Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dragging Myself Through A Production

Show # 142 was the most difficult experience of my "career" in video production. The logical thing to say here would be, "Gee, Alan, you have met and overcome so many challenges over the past almost 6 years, how can this be so." If you watch the last show, you may have noticed some things that make me believe this one was among my worst productions. There was a very poor transition from image to image that a few weeks ago would have made me make the change no matter how much time it took. This time I just said, "what the heck," and let it go. I almost always start the show with a video of me sitting in a chair, be in the studio or in my house introducing what will come and then an ending saying goodbye "in person". This time I was so lazy that I just did a voice over with some photos. There is very little detail about each place I covered. I could have spoken more about Capri  some interesting Roman ruins, and the fact that the island, in Ancient times, was the retreat away from Rome for Emperor Tiberius. I could have spoken more about what there is to see in Sorrento, or the advantages of taking a boat into Positano to see the remarkable view from the sea angle as opposed to the land entrance into the town. And on and on that in retrospect do not even make me want to do the show over.

So the question on your minds, if you are a steady follower and reader of these blogs, should be, "What is going on?" Several things have occurred lately which have clearly spilled over into my video productions. I will be candid, as I usually am, and mention a few. First, and probably foremost, we cancelled our trip to Italy. During that trip I would have come home with new material which would have produced at least 10 - 12 new shows. In all likelihood I would have scrapped the Bay of Naples Show in favor of one of those things which would have provided me with much greater enthusiasm. For this show I had almost no enthusiasm and very little motivation. The disappointment I sustained had a deleterious effect on my level of motivation to continue Alan's Italy, not simply for psychological reasons, but also simply because I am running out of material. When I return from a trip to Italy, not only do I return with a treasure trove of new things, but the level of excitement to get them into a show is almost overwhelming. So that was absent. Although over the course of 25 years of Italian travel with 27 trips actually planned, I have only cancelled three of them due to various causes, and not since 2012 when I began Alan's Italy. I cancelled in 2000 when I chickened out of my first attempt at a solo trip overseas, and in 2011 when I was recovering from physical illness and frankly felt it more important to prepare for my stepdaughter's wedding in Missouri.

   Second, there is such a thing as being too bored to produce a show. This, to someone who is totally healthy psychologically is unfathomable. That person would think the opposite, "You're too bored, so there you have it, the time to produce at your heart's content." Wrong. Boredom can cause one to become so low, that the motivation part of the brain freezes up. That was part of the reason I struggled with show # 142. I finished my love of teaching math at the college on May 23 and not beginning again until August 29. More than three months off; what a lucky guy I am! Yes, I am definitely very lucky in many, many respects. I had a job lined up for the summer which, although would have filled up my entire month of July, would also have probably caused a breakdown because although there was three hours a day of teaching involved, at the time of day I would have been traveling into the city, I would have travelled back and forth for 6 1/2 to 7 hrs a day for four days a week!!!! That is too much even for me. The extremes of working and filling up at least a month of activity or doing nothing of note - those were my choices; neither of which came close to my idea of fulfillment. Thus I have fallen into somewhat of a depression. Of course, I am no stranger to anxiety and depression and am using all the techniques I have garnered over my lifetime to fill in the space. I am at the YMCA 5 days a weeks and having fun. I am reading again TG and that is very good for me. I am trying to come up with shows to produce. Those three major things should sustain me, but three months of no teaching is getting me down. I am both lucky and unlucky. There are worse things in life!!!!

   Getting back to 142. So what you get are inferior productions. I apologize, especially if you actually liked the last show. Not sure where I go from here. My old producer from my studio days invited me back to the studio to try it again or just do another, occasionally, to break it up. I have some ideas like the one I indicate at the end of 142, which is the Medici Chapel show which could be very interesting both to do the research and to put together. I could go from museum to museum; the possibilities are really endless. Who knows? Will keep you informed.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Trip Postponed

Our trip has been postponed due to illness. We will try again for January 2018. I will attempt to put together a show about the Amalfi Coast, Show # 142: A Week on the Bay of Naples. I haven't had the heart since the postponement due to my disappointment. It was quite a let down after so much planning, but we have something really special in the hopper for next January. More on that later. This is intended to update my readers that I am not in Italy at this time, and will try to continue the show.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sorry, couldn't do it.

Just could not get myself to put together a show even though I had most of it at the tip of my fingers. Producing one of theses shows just took takes too much out of me. We are getting ready for our trip and there was just not much time. My fans will have to do with the 141 for now.

Meanwhile the subscribers keep increasing in numbers. More people are reading these blogs, and of course the number of views on Youtube steadily approaches 50,000, a great milestone for me.

I will try to bring back more shows, although the thought of just relaxing with our friends in great places like Florence, Venice, and Rome appeals to me very much, but I am am a Youtube Video Producer with responsibilities. I would like to bring back videos of performance pieces at the Venice Biennale. That is one sure fire thing. I would also like to photograph and video some more unique Tuscan locations another fair certainty. While in Florence I would like to do some of my own narration on video of places around town, perhaps go to a museum I haven't been to yet (if I can find one), perhaps photograph the inside of one of the most unique stores in Florence, the Alinari Bookstore, occupying the  former Alinari Worshop during the 19th century. We will also be staying at a new hotel in a newish area Trastevere. That alone should be a treasure trove of new material. I would also like to video interview with people in Italy, but not sure how much aggressiveness I will have over there; that's hard to predict. It takes a lot of guts to walk up strangers and even and especially friends and ask for an interview on video. Perhaps 10 more shows total is possible and would satisfy me.

I will see you soon. In the meantime, keep reading and keep watching!! Thanks to my loyal fans.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Day and a Half in Milan

After two weeks of back and forth deciding whether to create a show based on Milan or the Amalfi Coast, I suddenly gave in to my initial desire to do Milan and thus show # 141 was born. Taking only a few days to put together, here is a 30 minute retrospective of the tour I planned for myself aboard a train to Milan during one of my between marriages solo trips to Italy. This occurred in 2002 and wound up spontaneously being the result of an imminent rail stroke which threatened to mess up my travel plans. In one of my very few impromptu decisions traveling around Italy, I scrapped a night in Venice and a side trip to Verona in favor of a lot of extra time in Milan. Since I had very little knowledge of Milan, I kept my itinerary simple and contained to one small area of Milan and had an amazing tour of some of the greatest sights in Milan including the Ambrosiana Pinacoteca, Leonardo's Last Supper, Castello Sforzesco for the amazing final sculpture created by Michelangelo just before his death in 1564, the Brera Museum, the unheralded but spectacular Palazzo Poldi Pezzoli, La Scala, arguably the most famous opera house in the world, the Cathedral of Milan, Galleria Emanuele, one of the oldest indoor shopping areas in the world, and Piazza del Duomo one of the most exciting places in Italy. I served the dual purpose of describing some outstanding sights to see in Milan and also reliving one of my favorite times in Italy during my 7th trip total and last solo trip to Italy in the summer of 2002. I interspersed photos Laura and I had taken during subsequent visits to Milan and internet material to enhance the presentation.

I found the production of this show to be very concisely organized and executed. It swiftly moves from topic to topic in a very efficient manner, in many ways more hurried than any show I have produced recently. When I watched it at the conclusion of the process, I was surprised at how efficient it turned out to be and also how short it was, just under 30 minutes, again one of the shortest of my recent creations since I have been doing the work at home using IMovie. However, I was very satisfied. I am not generally given to brevity, as you well know, but somehow felt compelled to be that way once to see how it went. You can be the judge of that, but in the final analysis I was quite content to view the finished product.

Now that I have completed that and am in the process of uploading to Youtube as I type, I will begin the show on the Amalfi Coast. Speaking of spectacular things to see, this region of Italy is chock full of amazing things to see and do, all within a small area of the region known as Campania. I have three weeks before I embark upon my 25th trip Italy. This is a well planned trip which I will not discuss (sticking to tradition of not discussing a trip before I take it), and will talk about more in June. For now I hope I can complete the Amalfi show # 142 before I leave.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Venice: Take Two

I didn't like the first version, so redid many of the aspects and what you now see will be more perfect than the first time around. Several people have already viewed the show, and you may go back and get a better glimpse of the majesty of Venice. I just didn't feel right letting such imperfection leak into what was intended as the "perfect" tour of Venice.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Perfect? Well, I am not so sure

One month to the day after I published show # 139, I posted show # 140: the "Perfect" Tour of Venice. It was not easy, but then again, it never is and probably never will be. These shows are never easy for any number of reasons that I have written of to a great extent in these blogs. This one just "got in the way" of many other things I was doing. Certainly when I am working, it is much more difficult to find the significant amount of time necessary to put these shows together. I suppose that the challenge is part of the lure to begin with. I sure do enjoy a challenge. When I first returned to teaching college after my three year hiatus, I told people I liked the challenge of returning to a job that I had just about given up on. Despite my almost continuous states of anxiety, apparently there is a part of me that enjoys a great challenge; I think the challenge might be what has gotten me through these many, many years of living with my levels of anxiety.

Nonetheless, using all my knowledge of Venice, I created a show that throughout the process never for a minute assumed I was producing a "perfect" tour. That might just be impossible. As I have said many times perfect for one person is not so perfect for another. Therefore, using the word is just a goof to begin with. I was creating a tour. Period. It includes some good stuff; don't me wrong. If you have never been to Venice or haven't spent that much time there, then you will find this helpful. I have produced many Venice shows on a wide variety of topics, the most recent the Sevan Melikyan show about the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Really those shows are my Venice legacy to my fans. All of those previous have been very esoteric and very narrow in the construct. This is a shotgun of information on the things a person needs to go to Venice for a few days and have a great trip. I talk about my favorite hotels, restaurants, methods of arrival, travel, and what to do when you get there. It is, as all my shows, very, very personal - Alan's Italy. I have tried to explain that many times. I hope you enjoy it!

My next endeavor will probably be Ric's show on the Ancient Roman site (that apparently not too many people know about) of Carsulae. I was supposed to have met with him today, but he couldn't make it. I sent him the photos that he had given me years ago (with the expectation that we would a show on this topic), and he will now get it together. When he is ready, which I assume will be soon, then we will shoot the videos, probably in the same manner as Sevan and I did the Peggy Guggenheim. Otherwise, I have no specific idea for a show, but am leaning towards one of those perfect shows on Milan, completing the major cities that I have been to extensively.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and watching.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

An Update on Show # 140 - Time Has Not Been on My Side

Busy, busy, busy with a thousand things which have prevented me from doing any show since the Botticelli Show # 139. With my college teaching the largest factor preventing me from doing any extensive work on the next show taken together with a variety of other things, I have tried to plod through a show on a Venice Tour, but have yet to finish. When I first selected Venice as the theme for show # 140, I thought it would be the easiest of the "tour shows" which have already included Rome, Florence, and Tuscany, but that has not happened and to be honest, that type of show is the most difficult to put together. To be exact and thorough a lot of work goers into those productions and it takes a very long time to get everything accomplished, especially when I am so busy. I did a lot of things today, and when I finally sat down to attempt to record and do all the myriad things that go into a presentation, I was not focusing the way I should, and so I stopped. Perhaps tomorrow, but then Tuesday through Thursday we will be away so that will prolong the final  creation as well. I will do my best, but it may take quite a while.

In the meantime on Friday, April 14 Ric Hirst and I will begin work on show # 141 which will focus on the long forgotten Ancient Roman town of Carsulae in Umbria, a place I never even heard of until Ric told me about it. He has some fascinating photos, and I am looking forward to working on that. I would have liked to finish Venice before working on that, but it may not happen quite that way.