domenica 28 ottobre 2007

Business Sense?

Today I went to the Roncegno for the annual Chestnut Festival. It was very similar to last year, but the stalls I really wanted to see weren't there -- into each life a little rain must fall. Last year there was one particular antique stand that had some vintage postcards of the Trentino region. The cards were in plastics sleeves in a notebook. Scott started to flip through the book and the guy said something to us, which I didn't really understand. Scott started to look again and the guy finally said "no touch." We both felt a bit scolded and it put a bit of a damper on the afternoon. We both thought he was lacking a bit of business sense, and manners, as he didn't offer to show us the cards, and didn't seem to have an interest in selling the cards.
The incident brought to mind another experience we had with an "astute" business man. Once when we were living in Missouri we stopped into a used record store in Sedalia. This was in the early 90's when most of these stores were starting to go through a crisis. There were several huge used record stores near the Westport area in Kansas City. At this point they didn't seem to realize that the days of vinyl were ending. The prices were still high and there were no customers. The shop in Sedalia didn't have quite the same air of desperation, but it did have its own peculiarities.
We spent time looking through the racks and picked out several we were interested in. The records weren't priced so the owner spent the next ten minutes or so flipping through the pricing guides. During this time, we were treated to many diatribes. One of which had to to with sales tax. He didn't want to have to deal with prices that weren't round numbers so he spent time figuring out the price minus the tax. Everything was priced with very unround numbers so he would have a magically even number after tax was added. I wondered why he just didn't post a sign that the price included tax, and just take it off his bottom line at the end of the month. He proceeded to list all the albums at the highest "blue-book" value. When he would come across one not in his books, he'd make sure to give it a high price anyway. Scott had picked out an old record of some obscure jazz trumpeter. Scott had no idea who the guy was, but he likes jazz and if the price was right he would have bought it just out of curiosity. The proprietor fixed his long-haired, bearded visage at Scott and began to quiz him about why he'd picked out this particular album, and suggested perhaps Scott had some special knowledge and was trying to screw him out of a vast vinyl fortune. He priced the album at the princely sum of $9.43. We left empty handed.
Our friend in Roncegno reminded me of our music mogul in Sedalia. When it was apparent that most of the booths were the same this year, down to the merchandise, a visit to our antique dealer was in order. There was a ton of people in the way, but I managed to hear him chastize a woman for trying to see if there was a postcard for Strigno in his book of Trentino postcards. When she explained this to him he told her she had to ask him to show her the pages, but as he was busy with someone else she would just have to wait. She walked away without looking back. Another satisfied customer.

giovedì 25 ottobre 2007

The Wonderful World of Blogging

Okay. I already have a blog elsewhere, but I thought I'd try something else. Not much new here except this wicked headache, but that's not really new either. I'm ready for acupuncture, or whatever will work. Maybe just a new mattress.
The cat and I are here trying to keep warm. The skies have decided that it's late autumn and it is now time for cold weather, but even as I say that I see that the clouds are lifting. I'll write more when I have an interesting story to tell, but nothing outstanding has happened yet today. I'm off to write my resume in Italian. Wish me luck.

mercoledì 24 ottobre 2007

Dreams and Jim Jarmusch

Recently I developed a theory about dreams. I don't sleep all that well so I'm constantly aware of my crazy dreams. For a time I used to get all worried about the significance of this and that, but I've finally decided that there is no need to worry. Dreams don't necessarily show you meaning in life that you couldn't figure out during your waking hours. They really are just a conversation with yourself.My latest theory is that dreams are a form of mental entertainment to keep your brain amused while your sleeping. I noticed that while I have dreams that include myself and people I know, I also have dreams that are similar to movies or television shows. In these dreams not only am I not the main protagonist, but I also have the sensation of watching the action.I have also noticed that the reverse is also true. If for some reason I have some pressing need to get up early, or I have to make that middle-of-the-night trip to the water closet, I'll dream something that is sure to wake me up -- something too violent or scary (usually a discussion of serious medical conditions). Often these topics are introduced inexplicably into the normal flow of the dream. I see it as my brain saying: "Enough of this entertainment! You NEED to be awake."Okay. Now that I have the theory explicated, let's move on to the topic at hand, which would be Jim Jarmusch. This morning I had a mixture of a personal dream with a movie dream. The part about me I don't remember all that well, except it included all the usual moving around and staying in familiar unfamiliar rooms (meaning I've dreamed about these places, but I've no idea where they are, except in my head). My father was there and my friend Tiph, and there was travelling involved. The great part was that in the dream I had watched a Jim Jarmusch movie, which of course didn't really have much of a plot, and involved different groups of people doing similar, mundane activities. This is a particular movie that Mr. Jarmusch has yet to produce, so if it comes out on video soon, I'll have to revise my dream theory to include trips to another dimension to enable clarvoyance. On of the elements that kept repeating was everyone kept ordering some kind of "melt" (I'm not sure if it was the tuna melt which is my favorite.). I don't know if I would strictly classify this as a Jarmuschian element. It is possibly more of a David Lynchian theme, but the dream specified Jarmusch. The really great part was that throughout the rest of the dream I discussed and criticized the film with almost everyone I met. We were all a little critical and felt the "melt" connection between the characters was a bit trite and overdone. I wish I remembered the plots in more detail. I could start a new career as a scriptwriter!

martedì 23 ottobre 2007

Salzburg, Innsbruck and Ikea

Just took a whirlwind trip to Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart, in case you didn't know. Well, not so much whirlwind. Salzburg is only 3 1/2 hours from Trento, so in U.S. terms it's a Sunday drive (I am exaggerating a bit). What a pretty town. We were treated to our first winter snow, on the road there, and decorating the trees. My friend Om from my Italian class invited Scott and I to tag along with her and her husband. She works part time, but six days a week, which sounds like my first job in television. I hope she make more money than I did. Her one and only day off is Monday, and naturally her husband has a Monday - Friday type job. He was able to trade a day and have Monday off, so we left Sunday after she finished work at 12.30pm.We drove up through the Brenner pass into Austria, which is where we first saw the snow. We actually had to drive through rainy snow in Germany. The worst weather was in Germany and by the time we arrived in Salzburg and found our Guesthouse, the day, while not beautiful and sunny, was at least not too cold and wet.The Guesthouse turned out to be a good find. I had searched on the internet for days for a double room for less than 50 Euros with not too much luck. I finally found Haus am Moos, where we had an apartment in an old farmhouse with two bedrooms, a small kitchen, and a gigantic bathroom. They had a great breakfast buffet in the morning the the main house. All the other guests, oddly enough seemed to be from Asia or Australia. Paolo had wanted just to go to the tourist office and find a room, which probably would have been just fine, but might have been a bit difficult since we needed two rooms. We had a great time traveling with Om and Paolo. They seem to like to visit a city the same way Scott and I always manage to. I'm not sure if we are just too cheap to spend money on musuems, but we prefer to wander around the streets. Sometimes we get a bite to eat, but we generally steer clear of musuems, especially ones that cost a lot of money. The great part was that they wanted to go to Ikea since there is one in Salzburg, and the ones in Italy are in Brescia and Padova, which are about equidisant from Trento, and a two hour drive east or west. I think they weren't sure if we would be interested, but of course we wanted to go. I've now been to Ikea in four different countries! We managed to spend less than 25 Euros, which was quite and accomplishment.Salzburg itself is in the midst of several mountains with a lovely river that bisects the town. There are fortresses/castles on the surrounding hills that give you a great view of the town. We actually parked inside the mountain which has tunnels reminiscent of bunkers which funnel you out into the Alt Stadt. The first place we visted was the cemetery, which is inside a chuch yard. It was really lovely and peaceful, and all the more melancholy with the gray, mistly skies. We then walked up to the main fortress overlooking the city, and quite predictably looked over the city. A great view and I'm sure even more spectacular on the clear day when you can see the mountains, which were all shrouded in mist.We ate dinner at a restaurant near the house that was cosy and the food was tasty and well presented. I also had a good pils. It's hard to find a tasty beer in Italy and I usually stick the the house wine, which usually costs less than a coke for a half litre.Monday we toured the city again before heading for Ikea. The Dom is spectacular inside. The vaults and ceilings have some painted decoration, but are mainly carved designs in white stone. It is really impressive. The church was reconstruced in the 1600's, but I'm not sure if the original church, which was built in the 700's, was destroyed. The "new" 1600's plan shifted the footprint about 45 degrees.On our way home we stopped in Innsbruck. Paolo and Om offered to stop as Scott and I had not yet been there. It is also very lovely with winding streets and interestingly decorated buildings. It reminded me a lot of Konstanz in Germany.We spoke almost exclusively in Italian. Everytime I tried to speak German, half the words would come out in Italian. It was quite embarrassing. At least I could still understand the German. Poor Paolo had three people speaking varying levels of Italian, but he was very helpful with our mispronunciations, and was a good instructor.Great trip and two beautiful cities, and oh yeah, the Ikea is nice, but the one is Brescia is bigger.

venerdì 5 ottobre 2007


Okay, the other day I was running errands in Trento before my first day of language class for the year and I had my sunglasses case (portaocchiali) in my pocket. Since I constantly lose things, I kept checking every-so-often to make sure I still had it. Well, as you might suspect, by the time I got to class the case was gone. After my few minutes of reunion time with my fellow students and teachers after our long summer break, I started looking in the classroom and eventually in the hallway, but to no avail. When Om asked me what I was doing, I told her I'd lost the case. It just so happened that one of my new classmates said on his way to class he saw one of the clerks at the Diesel store in piazza Battisti pick one up off the ground. I thought, this is great, how often it is that someone can tell you exactly where you lost something. So after class Om and I went to the Diesel store and the woman there said no Danielle at the Benetton Kids store had found it. Of course we went to the Benetton store and the woman there said she had left it at the bar on the corner, Bar Citta'. The guy at the bar said he had no idea what we were talking about, and proceeded to talk to us in English, which was funny too because I don't think his English was better than our Italian. So we ran back to the Benetton store and the woman stuck her head out the door and pointed to the planter in front of the bar where she had left it. Thankfully it was still there, although it doesn't surprise me at all. There has been a brown sweater at the train station for several weeks and no one had taken that, not even the person who lost it. But the whole incident is fairly typical of Trento. As everyone says here, Trento is really a small town.