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from the prettiest bridge in Rome.

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the importance of cocktail sausages.

it is Wednesday night.  i am killing time before i am to potentially meet Erica for Mexican dinner at her place tonight.  i say potentially because she has been on one of those writerly deadlines this week (you know, the kind that *real* writers get, the kind of deadlines that immediately and categorically destroy your ability to write anything other than desperate-help-me emails to your friends about how you're on deadline, and how -- like Dooce would say -- NOTHING IS COMING OUT).  and so there has been some speculation in the stands, about whether chili will get made, or not.

so.  i kill time at Gloss, the latest in a concerted effort to expand my bar scene, particularly under the category of bars that do the all-important happy-hour / aperitivo-buffet.  people tell me this is a very Milanese thing for bars to do, and that it has only recently started to turn voguey in the rest of the country.  i dunno.  three years ago, when i was jobless and homeless in Firenze because i'd said no to a man who wanted to pay me E1.25 an hour for building CRM solutions -- EVEN THOUGH it came with an apartment in Bagno a Ripoli (aka Bumbleduck) that i had to share with ONLY one other person and only SOMETIMES move out of when he had guests at his villa and where i'd only SOMETIMES have to clean the pool but HEY i could use it WHENEVER i liked except of course while i was in Italian class 3 hours a day or working for him 8 hours a day (Hi Federiga & Giulio! look!  i WAS able to find people who were willing to pay more!  weird huh?  thanks for warning me anyway, that i wouldn't!  i just KNOW you meant it for my own good!!!)...

anyway.  as i was SAYING -- before being so rudely interrupted with THAT particular painful memory.  when i was jobless and homeless in Florence three years ago, i *lived* on these aperitivo-buffet places -- so i don't know how recent this "recent" trend really is.  all i know is that, between La Fiaschetteria by Santa Croce (3 crostini and a glass of wine for 5 bucks), Trattoria Mario by the Mercato Centrale (only on special occasions, mind you), La Mangiatoia in the Oltrarno (ahh -- the so-called "trough" -- so many pizze and primi for a fiver) and those evening "top-up" sessions at Slowly and Chiaroscuro -- why, starving has never really been a problem for me in this country.  poverty, deportation, psychological scarring and career devastation, yes.  but starvation -- why, Larry & Harry say they never heard of it.

anyway (again).  so i am at Gloss, by Campo de' Fiori.  and i'd like to ask that if any of you come here, you MUST write and tell me if i am wrong about the bartender looking like a younger Quentin Tarantino.

where younger would mean less deranged.

sort of.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Campo de' Fiori, Roma]
[mercoledì 29 marzo 2006 ore 20:33:58] []

who says SAHMs don't know ROI?

you might think that Mrs. Kennedy's YOGABEANS should wait their turn for the next Random Shiraz Selection -- like everybody else does.  but in all good faith i could not *possibly* feature them there -- it would be a great injustice to all (six) of my readers -- since me linking to Eden's new site is uh, not at all random (not least because she links to mine).

anyway, last week, i read a post on her regular blog, about the latest in an admirable line of enterprising gambits for Making Money On The Internet:

But one of the ways I've dealt with this frustration is, whenever I'm playing with Jackson, I start bending his action figures into yoga poses.  And I found it was really satisfying, to get Spider-man to get a good arch in his back bend, or get his foot rotated properly in ardha baddha padmottanhasana.

And so like every other fetishist on the planet, one day I thought, I wonder if anyone else likes doing this, too?  And so yogabeans was born.  It's a heartwarming story, I know!

So, I've only got one post up so far and no links yet and I haven't managed to get all the ads up and I need to buy a couple of Google keywords to see if that works, and this may all end up being a stupid failure on the money-making tip, but hey! Where else are you going to see knights made out of Legos doing Urdhva Muhka Svanasana?


...i was well, moved (as in, off-my-chair, in-giggles).
and so i told her i'd link to her.

this must be Web 2.0, people.  can you feel it?

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[lunedì 27 marzo 2006 ore 21:17:13] []

so, in honour of the end of European Daylight Savings Time.

(not really but anyway), i give you the pictures from last week -- my Sunday Afternoon In Trastevere.

note that these aren't in their own "set".  i'm still not ready to fork out the albeit very reasonable 25 dollars a year for the flickr pro account.  call it a fear of commitment, call it a stubborn belief in the Free Internet, or call it the continuing post-purchase guilt of a two-hundred-and-seventy-nine-euro digital camera (my Inner Mother: "you want to spend even *more* on this hobby that you're not going to make any money out of ?") -- call it whatever, just look at the pictures already.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[sabato 25 marzo 2006 ore 18:51:34] []

what to do when life gives you lemons...

...a long (and deeply distracted) recipe.


step 1.  arrange to meet someone for coffee at the Casa Bar at FAO.  pick someone who is likely to be several minutes late.  use this time to hang about the Casa Bar itself, and study the pictures on the wall from this week's revolving artist-exhibit.  the artist -- a lovely little man who retired from FAO over fifteen years ago and who now paints for love and for living, he will come up to you and introduce himself as Alberto, and he will say sweetly -- in Italian -- that he noticed you were looking at his pictures, and that he's happy you seem to be enjoying them.  smile back.

step 2.  chat with him, because he's old and has stories to tell, because he's kind and he can still remember when working in this organization was different.  come back the next day for another coffee (because now it's your turn to buy him one, because he tells you to come back -- he has to sit there all day and would love the ten minutes you can spare).  come back the day after -- because he is still there, because Casa Bar coffee is Lavazza brand (!) and because he is still kind.  tell him (because you mean it), that you would like to buy one of his pieces.  because you will be moving soon, because you suddenly, inexplicably, feel sure that it will bring luck and karma to your soon-to-be-new home.  because you need luck and karma, and all the memories of warmth that this country can give you -- all the ones that can be packed in suitcases, anyway.

step 3.  Alberto (because he lives by the sea), will bring you a bagful of lemons, as a present, from his garden.  he has a whole sackful, fresh with the smell of beach-wind, for all his FAO-friends and ex-colleagues.  he is happy to give you a gift.  and when you wonder aloud, if you could make limoncello, perhaps, with them (because what else are you to do with seventeen fresh-and-homegrown lemons), he begins immediately to help you.  he arranges for you to meet his friend Pat, for coffee, and for Limoncello Counseling.  Pat gives you her recipe.

step 4.  have Francesco buy you a couple of bottles of Everclear from the Commissary (because you, of course, as a lowly consultant, can't actually set foot in the Commissary.  cough).  Francesco, on hearing that this is for limoncello, is delighted to give you his recipe -- because he too, has been making the stuff for years now.  you spend an afternoon doing lemon-to-litre calculations with him, discussing variations on the classic -- with fresh basil, with a little vanilla, with a hint of cinnamon.

step 5.  (optional.)  buy that painting from Alberto.

step 6.  on your second-last-day at FAO, take your lemons and your Everclear, your Dilbert commentary on project-management and your quote on "Equal Work for Equal Pay" from the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the one that Andrew left you after he tried -- and failed -- to demonstrate its validity for consultants within the organization, mm-hmm), and go home.  happy.

step 7.  go potato-peeler-shopping.

step 8.  on a weekend when your boyfriend is being wishy-washy about whether he wants to come to Rome (or not), put on your little monogrammed Le Volpi e L'Uva apron (courtesy of aforesaid boyfriend), and proceed to peel your lemons.
now.  most of the recipes i found caution you to make sure about 2 things:
A - that the pieces of lemon-peel are as large (in surface area) as possible -- as they will be easier to strain later on.  (meaning, uh, don't use a zester.)
B - that you should be very, very careful not to let any of the white under-peel of the lemon come off with your peeled-off bits (as this makes the final product amaro, or bitter).
what *all* those recipes NEGLECT TO ACKNOWLEDGE is that 'A' and 'B' are Mutually Incompatible.
consequently, here's *this* recipe's Official Feelgood Footnote, for when you try making limoncello at home:

step 9.  if you're me (which, judging by these instructions, you might have to be), you will -- very early into the above peeling process -- have managed to scrape some flesh off a random finger.  this, you remember, is why you didn't have a potato-peeler in your house to begin with...

step 10.  (optional.)  enjoy the way your home smells from all this fresh lemony goodness.

step 11.  again, if you're me, you won't have bought any extra bottles in which to store-n-steep your new and hopefully not-too-white lemon peels.  you will however, have the bottles of Everclear.  (see step 4 above, if you've already forgotten.)  pour out a bit from each bottle (to make room for the lemon-peel), stuff the little flakes down the bottle's neck, and then fill it back up to the brim with Everclear.

step 12.  screw the caps back on your bottles and tuck them away in some cool, dark and quiet place (yes, i actually said "quiet").  leave 'em there for oh, anywhere from a day to forty -- depending on who's recipe you're following.

step 13.  wait for PART THE SECOND, which is coming soon.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[domenica 19 marzo 2006 ore 22:10:12] []

and only two short months later.

the Dubai pictures are up, slideshowed and stylin'.  note that (much to Karine's chagrin), we did *not* in fact manage to get to the Mall of the Emirates, and so there are no shots of the artificial ski slope craziness.  there are however, plenty of shots of architectural craziness, a very excellent lobster, and some camels.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[sabato 11 marzo 2006 ore 17:42:22] []

Random Shiraz Selection - Part IV.

this month, a specially "themed" roundup in honor of Festa della Donna, aka International Women's Day...

-- from (ahem) Miss Megan, who just finished giving a "Stiletto Strategies© Seminar" (thank goodness she's got the copyright symbol in there -- who knows how many life coaches would be stealing *that* one, otherwise!) at the 92nd Street Y last week:
darlings.  walking in stilettos is vital to a woman's power and strength.  building core muscles (including the ever-handy Kegel!) ensures a woman is in full possesion of hersef as she walks down the street, across the bedroom, or into a boardroom.  Wherever life takes you, Stilettos can add an air of confidence and most of all, fun.
i also note that Miss Megan is one of those people (as i find when i accidentally skip all the way to her first blog post), who uses the word "convo" in her daily uh, conversation.
this is why i am afraid to have daughters.

2.  La pornostar Savanna produce vino in Italia
-- from the national paper La Repubblica, this is the tidbit on how (together with the oenologist/winemaker Robert Cipresso), American pornstar Savanna Samson is making a new red wine that's selling for big bucks in NYC restaurants:
Dall'alleanza tra l'enologo Roberto Cipresso, che ha lavorato anche per Giovanni Paolo II, e la pornostar americana Savanna Samson è nato un vino rosso recensito in modo entusiasta da uno dei più famosi critici statunitensi.  Il Times e il New York Times ironizzano ora su ciò che ha fatto davvero girare la testa all'assaggiatore, ma la pornostar americana, vincitrice per ben due volte del premio per il miglior video hard, è convinta che il suo "Sogno uno", miscela di cesanese, montepulciano e sangiovese meriti ancora di più.  E nei ristoranti di Manhattan si vende a 70 dollari alla bottiglia.
apart from my suspicions about the intended point of this so-called "article" (all the rest of the photos are majorly egregious skin-fests for Savanna -- it *is* an Italian newspaper, so be warned when you click through), i *am* glad that Lazio's much-ignored Cesanese is getting some airtime -- finally.
other than that -- well.  it says *something* about Italian journalism that they can put an oenologist, a porn star and Pope John Paul II all together in a sentence, no?

3.  Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About
-- this one (with special thanks to Maciej Ceglowski for finding it first) is especially dedicated to all the women i know who are currently having Major Relationship Issues:
Margret thinks I'm vain because...  I use a mirror when I shave.  During this argument in the bathroom - our fourth most popular location for arguments, it will delight and charm you to learn - Margret proved that shaving with a mirror could only be seen as outrageous narcissism by saying, 'None of the other men I've been with,' (my, but it's all I can do to stop myself hugging her when she begins sentences like that) 'None of the other men I've been with used a mirror to shave.'  'Ha!  Difficult to check up on that, isn't it?  As all the other men you've been with can now only communicate by blinking their eyes!'  I said.  Much later.  When Margret had left the house.
see girls?  there is funny stuff left.  really there is.

and -- in case you're new and All Into This -- previous RSS compilations can be found here, here and here.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[lunedì 06 marzo 2006 ore 17:23:54] []

why i love Ristorante Hang Zhou.

- because it is five-and-a-half minutes from Termini.

- because it is open every day.

- because the ravioli alla griglia -- oh dear.  while you're eating the ravioli alla griglia you cannot speak.  and afterwards, for months afterwards, ravioli alla griglia at any other place seem like blasphemous glue-balls.

- because two out of the three waitresses will always have something sparkly on.

- because sometimes you have to sit elbow-to-elbow with someone you don't know, and few things are as fun as seeing how much Chinese food an Italian can eat, when he or she really wants to.  (and when it's this good.)

- because even when i have had American tourists sitting at the next table, they have never (*never*) said anything obnoxious.  never!

- because the house rosso is something you can actually enjoy drinking.

- because the waittresses actually seem to like people, Italy and life-in-general.  (and because once while i was there for lunch, one of them was talking about how she liked trippa alla romana.)

- because every time i have eaten there alone, i have made friends.  last time there were the two young men who'd ordered like pros: we got to talking, about me and the Middle East and "what Dubai is like", and what we thought of gender issues in the Arab World, and my conviction that the Iranian Revolution -- despite its outcome -- *was* a revolution.  then we left, they gave me a ride partway-home (to Piazza Venezia), and outed themselves as we sat in the car -- Il Vittoriano towering white and magnificent above us, Mussolini's famous balcony hovering beige and infamous behind us.  they told me what it's like to be gay in Italy, and i told them about Jon Armstrong's post on Blurbomat.  we talked about family and love and being who you are, and we talked about Brokeback (of course).  we talked about Gay Pride in NYC, and i missed (almost) everyone from Razorfish.  we hugged and i went home loving Italy -- again, and as usual.

- because for all that, it is so *very* reasonable.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[sabato 04 marzo 2006 ore 18:49:09] []

more shameless (but attributed) dependance on other works...

...so as to approach some semblance of intelligent blog-activity.

the point of this post is to share with you my new-favorite-song.  well alright, it ties with another, so it's more of a co-new-favorite-song.  but i'm only sharing this one with you because i test-drove it at last night's FORVMROMANVM reading and so i know it's not just the music, and it's not just me -- that even as a piece of unadorned poetry (read in a slightly noisy trattoria in Trastevere, after a little-too-much-limoncello), it might move you.  and because the other song, well.  it's just a little too special right now.

from the album "The Caution Horses" by The Cowboy Junkies, this is Sun comes up, it's Tuesday morning:

Sun comes up, it's Tuesday morning
hits me straight in the eye
guess you forgot to close the blind last night
Oh, that's right, I forgot, it was me

I sure do miss the smell of black coffee in the morning,
the sound of water splashing all over the bathroom,
the kiss that you would give me even though I was sleeping,
but I kind of like the feel of this extra few feet in my bed
Telephone's ringing, but I don't answer it
'cause everybody knows that good news always sleeps till noon

Guess it's tea and toast for breakfast again
maybe I'll add a little T.V. too
No milk! God, how I hate that
Guess I'll go to the corner, get breakfast from Jenny
She's got a black eye this morning, 'Jen how'd ya get it?'
she says, 'Last night, Bobby got a little bit out of hand'

Lunchtime.  I start to dial your number
then I remember so I reach for something to smoke
and anyways I'd rather listen to Coltrane
than go through all that shit again

There's something about an afternoon spent doing nothing
Just listening to records and watching the sun falling
Thinking of things that don't have to add up to something
and this spell won't be broken
by the sound of keys scraping in the lock

Maybe tonight it's a movie
with plenty of room for elbows and knees
a bag of popcorn all to myself,
black and white with a strong female lead
and if I don't like it, no debate, I'll leave

Here comes that feeling that I'd forgotten
how strange these streets feel
when you're alone on them
Each pair of eyes just filled with suggestion
So I lower my head, make a beeline for home
Seething inside

Funny, I'd never noticed
the sound the streetcars make as they pass my window
Which reminds me that I forgot to close the blind again
Yeah, sure I'll admit there are times when I miss you
Especially like now when I need someone to hold me
but there are some things that can never be forgiven
and I just gotta tell you
that I kinda like this extra few feet in my bed

thanks Jasmine, for both of them.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[giovedì 02 marzo 2006 ore 18:23:03] []