone at home. Strange! I never forget my cel phone, Chiara would be quick to remind you. I'm too dependent on it.

So I ran back to grab it, repeating my departure procedure in reverse, and doing it all over again. I wasn't late though, in fact I had enough time to ggrab a cappucino before meeting the clients for a tour of the Ancient City and Colosseum.

As we walked from their hotel to the Roman Forum I thought about all the things I could do when the tour was done. Things I had meant to do in Rome but hadn't gotten around to it. Go up to the Palatine Hill, (the former homes of the Emperors, from where we get our modern word Palace) and on top of the Vittoriano Monument, known as the Wedding Cake colloquially.

I accomplished these tasks, like a tourist. I went there, I saw them, i wandered around shirtless (which a local would never do) and I took some pictures of the Wedding Cake from on top. Then I put my mobile phone back into my back. 10 minutes later when I arrived at the bus stop, my phone was gone.

I panicked at first, ready to start crying and crap my pants. But then I picked myself up and went back around the corner to the Wedding Cake and asked some police officers if anyone had found my cel phone which I had thoughtlessly tossed onto the stairs after taking those pictures. (At this point I was still imagining I had somehow lost my phone). They told me to go upstairs to where I took those pictures and see if my phone was there. It slowly began to dawn on me that I had been like a zebra with a broken leg. Earphones plugged in, dazed in the sun, I took my phone out (not an amazing space phone, but theftworthy) and snapped some photos,. then put it back into the outside pocket of my bag. At some point the thief just walked by, even the sound of the velcro wouldn't have penetrated my Brother Ali earfunk.

And gone it is. And I am pissed. At the pickpocket fro sure, but mostly at myself, for being an oblivious prick. I've been so pickpocket proactive while here, planning how exactly to break the hand reaching into my pocket. Instead the opportunity was squandered. And all my condescending admonishments to the tourists I escort around the city fell on deaf ears. My own.

I thought I was streetwise. The pickpocket thought otherwise. He (or she)was right. And away they get without me quickly and silently snapping their handbones. Also, they have my phone.

The bolg pictures I took with my phone...it'll be ahile until that happens again. especially seeing how I broke Chiara's camera a couple weeks ago. But that's another (embarassing) story.

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16 August 2006

Expatica

Our impending speculative move to Amsterdam is getting closer and closer. To whit, I started looking at some job postings in Holland, to see what would come up, get a feel for the market. I found one posting I liked, looking for a poorly paid intern (but paid, which is important) at Expatica.nl, a Dutch magazine for expats. It has an online and print presence and is a well-traveled source for expat info and news. They were seeking a communications and promotions intern. Sounded like valuable work experience in the communications field, which I liked, in the expat community, in which I dwell, in a fun and relaxed environment, which got me excited in a fun and relaxed way. Only problem was: the application period had expired Friday, and it was now Sunday evening. So I dashed off a resume and apologetic note.

The next morning I received a phone call from Expatica.nl. Unfortunately no, I couldn't come in for an interview that day. But the guy was nice, the job sounded good, and at least now I have a connection at expatica. And just as importantly, if not more so, I earned a little confidence about job prospects in Holland, and not only prospecting for these job vacancies, but being in contention to fill them. Because somebody was interested in hiring me. In fact, the first one I applied for...

There's always hope.

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High on Technology

I used MSN once, last year, in Canada. I remember it, because i signed up for a hotmail account. Now relegated to the dead-letter-office of lost passwords. But I managed to connect with a few friends, but I had to go out and didn't really know what to say, or any of the etiquette; I found myself getting internetpeeved with a Swedish friend though he was on the phone. That's fine if you know MSN lingo for being on the phone. But I didn't.

Anyway, I gave up on MSN and life continued for me as before. There was no void in my life. But MSN Video Networking has filled a gap in my life that's existed for about four months. A gap between me and my nephew Roan. But now that his parents have a webcam we've dusted off the webcam that we've owned for over a year but had never used.
NOW I CAN SEE THE LITTLE GUY! SEE HIM MOVE AND SIT IN HIS BUMBLE CHAIR! LAY AROUND AND MAKE BABY NOISES! IT'S INCREDIBLE!

I realized things had gotten out of control when I took almost a dozen photographs with my phone of the computer screen and the family on the other side. As weird and fucked up as that might be, I think it's pretty awesome when technology can be used for good and not evil, or the lesser evil of wasted time. Which is what I usually use it for.

Except for you, Dear Diary, you're not wasted time...

LOOK PICTURES!!!!






I love that child, I cannot wait to meet him. And I need only wait three more weeks.

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13 August 2006

Italy's World Cup = My World Cup

Game 1 Monday June 12
Italy 2 Ivory Coast 0

Ernst Blofeld, Berlin, Germany

I watched this game in Berlin, on an outdoor screen with giant fake antennae, at a squat type place on the river Spree. I wasn't the lone Italy fan, but I was outnumbered by others hoping for an African team to do well. I hoped for the same, just not in this game. This game was important because it was here, even in the pre-game build-up, where I realized that I truly was an Italy supporter. More than EURO 2004 when I lived in Holland and sorta cheered for Holland, more than prior to the beginning of the World Cup, when I was casually tossing my support around. I realized here and now, in their first game, that I wasn't cheering for Italy just out of a geograpghic imperative, I was cheering for them because I supported the team. I wanted them to win with my heart. I tried to stay detached because the less I invested in one team, the more I could enjoy the tournament as a whole. However, this game taught me that I could still do all those things, but like it or not, I was an Italy tifoso.

Game 2
Italy 1 USA 1

Tiber Island
Rome Italy

This game was the worst game of the World Cup. From all the smacktalk with Americans, the face tattoos and Italian T-shirts to the plan to watch the game on Tiber Island, in the heart of Rome, I maybe should've smelled trouble. But I didn't. And Chiara and I left full of excitement in our hearts and returned bitter and frustrated. The jackass Americans could call this their best international result ever, for Italy in general, and Daniele "Elbow Smasher" De Rossi in particular. This was a black mark.

From it's early promise, thigs went downhill quickly. Chiara and I managed to make it to the Tiber Island and get into the Cinema on the Tiber where they were showing the game. It was crowded outside around the door, but once we got beyond the barrier into the outdoor theatre there was plenty of space.

Eventually it became clear that that was the case because they were not intending to let anymore people in than their were seats. This means hundreds of people got screwed out a (beautiful) place to watch the game, whilst we shifted uncomfortably in an embarssment of riches. The dickheads who run the joint even went so far as to eject 4 or 5 teenagers form the premises. Their crime? Finding themselves a seat along the railings and watching the first 5 minutes of the game. How is it that this country can be the most crowded and rulefree country I've ever been to, with a lack of a modicum of personal space, yet suddenly get uptight for the one thing they should really cut loose for?

And then, the ugliest game of football I've ever seen unfolded before our eyes. It was as brutal as it was disappointing, and it was both in spades. Enough said.

Game 3
Italy 3 Czech Repoublic 0

Druid's Rock Irish Bar
Rome Italy

I wanted to watch this game at Centro Sociale (squat) Angelo Mai downtown. When I got there there were some workfriends also keen to watch the game, but no outdoor screen. Because of the afternoon timing of the game the sun would wash out any images on the outdoor screen. Luckily we made our way to Druid's Rock, an Irish Bar near Santa Maria Maggiore with the fantastic habit of playing a chorus of Queen's "We Will Rock You" whenever a goal is scored. And, as the USA lost to Ghana on a couple of the TV screens, Italy pounded on the Czech Republic on the other. The place was crazy crowded with fans of each and every team jammed cheek to jowl. Afterwards there was dancing, and singing, or hanging your Uncle Sam hatted head, while a Ghanese jig was danced right around you.
I sported my blue Italian t-shirt all the way down to a falafel place with my companions for a victory falafel. We'd advanced. Italy had entered the knock out stages!

Italy 1 Australia 0
At Home in the Dark
Rome Italy

I raced home from work to see this game. I had to flag a cab and race home, listening to the pre-game in the cab, and staying in contact with Chiara over the phone. This was it, knock out stages, baby.

I got home within five minutes of kick off. Chiara and I sat in the dark, glued to the TV, watching it all go down.
For many, particularly Australians, this game will be remembered for Fabio Grosso's little fall down in the penalty area. Clearly a dodgy penalty call. But for us it's what happened next that will be remembered.
Totti's penalty shot. Totti has sported the horns for the last two international tournaments, getting redcarded in both Korea Japan 2002, and Portugal 2006. At 29 years old, this guy can't have too many more tournaments in him, and with an ankle injury just two months old, and now with ten screws, he was doubtful to start. But he's a leader, and a champion, and at this point anyway, he played like one. He stepped up to take the penalty shot. Knowing (even though he's not that bright) that if he fluffed this chance, that'd be the end of the love and adoration Italians had heaped on him, despite his past fuck-ups. But this time, it'd be end of the line. he didn't have to do it. But he did.
And we sat in the dark and watch as he did it, with pockets full of poise. Watching the close up camera shot it was clear he was going to score. And score he did. Hammering the ball into the back of the net. Keeper Mark Schwarzer had no chance, like a keeper shouldn't have on a penalty shot.

And Italy was through to the quarterfinals.


Italy 2 Germany 0
Al Pachino Pizzeria
Rome Italy

For this game Chiara and I decided to go to our favorite pizzeria, called Al Pachino, which is funny. The pizza is delicious, and it's the only spot in Rome where we're treated like regulars, usually getting a limoncello sulla casa after a meal. So we went, in our Italy shirts, and watched an excellent game of football, and then witnessed a masterstroke of management.

In this tight game, nobody scored through regular time, and likewise through into extra time. But Marcello Lippi, contrary to what people would expect, and common sense would dictate, made substitutions in extra time, pulling off midfielders (Camoranesi, and Perrotta) to add attackers (Del Piero and Iaquinta)up front. In extra time. The gambit paid off because Italy scored not one, but TWO goals in extra time, 119" and 120" respectively. Pure genius. The pizzeria went nuts. Celebrations had not finished after Grosso's brilliant left-footed strike before Del Piero went in and tucked home another goal, giving us not only victory, but reason to jump into our car after the game and join the victory parade, complete with honking and cheering, though without a flag.

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Mechelen in Town

Great weekend. Involved not much working, much spending time with great friends, much seeing of new sites, pizza taglio, a bunch of beer, and a two man scrabble tournament.
Some photos.


The Parco della Musica, by Renzo Piano. Evan's an architect so we went to check it out. Film fest is coming there in October, so i'll get to check the custom designed acoustics.




A day of sightseeing always includes a scenic picture.




The Protestant Cemetary. Or more formally "The Cemetary for Non-Catholic Foreigners." It has a rundown overgrown beauty, where the plants are given some freedom to live life as they want amongst the dead, who include Keats and Shelley and Antonio Gramsci, among others.




There's always gonna be some fighting.




Chiara, whilst we were out for a delicious dinner, before I kicked Evan's ass at Scrabble.

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09 August 2006

My Landlady

Oh Landlady Next Door.
You are so morose and mousy. This makes me very frustrated, because being around you makes me sad. Sad that I live next to you. You're so fucking mopey and fearful. It drives me crazy. But more than you in general, it's the little things you do that make you such a pain in the ass. Having a 3 inch thick main door like a vault is great; who can hate on safety? And because it is the common door that leads to the foyer that splits our two apartments, we also reap the benefits of your vigilance, safety-wise. We've been using the same lock for the 8 months we've lived here and there's been no intruders, no crowbar scuffs on the door, nothing to indicate we need extra security. So why the other lock, with the extra big key, so the door has to be locked and unlocked in a specific order, like a Chinese puzzle? I think if someone was going to get in the door, they would either be dissuaded by its vault-like proportions, or blow it up. One or two locks is really a moot point, with a door like that. And especially locking it mid-day, while we're home. That's just really, really, unnecessary and stupid. And anyway, they'd then be confronted with two additional heavy doors, at which point I think the gypsies or ruffians and miscreants you fear would probably get the hint and look for somewhere else to go. In fact I'm sure they already have.

Or, maybe you could look after your dog. The German Shepherd, keep her fierce and vigilant. Instead you keep her outside in your tiny, dusty yard where she grows sad and lonely while her muscles atrophy. That sucks for a dog,

Also, your sadsack whiny voice is grating. As is the fact you look through me towards Chiara when I'm around. In fact, my litany of petty complaints is pretty long, but it can really be summed up thusly: "Lighten Up! I mean, seriously, for fuck's sake." No wonder your daughter's so crazy.




Maybe we should just have a retinal scan when we get home, whaddya think?

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06 August 2006

Seat of Christiandom


Just a comment about some news: Mel Gibson makes a movie called "The Passion of Christ" which was widely decried and condemned by Jewish groups for being anti-Semitic. Last week when Mel Gibson was stopped for speeding and then booked also for drunk driving he apparently "went off" on an anti/semitic tirade, claiming at one point that jews were responsible for all the wars in the world.

I have to say his subsequent apologies seem slightly disingenuous.

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Living Statues




The fundamental rule of employment in this world is "do something." That's what people get paid for. "Look busy!" Or, "You got time to lean, you got time to clean!" and of course, "Quit standing around!" And so forth. It's a fundament of capitalism.

But, of course, there are exceptions to every rule. In Rome certainly there's a huge cottage industry of people who sit or stand still in the streets and piazzas for money. Some of them are street performers, some are just beggars, and others are just lazy. But they stand still, in costumes of varying degrees of effectiveness and inventiveness, and just wait for people to come and give them money. Then they move - nothing very effortful: just give a wink, or bow or some such. I guess the mime backlash of the late eighties and early nineties put paid to that art form. People who wanted to be silent on the street and get paid for it decided to put their talents towards other tasks. Like numbing their minds for hours on end, or thinking up a clever movement to perform, only once they've received some money. Those retard mimes would just give it up for free. Dumb bitches.

Of the many Frozen in Time performers I've seen in Rome there are some good and some bad. I'll outline a selection of them here. First I have to give credit to the actual Living Statue in the photo above. He does just what it says on the can, and does it well, so full marks to him. Now onto the rest...

WORST: STATUE OF LIBERTY

Fact: The statue of Liberty isn't white. So what's with the white? And your cardboard torch is pretty sad too. Sad like the fake arm you use to hold it up. Also, there's a whole bunch of you guys. Hey Fakers, why don't you copy a good idea?

WEAKEST: PHARAOH

Getting into a gold body bag, slapping a mask on and standing around isn't even really performance, nor technically adhering to the "stillness" part of your job. For all I know you could be talking on your cel phone, or yawning. This is like the starter kit for standing street performance, so you can get a sense of how to do it. After you finish this training you actually get your membership in the union. Not before.

PRETTIEST: BO PEEP

This drop-dead gorgeous, and heartbreakingly sad woman dressed like Little Bo Peep by the Trevi Fountain. I only saw her once, but I remember. Guys just loved her shtick because they had an opportunity to goggle unabashedly at this deadly hot brunette. When she got shooed by the Polizia Municipale she looked like she would cry, as did all the gogglers.

SLYEST: BUSINESS MAN IN THE WIND

This guy stands on the track in Piazza Navona with his suit blowing around him like he's racing into the wind. He's stoic, handsome, well-dressed and committed. Plus when you give him money he gives a sly little eyebrow raise, which is a pretty entertaining little pay-off coming from a guy who doesn't move, wind be damned.

MOST MYSTICAL: WIZARDBEAST



Just saw him for the first time in Piazza Navona a couple of weeks ago. This guy kicks ass. An elaborate costume right out of thick fantasy novel with a series of fifteen books that I would've enjoyed had I ever had the guts to read them and not minded being called a nerd. The word Dragonlance comes to mind. Regardless, he has an elaborate costume and make-up job and when the money plunks into his bowl he takes the crystal ball in his hand and contact juggles. Like Bowie in "Labyrinth" except these are actually his hands.

FUNNIEST: SILVER DRUNK



There are a few different body-painted Frozen in Time performers, some look like statues (which is pretty cool, and actually relates thematically to their performance, because statues are actually still, i'd call these people living statues) but this guy is painted all silver and slumps against a garbage can with a bottle in his hand and a little suitcase, all silver. He's like an old time romanticized hobo. When money is thrown into his jar he hiccups and adjusts himself, to get more comfortable. It's pretty ingenious actually, to leverage his character for comfort. He just slumps around all day, which can't be that tiring, nor is it necessarily lazy, rather it just demonstrates his commitment to character.

More pictures to come. Now that I've decided to study this phenomenon further.

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05 August 2006

29 Candles



Fortunately not 29 actual candles, but rather one candle that was made out of a 2 and a 9.

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Pampering

Besides the beautiful weekend in Tuscany, my beautiful girlfriend gave me another sweet present: a full hour full body massage and a pedicure. The massage is pretty self explanatory, as is, i suppose, the pedicure. It was however my first pedicure, and was disconcerting but pleasant. My feet weren't disgusting before, they weren't turning into hooves, that would take generations. But they were certainly dry and rough. The half hour of attention the pedicurist paid probably nearly equals the cumulative time i've spent tending to them in my life. But it won't be the last trip to get a pedicure. I can understand why women do it. And my dad, and probably many other men as well. Particularly here in Italy, where men take personal grooming to a whole new and surprisingly masculine level. Anyway it was relaxing, and looking after my feet isn't gay, it just makes sense.

Besides, my girlfriend bought it for me, so why not.
I may have to keep getting her to buy them for me, until I become comfortable with them.

I feel like it also signals a new stage of my life, which at 29 it may have been time to enter into.

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04 August 2006

Panini

My birthday was on Monday. Wednesday a bunch of mail arrived. Including: the last 20 or so stickers to complete my World Cup 2006 sticker album. Apparently I'm second really only to the Swiss, who were slavish in their devotion and drive to sticker album completion. The young and the old. Mine is now finally done. Pictures will be posted. It's not just about football, it's not just about the world Cup, or stickers, the surprises contained in opening a 50 cent pack and hoping for the elusive Ronaldinho, or Ali Boumnijel...it's all of things yes, but also about the satisfaction of a job well done.

Pick a page, any page...

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02 August 2006

Giovanni Pellegrini Tedeschi

All of the goodwill that Germany has been banking thanks to the World Cup 2006 (A Time to Make Friends)has been drawn against by zombielike hordes of young flagwaving German ubercatholics that descended on the city two days ago and have since been wondering around in a religious stupor, yelling, singing songs, acting pious, carrying crosses, and sporting matching hats, and/or shirts and/or bandanas.

I'm done with them.

Sitting on the metro today after work (and it's fucking hot and gross here) we stopped at Spagna. That's what the metro does. Then just before leaving the station (in our airconditioned subway train) a whole entire gaggle of these churchy German kids got on. The train didn't leave the station and we were all forced to get off the train and get onto the already crowded platform to wait for the next one. While on the train, waiting for the enxt one, and on the next one I tried to correct their behaviour by the sour disdainful expression on my face. To no avail.

You might think: "But Ryan you live in Rome! The seat of Catholicism, the home of the Pope." I know. But does everybody need to come at the same time? It's not just one big group? Or a bunch of groups. It's an overwhelming biblical-proportion-sized flood of really BIG C Catholic youths. And that sucks.

"But Ryan, aren't you a tour guide? Aren't tourists your bread and butter?"
Yes. But pilgrims are not tourists.

"Were they really all Germans?"
Probably not, but enough of them are to blame it all on Germany. And the German Pope.

"Aren't you just scared, fearing what you don't understand?" Yeah. Really Christian people creep me out. If they were soccer fans, or just here for the Billy Joel/Bryan Adams concert on the 31st, it would be a different story. A little. I'd still hate them. But less so.

Anyway, they're leaving soon, one must expect, and i'll be happy to have the city back.

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