The Eye of the Beholder

Yesterday night, after a hotly contested quiz at the Pygmalion (in which we placed a deserved fourth [/14] 2 points away from the joint leaders) I returned home just in time to see the ending of the Miss Italia contest. Now I am not the kind who would sit through the whole contest for four days analysing every pound of flesh in order to evaluate the best of the lot in a manner that would make Shylock proud. I still keep an FHM calendar hanging in the Luxembourgish excuse for a toilet (as in separate from bathroom) as a constant reminder of my being one of the last bastions of bachelorhood in my generation. On balance I think that it could be well said that I am an appreciator of refined beauty whenever it is (freely – I am Gozitan after all) available for the eye to see.I also relish the idea of a contest and the thrill of competition – anything from Eurovision to the World Final of Curling can become interesting if the competitive, almost cut-troath, element can in anyway be perceived. So, back to Miss Italia. There I was, lucky enough to have avoided all stages but two of the competition. The final five. Having scrutinised them as carefully and as subjectively as television pictures would permit I quickly narrowed down my selection to the obvious winner…. number 60. She was a Penelope Cruz lookalike from Sicily called Anna Munafo. Surely she would win hands down.

One agonising hour later, which had been spent with absurd fillers which could only have caused the most acute of ulcers in the stomach of the competitors, the choice had narrowed down to two. Penelope from Sicily was one of them, the other was a Miss Normality called Edelfa. She reminded me of the eighties girls we are used to on programmes like Drive In! or presenting one of the early Mediaset programmes like Bim Bum Bam. She was Piemontese, a northern girl with lovely eyes but lacking all the charm the South has to offer. There we go I said… Penelope should be handed the crown and enough with all this charade.

Instead… ten minutes later Bruce “Die Hard” Willis was placing the crown on Edelfa Masciotta’s head much to my consternation. I was flabbergasted. The main reason was that televoting had a big part in this event and I would have thought that the Latinos have much the same tastes as me. Another case of the polls gone wrong?

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And the crown goes to…. Piemonte

The conspiracy theorist in me (the little Labourite midget I keep hidden for these occasions) immediatey plotted a racist slant to the event. The constant repetition of the phrase “Un altra Piemontese ha vinto” could only mean that this was a sublime message of Italy’s powerful “C’e l’ho duro” north to its southern counterparts. But the anger of the moment subsided and was quickly and easily controlled. It was after all only a game, and like outlooks to life it tends to be very subjective at the end of the day.

The beholder indeed. Maybe eighties girls are back in fashion and the latina is being elbowed out of the scene. I wonder if we could speak of a majority when it comes to taste rather than opinion. Edelfa is queen while Anna lines up the lines of has beens. Till another year that is… when the absurd rules of a beauty contest are once again put into play for another trend to be set.

Meanwhile, as far as beauy goes how’s this for a good description of beauty: Speaking of the iconic ST Dupont lighters, Raymond Chandler once said that they “could make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.” It may be his opinion but I sure love the way he described it.

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The Dupont Lighter… an Adult’s Zippo

* Small final note. When asked their footballing allegiance, the two finalists Anna and Edelfa, both professed their faith in La Grande Signora. Sometimes there’s only one objective truth… beauty can only beauty appreciate!


21 responses to “The Eye of the Beholder

  1. Nice one Jacques. The highlight of my own Miss Italia evening (peppered with thoughts of “x’izzik qed naghmel nara l-Miss Italia?”) must have been the following exchange between Carlo (Lou Bondi) Conti and one of the ‘ultime 20 finaliste’. I forgot which one but both Edelfa and Anna were in a completely diffrent league – a bit like La Vecchia Signora competing against Bruges in the ‘Champsons’. Anyway let’s say it was Miss Abruzzo.

    Carlo (Bondi) Conti: allora qual’e la tua canzone preferita?

    Miss (Bruges) Abruzzo: “We are the Champions”. (at this point I told myself, “almenu mhux kollha ghazlu lil Vasco Rossi”)

    Carlo (Bondi) Conti: Dei Queen. Ah, ce la canti?

    Miss Abruzzo: We are de World…we are de children…

    ps: agree about Anna Munafo’

  2. I feel that all these beauty contests are just a glorified excuse to for the male gaze to manifest itself. Leering men who want to view svelte nymphets and feed their sordid imagination. The more skin on show, the better. These contests have nothing to do with the intelligence of women. In fact they are a shame to the female species and should be abolished. No wonder women are not given proper recognition in society. Men will always rule the world if these things continue. As a result of these contests, men will forever view a women first by looks and figure then by brians. It does not matter weather they are capable of achieving more then their male counter parts. It will always be the male gaze that counts.

  3. Fausto Majistral

    La Grande Signora?? If there were a Inquisition for football I’d have you reported!

  4. Jacques René Zammit

    Vecchia e Grande Fausto, Vecchia e Grande. And its AN inquisition you nitpicking b* !

    hsejjes: they still won’t love you if you lick up to them like that. Leave all that yada yada to the feminists among us like Fausto for example. Don’t get me wrong… I love women… especially in black swimsuits 😛

  5. As far as I know Raymond Chandler was describing a femme fatale “so blonde she would make a bishop kick his boot through a stained glass window” – i’m paraphrasing, but the gist is that it was blonde not a lighter that did that to him…

  6. Tell me more, Jacques, tell me more……

  7. Isma you didnt show us a picture of your preferred one. I didnt have the time to see such intelligent programmes on TV yesterday 🙂 but I would like to have a glimpse at her, at least to see if you were right or not.

  8. Jacques René Zammit

    erezija: as far as you know the Smiths are a great band

    arcibald: unfortunately all miss italia sites seem to be blocked.. maybe when the storm calms down

    hsejjes: it’s the charm baby, it’s the charm

  9. Jacques René Zammit

    Tajba din.

    Thawwadt bejn HSEJJES (mara) Hgejjeg (sit ta’ ragel b’xaghru qasir). I thought Hsejjes was one of those guys on that usual trip of rubbishing beauty contests to get female sympathy. Three hours later I realise Hsejjes is a female…

    … it is a boring old feminist argument after all!

    With apologies to l-Imzebbel at Hgejjeg who would have had nothing at all to do with this conversation were it not for my twisted brain!

  10. I know many things Jacques… the things I don’t know I don’t speak about

  11. Jacques René Zammit

    Ah! The sound of silence 🙂

  12. i will leave it at that… i will not compete with a lawyer – no, this is not my final blow aiming below the belt… i’m simply vacating the arena.

    btw, check out chandler’s “Farewell, My Lovely”. the quotation is somewhere there. it’s a great read too.


    i know, i take some things too seriously… the smiths is one of them, raymond chandler not as much

  13. Jacques René Zammit

    U le jahasra erezija, forget about boxing and belts. This is not a competition and there are no winners and definitely no losers around. Some people just don’t react well to jokes but I find you picked it up magnificently (and don’t forget that this blog came with a Warning about heavy handed jokes).

    As for Mr Chandler, now that the arena is empty here is a little secret… I never read the bloke, I just picked up the quote and reference from Wallpaper* magazine (September 2005) so I cannot vouch for the veracity of the context.

    Hope you liked the music…. 🙂

  14. Jacques René Zammit

    p.s. a Google search of the bishop phrase shows that you are right. Eiher Wallpaper got it wrong or with a greater probability I must have misread the quote.

  15. Jacques René Zammit

    AND FINALLY (phew)
    I finally found the incriminated issue under a pile of quotes (and it turns ot to be the October 2005 issue — Wallpaper is THAT advanced)…

    “ST Dupont is well known among the smoking elite for making an iconic lighter that, TO PARAPHRASE Raymond Chandler, could make a bishop….”.

    So. Lesson #1 for me… never again to quote from memory.

    Lesson #2 Read more slowly

    Lesson #3 for the rest. Never ever again say that a lawyer will not admit that he is wrong… so long as he can prove it himself!

    cheers erezija… enjoy the ride

  16. Ecco Edelfa, Miss Italia 2005
    “Il fidanzato me lo tengo”

    But what about Munafo’?

    The Italian edition of Wallpaper magazine claims that she’s planning a career as a translator, “cosi scappo da quest’isola di m**** come fanno spesso i miei cugini maltesi…”

    ps: she could hardly be a referendaire at 19.

  17. Hawn l-ahwa… sibt ritratt ta’ Anna Munafo’:

    Mmmmmmm booooona!!!

  18. Jacques René Zammit

    hardly a r�f�rendaire… but maybe she could fall for one 😉

  19. what a bunch of leering men you are!!! don’t u have better things to do in luxembourg, Jacques?? And as for the rest, all that intellectual dribble you write, i actually thought that you had something substantial between the ears. all men are the same…..the mind boggles…..

  20. Jacques René Zammit

    jeez. Do nihilistic feminists like this still exist or is this a joke that is too difficult to get?

    Back to the drawing erm ironing board for you Hsejjes!

  21. We need to go back to a matriarcal society, jacques! :-)) Behind a great man is an even greater woman!! tee hee. And i hate ironing clothes…..

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