Monday, February 20, 2017

Dedicated to Edwin Phillips - Alan's Italy Show # 138 - The Great Distress of Driving in Italy

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 will have to do that for him.

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, but mostly focus 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, but intervened to make the experience miserable. I will sit in my favorite chair doing the narrating and show precious photos, that is, if I am unable to find visual material to show. I will begin to take notes this afternoon; however, I am still grieving 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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hanging in There

I should  call this episode of Alan's Italy the Show That Refused to Die. Here is the story. I told you already that my time is very limited due to my beginning my real job of teaching college. Nonetheless, as I indicated in the previous blog, I spent many hours putting together about half a show on a Tour of Rome. I then went back and hated it so much I deleted it and started over. I am currently into the second incarnation of that show, # 137, and about half way through. I am actually in Day 3 which I devoted to a tour of the Vatican and St. Peter's Cathedral. I sat in my den attempting to do this, tried about a half dozen times to record about a 5 - 10 minute segment, and just gave up for the day. Nada!  It just wasn't happening. I might be too stressed right now to do anything, and will probably wait until the weekend to continue.

I am not sure why I am having trouble, but I do have several things on my mind which I would rather not get into - unless forced to do so, but since nobody ever responds to my requests for feedback, I am pretty much on my own. It will be a fine show if I ever finish it, and will try again in a few days. It even occurred to me to just go into a different topic, but methinks the result would be the same. Therefore, I am sticking with the Rome Tour theme for now.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Show # 137 Half Done - The Inside Story

With school canceled because of the snow storm, I decided to put the Rome show together. I had spent about 2 hours previously getting the photos together. Laura gave me some additional photos from 11:30 AM until 12 noon. I then retired to my den and began the process using IMovie. Four hours later I had put together 18 minutes of the show. The first ten minutes of that show took over 2 hours!

I came to the conclusion that this ain't easy!!!! It IS easier when I have been working on several shows over a period of a couple of weeks; I apparently got used to the tedious process and work faster. Having not even touched IMovie for almost three weeks, I had to get back into the swing of things, and it was not easy. At this point I am not even satisfied that I have a finished product. I will definitely go back over this same ground and hone the project, so allow perhaps an hour or more time for that.

I did manage to display a map most of the time and show people where everything was located, but really focused on my choices over the years of where to choose a hotel. That constituted the first day of a trip to Rome, i.e. settling into the hotel and doing some local neighborhood strolling. I chose to focus on my three main areas during my trips to Rome, the neighborhoods near the train station (10 - 15 minute walk), behind the Colisseum, and just off the Piazza Navona. I also spoke about two areas in which I have never stayed, but wanted to talk about that since they are both wonderful areas, the Vatican/St Peter's region and Trastevere/Giancolo. When I finished that, I also put together my introduction to Day 2, named the tour of Ancient Rome. Although I again showed a map most of the time, I intend to now, when I begin again, to talk more about specific things to do like the Colisseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Campodoglio, Pantheon, Imperial Fora, etc.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Peak Into My World

If you like driving in horrible weather conditions move to upstate NY


I have returned to my college teaching so the amount of time I have available to me for Alan's Italy is now severely limited. Also very busy on weekends with family. Sorry to dedicated viewers and subscribers. I haven't forgotten about you!!! I am working on a new show, albeit very slowly for lack of time. The show is titled The "Perfect" Tour of Rome and will do to Rome pretty much what I did to Florence; i.e. a handy guide for first time travelers to Rome. I may be able to get some work done tomorrow, but, alas, they are predicting an ice storm for Tuesday morning so to get to my job in Manhattan, I will have to leave Monday night and stay over at a friend's house, thereby limiting my time tomorrow for the show. When NYC gets rain, we get ice, sleet, snow, wind, rain, fog, famine, locusts, etc.

I'll keep trying however, so don't lose hope. Many thanks to my new and current subscribers!!! You keep me going.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Doing Justice to An Extraordinary Story - Living in Italy

I have spent the last few days working on a show dealing with the delicate details of each aspect to make certain that it is as perfect as I am capable. As you know I am the first to admit that I am one of the least "perfect" people in the world, and furthermore find myself incapable of perfection. Even the thing that I most pride myself on - being a great teacher - I am incapable of teaching the "perfect" lesson (if such a thing exists). Yet this weekend I tried so hard to get it all right. Here's the story.

Ric Hirst, my friend, role model, and fellow Italophile, agreed to a project that I wanted to do for some time; that is to tell the story of his and his wife Sharon's amazing experience of buying a house in Italy and living there for five months of every year. Now that I am doing shows at home, it seemed easier than ever, requiring him to simply sit in one of our really comfortable living room chairs and answer a few questions, letting that lead to wherever it went. We did that last week. His part, three
10 - 15 minute segments, form the basis of the biographical sketch, that, I believe, is a wonderful recounting of an incredible story. I then did the introduction and conclusion on my own, and putting it all together, I formed a 40 minute show that, I think, is one of my best.

The problem has been to put photos in place which appropriately convey the message Ric is trying to impart on the audience. It is not as if we conceived the idea and then took the photos. On the contrary we did the videotaping and then tried to find the images available to us, and subsequently the really hard part was putting them in a place that made sense. I spent four hours yesterday trying to do this, becoming so frustrated at times with just about everything. I re-taped the intro and outro several times continually running downstairs to the living room. My level of intensity is clearly documented on the camera's memory card in which there are 18 different segments, subtracting the three that Ric did, I worked through 15 different versions of my solo performances!

I think I am finished. What the viewer will see and hear is a passion for Italy and life that may motivate some people to actually purchase property in Italy. What is remarkable is that Ric's descriptions of the overall experience so eloquently expressed, almost poetically at times, beautifully captures a devotion to a project that occupied Sharon and Ric for a over a decade. Some of his stories about his neighbors and friends parallel my own experiences with our friends to a slightly lesser degree. Each reference to someone in his town of Roccalvecce reminded me of our own friends. The town of Roccalveeece comes to life with the excitement and love he generates is his discourse. What made my work so complicated and difficult was that I felt compelled to portray the story as close to the actual experience as possible. Throughout my experience of putting this together, I kept seeing Sharon's and Ric's faces and felt their passion. If nothing else, that provided my motivation. One of the advantages I did have was the fact that Laura and I had spent some time with them at their home in Roccalvecce, and travelled around that region of Italy. We saw up close the pure excitement they experienced.

Here is the link to the show. I hope you enjoy it.