Thursday, October 30, 2008

Black & white

Why must they always use a black person to represent licorice/dark chocolate in Italian advertisements?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stay home today

To those of you who live in Rome and are considering stepping outside and using public transportation: DON'T DO IT. The city is in total chaos today due to some rally in the center. I was trying to get from Trastevere to Piazzale Clodio and had to give up and go back home. It's ridiculous, the city is paralyzed today and apparently it will be tomorrow as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The horror of Italian TV

For obvious reasons, I don't watch much Italian TV but Le Iene is one show I enjoy, or used to enjoy... Apparently, they weren't meeting the national quota for semi-naked dancing on TV so they decided to make some changes. Instead of giving more time to the content that made the show worthwhile: hardcore investigative reports, spoofs and pranks embarrassing public figures, revealing scandals, etc., they decided to add more crap by making the presenters do stoopid and humiliating dance routines throughout the show. One of the presenters is none other than the lovely Ilary Blasi (Totti's wife for those of you who don't know). She's forced to wear skimpy dresses and do ridiculous dances, at times causing some rather awkward moments for her. Exhibit number one: while wearing a skin-tight pencil skirt, she attempts to perform the lame choreography and ends up tearing the slit in her skirt. Exhibit number two:

Major wardrobe malfunction here, this outdoes Janet Jackson's nipple slip! Maybe the costume department and the choreographers should compare notes before subjecting this poor girl to further embarrassment. Can't an attractive woman be on Italian TV and still maintain her dignity?

Has anyone else happened to witness this atrocity on Italia 1 called "Saturday Night Live" (from Milano)? I caught about 5 minutes of it and was appalled by how bad it is, there's no comparison to the real Saturday Night Live. This is not a format like reality shows or game shows that can easily be repeated in any country, by any comedian or "actor". It requires talent from the writers and the performers- a talent which seems to be lacking in the world of Italian TV.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Is buying lottery tickets or scratch & win cards considered gambling? Is gambling considered a sin??
While I was playing some lucky numbers (or so I hope) at my neighborhood tabaccheria, I saw a priest buying a stack of Enalotto tickets and scratch & win cards... if only I had my camera with me!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Postal mystery

Last week I finally received my absentee ballot- YAY! So as not to take any risks, I decided to mail it back directly through the post office instead of buying stamps at a tabacheria.
I mailed it out on Saturday morning and this morning I found it in MY mail box. WTF??? I went back to the post office just now to try and find out why this happened. The postal clerk stared at the envelope for 10 minutes but could figure out no logical reason. I'm thinking the postal employees might've gotten confused by such a complex, official envelope.
We decided to draw an arrow near the recipient's address just to make sure and the postal clerk sent it out again without charging me. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Best ottico

I love my neighborhood ottico, this shop is a model of efficiency and they are super nice, to boot. When you order lenses, glasses, etc., they take your name and cell phone number and when the product comes in, they send you a text message informing you. No need to waste time calling them, or passing by to see if your goods have arrived- they tell YOU. Seems basic but here in Rome, most stores/service providers seem to take pleasure in making you waste as much time as possible. So here's to my boys at Europtical on Via San Francesco di Ripa 154. Tel: 06-581 2091.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tales of traffic

One of the benefits of working freelance is I usually get to work from home, hence no morning commute! Unfortunately, the other day I had several morning errands/appointments around the city and let me tell you, the commute was HELL. I was feeling lazy and decided to take the 8 tram to my first appointment instead of walking to largo Argentina... Big mistake. The tram took 20 minutes to show up (I could've walked there in the same amount of time) and when it did, there were 3 in a row, packed to the gills. Now for those of you who don't know, the 8 tram was constructed years ago to free up some traffic on Viale Trastevere and to give commuters one sure-fire quick way to go back and forth along this route. There used to be lots of different bus lines along this route but the city decided the 8 tram would make everyone's life better. And it would have... if Romans weren't such obnoxious drivers. You see, the problem is drivers block the box and get stuck in traffic at intersections so the tram gets held up by car traffic. So during rush hour, the tram is at the mercy of traffic as much as buses or cars are. Brilliant.
I finally get on the tram and after one stop, it stops... We're all told to get out because the tram ahead of us has broken down. As I start walking toward Ponte Garibaldi, I notice a huge accident in the other lane which is blocking traffic and the tram coming from the other direction. All the traffic coming from Lungotevere was blocked because people couldn't turn onto Viale Travevere, etc. Absolutely insane.

This morning I had more errands and opted to walk. MENO MALE! Trastevere and most of the surrounding areas have been paralyzed for the past few days because of the demonstrations going on outside of the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione. This morning the entire area in front of this Ministry was pure chaos. No trams were running in either direction, buses were either not running or taking strange mystery routes, and the locals were rightfully grumbling as they trekked to their destinations. I saw elderly ladies waiting for buses to Monteverde for an hour... When I left the house they were there and when I got back they were still there, loudly and angrily discussing the annoyance of this demonstration. Now as much as I support the demonstration going on, there has GOT to be a better way. Why should an entire city have to suffer because others are protesting? We all pay taxes (or at least some of us do!), and it's not fair that we have to endure this insanity for days and days, that we can't get to work, that we can't get around the city.
Maybe they should make Milan the capital of Italy and transfer all the ministries and government offices up there and let Rome breathe a little...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Movie madness

Wow, where to start... We went to see Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna tonight and it was horrrrrrible. I was so excited about the storyline that I chose not to read any reviews on it because I didn't want to be influenced. But it was a disappointingly bad flick, I have no words to describe it, just really pitifully bad.

AND to top it all off, we had a horrrrrrible movie theater experience at the Metropolitan: the movie started and it seemed slightly out of focus to me but I assumed my contact lenses were dry or dirty so I shrugged it off... as the film went on, the focus got worse and worse until everyone in the theater was whistling and shouting out "fuoco", "proiezione" in hopes that the person in the projection booth would wake up. Well, we found out the hard way that there is NO person in the projection booth anymore, instead they have tiny monitors near the ticket booth that they use to check up on the various screens. First off, it's really hard to tell if a film's out of focus on such a tiny monitor and second off, it's even harder if you're not looking at the monitor! Soooo, after missing out on 25 minutes of film because it was incredibly out of focus and because everyone was shouting at the screen, I get up and walk down to the ticket booth (thus missing even more of the film). I tell the workers the film is out of focus and while I'm complaining, another guy from our theater comes down and starts yelling too.

So that should've fixed it, right? It did, for about 5 minutes, then it slipped out of focus again, not extremely out of focus, but enough that it was noticeable to everyone. In fact some people start shouting out "fuoco" again but it was useless because they can't hear us from downstairs and there isn't a soul in the projection booth. We stay till the end (as does everyone else) and watch not only an out of focus film, but a bad out of focus film that lasted forever!

Movie ends, we go down to the ticket booth and I politely say "We'd like a refund, the movie was out of focus the whole time".... The ticket seller starts giving me lip saying that the movie was not out of focus the whole time. I politely insist that it was and remind him that I even had to come downstairs to tell them to fix it. Then he goes on to say the subtitles were out of focus, not the film. Give me a fucking break buddy, I can tell the difference between an out of focus film and out of focus subtitles. The most annoying thing was his attitude, he was being so rude, condescending, and uncooperative. He kept denying the movie was out of focus, hence implying I was lying. I'm a believer in the saying: You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar BUT I have a limited supply of honey so I started turning sour at this point. The dickwad kept insisting and shaking his head and treating me as if I were full of shit. Some of the other people gathered around by now and were confirming the fact that the film was indeed out of focus the entire time. Funny sidenote: not a single man from the audience said a word, the only people involved in this confrontation were women... interesting.

Anyway- I ask for the manager. Whoa, if the ticket seller was a dickwad, the manger was King Dickwad. A total asshole who had the audacity to say "If the film was out of focus then why didn't you leave sooner? Why'd you stay and watch the whole thing?" Well asshole, seeing that I work for a living and I don't have free time aplenty, if I make plans to see a movie with people and make an effort to haul my ass to Via del Corso #7, then I'm going to stay. Especially because it shouldn't have been an issue to fix the focus in the first place! I already had to get up once and miss part of the movie to complain, which is in itself a reason to give me a refund. This went back and forth for about 15 minutes and I was blown away by how flippant and asshole-ish this manager was. I suspect (and hope for Metropolitan's sake) that this guy was not the real manager because he did everything a manager should NOT do. You have a group of 10 people complaining about the focus on a film- and instead of apologizing or mending the problem, you insist the film was in focus and tell us we should've left the theater? Dumb dumb dumb. My theory: the manager was not on duty and these dickwads didn't want to give us a refund or proper voucher because then they would get in trouble for not having paid attention to the focus of our screen.

I asked for a refund or a voucher, at first the manager refused and said he would only allow us to come back and see the same movie again... (now why on earth would I come back to see a movie I just watched???) then he gave in and signed our tickets, which apparently is our voucher. I'm curious to see what happens when we present said "vouchers", I have a feeling it's a crock of shit... I'm pretty pissed off, not so much about the film, but about the outrageous behavior from their staff and "manager". They should've been apologizing to all of us for the inconvenience but instead they were furiously arguing with us, telling us we were wrong. For the record, I do plan on continuing this battle because it's unacceptable for them to treat customers like that.

Oh yeah, note to non-Italian speakers: although this movie is publicized as "original version", there is a lot of Italian dialogue that is not subtitled at all and a lot of German dialogue that is subtitled in Italian... so if you can't read/understand Italian, do not go see it because you'll miss half of the film.