Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays greeting with Totti & Gattuso

Today was my last day in the office. I will use this down time to get super organized. I've already started going through my closets. I am having a hard time with my books. I will put one in the donate pile then take it out. There is only so much I can take when I move so I better get it together.

I haven't written a thing for book #2 since I sent out my ms. I will follow up with the few agents it went to in the New Year. I am going to cut myself some slack next year. I will be moving, I have a few volunteer events to organize and a movie in post production. I may not be able to write for as many hours in the a.m. as I would like.

While there is much to blog about these days, the Presidential race, the war, Momma Spear's bad parenting skills (two words...birth control), this Ragazza will be back next year.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and see you in '08.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly directed by Julian Schnabel

Stunning movie. Visually, emotionally, was in tears through out. Still processing it.

This movie is based on the internationally best selling book by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Bauby was the editor of French Elle and very much a man about town. At only 42 he suffered a massive stroke. His mind functioned but he was "locked-in". He was completely paralyzed. Bauby could only communicate by blinking one eye. That is how he "wrote" his book.

This movie will stick with me for a long, long time. It's in French w/English subtitles. The director and producers are American. I was a big fan of Schnabel's movie BEFORE NIGHT FALLS, which was the first movie I saw Javier Bardem in.

Here is a review from the NYTs.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Caribbean Week: Books...The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

I just bought a copy of Junot Dìaz's novel and I cannot wait to read it. I still have to finish LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA, SHARP OJECTS and TO THE LIGHTHOUSE.

There is a great deal of interesting literary fiction and non-fiction books about the Caribbean. I have read books by Caribbean writers or writers of Caribbean descent like, Zadie Smith, Julia Alvarez, Edwige Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid and Andrea Levy. I don't know of many commerical fiction writers. If you have some suggestions, please share them. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Caribbean Week: Food... Pastelles

Thanks to Seville for the following recipe. I am in a really bad mood today. Any talk of my mom's amazing cooking will probably send me over the edge so I'll have to write it another time. I should send this recipe to my parents, they have fig/banana trees in their yard.



Let me be forward and offer a recipe I lifted from a Trinidadian newspaper, to start your Caribbean collection. This one is for pastelles. Don't know if your mother made these, but maybe you'll try them. (If you cannot get fig (banana) leaves in LA, I think you can steam these in parchment paper).

Get your fig leaves before, clean and soften them and keep them in the refrigerator until you need them. Buy your filling ingredients and make your filling a day ahead and refrigerate it. On the big day all you need to do is prepare your cornmeal, fill and wrap.

To prepare fig leaves, steam them in a large pot of boiling water for ten minutes until they become pliable and soft. They may also be softened by waving them over an open flame.

Cornmeal dough and pastelle assembly

Ingredients

2 cups yellow cornmeal
3 cups warm water
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 tsp salt

- In a food processor or by hand, combine cornmeal with butter and salt.
- Add water and process to make a soft, pliable dough.
- Divide the dough into 12 balls. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent drying.
- Place one piece of dough on a greased fig leaf and press into an eight-inch square. Spoon two tablespoons of filling onto the middle of the dough and fold and seal pastelles.
- Wrap in fig leaf and tie into a neat package.
- Steam pastelles for 45 minutes until cooked.
- Makes 12-15 pastelles.

Chicken and beef pastelles

Filling

1 lb chopped beef and chicken, chicken only, or beef only
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
2 pimento peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs chopped celery
1/2 Congo pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup tomato sauce
4 tbs capers
3 tbs stuffed olives, sliced
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbs fresh thyme

- Combine beef with chicken. Add salt and black pepper.
- Add a quarter-cup chopped chives and one tablespoon thyme.
- In a large sauté pan heat olive oil.
- Add onion and garlic. Sauté until fragrant. Add pimento peppers, remaining chive, pepper and thyme. Add meat and cook until brown.
- Add tomato sauce, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add raisins, capers and olives and stir to combine.
- Cook for about five minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Add two tablespoons fresh thyme and stir to combine.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Prepare dough as in recipe above and fill and fold pastelles as indicated.
- Makes 12-15 pastelles.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A break in Caribbean Week for a great cause: Menu for Hope.

I will post early next week about two of my favorite things, books and food. Since my mom does not write down her traditional Caribbean recipes and I will have to come up with something else.


Speaking of food, it's the season for the 4th annual MENU FOR HOPE. During this time of year it's easy to get caught up in shopping and stressing out about the holidays. Here is something that is fun, quick and will have a positive impact. This year the funds are going to the UN World Food Programme. Through the UN the funds are ear marked for a school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa. Please click on to Sara's blog for more information and links on this amazing event. There some fantastic items and many food bloggers have gone all out (including Sara).

Every little bit helps. Tomorrow morning I will be wrapping presents for a non-profit that works with foster children. I do realize getting a Christmas gift is not going to change the fact that they are in the system. However, for at least one day these children get to have fun and just be kids.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Caribbean Week: Music, Bob Marley

I was eight the first time I saw Bob Marley. One of my mom's friends and co-worker lived out in the suburbs. Her friend went through a ten year phase where every single one of her boyfriends was black (the friend was not). I remember one boyfriend was a doctor from Nigeria. We went to visit her friend and her boyfriend stopped by. He put on PBS and there was a Bob Marley concert on. My brother was four and he stopped playing with his toys to watch as well.

I used to think Jersey was like another country. So quiet compared to the city and very green. If we had not been over that day sitting in the guest room, who knows when I would have found Mr. Marley. My parents' generation is more about calypso and soca not reggae. The name "The Mighty Sparrow" was a big deal in our house.

Robert "bob" Nesta Marley was the son of a white Jamaican of British descent and a black Jamaican woman. He was constantly picked on because of his bi-racial background. Once his mom became a widow, they moved to Kingtson's Trenchtown slum. He learned how to fight and that is how he got the nick name "Tuff Gong".

I'm not a Rasta but Marley's music means a lot to me. He was so talented, the lyrics were deep and I'm not going to lie...I thought he was fine. He was such a charismatic performer, you knew he meant every word he sang.

My three year old nephew is already a fan thanks to my brother playing Marley during baths.

"life is worth more than gold" 'nuff said.



Thursday, December 13, 2007

Caribbean Week: The I Love My Ram contest

Many islands celebrate Carnival. Trinidad is known for having one of the largest and liveliest in the Caribbean.

There are always interesting local festivals and fairs going on. I never heard of the I LOVE MY RAM contest until my sister saw something about it on Anthony Bourdain's show. Anthony has been going to the island for over 20 years. Jess was so kind to let me post some photos from her blog. She is an American who has been living in St. Maarten for years.

The contest is held in a valley very close to where my family grew up. Many people used to raise animals in St. Martin. This contest is reminder of the island's agricultural roots.

St. Maarten (esp. the Dutch side) is one of the most visited islands in the Caribbean. Some say she has lost her soul. It's nice to see that there are still some village traditions that continue despite all the development. People bring their rams and enter them in a competition. There are different age ranges and the rams must have a pleasant disposition. (ha) Of course there is music and plenty of food.

My brother and his family were visiting our parents during the festival. My sister and I asked him to buy us an I HEART MY RAM t-shirt. He thought we were joking. I am still salty he did not get us any shirts. The winners of the contest won medals, cases of Presidente beer and bags of goats feed. I assume the beer is for the owners of the winning rams.

Thanks Jess for the photos!

The valley. So green and full of mango and coconut trees.


Looking fly.


Ready for their close-up.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Caribbean Week: Film, The Harder They Come


There are many movies that have shot in the Caribbean, for example, several Bond movies. I don't know of many movies about the Caribbean. The number of foreign films that make it to the United States gets smaller and smaller every year.

The movie THE HARDER THEY COME was a tiny movie release in the States in the early '70s. The soundtrack, constantly rated as one of the top albums ever, is credited for introducing reggae music to the world. The album isn't strictly reggae, it's also rocksteady, rudeboy and ska.

I saw this movie for the first time in my 20s. Although it is in English the film had subtitles because the Jamaican accents were so strong. This gritty little movie became a cult classic. Of course Hollywood wants to remake it. It is set up at New Line. sigh.

The story is based on a real life gangster. Jimmy Cliff plays a man who gets involved with the wrong folks as he tries to make it in the music business. The soundtrack is a must have for anyone who loves music. The following clip of "Many Rivers to Cross" is from SNL. Jimmy was the first reggae artist to appear on the show. I know I am going to sound hella old but notice he is singing LIVE. No tracks, backing vocals or lip synching. How many "singers' do that today? UB40 did a cover in the late '80s that was pretty popular.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Caribbean Week: A beach in Anguilla.

This will be only the second Christmas I have not spent with my family. I don't get upset about Thanksgiving. It wasn't as a big a deal in our house. We still had an amazing dinner but my parents are West Indian and did not celebrate that holiday growing up. Christmas on the other hand was pretty special and my siblings and I always went home.

Christmas is two weeks from tomorrow and I am trying to get into the spirit. I do realize that my siblings are married and have their own traditions. This is when being single and far from your famliy f*in sucks. I never knew I would miss hearing really bad soloists during Christmas service. My brother, sister and I would try not to laugh. My dad would glare at us from the choir section. Once we got in the car he would tell us our behavior was not appropiate. I'm sorry, if you bring a boom box and sing some weird uptempo carol no one has heard of at 11:30 p.m. when everyone is already restless you might get some reactions.

I miss the crazy ornaments my sister bought from her elementary school's Secret Santa shop. My parents still have them (she is now in her 30s) and treat them like they were purchased at Cartier. I am shocked I miss my mom's brother who always argued at the Christmas dinner table with my dad about politics. He felt Nixon was misunderstood. My mom would try to bring peace to the table but my dad was not having it. Dad supported JFK.

No matter was going on during the year, I always looked forward to Christmas. I would see my family, eat well and get one or two nice presents. Once my parents moved back to the Caribbean we started a new tradition of going to the beach after church.

Anguilla has some of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean. I'm not saying that because both grandmothers were born there. "Conde Nast Traveler" and "Travel and Leisure" editoral and their readers have said it as well. Anguilla, named by Christopher Columbus, is Italian for eel. I suggest going to the long skinny island before it becomes over-developed. There isn't much to do except relax. If you are looking for nightlife her neighbors St. Maarten or St. Barths are a better choice. St. Barths is a more in your face scene. Think the Hamptons in the Caribbean. Many celebs and fancy types go to Anguilla but they keep it low key. Anguilla can be very expensive but if you check out some of the laid back places to eat you won't kill your budget.

When I was a kid we used go to my aunt's for a couple days during August Monday. The holiday is on the first Monday of the month and there are boat races, parties and lots of good food. She made us herd the goats. Those are some freaky looking animals. Only after chores (hello, we were supposed to be on vacation) we could go to the beach with our cousins. There are more hotels/villas now but the island has retained most of it's charm.

Last year when we went to see family, it was the middle of the day, high season and the beach looked like this. The hotel in the background will be the Viceroy (the same owners of the Viceroy here). I hear the prices are outrageously expensive. I didn't have my digital camera yet. I wish I could post photos of the Villas at the St. Regis. The prices there are quite high as well.



This is the view of the other end of the bay. The hotel at the very tip is Malliouhana. It was one of the first hotels on the island and sits on some of my maternal grandmother's property. Too bad I can't go back in time and look at that lease. The hotel is very nice. Here is their photo gallery. Anguilla used to be so off the beaten track that when the owner started building the hotel his friends in England asked him why he was building in Angola which was in the middle of a civil war.

Anguilla is part of the British West Indies, so be careful when renting a car, they drive on the left. You will have to stop for goats, cows and locals who like to talk to each other and tie up traffic. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A brunch with some amazing women, the Christmas spirit and Caribbean Week.

Yesterday my friend Sfashionista (she used to comment quite a bit on the blog but she has a newborn and a growing design business) held a brunch for me. Why? We share a birthday but that was months ago back in August. I was in Toronto for two months producing a movie and when I returned said she wanted to throw a brunch. I was so touched. I am in such a weird place right now, post-Toronto/Italy funk, worried about my future, stressed about finding an agent, my stupid car has some kind of electrical problem and I'm a little homesick.

For a few hours I didn't have to think about any of that stuff. I had great time. Sfashionista sent out written invites. She asked, "What would Jackie do?" I agree. Even if Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were alive today, she would not send out an Evite (unless she lived in a place notorious for poor mail delivery) for a small gathering. I can't tell you the last time I received a paper invite.

The host's baby was too cute and another guest brought her baby girl. Sfashionista's husband broke out quickly, after helping us solve a stero/iPod situation. One of the women is leaving L.A. to move back to Atlanta. She is the second friend this week who told me they are leaving. Now that the talks between the writers and the studios have broken off again, the number of people leaving is only going to grow. Another friend told me she might move to Berlin.

Despite all the bad news on the work front (several women at the party are screenwriters) we all had fun catching up. Ms. Tramble summed the day on her blog here. I am verklempt.

Until yesterday I wasn't feel much of the Christmas spirit. Since I will not be in the Caribbean this Christmas, I am going to bring some of the Caribbean to my blog starting tomorrow.

Sfashionista knows how to set a table.


Who knew Fred Segal (the one in Santa Monica) had a florist? These flowers are stunning!! If I were rich or had a garden, I would have fresh flowers in my apartment at all times. I have some gorgeous roses on my dining table. One of my friends surprised me yesterday. Lucky me.


View from the patio. It rained the other day. This is the clearest I have seen L.A. in a while.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The mall shootings and a classic from Marvin Gaye

I had a much longer post about the shootings but deleted it. I just can't understand this senseless shooting at the Westroads Mall in Nebraska.

I volunteer with foster and at risk children. Some of the things these young people have been through would break most adults. The shooter said he wanted to be famous. Now he infamous which is different. I know he had a lot of pain in his life but he did have people close to him who tried to help him. That he could shoot an innocent person in the back shows a complete lack of empathy. Not everyone who grows up in a tough situation goes out and mows down people so they can be on the evening news.

I don't know there are more of these type of shootings or if we are just more aware of them. The United States has always had a problem with a high level of violent crimes compared to other industrialized nations. The only country that is even close is South Africa (hmmm interesting).

Anyway I really try not get too down and feel like all hell is breaking loose. While people make fun of Jennifer Love Hewitt, a size two woman, for being "fat" the war continues, the mortgage industry is in free fall and we still have too many freaking guns in this country.

This song is from the early 70s and unfortunately the lyrics could have been written today. The version I found on YouTube is from an out of print movie from 1973. It's a great live (and long) version of Gaye's "What's Going On". Preach on brother Marvin, you died way too soon but your music lives on.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"La Vie en Rose" and "Idiocracy"

The awards season has started which means Oscar screeners. I watched "La Vie en Rose" the bio-pic about Edith Piaf. Amazing. I was talking about it with my bosses yesterday and I got choked up thinking about it. Marion Cotillard who looks nothing like the 4'8 Piaf, rocked it. I can't believe this is the same actress from "A Good Year." Marion transformed herself. She better get an Oscar nomination. The movie was released in the U.S. over the summer and is now out on DVD.

I knew a little about Piaf but had no idea her story was so intense. There is something that is explained late in the third act that upset me so much I yelled at the TV. The movie is non-linear which might annoy some people. Given all the things that happened to her during her short life and her influence, a traditional bio-pic would not have worked. The movie looks gorgeous and of course the music is beautiful. Even if you know nothing about Piaf the movie stands alone...you do not have to be a fan to appreciate it. The movie is sad. If you are depressed you might want to follow up the movie with something light.

Here is the trailer:
"


I finally saw "Idiocracy". For some reason the blogsphere and several people I know have been talking about this movie recently. Fox dumped this movie, no ads, it played in only a couple of theaters and there was hardly any press about it. The movie is from Mike Judge who created "King of the Hill" and directed "Office Space." Satire is tough to pull off but there are several laugh loud out moments in "Idiocracy".

The premise is Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph play two of the dumbest people on earth circa 2007. They are in an Army experiment that goes wrong and instead of jumping one year into the future they jump 500 years. Society has become so dumbed down by then, they are now the two smartest people in America. The production value is horrible. The movie does look like it was made for two cents. However, some of the digs about the state of our culture are so dead on it's a little scary. Actually, very scary.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I hope "I Love New York" is scripted.

I saw a commercial for "Nip/Tuck" which announced Tiffany Patterson aka Miss New York was going to be on the show. Wow.

I remember when "The Real World" premiered on MTV. I don't think any of those housemates knew what they were getting into. Now people go on most of these shows to become famous for being famous. At least with "Project Runway" and "Top Chef" you have to have some kind of talent and create something.

I watched "I Love New York" last night. I can't believe the mom, Sister Patterson could be that crazy. This has to be scripted for better ratings. I also have a hard time believing Sister Patterson paid $1,500 for her weave. She might need to fire her hairdresser, stat.

Who are these men on the show? Why are they on the show? I love how the parents wonder "what is my son doing?" Why did Miss New York butcher her body? What does she hope to gain from all this "exposure?" Over the weekend VH1 was showing repeats of "Flavor of Love" season one and it was clear then that Miss New York stood out. I asked my sister what happened to her dad?

With the writers' strike entering it fifth week, the networks have announced more reality shows for prime time. They are importing shows from overseas and moving up the schedule of shows that were supposed to air during the slow summer season. I don't think advertisers will be happy. They signed up for shows like "Ugly Betty" not "The New American Gladiator."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Forget having a Plan B.

I am driving myself crazy. I have just started to query a few agents. I analyze every email, every phone call looking for signs, do they like the ms? How long should it take before they respond?

Once you have an agent (a big step) they shop it to publishers. More waiting and freaking out.

I was reading an article in TIME magazine about Will Smith. He said he never had a Plan B because that implied your Plan A was going to fail. Interesting.

Someone the other day asked me what type of work I was going to do in Rome. I started to give my "in a perfect world I will write full time", speech then stopped. To be honest I don't know. On one hand that worries me, on the other it's freeing. My job is such a huge part of my identity it's hard for me not to stress about being in Rome without having a film or some kind of "great" job.

Maybe it's time for a new approach. Of course I will plan the logistics of my move the best I can but how can I predict what I will be doing for work? I don't live there. There is no such thing as a perfect world. Plenty of writers do other things until they can support themselves by writing. Some writers never give up their day jobs. They cannot afford to. Maybe I will get a part-time film related job with a festival, maybe I'll work for my sister-in-law friend's company. Maybe the writers' stike will end sooner rather than later. Who knows?

I was talking to my parents the other day. My dad said I was just existing here and that was not good. They are both supportive of my move. Although I know my mom is nervous about me living so far away from my family.

My move is not rational to begin with so I might as well go the distance. Next time someone asks me what I'm going to do in Rome, I'll say live.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Advanced Italian...ready or not here I come.

I haven't taken classes since Spring. My Italian feels very rusty to me. I was going to repeat Intermediate Level 2. While I was not looking forward to dealing with Passato Remoto or the dreaded Congiuntivo, my professor and friends from class strongly recommended I take the next level.

Now that Advance is broken up into Levels 1 or 2 I will try. When I read out loud at home I feel fine but in front of people I clam up. I know the only way to learn is to get in there and keep talking. It's okay if I make mistakes.

I was reading a great article in Vogue (seriously) about how our brain ages and learning a new language or playing an instrument is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp, esp. after 40.

Speaking of over 40, I went to the eye doctor the other day and he said in couple of years I will start to have problems reading materials that are close up. Yes! Another thing along with peri-menopause to look forward to. Now I only need my glasses to read things far away/driving and my prescription is still pretty low. I went to the eyeglasses store and broke down and got a pair of very nice frames. I wear glasses part of every day, I might as well make an investment.

My boss was with me. Later she said she doesn't know why I complain about money. I went to Italy twice this year and just bought the glasses. First, I used miles for my first trip and I went to Venice during off season so my hotel was very reasonable. I was under budget on both trips.

True this year for the first time in my professional life I have some extra money because of the bonus from the movie. BUT I am moving overseas and that money with the exchange rate will not go very far. I worry about money because I am not 22. At this age I should own property, have savings/retirement funds. etc. I work in an unstable, creative field. Two years ago I decided since I have no job security what so ever I would rather use my money to travel than on eating out here all the time or clothes, etc. My apartment's rent at just over $1000 is low. My landlord can't wait for me to leave so she can jack it up to $1600 (which I think is crazy for a place with no character). My car is a used (oh my God! that is a mortal sin in Hollywood) Saab so I don't have a $500 lease payment on a Mercedes or Jag.

While the exchange rate is bad, there will be certain costs that will be lower in Rome. I won't have a car so no more car insurance, gas, repairs and valets. That will save me close to $250 a month. My gym is $120 a month, of course I will cancel that once I leave. That is almost $400 savings from those two items alone.

I am really watching my spending on non-essential items. Yesterday I went to get Chrismas/birthday presents. I didn't go off and buy things not on my list despite the tempations. ha.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Conde Nast Traveler has an "insider's" cover story on Rome.

I was walking past the newsstand and what did I see?


I'm curious with the exchange rate being so awful will fewer Americans travel to Europe in '08? I was very surprised at how crowded Venice during low season.

I still have jet lag. I keep getting up at 4:00 a.m. and by 8:00 p.m. I can barely keep my eyes open. I want to read the article, then will call it a night.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Day five and six: Ciao Milano.

I did make it to the train station despite the flood waters. I had a great time in Milan reconnecting with some friends and meeting some new friends (I know....very kumbaya).

My fantastic host (you know who you are) gave me a quick tour of Milano. I was only there for 24 hours. I almost lost my mind in 10 Corso Como. I didn't focus on the clothes but the accessories!!!! The shoes, bags, rings, and earrings were fantastic. I also liked the bath gels and other things in the "no one really needs this section." I didn't buy anything of course. Between the exchange rate and my soon to be unemployed status I had no business spending that kind of money.

Another thing that brings me great joy is food. We stopped by Peck's first floor. I could go crazy in there. It was very crowded and I noticed the prices there were not cheap.

Next stop the Duomo. Nothing I can say. Overwhelming.

We went to eat on the top floor of La Rinascente, a major department store. The floor has been recently renovated. It reminds me of the floor in Bloomingdales' flagship store where all the yummy food items are. There are several restaurants and plenty of delicious things to buy.

A shot of the Duomo from the roof patio of La Rinascente.


The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele has to be one of the nicest "malls" I have been in.


The view from my hotel room in Venice. I like the interesting external spiral stairs of a former palace.


I am still uploading photos to my Flickr page.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Venice day four: Photos of L'acqua Water (high water)

I had to leave the hotel from another entrance and getting to the station that day was not fun. ha. A siren went off at 6:00 a.m. that morning to warn of the high tide.

See the platforms in the background. When I heard San Marco flooded, I pictured some puddles.


Not this. Wow. The tide comes in around 9ish and the flood waters leave a couple hours later.


The view out the front door of my hotel. The water was gushing over the canal walls.


Shot from one of the platforms. Some places didn't have them so I had to wade through. Good thing I had my leather boots treated with water-resistant spray. I did get wet but at least my shoes were not ruined. I looked like big dork with my pants hiked up.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day three in Venice: Get your art on at the Accademia and with Peggy Guggenheim.

Thursday was cloudy and cold. After lunch it poured the rest of the afternoon. It was still an incredible day.

I walked over to the Accademia home to the largest collection of Venetian Renaissance art. Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Giovanni Bellini and Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti) are some of the artists featured. The museum provides info sheets on all the works in English and Italian, which is great. I love reading the back stories (usually filled with much drama) about how these works came to be.

We saw restorers working on Titian’s “Pieta”. He was almost 90 when he finished it. It’s a really dark work reflecting the times. The plague was at its height killing his son and his assistant. He died heartbroken shortly after finishing the painting.

From the 1500’s I jumped in the 1900’s at the Villa of Mrs. Guggenheim. Met a very friendly intern from UCLA interning in Venice for three months. Peggy’s dad died on the Titanic (putting his mistress on a row boat, while he went down with the ship) leaving her an inheritance. Her wing of the family was not as wealthy as her uncle’s, Solomon Guggenheim, who built the famous museum in New York. Peggy was, I guess you can say a “free spirit”. She had several marriages and many lovers. She starting buying “modern art” early and really championed artists. She supported Jackson Pollack for two years in exchange for some art. Supposedly she never paid more that 10 thousand dollars for a work and usually spent less than 1,000. Her collection is worth over 350 million today.

Her villa is right on the Grand Canal. To stand in her bedroom with that view surround by art is pretty surreal. Today the names in her collection, Picassco, Pollack, Ernst, Chagall, Duchamp are pretty well known. Her grave is in the back garden, next to her dogs’. She also supported writers, composers, actors etc.

My parents will be happy to know I stepped foot into a church and the building is still standing. I went to the La Salute church (Santa Maria della Salute. Our lady of health). The church was built to honor the Saint Mary for helping Venice survive the Plague (1 out of 3 residents died, less than other cities). The large church is on the Canal. Outside seems imposing but the interior is relatively simple and just beautiful. A mass started while I was there.

I had lunch at San Trovaso. Good food and reasonable prices, for Venice anyway. The flirty waiter gave me a special glass of wine “for a special woman” haha. The rigatoni all’amatriciana was excellent.

My last stop for art was the Friar Church built by the Franciscan order. Stunning church with some incredible works of art. The tomb of Titian (Titiano Ferdinandus) is here.

The lions are original to the house which was started in 1748. Only the ground floor was built at first because of the family across the canal didn't want to be upstage. Peggy bought the house 200 years later and fixed it up.


Candles at Santa Maria della Salute.


Stain glass at the Frari church.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I am never flying coach on a transatlantic flight to or from Los Angeles ever again.

When I fly to Rome next year, I hope I can use my miles to buy a Business class ticket. Today I sat on a plane for 12 hours ( after an 1 hour from Venice to Zurich) next to yet another big man who snored. This time I was on the aisle seat and he kept getting up, leaning over into my space, knocking my headset out of the socket so I would miss chunks of the movies I was trying to watch, etc.

I am back in L.A. There were fires in Malibu's Corral Canyon, which is one of the most beautiful areas in Los Angeles. Many homes burned down to the ground. I saw on CNN Europe the other day that the Santa Ana winds were around 90 mph. Residents had very little time to evacuate.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ciao Venice

I have to leave first thing in the morning.

I had an amazing time. I just got back from Milano. I have so much to write about but I must pack and go to sleep.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Parts of Venice are flooded this morning

I looked outside the hotel door and the tide is crazy high! The hotel is along a canal and the water is overflowing. Not sure how the heck I'm going to get to the train station. I am off to Milan for Thanksgiving dinner.

I read over 130 milllion Americans are going shopping today. Glad I will miss that madness. I have seen maybe two Christmas shopping commericals here. I was talking to one of the hotel's concierges and she said no stores here are opening at 4:00 a.m. for shoppers. You're lucky if they are open by 10:00 a.m. When I told her people many sleep outside the stores the night before to be there when the stores open, she could not wrap her head around it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is having a great day.

I am thankful for my family, friends, health and the ability to be in such a beautiful place.

I will write later about the incredible things I saw today. Really inspiring.

Tomorrow there will be a high tide (L'acqua alta) and Piazza San Marco might get flooded. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Venice day two: Burano and "where the @%#* is the ristorante?"

I took the ferry to Burano, the lace making island. I wonder what it would be like to like on an small island of only 2,700 people, so far from the main land. Burano is also know for it's colorfully painted houses. The houses were painted that way so fisherman could identify their homes when they returned.

I was so looking foward to eating at "Il Gatto Nero" which I read about and saw on Samatha Brown's Venice trip on the Travel Channel. It was closed for vacation until Dec. 3rd. I figured I would eat when I returned to Venice. I took a 12:30 ferry back and this time went to the F. Nove stop which was closer than San Marco. There are quite a few great places to eat in that area (Cannaregio). I was starving. Unfortuantely I was lost for almost two hours. I did get to see a very residential area of Venice. A few times I was in an alley and very happy that it was daylight. I know Venice is relativly safe but those alley and canals can be hella creepy. I could not find a single one of the restaurants I had read about. I had two maps and they were pretty much useless. I finally gave up and followed the arrows to the Rialo bridge. I heard there was a great bar/restaurant call Bancogiro right near the bridge on the canal. Non touristy (meaning the food is good and not overpriced), I walked over there and what did I see? "Closed for Vacation". At this point I wanted to throw my guidebooks into the freaking canal.

I made dinner reservations for a place I read about Osteria Antico Dolo. The waitress spoke no English. I orginally wanted to eat then but my brain wasn't working and I said yes when she asked if I wanted it for that evening. I crossed back over the Rialto and followed the signs to San Marco. Again I must have taken the long way. It took 40 minutes. When I was going to dinner, I took another route which took less than 15 minutes. As a result I was very early for my dinner, so I walked around for an half hour.

Dinner was very good. After a long day I was excited to sit down and have a nice meal.

Houses on Burano.


Interesting saying.


Wow these are some bright colors. I took these photos on a cloudy day. When it's sunny these colors must really pop.


Local kids playing soccer in the island's main piazza. This sqare also has leaning bell tower. It was under renovations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day one in Venice. I have not fallen into a canal yet. It's all good.

I have been walking around Venice since 9:00 this morning. At 5:00 p.m. I came back to my room to take a break. I am trying to stay up until at least 10:00 so I will not have jet lag. Earlier today I thought I was going to fall asleep standing up.

It's so quiet in my room. Last week my new neighbor back in L.A. woke me up at 4:00 a.m. He was jumping around or something. My bedroom windows were actually shaking. WTF?! I think he was by himself, not sure what he was doing.

At 6:00 a.m. various church bells started ringing. It was nice and sunny but very cold.

I can't even imagine what the crowds must be like during high season. I think they are pretty awful now. Tons of big tour groups walking around following someone with a stick/umbrella, flag etc. Speaking of tours I signed up for the Secret Itineraries tour for the Doge Palace. The group size is kept small. There were seven of us. Our quide was great. We went to rooms that are off limits to the public, including the jail cell that held Casanova until he escaped. I really enjoyed the tour. Very informative regarding Venetian history.

Originally I had planned to go to La Zucca for dinner. What was I smoking? There was no way I would have found this place, in the Santa Croce part of Venice, at night. It took me almost an hour to find it during the day. That part of Venice has a completey different vibe than the area around San Marco. Very quiet with locals going about their daily business. I loved walking around the side streets, eventhough I had no idea where the heck I was. At La Zucca I had tagliatelle with a sausage ragu that was amazing. My glass of house wine cost only 1.50! Crazy. I stopped by a bakery, Majer, for a cookie. I might have to walk back there.

I returned to San Marco and went into the Basilica which is just beautiful...lot's of mosaics.

Did some window shopping, then went to Harry's Bar for a Bellini. I was warned. I heard it is very expensive. One American tourist paid 26 Euros for a piece of apple pie. He said it was the best pie he has ever had. That may be but I still think that is bananas. The prices are on the menu, there is no reason to pay that much for pie at Harry's. It is worth the price of a Bellini however. They are around the price you would pay in the States and Harry's invented the drink. I love Bellini, how could I come to Venice and not have one? It's like when I went to Naples, I had to have some pizza. You can tell they make the Bellini fresh and not from a mix. It was very good.

Here are a few pics:

The Grand Canal taken from the Rialto Bridge. Photos do not do it justice.


Some gondole hanging out.


I do not get the appeal of this all!! There was one man standing with his young son and they had pigeons all over them, including on their heads. Why? Also these pigeons must have gangs or something. I saw three separate pigeons fights. What the heck were they fighting about?



A traffic jam in Venice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Finalmente! I have arrived in Venice.

The concierge has informed me that he will only speak Italian to me for the rest of the week. His English is better than my Italian but when I said a couple of words he said, in Italian "You know the language." Hello, that is a huge overstatement. ha.

It took forever to get here. L.A. to Zurich...I spent 11 hours sitting next to a huge man who snored loudly. Flying coach overseas sucks. The man was all up in my space. I do like Swiss Air, I have never flown them before. The airport is so much easier to navigate than Charles De Gaulle and esp. freaking Heathrow. Then we took a little plane from Zurich to Venice only 45 minutes. Instead of paying 100 Euros for a water taxi (I will take one the way back) I took the ferry which was only 12 euros but hour ride.

When I walked into Saint Marks Square I just had to stand there for a minute, despite the freezing weather (to me). The long ass trip was worth it for that view alone.

My hotel is on a quiet side canal but close to everything. It's more of an apartment. I looooove it. If I could find a place like this in Rome I would be very happy.

Now I have to unpack. I was going to get something to eat but it's too late and I'm wiped out.

There is some prison show on RAI with a lot of yelling.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Italia week: food and wine

I could go on and on about two of my favorite things in the world but I won't. I need to start packing for my trip.

I have heard some Americans complain the food in Italy is not "Italian food". That statement confuses me. Each region of Italy has its own flavor (pun intended) so don't know how you can write off an entire country's cuisine.

I am looking forward to leaving a culture where food is seen by most people as a means to an end. Sorry, life is too short to be shoveling flavorless, mediocre food into one's mouth.

Here is a recipe and video from the Mestolando blog run by a couple in Florence. The recipe is for Penna Pasta alla Fiesolana. It's similar to a carbonara but uses a beciamella sause as a base.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Italia week: art

I could write about this subject for the next four months and only touch the surface. During my first trip to Rome I was floored by all the art and that it was so accessible.

Here is a close up on part of Bernini's masterpiece Apollo and Daphne.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Italia week: design

Italy is known for more than just red-tape. When is come to home design Italy is a major player in this world. There is section of Beverly Boulevard here that is home to several stores, like Alessi, Kartell, B&B Italia, Armani Casa, Cappellini etc.

I just love these Philippe Stark Louis Ghost Chairs from Kartell.



Based on a Louis XV chair this design works in almost any decor. They have chairs without the arms that come in a variety of colors. It doesn't make sense for me to buy one now (plus it's not in my budget) given my move. Maybe I'll get one for my desk when I move to Rome. Although with the poor exchange rate it will be painful.

Speaking of exchange rates, I went to the bank to get some Euros the dollar was at $1.53 to the Euro. WTF!! When is the slide going to end?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Italia week: a little fashion from Gucci

After a little music, calico (soccer), film it's time for some fashion.

I believe Frida Giannini was recently hired by Valentino. She had a tough time at Gucci following in the footsteps of Tom Ford. She was always being compared to him. However, since she took over, ready-to-wear sales have gone up. I loved Tom's designs but how many "regular" women could wear his clothes? I think Frida was head of accessories under Tom and I am huge fan of their bags (which is why I avoid all Gucci stores.)

I love Pat McGrath's work. She is the top make-up artist in fashion. British via Jamaica she is also a make-up consultant for one of the big brands here.

One downside of living in such a warm climate is, I don't get to wear fall clothes too often. It's going to be 82 today. Also L.A. is very casual and these kind of structured clothes look strange here. Of course I don't miss February in New York City, when it's freezing, gray and the sun doesn't shine for weeks. Rome doesn't get as cold as New York but the seasons are more noticeable. Fall is my favorite season. I can't wait to wear sweaters, tights, gloves and boots.

What is your favorite season for clothes and why?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Italia week: second Blogiversary, Cinema Paradiso

Two years ago I started this blog. I uesd to think blogging was weird. Why would anyone put their private thoughts online? I have to say, I am so glad I started this thing. I don't think I would have written my book or be moving to Rome had I not started to connect with people outside my insular little world. Here is my first post.

great now I have a blog
Very exciting. Have no idea who would read this thing but here goes.

This was actually a great week. "Hell A" seemed almost tolerable. I love my job but not a fan of the city I have to live in. I think it's getting better. Thank god, I've been here for 7 years. Voluteering and taking classes have really helped. In 2006 I am going to get out more. I know I said that in 2005 but that was before the company I worked for shut down. Hard to care about a social life when trying to pay the rent.

Now that the special election is over I can focus on really important things. For example Derailed. I am very conflicted about this movie. I love Clive and Vincent but never liked Friends. I'm a Seinfeld person. The commericals are not the most effective. Do I take a chance or just wait until Spike's movie comes out with Denzel AND Clive?

I wish I had Tivo so I could watch Oprah with Terry McMillian and her ex again. Fascinating.

Okay this post is boring to me and I wrote it. I am exhausted. I have a ton of reading for work this weekend and Italian homework I need to finish before class tonight.




Today's nod to all things Italia is the film. CINEMA PARADISO. This film won the Oscar for best foriegn film. If you love movies or movies about love, it's a must see. I'm going to watch it again this week. It will be a nice reminder of why I do what I do during this strike. The situation is getting very ugly. The studios are threatening to sue the television showrunners and NBC is thinking about having guest hosts fill in on the Tonight Show because Jay Leno refuses to cross the picket line (unlike Ellen...hello she is a member of the WGA. I can't believe she is still working). No new talks have been scheduled.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Italia week: Gennaro Gattuso

I have stated previously on this blog my appreciation for Mr. Gattuso.

I really have no idea what is being said in this clip from a popular comedy show. I do recognize some of the curse words. I think the body language sums it up. Around the 4:00 minute mark, the hand gestures are priceless. I don't know why the parking attendant thinks he can out run a soccer player. ha

Friday, November 09, 2007

This is it. Time for some Eros.

The reader just dropped off my ms. She said there weren't too many typos (phew) and that she really liked it.

I will be fixing the corrections this weekend and working on my query letter.

If I had not been in Toronto I would not have known Eros Ramazzotti has a greatest hits CD coming out this month (with a few new singles added). I heard this song on an Italian music station. It was the number one song on the countdown. Ricky Martin sings pretty well in Italian. I don't want to hear anyone speak ill of my Eros. I don't care if he is cheezy. He also records his CDs in Spanish and is huge in Latin America.

To celebrate finishing my book and my upcoming trip to Venice, it's going to be Italia week here at sistergirltales.blogspot.com. This will be much more fun than stressing about sending the ms out to agents or worrying about the writers strike.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Do you hear the sound of crickets? Day three of the writers strike.

Seven shows have stopped production already, including DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. Without scripts they have nothing to shoot. All the late night shows started showing reruns on Monday. The two sides as of today are not speaking. Folks, we might be in for a long ass strike. I'm not going to get into the whole blow by blow but this is getting ugly. I am hearing from other execs that the studios are already letting assistants and junior executives go, and suspending talent deals. In eight weeks they can legally fire/terminate whoever they want and not have to pay out people contracts.

Many actors have joined the picket lines. They know when their contract is up they will be dealing with the same issues. The studio's rep is trying to paint the writers as greedy saying the avg. writer makes 200k a year. However, for every Paul Haggis who makes 2-4 million for the Bond sequel there are hundreds of writers who barely make guild minium every year. Here are some of the salaries of the studio heads. Disney's Bob Iger: $42.4 Million in ‘06. Fox's Chernin: $42.5 million in ‘06 and CBS's Moonves: $28 million in ‘06. Yes, this is with stock options and bonuses but these are people who are saying paying writers four more cents for DVD residuals is too much.

The office is so quiet. We left work early yesterday. I spoke to one senior agent who told me her phone rang only once. Yikes. I'm sitting here eating some chips and drinking Coke. I know I shouldn't but I eat when I'm nervous, cranky, stressed, romantically challenged, tired, worried, and bored so I have been eating non-stop since I returned from Toronto. The hold on my gym membership is finally up next week, that will help. I don't want a water taxi or gondola in Venice to tip over because I stepped into it. That would be bad.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

David Rocco's "La Dolce Vita" and other things I miss about Toronto.

David Rocco's La Dolce Vita - This cooking show was on TLN (Telelatino Network). I think Food Network Canada was involved some how. David (I assumed he was Italian-Canadian) taped the show at his apartment in Florence. Each show would feature a few recipes and him and his wife and/or friends eating, drinking or shopping in Italy. The show was taped in English but there was voice over translating into Italian. I saw one that followed him during his vacation on the Amalfi coast...bellissima.

Serie A soccer games on Sunday - One of the Fox sports channel (here in L.A. you might see some U.K. games or Mexican games) would show the games, as would TLN. TLN had a show called Soccer Fanatics where two men and one woman would analyse the games. Very informative.

The Sopranos dubbed - I was so excited when the FBI agent said to Adrianna "dobbiamo parlare" (we have to talk) and I understood. Every other word was a curse word. I didn't realize they cursed that much. ha.

Foriegn news - There was more of it. They covered things going in the U.S. and all over the world.

Walking everywhere - I have already gained back some of the weight I lost. :(

The cast and crew (esp. FH man)

The diversity

Thick walls,not hearing every single thing my neighbors do

The view from the gym in my building of Lake Ontario

Friendly people

Jamaican pastries

Terroni - one is opening here in 3 weeks.

Bonjour Brioche

Normal looking people, instead of Botoxed to death faces

Fall weather and the leaves changing

One day I got lost and ended up on this road, 30 minutes or so north of Toronto.


The cow looking at the camera is posing.


Can someone tell me what the show "C'è Un Posto per Te" is about? Some celeb would sit behind a wall and the host, with a very raspy voice and lots of cleavage would talk, talk and talk. Is it some kind of "This is your life" type of show? The people on the other side of the wall would usually tear up as would members on the audience. Is the title's translation "There is a place for you?" I had to watch one day when Gennaro Gatuso was on. I had not idea what the heck anyone was saying.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I am almost done with my book, so why am I freaking out?

I am terrible with typos. I am trying to catch all of them but out of 93,000 words there might be a few that slip by. All weekend (breaks for meals) I worked on my manuscript.

Friday and Saturday were very frustrating. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and by 8:00 there was major construction going on. There is a new condo building going up two lots over. Next door my landlord is putting in hardwood floors. All day there was loud banging in that apartment. I think she is having a hard time renting the space out (good!). I know she is asking some outrageous price. I guess she finally realized she had to change the old carpet. People are not that crazy.

The new neighbor upstairs must have 40 lb weights attached to his legs.

Saturday was just awful. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't go to a library because I was reading the ms out loud. It's the first time I have done that cover-to-cover (thank you Walter Mosley for that tip).

If I finish the corrections this week I will start sending it out to agents. I am not "going wide" just testing the waters first to see what kind of feedback I get. I am so worried but feel like it's time. If I don't do it now I am going to put it in a box and never take it out.

This whole process is so subjective. I hope one of the agents will respond to the ms.

To add to the stress of the weekend, my immediate boss and I had a very long talk on Friday about the writers strike. I asked her to please give me at least 30 days notice if they are going to let me go.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Writers strike called.


Just got home from dinner with a writer. The Writers Guild of America has called a strike, date and time to be announced tomorrow. The studio's rep was saying earlier today they had reached an impass because the writers would not back down from their DVD/new media demands (the studios want them taken off the table). Now that a strike has been called the same rep said they could work out this contract this weekend.

We'll see. Nobody wants a strike. The last strike was 20 years ago, lasted five months and cost the industry over half a billion dollars in revenue. Careers were destroyed. Back then flim/tv was not competing with video games, YouTube, Facebook, Myspace etc. I think the hard line taken by the studios is posturing. They must be concern about the low TV ratings this season. Having to resort to reruns or reality all the time is going to make it worse. Some of those eyeballs they will not get back. The writers are not asking for the sun and the stars. Without them there would be no narrative films or scripted TV shows. Don't brag to Wall Street about how your profits are higher than ever then come back to the talent saying, a four cent increase in DVD royalities would ruin your business model. I have an idea, stop paying "A-list" actors 25 million plus 20 percent first dollar gross and maybe your business model would work.

The studios need to step up on the DVD/new media demands and the writers should forget about trying to get reality show "writers" in the union (eventhough the host of reality shows are members of the Screen Actor Guild). SAG (the Screen Actors Guild) and the Teamsters have publicly stated their support. SAG's contract isn't up until June 08 so they can't strike but when they are not working they can picket. The Directors Guild has been very quiet.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Half a million people, crazy outfits, disco and helicopters.

There are a bunch of news helicopters hovering over my apartment. I hope they are not there all night. Santa Monica Boulevard has been shut down to car traffic. Three radio stations have booths set up along the Boulevard and folks are dancing.

The big outfit this year, like every year, is anything that will show off a six-pack and a tight butt. I saw many very fit men but they were all gay. I did see one man dressed like Britney at the VMAs. He had two boy dolls on a chain and was dragging them on the pavement. There were several Posh and Becks couples, one was straight the others were not.

No comment.


I have no idea why the photo is this way. It was correct in iPhotos. Snow White was having a great time.


I thought this group was very creative. They had a car and everything.


This man's outfit was scary. It looked so real, especially that crazy thing below his waist.


I believe Batman used to wear more clothes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tomorrow is Halloween...my neighborhood is going to be insane.

I will have to leave work early so I can actually make it back to my apartment. The streets are closed off and the traffic is horrible on Halloween.

The West Hollywood Halloween Parade is one of the largest in the country. I'm not dressing up but maybe I will check out some of the festivities. If I get any good pics, I will post them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another break-in, Kitson West Hollywood, and a L.A. landmark.

Two more reasons why I'm happy about moving.

In the two months I was gone three of my neighbors moved. There are under fifteen units here. One them told me he was robbed. The weird thing is there was no forced entry. He travels alot for work. While he was gone someone took his laptop which was on his bed and $4,000 in cash which was in a box in his closet. Okay, I'm not sure why anyone would have that much cash sitting in their apartment. He said that one of the maintenance workers had been in his apartment recently to do some repairs. He hasn't seen him since.

The kicker is my neighbor is going to move into another building our horrible landlady owns. That makes no kind of sense. She is "letting" him break the lease since he hasn't been here a year. Wow that is so generous of her. This is a very safe area and we never had any problem until this (____) bought our building. Last year another tenant had his laptop stolen when the her guys were here fixing something in his apartment. She said the two girls living next door had something to do with it. Yes, I'm sure the Tri-delt girls stole their neighbor's laptop. Once they moved out she refused to give them their securtiy deposit. She also did the same thing to another one of my former neighbors. This chick is a piece of work. I have to call her to find out wha my rent increase is going to be because she never gives us a 30 day notice. Then she will call you and say you underpaid. Technically without the 30 days notice we don't have to pay the increase but life is too short to deal with her.

My gym membership is still on hold so I have to work out by walking around. I know other Bloggers like to show things like The Pantheon, The Chrysler Building, The Golden Gate Bridge and things like that. I have other things to show. Travel and Leisure's current issue has their latest City Survey where readers rate their favorites cities. Los Angeles received high marks for luxury boutique shopping but low marks for accessibility/public transportation, friendliness and intelligence (ha!! even I think that is mean).

As I was walking down Melrose I saw something that shook me to the core.

This part of Melrose gets pretty congested. Great, now that this store is opening, we will have even more paparazzi craziness. Kitson on Robertson is the spot where Lindsey, Paris etc. go to shop. I used work around the corner and always thought it was a fantastic place to get nice gifts. I'm not sure how or why it turned into such a Us magazine staple. I think it's funny the Bohdi Tree Bookstore, a crunchy, new agey store is right across the street.


Kiki de Montparnasse is a lingerie brand started by Toronto native Jennifer Zuccarini. The art major opened her first store in NYC and now is opening one in L.A. Her stuff is gorgeous. This was the sign in the window. I don't really get it. Joking.


Paul Smith's store really stands out.


Where it all started. There is a cute cafe in Fred Segal. If you are in L.A. and feel the need to see celebs, you can come here and see them not eat.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The number one question I was asked at an Italian dinner party.

How old are you?

Followed by disbelief then, "Yes, you must move to Rome."

As some of you know, I spend my Friday nights reading some scripts, watching Clint and Stacey on TLC's WHAT NOT TO WEAR and then I'm in bed by 10:00.

Yesterday G tells me at 5:00 the friend he is staying with decided to throw a dinner party at the last minute. If I want to come it starts at 8:30. In passing he had mentioned this guy (let's call him G#2) was an artist, they grew up together in Milan and he lived in Beachwood Canyon. You can find some deals/rent stablished places in the flats of the Canyon but the Hills are very expensive. Most artists barely eek out a living. G neglected to tell his friend lived in the Hills of the Canyon. I drove around for almost an hour trying to find the side street off Beachwood Drive. Of course I forgot my cell phone at home. There is nobody on the street, because it's L.A. and nobody walks here. I finally drive down the to bottom of the Canyon and the gas station attendant couldn't be more rude when I asked if he knew where the street was. At this point I was very frustrated. There was a pay phone in the back. It looked like it harbored several infectious diseases. Thank God I had some change. I dialed G's cellphone and what did I hear? His outgoing message. ugh!

Back at the station, I asked a woman if she knew the street. She asked her boyfriend. They live in the area and it was still difficult for them to tell me how to actually get there. It turns out the house is at the top of the ridge. For any folks who live in L.A. you know what it is like trying to drive in the canyon hillls at night. Pitch black, sharp turns on narrow roads, coyotes walking in front of you and staring you down and getting lost.

I finally make it to the house and the host G#2 is gorgeous (and married with two beautiful children). He is a perfect host greeting everyone who comes in and getting them drinks. I see G by the stove and he yells out "you made it. We were so worried about you." Then he starts laughing at my message (I used a lot of the"F" word). He had his phone with him but the reception up there is spotty.

This house was bananas. Views of the Hollywood sign and the reservoir on one side and expansive views of L.A. on the other. I almost cried when I saw the walk-in shower in the master bedroom. It was the size of my living room.

The pasta was delicious. I was talking to another American, who had just moved to L.A. from San Fran to pursue her acting career. She had lived in France for 3 years. She said she was shocked there was food at this party (she arrived around 11:00 and it had turned into more of a party, instead of a sit down dinner thing) and more importantly that people were eating. ha

G told all the Italians I was moving. Two of them I have met before and they work in the Industry. Since I'm over 35, the Italians, esp. those in the biz, got where I was coming from right away. One woman C, said "it's good for you to be so positive but I want you to call me after you've tried to set up your Internet, especially since you will be trying to do it in English. I'm curious to see how you will feel about Italy then." G said, "Come on, why are trying to scare her?" Then they started arguing in Italian. She did say I could find a place for less then 1000 Euros. Her friend has a nice one bedroom in Trastevere for 800.

It's funny, what C mentioned are the things that keep me up at night. Not walking away from a great (but low paying) job but trying to do basic things. When I rented an apartment in Trastevere last year I ruined two shirts because I didn't understand the washing machine directions. I couldn't switch my cell phone to English instructions by myself.

The friend, S, who introduced me to G couldn't be more helpful and said I should call him regarding any production jobs in Italy. He has lived in America for 17 years and is torn. He wants to move back to Milan but he just signed a production deal with an indie company based in NYC. He told G he better look out and take care of me. G said he is on the apartment search and then will try to find me a boyfriend. haha. S knows a black American woman who worked in banking with him in New York. She took a 3 month sabbatical to Italy. She is still living there seven years later with a husband and two children. He mentioned another American expat who is a book agent in Milan that I should meet. C told me to call her the minute I get to Rome.

The party was very fun. I learned some new words and met some very nice people. I was laughing with the other women because there were maybe 6 men at the party and over 30 women. What the hell? We gave G a hard time about it. One woman, a Roman who was born in L.A., just moved back to America and works at this production company that is a super tough place to work (because the people there are crazy, in the truest sense), we will go to lunch/drinks soon and I will try to stop by her Halloween party tonight but I have plans.

Okay, now I have to stop by my office and deal with my desk. I was so backed up at work this week I didn't have time to get organized.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mi dispiace, non ho capito (I'm sorry, I didn't understand)

This is a sentence I said often today. I met with G an actor friend who lives in Rome. He is from Milan via Sicily and is out here for meetings.

G is the first person I met in Rome. We went to lunch at 'Gusto Osteria. He asked how I knew his friend and I said I didn't. We met through a friend of his who is a friend of one of my friends (the one who moved back to NYC and has the Swedish fiancee). We had a three hour lunch that day and then I must have spent another hour talking on the street with him and half of Rome. Every block we bumped into someone he knew. My last day in Rome we went to see a Peggy Guggenheim exhibit and walked all over the Monti area. He is a great guy.

Today he was speaking Italian so quickly, I had no idea what he was saying. He told me I could call him when anything in my apartment-to-be in Rome breaks. G has been so encouraging about the move. He is going to ask friends about apartments since word of mouth is the best way to find a deal. I would like to stay in the 800-1000 Euro a month range because with the low dollar I will be actually paying much more. ugh!!! He said 800 would be tough, even 1000 is pushing it. I said I would love a place with a little terrace. He busted out laughing. Hey it doesn't hurt to ask.

I told my parents today. My mom was super quiet. My dad said he had to process the info and would call me back. They knew I wanted to move but were surprised by the earlier date. I still have to see what the post-production schedule is on the movie before I can nail down a date. I'm thinking March or April, which will be here before I know it.

Speaking of Italia, I ordered some books on Venice from Amazon. I just realized I will be there in four weeks!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Under the Parisian Sun...a story

Thanks to yesterday's comments I decided to write a little story to take my mind of the fact that I am sitting here looking at stack of scripts. Today was my first day back at work. My immediate boss called me and I'Med me from France, saying the crew misses me esp. FH man, and thanks for respresenting the company well. Apparently the hotel they are staying in is very nice unlike the not so great place in Hamilton. Sigh, once again.

Yesterday it was suggested I pack my stuff send it to my family and just move overseas. Or go to the airport and fly to France with the clothes on my back, like in a typical Rom Com (how we in Hollywood refer to Romantic Comedies). Picking up from that idea:

I would need a sassy best friend to drive me to the airport. The sassy best friend could be a smug married or a gay man offering all types of advice to their single straight friend. Of course on the way to the airport there would be major traffic and I would almost miss my flight. Cue the montage of wacky L.A. road rage, me hyperventilating, an office pulling us over, the sassy best friend saying I needed to get my man and the officer replying YOU GO GIRL! eventhough we are not really saying that phrase in that context anymore (it has gone the way of OH SNAP!)

I arrive at the airport in France after flying all night and I hop into the cab of a driver who hates Americans. I get to the hotel. The snooty concierge tells me the crew has checked out of the hotel, zut allors! In reality I would call the Toronto production office or my office for the number but that is not rom com movie logic. Instead I freak out.

I wonder the street of Paris crying as a light rain falls. I sit on a bench wondering why did I fly all the way from L.A. At that moment a very aggressive mime starts to bother me. Turns out he is not a mime but a mugger and steals my purse. I am now a foreign city without my passport or money. I look up at the sky and ala Nancy Kerrigan I scream "WHHHHYYYY?!" I find a police station and there is a kind officer, who tries to help me. He too knows disappointment. He used to work security at Hermes but got fired after Oprah had, as she called it, "her Crash moment." He wasn't the one who wouldn't let her in but he was let go like everyone else on that shift. "Fate can be a cruel mistress," he said. While he tried to call the American Embassy, I took a nap on one of the hard benches.

I woke up to a major commotion. The streets were filled with chaos. It was a strike protesting the opening of a Pinkberry. First Disney Paris, then McDonalds and Starbucks and now frozen yogurt? A line had to be drawn. The Parisians were against eating a substance called yogurt that had no milk in it. What would happen to the French cows if Pinkberry conquered France? The police station cleared out, they had more important things to worry about. I walked outside and tried not to get trampled. In the distance I saw the mime eating a large Pinkberry yogurt topped with strawberries. I gave chase. We ran through colorful markets and bumped into French people who said Merde!

I almost caught up to him but he was too quick. I crossed the most beautiful bridge in Paris and yelled "Help, stop that mime!" A tall, very handsome guy grabbed him. It was FH man! He walked over and gave me my purse. He didn't ask how or why I was there. We kissed. There were fireworks, literally. True, it was not a holiday and the middle of the day but a rom com ending practically demands such things.

The End.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fires, the movie ONCE, annoying neighbors

I am back in Los Angeles. It is hot and it's going to be 92 degrees tomorrow! I guess I won't be wearing the winter jacket I bought in Toronto at Mountain Equipment Co-op any time soon.

There was/is a massive fire in Malibu. A church and a 17 million dollar home were among the structures that burned down. The Santa Ana winds are fierce which is a problem. As we flew into LAX we saw that the entire basin was covered by smoke. As bad as the Malibu fires are, San Diego county is in big trouble. Over 250,000 people had to be evacuated. One town pop. 36,000 has been demolished. There are also fires in Big Bear, Santa Clarita and north of us.

On the plane I watched the movie ONCE. I wanted to see this little gem of a movie earlier but missed it. It's an indie movie from Ireland that won the Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. I loved this movie. The music was great and moving. Fox Searchlight distributed the movie here in the U.S. and I assume it will be out on DVD soon. I guess you can say it's a romantic comedy/musical.

I have been gone for two months. Why when the car service dropped me off was my annoying neighbor sitting where I left him? I bet he didn't even move from that spot. He lives in the building next door. His balcony looks down unto my patio. He does nothing but smoke all day and yell at his wife. I'm not sure where he is from, he moved here recently. He speaks very loudly to my next door neighbor (the one with the little tea cup dog that barks non-stop) and carries on a long conversation.

Oh well, what can you do?

FH man sent me an email from France wondering why I wasn't there. Sounds like things are going well and everyone I've heard from said the food is amazing. sigh.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The write stuff.

Today is my last day in Toronto. I am flying out tomorrow morning back to Los Angeles. It is sunny and mild today. I think I will go out for a walk this afternoon.

Yesterday I started the final rewrite of my novel. I have not touched it in almost two months. I must have been crazy to think I could write during production. I was waiting for my freelance editor to send me her line edits but she just had a baby. Hopefully I will get the ms next week. In the meantime I can continue to write.

I created a playlist on my iTunes with 120 songs for this rewrite. Most of list is compiled of songs I heard when I was in Italy or when I was working on earlier drafts.

I am excited to be writing again. I reread Walter Mosley's book on writing and got inspired.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Said good-bye to FH man.

I am sad. We might meet up in L.A. or Rome. Who knows. He leaves tomorrow and we had lunch today.

(Okay, I am not making this up. Al Green's "Tired of Being Alone" just came on my iPod. I think I will go slit my wrists now.)

FH and I talked about his break up with his ex-wife. I get why he is not going to be in a serious relationship any time soon. It was a brutal split for him. Personally I don't know how anyone comes out of a situation like that and not be bitter or closed off.

I starting thinking of how we read people. Because of his looks and all his traveling, food, friends, music interests, I thought he might be a player at first but he isn't at all. He is actually from a small Canadian city, down to earth and while extremely flirty is kind of traditional. I don't think he knows how other people (esp. women) see him. He was with his ex for a long time, so he has been out of the dating scene for a long time. To hop back in at 37 when you thought you were going to be with your best friend for the rest of your life, most be difficult.

I remember a conversation I had with my friend's fiancee. She left L.A., moved back to New York City and met him shortly thereafter. He is Swedish but has no accent. People assume he is very well put together American (ha). I asked him what surprised him about living in the States. One thing he mentioned was dating. He is in his late 30s. The women he went out with here were under tremendous pressure to get that ring. He said back home, people go out in groups a lot and once your relationship is serious you have a pretty strong foundation. He felt it was the reverse here. People get very serious quickly before they really know each other. They put very high expectations on the relationship that most cannot meet or sustain.

I think he has a point. I wonder why I had a moment of "what is going on here?", I mean I just met him a few weeks ago. I had some friends saying to me, "you need to close the deal." Really? Why? Anyway, I had fun, he said he enjoying getting to know me and going out.

BTW, we went to Beer Bistro on King Street. He had this butternut squash ravioli that was amazing. They have a very wide selection of beers and offer pairing suggestions on the menu. My beer was excellent, of course I can't remember the name.

(Now U2's "Beautiful Day" is playing. Someone is messing with me today.)

It's a Wrap.

Today was the last day of shooting. We were in the middle of a farm. Very beautiful.

Last night we had the official Toronto wrap party. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. I had two pints of beer, which was a pint and a half too many. My boss kept walking over to our table because we (five women) were somewhat loud with our laughter and he wanted to know what was so funny. One of our most innocent looking and classy co-workers was telling us some of her dating stories. All I have to say is...there are some freaky men out there. Haha

We got into a heavy conversation about religion, spirituality and relationships. Several members of the cast and crew were playing poker. I stayed away from the table. There is no need for me to lose money. FH man did okay and I enjoyed the walk home.

After the last shot today, everyone was hugging each other and saying good-bye. This has been one of the nicest and hard-working crews I have worked with. One of my co-workers heard me mention the new John Grisham book PLAYING FOR PIZZA. Of course I have to read it because it is yet another book about an American expat in Italy. When I went back to set yesterday, she had bought it for me as a gift. What a nice surprise.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Clubbing, Niagara Falls and a few tears.

I had a great weekend.

Saturday night I met FH man and some other members of the crew at Circa. It used to be called Lucid. It's on John Street, 4 floors, with 9 bars and a capacity of 3,000. It was quite a scene. Each space has its own DJ playing different genres of music. At first we were upstairs then went down to a VIP room to hang out. The music was fantastic. I danced with a few of my co-workers and had so much fun. There was a bouncer who was a little too touchy feely but he was nice. He introduced me to one of his co-workers, a young college student. His parents were from Senegal and the Congo but he grew up in Italy and spoke 5 languages. We talked for a while and he was so sweet to not laugh at my crazy Italian/English conversation. Around 2:30 (after a few drinks) I was wiped out and walked with FH man. He said he wanted to come to the falls with me but he had to pack up his apartment. He is going to be traveling in the Middle East after the movie wraps.

The Falls are incredible. If you are in Toronto, it's well worth drive but get there early. The crowds are insane. The area around the Falls is pretty tacky. Lots of wax museums. I drove to a cute town called Niagara on the Lake for lunch. I ate at Shaw's wine bar, not cheap (my burger was $20 and all I had was a glass of water with it) but the food was good.

This morning as I drove on the Don Valley Parkway on my way to set, I remembered I'm leaving a week from today. Some tears where shed. :(

A shot of the Horseshoe Falls which are on the Canadian side. The Amerian Falls are more narrow.


Uhmm, that is a lot of water


I declined to take this boat ride. I can't swim.


Look how high the mist rises. At first I was bummed that it was so cloudy but I now I think the photos look interesting in this light.


Standing on the edge. The sound of the water is deafening.


I wondered what happed to Taylor "Tell It To My Heart' Dayne.