The temperatures are now getting down into the high 40’s at night and maybe into the low/mid 60’s on a sunny day, which we haven’t seen many of this month. Last week it rained five out of seven days and for the first three days it never stopped. We should have a bit less rain in December, but the temperature will continue to drop and the likelihood of snow will rise. This is our reintroduction to “seasons.”
I’m not complaining as this was expected. I have a plan to spend the days we can’t go outside cooking, learning Italian, blogging and working with my mother on ancestry.com researching our Italian roots. Other things one might normally do during this time of year, like going to the theatre or movies, is not really an option for us yet. We need to improve our language skills by leaps and bounds to get any pleasure out of this type of entertainment and there aren’t enough English speakers here to warrant showing films with subtitles.
We purchased a 46″ television with surround sound and we expanded our viewing options by getting a satellite dish – remember them? The term expanded is relative, like when they told us we could get the BBC with it and what they really meant is we could get BBC News (which is the best in news). If you remember satellite dishes, then you may also remember that in unstable weather the reception is interrupted repeatedly, in a pattern that seems to be timed exclusively to the critical scenes of whatever you are watching. I paraphrase from memory here, “Oh, Mr. Darcy, please don’t remind me of what I said then. Miss Bennett, release me from my misery. My previous offer still stands as my feelings for you have not changed. If you still do not wish to accept it then say so now and I shall never mentioned the matter again. Mr. Darcy, my feelings, oh my feelings they” Blip, blip, blip, blip ——————————————————–. We are currently waiting for them to install cable.
With the change to standard time, it now gets dark about 5-5:30. I’m much more of a television junkie than Larry but, with our intentionally simplified lives, when we have cozy evenings at home gathered around our 19th century radiators (which are very effective), we can either read or watch television. Since reading often puts us (okay, me) to sleep, and 7:00 is a bit early to retire, we turn to television. Oh how we miss PBS!
Right off the bat you can eliminate Italian-produced television except for cooking, travel or art shows only because we can decipher a lot just from context and visuals. Otherwise, Italian television is an intellectual wasteland unless you consider soap operas and game shows with an abundance of T&A intellectual (and you know who you are). The training starts early here. As an example, there is a children’s show with what appears to be a Red Barney (and you thought purple was bad). One of his human friends is a guy with the upper part of his body mostly covered in tattoos. You know this because he is frequently without a shirt. This doesn’t seem too odd because they are often in scenes requiring Red Barney’s surgically-enhanced female friend to be attired in a very small bikini. They participate in various mind-numbing skits, without incorporating any letters of the alphabet or numbers, and the show ends with about 20 minutes of “the world’s funniest videos” which, fortunately, need no translations to enjoy. No we do not voluntarily tune into this program. It is the channel that one of our favorite pizza places tunes into during lunch, but they have great pizza. I’m not saying this is the best children’s programming Italian TV has to offer, but I can only speak to what I have experienced.
One neat benefit of the satellite is it allows us to change a foreign-produced program from dubbed Italian to its original language. Dubbing programs from other countries is a BIG business here in Italy. They show a good bit of bad American TV here – Duck Dynasty, Ice Road Truckers, Looking for Bigfoot, etc. Lord, what do they think of us??? Before I left the U.S. I bragged to my friends that I was going to see Downton Abbey before they did because it is aired in the fall on British TV. I own the DVDs and have watched the previous seasons almost as many times as Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. Well, there’s egg on my face as now I’m worried I may not get to see the new season at all! You would think that, with the number of British that have homes in Italy, getting British TV would be no big deal. However, there seem to be licensing issues that prohibit this. BBC Entertainment is available through many operators in 43 countries from Austria to Yemen, but not in Italy. I have tried to download programs on the Internet but, as soon as they see our Italian IP address, a box comes up explaining that licensing issues prevent my request from being executed. There are shady ways to get around this but who wants to worry about the TV police showing up and taking our Sony? We’re still working on that one so I guess I’ll catch Downton Abbey in reruns (I can hear you snickering). Could this be part of the Italian assimilation program?
Fortunately for us, we stopped watching LA Law and CSI ten years ago when we invaded Iraq. With the war footage on TV, which we could not stop watching, adding crime programs was violence overload for us. What is fortunate about that is that many evenings we find that our best viewing option is the “Fox Crime” channel with reruns of LA Law, CSI, Without a Trace, and Elementary – plus many others. These are the only ones we are watching right now as, once again, after two hours of crime drama we are in violence over-load. Sometimes we then turn the channel to an animated children’s movie as an antidote. We have recently found a station that is rerunning OLD British programs like Poirot, Miss Marple (the old one), and season 2 of Downton Abbey. Watching reruns of these old quality programs is frequently better than watching our other options. Did I mention we really miss PBS?