Saturday, February 27, 2010


This is our home:

Marvel at the most detailed image of our pretty little planet ever made. It's still blue, our home. I hope we manage to maintain it alive.

Yes, our home has many faces, much like the human being.

See Earth's west face below, and while you do that, please remember that the planet is one single thing. That is, even if we live in opposite sides we're sharing the same home.

We're one large family, the humanity.

Note: Err, maybe I got too emotional on this one, no? This pictures were taken by a bunch of Nasa satellites and put together by their amazing scientists. You can see these and other images of the visible Earth here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Random Cool Things #2 - Sigur Rós' Angels

Sigur Rós, or Victory Rose, is a band from Iceland that I got to know through my friend Anon-Claudio, who pointed me to other good info in this post's comments.

If you're puzzled, what might help you connect the dots is knowing that Vanila Sky ending song "On the Roof of Skycraper", or Njósnavélin (aka The Nothing Song) is theirs.

But this is just introduction babbling to the video below. Watch it, and then tell me how do you feel, or what you think about it?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Blog Tour - A Venetian Embrace

This post is part of the Valentine's Day Blog Tour, organized by the fabulous Jo Lynne Valerie.

If you landed here for the first time, it's possible that you came through the website of author Dawn Maria, who's also part of the tour. Please feel very welcome!

I hope you'll enjoy this little tale, or it's more like a scene instead? I'd love to hear your opinion on the comments. :)

Also, if you liked this story, you can read more by clicking on this link. But first you have a date on the blog tour's next stop: Author Heather Long's website. ;-)

Happy Valentine's Day!


A Venetian Embrace

The piazza was almost empty and Jordan was anxious. The cloudy day didn't help lifting her mood; besides, she hated the cold and the wind. She paced under gorgeous afrescos, barely noticing them, her mind focused on the sparse people out there in the open, strolling quietly in the gloomy morning.

Once again she checked her watch; still five to ten. I hope he's punctual this time. I hate waiting.

Frowning, she decided to take a seat. Maybe a cioccolata calda would do good to me.

This was her favorite Italian beverage after the wine, since the Italian version of the hot cocoa was thicker and richer than all equivalent beverages she had ever tried.

The scent of dark chocolate filled her nostrils, making the corner of her mouth twitch upwards. Looking up, she spotted Francesco through the cocoa fumes, her wry smile turning into a playful grin. He hadn't noticed her yet, so she seated back, watching him closely.

They had been internet buddies for a long time now. They'd find a way to meet in person as much as they could, he living in England, and she living in Canada. They were young, they were successful in their respective areas, both loved art and had many interests in common; and they were best internet buddies.

Francesco had recognized the hard looking, dark-red haired woman behind a steaming cup, long before she raised her eyes. He pretended not to notice her broadening smile when recognizing him, or her piercing gaze, waiting for him to trip, slip, or bump into someone.

And so he did; he purposely tripped on his own feet, but he miscalculated, losing balance beyond control and falling like a drunken clown, twisting in mid-air and landing with a loud thud like a dying bug, all four legs up.

The impact on his back took his breath away, so he remained there for a few moments, sprawled in the middle of Piazza San Pietro. As soon as his chest stopped aching, he sat right there on the floor, his back turned to Jordan.

Then he realized how weird had been his landing, how his stunt had become the real thing, and wanted to laugh. But that would blow his cover, so he grabbed his own face trying to hold himself, which resulted in him producing odd chocking sounds.

"Francesco!" cried Jordan.

He started when realizing that his friend was beside him, wearing and unprecedented worried look, kneeling down while scrutinizing his body in search for injuries. Normally, she'd wait until he reached her, so she'd have additional time to compose her tormenting piece, as she used to brag mockingly.

"Are you all right? This was a hard one," she said, automatically switching to the ranting radio, "I don't understand how a guy like you, who practices all kinds of weird sports, can be so clumsy. I was worried back there!"

He was shaking violently now, and unable to hold any longer burst out in a howling laughter. Jordan straightened her back, wide eyed. Suddenly they narrowed to a thin line, her lips firmly pressed together, all the while she stood up, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

"I thought you had hurt yourself, you asshole!"

The violence of her reaction smoothed his laugher into a soft yet uncontrollable chuckle. He frowned at the inability to stop, making a face that resembled a scoffing gargoyle.

Despite his best efforts, his snickering wouldn't stop. He looked rather pathetic with that hideous face, sitting in a childish position on the wet ground, looking up to furious green eyes.

Wow, those are beautiful eyes. How come I've never noticed her eyes before? Why am I thinking this? I can't stop laughing! But they're so intense!, and-- watered?

At the sight of her tears Francesco finally managed to control himself. Only then he noticed that her hands had moved up, covering her mouth and nose; her shoulders were tense and she looked quite flushed.

He frowned. Is she laughing at me? I mean, genuinely laughing at one of my stunts? No sarcasm, no pun, no nothing?

Gee, she looks like a girl, and a pretty one too.

His scowl triggered a rather girlie giggling -- another novelty -- which soon became a roaring laughter that provoked the returning of his own. She lost balance and had to sit down not to fall.

People started to notice.

Eventually it cooled down to a low chuckle, allowing them to breathe more easily, but whenever they looked at each other a double clamoring sound followed.

"I thought you..." she said, choking in the process.

"I know! Me too! You looked so..." he tried to speak while helping her catch her breath, but that was all he could manage.

She had stopped coughing but he kept striking her back mechanically, unaware that she was silent now. She caught his arm, and squeezing it looked hard into his gentle brown eyes, "Stop Francesco. I'm okay now."

That was the Jordan he knew, the strong controlled woman who's acid humor made his brain work better, and faster. He sobered up, but as soon as he opened his mouth to speak they momentarily lost control again and grinned at each other, holding their breaths to prevent another laughing fit. Eyes locked, they breathed deeply together, and both smiling, she helped him up.

For a long time they remained still, hands tying them into a new intimacy, unaware of the humming sound coming from above announcing the upcoming rain.

"You ok?" asked Jordan.

"Yeah, I slipped, but it wasn't as serious as it seems."

"You got me worried this time. It looked like you were crying from back there," she said, pointing to the coffee shop where she had been waiting for him.

"Ah, you were crying for me; I gather," he teased.

"I wasn't crying!" she objected, "I was trying not to laugh at you, for a change. But that was the funniest fall ever!"

She laughed briefly, in that particular way she did when taunting him. Francesco watched her, noticing that this laughter wasn't as rich as the one before; something was missing.

"So, did you have a good trip?" he asked, changing subject.

"Yeah, I'm loving Italy! How come you don't live here anymore?"

In reply, he grinned.

Puzzled by the lack of verbal response, she simply smiled back. There's something different about him today. Is it because he's back home? Nah, this can't be, but still...

They stared at each other for a while, and looked aside uncomfortably. Suddenly he caught her in one of his bear-hugs, "It's been a long time, no? I missed you girlie."

She made a theatrical woofing sound, and replied while smiling against his chest, "Hey, you know very well that I'm not the girlie type. Quit calling me that."

"Ok, ok," he agreed.

"Last year was tough. It's been what, two years since we don't meet in person?"

He hummed a yes, and the conversation died again, as well as their smiles. They stayed there, wet and dirty in a warm embrace, just breathing.

What's happening? They both thought, unaware of how their minds worked in unison.

They were flushed and confused. She fit too well in his chest shape; their breathing bounced from short and accelerated to long and slow, then back to short. It felt like summer instead of winter.

What's this that I'm feeling? Why are my legs bobbling? Jordan thought.

This is so good... I wonder if she's feeling the same?

I want to stay like this forever.

Francesco wanted to move his arms to a more comfortable position. He wanted to caress her back and kiss her mouth, but he was afraid of her reaction. Why is she so quiet?

As if hearing his thoughts, she started, breaking the embrace. They looked at each other in amazement, then cleared their throats dissolving the spell.

"Should we go?" he said a bit too cheerfully.


They left side by side, leaving the cold cocoa behind.


Note: The picture of Piazza San Marco up there was taken by yours truly. *wink* And there are more pics of Venice and its amazingly cool carnival here.

Edited to add: I'm following Dawn Maria's example and adding the link to all blog tour's participants. Will you pay them a visit? :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Uh, oh! Randomities Won Another Blog Award!

There are people who are used to winning blog awards.

See the creator of this cool one, Lesa Holstine, from the Lesa's Book Critiques, and Jemi Fraser, from the (rightly so) popular Just Jemi, who passed it on to me. Thanks Jemi! :D

I'm not used to it, (yet? heh) so I'm totally *doing crazy dance*. Since you can't actually see me, I'm not blushing, no sir!

So, I'm supposed to tell you five outrageous lies and one outrageous truth about myself. Let's see...
  1. I hate dogs. They're ugly, smelly, and not friendly at all!
  2. I'm normal; I like normal.
  3. I was once married to a Chinese man who made me tie my feet in order not to sell me away. We split up because my feet are too big and I couldn't bare the pain. He didn't get to sell me though, and at least I got to visit China!
  4. When I was a a drooling teenager, I chocked with my food and got rescued by Johnny Depp. He even kissed me, but I'm not telling where!
  5. I look way younger than I am; probably because I'm still an obnoxious brat.
  6. I have more than 30 books published under a pen name because I'm too shy to make shameless self promotion. I'm also astonishingly rich, but I won't share a single penny with anyone; not even for good causes.
Now to the fun part: I'm passing on the Liar, ops, Creative Writer Award to Peter H. Fogdal, form the hilarious Danish Accent. Hey Peter, you're gonna have to come to Italy to get your award! heh

Psst! Don't miss his first novel translated to English.

Edited to add:

Holly mole, I must be a big fat liar indeed! The sweet Anne Tyler Lord, from the great Don't Fence Me In, has just sent away another Creative Writer Blog Award. Thanks so much Anne! :D

I know that as a writer I should be able to play with words at will, but I'm too stunned. So I'll jump straight to the fun part, and nominate the super cool Angie Capozello, from the fun Techtigger's Soapbox.

Also, you'll want to check out her serial fiction project The Penny Dreadful. I love it!

And I could never miss sending fun things to Kristi Thompson, from the humorous How Did You Get There, which has just been through a major aesthetic change that you must check out. (The content is even better, of course. ;)

Finally, since I've got two of the same award (not that I'm complaining! heh) you might want a double dose of lying? If yes, please tell me so and I'll be pleased to comply. ;)

On the other hand, if you think I'm deadly boring go ahead and visit the people mentioned up there. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Venice Carnival: Pink-Headed Girls and Clowns

It all started with a clown.

You see how he's enveloping me, with his busy hands working his magic?

It worked.

Well, it must have, because I became clown-obsessed.

I started to follow them.

See the fuzzy first photo? Now picture me running like a mad woman, pass the normal people, to take the second shot. (uh)

After my success with clowns I decided to stalk other interesting people, who were wearing the most stunning costumes.

You know what?

They actually liked it.

Not the stalking part, but the (nicely) asking to take a picture.

Some were proud, some were gentle, but they all smiled, even behind their masked faces.

So I got bolder.

I started stalking whole foreign families, splendidly well dressed, -- man, are they tall or what? -- and even little girls!

But hey, I promise their feline (really) mother allowed me to, and they liked it! Check out their faces.

But then -- there's always something, isn't there?

Can you spot something, err, foreign, to this picture?

Oh, yes, the pink-headed girl started showing up in all my photos.

Psst! Check out Cinderela's step sisters. Hilarious, no? heh

After hours of strolling around Venice I got a bit tired.

So I decided to try a pizzetta (a small pizza) from a peculiar bar I'd never been to.

Guess who was there?

But I kept firm on my intent, recording all wonderful things I saw there, for your very own delight:

In case you're feeling confused, this is exactly what it looks like: three people with -- literally -- brilliant costumes, and small bluish lights hanging on their backs.

My hand is not very firm, I know, but the final effect came out quite nice, no? :)

It was night when I finally decided to confront the pink girl.

Note: This is the Grand Canal, seen from the Rialto Bridge. Well, part of it anyway.

We were tired and it was time to go home.

So, who's the pink girl after all?

She's my sister, and we had a blast together in Venice's Carnival!


I hope you had fun joining me on this dream-like day.

Please feel free to shout out your opinion on the comments. I'd love to hear it. :)

Wait, I'm not done yet!

Instead of making shameless self promotion, I want to promote this fantastic-al event, of which I could enjoy very little; although you saw how worthy it was. ;)

Obviously, the Italian carnival is not dying. Here's an interesting (and recent) article about it, published on Time magazine.

And if you like to know the origin of things, here's some interesting historical information about it.

Finally, here are some of the many events of Carnivale di Venezia that called my ludicrous attention:

Circus San Polo, telling the most intriguing tales for kids. (like me?)

And an escargot slurring itself in the middle of Piazza San Marco. (eh?)

So, why don't you tell me some experience of yours in Venice? Maybe you have an amusing tale as well? If it has to do with the carnival, even better!

Also, do feel free to link up to your travel blog, your personal blog or webpage on the comments. Let's share our experiences, shall we?

Final note: Please be courteous and tease us before sharing your link, if it's the case, ok? Thanks!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Review - The Tsar's Dwarf, by Peter H. Fogtdal

Sørine Bentsdatter stopped growing at the age of six. She's a dwarf, a small and deformed inhuman creature that has decided to hate everyone and everything, including herself.

In this historical novel we follow Sørine from Denmark, to Russia, Poland and back to Denmark, witnessing her misfortunes while transiting between filthy holes, sovereigns' courts, hideous exhibitions, and fine folk's households.

It's impossible to escape the word grotesque when describing this novel. Ugliness permeate the whole story; it's in the dwarfs' deformities, in the human beings' cruelty, and in Sørine's strange forms of love.

There's beauty in it, though. It's in the protagonist's sharp tongue and quick mind -- which made me chuckle throughout the reading -- in her peculiar tenderness, and also in her questioning mind that demands us to reassess our relationship with god, our humanity, and our self-image.

Sørine is not who or what she think she is; but aren't we often deceived by how we picture ourselves, and our actions?

Although I had a bit of a hard time adjusting to the narrative, as it's in the first person, present tense, the story flows well from the beginning to the end, so the initial discomfort eventually vanishes, much as Sørine's ghosts.

The Tsar's Dwarf is an excellent reading; it's entertaining and humorous, yet deep and challenging, making an irresistible combination.

Note: You can read Peter's hilarious and cutting opinions about various topics on his blog, or talk directly to him on twitter; which is where I came to know him and his work.

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