Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

London bridge is falling down, falling down...

Actually, I've completely failed to go to London Bridge. I did cross a bridge today, and it was in London, but it was Blackfriars Bridge. Why did I cross the bridge? To get to the otherside, because that's where the Globe is.
I saw Coriolanus, which I had never seen nor read before, but I now heartily recomend. (Seriously, go get out your copies of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and read it, I'll wait. ... Done yet? OK, moving on.) I was a groundling, and payed £7* for the privalige, which is 1,400% inflation from the Bard's time. I may get over this eventually. One of the many things that I thought was well done about this performance was the use of the space. The pleblian characters were frequently down on the ground, mingling with the audiance while the patricians were striding about the stage, speachify-ing.

I'd say that there will be pictures... but there won't be. I snuck a couple of the inside of the theater before the performance began, but you're not allowed to record the performance**.

Tommorow I'm heading back to Rome, the land of really cheap food (and the peasents rejoice). I like London, but with the Dollar/Pound exchange rate what it is*** I can't afford to stay any longer. That and I told Mikey that I'd be back on campus Friday to get the rest of my stuff.

(Almost) on the road again,

*Aw, look: the cute little British keyboard has a key for both the Pound and Dollar signs.
**That's true of most plays come to think of it.
***a little over two dollars to the Pound

Monday, May 08, 2006

Those Crazy Mensa ladies

From the air, England looks a bit like Kansas or nebraska with smalle fields an more frequent towns. in the plane, I race over the ground like a Titan over a Persian carpet, covering seven leauges with every rapid stride. From this heigt, the countryside is unmoving, as i dance down towards it balacning on first one arm then the other in my spiral. I right myself, and then with nary a bump the plane touches down: first the back wheels and within the heartbeat the front. Teh runway grumbles as the vehical slows to a mortal's pace. My gum has lost its flavour and my ears are popping.


Aside from the plane being an hour late because of a weather related delay last night - it was a nice flight to London. As a final send off the Mensa packed us all breakfastes. Breakfasts. Breakfasti. What's the plural of breakfast? So, I was well provided for on the plane and did not have to buy any of the over-priced food from the flight attendants.

The sack lunch they always made us for fild trips consisted of:
*two sandwiches (types varried, no selection, take what you get or trade with a friend, there was usally quite a market trying to get rid of the cicken with lettuce and nothing else)
*a fruit (an orange or an apple depending on what was handy)
*a bag of chips (usually the Italian version of white chedder cheettos, only without the white chedder, or the cheetto-y packaged artificial food goodness)
*some sort of desert (usually these bizare fake-chocolate-covered, oranged-flavored, soggy sponge cake bars that noebody liked)
*a bottle of water
*a can of coke

Breakfast was always:
*sausage (fried in olive oil)
*bacon (really strips of procutto fried in olive oil, which sort of looks like bacon from a distance)
*eggs (allegedly scrambled, but judging by the complaints of the people foolish enough to eat them, not remotly like the American dish of the same name. Olive oil was involved in their production)
*has browns (which looked suspiciously like left-over scalloped potatoes fried in olive oil)
*random flavors of yougurt (not olive oil flavored, but they did make up for it with the coffee and cereal flavors, which you should not under any circumstances actually eat)
*the same four types of creal (coco pufs, rice puffs, frosted flakes with out the frosting which I gues would just be flakes, and granola)
*whatever pastries they felt like putting out (I never had the same filling in my cornetto two days in a row, they one thing they had in common was that they were all covered with enough powdered sugar to blind a persuing ninja team and allow ou to escape#)
*fruit (the same selection offered at all the other meals)
*mineral filled tap water (takes some getting used to, better with ice)
*any of three varriations on orange juice
*some truly awful coffee
*never enough milk to go around, partly due to our love of cereal and partly due to the badness of the coffee (no one was man enough to drink it straight)
If this sounds like a lot to go around, bear in mind that the portions were tiny: the sereal bowles had about the smae carrying capacity as the tea cup I got in Salzburg. The 'plates' which we were supposed to use wee actually sauscers for the tea cups (which the mensa had pressed into service as coffee mugs). If you were foolish enough to try to grab seconds on anything not liquid (except the milk, which was out anyway) or do something radical like take two pastries then you would get the look and emidiatly feel the need to amend your life and take religous orders.

Now, I'm sure the question nagging in the bak of all your minds is 'How did those maniacs in the Mensa combine breakfast with their sack lunches to make everyones last meal?##) Although I good second choice would be 'How did she get here from talking about airplanes?' The answer to the second question is 'Isn't stream of conciousness, however its spelled, fun?' The answer to the 1st question is:
*one sandwich (ham and cheese, no mayo, there never is, allthough the bread apeared to have had a close encounter with some olive oil)
*one muffin (no powdered sugar, am worried about attacks of ninja/gypses, as I have no way to defend myself)
*one apple
*one box of appricot juice
*one can of coke

Arn't the Mensa ladies cute? But what do you expect from a group that made us a desert so big that it could not fit through the door?###

Reporting live from London,

#You have to watch out for ninjas in Rome, they're quite a menace. Or maybe I mean gypsies are a menace and ninjas are spies from feudal Japan. I get confused on that sometimes. The point is, you don't want either one following you, and you can use the powdred sugar from your pastry to cover your escape.]
## or form Voltron
### not kidding, I have pictures of it, which I'll post when I get the chance, which may not be until I reach Berlin

Friday, May 05, 2006

All Quiet on the Due Santi Front

Well, the buses have departed with the hoards for the gorup flight. Me, I have finaly rescued my ticket home from the clutches of the business office, which has been holding onto it all semester. Unfortunatly, I won't be able to use it until the 15th of July and even then, I have to start in Berlin. Clearly, I have more adventuring to do.

More later. Right now, its nap time. Hopefully the cats will wake me up when its time to go to London.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Done and Done

Well finals are over, and primal screams of an ephemeral combination of joy, victory, frustration, and rage have left the throats of one and all. My roomates and I have taken great joy in throwing away every hand out we have been given all year one at a time. The room looks like it has been hit with a very selective white paper tornado. Packing has also begun in earnest as everyone has realized that the buses are leaving for the airport (alas, I won't be on it) at 4 o'clock in the morning, and we all seem to have accumulated a lot of stuff.

One last pull through my notes turned up two more worth while quotes.

The first is from Dottoressa Lytle, the director of Student Life, who's job is mainly to worry about us: “Watch when you’re crossing the street and be careful when you’re sitting on bridges.”

The second is from Dr. Stibora, about Jesus and Peter, he paraphrases the Gospel a bit: “I’m changing your first name. You’re no longer Simon, you’re new name is Rock.”


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tradition, tradition

One of UDs most beloved tradtions has crossed the ocean with us, and slowly it begins to take root in Rome: the midnight pancake breakfast the night before finals. Our professors and the Student Life staff made and served pancakes for all of us. I hadn't realized just how much I had missed those little things until they served them. Granola and yogurt is all well and good, but it is nothing compared to pancakes. Also, it was the first meal I've had in this country that did not include olive oil. Although I suspect that if the Mensa ladies had cooked it, then olive oil would have found its way into the meal anyway.

And now for something completly different:
It’s finals week here in Rome, which means its time for the last round of funny professor quotes:

Dr. Flusche, Art and Arch:
On the church of San Clamente, the current building was built in c1100, which is not old at all for Rome, but older than America by about 600 years: “That’s pretty good for us, it’s like 900 years old – we don’t have much except grass that is that old.”

Dr. F is famous for not proofreading any of the handouts she gives us, in one case she had two different typos for the word ‘artworks’ on the first page of one packet: “Artiworks – that’s like what people do when they sew sequins on their clothes… Artoworks –that’s when you sew really big sequins on your clothes.”

On Pope Julian II: “He was not a particularly religious guy, which was sort of normal for Renaissance popes.”

Michelangelo wanted to be an artist, but his family disagreed: “Michelangelo’s father beats him, his uncle beats him, they didn’t seem to beat it out of him.”

Talking about the state of Michelangelo’s clothes, remember, she’s been overseas for a while: “There was no Fee-Breeze back then, or whatever that stuff is called.”

On God, as seen in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: “These huge muscles of God, rippling beneath his pink outfit.”

On why Mary is sort of off to the side in the Last Judgment: “If you have to pray to the Virgin for intercession at the moment of the Last Judgment, its too late. There’s not much she can do for you at that point, so make your appointment early.”

On Michelangelo: “I wouldn’t say having fun, because I’m not sure that ever happened to him.”

On the restoration of the Sistine Chapel: “A huge debate broke out in the art history world, and that could get ugly.”

I really don’t remember how this one came up, other than it was in the class on Michelangelo: “Of course there were exceptions, this is Italy you can always get around the rules.”

On Caravaggio’s ‘Self-Portrait as a sick Bacchus’: “This isn’t Bacchus the joyful guy getting drunk, this is Bacchus the slightly hung-over.”

Dr. F also doesn’t always put the slides together correctly, more than one work has been shown to us upside down, or flipped over, or sideways, and she usually just takes it in stride: “This tendency… to paint paintings sideways *fixes slide* … gets him in trouble.”

On Caravaggio in general: “I like to call him the bad boy of the Baroque.”

On Cardinal Scipione Borghese: “He looks like the cardinal, if you’re going to choose one, that you want to have a martini with.”
“In addition, Cardinle Scipione Borghese had the worlds largest collection of pornography… Which was sort of a trendy hobby then, I suppose it could be now.” ‘
On a sculpture of the baby Jupiter playing with a satyr and a goat that Bernini made when he was eight or nine: “Yeah, kind of makes you feel like a looser.”

On Bernini’s Pluto and Persephone: “Borghese liked it so much when they get it, they give it away.”

On Bernini: “I call him the first rock star.”

On a slide of Michelangelo’s David which was in backwards: “You’ll remember that Michelangelo breaks from the earlier Florentine tradition, in that he does it backwards.”

Dr. Moran, Lit Trad III:
On the Frogs, which makes fun of the tragedians: “When Aristophanes writes this play, Euripides’ body is barely cold.”

On Hamlet: “I’m going to read Hamlet, because I want to.”

On campaign adds: “Have you noticed the adds all over Rome with the smiling Communists?”

Hamlet is 30, and yet he is still in school: “So maybe Hamlet’s one of those perpetual graduate students?”

Hamlet dresses in all black: “He’s the Johnny Cash of Elsinore.”

On King Lear: “The play wants to confuse you.”
“I’m not trying to turn you into nihilists. I promise, nothing, nothing, nothing. The Latin is nihil.” (Trust me, it was funny when he said, he just got more and more demented as he went on, and than became serious abruptly in the last sentence there.)

Someone made a comment relying on a very ordered view of the world: “You only said that because you go to UD and you have to spend lots of time reading Aristotle during your philosophy classes.”

There’s an Italian military instillation 20 minutes down the road sort of built around Ciampino airport (or maybe the airport’s built in the base, who knows) and every now and then their jets fly really low over campus, shaking the windows in the basement: “They didn’t drop a bomb. Those are my last words.”

A random siren alarm thing was going off outside: “I don’t think it’s an air-raid warning.”

Dr. Stibora, Theology

“Before we move on to Aquinas, I’d like to say a final word on the greatness of Texas. It will take more than one word.”

On Aquinas: “He thinks you don’t have to sit down and have a cappuccino with God in order to really know Him.”

Usually he stands in more or less one area to lecture, but one day he was really lively: “I’ve been pacing up and down all morning because I only woke up 30 minutes ago and I want to stay awake.” Further questioning revealed that he’d been up till 2:30 the night before prepping for class and had slept through his alarm clock.

Aquinas has five proofs of the existence of God, we spent most of a class on one of them: “Let’s keep going. We have 4 left and only 10 minutes.”

Nothing can make itself: “I would have to exist before myself in order to make myself.”

“So we take Bud as the absolute minimum standard for beer: that than which nothing worse can be?” (God = that than which nothing greater can be imagined, according to Boetheus and Aquinas, both of whom are conspicuously silent on the subject of beer.)

Sure it’s theoretically possible that the universe developed beings with rational thought by coincidence, but do you really believe it? In theory, its possible to shuffle a deck of cards and have it come out in order, but if you see someone do it, you suspect that a person stacked the deck, not that its chance. “So a deck of cards is all you need to prove that God exists.”

On portrayals of the Trinity in art, he drew on the board to illustrate his point: “You’ve always got god the Father up there with a beard, and the Holy Spirit is some sort of bird, and here’s the Son, it’s Lent so he’s frowning because he’s doing penance.”

A paper airplane was used as a demonstration and then thrown away, to our protests: “You guys got too quickly attached to that plane.”

On natural law; his attempts to encourage class participation ware stymied by our collective desire not to say anything remotely inappropriate. Ever. Especially not in class: “Come on guys, its been on your mind since you were 11. I can’t be the only one. The answer is SEX!”

On the papacy at the time of the Reformation: “There hasn’t been a pope who’s first name was Saint since 1294.” that guy abdicated after less than a year as well

On indulgences: “As soon as money gets attached to anything in the Church, we immediately have a train wreck.”

According to Luther: “Women are the sure road to perdition.”

It really doesn’t matter what this was in reference to, because it’s Dr. Stibora saying it: “Yipee!”

On Calvin: “…As his system ushered most of us, without our will directly into hell.”

On the purposes of the course evaluations: “And to help my chairman, who has no dealings with me at all across the ocean. Otherwise I just say that I’m great and it’s great.”

On how to fill out the course evaluation: “My name, because some of you apparently still haven’t learned it, is S-T-I-B-only one- O-R-A.”

Dr. Hadley, Phil of Man:
“I’m a professional academic, so when people say ‘that’s academic’ I get sad. Sometimes I cry.”

Our basketball team lost to the Italians: “It’s not American to participate and enjoy, it’s American to win. In fact, to crush them, they’re just Italians man, come on.”

Sewer systems are quite and amazing invention, and since we should count our blessings: “Count your sewer systems.”

On how your mind can play tricks on you: “Yesterday, I thought the soccer field was on fire. I had not been drinking.”

“I was just about to reveal something about my 3rd grade teacher that perhaps shouldn’t be said.” Now we’re all dying to know what it was.

“I am not… giving in… to the sleepiness.”

On how your mind plays tricks on you: when you stick a pen in a glass of water the refraction makes it look like the pen is bent, he was performing this demonstration, except he didn’t have a glass of water, he was just waving a pen around.: “It’s broken, it’s whole, it’s broken, it’s whole, try it at home.”

Something about the difference between humans and animals: “I’m not sure whales do this, just go with me on this.”
“The turtle whispers to you ‘be strong.’”
“It would be helpful if dolphins were more consistent.”

On Nietzsche’s life: “Nietzsche said ‘God is dead’ so God said ‘Nietzsche is crazy.’”

“I hate to make things all uncertain for you, but that’s philosophy.”

On the monumental use of history, using the past to inspire yourself to future greatness: “Have you ever aced a test? Surely you have, you may have to interpret that metaphorically.”

Nietzsche is big on strength of will and self-control: “Can you say no to something? Can you be strong in the sense of say taking down an antelope? I don’t think you could, but it would be fun to see you try.” *laughs manically, then abruptly serious, he turns to the side door* “OK, release the antelope.”

“I want to be an animal, leaping about, frolicking in the field.”

Quoting a line from Nietzsche, in his best animal-voice: “’Becaaause I ahhlwaays forgeeht whaat I waahnted to saahy.’ I’m assuming it’s a goat.
Then Cesar did the line in his Kermit the Frog voice: “Nietzsche didn’t have the Muppets to learn from.”

On food: “Pasta’s at the top of the menu because its so easy to catch.”

“Pray to the sheep god that the wolves don’t come tonight.”

We were dividing up into small groups to discuss some of Nietzsche’s aphorisms: “Martin, you lead the group about being misunderstood.”

One of Dr. Hadley’s pet peeves is people who don’t enumerate their points in there essays, which is most people except Nietzsche: “He has enumerated his points. Well done Fredrick.” *claps*

A question was raised about the front gate, which didn’t stop thieves form coming in over the back wall:
“What is the point of that gate?”
“To make it difficult for us to get in or out.”

On Nietzsche’s view of the relationship between man and the world: “The world’s a dead-beat dad.”

They were testing a new security system on the last day of class, which meant that the lecture was constantly being interrupted by buzzing noises from outside. “We’ve got a new security system. It’s working apparently. It’s running your lives.”

The end of the last lecture: “I’d ask to have a group hug, but I’m already known as the hippy on the faculty, so I won’t do that.”

Dr. Hatlie, West Civ I:

On the way the Romans learned from the people the conquered: “When they go to Gaul the Frenchmen don’t really have much to teach them, to tell you the truth.”

On how the Greece that Rome conquered was not Greece in its hay-day: “They didn’t get the A-team, they got the C-team.”

On the invention of political partied in the Roman Republic: “You and I are used to partied: you’ve got Republicans, Democrats, Communists, Green People, etc.”

On street crime in the Late Republic: “Everyone has a knife in their toga.”

On Caesar’s take-over of the government: “It’s an aggressive tactic, but it ends up failing rather miserably, as he ends up rather dead as a result.”

On the battle of Actium: “Mark Anthony is totally inebriated, he has been drinking heavily for decades.”

On Ovid’s Art of Love, and the end of class: “Most of it is the lead up, how to trap a woman and get her to love you, and that’s where we’ll end today.”

On Augustus: “We’re all equal, but he’s slightly more equal than everybody else.”

On the problems with Rome in the time of Constantine: “… and full of the proletariat of the sort of lower class people.”
On the fall of Rome: “The scourge of Europe, a gentleman by the name of Attila.”

St. Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine contains rules for Christians reading pagan texts: “Think of those early Christian martyrs: they’d be rolling in their catacombs by now.”

Local culture in the early middle ages, most people never went further than 9 miles from their house: “You woke up in the morning and thought, gee can I really do 10 miles today? Nooo.”

On Theodric, one of the Ostrogoth kings: “Theodric, although he routinely executes some of his highest ministers, is a very reasonable person.”

“When you have to cover 2000 years, the last 500 years sort of get squeezed.”

On how territory was divided up in the Middle Ages, basically you just declared yourself to be the ruler of your own land: “So, I own North Dakota.”

Vikings conquered most of Europe: “So, this is very, very bad news.”

On feudalism: “It’s like a pyramid scheme in a certain way.”

Important themes in the early middle ages, he skipped directly from the crusades to the emergence of vernacular languages: “It’s completely different from what I as just talking about.”

On why the High middle ages won’t be on the final: “I’m not going to hold you responsible for it; among other things it would require you to read about 50 more pages at a very inconvenient time.”

On the texts we read this year: “They’re oozing with Literary Sophistication.”
“Not to take away from virtue. Please keep being virtuous.”

On the format of our final: “You might be getting tired of Thesis. Body. Conclusion. I’m sure you’re not, its hard to get tired of them.”

bis spaeter,