Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last Day of June

Which means it's Sherin's birthday. And not just that, it's her GOLDEN birthday, which is extra-super-special, and everyone should celebrate at least through the 4th of July about it!

I don't have any photos of her on this computer, which is odd, but there you have it.

Instead, in honor of Sherin's Path Toward a Life in Policy, here's a Todd Purdum article from Vanity Fair on the most (in)famous woman in American Politics currently. If it were made-up, it would be unbelievable. Welcome to the Alfalfa Club, on crazy island!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

One Night in Rome

On this Saturday, I'm enjoying something I haven't had much of for quite a while - a little old-fashioned chill time. After listening to a live LP recorded in 1981 by a certain five brothers (one of whom may have been off the wall, but had not yet gone over the edge) and reflecting for a few moments on the angel who launched a million posters, I'm now watching the Red Sox take on the Braves (did Tim Wakefield really just slap an outside fastball up the middle for a single??) and figure I can pop out another quick post.

Think of this installment as a trailer for a film.

In a World where beauty and history meet, four friends meet on May Day. Two have lived in the Eternal City their whole lives, two are there for the first time.




Claudia

Valter

and Cory


... in "One Night in Rome". They meet at the Piazza Colonna for an odyssey that will take them to the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, the Castel Sant Angelo, the Vatican, then off the beaten path to the Aventine (including a secret keyhole on a door to nowhere) and Testacchio before winding up in Trastevere for revels in the center of Roman hipster culture. Four people, four walks of life, "One Night in Rome" they'll never forget.

Ok, so it might not be ready for a theater near you (and apologies to 10cc), but it was a pretty awesome afternoon/evening. We met Claudia and Valter at a reception after a screening of a documentary about Lucinda Childs at the BAC (that event probably deserves an entry of its own, but I can't write about everything.) Valter is an Afro-Cuban percussionist (not a musical style typically identified with Rome, true, but he's been doing it since he inherited a congo from the drummer in his first rock band in high school, and he now performs with a couple of bands and teaches students of all levels. Claudia is a dancer/choreographer, trained at the Academia Nacionale, who has worked in all manner of dance; currently, she's working in television, being the assistant choreographer for Amici, which is a big hit Italian TV show in its 7th season: think mashup of American Idol, So You Think You can Dance, and Real World. It shoots at the legendary Cinecitta Studio, everybody sings and dances, and all the contestants live together in a big dorm, and rather than having the judges be 2 "good cops" and 1 "bad cop" there is a panel of more than 10 judges, who make Simon Cowell look like a source of gentle support. Or so they say. She gets more airtime than most of the choreographic team, because she works with the contestants in the dorm as well as in the studio. We didn't have a chance to watch the show, although I'm sure there must be a way to track it down online.

They took us all over the place and we had a fantastic time with them. For part of the evening, we traveled in their car, which meant we got to parts of the city we probably wouldn't have been able to manage on our own, including a beautiful park/orange grove that overlooked the city, and the aforementioned keyhole, part of an old monastery that is now adjacent to the German (?) Embassy. But most amazing of all was the swing through Testacchio, where we saw not only the Mountain Made of Pottery Shards for which it's most famous, but ate a meal unlike any I've ever had at Il Scopatarro. Valter used to live in Testacchio (they now live in Ostia with their two kids) and they've been going to that place for years. I may have to write a whole other entry about this dinner, but for now suffice it to say: 1) it's better to go there with Romans (or at least Italians - the waiter argued with them/us at every turn; evidently they are not used to serving Americans the authentic Roman feast) 2) the food went on for miles; 3) the artichokes were incredible - huge, delicious, and so tender you could eat every crumb from stem to leaves; and 4) we ate parts of animals that are not always considered food.

To wrap up, here is a photo of all of us that we took at a monument I can't remember the name of. It was kind of a make-out spot for Romans of all ages, but for us it was a photo op, using the camera's self-timer. It's a crazy exposure, and both Claudia's and my head is cut off, but I kind of like it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back to Rome

So, ok, I've been obsessed with Hamlet lately (don't forget - the show's this weekend! Come see it if you are around.) But I am too busy in my other life to write another letter to the King of Norway right now.

So here's another viddy of Cory and me at the Trevi Fountain, ensuring our return to Roma:

video

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Whether the Weather is cold...

A bizarrely saddening set of statistics, courtesy Sherin:

Average June rainfall for New York City: 3.84"

2009 June rainfall for New York : 5.41" and counting

May had 14 days of "light rain" and 6 days of "heavy rain."

Sherin's conclusion: NYC needs some sun lamps and prozac. Whatever the prescription, this weather is unnecessary, wouldn't you say? It hath made me mad. Share the wealth, Mother Nature!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Claudius, part 2

Your Royal Majesty Norway,

Thank you for calling off Fortinbras and his dogs. I was just certain that you had scarcely even heard of his army's aggression.

As for your request of safe passage through our territory to ease your move against Poland, have at it! We'll fortify the path; as you know, I have no love for that stupid Polack. Hey, you know what might be a great idea? The naval route goes right by Elsinore - maybe you could have Fortinbras direct his forces to go by sea the whole way there. I would arrange for a parade, a cannon salute to your fleet, the works. And it might be a little easier on my citizens, who, if you'll permit me to be completely frank about it, are a little tired of warlike sights and sounds.

Meanwhile, how is the rest of your family? Gertrude is lovely and sends her best, naturally. Hamlet... well... let's just say that there are days I envy the fact that your nephew is running around with the army. I mean, I'm glad he stayed here (his mother really appreciated it too) but he just seems to be on the verge of being unhinged. Or not to be. It's a mystery to me: one day he'll be fine, but on the whole he's acting WEIRD. Really, I think he would benefit greatly from getting out of the palace and just doing something once in a while. We've brought over a couple of his friends to try to get him involved a little more. I don't know much about them personally: they seem fairly uninspired to me, but Gertrude insists that they were thick as thieves with Hamlet when they were younger. They'll also provide additional sets of eyes and ears, in case they can figure out what's at the root of his distemper. (It can't be just his father's death, right? It's been three months!)

Polonius thinks it's puppy love. (Oh, Polonius sends his most heartfelt regards as well.) His daughter Ophelia and Hamlet have carried on some kind of flirtation, it seems, and Polonius is convinced that the fact that he advised her to withhold her affections is pushing Hamlet over the edge. I don't know... Ophelia is an impressive young lady, rather stunning actually (do you remember her? I think you met her when her brother Laertes won that fencing tournament in Oslo) but still, that is a farfetched explanation, in my opinion. Polonius has concocted one of his patented schemes to observe their interaction, and I'm going along with it. Can't hurt, right?

Once again, we guarantee safe passage through Denmark to your troops, and to that we add Royal wishes for your health and long life.

Claudius/Denmark

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I, Claudius (for Hamlet fans)

High and Mighty, King of Norway,

Hail and Long Life. Thank you for the kind expression of sympathy for my brother Hamlet's untimely demise. It was a tough blow for us all, but we're adjusting as best as we can.

Thank you also for your generous wedding gift! It was unexpected and unnecessary, but very very welcome to our household. You can never have too many rosemalled beer mugs!

The ceremony was great, thanks for asking. There was a certain amount of introspection, of course, as Hamlet's death was actually rather recent when you think about it. His son, young Hamlet, is still being a total downer about it. I mean, I guess you can't blame him in a way, but he really seems to be a completely different person - somber and sober and grumpy all the time. It's making his mother pretty upset too; honestly, I think that's what bothers me most. Still, she and I had a fantastic wedding, and I wish your health had allowed you to be there. We put those beer mugs to good use! In fact, to celebrate Hamlet's decision to stay in Denmark, we finished the party off by blasting cannons whenever we drank a toast. Everybody had a great time. Well, maybe not Junior, but everyone else did.

Speaking of exploding cannons, I'm not sure whether you're aware that your nephew Fortinbras has been marching an army across my kingdom and rattling on that we need to surrender the lands that you and your brother assigned to us in the Copenhagen Accords. I know that Fortinbras is kind of a hothead, but that treaty was signed, sealed and delivered with the full force of law. Cool him off, would you please? We don't want to go to another war over something that was settled to everyone's benefit ages ago, and we really can't have him threatening our territory.

And with that, I'll sign off for now. All best wishes for your improved health. I know you Norwegians have the best health care going on - they'll tend to you brilliantly.

With Gracious Goodwill,
Claudius the Dane

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Rise of the Wackos

Nicely done, guys.

You wanted to oppose late-term abortions. "Killing babies" and all, you said. SO - you killed a guy. At his church, no less. Brilliant! "No place indeed should murder sanctuarize" and all.

And now, what do you know? His family is so terrified that they are closing the clinic permanently. A clinic that provided all types of health care to women, including expextant mothers. And so you have succeeded. A stunning achievement.

This, of course, is a victory not just for the heroes actually willing to shoot doctors and bomb clinics and churches. It is a victory for all who have the courage to put themselves out on a limb, shouting and screaming and hurling abuse - verbal, physical and psychological - at women in what might be their time of greatest need.

Congratulations. You now have concrete results for your actions! People will respect you now. Not like those abortion opponents who express a thoughtful point of view in civil discourse. Those wimps are fading into the past. One could respectfully disagree with them, but no one actually feared them. You can find them in a room brimming with pent-up frustration along with the New York State Senate.

But you! You have successfully struck fear into millions, including some of the most vulnerable members of society. There is no useful definition of 'terrorist' that does not include you. How proud you must be.

Update: your follow-up is another stroke of genius. Declare that victory loud and proud, heroes.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sad Follow-up

Bizarre news about Ara Pacis: seems some vandals took issue with the design. Or something. Even the almost-Fascist Mayor of Rome condemned that act (though he's still negotiating to have Meier 'revise' his design.)

I don't know. Positive spin: it's cool to see somebody get so worked up over architecture? Yeah, that's a pretty weak argument. Bottom line: this temple was more than half buried for 1,600 years - nobody's afraid of a little paint.