Archive | Ask Yourself Why RSS feed for this section

Ashes to Diamonds, Dust to Dust

17 Jul

Thank you goes out to my dear friend and Italian expat in London, Giulia, of the absolutely MUST-FOLLOW Mondomulia food and photography blog, for sending this one my way for the ol’ blog.

So, if you’ve been hanging around these parts long enough, you know that I love me some tasteless and brilliantly creative Taffo Funeral Services ads.


Certified Dead

Don’t Get Stuck With Strange Ashes

Why Cry Twice?

More Fun and Games with Billboards 

This one comes to us via Social Media Epic Fails and my friend Giulia who posted it to my FB wall. I haven’t yet seen it on a billboard around town.


This one says:



We turn the ashes of your loved ones into diamond.

In collaboration with Algordanza.

[In case you don’t quite get the punchline here, the “diamond” this time around is the dead husband. Natch.]

Now, being the savvy Interwebs consumer I am, I figured maybe some clever soul had taken the Taffo creativity bent a little too far, and created this ad as a spoof.

But, no!

It really is a thing, this ashes to diamonds thing.

Seriously. Check out Business Insider’s piece appropriately titled How to Turn Dead People Into Diamonds.

Now, I love making light of Taffo. But all joking aside, complimenti to their ad team, because Lord knows there is not very much exciting creative going on in print advertising in Italy; and believe you me, if I was given an assignment from my creative director to make magic for a funeral services company, you’re damn right I wouldn’t be jumping up and down for joy.

Perhaps people think that Taffo went a *wee* bit too far on this particular ad, because it’s actually making headlines.

Real life, honest-to-God, Il Messaggero headlines, calling it “The Shocking Funeral Service Ad.”

And Corriere della Sera headlines.

Even lil’ tiny Il Gazzettino of Treviso headlines.

I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed that in the Messaggero article, Alessandro Taffo cites the fact that this practice has already been going on for a while in the United States.

Well of course it has! Just one more reason for Italians to accuse us of americanate, ie, general ridiculousness in consumer goods, films, and living in general. We love our sparkly ashes on a mantel, yes, indeedy!

Oh, wait. Further investigation reveals that it’s not diamond ashes. It’s like a real, well—diamond.

As in:


Algordanza/courtesy of Frank Ripka via Business Insider A raw diamond created from human ashes

All I really care about from that article though is that I finally found out who is doing this brilliant creative. Turns out it’s a company called Peyote (which, yes—maybe they even indulge in it for creative inspiration), and two creatives by the names of Alessandro Logrippo and Daniele Campanale, who said, “We wanted to do what we’ve done before, create an ironic and irreverant message.”

Mission accomplished.

Brilliant, boys. I mean it.

I was about to say that they deserve a Clio or an Addy, but come to find out, there’s an Italian advertising awards program called Mediastars, and their certified cremation campaign (a couple of the ones linked above), won three.

Might I add: the untold crappiness of the Mediastars website just goes to show what a dearth of great creative we get over here.

Oh, Taffo. Oh, Peyote. What will you come up with next? I can hardly wait. (I just hope no one dies and/or becomes a diamond in the process.)

How to Dress for Summer Court in Sicily

14 Jul

Well, perhaps this isn’t necessarily how to dress, but rather how not to dress.

This gem comes to us this morning from my ex-husband, a lawyer, who had some business this weekend in Sicily.

Posted on the courtroom door of the Tribunale di Marsala:



Oh, Lord. Italy, some days you just make me happy for how silly you are. And, the ubiquity of printed signs from Word will forever remain the hallmark of public offices in Italy. See also: this, which has a delightful plethora of exclamation points to give it that extra stamp of authority.

And don’t try to get away with bikinis in the Marsala court, either. I bet they’d put a Word document up for that too.




Christmas Gifts for Your Almost-Dead Loved Ones

5 Jan

All wrapped up, under the tree.

This from a dear reader and friend of mine. Love when my readers send me stuff.


It reads:
For Christmas a gift for your loved ones


Then in the fine print, there’s a list that says, “Offer includes” and tells you all the juicy details about marble, bronze, and other exciting what-not.



Just imagine the look on your loved ones’s faces when you give them the gift that lasts a lifetime.

Um, I mean, well, for all eternity, anyways. Or, the gift that lasts longer than a lifetime.

Yes. I like that one better.

Pushy, Needy Grocery Products

3 Jan

Well folks, Happy New Year! I don’t know about y’all, but I am more than ready for this holiday season to be done and buried. Maybe that has something to do with me being stuck blessed with taking care of my three children ages 5 and 3 and 3, for nearly 15 days straight with no help, while my ex-husband gallavants in Mexico with friends and my mother in law vacations in Ischia? Naw, couldn’t be.

Meanwhile, let’s think of happier things, like one of my favorite go-to topics: grocery items. Lest we forget the fiesta of fun that was found in the discount Booby supermarket in Sardegna this summer, let’s explore a growing trend in supermarket branding: the call to action.

The other day, my son, who is just learning to read, says to me, “Hey mamma! Why does the toilet paper say ‘Comprami’?” That’s “buy me” for anyone who doesn’t speak Italian out there. Naturally, my response was, “Um. I guess because they want you to buy it.”


“But mom,” he persisted, as five-year-olds are wont to do, “You needed to buy ROTOLONI!”

Rotoloni, dear readers, are technically “big rolls” but what my son is really referring to is Regina, the brand I normally buy. But you see, “Buy Me” was on sale and very similar to Regina, so I went for it. Anyways, Regina toilet paper is one you’ll remember fondly because it’s made by the Sofass company, which was no doubt a very strategic move on their part.

Then I realized, not only did we have a bathroom product pleading for us to take him (her?) home with us, we also had bread.

That’s right. From the good folks over at the “Eat Me” company.


Gotta love the wholesome stock photography family. If only they knew that one day they’d be the poster children (and dad) for the EAT ME fine line of grocery products. Mainly bread. But also granola bars and cookies, too.

Anyhoo, that’s about all I’ve got for you. I could think of many more creative imperative verb forms ending in “ME” that could be used for a wide range of items found in your local supermarket. But I’ll spare you of those.

Meanwhile, a book called READ ME? Now there’s an idea.

Beer called DRINK ME? Wasn’t there some sort of magically psychedelic potion in Alice in Wonderland along those lines? (Lewis Carroll was clearly ahead of his time.)

T-shirt for going to Roman public offices that says BE NICE TO ME?

Ok, I lied. I didn’t spare you. Sorry about that.


Why Vanity Fair Chose Peppa Pig as Cover Model

27 Dec

Subtitled: In a country where Berlusconi is defined as a politician, and pharmacies sell syringe-like devices to smooth your skin, it was only a matter of time before a cartoon character was used in an essay about the current state of Italian culture.

Sub-subtitled: Italian parents, but mostly mothers I think, are riddled with irrational anxiety which, personally, drives me batty yet makes me look like the oddball.

You know folks, today when I saw the bright and sparkly gold cover of Italian Vanity Fair, I felt a little bit like Charlie finding the golden ticket in his Wonka Bar.

Ok, not really.

But that’s the first thing that comes to mind, now that I reflect on the somewhat atrocious idea of making an entire magazine cover the paper version of shiny gold lamè. The really jarring aspect, however, comes in the form of a little picture of cartoon character Peppa Pig on the bottom of the cover, with the caption “In a lucky charm issue, good news and beautiful people that make us think positive, starting with the girl of the moment, Peppa Pig.”



No T & A. No Botox lips. No come-hither stare.

I thought I’d get by with just a sarcastic tweet about it, complete with a thinly-veiled reference to flying pigs signifying the sheer ridiculousness and hard-to-believe-ness of seeing even Vanity Fair fall prey to the goddamn cartoon character who is currently ruling my twin 4-year-old daughters’s world, just a smidgen behind the Disney Princesses and Barbie. But then my tweets go to my FB page, and some other FB friends picked up the thread, and I realized, no, the roots of this go deeper than I thought. I must know more.

I suppose I’m just another one of the people that Vanity Fair tsk-tsks in their Shiny Happy People Holding Hands issue, when mentioning those who gave a thumbs down to Peppa on Youtube, acknowledging that she’s not “cynical, conspiratorial, and sarcastic.” [read: like the thumbs-downers clearly are] You see, I went online and checked out their lighthearted justification. Allow me to share my hopefully not too cynical, conspiratorial, and sarcastic comments.

Journalist Massimo Gramellini delves into the world of PP to discover why the hell she’s basically ubiquitous in Italy right now. He doesn’t have kids, so he asks some of his journalist colleagues who are fathers. One of them says: “She’s calming.” With this, Gramellini parallels our need for normality and mirth with the ending of every Peppa episode, in which the entire family inevitably falls on their backs laughing uncontrollably. (Frankly, I see this as a warning sign of unmonitored use of controlled substances; but, that would be for the National Enquirer Peppa exposè, after she’s no longer a child star and has had a mug shot or two).

This was my favorite commentary on the current state of affairs here in Italy vis-a-vis Peppa Pig:

Ma negli ultimi anni, complice la classe politica più ferocemente incapace e corrotta dell’emisfero occidentale, ci siamo ubriacati di schifezze e ne portiamo addosso le tracce: sfiducia, rancore, rassegnazione. Ora, la Peppa non sarà la soluzione del problema. Però.

But in recent years, as an accomplice to the most ferociously incompetent and corrupt political class in the Western hemisphere, we’ve gotten drunk on junk, and we’re wearing the traces of it: mistrust, resentment, resignation. Now, Peppa isn’t the solution to the problem. But still…

See, people? This is how desperate we are over here. Things are so in the shitter that we have to turn to a pink, poorly-drawn cartoon pig to soothe our unbridled sense of desperation.

Another of the Gramellini Peppa Philosophy observations, and it’s a beaut:

Rotolare nelle pozzanghere diventa un gesto liberatorio e addirittura rivoluzionario per i bambini che lo guardano in tv, abituati a vivere sotto una campana di vetro da mamme e papà apprensivi che li vaccinano contro ogni bacillo e trasformano la sbucciatura di un ginocchio in un evento ferale.

Rolling around in mud puddles becomes an act of liberation, even a revolutionary act, for children watching it on TV, used to living under a bell jar by worrisome mothers and fathers who vaccinate them against every bacillus and transform a scraped knee into a fatal event.

Yes, if you’ll indulge me in a moment of blatant cultural generalizing, I will say that I have noticed a stark difference between the parenting approaches of my American and British friends who are mothers, as opposed to my Italian friends who have children. Namely: the Italian moms are like live wires, short circuiting with every cough, sneeze, or bite of food that their child takes. I have literally witnessed an Italian mom friend of mine chase her son around the living room cajoling (Yes! There was honest-to-God cajoling going on) and coaxing him to take one more bite of his food. On the flip side, I often get sideways glances when I’m in short sleeves on an unseasonably warm day in March, and my 5-year-old son has been known to ask me to put a long sleeved shirt on him just because “All the other kids are wearing them still.” HAH! Well. Wear one short sleeve and one long one on the same shirt, bucko, because you’re half AMERICAN! We don’t take our temperatures every 5 seconds, goddamit! We suck it up and go to work! (Inserts tongue in cheek. Don’t send me nasty comments. I do this for free for my own personal amusement and that of my loyal readers who are equally amused, and I am not an ethnocentric, bitter-hearted ice queen. Promise. I just like to poke a little fun is all. But, I do staunchly refuse to succumb to the obsession with “the fever” that runs rampant in this country.)

Yes, Italian parenting style is a post for yet another day. Peppa, however, remains the “girl of the moment” on the cover of an Italian weekly with a readership of 1,381,000.

On the one hand, I’m relieved it’s not a naked sexpot. On the other, I’m a bit worried that our existential quest for happiness apparently now rests in the hands of a family of jolly swine, snorting the day away.


Yes, they do an awful lot of that, come to think of it. And all that ROTFL? There might be a connection here that merits further exploration.

And now, for your viewing pleasure: the episode referenced in the VF article, just now rounding the bend on 8 million views.

Have Yourself a Wrinkle-Free Little Christmas

16 Dec

Every day when I walk my son home from elementary school, we pass in front of a fancy-schmancy pharmacy on the corner. I call it fancy because it has prime real estate that occupies half a block, with three huge picture windows for displaying their chemical-enhanced wares.

For months now, literally since my son started school in September and possibly even before that, the pharmacy people have kept a sign in the window with syringes on display.

Two enormous, gigantic, nightmare-inducing syringes.

After we passed it once or twice, Vincenzo (rightfully) said, “Mamma! What are THOSE for?!”

Well. You try explaining DIY Botox to your son, and let me know how that works out.

I—being I—was like, “UGH. You know those women who look all puffy-faced? With crazy lips like ducks?” (Of course at this point I did a fairly accurate, IMHO, impersonation of Tina Cipollari, God help us all. I think she’s actually a he, under all that makeup. Actually, just turn to any TV show with the Maria De Filippi stamp of approval, for a perfect example of how to explain this topic to your very own inquiring five-year-old.)

Who’s Tina Cipollari, you ask? Well. I didn’t actually know her name until JUST NOW. She’s been on the outer reaches of my Italian pop culture radar for years, because she has some role to play in the show known as Uomini e Donne (Men and Women) where women compete for men or vice versa or something, which merits an entire blog post of its own, except I can’t bear to do any sort of practical research about Italian TV. I have a high pain tolerance, you see, but not that high. Even I have my limits. Anyhoo. This is she of whom I speak, oh great beacon to bleached blonde hair,  doing her part to keep the fledgling market for pink frost lipstick afloat:


Please, I beg of you: pull me back from the edge. Don’t let me digress.

POINT BEING: Fillerina.

Aw, now isn’t that cute? Little tiny filler. Ina, ina, oh so tiny and cute.

And, made by the good folks over at Labo. I like the name Labo for the people behind a chemical facial product you inject. Because Lab makes me feel like it’s made in a lab, as in, laboratory (pronounced like this: “la-BORE-a-tory” because it sounds so much more diabolical). And it also makes me think of a Golden Lab Retriever, which has always seemed like a very companionable and trustworthy dog. And if you add “o” that makes it sound sort of Italian, because you have to end words with vowels. But put the Swiss flag next to it. Because you know all Swiss women have perfect skin–they are born from the glacial runoff of the pristine Alps. Thus, the ad geniuses hit a home run with this one:


So basically what we’re talking about is a sort of Botoxy-looking product that you can shoot into your face from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Oh joy of joys. Let me show you what I’m talking about. The sign is, of late, draped in festive golden garland for that extra special holiday sparkle! Kind of makes the needles look like they want to deck the halls with boughs of silicone. Fa la la la la, la la la la.


Ok. Now is the portion of our show where I go trolling the Interwebs for totally superficial research to quell our now-aroused curiosity. Please stand by.

Oh! Well! Would you look now? Those weren’t SYRINGES! Them there’s called “precision applicators,” and that silver needle-lookin’ thing? Well, come closer you ignorant son of a biscuit …  that thar’s called a “truncated metal cannula.”

Oh, silly me! Well then. Let’s go to the videotape!

Yes, but I know what you’re thinking now. You’re thinking: “Those 25 seconds sure were awfully convincing and all, but I have just one more question: SO HOW DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?”

I am so very glad you asked that!

The formulation of Fillerina Gel associates 6 different types of conveyed hyaluronic acids with different molecular weights and structures, with a diversified action in the various cutaneous layers, to facilitate the filling in and plumping up of tissues. The active component – Matrifull – acts over time on the skin matrix, promoting the reconstruction of the natural filling substances such as collagen I and III and fibronectin, for a visible plumping effect.

You know what folks? I can’t really go any further on this post. I think this stuff is Matrifull of shit. So. Happy Ho Ho Holidays. And please, by all means, do not teach your children about Botox. They could end up like the woman in this article, which, by the way, tells us that in 2011, Italy was in sixth place worldwide for plastic surgery, with liposuction and botox injections the most popular of the bunch.

So, maybe that explains why my damn pantiliner box was having a plastic surgery sweepstakes? I didn’t win myself a new set of knockers, just in case you were wondering.

(By jove,  I’ve never had occasion to say knockers. Come to think of it, I could have said jugs. Or just boobies. But knockers seemed like the right blend of decorum and satire, don’t you think?)

Personally, all I want for Christmas is a big ol’ box of coveyed hyaluronic acids under the tree. But only if they have different molecular weights and structures, and then only if they can provide me with diversified action in the various cutaneous layers, mind you.

Up next: Crescina. “Little growth.” Cute, no? Results with proven photographic proof:

hamilton man

But if the Hamilton/Norwood scale of male pattern baldness isn’t sexy enough for you, how about:


Well hell, folks! If it’s good enough for a retired Brazilian footballer “considered by experts and fans to be one of the greatest football players of all time” then I’m banking that it damn sure must be good enough for any balding Joe Schmoe (ahem, that would be Giovanni Sciomani, I think) walking past the pharmacy.

Thank you, Labo! I bet you guys wear white coats in your commercials, don’t you?

It’s the Most Jesusful Time of the Year

3 Dec

Honestly, people. Maybe it has something to do with living next door to the pope, but I tell you what: ol’ man Gesù is all over the place lately. Or maybe it’s a sign from the heavens, just for me. Either way, I’m here to wish you a very Jesus Christmas.

In my neighborhood we have the Jesus Smart car.

Or rather, I should say, THE GOOD NEWS:


What is the good news, you ask? WITH JESUS YOU’RE … UNSTOPPABLE.


(or any of the other synonyms that you prefer for insuperable, which as far as I recall, not many people actually say in English. Personally I’m a bit partial to bulletproof, a sort of Kevlar-lined … wait, pun alert. That would be unholy. Get it? Un? Holy? Bulletproof?

But I digress.

Religious comic books are all the rage lately.

Witness: The Life of Jesus comic book for just €2.99.


Sixteen laminated tear-proof sheets, plus a bonus Pope Francis medallion! At your local newsstand you’ll find a handy three-ring binder to collect every sheet in the series.

Collect them all!


Not a big fan of Jesus? Well, how about the Bishop of Rome and leader of the worldwide Catholic church?

Yep, there’s a comic for that, too!


Includes stickers!

Pope Francis himself gives it a “like”!


Now, if I could only “friend” Papa Francesco and post things to his wall. Now that would be truly spiritual.