Buon Natale, Carlo Brown!

In Spelacchio’s defense, we’ve heard that bald trees have more testosterone.

For all the talk about how great the Roman Empire was — spanning most of Europe through Turkey and even parts of Africa, aqueducts, vomitoriums — it’s easy to forget that Rome is still a place. But, brother, have times been rough for the place that once all roads led to.

The city of Rome paid $57,000 for a Christmas tree that is less evergreen and more Charlie Brown. It’s so scraggly that ashamed locals are referring to it as “spelacchio” (or “baldy and mangy”), “a plucked chicken” and — our favorite — “the toilet brush.”

Somebody even launched a Twitter account for the tree in which Spelacchio (that’s its name now) neurotically compares itself to other city’s trees like an insecure boyfriend. (“What do you mean ‘gay apparel?’ Are you saying this tinsel makes me look gay?”)

In hindsight, maybe Rome was great, but maybe it would still have dignity had Hannibal leveled it with elephants.

Crazy cat lady dead, still crazy in death

I really don’t understand crazy people.

When they’re alive, they make everything weird. They don’t really add anything to the party, they just creep out everyone. Then they die, yet somehow, they still manage to make things weird, usually through a legacy of some sort. And I’m not talking about people with actual mental and chemical imbalances, I’m talking about the completely odd people: MJ, Howard Hughes, Nicholas Cage, those type of people. Oh, and Maria Assunta.

Maria Assunta left the fortune to her beloved kitty Tommaso when she died two weeks ago at the age of 94. The feline’s newfound riches include cash, as well as properties in Rome, Milan and land in Calabria.

For those curious, the fortune is valued at 13 million dollars. And it was given to a former stray cat. Mind you, for legal reasons, the money has been left to the cat via the nurse. But still. Congratulations, Assunta. Your legacy will now fuel a war for ages … for the wrong side.

Take pleasure in their pain

It’s no surprise that cigarettes are harder to quit than heroin. We’ve heard the stats and arguments about this before multiple times by now. But are other guilty pleasures just as addictive-like, say, chocolate?

If you’re a mouse, there’s a good chance of that.

Italian researchers set out to discover just how much compulsive behavior plays a role in eating disorders. Rossella Ventura, leader of the research team at the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome, took two sets of mice – the experimental group was starved (which we approve) while the control was fed normally (which we don’t approve as much) – and trained them to choose between two chambers in a maze. The first chamber was empty while the second had a bit of chocolate inside. Once this conditioning was established, they added a mild electric shock to the chocolate room.

They then allowed the starved mice to eat their way back to normal weight and let both sets into the maze. The mice that had been well-fed throughout experienced the shock and quickly learned to avoid the chocolate chamber (awww). The previously starved mice, on the other hand, fought through the pain in pursuit of the chocolate (sort of yay), despite the fact that they were now being fed adequately elsewhere.

Ventura believes this willingness to ignore negative consequences in pursuit of food even when there is no great need for it demonstrates part of the behavior components that underlie eating disorders in humans and animals. Frankly, we at SG don’t care if they’ve got bulimia or boo-urnslimia. This is information that we can use in our great war against nature, and boy oh boy, is it good information. Can we suggest attempting the experiment on a larger scale, but then incorporate flamethrowers rather than just electric shocks? Oh, and just starve all the animals in this large scale experiment?

Don’t judge me-we’re at war, people.

MasterChugs Theater: ‘Roman Holiday’

One can’t help but wonder how Roman Holiday would have been different is it was made today instead of in 1953. The Gregory Peck-Audrey Hepburn classic features a reporter in Rome and an incognito princess both pretending they’re someone else. Of course, he knows she’s playing hooky from her royal family and he’s out to write the story of a lifetime (with photographer pal Eddie Albert in a priceless role). She on the other hand is oblivious to what’s going on. She wants to have a little fun outside the watchful eyes of her keepers. Of course they fall in looooove along the way.

Guys, this is a good thing for you. Stick around to find out why. Continue reading MasterChugs Theater: ‘Roman Holiday’

When in Rome, do a Roman city official

Are you frustrated with our current political climate?  Do you find yourself saying more and more that you’re moving to Canada or Australia if so and so doesn’t get elected?

Then perhaps you should consider Italy, where a porn star is using pictures of her tookhas to campaign for a seat in Rome’s city hall.  (To be fair, voters will want to be sure that she’ll fit in the chair.)

Her “if-I’m-elected” promise: a red light district within, um, spitting distance of the Vatican.

If that doesn’t seal the deal for you, then maybe this will get you to the passport office:

“D’Abbraccio, in her 40s, isn’t the first adult entertainer to dip her painted toenails into Italian politics. Ilona Staller, known as “Cicciolina”, sat in parliament in the 1980s and was famous for her impromptu stripteases.”