Saturday, December 22, 2007

Buon Natale da Blogiorno!


Hello my dear friends all over the world. As you may have noticed, I have not posted any entries in a while. Alas, I have been out of town for weeks on end due to work-related things, but now I'm back home for the holidays. I would like to wish each and EVERY one of you a very happy, healthy and joyous Christmas. Thank you for reading and commenting here at Blogiorno. I do appreciate it very much, and it has also given me the opportunity to visit your blogs in return.

Take care and may God bless you greatly during this holiday season.

With my warmest regards,

-Aaron

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Dieci Ordini? (The Ten Commandments?)

Greetings my friends! You may have heard on the news that in the great country of Italy, a gentleman named Salvatore Lo Piccolo was arrested just outside of Palermo, Sicily, on suspicion of Mafia "activity". The police allege that Lo Piccolo inherited the mantle of former Mafia kingpin Bernardo "The Tractor" Provenzano. Provenzano was on the lam for an incredible 43 years, and Lo Piccolo for 20. Perhaps more interesting, however, is that when Lo Piccolo was arrested, in his stylish brown leather briefcase was a list of ten rules, or commandments, by which all good mobsters should live. Yes, mafiosi are not always smiles and sunshine; they do have their serious side too. And, they are apparently bound by ten commandments which include punctuality, avoiding bars and being nice to their wives. Lo Piccolo reportedly carried these with him everywhere he went.

Why, you may ask, does such a list exist? Isn't the essence of Cosa Nostra, according to The Godfather movies--the most accurate depiction of the Family, according to former mobster Sammy "The Bull" Gravano--that honor and gentlemanly behavior reign supreme, to such an extent that no one need even speak of such things?

Well, it seems that some of the oldtimer mobsters haven't been too happy with the youngsters who are climbing the ranks of the Mafia. And according to Mafia experts, these ten commandments reflect a desire to curb licentious or extravagant behaviour seen by old-style Mafia chieftains as "immoral". It is as if Cosa Nostra bosses want to rein in the flamboyant behaviour of the starry-eyed younger mobsters who have joined the organisation in recent years. For example, Trapani boss Matteo Messina Denaro, a Porsche-driving playboy often seen as a rival to Lo Piccolo, reportedly enjoys a semi-mythical status among newer, more ambitious Mafia initiates. Denaro's flagrant behavior suggests that crime definitely does pay, and this is the sort of exposure that Cosa Nostra definitely does not want. Indeed, Michael Corleone must be rolling over in his grave at such indiscretions.

So my friends, here are the Mafia's ten commandments. Conspicuously absent is the Judeo-Christian commandment of, "Thou shalt not kill." I choose to believe that the dons of Cosa Nostra are working on getting that in there too as an addendum or something. The other possibility is that it is "implied", which is a reasonable assumption. But, either scenario works. For me.

________________________________________

1. No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
2. Never look at the wives of friends.
3. Never be seen with cops.
4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.
5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife is about to give birth.
6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
7. Wives must be treated with respect.
8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
10. People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.


________________________________________


Hard to take issue with, isn't it? In fact, the words "organized" or "crime" aren't even mentioned once. Nothing incriminating there. So eat your hearts out, you crooked, bribe-taking, gin-guzzling, cigar-smoking, day-and-night-philandering, sanctimonious Senate-sub-committee-hearing guys. Or...people...uh...members? Eh, you know what I mean. See, now you got me all bothered.

Thank you for reading! Your comments are welcome, and I will be sure to forward them on to Signori Lo Piccolo and Provenzano.

Ciao amici miei!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Italian Teacher Too Sexy For Religion Classes?

ROME, Sept. 6, 2005 (Blogiorno and Reuters) - Was it her looks or lifestyle that led the Roman Catholic Church to fire an Italian religion teacher this year?

Professor Caterina Bonci, a 38-year-old religion instructor described in Italy's leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, as a "leggy, long-haired blonde," has caused a major sensation, getting axed by the Catholic Church from her position in state-run schools. Bonci said Church authorities in the seaside town of Fano, Italy, decided she was just too attractive and dressed too sexy to teach religion after 14 years on the job.

"They shouldn't treat me like this after 14 years of teaching," Bonci said. "It's pure nastiness."

The headmaster at her former school, Father Alcide Baldelli, has said that some parents and teachers had complained about Bonci because she would "show up in a mini-skirt."

Bonci says she had never worn mini-skirts to work, and had "the right to wear a bikini if I go to the beach, and to wear a skirt the same length as thousands of other women…I am not a nun."

However, The Catholic Church states that it sacked the Professor because she is divorced. Local media quoted Giorgio Paolucci, lawyer for the diocese of Fano, as saying that she was fired because she was divorced and so should not be teaching religion for a Church that does not recognize divorce. According to Paolucci, the version supplied from the woman to the local press is "wrong and misleading".

"The diocese’s motivation is that she lacked suitability for the instruction of the Catholic religion", declared the lawyer.

Aesthetic Qualities Not Desirable?

Bonci said she separated from her husband in 1995, divorced in 2000 and that both events had not affected her job or raised eyebrows from her employers at the time. She said that she has never hidden her divorce from Church authorities, dresses down when teaching and defended her right to dress how she likes in her private life.

“I don’t see what it matters if a teacher is good looking or not as long she is qualified,” she told Reuters by telephone. “In school, I dressed normally. In my private life, I have every right to dress any way I want.” She added, “When a woman is considered too sexy and attractive in a small town it becomes a big thing.”

Media Frenzy

Bonci has been all over the Italian media demanding to go back to her job teaching religion to children in state schools on behalf of the diocese. Even Italy’s Corriere della Sera gave readers a break from pages of stories about scandal at the Bank of Italy and government bickering with the teasing headline: “Teacher in mini-skirt fired by diocese.”

Gawking Fathers

Bonci said reports that fathers accompanied their children to school so they could look at her meant little to her as long as the children came to class.

She added, "I have always been attacked by my female colleagues and by the rest of the staff because of my attractiveness." Bonci continued, "And if you consider that at our parent-teacher meetings it was always the fathers who came to see me, one can see why I have so often been at the center of attention and a target for gossip."

She has now become a minor celebrity on the Adriatic coast and national television talk shows are queuing up to interview her, but she says she wants only one thing.

“I would like my job back. I think it is my right,” she said. “For this job I have sacrificed and have lived a secluded life in order to attain the demanded morality, and this how they repay me".
__________________________________________


Your Turn

Blogiorno asks, “What do you think?”

Should divorcee Caterina Bonci be allowed to teach religion? Do you believe she was fired for being too attractive? Can a woman be “sexy” and still professional, or would it be better to forgo that to squelch accusations of impropriety? Should a Christian woman even aspire to be "sexy"?

Leave your comments! Grazie mille!




Friday, October 26, 2007

Italy Top Court Upholds Berlusconi Graft Acquittal


ROME, Fri Oct 26, 2007 (Reuters) - Italy's top court upheld a verdict on Friday acquitting former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a corruption case, a lawyer for Berlusconi said.

"It was high time. Twelve years have gone by since the start of this trial, in which Silvio Berlusconi was crucified, has been slandered around the world and now his innocence has finally emerged crystal clear," lawyer Niccolo Ghedini told Reuters.

Italy's richest man, owner of broadcaster Mediaset, was first acquitted in the case in 2004. An appeals court upheld that verdict in April this year, and it was again upheld on Friday by Italy's Cassation Court, meaning the verdict is now definitive.

Berlusconi, head of the centre-right opposition, was accused of bribing judges to stop the sale of food group SME to a rival businessman in the 1980s.






Blogiorno Editorial Commentary: As we have noted time and again, there are vast differences between the United States and Italy. It is important to note that upholding justice is one such difference, as evidenced by this Reuters article. Here in the United States, well-coiffed celebrity lawyers stand firmly upon the necks of those who attempt to administer the scales of justice. Furthermore, those in America with greater means and social stature can be assured of alternate--and spectacularly unequal--forms of said justice. We here at Blogiorno wish to point out that, refreshingly, the same is NOT true in Italy. As Silvio Berlusconi's lawyer will attest, in Italy good does triumph over evil, for Italian lawmakers have not dulled their collective consciences as their counterparts have in America. Indeed, the Italians have sought and answered the higher calling of their Lady of Perpetual Justice. Therefore, today the irreproachable judges of the Italian court system have spoken. Justice has prevailed in Italy!

Thanks to Reuters for bringing us this important news. Reuters: Know. Now. Or something.




Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ducati's Greatest Day


Ciao my friends! And now, for your reading pleasure, a bit of noteworthy news from the exciting world of motorcycle racing. Last weekend, the Ducati motorcycle racing team, with the help of a fine son from the Koala nation of Australia, made some serious history by clinching the 2007 MotoGP World Championship. As we've noted before here at Blogiorno, Italy is perhaps THE center for all things excellent in the world, and racing is foremost in their achievements. Ducati set about to win the MotoGP championship in 2002. Five short years later, they did exactly that, taking their very first title. Their rider, 21 year old Casey Stoner of Australia, clinched the title for Ducati and all of Italia at the Japanese Grand Prix, which took place at Motegi Circuit in Japan. Even better, the race was won by the second Ducati rider, Italian Loris Capirossi.

To clinch the championship, MotoGP rookie Casey Stoner only needed to finish ahead of Italy's beloved son, Valentino Rossi. Casey finished sixth, and it was done. Normally, anyone beating Valentino Rossi triggers an immediate blacklisting here at Blogiorno, but we paused, took several deep breaths into the oxygen masks we knicked from British Airways and let the rage pass on by. Only the balm that is Ducati could quell such anger, which was soon replaced by unbridled joy, knowing that the manufacturer of our beloved street bike has been rewarded for their travail. The result of the race in Japan was, as you might expect, laughter and tears in the Ducati Marlboro Team pit, as well as in the Borgo Panigale factory headquarters, where more than one thousand fans watched the race alongside the Ducati dignitaries. Talk about rejoicing!

In my visit to the Ducati factory, I would have loved to see the Italians building the MotoGP race bikes; in fact, the racing shop is located in the center of the factory floor. However, visitors are forbidden from entering that area, and actually, you cannot even so much as point your camera in the general direction of said shop without politely getting your hand slapped by one of the beautiful Italian tour guide girls. Why? It is because of the millions and millions of dollars that it takes to field a MotoGP team, much less finish in the top 5 or fight for the championship. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars just to get into the game. The pressure to win is very intense, and the danger of losing your technological edge via industrial espionage is equally as intense--that is no joke, and it happens all the time.

So this--the big money game that is MotoGP--is the reason for all the secrecy. It is also the reason for big tobacco's presence in motorsport, and for Marlboro being the chief sponsor of the Ducati racing team; large conglomerates like theirs are the only ones who have that kind of money to throw around. Here at Blogiorno, we don't have any objection to large corporations sponsoring racing teams, nor do we see any reason to pile on the already fledgling tobacco industry, especially because demonizing that industry was, for a time, the favorite chia-pet cause of Hollywood elitists...at least until they got distracted by all the shiny objects eminating from--cue Darth Vader's theme song--Walmart. (Cue a big eyeroll too, while you're at it. Grazie.) So while we simultaneously acknowledge the dangers of smoking AND laud the how-can-they-be-THAT-bad people at Marlboro, we also state unequivocally that if Walmart sponsored the Ducati Racing Team, we'd still be right there, sporting that smiley face mascot of theirs proudly on our official Ducati Racing Team merchandise.

So there you have it...the good folks at Marlboro, with their smooth good taste and rich tobacco flavor, now have themselves a World Championship racing team. But much more importantly, the Ducati Racing Team have realized their dream of taking motorcycle racing's highest honor, the MotoGP World Racing Championship.

Here are a few memorable quotes from the champions:

CASEY STONER, 2007 MotoGP World Champion
"At the moment it all feels a little bit unrealistic! I'm struggling for words, I don't think there's any feeling that can compare to this...we finally did it!"

LORIS CAPIROSSI, race winner, 7th in World Championship
"We struggled a lot this weekend, but I won my third consecutive race here...it's a great moment for me. It's also a great day for Casey, for Ducati and for the team."

GABRIELE DEL TORCHIO, CEO Ducati Motors
"This success is the best demonstration of Ducati excellence, is a triumph of Italian intelligence, talent, competences and the warmth that is one of our country's most vital assets. It's an important and remarkable achievement. It is a dream come true. We are speaking of a great feat realised thanks to Casey's commitment, bravery and team work, united with the work of our draughtsmen, technicians, engineers, team members, sponsors and everyone at the factory."

CLAUDIO DOMENICALI, Ducati Corse CEO
["Corse" means "Racing" in Italian. - AA]
"It is a dream come true - a fantastic feeling, really fantastic. I don't have enough words to thank all the guys who have contributed to this incredible achievement, which shows that Italy is a nation whose passion and talent can succeed in a hugely technically advanced field. It's certainly a good reason for Italians to be proud."

Bravo Signor Casey Stoner, Scuderia Ducati, e Italia!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Attrezzo dell'artista

Hello friends! This blog entry will be only slightly off topic, and more "informational" about the inner workings of the writing staff at Blogiorno. Here at Blogiorno, we have always used Apple as the primary tool with which to create this blogging magic. Recently, we were pleased--okay, fine, I was pleased--to purchase a new 13 inch widescreen Apple MacBook [pic, above]. It is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, running at 2.16GHz speeds, which makes it snappy fast. Also, it is aesthetically pleasing and lends itself to creativity in ways that just seem to be a stretch for Windows machines...from the pearly white case and keyboard, to the graphics rendering, to the Tiger operating system. Really super.

On the subject of computer "platform" preference, I have found that, for many otherwise dispassionate people, things seem to verge on the radical. There is precious little middle ground in the "Mac versus PC" ground war. Generally, I say to each their own. "Live and let live." That is, unless you're speaking in the ethical/moral sense of life. That whole laissez-faire attitude in things moral is dragged out of the gutters far too often in order to justify all manner of deviant behavior. And it is particularly bad in the realm of parenting. You've seen said parents at Starbucks, taking full-fist blows to their nether-regions from their darling cherub kid, then admonishing the little troll that they're not supposed to hit Mommy: "Stop it Dakota, I'm only going to tell you 50 more times and then you're getting a time-out and an imaginary demerit". Yes, as a way of life, laissez-faire is completely self-serving, leads to personal/social/spiritual ills, and is generally a bad idea. But anyway, let's not deviate any further from the topic at hand...back to uh...where were we...oh yes, computers! For me, creativity and Apple go hand-in-hand. And, few would contest that Apple are tops at creating the slickest, earthiest, most user-friendly products around.

The only downside with Apple is the elitist attitude that some "creative types" tend to put on display whilst floating about in Apple stores. Honestly, when I go into Apple stores--which is very rarely--sometimes I have had to fight hard not to roll my eyes in derision at some of the arrogant artsy types who just came from Starbucks with a kid named, say, "Dakota", demanding this and that from the poor minimum-wage kids working there. Not right. Can't we all just get along?

I happened to read a humorous article from Wired magazine about some celebrities who fit in that latter, unfortunate category. You might get a laugh from it too; a few off-color words, yes, but hey, I didn't write it. [See link below].

Okay then. I will see you next time. Meanwhile, visit an Apple store and check out some of the nice products they offer. There really is something for everyone. The stores are in most major cities, including my hometown, San Luis Obispo, California, and of course, Milan, Italy. Ciao, ciao!


Click to read the article from Wired Magazine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sono Un Ducatisti!

Ciao amici! Recently, I achieved a personal goal of mine—I acquired a new Ducati motorcycle. I’ve wanted one of these bikes since 2002, when I visited the Ducati factory in Bologna, Italy, and watched the Italian workers assemble them. If you’re not familiar with motorcycling, Ducati is certainly one of THE bikes to own. Why? Well, it is an exotic Italian motorcycle, and certainly more rare than any Japanese-made bike. Also, Ducati’s history is legendary. They are responsible for creating soulful, fast, beautiful bikes, and for infusing the world of motorcycle racing with huge passion and excitement, as only Italians can do.

To be a Ducati owner, or, a “Ducatisti”, is something that many motorcyclists desire. And once you get one, you just instinctually understand why: You are riding not just a motorcycle, but also a piece of history. The bike just exudes Italian timelessness, flair and soul, and you can really feel it as the sounds and movements beneath you defy anything you may have previously experienced. It is breathtakingly fast. It is beautiful to behold. It has an exhaust note that is raw and throaty. Really special. When you’re riding it, you get the distinct feeling that this is a hand built bike, and furthermore, that everything you feel and see in the bike has been slowly and passionately created, honed and fine-tuned, not just on engineering paper, but in garages of yesteryear, by crazy Italians, cigarettes dangling from their bottom lips, trying to figure out how to make the fastest bikes.

The Ducati model I chose is the 2007 Monster S2R 1000 [shown]. It is considered a “naked” bike, meaning, it isn’t wrapped in coverings and panels and fairings like most Japanese supersport bikes. Ducati is credited with inventing the naked bike in the early 1990s, when they dreamed up the original concept. The Monster is a tough motorcycle, often categorized as a “streetfighter”. Yes, that word may be a bit much, but that’s actually the feeling you get when you ride it. You feel as if you could outrun any vehicle on the road, leaving them in the smoke of your rear tire, and actually, you can do just that because of the insanely intense acceleration and top speed capabilities of the bike. And speaking of acceleration, this bike will pull your arms out of their sockets if you twist the throttle enough, and you can expect the front wheel to loft off the ground in doing so. The torque is just stunning. Let’s just say that the good folks in the Borgo Panigale region of Bologna chose the correct name for this motorcycle.

As the model name implies, the S2R 1000 Monster is 1000 cubic centimeters in displacement. It has an air-cooled “L” twin engine--the cylinder heads set 90 degrees apart. Many consider this bike to be the ultimate Ducati, even though the company manufactures more powerful bikes. Why? Because Ducati’s heritage—and what made them famous—is the torque-intensive air-cooled twin engine. So simple, yet so potent. What does “torque” mean? Well, many bikes tend to spin up to their power “sweet spot” comparatively more slowly than others; that is, the power doesn’t really come on until you get closer to the RPM red-line, often at 9,000 or 10,000 RPM (engine Revolutions Per Minute). This means that they tend to be civil at low RPMs. The Monster, on the other hand, reaches its sweet spot at around 6,000 RPM, which means that even at lower RPMs, all the way up to its red-line, the bike has crushing accleration. And that is why Ducati motorcycles are some of the most exciting and awe-inspiring bikes made. Some even say that this particular Ducati, the Monster S2R 1000, is THE best Ducati ever. That’s really saying something, since the company builds bikes upwards of $85,000 in price, such as the Desmosedici RR MotoGP replica bike.

As I alluded to earlier, one of the great things about Ducati is the history and heritage of the company. In my opinion, there are few other motorcycle companies that match Ducati’s glittering history. And that is what makes owning a Ducati that much more special for me. Also, motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists alike really appreciate the bike too, even if they're not sure what it is. They know that it must be exotic, with such an intriguing, Italian-sounding name and that rosso red paint. Yes, there's no doubt, it attracts a lot of attention, like it or love it. In this last photo [above, right] taken one evening by one of the many paparazzi who follow me around, you can see me strolling to my bike amongst the stunned, gape-mouthed passersby, whom, I must add, I always greet warmly.

So my friends, if you get the chance, visit the Ducati website and take in the glory that is Ducati. There you can see the Monster bikes, as well as all of the other Ducati models. There is also lots about Ducati's worldwide racing efforts, which are quite vast. Finally, in the Heritage section, you can see great old photographs of the earliest Ducatis, as well as photos of the earliest days of motorcycle building and racing, when everything was so new and exciting…and dangerous. Bravo, Ducati! Grazie mille per tutto!

Thank you once again for reading Blogiorno. Ciao, a presto!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Io presento Valentino Rossi!

Hello my dear friends! As you lay awake at night pondering the meaning of...so many things, so...very...many...things, one question you must surely have is this: Who is the best motorcycle racer in the world as we know it? Fortunately, Blogiorno has the answer to this particular question, though few other answers to much of anything else. From a small town in Italy called Urbino, located near the Adriatic coast, comes World Champion Valentino Rossi. Valentino Rossi is an Italian professional motorcycle racer, and he is one of the most successful racers of all time, with 7 Grand Prix World Championships to his name. There is another racer with more than 7...that is the great Giacomo Agostini, also of Italy, who has 15 GP World Championships!

Rossi rides in MotoGP. MotoGP is a worldwide series that takes place on almost every continent in the world, with rounds in China, Turkey, Spain, Australia, Germany, Japan, Italy and several other countries, including the U.S. Simply put, MotoGP is the pinnacle of two-wheeled track racing. Every racer aspires to be in MotoGP.

Thankfully, only an hour and a half north of my villa in San Luis Obispo, California, a round of MotoGP takes place: the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. I have attended this international event twice to watch "The Doctor"--Valentino's nickname--compete. [See photo, right.] What an event. Alas, Valentino has not been able to win in the U.S. yet. Why? Is it a major flaw in his 200+ MPH, 220 horsepower Yamaha M1 motorcycle? No. Is it jet lag? No. Is it Pamela Anderson--who attends, along with many other "stars"--distracting him by shamelessly trying to hurl herself at him from the pits? No. It is the crummy Michelin tires that the Yamaha team is contractually bound to use; they are just not up to the task. THANK YOU FRANCE. Hopefully a U.S. victory will come in the future for Valentino.

So, cara amici, Valentino Rossi is considered to be the greatest motorcycle racer of our modern age. He is not particularly imposing, but when he gets on the bike, no one can touch him, equipment being equal, which it never is. It is said that Valentino races lines like no other racer, and that his heartrate is astonishingly low when he rides, barely breaking 100 beats per minute.

Currently, Valentino lives in London, England, simply because he is mobbed in Italy almost immediately and cannot walk down the street. Such is the love the Italians have for their humble son. But make no mistake about it, though quite humble in demeanor, he is a superstar. On a worldwide scale, he is much better known than any American athlete, with perhaps only Tiger Woods rivaling him. His success has also earned him tremendous riches: According to Sports Illustrated, Rossi is the 7th highest earning sports personality in the world, 2nd outside the United States, earning an estimated $30 million a year, not including endorsements. Mamma mia!

Grazie mille for reading...until next time!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Padre Nostro

In Italy, the Lord's Prayer is known as "Padre Nostro". As you may know, the Lord's Prayer is the only known prayer uttered by Jesus Christ. For this reason, I believe it deserves special attention. If you would like to hear Padre Nostro spoken in Italian, I've included that soundfile below.


Padre nostro che sei nei cieli,
sia santificato il tuo nome;
Venga il tuo regno,
sia fatta la tua volontà,
come in cielo così in terra.
Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano;
Rimetti a noi i nostri debiti,
Come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori.
E non ci indurre in tentazione,
Ma liberaci dal male.
Amen.


Father of ours, who are in heaven,
blessed be your name;
May your kingdom come,
may your will be fulfilled,
as in heaven as on earth.
Give us today our daily bread;
Clean our debts,
As we clean the debts of our debtors.
Do not let us slip into temptation,
But free us from all evil.
Amen.



Per ascoltare, clicca
qui

Monday, July 02, 2007

Italia: Campioni del Mondo!

Every four years, the sporting world as we know it is turned absolutely upside down. No, I'm not speaking of the Olympics, where perfectly acceptable concepts such as "goodwill" and "world community" are mercilessly jammed into our auditory canals by tanned American sportscasters for two weeks. Rather, I am referring to that glorious, gritty worldwide brawl known as World Cup Soccer. If you're American, you're probably as familiar with the great sport of soccer as Europeans are with Nascar, but believe me, soccer is monumentally colossal worldwide. In fact, according to "the internets", the 2006 World Cup stands as the most watched event in all of television history. Wow. It achieved an estimated 28.29 billion non-unique viewers over the course of the brawl, and the final match scored an estimated audience of 715 million people.

Now, what's great about World Cup is this: Pure, raw nationalism rules for a month, with no apologies whatsoever from players or viewers. It is a beautiful thing. Unless you're speaking of the French, who I must single out because they made it to the final with Italy. France did indeed have an excellent team, yes. But like it or hate it, French nationalism seems to be almost universally questioned. Why? Perhaps because in the history of world affairs, the French cannot escape their penchant for the color white, which obviously detracts from stout nationalism. Fair statement? Who can say? On the one hand, the French government did in fact collaborate with their Nazi occupiers in World War II; on the other hand, the common citizens of the French Resistance are the stuff of legend, and should held up in high esteem. And let's not forget France's role in the founding of our great nation, the United States of America.

Anyway, for me personally, I have a problem with French nationalism for a different reason, and here it is: When was the last time the French fans had the internal fortitude to start a 100,000 person riot in a stadium, complete with flying seats, fires and collapsing fences? I rest my case. I mean, the Italians and Germans and Brits do it all the time, and with great ease. (Now that I think about it, I'm not so sure that's a good thing for the Degos, Krauts and Limeys.)

Anyway, in 2006, a blessed year, Italy took the World Cup from the many other capable teams, a list in which I of course include the French team. In fact, as I said before, the final match was between Italy and France, and it will not be soon forgotten. The final started with each side scoring within the first 20 minutes, and from there on, it was a topsy-turvy ride to the penalty kick shootout, which Italy won, 5-3. Si!

Before the shootout, the match was tarnished when France's excellent player Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italy's Marco Materazzi in the chest and was subsequently shown the red card and sent back to the City of Lights. The French press whined--shocker, I know--that Materazzi insulted Zidane. True, he did, but let's get real: trash talking is often part of the psychological match, and not just in soccer.

In 2006, the World Cup was held in cities throughout Germany, and they put on a fine show for the world in the Berlin final. Plus, you have to hand it to the Germans--they know how to riot. It was the first all-European final since Italy won the World Cup in 1982. It was also Italy's first world title in 24 years, and their fourth overall, putting them only one behind Brazil, widely regarded as soccer specialists. Sadly for the German fans, their team did not win the cup, and that is a shame. But the most important thing to Italy, to Italians, and to you, my wonderful Blogiorno readers, is that Italy gave France das boot in Berlin, triumphing in overtime, as no doubt wished for by our pal Pope Benedict, and perhaps even ordained by THE highest power, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who reigns supreme.









Ciao! We'll see you in 2010 in South Africa!