Monday, December 21, 2009

Brittany Murphy dead at 32.

Cardiac arrest?! At 32?

This is just sad.

Jezebel.com has a nice write up about her.

While she had some big struggles in her life and career lately, "CLUELESS" will always remain one of my favorite quotable flicks.

"Why should I listen to you, anyway? You're a virgin who can't drive."
"That was way harsh, Tai."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Did anyone see AVATAR?

I read it's going to make 70 million this weekend.

Of course I will have to see it but for some reason I'm not really excited to.

I loved James Cameron's earlier movies but did not like TITANIC. I appreciated the special effects but was not emotionally engaged.

I saw the movie with my sister at the Willowbrook Mall theaters in Jersey. At one point I remember looking at my watch and wondering when was the freaking ship going to go down.

I hear the effects in AVATAR are mind blowing but the narrative is lame. The movie is also long, 2 hours and 40 minutes. I have no patience for long special effects movies without a good plot.

Speaking of movies, I finally saw TROPIC THUNDER. Robert Downey Jr. was priceless. "Just because it's a theme song, don't make it not true."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flashback Friday – Santa, Gennaro Gattuso & Francesco Totti

This year's holiday ads feature only Totti as he transformed into Babbo Natale (Father Christmas).

The commercial below always puts a smile on my face. Hello, you've got Santa and two well-dressed men looking fioooooone!

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"If Madonna can still bust a move at 51, I can make through this class."

I was thinking that last night.

Our Capoeira instructor has returned to Brazil for the holidays. He will be gone for a few months.

My friend who told me about the class, was our new instructor. He's been studying for a while.

Unlike our other classes, we did a pretty hard core warm up. My poor arms. Then I thought about Madonna.

Okay, I do realize it's her job. She has a personal trainer, a chef and has been a dancer for years. However, she did motivate me.

She looks great in the "Celebration" video. Love the Louboutin boots. I can't believe Lourdes is a teenager. She's in the video at the 3:16 doing the flip.

The video was directed by Jonas Akerlund. The way it's edited is very cool. I'm a big fan of Akerlund's work (Prodigy, U2, etc.) and love the videos he did for Madonna in the past including, "Ray of Light" and "Jump".

I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that this woman is in her 50s. It seem like only yesterday I heard "Everybody" for the first time. Actually it wasn't yesterday. It was in 1983!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ouch. Silvio Berlusconi is hit upside the head.

The leader of the far right party, Lega Nord, said it was an act of terrorism.

Okay, the man who was arrested on the spot has a history of mental problems. So until there is a link between him and a terrorist organization, it's a little early for such talk.

I wonder how heavy was the Duomo souvenir? The PM had his nose and several teeth broken.

I can't imagine getting hit in the face that hard.

Former President Bush was lucky he only had to deal with a soft shoe.

Here is more from the Financial Times. I agree with the article that this incident is only going to add fuel to the "poisonous political" atmosphere.

One thing that surprises me as an American is how much less security there is surrounding European leaders. Do people in France, England, Italy, etc. have to go through metal detectors when their leaders are giving a speech or going to an event? I mean we even have metal detectors in many of our city schools.

When Clinton was president, a friend and I went to the NCAA basketball semi-finals in Dallas. Arkansas was playing and President Clinton attended the game. We had to arrive extra early (driving in from Austin where we were working at the time) because of the extra security. The entire stadium had to go through detectors.

True Berlusconi was speaking to a rally of his own supports but it was still a public event. Anyone could have walked into the piazza. Later he was signing autographs when he was attacked.

I assume his security will be beefed up.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sade's new single "Soldier Of Love" - LOVE IT

Sade's new album drops February 10th. After 10 years she is back.

Cannot wait. When I was younger I thought she was a little too "easy listening". As I got older I really started to appreciate her lyrics and the musicianship of her band.

Especially now with more and more female singers doing little than trying to sell sex, there's something refreshing about a singer like Sade.

She is sexy. She doesn't have to shake her butt to get you to buy her music. The talent stands on it's own.

This single is the bomb. Sade turn 50 this year and is BRINGING IT.

Listen to the song with good headphones if possible. The track surprised me. I was expecting something else. Love the drums. When the back-up voices kick in as she says "I'm a soldier!" , I get chills.

I hope it can cut through the clutter and become a hit. I think it's uptempo enough but you never know.

I'm down on the whole love thing right now but these are some deep lyrics (and very optimistic). I needed to hear this song.





I've lost the use of my heart
But I'm still alive
Still lookin for the life
The endless pool on the other side
It's a wild wild west
I'm doin my best

I'm at the borderline of my faith
I'm at the hinterland of my devotion
In the frontline of this battle of mine
But I'm still alive

I'm a soldier of love
Every day and night
I'm soldier of love
All the days of my life

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My own Top Chef challenge: Homemade Chicken Stock

The Foster's Market Cookbook is one of my go-to books.

I was at the farmer's market and noticed how incredible the vegetables looked. I wanted to try Foster's Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant soup recipe.

The problem? Like most soups I needed chicken stock/broth. In L.A. I used to make soups all the time and just bought stock from Trader Joe's.

Yes, I did hear that homemade stock makes a difference but for some reason I had it in my head stock was hard to make.

Well living in Rome I couldn't find canned stock so I had to make it.

Inspired by a post from the lovely Michelle at Bleeding Espresso, I bit the bullet.

Folks I've seen the light. Just like with marinara sauce, I will make my own for now on. It was easy and I could absolutely taste the difference.

Here's a basic simple recipe from The Unemployed Cook Blog.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Flashback Friday – Jackson 5 "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"

I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that Christmas is this month.

I loved this version as a kid. I didn't know back then because Katherine Jackson is a Jehovah Witness, the kids did not get to celebrate Christmas. It was later in life via Elizabeth Taylor (random!) that Michael Jackson celebrated the holiday.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

It's a "ponte/bride" weekend in Italy. Tuesday is a holiday so a lot of people are taking Monday off.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

randomissimo - Tiger, Desperate Housewives, men

I think Tiger Woods needs a new publicist stat.

Why is the Susan character on Desperate Housewives so annoying? I wish she was killed off last season.

What cocktail should I make for the Mad Men Season Three premiere (In Italy) December 13th?

Why do people in America keep asking me if I've met a man yet? How many times must I tell them "Under A Tuscan Sun" is fiction!

Speaking of men, I'm done. I need to focus on work. I really can't get distracted. Clearly there's something wrong with me and I no longer need/want to make a fool out of myself. If shit hasn't worked out by this age...it never will. It's some kind of fucked karma that I'm writing a romantic comedy and have nothing positive to draw from. Nothing. That is not normal. Everyone says write what you know. Trust, nobody wants to see that movie.

I can relate to this clip minus the having sex with Jon Bon Jovi. Oh yeah and the therapy part. I was one of maybe two people I knew in Hollywood not in therapy. Perhaps I should have been.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pictures of Trinità del Monti church, Spanish Steps, Rome

The first two times I visited Rome on vacation, there was scaffolding covering this beautiful church.

A lot of people over look the church focusing on taking pictures of the incredible views. It's definitely worth a visit.

Construction was started by the French in 1495 to celebrate their successful invasion of Naples.

During the Napoleonic occupation of Rome, this church like many churches/villas had it's artwork stolen and taken to France. It was eventually returned.

There are several works by Daniele da Volterra. He was a pupil of Michelangelo. Da Volterra was later hired to paint clothes onto the nudes in the Sistine Chapel's The Last Judgement.







Friday, November 27, 2009

Flashback Friday – Donny Hathaway - "This Christmas"

Yes I know in America the day after Thanksgiving is "Black Friday", the biggest shopping day of the year.

I don't get it. Standing in line from 3:00 a.m.? People getting trampled to death over some bargains? I just don't think the season is about that.

To me the day after Thanksgiving means one thing....I can break out my Christmas music!!!!

This is one of my all time favorites. Don't even speak to me about that lame Chris Brown cover. Rest in peace Donny.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Record breaking weekend in Hollywood, fueled by women and girls

Not just New Moon, but The Blind Side and Precious are out performing expectations.

The next Hollywood exec who says women/girls don't go to the movies, needs find a new career. I'm so sick of hearing that any female driven movie that does well is a fluke.

We are over 51% of the population. Wake up Hollywood.

Numbers don't lie. Even older ladies (over 25 by Hollywood standards) came out over the weekend.

If you make movies people want to see, they will support them.

Now it would be nice if some of these movies were actually good. However, I get it's a business and Hollywood doesn't care about the quality of a hit like New Moon.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still broke, still single but like Stevie "Not Going Worry 'bout A Thing"

This morning I went to an gallery opening curated by my friend's father-in-law. My friend's Italian wife asked me what was going on...I was glowing. She is not the only person who has asked me this question lately.

What the heck?

Seriously why the good mood? My financial situation is still beyond jacked up. The latest news from the WGA (Writers Guild of America) is not encouraging.

Yes it still sucks to be a female writer in Hollywood. And writers of color? bwahaha less than 6% of ALL films/TV shows. The numbers for women and minorities are declining. Part of the reason is the emphasis on comic book/tent poles movies and movies based on toys. Studios hire male writers for those films. There are male writers are known for writing female characters but the reverse? Not really.

Melissa Silverstein of the fantastic blog, Women and Hollywood, writes about the latest study HERE.

The balance in my bank account is declining, the dollar keeps sinking and Sarah Palin refuses to go away. Yet earlier today I was working out on the Appia Antica and caught myself, on more than one occasion, smiling to myself. I feel like I'm on drugs or something.

Man oh Manischewitz, I fear this "glowing" thing might have something to do with my crush. I guess that's the upside. It's better than looking tore up because you're depressed.

I see PDAs around me all the time here and I have to say I'm a little jealous. Not that I would be tonguing down my man in the middle of the street, but you know what I mean.

Looking at what is happening or not happening in my life I should be at the very least sad, if not alarmed!

Instead, I had an amazing weekend.

Saturday after Capoeira class I caught up with E. her husband (aka The Professor) and their baby. E. used to work in Hollywood too, but we met in Rome.

My classmates joined us and we were sitting on a terrace overlooking the city. I don't know if it was a post-Capoeira high, the mojito or the views but I felt this sense of everything is going to be okay. Things are going to work out.

I thought I'm really fortunate to live in this city, to have such great friends in my life, to have a family that supports me (emotionally and financially) and that I left L.A. before I before I reached the point of no return.

Stevie Wonder's INNERVISIONS has been listed on many a top album of all time lists and I agree.

I heard this song earlier today.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flashback Friday – Destiny's Child - "Say My Name"

Regardless how one might feel about Bey, you cannot deny this song from 2000 is very catchy. Love the bridge and the harmony.

While I hate the producer shout outs in the song (hello did people shout out Motown! Stax! Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! etc. back in the day?) this was the jam.

The original group was singing on this track and when the video came out there was a lot of controversy regarding why two of the members were kicked out.

Beyonce is a huge star now so I don't know if DC will ever reunite.

Have a great weekend. It's going to be GORGEOUS in Rome. I might have to take my Macbook and work outside.

Here is the VIDEO

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My own Top Chef challenge: Plantains

It's a little weird that in all the years I lived in L.A. I never cooked plantains. I'm sure there must be a market somewhere in the city that sells them. I never saw them at any of my farmer's market or in my local supermarket. I can't remember if Bristol Farms had them.

Yet I've seen them in Campo dei Fiori at the vendor we call the Bulgari of Campo because while his produce is beautiful and diverse, it's very, very expensive. You can also buy them at the Piazza Vittorio market and Prati's Trionfale market.

I was at the Trionfale market this morning and picked up a few. The vendor I went to has a great selection of Caribbean, Asian and African food. Some of fruits and vegetables I have never heard of.

Plantains are extremely popular in the Caribbean. My dad used to buy then in the City and they are perfect thing to eat with jerk chicken, or beans and rice.

Super easy to make all you need are plantains (the "browner" the better/sweeter), oil and a pan.

Fry the sliced plantains in the oil on med/high heat until they get a little crispy around the edges. Put then on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Some people like to sprinkle brown sugar on top. I leave the sugar off for side dishes but would put some on if I'm using the dish as a dessert.


photo: foodnetwork.com

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gorgeous day - some pics from Gianicolo Hill

We're having a a run of beautiful weather.

Instead of the constant cold and wet weather we had last November, it's been warm and partly sunny.

I went on a run up to to Gianicolo Hill. I have written about one of my favorite fountains located there.

The views of Rome are incredible from the hill.

Here are some pictures I took a while ago.

Not sure what time the puppet show starts but it's very popular.


The statue of Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva di Garibaldi (aka Anita Garibaldi) above her tomb. She was the Brazilian born wife of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi. Her statue has her holding a gun and a baby. She fought along side her husband and died while pregnant with their fifth child during the Retreat from Rome.


A cannonball that was found during renovations of this church. This area was the scene of vicious bloody battles between the French and Italian revolutionaries fighting for Italy's freedom.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flashback Friday - Sonny Rollins - "My One And Only Love"

The Rome Jazz Festival started this week. I went to see Sonny Rollins at the Auditorium Parco della Musica. Sonny is a musical legend. To see him out still touring at 79 is incredible.

He has played with GIANTS, Monk, Coltrane, Blakey, Davis. It's bizarre to me that jazz, an unique American art form, is more appreciated abroad especially in Europe and Asia. Why is that?

At the end of this amazing show, the crowd went nuts with a prolonged standing ovation. It went on forever.

When it comes to jazz I definitely lean toward the saxophonists, like Rollins, Coltrane and Gordon. I love the sound of the tenor sax. Along with the cello and piano, it's of my favorite instruments.

I listen to music everyday. I don't know if I would be so passionate about it if I had not been exposed to so much music from my dad, his friends and the music programs in my schools.

I lucked out my NYC public elementary school had art and music. This was pre-budget cuts.

Then we moved to a NYC suburb where in fourth grade I started flute lessons, in school. In high school I was told there were too many flutes in the concert and marching bands. I was switched to alto sax and tenor sax. Mind you I (my parents) did not have to pay for two brand new, very expensive saxophones. They were provided by the school.

My tiny high school believed it was important to pay for football uniforms AND band instruments.

I wasn't talented enough to be in our jazz band. They were outrageous talented and to this day still remember Joe Montini's sax solos.

I really miss playing music.

If Sonny Rollins is touring near you, run and buy a ticket. He can barely walk across the stage but once he starts playing, you forget he's almost 80.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guest Post - Merging Cultures: Three Ways to Share Your New Culture With Your Old Family

Today's Guest blogger (my first!) is one of my favorite people, the lovely Cherrye.

Like me, Cherrye is an American living in Italy. She lives in Calabria with her husband, where they own a B&B.

Cherrye's a very talented writer (it runs in her family) and I loved meeting her and Peppe earlier this year. I felt kinda bad for him because Cherrye and I like to talk. Uhmm, a lot. ha

Her advice below is on point. Here's a link to her blog, My Bella Vita.


Merging Cultures: Three Ways to Share Your New Culture With Your Old Family

"I remember feeling like a kid on a candy-crazed high during my first trip to Europe. I loved each new place more than the last and I couldn’t wait to get home and share these experiences with my family.

I wanted to take them to the top of the Eiffel Tower with me, share some homemade pistachio gelato with them and splash them with a bit of Nessie’s water from her near-frozen loch.

When I got home I was surprised to learn they didn’t care to climb to the top of Notre Dame and watching The Sound of Music was as close to Salzburg as they cared to get.

I didn’t get it.

I continued to travel and would report home with mom’s magnet, they’d look at pictures and that was that.
But when I moved to Italy it all changed.

No, it wasn’t them-it was me. I changed my approach to sharing and discussing my new culture and whatdoyouknow, they were hooked on Italy, too.

Here are three ways you can share your new culture with your old friends and family back home.

1. The Way to a Man (and your mom’s) Heart
… is still through food.

When I go to Texas I make a point of taking fun Calabrian ingredients they don’t normally eat back home. Sometimes it is limoncello, other times it is traditional Italian Christmas candy and often it is a new pasta recipe or homemade dessert idea they wouldn’t have tried on their own.

2. Education as a Weapon
Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. So why not start with your family?

When I started reporting on what I’d learned about Italy, the history of the buildings they were seeing in photos and how Italians do things differently than we do back home-my family started listening.

It wasn’t enough for them to just look at pictures. Once they understood the history and could appreciate the background, they understood why I love this country.

3. Lasting Impressions

If you are intent on sharing your new culture with your family, then take them gifts they can’t get in the states. For example, my mother now proudly displays La Befana
every year with her Christmas decorations and she uses her Italian porcelain salad tongs every time she serves dinner.

Credit: Clarita82 at Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarita_it/

What other ideas do you have for sharing your new culture with your family and friends back home?"

Cherrye Moore is a freelance writer and B&B owner living in Calabria, Italy. She writes for aAffordable Calling Cards where they sell prepaid calling cards to Italy, and about living and traveling in Calabria on her site, My Bella Vita.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My blogversary

I cannot believe it's been four years.

To be honest, I'm not sure if I would be writing or living in Italy had I not started this blog.

A lot has changed since then, for the better.

I've "met" so many incredible people thanks to this blog.

A huge GRAZIE to everyone who takes the time to read my posts on Italy, film/hollywood, food, fashion, life and my rants on random subjects.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Perfect Bun...best burgers in Rome?

I can't say as I haven't had one there yet but I can say the Chicken Fajitas are the bomb! Great fries as well too.

The menu is "American" type fare. Burgers, Fries, Wings, Nachos etc.

I'm not sure what the crowd will be like during the winter but this summer it was a great place to go on Tuesday and Thursday nights for drinks. Excellent drinks, very good DJ.

Crowd is Italian with a few expats sprinkled about. I'm surprised there aren't more Americans given the menu and how close it is to Campo/Piazza Navona. One friend had a theory that it's too pricey for the college crowd.

TPB has one of the best Ladies Room. ABBA's "Dancing Queen" plays while a disco ball spins. Hilarious.

Here is the website

Friday, November 06, 2009

Flashback Friday – The unrequited love edition - Eric Clapton "Layla" and Marvin Gaye "I Want You"

A good friend told me she was head over heels for a guy she met. The good news, she could still have those feelings, the bad news, she could still have those feelings.

She went through a tough divorce a few years ago. So while she's glad to have some romantic feeling back in her life, unrequited love, let's be honest, sucks. It doesn't matter if you're 16 or 60.

She's a screenwriter as well. Most of the writers I know are expressive and/or in tune with their emotions, very raw, close to the surface. Doesn't matter if they are screenwriters, novelist or songwriters, male or female.

There's a downside to this. While it can be helpful in writing, it can be rough for "real" life. Of course one doesn't have to be a creative person to get "twirly" about someone. I have another friend who's going through the roller-coaster thing right now. At least she's dating the guy. My friend's crush has no idea.

All I'm going to say is I'm in the middle of the same BS now and it's not cool. I'm working on a script dealing with some similar issues so I try to channel some of my twirly energy into it.

I must be a glutton for punishment because why am I listening to all these love songs? Why? Why? Why?! Damn you Sade and Maxwell.

You'd think watching GOODFELLAS, a gansta flick, I would safe but one of the best montages in film is set to the instrumental section of "Layla." Poor Eric.

Have a great weekend. I will be working and thinking about the object of my affection.



Marvin, as always, brings it in this song. The emotion, everything. Madonna working with Massive Attack did a great cover of this.



Lyrics "I Want You"
I want you the right way
I want you
But I want you to want me too
Want you to want me,baby
Just like I want you

I give you all the love I want in return sweet darlin'
But half a love is all I feel
It's too bad,It's just too sad
You don't want me now
But I'm gonna change your mind
Someway,somehow,oh baby

Repeat

This one way love is just a fantasy, oh sugar
To share is precious, pure and fair
Don't play with something you should cherish for life,oh baby
Don't you wanna care
Aint it lonely out there

Repeat



Lyrics "Layla"

What do you do when you get lonely
and nobody's waiting by your side?
You've been running and hiding much too long.
You know it's just your foolish pride.

Chorus: Layla, you got me on my knees.
Layla, i'm begging darlin' please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind?

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
You turned my whole world upside down.

Chorus

Let's make the best of the situation,
Before I finally go insane.
Please don't say we'll never find a way,
Or tell me all my love's in vain.

Chorus

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My own Top Chef challenge: Fennel

Along with trying to rely less on recipes, I'm also trying to cook with new ingredients. I have never cooked fennel before.

While this vegetable is not that popular in the States, it's huge here. You see it everywhere.

I saw chef Giada de Laurentiis cooked with it several times on her Food Network show when I lived in America.

I was at the market and on a whim I bought some.

I made her Roast Fennel with Parmesan.

This dish is so easy (I used slightly less olive oil) and absolutely delicious. The salty cheese works well with the sweet fennel. I will make this one over and over again and next time I might add some pancetta.

With such a simple dish the quality of the ingredients must be excellent.

You can find this recipe in Giada's fantastic cookbook "Giada's Family Dinners".

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan
Ingredients
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices, fronds reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with the Parmesan. Drizzle with the oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.




Not only does it taste good, it's a pretty dish. I forgot to sprinkle the fronds over it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Randomissimo - Am I the only American who has never had a flu shot?

I've reading and hearing a lot about the Swine Flu vaccine.

As a child I went to the pediatrician every year for a check up. My mom was a nurse. Yet I never had a flu shot. In L.A. it seemed everyone I knew would get a shot for the season.

Should I get one? Do you? Why or why not?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Flashback Friday – Gladys Knight and the Pips "I Heard Through The Grapevine"

A little before my time but my parents and their friends were big fans.

I'm not sure how young Gladys was in the early '70s (pretty young) but she was bringing it. Like I said yesterday, good thing she came up in the '70s. She would have a hard time getting a record contract now.

"If I Were Your Woman" and "I've Got To Use My Imagination" are also fantastic songs.

What the hell happened to American R&B? Can we please bring back live instruments, a little bass, some drums, something other than machines?

Sorry but most of this current sampled stuff sounds soulless. I wish artists like Jill Scott were topping the charts. When they sing you feel something, like there's actually some emotion in their voices. I miss Lauryn Hill. L Boogie, where are you?

Yeah I know I sound like an old lady but my sister is ten years younger than me, from a completely different generation and she complains about the same thing.

I love Marvin's version of this song as well. Another great artist. I miss Marvin too.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Great thing about living in Rome? I don't have to deal with African- American jacked up hair issues.

Good morning bloggisti, I'm warning you now, this is a rant.

My good friend sent me the following link from Jezebel.com.

I can't believe Ms. Samuels wrote a rebuttal. Her first article created a firestorm. To this day, I'm not sure why Newsweek published it.

I commented on Jezebel the first time Ms. Samuels decided to put a 4 year-old on blast and call a little girl's hair a "hot mess". Never mind that her hair is actually healthy and combed. Who the fuck is this woman? Zahara is not her child, or even her friend's child.

Anyway I know the Jolie-Pitts do take care of little Z's hair, as I worked with someone who is friends with them. LaToya at Jezebel really breaks down this article well. The fact is Z. is NOT African-American but African. Why is Samuels putting all our baggage on this child? Aren't there more important things to write about with a platform like Newsweek?

You have to read the articles Ms. Samuels wrote. They're insane. Reading them made me so happy I don't have to deal with ignorant people like her anymore. Clearly Ms. Samuels has some self esteem/self hatred issues. Cool she can hate the hair that grows out of her head but body snarking on a 4 year-old in the name of "cultural awareness" is not cool.

In the first piece Samuels said something about how, yes Zahara has famous parents but at the end of the day she will be judged as JUST an African-American girl. There's so much wrong with that sentence. Samuels is projecting.

She also talks about how Zahara, who travels all over the world, is missing out on that special "doing hair with mommy" bonding experience. Oh really, like dreading getting your hair washed because you know your mom has to put a hot comb through it and the smell of burning hair is not pleasant?

Of course there are hair issues in the Caribbean and Africa but in the States it's on a whole other level. And now thanks to our omnipresent media, black women in other countries are trying to emulate Western stars like Beyonce, even if they look nothing like her. Skin bleaching creams sales are skyrocketing.

When I went natural I didn't get flack from white people, it was from other black people. Many (not all) African-American women would say things like, "You're so brave." Uhmm for what? Wearing my hair the way it grows?

Then I moved to L.A. Black men compeltely ignrored me and/or felt comfortable telling me "You have nice features, why don't you straighten you hair or get a weave?"

My white female friends find the whole thing bizarre. Relaxing is not the same as coloring, so while they can empathize, they don't truly understand what a loaded issue hair texture is in the African-American community.

The issue, like most jacked things in the community, stems from slavery. The lighter your skin, the straighter your hair, the better you were treated. You probably got to be in house and not out in the fields. Minus a 10 year "black is beautiful" movement in the 60/70s when 'fros were in, the vast majority of African-American women (over 75%) are spending serious money on taking out or hiding the kinks in their hair.

I'm not sure if how one wears their hair is political but I do know that the billions we pump into this industry do not enrich the pockets of black people. The impoverished Indian women who give their hair so we can pay $1000 for a weave don't benefit. The majority of Korean markets in black neighborhoods who sell the hair and products don't participate in those communities. The biggest names in black hair care are own by companies like Revlon and Unilever. The same companies who sell skin lightening creams in Asian and African countries.

Almost every single black actress/celebrity has a weave. When you read black hair magazines and they do that one feature on natural hair, 9 times out of 10 the model is biracial. So even in the "natural world" there's a scale. Loose curls, so cute! Tight kinks, no. High fashion, which has never been known for being PC is why ahead of Hollywood. That alone says something.

Black women's hair has been in the news a lot lately because we have a African-American First Lady and all the press about Chris Rock's documentary.

Discussion is great but I'm sad it's 2009 and we are still talking about "good hair".

Being in Rome, there aren't many black Americans here. There are more black Americans in Florence. All my black women female friends here are from the Caribbean, England or Africa. They wear their hair in a variety of style. Two friends relax, the others wearing their hair naturally.

I mentioned to an Italian friend how I used to have the Halle Berry pixie cut and while the style was slamming it was a pain to upkeep. Every 5 weeks I paid $125 (mind you this was over 10 years ago, so I'm sure it would be more expensive now) to have my hair trimmed and relaxed. She couldn't understand the whole relaxing thing. She asked why would you want to look like everyone else?

Because in America assimilation is the name of the game. It seems like we are going backwards. Gladys Knight and Aretha would never have careers now. Beyonce's sister Solange, who just did "the big chop" to much ridicule, used to spend 50k a year on her weaves and had her first relaxer at 4.

And this is what Samuels wants for Zahara. To feel her natural hair is ugly?

Are there days when I get a bored with my hair? Yes. But I'm relieved to no longer live in a culture that looks at my hair and thinks either I'm a hard core militant, it's unkept or I cry in my pillow every night because I don't have "good hair."

My hair is what it is. I find it beyond ironic that in America the closer you are to an "European esthetic" the better. My very brown, natural self lives in Europe and I'm treated completely different here. I noticed it when I was in London as well. Before the summer I cut my hair really short, all the Italians in the salon were "bellissima, you can really see your smile, etc. etc." When I went that short in L.A.? Disapproval.

Good hair is healthy hair. Like Marcus Garvey said, "Get rid of the kinks in your mind, not on your head."

Signed,

Team Zahara

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adult Education in Rome

Why did I just hear about this place recently? I was telling an Italian friend I wanted to take an Italian class as I work in English all day, know a bunch of American, Canadian and British expats and all my Italian friends speak perfect English. Therefore I live in Italy but rarely speak Italian. This is a problem. I don't want to be one of those expats who lives here for years and can't communicate.

First, the Italian friends said my statue of limitations is up. They're going to speak Italian to me for now on. Okay. I'm ready. Kind of.

Second, expat friends, who are all stronger speakers than me (several are married/dating Italians or they have been in the country longer than me) will split our conversations, half English/half- Italian. Certain things like the trials and tribulations of Kate Plus 8 and American health care reform legislation are easier to discuss in English.

Third, I started classes at Upter. This school has every class under sun. There's even a Shakespeare class that goes to England at the end of the course. My friend said since classes are all about the professor, why pay double or triple for a private language school? I think Upter receives some funding from the State and the EU.

I'm the only American in my class. I sat next to a British man and was told by the professor to stop speaking English. Busted! Two classmates are from Germany. Not sure where the other three are from. One woman from Romania was speaking Italian so fast, no one in the class other than the professor understood her. She also spoke forever. I completely zoned out as she went on and on and started thinking about how fine Tom Selleck was in Magnum P.I. and why did mustaches go out of style?

I wondered if I was in the wrong level as I couldn't not complete this adjective/pronouns worksheet she gave us. Then again no else, including a student who's lived here for 10 years, could finish it either.

At the end of the class I was saying how I wish I could speak faster. My professor said just because someone speaks quickly doesn't mean they speak correctly. There's some exam at the end of the course. Sigh. I pray it's easier than the darn Italian driver's license test.

Now I have homework to do. A presentation a page long for next week's class. Great. What the heck am I going to talk about?

Monday, October 26, 2009

I need to update my wardrobe after I emptied my closet. I have no winter clothes.

Along with my cooking and Italian goals, I want to add more sophisticated pieces to my wardrobe.

A friend had a "sale" at her house over the weekend. It was a good excuse to go through my closet. I showed no mercy. Anything that was unflattering or I haven't worn in two seasons went to the sale.

I found a Issac Mizrahi wool skirt I bought years ago at Bergdorf Goodman that still had the tag on it. I guess I never wore it in L.A. because it was too "conservative". Now it's too short.

What didn't sell will be donated. Thanks to the purge, I basically have no clothes.

I've decided I need to start dressing for the body I have. No more baggy outfits which make me look heavier than I am.

I'm getting older. No more disposable clothes. Other than a summer cotton top here or there, bye-bye, H&M, Zara, Top Shop etc. I have a build similar to Joan's on Mad Men but shorter. I need clothes that are better constructed. On me cheap clothes don't look cute, only cheap. Plus I no longer live in super casual L.A., I got to step it up.

Trust, I know the difference between clothes that are well made and worth the price and clothes where you are paying for a label. I have a very tight budget, I'm not interested in the latter.

I'm going to slowly build back my wardrobe by focusing on classics and accessories. Of course I need to earn some money first. sigh.

It feels good to once again live in a city where we have fall, people dress up even when they don't have a job interview (I must write a separate post about the men and their suits) and people know the world is not their living room so you can't wear flips flops every where.

I can't believe how I used to dress in L.A. I think I gave up and just didn't give a you know what.

First on my list, a gun metal grey or black wool dress. Three-quarter sleeves would be great.

I love this dress from Bottega Veneta. At 900 euros, I won't be buying it anytime soon but the lines of the dress are very flattering.



Desiree Rogers, the White House Social Secretary, is an example of classic but not boring style. She does not play. I love her sense of color and it's clear she knows what looks good on her body. She is fifty and fab.


photo:Vogue Magazine

I definitely need to find a very good tailor. Because I'm so curvy, I might have start buying dresses and shirts a size up (especially since European sizes are cut so slim) and have the waist/sleeves taken in.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flashback Friday - Hey Ya/Peanuts Smashup

Today was the last day of the International Rome Film Festival. I am wiped out. Great experience but I really don't want to see the words "International Rome Film Festival" for a while. ha

This song came to mind when I left the office. It's Friday, the job went well and the darn cold snap ended. Autumn is back.

Hey ya!

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

UP IN THE AIR/JULIE & JULIA

Loved this movie. I read the script after a friend told me it was one of her favorites of the year. She is very hard on material so when she likes something, I read it.

My hours at at the Festival are a little crazy so I haven't been able to see too many films. I feel a little out of sorts because I can't work on my scripts. Looking forward to getting back to writing next week.

I did make it to a press screening of UP IN THE AIR. It makes me sad that these kind of films are becoming rarer and rarer. Remember films like BROADCAST NEWS? Those days are over. The studios are now owned by big multinational corporations who think making movies and light bulbs are the same thing. They are not!

Anyway, the entire cast was fantastic. The movie is bittersweet but there were some laugh out loud moments. The audience clapped at the end. I thought there was one third act sequence that was a little on the nose (and not in the script) but still, this was one of the best movies I've seen this year.

Below is one of the trailers.



I saw JULIE & JULIA, enjoyed it as well. Like many others, I really loved the Julia part. Meryl Streep, as always, was fantastic. She and Stanley Tucci had so much chemistry. I admit it, I choked up when he said how much he loved her.

To me the movie was inspiring because it celebrated having passion. Julia Child was not supposed to have that kind of life. She found her way, later in life and she had a great spirit. I've spent way too many years around people who were the opposite, negative, angry and bitter. I'm getting older, I don't have time or space in my life for that kind of energy anymore. Basta.

Before the movie I found myself in line next to a "talker" who told me her husband just left her after 30 plus years of marriage, her child was in a coma (she's recovered now) and she just lost her job. What does one say to hearing news like that from a stranger? I told her I hoped the movie would lift her spirits and that 2010 would be a better year. She sat next to me and she did enjoy the movie, laughing and crying.

So when I get down on this bat shit crazy industry I work in, I must remember how it feels when I sit in a theater, the lights go down and the opening credits start. That's the reason I work in film.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My own Top Chef challenge

I've been catching up with re-runs of the American cooking show (on Season 3 now) on SKY Uno.

It's very motivating. One of my big goals (along with getting my Italian up to speed) is to be more of an instinctive cook. I use recipes a lot. Sometimes I will change them.

My mom is a very good cook. If she was trying something new she would use a recipe but otherwise most of the food she made was from her head. Baking is another story. There were some recipes from "back home" that were not written down but for certain cakes, cookies, etc. she had a few favorites.

I learned to cook from watching my mom, 7th grade Home-Ec and the Brownies. For a long time I was "too busy" to cook. A few years ago I stopped doing takeout and started cooking more. When I moved into my L.A. apartment I didn't own a microwave so no more Lean Cuisines. They took so long to cook in a regular oven, I thought might as well cook something from scratch. I don't own one here and have no plans to buy one.

My kitchen is tiny so I can't have a well stocked pantry. However, I always have pasta, canned tomatoes, garlic, white beans and tuna, so if push comes to shove I can make something for dinner. I live within walking distance of three excellent farmer markets open 6 days a week and the supermarkets near me have excellent produce as well. At last count there are five butchers within a few blocks, and a cheese co-op near by. I really have no excuse not to experiment more.

In L.A. I would decide what I wanted to make, wrote a list then went to the supermarket. Here I go to the market and see what's in season.

My "challenge" is to go to one of the butchers or fish mongers, see what looks good, buy it, make something with it. I have gone to the butcher's for polpette/meatballs but that's it. I find the fish places intimidating because I'm not sure what to look for and I fumble speaking Italian when I don't know what I'm doing, which makes the experience more frustrating.

Thanks to Megan, at least now I know some of the fish names in Italian. I'm ready for this challenge (kind of).

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Balloon Boy hoax

When is this reality TV craze going to end? I was working in an office so I missed the play by play that riveted millions not only in the States but made international news.

From the very beginning some were questioning the story. It turns out there is no way the balloon would have been able to hold the weight of six year old Falcon.

This "balloon boy" hoax should be a wake up call but it won't be. I hope this dumb ass dad gets the book thrown at him. If you want to be famous, whatever, but to tell a six year old to tell a big lie like that? No words.

I'm sure somewhere Jon Gosselin is relieved. Richard Heene has taken over the "most disliked" realty TV dad title away from him.

Why are parents taping their babies and putting it on YouTube? So if you get enough hits you get to sit down with Matt Lauer and talk about what a special snowflake your child is? Does the child have any say in this?

Anyway, the Sheriff is going to press charges.

Here is the story in the NY Times.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flashback Friday – Bend It Like Beckham

With the qualifying matches for next year's World Cup taking place, I was reminded of this movie. I love this film.

Soccer in America is a cute suburban sport. In the rest of the world it's a big deal and not a "cute sport". So when I told my dad I wanted to play on my high school's new Girls team (the Boys team was state champs for years and they finally started a Girls team), he was incredulous. Girls playing soccer!?

However soccer is not the reason this movie hit home. It was the parents. Oh my God I saw so much of my mom in in this movie. I was on the floor with laughter.

I bumped into a friend who's parents were Jamaican when I went to see the movie at the Grove (in L.A.). Like me she grew up in America. She had tears in her eyes as she walked out of the theater. She said she felt like someone had taped her phone calls with her mom.

Now that I'm older I can crack up about some of my mom bluntness (plus it prepared me for living in Italy) but when I was younger her words sliced through me. I felt a lot of pressure to live up to certain expectations while at the same trying to fit into American culture. Being black in non-diverse suburban town was not fun but to have parents who were never teenagers in America didn't help at all.

I talk to my mom at least once a week. Every week she asks the same questions, "Do you need money? Are you dating? Do you get enough sleep?"

She worries about me even though I tell her not to. She can't help it, she's my mom.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Capoeira class...file under: What was I thinking?

A person I met at dinner party over the summer, invited me to try their Capoeira class. I thought, "why not?"

Well despite working out 5-6 days a week, the class kicked my butt. The next day it hurt to walk down steps. I understood why my legs were sore but my entire body?

A few classes in, no more pain but the steps are getting more and more difficult. I really don't think I'll be doing a backflip any time soon. I'm no spring chicken.

Our Professor is from Brazil, so my friend translates from Portuguese into Italian. Thank god I do know enough Italian to follow.

One of my friends back in L.A. who's a dancer, told me to really be careful with the transitions. I haven't take dance classes since I moved from NYC to L.A. over 12 years ago.

It's fun to try something new but there are moments in class when I say to myself, "What was I thinking?"

Those thoughts also come to mind when I watch Capoeira videos:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Via Cola di Rienzo, one of the most dangerous places in Rome for an Expat.

I went to Castroni in Prati to buy one thing, BRITA water filters. That’s it.

Next thing I know my arms are filled with stuff I didn’t even buy back in the States. I got a grip and put everything back except for a box of black cherry Jello (yum!) and the Castroni brand of granola with cranberries (it’s very good).

Castroni stocks over 2000 imported foods. They have a great Asian foods section. Prices are probably cheap in shops near Piazza Vittorio but Prati is walking distance for me. There are a few locations. The Prati store is the biggest.

I’ve been hearing about Franchi, the deli next door, for at least a year. I stopped by and bought some imported English cheddar cheese. I was jonesing for a grilled cheese sandwich and was so happy to have a little cheddar back in my life. Clearly, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Franchi also has an amazing selection of cheeses from all over Italy. I found tonino there, a cheese I had in Piedmonte.

FYI for tourists, they do shrink wrap things so you can take them on the plane.

I love the presentation. I’ve never had my cheese and prosciutto tied up with pretty ribbon before. I now know to avoid that area when I'm hungry.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Flashback Friday – Jennifer Lopez - "If You Had My Love"

I cannot believe this song dropped TEN years ago.

I remember my colleagues saying she was going to be huge. From her first scene in "Selena" you could tell she had "it". I still think her best performance was in OUT OF SIGHT.

The "Bennifer" backlash hurt both her and Ben Affleck. And now she's at that tough age for Hollywood film actresses. I'm curious to see how her career progresses.

The camera LOVES her. Even in a blah film like MAID IN MANHATTAN you have to look at her. That's star quality and unfortunately in Hollywood it's in short supply.

Have a great weekend!

Here's the first VIDEO from J. Lo.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

My bad, I thought Italy was a Republic

The high ruled that the Alfano law which gave Berlusconi immunity from prosecution was unconstitutional. The law was passed last year right before he took office again.

As in the States, there are laws to protected the President/Prime Minister, however, it clearly states in the Italian constitution that no one is above the law.

Berlusconi's lawyers did not agree with the constitution. As expected, Berlusconi and his party has said this is the work of the left. The judges are in the left's pocket. They have governed before without laws and will do so again.

Someone needs to school our Prime Minister. You cannot govern without laws. That's a dictatorship. If one has a problem with the constitution you can try to change. It's difficult. It should be. That piece of paper is the bedrock of a Republic.

That this man controls so much of the media, is cause for alarm. That he thinks it's okay to sue a newspaper for asking questions that any journalist would ask of an ELECTED leader, is outrageous.

To blame this on the Communists (yes they went there) is laughable. The Communist party in Italy used to be the strongest outside of Russia which is why the CIA was all up in Italy's business back in the day, but now? Are you kidding me? Try harder PDL.

I'm hoping with the Internet, that he will not get away with dismissing the laws that you and I have to follow just because he doesn't feel like it.

His lawyers defense that Berlusconi is "first above equals"? I have no words.

Anyway, between the economy, his sex scandals, the divorce, gaffes, etc. his approval rating is slipping fast, especially among practicing Catholics.

From the Globe and Mail:

The 15 judges of Italy's constitutional court ruled 9 to 6 that the immunity law, which shields the Prime Minister and the three other top state officials from prosecution, while they are in office, breaches constitution articles making all citizens equal before the law.

Mr. Berlusconi's small army of lawyers used extraordinary arguments to try to keep the immunity law intact. One of them told the court that "He is no longer 'First among equals,' but ought to be considered 'First above equals.' "

While some political analysts thought that the ruling will, at best, turn the billionaire media and sports mogul in to a lame-duck leader and, at worst, end his career, others thought his amazing survival instincts, strangely enduring popularity and Italy's deeply flawed legal system will allow him to escape once again.

"If one thing is true of the last 15 years, it's that the justice system has never derailed Berlusconi," said Alexander Stille, the Columbia University professor who wrote The Sack of Rome, a book about Mr. Berlusconi's power grab.

"There is always a face-saving compromise or way out, like the statutes of limitations. The idea that Berlusconi will be convicted in one of these cases, and issued a serious sentence, I find hard to believe."

Mr. Stille has said Mr. Berlusconi, who controls Italy's top three commercial TV channels and, through his role as Prime Minister, the Italian state broadcaster RAI, has more power than any leader in Western Europe. He considers Mr. Berlusconi's power on par with that of Russia's Vladimir Putin or Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.


In this BBC clip Berlusconi's referred to himself in the third person. I find it humorous when athletes, entertainers or friends do it. In this case, not so much.

BBC CLIP

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What the what?! New flavors from San Carlo chips.

I was walking along near the Pantheon minding my own business. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this packaging in a cafe.

What the heck is this? Why, why, why San Carlo must you tempt me so?

Just when I've finally broken my San Carlo Rustic chips obsession, here comes these amazing flavors.

I wonder if these chips are for their foreign market? Do they have one? The packaging is in English and Italian and the flavors Cheddar & Onion, Tomato Ketchup, etc. are not traditionally Italian.

So far I've tried the Cheddar & Onion and it is fantastic!! I never heard of tomato flavored chips until I went to Toronto where that flavor is very popular. There's also a chicken flavor (Roasted Chicken) but I walked past that one as it kind of freaked me out. I have to try the Sea Salt.

At the bottom of the bag it says sapori di Scozia (flavors of Scotland). Hmm very interesting. So far the bags are small (50 grams) but if they bust out with the 180 grams bag I will be in trouble. Once in a while in the States I ate Doritos. I never bought bags of potato chips at the supermarket. Not sure why I love them so much here.

Well, after the comments from Madame Doctor (see yesterday's post) I know I have to keep this love in check. ha

Monday, October 05, 2009

"By American standards you're fine, but by European standards you need to lose some weight."

Hilarious!

The title is a direct quote from my new French doctor. She's fantastic but man is she blunt. She reminds of some people I know...my Caribbean family.

Toward the end of my check up, she asked me to step on the scale.

The metric number didn't register with me since I'm still metrically challenged. I do know I have lost weight since I've moved to Italy. So when when she told I needed to lose some weight I was surprised. I told her I'm the thinnest I've been in years and that's when she made the above comment.

Now I do have a sweet tooth, a San Carlos chips tooth and prosciutto tooth etc. but I love what she said next, "Don't diet though. Dieting is so stressful. Just watch the sweets and keep working out. You'll be fine."

I also think dieting is stressful and doesn't work. In L.A. I was either doing the Zone, South Beach or cutting out bread/pasta etc. and working out at the gym 5-6 days a week.

I move to Rome, where I eat whatever the hell I feel like, and boom, I drop weight without trying to .

Dieting is short term solution. Changing eating habits makes more sense. The amount of processed foods I eat here is miniscule compared to the States. Other than chips I really don't eat processed stuff. I buy fresh bread, fruits, veggies and the snacking has gone way down too.

My doctor is right. Overall European women are smaller, which is why the clothes are cut smaller (much to my chagrin).

My Italian friends are so slim. I don't have a single female friend who's bigger than an American sized 4 or 6. I feel like a giant next to them. And these girls eat.

I know that Italian children are getting heavier. Studies blame the fast food culture that is taking over the traditional Mediterranean diet.

A few years ago I was doing the South Beach diet and the first week was horrible. My assistant wanted to buy me a bagel because I was beyond cranky. I did lose weight that year but the minute I started eating carbs again the weight came back and then some.

Later for that craziness. Life's too short not to eat carbs.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Flashback Friday – Johnny Kemp - "Just Got Paid"

The first time I heard this song on NYC radio station WBLS, I knew it was going to be a monster hit. It came out in the 1988. If you were at a club and the DJ spun this, you were on your feet immediately.

N'Sync did an okay cover a few years ago. Teddy Riley wrote the original for Keith Sweat who suggested his friend Johnny. I do miss that New Jack sound from the late 80s, early 90s.

So it's Friday and I didn't just get paid but love the long version VIDEO. Gotta love those high top fade haircuts and folks doing the Roger Rabbit.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Places to Eat and Drink in Rome..DRINK

I don’t do pub-crawls, Sloppy Sams or The Drunken Ship, as I’m a grown woman, not a 19 year-old exchange student looking to get wasted. That said, I do love to get my “cocktails on” with my friends. Here are some of my favorite places:

Freni & Frizioni – near Pz. Trillussa, Trastevere,
Youngish crowd, mostly under 30. One of the best mojitos in the city. Great in summer/spring. It gets packed so not the kind of place where you get to chat up the bartenders.
Via del Politeama

Friends Café
Part of a small chain
Good Wifi , young crowd
Piazza Trillussa

Bar della Pace - near Pz. Navona,
Nice place to sit outside.
Via della Pace 3-7

Etabli – near Pz . Navona
Good winter/cold weather place. Nice décor with a fireplace
Vicolo delle vacche 9/9a

'Gusto Wine Bar, great aperitivi – off Via del Corso south of Piazza del Popolo
Drinks during aperitivi are 9 euros and up.
There is another ‘Gusto cocktail place located in Piazza Augusto Imperatore which also has excellent cocktails but the aperitvi are not self-serve.
Via delle Frezze


Tre Scalini - Monti area
Very chill spot in a great neighborhood. I think it’s owned by some actors. Good selections of wines.
Via Panisperna 251

Hotel de Russie – Near Piazza del Popolo.
Very expensive, ala the Four Seasons or L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills. The terrace garden is lovely and the bar is fantastic. I’ve only been there once, for drinks with a film exec. Thank God she paid.
Via del Babuino, 9

Salotto 42 – near the Pantheon
Funky little bar co-owned by a Swedish ex-model. Library is filled with books on art, fashion and design. Crowd spills out into a pretty piazza
Piazza de Pietra 42

Caffe Farnese – Historic center
More expensive than places on the Campo. You’re paying for the view. Older crowd. Mostly well dressed locals mixed with some tourists. I had an Aperol Spritz there that was crazy strong.
Piazza Farnese

Places on/by Campo dei Fiori:
Aristocampo, Obika or Vineria.
Vineria was one of the first bars/caffes to open in Campo. Since the owners of Teste Matte sold their place (to a chain type place) many in that crowd have moved on to Vineria.

I live close to Campo, but it's not the place I go to for aperitivi or for lunch/dinner.

On weekend nights the Campo is full of mostly high school and college aged young people. There's a heavy police presence because in the past the crowds were quite rowdy.

Salotto Locarno added 3/14/11
Very L.A. reminds me of Chateau Marmont. Not sure when it became such a scene. I stayed at the hotel during my first trip to Rome and the bar was lovely but quiet.
Drinks are expensive. The mostly Italian crowd is very chic/hip. Not sure how the crowds are earlier in the week but Thursday - Saturday, it's packed. Reservations recommended or go early in the evening.

Salotto Lorcano
Hotel Locarno
Via della Penna, 22
+(39) 06-361=0841

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guess what, a person can be a talented artist and a rapist.

It's fascinating to me to see all the people who have rushed to defend director Roman Polanski. I have received an email asking me to sign the Free Roman Polanski petition. That Woody Allen signed it is not a surprise.

Debra Winger said it's an outrage that he is being treated this way over a "minor technicality".

Mel Gibson was blasted for his drunken anti-Jewish rant a few years. A prominent talent agent said nobody in Hollywood should work with him again. So drunken rants are bad, rape is not.

Others say this happened 30 years ago, let it go. Really? if Polanski was a priest, I'm sure they would say justice must be served and throw in a little Catholic bashing as well.

He experienced terrible things in his life. Yes, this is true, horrific things. So did Mike Tyson who had to serve his three years in jail for rape.

On one film website, the creator who slammed Michael Jackson in death, said this once again shows how puritanical America is. Never mind that Jackson was found innocent in a court of law, while Polanski plead guilty and then jumped bail. I guess if Jackson had reportedly messed around with teen girls instead of teen boys that would've been okay.

I agree America is puritanical but while French artists (except at this point Luc Besson) and the rich intellectual class are slamming America, the French public, according to several polls, overwhelming believes Polanski should serve his time.

That the victim has said she wants to move on should be taken into consideration, during sentencing. The case is the LA courts vs. Polanski. The victim, who received a substantial settlement from Polanski, doesn't get to decide whether or not the case should be dismissed.

Some say, well the mom dropped her off at the house. So that means the girl deserved it? I'm confused.

Polanski is a rich, educated, talented, white male, so we should be outraged that he can't return to America? All this time Polanski has been making movies, having a family,traveling, etc. not an awful life for a fugitive. He's a citizen of France, he was NOT in exile.

Was there judicial misconduct? Maybe but a judge has the right to change his/her mind regarding plea bargains. You don't get to jump bail because you're worried the judge might give you a stricter sentence.

I keep hearing his defenders say, he served his time. No he did not. He jumped before the sentence came down. He was in jail for a psych evaluation for 42 days. That time would have been applied as time served.

And finally for those who don't get it, please read the victims testimony. That she was 13 makes it worse but I don't care if she was 33 to his 42. Rape is rape (I don't know what Whoopi Goldberg is talking about, what the hell is "rape-rape"? On The View she kept saying we know it wasn't "rape-rape").

He gave her champagne and pills. She asked him to stop several times and said NO several times. He continued to have sex with her vaginally and then anally despite her protests. That is sex without consent, which is rape. He plead to a lesser charge of sex with a minor.

I love Roman Polanski's work. He is one of my favorite directors. Several of his films are masterpieces. It's terrible that his mother was killed during the Holocaust and his wife was brutally murdered while eight months pregnant.

However, what he did was wrong and he should serve his time like any body else.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Places to Eat and Drink in Rome...EATING

It seems this fall everyone and their mother is passing through Rome. I have received so many emails from friends and friends of friends asking where to eat and drink.

I thought I would post a list of a few places. Please feel free in the comment section to add your favorites.

The best overall advice I can give is, go to places Italians go. The touristy places are a rip off and the food is suspect. While any place can have an off night, if there are no locals, that’s a sign you need to pass.

Also, service is not like it is in States. Waiters for the most part do not hover and ask you every five minutes is everything okay. It might take a while to get your check, as it’s considered rude to give you one while you’re still eating dinner.

Regarding the following places, earlier in the evening there are more tourists, but locals do go to these restaurants (Italians eat later than most Americans, something I’m still not used to).

I left off some of the smaller places that are impossible to find or are “very local”.

Today I’m posting places to eat and later in the week, places to drink. Most of these restaurants are either inexpensive or moderately priced and near or in the Historic Center.

Reservations are recommended for the first four. Some restaurants close on Sundays or Mondays. I don't think the last two places take reservations:

TO EAT

Le Mani in Pasta - Trastevere (near Santa Cecilia)
Great for pasta, small place. Downstairs is the smoking area and where most of the Italians sit.
Via de’ Genovesi 73
06-581-6017

Taverna Trilussa – Trastevere
Good Roman style food. Not fancy but has a nice outdoor area.
Via del Politeama 23-25
06-581-8918

Maccheroni – Historic center near Pz. Navona
One of the first restaurants I went to in Rome. One of the waiters is a bit much, but he’s harmless. American female students swoon over his antics.
Piazza delle Coppelle 44
06-6830 7895

Osteria ar Galletto – Piazza Farnese 102
Good “home”cooking and one of nice prettiest places to sit outside and eat.
The restaurant spills out into Piazza Farnese
06 686 1714

La Montecarlo - Historic center off Corso Vittorio Emmanuel
I think the children of the owner’s of Da Baffetto own this restaurant.
The service can be surly and the bathroom is one of the most unpleasant I’ve ever seen but man, is the pizza good. This place along with Da Baffetto gets packed.
Viccolo Savelli 12
06 – 686-1877


Added 4/19/2010
Sora Margherita - Jewish Ghetto
This restaurant is a little hard to find. There's no sign. It's small and gets crowded very quickly. The crowd is eclectic. From construction workers to judges, this is a well-known local place for down home Roman and Jewish cuisine. It's not fancy...at all. Some think the food is overpriced and not that "authentic". I'm not Jewish or Roman but I thought the prices were moderate.

When you go for the first time you have to fill out a little card to become part of the "Associazione Culturale". Reservations recommended.

Sora Margherita
Piazza delle Cinque Scole, 30
Rome
06-68-74-216

A post about places to eat near the Spanish Steps, including the restaurant GiNa.

Added 5/24/11
Roma Sparita - known for it's Cacio & Pepe. Post is HERE.

UPDATE: See Katie Parla's post about Roma Sparita HERE. I only been there twice, both times with Italian Americans who speak Italian fluently. We didn't have any issues with our bills. That said, there are other nice places to eat outside who don't do things like this.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Information on the 4th International Rome Film Festival

On Friday I went to the press conference announcing the line up for this year's festival (October 15th to October 23rd).

There are quite a few American films screening, including the latest from the Coen brothers and Jason Reitman's UP IN THE AIR. One of my friends sent me the script saying it was excellent.

I really want to see the short documentary I KNEW IT WAS YOU about the late great actor John Cazale (Fredo in Godfather I & II) who died young after starring in only five films.

However, each of those films (the Godfather movies, Dog Day Afternoon, The Deer Hunter, and The Conversation) were nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards. He was already dying of cancer while filming The Deer Hunter and the studio wanted to fire him. His fiancee Meryl Streep, who was also in the movie, threatened to quit.

Speaking of Meryl Streep, she's scheduled to attend the festival and several of her past films are screening. JULIE & JULIA is closing the festival.

The festival will also hold several exhibitions, concerts, and Q&As.

Here is the official SITE (the English version)


Friday, September 25, 2009

Flashback Friday – Lisa Stansfield- "All Around The World"

This song was played to death in '89/'90. It was a big crossover hit playing on both Top 40 and "urban" radio stations.

I hope she found her baby. I haven't found mine yet. sigh.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

It's good to be back.

I didn't go any where but had a major assignment this week for the International Rome Film Festival. Yesterday afternoon I hit the wall. If I saw one more word in Italian I was going to cry. Given I live in Italy this was a problem. Thank god for good friends. I still have a bunch to do today, but its manageable.

Two of my favorite people Michelle of Bleeding Espresso and Sara of Ms. Adventures in Italy are hosting a contest to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer. Rules and information about this disease are below.



CONTEST RULES

O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are hosting the O Foods Contest to raise awareness of this important health issue.

There are TWO WAYS to take part in the O Foods Contest:

ONE: Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

PRIZES for recipe posts:

1st: Signed copy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who is currently battling ovarian cancer, inspired this event, and will be choosing her favorite recipe for this prize;
2nd: Signed copy of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali (winner chosen by Sara);
3rd: Signed copy of Vino Italiano: The Regional Italian Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich (winner chosen by Michelle).
OR
TWO: If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

Awareness posts PRIZE:

One winner chosen at random will receive a Teal Toes tote bag filled with ovarian cancer awareness goodies that you can spread around amongst your friends and family.
———

From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose, but include bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
In spite of this, patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
And remember, you can also always donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at our page through FirstGiving!

Please help spread the word about ovarian cancer.
Together we can make enough noise to kill this silent killer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flashback Friday – Chaka Khan - "I Know You I Live You" (live)

This is one of my favorite, favorite jams of all freaking times.

Chaka is from a generation of singers who could actually sing.

"I Know You I Live You", was one of the first songs I put on my playlist for Jumping The Broom (the script I just sold).

I always put together a list for each script. Some songs deal directly with the themes of the movie, some are songs that I happened to be listening to when inspiration (the idea and/or dialogue) struck and some help me stay motivated.

I don't know if this song will be in the movie (if it gets made) but I wrote it into a big scene of the movie.

It's been quite a hectic week. The film festival job is interesting but kicking my butt and I just turned in a new draft of my other script. I'm so looking forward to this weekend.

Today the sun is out, finally. I went on a long workout through Villa Borghese Park and this song popped up on my iPod. I started singing out loud until I caught myself. ha

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I sold a script in Hollywood...FINALLY!

I think it's okay to say that Sony Pictures made an offer on the wedding movie script I mentioned before. Details to follow. It's for one of their indie deals so it's indie money (i.e. none).

However, I'm going to be in the WGA (Writers Guild of America). It's official, I'm a working screenwriter.

Oh the irony. This is the script I was told wouldn't sell. That I would be pigeonholing myself. Like I said before, there are no, not one, A-list commercial black female feature screenwriters ala Nancy Meyers, Aline Brosh McKenna, Susannah Grant, Diablo Cody, etc. We're pigeonholed anyway.

Hollywood is what it is. I'm going to write the stories I want to tell and try not to second guess what the marketplace wants. As the marketplace wants movies like TRANSFORMERS and I have no desire to write SLINKY:The Movie.

I've tried to write a plot driven movie versus a character driven one and it was horrible. There are some big, fun action movies and comedies I love. However, I do know what my wheelhouse (the most overused Hollywood word right now) is and my goal is keep getting stronger, to improve with every new script I write.

The timing of the sale couldn't be better. I was close to giving up. After all this time and so much writing, I was beginning to think this was not possible. In this POST, I said 2009 was my make or break year.

I'm still processing what all this means. A few of my screenwriters friends know and I swear could hear them screaming from Los Angeles or New York. Several have said the first sale is always the hardest. I also know there are writers have sold one script, never to be heard from again.

For now, I'm not going to worry about that. I'm going to finish my current script and see what happens. My manager is energized and feeling good about it.

He told me 76 spec scripts went out in July only one sold. The spec market is dead. I'm glad I listened to my gut and focused on my character driven wedding movie script. All the pressure I put on myself last year and earlier this year come up with a big spec film was insane.

Now I have a strong sample of my writing that my manager can send out. In Hollywood nobody wants you until somebody wants you. It's a very frustrating Catch-22. I know he's relieved. ha

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Working day and night...International Rome Film Fesitval

Now it really feels like summer is over.

It's 20 degrees cooler, it's raining and the noise level in my neighborhood has dropped quite a bit. I guess no one likes to drink outside when it raining.

I just received notes from my manager on the CE script so I'm in deep rewrite mode. He was enthusiastic about my script, which is a good thing. Will it sell is a completely different issue.

Once again, I wrote something character driven. I must think of some "high concept ideas."

Also, I started working for the fourth annual International Rome Film Festival (October 15-23). I pretty much jumped into the deep end on this one.

I will be working with the International press office. The head of the office informed her colleagues (who are multi-lingual) to speak Italian with me. Oh oh.

She's right. Time for some tough love, after a year and a half I should be speaking more. She was kind enough to say that I am getting better.

My Italian is going to be so much stronger after the festival ends.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some pictures from Acqui Terme

Acqui Terme is in the Piemonte region of Italy.

That this tiny town has so many butchers, bakers and wine shops in addition to the excellent selection found in the grocery stores, tells you they are not playing when it comes to food.

The area is known for it's hot springs. In the center of town you can feel the heat pouring out of one.

I saw very few tourists. Everyone was super friendly. The garbage man saying buon giorno caught me off guard.

I went to the Cathedral, which was beautiful. I spent a lot of time inside looking at all the art.

The archeological museum is small. I was the only person in there. Most of the exhibits were of pottery and jewelry so I was pretty happy.

The trip reinforced my desire to buy a weekend place in the country. For a minute I was thinking I should focus on buying an apartment in Rome first. However, I really want to garden and the chances of me being able to afford a place in Rome with a terrace is rather slim.

I’m going to keep thinking positive thoughts about buying property. So what if I’m broke? I have to believe this state is temporary or I would have a complete, “I’m going to end up a bag lady” meltdown.

This water was boiling hot. You could see the steam a block away.


Inside the cathedral.


I like this blue light. So striking.


The front of the cathedral.