Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another Holiday

Tomorrow is yet another one of Italy's holidays.  "Prima Maggio", the first of May, is similar to that of our labor day.  No one goes to work.  In my 4 and a half weeks here, this is the third holiday.  I still don't understand how Italians make a living in how little work they actually do.

Anyway, tomorrow there will be a barbeque hosted by the couple that owns the artist residency.  Since Italy does not produce or sell molasses nor ketchup, BBQ sauce is not really going to be possible.  Instead it is replaced with BBQ'ed sage, like the leaves.  I am not quite sure how this works, but they somehow put the leaves on the grill and serve them up.

The concept of grilling meat has not been mentioned yet. . . it will be interesting for sure.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Painting, thus far

Here is the painting so far.  I have decided that after this, it will be a while before I paint architecture again.  It has taken forever to try to get lines and perspective.  And like most of my paintings, I will probably just add a bunch of colors and leave the perspective wrong anyhow.  I wish the glare wasn't so bad, with all the darks it is hard to photograph.  There are still going to be some people on the left, I think. . . The last building on the left's perspective is going to be changed, I promise!!  I really wasn't asleep through drawing I, I swear!!

Again with the Sex Part

I think that English did some good in naming genitalia.  For instance, penis and vagina do not sound like any other word.  It can't be easily confused with other terms.  
Italian however, likes to make their words similar to others.  I can envision the inventor of this language laughing as he thinks of words that will embarrass those who accidently speak them in public places. 
Not only is "mouse" one letter off of "vagina" which I have already shared, but "penis"  is "fava".  It doesn't seem that this would pose any problems to anyone, except for myself in a crowded grocery store.  For "fava" is a type of bean, is it not??  The ones that look like long pea pods?  We were looking for green beans when Meema found them and began filling a bag.  I was confused because they were not the green beans that I had known, but more like fava beans.  I began telling Meema that these were Fava beans.  As she said no a thousand times, I grew louder, convinced that I was right.  I kept repeated "fava" and pointing to the beans.  By then, people were staring, and again Meema had to pull me aside and explain that fava was "man sex part".  I was shouting "penis" in a crowded store.  What!!
Can't bad words and sexual terms be universal?  I think it would be a lot less confusing and embarrassing for all.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Painting Update

So thought I would post a pic of part of the painting I am working on.  The men talking are almost done.  Now about the entire left side of the painting, that is another story. . . I think the glare is kind of bad, but at least it gives you an idea.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not kidding!

Here are some pics from yesterday's event.  Wow!

Italy's Independence Day

Yesterday was Italy's Independence Day.  It was on that day when they were liberated from Nazi Germany.  All stores were closed, everyone had the day off.  It was a tradition to go to a neighboring village, Panzano, to see their festival and parade.  I was thinking flags, a sparkler or two, maybe some popcorn--I was dead wrong.
It turns out that to celebrate this day of independence, Panzano hosts a reenactment of a related? event.  I arrived at Panzano just in time for the parade.  There was a drum band, and some trumpeters, but no one was smiling.  Actually, everyone looked very disturbed.  The band was followed by a lot of people in Medievil costumes-kind of like the Renaissance festival.  They seemed to be grouped into families of some sort, but each one was very serious.  At the tail end of the parade were two boys being dragged and whipped.  They were screaming in Italian, and I am sure the whip was soft, but it was very convincing.  The parade went from the Church to the square then returned to the Church.  At this point, there was a play.  I, of course, didn't catch any of it, therefore probably missing the significance of the event entirely.  But the kids  were pulled to a stage area where one was hanged.  Yes, hanged.  The whole shabang, rope and the bag over his head and everything.  It was very well done--he must have had a hook on the back of his costume, because his feet were a good three feet off the ground.  He even shook a bit when they kicked the stand out from under him.  The crowd clapped and laughed and commented on the performance.  
Again, I have yet to figure out what the hell this was, and how it had any connection to the freeing of Italy from the Nazis.  Any ideas?  

Friday, April 24, 2009

It happens all the time, I am sure.

The Italian word for mouse is dangerously similar to the slang term for vagina. If you want to say that you can't believe how fast the mouse moved, nibbling on everything it found, it's best to use the correct word. In my case, you are left with a room full of amazed Italians looking with excitement at your cooch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So tonight I taught the Italians how to make smores.  My parents sent ingredients because Italy does not sell anything that is similar to a marshmallow.  Most Italians have never tasted it's smooshy goodness, or even seen one before.  
Graham crackers were another mystery to them.  Italians haven't grasped the concept of cinnamon in a cracker yet.  They didn't exactly survive the trip to Italy (our smores had many pieces stuck on them), but they were good anyhow.  
They also didn't want to use sticks, so we started with kabob sticks until our hands were becoming red.  Then we went out in the pitch black to gather some olive branches for the roasting.
They were a big hit.  I think it will soon become the new rage.  

Monday, April 20, 2009


here are some paintings I am working on.  They are definitely two different degrees of completion, but they are coming along.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bad Translations

The first day in Italy, the owners of the Residence explained their idea of the "American Drawer".  In order to accommodate American residents, they decided to dedicate one drawer of their kitchen to what Americans would crave.  This drawer contained corn flakes, whipped cream, and chocolate topping.  They said that I can go into the drawer for "American Food".  

The next morning, I proceeded to pour myself some corn flakes.  They were very interested in the fact that I would put milk on the flakes, and were watching me suspiciously.  They offered me coffee and pointed to the milk, asking, "with cafe".  I thought the milk would cut the strength of the expresso, and replied that I would like milk with my cafe.  To my surprise, they poured the coffee right into my cereal, and watched as I struggled to eat it.  I complimented the gesture, (I didn't want to be rude), and insisted that I would do it myself the next day.  That I wouldn't want to trouble them.  

I have never again asked for coffee in the morning.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Thought I should post a couple pictures of the glorious Italian landscape.  Enjoy!

Some happenings in Italy

I have come to find that Italian is not only a tricky language, but also a strange one. Literal translations can be maddening.  For instance. . . 

I have met a lot of people in the small town I am staying at.  I occasionally visit the downtown area, and meet two girls-Paola and Nadia for a drink.  Even when I first met them, they constantly asked me if I had stories back home in the U.S.

I found this very peculiar, since I didn't think stories were that region-specific, nor did I think 30-year old women would be that interested in stories.  So I kept answering 'yes' and told them such stories like "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Cinderella".  Each time, the women looked completely dumbfounded, and confused.  They would laugh, and would mutter things in Italian.

I kept this up, until I finally met someone who's English was a bit better and filled me in on a secret--that a "story" was the literal translation that meant relationships.  

They were asking me if I was SINGLE, and like a dumbass american, I told them the tale of the Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.

They think I am completely insane, this is not so different from back home.