Monday, 27 December 2010


About 300 years ago writers, philosophers and artists from all over Europe travelled to Italy to discover its beauty and live and breathe centuries of art and culture. With their slow carriages they crossed an entire continent, riding for many weeks, facing the unexpected with the goal of being repaid by southern treasures.

I travel regularly to Italy, to go back home. I turn on my Mac, I connect to the internet, I visit a couple of websites to search for the lowest fare and puff when once again Ryanair beats any other company when it comes to cheap fares.

We all agree. The initial enthusiasm for the company that introduced low-cost flights in Europe has died long time ago. Today Ryan means stricked rules and insidious footnotes that hide behind every contract line. I would not be surprised to find out that a team of psychologists are already studying the typical travel stress caused by flying with the yellow and blue airline.

My trip to Italy begins with the preparation of a hand baggage which must be strictly 20x40x55 with a maximum weight of 10Kg. Unfortunately I do not own Ryanair officially approved suitcases. I pray that my 24x24x50 hand-bag does not raise suspicions at the boarding gate.
The night before the flight I dream of airport controls comparable to Nazi inspections.

I fortunately remember to print my boarding pass at home and avoid paying a mandatory fine of €40 for last minute check-in. Courtesy of Ryanair.

At the airport I do everything possible to disguise my luggage while I carefully scan the equipment of the other passengers. I watch the flight attendants while determining who can pass the luggage test and embark without paying surcharges.
I pass.

The flight is a continuous sale: duty free products, lottery tickets, car rentals, shuttle transfers to and from the airport and much more. A hostess draws the attention of distracted and bored passengers by promising her colleague Paul will demonstrate the use of the aircraft's sauna and jacuzzi. A moment of silence is followed by general laughter, followed by new chatting indicating loss of attention during the instructions for emergency conduct code.

We get to Rome later than scheduled. Luckily I spare myself the 45 minute wait at the luggage belt. Courtesy of Italian Airports.
By the time to I get out the police closes Ciampino airport for unknown reasons. The arrival of firefighters and ambulance follows. I am just glad I am not trapped inside.

I miss the bus to Rome city centre because of my flight's delay and dare to go look for another one. I am assaulted by Roman ticket sellers who lie about the departure time of their bus to Rome.
When the bus finally arrives about 70 passangers rush towards the entrance of the vehicle. With a little wrestling (Al Cogan style) I get on board.There's still a couple of empty seats. We are not moving till the bus is filled like an egg.
Meanwhile, competitor lines arrive. The three cars are parked and now filled with paying passengers.
Everybody checks out the window to make sure their vehicle will be the first to leave the airport.

I am exhausted, frustrated, in Italy since half hour and already wanting to leave. I hate Rome, Romans, Italians.

The bus finally leaves. We get out of Ciampino Airport. On my left side I can see some Roman ruins in the fields. They stand out in the night, lit up in warm orange lights. Above them a few stars. I am calm again. Suddenly I remember why I'm in Italy, what Italy means. I feel like Goethe, like Ingres. I feel good.

At least until I get to Termini where I hop on bus 105 and the inhuman stench pervading my lungs makes it impossible to breathe until my destinantion.

Welcome home. Welcome Home.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

SEX AND THE CITY 3 - The only logical sequel

It would be too easy to criticize a film that is a simple show off of all the billions collected in recent years thanks to six very successful seasons and an equally engaging sequel. Rivers of ink have already been poured to trash it, I don't want to add more.

That's why I decided to imagine another sequel, a SEX AND THE CITY 3, which now seems the only natural consequence of the recent number 2.

In fact during this second movie we are already warned that sooner or later the topic of motherhood will be touched by the couple Carrie-Mr. Big and that the luxurious apartment (that would sleep 25 let me remind you) will soon be invaded by screaming creatures.

In the third chapter Carrie changes her mind. She realizes that a child is absolutely necessary to ensure that her collection of haut couture, packed on more layers inside a walking closet that's as big as my house, does not become part of the Salvation Army 2030 collection.

In the opening scene we see Carrie enter the dressing room and talk to a pair of Manolo Blahnik that beg her to reconsider her views on childbirth or at least ensure a future on the feet of an Upper East Side resident.

Carrie is undecided. The thought that a child can reduce her skirts the way Charlotte's children did to their mom's upsets her much. But it is Mr. Big who swaps on the fatherly side once he realises the world is in desperate need of another creature with a massive head just like his.

The problem is that in the third chapter Carrie is about 50, which means Samantha is bound to be turning 60 soon.

The artificial insemination seems to be the only solution. Charlotte give her best to persuade Carrie to undergo such harsh treatments by trying to sell her her children or then at least take them for free. Carrie refuses since the babies, after 10 years, are still crying.

Samantha is not Samantha anymore. Of the one we knew not even a hair is left. Everything has now been replaced by implants 
previously belonged to Asian girls bought on the black market. To ensure that she would continue to "feel something down there" she has installed a powerful electronic device that can be activated via SMS. 

Miranda is the only one leading a quiet life, still in love with Steve, happy to be in Brooklyn and at peace with her body and her taste for sober clothing. In the third chapter Miranda finally realises she has nothing in common with her friends.

Charlotte does not want to hear about children anymore. After the outburst in Abu Dhabi with Miranda she is no longer able to play the loving mother's role. Her daughters brought her to alcoholism and we witness the rehab at a center where she sees again all her former lovers.

Clothes for the third volume have kindly been offered by the Michael Jakcson Foundation who decided to sponsor the entire production after they saw Samantha's red dress from the second movie with the silver spikes on the shoulders.

Just for a change in Sex and the City 3 the girls visit TokyoMiranda goes around repeating Konichiwa and Samantha complains about the size of the penises of the Japanese people. Charlotte is the organizer of the transfer (anything to get away from her family) and that's where Carrie receives Big's call who begs her to proliferate.


P.s.: I can easily imagine number 4: Sex and the Viagra.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

LOST - Final Chapter - The ability of moving on

J: Dad?!
C: Hello jack.
J: I don’t understand, you died…
C: Yeah, yes I did.
J: Then how are you here right now?
C: How are YOU here?
J: I died too?!
C: It’s ok, it’s ok son.
J: I love you dad.
C: I love you too son.
J: Are you real?
C: I hope so (laughs), yeah I am real! you’re real! everything that’s ever happened to you is real. All those people in the church, they’re all real too.
J: They’re all… they’re all dead?
C: Everyone dies sometime kiddo. Some before you, some long after you.
J: Why are they all here now?
C: There is no now here.
J: Where are we dad?
C: This is the place that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here, nobody does it alone jack, you needed all of them and they needed you.
J: For what?
C: To remember, and let go.
J: Kate, she said we were leaving.
C: Not leaving no… moving on.
J: Where are we going?
C: Let’s go find out.

These beautiful words close Lost’s last episode after six years of out of this world matters. Jack Shepherd asks his father all the questions that will close the circle finally giving an answer to the thousand doubts we have piled up between time travels and smoke monsters.

Jack the science man, just like the audience, looks for a logical explanation to all tha crazy stuff that went on around him and finally finds it thanks to trust, the same trust that so often is betrayed during the series or that seems to be the issue for all the cast-away’s. Only a trustworthy person like his father can lead him through the last step of comprehension and help him see not with the eyes of the scientist but with those of the sensitive man who has experienced the unexplicable on his own skin.

Jack’s doubts disappear once he manages to leave his past behind when he realises that his best memories will always be with him and that only through those he will be able to give meaning to his life. Thanks to what he chooses to carry with him forever he can find the courage to move on.

Ending one chapter does not make less real what has past. It amplifies it and makes the future acceptable and harmonic together with what we have been until then. Knowing that the past is past will help him remember together with those whom he will decide to bring along on his journey.

Only through memories he can let go, only by letting go he can move on. He doesn't need to know where he is going. What really matters is being able to see where he's stood to ultimately find peace and write THE END.

To B. and S.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

DEAD LIKE ME - Welcome to Israel

"Dead Like Me", like the little girl protagonist of the homonymous TV series. The irony of dying hit by a toilet seat falling from outerspace due to the explosion of a Russian spacecraft is just the beginning of a new life of adventures and misadventures for Georgie. 

I have not yet been affected by spacely WC's but instead I have been suspected for 6 long hours of wanting to blow up the El Al flight from Rome to Tel Aviv on April 23, 2010. Dead like me, or like all passengers travelling to Israel, according to the twisted minds of the guards at Fiumicino Airport.
For once in my life I arrived at the airport very early. I was ready in line for checking-in three hours prior to my flight as insistingly suggested by my travel agent. "Flights to Israel require more controls therefore more time" she said. 

Fifth in the queue at super armed Terminal 5 I am happily thinking about the Vanity Fair already awaiting to be purchased once passed the metal detectors. 

But my check-in/interrogation becomes very long. After having repeatedly answered the same questions ten times I am asked to sit on a red chair while all the other passengers smoothly go by. Three different men come back to me with the same questions: Why are you going to Israel, who touched your suitcase, what do you do for a living, is there a website of the company you work for, why are you not working at the moment?? Can one be unemployed without being suspected of terroristic plans!!?!?!

After two long hours I am told the guards have decided to search my luggage (only once in Israel I will find out that creams and antihistamines are gone) and myself. As I  am taken to a private room I notice the police officer is wearing latex gloves. I point out my concern about the search. I am promptly reassured it won't be internal.
An Israeli man tells me they have checked-in for me and that my computer will be shipped (nooooooooooooooo !!!!!) in a red box separately from me and my suitcase.

I pass all controls and tests and am entrusted to a young native of Haifa who escorts me to the gate.The flight carries a three hour delay. My young guard is then forced to follow me to the café where I treat him to breakfast. We talk about Israel and about the soon to start Sabbath. So I begin to grow suspicious that once I land my driver will be on religoius strike and leave me in Tel Aviv until the end of the holy occasion instead of driving me to my destination. 

My new friend must return to check-in. I am left with a less polite colleague. But I need a loo and this new guard is forced to follow me. On the way to the restrooms I pray he won't force me to pee in front of him as I know I won't make it under pressure and therefore will make him even more suspicious! I succeed and we go back to the seat where I am asked to stay put till boarding.

So I am sitting there while a press conference is held behind me with priests and nuns involved in some project with faith and sports and I realise why I am the victim of this misunderstanding! I am the only one who is not wearing a cross and I am the only one under 60!

Changing of the guard and I am entrusted to a young woman from Tel Aviv who tells me they do not believe that I am a terrorist but that someone has given me, without my knowledge, the explosive. I begin to think it might be true. List of suspects because in contact with my suitcase before leaving: my grandmother, famous Palestinian, Federica's chihuahua, known anti-Semite, the Chief of the Leonardo Express train direct from Termini station to Fiumicino Airport, obvious unionist par excellence and therefore anti-American and therefore anti-Israeli!
Someone behind me says on the microphone that Fiumicino must become the hub of faith. My itching is uncontrollable. I also pray that the flight will leave soon.

We board. I am assigned a window seat. To make sure i can't move they have placed a paralised woman next to me. I sit for three hours needing to pee again. I only find relief once in Tel Aviv. Not for long though. I retrieve my suitcase and my computer. I open immediately the red cardboard shoebox in which they had located my laptop (might as well thrown it directly from the plane ...) to notice three long scratches on my MacBook's shiny titanium cover. Oh, now it is war on Israel!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

SCRUBS vs. GREY'S ANATOMY - It's a weather matter

After working for more than two years in England and having experienced the bad influence of a hostile climate I am positive that the weather can act like a giant thermometer on our mood. 

I'm not saying anything new, of course ... so that two rather famous TV series do nothing but agree with this common sense: "Scrubs" and "Grey's Anatomy" are day and night, black and white, the sun and the rain. 

Let's compare the two main characters: Elliott Reid, "Scrubs", and Meredith Grey, "Grey's Anatomy." Both start out as interns in American teaching hospitals, both beautiful women (the latter had a discreet lipjob), both living on the West Coast but - and here's the catch - the first in the sunny California, unspecified losangelian site, the second in the rainy Seattle (although the show tries to hide it with takes of a constant clear sky).

Elliott Reid is super unlucky. Yet, since she lives in the sunny valleys of California, she does not mind, ever. She doesn't mind when as a child she discovers she was given a boy's name; she doesn't mind if her friend and colleague and partner spring in and out of her life confusing her to the point she gives up whom she thought was the right man for her (dolphin trainer, try to find another one with the same job once you let go of the first...). This slightly awkward blonde sportively puts up with her state of second best doctor in the hospital she works for and she is fine when the only person she tries to build a friendship with lasts only half season and is soon thrown out of the script. She does not let go even when she is repeatedly forced to deal with the excellence of her family (all doctors) in the futile attempt to prove his ability to a egocentric fatherElliott, like an eel dressed in a blue scrub, lets everything drip off her.

On the other hand her colleague in Seattle, from Grey'sanatomyville, falls into acute depression for a bad hair dye and since the very first season she has promised never to smile (and if it happens the camera usually fades off as not to frighten the viewer with emotions that are not covered by Seattle's gray climate). Even Dr. Grey comes from a family of doctors - the mother in this case - whom however, in perfect style with the depressing mood of the series, dies after years of Alzheimer's. Meredith gets engaged and then marries the handsome Doctor Shepherd but the marriage can hardly bring good spirits. Indeed, the engagement between the two makes the hours of labor of a pregnant woman a pleasant pastime. Depressed Meredith, who actually gets to be dead for several hours during the third season (which better medium if not someone who already seems to be dead inside?) drags into sever mood swings all the other doctors in the series who end up attending the same therapist (which, by the way, is not very professional). Meredith could have a thousand reasons not to be depressed but we know by now that she could also win the lottery and maintain the veneer of despair. Because the doctor's only bad luck is that she lives in Seattle where it rains all the time.

This is why when I wake up in the morning I look out to see what color the sky of Milan is. And in those rare days when my eyes see blue I feel a bit like Elliott Reid.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

MAD CAT - Reality vs. Fiction

A.S.: this post has nothing to do with TV series. I was so exhausted after this experience I couldn't watch any.

Insisting. I think I have learned that stressing does not always bring the result we wish for. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Last night I wanted to know how to meow to explain a few things to my friend's cat.

The first thing I would have told him is that I'm allergic to cats. This means that over time not only have I learned to keep them at bay to prevent asthma attacks but I also developed a kind of hatred towards the category.

The second thing I would have explained to him is that I locked the room during the night just to avoid he might approach me during my sleep.

And the third thing I wanted to say is that it is useless to try to knock down the living-room's door. Because the animal tried to enter all night and judging by the noise he generated he was at least throwing himself with a cat-catapult. Even meowing pitifully did not work. Because the chair I placed  behind the door as you only see in horror movies and the many other weights I put to counterbalance the brute force of a cat as pissed off as King Kong on top of the Empire State Building had long been designed by my being an animal equipped with opposable thumbs, a brain larger than a walnut, soul and knowledge of the bon-ton (of which the mad cat is definitely unprovided but I have some doubts about the opposable claws).

Add to this that I went to bed at 02:00am because my flight had been delayed and shortly after we got stuck on the highway due to an accident and that at 7.30am I was up and running, the temptation to throw the cat out the window was immense. So insisting did not work this time. 
Actually it does not work with me at all. Because some doctor of the mind with well exposed certificaton said I'm not very spontaneous but actually very methodical, so if I put into my head that I should be asleep and a cat ruins my rest I am victim of significant menthal imbalances

The second match is expected tonight. It is rumored that Curry - this is the name of my infamous arch enemy - is getting ready with chemical weapons (about that: once home today I found a smelling gift on the bed as if to say "be very careful ..."). 

I know that I'll lose, my horoscope of the week began like this: "Saturn returns". AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH !!!!!!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

UGLY BETTY - A Million First Kisses

It was the episode "All the World's a Stage" of season 4 of "Ugly Betty" to trigger in me Proustian souvenirs. The young Justin, Betty's nephew who's developed very much throughout the series, especially in his nose, finally revealed himself. The process of coming out, awaited by his mother, relatives, friends and public, has taken a couple of steps forward.

After a performance from the students of what it is supposed to be one of the best acting schools in NYC (that made me look back at my sister's nun-run school shows as masterpieces) Justin confronts his friend Austin. For audiences at home the attraction between the two is obvious but the teenagers involved need a few more steps before staging a mock fight which leads them to bumping and touching until falling into kissing.

And that's when I heard "bam"! I feel warm goose bumps rise from behind my head and climb up to the top. The first kiss ... or the first kisses.

My first-first kiss happened on the run, when I was 12, because you were supposed to take care of that business as soon as you could. Friends would expect a full report on actions, movements and feelings. It was more about what you would say to your gang than the actual kiss, the case being that my first kiss took place behind a massive garbage bin in a dark alley with a girl of infamous reputation. Questions I was asked afterwards: "how many seconds did it last?", "French kiss?" "Did you get to second base?" and so on. Imagination helped where experience was lacking. 

My second-first kiss arrived much later, under the spotlight of a nightclub in the middle of the dance floor, visible to all classmates who were certainly more aware than me about many aspects of my personality. The sensations, far more intense than those experienced years before, remain confused because of the rivers of alcohol that were flowing in my veins at the time. Questions I was asked afterwards: "in front of everyone?", "so.. basically, so far you've been lying to yourself?", "And when are you gonna tell your parents?" and so on. Disappearing for a while helped calm the rumours.

So we can't say that my first kisses were as memorable as Justin's on an emotional level but somewhere in my head I can still taste the flavour of other first kisses that were sought asfter and desired in every part of me and that have changed my life in those brief but intense moments. When touching was enough to make me dizzy, when 0.15 second look could revolutionize my day or when love was the only concern of my life.

Friday, 2 April 2010

AUDITIONING IN ROME - From Naples to the Circus

What I am about to tell does not refer to any TV series or film. Simply because what I saw today was never represented through such media. Maybe James Cameron will arrive there in ten years after inventing advanced technologies and XYZ generation cameras but till today my story could not find representation. 

This morning I had my first audition in Rome. Warned at the last minute about this job opportunity and encouraged by friends who know my laziness when it comes to work hard to get a contract, I showed up at 10.00am on Good Friday of the Easter Holidays of the year 2010 at a gym in Appia Nuova in Rome. 

Although disturbed by the idea of competing in a space not designed for dance but for body conditioning, abs abs abs, aerobics, step and other manic calory burning disciplines I arrive with my not very fashionable jumper to find out, already by the entrance of the building, that I am totally out of place. 

I take a deep breath and pretend not to notice that nobody has a hair out of place, or showed up makeupless or that the new must-have piece of clothing for dancing is a checkered shirt as if we have to dance for Madonna in "Do not Tell Me". Anywy I sign in: No. 65 .

[Non-dancers may not know that the dancers are usually provided at auditions with a little number to be put in a visible place. (Locations chosen by the participants to show the serial number and the support chosen by the organizers to hold such numbers could be subjects to many other posts on this blog)]. Just know that the green Post-it is no better than the yellow Post-it: they just do not stick to fabric, especially if you plan to move with that thing on. And... dance is supposed to be movement. 

However low my spirit is I take this audition as exercise for future ones and decide to try to do well and enter the dance room to warm up. Only ten minutes after I realize that the space, supposed to accommodate up to fifty people, is reaching 200 participants. 

I take another deep breath (the air is lacking) and concentrate. The combination is interesting. I put effort in it despite the fact that from my position I can only see heads and arms of the choreographers. I am confident they will soon announce the exchange of rows so that we would all be able to benefit from a complete picture but I understand straight away that no one will give away the pole position. When I try to take a few steps front I am bounced back by a wall of checkered shirts. 

I begin to get an idea of how it works. While marking (technical term for the action of rehearsing with little effort) I get kicked and punched by the ones around me who are dancing as if it was the premiere.

I am about to give up but then decide that I owe it to myself to learn the combination before going to my doctor's appointement booked in the afternoon. As time goes by I begin to see more clearly. What in Rome people call an audition is very similar to a fight at the fruit market in Naples. You might not raise your voice but you make noises by clapping at anthing that happens around you.

I continue trying while a bunch of breakers do never before seen things and ballerinas are going around with the usual expression of the people who do not want to get on the stilts for the day. Suddenly I realize I am no longer in Naples, but in a circus! But no wait! Wait... look at that one and that one! and that one! and that too! This is Gay Pride!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

THE INVENTION OF LYING - For a Good Cause...

In a world where lying is not conceivable the ads for Coca-cola say "Drink it because it is the most popular beverage in the world" while the competitors are happy to go with headlines such as "Pepsi, when you can't find Coke".

In the amusing "The Invention of Lying," written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson there is not even a word to describe the well-known bad habit of this space-time dimension in which we are living.

A beautiful Jennifer Garner is in search of the perfect man to generate genetically flawless children but can't follow her heart's call to give in to the attentions of a man who does not match the idea of the perfect husband.

In the world without lies, rudeness, as we understand it, has a lifetime passport. All against all since there are no communication boundaries to contain what turns out to be hurtful towards others.

It is the first lie by the main character, perceived by others as truth, to clear the road to reach the divine. That's how lying reveals the way to salvation and becomes the only hope to survive a ruthless candor. So the one individual to lie becomes the spokesman of the "man-in-the-sky" and spreads the ten modern commandments which basically allow anything while safeguarding the respect for others.

Ricky Gervais moves with his British figure in a world of perfect American smiles but it is by deceit that he can get through a society unforgivable towards imperfection. So lying for a good cause contributes to a better world and gives hope to a cynical humanity without perspective. And the idea of a possible reunion after death with those who have abandoned us inevitably makes life more bearable.