Condominium blues

If he doesn’t get his way, expect one outcome only.

By: Elaine Luti/The American in Italia

There’s a man in my condominium complex who has decided he’s the boss of the place. He expects everything he wants to go his way. What he doesn’t propose, he resists or undermines. He’s admittedly done a lot for the building, which might be regarded as helpful or controlling, depending on your viewpoint. He talks a lot and you’re likely to see him hanging around on the stairs, in the courtyard, in the immediate neighborhood. I have an irregular schedule, which means I can come and go several times a day, but I almost always run into him. His strategic lobbying, or lurking, gives him plenty of time to get to know everyone in the building, chat them up, make jokes, and get them to like him. At each condo meeting he comes armed with deleghe — proxies signed by residents to allow him to cast their vote.

Though I’m largely allergic to such meetings, I do make an effort to attend if major decisions loom. The man, naturally, is omnipresent. If things don’t go his way, he uses his booming basso voice to cow people into changing their minds. If he doesn’t get his way, he usually storms out.

I say he has hysterical attacks, which may sound odd since hysteria is usually associated with fluffy women who exaggerate distress to draw attention to themselves. It wreaks of high soprano voices, and perhaps a bit too much makeup.

The word hysterical derives from the Greek for uterus, “hystera,” an organ once thought to wander around and lodge in some part of the body causing what today would be called conversion symptoms. Personalities who responded to stress in a volatile way were called “hysterical.” They were seen as overly reactive, tending to exaggerate emotional expression in an effort to be seen and admired. The condition was once considered exclusive to women, but Freud was the first to propose that men were just as susceptible.

Despite my therapist vocation, I don’t often use diagnostic terms, and I certainly would never use one as a weapon (which happens all too often, even by people who should know better.) At the same time I admit to being strongly tempted to do so, particularly in the presence of a man who dismissively talks over women, yelling at them as if he’s the smart man who righteously refuses to recognize silly and hysterical female thinking.

It’s admittedly rare to call a man who expresses booming emotional opinions as “hysterical,” and yet that’s just what he is. Sadly, he often gets his way because loud-mouthed aggression is often considered authoritative. In this paradigm, foghorn macho is “good” while the needy expression of emotion is “bad” (if not stupid or flat-out pathological.) Yet they’re the same thing.

I have plenty of businesswomen as patients. Corporate work, medicine, law, even professional cooking all share a certain macho mentality. As my patients acquire self-confidence, many begin moving up the career ladder. That upward path frequently puts them at odds with old boys’ networks, and subtle or not-so-subtle efforts to put them down. I tell them to think of these critics – men but also women who have risen to top positions — as needy children of a sort. A needy child will use any means possible to get what it wants and needs. Adults turn to bullying, including loud voices and body language, to assert a similar kind of superiority (much like a dog). The best defense is to refuse intimidation and to deal with such posturing outside conventional “top dog” rules. Turn it on end and apply maternal sympathy. “Oh, poor boy, you can’t get your way? Let me know when you finish your hysterical fit.” If you’re lucky, the condo meeting disrupter will just storm out.


UK airport launches hotel room with runway views, butler service and spa treatments – and you can stay for FREE

(Image: Virgin Atlantic/Onefinestay)

By: Julie Delahave/Uk Mirror

When it comes to airport stays, most people immediately think of budget hotels with the bare essentials for getting a good night’s sleep pre-flight.

However, a new luxury hotel room opening up at London Heathrow has seriously upped the stakes with a host of glamorous offerings. We’re talking direct views of the runway, personal butler service, spa treatments and a host of delectable dining.

The best part? Passengers who stay overnight won’t have to pay a penny.

The project is a joint venture between Virgin Atlantic and Onefinestay who teamed up to turn part of London Heathrow Clubhouse into a Manhattan-inspired loft.

The clubhouse is usually reserved for Upper Class and Delta One customers – but for this offer, anyone travelling with Virgin Atlantic can bid to stay in the loft.

(Image: Virgin Atlantic/Onefinestay)
The room will be on offer to passengers flying between the 26th February to the 4th March – and with all of the current delays thanks to the weather, it could make for a stress-free experience as you wait for your flight.

The double room offers wall-to-wall views of the airport’s bustling runway and control tower, but has all the comforts you need to still get a great night’s sleep.

Not to mention that guests will also be treated to a host of A-lister worthy extras including a delicious afternoon tea, a 3-course meal and cocktails, and even an aromatherapy treatment just before bed.

Sounds like total bliss? You can book your stay on the Onefinestay website here – but you’ll need to be flying with Virgin Atlantic. You may want to act quickly too, as places are very limited!

(Image: Virgin Atlantic/Onefinestay)

What you’ll get during your stay

· A welcome from your personal butler

· Afternoon tea before being treated to a relaxing spa treatment

· A pre-dinner cocktail at the bar, followed by a 3-course meal in the brasserie with wine pairings

· Access to the cinema room and rooftop terrace

· Tailored de Mamiel, aromatherapy treatment before bed

· Breakfast in bed from the Clubhouse’s extensive menu and a selection of newspapers

· Refreshing shower and steam session, followed by an invigorating spa treatment including a haircut, shave or facial

· A five minute walk to board your Virgin Atlantic flight

(Image: Virgin Atlantic/Onefinestay)

Mark Anderson, Executive Vice President for Customer at Virgin Atlantic said: ” We always want flying with Virgin Atlantic to be extra special, and that’s why we’ve teamed up with onefinestay to offer this rare opportunity to stay in our London Heathrow Clubhouse.

“An area of our Clubhouse will be transformed into a luxury Manhattan loft, and will offer several lucky customers the best possible start to their trip.

“When staying in the Clubhouse guests will be able to enjoy all the fantastic amenities available to our Upper Class customers including use of our spa, brassiere, cocktail bar and view from our rooftop terrace. It’ll be an unforgettable start to their holiday.”

(Image: Virgin Atlantic/Onefinestay)

Meanwhile, Javier Cedillo-Espin, CEO of onefinestay, added: “onefinestay is renowned in the hospitality industry for its high-touch service and dedication to its customers so it made perfect sense to partner with a brand with a likeminded vision.

“We guarantee individual experiences and what can be more individual than starting your holiday early by enjoying a night of luxury before your flight where onefinestay will make you feel at home.”

“MUMMY” Senior kept mummified mom in apartment for 30 years

Well, not exactly but a 77-year-old Ukrainian woman kept the mummified remains of her mother in her apartment for more than 30 years. UNIVERSAL PICTURES

She wanted her mummy close by

By Brad Hunter/Toronto Sun

According to reports, a Ukrainian pensioner has been living with the mummified body of her mother for a staggering 30 years.

Cops say the 77-year-old senior kept the rotting remains in her squalid apartment in Mykolaiv that was also littered with garbage and stacks of yellowing newspapers.

Investigators discovered the mummified body surrounded by religious icons. It was lying on a couch and dressed in a white dress, head-covering, socks and shoes.

Concerned neighbours dropped the dime on the ghoulish senior.

The senior — alive when police arrived — is paralyzed in both her legs and in desperate need of help. The apartment had no water, gas or electricity.

Cops say the woman was a hermit who never answered her door. Officers were stunned by what they discovered in the shambles of a home.

“In one room on the floor was sitting a woman surrounded by rubbish,” a police statement said. “Having checked other rooms, police found a mummified body of a woman.”

The report added: “Nobody guessed that the woman was living with a dead body of her mother. Now the mummified body was removed from the flat and sent to forensic experts. The pensioner is now in hospital.”

Snow pics: France’s most famed sites like you’ve never seen them before

Snow pics: France's most famed sites like you've never seen them before
The stunning Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley. All pictures AFP
Have you ever seen the Iron Lady dressed in white or the Chateau de Chambord and Versailles Palace under a blanket of snow?

The famous tourist sites in and around Paris are photogenic enough but under a rare covering of snow they look even more spectacular.

We’ve dug out some photos of some familiar attractions that have been given a white makeover in recent days.

First lets start with the Iron Lady

The Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

The Palais Royale


The Arc de Triomphe

Notre Dame Cathedral

Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur

And just to remind you what it normally looks like…

The Bridges of the River Seine

Versailles Palace

The Chateau de Chambord, The Loire Valley

From the Local: France


FOOD FIGHT! Why thousands of people join a massive food fight in this Italian town each year

Why thousands of people join a massive food fight in this Italian town each year
Ivrea’s Battle of the Oranges is one of Italy’s most famous and messiest carnivals. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Italy is home to many spectacular spring carnivals, from masks and extravagant costumes in Venice to political satire in Viareggio. But one of the most unusual festivals takes place in a small town in northwestern Italy, where thousands gather each February to wage war… with oranges.


The three-day food fight in Ivrea, Piedmont has taken place each year since 1808, making 2018 the carnival’s 210th edition.

Huge crowds descend on the city for the Battle of the Oranges, a messy fight believed to commemorate a revolt against the monarchy. The festivities kicked off on Sunday and continue until Tuesday, February 13th, the day before Ash Wednesday and the Christian festival of Lent.

According to legend, a 12th century rebellion began after a baron visited a peasant girl on the eve of her wedding, hoping to exercise the right medieval lords supposedly had to have sex with any women from the lower classes.

But the girl fought back, beheading the baron and marching around the town with his head, an action which sparked a peasant uprising.

These days, the battle is recreated using fruit, and festival-goers or ‘aranceri’ (orange-throwers) are divided into teams. Those on foot represent the commoners, split into nine teams with different emblems. Others, portraying the Napoleonic troops who used to rule the town, fight back from horse-drawn carts.

Participants in this year’s carnival. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

People dressed up as the Mugnaia (‘miller’s daughter’, the peasant girl who started the revolt), also called Violetta, and Napoleonic officers parade through the streets. Violetta hands out sweets and other small trinkets to those who have come to watch.

Huge stacks of crates filled with the citrus fruits line the streets to supply the participants with ammunition, while the carts are stocked with oranges too.

It is not exactly clear why oranges are the fruit of choice, and in previous decades, beans or apples were used instead. Each year, hundreds of thousands of kilograms of oranges are imported from Sicily to the northwestern town.

Spectators can choose to wear a red hat to mark themselves as a bystander (donning the hat also means you cannot throw any oranges yourself) or stay safe from flying pulp by sheltering behind the nets which are put up to protect Ivrea’s buildings.

Other rituals include a large bonfire, again symbolic of the revolt but also of the arrival of spring, as well as the musical and theatrical performances common to many Italian carnivals.

Ikea: black Swede is not a fit for the Greek Market?

Swedish actor told he 'can't be black' for Ikea advert
Photo: Private
 From: The Local Sweden
UPDATED: A Swedish actor has complained of discrimination after he was told he “can’t be black for the Greek market”, in an e-mail rejecting him for a role in an Ikea advert. But the casting company says he was put forward for the job.
Fernando, a Stockholm-based stand-up comedian and actor, was cc’d on an e-mail from the flat-park furniture giant’s UK-based casting company to his Stockholm agent. 
Fernando said Ikea’s press office had been understanding.
“He can’t be black for the Greek market Sorry,” the e-mail read.
“I was sad and angry,” Fernando, who doesn’t want his surname published, told The Local after SVT first broke the story. “It’s common that these things happen, saying it to your face, but not actually to get it in an e-mail.”
But Tracie Saban, one of the owners of the casting company, Crocodile Casting, said that Fernando was in fact put forward for the job, along with another black actor and an Arab man despite not fitting the brief, “just to expand it a bit”.
“We saw his video upload and put it on our link which we sent to our client,” she said. “He knew he was put forward for the job, so for him to say that is a lie. Nobody got the job. It was cancelled in the end because of script changes.”
In early November, Ikea began looking for Swedish actors who could star in an advert to be broadcast in Greece before November 24th, the date of the so-called “Black Friday” shopping festival. 
“The actor needs to be really good at comedy, with a dry sense of humor,” the brief read next to a link to the Youtube video below.

Although the brief seemed to specify a white person who would suggest a more stereotypical image of “Sweden” to a Greek audience, Fernando thought he met enough of the requirements to apply. 
“I said, so I’m a stand-up comedian, and I sent a link to them of my showreel,” he said.
A day later, Fernando was included in the e-mail to his agents.
Saban denies his claims that Crocodile casting was “not polite” when Fernando rung to complain.
“My partner was almost in tears. She spoke to him for an hour on the phone,” she said. “He got his apology on bended knees. We felt so bad that he felt that that was a racist comment. It wasn’t at all, it didn’t come from any bad place in our heart, because we’re not like that.”
She said that after the phone conversation and an e-mail of apology, Fernando had seemed happy until he went public three months later.
Ikea told SVT that the company had indeed included skin-color suggestions in the brief for the advert.
“Sometimes you are looking for a blond man. Sometimes you are looking for a dark-haired woman, an Asian one or a South American,” Jakob Holmström, the company’s press spokesman, explained.
“There’s nothing unusual about that in itself. What’s unfortunate is the way this was formulated when he got a rejection.”
Fernando’s agent Fia Hammarström, who is part-Thai, said she was considering dropping Fernando for going public with his complaint.
“This will hurt other people in the agency as well,” she said. “I have 42 people in my agency and I know how the casting companies work, and they will be afraid to take him in.”
Saban said her and her partner were upset at the way “a very snappy e-mail with bad grammar” had been used to stir up a media controversy.
It’s been misconstrued and exaggerated to make us look like racist casting directors, which we’re not because we push for all inclusive casting all the time, especially in this country, we’re always saying ‘can we bring multi-ethnic people in?’.”
She said this even applied to the Greek market. “We’ve done loads of commercials for Greece where we cast black actors,” she said.
Fernando said Ikea’s press office had been very understanding, but he had wanted to speak out because he found it frustrating that advertisers and drama producers in Sweden so rarely cast black actors in ordinary roles. 
“They say they want a Swedish actor, and I came here when I was six years old, so I don’t know what more I can do to be Swedish,” he said. “It’s 2018, we are living in a multicultural country. So what is a Swedish actor? Is it a white actor?”
But it has also won plaudits for adverts which break down stereotypes and prejudices. 
Its Hooray! To the Wonderful Everyday advert, which came out last November, was praised by Michelle de Leon, the founder of World Afro Day, which celebrates wild afro hairstyles, because it “shows a black family and their curly, kinky, afro hair, living the good life”. 
She wrote in The Guardian that the advert had been the first that made her and her daughter “feel good to be black and British”.
“If this is a watershed moment, it’s been a long time coming,” she said.
Here’s a video of Fernando made by his agent, Hammarstrom.


Spain: Orange thieves caught red handed with car full of stolen fruit

Orange thieves caught red handed with car full of stolen fruit
Police released photos of the stolen fruit after arresting the thieves.Photo: Emegencias Sevilla
Police in Seville discovered thieves attempting to get away with four tonnes of stolen oranges after pulling their vehicles over at the side of the road.

The fruit thieves were discovered after police became suspicious at the reaction of three vehicles when passing a patrol car on the road between Torreblanca and Mairena de Alcor in the region of Seville.

The cars, which were obviously being driven in convey, abruptly changed direction when the drivers spotted the patrol car ahead.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Police pulled over the two cars and a van to discover the vehicles were jam-packed with stolen oranges.

Five people were arrested for the theft of the fruit from a warehouse in Carmona.

The Local

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