Introduction

 

Colosseum – interior view from the upper mezzanine level


INTRODUCTION TO WOEFULTOURIST

I could spend weeks trying to describe in every possible detail what WOEFULTOURIST actually is, but that would take too much time and effort without any guarantee that you would be any closer to understanding things. Instead, I’ll take the easy way out and provide a simple comparison to help you see first hand what WOEFULTOURIST is all about.

So, enjoy these  two posts about the Colosseum, in Rome– one by a NORMALTOURIST and one by WOEFULTOURIST.

Then you’ll understand some of the madness and find yourself begging for more.

 

COLOSSEUM –ROME– NORMALTOURIST

As cities continue to remake their skylines, fewer iconic places remain. Those structures that provide universal recognition. New York City has the Statue of Liberty. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. Rome has the Colosseum. Instant association of the site with the city.

It’s a shame that when it comes to the Colosseum, the image we have in our mind lies in sharp contrast to the reality found on the ground.

The sad fact is that the Colosseum is a joke.

It’s like one of those fake towns Hollywood used to build in the desert, when they still filmed westerns. A three block Main Street lined with all the necessary shops – barber, bank, saloon, jail and general store. Hitching posts were everywhere so a cowboy could tie up his horse when he ventured into town. There was always a church with a clock tower.

Everything looked all quaint and cozy until you walked thru the front door of any of the buildings and found that there was nothing on the other side of the door but desert. That’s because it was cheaper for Hollywood to just build the front of the buildings, than the entire structures. So Main Street was nothing more than a series of plywood fronts painted to look like real, complete buildings.

That’s how it felt when NORMALTOURIST went to the Colosseum. Undoubtedly, the exterior represents a remarkable façade. A universally recognizable structure. Star of many a Hollywood epic.

Since you came this far, it would be a shame not to at least go inside the place and mosey around a bit. So you bite the bullet, stand in a very long line and spend your hard earned cash to enter the famed landmark.

Prior to that, you have several pictures taken of yourself with the Colosseum in the background so that you can show your friends back home that you and Chuck Heston have plenty in common.

The Colosseum.

Sounds so manly. Unfortunately, when you actually get inside the space, there’s nothing for you to actually see. The cloth curtains that used to stretch out from the roof to shade the customers from the heat of the sun are long gone. The dirt floor where countless hand to hand battles occurred, is nowhere to be seen. There’s a hole in the ground, some sort of gangplank extending the length of the floor, and remnants of the various chambers underneath the floor where gladiators, Christians, and wild animals spent their last hours before entering the ring. But you can’t actually walk the plank. Or walk thru the rooms underneath. So the only way you can see anything that made the place so special, is to close your eyes and dream very violent thoughts.

Because there’s nothing there to actually see!

It’s an oval arena with lots of stone seating. That’s it! I’m not kidding. No Imax Theatre showing amazing 3-D renderings of what it must have been like two thousand years ago.No actors giving gladiator demonstrations to an enraptured public. No stunt men and women performing dazzling chariot races.

Nothing.

I cannot emphasis this enough. There’s nothing there to see.

Nothing.

If any place was in need of Disney animatronics, this is it.

So if you find yourself in Rome by all means go to the Collosseum and walk around the exterior.  DO NOT ENTER.  Instead, go across the way to the ruins of the Roman Forum and immerse yourself in that very amazing space.

As for wanting to experience what the Colosseum was really like, NORMALTOURIST recommends that you rent the Russell Crowe movie, Gladiator.

Now that’s the Colosseum the way it should still be.

 

COLOSSEUM –ROME– WOEFULTOURIST

When WOEFULTOURIST visited Rome and finally came face to face with the Colosseum, he was like a kid in a candy store. He had a perpetual smile on his face that couldn’t be erased even with 60 grit sandpaper.

Are you kidding me?!

Talk about the dream of a lifetime! This was real history. Culture. The ultimate culmination of hundreds of hours watching every gladiator movie known to man. Because every single one of them took place here. Well, not really here, but a Hollywood recreation of here.

Yeah, this was where it all happened. At least the bloody parts. Wild animals attacking defenseless men, women and children. Gladiators fighting to the death. Man, it doesn’t get more primal than that.

Okay, taking an AK 47 out into the desert and playing “kill a commie for mommy” is certainly more invigorating. And making a bonfire out of a years worth of junk mail and cooking wienies in the resulting conflagration surely gives you much more satisfaction. But, c’mon, stepping into the same arena as Ben Hur? Shoot, that’s just way too cool.

And WOEFULTOURIST applauds the decision of the modern Roman authorities not to spend a single dime to update any of the facilities. The totally bare bones interior leaves everything to the imagination. Since there’s nothing there for you to see, your mind has to work twice as hard to picture things as they must have been. After all, don’t we create more vivid images in our minds than any entity could ever fabricate in real life?

Hey, that’s what Hitchcock believed.

And anyone who can make movies about whacked out seagulls on the offensive, freaks with their mummified mummy running motels and perverts in wheelchairs getting their jollies by spying on their neighbors is clearly someone who knows what they’re talking about.

So, in the case of the Colosseum, less is definitely more. Because, let’s be honest, if the Disney folks ever got a hold of this place, it would be unrecognizable. Probably a Gladiator roller coaster ride rimming the entire perimeter of the structure. With bumper car chariot races at one end. Animatronic lions, tigers and bears eating animatronic helpless Christians in the other. With a “Pirates of theCaribbean” type ride through the bowels of the place as you watch, from the comfort of your self powered gondola, animatronic renditions of gladiator life. Their training. Their clothing. Their weapons. What they ate. Where they slept. Their locker rooms. Graffiti covered walls with sayings like, Rocco Maximus rules. Or, Septimus Guido has hairy knuckles.

There would be therapeutic hot tubs on one side. Massage tables on the other. And hot babes in togas walking throughout the space carrying trays of food and wine for your pleasure –

Oops, sorry about that.  WOEFULTOURIST just had a flashback to his last Vegas trip where he spent a rather unusual time at Caesars.

Back to the Colosseum and the lack of anything to really sink your teeth into except the bare basics. There are times when nothing is better than something. WOEFULTOURIST believes this place is one of those times.

So by all means, visit the Colosseum and see nothing.

You’ll be glad that you finally did.

 

Intro To Year 2

The Globe Theatre, London

The Globe Theatre, London

When I began WOEFULTOURIST.COM it was with two goals in mind.

First, to have some fun skewering the travel and tourism industry.

Second, to achieve a certain comfort level in running my own blog/website.  Because while I was certainly not a newbie when it came to working with computers, I was when it came to  e-publishing.

Which of course begs the question, “Why would I want to run my own website?”.

Unfortunately, both the publishing and entertainment industries have for decades gone out of their way to keep new talent out.  Taking the attitude that, “We only deal with people who are already successful (or a celebrity).  If you ever become one of those, feel free to give us a call and maybe we’ll talk.  Otherwise, leave us alone.”

But with the advent of the internet, things changed a bit.  Now the artist has the ability to actually ensure that their material gets published and seen by the public.  There is no guarantee of success, but the situation is a whole lot better than it used to be.

That is of course if you can figure out how to setup and run your own website.  And frankly, to my way of thinking, nothing beats the actual experience of doing it yourself.

Which meant that I needed a project to help me get things started.

Which brings me back to WOEFULTOURIST.COM.

I had never intended for it to be an end in and unto itself.  Rather, I viewed it as a means to an end.

A short term project (no more than two years) that would eventually evolve into a website that allowed me to publish any, or all of my work (poems, plays, screenplays, novels, …)

So as I begin the second, and last year of WOEFULTOURIST.COM I will slowly be adding material that has absolutely nothing to do with the travel and tourism industry at all, but  instead provides me with an opportunity to showcase some of my other literary talent and expand the scope of the website.

My first small step will be to start a Poem of the Month Page, in January.  Now before you start questioning my masculinity, or accuse me of spending too much time keeping in touch with my feminine side, I would like to point out one very important fact.  Namely, that prior to the 1960’s being a poet meant being a notorious drunkard and womanizer.

So it is in that tradition of “pre-1960’s poet” that I will be adding one poem a month, hopefully on the first of each month.

And while I can’t promise that there won’t be some romantic “lovey-dovey” stuff on occasion, there will be enough humor and blatant sexual innuendo to make it all worthwhile.

To help ease the transition, and let you know what you’re in for, I will give you a head start by providing you with an introductory poem.

The inspiration for which came from noticing that whenever I traveled to the tropics, I always seemed to meet attractive Canadian women.  Which got me to wondering if there were any of them still left in Canada.

 

               Woe Canada

(where have all your pretty women gone)

 

Oft’ I sail to distant shores

Seeking out exotic fare

There to find to my surprise

Beauties with Toronto eyes

I am sure I’ll never know

How one lets such treasures go

No one will explain

Even now

 

When awash in Timbuktu

Running from ignoble hoods

Goodness knows one ne’er expects

Greetings from a Calg’ry ex

Surely such a filigree

Should be under lock and key

Yet they stream away

Even now

 

Once the floodgates open wide

Churning heels provoke the tide

Now Quebec’s a quiet place

Women gone without a trace

B.C. spins without a sound

All her lasses tropic bound

No one can explain

Even now

 

 

Intro To Year 3

Social club, Cork, Ireland

Social club, Cork, Ireland

 

My original plan for the website was to do the Woefultourist part of it for 2 years before transitioning to a website that would become a showcase for all of my other literary material.

Funny how plans can quickly change.

Because while I have added more varied elements to the site including a novel – Peace, Now! (which I am currently serializing), I found myself enjoying Woefultourist too much to completely let go.

The problem is that since I wasn’t planning on writing more of it beyond 2013, I didn’t have enough material stockpiled to get me thru 2014.

So I had to make a choice.

Wing it and force myself to meet a deadline every week just so I had something new to publish, or take a needed breather.

I opted to breathe.

Fact is, writing a “blog” where you are adding new material 5 days a week takes a lot out of you.

Especially when you’re not getting paid to do it.

So to maintain my sanity, as well as ensure that the material didn’t get old, predictable or derivative I decided to take a one year sabbatical from publishing new posts.

Instead, I will revisit posts 51 – 155, starting January 3, 2014.  This will give people who joined my blog later in the process the opportunity to read some of the earlier stuff; plus it will give me the time to write enough new material to get me thru 2015.

So starting Jan 3, 2014 all of the posts will be revisited (with no fourth week revisiting the revisited – i.e., unique posts every week).

Otherwise, everything else on the blog will be the same.  Revisited posts will appear Mondays and Fridays;  Wacky Travel News posts Tuesdays and Thursdays;  and a new chapter of the novel every Wednesday.

Poems of the Month will continue exactly as they presently are;  and periodically I will add pictures and videos.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to recharge my batteries and come back refreshingly woeful in 2015.

Thanks for your support.

As always, enjoy the ride.

 

Intro To Year 4

The one and only Firken Crane, Cork City, Ireland

The one and only Firken Crane, Cork City, Ireland

For me, personally and professionally, 2014 was a year of transition.

With so much change going on, I decided that it was best to put WOEFULTOURIST on hiatus since I couldn’t dedicate the time necessary to create new posts for the entire year, without the quality of the material suffering severely.

Instead, I opted to re-visit previous posts, while using the down time to re-charge my creative batteries.

The end result of that strategy, was that the burnout that I dreaded would happen, never did.

Instead, 2015 finds me re-energized and looking forward to making WOEFULTOURIST bigger and better than ever.

Although, not to worry, no major changes are contemplated.

After all, why mess with it if it aint broke.

So, the format will revert to what it had been in previous years.

New posts the first 3 weeks of the month (except for January where all 4 weeks will have new posts), while the last week will have re-visited posts from the previous month.

A new novel, A Deadly Reception, began in late 2014 and will continue through much of 2015, to be followed by another long format literary work – still to be determined.

The Wacky Travel News, and Poem of the Month posts will continue as always.

And with any luck, I’ll be adding more pictures and videos.

I’m amazed that the blog has come this far and am wonderfully pleased at the number of subscribers it has – which continues to grow, daily.

For my fans, new and old, I thank you for your support and hope to keep you smiling for years to come.

Stay woeful!