Thursday, December 24, 2015

'Silent Night' - Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli - Silent Night

Adham M. Naguib

Silent Night

"Silent Night" (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011. The song has been recorded by a large number of singers from every music genre. The version sung by Bing Crosby is the third best-selling single of all-time.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

'Angels We Have Heard on High'



Angels We Have Heard on High

"Angels We Have Heard on High" is a Christmas carol of French origin in the public domain. The song commemorates the story of the birth of Jesus Christ found in the Gospel of Luke, in which shepherds outside Bethlehem encounter a multitude of angels singing and praising the newborn child.


Monday, November 30, 2015

The Wolf of Gubbio


Wolf of Gubbio 

The wolf of Gubbio was a wolf that, according to the Fioretti di San Francesco, terrorized the Umbrian city of Gubbio until it was tamed by St. Francis of Assisi acting on behalf of God. The story is one of many in Christian narrative that depict holy persons exerting influence over animals and nature, a motif common to hagiography.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sonic Drive-In Boneless Wings Commercial 2015 History Channel

Sonic Drive-In Boneless Wings Commercial 2015 History Channel 

Commercials YouTube channel

Sonic Drive-In Boneless Wings Commercial 2015 History Channel. Sonic Drive-In Boneless Wings TV Commercial, 'History Channel'. Leonardo da Vinci is served some of "Mona's Famous Wings," but is unsatisfied with his eating experience. Determined to find a better way to eat wings, Leo draws up the first design for boneless chicken wings. Just as he finishes his design, Mona returns for Leo to finish painting her portrait.

Commerical details

Making history come alive, if even in a silly way. I thought this ad was a good attention-getter. Although the attractive "Mona" was a bit more Bensonhurst than Florence.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Zoppé Italian Family Circus in Redwood City Oct 9 to 25

Zoppé, An Italian Family Circus

The 7th Generation - Since 1842

October 9-25, 2015
Matinee & Evening Showtimes Circus Tent: Red Morton Park
1455 Madison Ave. Redwood City

[see above link for details; along left side]

The Circus is coming to town! Redwood City is pleased to welcome, for the eighth year, Zoppé, An Italian Family Circus from October 9th through October 25th for spectacular two-hour performances that will enthrall the entire family!
About the Show

The Zoppé Family Circus welcomes guests into the intimate 500 seat tent for a one-ring circus that honors the best history of the Old-World Italian tradition. Starring Nino the clown, the circus is propelled by a central story (as opposed to individual acts) that feature acrobatic feats, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, clowning and plenty of audience participation.

Sixth generation circus performer Giovanni Zoppé traces the beginning of performance art to the circus arts, with its humble beginnings in street clowns and jugglers. "The circus is antique," he says, "it's history." In his case, it's something more. It's family history. Giovanni's son Julien Veneto Zoppé, who was born at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City in 2009 and made his first appearance in the family circus when he was just six days old, celebrates his sixth birthday this year. Folks who attend "Zoppé An Italian Family Circus" during its Oct. 9-25 run at Red Morton Park might see him perform alongside his father as his mini me, "Nineto". Julien will participate for a week this year, and while his specialty is being quite adorable, he also performs hat tricks, balancing acts and more. Giovanni's sister, Tosca, continues in her family's footsteps by combining death-defying equestrian feats with exquisite grace as she dances on horseback.

"The show changes every year," explains Zoppé. So no worries if you saw last year's Redwood City gig. Highlights of this year's show include several performances by guest artists which features two new acts: the world-famous Black Bear Group interprets one of China's oldest art forms with dazzling acrobatic displays and Jose and Elizabeth Ayala from Mexico bring Rolla bolla performances and gravity defying hair hanging.

The Circus is a Zoppé Family Tradition!

The Zoppé Family Circus has an amazing, unique story. The Zoppè Family Circus emerged more than 160 years ago to become one of the legendary circuses in all of Europe. And like many good legends, it begins with a boy and a girl falling in love. In 1842, a young French street performer named Napoline Zoppè wandered into a plaza in Budapest, Hungary, looking for work. There, his eyes glanced upon a beautiful equestrian ballerina named Ermenegilda, who captured the hearts and minds of the crowd with her grace and showmanship. More importantly, this talented beauty captured Napoline's heart.The Zoppé Family Circus has an amazing, unique story. The Zoppè Family Circus emerged more than 160 years ago to become one of the legendary circuses in all of Europe. And like many good legends, it begins with a boy and a girl falling in love. In 1842, a young French street performer named Napoline Zoppè wandered into a plaza in Budapest, Hungary, looking for work. There, his eyes glanced upon a beautiful equestrian ballerina named Ermenegilda, who captured the hearts and minds of the crowd with her grace and showmanship. More importantly, this talented beauty captured Napoline's heart.

owever, since Napoline was a clown, Ermenegilda's father saw him as beneath her and disapproved of their relationship. The two ran away to Venice, Italy, and founded the circus that still bears their name. Alberto Zoppè, Napoline's great-grandson, inherited the circus almost 100 years later.

Alberto's children, Giovanni, Tosca and Carla, along with their spouses, have all been active at one time or another in the family business. Giovanni revived the Zoppè Family Circus in America eight years ago, and has since been building its reputation with audiences and critics as an enchanting exhibition of traditional European circus.

The Zoppé Family Circus is a once-a-year event not to be missed, so get your tickets early!

Zoppé website


Sunday, September 27, 2015

'The Last Days of Pompeii' (1935) - movie review

The Last Days of Pompeii (1935 film)

The Last Days of Pompeii (1935) is an RKO Radio Pictures film starring Preston Foster and directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper, creators of the original King Kong. Although inspired by the novel of the same name by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the film has virtually nothing to do with the book.

This film made good use of artificially generated backgrounds, not entirely unlike computer generated graphics used in films today. The opening scene in Pompeii, with this imagery and music which sounded a bit like the fight song of the University of Southern California, was adequately believable. Black and white films, even through the 50s and even 60s, leave just enough shadow that it somehow allows for a little bit to the imagination.

Preston Foster plays the role of Marcus, a poor honest blacksmith who--through a series of events--ends up as a first rate voluntary gladiator. His character is ambiguous throughout the film. He starts out as a noble-minded and hard-working craftsman; but though some tragic events and great loss, takes on the cold attitude that "money is what really counts." Still, he never quite sells out completely, and the good man underneath remains somewhat dormant. He shows a good heart in adopting the son, named Flavius, of a man he has slain in the arena.

After a profitable period as a gladiator, Marcus becomes a slave trader for a short time, then a seaman and adventurer... something like a soldier of fortune. There are a lot of small but important and prophetic items during a time that he travels with Flavius to the Roman colony of Judea that sets the stage for the rest of the film, but are too numerous to mention in this short review. Now as a man of some fame, he meets the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontious Pilate, and they become close friends after Marcus leads what seems to be an off-the-record raid on a band of Pilate's enemies in the countryside. Pontius Pilate is portrayed as a wise man of some conscience, who seems to feel some guilt for having condemned a particular man to crucifixion. That man, although never named in the movie, was Jesus. They split the loot and Marcus returns to Pompeii.

Although the movie was obscure about it, Marcus and Flavius visited an encampment where Jesus was speaking and was active. At at later point, mentioned only later in the film in reference, they observed
Jesus and others being crucified. Both seemed strongly affected by their encounter with Jesus. Marcus denied the experience outwardly, while the young Flavius never forgot it. Basically this fictional film, through the story of the characters, subtly ties together the destruction of Pompeii with the beginnings of Christianity. When the now wealthy and popular Marcus returns to Pompeii, he becomes the important "head of the arena"; I suppose something equivalent to maybe a former football star becoming a director of football operations. During this mid-point in the film, Mt. Vesuvius is depicted ominously smoldering in the background, with one character making reference to it briefly.


Spoiler alert beyond this point!







Pompeii ruins with Mt. Vesuvius in the background
After a major slave revolt and escape, the new prefect for the region was compelled to hunt them down. The penalty for this crime was death. Flavius, with this "Christian ideas," was secretly helping to hide these slaves and making arrangements to lead them to a safe island. When they were all captured, Marcus was pleased and began organizing some arena "games" for them as part of their consequence. After being told just before the games that his son was captured along with them, he naturally goes bananas and tries but fails to free him before the prefect discovers what has happened. Finally, Flavius and the others are put into the arena to fight while Marcus dramatically and unsuccessfully scrambles to do something.

During the chaos, Mt. Vesuvius erupts and there's a very powerful earthquake. Pompeii starts to crumble as lava pours down towards the city. Actually in the real event, it was a type of super-hot and toxic smoke vapor that did in Pompeii and its inhabitants; but perhaps this wasn't known in 1935. After initially breaking down emotionally, Marcus quickly recovers--like the Grinch who stole Christmas--and saves a jailer (and the jailer's young son) who earlier would not accept a bribe to release his own son. He then starts loading children onto boats in the harbor ahead of himself. Eventually he saves his son and finally explicitly risks his life standing up to the prefect and his soldiers who wanted to take a boat for themselves away from some children. Marcus is badly wounded by a spear, but his effort allows that last boat to sail to safety.

As this was happening, the city was finally crushed. The final scene shows Marcus dying amid the ruins as he sees the spirit of Jesus come before him... presumably to reward him for his selfless redeeming efforts. Quite an emotional ending for this old film. This film, as well as numerous other works, was inspired by the 1834 novel 'The Last Days of Pomeii', written by the English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The horrendous Lake County fire and the Mendocino Redwood Company

Right now--as Lake, Sonoma, and Napa counties burn--I believe northern Californians should review an incredibly senseless policy instituted by the forest management company responsible for 438,000 square miles of forest mostly in Mendocino County, in order to prevent future disasters. A Santa Rosa Press Democrat article from last spring was entitled 'Fire officials decry timber management procedure as unsafe' (Glenda Anderson - The Press Democrat - April 19, 2015). The article pointed out how local fire authorities strongly considered the "hack and squirt" practice of the Mendocino Redwood Company as unsafe. 

The company has slashed millions of unwanted nut oak trees and squirted chemicals into the gashes in order to kills them. Then they have just left all those dead trees standing. They have vehemently defended this policy as "safe"... insisting for years that leaving the dead trees is "good for the forest" (their words) in sessions of the local county board of supervisors. Now that this nightmare has unfolded, I believe it's time to utilize the arm of the law to compel them to fix the land that they have made so unsafe.

The primary owner of the Mendocino Redwood and Humboldt Redwood Companies is the Fisher family of San Francisco, which also owns The Gap, and whom owns an environmental tax write-off foundation called Pisces. This still-ongoing fire is one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of this area, if not the worst. This foundation appears to be more interested in United Nations initiatives, such as Agenda 21. Why can't we just take care of our own country? How about just making the land they are responsible for safe? 

They've made it very clear that cutting and hauling away the dead trees is too expensive, and they have killed a staggering number of trees since 2001. Ignoring the urging of fire officials, sacrificing safety for money, may lead to a future tragedy unless something is done. What's more important, public safety or the Fisher family's profit margins??


Monday, August 31, 2015

Julia Mancuso - Olympic Champion

Julia Mancuso

Julia Marie Mancuso (born March 9, 1984) is an American World Cup alpine ski racer and Olympic gold medalist. She won the giant slalom at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and was the silver medalist in both downhill and combined in 2010, and the bronze medalist in the combined in 2014. She has also won five medals (two silver and three bronze) at the World Championships and seven races in regular World Cup competition. Her four Olympic medals are the most ever for a female American alpine skier.

During the Olympic Alpine Skiing competition in Torino in 2006, former Olympic gold medal winner Picabo Street stated what a big disappointment the U.S. women skiers have been up to the point. Right after she said that, 21 year old Julia Mancuco skied her perfect gold medal winning Giant Slalom race (see above). Even the Italian fans present cheered for that "Mancuso" girl from Lake Tahoe. If Olympic medals are the chief manner of judging success, Julia has gone on to win two more silver medals (Vancouver 2010) and a bronze medal (Sochi 2014). She is half Calabrian and half Cisalpine ancestry.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Tonight is a full "blue moon"

Blue Moon (Frank Sinatra - with Lyrics)

Sinatra Fan

Arranged by Nelson Riddle

For those that came here because of Fallout New Vegas... welcome and I invite you to visit my channel to hear music from the best there ever was. This song came from the Capitol LP "Sinatra's Swingin' Session" which is one of my favorite LP's from Frank's awesome collection. If you like this song, I'm sure you will totally enjoy several of the other cuts from this album. Thanks and Enjoy!

Music: "Blue Moon" by Frank Sinatra (Google PlayiTunesAmazonMP3


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mona Lisa "Twin" from the same studio

In January 2012 Museo del Prado in Madrid announced that it had discovered and almost fully restored a copy of the painting by a pupil of Leonardo, very possibly painted alongside the master. The copy gives a better indication of what the portrait looked like at the time, as the varnish on the original has become cracked and yellowed with age.

'The Mona Lisa's Twin Painting Discovered'

Speculations about Mona Lisa


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Olivia "Grandma" Rolleri - Part II

The Calaveras Hotel, circa 1890.
‘Grandma’ Rolleri: the Angel of Angels Camp

By Judy Georgiou - Calaveras Enterprise - June 11, 2013 

The story has all the key elements of a thrilling Wild West movie with John Wayne in the cast. It includes, as with so many Westerns, the lure of riches in the Gold Rush, a spark of true love, even the capture of a dangerous outlaw. But what kind of story would it be without a fearless hero in the leading role?

The twist in this tale is that our hero is a woman. Her name: Olivia Antonini Rolleri.

The Rolleri name is certainly not foreign to Calaveras County; in fact, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard it. Rusty Rolleri of Angels Camp, wife of the late Dick Rolleri, sat at her kitchen table, a small cardboard box balanced on her lap. She opened the flaps and pulled out an old, faded photograph: a porthole into a story that is as intrinsic to Angels Camp as the gold that runs in its hills.

The black-and-white photo is of Olivia Antonini, born Aug. 1, 1844, in San Antonia de Castiglione, a small village high in the hills above the Italian Riviera. When Olivia was 16, she traveled with her mother and sister to the California foothills. They joined her father who had preceded them to Sonora, working in the mines until he had saved enough money to send for them.

Shortly after Olivia arrived, she discovered her life was about to change again. Following a traditional Italian custom, her father had already chosen a young man for her to marry. Olivia shook her head. This was a new world; she had someone else in mind. A year later, she married the dashing Italian miner Gerolamo Rolleri, whose family had lived not far from hers in Italy, although they had never met before Sonora.

Over the next 27 years, Gerolamo mined, ran cattle and operated a ferry. With Olivia by his side, they ran a general store and raised a family. They had 13 children: five girls and eight boys, although two died in infancy.

The family was happy and prospering. In fact, in 1883 their eldest son, James Jr., brought fame to the Rolleri name by helping to capture the notorious gentleman bandit, Black Bart. James Jr. was presented with an engraved rifle by Wells Fargo for his bravery.

But the story took a turn in 1888; Gerolamo died from pneumonia, leaving Olivia with 10 children to care for. The youngest child was only 1.

Olivia knew she had to find a way to provide for her family. In 1889, she purchased a small hotel in downtown Angels Camp. Although Calaveras had lost half its population between 1850-1860, like most gold mining areas in California, Angels Camp was hardly a ghost town. Its gold mines, the basis of its economy, were still going strong.

“Running the hotel was a family operation,” explained Rusty. “The girls would sweep and make beds; the boys would scrub and run errands, and later run the cattle business. She counted on her children to help. That’s how it was back then.”

Rusty dusted off another small photo and smiled at the scene: The Hotel Calaveras in 1890, Olivia at the entrance, her sons and daughters on the upstairs porch, in front of the hotel and in the horse-drawn wagon. All the girls wore long dresses and aprons; the men suspenders and hats.

Through hard work, Olivia and her family transformed the Hotel Calaveras into a thriving enterprise. The saloon had bartenders in immaculate pearl-buttoned vests; local women sipped a discreet sherry in the private parlor after shopping. The dining room – complete with crisp white tablecloths, real napkins and fresh flowers – overflowed with regulars who enjoyed a sensational Italian feast prepared by well-trained Chinese cooks using Olivia’s recipes. “Drummers” (traveling salesmen) wrote orders on wooden desks in the parlor; single men who worked the gold mines called it home.

Olivia proved to be a born entrepreneur. Over the next 20 years she expanded, purchasing three buildings, increasing the hotel capacity to 50 rooms. The rooms weren’t grand, but they were as good as might be found anywhere in the Gold Country. Although the bedrooms didn’t have heat or private baths, each room had a bowl, a pitcher of water and clean beds. Before entering the dining room, miners could shower and change on the ground floor. Room and board fees were $25 a month in the early days, and it was all-you-can eat Italian style. Olivia would even pack as many as 75 lunch pails for miners every morning.

Amador County, California
In order to provide a supply of fresh meat for the restaurant, Grandma Rolleri purchased ranches, ran cattle, and opened a butcher shop. The fruit, vegetables, eggs, hens, milk and butter from the ranches went to her kitchen, where she baked bread, churned ice cream, and made fresh mayonnaise daily. On Sunday evenings, townspeople brought their 5-pound lard pails to the kitchen door to be filled with Grandma Rolleri’s fresh, hot ravioli for their own dinner tables.

Over time, the hotel became the center of life in Angels Camp and Olivia became affectionately known as “Grandma” Rolleri. “She was full of love,” Rusty said, “and love meant sharing.”

Grandma Rolleri was a generous humanitarian, befriending those less fortunate. If there was an empty bed or food in the kitchen, she simply couldn’t turn anyone away even if they couldn’t afford to pay. “She took everyone under her wing and everyone loved her,” Rusty added. “She was an inspiration. She never met anyone she didn’t like.”

“She always wore a long white apron with pockets. She put any tips she received in the pockets and gave them to the church for the poor. Dick, who lived in the hotel as a young boy, adored her,” Rusty recalled. “He remembered rocking with her on the second story porch that ran the length of the hotel. She’d talk to him in Italian. I’m not sure he even understood anything she said, but it didn’t matter. He loved her.”

Her reputation for kindness spread across Calaveras, California and even around the world. Her Chinese cooks returned home to retire and spread stories of the Italian woman who cared for them in a strange country.

On June 10, 1927, Grandma Rolleri died at the age of 83. She’s buried, alongside members of her family, in the Altaville family cemetery.

Between 1930-1945, a Madison Avenue company produced a radio and television anthology called “Death Valley Days,” featuring true stories of the American West. An episode that ran July 1, 1938, was titled “Grandma Rolleri.” The announcer asked the Old Ranger where Angels Camp got its name. He replied, “Well, there’s been angels that’s lived there… an’ my story tonight is about one of ’em.”

Rusty replaced the worn photos in the cardboard box and closed the flaps. “No one was ever turned away from Grandma’s door; color or creed meant nothing to her,” she said. “All people were her friends, and she was a friend to all people.”

Judy Georgiou is a freelance writer from West Point. She can be reached at


Friday, June 19, 2015

Olivia "Grandma" Rolleri - Part I

Taken from

In the rural settlements of the foothills, miners and single men often lived in boarding houses owned and operated by fellow Italians. Some of the well-known Italian boarding houses of the past were Calaveras Hotel in Angels Camp; Bisordi's Itala Hotel in Sonora; the Torino Hotel in Nevada City; the Trabucco Hotel in Mt. Bullion; the Colombo Hotel in San Andreas and the Europa Hotel in Sonora.

Olivia "Grandma" Rolleri came to Sonora from Genoa in 1860 at age 16. Left with 11 children after her husband died in 1884, she became a prominent businesswoman who established the Calaveras Hotel in 1887 and owned several cattle ranches and mining interests. The Calaveras Hotel contained more than 50 rooms, a butcher shop, saloon and barber shop under one roof. Sunday dinners were famous and people came from across the county for family homestyle dinners and to take home "ravioli," She operated the hotel for 40 years until 1927.


Taken from

Olivia Elena Antonini Rolleri
Birth: Aug. 1, 1843, Italy
Death: Jun. 10, 1927
Angels Camp
Calaveras County
California, USA

Olivia Rolleri was a much beloved, early pioneer businesswoman of Calaveras & Tuolumne Counties. She had many nicknames: "Little Olivia"; "Little Oliviette" and "Grandma" Rolleri.

In the late 1850s, she and her mother and sister sailed from Genoa, Italy around Cape Horn to San Francisco and then made their way to Sonora to join Olivia's father who was working there. Soon after, she met and married Gerolamo Rolleri (aka Jerome & James.) They were involved in mining, farming, cattle ranching, operated a ferry and opened a general store.

When her husband died in 1888, Olivia was left with 10 children to care for. In 1889 she purchased a rooming house, one of the buildings on the Calaveras Hotel site. During the next 20 years, Mrs. Rolleri purchased three adjacent buildings that made up the Calaveras Hotel. Rooms were 25-50 cents.

The restaurant was known for it's outstanding food (especially her ravioli dinners) and became famous throughout the area. Dinners were "all you can eat" including dessert and all the wine you can drink for 25 cents.

The consummate entrepreneur, she purchased local ranches to grow fruit, vegetables, raise hogs and chickens, run cattle and opened a butcher shop. The children helped on the ranches and in the hotel.

Advertisement in the 1923 Bret Harte yearbook.
Known as a generous humanitarian, she befriended those less fortunate. "Grandma" Rolleri held out a helping hand for those in need.

She died in Angels Camp on June 10, 1927.

A special thank you to Mozelle "Rusty" Rolleri who kindly verified the above information.
Altaville Protestant Cemetery
Angels Camp
Calaveras County
California, USA
Plot: Sec B1 - Plot 79


Rolleri Landscaping Products

Rolleri Vineyard


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bernardo Bertolucci



An inevitable name in the worldwide movie scene and impossible not to mention when talking about the so called modern cinema.

Versatile in his style, but always true to himself and his vision, Bernardo Bertolucci has left his mark with one of the most provocative erotic movies ever, Last Tango in Paris; passing through risky social-political pictures such as the epic Novecento; Hollywood kind of projects like The Last Emperor, winner of 9 Academy Awards; and recently returning to more personal movies like The Dreamers.


Bernardo Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci; born 16 March 1940) is an Italian film director and screenwriter, whose films include The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky and The Dreamers. In recognition of his work, he was presented with the inaugural Honorary Palme d'Or Award at the opening ceremony of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.


Bertolucci is well-known to American audiences. He started out as a protege of Pier Paolo Pasolini. He is of Parmesan paternal descent, and his half-Irish mother was born in Australia.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Federico Fellini on 'Biography'

Biography: Federico Fellini



Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini (Italian: January 20, 1920 – October 31, 1993) was an Italian film director and scriptwriter. Known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness, he is considered one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of the 20th century.

In a career spanning almost fifty years, Fellini won the Palme d'Or for La Dolce Vita, was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and directed four motion pictures that won Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. In 1993, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 65th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles.


Federico Fellini was of Romagnol ancestry.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

'The World Of Enrico Fermi' - 1970 Documentary

The World Of Enrico Fermi (1970)


"A documentary which portrays the life and work of the nearly contemporary physicist, Enrico Fermi, whose work helped to transform not only physics and the style of doing research, but even the course of history itself.

This movie is part of the collection: Academic Film Archive of North America

Producer: Harvard Project Physics.; Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, inc."


Enrico Fermi was one of the greatest scientists of all time. Born in Rome to a family originally from Piedmont. There's a big difference, I think, between certain "famous scientists" today who are all talk, and often make surprisingly stupid remarks regarding other issues, and ones like Tesla or Fermi who were real doers!


Enrico Fermi (Wikipedia)

Enrico Fermi; 29 September 1901 – 28 November 1954) was an Italian physicist, best known for his work on Chicago Pile-1 (the first nuclear reactor), and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics. He is one of the men referred to as the "father of the atomic bomb". Fermi held several patents related to the use of nuclear power, and was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity by neutron bombardment and the discovery of transuranic elements. He was widely regarded as one of the very few physicists to excel both theoretically and experimentally.

Fermi's first major contribution was to statistical mechanics. After Wolfgang Pauli announced his exclusion principle in 1925, Fermi followed with a paper in which he applied the principle to an ideal gas, employing a statistical formulation now known as Fermi–Dirac statistics. Today, particles that obey the exclusion principle are called "fermions". Later Pauli postulated the existence of an uncharged invisible particle emitted along with an electron during beta decay, to satisfy the law of conservation of energy. Fermi took up this idea, developing a model that incorporated the postulated particle, which he named the "neutrino". His theory, later referred to as Fermi's interaction and still later as weak interaction, described one of the four fundamental forces of nature. Through experiments inducing radioactivity with recently discovered neutrons, Fermi discovered that slow neutrons were more easily captured than fast ones, and developed the Fermi age equation to describe this. After bombarding thorium and uranium with slow neutrons, he concluded that he had created new elements; although he was awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery, the new elements were subsequently revealed to be fission products.

Fermi left Italy in 1938 to escape new Italian Racial Laws that affected his Jewish wife Laura. He emigrated to the United States where he worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Fermi led the team that designed and built Chicago Pile-1, which went critical on 2 December 1942, demonstrating the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. He was on hand when the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge, Tennessee went critical in 1943, and when the B Reactor at the Hanford Site did so the next year. At Los Alamos he headed F Division, part of which worked on Edward Teller's thermonuclear "Super" bomb. He was present at the Trinity test on 16 July 1945, where he used his Fermi method to estimate the bomb's yield.

After the war, Fermi served under J. Robert Oppenheimer on the influential General Advisory Committee, which advised the Atomic Energy Commission on nuclear matters and policy. Following the detonation of the first Soviet fission bomb in August 1949, he strongly opposed the development of a hydrogen bomb on both moral and technical grounds. He was among the scientists who testified on Oppenheimer's behalf at the 1954 hearing that resulted in the denial of the latter's security clearance. Fermi did important work in particle physics, especially related to pions and muons, and he speculated that cosmic rays arose through material being accelerated by magnetic fields in interstellar space. Many awards, concepts, and institutions are named after Fermi, including the Enrico Fermi Award, the Enrico Fermi Institute, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station, and the synthetic element fermium.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Documentary 'Barbarians' series - 'The Lombards'

The Lombards


At the end of the sixth century, he Roman Empire, rocked by relentless waves of violent barbarians -- Goths, Huns, Vandals -- civilization on the Italian penisula teeters on the brink of collapse. As famine, war, plague leave death devastation in their wake, out of north bursts the last of the barbarian hordes. Fiercely pagan, famous for their cruelty, the Lombards strike the final blow to the Roman Empire.
In 488 the Lombards are a small but particularly savage group of warriors on the move, surviving by viciously raiding other tribes Originating in Scandinavia and migrating south, into Roman regions, they eventually inhabit what became modern day Austria and Hungary At the turn of the 6th century only the eastern half of the empire remains, ruled by the Byzantine emperor from Constantinople.

Alboin, king of the Lombards, was celebrated as a man fitted for wars, with noble bearing and courage. The emperor Justinian recruited Alboin and the Vandals to aid in the reconquest of Italy which was controlled by the Goths. The Roman military leaders disgusted by the uncontrolled Lombard warriors, relegated them to a new homeland along the banks of the Danube River. In 568, the Lombards, well familiar with Italy from earlier days as Roman mercenaries, invade Rome, inviting Saxons, Bulgars and other barbarian tribes to join.

Much of our information regarding the Lombards is found in the 8th century chronicler Paul the Deacon's work, HISTORY OF THE LOMBARDS, translated by William Dudley Foulke, LL.D., edited with introduction by Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1907

This History Channel documentary series, Barbarians 2, tells the fascinating stories of four of the most fabled groups of fighters in history, the Saxons, the Lombards, the Franks, the Vandals, tracing 1,000 years of conquest and adventure through inspired scholarship and some of the most extensive reenactments ever filmed.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

More famous Cisalpines..

Richard Crenna
..or likely Cisalpines. These are not necessarily the most famous, but just a few familiar names, mostly from more modern times.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - English poet, illustrator, and painter.

Téa Leoni - Well-known American actress.

Richard Crenna - Famous American actor. To me, his powerful role as Colonel Sam Trautman in 'First Blood' most comes to mind.

Christopher Lee - Famous English actor. Just passed away this week. He was in one of my favorite movies, the original 'The Wicker Man'.

Fred Ascani - American Air Force Major General.

Amanda Richetti
Amanda Righetti - Emerging American actress.

Fabio Viviani - Famous chef from Florence.

Giovanni Domenico Cassini -Famous Genoese mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and engineer. The "Cassini-Huygen Mission to Saturn and Titan" was co-named in his honor.

Joseph Rocchietti - Well-known American novelist, born in Piedmont.

Francis B. Spinola - Union Army Brigadier General during the Civil War; New York Representative in the House 1887-91.

Laura Pausini - Famous pop singer from Emilia-Romagna.

Daryle Lamonica - Won four straight Western Division titles (three AFL and one AFC) and one American Football League Championship with the Oakland Raiders. Lost to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II.

Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli - Famous architect of Russian nationality and Tuscan ancestry.

Primo Carnera - Heavyweight Champion of the World 1933-34; from Fruili.

"Veronica Veronese" by Rossetti 1872
Renée Jeanne Falconetti - Well-known French stage and film actress of Cisalpine descent. Played Joan of Arc in silent movie in 1928; 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' is considered one of the greatest early films.

Matteo Ricci - From Marche, he was an Italian Jesuit priest and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China missions. His 1602 map of the world in Chinese characters introduced the findings of European exploration to East Asia. Within Roman Catholicism, he is considered a Servant of God.

Tina Modotti - From Udine, she was an Italian photographer, model, actress, and revolutionary political activist for the Komintern (Communist International). Later joined family in San Francisco.

Merle Pertile - From California, she was the Playboy centerfold of January 1962.

Adam Vinatieri - Current American football placekicker, 20 year NFL veteran, and has played on 4 Super Bowl Championship teams.

Patricia Zentilli -Well-known Canadian actress from Ontario.

Lisa Rinna - Long time popular American actress.

Lidia Bastianich -Well-known American celebrity chef, television host, author, and restaurateur. Current tv host of "Lidia's Kitchen."

Sonny Barger - Founder of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Joe Arpaio -Well-known Arizona sheriff.

Timothy Dalton -Famous British actor.

Beverly D'Angelo - Popular American actress. She was in one of my favorite movies, 'National Lampoon's Vacation'.

Lita Ford - Well-known British and American rock guitarist.

Jenna Jameson - Former adult film star, once called "the world's most famous adult-entertainment performer."

Charles Poletti - The 46th Governor of New York. From Barre, Vermont, a city with many people of Lombard descent; although his family was from Piedmont.

Cassini-Huygens, named after Giovanni Domenico Cassini
Steve Bisciotti - Owner of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

Prince Rainier - High profile Prince of Monaco, ruled for 56 years.

Rick Santorum - American Senator from Pennsylvania. Republican candidate for president in 2012 and in 2016.

Gwen Stefani - American singer, songwriter, fashion designer, and actress. She is the co-founder and lead vocalist of the rock band No Doubt.

Tom Tancredo - American Congressman from Colorado 1999 to 2009. Ran for President in 2008, and Governor in 2010.

Susan Sarandon - Academy award winning actress.

Christina Ricci - Popular American actress.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Confessions of a bookmark junkie 1

Lucrezia Borgia
For longer than I care to say, like probably a lot of people, I've gone bookmark crazy. It's like on those late evenings, you're feeling tired but still conscious enough to follow some areas of interest. You then just go bookmarking with the intention of "getting back to it later"... which you don't because the subjects are so muddled. Well, maybe it's still possible. I wanted to begin a process of catching up with a series of ideas that will not follow any consistent pattern. Sometimes there should probably be much more to say about them; sometimes not. I may get back to a few of them; maybe not.

Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia (18 April 1480 – 24 June 1519) was the daughter of Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei. Her brothers included Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, and Gioffre Borgia.

Lucrezia's family politics became subject matter for The Prince where well implemented ruthlessness represents a practical component of Machiavellian politics.

Her family had arranged several marriages for her which advanced their own political position including Giovanni Sforza (Lord of Pesaro), Alfonso of Aragon (Duke of Bisceglie), and Alfonso I d'Este (Duke of Ferrara).

Tradition has it that Alfonso of Aragon was an illegitimate son of the King of Naples and that her brother Cesare may have had him murdered after his political value waned.

Lucrezia was cast as a femme fatale, a role she has been portrayed as in many artworks, novels, and films.

Not being someone easily taken in by "royalty," which is so often dysgenic, I have nevertheless been intrigued by Lucrezia's image in art. She must have been very beautiful. Somewhat docile, grand in style, prominent hazel eyes, long thick blondish hair. Of course her being young and beautiful, the daughter of a Pope, as well as a member of the House of Borgia... all adds much intrigue to her life. There is a play, an opera, five movies, and a portrayal in three television series; including 'The Borgias' on Showtime. If anyone wants to review 'The Borgias', send an e-mail to I can recall reading a comic book when I was very young... one of those old mystery comics. Some young woman was possessed by "the spirit of Lucrezia Borgia," took on an evil appearance, and poisoned her boyfriend... something along those lines. Apparently most historians don't believe her to have been a murderer, but it all adds to the legend.


She is described as having heavy blonde hair which fell past her knees; a beautiful complexion; hazel eyes which changed color; a full, high bosom; and a natural grace which made her appear to "walk on air." These physical attributes were highly appreciated in Italy during that period. Another description said that "her mouth is rather large, the teeth brilliantly white, her neck is slender and fair, and the bust is admirably proportioned".

One painting, Portrait of a Youth by Dosso Dossi at the National Gallery of Victoria, was identified as a portrait of Lucrezia in November 2008. This painting may be the only surviving formal portrait of Lucrezia Borgia; however, doubts have been cast on that claim.[10] Several other paintings, such as Veneto's fanciful portrait, have also been said to depict her, but none have been accepted by scholars at present.

Rossi Firearms USA

Rossi Firearms was founded in 1889 by Amadeo Rossi, a Venetian immigrant to Brazil. Frequently, Cisalpines could be described more as "pioneers" more than immigrants... a term which subtly suggests mediocrity. Wherever Cisalpine people go, everything rises up around them. Rossi USA is based in Miami Lakes, Florida.


The Rossi revolution of firearm design and manufacture started with the founding of the company in 1889 by Amadeo Rossi.  Over the last 115 years, that tradition has grown along with the company and the Rossi Family.  The Rossi name represents a piece of firearm history and a tradition of excellence.

Over the years, Rossi firearms has led the way in design and engineering.  At the same time, it has always been important to produce an affordable product without sacrificing any quality or accuracy.

In December of 1997 BrazTech International L.C. was created as the exclusive importer of Rossi firearms in North America.

Previously, Rossi firearms were distributed by Interarms of Alexandria, Virginia. Rossi manufactures its classic rifles in a plant in San Leopoldo, Brazil and will continue operations there, selling many firearms outside the United States and North America.

At the same time, Forjas Taurus, S.A. purchased the rights and the equipment to manufacture Rossi handguns.  Taurus manufactures three models of .38 Special revolvers and four models of .357 Magnum revolvers under contract with Rossi.  Revolvers sold by BrazTech with the Rossi name are manufactured in a brand new facility owned by Taurus in SaoLeopoldo, Brazil.  Much of the tooling and many of the machines were acquired from Rossi during negotiations between the companies.

Today's Rossi is still run by the same family and they put the same dedication and innovation into every firearm.  At Rossi, it is more than just building is a family's history and tradition.

Caffe Trieste

Caffè Trieste is an internationally known chain of four Italian-themed coffeehouses plus one retail store in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas California.

Caffè Trieste was opened in 1956 by Giovanni Giotta (aka "Papa Gianni"), who in 1951 had emigrated to the United States from the small fishing town of Rovigno D'Istria, Italy (now part of Croatia). Missing the espresso houses of Trieste, Italy, Giotta opened his own cafe. Caffè Trieste is said to be the first espresso house on the West Coast.

I remember there used to be families with origins from Trieste in San Francisco.. North Beach.. not very long ago either. It's interesting that the city has also long had Croation and Slovenian communities, two of the cultures which had off-and-on struggled for Trieste over the centuries. San Francisco has about as much continuity as Disneyland now. Recently I heard a lecture where the speaker made mention of the strange behavior of rootless Americans, and he was American.. moving every five years... as he said "living like Gypsies." I think we could at least say that a city shouldn't be as unsettled as an airport. I have been to Caffe Trieste, and it was relaxed enough to play a game of unhurried chess on one of their tables. 

Forst Beer

Although I have never tried it, Forst seems interesting to me just because it's from the culturally-linguistically German South Tyrol region. Partly because as the Cisalpines are more the wine makers; the Transalpines have been more the beer makers, and Forst being founded in 1857. You can order it online at a good price.. except that it will cost about fifty bucks for shipping.

Forst is an Italian brewing company, based in Forst, a frazione (municipal subdivision) of Algund, South Tyrol. The brewery was founded in 1857 by the two entrepreneurs Johann Wallnöfer and Franz Tappeiner from Merano. Later in 1863, the company passed to the entrepreneur Josef Fuchs, who enlarged the plant in Forst. (English) 

Forst Beer Garden (English)

Birra Forst (YouTube)

It can be funny how beer labels come and go. For example, Pabst Blue Ribbon was very popular in the 50s.. all over the country. In California, Primo Beer from Hawaii was rather popular in the 70s, but is difficult to even find now. Still, it can be interesting to try to get your hands on a regionally scarce beer.

National Alpine Association

Years ago, I became aware of this organization by name. There were branches all over the world (Argentina, Australia, South Africa, etc.). In fact, there was a listing in San Francisco. When I inquired about it, I received a postcard in Italian, with some reference to Cesare Battisti. I had thought it might be an association for people of Alpine Italian ancestry; although it seemed odd that a group in San Francisco would send something in Italian when local Italian immigration largely fizzled out in the 30s. 

Actually it appears that it's tied to the Alpini Italian special forces, which recruits out of the mountain regions, mostly the Alps. Contrary to the common perception, they're a very proud military tradition going back to World War I. During the Battle of Stalingrad, they distinguished themselves in the brutal Battle of Nikolayevka. A book about this battle was published, which was entitled 'Sacrifice on the Steppe' (Hamilton; 2011). I think I will save that for another posting. The Alpini traditionally wear those particular Alpine mountain hats that you may have seen before (see above image). Apparently, the Associazione Nazionale Alpini is an association made up of veterans of the Alpini Corps.

Miscellaneous Links

Gaulish Deities - A rundown of the deities of Gaulish polytheism, of which Cisalpine Gaul was a part. Cernunnos was to the Gauls, what Odin was to the Norse.

Walking tours in Northern Italy Good travel site for the northern regions.

Torani coffee and beverage flavoring - Excellent flavoring for coffee. 

Italians in the United Kingdom - Cisalpine migration to northern California, the Great Lakes region, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, or Johannesburg are what I call "GOOD migrations"; while I'm much less enthusiastic about migration to or from other European Nations. However, we should know about any of our people anywhere in the world.

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol wine - Unique and different highland wines.

Italians in France - Our people in the past definitely had an impact on France. Of course, this would go back to Roman times. On a side note, contrary to common perceptions, the South of France was much more impacted long ago by Greek influence than the Cisalpine region. There was a "Magna Graecia" of France at one time.

The Lost Colony of the Templars: Verrazano's Secret Mission to America - The Vatican, the Freemasonic leadership, and other powerful forces definitely knew that the "New World" was here long before 1492.

Historical Reenactment - Taurini Celtic tribe meets Roman Legion at Turin - Interesting photographs of long ago intra-Cisalpine cultural conflict.

St. Bernardino of Siena - St. Bernadino, a Catholic Saint and a Tuscan, is the namesake of the city and large county of San Bernadino, California; as well as the San Bernadino Mountains.

Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America - The name "America" was named after the Tuscan explorer Amerigo Vespucci. On a side note, to people in north and south America, the name "America" refers to the USA. However to Europeans, the name "America" refers to the entire "New World." I have always thought of North America and South America as two separate continents, with the only common reference as "the Americas".. and the Panama Canal sort've officially separated them anyway. Also, the USA actually uses "America" within it's name, so it's logical to refer only to its citizens as "Americans."

The Pyrgi Tablets Three beautiful golden tablets from BCE; two written in Etruscan, and one in Phoenician.

Savoy - Cisalpine roots? The Savoy region was very much part of the Cisalpine cultural world in 1860. There has long been a separatist movement there. I really don't know as to whether or not they had been speakers of Piedmontese. Perhaps someone can help us out here?

Veronese Easter - Veronese vs. occupying Nepoleonic army - Little-known revolt, similar to the Sicilian Vespers.

Mysteries written in blood - Roman remnants in China - From a Chinese news source, so there must be something to it; because they always promote Chinese historical uniformity.

Antonio Pigafetta explorer - Little-known Venetian explorer who sailed with Magellan.

Ostrogothic Ravenna - The city was the capitol of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. Although this period was short, it might be interesting to look up on the Gothic architecture there.

Matteo Colombo Photography - Colorful sunrise over the Dolomites - Beautiful photography of the Dolomite Mountains.

Top Ten Jesus Movies - Easter came and went so fast, but during Easter many movies from over the years about Jesus were telecast. Some of them you probably remember, and were memorable.

Edward Ross: The Italians - Here are some north-south issues that I had wanted to comment on. Perhaps it's best to just stay with simple issues and data.

Padanian Etruria - Etruscan civilization in Lombardy - The term "Padane" is not new, and there are many centuries old references to it. Also, there were Etruscans in the Alpine stretches; as there were Gauls in Tuscany. Gallo-Etruscan heritage is one that is as legitimate as other ancient cultures which produced modern European nations, such as Britain, France, Germany, etc. There is no real geographical Celt/Gaul-Etruscan/Roman divide in modern times.

Friday, June 5, 2015

'Ghaetta' by Ensemble Micrologus (Italian Medieval Music)

Ensemble Micrologus - Ghaetta (Italian Medieval Music)

Giosuè Tacconi - Umbrian Langobard

10# track from the album "Alla Festa Leggiadra", Italian Medieval Music by Ensemble Micrologus.

The image is by an Italian illustrator, Giosuè Tacconi (© GT - Illustrator), is based on the reconstruction of Terni, a glimpse of the medieval walls.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Laura Bassi - The first woman in the world to earn a university chair in science

Laura Bassi

Laura Maria Caterina Bassi (31 October 1711 – 20 February 1778) was the first woman in the world to earn a university chair in a scientific field of studies. She received a doctoral degree from the University of Bologna in May 1732, only the third academic qualification ever bestowed on a woman by a European university, and the first woman to earn a professorship in physics at a university in Europe. She was the first woman to be offered an official teaching position at a university in Europe.


Born in Bologna into the wealthy family of a lawyer, she was privately educated and tutored for seven years in her teens by Gaetano Tacconi, a University teacher of Biology, Natural History and Medicine. She came to the attention of Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, who encouraged her scientific work.

In 1732, at the age of 21, she was appointed professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, was elected to the Academy of the Institute for Sciences, and in the following year was given the chair of philosophy. Thus, Bassi became the second woman in Europe to receive a degree from a university, after Elena Cornaro Piscopia in 1678, fifty-four years prior. In her early years, her teaching opportunities were restricted to occasional lectures.

The defence of her degree, awarding ceremony, and first lecture in 1732 were significant as they took place in the Palazzo Pubblico, one of the most important government buildings in Bologna. These events were attended by "not only the university faculty and students, but also by principal political and religious figures of the city - the Papal Legate and Vice-Legate, the Archbishop of Bologna, the Gonfaloniere, the Elders, senators and magistrates. Additionally, 'all the ladies of Bologna and all the nobility'." The Bologna community came to recognize the achievements of Bassi earning and receiving her degree.

As a political figure, the Senate expected Bassi to attend various events. The Carnival Anatomy, a public dissection with tickets open to anyone, was an event she was expected to attend because it was a central feature of public life at the University which attracted the attention of many foreigners and important community members. She began attending this event annually in 1734.

In 1738, she married Giuseppe Veratti, a fellow academic with whom she had twelve children. After this, she was able to lecture from home on a regular basis and successfully petitioned the University for more responsibility and a higher salary to allow her to purchase her own equipment.

One of her principal patrons was Pope Benedict XIV. He supported less censorship of scholarly work, such as happened with Galileo, and he supported women figures in learning, including Agnesi.

She was mainly interested in Newtonian physics and taught courses on the subject for 28 years. She was one of the key figures in introducing Newton's ideas of physics and natural philosophy to Italy. She also carried out experiments of her own in all aspects of physics. In order to teach Newtonian physics and Franklinian electricity, topics that were not focused in the university curriculum, Bassi gave private lessons. In her lifetime, she authored 28 papers, the vast majority of these on physics and hydraulics, though she did not write any books. She published only four of her papers. Although only a limited number of her scientific works were left behind, much of her scientific impact is evident through her many correspondents including Voltaire, Francesco Algarotti, Roger Boscovich, Charles Bonnet, Jean Antoine Nollet, Giambattista Beccaria, Paolo Frisi, Alessandro Volta. Voltaire once wrote to her saying "There is no Bassi in London, and I would be much happier to be added to your Academy of Bologna than that of the English, even though it has produced a Newton." Francesco Algarotti wrote several poems regarding her degree ceremonies.

In 1745, Lambertini (now Pope Benedict XIV) established an elite group of 25 scholars known as the Benedettini ("Benedictines", named after himself.) Bassi pressed hard to be appointed to this group, but there was a mixed reaction from the other academics. Ultimately, Benedict did appoint her, the only woman in the group.
From 1746 to 1777 she gave one formal dissertation per year.

In 1749, she presented a dissertation on the problem of gravity.

During the 1760s, Bassi and her husband worked together on experimental research in electricity. This attracted talent of Abbe Nollet and others to Bologna to study electricity.

In 1776, at the age of 65, she was appointed to the chair in experimental physics by the Bologna Institute of Sciences, with her husband as a teaching assistant. Two years later, she died, having made physics into a lifelong career and broken a huge amount of ground for women in academic circles.

After her death, a marble statue was made in her memory and placed above the Nautical room in the institute.

She was elected member of many literary societies and carried on an extensive correspondence with the most eminent European men of letters. She was well acquainted with classical literature, as well as with that of France and Italy.