Posts Tagged With: Venice

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 Shadow 0007 (July 5, 2018)

 
“Midway through our lives journey, I awoke in a dark forest to find the right path had been lost.”
Dante’s Inferno.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN VERONA:

The train ride from Sacile to Verona was relatively uneventful. Traveling by train is my favorite way to go. I find train stations far more comfortable than airline terminals, don’t you? I mean, despite all the time and motion studies and the ergonomic designs that go into the building of a modern airport, an old train station with their hard wooden benches and old train station smells seem much more comfortable than any airport I have been in — except perhaps for Singapore.

I like standing around in train stations or on the platforms watching people walk about or disembark or board trains. I don’t think much about whatever I see going on around me. I never wonder, for example, where all these people are going to or coming from or why. No, I just watch hoping to see something odd or entertaining.

Come to think of it, I may be one of the oddest things around. Here I am, an old man, older than almost anyone in the crowd passing by, taller than most here in Italy, frightfully skinny like an oddly dressed cadaver, a hunched back becoming more Quasimodo like by the day, a long dour face resembling some ancient sad-faced bloodhound with jowls plunging below its jaw, dressed in a loud Hawaiian shirt, a sweat-stained straw hat on my head, ill-fitting shades and carrying a cane shaped like a shillelagh — Odd I seem, odd indeed.

Verona — As tourist destinations and cities in Italy go, Verona is an also-ran. It never amounted to much. Even during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when Italy in these parts was jumping, Verona nestled comfortably in the shadow of its wealthier and more powerful neighbors. It has, however, a few archeological and artistic treasures of note including a bitchin Roman amphitheater and some fine medieval castles and palazzos to attract the well-heeled tourist.

Most of whatever Verona has to draw the curious visitor it owes to two rather shallow young men and a rather idiotic pair of doomed lovers — all figments of the fertile imagination of a bald-headed English playwright. That’s right, people come from all over the world to Verona to see what never existed — a fiction. Even the greatest of the mad men of Madison Avenue would be hard pressed to top that.

Anyway, I booked into a hotel that billed itself as being a mere four kilometers from the old city and sporting a four-acre garden and at a price that seemed a bargain. I thought that would be great. I could enjoy the garden, take a taxi to visit the old city and save money. Unfortunately, the distance from downtown was somewhat of an under-exaggeration and a $20 taxi ride to boot.

After checking in, I had a delightful lunch in the hotel restaurant overlooking the pool. I ate an interesting pasta, a type that I had never eaten before. The noodles were tightly wrapped pieces of dough about an inch long and quite thin. It made for a very chewy noodle. I think they are called “sparrow.” The pasta was served with a tomato and eggplant sauce. It was quite good.
IMG_4790

 

Following lunch, I strolled around the gardens. Feeling good about my meal and enjoying my walk, I decided to skip Bolzano, skip visiting the old town of Verona and stay here for the next few days lounging about the pool, walking through the gardens and eating. Having reached that decision, I then returned to my room and promptly made a reservation for new lodging the next day in the heart of old town. With that all behind me, I showered, napped and later ate a dinner beginning with mussels, followed by a pasta in a white sauce with peas and asparagus and tiramisu for dessert. I also had one or more glasses of my beloved prosecco. Then, I returned to my room and went to sleep.

The following morning, just before I left for breakfast, noticed the large painting on the wall of my room that up until then I thought was some hotel commissioned impressionist paint splashing of a crooked vase — suddenly the subject matter of the painting became clear:
IMG_4809

 

I later checked into a B&B near the inner walls of the old town of Verona. While waiting for the owner of the place to show up and register me, I strolled over to the building that housed the supposed sarcophagus of poor little Juliet. Considering that her resting place remained unknown for 400 years until some enterprising Veronese came up with this one, I have my doubts. About one or two hundred years later, Dickens, after meeting the women in whose keeping the sarcophagus descended, described her as “clear-eyed.” Clear-eyed enough to spot a rube, I would imagine.

After a brief and unsuccessful attempt to connect into the “free” internet promised by the B&B, I set out to explore the town. I ate a lunch of a rather undistinguished risotto at a restaurant on the large plaza near the ruins of the bitchin old Roman Colosseum. Then I strolled around, saw Juliet’s house and searched for poor old Romeo’s home. No luck, the tourist maps were unhelpful and misleading, nevertheless, I enjoyed poking about the alleyways of the old town. I then returned to the B&B for a nap before dinner.
IIMG_4813 The Roman Amphitheater and some Thai woman in a red dress trying to avoid having her picture taken.
IMG_4821
The Adige River with the old Roman Theater at the base of the hill in the background.

IMG_4818                                          The famous and wellphotographed balcony with an old Roman ruin in the foreground.
After again attempting to connect with the internet and getting the same results, I left for dinner. I looked for a neighborhood away from the tourist centers and a restaurant with older pot-bellied waiters and with a clientele that spoke mostly Italian. I found one. It specialized in fish. I ordered cod in an interesting brown gravy and a side of well-made polenta and a glass of prosecco. I enjoyed myself immensely. After a tasty creme brûlée to finish off the meal, I left the restaurant for a walk before heading back to my room. For the most part, there was only me walking the streets in that part of town — just me and the silence except for the sound of my walking stick clacking on the pavement and the thrum of a motor scooter off in the distance. Now and then, I would see someone scurry across the street or cross a darkened intersection. I enjoyed myself as I walked while the gloaming passed into night.
B. BACK IN LOMBARDY — WELL NOT EXACTLY, MORE LIKE BACK AND FORTH:

The morning after breakfast, I walked to the train station and purchased a ticket to Milan. Because I had some time before my train departed, I decided to enjoy a second cup of coffee and a brioche con crema. This was to be my first mistake of many I was to make that day. You see, I misread the ticket and thought the arrival time at Milano was the departure time at Verona. I missed the train. I had to buy another ticket because my original one was for reserved seating and the express. The next train was a local, more cattle car than a train. I bought the ticket anyway.

Among the interesting things, I observed as we rode along was the young woman all smiles and enthusiasm who eagerly attempted to engage in conversation with the young man sitting opposite us. He was most likely a student, deeply engrossed in a book of mathematics. He answered her persistent queries with one-word responses or grunts until he realized what she was up to, blushed, and closed the book. The rest of the trip involved lengthy and animated conversations about train travel and railroads mostly. As the train approached her stop, the young woman announced it sadly and they both hurriedly went on about how fortunate it was to meet each other, how much they enjoyed the conversation and the hope that they would meet again. Alas, neither asked the critical question, “What is your telephone phone number.” It is because of this reticence that many a promising relationship goes unfulfilled. If only Romeo and Juliet had been this timid they could have lived, married others and populated the world with even more blushing lovers — alas. The young woman rose from her seat, stood there for a moment looking forlorn, then turned and got off the train.

Now, with that bit of theater behind me, things got more interesting, but not in the way I would have liked. You see, the person I was to meet who I have been warned not to mention and whom I shall hereafter refer to only as N, was to pick me up at the Milan train station, but on account of that prime mistake, I would now be grossly late. I attempted to call him but I discovered my phone no longer worked, only giving me back several unsatisfying machine responses to my frantic calls and messages.

I arrived at the station and of course, N was not there. Now, I am not going to list each and every one of the cascades of wrong decisions that ensued from my original mistake. You can pick them out yourselves. Anyway, I first decided on another cup of coffee to calm my nerves and to wait there in the train station cafe savoring the espresso and hoping N would decide to return one last time to see if I had arrived. After finishing my coffee, I tried reaching others on my phone in an effort to secure assistance for my plight with the same results as I had trying to contact N. That is, nothing except machine speak. I then decided to find an ATM and withdraw some money in case I had to spend the night. The damned machine merely responded “unauthorized.” I, of course, told myself I obviously was not panicking as I began trying everything I could think of including begging the damned machine for some money — all to no avail. I then thought, cleverly I believed, that I could use a pay phone to call up my bank, call N, and call my carrier and clear everything up and save the day. I asked in several shops if they could direct me to a pay phone. Ha! I learned that in our wireless world, pay phones no longer exist (at least not in Milano). I then began asking people in the station to call N on their smart-phones in the hope that he would respond, pick me up and drive me to his apartment where I could use his computer to fix my modern communication generated crisis. Unfortunately, there was no answer. I continued this every five minutes or so asking startled and suspicious travelers to call — All unsuccessful. It was then I realized with horror, in this modern age anyone without internet access is a non-person. So, here I was, In the Milano Centrale (Mussolini’s great architectural work) penniless, homeless and destitute. I found the predicament quite energizing and in its own way romantic.

After another hour or so of thought and indecision, I decided to search through all my pockets and my luggage hoping I would find enough odd coinage to pay my way back to Sacile. I did find enough, bought a ticket, hopped on the train and about seven hours later popped off at the Sacile station in the dark of night. Not being able to call Vittorio, I made my way to Hank’s house. Although it was late and Camille earlier that day had injured herself and was recuperating, he graciously let me use his internet connection and assisted me in dealing with my problems until sometime after midnight things seemed back to normal. They let me stay the night there and the next morning I again traveled across northern Italy. This made three times in two days I made that damned trip.

I thought it was obvious my phone had been hacked in Verona. (“Hacked in Verona,” a movie starring John Goodman as an aging, fat, inept, hacker hiding out in Verona because of his erroneous belief he was being hunted by the police of several nations. Frances McDormand plays the Interpol receptionist dedicated to tracking him down to let him know that, in fact, no one was looking for him. She locates him in a one-room attic apartment two doors away from the “Juliet” house. They fall in love and she moves into the apartment. The film was so successful that its two stars were contracted to appear in its sequel, “Malaise in Verona.” — OK Peter the ball is in your court.)
C. ST. MORITZ AND MORE ALPS THAN ONE CAN HANDLE:

At three the next morning N and I left to travel to Milano Centrale to catch the 6AM train to Tirano near the Swiss border in order to take the famous tourist train that climbs from there into the Alps and on to St. Moritz and beyond. The train to Tirano passed along the edge of Lake Como and into the mountains. At Tirano, we boarded the amazing train (a World Heritage something or other) that climbs the Alps summer and winter. When we arrived at St. Moritz, we had an excellent lunch at some upscale restaurant. Next to us was a table of six or seven youngish men (Anyone in their 30”s and 40’s I consider young) three of whom sported prison tats including the obvious leader (he paid the bill), a swarthy man with wavy black hair and sunglasses that he never took off. N overhearing some of their conversations said they discussed something about the clothing industry but confirmed they were those people you usually deny having seen. After lunch and a brief walk along the lake, we returned to the train and began the ride down the Alps. We arrived back at N’s apt at about 12 midnight.

I took a lot of photographs. These are some:

IMG_4893_2
The Alps

 
IMG_4916_2

St. Moritz

IMG_4934_2

More Alps

IMG_4882_2
Still more Alps with a town in the valley
IMG_4924

Even more Alps. This time with the World Heritage train in the foreground.

The next day, we slept late and went for a walk of about three miles from Busto to another town where we had a coffee, watched the World Cup and then walked back. Later that evening, because it was my last day before returning to Sacile, we decided to have dinner at one of the best restaurants in the area. It was Monday and the restaurant was closed as were the eight or so other restaurants we tried. We ended up eating at a fast food place located in a twenty-four-hour supermarket.

The following morning, I left at 5AM for my fourth trip across Italy in the past three days and my fifth since I arrived in the country. It must qualify for the Guinness Book of Records.

 

D. BACK IN THE VENETO:

At about 1PM, I exited the train at Sacile. After a brief stop at Lucia’s for a prosecco, I sat at a cafe in the piazza and ate a lunch of barley salad and ground meat in zucchini along with an iced white tea and cranberry. For dessert, I had a delicious chocolate ice cream drink. Hank found me there and offered to let me stay at his apartment until we leave for Croatia. I thought it was a good idea because it would relieve Vittorio and Anita of the burden of hosting me while also caring for the two women. I would miss Topo Tamai though.
IMG_5008
They put me up in a wonderful garret type room above their apartment with a long sloping ceiling, a large bed with old wood carved headboards and three windows with views across the orange-tiled roofs of the town and into the pre-alps off in the distance.
IMG_5018

The next morning following a breakfast go cappuccino and brioche at Lucia’s, Hank and I drove off towards the old American air-force base at Aviano have lunch with to have lunch with some friends. Along the way, we stopped at a local winery so that Hank could by some wine for household use. Their best wines were arrayed several large barrels. Attached to each barrel was a hose from with you could draw the wine contained their in into your own bottles at About $1.50 a liter.

IMG_5023

 

We were joined at lunch by a retired American Army officer and his wife who used to be the American military historian assigned to the base. While eating a delightful meal (I reprised the pasta I enjoyed so much in Verona) we talked of many things, where we came from, what brings us here in northern Italy, favorite books, dinner plans and so one. The historian and I discussed Naida’s trilogy. She appeared eager to read it and wrote down its name.

After lunch, Hank drove me to the two headwaters of the Livenza River, the river that flows through Sacile and into the Adriatic. A river that had been a major trade route for over 7000 years since Neolithic times. ( As a side note, perhaps twenty years or so, after reading the book “The Nine Daughters of Eve” I had my mitochondria analyzed by the geneticist author and found my penultimate mother to have been born somewhere around here about 15,000 years ago). The entire river is generated by springs under the mountain. The first source is this spectacular turquoise pool fed by water from the caves beneath the cliff. Divers have gone down up to 250 feet to find the source of the water with no success. If you look closely at the center of the photograph there is a submerged statue of the Christ facing the cave from which some of those divers never emerged.

IMG_5027

 

The second headwater emerges directly from the rocks at the bottom of the photograph below and alone creates the river you see in the picture.
IMG_5030

That evening Hank, Camille and I went to a restaurant in a nearby town that specialized in fish dishes. We were joined by the couple with whom we had lunch, an Italian gentleman who, as it was explained to me, was the wealthy owner of a local winery, and another couple, a retired contractor for the Defense Department and his wife a very engaging woman from Madrid. I ate a spaghetti with tiny clams and a salad and for dessert a melted ice-cream and vodka drink.

The next day was market day in Sacile. The stalls were set up along the streets throughout the central part of the town. After a cappuccino and a brioche, I set off to wander through the market and the town. I walked over bridges I had never crossed before, down streets I had never traveled before, past restaurants I had never eaten in, past town walls I had never passed before, and took photographs of views I had never seen before. I was both happy and a little sad. Happy to see all these new things and sad because at my age who knows if I shall ever pass this way again.
IMG_5062

Then back to Lucia’s for a prosecco and water with a little ice and lemon and then off to pack and to nap.

Tomorrow we are off to Croatia.
.

E. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Besides the World Cup, the news here these past few days have been dominated by the plight of the 12 member Thai teenage soccer team and their coach that had been trapped in a cave for about 10 days. Through the efforts of an international rescue team, they were eventually found miraculously all still alive. The coverage is ongoing since the students have been determined to be too weak to move according to medical personnel with the rescue team and must remain in the cave for another week or so.

Meanwhile, the media being so preoccupied with the rescue and the World Cup completely missed the news of Trump’s appointment of Vladimir Putin as the US Secretary of State, putting him third in line for the Presidency. When queried about how Putin could ascend to the Presidency of the US given the Constitution’s requirement that the President be a natural born American citizen, the administration’s spokesperson stated that a birth certificate recently had been discovered showing Putin was born in Tennessee, the child of two Russian double agents working in the US at the time. When asked when the birth certificate would be available for review, it was explained that it was in the President’s possession and would be released when he releases his tax returns. Reports that Vice-president Pence and Speaker Ryan, the two people in line for the presidency before Putin have recently hired a team of food tasters and doubled their security detail cannot be confirmed at this time. The President, in announcing the appointment, said that he, Trump, was the greatest President and leader of a nation in all of human history and that Vladimir Putin was “a good guy,” “very trustworthy,” “a true lover of democracy” and a “friend of the United States.” Trump also said of Putin that, “All the prettiest girls in Russia love him almost as much as they do me.”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

While rooting around the internet a few days ago for reasons I have now forgotten, I came across something that quite amazed me — a blog site in which the author attempts to reproduce James Joyce’s Ulysses word for word in comic book form. So far he has transcribed three sections and has a long way to go yet. That he chooses to make the attempt demonstrates a level of obsession and determination of which I am in awe, even if it leads me to question why. After all why Joyce wrote it at all, other then to bedevil the critics, is a question worth ruminating on.

The blog, in addition to the comics, also includes clever “opinion” pieces like this one about famous first lines in fiction:

“I’ve been thinking about first lines a lot lately, and I’m pretty sure I find the first line of Ulysses to be just okay. Here it is: ‘Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.’”

“Now there’s nothing wrong with the line. It’s perfectly serviceable. Joyce wonks like me are fond of pointing out that ‘Stately’ contains the novel’s final word (‘Yes’) in reverse, lending the novel a nifty quasi-palindromic quality. And the densely packed images of the bowl, the mirror, the razor, and the cross each accrete layers of symbolic meaning as the novel progresses. Still, it’s not the sort of first line which, as a line, burns into the reader’s brain in the manner of ‘Call me Ishmael’ or even ‘A screaming comes across the sky.’ The American Book Review recently compiled a list of ‘100 Best First Lines From Novels.’ All the usual suspects are there, including Ulysses, but it seems to me that certain of their selections are simply nods to great books rather than to individual lines. ‘I am an invisible man,’ for instance, from Ellison’s novel of that name. The novel’s a masterpiece, but is the line really so wonderful? I suppose, if we’re taking context out of the picture, we might have to nix Ishmael too—if we want a pure list of this kind, then I say we do it. By contrast, a line like the one that begins Michael Chabon’s ‘Werewolves in Their Youth’ is pretty darned interesting in its own right (and I’ve never even read the story): ‘I had known him as a bulldozer, as a samurai, as an android programmed to kill, as Plastic Man and Titanium Man and Matter-Eater Lad, as a Peterbilt truck, and even, for a week, as the Mackinac Bridge, but it was as a werewolf that Timothy Stokes finally went too far.’”

“And here are a few others not on the ABR list that I’m fond of for reasons both obvious and ineffable:

‘Where’s Pa going with that ax?’ (E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web)”

“Back in the time of which I am speaking, due to our Coordinators had mandated us, we had all seen that educational video of It’s Yours to Do With What You Like! in which teens like ourselves speak on the healthy benefits of getting off by oneself and doing what one feels like in terms of self-touching, which what we learned from that video was, there is nothing wrong with self-welltouching, because love is a mystery but the mechanics of love need not be, so go off alone, see what is up, with you and your relation to your own gonads, and the main thing is, just have fun, feeling no shame!’ (George Saunders, Jon)”

“‘Hellfire hallelujah and halitosis. Mike Schmidt sits to pee.’(Shawn McBride, Green Grass Grace)”

“Are these culled from great works? Does it matter?”

 

There is also a site that lists the best last lines in Fiction. And, while plump Buck Mulligan’s shaving preparation is a pretty good line, I prefer Molly Bloom’s soliloquy that brings Ulysses to its glorious end:

“I was a Flower of the mountains yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls use or should I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another…then he asked me yes would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

 

 

B. Giants of History: Peter’s responses to the previous T&T post.
On Pythonism

Interesting chronological confluence: Recently finished reading “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Stephen Greenblatt. It’s about the rediscovery of Lucretius”s poem “On The Nature of Things”, after over a thousand years, by Poggio Bracciolini around 1417, who was a former pope’s secretary and enthusiast for ancient Greek and Roman manuscripts, and the poem’s contribution to and impact on Renaissance and later thinking. Lucretius was a disciple of Epicurus. the poem articulated the radical (for the late middle ages) view that the universe and all things, human and otherwise, consist solely of atoms and the void, that there is no afterlife or resurrection or heaven and hell, God doesn’t exist let alone run things, and after all the right approach to life is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Find joy in what you can now, ‘cause there ain’t no heaven. Works for me. Monte Python in a Roman toga.

On coffee get-togethers in the Enchanted Forest

Sounds more intriguing than Leisure World or stumbling down Collins Avenue sidestepping doggie do. Do they wear purple hair in the Enchanted Forest? Boy toy sounds like some exotic Asian dish (just watched Anthony Bourdain in Viet Nam eating some fabulous soup in Hue); but cannibals probably wouldn’t eat geriatric boy toy.

On the contention, that beauty can bore

Interesting: Suggests that wandering is a cure for the ennui or boredom of salubrious settlement. Thus, commuting from Heaven to Purgatory to Hell and back, and onward. Or at least to New York and Sacile. Forever seeking beatitude or a good pastry. Unless, of course, one is totally absorbed in one’s obsession, whatever it is: Putin’s grabbing and disrupting others, Van Gogh’s painting and agonizing, Scrooge McDuck’s diving into his money bin….

On negative news about negative people

Years ago I read something about news, and how history shows that people always want to hear/read/see the bad news, disaster news, negative stuff. What I read referred back to news, and pamphlets. And whatever back two-three hundred years. So there’s a psychological basis to take advantage of for slanting the news.

Given US history, as shown e. g by “Fantasyland,” the US is both a testing ground for new corporate-driven forms of domination and, together with its predilection for violence and fantasy, a retrograde movement backward toward more primitive and difficult times.

On corporations and oligarchs

Ultimately, the world corporate oligarchical/dictatorial concentration and continued climate change impacts will result in continued and enhanced mass migrations and consequent population redistributions, and as a byproduct a reduction of “guns in America” as counter-productive. The beauty of the Veneto will provide an oasis in which the “ho hum, another day in paradise” ennui will be reluctantly deemed the tolerable alternative to hemlock or standing on line at the Louvre to gape at the Mona Lisa or joining a futile, isolated white armed resistance cell whose membership includes — by that time — a senile Michael Caine, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Sean Penn, Samuel L. Jackson, Benicio Del toro, Russell Crowe, and Angelina Joli.

On “the cradle of civilization”

Now, China’s new Road (whatever they call that) essentially recreates the old Silk Road by rail and highway from China to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. The Russians are already building up Kazakhstan with their space program (and even Trump was trying to get some business there!). Iran will be a key, as it was back then, in spite of the Saudi/Sunnis. The US will have a lot to learn from the Italians’ sense of history via “Catch-22”

 

Wisdom from the Kabbala

“Travels With Epicurus”. Has its benefits.

Do the swallows return to Compostello?*

Thus the wheel of Karma turns; what’s new?

How do you spell Medicare in Italian?

*Note: my spell check translated this as composted.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Clothes do not make the man, but you need the proper costume if you want to play the part.”

Rothfuss, Patrick. The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2) (p. 181). DAW.

Categories: July through September 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Shadow 0006 (June 22, 2017)

 

 

“Almost everyone would be rich if great wealth came to people from hard work.”
(Someone, I do not know who)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SACILE, TAMAI, AND VENICE:

 

Sacile and Tamai

On Saturday, Vittorio and Teacher Brian intend to go off on a 30 hiking pilgrimage from France, through the Pyrenees Mountains, and across northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela a journey of about 500 miles. Their friend Marco decided to hold a bon-voyage party for them at his house.

Both Vittorio and Brian are accomplished hikers. Vittorio hikes 20 kilometers several mornings a week. Brian, an American originally from South Dakota, who now teaches physics and other sciences to high school students at the nearby American military base (hence the nickname Teacher), has an interesting back story about his commitment to hiking. When he was a young man serving in the military he was diagnosed with a large growth in his lower spine. After its surgical removal, it was feared he could never walk again. But he did and now hikes regularly through the Veneto plain and the pre-alps.

Anyway, we gathered at Marco’s for the party. I was pleased to see Professor Hank and his wife there. He is a professor (hence the nickname) of economics at a college in New Jersey and used to teach the same at the military base. Like Teacher Brian, he and his wife have a home in Sacile and spend summers there.

The dinner, in good Italian style, lasted from 7:30 when we arrived and until 1 AM when we left. It began with Prosecco, moved through Thai main courses (Vitorio’s wife and several other people there are Thai) and finished off with Italian pastry, sweets, liqueurs and cherries marinated in grappa. It was a truly multi-cultural meal.
IMG_2832

Professor Hank, a thoughtful gentle man whose company I find extremely enjoyable. As usual, when he and I get together, we talked about many things including the possibility next summer of he and I traveling together to visit his friend who lives in Marshall Tito’s old villa on the Ischia coast of Croatia. Thereafter we would take the ferry to Bari and tour Calabria, his wife’s birthplace. After that, I could go on by train to Sicily and visit Antonio and my family before setting off to Thailand. This excited me because I had hoped to take a similar trip this year but had to cancel it because I had not yet fully recovered from my treatment.

 

Venice

On Monday I set off to Venice. I wanted to see how the Biennale exhibits had changed since I visited there almost two years ago.

Although I visit it often, Venice is not my favorite city. Perhaps, it is because of having read Thomas Mann or seen the movie made from his book. Perhaps, I am terrorized by people who creep about at night in masks and garish costumes. Perhaps, it is the signage for the route back to the train station that always seems to lead me through a section of the city I had never visited before, usually, one that I never even knew existed, and lose me there (this visit was no different). But mostly I think, it is because I have never eaten a good meal in that city. Despite whatever it is that puts me off, I still find myself returning again and again and happy I did so.
IMG_2909

 

Back in Sacile and Tamai

The rest of the week included trips to the markets, mornings and evenings in the cafe’s talking with Hank, Lucia and others. I marvel at how these few people, Vittorio and Anita, Lucia, Professor Hank and Teacher Brian have become such close and important friends of mine despite having first met them only a few years ago and having visited with them only briefly since. I consider them as close and as dear friends as any I have made in my life.

On my last full day there like my first, I accompanied Vittorio to a nearby town where he marched with his band in a religious procession. Although growing up in Tuckahoe where religious processions were common, I have rarely seen them since then. Along with the procession, the town held a soccer tournament and hosted a dinner beneath a grand tent where I watched some men play “scopa” (a popular Italian card game) well into the evening.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

On Friday, Vittorio drove me to the train station for my five hour trip to Rome. The train ride was uneventful other than when somewhere in the middle, I noticed my suitcase was not where I had left it. After some frantic searching, I found it at the opposite end of the car. The car itself was full of American college students on their way from Venice to Rome so I guessed it had been moved to make room for their mountains of luggage and backpacks. I otherwise dozed, read, or watched the hill town pass by my window. Sometimes, I tried to guess their names and recall if I had ever visited them.

Having lived in Rome for three years back in the late sixties and early seventies, I consider it my home. There are four cities I think of as home; Rome (and Sabina), New York City (and Tuckahoe), San Francisco, and Bangkok. I have lived for a considerable length of time in all of these cities. Whenever I return to any of them, I find myself just as happy sitting quietly or strolling around as I would in some more energetic or social activity; so it was with this trip. I am still too weak and ill for anything more than the briefest of walks. Nevertheless, on Saturday morning I ambled to my beloved Borghese Gardens and sat on a bench near the magnificent Borghese Museum that as usual had sold out its tickets for admission about a week in advance.

I sat where I usually do, on a bench near the accordionist. I have been coming here for about 10 years now and sitting on that bench listening to him play. He bills himself as “The Ukrainian Organist,” but I suspect he is just an ordinary Slavic accordion player. He plays light classical music which I always felt had been written specifically for sunny days in a park with breezes rustling the leaves of the trees, filtering the sunlight and dappling the ground in shadow or destined to be stolen by some modern musical comedy composer caught in a momentary lack of inspiration. Today alas, he, the musician, seemed distracted. He’d play only a few bars of a piece before jumping on to another. Even his piece de resistance the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach(what the phantom of the opera plays in his grotto under the Opera House whenever he has agita) seemed forlorn and discordant — at least, more so than it usually sounds.

IMG_2918
The “Ukrainian Organist” at the Borghese Gardens

On Sunday my delightful cousin, Federica picked me up at my accommodation in the Castro Pretoria section of Rome. She first drove us to the “Quartiere Coppede a fantastical mix of Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Mannerist, Medieval, and, overall, Art Nouveau mixture created by the mostly forgotten architect Coppedè in 1919.
IIMG_2931.jpg

Fede and Pookie Footloose in Rome.

After that, we drove out to Sabina where we had a great lunch with her parents and another cousin Andrea.

Lunch was the typical 3 or more hour affair. It began with kisses and hugs all around followed by the antipasto. I do not recall all the ingredients included in the antipasto but I remember fried zucchini and potatoes, tomato and peppers (or perhaps just red peppers) and olive oil on a lightly baked breaded cracker of some sort, I think. Small mozzarella balls, mixed vegetables, and cantaloupe with Parma ham. The pasta course contained cold Ziti (?) mixed with vegetables. Then we had turkey involtini and a salad. A fruit compote followed by ice cream cake (chocolate) made up the dessert —followed, of course, by coffee. This was all accompanied by interesting conversation and a very good chilled white wine that I, unfortunately, was unable to drink more than a sip.

We also spent some time looking at old family photographs and watching the finals of LeMans on television. (Andrea is service manager for Ferrari and had a professional interest)
IMG_2943 - Version 2
The Cousins and me

After the lunch, Fede drove me back to Rome and the next day I set off for Thailand.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Recently my daughter, who is a scientist herself, expressed her concern about the anti-science mania rampant in our body politic. For example, there is distrust of the findings of almost every scientist who has produced a peer reviewed article regarding climate change. Not only is this response unscientific it is irrational as well. What is the down side to moving to renewables and lowering our carbon footprint? Even if all these scientists were ultimately proved wrong we still would have a better world.

The issue is financial and political, the understandable reluctance of those few individuals and institutions who believe they own the wealth of hydrocarbons yet untapped to surrender their prospective fortunes. But who owns the billions of years of accumulated sunlight trapped in the ground— certainly not those few. At best, they have a revocable contract to invest their funds in extracting those resources in exchange for a reasonable return on their investment. It is not a scientific issue.

There is a similar negative and unscientific reaction also to things like GM crops. GM is merely a more efficient and safer method of improving crops than the radiation method we have been using for the last 100 years. Yes, there is probably not a single bite of food that you eat today that has not been genetically modified. Almost anything conceivable produced by GM can be produced by other means, but probably not as efficiently at this time.

The problem is not a question science or safety, but of adequate regulation and those who would subvert that regulation. Nevertheless, there remains those who are fearful of putting their safety in the hands of others and try instead to stop or deny the science. Although, I for one having been intimately involved in difficult regulation from all vantage points, am sympathetic with their concern, nevertheless, I believe the worst of all options is to try to halt the growth of knowledge through Luddite over-reaction.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Remember,” he said to the two beloved faces crowding the carriage window. “No drinking out of wet glasses. No betting on slow horses. No—” The jokes died in his throat. “Oh, Jesus God Christ, what am I going to do without the two of you?” He turned away, bleak with loss.
Delaney, Frank (2009-10-13). Ireland: A Novel (p. 226). HarperCollins.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
1525410c3f1938edbd7c8de7c5dc43e0

 

The interesting thing to note about this chart is that almost all the non-stressful careers are in engineering and are relatively highly paid, while most of the highly stressful jobs are dangerous or low paying or both. So, one would think, if you are young and looking for a career you should head off to engineering school.

 

Alas, here in America over the last score or so of years, we have been closing our engineering schools or being forced to fill them with students from other countries. Yes, the continued health of our modern technological society depends on the despised immigrants. Apparently modern white American males shun the hard work required to earn an engineering degree. And yes again, engineering in America has been often seen as a male only profession. Perhaps, it is the time that American woman should be encouraged to flood the remaining engineering schools and begin taking over this sector of our economy. Obviously, the men find it too difficult. Maybe, that well-represented tee-shirt slogan should be amended to read: “A woman’s place is in the House, Senate and in engineering school.”

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
498

 

The Mormons believe Native-Americans are descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel. Anthropologists argue over whether they are descended from East-Asian immigrants to the continent, or Central-Asian or even European. Some Native-American religions believe they are descended from those who migrated through a hollow log or a long deep cave. I believe, however, that by studying the noble noses of some these dignified and proud people one can only conclude that they are Italian.

 

 

 

Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 22 JoJo 0004 (June 5, 2015)

 

“What we fear too much we often bring to pass.”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 95). Random House Publishing Group.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN VENETO:

Venice and the Biennale.

The next day I left Sacile by train for Venice and the Biennale. The sky was overcast but my spirits were high. I was excited because the Biennale was something I always wanted to visit, even though I was never sure what went on there. As I discovered, it includes the visual arts, music, a film festival and architecture exhibits. Menotti’s Festival of the Two Worlds was another I longed to see although I had no idea what two worlds he was thinking of (actually the US and Europe). I imagined I would walk down the streets of Spoleto with strains of Vivaldi alternating with snatches of Amahl and the Night Visitors cascading down upon me from open windows.

I always try to remember when I visit Wonders of Nature or the Glories of Humanity that they also usually are someones home and that pride of place is not all that it is cracked up to be.

By the time I arrived in Venice the sun was shining. There may be cities with more canals or more bridges than Venice, but there are none more picturesque. Every time I come here, I am overcome with an uncontrollable urge to snap pictures of the same buildings and scenes that I have taken perhaps a hundred times before. It is either Venetian magic, hypnosis or some dread disease that crawls out from the foetid canals at night.

I could imagine some old Doge sitting in an elegant room in his palace surrounded by his architects and engineers, looking up at the paintings by the Republic’s greatest artists and saying, “You know guys, someday everyone will be able to make a picture of this town just by pressing a button. At least, it will rid me of those arrogant overpriced artists cluttering up the piazza — they flit around like locusts, worse like lawyers. So remember, whatever you do make it picturesque so that should this town ever sink under the sea everyone can still recall the glory of the Serenissima.”

And so, I plunged into the mass of tourists, taking photographs along the way.
IMG_20150529_101027_320
First photo upon arrival.

As usual, whenever I visit Venice, I try to lose myself in the tiny and dark passageways of the city. Yet no matter the mysterious lanes one explores, or even if you, like a character in a Thomas Mann novel, feel compelled to follow a flash of color of someone crossing a small bridge and disappearing into a maze of alleyways, you always end up at either the Rialto or Piazza San Marco.
IMG_20150529_101603_820IMG_20150529_153516_490

In case you doubted that this is the Century of the Woman, I came across the following election posters in a plaza along the way.
IMG_20150529_102243_406

Near the Academe Bridge, I stopped for a glass of cool white wine at a tiny cafe where, a few years ago Hayden, Nikki and I stopped for some wine and sandwiches. Sitting next to us at that time were two middle-aged teachers from England who shared a home together in Venice. We talked and drank more wine until I became tipsy and tripped over the sign in the alley outside as I left.
IMG_20150529_104018_318
Pookie’s selfie on the Rialto

After pushing through the crowds of tourists thronging Piazza San Marco and taking the requisite photographs, I walked along the waterfront that Canaletto painted almost as many times as I had photographed it.
IMG_20150529_114543_158

The light was typically Venetian, luminous and indistinct that made everything shine like it was lit from within and, unlike the sharp lines of the chiaroscuro light further south, turned the shadows gray and fuzzy. I stopped at the church of La Pieta to pay homage to the Red Priest (Vivaldi) and his teenage all-girl marching band that used to delight the Venetians with the Baroque version of a rock concert.
IMG_20150529_114606_862
I always liked this much-photographed scene.

It was lunchtime as I passed beyond the Arsenale, so I searched for the restaurant that Professor Hank recommended. Eventually, I found it and sat down. From the waitress with tattooed arms, I ordered the Sarde con Saor that Professor Hank suggested along with a side dish of eggplant and peppers and a glass of Prosecco since they served the Pinot Grigio Professor Hank suggested only by the bottle and I was not prepared for either that expense or to get that drunk.
IMG_20150529_125910_770
The Restaurant is on the right.

The Sarde con Saor was quite tasty although sardines are far down on my personal list of favorite foods. The dish is prepared by covering the sardines with onions cooked in olive oil until they are soft and drenching them at the table with wine vinegar and is accompanied by some polenta.
IMG_20150529_121818_542

Following lunch I continued along the embankment toward the park (Giardini) at the far end of the City in which much of the Biennale’s visual arts were displayed.

In the many times I had visited Venice, I had never ventured beyond the Arsenale before. It is surprisingly comfortable neighborhood that is much less overrun with tourists than other parts of the city.
IMG_20150529_130542_259

Many of the Biennale exhibits and performances are spread throughout the city in museums, churches and storefronts that, due to the Italian notorious genius for hiding their entrances or misstating their opening times, I unknowingly passed by, but I thankfully found a few. Here are some.
IMG_20150529_130246_948
A sculptress who likes balancing big rocks on their narrow end.

IMG_20150529_152721_269
An art commune that specializes in reusing refuse.

IMG_20150529_162945_727
An artist who paints her buildings strange colors.

IMG_20150529_111933_462

An exhibit of ancient musical instruments.

There was even one by an artist named Tsang Kin-Wah called, The Infinite Nothing (I think it was the Hong Kong exhibit). It contained a totally lightless room. As I stood before the door, I became very frightened especially because I could not see one inch into the room even though the hall in which I stood was well lit. Despite the urgings of the hostess, I refused to go further and left. I guess I will never become the reluctant hero of a science fiction novel or ghost story.

The main venues for the visual arts exhibits, however, were grouped in the Giardini and the Arsenale.
IMG_20150529_131038_877
The entrance to the Giardini.

In the Giardini there were many pavilions, some permanent and some constructed just for the Biennale. Most pavilions featured a single artist or a small group of artists and most were installations. I dislike installations. They always remind me of industrial junk yards but not half as interesting.
IMG_20150529_131621_417IMG_20150529_132510_140

Spain                                                                        I don’t know this one

IMG_20150529_132412_027
The cafeteria

The US pavilion contained a pretty good installation by an artist who did things much like my brother in his installations 30 years ago. What it had to do with All the World’s Futures, the theme of the Biennale, I had no idea.
IMG_20150529_132546_859
The US pavilion

By far most of the art displayed was self-important and bombastic but, now and then, one came upon a piece that gently rolled down your socks and kissed your feet.
IMG_20150529_134857_652
An apotheosis of self-importance and bombast, from Britain

IMG_20150529_135128_638
This Japanese installation tickled my toes

Speaking of apotheosis, there actually was a pavilion entitled Apotheosis. It was either Czech or Polish or something. I never found out.
IMG_20150529_134627_216

Upon entering you found yourself in a large white room with a big blank white canvas-like feature at one end, perhaps 20 feet high and 15 wide. Most people would stand there, attempt to puzzle out what they saw, give up and leave. But, if you approached the slab you would find an elaborate painting the same size behind it. Unfortunately, the slab and the painting were so close together that you had to squeeze in between them to see the painting and then you could only see it by looking into a mirror pasted on the back of the white slab. The painting itself was a reproduction of a somewhat well-known allegorical painting of about 50 years ago entitled, “Apotheosis of the Slav rising from Slavery.” (I’m not kidding.) The current artist who prepared the installation had added to the painting things like a chain around the neck of the main figure, a tattoo on his arm that said, “Revolver” and a lot of other graffiti. “Obviously,” I thought, “there’s a whole lot of symbolism here longing to be free.” Alas, I was far too exhausted at this point to try to figure it out, so I moved on.

Completing my tour of the pavilions and exhibits in the Giardino, I retraced my steps to the Arsenale.
IMG_20150529_142346_590

There the exhibits dealt mostly with the arts of war and were pretty gruesome so I passed through them quickly and on to the few others not dedicated to the subject.
IMG_20150529_135725_989
A Russian artist built this.

IMG_20150529_144154_789
At first, I thought this was a covering for some remedial work on the walls of the Arsenale, but I was assured by a placard that this was a work of art. There are times I wish that Marcel Duchamp had been strangled in his cradle.

After this, I thought it was time to head back to the station. I decided to first explore the area to the northwest of the Arsenale that had been the haunt of Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen before he was exiled to Sicily for solving a crime no one wanted him to.
IMG_20150529_130923_500IMG_20150529_152831_797

Having walked across the length and breadth of the City, my aging legs began to fail me, so eventually I collapsed into a Bellini. That is, I fell into a chair at a cafe that specialized in Bellinies (?). (If the plural of Bellini is Bellini then shouldn’t the singular of Bellini be Bellino?)
IMG_20150529_151851_352
Pookie and his Bellino

After this short rest, I staggered back to the train station taking one last photograph before I left.
IMG_20150529_163405_243

On the train, I mused about the many more artworks and innumerable musical performances and movies included in the Biennale that I had not seen or experienced. But, I contented myself with the knowledge that checking off an item on my bucket list is not that bad a day at all.

I arrived back in Sacile at dusk, tottered over to Lucia’s and drank glasses of Prosecco until Vittorio arrived to drive me back to Tamai.

Postscript: In the Andorran display (yes there is an Andorra and it has at least one artist) hidden somewhere among the haunts of Aurelio Zen, I saw this broom leaning against a wall. It was not the exhibit but could well have been.
IMG_20150529_145920_502

(The actual exhibit was a bunch of ruined canvases tossed into a corner. I assume the broom was to be used on the exhibit at the festival’s close — come to think of it, perhaps the broom was part of the exhibit after all.)

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“There have been three periods in the history of Western Civilization during which we have been overwhelmed by lawyers and judges, who tell us again and again that we cannot do certain things because they are illegal, even if those things are absolutely essential. The first period would be from 1313 to about 1480; the second was from about 1690 to the French Revolution; which was a revolt against a mass of confused, legalistic rigidity preventing necessary reforms. The third is our own day, when judges and lawyers are running everything and we are obsessed by legalism and litigation.”
Carroll Quigley Ph.D. Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, A.D. 976 – 1976.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Most wealthy individuals are scoundrels. Only very few admit it and they usually are already in jail.”

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

* A pile of paraprosdokians is called a stand-up comic.

D. Today’s Poem:

The frost has known,
From scattered conclave by the few winds blown,
That the lone genius in my roots,
Bare down there in a jungle of fruits,
Has planted a green year, for praise, in the heart of my upgrowing days.

Written by Dylan Thomas when he was only fourteen years old.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Republicans continue to refuse to extend [unemployment insurance]. You know what, I am beginning to think that they’ve got a point. If you want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.”
Barak Obama

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. July 9 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

TODAY’S FACTOID:

2011: The State of the US Airline industry:

— The peak of US airline employment was in 2000, with more than 650,000 Americans working for an airline. Since then, based on government statistics, US airlines have cut nearly 150,000 employees.

— More than 30 percent of US airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection during the 2000-2010 decade (i.e., 30 percent of airline shareholders were wiped out).

— Many new jobs for pilots will be with “state-owned airlines”; it is forecasted that, “by 2029, 68 percent of air traffic volume will be from the emerging economies in such countries and regions as Asia, Brazil, India, and the Middle East.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.

As I mentioned in a previous e-mail, the state of the US airline industry is evidence that the 9/11 terrorists may have achieved their goal to wreck the American economy by banking on the American political establishment’s overreaction to their attack, driving the American economy into the gutter. The death of Bin-Laden does not alter that, nor does it change the fact that as regrettable and horrid as it is, his strategy seems to be working. American conservative leadership (Republican and Democratic alike) will continue to blame it on the unions, food stamps, illegal immigrants, the civil service, or almost anyone else other than themselves.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:

English: In January 2009, President of the Uni...

 In January 2009, President of the United States of America, George W. Bush invited then President-Elect Barack Obama and former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter for a Meeting and Lunch at The White House. Photo taken in the Oval Office at The White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The liberal wing of the Democratic Party continuing their tradition, extending back about 50 years, of turning on the person they helped elect President because he failed to deliver on their favorite single issue, thereby more often than not assuring his defeat, have turned on Obama. Despite shepherding through a balky Congress the most progressive agenda since Lyndon Johnson, the liberal élite are furious at learning that Obama actually is the liberal leaning centrist he said he was during election and not the fire-breathing leftist ideologue they imagined him to be in their mad rush to defeat a representative of the previous administration that they helped elect and then abandoned for committing the unforgivable sin of political realism.

On the right, on the other hand the Republicans seem to almost always forgive their leaders for recognizing political reality or, god forbid, actually doing something right among the stream of disastrous policies that so please their rank and file (e.g., Nixon on the Environmental Quality Act, Reagan surprisingly on Social Security). Only George W. Bush seemed bereft of a single socially positive domestic policy initiative and yet despite the almost universal recognition among even those on the right that his policies were a disaster for the nation and his Party, virtually no significant criticism of either him or his policies emerged from the conservative press.

The liberal journalist icon , Frank Rich in the NY Times recently has written:

The president’s failure to demand a reckoning from the moneyed interests who brought the economy down has cursed his first term, and could prevent a second.”

Never has a conservative journalist so blithely abandoned their leader because of a failure of ideology or policy. If that were not so, George W. Bush would never had won a second term.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND)ITALY:

Vittorio and I continued on to Barcis, a picturesque little town by a lake nestled in the mountains at the edge of the Dolomite. We walked about a bit then returned home.

On Sunday, we returned with Hayden. Vittorio’s band, “The Tamai Friends of Music” was featured at the festivities accompanying rowing races on the lake at Barcis. I had bought Hayden a tin whistle in Venice that he happily and forcefully played along with the band until the conductor asked him either to stop or get up on the stage and join them.

A few days earlier, Nikki arrived at the farm. He had a couple of days off between flights. We took the train to Venice specifically to see the model boats exhibited at the naval museum at the Arsenale. Of course, when we arrived it was closed. Otherwise Venice was, well Venice; the food was awful and the people obnoxious but the City looked wonderful.

We had lunch (actually just snacks and wine) at the only place I found where the proprietor appeared to welcome us. As could be expected she was not Venetian but was a Brazilian immigrant married to an Italian. I drank too much wine and struck up a lively conversation with two English spinsters sitting at the next table. (To those feminists among us, there lacks a more suitable description to this throwback to those fiercely independent Victorian woman, usually from England, who strode the world in pursuit of social justice, striking fear into any malefactors of moral impropriety.) One had recently moved to Treviso and the other was visiting her from her home in London. They both were committed socialists, but agreed to support my candidacy for President. Upon leaving the café a little tipsy, I walked into the easel that held the osteria’s menu sign and broke it to bits.

If you would chance to be in Venice in the future, the name of the place is Osteria alla Ciurma at S. Paulo 406 Rialto, calle della Galeazza just far enough from the Rialto to allow its food to be edible. Do not mention that you know me. However, if the spinsters are there (it is their favorite place in Venice) say hello to them for me.

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

On the way back to the office Vince asked Ray how he knew what to do about the photographer and about the note.

“Before I became a legal sec… er administrative assistant, I worked for a private eye.”

“No kidding, who did you work for?”

“Al Pischotti.”

“Fat Al! You worked for Fat Al? How come I did not know about it and why didn’t you tell me when I asked you to assist him?”

“I thought you knew. It was on my resume. I guess you did not have a chance to look at it.”

When they arrived back at the office Nina was waiting with a grim smile playing at her lips. “The Great One arrives tonight. She wants to meet with you tomorrow after finishing some meetings with clients. She suggested dinner at “TWO”.”

Of course, “TWO” was one of the most expensive restaurants in town, lighting too dark to see across the table and portions so small one had to stop and get a hamburger on the way home or risk starving before morning.

The Great One is how most people in the firm referred to the managing partner of the Brussels office. Arabella Le Grande is her actual name. A few that know her well call her Arrogant Bella.

“Also,” she continued not giving him time to groan, “David is in your office waiting for you to return. It’s terrible about Mrs. Coign everyone is very upset. First Mr. Coign then his wife. What a shame.”

___________________________________________

William “Big Bill” McWilliams had just exited his chauffeur driven Bentley and started across to sidewalk towards his office building on Steuart Street in San Francisco when he was blindsided by another pedestrian who obviously was not paying attention to where she was going.

“Dammit, why don’t you…” he began before noticing that his assailant was a most beautiful young woman almost as tall as he was, wearing a very short skirt, large hoop earrings, and a scoop necked blouse exposing the promise of large soft rounded breasts below. Seamlessly he lowered his voice almost one octave to produce that sonorous sound that earned him the additional sobriquet among some as “Golden Throat”. “…ah, excuse me miss, it was all my fault, I should have been more careful. Let me make up for my clumsiness by buying you a cup of coffee”.

“No,no” she said in her deep throaty sexy voice, “It was all my fault. I was in too much of a hurry for my meeting. I wasn’t looking where I was going. I am in a bit of a hurry right now.” She looked at him for a moment with her calm eyes, glanced at the Bentley that had driven off and now was awaiting the change of signals at the stop light on the corner, smiled a broad sparkling smile and added, “But I would take a rain check on that coffee.”

Big Bill, ego aflame, reached into the left hand pocket of his suit jacket where he always kept a few of his overwrought business cards containing besides his name and his office number clear evidence that he was the owner of several businesses, plucked one out and handed it to her, “Here is my number. Please call. I will look forward to it.”

She took the card, smiled, saluted him with it and walked off.

He watched her for a moment, then turning off his smile, walked into the small elegant lobby of the “McWilliams Building.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Philosophical ruminations:

One evening before going to sleep I asked Hayden if there was any questions he wanted answered. He said, “Yes, I know I come from my mommy and she came from her mommy and her from her mommy (Apparently his mother left him with the impression that males have no role in the procreation process, being restricted only to working and providing money.), but,” he continued, “I don’t understand where it all ends.”

So I launched into a lengthy explanation of evolution and modern scientific thought on cosmology.

When I finished he said, “I think I understand. But, what I really want to know is if this was before or after God died?”
b. Testosterone Chronicles:

Young male CEOs appear to be combative… [as] a result of testosterone levels that are higher in young males. Testosterone… has been shown to influence prospects for a cooperative outcome of the ultimatum game. Specifically, high-testosterone responders tend to reject low offers even though this is against their interest.”
Source: Social Science Research Network

(Combative or bags of nuts?)

c. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

(1) I guess I have to apologize for something. So, I apologize for my continued political harangues. Unfortunately, whenever I hear those bells of Boston ringing, I just want to run and warn the British that the Colonists are coming to shoot them for trying to take away our guns. Thankfully, our four fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and the good Roosevelt) worked tirelessly to eliminate slavery at the founding of our country. Ah, I just cannot help myself.

(2) According to Wikipedia, the town referred to in the previous post as Veneto later changed to Vittorio Veneto in honor of the Italian victory there in WW I was actually named Vittorio with the Veneto added to commemorate the victory.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Law enforcement on Obama’s watch rounded up 393,000 illegal immigrants last year and zero bankers.”
Matt Taibbi.

The question for the 2012 election is could any candidate running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency do as well for the right-wing of their party on either issue as the incumbent?

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:

Hayden, flute-less in Barcis, watching “The Tamai Friends of Music”:

The boat races on the lake at Barcis:

Pookie in Venice:

Categories: July 2011 through September 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re thai r ment, by 3Th. June 28, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1863: May 18-July 4, Grant’s victory at Vicksburg marks the beginning of the end for the Confederate Rebellion that caused the American Civil War.

Less than 150 years later, the South wins the peace.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM (THAILAND) AMERICA:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN (THAILAND) ITALY:

About four hours later we arrived at Nikki’s condominium in Busto a small working class town located just outside of Milan adjacent to Malpensa Airport. We unpacked, cooked dinner and went to sleep. The following morning I was awakened by lot of shouting and banging of things being moved about. I left my room to find SWAC in the midst of packing and shouting. It seems that her period commenced (Her statement not mine) the previous night and that according to her, it was an absolute necessity we immediately depart the messy and cramped condominium for the supposedly spacious and elegant farm of her friends located almost completely across the top of the country from Milan, somewhere near Venice.

She insisted that I accompany them, stay the night and return to Milan the next morning, leaving Hayden and her to spent two or three weeks there. I demurred, explaining that I had had enough traveling for a while. Following somewhat emotional discussions and a series of telephone calls to the so-called friends, it was agreed that I would accompany them to the Veneto and remain with Hayden lodged at the farm while she returned to Milan with Nikki and departed for Thailand to return in about two weeks.

So, four or so hours later we drove into Sacile (pronounced Sah Chili) a town about 40 kilometers north of Venice. It is also known as “Il Giardino del Serenissima,” or something like that. It translates as “The Garden of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.”

Before reaching the center of town we stopped on a side street at a coffee shop/bar operated by a friend of SWAC and Nikki, a tall slender middle aged woman named Lucia. Outside the bar were a few tables, one of which was occupied by several locals playing the traditional Italian card games of Scopa and Brescola. They and the other patrons were generally drinking Prosecco, not the sweet bubbly crap one gets in the US but the refreshing local, hot weather afternoon, kick back and enjoy life drink. It was very good. We had two glasses and spent about an hour in pleasant conversation with Lucia, her strange boyfriend and some of the customers.

We then walked to the main plaza of the town that has a river running through it. Apparently, during the heyday of La Serenissima, barges from Venice would travel up the river to the small falls that made further travel difficult. The barges, carrying, I guess, things like Murano glass souvenirs, porcelain carnivalle mask and things like that would be off loaded and replaced by agricultural goods from the area and other things like cuckoo clocks carried over the alpine passes from Switzerland and Austria. The town sprung up to service this barge traffic, I assume to provide food, drink and entertainment to the lonely bargemen as they awaited their consignments.

The town is a picture postcard of what someone would imagine a venetian town should look like. At first blush it appears that the ancient town has reemerged from history. A closer look reveals something a bit more like one would find at the Venetian in Las Vegas, a use of post-modern architectural design flowing seamlessly into the few remaining vintage structures.

Post-modernism despite the acres of intellectual drivel generally written by those hoping to make some money off of it, is merely a form of colorful mostly straight edged Moderne (with pitched rather than flat roofs) as it existed before Walter Gropius sex crazed with Anna Mahler tarted it up into Bauhaus (Or had Gropius become a sexual deviant before the advent of Moderne, I never could remember which?). Essentially it consists of a series of rectangular planar facades painted or otherwise colored in earthy reds, yellows and beiges adorned with simple architectural elements, like plain arches ( now and then festooned with architectural artifacts). It was concocted by Venturi and Graves hungry for commissions out of their impression of the reconstruction of traditional domestic and small commercial structures in post war Italy as the local people filled in the bombed out spaces between the surviving historical structures with simplified copies of traditional design and painted them with a brighter version of the standard stucco. It spread back to Europe and It works here in Italy, since that was always the local vernacular architecture anyway.

In NY, Johnson, tired of living in glass houses and unable to diddle Anna himself, nevertheless attempted to capitalize on the post-modern craze by creating the worlds largest and perhaps ugliest misrepresentation of a piece of obsolete junk furniture as a New York skyscraper. San Francisco, ever ready to slavishly follow East Coast fashions adopted post modernism as the design element of its planning code thereby converting something generally simple into the gross monstrosity of pink tinged architecture that graces the City today.

Ah well, I liked Sacile a lot, even if it seemed little bit like an urban version of Danville.

As we walked about, I noticed that this was a town populated by people with prominent noses, from fleshy cyranoesque probiscai to hawk like aquiline appendages cleaving the air as they walked along like axe heads cleaving a log. These notable features adorned generally slender well dressed men and equally fashionable and sensuous women. Unlike the drab dark colors I found obliquitous in the US, here both the men and women were more colorfully attired. Although there was the usual excess of pre stressed jeans and off the shoulder tank tops, there was nary a velour exercise outfit to be seen,

After wandering around the city for about an hour our hosts arrived and we followed their automobile to their farm on the outskirts of a village with the pleasantly sounding name of Tamai. (To be continued…)

PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:

See: http://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Delayed because the author is exhausted. Besides the delay will give Vince time to think up an appropriate response to the question posed by the comely and muscular Megs. Knowing Vince as well as I do, I expect his answer to be as ineffective and unimaginative as always.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Eponymous laws:

Godwin’s law — An adage in Internet culture that states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” Coined by Mike Godwin in 1990.

You probably did not realize this but all these laws were actually written by Nazi’s.

b. Trenz Pruca’s Aphorisms, Apothegms, Epigrams and Maxims ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/):

“Conservatives are irony deficient.”

c. From God’s Mouth to your ears:

“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Matthew 5:40-41)

So why is it that the religious right has so much difficulty accepting court decisions like Roe v. Wade?

d. You must be a Republican ( http:/trenzpruca.wordpress.com/)if you believe that:

“Bullies are manly but peacemakers are not.”

e. Testosterone Chronicles:

Researchers discovered that men with increased levels of testosterone “were more likely to use their own money punish those who were ungenerous toward them.”

The scientists concluded that, “Elevated testosterone causes men to behave antisocially.”

What a surprise.

f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

I am full of crap about post-modern architecture.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.”

John Kenneth Galbraith, Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went;

Today’s Photographs:


Hayden by the River.

The Nattily Dressed Pookie in the Plaza.

Sacile the Picturesque.

Categories: April 2011 through June 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment. August 19, 2010

Today’s Factoid:
1521 Martin Luther appears at the Roman Catholic Assembly, the Diet of Worms. (This tidbit appears in a list entitled “A Timeline of Culinary History.”)

Today’s Quote:
“I don’t know if I should Buenos Aires or Bonjour, or… this is such a melting pot. This is beautiful. I love the diversity. Yeah. There were a whole bunch of guys named Tony in the photo line, I know that.”
–Sarah Palin, Addressing a Charity of Hope gathering, Hamilton, Ontario, April 15, 2010. (Huh?).

Today’s Thailand news:
In the Bangkok Post today there appeared in the Letters to the Editor the following comment about the Thai Justice system: “A few utters in the Aug 17 edition say it all. On a day when the red shirt leaders were brought to court in leg irons and chains, [and] a lady aged 28 was jailed for 3-1/2 years for forging a document, a PAD (one of the Parties in the current ruling coalition) leader got a suspended sentence after being found guilty of the attempted murder of 5 policeman. ”

Today’s email from Thailand departs from my usual reports about my doings in this Paradise with mosquitos:

As most of you know for some time now I have exchanged emails with my cousin in spirit, Irwin. (In fact I seem to recall a forwarded prior email exchange that Irwin feared that he would be considered a misogynist. I assured him at the time that he needn’t worry women already know that most men are misogynists. If we weren’t we would be…well we would be women.) The correspondence between Irwin and I, usually covers serious topics such as “Prostate care for the elderly Male,” “Menstruation in Jewish Theology,” “The Role of Orange County as a Center of Art and Culture in the United States,” and my favorite, “Stilettos I have known and loved.” Our correspondence is being collected and will be published as “The Ashkenazi-Sicilian Correspondence.”

It may interest you to know that the Ashkenazi Jews and the Sicilians share a common ancestor, one of the fabled “Nine Daughters of Eve” named “Katrine.” Our common ancestor lived about 15,000 to 25,000 years ago in an area just north of modern Venice and south of the eastern alpine passes. It can be surmised from the fact that Katrine lived along one of the major travel routes of the time and from the robustness and intelligence of he progeny, that she plied the trade of entertaining male travelers after their frigid crossings of the mountains and that business was very good for her. It has been said by some that the famous “Ice man of the Alps” was on his way to spend the evening with that fabled beauty before he met his untimely end. I doubt that, since our suitor was born about 10,000 years too late. On the other hand the quality of the services of our fabled ancestor were legendary and legends like that die hard, especially among men.

Anyway, Irwin’s full name is Irwin Schatzman (My spell check always tries to rewrite it as “Statesman.” Some people have all the luck, it tries to rewrite my name as “petroleum.”) Irwin always wanted to become an opera singer but could never gain the weight. He also wanted to become a comedy writer but unfortunately he is Jewish and that position is already taken.

Like me, Irwin was in the land use racket, first as a planner then as a developer and a lobbyist. He is my age more or less but has less hair on his head then I do. He recently admitted to me he has fewer teeth as well. I on the other hand am far further along on the road to senility than he is.

Irwin suffers from anxiety because he is Jewish and fears that someone will mistake him for Norwegian. As a result he has sought professional help and has been prescribed medications. That prompted the following is a recent communication between him and his doctor that cc’d to me and my response thereto.

“Sent: 8/13/2010 2:14 PM
To: Office of D_____ R_______ C_______ MD
Subject: buspirone busted

doc drc:

i think i’ve presided over a fair trial for mr. buspirone. Now, i am convicting him for fraudulent promise. Evidence suggests that even with two tabs two times a day, panic attacks, including one today on the 405, are still occurring. Without tabs Tuesday morning’s cataract surgery was accomplished sans blood pressure, panic nor even the breaking of a tiny sweat.

Unless i receive other counsel from you, I am sentencing mr. buspirone (is he italian?) to immediate execution by trash receptacle – I have elected to use confinement in the brown “other trash” receptacle thus not providing a sense of hope which might be implied by placement in the “blue” recyclables container.

Unless there is an anxiety drug that actually works well on a hyper-vigilant old jew, i shall stick with one-half of occasional xanax before embarking on California’s gift to the justice system (except at rush hour) aka the 405.

best,

Irwin”

His Doctor D____R____C____ MD responded:

“Executioner’s song understood.
AKA – okay to can the buspirone if not helpful.”

After receiving copies of the correspondence, I wrote Irwin the following:

“Your doctor uses three names. You, of course, know that most serial killers use three names.”

(Note to all: If he says his name is Bobby Dork, then you know he is what he says he is. If, however, he introduces himself as Bobby Stanley Dork, run.)

and:

“When I lived in Sicily, the Buspirone’s lived next door to me. Mr. Buspirone was always giving Mrs. Buspirone anxiety attacks. So, when Mr Buspirone would leave for work in the morning she would take two large doses of petrillo to help her through the day.”

Enjoy.

It is important that you send this on to your five best friends or five worst enemies within the next three days and 43 minutes. If you do not and you are a male you will be immediately and suddenly circumcised and if you already are circumcised, your foreskin will grow back. If you are a women and do not forward this within the allotted time, you will be added to the mailing list for Irwin’s blog “OY1.”

Categories: July 2010 through September 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: