Tag Archives: movies

My Grandpa’s Flannel Shirt


(Uno) 1. Autumnal cleaning day – cleaned the house from top to bottom yesterday and it felt great! Today I enjoyed it, completely.

(Due) 2. Computer resurrection! My computer turned on, and I’m typing this post on it now. I have a visit to the Apple store at Centro Sicilia queued up for a post, and now it will have a happy ending!

(Tre) 3. Stumbling upon yet another mall in the Catania area, this one called Katane. I am not much of a mall person in general, but even I have to admit they make you feel good about shopping.

(Quattro) 4. Watching and loving Mulholland Drive. Nice work, David Lynch. Nice work.

(Cinque) 5. This is double using Mulholland Drive, but I was legitimately blown away by Naomi Watts‘ performance in a way I never had been before. As I watch the movie more and more (about once a year), I realize how she really makes the movie as awesome as it is.


Ask anyone who moves a lot, you end up moving the same things over and over and justify it by promising to use them! I cart around art supplies and my piano. I am not willing to give up these items, even as my use of them has decreased over the years. While I’m still figuring out how to fit arts activities into my schedule, I did manage to wear Grandpa Becker’s flannel shirt. Even when I could fit all of my belongings in my car, I still had Grandpa Becker’s shirt with me. Tonight, I’m snuggling into it happily.

Photo Gallery:

Today I’m sharing more Ottobrata Zafferanese pictures. I did not return today as I had planned to do, so I am reliving it with you in these pictures. See you next year, Ottobrata Zafferanese!

An overview of the festivities.

More views from a higher vantage point.

These next couple of shots feature a fried delicacy that I found pretty lacking in flavor and texture qualities. I was attracted to the vibrant color and the hope that it was a fried pickle, but then found out it is a crispy fried donut, flavored as pistachio (green) and fragola (strawberry – the red one). We didn’t even finish them.

Finally, we have a photo of one of the most delicious cheeses I have had in a…oh, well, that I had eaten THAT day. Since then I have had so many delicious cheeses here in Italy, that I lose track. That is charred ash on the outside and fresh ricotta inside. It was more firm than the ricotta you use in lasagna, or to stuff a canolo shell, and it was moist and delicioso! The block at the top shows a cross section.

Enjoy your Sunday!


Filed under 5-100, Awesomeness



Uno (1). Got my very first blogging award! Thank you, Logy Express!!! My duties with the award will be fulfilled by the week’s end.

Due (2). Completed even more data for my JOB! I’m so excited for the analyzing to begin…(yes, my job title is “Analyst”). I am about to test my admiration of the 9-5 lifestyle that plagues Logy Express. 😉

Tre (3). Sipping Tuscan wines with Hal, Anisette and Dave.

Quattro (4). Religulous. Anisette was excited to talk to us about it and luckily the Sigonella library had it on the shelf. Great movie, definitely thought provoking and hilariously produced.

Cinque (5). “Km 0” – this is a Slow Food idea of sourcing as many ingredients locally as possible. Several Tuscan restaurants highlighted “Km 0” items on their menus. It is a mix of the Eat Local movements in the U.S. and the idea of terroir (often credited to the French). In all, it is an agreement to focus on the value of food as community, art, and vocation. The phrase “Km 0” has an Italian history, so it is a fitting title for this practice.


Fagottini! What’s a fagottini? Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it! That doesn’t help you, does it? I was introduced to the fagottini in my former life as a server at Lombardino’s, and forgot all about it until last weekend. We were dining on a fabulous lunch in Sovana, at Ristorante dei Merli, and Dave ordered a fagottini for dessert. Fagottini is a “bundle” of something, and it looks like a purse or the satchel on the end of a hobo’s stick. They can be made savory or sweet. Here’s an Italian recipe, translated as “Bundle of Apples.”







Filed under 5-100, Food. Cibo.

Somewhere George Clooney is Looking Handsome


Uno (1). Getting word from my employer that I will start work in one to two weeks! Great news.

Due (2). Watching and mocking “Murder on the Orient Express.” An impressive genre and the heart of Agatha Christie territory, but not my favorite schtick, hence the mocking. Great performances by a cast of talented actors.

Tre (3). Yoga. Um, yes, I know I’ve told you a million and one times how much I love yoga; it bears repeating for me.

Quattro (4). Laughing. Some days are just funnier than others and yesterday was one of them. At one point, I started talking about a dress I like to wear dancing and somehow the conversation ended in jokes about strobe lights and porn music. Just one of those days.

Cinque (5). Bubblegum pink Cinquecento!!! Dave and I have been keeping our eyes peeled for Cinquecentos and we’re tracking new colors. This had to be a custom paint job. Unfortunately we were passing it in the car, so no chance for a pic.


There are few joyful moments you can count on in life: smelling cool rain on hot blacktop in the summer, squinting at the glare of the sun rising on freshly fallen snow, and seeing a giant George Clooney face in the mall. Yes, I am one of the few people who enjoy seeing a handsome face. Of course, I knew George Clooney is enamored with Italy, I just didn’t know Italy reciprocated the feelings. He is the cover model for an Ocean Sport advertising campaign. I spotted him while out shopping. His good looks transcend cultural differences. Enjoy.


Filed under 5-100

Movie Review: “Gates of Heaven” Errol Morris 1978


Personal Blurb-style Intro (aka “Why I picked up this book”):

Errol Morris made a huge impression on me when I watched “Fog of War” in the former theater at Midvale (Mall?) in Madison Wisconsin. The theater has since been torn down, but the memory lives on.

I have always been sensitive to animals. My mom grew up on a farm, so she was very sensible about animals, though perhaps more matter-of-fact that appealed to me. Though my allergies limited my pet access as I muddled through undergrad, traveled and domineered law school, I shortly thereafter indulged in pet ownership and have never looked back. Maki and Panther are a part of the family, and though I prefer cremation or another natural form of decomposition (as opposed to internment), they will be honored in death as they have been in life. I am grateful that I live in a time and society afforded such luxury.

When I met my husband, Dave, he loved Errol Morris and has been introducing me to his other work over time. The subject matter, a pet cemetery, intrigued me – more or less because I love my pets and because of my 80s fascination with Pet Semetary (remember the little boy, Gage?).  This movie is amazingly brilliant, with a simple and direct display of human understanding, emotion and complexity…ah, but now I’m slipping into review-mode. On we go!


*This is a pretty long review for the relative amount of content in the documentary. However, the bits I’ve included are just a small part of what makes this documentary amazing. For the best results, just rent it /buy it and watch it for yourself. If you still need further persuading, re what I’ve said below.

Errol Morris portrays opposing sides, a rendering company against a simple farmer animal-loving sensitive soul, Floyd “Mac” McClure.

But don’t be mistaken that Floyd is so animal friendly as to be vegetarian, or vegan. In one scene he bitterly describes how the fumes from the rendering company interfered in his dinner;

Then, we slowly watch the plans for McClure’s ideal pet cemetery disintegrate as the financial interests conflict with the sentimental ones. We also see the tensions arising between pet-owners in the community over the status of their pet graves.

One of the most interesting parts of watching this documentary is the way the characters bare their souls, largely without agenda. It is easy to see that even the businessmen are operating without an agenda, especially when the manager of the rendering plant admits they lie about rendering zoo animals. In this day and age of reality TV, it is refreshing to watch these characters. Don’t worry, there are still the eye-roll-inducing characters – like the sons of the California pet cemetery owners. Maybe it was less pathetic back then? Or maybe just less awareness of the way entitled children sound so pathetic? (btw, I actually adore the younger son, he is so earnest.)

Best Lines & Watch for’s:

Floyd “Mac” McClure:  North Dakota guy (with suspenders and red pen in his lapel, scales of justice visible behind him on his right side and the bronzed shoes behind him on the other side) “[That]…was the most beautiful piece of land, as far as I was concerned, in the whole valley. And boy, I knew what to do with it. Make it into a pet cemetary.”

Watch for: Guy with the Coors can and ashtray in front of him every time he’s featured in the documentary.

Rendering Industry Man: “Rendering is one of the oldest industries. It dates back to the time of the Egyptians.  They can trace it back this far. Rendering. In the bible, ya know, way back in the old testament, the guy cut off the sheep skin, right? And put it over’im. Put the lamb fat on’im ta keep ‘im warm. It could be the oldest industry in the world. It could be. It’s possible.” [Jill says: keep an ear out for this guy, all of his words are gems. Probably because of his sunglasses on his desk, his matter-of-fact demeanor, and the amused look on his face. Genius play, Mr. Morris.]

“I want my mama!” (Woman holding dog on lap, singing to prompt dog’s response).

“And the next day you go out, take flowers,  maybe meditate a little bit, think of how often, maybe, you cried into her fur. ” (Woman in green and white, with poodle portrait displayed behind her).

Watch for: Artistic depiction of putting one’s heart over the dollars in a project.

Floyd: “I was not only broke, but broken-hearted.”

Woman in pink apron over blue/brown print housedress: “But you know he (her son) should help me more, he’s all I got. He’s the one who brought me up here. And then put me here by myself among strangers. It’s terrible when you stop ‘n think about it.” [Watch this entire segment! Amazing.]

Successful pet cemetery owner, (Bubbling Well Church of Universal Love, Inc. 1977), in straw hat and blue button-up shirt: ” “I would say that the pill is largely more responsible for the pet explosion than any other factor…It’s very simple…today the husband and wife both work…when the young mother comes home, she has to have something to fondle, something to mother, something to love.”

Watch for: The “R2A2” formula and it’s red-phone poolside inventor.

There are so many other rich characters and moments that I have to pause now and recommend that, if you are hooked by now, you should just go ahead and rent the movie.

Wait! The Eagle trophy guy just said “People never really get negative and they never really get positive.” GEMS, people! I tell you, gems.

Watch for: Prickly pear cacti behind the yellow-shirted and orange-tank topped couple – just like in Sicily!

IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077598/

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A Question for Readers – How do you celebrate?


  1. Check, check, check on the to-do list.
  2. Finished “South of Superior,” by Ellen Airgood. I really enjoyed this book, look for a review in the coming weeks. It takes place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, on the shores of Lake Superior and I keep wishing I could read more about the characters.
  3. Set an appointment to schedule internet and local phone to our new home.
  4. Slogged through some paperwork related to my new job, policies, practices, and timesheets, oh my!
  5. Rounded out the evening by watching North by Northwest, with the wonderful Cary Grant at the helm and Eva Marie Saint joining him there for the last third of the movie.

I am 32 whopping years old and let me tell you, I am still pretty freaking young. However, my body seems to think it is allowed to morph and reshape. To dissuade it, I have agreed to eat more sensibly and my body has agreed to change more slowly. One way to eat more sensibly is by creating non-food rewards. For example, to celebrate my new job, my first instinct was to have prosecco or a special dinner. Instead, I hugged Dave til his eyes bugged out and called my family. What are the non-food rewards you look forward to?


Filed under 5-100, Adjusting



  1. Picked up DAVE from the airport!!! He had been at a training in the U.S. and then he visited some family (Hi MB, D, A and M!).
  2. Prior to that, I SIGNED THE LEASE on our condo! See photos with our landlord Filippo and real estate agent Salvo, below.
  3. Did I mention that Dave was back? We got caught up on sharing our news and such and took a sweet little nap. Although the time passed quickly, life is better with Dave in it.
  4. Had a productive skype session with my therapist B. B and I started working together in Madison, Wisconsin, and although I see her much less frequently now, she is invaluable for me when I’m coming up against a sticky emotional thread in my life. Luckily, technology is awesome and B is willing to skype with long-time clients when they move away. B is the best!
  5. Dave and I watched Zodiac. Er, Dave and I started watching Zodiac and then one of us fell asleep. I won’t tell you which one, just like I won’t tell you which one is the Zodiac.

Resiliency: ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy. From the sixth grade on, I tried to choose experiences that would push me out of my comfort zone. A basketball coach had preached that “adaptability” was a great virtue. Since I admired this coach, and more importantly Grandma Smith agreed, so I bought in to the idea. The approach has served me well. However, the last few years of navigating post-graduate employment in an economic crisis was probably the most difficult experience, yet. And, my spirit was down; I was suffering. But, baby; now I’m back!


Lease Signing 2011

First, there was some paperwork that I had to sign. Then, Filippo and I took turns signing five originals of the lease agreement. He is a congenial guy, we’re so lucky to have him for our landlord!

Then we got a group shot before leaving the housing office. Salvo is on the left of me and Filippo is on the right. Guess what? They make jokes about “breaking the camera” in Italian, too. I almost thought the guys were seriously going to decline a picture, but you can see what good sports they are. Grazie Salvo e Filippo!  It was a happy day, only missing Dave, who  was still en route to Catania from his training expedition in the states.

Buona Giornata, people, I love ya!

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Movie Review: “The Open Road” Michael Meredith 2009

Jeff Bridges, Mary Steenburgen, Justin TimberlakeKate Mara

Personal Blurb-style Intro (aka “Why I picked up this dvd”):

Let’s just say the selection in Sigonella, while robust and diverse, is still a small selection. I was shocked to see this cover, with such big names on it, and realized that I had never even heard of this movie. I was intrigued.

I also want to say upfront that the Cinquecento Project was started from a desire to embrace the positive in life and enjoy the ride (pun definitely intended). It is my intention to keep that perspective with this comical movie review. Did I think this movie sucked? Yes. Does it have any redeeming qualities? Very few. Yet, I know that the people involved took this project seriously and did their best to try and make it work. Sometimes, things just don’t work out, and this is one of them. In times like these, it is time to make movie-lemonade, maybe with a splash of vodka. Enjoy!


This is a movie for drinking with friends. Come up with a drinking game (or push-ups, or whatever would be fun for you) revolving around cameos (Ted Danson, Lyle Lovett, Harry Dean Stanton), lame lines (the list will be provided below), and silly plot developments (sort of the wild-card category). Some of the time you will blame the dialog, other times the direction, and more often than you think you’ll be groaning at the combination of the two.

What makes this movie ridiculous:

(1) A grown woman refuses some mysterious surgery and the family wants a court order to get her under the knife. Yet this oh-so-important part of the movie, you-know, the part that puts the whole “road trip” in motion is NEVER explained. Some random heart problem is the extent of the explanation. On top of that, there are no details about the initial relationship or subsequent break-up between Jeff Bridges and Mary Steenburgen. So, right away, we really have very little reason to understand or care whether she gets the surgery or whether Jeff Bridges goes anywhere.

(2) Complete lack of chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Kate Mara.There is no dialog to create a chemistry, so I can’t really blame the actors. They flirted their damnedest on screen, but there really wasn’t anything to work with. This relationship is further *Super-weird* when Mara’s absent fiancee is mentioned.

(3) Timberlake’s complete insecurity about EVERYTHING. I think this insecurity is supposed to support the idea that he is too insecure to believe in his hidden writing abilities (ahem, is this the screenwriter projecting?), and thus the insecurity is manifesting itself in bringing down his ball game. Yet, in the first half of the movie, he is so insecure that it is unbelievable he ever brushed his own teeth or tied his own shoelaces.

(4) Geography and Mara’s phantom teaching job. Geography problem – traveling from major city (Columbus, Ohio) to major city (Houston, Texas), but the car is always on 2-lane country roads. Mara teaching job problem – they “sorta” want her back by Wednesday, which, once mentioned, is never addressed again, ad the movie seems to span from Monday-Friday.

(5) Trying to be clever by making fun of the H3 Hummer? By calling it small? And making a lame “hummer” joke? Puh-lease.

(6) Theme attempt of father-son discord means Timberlake and Bridges “never talk” but then Bridges magically knows what is best for Timberlake and is insightful and recalls conversations to support his insights. Uh…I thought you guys never talk…where did these conversations come from?

(7) CREEPY ALERT: The scene in the hotel room when Mara is sleeping and Timberlake comes and lays down on her bed with her. Mara’s hand reaches 1/2 inch toward Timberlake and he takes her hand and grins. It doesn’t go further than this, but it has a very creepy feeling.

(8) Timberlake’s outrage at the one-hour mark. All of a sudden he’s so worried about his mom that he yells at Mara for not caring about getting back (who missed a week of work and left her supposed fiancee). Dumb.

Best Lines (mostly comical) & Saving Graces:

Coach (Ted Danson): “And, baseball players don’t say things like “eluding.” So pull it outta your ass and play some ball for me, will you please!”

Kyle Garrett (Jeff Bridges): “You’re prettier than a spotted heifer in a pansy patch.”

Timberlake:  “You’re the one who blushed when he called you a heifer.” <Pause> “A cow.”   Mara: “I know what a heifer is.”

Mara: “<Sigh> Huh. Sorry, was that me.” Timberlake: “Yea, what were you gonna say?” Mara: “Oh nothing. I was just tryin’ ta internally ponder something, but, the internal thing didn’t really work out.”

Bridges: “Well. I think I’m gonna go on in there and get some booze, get drunk. Do ya want anything?”

[Jill W: Dear reader, I recommend you do the same NOW]

Timberlake: “I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe any of this shit. Reeves is gonna take me out of the lineup if I don’t play well on Saturday. My mom is in a hospital bed convinced she’s about to die. And, and, this guy is just out with a barfly. Huh…I mean who does that? How could anybody do that?”

Steenburgen: “You mustn’t ever ignore the ride, honey.”

Mara (whose name in the movie is LUCY): “Okay. First of all, stop calling me Lucy. My whole life it’s been ‘honey’ or ‘baby’ or whatever and now all of a sudden it’s Lucy!!?”

Gas station attendant: “That gonna be it?” Timberlake: “Maybe just some cyanide.”

Bridges: “I’d kill a man to be 25 again.” Timberlake: “Huh, you would.”

Timberlake: “What are you drinking?” Bridges: “Tasty beverage.”

THE ENTIRE BAR SCENE WITH LYLE LOVETT. Terrible, terrible dialog.

Gas Station Attendant: “I’d rather watch the grass grow.”

Timberlake: (reaches across table to take Mara’s hand) “Look. I know that I’m gonna screw things up every now and then. And, I know, that things won’t be perfect. But give me one chance, I swear to God I’ll never hurt you again.”  [JW says: Hello! One chance? One? What is this “again” business if you’re asking for “one chance”? You already had it. That is just a semantics problem though, I think everyone deserves another chance in life. But the WORST part is that this is apparently all it takes for Mara to just fall over and come back to Timberlake. BARF!]

Saving Grace #1: Jeff Bridges! He is so golden that I actually watched the whole movie.

Saving Grace #2: Timberlake trying to pull the front bumper off of the H3 Hummer.

Saving Grace #3: Wrastling fight between Bridges and Timberlake. Great scene, actually. Both guys get into the fight just the right amount, well, Timberlake could’ve maybe been slightly more puffy, since he’s the younger one, but overall the scene really conveyed each man’s deep desire for connection with the other guy. We all just wanna be loved, of course, and here’s a scene that depicts the way that desire is manifested between father and son more often than mani-pedi dates. (I’m not knocking the mani-pedi, Dave and I enjoyed a duo mani-pedi date when he returned from Afghanistan and it was great!).


Who cares!?! And how did this movie get made??? Seriously, what kind of pull does Michael Meredith have, where did he get it, and how can I tap into that kind of persuasive power to try out my mediocre ideas?

IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1007018/

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