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La Terza Classe

Italiano

Come musicista americano che vive in Italia e negli Stati Uniti, l’ultima cosa che mi aspettavo di vedere in entrambi i paesi era una banda musicale bluegrass di Napoli. Avendo detto questo, mi sono avventurato fuori alla sede di musica locale di Feed and Seed ad Fletcher, North Carolina, con mia moglie la notte scorsa e sono stato trattato con una vera delizia. Ammetto che ero un po’ scettico andando nella porta; Mi aspettavo una band italiana con competenze solo parziali per Bluegrass e Americana. Le mie aspettative si sono infranti nel momento in cui hanno suonato la loro prima canzone.

La prima cosa che ho notato è che questi cinque giovani sono musicisti formidabili a pieno titolo. Ciascuno conosce a fondo il proprio strumento: Pierpaolo – Chitarra, Enrico – Batteria, Rolando – Contrabbasso, Corrado – Violino, Alfredo – Armonica. Anche loro fanno grandi voci. La seconda cosa che ho notato è che tutti si divertono molto quando suona musica insieme. Non è un lavoro per loro; è divertente e ne amano ogni minuto. L’alta energia generata passa al pubblico come un fulmine.

Questa band fa molti classici tra cui: John Henry, Wayfaring Stranger, May The Circle Be Unbroken e molti altri. Le loro canzoni originali sono semplicemente fantastiche.

La Terza Classe  è una delle band più strette che abbia mai sentito da molto tempo. Sono assolutamente divertenti. Se riesci a prenderli durante il loro tour negli Stati Uniti, fallo! Sarai piacevolmente sorpreso. Saranno presenti all’Oscar Blues Brewery di Brevard, NC stasera e ad Asheville il 13 novembre al Teatro Isis.

Puoi trovare il sito della band qui: http://www.laterzaclasse.it/

English

As an American musician who lives in both Italy and the United States, the last thing I expected to see in either country was a bluegrass band from Naples. That being said, I ventured out to the Feed and Seed local music venue in Fletcher, North Carolina with my wife last night and was treated to a real delight. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical going in the door; I expected an Italian band with just partial chops for bluegrass and Americana. My expectations were shattered the minute they played their first song.

The first thing I noticed is that these five young men are each terrific musicians in their own right. Each knows their instrument thoroughly: Pierpaolo – Guitar, Enrico – Drums, Rolando – Double Bass, Corrado – Violin, Alfredo – Harmonica. They all do great vocals as well.  The second thing I noticed is that all of them  really enjoy themselves when playing together. It’s not a job to them; it’s fun and they love every minute of it. The high energy generated passes to the audience like lightning.

This band does many classics including: John Henry, Wayfaring Stranger, May The Circle Be Unbroken and many more.  Their original songs are simply terrific.

La Terza Classe is one of the tightest bands I’ve heard in a long time. They are thoroughly enjoyable. If you can catch them on their U.S. tour, do it! You will be very pleasantly surprised. They will be appearing at the Oscar Blues Brewery in Brevard, NC tonight and in Asheville  November 13 at the Isis Theater.

You can find the band’s website here: http://www.laterzaclasse.it/

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Lake Molveno

I have visited virtually thousands of places near my home in Northern Italy. Each has been enjoyable. However, one of the most unique is Lake Molveno, located in the Brenta Dolomites of Trento Province west of the large city of Trento.

It has been said that Molveno is Italy’s most beautiful lake. What it lacks in size is more than made up by its extraordinary color and commanding position, framed below the Brenta Dolomites. It is a special place that is unfortunately missed by most tourists who come to Italy’s Trento Province for vacations. It is somewhat off the beaten path and must be accessed by roads that are definitely not freeways. Sitting at 2,835 feet above sea level, it can only be reached by road SS421 which runs between the north end of Lake Garda and Spormaggiore in the Val di Non. Another road, SS45 will take you to the SS421 from the city of Trento. These roads are slow but very scenic.

There’s a lot to do in this tiny village: Fishing, sightseeing, hiking, shopping and culinary delights top the list. There’s even a great little beach on the lake that is safe for children. If you’re looking for a great place to eat that is definitely not touristy, I would recommend the Antica Bosnia. It is a small trattoria that has some unusual dishes that are very reasonably priced. Try the Costole di Cervo (rack of venison) or the Lepre (Hare). They both are local specialties that are hard to find elsewhere. These are some of the true flavors of the region.

You will find many more hidden treasures along the road in either direction. I’m not going to spill all of the beans here. Give it a try. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did! If you have already seen this remarkable location, drop me a line.

Photo: Lake Molveno by Allen E. Rizzi

Se per caso parli solo italiano, contattami attraverso questo sito per una traduzione.

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Tony’s At 5 AM

I have many memories from my childhood that all fit me like snug warm clothes in winter. One in particular is recalled often as it set a rhythm my whole life has followed.

In the early 1950’s, I was a very young fisherman who had a particularly proud father. He was a hard-working salesman and a fly fisherman. On Friday nights from May to October we would play out a ritual together that was repeated many, many times. I would obediently go to bed early at about 6 PM and would be awaken at 11:30 PM to begin a magic carpet ride to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Owens River that laid at their feet.

The road was long: Precisely it was 306 miles and six hours flat from our small home in San Fernando, California to our fishing destination, the Long Ears Ranch on the Owens River. The mileage and travel time had been calculated on countless occasions. It was a car trip that my father and I knew very well. As we left our driveway just before midnight, my mother always was there to wish us well. “Drive safely and catch lot’s of fish!” echoed into the late night of a sleepy town.

The night took us first to Newhall and then to Mojave for the long trip up Highway 395 to our destination. We drove the long road in harmony with one another and I was always awake as I wanted to see the jack rabbits and deer that we passed on the desert floor. I also had endless questions that included the familiar, “Where are we now?” I was always as eager as my father to get to the fishing. I would gaze out the window at the shadows of the mountains as they began to loom in the distance and think about what the dawn would hold. A rising moon often gave the  spectacle an aura of magic. The whole traveling the road at night thing would stick with me my entire life.

As our car shot across the Mojave Desert, my anticipation became almost unbearable as there was always one stop we made on every trip. Passing the town of Lone Pine, I always looked up the road and into the night like an owl until we arrived in Bishop. We drove slowly through the town and there it was on the left: Tony’s Union 76 gas station and the nameless cafe next to it. Nearly five hours had passed. My father would always seek out Tony personally as they had become friends. Our old Buick was filled with much-needed gas and then the real magic began.

The cafe next to Tony’s (I always thought they were one and the same.) was sort of gathering place for early morning fishermen in those days. I remember the walls were crowded with trophy trout, each tantalizingly descriptive of where and when the fish was caught. I memorized them all. They were like markers for the road up ahead. These fish were all huge and I remember feeling confident that I would catch one of equal size when the dawn finally arrived. The place had knotty pine walls and heavy fishing conversation echoed off of them in a pre-dawn frenzy. There was always a bunch of fisherman who were going out to Crowley Lake; that’s where some of the big ones were for sure. Others were heading up to Convict Lake and still others were destined for Hot Creek. Each had abundant enthusiasm as they splashed down their coffee and eggs.

Occasionally an acquaintance of my father would ask, “Goin’ up to the Upper Owens again?” My father would agree with a nod and then push me forward to introduce his fly fishing son. The room seemed to gather around me as all of these old timers had questions and words of encouragement. This scene continued for years from when I was about five to about ten years old. In the latter years, I began to recognize most of these folks on my own and I would greet them when we came in after visiting Tony’s for gas.

After some store-bought breakfast, which was a special treat in those days, we would say an early goodbye to everyone and headed up Sherwin Grade into the pre-dawn to secure our position on the early morning waters of the Upper Owens River. We turned off at the Big Springs Camp Ground and took five miles of rough gravel road to our final destination. It was always not yet quite light yet; those were the rules. We would string up then enter the swampy cow pastures as the first hint of the sun arrived.

My father and I would fish six straight hours, break for lunch and then fish until the late afternoon. Then, with reluctance, we’d pack everything up and head back to San Fernando which was six hours south. I made dozens of these quick trips along with longer stays with my father. I always wondered at how the man was able to get up the next day and do all of the things he needed to do after such a long exhausting turnaround trip. I was just a kid living in my own little world. Once home, I would stare into the night sky with shuddering anticipation of the next trip up the line to Tony’s at 5 AM.

I returned to Tony’s many times as an adult and on my own. Tony had disappeared from the scene. Only his sign recalled the name. The old timers next door had been replaced by a newer generation and the conversation was sparse. Even the eggs didn’t seem the same. As much as I tried, with the passing of so many years, Tony’s at 5 AM had become unattainable. Memories were all I had left but I learned to cherish those good times and put them away for the moments in life when a little resurrection is needed. Now and then I bring them out and I can still see that large orange Union 76 sign in the night sky: Tony’s at 5 AM.

P.S. – If any reader can tell me the actual name of that little cafe, I would be grateful.

Photo: Author in 1956 with an Owens River German Brown Trout.

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Genealogy

Genealogy – It’s what I do and have done for several decades. It is very interesting and informative to know a bit about your ancestors. These days it’s becoming essential.

We all seem to be at least a little bit curious about our family. From the great pool of humanity, where exactly did we come from? Why do we have blue or brown eyes? Who were these people who came before us? How did they live? What did they do with their lives? Why am I short or tall? These and a huge host of other questions are often answered in great part by studying our genealogy in some depth.

Especially in the United States, where virtually everyone has their roots somewhere else, genealogy has become important to all generations. Are we Italian, English, German, Greek, Spanish, French or what? The answers come slowly through patient research and often they don’t match those given to us by our direct family. Things get lost in the long parade of years and can only be straightened out by finding the facts through ardent research.

Another benefit of genealogy is the ability to learn about some of the medical indicators of your ancestors that might affect your own overall health. If for instance you have several ancestors in a row that had issues with the heart, it might be a good idea to keep a close eye on those factors regarding your own well-being. Likewise, a propensity toward diseases including cancer, diabetes and others can be discovered by looking closely at the causes of death of both your maternal and paternal ancestors. Even the incidence of twins can be predicted to some degree.

In my own case, I was told decades ago that my second great-grandfather was born in Switzerland. It didn’t make a lot of sense so I looked into the matter and discovered that he was born in what was once Austria (now Italy) but yes, he did work in Switzerland.  I tracked down other popular family myths and patiently uncovered the truths. No, my mother’s Byron family was not related to Lord Byron. The name was changed to Byron from Byrne when her distant ancestor came to the United States from Ireland.

Along the way, I found a few facts that were a little out of the ordinary. In looking at my great-grandparents’ marriage record, I noticed that the priest had noted in the margins that the bride was 8 months pregnant when she was married. This wouldn’t be big news today but in 1870’s Austria, it was huge news. I can imagine how the couple was ridiculed in their tiny village for having done the deed out-of-wedlock.

Over the years, I turned my hobby into a profession and I now do serious genealogy research for others. I specialize in American, German and Italian genealogy but I have done projects for people of all  backgrounds including Native-Americans. If you have an interest in your family’s past, get in touch here: http://allenrizzi.weebly.com/genealogy-research.html I would be happy to give you a quote for my services which are very, very reasonable.

The coat of arms pictured above is that of my family in Cloz, Italy.

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So You Want To Be A Songwriter?

So you want to be a songwriter? I have given this refrain to hundreds of people throughout the years; it is my opening line to would-be songwriters everywhere.

Song writing is an art but it is also a craft and that implies patience and practice. Those are two qualities that are often lacking in new songwriters. This business is a bitch and impatience and a lack of fine tuning your craft can only lead to disappointment. Goals need to be defined early on and they need to be realistic. Nobody and I mean nobody  ever sat down and wrote their very first song to see it become an immediate hit.

If you are serious about songwriting, I have a few suggestions:

1. Write from the heart. Don’t let someone else’s idea of what’s important to say superimpose itself on your own voice. Be your own person with your own person with your own voice.

2. Learn the basics of composition, melody and lyrics. These are things that can not be bypassed, no matter what you have been told.

3. Acquaint yourself with popular song styles and how they are composed. Remember the 3-20 rule. Songs that run over 3 minutes and 20 seconds are apt not to get airplay no matter how great they are. (Established artists are an exception.)

4. Songwriting is a business. Treat it as you would any other business. Things like profit and loss, revenue, taxes and expenses are not mere words – they are real components of the business.

5. Develop a network of other artists. Develop another network of fans and yet another for collaboration. Strong songwriters need all three to survive.

6. Write material that others are capable of singing, keeping things relatively simple enough so that others can pick-up on it easily. Write melodies that can’t be sung by singers with a normal range ( 2 octaves).

7. Surround yourself with good musicians, be it for live gigs or recording and remember you get what you pay for.

8. Copyright all of your songs and keep a record of each in terms of when written, to who it was pitched and its licensing and revenue particulars. Again, this is a business folks!

9. Accept constructive criticism and suggestions for improving your creations. Seek out experts in the field and listen to what they have to say.

10. Be persistent and true to your passion. Define what success means to you and follow that path.

So you want to be a songwriter? Go for it!

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Yogurt

Guest Post By Rachel Rizzi

A couple of years ago, we noticed that most markets have yogurt sure enough. However they invariably have 31 flavors but little or nothing to offer in the way of plain, unsweetened yogurt. We like yogurt in fairly large quantities for salad dressing, cereal topping, etc. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention so we simply decided to make our own. Yogurt is quite simple to make so we thought we would share the recipe here with you.

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 9 hours
Serves: 4-8

Ingredients
• 1 quart of 2% reduced fat milk
• 1 tablespoon plain yogurt (whole or 2%) with live-active cultures (Need to buy a small cup at the market.)

Instructions
1. Pour the milk into your crock pot and turn the heat on medium or high. You want to heat the milk very
slowly until it reaches 180°F (30 mins to 1 hour).
2. Turn off the slow cooker, unplug, and allow the milk to cool to 120°F (about 30 mins).
3. While waiting for the milk to cool, measure out your plain yogurt starter and allow it to come to room
temperature.
4. Once milk is 120°F, add the yogurt and stir gently until it is fully incorporated.
5. Cover with lid and then wrap the slow cooker with several towels.
6. Set it where it will be undisturbed for 6 to 8 hours. Yogurt likes a quiet, still environment to ferment.
7. Transfer into plastic cups or pint mason jars.
8. Place the cultured yogurt into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before eating to ensure that it’s
fully set.

Give this a try and let us know how it came out by leaving a comment here. Enjoy!

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Twitter Titties

This one has been coming for a while.

Even though my Twitter profile specifically states that I am married and not looking for dates, the Twitter Titties still insist on following and contacting me. Apparently, they hope for a shot at a date, a sugar daddy, simple company or God only knows what.

I describe a Twitter Titty as a young girl, usually 15 to 22, who trolls the internet looking for any kind of relationship. They all seem to share two things in common: (1) Half nude profile photos (usually with huge pushed-up breasts) taken as selfies in their bedroom with the door closed and their parents in the other room. They all seem to want to emulate Kim Kardashian. (2) They are hopelessly ignorant when writing their profiles and Tweets.

Here are a few actual writing examples taken from some of these would be followers’ profiles:

“I am onest and a god feering woman.”

“I am good fearing and sensitive.”

“I am easy going woman , i want a friendship and see where it’s lead us through…”

“am good and responsible person”

“i am devoted and well educated woman with good moral.”

“Single never married living in New York . I will not send any pictures to someone I don’t know or to sell myself”

“Love what live brings to me… And will. Keep being me”

“I’m very simple and easy going person”

“my hobby is swimming , but i want swim in your heart”

“I’m a God fearing woman that has the fear of God in her”

“I’m new on this site I’m trying to find something in my life that is going to be last and long forever and ever till end of my eternity life.”

“i m hear looking from a serous man that i spend the rest of my life with …. that see the man i m looking”

They all degrade from here. There are so many, many more but I can’t stop laughing long enough to type them out!

My suggestion to all of these young girls would be to first get an education or at least a smattering of one before embarking into the Twittersphere where embarrassment waits at every turn with misspelled words, abhorrent grammar and poorly shot Kardashianesque selfies.

In addition to the  follows, these young “ladies” insist on sending Direct Messages (usually misspelled) that inevitably start with “Hello there” or “Hi handsome.” I don’t mean to be rude or mean but what the hell do these girls think they would do with a man my age; I’m old enough to be their grandfathers and my profile picture is proof enough.

Good luck Twitter Titties! I’m glad to see that most of you are God-fearing and ignorant but that has exactly squat to do with following me on Twitter.

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Memory

Memory recall is a uniquely human trait. While other animals certainly have a memory, we alone are able to recall at will things from the past for learning and mere pleasure. Our memories last our entire lifetime but are often obscured a bit as time moves on.

I can plainly remember a time in Oceanside, California when as a youth of 16 years, I and my friends rode on the backs of  marine whales. We would paddle up to them silently on our surfboards, coast a bit and then jump on their backs for a quick ride. Out of all of those who participated, I seem to be the only one that can recall the incident. It was over 50 years ago and yet I remember the whole affair clearly as if it were yesterday. That fact that I can remember this when others can’t only means that I must have thought it important enough to file it away in the high priority part of my memory bank.

Other times in my life are a bit hazy. Things that I should remember such as people’s names often escape me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about people’s names. It is just that name recall is a lower priority than emotional recall in my life. Others are different and have memories that work the other way around. They may not recognize the face but they can cough up the name instantly.

Whatever things from the past that we may wish to recall, we rely on our memory function. Lately there have been dozens of products that claim they improve memory. I personally consider these products bunk. However, I would suggest that memory, like our entire body, needs regular exercise. A light workout every day is needed to keep our memory in shape. One of the best exercises I know of is to simply sit and try to recall specific events from yesterday to decades ago. A good 15 minute workout every day helps keep us sharp.

These are some of my observations. What are yours?

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Being An Author

This week I wanted to share a few thoughts on being an author.

Being an author requires a great deal of oneself. It is as if you are required to prove your craft every day in order to live up to the expectations that you and your public have placed upon you. It is a full-time job.

Being an author requires writing skill. This may seem obvious but look at many of the books that are available through Amazon.com. Many are so poorly written that even a four-year old child would find instant fault with them. Writing is a learned behavior and one that requires constant improvement throughout the years. It is not a one shot, wham-bam experience no matter what you’ve heard on the internet. Each author, famous or unheard of, spends an entire lifetime honing his craft and making it ever better.

Being an author also requires fidelity to one’s self and to one’s audience. As a writer you can’t jump ship on either of these principles. An author can not be other than himself and must always operate with his own moral compass firmly in hand. An author also has a responsibility to his readership to remain constant and not go off on weird tangents that loses his readership at the first turn.

Being an author implies that you are paid, at least if the word professional precedes author. Many unpublished and unpaid writers claim to be professional authors. Unless they have received payment for their work, their claims are untrue. One can be a writer for his entire life but unless he is paid he is not a professional.

Being an author is not a stepping-stone to becoming a millionaire. For every author who has made millions of dollars with their writing there are surely several million who make little to nothing for their work. Most authors write simply because that is what they do. That is their talent, not fixing cars or running hedge funds. Most ply their craft unwaveringly their whole life regardless of the amount of financial gain.

I have often quipped at my wife that I should write my own obituary. With a smirk I say, “After all, a professional should write it!” Seriously, I would hate to feel there would be typos and poor sentence structure in my final bit so maybe I should indeed get going with that project soon.

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Limericks

I have always liked these delightful and often crude bits of primitive poetry. Most of us have heard the classics more than once. Normally I don’t go “full political” but I have tried to share the wealth. Here I offer a eleven-pack of my own directed at some of our current political has-beens:

Obama

There once was the POTUS Obama

Whose name rhymed with Osama.

Says he was the best,

And that we should rest

Despite all of his melodrama.

Bush 

We had a POTUS named Bush

Who always sat on his tush.

On a pretzel he choked

And damn near he croaked,

‘Till his pooch came in with a whoosh.

Clinton

There once was an old hag named Hill

Who married a sleaze ball named Bill.

Together they thundered,

Always they plundered,

With all four hands in the till.

Ryan

The RINO Rat named Ryan

Seemed to always be lyin’.

When the voters asked “Please?,”

He reached for his cheese

For which he was never denyin’.

McCain

A traitor so extraordinaire

Always had his head in the air.

A tumor in the brain

Made the end of McCain

And the whole damned RINO affair.

Waters

A sad wig sat upon Waters

As she paid one of her daughters.

She threatened our Trump

And then with a thump

She was gone like immigrant squatters.

Booker

A loony lefty named Booker

Got hysterical just like a hooker.

He’s the Spartacus

So what’s all the fuss?

A Roman slave isn’t a looker.

Harris

A Senator by the name of Kamala

Was awfully hard just to follow.

She ranted and raved

And she misbehaved.

Now she’s off drinking Marsala.

Schiff

There once was a goofball named Schiff

Who got himself into a tiff.

Beginnings to ends

He needed Depends

And found that his anus was stiff.

Schumer

Senator Schumer, Chuck E. Cheese

Always acted like a big sleaze.

With his glasses all bent,

As though heaven-sent,

He found his shorts needed Febreze.

Pelosi

A crazy old hag name of Nance

Couldn’t tell her blouse from her pants.

She confused every name

And who should get blame,

Then wanted to move off to France.

** Okay – I couldn’t help myself. I’m throwing this one in as well:

Warren

A bat crazy old squaw named Liz

Claims she’s an Indian whiz.

She’s full Cherokee

But as we can see,

“Depends on your meaning of is.”

 

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