Give Google a Go

Most of you may have noticed that Google is currently testing a system for setting a time and date to have a post published. I’ve used it for a few things in the past week and it seems to work out just fine. But for the rest of the week I’m going to give it a real try-out.

Laurent and I are heading out to Venice tomorrow – or at least I hope we are as he seems to be coming down with the flu. We’re finally getting to attend a performance at the restored La Fenice Opera House – the last time we were in Venice, back in 2000, it was still under construction after the devestating fire. And I’m hoping we’ll be able to attend the Patriarchal High Mass in honour of San Marco on the 25th before we head off to Vincenza for the rest of the weekend. Plus we’ve made dinner reservations at Osteria Oliva Nera – our friend Mark recommended it and when I checked the website I realized we had eaten there ten years ago. I had forgotten the name and strangely had asked Laurent a few days before if he remembered it – and eccola two days later Mark mentions it.

I’ve set publishing dates and times on a few things – including this post which is scheduled to go up at 2300 Rome time. We’ll see how it works.

22 aprile – Santa Leonida

Parlo del Piu e del Meno

  • The people over at Hasbro-Parker Brothers are running a contest to choose city names for the new Global Monopoly. They’ve choosen 68 cities but the field has to be narrowed down to 20 by February 29, 2008. And you can add your favorite city for a wild card vote to be held the first week of March. At the moment Istanbul is leading the pack with Montreal a close second.
  • Laurent and I wanted to go up to Venice at the end of April to see Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Teatro La Fenice. As I have mentioned in previous posts we haven’t seen the rebuilt opera house and it would have been a nice break in one of our favorite cities in the world.

    I checked their website and seats where available. I followed the very specific instruction about ordering tickets by fax to the letter. When I hadn’t heard back from them by yesterday I thought I had best give a call to find out what was going on.

    Me: Could you tell me what is happening to my fax order?
    Them: We don’t know. We don’t process orders by Fax.

    Me: So why do you say you do on your website and even have a procedure set out?
    Them: We don’t know. We don’t process orders by fax

    Me: So the fax number on your website for tickets – who would have received my fax?
    Them: We don’t know. We don’t process orders by fax.

    Me: So someone there has a fax with all my credit card and personal information on it and could use it illegally.
    Them: We don’t know. We don’t process orders by fax.

    Real quick, someone tell me again about the romance of living in Italy!

  • Bev in KabulMy friend Bev works as a Security Officer with one of the NGOs in Kabul and she and I chat several times a week on Skype. A normal conversation with her can be punctated with comments like – “brb just got a text message about a bombing near one of our offices in the North”or “oh shit someone has been arrested I have to head off to the jail ttyl”. So I was not surprised when she told me she would have to visit the local brothels as research for a security report. What did surprise me is that the brothels in Kabul that cater to foreign “needs” are all located in Chinese restaurants????

    Yes I’ll have a General Tao Chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice and a side order of …..

  • The following quick calculation on the cost of a top price ticket may just explain why La Fencie is not taking Fax orders:

    At the Box Office: E150.00 (CAD 224.00)
    By Fax: E150.00
    By Telephone (10% Surcharge): E165.00 (CAD 246.00)
    On the Internet (27% Surcharge): E177.00 (CAD 264.00)

    As they say: Do the Math!

20 febbraio – San Eleuterio

Rising From the Flames – Part 3

The Reopening of La Fenice - 2003 Until I read the last chapter of The City of Falling Angels I had not realized that Enrico Carella had fled Italy after he lost his appeal. He was one of the two men charged with setting the La Fenice fire. His cousin is currently serving out his seven year sentence but until yesterday Carella had avoid his eight year term. Now according to an article in the New York Times he has been caught in Mexico.

Being Venice (actually being Italy) there are all sorts of conspiracy theories – Mafia, City Officials, corrupt Companies – some of which sound entirely plausible. But Berendt points out something he was told the first day he arrived in Venice:

Everyone in Venice is acting…. Venetians never tell the truth. We mean precisely the opposite of what we say.

Rising from the Flames – Part 2

I searched the Internet for a video of the La Fenice fire – I remember some very dramatic footage on a video at their temporary bookshop in Campo San Fantin – but was unable to come up with anything. However Venice Online has some dramatic pictures of the fire and the morning after – the English translation is a little odd but it is obviously written by someone who cared very much about the destruction of a part of their city’s history.

Having said that in the first two chapters of his book Berendt does capture the full impact of that January evening on the neighbors and the on-lookers – Venetians, ex-pats and visitors.

Rising From the Flames – Part 1

The first time I flew into Venice I had a view of the entire lagoon from the Lido to Torcello. I remember thinking: I’m either going to be terribly disappointed or I’m going to love this city. Venice became one of my favorite places in the world. Granted I am not alone in that.

In Venice Observed Mary McCarthy says of La Serenisima: Nothing can be said (including this statement) that has not been said before. And she’s right. But that doesn’t stop people from making those statements, writing about Venice or using it as a background for their stories. At the moment I am in the middle of reading two books about Venice: Donna Leon’s Through A Glass Darkly and John Berendt’s The City of Falling Angels.

Leon is one of my favorite mystery writers and Commissairo Brunetti, his wife Paola, Signora Elettra and even the detestable Vice-Questore Patta have become old friends over the past 10 years. In the 15 novels that have appeared since Death at La Fenice – number 16 is released in April the characters have grown, some have died – I still haven’t forgiven Leon for what happened to Bonsuan – and as Brunetti has become more aware of the political life in Italy the stories have become darker and bleaker. But through them all run a love of family, friend, food, music, Venice and Venetians and they’re damned good mysteries. One of life’s real mysteries is why it took so long for Leon to catch on in North America. Her books have been popular in Europe for almost two decades but it is only within the last five years they have been available in North America. I have to thank Naomi and Cathy who introduced me to Brunetti and Leon.

Berendt – whose bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil I have yet to read – uses the senseless fire at La Fenice in 1996, and the equally senseless bureaucratic squabbling that turned rebuilding into a 7 year nightmare – to reveal the village that is Venice. So far it has been a fascinating look into a society that is insular, inbred and incestuous. Much like the world Leon paints in her mysteries.
Laurent and I did not see the glory that was Fenice before the fire – our first visit was in May 1996 and we saw and smelled the results from our room at the Hotel La Fenice next door – nor after the restoration. However if we’re lucky we may just get a chance to see it sometime in the next few years.