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 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'รจ 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.