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.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On The Trail of A Great Master

Having experienced the thrill of analyzing the work of a great artist of the Florentine Renaissance during my research for Raphael, I ventured a bit further by trying to do the same for Botticelli. His work was overwhelming in numbers and although my initial inclination was to abandon the idea, I stayed with it, did a tremendous amount of research and still came to the conclusion that this was too much to accomplish. I tried to narrow the scope to just the work in the Uffizi, but that great museum had a tremendous number of Botticelli paintings. Then it struck me. Although most people who visit the Botticelli Rooms in the Uffizi gawk over the Birth of Venus and Primavera and rightly so, I have always been taken by the painting just to the right of Primavera, the Adoration of the Magi. In addition to its being a beautiful work, the historical significance of containing in it some of the great Florentines of the 15th century was overwhelming. After all no fewer than six Medicis were depicted, the donor, the humanists who created the Medici Academy, and none other than Botticelli himself. The latter being the only self portrait he did, and indeed the only existing "realistic" likeness of the great master himself. I therefore decided to first talk about the difficulty in creating a show around this theme, summarize the prodigious number of paintings that existed throughout the world, focus on my inability to visit a museum without finding a Botticelli quite by accident, give a biographical sketch of Botticelli, analyze a few of his work, and then finally to do an in-depth analysis of the Adoration and my own "theories" of who's who in this great work. What at first seemed impossible began to flow quickly once the plan was set in my mind.

The editing process held no great moments as I have become adept at correcting mistakes by cutting and pasting fresh voice-overs. Other than that nothing special occurred. My friend Ric suggested a desire to do a show soon about an obscure Ancient Roman site in Central Tuscany named Carsulae, which we will do soon. The advent of a ferocious snow storm with two feet of snow keeping everyone indoors helped to give me the time to get the show accomplished quickly. My next show will focus on the "perfect" tour of Venice, LOL, and that's that.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Driving in Italy Confidential: The True Story

Well, laboring through Ed's death, my own time constraints, and unending editing, I finally finished this show that I have been desiring to do since I started Alan's Italy back in 2011. Not wanting to focus too much on the traumas I experienced during driving, I spent about 1/3 of the show talking about my wonderful experiences traveling through Tuscany, Umbria, the Dolomites, Cinque Terre, and Lake Como. The show was so effective in helping me to remember the extraordinary moments Laura and I shared during some of these amazing car rides, that I am actually thinking seriously about renting a car and doing it all again!!!! OMG! I must be crazy; well, I know that's true anyway. The show focuses on three aspects of driving, some basics that everyone who will drive in Italy should be aware of, my own great moments, and a list of some of the strange and awful things that occurred. That's the gist of it.

I was slightly displeased with the final product. I videotaped several different segments, and apparently kept changing the camera angles, causing different visual perspectives, and changes in lighting. The latter was probably more caused by the fact that the taping took place over several hours during which time the lighting kept changing. Even during one segment the sun kept fading in and out, thus the disadvantages of not doing the show in a studio which is completely windowless and always the same camera angle. There is no happy medium, and I cannot have it both ways - either I do the show at home in my living room or in the studio. One way to solve the lighting difficulties would be to do all the videotaping at night when there would be no sun issues. Of course I have most of my time to do these shows in the afternoon; I would have to change that. I also was a little less than pleased with my manner of speaking. I liked the relaxed and easy manner of presenting in that chair for the 40 minutes total, but there is something I wish not to indicate because probably most people wouldn't pick up the problem unless I pointed it out; or perhaps they would.

Anyway, here it is, my total driving experience from 2003 until my last drive in 2014. I will now think seriously of renting once again and of course will keep you informed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dedicated to Edwin Phillips - Alan's Italy Show # 138 - Driving in Italy: The Agony and the Ecstasy

This show is dedicated to my dear, sweet, wonderful friend Edwin Phillips who died last Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at the age of 73. He and I had planned to do this show together since he had two very disturbing driving experiences in Italy that he was going to talk about on the show live. I actually am fortunate to have the video clip from a previous show (# 40) which will serve that purpose instead.

That show will trace the anxiety disorder that I developed from many horrific driving experiences in Italy going back to my first trip of that type in 2003 through my final experience in 2014. I will talk about the many advantages of driving in Italy focusing on what happened to me during the several times I attempted to drive, but my chronic anxiety that I have lived with for my whole life intervened to make the experience miserable. I will sit in my favorite chair doing the narrative and show precious few photos if I am unable to find visual material to help illustrate. I will begin to take notes this afternoon; however, I am still grieving over the loss of Ed and that may be difficult.

I can only say that I would recommend grabbing life with both hands and shake as much out of it as you can while you can, because you do not know what lurks around the next corner.

I love you Ed and I am sorry I didn't give you as much time as I would have liked; I was just too busy and now it is too late.

Finally Finished Alan's Italy Show # 137: The "Perfect" Tour of Rome

I stayed with it, although it was with very great distress. Even as I neared the ending, I almost quit the project. Of course, I was suffering from the immense sadness from the loss of my dear friend, Ed Phillips. When I was uploading to Youtube, I checked my computer's storage and found that I had only 400 MB left!!!!!! I deleted all the accumulated videos I had taken over the past several weeks, and when the download was completed, I moved the video file of the show to my external hard drive and deleted the file from my computer. In a short time I regained, get this, 175 GB of storage!!!!! It was shocking that I had used that much storage space, but the show was longer than one hour so I suppose with all the videos and then the finished product, it would have been possible.

Anyway, the show is uploaded to Youtube and has already had 8 views in less than 24 hrs. You can find it at:

My friend Shawn already told me he liked it, so that's very good since Shawn knows Rome pretty well. I am happy it is over, and although I also have planned a show on the "Perfect" Tour of Venice and Milan, I am rethinking those projects. I will speak of the next show 138 in the following post.