Friday, October 21, 2016

Anna Magnani, cat lady

Anna Magnani is one of the all-time greats of Italian cinema, and an Academy award winner. But more importantly, she was a gattara, that is, a cat lady. Specifically, a gattara is a person (usually female) who feeds and otherwise looks after stray cats. A male, a cat dude, would be called a gattaro.

The great actress lived near Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome, site of important ancient ruins. She would go out in the evening with a basket full of food, a scarf on her head in an attempt to disguise herself (to humans). The square is still a hangout for kittehs, who now have an all-volunteer cat sanctuary to look after them.

Check out Anna in her day job as actress in Rossellini's neo-realist masterpiece, Rome Open City (the scene contains a spoiler).

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sports vocabulary

Many of us are following the Olympics, in which the Italians are doing well even as I write. They often do well in the Olympics. So let's take a little look at the names of some basic sports terms in Italian. In no particular order... although my favorite sport just happens to come first.

Nuoto. Swimming.

Staffetta. Relay.

Stile libero, rana, farfalla/delfino, dorso. Freestyle, breaststroke (literally frog), butterfly, backstroke.

Tuffi. Diving.

Atletica. Track and field.

Salto. Jump.

In alto, in lungo, con l'asta. High, long, pole.

Corsa. Running.

Scherma. Fencing.

Tennis. (same)

Calcio. Soccer.

Football americano. Football.

Baseball. (same)

Badminton. (same)

Basket/pallacanestro. Basketball.

Canoa/kayak. Canoe/kayak.

Ciclismo. Cycling.

Ginnastica. Gymnastics. (in everyday Italian the word means "exercise.")

Equitazione. Equestrian/horseback riding.

Sci ("shee"). Skiing.

Discesa, fondo. Downhill, cross-country.

Pattinaggio. Skating.

Pallamano. Handball.

Canottaggio. Rowing.

Vela. Sailing.

Hockey. (same)

Su ghiaccio, su prato. Ice, field.

Pallavolo. Volleyball.

Beach volley. (same)

Pallanuoto. Water polo.

Pesi. Weightlifting.

Tiro. Shooting.

Tiro con l'arco. Archery.

Golf. (same)

Rugby. (same)

Boxe/pugilato. Boxing.

Trampolino. Trampoline.

Lotta libera. Wrestling.

I imagine I've left out someone's favorite sport and that someone may be mildly resentful. Someone should go to the dictionary and look it up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Italian proverbs- meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani

The proverb meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani literally means that it is better to have an egg today than a chicken tomorrow. This obviously indicates that it is better to have a sure thing in the present than expect a better outcome in the future that might not come about. It's the equivalent of "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Obviously the Italians never paid much attention to this proverb or else they would have consumed all the eggs before they hatched and chickens would have become extinct, taking all future eggs with them. No frittata. No pollo al mattone. Che disastro.

For my little compilation of Italian food expressions, see here.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Altan describes 2016

My favorite Italian cartoonist, Francesco Tullio Altan, must have foreseen 2016.

Man- Democracy is in danger.
Woman-Let's hope someone comes and helps it.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ms. Ginsburg goes to Venice

Several months ago, on the pages (screens) of this illustrious blog, I informed you that in July there would be an enactment of The Merchant of Venice in the original Ghetto of that city.

And now they have indeed put on the play. As part of the related activities they also staged a mock trial in which American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was part of a group of judges hearing an imaginary appeal by Shylock. The judges found in Shylock's favor. Amusingly, Justice Ginsburg's grandson played the part of Lorenzo (the lover of Jessica, Shylock's daughter.)

The judges were somewhat perplexed about what to do with uppity Portia, the woman-disguised-as-male-lawyer who defends Antonio, Shylock's opponent. They find her guilty as an impostor without the proper requisites and sentence her to get a law degree from the University of Padua and a Master's in an American University. Unfortunately, the Faculty of Law in Padua would not allow a woman to study there in the late 16th century, and there were no universities in the United States at that time. There is also the small matter of the judges' jurisdiction... You ask me, Portia was a great gal.

Kidding aside, Justice Ginsburg (although an admirer of Shakespeare- how can you not be?), maintains that The Merchant is anti-Semitic. I strenuously disagree. So Shylock is the villain (a nuanced villain, to be sure)? Is Hamlet anti-Danish? Is Macbeth anti-Scottish and misogynistic? Is Othello racist?

If you want to read a bit more on this, here is the original New York Times article.

Below, see another great Shakespeare lover, Al Pacino, deliver Shylock's famous monologue.