Archive for ‘Humour’

September 12, 2016

Stuprare, sì, ma con ironia

by felicitamodna82

Ri-bloggo questo articolo aggiungendovi alcuni miei pensieri che si discostano, in parte, dalla posizione presa nel post-fonte.
Dell’articolo originale apprezzo molto

  1. l’attenzione posta al problema della censura un po’ bizzarra attuata da Facebook
  2. l’astuto paragone con una simile conversazione virtuale su temi sui quali l’uomo occidentale medio è leggermente più sensibile che non sullo stupro delle donne.

Il mio personale pensiero è che…sì, è possibile fare dell’ironia, del sarcasmo, della satira, dello humour nero anche su temi come lo stupro. Su questo mi distinguo fortemente dall’ondata di politically correctness a tutti i costi ed aggressiva che pare aver invaso i social network ultimamente. È essenziale, però, nel farlo, tenere conto della forma, dei modi, del contesto. Se faccio un’uscita sarcastica con un amico con cui ci si conosce, evitando sia di causare equivoci, sia di traumatizzare potenzialmente una persona affetta da PTSD, è un conto. Se pubblico freddure secche a tema su blog dedicati a satira o humour nero, o se le recito in un contesto quale una finzione teatrale, mi dovrebbero leggere/sentire solo gli interessati al genere, e il contesto è chiaro, idem. Se eventuali scrittori poi dovessero essere cripto-stupratori, sarebbe problema della giustizia e non della scure di solito parecchio pasticciona della censura.
Se però in un gruppo di conoscenze virtuali, con sconosciuti, ci si lascia andare a lunghe conversazioni su ipotesi e metodi per stuprare una donna sedata senza farsi beccare, il sospetto che qualcuno stia realmente premeditando un reato c’è, ed è forte, e verrebbe a chiunque. Perlomeno, a chiunque sia dotato di basilari capacità di comprensione di lettura e di fiutare possibili personalità non proprio equilibrate. Nella migliore delle ipotesi, chi scrive di queste cose è qualcuno con una completa ignoranza di quello che era il programma di italiano delle medie e delle superiori dei miei tempi, nonché di come funzionano una società ed uno stato moderni. Nella peggiore, siamo davanti ad un covo di stupratori. Più verosimilmente, mi viene da pensare che vi sia grossa confusione rispetto a cosa siano il consenso, il diritto di tutti i partecipanti ad una scopata di discutere cosa e come fare e di godere, lo status di persona umana (che evidentemente non vale per tutti); una confusione nella quale sicuramente regnano i sopracitati ignorantoni, e probabilmente si nasconde anche qualche stupratore/stupratore in fieri.

Il Maschio Beta

Ieri mattina la pagina Facebook “La Friendzone non esiste” pubblica lo screenshot di alcuni commenti in cui dei ragazzi si chiedono se sia effettivamente stupro quando la ragazza è in stato di incoscienza perché drogata: si scambiano pareri e battute, incuranti dell’oggetto della loro – chiamiamola per il momento così – goliardia, nonché del fatto che una persona, membro come loro di questo gruppo segreto su Facebook, crede di fare cosa giusta denunciando lo scambio alle admin di una pagina femminista.

fb_img_1473425976006La pagina pubblica subito il post, non curandosi di cancellare i nomi degli interlocutori, in quanto ritiene che la gogna mediatica per chi fa battute e scherza su una ragazza in stato di incoscienza penetrata sessualmente non sia che il minimo. Io stesso ritengo di dover pubblicare a mia volta lo scambio sulla mia paginetta, che conta sì molti meno seguaci, ma che a causa delle proteste e delle…

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September 2, 2016

Why I defend Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon (and why I am angry at another bad joke)

by felicitamodna82
Not-so-important foreword:

I resume my blog, hoping my huge issues with writing will be successfully dealt with in a few months…

What can one do with stereotypes?

Stereotypes and prejudices are widespread, and sometimes serve as a source of inspiration or as basis for humour or satire (please note that, even though there is a relation between those two, they are not the same thing). Right now, politically correctness is challenging many common approaches to humour. This is good in most cases, although I have seen some huge misunderstandings, and also many cases of outright censorship, the latter of which I don’t support. Calling somebody out on his or her implicit support of shit like racism, sexism and co. allows for a discussion on the matter; censorship usually acts more as the broom sweeping the dirt under the carpet than anything else, not to mention that not all politically incorrect jokes are necessarily  a sign of implicit support of racism, sexism, ableism, whatever.

Anyway…

Today, the Italian-speaking internet is roaring and rioting because of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons about the earthquake in Central Italy (one of the centres next to the epicentre being Amatrice, the town which gave the name to the amatriciana sauce. Yes, this is relevant).

Yesterday, my not-so-humble person found in her Facebook homepage a dumb link, shared by a commercial state-funded Austrian radio station. The link was stating a very racist thing about, well, Italians. I am a poor Italian living in Austria (relevant as well).

Now, let’s review the type of humour, the content, and the source,  and let’s analyse my very different reaction to those links.

Charlie Hebdo and the new Italian speciality

charlie hebdo earthquake

CH’s cartoon: Italian-style seism. All rights to CH itself.

(I am not fluent in French, but I understand it a little: it says “penne with tomato sauce”, “gratin penne” and “lasagne”).

CH’s cartoon hits hard, and I recognize it. After the initial impact, though, my brain immediately connected the menu-like style of the captions to the typical image of Italy abroad so far (Italian speciality: pasta & pizza) and to the sad, recurring episodes of mass murder by community inaction almost every time there is an earthquake in Italy. Considering that the country is full of active faults, considering the last 20 years [I remember Modena-Reggio (Po plain) 1996, Assisi and co. 1997?, Parma-Reggio-Modena (mountain districts) 2008, l’Aquila 2009, Modena-Ferrara (Po plain) 2012], considering the costs for modernising/restoring/rebuilding cannot be covered by sig. and sig. ra Average Italian, and considering that money in Italy gets thrown out of the window in every possible way except by funding interventions in this sense, well, I think the evil satiric magazine hit the right spot.

Right now, the new Italian speciality is going to be wounding and killing Italian citizens by letting their houses collapse on them, not pasta (or pizza, for all that matters). Bravo, Charlie Hebdo. I read the cartoon like this and I appreciated it. (now I fear I will discover they did not mean it like that and I will be publicly stoned. Not “stoned” the funny way, the other).

Please note that the same magnitude of the above mentioned earthquakes in, say, Japan would not have had all the casualties, the damages and the homeless people we  had.

I appreciated the Italian black humour and satire blog Umore Maligno even more. Following the wave of indignation, they published:

Emilia-Romagna protests against CH’s cartoon: “Hey, the lasagne would be US!””

They made fun of the very strange indignation of some who have been Charlie for as long as only certain targets were targeted, or who spread sexism every single day “because it’s funny”; they got the point with lasagne being from Emilia and the amatriciana sauce from Amatrice; they might have reminded many readers that people in Modena and Ferrara still live in containers (or maybe they just wanted to get more clicks and squirted out some words nobody could ignore? Another stoning for me).

Now, making fun of the dead is bad, bla bla bla, yadda yadda. But these are declared satirical publications: they exploit sarcasm and black humour, and sometimes they even make people think about things. Like in this case. I see no disrespect towards victims, because there really is none. They are depicted as victims even here. Please note that I suffer from PTSD, and one of the things that triggers it is an earthquake. I experienced the 1996 and the 2008 ones, and my closest relatives and friends were hit by the 2012 one, some of them even hard, so spare me the “you don’t know what you are talking about”.

Moreover, Charlie Hebdo clearly still depicts the earthquake victims as victims. I would not say they lacked humanity, after all.

And even if all this does not convince you, it is satire, you either like it or not. I asked my friends to make a black humour and satire contest in case I die…so I’d say I like it. If you don’t, don’t like it, but please don’t make them responsible for the victims and don’t promote shootings (yes, some people are wishing those religious idiots come back and finish the job).

Ö3’s way of using my radio licence money in order to make people even dumber than they already are.

Ö3 is a state Austrian radio station broadcasting commercial stuff. Many of us usually follow it in order to get some news and traffic updates, but apart from a few specials I don’t listen to it.

For some reasons I got to read this in my newsfeed:

italiener

People speaking 3 languages: trilingual. People speaking 2 languages: bilingual. People speaking only one language: Italians

Now, why did Frau Ratti get angry at this?

  1. Ö3 is funded by all Austrian residents, even if they are not Austrians. Especially if they are not Austrians.
  2. It is not like the level of the contents they usually publish is particularly high or educational (understatement of the year. Hint:” Frag das ganze Land”), but supporting stereotypes and prejudices is very, very bad. It gets even worse when many people find it amusing, and many others increase the fun by adding that the French are worse.
  3. Partially a corollary of no.1 and no. 2, they are actually supporting people living in Austria to perpetuate what I call “the velvet discrimination” against Italians in Austria. We are not Muslims and we don’t get the hatred and the suspicion other groups get, but somehow too many people approach Italians with ideas stuck in their heads such as we don’t speak languages, we are adorable and trendy stupid people, we are lazy, we are always late (because stupid and lazy), we are only good for working in gastronomy, and many other things. You don’t know what I mean if you haven’t experienced it. I have been often discriminated because I am Italian, and the fact that it is not a hateful or violent discrimination does not make it a discrimination any less.
  4. They are not making satire or use sarcasm; they don’t want to create paradoxical situations where humour is not just meant as a means to laugh because the paradox itself emerges and makes you question the real issue behind the joke. They are not making extremely tasteless jokes for shock value on a blog followed only by fans of the genre. They are not even Italians criticizing what’s wrong in the Peninsula. They seriously think they are funny (and cute because they spend their holidays in Italy).

I will leave out the fact that bashing at a numerically relevant community is quite stupid, because I simply don’t approve that a state radio station supports discrimination (soft or hard, does not matter), spreads it (they obviously have some good coverage), and uses everybody’s money to do it. The size of the targeted group should not be a criterion for accepting a discriminating joke or not.

My answer was:

ö3 comment

Only two likes for my sarcasm. That speaks volumes…

Translation: “All right. Now I hope that I – being a trilingual Italian woman – will be exempted from paying TV and radio licence fee from now on, because there is no way I pay it in order to fund the dumbing down of the current population”.

Ach, I thought I was sooo funny…

 

 

January 23, 2014

A flood of memories and thoughts (inspired by Gabriele Testi)

by felicitamodna82

A short text with stories, history, news and sarcasm born from some night chatting about disasters and World War Two

My homeland Modena must miss me. Since I moved to Salzburg things started to go pretty bad over there.

We all have to admit that scoring an earthquake (May 2012), two tornadoes (May 2013) and a massive flood (January 2014) in a row really is a huge achievement. (On this blog you can check where the several epicentres of the earthquake were, terremoto, where the tornadoes stroke, tromba d’aria; the flooded area in blue)

There could be many different thoughts I could share on my blog talking of this last disaster. But pouring out my wrath about politicians and administrations would mean simply picturing them in a bad bad bad light, and this is entirely too easy! I have standards too, I cannot lower them further than they are right now. Even though, in that case I would have to start digging, and digging canals and navigations could be useful in this time of flooding. But I am not an engineer, and besides I have a painful spinal disc herniation, so I’d better leave digging for another time.

Therefore, let us focus on another thing: Italian media are ignoring the tragedy .

Many friends of mine on Facebook started sharing a photo published by a NYT blog, called Lens. Comments pointed to the fact that Italian journalism ignored us, while the American press instead apparently took our situation more seriously. Actually, that was not a news but a blog dedicated to photography, therefore the

New York Times Blog "Lens"  featuring the Modena flood

New York Times Blog “Lens” featuring the Modena flood

enthusiasm should be kept in perspective. Nevertheless one must admit that, although we did not impress the Italian press –  outside Modena, of course -, this NYT blog did list “us” among the pictures of the day, as the no. 5 of the 20th January more precisely, among other pretty bad situations all around the world (clashes, bombings, other massive floods).

After sharing this myself, the friend and journalist Gabriele Testi “liked and shared” the “Facebook way” as well, and took the opportunity to check when had been the last time the NYT wrote about the “Secchia river”. It was 1945, and the Allied Armed Forces were marching along the Secchia in order to reach the Po river. Our Modenese sources and memories (including my parents’ ones) about the end of World War Two all mention the marching troops on the Canaletto, a road following for most of its course the river Secchia and leading to the Brenner. Gabriele’s discovery lead us to some night chatting: I was waiting for the pain meds to kick in and could not sleep, he is a journalist and is probably used to covering news and researching facts at night…

(little remark: Gabriele is a male name in Italian!)

The flooded territories are located between two rivers, the Secchia (the one that literally poured out when the levee in one of the north suburbs of Modena broke, and the Panaro. Their courses come closer shortly after the city of Modena, in its immediate northern outskirts (suburbs of San Matteo, Albareto and Navicello), and they flow this close until after Sorbara/San Prospero and  Bomporto. The Secchia has flooded all the territories to the river Panaro, thus resulting in a terrible flood also in the before-mentioned town of Bomporto (where, by the way, I used to live prior to my migration to Salzburg). Bomporto is located on the river Panaro and has an old bridge crossing the Panaro itself, connecting Bomporto to Casoni di Ravarino. While chatting with Gabriele on my Facebook account about US troops and Modenese rivers I recalled my researches for the Historical Dictionary of Modenese Antifascism, which included consulting a huge amount of orders of battle to understand more of some local biographies (partisans fighting here and there, old books reporting things I found a little suspicious or unlikely). Due to my focus, I only went to Berlin and Freiburg to research directly in the archives for German diaries. Nevertheless, I looked up a few second-hand things about the Allied troops as well. So, I stumbled upon the march of the 10th Mountain Division, marching on Bomporto, or better, occupying its bridge, which was considered strategic. These facts are stated, for instance, on this site and even on my not so beloved Wikipedia, where a footnote about the occupation of the Bomporto bridge on the river Panaro leads  to “Young, Gordon Russell (1959), Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office”.

The real-life Trapp family, the one you probably know from The Sound of Music, escaped to the USA (not to Switzerland), had Italian citizenship and had two boys who were sent to serve in the 10th Mountain Division, Rupert and Werner. According to Maria’s and Agathe’s memories, they were indeed fighting in our territories: Agathe mentions Mount Belvedere, which is between Lizzano in Belvedere and Montese. Montese hosted a well-known battle, where the Brazilian Army fought bravely. Moreover, Montese lies in the upper part of the Panaro valley and drainage basin. I have absolutely no evidence that the two Trapp boys entered Bomporto on that April day in 1945 but somehow I can picture them descending with their division the paths leading through Marano, Vignola, Castelfranco, Nonantola to Bomporto. Who knows if they did? Well, I would know how to find out this, but unfortunately I have other projects scheduled as soon as my herniation gets better, so this particular inquiry will have to wait. (About the Trapp family, Maria A. Trapp, The story of the Trapp Family Singers, and Agathe von Trapp, Memories before and After The Sound of Music, as well as their official website).

What is the moral of this story?

Mr Sheffield: And the moral of the story is?

Fran: Everything has to have a moral? What am I, Mother Goose?

(Yet another quote from “The Nanny” on this blog, episode 2.17 “The Will”)

Well, my herniation tells me I am starting to morph into Mother Goose, so here are a few reasons I wrote this story:

– This is an interesting story following a sort of a stream of consciousness with punctuation, a flood of memories brought to us by three things: a flood, my unpaid occupation as an historian and some strong pain meds. No science, just some storytelling here for entertainment purposes, which is something many blogs do, and you will agree with me that this is quite pleasant, especially for curious people like me. I also know that tags such WWII, Bob Dylan, Trapp, Sound of Music, The Nanny will attract people! And this leads to the other reason:

– I would hope to draw some attention on this troubled land and raise some awareness about the situation: yes, it is my personal affection and concern since I was born and raised there, my family and friends are still there. But it is also a land which used to contribute alone to the 1% of the Italian GDP before the earthquake and which is slowly dying due to the stubbornness of the government and of the local administrations, neither granting any tax free time range nor investing in the local reconstruction. Instead, they focus on other “investments” I would not be proud of. But this is an issue I would not like to  address. This land produces a lot of fine eno-gastronomic specialities, excellent biomedical technologies, beautiful cars, and moreover hosts exquisite architectural and artistic treasures. I assure that a visit to our Province would not disappoint you if things were a little more…normal, you know?

If it keep on rainin’ the levee gonna break
If it keep on rainin’ the levee gonna break
Everybody saying this is a day only the Lord could make

Wanna help?
February 24, 2013

Sto giro non voto il mio carnefice – Dichiarazioni di non-voto ragionato

by felicitamodna82

Questo giro no, non ce l’ho fatta.

Tralasciando il fatto che non hanno fatto in tempo ad iscrivermi all’AIRE, per cui, dovendo io lavorare tutti i giorni e non avendo abbastanza soldi, non sarei comunque riuscita a tornare a Modena, questo giro ho usato la scheda elettorale per accendere il camino (in realtà è una metafora, dato che il camino l’ho acceso con le pagine di un giornale, precisamente con l’inserto sportivo del Traunsteiner Tagblatt del giorno seguente alle dimissioni di Seppele, ma lasciatemi almeno un po’ di libertà pseudo-letteraria, suvvia!)

Dopo l’indegno martirio toccato alla mia unica patria, Modena, provincia che contribuiva prima del sisma all’1% del PIL e che dopo il sisma “eh, ragassssi, non ci sono i soldi per ricostruire, l’Europa, la crisi, il Monte dei Pas…opps, no questo non doveva scapparmi”…

Dopo l’indegno attacco allo stato sociale, che prosegue senza che i difensori del welfare state riescano a trovare il loro Raimondo Montecuccoli (anzi, si moltiplicano gli ottomani che vorrebbero addirittura privatizzare l’acqua e cose del genere!) …

Dopo la buffonata dell'”Aboliamo le province” detto da gente che 1) non sa a cosa servano le province, e se lo sapesse direbbe semmai di abolirle come organo politico oppure di abolire, piuttosto, le regioni, delle quali abbiamo fatto a meno fino al 1970, oppure di tagliare, semplicemente, le competenze doppie/ridondanti 2) gente che sa benissimo cosa siano le province, così come sa anche che in Europa le <province> ci sono, semplicemente non necessitano di elezioni e non fanno le stesse cose dei comuni e delle <regioni>, ma ama lucidare e agitare specchietti per le allodole …

Dopo le solite buffonate in seguito alle quali i politici si aumentano sempre gli stipendi, la RAI – che sarebbe l’unica cosa da privatizzare – non si privatizza, al Sud continuano ad essere assunti migliaia di forestali e bidelli e – mi dicono . ad essere proposte quelle zone franche fiscali che a noi, terremotati modenesi (e a reggiani, ferraresi, bolognesi, mantovani) vengono negate…

Dopo aver constatato che, se non sono ladri, sono stupidi ed ignoranti (ogni riferimento ad amori per teorie complottiste non è casuale, anzi, è proprio voluto)…

…mi dispiace, questo giro non sceglierò il mio prossimo carnefice! (forse, nel moderno mondo post-industriale sarebbe più giusto parlare di esecutore fallimentare, ma “carnefice” è molto più eufonico).

Vorrei un giorno vedere un’Europa dei popoli, in cui stato sociale, lingue e dialetti, tradizioni ed accoglienza vengono preservati e convivono, in cui i vecchi legami spezzati da confini tracciati nei salotti dei politici vengono riscoperti e rinverditi, in cui “accoglienza” non significa buonismo, oppure tratta degli schiavi ed assurda perdita delle varie differenze fra città e città, paese e paese in nome di un’omologazione buona forse per un consumatore stupido ecc…

Fino a quel momento non lo avrete il mio voto. Non sento il bisogno di benedire la distruzione dell’Europa in atto con la mia cultura e la mia intelligenza,  che sono frutto dell’essere sopravvissuti ad un’infanzia tremenda, dell’amore di una famiglia nuova che ha dato tutto e delle mie fatiche bestiali giorno dopo giorno per tirare avanti tutti i miei progetti.

Se anche voi non avete votato ed intendete lasciare la vostra dichiarazione di non-voto, nei limiti del codice penale e civile ed in una lingua a me comprensibile, potete usare la funzione “commenta”. Non è necessario pensarla come me; certo, per coerenza, magari non venite a scrivere sul mio blog che volete che le donne tornino ai fornelli e sottomesse all’uomo o cose del genere. Se volete finire in galera, collezionate querele, o se siete dei rompicoglioni, ci sono altre piattaforme sul web, quindi via dal bàli , come si dice a Modena. Almeno qui sopra ho il potere supremo, quindi non sprecate il vostro tempo a postare cose che finiranno nel rusco. (pattume in modenese).

July 8, 2012

Someone with a hat and an harmonica has got a hold of my heart. A review of Bob’s gig in Salzburg, 7th July 2012

by felicitamodna82

Here it is: a blog which wouldn’t have much to say without such themes as Modena, Modena Football Club and Bob Dylan…The review nobody was expecting but somebody published anyway!

A very nice evening in Salzburg, almost a perfect show, which is not something granted at all if you consider that I have seen/heard 15 concerts already and that my beloved blue-eyed bad boy is giving a show almost every day. Dylanite-infected people know it: sometimes you are just scared that expectations and reality will not match, or that he is in a bad mood. This time I had absolutely no expectations and I barely read something on Expecting rain and watched something on You Tube (the Bonn gig, great stuff!) 2 days before the event.

Anyway,  I wasn’t “touring” with Bob but just going to this single event, located outrageously 4 minutes on the motorway from my flat. And Bob is Bob. I was curious about the Grand piano and just a little worried that the set list could turn out to be boring. Nevertheless, I agree with many people on the ER Forum: a boring set list does not necessarily mean a bad and boring show. This was the case for this Salzburg gig. All songs I already heard, but in a new version: I don’t regret having paid the 105,50 euros plus some more for ticket office royalties plus 4 euros for the parking lot. (yes, that was the price).

The venue

Salzburg Arena, here we are!

I am not a huge fan of the Salzburg Arena. Austrian venues are not my favourite ones in general: seated places, strict security, unjustifiably high prices (twice as in Germany and in Italy, the bordering countries, all of them in the EU. Why?). Sure: the Arena is easy to find: there is a dedicated motorway exit, and a bus drives you from the centre and makes you hop off right by the entrance as soon as the driver gets the message from the Salzburger Lokalbahn “The crazy hippies and/or rockers are coming, switch to the concert-mode route!”. My experience here in 2008 was not good, anyway. I got a row right in the middle and I remembered a bad acoustic and/or sound. The 2008 bootleg and the 2012 experience actually proved me somehow wrong, and I still don’t know why. It could be that in 2008 my place was particularly unlucky, or that my mood was sooooo bad from the University seminar and from the storm, or that something has been changed. I remembered a parquet-ish floor cover and yesterday I noticed that it was white. Who knows? (if you have any idea, just say something in the comments 🙂 )

Salzburg would be a nice location for an outdoor concert, but the weather here tends to be quite bad. I had a lot of luck the first two years here, with long, warm and mostly dry summers. From 2010 on summers got back to the usual crap. I suggested on the ER forum that he could play in Leopoldskron, or in Hellbrunn, or in the Fortress, or on the Cathedral square, or even on a meadow in Grödig/Fürstenbrunn/Glanegg with the Untersber on the background. But this could lead either to a lucky gig with a magnificent background or to a catastrophe that would double the Udine 2001 experience: a disaster for which no joke about “Thunder on the mountain” or “A Hard rain is gonna fall” would make something to improve the mood. A  flirting with disaster that you probably won’t manage to escape.

My short way to the concert…

No way. Each time I tell my self: “This is the last one”. I was serious about it in November. I even got a new job. But this is not my fault: he came to Salzburg! This time, I admit, I have been honest with myself. I will see him again, as soon as possible.

Thanks to the earthquake in Modena my rock summer has been messed up and I missed the Boss in Florence. Going home with a seismic sequence and with everybody still scared and nervous wasn’t a good idea, so I had to postpone my stay at home and consequently missed the gig. Two journeys would have meant paying twice for transports and using too much holidays, allo of which would have resulted in shortage of money and time to me, since I did not manage to marry a rich, gorgeous and gentleman Austrian widower and still have to work. This also made me skip the usual “spiritual preparation”, which consists mainly of  permeating the atmosphere around Salzburg with the whole discography of the Duluth boy and with some bootlegs that I mysteriously found on my hard disk, thus contributing to the cultural and musical education of my neighbours and suggesting my front neighbour that he needs better loudspeakers in order to hear his/her opera tunes.

My outfits never happen for a simple twist of fate!!!

Boots of Mexican leather

Emotions are always there, buried somewhere, and I caught up with them by taking the usual 4 hours in order to choose an outfit and by driving without thinking for the 4 minutes to the Arena. I got a lot excited all of a sudden. And think that I saw him in November!

A lot of catching up to do. Arriving and meeting up

I arrived around 5 PM and soon the buses arrived as well. Some people were already there, more than it was in November for the Mark&Bob concert at 3 PM. Most important of all, I finally met  Federica again, aka the “girl with the sign”!!! I was so glad to meet her after so many years. She remembered me very well from my “almost groupie” years. I had a lot of catching up to do with her about the “Italian hard-core fans” group. I got in touch with many others hard-core fans from all around the world. I socialised a lot in Innsbruck as well, but – you know – finding the “right ones” is a completely different thing. Along with having the right ticket, parterre  and not some damn lodge, 11th row, of course!

I really miss being in that sort of “family” which is the “wanna-be-on-the-rail” part of the audience. I know I enjoyed my part of being on the road in my early twenties, but the Bob I got to see and hear then was not as good as this Bob of the last months.

Anyway, the “family” was one again there, including a lot of Italians who were not complete unknowns.

Shortly before 18:30 a crowd started to gather near to the gates. I noticed how some people seemed to come right out the “Salzburger Festival House”, judging from their outfits and their attitude. That could only mean business. Not that I hate classical music and that I didn’t enjoy my two concerts at the “House” (suckers!!! I have my acquaintances as well :-P) , but this was Bob and not a Karajan memorial or a Simon Rattle with orchestra. Different way of enjoying the whole thing. No way that kind of attitude was going to ruin our evening. This opinion was shared by many of us and we consequently planned some moves.

The concert

Shortly before 8 PM, plans for the conquering of the rail were made. I checked out my place, where actually somebody else was sitting. I stated that I would have taken my place in case I didn’t make it to the rail. You should have seen the fear and the disgust on the faces of all other people from the row!!! Federica suggested that I somehow sit in the 10th row middle with other true fans, just to make the thing smoother and just to be sure to have a better place in case our plan failed. As soon as the light went out, Federica started the run and we all followed. The security was really aggressive but I noticed almost all of us resisted. Here is to mention the fact that Freddy warmly and sweetly encouraged everything to stay there and to resist because nothing was going to happen. She really has a good heart! So, after a few seconds during which I was sure we would have been brutalised as I was told that happened in Ancona 2000, the situation was cleared. We were on the rail! And Bob was there, 2 meters away from us!

A lot of people from the wanna-be-high-society of Salzburg will be pissed off, but I am very proud of the way we stayed together and held the rail in front of the stage although the security screamed and pulled!!!!  Thanks, Federica, for the encouragement and for giving me the first row after 8 songs 🙂 I was right where the grand piano was, first behind Federica, then on the rail!

I made acquaintance with the Grand Piano, which wasn’t there in November, and I saw again the Academy Award and Bob’s face (my VIP lodge in November was great for the sound but not for everything else). Bob entered wearing a white hat with a golden stripe. I loved his white and black shoes, very 40s, but as far as the jacket is concerned he has to wear either a more tailored one or a smaller size. Bob, the fact that you are over 70 and that you are not an underwear model by profession doesn’t allow you to disappoint us heterosexual girl fans! We want to appreciate you and your figure no matter what!

I have to repeat a lot of what I said for the November performance: this new chemistry with Charlie instead of the previous tense relationship, Bob’s moves and enjoyment instead of his mostly antisocial and stuffy attitudes that characterised his 2001-2008 performances are an acquired value for any set list. This is very important if we consider that there was no song I never heard before. So, Bob’s moves, expressions (oh, I missed them!!), piano riffs (I almost thought of throwing the organ away, just to be sure…!!) were the highlights of the evening. I would also say the chemistry  in the band further improved, a fact which was remarkably clear – according to my humble opinion – in the exchanges among Charlie, Stu and Bob.

My favourite arrangements were Don’t think twice (a song I adore), Every grain of sand  and Tangled up in blue ( a song which bored me to death for a long period and yet yesterday caught me completely in trance). Another great version was the melancholic Can’t wait instead of the more rhythmic one I usually heard. Tweedle Dee: I just love that song, so it was nice hearing it again (after my 2002 tour and Salzburg 2008, of course!).  I didn´t expect Visions of Johanna: it was nice hearing it again! Talking about songs which are not new to be heard: Highway 61, with Bob trusting himself and the piano. Bob, the harmonica and the piano were the protagonists of the show: he experimented his riffs and solos and a lot of moves. Almost perfect in every note (I am a perfectionist, sorry for that 🙂 ) and move. The band was presented during All along the watchtower, which was performed nicely. The only critic from my side  is: Bob, my dearest, I cannot hear Like a rolling stone and Blowing in the wind anymore, I am sorry. I even yawned during BITW!!! (shame on me!!!). Unless he performs like this, I would prefer to hear, who knows, Knocking on heaven’s door? Why not have Stu and Charlie embarrass Slash in a G’n’R-ish version and Bob getting more female appreciation than Axl in his good, old  days? (the latter being probably already the case, at least in the bad girls club, a bunch of nice gals who would beat the average Axl-infatuated girl from 20 years ago without even trying 🙂 ).

There is an ongoing discussion about the new “thing” during High water, the crowd making a sort of controtempo shout or a dialogue with Bob’s harmonica. I don’t mind it at all, but I am not a huge fan of participation during Bob’s performances. I sense the boy likes to “do it” his own way and I tend to like it that way.

Little update about the lights: no “Eye” on the background, only lights and spots. It took some time to me to notice it! (I had to watch a video from Bad Mergentheim with the Eye making its display on the stage to remember it…). I must say: it was pleasant, and the crew did a good job with the lights. I have no idea if it was a technical issue or a precise choice. What do you think?

I had the impression that apart from true fans the audience sucked. I didn’t notice any felt participation during LARS, for example. I am totally fine with that, as stated above, because I hate hearing people singing along with “Him”, but …geez…move your ass a little, do something, don’t get melted with the chair! Maybe I am wrong?

The venue was everything but full. Accurate research from my side (in other words: some facebook gossiping) explained the very small audience with the great amount of peasant and village parties on the same week end. I went to the ATM prior to the show and witnessed a carriage loaded with people in Trachten, who were staring at my not-so-typical outfit 🙂 A local radio deliberately ignored Bob’s concert after listing Bryan Adams (who played there on the 6th) and those feasts as the highlights of the week end!! Could you believe it? There is no religion anymore! 🙂

Another remark to the audience, especially to the youngsters: I understand that the excitement of uploading your own video made with your expensive i-Phone and of sharing it with the world within minutes is too much to resist, but why do it when leaning on the rail, where inevitably the security comes every 2 minutes and asks you politely to stop? It is quite annoying for you and for us, old people who just want to enjoy His Bobness. Thank you for your understanding. We already have good tapers, let them do their own job!

For the “bad girls club”: Bob making moves while sitting at the piano, opening his legs in my direction. Bob’s eyes. Bob’s sweat. Bob’s expressions. Boy, I swear that when I came home I was damn hungry, even though I had my Frankfurter with Semmel right after the show. I am not a smoker, so I usually get very hungry (and then sleepy) after…you know what…! I really felt like I had sex with Bob! I think the excitement of being 2-3 meters away (with him opening his legs in that not so gentlemanly but definitely not unpleasant way) from him made the trick to my brain. Who knows, maybe in the ocean of sweat I was floating in I even smelled him!  🙂

Little update, always for the bad girls: I forgot to write that I totally approve Charlie’s new look with the beard!!!!

Can’t wait to see what I will see next! Is my rock summer over? Will I ever meet Bob? Will I stop seeing him, as I promise every time to my bank account and to my ? Will I fly to the States to see him?

I leave you with a few pics. The ticket is dedicated to the tapers (do a good job!!! ;-), especially to the one who then took the picture of me with my mobile, see below) and to the people who “mysteriously” got a front seat card “in the first  minutes of the on-line sale” while I got an 11th row  and then had to deal with my big fat Modenese ass instead.

More info about the concert from more serious people than me – then, further below, my pictures:

http://www.expectingrain.com/

http://www.boblinks.com/dates.html#070712

Ticket, poster and notebook to post the usual nonsense on the web

April 14, 2012

Thinking about the Titanic tragedy 100 years later as a human being (sort of) and as a 19th and 20th century historian

by felicitamodna82

Only a few days ago I was sharing  joy, happiness and passion by writing about my beloved Modena F.C., and now….here I am, remembering a tragedy. Nothing new, actually, since I write  mainly about wars, crises and pandemics as an historian (and still manage to make humour when I see the potentiality…have a look at my essay about the Spanish Flu, unfortunately only in Italian at the present time!).

Actually, I mentioned even in my Modena Centenary post that tragedy was in the air (Italian-Turkish war, Titanic itself, Great War). Remembering the Titanic disaster as a human being and as an historian lead me to some thoughts I would like to share. (yes, I also know that everybody will be googling Titanic in the next hours and therefore many poor people will pop on my blog mislead by some evil search engine, so I don’t resist the occasion of being under a spotlight 🙂 )

La Stampa, 19 aprile 1912 - Archivio on-line la Stampa

I did not learn about the Titanic thanks to Cameron&DiCaprio (Leo was and is not my type!). I learned about the tragedy because of my “middle school” English book, named Flying start. One unit had an article with pictures about the Titanic disaster, in order to teach us “sink, sank, sunk” –  in other words, to introduce us verb patterns. The “scuola media” is a kind of school every Italian kid attends from age 11 to 14 and at that time (beginning of the 90s) it used to be the school where a foreign language, sometimes even two, was first introduced. The sad story of the 3rd class sacrifice, of the missing lifeboats, of the “women and children first” rule caught my attention. This lead to two consequences: the first one is that I rarely make mistakes in English verbs since I learned patterns as a sort of song, while I never really got motivated to learn long lists of German verb patterns. (I am grateful to be an Italian native who used to love Italian grammar and literature, because I would hav never learned all those complicated Italian verbs with the same efforts and motivation I faced German ones 😀 ). The second one is that along with my World Wars stuff I started to read about the 1912 Titanic wreck as well, so that by the time Cameron’s colossal came out, I wasn’t a newbie to the topic.

Just a small digression: yes, I saw Cameron’s Titanic 2 times.  I was going on fifteen, so cinema was one of the few free time activities I was allowed to do (times change, don’t they?) and the film is anyway very good, even though the romance in the beginning is not well developed (why do they fall in love? Just because he represents the freedom she is longing for?). No one can deny you “sink with the ship” as you watch Cameron’s Titanic. The first time I saw it, right in 1997, was after  removing one of wisdom teeth. I did not cry a single tear because of (or thanks to) some Novocain still circulating through my face. Nevertheless, I DID cry when I saw it in English a few weeks later. There was a cinema where films were played in the original language and I had a listening comprehension test to pass. So I caught the opportunity, and, boy, did I cry my eyes out! My school mates made fun of me for days because of my state! Actually I was sadder for the poor Neapolitan immigrant, Fabrizio, than for Leo/Jack. Of course, the width of the tragedy and the final scene made me cry as well. (I recently watched the finale on you tube and I still cry my eyes out, but my favourite character is always Fabrizio and not Jack. I mean, he is sexier, funnier and didn’t even got the girl!)

As a human being and as an historian, I am very fascinated by the complexity of this story. I know that there have been worse tragedies. Hell, I research about worse tragedies! Nevertheless, I could not resist the charm of this particular one.

My romantic side – the human being –  is fascinated by tales about couples who decided to stay together on the ship instead of separating. That is true love, the one I am looking for. (…yes, stop laughing, I am single and yes, I know this kind of expectation is not going to make it change…but I better have it this way than being stuck in a relationship without love!). I know that many marriages at that time had little or nothing to do with love, so I perfectly understand that some women jumped into (half-empty) lifeboats and then decided not to “risk their lives” by searching for their husbands. But…reading that even in that era there were true couples that did not part makes my heart warm. I hope they are somewhere still together! So, sometimes people have luck in love and love exists. For those who never loved, I would like to clear one thing: if you really love somebody, losing him/her is a terrible, unbearable pain. So, it is only natural that you  choose to 99% die together with your beloved partner instead of some-percent-survive and 99% never see your love again. (I keep estimates flexible because in accidents like that everything and everything contrary is likely to happen).

I am also fascinated by the elegance of that ship. Especially externally. I mean, compare it with the shape of one of the Costa ships…there is no comparison. Titanic-like ships (its “sisters” and similar ships as well) are elegant, attractive, beautiful. I cannot say anything about interiors, but I’d wish ships were still built like the Titanic externally!!!

Then, the historian comes out. By having a look at the Encyclopedia Titanica, I got the umpteenth evidence of the strong phenomenon of the  Italian immigration characterised by successful stories and less successful stories that ended up together in the same abrupt stop. Not that I ignore or neglect the relevance (and sufferings) of other nationalities and other immigrants, but as an Italian young woman and an historian working on social history those are the names and stories I notice the most. Many of their names are as usual misspelled or sometimes even willingly anglicised. I was also very impressed by the – very clever – supposition I read somewhere (I forgot where, anyway it is not mine!) that families such as the  Goodwin family (see the story of “Our babe“) stayed together because a mother with children but without husband and older male children would have missed the needed financial support – as hard as it sounds, it could be plausible.

I also made some spontaneous remarks . The tragedy happened in 1912, in an era when on the one side modernisation was taking a huge acceleration, on the other side there were so many remains from the previous world. So, the striking contrast between the hyper-optimistic and positivist assumption that finally unsinkable ships could be built,  and the strongly observed, old-fashioned “women and children first” cavalry rule is remarkable. I know that there were men who were not “keen on observing the rule spontaneously”, but nevertheless there are evidences that the captain, some officers and even some passengers believed in it and complied with it. Some of them even used a gun to “make it get observed”. The contrast and the contradictions modernity/modernisation/cavalry/tragedy seem to mirror the constant state of the Western society between the Second Anglo-Boer war and Hiroshima: positive and dark sides of modernisation, resistance towards modernity, nostalgic attitude towards the past. Also, the metaphor of positivist enthusiasm and of dreams of a better life crashing against an iceberg reminds me of the stormy era 1914-1945 (especially the First World war is often seen as a rupture characterised by harsh disillusions). The same goes for the “Titanic lesson”, and I mean by this the improvement of safety measures on ships after the tragedy. After each tragedy of the 20th century we tried to “learn a lesson”: partly we succeeded, partly not, sometimes we only dreamt of learning and improving something just to be harshly disappointed … and then we have – or had –  to start again. And here we are in the 21st century…well, I am letting you draw your own conclusions. (keywords: wars, crisis, tragedies, wrecks, epidemics…). Interesting to see that people from professional fields other that history draw other conclusions about “Titanic&learning lessons”, such as in this article you can click. An interesting perspective for my “other” job as trainer and lecturer!

Reading, reading, I found out that one of the survivors of the Titanic also escaped internment in Fossoli and the harsh situation of WWII’s Italy (hunger, bomb attacks, terror). Fossoli was the concentration camp set up for several categories of prisoners, including civil prisoners, located near Carpi, Modena. I am currently trying to understand more about the civil prisoners and the labour forces departments of the camp.   The woman’s story is incredible  – if you are meant to live longer, you will, even through a wreck and two world wars- , and the “ethnocentric-egocentric” side in me also makes me think how small the world is.

Alright, enough writing, I am closing my post with this article about the recovered baby corpse. I loved because it is so well written, really touching : http://thechronicleherald.ca/titanic/86496-our-babe-titanic-s-tiny-soul;

with two linked images  that symbolise the tragedy according to my sensibility, two grave markers (two paired shoes do not happen to reach the ocean floor together by chance): Titanic shoes debris by NOAA magazine  and Titanic shoes by titanicstory.com . (Update: I add a third one – read the related Daily Mail article also). About this, I think these two three first linked pictures are “human remains” without any doubt and are heart-wrenching, while this picture – click here – makes me doubt a little more: I cannot see the second boot, and the amount of things and the shape make me think more of a half-destroyed suitcase or trunk. What do you think? (Historians develop also a few forensic skills, as long as they deal with tragedies…)

and my personal soundtrack for the evening, Simple Minds: a group I love, especially for their Someone somewhere in summertime and Mandela’s day. I was in the mood for Simple Minds, and of course I “knew” they wrote a song called Belfast child. So, that was my choice: a Simple Minds/Big Country/other NW groups compilation featuring Belfast Child. The Titanic was a “Belfast child”, so even though the song has nothing to do with the wreck, I find it a good soundtrack. Not that I don’t like James Horner’s heart-wrenching tunes, but New Wave will always be a great love of mine!! Call it “artistic licence”!

Rest in peace, all of you victims (and survivors who joined you afterwards, since nobody is still living).

For further reading, the web is plenty…so visit blogs and sites in the languages you know: a lot of people did a good job 🙂 honour them and their efforts! Some links are hidden in my text and pics (Italian newspapers above, for example), then search on engines and Facebook. Here below, an Austrian newspaper (link to the on-line archive);

Die Neue Zeitung 17. April 1912 - ANNO archive - (Austrian Newspaper Online) by the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Biblioteca Centrale dello Stato Austriaco)

I recently found two blog entries I appreciated. As an historian and as a curious human being, I was asking myself a few questions (about preservation, salvaging, and the time), and I found these:

http://aelizabethwest.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/memories-rms-titanic-april-14-1912/

http://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/what-time-did-the-rms-titanic-really-hit-the-iceberg/

I immediately “liked” them! So, check them out…and never stop looking for anything! (said the PhD student who was drowning in sources instead of quickly finishing her duties because she never stops looking for them…).

December 20, 2011

Teaching Italian (trying not to teach “Modenese”), teaching Italy, teaching Modena. Part one

by felicitamodna82

One of the things I do for living (being Italian grants for studying, well, rather of the non-existent type…and being Austrian ones off limits for me unless I marry one of them…which is not going to happen soon…) is translating into Italian from English/German and teaching Italian. I teach privately or in small groups; I teach children, teens and adults. Some of them follow a real course, some others just take the so-called repetitions or want to deepen their knowledge.

There are many stereotypes about the Italian language and Italians. I totally agree: our language sounds very beautiful. But… every “beautiful” thing brings a sort of curse with itself, a “but” (exactly: how did I begin this sentence?). Many teachers or trainers, including myself, develop strategies in order to avoid or postpone real difficulties in learning. Intuitive learning, learning by heart, imitating, simplifying…

The “but” is very simple: although many people come to “us” with passion, interest and love, they face a lot of difficulties. For German-speaking people this is particularly awkward. Being our neighbours and among our biggest admirers, they idealise Italy and Italian, they often hear things they interpret freely or read/hear horrible commercials with mistakes, thus originating what I call “Kartoffel-Italienisch”, potato-Italian. (Not that Italians don’t eat potatoes: Kartoffel is simply one of the words normally associated with German-speaking people in the Italian popular culture and this seemed to me a good counterpart for the term indicating the equally horrible “Macaroni-Deutsch”, macaroni-German). Somehow they are lead to think that German is one of the most difficult languages in the world because many people complain about the wide use of declension.  These complaining people never heard about Russian or Polish (as  far as I know). Of course German is far more difficult that English. Also, possibilities to practice Deutsch are less than for the simpler Germanic brother. For example: no one would watch a TV show in German (I know I don’t. It really hurts: the dubbing is pretty horrible. Sorry, folks 🙂 ). Getting friends is very difficult and one gets confined in the “acquaintances-zone” for… I still don’t know how long. I got to know other Italians living here now, after four years…and they had to settle for having Italian friends. I was quite stubborn and clever and stayed away from my “fellows”, so my German is very good and I even understand dialects. (Nevertheless my proofreader says I write very poorly. I agree: I find German too strict to use creativity in writing and I get bored. But I love speaking it, especially the Austrian variant!).

Which facts and things seem to nerve poor Italian learners, especially in my “environment”?

  1. Italian is quite anarchist. No V2 language, flexible order in the sentence, just a few correlation clauses (example: negative particle non before the verb. But verb? It depends…). This really makes learners freak out. Where do I put the word? And in case they are having a conversation and they did not develop a “ear” for the intonation, which I call “melody”: Was that an affirmation or a question or what? For advanced learners, the matter also becomes what order do I need to mean this and not that? I am currently trying to study the problem of using “anche” and “solo” (auch/ebenfalls/sogar; nur = also/as well; only). It seems that most Italian learners find difficult to place these words in the proper position, unless they are exposed to native speakers/writers a lot and “forced” to communicate back. Hearing an “anche” in the wrong place makes me feel the same as when somebody scratches his/her nails over a blackboard.
  2. The article. There are several forms for each genus. There are mixed forms which combine prepositions and article (thus “replacing” the German declension, actually…).
  3. Intonations, fast talking, accents and dialects, regional use of words in different meanings.
  4. Verbs. Even though most learners will never learn all forms, you have to believe me: Italian “outnumbers” German (tenses, moods, desinences).  Not to mention the strict consecutio temporum…
  5. Adverb vs. Adjective. Many people never learn the difference…which is crucial in Italian, because adjectives always need agreement (adverbs do not, adjectives in German only if attributive) and the adverb is in most cases a different word.

Of course, no one should scare the hell out of people by listing difficulties with a threatening tone before even starting the course. At the same time, saying that everything is fine and that there won’t be any problem is a terrible lie one can maybe tell if doing a course “Italian for travel”, where the learner just learns by heart/imitation. Pupils who are going to learn Italian for five years or people who seriously consider developing intermediate/advanced skills, maybe even a certificate, won’t move forward if they are not aware of these things.

So, dear teacher/trainer/whatever, it’s up to you! 😉 And you can, if you want!

  • Native Italians often have a nice way of making humour,  feature good entertainer skills: these things motivate learners. I am certainly the case and I also have a lot of funny stories to tell during pauses. Even though people with real problems don’t like me (a pupil openly requested not to be in my class because I smiled too much, I made jokes and wanted to communicate with everybody.  The kid showed a lot of signs of “something going on”, even though I am not a professional in psychology or psychiatry. Insecure people also feel more unsecured if confronted with humour.). People with problems need help and if your smile and your “I am here for you” attitude wont’ help, it just mean you can’t do anything for them. So, don’t be frustrated and move on. Focus on those who really want to get in touch with the language and let the door open for you. If you are in a school, ask for a professional´s support. If you are not a native, keep in touch with natives (internet, social networks, friends and so on).
  • Go on with intuitive and “simple” learning as long as it is possible, explain grammar only after having showed practical application. On the other side, you will need to be very detailed and  prepared when it is time to “reveal” the complicated and boring matter ( that is, grammar rules), especially the first 4-5 handbook units are gone (or you are beginning the past tenses).
  • If you are a native speaker, be aware of your own culture, accent and intonation (mostly products of your city or town) and confront your pupils/students with other perspectives. CDs, articles about other cities, provinces or regions should accompany a nice explanation of “your own Italy” or even “Italies” if you lived in more cities. I wrote a short script to complete the unit about eating and ordering at the restaurant by showing some of the main differences between German-speaking and Italian-speaking countries, among North, Centre and South and among cities. This way my students have the necessary instruments to go on with the dictionary and with real-life Italian people without making common mistakes caused by standardized and/or stereotyped knowledges and without having a travel-size Felicita with them. I started writing it as I read the website of the “Community of Italian teachers and learners of Salzburg“:  some students of the Italian studies institute started observed the difficult translations of “dolce”(dessert) into German. I also noted myself some mistakes by my students and a lot of common misunderstandings. The result was a nice script about eating, ordering and cooking. I also use the CD when there is something to memorize and try to highlight the difference between the mainly Southern pronounce and intonation used in the tracks and the mild to strong Modenese issues I will never get rid of ( I can control some of them but I am not going to get rid of them 100%. Why should I anyway? Dialects are cultural richness!). Once again, if you are not a native, keep in touch with real Italy and real Italians.
  • As soon as you notice an interest for “translating” or a compulsive need to translate each word from the book or from the blackboard (many of the students do), be very open about the fact that you cannot simply “pour from a language into the other”. Most of the time a correct translation needs rewording, reformulating and so on. If the students feel that it is a good exercise (also to improve their mother tongue), it is OK. If they just do it to “learn better”, try to steer them away from this habit. I am tolerant only with adults who have very little time to attend and learn and feel insecure, but I have been very open about the implications. My example about “I speak Italian” seemed to work:  I explained that parlo l´italiano would sound in German “spreche den Italienischen“, but of course you say “ich spreche Italienisch”.
  • Turn yourself into a nice, stylish, environment-friendly but nevertheless effective bulldozer and get rid of: misspellings, mispronunciations, stereotypes, urban legends perpetuated by advertisement, commercials, tales created by people who have little or no idea about what Italy and Italian are (or Italians who sold a false image of Italy for reasons I do not want to know, or like stereotypes as well). Of course, you will have to use all of your communication skills in order to avoid looking unsympatisch. Also note that many people build their “love for Italy” or “inner security” on these few “facts”, so make sure that you provide new knowledges and sources for interest, love, culture, building a new inner security. The point about “inner security” could seem stupid to many but it is not. Let me explain it. One will be confronted with people who are insecure, sooner or later, in life or in the class. If you are a good observer and able to get in touch with others, you will notice how devastating removing a stereotype could be if the person has insecurity issues. Similarly, people who are in love with certain “Italian images” could react in an unpleasant way unless you give them simply new reasons to love f.i. Forte dei Marmi, Jesolo, Riccione, il Gargano.Remember: you teach Italian language and culture (and not stereotypes and a mixture of esperanto and Italian). Your tasks are teaching the best you can, making the “customer” happy (somebody hired you, even though this does not sound nice…) and open new communications channel (this also balances the previous economic point with a warm human level). By the way, I am a black and pink  biofueled bulldozer with silver glitter 🙂
Practical examples: why are these suggestions so useful – in my humble opinion-?
This example fits both German and English native speakers. Currently, an awful commercial about a pizzeria in Northern Flachgau can be heard on a local radio station. The commercial ends with the awful sentence”Pizzeria XXX ist molto bene“. Now, this horrible mistake is the typical example of  people who have no idea of the difference between adverb and adjective. If you describe the pizzeria through the verb essere (sein, to be) you will need an adjective, because pizzeria is a noun, singular and female. The matter is: the adjective gut/good used in the predicative clause does not change or differ from the adverb. The adjective buono always needs agreement (Italian language) and differs from the adverb bene. So, possible correct forms would be: 1) Pizzeria XXX ist (= is, è) molto buona (adj. used predicatively) 2) Pizzeria XXX ? Molto bene! (this solution would imply a non-spoken question such as “are we going there” or even a statement such as “going to pizzeria XXX” if you replace the question mark , so one could answer by commenting the action of choosing the pizzeria or simply commenting the action, thus allowing the adverb). Of course, the average learner of Italian cannot come to this conclusion if not guided, as in every case the English/German form would be very good/sehr gut.
I always get questions or comments concerning olive trees (Modena has no Mediterranean climate! They would freeze!), snow (same as before, so, yes, it snows. Of course not as much as in Salzburg, but it does), sea (we are far away from the sea!), hair-skin-eyes issues. You cannot imagine how lame it sounds, even to me, and I love chatting with people. How would you react if you heard people saying that f.i. all Austrians wear Lederhosen, all Germans are Nazis, all Americans eat hamburgers all the time? Modena has a continental climate, the Province reaches from the Po river to the Apennines (thus having also mountains), there is no sea. Our traditional cuisine is based on pork and pork fat, secondly on butter. Olive oil was imported along with other Southern or “standard” types of pasta, such as the dry pasta. Our traditional pasta is more of the”fresh pasta” type, more similar to the Austrian kind (yes, Austrians have their own Nudel too, talking of stereotypes!), except for the spice usage. The plain parts are often covered with fog during the autumn, the winter and early spring. It rains a lot during the year, it can snow. You can find black, dark brown, light brown, dark blonde, light blonde hair. You can find any kind of eye colour and complexion (as in Austria and Germany, former Empires, as in GB or USA). I am a dark brunette with pale complexion and some sprinkles on the nose and I don’t get a serious tan, no way. Still, I met people who believe we all have black hair (yes, even in 2012 with free libraries, cinema, internet and so on…) and told me my hair would be black (which is not, especially since I am constantly wearing a lot of black things and the comparison makes the difference  striking. My eyebrows and eyelashes are black and are different too). Don´t get me wrong, I still love people 🙂 but sometimes the matter becomes boring and one would prefer talking about other things!
So, for the first part, enough (editing possible if I see mistakes or bad forms)! What do you think? Agree or disagree? Am I too strict? 🙂 Want to share your opinion?, even if you teach another language or if you are a learner, a translator, an interpreter?
February 25, 2011

Is the world ready for Modenese people?

by felicitamodna82

I am a proud woman from Modena. Modenese, we say.

This is, of course, a huge headache for many of my friends and many acquaintances I somehow got all around the world, mainly in small Salzburg. The city of the Sound of Music hosts me for the Ph.D. and was not exactly prepared to be confronted with such a proud, humorous, loud, attached to (her own) tradition Modenese “Karriere-Hausfrau“. Stereotypes about Italians and commercialisation of a standardized kind of culture and products from Italy prepared an environment as cosy as Carso trenches for me… I am lucky that the Salzburger were and are quite open to the idea of drinking Lambrusco wine and eating a lot of pork (they cook a lot of pork dishes too).

One of my favourite series, The Nanny, featured an episode delivering some lines I somehow found familiar as soon as I heard them(The Passed-Over Story).  Recently I was finally able to see the episode in English and I got to appreciate these lines and to match them with my experience; in the Italian broadcasting  I used to watch around year 2000 the Fine family was changed into an Italo-American family and therefore the whole situation changed. Here the lines:

Niles: Sylvia has invited us over for the Jewish holiday.
Maxwell Sheffield: Now, is this the holiday Miss Fine said you can’t eat all day, then stuff yourself? Or the one where you light candles, then stuff yourself? Or the one where you build a straw hut, then stuff yourself?
Niles: I believe it’s the one where you hide crackers from small children, then stuff yourself.
Maxwell Sheffield: Ah, Passover.

Yes, definitely. Modenese do stuff themselves for holidays as well ( and birthdays, and weddings, and First Communions, and Confirmations, and Graduations…). We 1) dress ourselves up 2) eat a lot 3) drink a lot of Lambrusco wine (to digest all the pork and fat…) 4) most of us, especially young people, have to be loud, dance and so on.

I still remember the first group of Salzburger visiting me in Modena (September 2009) telling me that on their “free” evening they had to order a cheeseburger with fries at the Irish Pub I left them in, because they “could not manage to eat Modenese once more, it’s too fat (I had a family dinner, my father’s birthday. If I recall exactly: tortellini, roasted pork and potatoes, wine, a lot of desserts. Ended up in a whole family widening belts in the living room. The only difference with the Fine family? We are Catholics). That is why I immediately connected Niles and Maxwell with my own Austrian friends and I imagined them having the same discussion as the two Englishmen in New York. “What are they commemorating today? Oh, and what do they do? Go to mass then stuff themselves? Or sing something then stuff themselves? Or exchange presents after stuffing them selves?”.

Our cellar with a battery of barrels for Balsamic vinegar

What does the world know about people from Modena? A journalist and friend of mine, Gabriele Testi, once told me: “tDo you know? The most famous Italian in the world are Luciano Pavarotti – from Modena – , Enzo Ferrari – guess what? from Modena! – , Benito Mussolini – not from Modena but from Predappio” which – I explain – is, I believe, an hour and a half drive from us. As an historian I can also tell you that he used to be quite active in Modena before he became the Duce. Nevertheless – Gabriele quickly remarked and concluded – only a few really know where Modena is and what we are.

I travelled and travel a lot. Furthermore, I know people from all around the world. I am also currently teaching Italian as a private teacher. This gives me the opportunity to tell my “pupils” that Italy has many sides (as Austria does, actually! And Germany…as well! and…and…). For many of them it is easy to listen and get interested in all those different dialects, cuisines, aspects. Others are quite surprised. Some are quite shocked and cannot believe they just got some commercial stereotype made up to sell them a pre-packed image: it takes a while until they agree that there is no way whole Italy can be the same from the Austrian border to Africa. A few even reacted bad, almost pissed-off. I somehow destroyed their dreams (!), or they felt insulted. (I should have been insulted for being sold as liar, or as stupid and ignorant, and for not being able to insult people better than that. I can be much more hasty and nasty!!!).

note: I am constantly integrating the text, so it will change often. I will be pleased if you notice typing errors (I always do them…) or if you are a native speaker and have suggestions to make my sentences better!

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