Tuesday, December 1, 2009

13 Days in Italy Left!!

If you have noticed... I have changed the title format of these blog posts. I think it makes more sense and sounds much more exciting to write them like this now.

So what's been going on these last couple of weeks (I've been bad at posting weekly... I'm sorry.)?

Well last week Justin's friend Gary came from Malta, as well did two of my friend Eli's friends from the east coast. All of them were great, and it was a very good time. On Thanksgiving, they all came over and Gary cooked up some chicken and potatoes (he works in a restaurant too) and it was excellent. Then Gary went home and the following day the other guys went home as well.

Last Wednesday was the animation screening. It went really well. I am glad that I am now done with animation class so I can focus on my Italian and Cinema History finals as well as get something written for the end of Creative Writing.

Since I'm sure someone wants to see it... here is my final animation project:

So this weekend I plan on going to Venice for a night, so I can see it, but if it keeps raining, it may flood and I may have to postpone it till a future Italy trip. This week is flying by, followed by finals next week, and then I'm off to Frankfurt for 2 days... followed by Jesse, Me, and Jose going to Prague, seeing family, and 2 days in London... but more on that as it happens.

Then I'll be home the 23rd!!

And everyone... I know I've been real bad at this lately so for once..... A WHOLE LOT OF PICTURES FOR YOU TO LOOK AT.


Florence 2009!!

... I can't center the above link for some reason... oh well?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Week!

Hey All!

Sorry its taken me so long to get this update up, and sorry yet again that I am lacking in the picture department. I now have 3 weeks to sum up for you (2 of which were interesting) and I shall now proceed to do so - and hopefully do it in a way that does not result in you having to read a Tolstoy(sized)novel about my past weeks.

Also I apologize for spelling errors... for they will ensue.

So Jesse and Jose arrived, and we spent the 3 nights (well 2 for Jose) eating Pizza, cooking, and just generally hanging out and catching up. Then as quickly as Jose had come, he had departed, and 15 mins later Jesse and I headed off on the next train to Pisa.

Realizing we had arrived there way to early, we took the city bus over to the leaning tower (didn't go in), then had a really cool and really Italian looking lunch, consisting of thinly sliced meat, then got back to the airport and flew on to Barcelona.

Here is a summary of what happened there.

We took the hour bus from Girona (our airport) to Barcelona. We walked until we found our hotel. Our hotel was awesome and in the marina. We then ate Tapas (little plates of Spanish food) next door to the hotel and went to sleep. Following day we had lunch with out cousin David (and also met him) at a cool omelet and hamburger place. Then we relaxed and walked around the city more. Going to http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif and walking down La Ramblas. Later that night we ate some of the worst Tapas that might ever have existed on the planet. Can you say "sausage-submerged-in-oil-and-heated-in-the-microwave"? Terrible. Following day we walked all along the Marina and Beach, at at an awesome trendy restaurant that I forgot the name of, and then had dinner with David and his family at his sisters place. His son came, as did Ari, another cousin who apparently lives in LA too. It was a very nice dinner followed by a very intense game of "around the world" table tennis. Next morning we awoke, had to take a 140euro taxi cab (YUCK) to Girona, because the Buses were all on strike (figures - Jesse missed his flight, and I journeyed home to Florence. I met a girl from my book arts class on the plane, and it was nice being able to end my journey still hanging out with someone who I knew.

Week 9 starts here.

I stayed up till 2 am with my group in Cinema History class on Monday because come Tuesday we were supposed to have a presentation due. But our teachers child caught the swine flu so we we were postponed until the following week. I progressed a lot on my animation work (well... not that much), but other than that all went well. Then on Saturday my friend Paul from high school came down to visit for a night(since he is studying in Vienna) and we got a decent amount of stuff accomplished. I finally went to Boboli Gardens and a few of the other surrounding museums. We went to the Bargello as well, and I was upset they raised the prices from 4 to 7 euro. However this was easily sorted when I told the woman I was English (by simply pointing at nothing particular and saying "England" under my breath) and thus got to enter the museum for the reduced rate of 3.50 (which is for Europeans only). Fun weekend.

Week 10 starts here.

Did our cinema history presentation and rocked it. We had a slide show to show as well as clips from the movie and everything in between. Our teacher really enjoyed it, which I suppose is always good when one is making a presentation. I progressed working on my animation, but I had to leave class early on Thursday because I was just WAY to tired. I went back to my apartment and slept from 7:30pm to 8:30pm this morning. I'm still a little tired, but I think one or two more nights of good sleep will set me straight. Marissa's dad has come to visit now, so I might be off to have Pizza with them later (Yum! I Love pizza) and on a total whim, it seems that the rest of my roommates have gone off to Switzerland for the weekend, leaving me with some time to relax and get stuff done which I suppose is always good.

My teacher told me yesterday there are only 3 more weeks of class.... then one of finals. Jeeze! It's ending so soon I can't believe it. Still got a lotta projects to do and places to visit before then though.

Until next time (which will be sooner than this one was ),


Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Seventh Week

Hey Everyone!

I know this post is much later than usual (especially since I promised that it would be posted sooner), but as soon as you read ahead you will see that it was hopefully worth the wait.

So what happened over last weekend. Not much apparently - since I can't seem to remember anything exciting about it. Classes are as classes are, and other than classwork and hanging out with friends, the week was pretty standard (I also got a haircut ((finally))). Then Thursday, the exciting stuff began to happen.

All of us USC animation kids had been contacted by our advisor to attend the ROME INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, because they were screening the graduate USC films there, but ironically the Art History class trip to Rome was scheduled for the same weekend. Since I am not in the Art History class, this meant that I would be the only one that would be able to attend. So of course, I did.

The festival put me in a 4 star hotel (which was very nice) right near the theaters and event itself, and gave me a Professional Badge, which allowed me to go see any film I wanted (given that it was playing at the festival of course). All I had to do was go to the USC screening and participate in a Q & A with the audience afterwards about the program.

I arrived on Thursday and after taking the hour walk through the Bourgese Gardens to the Hotel I took a nap and went over to the festival. There, I got a fantastic chicken sandwich, and quickly followed it up with another fantastic chicken sandwich and went to meet the people who ran the event. After meeting them, and deciding when to meet up of Friday for the screening, I walked around a bit more, took a few pictures and went back to the hotel where I proceeded to put on around 6 shirts (it was cold out) and thus headed out to the opening night party for professionals like me at the Villa Medici. That means "The Medici House (Mansion/Manor). It was incredible and if you don't know who they were, click on this and find out.

Inside, there were piles of pastas and breads and cheeses and meats and cakes and champagne and pretty much anything that was tasty. After helping myself to two very large plates of food I went out side where they were having a show. The show consisted of large-Macys-Day-Parade-like balloons of an owl and a dragon flying around with lots of people holding smaller balloon birds running about below. It was too cold way up on the hill, but the show was awesome.

The following morning I woke up (as one should) and in search of food, headed off to the film fest yet again. Ikea had built a temporary cinema there, and since you all must know by now how big a fan I am of Ikea food (the pamphlet also said Ikea would have some there), I ventured inside and was slightly disappointed. There was no food. Only a cinema - and since I had 2 hours to kill before my Q & A anyway, I decided to take a seat and watch whatever came on the screen next. The film that was shown was a film from the UK known as "The Be All End All" which was a story about 2 kids, one of whom is dying from heart disease and wants to have sex with someone before he dies, and the other boy who is out looking for his estranged father while trying to help kid number one achieve his goal. It sounds kind of stupid when you put it like I just did, but it wasn't. It was a very well made, heartfelt film that I would gladly recommend to anyone who likes a good drama with some very well placed humor throughout it.

Then I went by the chicken sandwich shop, ate 3 fantastic chicken sandwiches and a drank a bottle of water, and promptly ran off to meet up for my Q&A and such. Once we met, I met the guy who was speaking for the screening, and was provided with a translator (who translated everything for me), and we set off down the red carpet and into the cinema. The screening went well (there was one film I had never seen, but still enjoyed), and afterwards I took the stage with my translator and was asked a few questions by the host and then a couple from the audience. It went quickly, but I think it went well. Following that, I left the fest, went back to the hotel, and then off to that nights party (once again at the Medici's).

Expecting a hearty free dinner, I was a little disappointed, because they only provided bread meat and cheese that night, but even so, it was really tasty and I ate enough of it that I was well full by the time it was cleared up. I then proceeded to walk around the party and meet people who could also speak English. I met one guy from the Pacific Palisades, and two from London. Then I turned at one point and who did I run into, but both the leads from "The Be All End All". They were both very friendly, and they had a camera and took some pictures, which was good because I had forgotten mine. Then I took the 20 minute walk down the hill and back to the hotel, where I proceeded to go to sleep.

Saturday was nowhere near as exciting. I went to the festival at around 3:30 pm, and ate a piece of terrible lasagna. Then I drank two Fanta's ( natural orange soda) and went back to the hotel. Then I took a 45-55 min walk down to a restaurant where I met up with one of my friends from SACI and a bunch of us had dinner. Then I went back to the Medici Party, stayed for about an hour and a half, talked to some cool people and went back to the hotel.

Today is Sunday, and I am literally sitting on the train right now on my way home from Rome. I woke up today, packed up quickly and made it out at check out time. It was it was kind of cold and the movies I wanted to see today don't screen till night. I figured I could just see them in the theater when I get home, so bags in tow, I took a long but scenic route (first time I've probably ever done that as opposed to the short route) back to the train station, and now I'm on a 3 1/2 hour train ride back to Florence (I could have got the faster train, but It was much cheaper for this one and it gives me some time to catch up on writing). So everyone, please write the train company and say "thank you for making a long train ride so Ezra could use it to write a really long update for his blog."

Jesse is coming on Wednesday and Jose is on Thursday, so I am very excited for the coming week. Then it's off to Barcelona! There is still plenty of work I have to do before they get here though, so I'd better get to it.

Talk to you all soon!

- Ezra

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Sixth Week

Settle down everyone!

Settle down!

I know you all have been wanting to see a picture and now finally here is one:

(If you click on it - it'll get all large and detail-y)

Thats the view from my roof/patio thing. Nice isn't it? I took lots more lovely pictures this week but alas, they are not uploaded to my computer and the file sizes are much too big anyway. I'll compress some and put them up soon (I know, I always say that - right?).

Well, this week was filled with lots of awesome adventures and experiences (to counter last weeks in-productivity, I suppose), and as soon as I got finished writing last weeks blog post, I promptly stood up from my computer and began to call people to see about going out to do something.

We decided to go to Chianti "Wine Country" and go wine tasting. I had never been before, but it was very fun. After a long bus ride, we got to the winery, which had 100 different types of wine to sample, and olive oil as well (but you don't taste that in a glass). The way it worked was - you bought a 10 euro card and each taste cost a different amount, so pretty much, if you tried expensive wine you got less and if you tried cheap wine you got more. It was fun. I tasted a wine that smelled like a fart. Honestly, I don't know why I still tasted it after smelling it, because when one thinks of fart, the thought that is furthest from reality is "let me see how it tastes now." Magically enough, it did not taste like fart - which was a welcome discovery.

Then the following day Justin and I felt like being productive, so we set off to conquer some museums. We saw the David at the Academia, and all the other David statues at the Borgello, and it was very cool to see such famous sculptures in ....er .... person. Then we ventured into the Duomo (Massive Church), and we were sort of let down that it was not lavishly decorated inside. Apparently, they removed all the cool stuff inside and put it on display in a museum across the street. We found a cool excavation site underneath though, which was interesting to walk around in for a couple of minutes. We didn't go to the top of the dome though, I'll try to do that in a couple of days.

Then Saturday night we went out to a small Oktoberfest type thing that was happening a couple of blocks away, near St. Croce church. I got a free Hot Dog, which was very large and very tasty. They had said they were sold out, but then I pointed at one and the man gave me and everyone who I was with a large Hot Dog. It was in a bun too! Hooray!

Tuesday night, we made a journey to one of 3 (known) "secret bakeries" in Florence. Now the term "secret bakery" sounds like a drug operation, but it is not. It is just a bakery that is open at 12 am till 6 am and consists of a man who peers through a crack in the door. He takes your money while you whisper what you want (I got a Pizza) and then he shuts the door, disappears for a moment and hands you your food telling you to stay quiet. It was kind of weird, but it was cheap and I was hungry, and where else are you going to find food at that hour?

A couple of days ago, in a much less shady transaction, Millie's mom came from Australia to visit and took us all out to dinner at a restaurant called Za-Za, which was really tasty. I got a Pasta. Yum.

But back to museums. After animation class on Tuesday (where we had some great guest speakers), my teacher informed us that the speakers had reserved tickets to the Vasari Corridor (If you want to learn about it - please click the link and read it, as it is way too much to explain here. But they had 6 tickets left over, so all of us signed up at once. The trip was awesome, it started with an hour tour of the Uffizi museum and then an hour tour of the Corridor itself. While I wasn't always interested in what the guide had to say, I am glad I went because I'll probably not get another chance to.

That's pretty much the week overview. I'm sure I'll have some more fun stories and such next week.... and maybe some more pictures too.

Next weeks post will come earlier than usual I think... but I'll tell you why later!



Friday, October 2, 2009

The Fifth Week

Hello All,

So. What did I do this week?

Well. Let us travel back in time together to a weekend. A weekend better known as .... Last Weekend.

So. Last weekend, me and a bunch of friends went off to Bologna by train. They wanted to go for a party, and I just planned on going for the day to eat some bolognese and look around. After catching a early train up to bologna by myself *the friends were coming in the evening*, I got to Bologna and instantly wished I had stayed home. The main reason was that there were SO MANY goth kids walking around. In Florence, I see hardly any kids that aren't students or tourists, and in Bologna it was exactly the opposite. Hundreds of 14 year olds walking around in hardcore black make up and other controversial hair styles and clothing going on. Now, I'm not some big ol'e 1950's conservative by any means, but I just hate goth attire.

Soon, I found that 50% of the streets were just deserted and everything was covered in graffiti. So relieved was I, when I turned a corner and ended up in the museum of modern art, because you can always count on museums to provide something interesting and a familiar feeling that could trick you into thinking you were in a much more charming city. Then eventually my friends arrived, and after finding out their party was sold out, we all ate some bolognese and promptly went home. Lame. I've heard many good things about Bologna - but apparently I just went on the wrong day.

Now lets go further back in time to the day before (Sorry for writing out of order), but that friday we did our Iron Chef night of cooking with Pomegranates.

This turned out FANTASTICALLY.

Millie's friend who had had us over for dinner the week before, came to judge us on our skills of making food up on the fly. Marissa started with the appetizer, which was mango slices with avocado slices on it, topped with pomegranate seeds. So good. Then Millie made a watermelon, mint, and pomegranate salad, which she put some cream cheese in (thought it was ricotta - still good though). Then Justine served her pom & Orange juice punch/cocktail drink, which was refreshing, and then I provided my main course, which was Thin slices of steak/roast beef that I cooked with a little bit of salt and sauce that I made which was a mix of honey and pom juice *with a dash of Worcestershire sauce* That turned out REALLY good! I served it on a bed of mushrooms (I had never cooked them before - but now I know how easy it is), and I put a little pom juice in that too. Then Justin served his desert, which was straciatella *chocolate chip* ice cream, topped with grilled pineapple, orange zest, and pom seeds. It was a VERY good meal. But I was super happy afterwards because Millie's friend pronounced me as the winner, meaning I didn't have to do any dishes after.

One of my friends caught swine flu the other day (he's the only one - don't worry), and they put him in quarantine in the hospital for 9 days. He's all better now, so we all went out for pizza to our favorite pizzeria to celebrate that we can now once again stand within 20 feet of him without fearing our safety. No one else is sick though, so we think he caught it somewhere weird and now it has passed. Not too much concern.

Classes were pretty good this week, I got some interesting drawings done for animation, and In book arts we made some books with a "Japanese" binding, which is a pretty cool technique for using sewing and such to make small notebooks and things. We are working on tunnel books now (at least, I am), and I am doing the central market, which is a place I really like to go and look at all the interesting things. There was a stall selling cow faces the other day. Not to be ethnocentric but that was weird.

This weekend, I hope to do something exciting, but I'm not quite sure what that will be yet. The weeks are going insanely fast - even the days- It's friday one day and friday the next. I'll be home in no time, so I have to start making sure I use the days to their full advantage. I'll catch a train somewhere or do something that warrants being written about next week. Maybe I'll get a haircut.

....and I promise that I'll put at least ONE picture up next week for y'all.

Maybe more.

See ya!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Fourth Week

Lets start this post off with a positive statement. I hate Mosquitoes. They suck, and for some reason they exist on living in Italy along with me. Every morning I wake up covered in bites, each one swollen and itchy. What a pain. Also, I some how lost my bottle of Cetaphile soap, so now I have to wash up using lesser soaps, and not feeling as clean as I like in the morning.

But in other news,Marrisa, Justin and I thought up a new "Iron Chef"-like challenge, where we all cook different food each week, but we have to use one similar - obscure- ingredient. This past week, we cooked with oranges. Justin and I made different chicken dishes and Marissa made zucchini in a pan with some other veggies. For both dishes the oranges were a welcome and awesome addition to the meal. Tomorrow, we are going to try with Pomegranates.

So, I am sure you are all sitting at the edge of your seats now, wondering how my weekend excursion to Ikea was. Well, let me tell you now. It was awesome. Me, Justin, Marissa, and our other friend Anjali went. We had plates of Meatballs - well, Justin and I did, Marissa had the salmon. It was so good. Then Justin and I bought scented candles - 'cause our living room smells weird - and then we took the free shuttle back to downtown Florence. On the ride back, I found a park with a nice lake to hang out in, and I went the other day just to sit and relax. I like breaking routine a bit because then everything stays interesting.

I made a realy good sandwich at home a couple of days ago. I bought fresh baguette, turkey, and Peccorino cheese, and when I put it all together in the baguette with red pepper, it was one of the tastiest sandwiches I had ever had. Then my writing teacher, recommended me a place to go for lunch today, that makes sandwiches. Since I can't order well enough in Italian yet, I just let the sandwich man put whatever he wanted between my grilled Panini bread. And It was delicious.

He put:ground seasoned meat, eggplant, tomato, toasted panini bread, zucchini (roasted), and some toppings and sauces that i cant translate from Italian to English, but one was called viagra, and some grilled mushrooms, salt and olive oil (maybe I forgot something else).

But we all rearranged the living room yesterday, which was nice, because it was terribly out of order before. Now it still is kind of obnoxious, but you can see out of the window now when you sit on the couch, instead of staring at a wall. That's nice I suppose. Its going to get to cold to eat outside soon, so I'm sure we'll make the living room, more livable before then.

The other night Millie's friend had us over for dinner. She also lives in Florence and has a delightful dog named Jasmine who was rather black lab looking. She made us really good food, steak, vegetables, and pasta. All stuff I like to eat. It was a very good meal, and it was nice having something homecooked - that I didn't have to make myself for once.

Tomorrow we're going to go to Bologna, and I finally get to eat Bolognese sauce on my pasta in the city it was created in. It had best be superb. Other than that, nothing much has changed lately. I think I might feel a cold coming on, so that means it's time to drink lots of water, I guess.

Seems like everyone is getting sick. (That's a good sentence to end a post all about food on, right?)

I'm off to get another one of those tasty sandwiches now.

Ciao. Chow.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Third Week

Hey Everyone,

So.... I was going to upload pictures today but the school building was shut so I had to go to an Internet Cafe so once again.... no pictures (I bet you're thinking "he hasn't taken any and is just covering for it" - but I have). So, for the time being, I hope you have good imaginations, 'cause it's time to use them.

First. I hate Italian keyboards soley for the fact that nothing is where it should (pardon my ethnocentrism) be. So this means I have to type like a total moron unless I spend five minutes on every sentance. Yuck. Also it took me about 10 mins to find the "'" so When I wrote a sentance "well, we'll go..." it came out "well, well go...". Hopefully they figure it out.

But enough of ranting about keyboards and making excuses for not showing anyone pictures. Let me tell you more about Italy.

Well, over the past weekend, we spent a day going to the Sea. I don't remember what it was called, but we had to take a 2 hour train ride to get there and another 2 hour train ride to get back. It was nice though. The sand was smoother than I have ever felt, and the water was so warm you could just walk in. A cool thing was that there was a sandbar where we were you so you could walk out about 50ft before the water got higher than chest-height. No waves either, so it would really be a perfect place for a game of volleyball or something.

The downside was that there was SO MUCH red seaweed building up on the break that you had to walk through it (and god knows what else) up to your calves for about 5 or 6 feet before exiting into the perfect clear sea. Gross. Then there were crabs crawling under the sand near your feet and there were plently of lil' jelly fish in the water too. So I got out. It also cost 3 euros to be on the beach and EVERY 10 seconds differnet guys and gals would walk up and pester you to get you to buy swim suits and get massages. I was wearing a swimsuit. Why would I buy another??

Then the week went nicely. I met up with a friend who I haven't seen since high school, and classes have been good. I really like creative writing and book arts. In cinema history we watched the american re-make of the italian film (L'ultimo bacci) that we had seen the week before, which was called "The Last Kiss" and starred Zach Braff. While I like him as an actor - the film was AWFUL.

I found out that bars have happy hour all-you-can-eat buffets for really cheap, and on the days I don't feel like cooking, i've been going to those, where I can pay 5euro and then eat tons and tons of mediocere sandwiches to my hearts content. I went to one the other day that advertised plates of sushi for the buffet. The first plate was 6euro and every addition plate (of about 6 pieces) was 1 euro after that. Great deal. Wierd sushi though. It was the chefs first time making it and each roll had things like cooked chicken, cooked egg, cooked salmon, and so on. It was alright though.

For my week break I have decided to go to Barcelona with my cousin Jesse. My roomate from back at USC, jose, might join and other people say they are going as well so maybe we'll all meet up and trek up the tiny, cramped, and unfinished stairwell of the Sagrada Familia (sp?) together. Next weekend, while everyone is off at octoberfest, my roomate, Justin, and I are going to go to Bolgna (sp?) and eat bolognaise. Cause thats where it comes from. I hope the quality is as good as I expect.

I want to start going to more places every weekend, visit friends and family and such all over the place and just have a generally good time. Its much cheaper to go to Europe when you're in Europe already, so to say "ehhh, I'll do it next time, would be completly absurd". Looks like 1'll have to deal with buying things (aka plane tickets) that are over 60 bucks for once. Blargh.

I did laundry today (finally) and hung all my clothes out the window to dry. It went well, but now I have a pair of Jeans hanging outside, which will probably take ages. I like doing laundry by hand, even though we have a tiny machine, and it's much cheaper than 4 bucks a load like it is at USC.

I've also been drawing a lot lately, which is good, because I severely slacked over the summer. I am about at the level I was before, and I have finally tried my hand at drawing faces that aren't looking straight ahead. The dramatic, excited, bear I drew turned out well. Ill post a picture if I can.

Well, thats all for today. I'm off to IKEA now, as mentioned in my previous post, so I can check out a new section of Florence and get some meatballs. I wonder if the quality of Swedish food improves the closer you are to Sweden. I will rate and then tell you how it compares to the one in my house. If I go to Sweden, I'll have to go to an IKEA there and report.

Boy, I feel like a food critic.

- Ezra