Friday, March 28, 2008

Flashback Friday - Diana Ross - "Do You Know Where You're Going To" (Theme From Mahogany)

I just want to say I went to the bank yesterday to get some euros. I almost cried. One euro equals $1.66. At this rate I will burn through my Rome fund very quickly. Everyone said it would bottom out at $1.50, now it looks like we may hit $1.70. Che cazzo!! (that is Italian for WTF).

I was too young to have seen this movie when it came out in '76 but I have watched it on TV a bunch of times. I mean who can forgot the classic Billy Dee Williams line, "Success is nothing without someone you love to share it with."

The movie is so '70s campy and over the top but love that theme song, beautiful melody and lyrics. A few years ago there was a script floating around town that was basically a remake with Beyonce attached to star. This is not a good idea.

I never saw this clip until I was looking for the song for today's Flashback. Check out where the video was shot. That is deep.

Hope you have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Terroni, tears and "this sucks."

Last night was the final evening for the "Front Row Girls".

One summer we got into the habit of seeing every crappy movie that opened. There were some that I drew the line for but yes I got sucked into watching "You Got Served" among others. One member of our party (not naming names) always ran late so we would get stuck sitting in the front row, hence the name.

In the last few years we have spent less time together. My three friends have serious boyfriends, work is hectic and we don't live close to each other. However, when we do see each other it's like no time has passed at all.

We went to Terroni. I haven't been there for dinner yet and the place was packed. I thought the "no substitutions policy" would scare people. Most of the negative comments I have heard about Terroni is regarding that policy. I don't see what the big deal is. If you have food allergies or are a vegeterian there are things to eat as the menu is varied. However, it's an authenic Southern Italian restaurant. Why should they add/delete things because some people think they know better than the Italian chef and Calabrian owners what should be in these types of dishes?

The food was as good as the original in Toronto. My friends were very sweet to give me some euros for my trip. After dinner we stopped by my place so they could pick up some furniture. One final hug, lots of tears and as one friend left my apartment she said, "this sucks."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Last Kiss remake, saying good-bye

I finally saw most (I turned it off) of THE LAST KISS, the remake of the Italian film L'ULTIMO BACIO. Let me go on the record and say Zach Braff is no Stefano Accorsi. I don't know why this remake was done. There are cultural differences that did not translate at all.

Anyway, an adaptation should be able to stand alone from the source material. This did not. I really disliked this movie. I could not get into these selfish characters at all. Can someone please explain why Zach Braff is in movies? I liked GARDEN STATE but Mr. Braff should stick to sitcoms. He is not a leading man.

Here is the Spanish trailer for the original version. It had the clearest picture.

I have good-bye lunches and dinners every day until I leave on Monday. The other night I went out with three friends. We all worked at one of the most dysfunctional companies ever. We were cracking up as we talked about some of the crazy things that went on in that office. I was exhausted and they were stayed at the restaurant to keep talking. As I hugged the three of them good-bye I felt the tears coming. I received an email from them saying it was best that I didn't come back to the table or we all would have started crying.

My three friends from Italian class gave me cards filled with euros. One friend didn't get a chance to exchange the money so she gave me the amount in dollars. Since the dollar kept dropping she said she had to keep adding money to the card. Ha.

The co-host of the big good-bye party took me to lunch yesterday and gave me stationary (which I so needed because the movers packed mine) and this great walking guide book to Rome. There are fifty cards so you just take out what you want for the day. One of my former co-workers took me to Jar for dinner last night...amazing food.

I don't believe this time next week I will be in Rome. It does not seem real to me at all. Maybe once I land at Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) Airport it will.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Sis!

My sister is ten years younger than me. I remember hearing her first words, seeing her first steps and now she is a married woman.

Unfortunately I don't have any baby photos of her. She is lucky the movers have come already. I found some letters she wrote to me when I went away to college. She was eight. They were classic! I liked her drawings (she would always find the time add a picture to her letters). I would have asked my former co-worker to scan one of the letters.

She lives on the east coast but we talk every single day, even if it's only for a second. Once I move to Rome I will miss those daily conversations.

I was thinking, what would my sister like to see on her big day? This cover came to mind. ha

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy 80th Dad!

I didn't realize I had "older" parents until I reached high school and learned the ages of my friend's parents. My parents looked so young. Today many women are having their first child after the age my mom had me. Times have changed.

Growing up with parents from a very different culture was frustrating. Now that I am older I understand where they were coming from. My parents were concerned abourt raising their kids in America. I think moving here was really difficult for my dad. America in the early 60s was not the most friendly place for a black man, especially one who didn't know he wasn't supposed to have pride or dignity. Like most people of that generation from the Caribbean, my parents were strict as hell, did not play when it came to our education, and your family was more important that anything. Of course when I was a teenager the last thing I wanted to do was hang out with my family.

I can't believe he's 80. I'm not going to lie, it freaks me out. He doesn't look it but every time I talk to my parents it seems they are going to another funeral. My mom is 73 and she keeps talking about when she is gone. She wishes I could just get married, or at least have a great boyfriend before she dies. She worries about me being alone.

It is said that women look for men that are either very similar to their fathers or the complete opposite depending on the relationship. I don't know it that is true. Maybe it is and that is why I'm attracted to smart, funny, kind, confident, tall, stubborn, handsome men who can wear the hell out of a suit. ha.

Me and my dad.
I wish my parents had saved that silver Christmans tree. They are so hip now. Once we moved to the 'burbs we started to get real trees.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Flashback Friday - Corinne Bailey Rae - "Put Your Records On"

Last week we "made it night to remember" with Shalamar. I notice most of these Flashbacks are from the early 80s. Here is something a little more current.

As I get ready for my big move I was reminded of this song.

Spring of 2006 I rented an apartment in Trastevere for a three weeks. It was my second trip to Rome in 12 months and pretty much sealed the deal.

This song and video from British singer Corinne Bailey Rae was HUGE in Italy that spring. I heard the song everywhere and the video was on MTV Italia all the time. I came back the States and around six months later the song hit.

This video says "Spring" to me. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to my brother.

It's birthday week in my family. My brother's is today, Dad's on Saturday and my sister's is on Tuesday.

It is a Caribbean tradition not to cut a male child's hair until he is one year-old or starts speaking. One of my friends said it's an old school Jewish tradition as well. As a result my younger brother had the biggest 'fro ever as a baby.

As I was packing up I asked my former co-worker to scan these photos. Today my brother is a married man with two young boys.

Aught! Happy Birthday to one of my best friends.

My poor Pink Panther stuffed animal is on the floor. The second photo was taken at the Turtle Back Zoo in South Orange, New Jersey.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Outkast/Charlie Brown mashup

There is so much to talk about these days most of it depressing. The crazy primary (Florida/Michigan/superdelegates), annoying as hell Sean Hannity (he doesn't get it. I don't remember him calling Rev. Pat Robertson unamerican when he said gay people were one reason 9/11 happened), Wall Street bailouts, the mortgage mess, the recession, the sinking dollar, the fifth year anniversary of the start of the war, Rachel Ray's plan for world domination with her unappealing mediocre cooking, the list goes on.

I was the gym this morning stressing out about things I cleary have no control over. One friend said I should just stop watching the news. I could cut back but I will not stop reading the paper, political blogs and watching news programs. I like to be informed. Sticking my head in the sand doesn't mean all these problems will just go away. What I need to do is think about the good along with the bad.

Speaking of good things. I can't help but smile when I watch this video. So well edited.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Director Anthony Minghella is dead?

I know his producing partner, director/actor Sydney Pollack is sick with cancer but I am stunned. Mighella was only 54. He just directed Jill Scott in the movie "The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency" based on the popular books by Alexander McCall Smith. The movie will be on British televsion this week and turned into a series for HBO here in the Sates.

Last year Minghella and Pollack spoke to this small group of female Hollywood execs I belong to. It was an amaizing evening. They are passionate about life, the arts and it shows in their work. They are filmmakers not hack directors. I am just so sad to hear this news. I know two execs at his company. They were dealing with Sydney illness and now this.

Last week several of my friends went to the funeral of a women (she used to be an assistant to a studio head) who died suddenly of a brain aneurysm at 40. If there is something you want to accomplish in live...don't wait, do it now. If there is someone you love and don't say it to them often enough, start. In the last couple of weeks I have heard of so many deaths. A colleague's boyfriend died in a car accident, my dad's best friend from a stroke. A friend's wife died of cancer. She was only in her 30s.

You don't know when something like this can happen to you. It's a joke to think we can somehow control these things.

Hereis an article about the Oscar's
winner death.

The trailer for The Talented Mr. Ripley.

R.I.P. Mr. Minghella

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano, I'll Steal You Away by Niccolo Ammaniti

GOMORRAH by Roberto Saviano - Perhaps I should not have read this book before moving to Italy. I kid. Saviano is under police protection after his book on the Naples' mafia the Camorra, became a best seller in Italy and in Europe. The translated English version came out earlier this year. At times the book does get bogged down and it's hard to follow which criminal is with which crew. He writes a little about the Siclian mob, the Calabrian mob (the 'Ndrangheta), and how they interact with each other.

Saviano is a native of Naples and you can sense his rage at what is going on in the city he loves. The reach of the Camorra is far and wide. The chapter on Chinese goods, manufacturers and the black market is deep. I wish the tourists who purchase fake Prada, Gucci and what not from the street vendors could read this book first and see where their money is going. The toxic waste and garbage problem is discussed at length. The Campania region has the highest murder rate in all of Europe thanks to "the System". Innocent people do get caught in the middle of warring clans. Non-corrupt officials are murdered no problem.

I'LL STEAL YOU AWAY by Niccolò Ammaniti. My friend Robin gave me this book. I'm glad it was the translated version. I'm not ready to read Italian at this level yet. This book by the author of I'M NOT SCARED, was sad but beautifully written. Pierto is a small 12-year old who is always being bullied. He is best friends with the richest and prettiest girl in their very small southern village. His story connects and intersects with Graziano's, an aging playboy who used to be a big fish in a small pond. Granziano moves to Rome with a show girl. He feels out of his element, nobody is checking for him in Rome. He's a joke.

He returns home to his friends and falls for the local teacher, Flora. This teacher has always had a soft spot for Pierto and is disappointed when her student takes part in a prank (he was bullied into it) that has severe reprecussions for everyone. I was really rooting for Pierto and Flora. Ammaniti cares deeply for his imperfect characters. So did I and I wished things had worked out differently for them.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Flashback Friday - Shalamar - "Night to Remember"

Sticking with the early 80s, here is a little old school track from Shalamar. I LOVE this song. Jody Watley and Howard Hewitt sound great together. The lyrics are sweet and it's fun song to dance to.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My last day at work.

Very bittersweet. It doesn't seem real. I really liked my job and my co-workers. It was a small office so we got to know each other well. We went to lunch at Katsuya (Hollywood and Vine). Excellent sushi.

It feels weird not to come home with my large L.L.Bean tote filled with scripts to read for the weekend. For the last nine and a half years I have worked pretty much every weekend.

The movers are coming next week so this weekend I will be packing, getting organized, writing and saying good-bye to some friends.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bedtime Stories by Trey Ellis, Kinky Gazpacho by Lori L. Tharps and The Last Single Woman in America by Cindy Guidry

Recenty I have read a few memoirs. Unlike that fake gansta chick Margaret what's-her-name, these are really non-fiction. Trey Ellis' book BEDTIME STORIES: ADVENTURES IN THE LAND OF SINGLE FATHERHOOD, is funny and bittersweet. After his talented, beautiful wife leaves him for a New Age lifestyle, he becomes the primary caretaker for their two small children. At the same time he comes down with a life threatening disease, his screenwriter career is cold and he has to sell his house. Things are not looking good. He also talks about his upbringing, (being called the N word and an Oreo..during the same day) full of tragedy (what happened to his parents) and comedy.

Lori L. Tharps' book KINKY GAZPACHO:LIFE, LOVE & SPAIN also touches on some of the issues Trey writes about. Raised in well-to-do suburbs of Milwaukee, she was often the only person of color in her school. Once in college she finds some black kids are not feeling her. Lori decides Spain will be the place she will fit in. However, Spain is not what she thought would be. She vows not to be a study aboard cliche and have a romance with a local since she will be leaving. Of course she ends up meeting the love of her life. I read this book in one afternoon, very funny and thoughtful. I could so relate to some of her jr. high and high school drama.

THE LAST SINGLE WOMAN IN AMERICA by Cindy Guidry hit a little close to home. Cindy was an executive on a film I worked on. This is her first book. A couple years ago during the span of a few months, she is fired from her high profile job and her husband-to-be has gotten another woman pregnant. Everyone keeps asking her why is she so darn happy? Shouldn't she be depressed? After all she is a single woman over 40, living in a one-bedroom apartment and no longer working for a studio. In Hollywood that is tragic! Guidry explores confusing gender roles, the whole work vs having a life balance thing and goes off on Internet dating. Ha.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New York's crime busting Governor is "caught" in a prostitution ring.

File this one under WTF?!!! I cannot believe this. Didn't Gov. Spizter bust several high-end call girl rings as Attorney General? Since he became Governor, Spizter, a rising star in the Democrat Party has made one mistake after another.

I also want to know what do these women do that is worth $5,500 an HOUR? This "club" is very big in New York, London, and Paris. Originally there was an investigation into financial issues, which lead to them wiretapping his phone calls to the ring and his emails. He was a frequent customer.

I know State Sen. Majority Leader Bruno must be cracking up. He can't stand the Princeton, Harvard Law, Fifth Avenue raised (Spitzer's father is worth over $500 million) Governor.

Is Spizter is going to resign? I don't know how he can stay in office. This is not about morality. He broke the law plain and simple. This ring has ties to organized crime. What was he thinking? He left himself wide open for bribery, kickbacks etc.

He is married with three teenage girls. I wonder how his wife feels.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A very fun good-bye party

Last night was my big party at Maison 140. There are a few smaller dinners coming up but last night was the party. Originally I wasn't going to do anything. However, my friends said I could not leave L.A. after all this time and not do something.

My fear was it would turn into a "industry/networking" thing. I had a flashback to when we were moving up in the business as D-Boys and D-Girls (development), and would go to birthday parties with guest lists of over 300 people.

Two friends co-hosted and reserved the boutique hotel's lobby bar.

I love the decor of this place. I think it was the first commercial interior Kelly Wearstler designed. Overall around 70 or so people came. Only a few random folks showed up, including a few who want my current job. I seriously don't get why you would go to to a good-bye party for someone you don't know. I and several of my friends were horrified. Anyway I was a gracious host and just reminded myself that some people don't know where work ends and real life begins. Being a shark 24/7 must be exhauasting. One of the baby sharks was so hard core I wanted to pull her aside and tell her to freaking relax. It's a Friday night and a party. Not a networking conference.

One of my bosses couldn't make it, she was out of town but my other two colleagues were there along with our boss. He joked that I looked too happy. I almost chocked up several times while saying good-bye to friends. I told people no gifts but I did receive some. I received Eyewitness guide books for Paris, London, Milan and the Lakes, for all those weekend trips. Ha I hope I have $$$ to take some. One friend gave me the Moleskin Roma guide. I am a big Moleskin fan and have several of their journals. Speaking of journals I received a few of them, books on Italy, chocolates, a reggae mix CD, a gorgeous pen from a good writer friend and some beautiful lingerie from my friend's line. One of my cards was from two writer friends who said they wish they could give me a big bill but they are struggling writers and hopefully will used the money enclosed to pay for the tips at the airport. It was such sweet and thoughtful gesture.

One friend gave me a gift in this bag. I have no idea why the hell she still had this:

I laughed so hard when I saw the bag. Three of my friends and I went to see this terrible movie on a Friday after work. I thought it was worse than "You Got Served" because it took itself seriously. It was probably one of the best times I have ever had at the movies. My friends and I were cracking up with the other adults the entire movie. One 12 year-old screamed "IT'S NOT FUNNY!" during a very dramatic moment of Britney trying to act. Inside the bag was a photo box with card that made laugh and cry when I read it at home. We have really been through a lot during these past nine years.

The greatest present of course was that my friends came out and had a great time. I will really miss them. I was talking to a friend's fiance and he said he likes L.A, but hates that it takes a special occaision to see your friends.

Number of times someone said "Have you read EAT, PRAY, LOVE? You're like Elizabeth Gilbert. ".... too many to count. :)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Cake, Champagne and cookies are a nice way to start a class.

Next week will be my last at work. Weird.

One of my classmates made oatmeal cookies. A couple weeks ago we had wine. I find it easier to speak in class after a glass of wine. ha.

The head of our Italian school had a big surprise for us. They offer an Italian cooking class at the school and she asked us to go to the kitchen. There was a gorgeous cake that said "Buona Fortuna/in Bocca al Lupo" and bottles of Champagne. She had the students who are moving to Italy come up front. There are six of us moving out of 14 students. All women.

One woman from the other class is moving to Rome and the others are split between Florence and Milan. The director said they have never had that many students moving to Italy at the same time. It's kind of ironic given the all the problems in Italy and the low dollar we are going now. At least I'm not alone in the madness.

The cake was Sicilian with a ricotta filling. As we stood there toasting and singing (one of the professors, a professional singer busted out with Volare) I was damn near giddy.

This is a clip of something I will not be doing when I move. First, the Trevi Fountain area is always crowded. How would I actually get close to the water? Second, I don't want to get arrested.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Girl Scout cookies, Chateau Marmont

It's that time of year again. One of my bosses' daughters is in the Girl Scouts. I had to buy my favorite cookies, the Samoas.

As I sat on my couch eating my 5th cookie of the afternoon while reading scripts this weekend, I realized how much I will miss these cookies when I move to Italy. Today I said to one of my co-workers, "I wonder if there are Girl Scout cookies in Italy". His response? "They are called the Girl Scouts of AMERICA." ha. I know but I think there are scouts in Italy. I remember seeing some film where the teenage protangonist was one and reading an article mentioning the Scouts.

I loved being a Brownie then a Girl Scout. I still have the "Fun in the Kitchen!" cookbook I received in 4th grade. It's a little battered but I kept it for the helpful place setting guide...very important. I quit the Girl Scouts in 7th grade. I believed being in band and chorus was enough geekiness, being a Cadet would put me over the top. I wonder what happened to my sash with all my badges?

Another thing I will miss about L.A. is the hotel Chateau Marmont. It is one of my favorite places to "do drinks". There is always a celeb sighting. I mean real A-list ones. Not the random reality show contestants who are running around L.A. saying "don't you know who I am?". Of course we pretend we don't notice/care about said celebrity but it is a fun place to take out-of-town guests. I was there yesterday after work for a mixer a friend of mine organized for female producers. There were about fifteen of us. It was fun to catch with some friends and meet a few new people. I am crazed with work, writing and moving so I had to leave early. Most celebs don't show until later. It's not like they have to be in an office in the morning or anything.

At night you might need reservations even for drinks. I'm not sure about during the day. When it is a nice night, sitting outside in the garden, (especially this time of year when the night jasmine is blooming) is fantastic. It doesn't feel like Sunset Blvd. is just a few yards away. Instead it feels as if you are visiting your friend's villa in the South of France.

Last night my smoke alarm went off for no reason at 3:00 a.m. I still woke up at 5:15 to go to the gym. I cannot stay up all night looking at the election results. I always say I will watch for only an hour and next thing I know it's midnight. I'm tired. I must go to bed soon.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Me + Advanced Italian = molto confusione, Rossellini's Stromboli

This semester is almost over. The classes kicked my butt. Earlier in the semester when our professor was speaking, half the time I had no idea what she was saying. Things got better as the class went on. While advanced grammar is still very confusing I do feel more comfortable speaking in class. I usually bust out with some crazy Italian/English hybrid but at least I am trying.

I borrowed Rossellini's "Stromboli" from the school's library. I knew I would have to play it on my Macbook not my DVD player since it came from Italy and was a region 2 DVD. I forgot the film would not have subtitles. doh!

I watched it anyway. I was able to follow most of it. I had to rewind a couple scenes because I missed the quickly spoken dialogue. This move came out in the middle of the Bergman/Rossellini scandal. They were even denouced on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Times have changed. If this happened today, nobody other than the jilted spouses would care.

The film is great. Ingrid Bergman plays a war refugee from the Balkans. She marries a local Italian soldier so she can get out of the camp. He takes her to his small village on the island of Stromboli. The war is over and his fisherman work keeps him away from home. To say she doesn't fit in is an understatement. She finds the village oppressive and lonely. You do feel her for her husband as well. He loves her but doesn't understand her. She complains about his home (too small, broken down), the island, his family, his neighbors. It's as if she traded one prison for another.

The ending is vague. You don't really know what became of her.