Monday, October 26, 2009

Italy, part one

So alot has happened since my last post. Sorry to my mother (and anyone else who reads this) for skimping on posting an entry for so long, but October has been one hell of a month, mostly crammed with a midcrit and travel. I'll start with the end of September.
(I'm somewhere in the first two rows of bodies)
I decided it would be cool to go to at least one concert while I was here. I saw one of my favorite bands (Dream Theater) headlining the Progressive Nation Europe Tour at the Berlin Arena. It was an awesome experience, I've never been up front for an entire show (over 5 hours...) but it really was worth the fatigue in my legs for standing up that long. The other bands were good, nothing great but it introduced me to Opeth, which I'd never paid much attention to but I was really impressed by their live performance, you have a new fan! DT played perfect like the insane musicians that they are, I'll see them the next time they come around Boston.

So on to my travels, we have two individual (optional) travels, so for the first one I wanted to experience Northern Italy. My roommate Greg and I decided to head to Milan for the four days.
However, it dawned upon me in my trip research (only two days before we left) that there really wasn't that much to see in Milan. We made a last-minute decision (with the suggestion from our professor) to take a day and a half and travel east and see Venice, with a stop in Bergamo along the way.
Bergamo is an awesome city with an old hill-top medieval town, really good for a four-hour stop if you're headed somewhere else. Its a really steep incline to get up there, you could take a ski-lift if you wanted to, but I'm the 'sportif' type, so walking was a good choice too. We missed the staircase though, and ended up walking along the road to the backside of the hill. Although a lot longer, it was definitely more scenic:
On the way down, since we had time, we took the actual staircase, which was stupidly long. It actually made us grateful for taking the long way up, since it would have been a bitch to go up these:So then we hopped back on the train for three hours and made it to Venice around 6. The light was really nice when we got there, and by the time we made it to Piazza San Marco, night was on setting so I got some good photos. We stayed the night at some tourist campground, which was interesting, and then left the next afternoon. Well worth the trip I think.
So after wards we headed back to Milan to see Internazionale take on Udinese at the famous Italian stadium, the San Siro:Our seats were pretty awesome for 36 euros each, plus I got to play with my ginormous zoom lens. Inter won the match 2-1, scoring the winning goal in injury time, and I've never seen a crowd erupt like they did. On Sunday, we just chilled in the park, getting some work done, saw a Frank Gehry exhibit, and flew back that afternoon. EasyJet is probably the best way to cruise around Europe if you're not carrying much, much recommended.

Wow I forgot how long these things take to write. I'll continue later.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MTV in Europe

So, when I'm not in studio relentlessly wasting my life away with work that I'll end up changing ten times, I'll relax a bit back at the apartment. We don't have internet there, so I'll watch or play something on the computer, but most of the time I'll kick back and watch one of three channels that I'll understand. One is CNN International, so I can see what the hell is going on in this world (in english), the other is Eurosport. Eurosport isn't in english, but watching a race or soccer doesn't necessarily require it to get whats going on. And then there is MTV.

For those of you who don't know, MTV is a huge network which also owns Comedy Central and VH1, as well as other channels. So on MTV here in Europe, we get a vast array of entertaining shows from the good old USofA, including but not limited to Rock of Love (and spin-offs), Hogan Knows Best (and spin-offs), WildBoyz, Nitro Circus, Pimp My Ride, and of course, Chappelle's Show.

Now, I can't say that I'm a fan of the VH1 reality shows (Rock of Love, I Love Money, Charm School etc.) but to watch an episode here or there can be pretty entertaining. You can tell that alot of these people competing in these shows are absolutely fake, but to purposely act like complete bitches and assholes, while completely wasted most of time, is for some reason funny. I don't get it either.
(not my sketch, but funny still)

Next, all the shows with Hulk Hogan are awesome, well, because he's Hulk Hogan. I'll admit that I watched wrestling when I was younger, and as much I knew that it was all staged and fake to a point, something about the charisma of all the characters intrigued me. I've moved past this since middle school, but Hulk Hogan is still one cool jabroni in real life. I mean, the handlebar mustache is iconic.
Then there are the Jackass spinoffs. Nitro Circus is just crazy motorbike stunts, which gets old after a certain point, but Wildboyz is great. Take the two funniest guys from Jackass and throw them in the jungle with animals, and you get hilarious. Don't you want to watch someone get bit in the ass by a crocodile?
Its obvious that Germans and nice automobiles go hand in hand. But to put $40,000 worth of body work, paint and electronics into a car usually worth less than $500 just seems crazy. Maybe that's why they love it over here. Who wants to see an AMC Pacer with rims a sweet paint job, tv screens in the seats and a 2000-watt sound system? I do.
Last, but certainly nowhere near least, is Chappelle's Show. Oh how I miss Chappelle's show (we all do, right?). It really took sketch comedy and racial comedy to a new level, and there was never a dull episode. He took the basics of racial comedy and applied them in a way that didn't make anybody feel uncomfortable, and afterward I felt like there was a new openness that everyone could laugh about. Its unfortunate that Dave left the show, but I can understand how people took the sketches too literally and make all that is of Dave Chappelle's image associated with the characters he played on the show, rather than his normal stand-up comedy which was alot funnier than most of the sketches on the show to begin with. Keep it real, Dave.