Friday, December 16, 2011

Flashback Friday - Happy Holidays from Francesco Totti

aka, Il Capitano!

This ad from 2009 cracked me up.

Buon weekend!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Flashback Friday - Donny Hathaway - "This Christmas"

I miss Donny Hathaway. What a voice.

There have been a zillion remakes of his song, but none can touch the original.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, December 05, 2011

My novel, The Rebirth of Mrs. Tracey Higgins, is now available on Amazon.com

I am very happy to announce that the e-book version of my novel, THE REBIRTH OF MRS. TRACEY HIGGINS, is up and running.

If you don't have a Kindle, you can still purchase the book with the free Kindle App (more info in the FAQ).

Here is the description of my book:

Despite his betrayal, Tracey loves and misses her husband. Will she ever move forward? A carrot cake might hold the answer to that question.

From the outside looking in, Tracey Fitzgerald Higgins seemed to have the perfect life. Married to the dynamic and handsome Reverend Harry Higgins for over fourteen years, as the First Lady of Atlanta's Quinn A.M.E. church, Tracey had power, prestige and respect. Or so she thought.

Now, her perfect world comes crashing down when her husband leaves her for the younger Jessica Waters. Tracey finds herself at forty-two without a husband, career, or home.

Tracey uproots her life and tries to rebuild it from the well-appointed guest room of her brother’s home in Montclair New Jersey. It won't be easy. Tracey is entering the job market during the worst economic crisis since the Depression. Her Trinidadian-American sister-in-law, Victoria Lake Fitzgerald, is a powerhouse attorney who resents Tracey judging her parenting skills. Victoria is not happy the "Church Lady" is staying in her home. Shelby Smith Barnett, Tracey's best friend from childhood, has her own issues regarding being a stay-at-home mom and her husband's wish to quit his high paying job. And then there's Harry, the love of Tracey's life.

A novel by the co-writer of the film Jumping The Broom, The Rebirth Of Mrs. Tracey Higgins is a story about friendship, forgiveness, faith, and a lot of cake.


I hope this will be a fun read for readers who like Womens' Contemporary Fiction, Commercial Fiction, African-American Lit, Chick Lit, Why are Tweeners So Moody Lit, Christian Lit, Divorce Lit, I Like Cake Lit, etc.

Tone-wise it's similar to the film JUMPING THE BROOM and to books like LIPSTICK JUNGLE.

I've kept the price low, $4.99, on the American website. THE REBIRTH OF TRACEY HIGGINS is also available in several Amazon stores worldwide (in English) in the local currency.

Here are the links:

Amazon.com

Amazon Italy

Amazon United Kingdom

Amazon France

Amazon Spain


Frequently Asked Questions:

I don’t have a Kindle or a mobile device – can I read this ebook?
Yes. Here is the LINK to the (free) Amazon Kindle App software for Android phone, Blackberry, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Windows phone, Web OS or Mac or a PC. After you download and install the Kindle App software, you can buy the book and read it on your device or computer

You can also read Kindle books in your browser. Go to http://read.amazon.com using Chrome, Safari on iPad, Safari on desktop and now Mozilla Firefox.


I don't like reading ebooks. Will there be a print version?

Yes, there will be. We are in the process of a setting up a Print On Demand version. It should be available by the end of the year or early next year. The price will be slightly higher.

I see a cross on the cover. Is this one of those super "churchy" books?
It depends on what your version of "churchy" is. If you thought JUMPING THE BROOM was very religious, then reading about the divorce between a minister and his wife, might be a bit much. On the flip side, if you were scandalized by the sight of Paula Patton in her underwear, you might have a problem with my book. There are characters who actually curse sometimes, and have sexy times.

There are typos in your book.
If you see any typos, please leave a comment on my BLOG and we will correct the e-book.

Could you speak to our book club?
Yes, I live in Rome, but we can set something up via SKYPE. Leave a comment on my BLOG with your contact information (I won't publish it) and my manager and I will schedule a time.

Is there a Facebook page or Twitter page for your novel?
Yes. Here are the links.
Facebook
Twitter

If you have any further questions or comments, please let me know. I hope you enjoy spending time with these characters and their adventures.

Thanks Bloggisti for your support!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

World's Oldest Interior Design Intern Strongly Recommends "Restoring A Home In Italy" by Elizabeth Helman Minchilli



I wrote about Elizabeth's book Italian Rustic.

RESTORING A HOME IN ITALY is one of her earlier books, written in 2001. I LOVED it and know I will be using it as a reference for a long time.

It's a gorgeous book. Very inspiring. It's a perfect gift for anyone who has an interest in home decor/design, Italy, or beautiful photography.

Twenty-two homes are featured from all over Italy. Elizabeth has divided the book in areas; Northwest, Northeast, Tuscany, Umbria, Rome, and the South.

There is a range of homes from restored farmhouses to apartments in Rome.

One of my favorites is the former candle factory in Trastevere that is now an incredible apartment with a courtyard.

The book is well-written and the project notes sections are useful and accessible. You don't need to be a contractor to understand the building methods Elizabeth writes about.

I read Elizabeth's book the same week I started an internship with a prominent Italian furniture/interior designer (a big fat thank you to a certain friend for the introduction).

The timing was not great as I was in the middle of finishing my novel. The last few weeks have been a little bananas. No, make that extremely bananas.

But it's been a great experience. I'm learning a lot. Also, my Italian is improving now that I'm in an office with Italians and not at home all day writing only in English.

In a bizarre way everything has come full circle. My first job of out college was in the Buyer Executive Trainee Program at Bloomingdales. I interned in the Buying offices at the flagship store during college. After I graduated, I was assigned to the Home Furnishings division.

I've been reading shelter magazines and books since the sixth grade. My friends here thought I was nuts to bring my copies of DOMINO (RIP) and Elle Decor magazines to Rome. I wondered about that too, now it all makes sense.

I'm still writing and will continue to do so. However, my post JUMPING THE BROOM experience has been a real eye-opener.

At some point I will start a separate blog that will focus on design/decor.

In the meantime, I'm very excited about this opportunity. To be able to work in this area in Italy is a plus as many of the top textile, kitchen/bathroom design, furniture, etc. companies in the world are Italian.

So while it's difficult at times to be the World's Oldest Intern (hello, a few years ago I had an assistant), hands-on experience is important. Everything I'm doing now is laying down the foundation for my future.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Flashback Friday - Nat King Cole - Hark, The Herald Angels Sing

The day after Thanksgiving means one thing to me and one thing only. I can start playing Christmas music!

I miss albums. There's something special about taking out the vinyl, checking for scratches/dust, and then putting the needle on the record.

I strongly believe jazz and classical music sound better on vinyl... warmer, richer.

My parents had one of those stereos that was inside a piece of furniture. It was a huge deal to me when I was old enough and trusted to put the records on the turntable. For some reason, I can't remember why, my mom never touched the thing. My dad was the DJ of the house.

Along with the Francoise Hardy, and The Mighty Sparrow records, we had a several Christmas albums. The album we played the most was the classic by Nat King Cole. I have this CD as does my brother and sister.

I love this man's voice. Now it feels like the Christmas season has now officially started. Thank you Mr. Cole.

Buon weekend tutti.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Brown Thursday?

I get it. I know that in America 2/3 of our GNP is from consumer spending. We used to be a country that made things, now we buy things.

Trust me, if I had a million dollars, I would do my part to help generate the economy. Still, something about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day seems wrong to me.

I wonder how surly the salespeople will be.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flashback Friday - Heavy D & The Boyz "Somebody For Me"

R.I.P. Mr. D.

When I heard Heavy D died last week from pneumonia at 44, I couldn't believe it.

Dwight Arrington Meyers was born in Jamaica (Caribbean represent!) and raised in the NYC suburb of Mount Vernon. He was very popular in the late '80s and the '90s.

Not only was he a successful rapper, he played a big role behind the scenes as well. As President of Uptown Records he hired a young Sean "Puff" Combs as an intern and guided the early career of Mary J. Blige. He collaborated on too many hits to list. Like Janet Jackson's "Alright" and the theme song to "In Living Color." He was also an actor.

Here's one of my favorites from 1989. Man, most rap was so innocent back then. You had your fun/party rap and your more political/social conscious rap like P.E., instead of the sexist super materialistic crap that dominates hip-hop now.

This video cracks me up. Check out the high-top fade haircuts and Al B. Sure!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Perfect E-book For People Who Love ltalian Coffee


My friend Sara Rosso has just published an e-book on Amazon.com.

It's a great guide for anyone who loves Italian coffee and/or plans to travel to Italy.

Sara is an American who has lived in Italy for over eight years. She's also a very talented photographer and cook/baker. Sara was one of the first expats I met in Italy. It's partly her fault I moved to Bella Italia in the first place.

Here's a link to her BLOG that has all the information you need to purchase her book. It's only .99 cents. A bargain!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bye, Bye, Berlusconi!!!!

Last night I walked over to Palazzo Grazioli (the PM's residence in Rome) with my friend Max. Max lives in L.A. but is studying in Florence for a semester.

The energy was electric and joyous. On the news there was a clip of a choir singing "Hallelujah".

I can't believe he actually resigned. It's ironic that the financial markets were responsible for his downfall, not all his scandals, not the opposition, not his low approval ratings (below 25%), or the power struggles within his coalition.

As he left Grazioli, the crowd booed and people yelled, "Shame!"

Who knows what the post Berlusconi era will look like. He's left the country in a huge mess. I think Ari Gold from "Entourage" sums up how I felt about Silvo B. (NSFW)







The buses in the background were stuck.


My friend Max.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Very American Life, In Italy

Ciao Bloggisti,

Recently, it has become painfully clear that I don't really speak Italian.

I speak:
Restaurant Italian

I Can Get By Italian

Shelter and Fashion Magazines Italian (not to be confused with newspaper Italian. That I don't speak well)

Running Errands Italian (my butcher, the shoe repair guy, drying cleaner lady, etc. somehow understand what the heck I'm saying)


Easy Conversations With My Italian Friends Italian

I had a HUGE wake-up call the other week. I started an internship (more on that in another post) with a Italian furniture/interior design firm. Everyone speaks English, so we are able to communicate. Also, they have many international clients and vendors. I can help out with those projects.

However, it's an office in Italy. When I have to call Italian vendors or clients, I completely panic. This is not good.

My reading comprehension is decent, but I had no idea my verbal skills were so low. Then I thought about it. I speak and write English pretty much 95% of the time here.

I do have Italian friends, but I work in America. I watch American programming and read American news. I do know what is going on in Italy. However, I'm not married to an Italian and before I did not work with Italians.

If I'm honest with myself, I worry that being fluent in Italian will somehow, "throw off" my English. I'm a screenwriter working in Hollywood. I can't afford to forget words in my mother tongue.

It's easy in Rome to be lazy. There are so many expats here. Many of the shopkeepers speak some English because of all the tourists. The majority of my close Italian friends speak English.

I went to a party in Monti with a friend and her Italian friend. He said, "look around, this is why your Italian isn't stronger." Almost everyone at the party was American.

That same night I went to a good-bye party for an British-American friend who was returning to NYC. That crowd was the exact opposite, all Italian. This friend was in Italy for only a few months and spoke better Italian than I did (I had been here three years!) She's also a writer, writing in English. I can't use that as an excuse anymore.

My Italian friends switched to English because I asked them to or they sensed my frustration. I'm concerned that I sound like an idiot in Italian, so I clam up. I should just plow ahead and speak. Italian grammar is no joke. Even very well educated Italians sometimes misuse the subjunctive. I can't believe that tense shows up in childrens' books. grrrrrr

I know some expats get annoyed if you speak or try to speak Italian with them. I guess they think, "We're American why the heck aren't we speaking English?"

Well, I'm going to try an experiment, more immersion. It can't be full immersion because of the work I do. If I'm not working on my book, scripts, blog, etc. I need to be writing, reading, and speaking Italian.

Last week I watched THE GOOD WIFE dubbed and with Italian subtitles. About twenty minutes in I switched to original language and keep the subtitles. It was so much easier to enjoy the show because I didn't have to concentrate. After ten minutes I turned it back to Italian. I have to suck it up and stop taking the easy way out.

I wonder if it's useful to watch American shows dubbed in Italian, but with the English subtitles.

Anyway, I'm going to try this experiment until the end of the year. I'm curious to see if I can actually speak this language well or if I'm a lost cause.

It might mean stepping back a little from the expat scene. I'm not talking about my close friends who happen to be expats, but the larger circle of acquaintances.

My expat friends are fluent. Most of them are married to Italians and/or work with Italians. All of them have said this level of Italian is the hardest to get through.

The last two weeks, since starting my internship, I've spoken more Italian than in all of 2011. Today when I turned on the Italian news, I noticed my comprehension was better. Small steps.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Diving Into The Self-Publishing Pool

Ciao Bloggisti,

The last few months have been very hectic. I'm working on a few film/TV projects (all on spec) with various producers and my novel.

I cannot believe it's November. What the heck?

My manager and I decided after much discussion to self-publish my novel.

There has been a great deal of press lately about the massive changes in the publishing world. Nobody knows how things will shake out.

Hundreds of e-books are uploaded everyday. While many people dream of making some serious money, the reality is most e-books don't sell. The reason we hear about the success stories is because they are rare.

It's a lot of work. The writer is responsible for doing all the things a publishing house would normally do, editing, designing the cover, marketing, etc.

So why do it? I am tired of book agents (before reading a single word of my manuscript) telling my manager that it's impossible to sell Womens' Commercial Fiction to publishers, especially if the protagonist is African-American.

I know the agents are right. It IS very difficult to sell commercial fiction to publishers unless you're a reality star or writing about vampires.

We're going to try to sell directly to readers.

This will be a very interesting process. Who knows what will happen? I hope readers connect with the characters in my novel.

The goal is to have the book up later this year.

Have any of you self-published? How was your experience?

The Washington Post had a very interesting ARTICLE on the subject a few months ago.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Flashback Friday - New Edition - "If It Isn't Love"

With all the controversy over "Bejesus" being accused, yet again, of ripping off other artists' videos/work, I watched the original that "inspired" her latest.

In Beyonce's defense, I doubt she comes up with these dance steps herself. It's clear she needs a new choreographer.

Here's some New Edition from 1988.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Snapshot Rome - Surprised by some sheep

I was jogging on the road that leads to the entrance of the Catacombe di San Callisto off Via Appia Antica. Usually, I'm on the look out for tour buses and bicyclists. Suddenly, a few sheep zipped across the road.

The lambs are too cute for word. It's hard to believe a flock this size is so close to the Historic Center.







Thursday, October 20, 2011

How playing tennis again made me stop hating my body (most of the time)

I recently started playing tennis after fourteen years. While I like to think I play like this person,


photo: Sports Illustrated 2008 Wimbledon.

I don't.

In fact, I'm terrible. Even when my coach (aka Il Maestro) gives me clear changes to win points, I can't score. I completely fall apart during a match. That said, yesterday he told me I have improved since we started. The drills are working.

I love tennis, but I did not love the tennis skorts. I was seriously considering wearing track pants on the bus/metro then changing at the courts. I didn't want people to see my legs.

I never wear skirts above a certain length as my thighs are very muscular. At this age I doubt I would wear a mini-skirt anyway, but even in my 20's I didn't.

I hated having "thick" legs. I don't have cankles, but still. Finding jeans were a pain.

I wondered why I didn't have my mom's long lean legs. She 5'10, I'm 5'2. My dad is tall as well, but all the women in his family (who were tall except for one cousin who was 4'11) had athletic builds. In L.A. I tried all these different exercises, like pilates, to make my quads leaner. I would keep the resistance low during spinning classes.

In high school, one day after soccer practice, I was in the kitchen getting something out of the fridge. My mom, with her typical Caribbean bluntness, looked over and said, "Wow, you really have the Gibbs legs." THANKS MOM!

A funny thing happened as I got older. Because of the muscle tone, I look younger. When I was on the court, another player made a comment to my coach about me being a young player. I told him my age and he said, "Complimenti!!" He thought I was at least fifteen years younger. One friend in L.A. wanted to know how it was possible my butt was getting firmer as I aged. She asked me this question loudly in public.

I have friends who are dealing with some serious health issues, like cancer. How stupid am I to waste time complaining about my thick legs? So f-ing what if they have muscles? I'm healthy and those muscles help me move. I'd rather be fit than flabby. Just because someone is skinny, it doesn't mean they're healthy.

Living in Italy has a lot to do with my better attitude. In L.A. I felt like freaking Snuffleupagas, "Hiiiii, Big Bird," among all the size 0s. Yes, people here are slim too, yet it's not the same thing. The approach to food is completely different. Food is not an enemy here.

I got over my tennis skort fears (man, they are REALLY short). I wouldn't say I'm comfortable with my body all the time. During those moments I remember this kick ass NIKE commercial, throw on my tennis gear, and do my thing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jumping The Broom Mondays - JTB is in Italia

My friend Annie just sent me an email saying JTB is in Italy on PPV (2.50 or 5 euros) for those who have SKY Cinema.

It's on Channels 362/363 and HERE is the schedule for the next days.

The logline called it an explosive comedy. So dramatic.

Spotlight on Lazio - wine, cheese, friends, and charity

Saturday night two of my favorite people in Rome, Katie Parla and Hande Leimer, hosted a wine tasting focusing on the Lazio region at the enoteca Il Bacocco in Trastevere.

The proceeds from the evening went to the food rescue charity A Chi Serve.

Saturday was a surreal day. The peaceful Occupy Rome protest turned violent once the Black Bloc showed up. The self-proclaimed anarchists have done this before. They hijack organized peaceful protests and then proceed to burn and break anything they can get their hands on.

The area around San Giovanni looks like a war zone. The cost of the damage is over 1.5 million euros. This is money that could be used for something else, especially during a budget crisis.

Despite the mayhem, there was a strong turnout.

Sommelier Hande gave a great presentation about the two wines we tasted, one white, one red. They went very well with the various cheeses and salami. Vincenzo Mancino of DOL-Di Origine Laziale donated the food. I must check out his store. I'm still thinking about the goat cheese.

We drank Marco Carpineti’s “Capolemole” Cori Bianco and L’Olivella’s “Quaranta/Sesanta” Rosso Lazio IGT.

Katie's excellent (and more detailed) post about the event is HERE. She has links to all the places that helped make Saturday a special evening. I hope Hande and Katie will organize more events like this in the future.








Thursday, October 13, 2011

An one night stand is not an affair.

Where did this woman go to school? Since when is a random night of sexy times considered an affair?

What is the deal with all these jump offs selling their stories to the press? Don't they have parents?

What is the point of this? Fame, money? Does she think she'll get a reality show out of it?

I don't get it.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Get Your Art On: Mario Testino "Todo o Nada"

I finally made it to this exhibit at the Fondazione Palazzo Ruspoli Memmo on Via del Corso. It opened in July and closes on November 23rd. The show is co-hosted by the foundations of Fendi, Gucci, and Valentino.

Testino is one of my favorite fashion photographers and I heard great things about the show. It did not disappoint. I really enjoyed it.

As we walked through the exhibit, my friends and I were talking about how celebrities have replaced models on fashion magazine covers.

When you look at the photographs, it's clear while this could be good for sales, artistically it's depressing, boring, and lazy.

Many actresses are drop-dead gorgeous, but they are not models. I know many people think anyone who is tall, and pretty can be a supermodel. Despite what reality shows say, that is not true.

There is something about the way the camera captures the faces of models that makes them stand out. Also, I'm not surprised many models used to be dancers. You do have to know how to move your body when you're posing for photos. Not all actresses have the physicality.

The exhibit was heavy on models, but there were a few actresses in the mix. It's no shock that Cameron Diaz's portrait was one of the most interesting. Cameron was a model.

Some of my favorite portraits were of Daria Werbowy. Stunning.

It was nice to see some of the ladies from the '80s, Naomi, Linda, Christy, Stephanie, and Cindy, represented. I miss that era.

I'm glad we're moving away from the "hanger" phenomenon. I disagree with the notion that famous models are too distracting for the clothes. Look at the '80s. Those model were super famous and yet you noticed what they were wearing on the runway, in ads, and editorials.

If you're going to be in Rome during the next few weeks and you're into photography and/or fashion, this show is fantastic.

Here's a little video about the opening:

Thursday, October 06, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs




New York Magazine's Daily Intel has a post on the outpouring of condolences HERE.

Steve Jobs was truly a visionary. And from what I've read, a great dad, husband, and friend.

He will be missed.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Hermès exhibit... sigh.

There was a short-term Hermès exhibit at the Chiostro del Bramante in Rome to celebrate the opening of the new men's store on Via Campo Marzio.

It ended on Sunday. My friend C. and I made it just in time on Saturday.

I don't remember how old I was when I first became aware of Hermès. I walked into their store in St. Martin one day during a summer trip to see my grandparents.

The store was incredible. The salespeople were so chic and very nice.

My friends know I'm somewhat obsessed with Hermès bags. One friend even sends me snapshots of Birkins she sees in Rome.

I don't own a single one. Years ago I saw a used Kelly bag at a yard sale in Georgetown. I could kick myself for not buying it. Then again I was a junior congressional aide on The Hill making less than 18k a year. I doubt I could afford the bag.

I still can't afford the bags. But I can appreciate them from afar.

The exhibit was fantastic. Well curated and the write-ups were beautiful. I know they were writing about leather and bags, but it was poetry.

We were able to touch the leather samples. Like butter.

There was one display comprised of only Kellys and Birkins. My friend asked me if I was okay because it looked like I was hyperventilating.

They had bags on display that were over hundred and fifty years old. The level of craftsmanship is unreal.

The company was founded in 1837 as a harness workshop and is still family owned. However, the big multinational LVHM wants like to buy them out.

Hermès bags are made by hand, unlike some other luxury brands.

A craftsperson works on one bag at a time.


C. used to ride horses. We spent a lot of time in this room.


When I see this picture I crack up. This was in a little room to the right of the big Kelly/Birkin display. As we walked toward the room, we heard this smacking noise. It was a couple completely making out behind the display. The crazy thing is, they didn't stop when we walked past them. We were in that room for a while and when we walked out, they were still making out. Really, folks, in a museum?!


Hermès store Rue du General De Gaulle. Marigot, St. Martin, French West Indies. Where the love affair began.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Flashback Friday - The Rascals - "A Beautiful Morning"

Grazie Dio it's Friday.

This week was rather... unpleasant. I had a stupid cold and heard frustrating news from LaLa land.

I woke up this morning and my cold was finally gone.

I cut through Doria Pamphili Park after an errand. I was so freaking glad to be back outside after spending all week stuck indoors.

The weather in Rome has been spectacular lately. Cool in the mornings and evenings, not too warm during the day.

I plan to enjoy as much time as possible outdoors before the rainy season hits.

The interview I did with Blackexpat.com is up. HERE it is.

I love this song. Buon weekend!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Feel Bad About My Neck, The Little Black Book Of Style, 32 Candles and more books

Here are the other books I enjoyed reading this summer.

I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman by Nora Ephron


Hilarious.

This series of essays cracked me up. Before she became a screenwriter/director, Ephron was a celebrated writer for Esquire, New York Magazine and several other publications.

Her essay about her apartment in the Apthorp reminded me of how lucky I was to find my old apartment in NYC. She had to pay a $25,000 key fee (insane) in 1980. Her rent was $1500. Then a few years ago the city passed new laws regarding rent stablized apartments. Her rent went up to $10,000 a month, then would be raised later to $12,000 a month for a place that was falling apart. The way she writes about her old neighborhood and her move to the Upper East Side is too funny. I have friends in NYC who refuse, yes refuse, to go above 14th Street during the weekend.


AT THE ELBOWS OF MY ELDERS: One Family’s Journey Toward Civil Right by Gail Milissa Grant

Grant happens to be an American expat in Rome.

I have read many books about the civil rights movement, but it was interesting to read one set mostly in the '40s and '50s as opposed to the '60s.

I had mixed feelings while I read the book. Reading about the injustices of that time was difficult. However, the bravery of people like Grant's father is inspiring.

I wish more people knew about this era of American history. Maybe certain folks (hello, Tea Party) would think twice before running their mouths about "real Americans". Were it not for the slaves, America wouldn't be America. What do these people think would have happened to the economy (especially in the South) without free labor? Post Troy Davis' execution, I can't even get into the moral, political, and socio-economic ramifications of slavery. And yes, we are still dealing with the fallout centuries later.

While the subject matter was serious, there were many light moments in the book. It was fun to read about Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, and all the other famous entertainers who found refuge at the Grant home.



THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF STYLE by Nina Garcia

As I wrote earlier, I'm trying to rework my closet. I can't afford to add new clothes, but I could take some to a tailor and donate the clothes I don't wear.

I really like Garcia's style and advice. This little book was packed with great information and lovely illustrations by Ruben Toledo.

Garcia covered basics, when to wear what, had insider tips, and included a "Cliff Notes" section that broke down style by the decades.

A quick read and a great resource.


32 CANDLES by Ernessa T. Carter

This is the debut novel from Carter. It's about a poor, unattractive, dark-skinned girl from small town Mississippi who is constantly bullied. She becomes obsessed with the movie "16 Candles" and a new boy in town who comes from a very wealthy family.

After one prank too many, she escapes to L.A. where she reinvents herself as a singer in a funky nightclub.

Years later, the boy she had the crush on shows up Los Angeles. He doesn't remember her. She doesn't tell him who she is (or used to be).

I loved the characters who worked with Davie in L.A. There were many laugh out loud moments.

The beginning of the book is quite intense. I wasn't expecting it, since I thought it was a rom com. Her mother was a complete nightmare and the bullying was beyond vicious.



WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen


A friend gave me this book. I see why it was a bestseller. Unfortunately, I read it after the movie version came out. I kept seeing sparkly vampire Robert Patterson in my head.

The story is told in flashbacks. A young man attending Cornell has to drop out after his parents die in a car accident. Distraught, he hops on a train. It turns out to belong to a circus.

Gruen does a great job of sucking you into the world of the big top. The book takes place during the Great Depression. She captures the despair and cruelty of that time.

The love story between Jacob and Malena probably would have felt more powerful and emotional to me if I were able to stop thinking, "Reese Witherspoon and Robert Patterson? Together? WTF?"

That said, I do want to see the movie. I love Christoph Waltz and can't wait to see him play the psycho villan August.

Rosie the elephant is the bomb.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Italian Driving School Diaries - A Cinquecento, La Spezia, tears, and the Autostrada

View of Lerici from La Spezia. It's a very beautiful place. However, the drive to get there was not!

Seriously, what was I smoking when I decided to drive to Piemonte?

I stopped in La Spezia to meet my friend Megan for lunch. When I stepped out of the car, my hands were literally shaking.

One friend back in America had suggested I rent an automatic. She said driving on the Autostrada was super stressful and she has been driving stick/manual all her life.

As I struggled to get from Termini Station to the Autostrada, I was close to hyperventilating. If leaving the Center was such a nightmare, what the heck was going to happen to me on the Autostrada?

I kept stalling out. I got lost. It was a big mess. I finally made to the Autostrada and it was fine. In Italy people use the left lane correctly... to pass. I stayed on the right and nobody tailgated me.

Once I got off the Autostrada to get to Megan's, all hell broke loose. Roundabouts, hairpin turns, steep hills, I was in tears.

After a relaxing lunch and gelato (thanks Megan!), I told myself to get it together. I put on Amy Winehouse's FRANK and continued on my journey.

Got lost again. I was driving toward Milano. Once I turned around and got back on the Autostrada, I thought everything would be okay.

Nope. I was wrong. I finally arrived in Acqui Terme with its zillion roundabouts in the Historic Center and ended up in a parking lot. My friend's B&B was nowhere in sight.

I called. They were probably wondering how the heck I missed their road. Hello, I've been there before. I turned around and later saw my friend's husband on the road leading to the B&B.

I know people have had trouble getting up their driveway. It's very steep. I was told to put the car in 1st gear and don't stop. If I was too nervous to try, they would do it.

After driving for hours, I decided to go for it and made it up the bloody hill. When I pulled up, everyone started clapping. I basically rolled out of the car. I was so happy to get out of it.

After a long shower and a couple glasses of chilled wine, I was fine.

The next day I did tell my friends I didn't think I could deal with driving back.

However my return trip was a breeze, until I got to Rome. Sigh.

I missed the turn for Vatican City and ended up God knows where.

When I finally arrived in my neighborhood, I double parked and gave the man who "helps" people park a few euros. I ran to my place to dropped off my things.

I returned to my car and then zipped around the Center and even Piazza Venezia like butter. Dropping the car off was a lot easier than picking it up. Could be because I had just driven more hours in one weekend trip than in the previous two years.

A few days later I bumped into my driving instructor, Bruno. He asked me how it went. He said he was proud of me. That warmed my heart.

I'm glad I did it. I do feel more comfortable now with a stick.

I get the Autogrill hype. It's not the Italian 7/11. It's on a whole different level.

Next time I rent a car to go out of town, I might get the car from the airport or Villa Borghese to avoid the Center and EUR. Even for experienced drivers getting in and out of Rome is confusing.

The drive, except when I was freaking out, was beautiful. I loved seeing how the terrain changed from Lazio, to Tuscany, to Liguria, and then Piemonte.

The Fiat 500 is a great little car. Excellent mileage. I don't know what type of engine I had. Mine did not have a lot pick up. Merging onto the Autostrada from a gas station was a little stressful.

Nice ride.


I would like to test the Mini Cooper at some point.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Friends, Cookies and Campari – Rome’s Fashion Night Out.

Italian Vogue's editor Franca Sozzani


The delicious cookies given out at Gente on Via Babuino


Cool display at the Campari party which was held in the "Roman Holiday" palazzo on Via Margutta


A model in the archway on Via Margutta.


Cocktails!


Leaving the party. Next stop, Stella McCartney.

Last Thursday night, Rome held her version of Vogue’s Fashion Night Out. Anna Wintour, the EIC of American Vogue, started the event a few years ago to kick off Fashion Week in New York City.

There are rumors this year will be the last one in NYC, but nothing has been confirmed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Two of my fashion loving friends met up with me at Miu Miu and off we went.

Courtney invited a young Italian friend of hers to join us. She was super sweet and it was interesting to hear the POV of an early 20-something. I don’t know if she realized all of us were technically old enough to be her mom. Heh.

Just as I arrived at Miu Miu I saw Franca Sozzani, the EIC of Italian Vogue. She was surrounded by a ton of press.

The night was a blast. We kept bumping into friends. I couldn’t believe how crowded the streets were. Red Valentino served the best cocktails.

Several stores hired DJs. The Stella McCartney store had a hot popcorn machine. Erica heard a rumor they also had cupcakes, but by the time we got there we didn’t see any.

Gente on Via Babuino served cookies (they were very cute and delicious), prosecco (in nice glasses) and appetizers. It was my first time in that store. Oh Mio Dio, why did I do that to myself? They sell Repetto ballet flats and other wonderful things.

One thing that jumped out at me was seeing so men out and about with their girlfriends/wives. People really got into the spirit of the evening.

Some of the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross. This would explain why we saw so many nurses wearing vintage Red Cross uniforms. Fashion + function.

Monday, September 19, 2011

EMMYS

I woke up at 1:55 a.m. to watch the EMMYs.

An intense thunderstorm rolled through Rome around 3ish and the cable went down for a few minutes. I didn't get to see Peter Dinklage's win.

Overall, I thought Jane Lynch was funny. She had some great one liners.

I was confused by Charlie Sheen's comments. Dude, it's not about you. Clearly, he's doing his apology tour. I wonder what brought the change of heart. New publicist?

Can wait for the new season of MAD MEN. When will it air, 2017?



Some favorite moments:


When the women nominated for Best Actress Comedy ran up on stage.

The MAD MEN sketch during the opening montage.

Ashton saying he was looking for the half man during THE OFFICE sketch.

I fell out over the Michael Bolton (!!) Akon/Maya Rudolf mash up.

My former boss Don Cheadle looking sharp.

Guy Pearce winning. He is one of the nicest people in the biz.

Julie Bowen, who played Amy in our movie, surprise win.

Ty Burrell's great acceptance speech.

Seeing Idris in a tux. Bummed he didn't win. LUTHER is amazing. I heard nothing but negative things about THE KENNEDYS mini-series. Did you see it? I was surprised to see how many nominations it received.

Loved Sofia, Kate and Lea's red dresses and the color of Dianna Agron's dress.

I think Gwyneth's dress would have been gorgeous if it were one piece.

I was perplexed by Julianna Margulies' dress. I just started watching THE GOOD WIFE. Great show.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flashback Friday - Earth, Wind & Fire - "September"

Last night I had my weekly conference call with my manager. She had some not great news regarding one of my projects.

I started to go down that negative road.

Then I had to run out the house to meet my friends for Rome's Fashion Night Out. One them asked me how things were going and I vented for a minute.

I stopped and not just because I had a delicious prosecco in my hand. I realized earlier in the week I had received excellent feedback about another project. I barely spoke about it. Instead I was zeroing in on cryptic comments made by one person.

Like I said, I'm trying to Live More and Worry Less. Instead of doing the whole "woe is me, why aren't things better?" rant, I focused on the moment and had a blast with my friends.

This morning I ran to Borghese Park and heard this song on the way up the hill.

Wait, I'm confused by those things in the video. Right, they are instruments!

Earth, Wind & Fire had a killer horn section. They are one of my favorite bands OF ALL TIME. Their outfits in this video are a trip. I love the enthusiasm of the bass player.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

COMMITTED by Elizabeth Gilbert, A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan, THE CARRIE DIARES by Candace Bushnell and a few other summer reads

I read a few excellent/good books this summer. Below are a couple of them:


COMMITTED by Elizabeth Gilbert
I zipped through this book.

After her Brazilian-born Australian citizen boyfriend Felipe (they met toward the end of EAT, PRAY, LOVE) is arrested in the U.S. at the airport, they faced a tough choice. Either get married or Felipe would be barred from entering the U.S…. forever. Both Felipe and Elizabeth had gone through tough divorces. While they were committed to each other, they swore they would never marry again. The United States of America thought otherwise.

Elizabeth writes about marriage and the strain on their relationship as they live outside the U.S. waiting for Felipe’s paperwork. One little thing that jumped out at me was her comment that they were living off the fumes of her last book. While all this drama was going on, Felipe’s business was severely damaged. EAT, PRAY, LOVE had not been released yet. While Elizabeth was a respected writer (her book THE LAST AMERICAN MAN is excellent), her life completely changed after EPL became a phenomenon. As a broke writer her story gives me hope. You never know what the future holds.


A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUARD by Jennifer Egan
The winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Price for Fiction. I get the hype. Egan wrote one of my favorite articles about the fashion industry, “Jamie Is A Girl” years ago, but this is the first novel of hers I’ve read. The book chronicles the lives of a group of friends as life takes them in unexpected directions. It jumps around in time, past, present and near future. Most of the characters are connected somehow with music, but it’s not about the music industry Some say AVFTGS more of a series of short stories and the narrative is confusing at times. The “power-point” chapter told from the POV of 12 year-old Alison Blake is brilliant.

The book has been optioned for a series by HBO. Egan said THE SOPRANOS was one of her inspirations. Can’t wait.



THE CARRIE DIARIES/SUMMER IN THE CITY by Candace Bushnell
Yes, I read these YA books and loved them. I’m not into sparkly vampires, but books about nerdy/geeky girls trying to fit in… I’m there. These books are a wonderful palate cleanser for those who sat through SATC 2. The 17 year-old Carrie had more depth, and intelligence than the 45 year-old knucklehead caricatures in the movie.

TCD takes place during Carrie’s senior year in high school in a small town in Connecticut. Her mother has died. Her father is a good dad, but overwhelmed raising three girls alone.

SITC is set during the summer before her freshman year in college. Carrie is in NYC for a summer writing program. She meets Samantha (the older cousin of a high school classmate) and Miranda, a very opinionated young feminist. Both books have been optioned for a series on the CW. Writer Amy B. Harris is adapting. I would so watch that series.


ONE FIFTH AVENUE by Candace Bushnell
Ms. Bushnell is kicking butt this year. This book was just optioned for a series on ABC. Unlike SATC, Bushnell will be a producer on both projects. People assume she made a bunch of money on SATC. She did not. Once she sold the TV rights, she was not involved with the series.

OFA is about a very chic building in NYC and the lives of several women who live (or want to live) there. Good, soapy fun. I loved hating the humorless Mindy character. And Lola reminded me of many obsessed with becoming famous early-20 somethings I met in L.A.



FALLING MAN by Don DeLillo
This was tough read. It’s a fantastic novel about September 11th. Keith is a lawyer who escapes the rubble. He was recently separated from his wife. His young son is having major problems, post 9/11. Keith’s struggle to reclaim his life is haunting, but hopeful. Somewhat.


THE ART OF ACTING by Stella Adler
A good resource for actors and writers. The book is a little dated. However, there’s a reason Stella Adler is considered one of the most important teachers of acting in America.



DELUXE: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas

This is an excellent book on the $157-billion luxury industry, globalization, class and culture. I am very anti-fakes anyway, but reading about how some sweat shop factories break the legs of kids so they can’t leave made me sick. Thomas writes about how several luxury brands are not selling luxurious well-made items anymore, but just the brand. The portrayal of LVMH is scathing.

One luxury brand that walks the talk is Hermès. It’s not surprising it’s one of the few brands that is still family owned and operated. LVMH wants to buy them. I think that would dilute the brand and basically kill it. Why the heck would anyone pay serious money for a Birkin or a Kelly bag if they are no longer made by hand? In order to meet the profit margins demands of a big multi-national, Hermès would have to use cheaper labor/raw materials.

More books next week.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I cannot believe it has been ten years.

No, the passing of time does not make the events of that day less horrible.

I will never forget that day.

I will never forget calling my friend and finding out his twin was missing. He was about to celebrate his one year wedding anniversary. My mind blanked. I forgot Nigel worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. He was in the first tower.

HERE is an article about Nigel and other UK victims.

I was working out next to a lit manager on a treadmill at a gym in Hollywood when the towers crumbled. I burst into tears. I couldn't believe my eyes. Later, at the office we were trying to reach our relatives, friends and co-workers in NYC. Our boss told us to go home. The company was based in Brooklyn.

I took the NJ PATH train into those towers everyday for years. My dad worked in the towers years ago when they were being built.

From the roof deck of an old apartment, I could see the towers.

Then when I moved to 22nd and 2nd in the city, the towers were a compass. You could never get lost (well, outside the confusing non-grid streets of the West Village) if you could see the towers. You always knew where Downtown was.

I was born in NYC. Many of my closest friends live there. I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey. Most of the people in my town commuted to NYC. I think about all the children whose parents never came home. Their cars sitting at the stations.

I feel like everything changed in America after the attacks. Certain political leaders lied and we ended up in a war we had no business being in. Saddam had NOTHING to do with 9/11. Was he a dictator? Did he need to go? Yes, but we should have been focusing on Afghanistan, but they don't have oil.

President Bush received a briefing in late September that said there was no connection between Saddam and the terrorists. Yet, Cheney still went on news shows saying there was.

When GWB said during his infamous press conference that either people were with us or with the terrorists, it was a sad day for American diplomacy.

After the attacks, the world was with us. There were victims from over ninety countries on that day. He went ahead and attacked Iraq despite the concerns from many of our closest allies and the UN.

When some Republican congressmen decided to change the name of French Fries in the Congressional dining hall to "Freedom Fries", I was horrified. How immature. These were grown ass men. What was happening to my country?

Also, cutting taxes to the rich while engaged in two wars was stupid. Our country will be paying for the mistakes of the early/mid 00s for decades.

Post 9/11, things in America still seem very "unsettled" to me. I hate the direction my country is going in. The disparity between wealthy and poor is the greatest in the Western world. This is not good. Our infant mortality rates are unacceptable.

I have never seen such partisan politics before. The influence of the radical fundamentalists in the Republican party freaks me out. Where are the moderates? The Republicans I grew up with were not crazy.

That there are people running for President who do not believe in the separation of church and state is a problem. If I hear any of those fools talk about 9/11, I will scream. They hate NY and say the "cultural elite" are not real Americans. Then they have to gall to use that day to wave the American flag and talk about patriotism.

Did any of them lose a friend or family member that day? How dare they talk out of both sides of their mouth. I am dreading next year's election. It's going to be ugly.

Enough of this gloom and doom. True, NYC can be big pain in the butt. It's not an easy place to live. The pace, it's expensive, the surliness of some of its residents... it's a grind sometimes.

But I love NYC, even when I don't. Always have, always will.

The opening credits to Woody Allen's MANHATTAN. Those cowards who thought their actions would destroy my city were mistaken. I'm grateful to all the heroes who tried to rescue people, help people, and comfort people that day.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Piemonte 2: Electric Boogaloo - wine, ravioli, stars

The first time I went to Piemonte was two years ago on my birthday.

This year I stayed in the Terrace Room. The room is amazing. They just finished it earlier this year. I could live in the shower. For real.

My birthday started out with:
A lovely way to start the day.

Then, like my last trip, I went to a wine tasting.

My friend's husband is an excellent guide. He really knows a lot about Piemontese wines, but speaks about them in a way that is accessible.

Another guest joined us and off we went. We drove to the area of Piemonte called Langhe. This is some serious wine country. Home of the Nebbiolo grape.



We stopped by Ca' del Baio. Micha went to pick up a some cases, but it turned into a impromptu wine tasting. Valentina was wonderful. She is the great granddaughter of the founder. 1000 CORKS has a listing of where you can buy their wines in America. Their wines are very, very, good. Loved their Barbaresco and their Moscato.

The next was vineyard CANTINA DEL GLICINE located in the tiny charming town of Neive. There is a nice video on their website. It takes a bit to load.

The cantina has been in existence since the 1600s. I had a great time and tasted some excellent Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco and Moscato wine. There was one white wine Roero Arneis, that I wasn't familiar with. I'm kicking myself for not buying a bottle.



For my birthday dinner I had these:

Mere words cannot describe how delicious these ravioli were. The sauce was made from the pan drippings of the roasted meat used for the fillings. Super light, and full of flavor.

That night, after dinner, I sat on "my" terrace with a glass of wine. I looked up. The sky was packed with stars. I even saw a shooting star. It was so relaxing and peaceful.

Thanks to my friends, I had so much fun on my birthday I forgot to be in a bad mood.

I adore the area. It's interesting to me that one of the best (if not the best according my wine expert friends) wine regions in Italy is so undiscovered by the busloads of American tourists who go to wine tastings in Tuscany. We saw one American couple. That's it. We did see quite a few cars with French, German and Swiss plates.

Maybe it's because most of the Piemontese producers are small?

Sitting on the terrace hearing nothing but the wind through the trees, I wish I had a house in the country. A place to sit and write. I would love to own a place in Piemonte. After the drive, I realized it's too far from Rome. Way too far.

Yes, it's true I have no money now, but things are going to get better. And I will buy a house one day. It might not be until I'm sixty and it might be super tiny, but it will happen.

In the meantime, it's nice to know there are places where you do feel at home.

Sigh.



At Cantina del Glicine.


One of the best known producers in Italy.


I have to ask Diana for the name of this restaurant. UPDATE: See Diana's response below.


More Piemonte photos are on my FLICKRpage.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

My Own Top Chef Challenge: Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan

Add farro to the list of foods I have never cooked before moving to Italy.

To be honest, I don't think I ever ate farro until I moved here.

I love barley. I know mushrooms and barley are a good flavor combination.

I checked my cookbooks and the internet for a farro/mushroom recipe. I found one on a favorite cooking blog, Food52

The recipe and a very nice photo are HERE.

The only modification I made was to add less than 6 tablespoons of olive oil at the end.

This salad was DELICIOUS. The next day I ate it cold and it was yummy that way as well.

I'm definitely added farro to my must-have-it-in-my-pantry-at-all-times list.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A bellissimo buttery yellow from Piemonte (via America and Germany)

I returned to Piemonte for my birthday. As a gift to myself, I bought this lovely bud vase and a bowl made by the very talented Diana Strinati Baur. Diana is an American who moved to Germany, then to Italy.



In this POST Diana talks about her long creative journey.

It's quite inspiring.

The photo below includes some of Diana's other pieces. I DIE for the yellow dessert plates with the pretty edges.

Someday I will place an order for those plates because I believe one day I will live in apartment and/or have a house big enough to entertain in.

For further information about her work/purchasing check out her BLOG.



I wanted to buy white Gerbera daises, but the flower stand only had yellow.

True, it is more expensive to buy something handmade. To me it's worth it.

There is no other vase on the planet that looks like this one. Diana could make fifty more vases using the same colors and the same method, yet each one would be unique.

I appreciate the time, creativity and love that went into every single piece.

This color cheers me up.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Operation "Live More, Worry Less" is in effect.

I hope everyone had a great summer. The locals are starting to return to Rome.

I'm looking forward to fall. It's time for a fresh start and I must make some changes in my life.

I don't know if it's the business I work in, being the first born of Caribbean parents with high expectations, being a Virgo, a New Yorker/Jerseyite, an anal retentive American or what, but I have a bad habit of winding myself into a super tight ball of stress.

This year, I really went over the edge. And for what? It's not like anything changed. I have to let go of my control freak ways and get a grip.

This will be hard for me to do. It's so against my nature. I always have a plan. Only recently did I stop with the whole five, ten, fifteen year plans.

Last week I celebrated another birthday. I realized I have a big one coming up in a few years. Do I want to look back on this decade as the one where all I did was worry and stress the hell out?

I'm at the age where friends are starting to lose their parents, or are battling cancer. Instead of wallowing in self-pity about what is not in my life (a house, a man, a savings account, financial security, my next job, a Birkin, etc.) I am going to do my best to appreciate what is in it.

I had a long talk with my parents about my work/money situation. They are very understanding and supportive. Without them I would have to forget about Hollywood and call it a day. Many people assume that because JUMPING THE BROOM was a hit, I must be rolling in dough or have a billion jobs lined up. That is not the case. Not even close. Post JTB I had a big wake up call. I will get into that in few weeks. I need to let the rage subside a bit.

At first I wasn't going to go away for my birthday weekend. Instead I planned to hold on to the birthday gift from my parents for living expenses.

Then I thought about it. What is a living expense, only rent, food, bills? Of course I can't/won't go crazy spending money I don't have. I'm not irresponsible.

The other extreme I was following, budgeting every single euro wasn't healthy either. I have to find a middle ground. The only things that are certain in this world are death and taxes. What I feared and stressed out about the most happened and yet I'm still here.

As I sat on a TERRACE on a hill in Piemonte I made a vow to myself to live more, worry less.

I'm not sure how things will go. I feel I did take a major step in the right direction last weekend.

I will write about Piemonte next week. I have a bunch a photos to go through. Grazie mille to Diana & Micha for making my birthday weekend so special.

If you have some good advice or links about how to become less of a control freak, I'm all ears.


UPDATE: Several friends have sent me the link below.

http://zenhabits.net/

Friday, August 12, 2011

When in Rome...

Well, at least my blog will be on vacation for Ferragosto.

I have to finish my novel and work on a TV pitch. No vacation for me.

My neighborhood is very popular with tourists and drunk American exchange students so it won't be as quiet as other areas in Rome.

Most of my favorite places are closed until September and the majority of my friends are out of town as well.

This summer has been stressful, but I'm optimistic something great is going to happen soon.

Buon Ferragosto! See in you September.



Monday, August 08, 2011

Jumping The Broom Mondays - DVD & Blu-Ray drop tomorrow!

I still don't have information for European dates, but JTB's DVD & Blu-Ray are being released tomorrow, August 9th, in North America.

There is a featurette. I think I'm in it judging from a clip on the JTB Facebook page. I was crazy nervous during my interview and it shows, &@*%$*!!!

Also, there's commentary track provided by director Salim Akil and actress Paula Patton.

The film did well theatrically (A big thank you to everyone who went to see it) and our fingers are crossed for a successful DVD launch.

JTB is a perfect early Labor Day gift, suitably for the entire family!

Melissa Silverstein of WOMEN AND HOLLYWOOD was very kind to ask me to write a guest post about how our film made it to the big screen on her popular site.

The post is HERE. Thanks Melissa!!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Snapshot Rome - The GAP



Shot on Via del Corso. I'm very curious to see how the clothes in this store will differ from the clothes Stateside. The cuts will definitely have to be smaller. Baggy/loose clothes are not popular here. Even hip-hop loving teenagers don't do baggy.

The last few times I've been in the GAP (at the Grove or Century City in L.A.) were disappointing. The GAP used to be the place to get good, well made basics at decent prices. Now, it's maybe one step above Forever 21. The clothes look and feel cheap. What the heck happened? That said, GAP BODY is fantastic. They have the best cotton underwear, PJs, etc.


UPDATE:
A friend just Tweeted me to say, the GAP opened on Sunday. The cuts are smaller. She bought eleven shirts. Clothes were made in Turkey and Egypt instead of Vietnam.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Italian Driving School Diaries - Back behind the wheel

I'm going to sign up for Rome's Car Sharing program. Since I haven't been behind the wheel in Rome in over two years, I thought it would be a good idea to take two refresher lessons with my former instructor, Bruno.

The good news: I didn't forget how to drive a stick/manual transmission.

The bad news: I get very nervous driving in Rome.

The combination of driving stick (which is new to me) and not being used to scooters or the massive number of pedestrians freaks me out.

In L.A. we don't have to deal with pedestrians. Maybe a few downtown or near Hollywood/Highland, but nobody walks in L.A. You could be driving down Beverly Blvd in the middle of rush hour and count the number of people walking on the sidewalks with one hand.

In Rome, it's a different story.

Bruno said, "have no fear." I know he's right. I hope in time I will get used to driving in Rome.

One my friends who lived in L.A and N.Y.C. before moving to Rome a few years ago, drives like a native. She's going to let me practice driving with her car. I was told (warned) I must drive around Piazza Venezia.

Great.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Flashback Friday - Amy Winehouse - "Just Friends"

One of my favorites.



Buon Weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Are you married?"

The following conversation took place this morning at my local supermeracto. Translated as best I can from Italian:

Cold cuts counter man after he gave me my salami di Napoli order: "Are you married?"

Me: "No."

CCM: "No?! How is that possible?"

Me: "We talked about this last year."

CCM: "Well, I thought maybe things had changed. We should go out."

Me: "I have a boyfriend." (I don't)

CCM: Looks confused as if my reply is completely irrelevant to our conversation. After a beat he says, "Oh, okay, well then you let me know when you want to go out. Understand?"

Me: "Uhmmm" (He spoke so quickly. I wasn't sure what he said.)

CCM: "Yes, you say, 'Francesco (not his name) let's go out.' Okay? Understand?"

Me: "Oooh Okay, have a nice day."

CCM: "You too, beautiful."


Trust me, this NEVER happened to me at Gelsons, or Bristol Farms supermarkets in L.A. Last year Francesco gave his number, after I told him I had a boyfriend. He said we could still practice Italian. Bwahahah

I thought it would be awkward to go back to my favorite supermarket when I didn't call him. But, he was perfectly professional.

I was caught off guard this morning. A year later and Francesco is still trying to get his mack on? Living here cracks me up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day Trip: Amazing Spaghetti con Vongole in Santa Marinella

A few weeks ago I took a much needed break and went to Santa Marinella. I work up at 5:00 a.m. to make sure I wrote 2000 words before getting on the train.

The beach is north of Rome. The water is not as nice as Sperlonga's (which is a Blue Flag Beach), but it's much nicer than Ostia's.

It's closer than Sperlonga, just 40 minutes or so on the train. A round trip ticket from Trastevere station is only 7 euros.

My friend Erica had recommended eating lunch at La Piazzette, Piazza Trieste, 13a, (39) 392-891-5356.

Mamma Mia! Their Spaghetti con Vongole was some of the best I've had in my life. The pasta was perfectly al dente.

The town itself is pretty small. There is a cute boardwalk with shops and a few cafes. I went during a weekday. It was very quiet. I'm sure during a summer weekend, the place is packed.

It was good to get out and the smell fresh sea air. I hope someday I will be able to have a house not too far from the sea/ocean. In the meantime, I will try to go to the beach at least once a month. It's so close.


I was sitting under a red umbrella. That's why the pasta looks pinkish. The restaurant has outdoor seating on small piazza. They gave me too much wine.


Fried calamari. Mi piacciono!


Perhaps the owner of this boat is a STAR WARS fan.


There was a friendly older local gentleman standing next to me as I took pictures of this fruit stand. He was probably wonder why the heck I was taking photos of something so ordinary. I thought the fruit was beautiful.


The sea.


Maybe later next month I will return and rent a chair and an umbrella for the day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse

I saw her once at the Soho Grand in NYC. She was so petite. A big voice and talent is gone at only 27. Sad.

I was watching CNN Int'l. They interrupted the program with breaking news. I thought it was going to be more news about Norway. When they announced Amy was dead, I couldn't believe it. I read she had been struggling lately. I was hoping she would make it.

Norway

I can't even begin to wrap my head around this tragedy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Flashback Friday - Larry Hagman and Diana Ross - Yes, really

This has got to be one of the most random pairings of all times. I know it was done in the early '80s, but still.

Buon weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The new trailer for Jersey Shore reminds me of the drunk idiots I see every night in Campo

Mamma mia. Drama.

I still don't know why MTV decided to go to Florence. There's no beach.

Judging from the trailer, Season 4 is going to be a big hit. I wonder what the Italian press will make of the show.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Will the phone hacking scandal spread to the US?

Everyday it seems there's another layer to this NEW OF THE WORLD phone hacking scandal.

Now the whistleblower, Sean Hoare, was found dead yesterday. At this point, his death is unexplained, but not suspicious. Strange timing.

The head of the Metropolitan Police just stepped down.

Meanwhile, there are rumblings about a phone hacking scandal regarding 9/11 victims in America. Murdoch's News Corp stock has hit a six month low.

It's incredible that at this late age Rupert Murdoch finds himself in this situation. What did he know? Did his son or Rebekah Brooks know about/encourage the hacking?

I have a deadline, so not sure how much I will be able to see of their testimony today in front of Parliament.

I want to know who was the reporter or reporters who hacked into Milly Dowler's phone. Why would they do such a thing? That's low, even for a tabloid.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flashback Friday - Carmageddon - "Speed"

I wish my friends in Los Angeles a lot of luck this weekend dealing with Carmageddon.

The 405 is a nightmare even during the best of circumstances. I cannot imagine what the traffic on the Westside is going to be like this weekend when parts of the 405 are shut down in order to demolish the Mulholland Bridge.

I liked the movie SPEED (aka DIE HARD on a bus) when it came out in 1994. One thing that made me laugh was all my Los Angeles friends saying there was no way anyone would be able to drive about 50 mph in L.A. traffic.

The movie put Ms. Bullock on the map.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This is why the Internet was invented - Cat videos



This remix of the infamous E Harmony "I Love Cats" video is beyond ridiculous and yet I laughed my ass off.

Bongos Cat might be my favorite part.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jumping The Broom Mondays - DVD & Blu-Ray drop August 9th in North America.

Thanks again to everyone who went to see JUMPING THE BROOM. The box office total in America is 37 million. The film's budget was only 6.5 million.

Our movie will be out on DVD/Blu-ray next month in the United States and Canada.

The DVD market has completely imploded thanks to privacy. Hopefully, JTB's DVD sales will avoid this trend.

The movie will available for rental on Netflix, and other places. You can buy the DVD on Amazon.com, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster, Target, Wal-Mart, any official retailer.

Please do not buy bootlegs. They are killing our market. One of the main reasons the studios are not making more films like JTB is because of the bootlegging.

I got into a big fight with a friend of a friend. He told another friend to not worry about downloading music for free because "those people" make a lot of money. When I disagreed with him, he couldn't understand why a screenwriter would take issue with his comments.

He said he was a writer too. This man works full time for a huge multi-national and make a very good salary. He writes short stories sometimes. Writing's a hobby for him. I assume that's the reason he felt he could be so dismissive about what I was saying.

Sure Lady Gaga and Beyonce are not crying over missed royalties. However, most writers, singers, and actors are not in the top 2%. The majority of people in my industry are unemployed. The reason you hear about big script sales and large book advances is because they are rare.

I'm not sure why people who would never shoplift from a store think it's okay to download first-run movies or those that are on DVD. I get watching certain American TV shows when you live aboard, as not all of them are available on iTunes.

I do think at some point how the studios release movies is going to open up and change. Of course movie theater owners are very resistant to the idea of releasing a film theatrically and on a platform like iTunes, or the studio's website on the same day. It won't happen tomorrow, but as technology improves, the window between the theatrical release and the DVD/Internet release is going to continue to shrink. We can't put our heads in the sand like the music industry did.

There will be special features on the JTB DVD, including commentary with director Salim Akil and actress Paula Patton.