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 deriving 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.

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