Friday, February 23

'Paese Che Vai, Gente Che Trovi'

"Paese che vai, gente che trovi" is a traditional Italian saying which literally means "Places you go, people you find" - (bear with me, it does have a meaning after all!), and it refers to the now popular postmodern concept of 'global village' which undermines a common umanity in cosmopolitanism. The good old ancient Greeks, who, amongst many things, coniated the term "cosmopolitan" (literally, citizen of the world) had foreseen in the Hellenistic empire the ideal that a man could be at home anywhere in the known world. Imagine the scene. The Greek civilization had started off pretty small; first, it was Athens, then its prefecta in the boardering regions, then to Macedonia, the Balcans, northern Africa, the Middle East, Asia. There are conspiracies and archeological exhibits which prove that Alexander the Great reached out as far as India in his conquests..what a man!!!. Nonetheless, as soon as the so called Hellenistic era started (4th century BC),like under any period of prosperity and progress (es. the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution), there was a brewing of optimism, inventiveness and progress. They invented things, created philosophies and academic disciplines and were led to believe that the world was their oyster, that, as long as you spoke Greek, you could be anywhere and do whatever you liked. Too bad that this concept was only true if you could afford it. Greeks benefitted from inequitable priviledges at the expenses, like always, of the non-Greeks, the slaves and the thousands of local communities that had been nullified for the advantage of their own. Remarkably enough, studious of the time would tell you that, unlike many other colonizations, the Hellenistic empire favoured and integrated local identities. For instance, the raise of Christiandom in the first century AD is a direct offspring of the Greeks fashination and acceptance for foreign beliefs and customs. However, their acceptance was only on an intellectual level and only for what could,somehow, improve their lives. Kind or less refined, colonialism is always a venture for potential abuse. What was the point of the whole academic regurgitation,anyway?! Oh, yes. I am currently reading a book by 2004 Peace Nobel Prize winner, Wangari Maathai. "Unbowed" is a wispy yet direct autobiography, "a compelling tale about the challenges and triumphs of modern Africa, a universal story about courage, perseverance and success for a noble cause"(Bill Clinton). I am loving every word of it and being absolutely absorbed in the life of this extraordinary woman. I am especially appreciating the old African fables and the tales of a forgotten tradition. Also, I found of interest the way she perceives the British ruling in Kenya. Due to her mixed Western/African education, she is the best qualified person to speak about the issue and does it with immense grace, wisdom and balance. "Take the good, leave the bad, 'cause we are all bound by a common humanity" would be my take on cosmopolitanism. Being the aspirational globe trotter that I like to describe myself as, I have utterly enjoyed the discovery of alien cultures. In my quest for cultural full-immersion and integration, I have often debated the dangers of imposing my national identity over others. This does not merely restrict to watching the Olympic games or the football worldcup where I am suddenly and scarely transformed into a hooligan-Hulk-like yelling,beer drinking monster (my apologies to those who have had to watch these events with me). Many of you know that my ultimate ambition would be to work as a missionary doctor in developing countries and that I have been priviledged enough to do some umanitarian aid work in various parts of the world - and loved every minute of it. An example of this is this picture on the left: me and Rosie teaching songs in a primary school in Nanchuwa, Kisii, Kenya, where, allegedly, the pupils had never seen a white skinned person before and there, behold, the crazy Italian chick and the chatty Northern Irish girl dancing and singing like mad women..I indeed enjoyed myself, but I remember being very weary that night about potentially having imposed "my way" onto a foreign culture. But how do you do that? How do you pursuit healthy cross-cultural communication and exchange and stay away from the dangers of imperialism and imposition? "Places you go, people you find" - of course, but what makes a man is not merely his genes, but it's his beliefs, his history. As Maathai writes: "The way we were brought up and translate the life we see, perceive, smell and touch (the water we drink, the air we breathe and the food we eat) is what we are".

Wednesday, February 21

Love Your Land Appeal

I normally try to blog about emotions, social and envirolmental issues and exotic locations, but rarely have you heard me talk about my hometown, Napoli, Italy. The historical harbour of ancient civilizations, the "Campania Felix"(litterally, the 'joyful countryside') used to be the place-to-be, the a glam summer resort for prestigious Roman citizens and the inspirational muse of poets, songsmiths and artists from all over the world. Goes the saying "Vedi Napoli e poi muori",See Naples and then die,which summarizes the spirit and the enthusiasm that used to animate tourists visiting the beautiful partenopean city. Entering Naples one is immediately confronted by centuries of traditions which still cohabit to this day with extemporaneous dexterity. Naples, with its buildings and palaces,is some sort of open book:every monument is a piece of history that leads back to the various dynasties that have succeded in the government of the city. The Unesco has declared the urbanistic richness of Naples "heritage for humanity"...all good and sound...until you physically enter Naples (be it via air,rail or car) and the saying suddenly becomes closer to reality than you ever thought possible. Overwhelmed by a chaotic conglomeration of buildings, neglected roads, anarchic scooter riders and barbarian swearing monstrous car drivers, suspicious looking thugs selling drugs and contrabanded fags, ever-pregnant destitutes, dirt, smog and clandestine immigrants selling fake labelled fashion items and pirate media on the streets whilst oblivious police officers jauntly stand at the bar sipping expressos and puffing cigarettes,you nearly expect it to put your life to the risk. Call it the Italian way?! I am not sure. Often talking to my foreign friends they express admiring opinions on the Italian friendliness, easy-going,chilled life style..the noise,the chaos,the opulence adds up, in their view, to season the goodness of our food and land. I must say I do miss sitting outside of my favourite cafe by the seaside overlooking Castel dell'Ovo and the Marina on a sunny afternoon drinking Hazelnut coffee or eating ice-cream..but it frustrates me no end to see how lack of general basic civic responsability has led to the ultimate deterioration of such a charismatic city. Inspired by J-Mac's post,I was debating with my dad and some of his middleclass mid-forty intellectual male friends the other night and they aggressively responded to my "friends-of-the-earth" approach to life with the stereotypical "why do we bother making any efforts when the USA and China are polluting the globe" - which is an understandable and very logic, but if we don't take personal responsability for ourselves, how is anything,even the big government policies,going to change?! I have had a very conflictual love/hate relationship with Naples for years,but that is not because I don't appreciate my origins. I simply detest the attitude of the Neapolitas which has turned an earthly paradise into a ghastly place. Coming back to my title,my appeal is a call to the napoletani to get off their lazy arses,to get active,fierce and determined to retrive the beauty within our magical city and to my foreign readers to visit Napoli: for info, ask me,anytime,there are some magnificent, breathtaking scenaries, artefacts, architectural masterpieces and naturalistic wonders to see, the food is the best in the world and there are things to experiences that will awe your memory for the rest of your longevity! And,of course,I am Neapolitan,what else could you ask for!?!(",)

Monday, February 19

Beauty is a Light in the Heart

"Beauty is not in the face; it is a light in the heart" is a quote by Khalil Gibran (1883-1931). I have only read "The Prophet" by this astounding author, but his evocative style and suggestive imagery have been fascinating me for a number of years and, as I am looking at some pictures taken over my visit to Naples last week, those words are resounding in my mind. Despite all the upheaval to get home and the countless hic-ups along the way (like having the most severe nose-bleed in your life as you are driving your sick mother to the er..),it was great to be home and to see my folks. Mom even managed to get home from the hospital in time for her birthday, which was a huge blessing. Not only did she look as gorgeous as usual (ever since I was a little child I have had to deal with my mates commenting on how beautiful my mom is..), but there was a radiance in her that can only be compared to pure, pentrating light shining off a lighthouse in the midst of a sea storm. She has just completed her third of six cycles of chemotherapy and despite having suffered severely from all the expected side effects of both her illness and its treatment, her moral strength,determination and faith have been admirable and inspirational. Fourty-eight and not looking a day over 25!!!My mom: what a wonderful woman she is. (If anything I looked pretty rough on her birthday..d'oh!) Love ya!! *PS: We just got the result from the first post-chemo scan and the cancer is shrinking!!! Praise God!!!

Friday, February 16

Who's Not Singing Anymore?!

Really brief informative post on the Ice-Hockey (seem to be receiving constant pressure to write up on it). The Manchester Phoenix got beat 4-3 on Saturday. We played great in the third period but too late in the game.We scored to make it 4-4 but the ref didn't give it as a goal beause one of our guys punched him in the face..What a wonderful sport it is!!! Will get back to you with more meaningful stuff after I've finished organizing my mama's surprise birthday party,baked a couple of cakes and inflated a few dozens of baloons..Traaaaaaaaaaa!

Wednesday, February 14

Or Some Cruel Valentine..

Darlin',Your Broken Heart Was Never on My Mind!
Not to worry,my fellow bloggers,this ain't another Valentines' "woe is me I am single" type of post!!!As I often tell my dear friend Mike,"singleness is not a disease",it's a status and,on days like this,a really good one to have too! The title of this post is taken from the song Portrait by Duke Special (who I posted about previously)..and on a day infesed by cheese-filled heart shaped balloons and wee-blond-curly-haired men in little pants shooting arrows at seemingly spell-bound targets for blatant consummeristic propaganda,I feel like as if I had been tricked by some rather cruel Valentine indeed!!! To add to the enormous frustration of the last two months (I cannot honestly think of anything else which could go wrong in my life),on Monday I got lost around flippin' Birmingham (hopefully none of you readers is from there - if you are,my condolences:you live in the worst place in Britain by far!!!),miraculously got to Stansted Airport on time and then,due to the unbelievable calmness of the bus driver who drove the shuttle service from the car park to the terminal building, I arrived to the check in desk 2 whole minutes after the check-in for my flight had closed. Having been sat in a car for a grand total of five and a half hours,and being absolutely desperate to get home to see my poorly mother,I implored the stewart to let me through. After I explained the situation and when I eventually started to bawling up, the muppet sarcastically asked me to stop playing the "crying-card",because it wasn't going to work with him! Well done,tough guy:you are officially a cretin and a pretty big one too!!!So I got a flight transfer to the following day,which I meant that I got to spend the next 24 hrs in London. Now,you all know my passion for travel and adventure and I guess that,under different circumstances,I should have been delighted to spend a whole day in the capital..but,no.Not when it's pouring it down,it's gloomy,all of your Londoner-friends have got married and moved out of the big city and you cannot find room in any hotels..wandering with your suitcase and a certain amount of bitterness.Soaked,sweaty and £95 later,I found room at the Ibis hotel..mmmmmmmm...niiiiiiice! Cried my eyes out a little more (by this stage I had completely ignored my ability to produce any more tears),drunk half a bottle of rather nice Chilean white and crashed under the crisp white cotton sheets. The day after,hell bent to get that flight on time,I made my way to the airport four hours early.Got there,checked in,went to sicurity,got searched 'cause I'd left my vaselline out of the sealed transparent plastic bag,boarded onto the plane,took off...then we started to fly lower and lower (on a perfectly sunny day) an hour later landed to what,to much of our disappointment,was yet again STANSTED AIRPORT!!!!!!!!!!!!!A fellow on the plane had low blood pressure and the doc on board didn't want to take responsability for him (fair enough).So we stopped,someone on the plane explained to someone who told someone else why the paramedics were taking one of the passengers out. Then we were told we would have taken off again within ten minutes. Sure thing an hour and a half later we were still on the ground and being told we would have had to change we did:two hours and 15 minutes later. Got offered a round of 'complementary' soft drinks and finally landed to Naples close to 10 pm on Tuesday instead of Monday at 6 pm..moral of the story,I never got to see mom until this morning. Happy days. Courtesy of Easyjet. At moments like this I find immense solace in the fact that my faith is not exclusively based on emotivity,but it is reinforced and sustained by theological pilars whereby,even when the world is falling apart, God is still the answer. Thank God!

Friday, February 9

Tongue Twisters

Like the picture?! Well,I found it funny..
I have been dying to watch Babel since the trailers came on at the cinema. I know,I know, it is not a merely cinematographic interest--for all my intellectual gibberish, I am still a girl and casting both Brad Pitt and Gael García Bernal in one big Hollywood movie is a major 'turn on' factor and a huge incentive to go and watch anything!But a joke apart, I was quite impressed with Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest production. Based on the tale about the confusion of human languages in Genesis 11,Babel is a strategically clever depiction of life in a global village.Similar to "Crash"in style, Babel ingenously, yet ostentatiously, peeks suggestively into the disperse lives of diverse people across the world united together by, not only a common story line, but by a common humanity. The movie offered a rather obvious springboard for a number of considerations. First of all, linguistic and cultural differences are nullified in sexuality - sex is a universally understood language.
Secondly, it is always quite frantic to be reminded of how lack of understanding often leads to prejudist misunderstandings and misinterpretations of circumstances. There are a few episodes in the movie where violence is automatically associated with "terrorism"- without any consideration for what could have been mere shenanigans..I was also intrigued by observing the human fascination/fear of the unknown...unexplainable mystery,so undeniably true! Moreover, the issue of "weapon possession" and "kids with guns",heavily explored in "Blood Diamond" and "The Last King of Scotland",was only briefly confronted in this movie, yet increased my frustration over the whole issue. Last but not least,I became so angry about the whole why is that that if a flippin' American tourist gets injured the whole world gets on its knees and if the same happens in a small African village no-body gives a damn?! Please, don't misunderstand me. I don't think that what happens for the American is wrong,I just wish it was the same for the wee African lad;that's all. In "Shooting Dogs" , the actress who plays the Europen reporter makes a statement about the Western indifference to murder of Africans in contrast with their greater emphaty with other white-conflicts (ei.the Balcans) due,in her opinion,to a lack of physical identification. I was watching the news last night about the South African turmoil at the moment with all these crime happening and the black community being sufferingly silent about it.It saddens me. I love Africa. God knows I do, and it frustrates me to shallowly witness the injustice and pain that goes on there whilst the rich and wealthy just look - if I could put it in picture, I would choose Goya's "Saturn Eating His Children" where a ferocious,heartless monster voraciously divores his own offspring... On a more superficial note,movie was pretty good 7.5/10 in my book and,Gael,I love you!!!(Not sure Natalie Portland would appreciate me saying that!)

Thursday, February 8

"Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own"

Yep,Bono,I couldn't agree with you more there! Sometimes you can't make it on your own. In as much as I have always been a highly independent person, I have come to a greater and greater appreciation of the fact that 'we are not in this alone'. When mom was first diagnosed with her disease, it took me a little time to absorb the shock and leave room for cathartic introspection (slight contraddiction in terms there,but it kinda encompasses the elements of that emotive and spiritual process I am trying to describe). Nonetheless,I would not be doing as well as I am if it wasn't for people's support. Guess I owe you all an immense gift of gratitude. Mom started her third cycle of chemo today and it is going to be her toughest yet. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you! In conclusion I would like to show you this video my little sister published on her blog last night. It's R&B,but it is poweful stuff of the Hope that only God can bring to a person's life. "Imagine Me" by Kirk Franklyn.. To my wonderful mom who we love so incredibly much!
P.S. Will be heading off to sunny Naples on Monday-can't wait to see you guys!

Wednesday, February 7

Elevation,Charms & Jolly Good Music

No,last night I didn't nearly die..but it was a great night! Tracked up to Liverpool to see my newly discovered musical revelation, Duke Special. It was so worth it. Their enthusiasm, professionalism, and warmth towards the audience could only highlight their beautiful lyrics and perfectly arranged music. Duke Special wisely interblend their classical musical knowledge with an astute inventiveness to experiment with diverse genres, tempos and instruments creating sublime sounds that make you smile,than sad,then frown,then introspective to finally fill you with a hope that brings you to what can only be described as spiritual elation, elevation. This is not to mention Peter Wilson's captivating charm - it must be the blond dread locks, or his spellbinding voice or may be his distinctive accent or the simple fact that he plays the piano and the piano accordion and is wicked awesome at it, I had never thought I could be so fascinated by a man wearing eyeliner! Not to worry though: the idylliac fantasy shortly terminated when we spotted his wedding ring..doh! Really good night - also worth mentioning Duke Special's percutionist, Chip Bailey, what a character: with his Angelo Branduardi long fuzzy gray hair look and a range of bizarre instruments, he contributed to entertain us no end.. On a more serious note, Stephany Dowson (who's myspace I have been unable to find yet),the support gig,was a real revelation. She is like the sweet and witty American cus of Alanise Morrisette, with a voice that could enchant you - she is very blond, very dizzy and annoingly beautiful and has a debut album coming out in May. Watch this space for further updates; meanwhile enjoy a wee taste of the remarkable Duke Special.

"Last Night I Nearly Died (but I woke up just in time)"


Tuesday, February 6

I Could Be Your Hero, Babe..

I am so sorry for the incredibly cheesy title! (I swear I am not an Enrique Iglesias' fan)..I just couldn't think of another title for the post..This week seems to have been tinted by wispers of superheroes talk. To start off with,we have been eloquently reminded of "The Icredibles" family by la Cayetana Altovoltaje, shortly followed by watching the movie rendition of an iconic 80's comic, V for Vendetta, and now this: the Superhero Personality Test! Absolutely class - here are my results; try it out!

I am Supergirl
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
Iron Man
The Flash
Yep, that's me through and through..ihihih! What did you get?!
Lean, muscular and feminine.

Honest and a defender of the innocent

Monday, February 5

"If You Are Happy and You Know It...Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!"

I know,I know:I haven't blogged for a whole four days and, indeed, it does feel like as if I was missing a limb or had been fasting for weeks or something!!So here is a little riview of the week-end. First of all, here is a little after-gig review... I had got some tickets for Stefan for Christmas to see New York band "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah" which eventually we saw on Friday at the Academy. Although slightly clinical in their approach with a remarkably warm audience, they delivered:big time-they played a few songs from the new album,which only came out in the UK at the beginning of last week,so nobody really knew them though they were really quite catchy; then the old stuff came on and it was wicked awesome!I laughed,jumped and sang at the top of my lungs like no-man-business!Loved it! Saturday was such a "chilled- out"day. Don't you just love it when the telephone is disconnected, you don't have any plans for the day, it's cold and gloomy outside and the alarm ain't gonna go off and you are there,snuggled under your warm duvet, sleeping like a baby until your body has had enough of this heavenly bliss?! I do - sleeping still remains one of my top ten most favourite life activities! Thank God for sleep!!! Spoke to my mom, had a catch up with a few mates, watched Friends on T4,went to the cinema to see "Blood Diamond", had a take-away with friends..pure bliss! Sunday morning, church as usual,lunch with friends,watched a movie together,got home,chilled out for a little while,went out to a fancy-pansy pub with the boys, had a jolly good laugh.. and now it's Monday and,although it is blinking cold outside and I am at work, I am taken by surprise by an unexpected sense of wellbeing and happiness, dare I say. Even the guy deliverying free papers on Market Street stopped me to remark on how happy I looked - guess I must be. And for all this I am truly grateful: "Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand has provided. Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me!"

Thought you deserved a wee taste of 'Clap Your Hands Say Yeah' - so here is a video of my fave song by them:ironically, "Is This Love?" -Enjoy! Also,mainly for Jay and Mike's information, the Manchester Phoenix won three games in a row,including two consecutive wins against the scary Belfast Giants-so I hear! Guess this link is necessary:well done!

Thursday, February 1

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of Us All?

~ An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away...
I rembember I used to be petrified, then enraged, then ecstatic whenever the evil witch from Snow White appeared on the next page of my book of fables as a child. Similarly, my fury against unhealthy eating has reached a culminant point of indignation.I can guarantee that if you watched it you'll surely remember Morgan Spurlock's 2004 film/documentary on the effects of binge eating and fast foods. "Super-Size-Me"is a comical yet tragically realistic depiction of what unhealthy consumption of the wrong kind of foods can do to our organisms. If you haven't seen it yet, I raccommend you do or at least read about it on this link. I am proud to say that thanks to my wonderful mom and cultural heritage, I have been a conscientious eater for most of my life. My grandparents,who became farmers in their 50's, impressed upon me (quite forcefully at times) the nutritional value of fresh ingredients, five-a-day,living a balanced life-style and that half a glass of wine per meal can be considered as a miraculous medicinal remedy! I love fruit & veg of all sort (even though I am allergic to bananas..) and I have never had an issue with eating my greens - at my house there were no questions asked about it: you could cry,trow up on the dining table, fake an epileptic fit-you had to eat them regardless. Call it harsh, call it unnecessary, I am so incredibly grateful for all that. I had a very little appetite and an unimaginative palat as a child.Then,as a teenager my relationship with food became more and more conflictual and my twisted little head would forcefully rule over a debilitating body. I now thank God for making me whole again by reconciling my mind with my spirit and anatomy. I now love food in all of its extravagant and creative forms; however,my personal experiences have massively shaped my current views. Whenever I see wee Ronald McDonald there are a few images that spring to mind:

1.If he lives by what
he preaches,Ron should
look a lot more like the
picture on the left than
the iconic smiley git on
the right...

2.It's no sci-fi: look at his striking resemblance with my other childhood nightmare,It the Clown,with who he shares not only a similar phisical aspect,but also a common determination to viciously distroy and make kids' lives miserable...nice!

3.And last but definitively not least, this is a picture I would like to see a lot more often!Ihihih!
By now I've kinda lost my train of thought..oh yeah, the reason I started to blog about this is that I am frustrated to see hyperactive,lazy teenagers who stuff their faces with junk food and cheap pop whilst being unnecessarily fussy with their greens! Enough, so from tomorrow we will be ditching the old style tuck shop from the youth group to start selling fruit smooties and home made healthy cakes to promote healthy eating and,hopefully, happier individuals in the long run --WATCH THIS SPACE! (and lets pray the smoothies don't get chucked at me instead!)

Shut Off the Lights!

In a bid to remind everyone of the amount of energy we waste every day, environmental groups are asking us to shut off the lights for five minutes between 6:55 and 7:00pm tonight. Send it to everyone you know! Let's get it to make the news tomorrow!