28 November 2006

Totti Gol




Sunday against Sampdoria Totti scored two goals to pace Roma to a 4-2 victory, their fifth in a row in Serie A action and their first in that stadium in ten years. It was an amazing left footed strike from an impossible angle. On the volley. The second goal he's scored with his left foot, the one with the ten screws in it, put in last spring after he was injured.

It was so amazing the hardcore Sampdoria fans got on their feet and applauded him. They were joined by the Sampdoria goaltender in their ovation.

He's back on form, and perhaps better than ever, with a squad that's one of the finest Rome's had in a long time. So i'm told.

The classy thing is that Totti dedicated his golas to Platini and Mattaresse. No not kids laid up sick with cancer, but the two guys who have been busting his balls the hardest about his decision to stay away from the National team for this year. He's decided to focus on club football, after going to the World Cup at only about 60% capacity and helping Italy hoist the world cup he's trying to chill, but he's catching heat for it.

So he scores two goals Sunday, one of them an A-plus fucking screamer and then shoves them down the throats of his detractors. Hot.

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26 November 2006

25 Years Old!



It was Chiara's birthday Thursday November 24th. She became 25 years old, or the ol' quarto secolo, as they say in Italian. We celebrated at a Swedish Restaurant with a big group of friends.
Chiara got a candle on her cheesecake.

This post, as coincidence has it, is my 300th, or the ol' terzo secolo, as the Italians might say. I'm gonna treat myself to a fancy coffee.

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25 November 2006

Credit Card Limits

I've been carrying credit card debt (small, but substantial) for years. Since I bought a plane ticket to Hawai'i in 2001 in fact. Well, I'm happy to report I've finally paid it off. All of it. In the last couple of months. I've been rewarded by Mastercard for this act of fiscal responsibility: they've doubled my limit. I guess they trust me now, and are also desperate for me to start spending above my means again.

Thanks?

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23 November 2006

Calcietto

So i've landed my way into another weekly football match. It's been a month. I was a little nervous for a few reasons. One, when I've played before it's been with a mix of expats and Italians, this time it's all Italians, which means all in Italian. Secondly it's through a friend of Chiara's and so it's a little close to home. And I'm generally self conscious about these two things: Italian and my Canadian footballing skills, however here's a semi-bragging breakdown of the up to now 4 sessions

1st time.

pretty nervous, but everyone was very nice. I fucking killed it too. 4 goals and a handful of assists in a winning effort. Including my first ever goal with my head. Totally on purpose as well. Defensively played well as well. I think my team was a little loaded as well because it was my first session so they figured oooh, a Canadian, let's put the sandbag with the all-stars. But felt good to exceed expectations.

2nd time.

As soon as I stepped out on the pitch I got a cramp in my hamstring. It got worse 5 minutes in leaping for an interception. Hobbled around unable to keep a spring in my step. Still scored a goal and an assist or three, but we lost and I felt shitty afterwards, because I knew I could do better. Made a spectacular miss on a one-timer that involved me falling down. Hard. And tumbling over. Ouch.
Anyway, I got the invite to come regularly, so it couldn't have been that bad.

3rd time.

Cold weather had set in. Managed a couple goals and we won, but still felt like I mistimed everything, offensively and defensively.

4th time.

Kicked some ass. Scored a doppietta in a winning effort, one as Johnny on the spot, the other a cucchiaio from centre. The cucchiaio is the lofty chip shot. It fooled the keeper and surprised everybody, me included. I also made a couple really nice passes and some strong defensive tackles prompting a comparison to Gattuso. I was a machine. 3/4's of the way through though I came back down to Earth, made a number of errors and played down to my level. But for those fleeting moments I was a superstar.

And that's that so far. Needed to boast a little bit about my Canadian prowess amongst the Italians on the 5 aside football pitch, still wish I could kick a ball hard and have it hit the net, but in the course of play I can find a way to score often enough.

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Budget Trouble

Italy is not a fiscally responsible country, Italians are not a fiscally responsible people in general. They are known to have a huge black economy on which no taxes are paid (obviously). While that fact hides the true living standards of Italians, it also doesn't help the international standing of Italy or help their above ground economy get on track. In fact, Standard and Poor ratings agencies recently downgraded Italian government debt to the level of Botswana and Tobago. Neither of which are really considered economic powerhouses. In fact Italy is at risk, (not short-term risk mind you), of getting bounced out of the euro; economic growth is one of the lowest in the EU, and government debt is 107% of the GDP. In short Italy is fucked.

And desperate times call for desperate measures. The budget in Italy introduced by Prodi's centre-lefty coalition is causing an uproar. The average Italian doesn't give a shit about EU directives. He cares about taxes and practicality, and the budget threatens his way of life. However, the fact is, Italy was much like another country who's leaders last name begins with B for the past many years. While Berlusconi was in power the government bothered not with spending at pace with its' means. The result is that Prodi inherited an economy whose budget deficit was over 4% of GDP, which is out of step with the Maastricht threshold. The big aim of the Finanziaria is to get below the EU mandated 3% budget deficit.

The problem is it may cost Prodi his tenuous grip on power. It has certainly cost him a great degree of popularity, not that he enjoyed an abundance to begin with.
The battle between Berlusconi and Prodi is one between style and substance. Berlusconi doesn't bother with fiscal responsibility or good governance. He has charisma, wit, charm, plastic surgerons and a football club to endear him to the electorate. Prodi has none of these things, only a commitment to fiscal responsility and sensible leadership. He was fortunate to barely squeak out a victory in the spring election on the strength of these boring attributes. But now he looks to be in trouble because of them.

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18 November 2006

Freak Show


Guess who's in town this weekend? Everybody's favourite overblown celebrity family: Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Hollywood's newest Scientologist: Baby Suri.

For the ceremony there's J. Lo, and Will Smith, and Jim Carrey, JJ Abrams, John Travolta, the Spice-Beckhams, and many more big shots... and it's all taking place just outside Rome at Castello Odescalchi in Bracciano, a castle on a lake very near here.

I just thought you should know, because Hollywood gossip is important. It touches us all.

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16 November 2006

US OF A



So there's changes afoot in the US and A.

That is according to the most recent editions of Time and Newsweek. The common consensus is that Bush 43 has buckled and is calling in his fathers foreign policy advisors to assist him in extricating America from Iraq. Bush 41 appears to be maintaining his distance but recent appointments of loyalisyts from his administration are said to have "his fingerprints all over them." Though Bush 43 still persists in his wrongheaded approach, the "thumpin'" he got at the polls has forced him to acknowledge he needs to at least appear to be listening to the electorate.

And the Dems are making some changes, which doesn't shock me, but the character of the changes really demonstrate the depths of willful ignorance American politics had sunk. According to yesterday's International Herald Tribune, California Democrat Barabara Boxer is set to become the chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. She favours manadatory cuts to emissions linked to global warming. It's really a common sense appointment. She's replacing Senator James Inhofe an Oklahoma Republican who called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind." On the senate floor. And maintaining that position.


Now I guess he can have that opinion. Hell, there's even people who can disagree with it, and still defend to their death his right to make it. But only in the most mixed-up of realities could a holder of that opinion be allowed to chair the Environment Committee of a global superpower?!?!

I can't imagine the committee made alot of progress in reducing carbon emmissions. They maybe talked about how dinosaurs are fake, and how sweet it is to go golfing in December, but I can't imagine they made real progress. In any direction except backwards.

Well, If that's any indication of just how fucked up a government can become when you let one group of idiotic idealogues control all the decisions and appointments then let me say "God Bless America" for voting for some other idiots to come in and mix things up.

And good on the Americans for getting a message through to their dumb and dangerous leader, who canned one of the biggest jackasses in his cabal. Donald Rumsfeld. That guy sure made a complete civil-war-ravaged, prisoner-torturing, death-toll-mounting, divisive disaster of Iraq, but at least they didn't "stay the [wrong] course" for five long costly dangerous years.

Oh wait... what? They did?

Goddammit! I don't know why they bothered trying to bring democracy to the Middle East when it was so clearly really what was needed at home.

But now that it's back, it's back with a vengeance. Back in the spring, perhaps smelling the winds of change, Bush convened a bipartisan Iraq study group with a license to come up with recommendations he may not like. Sure the committee wasn't his idea, but it's happening and there's some high hopes pinned on it. Finally we can be allowed to hope some cooler heads might prevail.

In fact, we can only hope that "cooler" heads might prevail in the Environmental Committee as well, in that maybe that the problem of global warming might be faced head on instead of being dismissed as a crackpot conspiracy theory, by some crackpot.
In the end that might also reduce make recommendations to reduce US dependence on oil which could also be a good thing. Spur them onto tidying up there own backyard instead of blowing up somebody elses.

I hope the winds of change keep blowing jackassses out of power, and we have the fortune of seeing some sensible minds take their place.

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15 November 2006

Set List from Show

If you were wondering what kind of improv hilarity you missed on Sunday, it was this type.

Slide Show
- A good opener. The narrator justifies the positions of his scenmates in tableau behind him. Narrator was Andy. Suggestion was "Skiing in Hawai'i. It went alright.
Radio Dial- Everybody all in a line, and I moved up and down the radio dial. The genres were good, but the actors use of them was limited. ANdy with "commerical sports" was nice, as was Diana's Old Time Gospel. Suggestion was "Man Bites Dog"
Scene without the letter "S"- Not bad work. Always fun for the audience to yell gameshow buzzer noise at the actors when they say ess, or wimp. Locations of a "rollerrink" and "ship during a storm"
Genre/Emotion/Country Rollercoaster- DJ John and Andy took this one. It was dentist patient and they stuck with it and moved the scene forward. John's blaxploitation brought the house down.
Stage Directions- This is a tricky game, with each scene partner giving the stage directions for the other. Especially tough with 3. But they pulled it off. Well. Ilaria was the standout, inserting a love triangle substory. Suggestion was backyard party.

INTERMISSION- Who doesn't like to get a drink at intermission. Bartender was slow, but break was had.

Back Line Exploration-
I shoehorned this in because I wanted it in. Just a collection of ideas inspired by a suggestion. Suggestions were frying pan, and fire hydrant. Actors went literal, audience stayed with us. It was my fault for not setting up the parameters to be wider, ie. the audience was expecting literal ideas, which is off course very limiting. I will make it work, but it didn't really this show.
Arms Expert- Always kills. Mouse experts. Really had to telegraph suggestions ot get the arms to do their thing, but they did and laughs were got.
Entrances and Exits- Kinda flubbed because actors lost their cue words and though the scene platform was good it just trailed off. Suggestion was a supermarket.
Instant Exit (cut)- wanted to play this game where any actor who says or does something that gets a laugh must leave. Because previous scene didn't get many laughs though it wasn't right.
Half-Time- Always funny. And zany. Didn't really soar though because it was kinda static, but fortunately the format is such that it gets exciting, or at least feels like it does. Prisoner and guard were the suggestions.
Freeze Tag- Why not? Plus it gave me the chance to play, so I did.

So the show was good enough, and has given some impetus to find another space to do weekly or at least bi-weekly performances, which I'd like to do before I get outta here.

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13 November 2006

Written Words

Hey.

So I posted about my publication in a magazine called The Roman Forum. And Ia ssure you the new issue is out at newsstands. But as of yet, the new shit ain't online.

Not my job.

Also, a mag I'm planning to be writing for has just had their website launchStirred Up is a London based mag, and plans to be a fresh voice commenting on European affairs. As one might expect the website is content light, but will snowball over time. Blog section, forums, and space to comment on articles, I like the look and feel of it.

Check it, whydontcha?

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Improv Weekend

So another successful weekend of improv workshops taught by yours truly.

It was not the magical explosion of dynamic love that happened in the spring, but still through one weekend we pushed the boundaries, tackled some challenging games, welcomed some newcomers and put on a kick ass show at the end.

A kick-ass show to a pretty full house too, I might add.

Out of respect to the ideals of critical reflection I present my thoughts on the weeknd.

The lows:

-I had to cancel the Beginners workshop and roll everybody into one giant workshop. A lack of new blood.
-I have a sore throat from all the yelling I did this weekend.
-one new participant couldn't grasp the concept of mime, and continually would grab objects to help her create the environment. She even threw two water bottles at me in the course of a scene. Fortunately in rehearsal.
-Due to low enrollment, the Producer didn't get adequately compensated for her hard work.
-The show was good with many a genuine laugh, but not the same level of amazingness I recall from the first.
-Chiara was feeling bad and didn't make it to the show.

The Highs:
-A(nother) friend of mine came and participated in the workshop, and was surprisingly good.
-I spent all weekend doing and teaching improv.
-I pushed the group in the direction of long-form explorations, though we didn't actually get off the ground, we taxied around on the runway. Next time we'll get abstract.
-An abstract form made it into the set-list, though it didn't really kick ass much ass as I hoped it would.
-An actor who I had some power struggles with in the spring came back, and there were no power struggles, and he was wonderful.
-New people came to see the show.
-People who saw the first one came back.
-I got paid to do something I love.

...and of course, the highs win!

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Super Soccer Saturday



AS Roma, and the Milan San Siro stadium. For twenty years, San Siro has been Roma's Kryptonite. For twenty years they were unable to win there.

But on Saturday night, Roma managed to win, and win handily against their rivals from the north, in San Siro stadium, breaking the score-long curse. And to boot, though it in no way should be an add-on to the celebration, it was the 1000th victory for the giallorossi.

Sweet. And the game, won by a 2-1 margin, also marked a return to form for il capitano Francesco Totti. He had a doppieta, scoring the first goal in the sixth minute, which was described in sports paper Corriere dello Sport, as being "100 kilometres an hour." It did look like a corker when I saw it in the half-time replays.

He also scored the winner. With a powerful header. After Milan tied it early in the second half, Totti ran clear in the box onto a beautiful one-touch cross from Mancini, who was sent through by midfielder Aquilani. Tic-tac-TOTTIGOL!



Though it was Totti's game, Aquilani's form didn't go unnoticed by national coach Donadoni. He's been called into the line-up for this Wednesday's friendly against Turkey.

Saturday's North-South rumble was a helluva game of high action passionate football, which I enjoyed in a pub off Pazza Navona, with a couple of friends from my improv workshop.

After Sundays matches Roma remains in third behind Inter and Palermo, but the hometown boys are looking in fine form, and showed up and ran the show.

Unlike my Canucks.

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09 November 2006

See Me in the Funny Pages

...of a legitimate magazine.

The Roman Forum.

Online at www.theromanforum.com. Or of course if you live in Rome you can pick a copy up at any decent edicola.

I've written some stuff that's been published or produced before, in real life, though for the most part i'd be hard pressed to use both hands and be proud of the work that spurred me to uncurl digits on both of said hands.

However, hopefully this is the expansion in a new direction of more authorial and writerly pursuits.

Besides this blog, I'm currently working on a couple of screenplays and an article for another magazine, tentatively titled New Mag London. Or atleast that's how it's referred.

Anyone my net income from writing is so far: One lunch that my friend Howard (an editor at The Roman Forum) bought me. While literally putting food on the table, it's not exactly the step before me quitting my day job.

butone day...


maybeonedaysoon.

ormaybe i cankeepmoonlighting...

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08 November 2006

Republicans eat Shit

So, the emptywarhead Republicans, and Dubya in particular, were issued a sharp rebuke by the American voters.

Awesome. I'm kinda happy, but also a little cynical, I'm not sure that much will change, i'm not sure that much can change.

I mean, there's still Dubya in the White House.
The Dems that did get elected were very centrist and mostly indistinguishable from the Republicans.
There's been 6 years of a complete committefuck of the American political landscape, the economy, Iraq, global relations and so much Godblessing of America that I'm not sure a couple years of a paralyzed Congress and House can erase the 6 year trainwreck of the Bush presidency.

I mean, some stuff can get done I'm sure, but with control of the lower House of Reps, and at this point (at best) a 1 seat majority in Congress I predict, no matter how conciliatory the tones being adopted by the winners are, I predict partisan bickering for 2 years, and then the Republicans pointing to the fact in Presidential Race 2008, that the Dem's haven't done a fucking thing since taking over the House.

But I hope I'm wrong about that.

And I'm a Canadian that lives in Europe, so what the fuck do I know about the intricacies of American politics?

Very little, but enough to be disheartened by what goes on in the heart of the Evil Empire.

However, I will do my best to be slightly heartened by what happened in the election yesterday.

Eat it Bush, eat it with a big big born-againwar-mongering spoon.

That's what comeuppance tastes like.

That's what the American people want you to eat. And there in the bowl, smothered in comeuppance. That is crow. Eat that too.

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Scoop vs. Departed

I watched a couple movies with crime and murder and detection as strong central themes in them in the last couple weeks. One I liked, the other was disappointing. It's not what you'd think, and is not what other critics might say.

CAUTION SPOILER ALERT

Woody Allen's Scoop involved Scarlett Johanssen (who, though pretty and allegedly easy, isn't a very convincing actress) and Woody Allen, who's generally annoying onscreen (and not that pretty to look at). A key plot device was a reporter leaping off of death's boat to come back from the dead with clues for the whimsical detective partnering of Johanssen and Allen. Getting his one final "Scoop."

Departed involved Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leo Dicaprio, Martin Sheen, i mean, awesome actors, and was directed by Martin Scorcese. So an awesome movie right?

NO.

Scoop, if I can compare the two, and I can, was much more enjoyable. And here's why: At the end of the film everybody didn't shoot everybody else.

Yup.

Departed had me all the way through the film, but then right at the end the twisty plot got even twistier because everybody was crossing everybody else, but by crossing I mean shooting them in the head. This packed some dramatic impact, but mostly left us giggling at the inanity. Good film, enjoyable, gripping even, what with good-guy-acting-bad, bad-guy-acting-good, a love triangle, strong performances and then wham! right when it (finally) gets to the crux of the matter and Leo and Matt face off against one another a whole bunch of people (including Leo) get shot in the head. Problem solved, dramatic tension disappated. Then, amazingly, Matt's character gets shot in the head too.

Great. So now both our protagonists dead (actually all four main guys) and the despicably unsympathetic Mark Wahlberg lives?

Although I'm sure, extrapolating on the trend at the end of the film, he gets shot in the head very shortly after.

The point is, shooting everybody in the head doesn't make a movies ending dramatic, it just mean all the characters one spent so long getting attached to are dead. Which would be tragic I suppose, but because they were all "rats" I can't even feel that sorry for them, I just kinda end up not caring, but missing them anyway, because theyw ere all I had in the film. Which means the film really craps out at the end.

Scoop on the other hand was a fun detective story: well written and engaging. And then I wasn't disappointed at the end; not everybody, in fact nobody got shot in the head at the end. There was only one twist, and I kinda saw it coming, but still I felt much better walking out of the theatre after that one.

Score (another) one for Woody.

Marty: bbblllpppttthhh! Actually the first 142 minutes of your film get a 9 out of 10. the last 9 get a 2 out of 10.

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03 November 2006

The Weather

This is how the weather has been through October*:



*All data for this list compiled using memory. Memory is imperfect, but I'm pretty sure this is the reverse forecast for October in Rome.


Hot, warm, hot, sunny and warm, unseasonably hot,
sweaty hot,
cloudy and warm,
nice and warm,
holy fucking hot,
warm,
cloudy in the morning, sunny and hot in the afternoon,
hot again,
pretty nice,
Indian summery warm,
cold and miserable and rainy
(a two day stretch when Chiara and I were on vacation in Florence),
pleasant with cloudy periods,
dying for an ice cream hot,
warm again,
hawt!
unseasonably hot,
sunny again?!?
beautiful,
...and I guess that pretty much sums it up.

So when Novemeber arrived with a screeching halt to the nice weather I was caught off guard.




Today I went outside to work with just a sweatshirt on.

That was a mistake: seeing the sun through a window can no longer lead one to infer that the weather is warm, only that it's sunny.

Time to find a warmer jacket.


deviant art

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01 November 2006

All Saints Day

Day after Hallowe'en...

All Saints Day in Italy, a time to honour the dead.
Hallowe'en evening, last night was a time to watch 90 minutes of Cham,pion League football at the stadium with my man Andy. There was a good 30 minutes of exciting football, right at the end. The introduction of Simone Perrotta, and the other guy, Vukinic helped generate some offense for Roma. The fact that their awesome Brazilian winger and my favorite player, Mancini was missing didn't help their cause, but they managed to claw back to a draw in the end.

Right on.

Then it was Hallowe'en time!!!!



Recipes for mediocre last ditch costumes...

1. Witch.

Dress in black.
Wear lots of make-up
Growl.

Key: Black lipstick.

2. Burglar

Striped sweatshirt.
Black gloves.
Devious look on face.

Key: Black strip of material with eye holes as a mask.

3. Accident Victim

Take a crisp new white dress shirt.
Douse with ketchup and slash with a knife.
Let dry, then wear.
Optional: make-up for black eye effect.

Key: pained expression on face

The saddest thing about our costumes is that we were the best dressed people at the "Hallowe'en" party we went to. It was at a cool space in our neighborhood(!) but full of atrezzi only one or two made even made an attempt to dress up. And they were even more half assed than we were.

BOO! to that.

(And not Boo in the Halloweeny ghosty way)

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