Archivio mensile:aprile 2010

Signorina in Sheffield #10 – Of nature’s burps and Air France

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You would think that after all these years of evolution it would take a little more than a volcano’s burp to make the world panicking.

I mean, we were given rocks and leaves and we end up building laptops. That’s way over Mac Gyver.

But still, with all the computers, the skyscrapers, the carbonated mineral water that we have, a volcano belches some ashes and suddenly we all go ballistic.

The daughter of one of my professors got stuck in Saint Petersburg.

She had to spend a £90 top up before finding a bus that would take her to a boat that would take her to a train that would take her to Paris where she had to wait three days anyway before being able to cross the channel.

As you all probably know, John Cleese took a taxi from Oslo to Brussels in order to get a Eurostar to England.

The bill was £3300, which I am pretty sure was the highest one ever paid for a cab.

Is Oslo really that ugly? I mean it with no offence – as I am one of the most devout fans of all times – but being a Monty Python guy does not seem the kind of job that if you stay away from England for 6 days something dreadful is going to happen to the Country.

A friend of mine from Italy who was working for the Olympic Games in Vancouver is still there.

The Company told him he might be repatriated around the first day of May.

Then there is that English family I saw on TV: grandpa, grandma, father, mother and three kids: all in China for the family trip of a lifetime.

They were told that in order to reschedule they would have to pay another full price ticket each, £2000 each. You do the math.

They did not have enough money. Last time I saw them interviewed they were still at the Beijing airport, their visa expiring in 24 hours.

I don’t know about you, but I would not want to find myself in China without a visa.

I’ll probably keep wondering the rest of my life if (and how many) family members eventually made it back home.

But the most outrageous volcano story of all, and I could stick my life on it, happened to a friend of mine who lives in Sheffield.

She is Italian, from Florence, and she had to go back for her Graduation Ceremony.

Now, what we mean with “Graduation Ceremony” is nothing like a party.

In Italy in order to graduate first you take all the exams, then you write a “thesis”, which is like a final essay but that must be around 60000 words, with some proper research and months and months of work and discussion with the professors.

After the deadline, around 12 professors from the faculty are given 2 months to read it and when they are done they call you on a certain date to “discuss” your work in public.

If you don’t show up you don’t graduate. There is no rescheduling, no second chance.

You just have to be there, and be prepared with arguments not to have your research destroyed by boring academics; otherwise you don’t get your degree.

It is the most important date of your whole life as a student. When we first heard of the cloud it was a Thursday, and she was leaving on a Saturday.

She got immediately worried and wanted to get a bus ticket, so I told her: “Are you crazy? It is Thursday and you leave on a Saturday, there is no way airplanes will be stuck then”. Luckily people very rarely listen to me.

So she took a bus on Saturday afternoon and went to London.

She stayed 6 hours at the station and then took another bus to Paris.

She spent the night again at the station in Paris and then took a third bus.

In 22 hours she had crossed the country and was in Milan, from where she took a train and in just over three hours was in Florence, ready to sleep 6 hours and then wake up to go and do the presentation of her thesis.

Basically she left on a Saturday morning and arrived on a Wednesday evening.

On the plus side, on the bus to Milan she met this cool Colombian director who was going to Turin (my city) to attend the Gay Film Festival, which is the most important in Europe.

He had a first class ticket and she had a Ryanair last-minute, but volcanos bring together all kind of travellers.

As for me, I was supposed to go to Greece for a meeting with people from all over Europe to discuss some boring hipster stuff we pretend to be important.

Due to the world collapsing (my boss from Turin, who is usually a quite good tv producer, called me just to announce to me that this is the first sign that the world will end in 2012) we decided to call it off even if the airport finally reopened the following weeks.

My friends and colleagues called their companies and reschedule.

I so far spent £20 just to TRY to talk with some Airfrance guy.

I wouldn’t be that pissed off if it was just the complete arrogance, lack of any decency, improper way to treat clients, the fact that I will never ever see a pound back.

What I really can’t stand is that in their hold-the-line message they had Sigur Ros. sigur Ros. I used to think that not being able to travel by airplane but only by older means of transportation – trains, buses, boats – carried with it something romantic, like feeling again the sense of the distance, watching the landscape changing, taking time to observe the world around you. After holding the line on Sigur Ros for two hours, I started to hope this is really just a sign that the world is going to end in 2012.

By Marta Musso

Click on the picture to read the article on http://www.forgetoday.com

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Twinning #5: Bad Lieutenant

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La scorsa settimana si è avverato il sogno che inseguivo dalla prima volta che ho visto Ritorno al Futuro: ho fatto un viaggio nel tempo. Non avevo una DeLorean, ma un biglietto per recensire tali Bad Leutenant per il giornalino dell’università. Del gruppo sapevo solo che si sono formati nel 2007, e non avevo avuto nemmeno il tempo di guardare su myspace prima di arrivare al locale, il Ledmill, un locus amenus sheffieldiano che ogni sera ospita una o più risse. Ovviamente il nostro nome non figurava tra gli accrediti.
Non sarebbe stato un problema in altre circostanze, ma il posto è famoso per la civiltà dei suoi gestori. Al quinto vaffanculo che mi piglio mi ricordo che non pagano, che non ho idea di chi siano ‘sti quattro sfigati che suonano e che a due isolati c’è un bar con un paghi uno bevi 4 sulle birre. Però il mio +1 insiste che i biglietti sarebbero costati 20 sterline a pagarli, quindi entrarci gratis ha un suo valore. Torno alla carica un’ultima volta, sperando di non finire con il cappotto nuovo sporco di sangue; alla fine il manager del gruppo arriva e si scusa, dicendo che il nostro nome era sulla sua lista e non quella del locale. Io non lo cago nemmeno di striscio e finalmente entro, con l’agognato stampino sulla mano.

Bad Lieutenant

Andando per i 27 e trovandomi in una città composta di universitari adolescenti, capita spesso che io sia di gran lunga la più vecchia del locale. Il che, dopo le prime tre volte in cui ti senti ggiovane, fa scattare un orologio biologico interno che ti ricorda in quale vecchia capra tu ti sia trasformata. Per questo resto molto sorpresa dal pubblico, composto interamente da quarantenni new wave con un taglio di capelli stile Take That dei tempi d’oro, orecchino e chiodo di rito, capelli bianchi e pancetta da birra. L’atmosfera è elettrica. C’è chi saltella, chi batte le mani, chi controlla che la macchina fotografica funzioni bene, chi fugge di corsa al bagno (si sa, a una certa età la prostata), chi litiga per la prima fila. Io e il mio amico Alessandro ci guardiamo stupefatti: ma chi sono questi Bad Lieutenant che suonano da meno di tre anni e che trascinano un’orda di quarantenni isterici e disposti a pagare 20 sterline? Sale sul palco il primo membro, ha sì e no 30 anni. Sale un altro: giovane pure lui. Sale il batterista, dell’età del suo pubblico: e la folla inizia ad urlare. Poi sale il cantante, e il locale viene giù di applausi. Se il detto dice che chi si trova sul palco deve essere sempre vestito meglio del pubblico, in questo caso il frontman è più anni ‘80 di tutti i suoi fan messi insieme. Capello lungo sopra e corto sotto, ciuffetto, chiodo, anello all’orecchio, dito alzato verso il cielo. Bellissima voce, musica che è puro distillato dei tempi in cui Margaret Thacher regnava sull’ex impero. Tecnicamente sono bravissimi, eccezionali. E la musica è davvero di un’altra epoca, priva di novità. Chissà che storia ha il cantante, penso. Il che, svelato l’arcano, suona parecchio ironico. Suonano sei o sette canzoni che io e Alessandro teniamo di sottofondo mentre andiamo e veniamo dal bar, attirandoci gli sguardi di disprezzo dei fan.
Il frontman è pure simpatico, parla un sacco con il pubblico e continua a dire che tra un po’ arriveranno le canzoni a richiesta, quando la musica si fa seria. Cosa voglia dire con questa frase, che suona abbastanza degradante per quello che sta suonando adesso, lo scopro alcuni minuti dopo. Intona una cover rock di Out of Control dei Chemical Brothers, e la voce è identica. E lui, infatti, è Bernard Sumner. Ex Joy Division, ex New Order, Bernard Sumner è uno dei guru della New Wave britannica e a 54 anni è un mito assoluto, un idolo supremo per chiunque ami l’electro-pop. Ecco, che storia ha. A conferma di questa epifania, chiuso con Out of Control attacca Temptation. Avete presente? “Up down turn around, please don’t let me hit the ground…”A questo punto mi lancio in mezzo ai quarantenni, pentita di non aver cotonato i capelli e di non avere nemmeno i leggins addosso, e inizio a urlare più forte di chiunque altro. Temptation live!! E chi l’avrebbe mai pensato a Sheffield nel 2010? Io ho una mia teoria sul tempo: non esiste nessuna linea, solo una serie di strati che si accavallano. Quella sera ci siamo trovati tutti in un periodo compreso tra il 1980 e il 1989, quando Kurt Cobain era solo un liceale e c’era ancora spazio per il romanticismo. Intendiamoci, io amo i Nirvana, e adoro Ian Curtis; ma arrivare a 54 anni e avere ancora la grinta dei 20, continuare a fare la musica che piace anche se il pubblico si riduce da 1000 a 100 invece di suicidarsi, e chiedere ai fan quale tra le canzoni che han segnato un’epoca vogliano sentire, beh questa è classe. Il regalo finale è stato Love will tear us apart, che mai e poi mai avrei pensato di poter ascoltare direttamente da chi ha contribuito a scriverla. E’ proprio vero che non sai mai cosa ti può capitare, quando vai a un concerto alla cieca. E soprattutto, ero sulla lista degli invitati del manager di Bernard Sumner…scusate se è poco.

Signorina in Sheffield #9 – Of love at first sight, elections and other tv quizzes

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The first TV debate in the history of UK elections, held on Thursday the 15th of April, 2010, has changed the political history of the country. Forever.

Or at least that’s what presenter Alastair Stewart said during the introduction to the debate; after an initial jingle that sounded like it was written to announce the arrival of the four Horsemen.

The day after, actually, nothing seemed to have changed. The world is still here, the three candidates are in the same position as they were the day before (Clegg advancing, Cameron standing still and Brown slowly sinking) and the voters don’t have the smallest piece of further information.

It is true that on the same night a volcano erupted covering the whole of middle Europe in a dark cloud that paralyzed the transports – but that can hardly be related to the debate.

The whole night the camera merciless panned back and forth across the studio in a desperate attempt to create tension over the debate; but the truth is that they said nothing that hadn’t already been said in any declaration or press release over the past year.

Nonetheless, the show hasn’t been the most boring TV programme ever produced.

It was clearly inspired by an Italian TV show, “Love at first sight”, that used to be extremely successful in the mid-90s.

In this show a young and pretty girl has to choose a man between the three candidates who were running to become the love of her life – or at least choose the one she will take on the prize cruise.

The three male participants stand still in front of the audience, dressed in the same exact suite; the only way to differentiate them is a tie: one is blue, one is red and third one is yellow. Ring a bell?

The girl cannot see the three men, because they are hiding behind a wall.

With the help of the presenter she asks several questions to the men and then chooses in base of the answers. Ring another bell?

Yes, ITV production went a little bit further, setting up the studio with blue-red-yellow neon columns and dressing up the three candidates with the most flamboyant single-colour ties ever seen.

“Love at first sight” had a more sober look. The main difference is of course that the audience here is able to see the three men before choosing them; in fact, the winner was the youngest and most handsome, Nick Clegg. It’s always like that.

I know that everything that I just wrote sounds very critical, but the truth is that I am actually a big fan of TV debates.

Even when they are as boring as this one, they remain a good virtual square in which to debate.

I wish the three aspiring Prime Ministers got rid of the matching ties and started to dress like real human beings, becoming interesting for what they say and not for how they dress the part.

After all, people will be forced to go on a cruise with one of them for the next five years. But I understand this is too much to ask.

Modern democracy is based on flamboyant characters.

In lack of one, we can at least get a flamboyant mise-en-scene.

By Marta Musso

Click on the picture to read the article on http://www.forgetoday.com