Monday, August 25, 2008

Nasty butts

Why is it considered okay for smokers to chuck their butts on the ground? Is that not littering?? Contrary to what some people may think, cigarette filters are not biodegradable, actually they take quite a long time to decompose. 
And then there are those smokers who chuck still-burning cigarettes on the ground. Not only are you too lazy to walk to a bin and dispose of it, but you're too lazy to put it out? Wow...

In Japan, land of cleanliness and civilization, all smokers carry these around. They are personal, portable ashtrays (keitai haizara). Brilliant!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You know it's August when...

You know it's August when even the homeless junkies are going on vacation! I overheard this conversation between two Roman junkies on Via Natale del Grande (which was recently coined "Beggars Boulevard"):

Woman: Io me ne vado al mare, ho bisogno di fare un po’ di vacanza.
I'm going to the beach, I need a little vacation.

Man: Pure te? Se ne sono andati tutti!
You too? Everyone's gone!

Woman: Aoh, quando ci vuole, ci vuole!
Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!

And they say Italy's in a recession... Ha!

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Italian rules

"Tourists beware: if it's fun, Italy has a law against it..."

Rai Due's response to this article (just now on the news) basically said: Many of these law and more exist in England and the Brits have no problem abiding by them, yet when they come to Italy they like being on their worst behavior.

Whoa- do I smell a cat fight??

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Rome is a ghost town right now but at least I finally managed to see the Quadriennale because Palazzo delle Esposizioni stayed open! This space had been closed for five years for a much-needed renovation, and they did a fantastic job. Well worth a visit just to check out the space itself, and of course the Quadriennale is rather impressive too. A few of my favorites were:
Elisabetta Benassi- They Live We Sleep
Andrea Mastrovito- Eine Symphonie des Grauens
Sabrina Mezzaqui- Il cielo nell'acqua
Antonio Riello- Elegant Warfare
Alice Guareschi- Delicate polyhedra: rosa dei venti

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lost in translation... for real

Let's talk about Italian translations of American film titles. Now mind you, we translators have very little say in this, by the time a film reaches us for translation, the title has usually already been decided by the production/distribution.
I realize that some titles are difficult or impossible to translate, so why not leave the original title instead of inventing something random? Some titles are overly-translated and basically give away the plot of the film, some titles simplify the movie, and some titles are just downright stupid! Here are some of my "favorites" in no particular order:

1) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Se mi lasci ti cancello (If you leave me I'll erase you)

2) The Outsiders
I Ragazzi della 56a strada (The kids from 56th Street)

3) Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Non mi scaricare (Don't dump me)

4) Vertigo
La donna che visse due volte (The woman who lived twice)

5) Lost In Translation
L'amore tradotto (Love translated)

6) Adaptation
Il ladro di orchidee (The orchid thief)

7) Road to Perdition
Era mio padre (He was my father)

8) Reservoir Dogs
Le Iene (The hyenas)

9) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Non aprite quella porta (Don't open that door)

10) Intolerable Cruelty
Prima ti sposo poi ti rovino (First I'll marry you, then I'll ruin you)

11) Runaway Bride
Se scappi ti sposo (If you run away, I'll marry you)

12) The Break-Up
Ti odio, ti lascio, ti... (I hate you, I'll leave you, I'll...)

13) Waitress
Ricette d'amore (Love recipes)

14) Total Recall
Atto di forza (Act of force)

15) Hide and Seek
Nascosto nel buio (Hidden in the dark)

16) The Cave
Il nascondiglio del diavolo (The devil's hiding place)

17) Jeremiah Johnson
Corvo rosso non avrai il mio scalpo (You won't get my scalp, Red Crow)

18) Dude, Where's my Car?
Fatti, strafatti, strafighe (Stoned, super-stoned, super-hot)

19) The Hudsucker Proxy
Mister Hula Hoop

20) Brokeback Mountain
I Segreti di Brokeback Mountain (The secrets of Brokeback Mountain)

21) Dirty Harry
Ispettore Callahan: il caso Scorpio è tuo (Inspector Callahan: the Scorpio case is yours)

22) Leatherheads
In amore niente regole (Love has no rules)

23) The Science of Sleep
L'arte del sogno (The art of sleep)

24) Coming to America
Il principe cerca moglie (The prince is looking for a wife)

25) The Hunger
Miriam si sveglia a mezzanotte (Miriam wakes up at midnight)

26) Things We Lost in the Fire
Noi due sconosciuti (We're two strangers)

27) Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Onora il padre e la madre (Honor your mother and father)

28) Click
Cambia la tua vita con un click (Change your life with a click)

29) Home Alone
Mamma ho perso l'aereo (Mom, I missed the flight)

30) The Legend of the Fall
Vento di passioni (The wind of passion)

31) Knocked Up
Molto incinta (Very pregnant)

32) Frankie & Johnny
Paura d’amare (Afraid to love)

33) Walk the Line
Quando l'amore brucia l'anima (When love burns the soul)

34) Rebel Without a Cause
Gioventù bruciata (Wasted youth)

35) Hurlyburly
Bugie, baci, bambole & bastardi (Lies, kisses, dolls & bastards)

36) Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Un biglietto in due (One ticket for two people)

37) The Holiday
L'amore non va in vacanza (Love doesn't go on vacation)

38) My own private Idaho
Belli e dannati (Beautiful and damned)

39) Reality Bites
Giovani, carini e disoccupati (Young, cute, and unemployed)

40) Eastern Promises
La promessa dell'assassino (The assassin's promise)

Feel free to add your own favorites.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brutta figura

When I hopped on the 46 bus the other day, I noticed two Indian tourists (middle aged husband & wife) trying to get info from the bus driver. I was at the back of the bus but I could hear the driver rudely yelling at them as they held out a map to him with confused faces. It was clear they were trying to ask him how to get somewhere but he was being impatient and condescending, and although they didn't understand his words (one example: "Ma che cazzo vogliono questi!" "What the fuck do these folks want!"), they did understand that he was being rude.

I was about to intervene (I know, I just can't help myself) but we were at my stop so I got off and signalled to the tourists to get off with me. They followed my lead and as the bus was about to pull away, I did a hand gesture that more or less meant "ignore that dumb bus driver" (somewhat of a downward hand wave). He saw it and obviously had a guilty conscience because he stopped the bus and opened the front doors to shout at us saying "I don't know what the hell they were asking me, it's not my fault I don't speak English"... Of course it's not your fault dickhead, but if they are holding out a map to you pointing to "Trastevere", you can tell them they're going in the wrong direction without speaking a word of English, just use the universal hand-gesture language. Essentially, this is what I said to him (minus the dickhead part) and who knew it would trigger a verbal brawl between me & the driver! The Indians stood behind me, frightened and appalled by this scene. The driver kept yelling at them and at me, it was so ridiculous I almost started laughing. He kept going on and on, so I called him a "cafone" (boor) and told him to get moving because he was holding up traffic. I realize these bus drivers make shit for pay and navigate obscene traffic all day in buses that often don't have air conditioning, but come on... there's no need to be that obnoxious to tourists who are clearly clueless. He doesn't have to help them but there's no reason to yell and berate them.

He finally pulled away after spewing out a few more swears at us, so I was able to give these people directions. The woman hugged me and thanked me profusely for helping them. They may not understand Italian but they understood what had happened and were pretty upset by it. Che brutta figura for Rome. You know, tourism is this city's bread and butter, they really need to start paying more attention to how tourists are treated because stuff like this can come back and bite you in the ass.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Di dove sei?

Contrary to what I'd like to think, I do have an accent when I speak Italian. Mind you, I certainly do not sound like Dan Peterson, but I admit that at times an American twang can be heard... My accent or lack of, usually depends on my mood: if I'm tired, stressed, or overworked, my Italian and my Italian accent suffer. And naturally, if I have to speak about topics I lack vocabulary for (ex: explaining to the washing machine repairman what's wrong with my machine), then you can really tell I'm not from around here!

But in my defense, there have been many occasions where I've been involved in conversations with Italians who did not realize I was American until someone revealed it or until I said a word like "computer" and blew my cover. When I have American friends visiting, I usually act as interpreter between them and the locals, who often ask: "How did you learn to speak English so well?" Oh the joy....

I'd say my Italian has a definite Roman inflection* (as does my vocabulary), after all, this is the place where I officially learned Italian and became fluent. Side note: Italians and Romans get a kick out of hearing an American speaking Roman, let me tell you!

But on those days when my Italian is debilitated, you can bet your money I'll hear this: "Di dove sei? Non sei di qua?". Argh! I find it odd that in such a big city, the locals are still so amazed by the fact that foreigners live amongst them. Yeah, I know they ask out of curiosity and to strike up a conversation, but sometimes it's just downright annoying to have someone point out your accent, especially when I am well aware and self-conscious about the fact that I'm speaking shitty Italian. Would a random stranger in a store in NYC say: "You have an odd accent when you speak English, where are you from?". I've never seen it happen... If anything, that question comes up once you get to know the person and are learning more about them.

Yep, it's a little pet peeve of mine, along with being called "ragazzina" (little girl). Hello!? I'm 30-something and I still get called "ragazzina" in this country. In some ways, it's nice but at times it can be an obstacle. Picture this, I have a meeting with someone for work and the secretary calls up to the boss and says: "C'è una ragazzina qua per te" (There's a little girl here to see you).... Uhh, that doesn't exactly work in my favor now does it?

*Oddly enough, when I first moved to Italy, people kept asking me if I was "Sarda", I'd yet to learn that word for "a female from Sardinia" (at the time I assumed that word would've been "Sardiniana") so I thought they were asking if I was deaf (sorda). I've never set foot on the island of Sardegna but maybe I should!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I woke up at 5:45 AM this morning.
Did I want to? No.
Was I planning to? Hell no!
Did I set an alarm? No, and there's was no need to because my neighbor's dog started howling at that ungodly hour and did not stop for over an hour!* I'm not talking about sporadic barking, this dog was yelping non-stop (How do they do that? Don't they get tired or thirsty?)
Here's a little sample:

In order to avoid losing my mind, I decided to go out in search of breakfast... not an easy task. Breakfast in August before 7:00 AM in my neighborhood is near impossible. While on my quest, I saw this at a bar (a bar I never go to because I don't like it and this is one more reason why I'll never go there)
The bar had yet to open but the cornetti had already been delivered and were sitting outside on a crate for over an hour... Gross.

(*After shouting out "shut up" to no avail, I got up, went next door and rang her doorbell but she was not even home. She left the little yapper home alone to annoy and wake up the entire building)