Spellbound by Fellini

Ba ba ba ba-da… Ba ba ba ba-da…  This is the tune that has been in my head for the past week.  It’s “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini.  As a child, this was made most memorable by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.  If you haven’t seen it, you must have been raised under a rock.  You should watch it now.

That Bugs seriously gets me every time.

Well, I just recently watch Fellini’s 8 ½ for the first time.  I know, I know, where have I been?  La Dolce Vita, which Fellini made three years prior to 8 ½, is on the list of my top five favorite films.  I love, love, love La Dolce Vita.  I’ve just always been so enamored with La Dolce Vita, that I never got around to seeing 8 ½. And now… 8 ½ is vying for a spot on the list. Seriously, amazing. 

Anyways, 8 ½ … on the very basic level, is about a director trying to make a movie.  He’s flooded with producers, actors, writers and women stifling his creativity.  Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) is experiencing a creative block that keeps bringing him in and out of reality, back and forth between flashbacks and the present.  It’s smart and funny and the whole time it’s making me realize I need to get off my arse and do something.

It’s been exactly three months since I’ve written anything here.  No new developments.  I don’t have Italian citizenship yet. I’m still not fluent in Italian.  And no planned trips abroad.

There’s a flashback scene in 8 ½ when Guido was a small child.  Just before bed his brother and him whisper the words, ‘Asa Nisi Masa.’  They say it’s a spell meant to bring the pictures to life after dark.  It’s sort of like Pig Latin or Gibberish.  Little Italian kids would take words, separate by syllables and add the letters ‘sa,’ ‘si’ and ‘sa’ after alternating syllables.  Thus breaking down the spell, it comes down to ‘anima’ which literally means spirit or life force and has references to the female spirit.

Just as Guido in both his flashback and in the present is trying to bring pictures to life, I feel a sort of push to get moving. Nino Rota’s incorporation of the classic “Barber of Seville” into the score has infected me.  Ba ba ba ba-da… Ba ba ba ba-da… I seriously cannot stop.

I’m hoping this musical infection of sorts, this Fellini spell, will kick me into gear to make things happen.  Finish up the paperwork for the application, study Italian on a regular basis, watch more Italian films, experiment more with cooking and finally sit down and write.

This is my plan. We’ll see how it goes.


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Filed under About, Dual Citizenship, Italian Film

A very happy birthday

So yesterday, I officially turned 26.  Getting older much more quickly now and it’s kind of hard to believe that I’ve been living in LA for nearly four years now.  Just craziness, I say.

But to bring the celebration to full strength, I had most of my family in town visiting and we ate far too much and had way too much fun.  Caleb and Lea and I went to the Dodgers game on Friday and saw an exceptional game plus a nice little fireworks show.  Saturday we embraced il vino at the LA Wine Fest, and yet again, had a good time.

Sunday the parents and Michael arrived and we all enjoyed an Italian picnic (including riceballs, paninis, and wine) while seeing Andrea Bocelli at the Hollywood Bowl.

That’s the view from our seats.  Not the greatest quality photo, but trust me the view up there is spectacular.  It was an absolutely phenomenal show. Not that I’ve ever had a bad time at the Hollywood Bowl, it’s just this was exceptional.

Monday night we ate more Italian food.  Followed by fried chicken and waffles on Tuesday… not exactly on theme with the rest of the meals, but dangerously delicious.  And Wednesday being my birthday we of course ate more Italian.

Okay, here’s the place. Michelangelo’s Ristorante. Absolutely fabulous.  We started with several delicious appetizers and ended with several delicious desserts.  But in between, I had the most glorious entree.  Can you hear my mouth watering? And I haven’t even told you what I ate yet.  I ordered one of their specials for the night… Eggplant Parmesan.  But it was prepared like a lasagna.  The eggplant was thinly sliced, breaded and fried. Then layered in a baking dish with tomato sauce and mozzarella and then baked.  It was out of this world delicious.  It’s seems like it would be fun to experiment with in the kitchen. Not sure if I could match their flavors, but oh to dream.

Anyways, I had an absolutely wonderful visit with the family. Thanks mom and dad for a great birthday celebration.  Glad ya’ll were able to make it out here!

Mom and Dad


Filed under Family, Mangiamo, Travels

Risotto, Bocce and a random phrase

Been experimenting in the kitchen as of late.  Here’s my latest dabble in the art of Italian cuisine: Mushroom Risotto (note, you can check out other awesome recipes too).

In other news, I met up again with one of my Italian groups out here and played Bocce on the beach.  I think I must just be a natural.  My team won with flying colors! Well, it’s either an innate skill or the winds were in our favor.  But I like to think I’m just naturally inclined to win.

Also, my language skills are dwindling, so I bring you a completely random phrase:

Perche lei ha mangiato il mio asino? – Why did you eat my donkey?


Filed under Learn Italian, Mangiamo

Update with no real update

I received not one but two messages from USCIS today.  You’d think this would be leading to good news. Productive news.  Alas, this is not the case.

I first received an email asking if I’d yet received the certified copies of the Certificate of Naturalization for Liborio Marcello.  Answer is no, but at least they are working on it and diligent in making sure I do in fact get this certified copy.

About an hour after that, the mail arrived at the office with, lo and behold, a letter from USCIS telling me they’ve come up empty on my request for Anna Liggio Marcello.

While yes it’s true I’ve gotten close to squat in actual documents today, I do know that (1) the Certificate of Naturalization for Liborio is most likely almost in my hands and (2) since there is no record on Anna, I just need to write the lovely people in DC and get my official letter stating there is in fact no record.

Getting closer… kind of.

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Filed under Dual Citizenship, Records Search

Zeppole (or sfinge)

My first experiment with zeppole was a success!  Depending on the region they may be called zeppole or sfinge, but either way you say it, it turns out delicious.  They are alot like beignets but creamier due to the ricotta mixed in.  Look how tasty:

Fried Goodness for San Giuseppe

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cinnamon or nutmeg
2 tsp white sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 qts vegetable oil for frying
confectioners sugar for dusting

    Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir in the eggs, ricotta cheese and vanilla. Mix gently over low heat until combined. Batter will be sticky. Drop by tablespoons into the hot oil a few at a time. Zeppole will turn over by themselves. Fry until golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Drop on paper towel to soak up the excess oil and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Best when warm of course.

    I’ve read alot of variations on the recipe and some people even add in raisins or dried fruit, or dust with cinnamon and sugar instead of powdered sugar.  I kept it fairly simple but added the cinnamon to the batter for a little pizazz.


    Filed under Mangiamo

    Oh San Giuseppe!

    Two days ago I wore green.  I sang along to Flogging Molly. I reveled in the spirit of St. Patrick and a country to which I have no heritage.  I love to celebrate. Anything really.

    But today, today is the feast of St. Joseph.  And today, I will grasp on to the tradition of my heritage and celebrate. I have even worn my red Italia t-shirt to work today.  Must keep the spirit alive!

    St. Joseph's Day

    HISTORY LESSON!!! St. Joseph is regarded as the patron saint of Italy, and more specifically the land of my ancestors, Sicily.  Legend has it that during the middle ages, Sicily underwent a severe drought and the people of Sicily prayed to St. Joseph to bring rain and prevent a famine.  Well, as you can guess, it rained and the grateful people of Sicily offered up a massive feast in thanksgiving and honor of St. Joseph.  The fava bean is what saved them from starvation and thus is usually prominent in dishes on St. Joseph’s Day tables.  Hence, fava beans are generally deemed lucky.

    Some traditions have people wearing red on this day (thus my shirt above) and eat a Sicilian pastry called zeppole.  Later this evening, I will attempt to make my own zeppole.  After which, I will report the outcome.

    This day also brings back memories of New Orleans.  New Orleans, like me, is huge on celebrations.  And New Orleans, unlike my current city, celebrates in big fashion both St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day in a combined spectacular Irish-Italian Parade.  So if you’re in New Orleans this weekend, you should check it out!

    Sunday, March 22 – Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade (Metairie) – 12 Noon

    I must say that despite the celebration of heritage here, the feast of St. Joseph is quite relevant to the current conditions in the world.  We may not be dealing with drought and a looming famine, but the world is dealing with serious economic and for that matter ethical droughts. It seems that maybe a prayer to St. Joseph could be prudent at this juncture.


    Filed under Mangiamo, Randomness about Italy

    FOIA Friends

    Naturalization Papers are still in the process of being certified.  It’s been nearly six weeks and all they need to do is put a couple little stamps on a few sheets of paper.  You wouldn’t think this would be such an intensive task that needs six weeks to complete.  But that is life I guess.

    My new friends in the FOIA office are Danny and John.  Both very helpful and very friendly.   Danny has just called me back to let me know why the certification is taking so long. Apparently they were holding off on certification until they found the records for Anna as well. But now that they know that I’d prefer they just certify Liborio’s and send those along while finishing up with Anna, they’re going to get right to it!

    Still no marriage license, but I’m going to go with my plan to have everything but the marriage license and see if I can squirm my way through the system.  If there’s any truth in astrology, I might be in luck! The Gemini is supposedly very sneaky in getting what she wants through scheming and flattery… I think it’s the twins working together maybe.

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    Filed under Records Search