31 October 2006


So today's Hallowe'en. That's cool, it's one of my favorite holidays. It also marks the 494th anniversary of Michelangelo's completion of the Sistine Chapel.

Practically that means that Hallowe'en falls on the night before a Holiday. Tomorrow is All Saints Day, so there's no working to be done tomorrow, but much partying to be done tonight.

What I plan to do is see AS Roma play Olimpiacos at the Stadio Olympico tonight. NBot very Hallowe'eny, but dope Champs league football.

I bought a new shirt I plan to soak in blood (ketchup) before I go, for a Hallowe'eny effect. And of course later, we party. I'm trying to convince Chiara to dress up as a sexy, um nurse? or witch...or whatever, so long as it's sexy, byut she's not feeling Italowe'en.

Regardless a couple drinks and a couple dances after the game tonight.

Forza Roma!


29 October 2006

Firenze Photos

In Florence we didn't take alot of pictures. Florence is all about museums and art, and the best place to admire pictures of those items are in books. Besides, it was raining pretty much the whole time, so not great photo ops anyway.
But here's a couple snaps from one night when we went to Santo Bevitore. Si mangia bene la. Molto bene.

Here's dinner.

Here's the mighty mighty Arno. At night.

Ryan and Chiara. In Florence. At night. Near the Arno. Taking pictures.

That's it. Looks like we had fun doesn't it? We did.


28 October 2006

Cappella Sistina da Solo

Today was special.

I've seen the Sistine Chapel enough times that I don't need to see it anymore. But today we strolled into the museum 5 minutes before closing and ambled our way to the Sistine Chapel. I've never seen the museum so empty. Scarcely a patron at all, and no huge tour groups. Once at the Sistine Chapel we looked around for 5 minutes untilthey kicked everyone out. Everybody but us! Once everyone else left it was just me and my clients, a couple of my colleagues, and the man who runs the Sistine Chapel. He flipped on the overhead lights and we got to enjoy the Chapel ceiling fully illuminated on our own. It was only 15 minutes or so, but was truly a reawakening in terms of my enjoyment of the room and the artowrk therein. As we were escorted to the Basilica by the gentleman in charge I got saluted by a Swiss Guard. That was pretty sweet too. And another first time occurence. I kinda saluted him back, too, by accident.


Rude Guy

I realized (again)that I'm rude in Italian.

In my desire to get through whatever chance encounter (on the bus, buying a phone card) I'm having as quickly as possible, I revert to a manner both grammatically incorrect and curt and abrasive. I skip over the usual pleasantries generally act like a jerk.

I realize my fear of being discovered as a non-native speaker has led me to be boldly proclaiming myself to be a prick to the public at large.

So: For the next week I am going to practice being polite.

I've decided I would rather be found out as a non-native speaker.


25 October 2006

Improv Workshops Redux

Coming up in mid-November: a new round of improv workshops, taught by yours truly. Two levels: A Beginners and an Intermediate.

Saturday and Sunday, followed by a show on Sunday night. Two halfs: first half beginners short form, second half, intermediate long form and short form.

It's too bad I've gotta cram those workshops into one weekend, but i'll get some results, and there'll be another improv show in Rome.

That's the good news. There is no bad news.


23 October 2006

Normal Chicks

Watch this regular girl get transformed into a billboard ad. Don't believe the hype, nor the fake.

Pretty shocking. Kinda freaks me out.

What you see isn't real. Remember that.

I support the initiative, though the sponsorship of Dove is suspect. Anyway
Campaign For Real Beauty


22 October 2006


I was in Firenze on the weekend with Chiara. Also known as Florence. It rained the whole fucking time.

That seems to be a bit of recurring occurence on our holidays, I feel like Clark Griswold.

But Florence was fantastic just the same. It was the cradle of the Renaissance, though you probably knew that.

I teach about the Renaissance on a regular basis, as a tour guide in Rome. Rome is only 1.5 hours on the train from Florence and I've lived here for 1.5 years. It was really time to get to Florence.

I'm glad we did.

We had some nice meals, a nice B & B, and I got to see the works of art in the Uffizi that I wanted, Michelangelo's tomb in the chirch of Santa Croce, and of course, the David.

In other circumstances I'd have really liked to rip it up and suck it in. Get my Florence on in a serious way, but for now I was happy to do it like an overcomitted backpacker: a 2 day whirlwind of checking things off my list. which isn't to say that I wasn't moved by the works there: the David? What an awe-inspiring testament to the power of genius and dedication. The Leonardo da Vinci exhibit in the Uffizi was incredible as well: a chance to glimpse the insatiable intellect of that mental giant. I love also that they knew each other, and also didn't like each other. What a debt of gratitude art-lovers owe to the individual ego.

I feel in the end a sense of relief; I thought I may just leave Italy without getting to see Florence. Instead I got to drink deep of it, short but sweet.


19 October 2006

Taxi Drivers: I'm talkin' to you.

These taxi drivers really make me mad. Not all of them. Just the rip-off artists. I know it's not all of them, some of them love to talk football with me and teach me words of Romanaccio and so forth. But others, like the guy who drove me and Jason home from the film fest on a windy route nowhere near our house and looked hurt when we underpaid him, and even tried to justify it to me. That dude was a prick and a cheat.

And today! Again! Going from the Vatican to P.za St. Eustachio with some clients. I climbed into the front seat as I usually do, and was talking to the clients over my shoulder. When I turned around I couldn't help but notice the drivers ballcap right over top of the meter. Not the whole meter, mind you, just the part where it shows the tariffa, that is, the rate you're paying. When I moved it, sure enough, he was taking us for more than one ride. He apologized though, as if the fact his hat had somehow haphazardly gotten fixed onto the corner of the meter just so, and the fact he was overcharging us were coincedental occurences.

He wasn't surprised when he was underpaid either. I hate being suspicous, but i'm gonna be way more careful from here on in. I'm tired of this bullshit.


17 October 2006

Awesome: I Fuckin' Watched That!


The Roma Cinema Fest is happening. It's taking place at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, which is an amazing complex that usually offers little programming for my tastes, and little opportunity to explore it. But the Film Fest is on and I could go see any and all festival films I want. Right?

Wrong. The festival is essentially sold-out, and has been since the second day when I tried to get tickets.

Oh sure, you can get tickets for some mediocre films but not for the films you really want to see: the juicy filmfesty films that make these events worth getting excited about.

However, I did manage to get a couple tickets for a film that fit enough of my criteria, but not such a mainstream crossover fiom that all the tickets went, which is kinda surprising, because tickets for a Beastie Boys concert require one to be well on the ball.

Fortunately tickets for "Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That!" were available on the website and I hooked up a couple tix for me and my man Jason Carvey from LA who's visiting. We rolled out Sunday Night to the movie. Once seated we got a surprise: Giovanotti was there to introduce it! Jovanotti is an Italian singer songwriter. He's got a beard and wears sneakers with his suit. Cool enough, but I was only a little more excited than you are about him.

Next though he introduced MCA who came out in an untucked suit, grey hair and faceful of chewing gum to introduce the film he shot in collaboration with the elusive Nathaniel Hornblower.

The concept for I Fuckin' Shot That is that cameras were given to 50 audience members who were instructed to do whatever they wanted at the Beastie Boys concert in Madison Square Gardens, just never stop filming.

The innovation of the shooting procedure doesn't translate that well to film, with much footage being drawn from nicer cameras used by better camera ops, but still it's there: fanshot concert footage, and it does bring one closer to the action.

Though the shooting was innovative and only made me a little nauseous at times (between jiggly camera work and jumpy editing during some songs) I wasn't blown away by the images. The sound however, was awesome. The acoustics in the theatre were incredible and the sound system fuckin' loud and clear.

Listening to, and watching a live Beastie Men concert while not as avant garde as I like in a film fest, appealed to the broader part of me that just likes a good time.

Afterwards after Yauch came to say his "Mille Grazies" I got the chance to shake his hand and say "thanks." I hope he understood all the subtext; that the "thanks" was really for providing me with many a track on the soundtrack to my life and alot to look up to in my formative years.

Awesome I Fuckin' Shot That was awesome if you're a Beasties Fan, which means it should get some play, because who isn't a Beasties fan?


Rome: Book Review

Jonathan Boardman's "Rome: A Cultural and Literary History" from the Cities of the Imagination Series is a gem. This is a man whom you would want to show you around the Eternal City, or, failing that, sit down over a bottle of chianti and listen to hold forth on this city he obviously loves. His personality and charm seem to have been effortlessly translated to the written page. He is a guide nonpareil: warm, thoughtful, encyclopaedic, and, above all, entertaining. The book is at once a history and a contemporary guidebook, tracing the roots of the city and the routes of the city. He sprinkles it liberally with anecdotes and trivia and keeps it broad in its scope, yet personal in the delivery. As a sometime tour guide I can appreciate the skill with which Mr. Boardman shows his love and knowledge of the subject, yet without being gushy or partisan. Boardman also manages to be an exhaustively well-read know it all without seeming show-offy, thereby educating and delighting the reader. Providing the reader also really really loves Rome. I do. A little treasure well worth your time. I give this book 4 hidden gems. Out of a possible 5.


15 October 2006

Special Power

For the second time in a row, when Chiara and I have gone for sushi at Itoya I have guessed the bill exactly.

When you think about it, that's somewhat incredible. Or lucky. I'm going with incredible because it makes me feel better. Also, because Chiara and I have been having a "Price is Right" style contest. I've been the winner, which also makes me feel food. I mean good.


13 October 2006

Draft Picks

I've entered the cbc hockey draft pool. My team is Caesars Ghosts and we should be kicking some serious ass. Though my luck with these things is pretty poor.
If you want to join too, do it:
Hockey Pool

Week 1 is upcoming. The actual first week was just for scouting. Consider it done.

I'm feeling lucky!


12 October 2006

A Roman Middle Finger

...to Venice.

Tomorrow marks the first annual Rome International Film Fest. Centred at Renzo Piano's Parco Della Musica with events on the Via Veneto, Piazza del Popolo, and Piazza Navona this event promises to be big.

Plus it's hosting celebs like Leo di Caprio, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorcese and is dedicated to attendee sean Connery (including a big retrospective of Sir Sean's films).

The city's redone and the red carpet is laid and everybody is hyped about the fest right?


This year was the 63rd annual The Venice Biennale. And it was just over a month ago. They are wicked pissed that Rome has started up it's own bigshot fest this year. Venice has said that "Rome's getting the films we didn't want." and "Fuck you Rome, you goddamn pricks." Those kinda things.

Rome, for her part, is quietly going about preparing a giant film fest of it's own that it hopes will rival the mighty Venice, and by smashing it's monopoly, force it to innnovate and improve.

I side with Rome.

Plus I'm psyched to get a chance to go to the Parco della Musica and experience film in it's stunning environs.


09 October 2006

Cooking Turkey is Gross

Today: Canadian Thanksgiving!

As a Canadian abroad, it's my job to import my customs and share them with my new friends in my new country.

Like the pilgrims did with the natives. And that's where thanksgiving comes from.

As a former vegetarian (i like the term flexitarian) i had taken a slow gradual route from no-turkey-and-only-stuffing-that-has-not-been-in-the-bird to "I guess I can try a little taste" to "Yum! Thanksgiving Tuuuurkey!"

However, all of these small steps back in the direction of omnivorism didn't prepare me for this years turkey encounter. It went like this:

"Yuck! This turkey is raw and still has some feathers in it! Who's gonna touch this gro-. Oh wait. I am. I'm preparing this bird."

A fundamental shift in my relationship to the bird, including sewing its stuffing-filled ass and neck holes up. But it got done and we had a proper Canadian Thanksgiving feast. It was a first for all the Italians and the Brit, and the American had never had a real (Canadian) Thanksgiving either. Plus it was friends and families together eating and drinking, which is a very Italian thing to do, but the cuisine (and spirit) were strictly North American. The mashed yams and normal potatoes with roasted garlic were fantastic, and the fact that we got Italians to eat garlic without making funny faces was special. The pumpkin pie was made from scratch and had a maple leaf in the middle: this was Thanksgiving done up Canadian style. It was flavourfully delicious.


08 October 2006

Peace Signs

Rome's activist community seems busy. I saw these signs around.

And then up around town!

For more of this type of activity, sometimes called "Freeway Blogging, check out Freeway Blogger.


07 October 2006

Magic Man

The Canucks have started their new season, with their new awesome goalie and a new work ethic they call "scoring by committee." In theory this means generating offense from all four lines. What it means in practice is that Sami Salo is scoring most of their goals, either by firing the puck directly into the net, or by bouncing it in off his teammates. That's a competitor. That's innovation. That's true awesomeness.

In the Canucks first game of the regular season Salo shot a puck in off captain Markus Naslunds head, and rifled another shot straight in. Now if you don't know hockey you might think Naslund perhaps flicked in the puck off his head. But this is hockey, not soccer. The only other person that I know in hockey to have scored a goal with his head is me. When I was 12. I was a very poor hockey player. I played for two years and scored two goals. That's not great offensive output, especially considering one accidently caroomed in off my helmet.

I thought Salo's goal off Naslunds head was an accident too, until I read the wrap-up from the Canucks next game. In their 3-2 OT victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Salo scored another goal, this time bouncing it off Brendan Morrison's back. Maybe it's another coincidence, but I don't think so. I think you're going to see the mighty Finnish D man score 30 or more goals, but only be credited with assists because the bulk off them will be played in off his team mates, and NHL rules can't fathom that level of radicality. It borders on genius.


06 October 2006


Today is Friday. Today we're celebrating the time-honoured Italian tradition of the sciopero (strike). I arrived at work this morning 3 and a half hours before I needed to. Because I had to catch a strike bus. The thing is, a strike in Italy doesn't have the same "Fuck You!" vindictiveness of a strike in North America (or Canada anyway. Can they still strike in the US?) There is just not the same "there is no other option" desperation. If something isn't sitting right with the union they just take the day off. Just to let you know they can, and just to let you know how much it sucks that they can.

However, for a transit strike they still run the buses from daybreak until 8:30 in the morning, then they start them up again at 5:00. It seems to me a strange way to strike, but it seems a quintessentially Italian way of handling a disagreement.

When I fight with my girlfriend, or when I see an argument, it is usually over something small (I'd say petty). It involves yelling, gesticulating and drama. And then it's over. To me it makes me feel confused and attacked if it's with my girlfriend, or embarrassed if I see it in the street. But for them it's just letting off some steam, dealing with a single solitary issue while it's out in the open, and then it's done. It's like the one day 8 hour strike.

However in Canada, as Chiara goes to pains to point out, we fight differently. If something bothers us we ignore it, sit on it and pretend it doesn't bother us until it really becomes a problem, then we freak out and it becomes a big problem entangled with other issues. It's like how a teachers or nurses dispute can accelerate from negotiations to ignition, explosion and then a strike that stretches out for weeks.

the Italian way seems much more civilized. The doses of conflict and drama spice up the daily life and slays issues before they become something more that they should be. Not that I'm happy about the strike, or being here in the Vatican with 3 and a half hours to kill.


02 October 2006

AS Rome-tastic

AS Roma, with their 1-0 win yesterday, moved to the top of the table in Serie A yesterday.

Lazio, those pricks, are minus 2.


I'm not gonna lie to you though, it's early. But still: ha!