You’d probably either need to be Italian or be a serious Italophile to know anything about this person. He is one of the most famous comic Italian actors ever, at least from the previous generation of actors. Now take a deep breath because here comes his formal name: Prince Antonio Focas Flavio Angelo Ducas Comneno De Curtis di Bisanzio Gagliardi. Some with perhaps compromised lung capacity (or memory) also knew him as Antonio De Curtis – a name that can be said in one breath and that he used for himself. He was born in a poor section of Naples as an illegitimate child. The story of this early life is quite amazing and if interested you can find the Wikipedia page about him if you click here.
He was considered a comic genius, sometimes compared to our Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Not only that but he was a singer, composed songs and wrote acclaimed poetry. He was acting by the time he was 15 and eventually starred in about 100 movies – probably many of them forgettable other than his presence. There are 3 movies on Netflix (DVD only) and I have watched two of them. The first, Toto’ nella Luna, made in 1958 was just silliness that kind of reminded me of a Marx brothers movie. I liked it enough to watch a second one Dov’e’ la Liberta’ (Where is Freedom). I really liked this movie. While it certainly took advantage of Toto’s comic talents it at the same time has serious parts to it. I highly recommend it. There is another one that I now plan to watch “Uccellacci e uccellini” which translates literally as “Bad birds and little birds” but which Netflix lists as “Hawks and Sparrows.”
As with anyone with such a vast body of work there’s a lot of stuff on Youtube although mostly it is without subtitles and is often hard for me to follow. I did find this one short clip which has subtitles but also, unfortunately, poor video quality. Here is Toto’ selling the Trevi Fountain.
Perhaps you’ve always followed the long and twisted tale of Amanda Knox. I’ve now written two blog posts about her. I was unaware of the trial in Umbria when it was actually happening but became intrigued enough to do a substantial amount of research. In the second blog post I went into considerable detail. You can revisit that post by clicking here. Part of the justice system in Italy as well as other countries outside of the U.S. allows appeals by the PROSECUTOR rather than the defense. This was the case when, on appeal and after 4 years of imprisonment, the initial guilty verdict was overturned. So now a new trial has been ordered. Given our domestic sense of justice this seems very strange but those are the rules in Italy so the show must go on. What has repeatedly struck me is the range of feelings provoked by the case. Even in that bastion of seeming sophistication, the New York Times, the comments posted after an article on this Italian judicial ruling were quite something. A number of people feel like I do that she is innocent that the charges were trumped up and the investigatory process was terribly flawed. However others have very strong feelings the other way. I recall one comment in particular which referred to her a a money grubbing whatever because she has an advance on a book soon to be published of , I don’t recall exactly, but 3 or 4 million dollars. What they don’t seem to acknowledge is that her parents used all of their savings and indeed lost a home to pay for her lawyers through the long (and believe me the judicial processes in Italy are LONG) trial and especially the appeal. Add to that that she was imprisoned for 4 years and why would anyone feel that it was unwarranted to recoup something through a book. Also I don’t really understand why the parents of the victim of the murder have been so single minded in their pursuit of Amanda and her Italian boyfriend who was the codefendent. They have someone who is clearly the murderer in jail and perhaps rightly believe that there was someone else involved. Still the evidence in the case really doesn’t support the argument that Amanda and lover were involved. I would be surprised that anything came of the retrial other than to make more clear to the world the glaring flaws in the Italian judicial system. Of course Berlusconi has been able to avoid prosecution through a lot of legal tactics which delay trials until the statute of limitations runs out. I suppose ours is not much better for those those with more money than morals but one would hope for something better.
This is not, as the title suggest something about the new pope, as interesting is that news is with highly unusual retirement/resignation of
Ratzinger. It is, however, equally interesting that I became aware of this movie at about the same time that people were crowding into Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican anxiously looking at the color of the smoke coming from the Sistine Chapel. If the appropriate part of the movie is true to reality then the words “Habemus Papam”, latin for “We have a Pope” are announced to the assembled masses as a prelude to the first presentation of and speech by the newly elected leader of Catholicism. The movie is rather recent, having been brought to screen in 2011.
The story is of a pope who is elected by the cardinals and is quite unhappy about it. You perhaps can imagine the consternation that this causes within and outside of the Vatican. The reluctant pope escapes his handlers and does a lot of soul searching for 3 days prior to returning to complete the story. Of course you’ll just have to see the ending. All in all I liked the movie a lot and think that you will too. Perhaps the trailer below will tempt you. You can stream it with Netflix. If you’ve seen it or do after this post, leave a comment and let me and others know what you thought.
Now that’s a strange title for a post you might say. It’s a line from an old folksong. What does that have to do with anything. Well, recently I had an opportunity to learn a bunch of new italian words through direct experience. You see I was walking along, ironically enough going to the gym, when I tripped (mi sono inciampato) and fell down(sono caduto a terra). When I got up (mi sono alzato) I found that I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg. Thinking that I must have bruised or pulled a muscle dramatically I accepted a kind offer of a bystander to give me a ride to my car. I drove home very carefully since I had to use my left hand to lift my right leg to move from the accelerator to the brake pedal. I asked a friend to drive me to a physical therapy appointment (I had a simple shoulder operation last fall). The therapist examined me briefly and sent me immediately in a wheelchair to the emergency room for an x-ray (radiografia). Sure enough I had broken my hip (anca). After waiting the appropriate amount of time since my last meal I was wheeled into the operating room where they put 3 screws (tre viti) in the hip bone. I’m just screwed together. After a single night stay in the hospital I went home and of course there were additional words to learn. Il deambulatore (the walker), le stampelle (the crutches) and il bastone (the cane) are all words that are now firmly in my vocabulary. So now it has been about 7 weeks so I am walking unassisted but still a little awkwardly as the muscles in the area gradually get back to their original undisturbed status. At the final follow-up visit with the surgeon (chirurgo) I asked for copies of x-rays.
about 3 1/2 inches - pretty impressive screws
side view of the screws
Of course at first I was a little embarrassed to say that I’d broken a hip. Geezer break! But not really. The surgeon said that the bone density is fine but just sometime shit happens. Another doctor related a story of an acquaintance in his 20s who fell over from a stop on his bicycle and broke is hip so one can just fall wrong regardless of the age of one’s bones.
BTW if anyone out there has corrections to my italian, please correct me. I always want to improve.