Monday, January 28, 2008

Cannoli...Definite Proof of the Existence of God

Where to begin? Friday night's 8:00 p.m. practice for the OL/DL/LB/RB group was both well attended and productive, probably our best practice to date!

After practice we went at the Chiave, the team bar at Piazza Bellini, at 11:30 but the place was deserted so we walked a block to Mustafa's for a Kebob, picture, after we got a gelato to start the evening. Finally at 12:30 a.m. people started arriving and we eventually went to a new spot Fundo Bianco. Met many new people there and had quite a good time. From there it was on to Jonathan's at 3:30 for the traditional Buona Notte panini.

Italians, it should be mentioned, drink very responsibly for the most part, not many sloppy drunks. In the five hours we were out and about I had only two beers and Matt, usually Mr. Coca-Cola, had maybe two drinks also. Good thing as it turns out because on the short drive to Jonathan's I got pulled over at a Random Check Point by the Police. I instantly realized that I had left my international Drivers License at home and we might be in trouble! It was then that ten weeks of Italian classes at Ventura College and Conejo Valley Adult School as well as countless hours listening to Italian Language CD's both in the car and on the computer paid off. In this crisis every word and nuance that I have ever heard or studied came magically together I SPOKE FLUID ITALIAN FOR ONE INCREDIBLE MINUTE!!! The cop, duly impressed, had no choice but to let us go with a smile on his face. The Italian sausage panini with sun dried tomatoes and eggplant at Jonathan's never tasted any better than that night! "The great ones are defined by how they handle pressure situations." We were home safely by 4:15 a.m.

Saturday was very busy, first we had to wake up, never easy for Matt and really hard for me today! Went early (1:00 p.m.) to the airport to turn in the Fiat for a new Nissan Micra, better rental rate for the team. Practice at 3:00 p.m. was average compared to Friday nights great one. As usaul good individual progress but I only had one defensive lineman and the offensive line was missing two starters. SEMPRE AVANTI ELEFANTI!!!  

One funny thing at practice was the breakout of yet another local festival with the usual parade, brass band and fireworks, I again thought we were being invaded by the Allies! on the drive home traffic slowed down because another group was having their festival parade on the main coastal road of Catania thereby completely shutting down the south bound lanes. Fortunately we were heading north and would have been fine except for the car stopped in the right lane with the driver out of the car taking pictures of the festival on the other side of the divider!
Speaking of parades, it is obvious that Sicily leads the known universe for parades per capita so Davide wants to cash in on the action. He has scheduled a parade, with fireworks and brass band, for February 5th in the Piazza Duomo to honor the three American players in general but really Jason specifically. He has given Jason's highlight DVD (see Jason's blog) to the local TV stations and has started a vigorous campaign in the local papers to drum up interest in the 2008 Elephant campaign. I don't know how many people will join in but I think the sound of fireworks and the brass band will trigger a sort of Pavlovian response in the people to join the parade and celebrate. If we get more than 100 people parading with the team it would be a success, we'll see how it goes two days after the Super Bowl is played at midnight our time.

After practice we did he smartest thing we've done to date. We went to bed at 7:00 p.m.! At 11:15 p.m. Gustavo woke us up and we headed downtown to meet the team at The Zo a club in town with our own Falcon, Renato as the D.J. Usual good times with the guys and their girlfriends. We met a new girl named Erica who has so much energy she would make an espresso nervous! She plays In-Line Hockey, picture, and we promised to see her play on Sunday. Went to the Etoile D'Or at 3:45 a.m. for a pizzetta and a cannoli, home by 4:10 a.m.

Matt talks a good physical fitness game, little alcohol, lots of exercise, watch the diet, all the things I believe in! It was going well for him until he was introduced to a cannoli. For him it was like crack cocaine! Sunday he had THREE deserts after dinner! He has also discovered gelato. Davide has him listed as the number three offensive guard on the depth chart. How are we going to get him back on the farm after he's seen a pasticceria?

Sunday it was 8:00 a.m. Mass for me in Aci Castello at San Mauro's Church, priest was very long winded, I'm not going there again. Went back and woke Matt up to drive him to the 11:00 a.m. service at Calvary Baptist Church with the Reverend Seth Jenkins, pictures, in the nearby town of Motta Sant'Anastasia, picture. The reason for this American oasis of faith is the U.S. Navy base at Sigonella. I dropped Matt off and then drove into the very quaint village while Matt attended his service. As I drove away it felt a little uneasy, kind of like the day you leave your first born at school on the first day of Kindergarten.

Giuseppe and Valeria got ahold of us in the afternoon for a delightful afternoon and evening. They are a great couple who I really enjoy seeing. First it was great food in Aci Trezza, then off to see Erica's In-Line hockey game in Aci Reale, gelato and cannolis in Catania and the a finish at the Catania vs. San Croce men's Volleyball game.

The Stadium where they played Volleyball is named PalaCatania. The event was equal parts athletic skill, teamwork, circus and Marx Brothers movie! The first two of these were the teams playing, the last two were the crowd. Everyone was given a noisemaker as they entered, fans were beating drums all over the place and the one end zone kind of reminded me of the guys in centerfield in the movie Major League. An older man in front of us was living and dyingwith every rally. Some of his hand gestures were unique, the one for the referees was universal. It was FANTASTIC!

Dropped Matt off at Gregorio's for some Texas Hold'Em with the boys. Doesn't appear to be fair to have Amarillo Slim role into town for this contest. I took the wise route and left him there with Gustavo. Gustavo and Elena gave him a ride home while I went to bed early for once, i.e., 11:45 p.m.

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