Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ennio Morricone: Legendary film composer

"If i ruled the world there would be an international Ennio Moricone Day! We all stay home and savour the legends brilliance." --jackthehatuk, YouTube user

Ennio Morricone (Wikipedia)

Also known as: Maestro, Dan Savio, Leo Nichols
Born: November 10, 1928 (age 85)
Origin: Rome, Italy
Genres: Film music, classical, absolute music, pop, jazz, lounge, easy listening, funk
Occupations: Composer, conductor, orchestrator, music director, producer, trumpeter, pianist
Years active: Since 1946

Ennio Morricone, Grand Officer OMRI, is an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor and former trumpet player, who has written music for more than 500 motion pictures and television series, as well as contemporary classical works. His career includes a wide range of composition genres, making him one of the world's most versatile, prolific and influential film composers of all time. Morricone's music has been used in more than 60 award-winning films.

His absolute music production includes over 100 classical pieces composed since 1946. During the late 1950s Morricone served as a successful studio arranger for RCA. He orchestrated over 500 songs and worked with music artists such as Paul Anka, Chet Baker and Mina. However, Morricone gained worldwide fame by composing (during the period 1960-75) the music for Italian westerns by directors such as Sergio Leone, Duccio Tessari and Sergio Corbucci, including the Dollars Trilogy, A Pistol for Ringo, The Big Gundown, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Great Silence, The Mercenary, A Fistful of Dynamite and My Name is Nobody.

During the 1960s and '70s, he built long-term associations with directors such as Gillo Pontecorvo, known for the war film The Battle of Algiers, Bernardo Bertolucci for whom Morricone scored the 1976 epic film Novecento, Henri Verneuil, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mauro Bolognini, Dario Argento and Elio Petri. Morricone composed music for all film genres, ranging from comedy and drama to action thrillers and historical films. He achieved commercial success with several compositions, including "The Ecstasy of Gold", the theme of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Man with Harmonica, the protest song "Here's to You" sung by Joan Baez and "Chi Mai". Between 1964 and 1980 Morricone was also the trumpet player and a co-composer for the avant-garde free improvisation group Il Gruppo. In 1978, he wrote the official theme for the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

Since 1977, Morricone boosted his career in Hollywood by composing music for some of film history's most prolific American directors such as John Carpenter, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols and Oliver Stone. Morricone has composed the music for a number of Academy Award-winning motion pictures including Days of Heaven, The Mission, The Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso and Bugsy. Other noteworthy scores include Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Thing, Casualties of War, In the Line of Fire, Disclosure, Wolf, Bulworth, Mission to Mars and Ripley's Game. In the 1980s and '90s, Morricone continued to compose music for European directors. His music for La Cage aux Folles, Le Professionnel, Once Upon a Time in America and ¡Átame! are among his best-known film scores. He has composed music for numerous television series, including the acclaimed television miniseries Moses the Lawgiver, La Piovra, The Secret of the Sahara, Marco Polo and Nostromo.

He is also associated with the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore, composing all the music for all his films since Cinema Paradiso (1988), such as award-winning scores for Legend of 1900, Malèna, La Sconosciuta and more recently Baaria (2009) and The Best Offer (2013). Other recent Morricone works include the music for the television series Karol and scores for The End of a Mystery, 72 Meters and Fateless. In the 2000s, Morricone's music has also been reused in movies and television series such as The Sopranos, The Simpsons and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.

He has conducted many orchestras worldwide, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra. Morricone is serving as one of the main conductors of the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta since the mid-1990s. He has conducted over 200 concerts worldwide since 2001 and is still performing regularly. In November 2013, Morricone began a world tour to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his film music career.

In 2007, Ennio Morricone received the Academy Honorary Award "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music". He has been nominated for a further five Oscars during 1979-2001. Morricone has won three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, five BAFTAs during 1979-92, ten David di Donatello, eleven Nastro d'Argento, two European Film Awards, the Golden Lion Honorary Award and the Polar Music Prize in 2010.

"The good the bad and the ugly - The best theme tune ever" --jordan harding, YouTuber


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Half Moon Bay Joe's (restaurant review)

Just a shot of Half Moon Bay; obviously that's not the place.

Half Moon Bay Joe's Restaurant

I had lunch at this restaurant yesterday, for the first time in a long time. I think I can give some type of reasonable review based on yesterday, past experience, and getting a further idea from reviews. Half Moon Bay is a nice town to visit in general, a basically rural area of San Mateo County along the coast, easy to reach via 92 West. Half Moon Bay Joe's is located right along Highway 1 (2380 S. Cabrillo). It's a very clean and comfortable location just visually, parking-wise, and there's a lot of elbow room inside.. especially during non-breakfast/lunch/dinner hours. The large windows all along three sides provides a bright, cheerful atmosphere; as well as its sizable booths along the outer perimeter. It's open daily from 7 AM to 10 PM. It's an Italian restaurant with a number of seafood items. They have pretty much anything you would look for. I'm old enough to remember some local Italian restaurants where the founding family actually ran the day-to-day operations, and that's true with Joe's. There's perhaps some Catalan/Argentine connection to the family I think.

There's a sizable breakfast menu, and many pragmatic lunch and dinner dishes. It has a solid "4" rating, and deserves more like a 4.5. Some of those Yelp reviewers take themselves way too seriously, so 4 out of 5 is a very good rating. The prices are reasonable and they serve you a lot. I think it's great. You won't go away hungry. From past times I have visited there, the sauce was something that I specifically remember. I had a Calamari steak sandwich yesterday, which came with fries and a choice of salad or clam chowder. The sandwich was good, with two big halves served, each double-thick. I had New York-style cheesecake for dessert, and it was big and very tasty without being too rich. The person with me ordered a reuben sandwich, and thought it was great. The good-sized menu is on the link above. The meal came pretty fast too, and the staff was extremely friendly, polite, and helpful without overdoing it. I would really recommend it.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Venice votes on cutting ties with Italy

Venetian nationalism is nothing new. Many of the founders of the Northern League were from the Venetian League political party, which has been integrated into the Northern League. This current effort is being guided by a party called Venetian Independence.

There are differing opinions of what a Venetian nation would look like geographically. Some want the entire territory of the old Venetian Republic, including places like Bergamo, others would like to see the "tri-Veneto regions, while others have stayed with the Veneto only (as here apparently). Of course, there's the possibility of a Venetian state expanding at a later time. The Venetian language is spoken or at least understood by two million people, mostly in the Veneto.

The Venetian League is considered a politically "right" group, while Venetian Independence is considered politically "left." To me, "left and right politics" are a nightmare... with the negative aspects of both always winning out in the end.. while the positive aspects always lose! I don't think we should take any side, but just wait to see what develops. What if a Venetian state did gain independence, and it later absorbs Lombardy, Piedmont, and Tuscany?

Venice votes on cutting ties with Italy

By Ella Ide - Agence France Presse - March 17, 2014

Rome (AFP) - Italians in Venice and its surrounding region are voting this week on whether to break away from the rest of the country and form their own state.

The online vote, organised by local independence parties, is not legally binding but aims to galvanise support for a bill calling for a referendum on whether the region of Veneto should split from Italy.

The new Republic of Veneto would be inspired by the ancient Venetian republic -- a rich economic, cultural and trading power which existed from the 7th century until its fall to Napoleon in 1797.

The Indipendenza Veneta party behind the bill told AFP the separatist movement was fuelled by the government's apparent inability to stamp out corruption, protect its citizens from a damaging recession and plug waste in the poorer south.

"We no longer want to be part of a country that has gone to the wall. Nothing works anymore," party coordinator Nicola Gardin said.

"Italy is weighed down by an enormous level of public debt, thousands of businesses have closed, we have lost count of the number of people who have committed suicide in Veneto," he said.

The region pays around 71 billion euros ($98 billion) in taxes to Rome, 21 billion euros more than it receives in investment and services.

'Reconquering sovereignty'

The latest polls show that -- of the 3.8 million people eligible to vote in the region -- around 60 percent are in favour of independence.

Despite protests that an attempt to split from Italy could be unconstitutional, the governor of the Veneto region has told Italian media that secession is an option under international law.

"The push for independence comes from the people. It is a democratic request born of Rome's indifference," governor Luca Zaia told Liberoquotidiano.

Venetians will be closely watching independence movements in Scotland -- which will hold a referendum in September -- and Catalonia, he said.

"If Barcelona gets independence, Veneto could adopt the same method and get it too. We have knocked politely on the door of federalism, but it did not open. Now we will break down the door," he said.

The poll on asks inhabitants of historic cities such as Treviso, Vicenza and Verona whether -- if the new republic was created -- they would want to keep the euro and belong to the European Union and Nato.

Independents took to Twitter to urge others to vote, with some like separatist Alessio Morosin saying the region was "reconquering its sovereignty. We are at the point of no return!"

Organisers of the online poll, which opened on Sunday and closes Friday, said they expected up to two million voters to take part.

A large independence demonstration is then planned in Padova on Sunday, expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people.

"The history of the Venetian republic is not taught in schools any more, neither is the Venetian language. The state has erased our identity," Gardin said.

"The vote for independence is not just driven by economic reasons, it is also a bid to protect and revive our culture," he said.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

'The New York Times’ List of Potential New Countries..'

The following are a few excerpts from an article entitled 'The New York Times’ List of Potential New Countries, and Others As Well'.

Submitted by Asya Pereltsvaig on September 24, 2013

About a year ago, two New York Times journalists, Frank Jacobs and Parag Khanna, wrote an opinion article listing eleven potential new countries that they expect to emerge in the near future. They write:

“we appear on the brink of yet another nation-state baby boom. This time, the new countries will not be the product of a single political change or conflict, as was the post-Soviet proliferation, nor will they be confined to a specific region. If anything, they are linked by a single, undeniable fact: history chews up borders with the same purposeless determination that geology does, as seaside villas slide off eroding coastal cliffs.”

Here is their list of potential geopolitical changes to look out for. The links below are to numerous GeoCurrents posts about these “potential countries”.


Additional suggestions for potential new countries have also been made elsewhere. lists the following newly independent states that could splinter off existing countries in Europe: Scotland (currently part of the UK), Normandy, Brittany, and Corsica (France), Basque Republic and Catalonia, the latter with or without the Balearic Islands (Spain), Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria (Germany), Padania and Sardinia (Italy).

An even more radical map of “Potential independent states in Europe” (whose original author I was not able to establish as it has been reposted on multiple websites without proper reference) lists, in addition to the already mentioned candidates: United Ireland, created by joining together the current Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland) and Wales in the British Isles; Galicia and Andalusia (Spain); Trentino South-Tyrol in northern Italy; Republica Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia (which together currently form Bosnia and Herzegovina); Kosovo and Metohia in southern Serbia; Trasdnistria; North Ossetia, Chechnya, and Abkhazia in northern Caucasus region; Nagorno-Karabakh; and Northern Cyprus.

GeoCurrents has written extensively about these problematic regions and nationalist movements (follow links above), but Catalonia in particular is worth mentioning in view of the 250-mile human chain created in support of Catalan independence on 11 September 2013. Approximately 1.6 million people in Spain participated in this event, which became known as The Catalan Way towards Independence, or simply The Catalan Way. It was organized by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly), an organization that seeks the political independence of Catalonia from Spain through democratic means. Catalan nationalists have chosen public demonstrations and electoral politics over violence, in sharp contrast to hard-core Basque nationalists, who have long embraced militancy, attacking the Spanish state and its institutions with bombs and guns. It appears that the Catalan strategy has been much more successful than that of the Basques. Not just Spaniards at large, but the majority of Basques themselves have been so disgusted with the terrorism of the separatist ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) that the movement for Basque nationhood has lost its impetus. Catalan nationalism, by contrast, is gaining ground.

One of the reasons behind the Catalan independence movement is the desire to protect the local culture, which revolves around the Catalan language. Like Spanish, Catalan is a Romance language that evolved from Latin after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century CE. But despite being spoken in the Iberian Peninsula, Catalan is more closely related to French and Italian than to Spanish. For example, the Catalan word for ‘summer’ is estiu, derived from the same root as French été and Italian estate but not Spanish verano.  Similarly, the verb ‘to want’ in Catalan is voler, closely related to the French vouloir and Italian volere, whereas Spanish querer is clearly different. Both Catalan and Spanish incorporated words from Arabic, but not necessarily the same ones: Catalan borrowed alfàbia meaning ‘large earthware jar’ and rajola meaning ‘tile’, whereas Spanish adopted aceite and aceituna, meaning ‘oil’ and ‘olive’, respectively.

The Catalan language, however, is not limited to Catalonia. It is the national and only official language of the tiny country of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Balearic Islands and Valencia in Spain. It is also spoken, without official recognition, in parts of Aragon and Murcia in Spain, and in the French region of Roussillon. Because Catalan culture extends well beyond Catalonia, many sources explain the surging Catalan independence movement in economic rather than cultural terms. Catalonia is one of the wealthiest parts of Spain, and the taxes collected there subsidize the poorer parts of the country. With Spain’s current economic crisis, many of the region’s residents feel that they can no longer afford to support Extremadura and other poorer parts of the country. Such economic issues have the potential to bind indigenous Catalans with migrants from other parts of Spain who now live in the region.

The Spanish constitution bans outright votes on secession, and it is unclear whether most Catalans want full independence or merely enhanced autonomy. Even so, Catalonia appears to be well on the path “by which the citizens of Catalonia will be able to choose their political future as a people”, as stated in the recently adopted Catalan Sovereignty Declaration.

Finally, another territory that has not been mentioned in those lists of potential independent states is Vojvodina. In late 2009 Serbia granted its northern area of Vojvodina control over its own regional development, agriculture, tourism, transportation, health care, mining, and energy. Vojvodina, population two million, even gained representation in the European Union (although it will be allowed to sign only regional agreements, not international ones). Autonomy rather than independence, however, appears to be what the majority of local residents, 65% of whom are Serbian, want. Vojvodinans evidently favor autonomy largely for economic reasons. But claims for heightened self-rule can lead to further claims; already a local ethnic Hungarian group wants its own autonomous zone within the larger autonomous area of Vojvodina.


3-17-14 ADDITION: Regarding the deleted posting about available materials from the Italian Government Tourist Board. They no longer offer these types of wide-ranging regional material (free maps, posters, booklets, etc. via snail mail) as they once did. Some good things come to an end, and that posting was made in error. Travel stores would probably have a lot of those types of things.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Strip the City - Venice

Strip the City - Venice by limukohou

From last week's 'Strip the City' program on the Science Channel. It's hard to believe that millennium old tree posts--protected from erosion in mud--have held up the city for all this time.