Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Paolo Fresu Devil Quartet and the Nuovo Verdi Teatro

Last night I went to a concert in theNuovo Verdi Teatro . It was interesting night in 3 unique ways. First and most important were the people that I was there with, second was seeing the new theater and third was the concert itself.
First, I went there with my neighbor and her sister and then we met up with friends at the theater. My neighbor’s sister is in a wheelchair and navigating this old town from our apartment to the theater can be a hassle and I was also interested to see people’s reactions or stares as we made our way through the passeggiata. Italians are very interested in “la bella figura” so anything different is worthy of conversation or stares in this small town. The problem is everyone is used to seeing them (as they are usually together) but now they are wondering who that guy is with them. So in whatever group I travel, I’m still the odd one. If I hear “Di dove sei?”one more time!! I would think by now everyone in this town knows where I’m from!!
Then there was the theater; oh man, of course, it’s a heck of a story. In the 1960s they thought that Brindisi should have a new great theater, one of the biggest in the south of Italy. The old theater (built 1893) was bombed in WWII but continued to operate until 1960 when it was finally demolished as being unsafe. The new theater was fighting an uphill battle all the way and had a problem common in Italy. Where they wanted to build it was also where the town had just found ruins from the Roman era. They found streets and foundations of buildings from Brindisi’s heyday as THE port to the east during the Roman Empire. So what did they do? They built the entire theater on concert stilts over the ruins. I love this idea. The theater stays in a very central and convenient location without destroying the past. I have to get a picture of this. Last night was the first time you could see “under” the theater. From the street you can literally see all the way to other street on opposite side of the theater with just a steel fence keeping you from falling into the ruins, which are about 6 feet below street level. They are still working the archeological site and uncovering new items while the theater is working overhead. So they solved the biggest problem but they created another. The theater itself is just plain ugly from the outside, in my opinion. Inside it’s very nice and the acoustics are great but outside it looks completely wrong. You have wonderful stone buildings here but this monster is covered in sheet metal as you can see in the photo. I try to rationalize it with my engineering logic and I think they had to do this to keep the weight down (because it is after all suspended about 15 feet over the ruins). So I’m giving them a little benefit of a doubt. Work began on the theater in 1971 and didn’t go well but I won’t bore you with the story of that except to tell you that the first concert was held in the Nuovo Verdi Teatro in December 2006!!!! Yes, it took 35 years! The Jazz concert I went to last night for the Paolo Fresu Devil Quartet is one of the first concerts in a theater that’s basically as old as I am. I look at the bright side as finally Brindisi is using this concert hall. The place was almost completely full (about 1200 people) so I hope this is the start of needed boost in Brindisi. All the time I lived here I thought it was open I just didn’t know what was going on. I have to believe that this theater finally having shows will do nothing but help Brindisi. It will help preserve that style of life where everything is going on in town, “in centro”.
And I’ll close with a review of the show. The Paolo Fresu Devil Quartet consisted of trumpet (Paolo), guitar, contabasso, and drums. It could be broken down into two shows to me. They started out with some New Age stuff that I just plain didn’t like. I thought the concert was going to be very long. Too many guitar solos that I just didn’t “get”(I remember thinking “this is Paolo’s band, why is the guy on guitar doing another solo?”). But then the show seemed to change and they went into style I like to call smooth and mellow jazz. This part caught my attention and had me toe tapping and feeling the music. Almost everything was original! No jazz standards and I didn’t mind. I think normally you like to hear something a little familiar but his style was a good mix of slow and fast, highs and lows that keep me interested. He only stopped once to tell a very long story of the inspiration for the next piece to be played. It went back to a trip to New Caledonia for a jazz festival and how they stayed in horrible hotel with a horrible breakfast and they wanted to create something inspired by this experience but the music came out horrible!! They started their trip back to Italy and in Australia they stopped long enough to rework the music and it came out great so they called it “Stanley Music” in honor of that horrible hotel in New Caledonia. They jumped into the piece and it was the best part of the show. They did a couple of short encores and we left happy and content. The second part of the show definitely won me over and the first part probably impressed the true jazz aficionados. Something for everyone.

Monday, January 29, 2007

It's Cold Outside!

NOW, It’s cold. I spent the whole weekend whining about the cold so I guess I should continue on Monday too. This weekend was the first true weekend of winter. No, it didn’t snow or even get down to 0C but, but, oh, never mind. It’s not that bad.

Anyway there’s some good news from this weekend. Valerio and Erika have set a date for their wedding. Wahoo! I’m invited to real Italian wedding. Now, this is nothing against all the other Italian weddings that I have been too. Let’s face it all the weddings of “the O’s” were pretty Italian. I still remember doing the Tarantella at Marco’s wedding. I’m pretty sure the DJ remembers that night too because he changed the music too early and Marco ran over to the booth to explain that we weren’t finished dancing. I hadn’t seen Marco move that fast since our days playing soccer in 6th grade. Then in my own family we’ve had some very Godfather looking scenes. But this wedding is going to be 100% Southern Italian. I expect to fast for two days before it so that I’m ready.

This event reminds me of another foreign wedding that kind of “kick started” my adventure in Italy. Back in Indianapolis, it’s hard to explain exactly how or why, but I hung out with an international crowd. I played soccer with just about every European and South American nationality. I can remember one time when we had an Ecuadorian, Bolivian, Argentine, Irish, English, and French guy on the same team. So it was no surprise when Amelie who was Canadian/American married a guy that was French/Spanish (I had a hard time picking out which nationality to list first, so no offense if they’re reading this, but they’re in Madrid right now with a new baby so they might be too busy). They had a quiet little civil ceremony in Indy and then a huge knock down all day and night celebration in France. I was unsure about traveling to France so I came up with all sorts of stupid reasons at the time. I finally couldn’t say no to them and I didn’t want to miss out on something that was so unique. It was an amazing trip that I should write about one day. Eating and drinking all night under a big tent in small town in France reminded me that if I didn’t get out and see the world when I had the chance that I would regret it someday. Also it was my first real experience at being “a fish out of water” as they say. I still remember Martin’s family and friends performing skits at the reception. It was an amazing, elaborate affair that could not be conveyed in pictures.

The same stupid doubts and thoughts ran through my head when I saw this job opening in Italy. All I had to do was remember how much I enjoyed the wedding and that unique opportunity and I sent in my resume. Both the wedding and job could be boiled down the old classic line, “if I don’t do this now, then when will I?”

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stormy Weather!

So, as promised, I stayed home with the kids last night. What a good night to stay home. The wind picked up something fierce. The windows and doors were rattling, there were trash tornadoes on the streets, and I had no reason to go out, so I didn’t. The rain threatened all day but didn’t deliver until about midnight. Then we got everything lightening, thunder, even stronger winds and buckets of rain. Reminded me a little of the good ol’ Midwest in the spring!
So what did the kids and I do? Mara has taken up Nello’s old job of watching me eat but as you can see from the photo she’s not quite tall enough yet and Nello has taken up laying on anything that he can’t normally lay on during the day. It's a good thing my laptop isn't in there. Nello's getting big.Honestly, Nello is so hairy in the winter that he doesn’t need something soft to lay on! This spring and summer is going to bad when they both start shedding all that extra hair. Also I pulled some old CDs and put them on while I did some cleaning. Look at that nice clean bathroom!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Finals, Finalemente!

It was a dark and windy night on the hollowed grounds of the local calcio field. Two gladiators were getting ready to go toe to toe one last time for all the glory in the company soccer tournament, the finals, finally. We took to the field and noticed one thing quickly, that the other team wasn’t there yet. It seems that they thought the game was 7:00 instead of 6:30. This of course means we started around 7:30 PM, a little “icing” the nerves of our team? When the game started it was slow as each team tried to feel out the other team. Now we had beaten this team twice in the regular season so you would think we would be a little more confident but the opposing team in the final wasn’t EXACTLY the same team we had already played twice. I had been warned about this so I wasn’t surprised to see the new players. Usually the other teams we played would have at least one player where we had the clear advantage. We don’t have the greatest players in the company but ALL our players are pretty good so there was no clear way to attack us. And if they commit too many on offense then our speed on the counterattack was deadly and that was how we won many games. We took special joy in catching the other team with too many forward. This adversary was too disciplined to let that happen.
Finally the other team got on the board first. The player they call simply “bomber” was left alone long enough for him to trap the ball, size up the shot, and easily put it past me (I’m the goalie if I haven’t mentioned this before). That’s all the bomber did all season. He doesn’t go far from the goal and just waits for the right pass and shoots (There’s no offsides in our calcetto, 6 vs 6). My team should know not to leave bomber alone like that! We struck back and tied it at 1-1 with some perfect passing when Davide entered the game for the first time. The enemies of all that is good then got another chance from close range to make in 2-1. Just before half we strike back to make it 2-2 with our counter attack. Finally we caught them forward and had space to pass and score.
At halftime I wasn’t too worried. Almost every game we would be close in the first half but we would wear the other team down and the second half would be the time we pull away. Also in the second half we would be shooting at the “good goal”. It’s hard to explain but the way the field is set up it’s much easier to shoot at one goal verses the other. So I thought things were still favoring us even though it was obvious the other team had picked up some good players.
The second half went on back and forth and it wasn’t until Piero fouled the other team in our box that the score changed. Then had a penalty kick that would be simple for the “bomber”. I didn’t have a chance unless I could some how get him to send it wide. To my surprise he let one of their new guys take this very important kick and he buried it in the upper right corner of the net. A very good shot for going into the “bad” goal. Now I was mad. How could we be behind at this point? Our team stepped up the pace and fired back, 3-3. Now I’m a little more comfortable but still we just weren’t getting good shots and this is usually our time of the game. Then I cleared out a cross with a punch of the ball that went high in the air and the same big guy that scored the penalty kick, kicked the crap out of it straight on the fly from long range and right into the same corner of the goal. We were down 4-3 with very little time left. They wouldn’t have another decent attack the rest of the game. They just hung back in defense managed to weather our storm. The whistle blew and it was still 4-3 for them. I can say that I was a very upset last night but it was a really good and evenly matched game, probably the lowest scoring game of the whole season and tournament. We had played so well all season only to come up a little short, but it was a really good game there’s always next season.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Eating out all weekend!

I don’t usually like to be in my blog but this is the only photo I have from this weekend. The weather was incredibly nice but in the photo you don’t seem to get a sense for just how warm the sun felt, maybe too much “fill” flash. So lets do a rundown of the weekend. It involved eating out most of the weekend.
Friday night I had dinner again with Isreale and Beth the “other Americans in Brindisi”. We tried a new restaurant in town and it’s pretty good but a little expensive. I had a primi (pasta dish) that was very good. I noticed that the seafood taste didn’t dominate the sauce. I felt like it was a very well balanced taste so maybe it was worth the price after all. After that we each had our own whole fish. I’m getting better at cleaning a whole fish and I really should bring a camera so I can keep a better record of what fish I had and where. Maybe we could start reviewing all the restaurants in town? After that it was off to Goblins to see what live music was on tap. It was a nice Jazz quartet that is probably the best jazz band in Brindisi. Jazz isn’t that popular in Brindisi so the place was pretty desserted.
Saturday I did a little shopping but not much because I knew I didn’t need to make dinner for myself. Saturday night I went over a friend’s house for dinner. It was very good homemade cooking but I felt bad because I didn’t bring anything. I thought we were just going to order some pizzas and beer. No, it was a real sit down dinner that was carefully planned and well made and for no special reason. It wasn’t somebody’s birthday or a new job, nothing, except a dinner with friends. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Then on Sunday I went to a coworker’s house where he was out to impress me with big steaks on the grill, hence the photo. It was the most meat I’ve had in a while and they were the best steaks I’ve had in Italy. They really seemed to melt in your mouth. It’s hard to get a good steak here, but they make up for it with ALL the other food. So there I was with a big steak grilling away, while I’m hanging out in a t-shirt and teaching more Italians how to throw a Frisbee. What more could I ask for? All this in January no less, but we are being told that winter will arrive here today or tomorrow. Looking outside right now it’s cloudy and so we may finally have some needed rain. I don’t mind as I could use a night in to clean up the apartment. Also I’m sure the cats feel neglected, at least Nello does.

What, Who, in the Super Bowl? EHHIIII!!!

I know I shouldn't be surprised that the Indianapolis Colts are in the Super Bowl. Over the years the team has been so dam good and this year is no exception. But even if they win almost every game during the regular season they still just couldn't get into the Super Bowl, in the past. Blame whatever you want on the past, now the city has what it wants. Two more weeks of blue fever. Working every angle and matchup both on and off the field. If I was was there in Indy I would probably be getting sick of everyone's opinion after the first week but I'm here and I missing it. I'll have to live the excitement through news articles and emails.
I may have not been there to watch the game in a packed bar but I can imagine what it would have been like.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

News, Fires, and Sant Antonio Abate again

I think I’ve written about crime in Italy before but I read the papers a lot to see what’s going and crime is always right there. Today there are two articles of thieves right next to each other that take the cake, so to speak. One article shames the scum that had the nerve to steal a Madonna statue from a cemetery tombstone. True these thieves are lowlifes as described by the article. On the other side was a band of thieves that stole, can you believe this, 200 cubic meters of olive oil. They went into a plant at night evidently with their own tanker truck and made out with 60,000 euros worth of olive oil. What the ___? Who __? I don’t understand and I guess I will never.
Also in the news, Sant’ Antonio Abate and fires again. It seems Novoli jumps the gun as January 17th is Antonio’s official day (check your Italian calendars). Last night while I was in the gym there were more fires in honor of this saint. It seems smaller communities (with more farmers) are more connected to this saint because after all he was the saint for animals and those people that work the fields relied on their animals in the past. I’m trying to make sense of the article. It seems the fire portion of the celebration is for the soul as well as for Sant Antonio. It makes some mention “to warm and light the way for souls in the middle of the cold dark winter” (the fire in Brindisi was held in Piazza Anime or Soul Piazza? literally) but why now? I’m not sure.
Also for another proseptive on Novoli and Brindisi for that matter check another American in Brindisi....
Brindisi Travel Blog

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Novoli and the great Fire

So last night was the Focara in Novoli. It was a very interesting night and I had a great time. I did a little research on the festival and you can see here what I read: S Antonio Abate. The first fact is that S. Antonio Abate is the patron saint of animals, so I like him already. They had a blessing of the animals in the afternoon but I didn’t know about this until it was too late. I could have brought Nello and Mara to be blessed by the local priest. I was told this is done in Brindisi too, but still the cats would have thought we were going to the vet. They wouldn’t go willingly!
When we arrived in town there was still a lot of traffic but the town itself seemed empty. Luckily I’m not Italian and I had no problem paying to park if it meant it was a good spot and we didn’t have to search endless back streets and then jam my car in where it couldn't fit. This was a good thing too because we didn’t have time to spare as the fireworks just starting going off when we arrived in the piazza. Just in time to see the the fireworks and the start of the fire (should I mention that the website says the fire starts at 7:30 PM but a friend at work said it starts at 8:30 PM, it's good to know people who know).
The story of this huge stack of wood is quite simple. In this area they grow A LOT of Negroamaro grapes. If you don’t believe me, this stack of wood is 25 meters (82 ft) high and 22 meters (72 ft) in diameter, and it's all grape vines trimmed after grapes were harvested in the fall last year. Starting in mid-December they trim the grape vines back and bring all the vines here to create this stack. Twenty-five communes contribute to the stack and they each have a little stack at the base with their commune’s coat of arms. What I didn’t expect is they light the fire on top, as you can just see in the first picture, this means it burns down. With all the empty space created by the twisted vines the fire collapses in so it looks like a volcano as it’s burning. You don’t see a lot of flames but there is a lot of sparks and ash and smoke erupting from the top. I tried to zoom in on the top and I didn’t have a tripod so you’ll just have to live with the fuzzy photos I took. Also you don’t feel the heat so people can stay pretty close, until much later in the evening.
The music was also great but we had to wait through many long-winded speeches. I was beginning to think that every one of the 25 communes was going to have some one speak about their part. I did learn an important fact that this year they created the Parco del Negroamaro, which I take it is a park for the conservation of the grapes. I’ve never heard of something like that. I was getting into the speeches a little bit because I really noticed how much more I understood. When people are giving a speech they speak slower and without slang (some dialect, but not much) and I can follow the subject. Personal conversations can jump around just when you’re getting into it someone jumps in, and we’re off on a tangent.
The food was a little disappointing. There was food everywhere but it was all those trucks that make panini. I was thinking it would be like one of the many sagras I went to over the summer. Where they would have several dishes based on one local ingredient (ahh, the Sagra del lu purpu!!). I had a panino and a coke because I was starving but tonight I’ll make something good.
In summary it was a very fun night that went well. Given the huge crowd (they were expecting 50,000 people) it was easy to get there and leave and move around. The music and festivities were exciting and fun. It’s just the kind of thing that makes living here so interesting. I've been here for 3 years and I think I saw this in a guide book once and just barely mentioned.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I’m a bit confused about tonight. I’m going to a little festa in a neighboring town with a beautiful young woman, just the two of us. However I have the made a classic mistake, I’m not clear if this is a date or just two friends hanging out together. If it were the States I would be pretty sure that it was just two friends hanging out together but since this is Italy I tend to think it’s actual date, but I could be wrong. The situation is we are “friends in passing” short discussions, nothing much. We don’t hang out together, normally. Just before Christmas she mentioned that she broke up with a long time boyfriend. I ran into her the other day and asked if she wanted to go to this celebration (why, because I would like to date her). She said yes but in a matter of fact sort of way. So I would like this to be a date but I also don’t want to get my hopes up. I also don’t like putting this sort of thing in writing on my blog so don’t be surprised if this is gone tomorrow! Either way I will blog about the celebration at the nearby town. They are burning a 60 ft tall stack of wood to celebrate their town saint!!

Monday, January 15, 2007


Not much going on as most of the young people are back in the North. Saturday morning I did the usual shopping (Oh, and I don’t think the cute girl at the bakery was hitting on me last week, purtroppo) and cleaning so Sunday I decided to get out.
I finally decided Sunday morning that Oria would be my destination. I remember it being a good walking town and I just wanted to do that (being the middle of the afternoon there is not much else to do).
The town of Oria has a medieval history that I have yet to learn about or see. The first photo is the road to Oria. It’s falling apart but the photo shows you the typical landscape, which is flat with grapes on one side and olives on the other. The town itself is on a lone hill in the middle of very flat land. The second photo is of their sign marking the winners of the town's “palio” (horse race). Siena has the most famous palio of Italy but Oria has a similar, but much smaller celebration. They have a whole weekend of people in costumes doing plays and of course, food. I think it’s in June but I’m never around to see it. One of these days…
The next photo is of the main cathedral in town. Open up and look at the picture full size to see the colored tiled dome. It is very similar in style to the church in Brindisi with the main difference being there is a wonderful view of the flat land below the front of the church. The cathedral is on top of the hill and from here you can almost see the sea. The hill is what makes this a good walking town for me. Getting up to the cathedral is a good walk especially if you obey the traffic signs that say only locals can drive up there! It was a little foggy yesterday afternoon but it had the wonderful smell of burning olive wood. It seems people are always trimming and burning olive trees around here. I like the smell and I think I will forever associate it with driving through the countryside of Puglia.

The castle is another important part of draw of Oria, part of it is up for sale for 5 million euros if you’re interested. There are two high towers like the one pictured here. It also is supposed to have a really nice garden inside but they don’t open until March so I’ll have to wait to see that.
A lot of people come to this town to have wedding photos, taken even if they were married in a neighboring town! There is the cathedral, the castle, and the castle gardens that all make good backdrops for wedding photos. I didn't get to see all of that but really I just wanted to walk and enjoy the sun, which is what I did.

Friday, January 12, 2007

101 Things

I stole these questions from another blog. I don't think she'll mind and I thought the questions were good without being too personal so here they are...

1. How many keys are on your keychain? 6 1 car, 1 gate to garage, 1 garage, 1 for the apartment building, 1 for the apartment , 1 for the mailbox.

2. What curse word do you use the most? That’s easy “cazzo” but I really need to cut back but hey “che cazzo vuoi!!!” (although in Brindisi we actually say “ce cazzo way”).

3. Do you own an iPod? Absolutely and my phone is an mp3 player.

4. What time is your alarm clock set for? 7:30 AM and I can still walk to work by 8:30 AM.

5. How many suitcases do you own? Probably about 6 but only 2 that I use.

6. Do you wear flip–flops even when it’s cold outside? No, my feet seem to get cold easy.

7. Where do you buy your groceries from? From Mino at “il Salu….mino” (yes that’s how it’s spelled)

8. Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture? Take.

9. What was the last movie you watched? The Good Sheperd. It’s pretty good so I recommend it.

10. Do any of your friends have children? Yes, there seems to be an explosion of kids among my friends in the last 3 years.

11. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would buy? A massiera in countryside around me or maybe a big boat to sail around the world in.

12. Has anyone ever called you lazy? No, I’ve never thought about that either until now.

13. Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep faster? No, I listen to my body. If it says I don’t need to sleep I don’t.

14. What CD is currently in your CD player? Ganging up on the Sun by Guster.

15. Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk? I used to be a big regular milk drinker now I’ve gone over to the dark side.

16. Has anyone told you a secret this week? Yes, but the person who told me it can’t keep a secret, so is it really a secret?

17. When was the last time someone hit on you? Interesting enough I think the cute girl at the Bakery was hitting on me last Friday. I think I need to go get some bread…

18. What did you have for dinner? Gnocchi with pesto genovense.

19. Do you wear hoodies often? Yes, I do now.

20. Can you whistle? Nope, I but I can simulate a harsh wind.

21. Have you ever participated in a protest? Yes and we are protesting again today. It’s part of life in Italy.

22. Who was the last person to call you? Someone from work.

23. What is your favorite ride at an amusement park? I’ve loved roller coasters forever. Growing up in Cincinnati with Kings Island and “the Beast”, how could I not.

24. Do you think people talk about you behind your back? I hope I’m worth gossiping about.

25. What area code are you in right now? Area code 0831

26. Did you watch cartoons as a child? Yes, the classics Tom and Jerry, and the Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo etc…

27. How big is your local mall? Pretty big, 52 stores and they are building a second only 5 minutes from the other.

28. How many siblings do you have? One older brother and one younger sister.

29. Are you shy around the opposite sex? Absolutely.

30. What is your biggest regret? Probably my answer to the question above. I’ve been too shy and that’s probably why I’m still single.

31. When was the last time you laughed so hard your sides hurt? Watching the Daily Show online a few nights ago.

32. What movie do you know every line to? The Princess Bride, The Blues Brothers, The Life of Brian, Star Wars and others.

33. Do you own any band t–shirts? I have AC/DC, Guster, Toad the Wet Sprocket and I think I still have a Poison t-shirt but I use it as a rag.

34. When was your last plane ride? January 3, 2007

35. How many chairs are at your dining room table? 6, the apartment came that way.

36. Do you read for fun? Yes, if it’s fun! I prefer non-fiction adventure.

37. Can you speak any languages other than English? Italian is getting there and I still remember some German from high school.

38. Do you do your own dishes? Eventually, they don’t do themselves and the machine doesn’t work.

39. What color is your bedroom painted? White.

40. Have you ever cried in public? Yes, but I’m still a man.

41. Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop? 2 laptops 3 if you count work.

42. Which do you make, wishes or plans? Plans. I love it when a good plan comes together.

43. Are you always trying to learn new things? Absolutely. When I worked at the zoo it was to learn more about nature, now I’m learning about the history and culture of the area I live in.

44. Do you shower on a daily basis? Yes, I almost can’t start the day without a shower.

45. Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos? No.

46. Do you believe that the guy should pay on the first date? Absolutely.

47. Can you skip rocks? Yes very well, thank you.

48. Have you ever been to Jamaica? No, but I’ll get around to it.

49. What to snack on at the movie theaters? Big bucket of Popcorn with butter and salt then a nice coke with light ice.

50. Who was your favorite teacher? Never really got very close to my teachers to call one a favorite. I guess the Dean of the Aerospace Engineering was the best teacher I remember. He let Adam and I go off and make our own Senior Design Project even after we hit him with a frisbee, “accidently”.

51. Have you ever dated someone out of your race? No, but I’ve already said my shyness also led to very little dating.

52. What is the weather like? Sunny and cool.

53. Would you ever date someone covered in tattoos? No way. In the past I wouldn’t even date a girl with a tattoo. I don’t think I’ll ever accept a girl “covered”.

54. Do you have an online journal? Yes my wonderful blog and I have a private journal.

55. What was your favorite class in high school? Physics, I’m a nerd dammit.

56. Do you enjoy traveling via airplanes? Yes, absolutely. Even better when I’m the pilot.

57. What personality trait is a must–have in your preferred gender? She must be a little thick skinned because I can say some stupid things especially when I’m hungry or tired or both.

58. Have you ever been attracted to someone physically unattractive? I think that’s physically impossible.

59. When was the last time you slept on the floor? New Year’s Eve. About a week ago.

60. What is your favorite alcoholic drink? Something and coke.

61. Does your closest Starbucks have a drive–thru? Don’t have Starbucks.

62. Do you like your living arrangement? Yes, but my apartment needs a woman’s touch and by that I mean furniture and decorating that appear to “go together”.

63. What is your mother’s hometown? Cincinnati, Ohio!

64. How many hours of sleep do you need to function? Depends on the time of year 4-5 hours in Summer and 6, 7, or more in winter. I’m part bear.

65. Do you eat breakfast daily? Nope, not in Italy. A pastry and coffee.

66. What was the last thing to scare you? I scare easy but I can’t remember anything lately, but it probably involved cats running under my feet while I was carrying something.

67. Are your days full and fast–paced? Not fast and half full.

68. Did you ever get in trouble for talking in class? No, I was an angel in school and a geek.

69. What is your favorite fruit? I love a good rock hard apple, strawberries are better in general.

70. Do you pay attention to calories on the back of packages? No, I’ve never worried about my weight.

71. How old will you be turning on your next birthday? 36 I’m so frickin’ old!!!

72. Are you picky about spelling and grammar? Heck no. My spelling sucks and my grammar is worser. Thank god for word!!

73. Do you believe in life on other planets? Absolutely, but I think they have better things to do then come here.

74. Have you ever been to Six Flags? Actually no, but I’ve been to a lot of other theme parks.

75. Who was the last person to piss you off? Really pissed off! Fastweb.

76. Do you believe that God has a gender? That makes no sense in my book. God=gender?

77. What was the last thing you ate? Orriechiette di casalinga, bistecca and a salad.

78. Do you get along better with the same or opposite sex? It’s not one or the other. It’s just a matter of feeling comfortable around someone. That can happen with the same or opposite sex.

79. What did you dress up as for your first Halloween? A cowboy.

80. How did your parents pick your name? I don’t know.

81. Do you like mustard? Yes, but I have no attachment to it.

82. What do you tell yourself when times get hard? If it was easy, everyone would pack up and move to Italy. Or “you still have your health”.

83. Would you ever sky dive? I’ve done it twice.

84. Do you sleep on your side, tummy, or back? I roll around that’s why the cats can’t stay in my room.

85. What character from a movie most reminds you of yourself? Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, oh yeah.

86. Have you ever bid for something on ebay? No

87. Do you enjoy giving hugs? No, but I’m getting over that here in Italy.

88. Would you consider yourself to be fashionable? No, but I’m getting there.

89. Do you own a digital camera? Yes, and there’s one in my phone too, of course.

90. If someone you had no interest in dating expressed interest in dating you, how would you feel? Uncomfortable because it’s happened many times.

91. What celebrities have you been compared to? David Schimmer on friends but I don’t have my hair like him, ever and Pete Sampras.

92. Who is your favorite Star Wars character? This should be easy but it’s not. I’ll go with Obi Wan, wise as Master Yoda and powerful as Master Windu.

93. Does it annoy you when someone says they’ll call but never do?
Yes terribly, but then I get over it quickly.

94. What books, if any, have made you cry? Bill Bryson’s books can make me cry in laughter.

95. Do you think you’re attractive? No, I’m no George Clooney.

96. What are you allergic to? Nothing.

97. Are you a jealous person? Yes, I can be.

98. What’s your opinion on sex without emotional commitment? I still pretty old fashioned but I’m getting more relaxed with it in old age.

99. Do you ever feel guilty after eating meat? No, should I be?

100. If you were born the opposite sex, what would your name have been?


101. Is it lunchtime yet?
No I missed it answering all these dam questions

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution. I didn’t really think about it as I don’t think they're popular here. I say that because last night I went to the gym like I do every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This time of year I was expecting to see it very crowded with people who have resolved to lose weight in the New Year. I’ve read that’s the most popular resolution in the USA and it seems like the same sort of thing that would be popular here even if people here are thinner already.
Now I never went to a gym in the States so I don’t how big the post-New Year rush is but I have heard stories probably from my brother. From my experience here I don’t see that. In fact I think it was more crowded before Christmas as people were trying to get into shape to look good over the holidays. I’ve heard from others in the gym that it WILL get crowded as we get closer to warm weather and people want to look good at the beach. Right now there seems to be a rather small group that go on a regular basis and at this point I know most of them (of course the beautiful women all have big boyfriends!) and another group that comes and goes at random. It’s also strange because I very rarely see people from the gym outside of the gym. There aren’t that many places to go around here. I just expected to run into these new friends “in giro” (around) because it seems you run into everyone in town just walking around. Giuseppe, the trainer at the gym, is about the only one. I see him every morning that I walk to work. He’s always walking with his son to school and from there he goes to work in the mornings at a butcher shop then in the evenings he’ll be at the gym (usually helping one of the beautiful young ladies, that bastard!!)
Also I feel the excitement of being back in Italy has worn off. I can’t put a finger on it and I don’t want to blame it on work. Work is necessary and it’s what got me here in the first place. Part of it could be that so many young people were in town up until last Sunday. Then a lot of these people head back up north to work or go to school. They were only down here for the holidays. The Big Ben was so packed last Friday night that cars couldn’t get by with all the people outside smoking. This weekend I’m sure things will be much quieter.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ice Cream

While back in my hometown for the holidays I naturally thought about Italy and gelato. This led my parents to think back to a little place in Cincinnati. Established in 1908 Aglamesis Brothers could be considered a historic landmark (getting close to 100 years!). My parents talk about this place, as I’m sure I’ll talk about the places in Italy some day... meeting up with friends, going there on some special day and, of course, good ice cream. All this set me into motion and being the purest I am I couldn’t put it on my website without going there and tasting it for myself. I had the double chocolate chip pictured here and it definitely makes the grade. You can see from the interior photo that store holds on to that nostalgic charm you would want in a true ice cream parlor (not a chain!). I didn’t notice until now that there standard ice cream is labeled as "French style" and they have Italian ice or sorbet. I guess I have to go back and try that. Although… the website says they deliver, but I’m pretty sure it won’t make it to Italy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It's been a while

Wow this is my first blog since getting back to Brindisi. So much to talk about, the year has started on the right foot. Coming back all my flights went as scheduled and everything was in place and the cats happy and feed when I returned.
So what happened on my flight over? I’ll try to make this as short as possible. I had the first flight out of Brindisi at 6:40 AM; it’s the only way to catch other flights. We all board the plane on time only to sit this little plane for 1 hour and 40 minutes because of technical problem. The flight from Brindisi to Rome only takes about an hour and I had a ton flying still to do so I was not getting off on the right foot. I sprinted across the Rome airport knowing the only way I could make the next flight was if it was running late. Naturally it wasn’t so I went back Alitalia desk to figured out what they can do for me. Everyone knows that Alitalia is VERY helpful and to think I was dreaming of them putting me in first class but no, they found a flight into JFK that seemed ok but I hate JFK and this trip reminded me why. Upon arriving I was excited to see my bag followed and I went through customs with it in JFK (only to have them take my salami from Norcia, sometimes I’m just too honest!) and then rechecked it. Then I found my next obstacle, the Delta terminal at JFK. This was when Denver was snowed in. I had no sympathy because I wasn’t going anywhere near there and I had already been sitting in planes for almost 14 hours. Delta had a REAL mess as I counted that there was 8 flights leaving from the same gate at approximately the same time. The staff was frazzled and no help. They would blurt out a city and those people would flood the gate area. My flight boarded only about 20 minutes late so I was happy until we sat in the plane again for about an hour waiting for a fuel truck! Finally I arrive in Indianapolis about 5 hours later at than the original plan (11:30 PM local time or 5:30 AM to me) and just to make the trip complete my bag was not there. So in total the trip consisted of: two very late flights, one sprint across an airport, one completely messed gate area, and one lost bag. My bag did finally arrive at 10:00 PM Christmas eve. I hope Delta had to pay an arm and a leg to deliver it because, every time I called they didn’t know where my bag was. I was freaking out, as it would be a really boring Christmas if you had nothing to give anyone.
After this the rest of the trip went great. I can’t believe every one I saw and where we went. I spent a lot of time in cars and around babies. I want to thank everyone that hosted me, but especially Aaron and Rita for letting me stay with them in Cleveland for two nights. I still have the Batman flashlight that I won on New Year’s Day. It’s still fun to play with in the bars here. Are you Batman? Also, Lori I stole your SpongeBob wall walker. I’ve learned that it will stain the wall if it sticks to one place too long!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year!!

Well the running around is over. Tomorrow I will be going back to Italy. I didn't get everything on my lists but I did enough! I used my credit card so much today that they blocked it. They said they thought I was in Italy so the purchases here made it look like someone else had my number in the States. It's nice they are looking out for me but I was stuck at a gas station today. One credit card didn't work because I haven't used it in months and the other didn't work because I used it too much lately!!!

Maybe I'll see the sunrise like this picture here to the left. Boy I hope my flights go better than coming over here. I'll write about that later.