Spam That Makes Me Laugh – part the 234,234th

Fountain near the Pantheon Rome 1993
Fountain near the Pantheon Rome 1993

In a long running series, I occasionally republish spam email that I receive so you can laugh as well. Today’s edition comes from our buddies at the Italian Association International Headquarters in Rome, via their friends at (Country Code pe = Peru, by the way), via their friends at (Country Code za = South Africa). The Italian Association International Headquarters is such a small organization, they haven’t had the time to create a website yet, nor even get mentioned by any other agency that Google indexes, other than variants of this email.

Their request reads (all errors as in original):


Italian Association International
Headquarters: Via Vittorio Veneto 121- 00187
Roma Italy.

To Whom it may Concern/

My name is Giovanni Alessandro and I work for Italian Government in Milan. I will love to pass this information to you and I hope you are the honest one That

is really willing to take good care of 7 years old girl-whom her mother Came from an unknown area in Poland and they live in Italy the mother was one Of the

four victims who were killed by recent Flood That hit Tuscany and Venice.

We hope you will be so honest to accept this little girl and train her like Your own daughter, the victim left the sum of €1.5 million Euro in her account and this

fund has automatically for the little girl and the amount Will be to pay her in full.

We shall love a good honest female or male interpreter who can accept the Kid and take good care of her and every twelve months the government Milan Will

always come to check her and after longer available That person will be Given the €1.5 Million Euro to take good care of the kid. Please write me back if you are

Interested So THAT we can contact the bank where the money is deposited As Soon As Possible And Also contact the Milan government so they can sign and

Agreed That the kid to go with you and the money.

Best Regards
Giovanni Alessandro

Google Maps isn’t always accurate, but on a whim, I looked up the above referenced address. Looks to me like this is a hotel, or on the other side of the street, the United States Embassy, neither of which would be a good place to send money. Maybe because Sig Giovanni Alessandro is actually from Milan, he got the Roman address wrong. I’m sure if you email him, he’ll set you straight. 

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Venice Canal
Venice Canal

…not to mention, what recent flood that hit Venice? The one that occurs seemingly every day? Or the one that happened in 2012 and took the life of a 73 year old man and three employees of Enel, Italy’s biggest electricity company? Amazing how progressive Ente Nazionale per l’energia ELettrica is to hire recent Polish immigrants, and even give them company vehicles.

Some 200 people were evacuated in parts of Tuscany as heavy rains over the weekend left 70 percent of the city of Venice underwater, authorities said on Sunday. Sea levels peaked at 1.5 metres above normal levels before receding slightly. Floodwaters drenched most of the tourist destination of Venice and led to the evacuation of 200 people in Tuscany, as bad weather hit northern Italy at the weekend, authorities said Sunday. In Venice itself, heavy rains and winds from the south triggered “acqua alta” (high water) and 70 percent of the city was flooded, with sea levels reaching a peak of 1.5 metres (five feet) above normal before receding slightly, they said. In Tuscany, around 200 people were evacuated because of heavy rains which flooded homes and caused mudslides, local officials said. The most affected region was the province of Massa and Carrara, which produces the famous Carrara marble.

links for 2011-02-03

“Little Milton – Greatest Hits (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection)” (Little Milton)

  • Italian researchers who specialize in resolving art mysteries said Wednesday they have discovered the disputed identity of the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa — and claimed he was a man. Silvano Vinceti, chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage, said the Florence-born Renaissance artist’s male apprentice and possible lover Salai was the main inspiration for the picture.
    (tags: arts Italy)

Reading Around on March 2nd through March 6th

A few interesting links collected March 2nd through March 6th:

Reading Around on January 30th through February 2nd

A few interesting links collected January 30th through February 2nd:

  • The Roman Army Knife: Or how the ingenuity of the Swiss was beaten by 1,800 years | Mail Online – The world’s first Swiss Army knife’ has been revealed – made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart. An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade. It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick. Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails.
  • Hypocrisy Alert: 68 House Republicans Take Credit for the Economic Bills They Opposed | DCCC – Is this number higher by now? Wouldn’t be surprised

    The DCCC has unveiled the latest entries into the House Republicans Hypocrisy Hall of Fame, which has now grown to 68 Members. These Republicans have been caught trying to celebrate the benefits of projects they opposed in President Obama’s recovery bill, the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, and the Omnibus Public Land Management Act.

Fountain near the Pantheon Rome 1993

converted to black and white. I think I like the color version better, but probably because I’ve seen it more times.


from my archives, naturally (1993 was a long, long time ago in the digital era)

Virtual Time Travelling in Assassin’s Creed 2

“Assassin’s Creed II” (UBI Soft)

Video games sure have progressed in sophistication since the days of Pitfall Harry on an Atari 2600

Melik Kaylan writes:

With the release of Assassin’s Creed II in November, a lot changed. Ostensibly the story of a time traveler who journeys back to the Renaissance, becoming a hooded Florentine protagonist tasked with avenging the murder of his parents, the game is set in Florence, Venice and Rome over a number of decades leading up to the year 1499. The game’s producer-authors chose those years as the most eventful of the era and labored lovingly to re-create the environs as exactly as possible. They hired Renaissance scholars to advise on period garb, architecture, urban planning, weaponry and the like. They took tens of thousands of photographs of interiors and streets. They used Google Earth liberally to piece together the ground-up and sky-down perspectives through which the action flows.

The game’s creative director, a Montrealer named Patrice Desilets, lived in Italy for some years, where he acquired a feel for the vivid intrigues of the Renaissance. He grew fascinated, he says, with the notion that “finally people can control time, and relive the past, through games.” The producer, Sebastien Puel, was born in the south of France, in the fortified medieval French town of Carcassonne, and grew up surrounded by history. The head writer, a Harvard graduate from Los Angeles and former screenwriter, Corey May, was driven, he says, by the challenge of “telling a story that feels real and is set among real people who existed.”

The game’s plot, boiled down to its bare essentials, serves up the standard, if glowingly visualized, perquisites of current pop-fiction narratives—regression through genetic memory, Dan Brown-ish secrets of the Templars, and a central fictitious protagonist, Ezio, who traverses venerable Italian cities with great physical agility hunting Renaissance bad guys. In Florence, for example, Ezio leaps and climbs, in a manner that calls to mind the urban gymnastics of Parkour, over and through such familiar monuments as the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio. That’s when he’s not crossing roofs or wading through streets inhabited by courtesans, brotherhoods of thieves and Florentine soldiers, all of whom come with little optional windows where you can learn about their customs. Even the faces of bystanders are based on portraits of the time.

[Click to continue reading Assassin’s Creed II Brings Time Travel Closer to Reality | By Melik Kaylan –]

[non-WSJ subscribers click this link to read full article]

Sounds like a lot of fun, actually. I hope the game is wildly successful and generates many sequels…

Madonna of the Splinter – Vatican Museum, 1993

of course, no idea about the real artist/title. Sculpture carved of wood.

Scanned from a 4×6 print.


really need to retrieve my negatives from Austin – would love to scan from the originals

So You Think You Know Pasta

“Encyclopedia of Pasta (California Studies in Food and Culture)” (Oretta Zanini De Vita)

“I think of her as a kind of Julia Child,” said Mona Talbott, the executive chef at the American Academy in Rome and coordinator of its Rome Sustainable Food Project, founded by Alice Waters. “Julia Child demystified French food. Oretta demystifies pasta.”

Indeed, in its 300-odd pages, the “Encyclopedia of Pasta” ranges from abbotta pezziende, a short pasta that means “feed the beggar” in Abruzzo dialect, to the zumari of Puglia, a long pasta traditionally added to vegetable soups. In between there are the corzetti of Liguria and Piedmont, the little stamped-out coins; pi fasacc of Lombardy, which look like little babies in a papoose; avemarie, which cook for as long as it takes to say a Hail Mary; and several dozen variations on macaroni and ravioli. Each illustrated entry lists ingredients, provenance and how the pasta is traditionally served.

The range of shapes shows that cooking “was a way of self-expression for women to show their creativity and imagination with little or no resources,” Ms. Talbott said. She cited gnocchi ricci, or curly gnocchi, a specialty of Amatrice in Lazio, the city famous for spaghetti all’amatriciana, which are made by kneading together one dough made with flour and eggs, another made with flour, boiling water and salt.

The book also explodes a few myths. Do not think of mentioning the popular belief that Marco Polo had a role in the history of pasta. “Ma no,” she said in a jovial paroxysm of outrage. “When Marco Polo came back they had been eating pasta in Italy for 200 years!”

Instead, she notes in her encyclopedia, dried pasta made with durum wheat was found in Italy starting around A.D. 800. It was spread by the Muslim conquerors of Sicily, and by the 12th century the maritime republics of Genoa and Pisa marketed dried pasta.

“Documents exist to prove this, should there be anyone left — and it appears that there is — who still believes that Marco Polo introduced noodles into Italy in 1296 on his return to Venice from China,” she writes.

[Click to continue reading So You Think You Know Pasta –]

If I didn’t know better, I’d think I had Italian DNA coursing through my body. Wine, pasta, espresso, poetry, what more could one want?

Reading Around on October 6th through October 13th

A few interesting links collected October 6th through October 13th:

  • Army of Shadows :: :: Great Movies – “The members of this group move between safe houses, often in the countryside. When they determine they have a traitor among them, they take him to a rented house, only to learn that new neighbors have moved in. They would hear a gunshot. A knife? There is no knife. “There is a towel in the kitchen,” Gerbier says. We see the man strangled, and rarely has an onscreen death seemed more straightforward, and final.”
  • 1000 Constellations » Blog Archive » Together In Transit – I realized yesterday While riding on a train Crammed full of people That we never really get Second chances. What we truly get Are first chances Over and over Again.
  • The Footnotes of Mad Men. Betty’s Euro Look was based on Brigette Bardot – RESOLVED: Betty’s Euro look was based on Brigette Bardot: the 26 year old ‘sex siren’ of France. Here’s my favorite work from the Bardot cannon. The movie — by Godard, set in Italy, released in 1963 — is not only super slick but it also spawned, I believe, the greatest trailer of all time. I’ve been aching to link to this.

Venice Canal

Venice Canal
Venice Canal, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Taken somewhere in Venice, right before I dropped my camera lens-cap in the water and refrained from putting my hand in the nasty water to retrieve it.

from my 35mm archive (scanned from a print). Circa 1993.

a comment left on this Flickr photo1

Hello, my name is Rhett Hoffmeister, I own the website and am in the process of creating a screensaver to give away (free) to the visitors of my website. The screensaver will be composed of various images from around the web taken in Venice.

I like this image that you took in Venice in your Flickr account and see that you use creative commons license. I am writing to tell you that I will be using this image when I create the screensaver. I hope to have the screensaver completed this month, I am in the process of writing to all of the photograph owners to notify them of using their photos or seek permission if they are not creative commons. If you have any questions or comments or concerns please feel free to contact me.

In all instances there will be a reference to you as the photographer and your website where the picture is located. In addition, I will be creating a list of each and every photographer who allows usage of their photos and placing it on my site encouraging those who download the screensaver to visit all of the photographers.

Rhett Hoffmeister

  1. I gave permission, the concept sound interesting, though probably a Windows only application []

Reading Around on March 17th

Some additional reading March 17th from 13:38 to 14:12:

  • Taste of a thousand lemons – Los Angeles Times – On a wiltingly hot late summer evening, when all the plants are fainting and there’s not a breath of wind, you pour a tiny glass of limoncello straight from the freezer. It’s colder than ice, and it explodes in your mouth with all the freshness and optimism of lemon. Each sip seems to say, “Poor kid! Poor kid! What a scorcher that was! But everything’s all right now — your old friend night is on the way.”They know a lot about hot summer evenings in Sicily, where limoncello was invented about 100 years ago. It might just be the most sympathetic after-dinner drink there is, as bracing as a gin and tonic but more cheerful and fragrant. Limoncello’s fans have found a lot of other uses for it too: spiking lemonade, flavoring cocktails and splashing onto ice cream, poundcake or fresh fruit
  • Pallini Limoncello

  • Seattle Food – After Homemade Limoncello, You’ll Accept No Other – page 1 – Limoncello, the southern Italian after-dinner treat, is an invigorating refresher with an aroma and flavor unmatched by any citrus-flavored vodka or dessert wine. It’s the sensory equivalent of eating lemon meringue pie on a lazy Sunday picnic in the middle of Paolo’s lemon grove. It’s a potion that gets you to stop and live in the sun-drenched moment, even when it’s cloudy outside.

    The Luxardo brand that your state liquor store may carry is all fine and well, but once you’ve had homemade limoncello, you’ll accept no other. This recipe is a monthlong project that yields huge rewards for just a little patience and hardly any work.

  • Swanksalot’s Solipsism: Fifth Ward – Milwaukee, with biker – “As a billionaire, there would be a lot of buildings I would purchase in Milwaukee. This was one, for some reason. I’d turn most into art collectives – cheap studio space for artsy-fartsy types”

Chicago’s Oldest Italian Restaurant


[to best see the lovely ‘grain’, view large or click here ]

Personally, I think Spiaggia is much better, and apparently President-elect Obama agrees with me.

Michelangelo wears Kabbalah bracelet

“The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican” (Benjamin Blech, Roy Doliner)

Could be another case of Dan Brownism (conspiracy theories created without much basis in fact, but fun), I don’t know enough about Michelangelo or Kabbalah to proclaim with any authority.

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which the renaissance artist worked on for four years in the early 16th century, is actually a “bridge” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish faith, according to The Sistine Secrets: Unlocking the Codes in Michelangelo’s Defiant Masterpiece.

The book, which is already on the New York Times bestseller list, is the work of Rabbi Benjamin Blech, an associate professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University in New York, and Roy Doliner, a tour guide at the Vatican.

Scanning through the arrangement of figures on the vast 14,000 square foot ceiling, the authors have found shapes that correspond to Hebrew letters.

For example, the book states, the figures of David and Goliath form the shape of the letter gimel, which symbolises g’vurah, or strength, in the mystical Kabbalah tradition.

[From Michelangelo ‘hid secret code in Sistine Chapel’ – Telegraph]

Making obscene gestures toward the Pope? Do tell…

The authors believe Michelangelo picked up his knowledge of Judaism while at the court of Lorenzo de Medici in Florence.

In addition, they say there are several attacks on Pope Julius II, who commissioned the work, embedded in the painting.

Disgusted with papal corruption, they think Michelangelo painted the prophet Zechariah in the pope’s likeness.

Behind him, one angel is “making an extremely obscene hand gesture at the back of his head.”