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 .... 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!