Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wait a minute, soccer/football season has started already?

I'm sitting here trying to work.

All of a sudden I heard screaming. Yes folks, Roma just scored a goal. Calcio is back.

I hope everyone enjoyed the rest of their summer and those Stateside have a nice Labor Day weekend.

Meanwhile I will have to hear the following non-stop for the rest of the day.

The official AS Roma song.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Siamo in Ferie/We're on Vacation!

Well actually I'm staying in Rome but zee blog like the rest of Italy is on "vacation" until the end of August.

While all my friends (except one who is in production) are gone I will be writing away. I might take a day trip on my birthday. Once I finish this draft I'll take a weekend trip (thanks Mom and Dad for the b-day gift). I'm finally getting a TV and DVD player later this month (thanks siblings for the b-day gift) so hopefully hearing more Italian will help me communicate better.

I had to order something over the phone yesterday. It was high comedy. Then later I was trying to explain to my landlord that one of the light fixtures wasn't working. She speaks some English (her reading and writing are stronger) but is fluent in Italian and French. She's still trying to understand why I have a French passport yet speak no French. sigh.

One big goal for this fall is to really get up to speed with my Italian. All my Italian friends speak English well so that is what we speak when we're together. I get that they don't want me to feel left out of conversations. I'm going to ask them to speak Italian. Slowly per favore.

At first I thought about taking a class. I took the online test for one of the schools and it placed me in Advanced Italian, which was the level I was in when I moved. I already have the grammar foundation. The problem is my verbal skills. I just need to speak and hear Italian more. I work/write all day in English, speak with friends in English, so while this might sound crazy, my Italian has gotten worse since I moved to Italy. Boh!

When I was in L.A. I was taking classes and had homework. So after I finish work, I'm going to start reviewing my textbooks, watching movies, the news etc.

I don't know why tourists would visit Rome now. Everything except for the touristy places is closed. I know I will get used to it but to my American eyes it's a trip to walk around my neighborhood to find every single store is closed! I think it's great. I went six years without a vacation and thought that was normal. It's not. Once back in L.A., I was having lunch with an exec who told me his boss bragged about how many scripts he read while in St. Barths with his family. You know what? That's stupid. Human beings are not built to work 24/7. We're not freaking robots. If I went away with my husband, who I never saw and he sat in a cabana on a gorgeous island reading scripts during our entire vacation instead of spending time with me and our children, I would be ticked off. Then again this producer's wife might not care as long as she can still shop.

These signs are everywhere.

Unfortunately the stupid bars that cater to drunk American exchange students are still open. Personally I'd rather have my local bakery be open than "Sloppy Sams" but that's just me. ha

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer. See you in September!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trailer for the movie TRAITOR

Below is the trailer for the movie I worked on last summer. Opens in the U.S. on August 27th. I don't have any international dates yet.

I really enjoyed working on the film (except for the two days we spent shooting in an underground garage. Can we say toxic fumes?) and hope it does well.

During my Toronto posts I spoke about what a great cast and crew we had. Given our budget restraints I think the movie looks amazing. This was screenwriter Jeff Nachmanoff's directorial debut. Overture, an independent studio, financed the movie.

I remember the day my boss and I went to breakfast in Santa Monica to meet with Jeff. Originally the studios were looking for a director. It's very hard to get that first break to direct. Jeff was so clear and passionate about how he would make the movie. Jeff Silver came on board to produce (Hoberman/Lieberman the other producers had two other movies going) and off we went (with a few bumps) to Toronto.

I learned a lot on this movie. There are many people who don't really get what a producer does. Jeff S. is REAL producer. The movie shot in several countries, smaller budget (under 24 million), first time director, first project for a new studio and he was on point. So on top of things. He's off producing Terminator 4 right now. I likes that he works on big action movies like "300" but then also can work on smaller more character driven films. Most people can't.

Jeff S. asked me when I arrived in Toronto what I hoped to gain from the experience. Who knew then that working on the film would send me in the direction of writing full time and moving to Rome?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rome off the tourist track - Nuovo Mercato Esquilino/Piazza Vittorio Market

This market, located near Termini Station, is one of the oldest and largest in Rome. It’s huge. To be honest I was a little overwhelmed. So many vendors to choose from.

I work in the mornings so trying to get here during the week isn’t going to happen and the best time to hit any market is first thing in the a.m. I went on Saturday. Market opens at 8:00 a.m.

This is the place for ethnic foods, like plantains, yams, cassava, ginger etc. There are several fish vendors and all were packed at 8:15.

Price-wise it’s definitely cheaper than Campo de’ Fiori. Unfortunately it’s a hike for me so this market will have to be an once a month kind of thing.

I love that at the markets I have been to so far, Campo de’ Fiori, Testaccio, Vittorio and the little one in my neighborhood (every other Sunday) I can buy super fresh vegetables and fruit. Saturday I bought one ear of corn (only one because I live by myself and fresh corn cannot sit) from Sicily and it was the sweetest, kick-ass delicious corn I've had in a long time. I've already spoken about the tomatoes (most of the ones I've bought are also from Sicily) and now I can never go back to eating those bland supermarket tomatoes I used to eat in the States. They look nice, no blemishes but I don’t miss them.

Remember when there were all those problems with Chinese imports? Around that time I read an article stating over 50 percent of garlic sold in the States is from China. That is crazy far for something “fresh” to travel.

I much as I crack up every time Ina Gartner (The Barefoot Contessa chef) says “use very good olive oil” (really no, I shouldn’t use mediocre?) she’s right. The simplest dishes here taste so good because of the quality of the ingredients.

Some fruit.

Not sure what these are but they were very popular.

Lots of fish. I wonder if this is a good place to get baby clams for linguine with clams? Would I have to keep them on ice until I got back to my apartment? There are a bunch a fish mongers near me. I will comparison shop but fish is something I don't like to mess with. I'd rather pay more for a place with good fish.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

R.I.P. Bernie Mac

He was only 50.

His stand up was hilarious. Below is a clip from the show, which was based on his real life. A few years ago he took in his sister's kids. His routine about that experience in the concert film THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY brought the house down. So not P.C. but I laughed my ass off.

He was down to earth. Was at his core still a guy from Chicago.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The hot weather in Rome is making me miss snow.

I've had the fan going all day. I'm scared to see what my electric bill is going to look like.

I don't even ski but I saw this photo of Cortina from and wished I was there. I can just see myself inside with some nice hot chocolate reading a book by the fire. Of course my ridiculously gorgeous luver would try to distract me but I would tell him per favore, I need to read.

How are you staying cool this summer?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

David Lebovitz's tips for getting rich in France (can also be applied to Italy)

I love David's blog. He an award wining American pastry chef living in Paris. His cookbook THE PERFECT SCOOP is fantastic. I had to sell my Cuisinart Ice Cream maker when I move here so I can only make granitas from the book for now. Sadness.

Anyway this post cracked me up. I know many expats here can relate to number one and number two in particular.

This paragraph brought back nightmares of my trips to the Comune (municipio numero uno) shudder.

"Coming up soon is my visa renewal, which most of us foreigners have to take care of annually. For some reason, they can't tell me how long one has to live in France to get a Residency Card. Last year, the woman at immigration said, "I don't know. We don't have that kind of information!"
I wanted to point out that since she works in immigration, perhaps she might privy to immigration information, but that's just me being silly."

One comment suggested a new reality TV show ala a Euro Cup for bureaucracy. There would be a battle between France and Italy. ha!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Anniversaries, birthdays and Al Green

This week is my parents' 45th wedding anniversary. They dated for a while (long distance) before they got married so they have known each other a looooong time.

My dad said the minute he saw my mom he knew she was "the one". She was visiting my paternal grandfather who lived up up the street from her mom. My dad was home from Curacao for the holidays and my mom was home from NYC. The families knew each other. St. Martin is small and their village is very tiny but my parents did not grow up together. He moved to the other island when he was five.

My dad moved to America and they got married six months later. I loved looking through their wedding album. My mom is 5'10 (hello I'm a midget, what the heck happened) and her dress was gorgeous. Simple boat neck, long sleeves, fitted waist, she had it made in the city. The beading on the hem was stunning. I know she still has the dress but she was long and slim with curves (think Angelina Jolie with a few more pounds). I couldn't wear that dress. I doubt my thigh would fit through the waist.

This week is also my mom's birthday. I know many women who say their mom is their best friend. I love my mom but she's still a mystery to me. A big reason is cultural. I'm American and she is not. Of course she an American citizen but her core being is Caribbean. She lived in America for over 40 years before moving back to the island and yet my parents always referred to St. Martin as home.

Where my dad is very out going, my mom is reserved. I know a lot about my dad's childhood and can see him as a young man. My mom's life... not as much. My mom's dad died when she was 10. She's the oldest so I get the sense she took on a lot of responsibilities. There was no time for "foolishness". My dad was the baby of 6 and very close to his parents. My parental grandparents were the complete opposite of my maternal grandmother, warm, gregarious, a ton of friends. I wonder if my mom's upbringing is the reason why she's incapable of relaxing.

I couldn't do what my mom did. Leaving a small village, moving to New York City in the early 60s, raising a family, working full time, the hell of a commute once we moved to the 'burbs, a spot-less house, home cooked meals (no fast food allowed), active in her church, etc. I'm single, live in a shoe box and barely find the time to get everything done. She doesn't see what she did as anything special. It's what all the women on the island do unless they are, you know, shiftless or something.

My mom is private. Good thing she doesn't have Internet or she might let me have it for "putting her business out on the street." She's also blunt. This is one Caribbean trait I cannot get used to. When I cut the chemicals out of my hair, leaving it very, very short, she said, "What did you do? You look ugly." To this day she is still on my case about my hair. I know she thinks having a natural is the reason why I'm single. My Caribbean relatives will say to your face, "Did you put on weight, you're fatter than the last time I saw you, no?" Sigh. On the other hand they would jump in front of a bullet for their family or their friends.

My mom is also very giving. Sometimes sacrificing her own needs. When our elderly next door neighbor got sick my mom would go over everyday to give her her shots even though her schedule was insane. She has had some friends for over 50 years. It's interesting to me that she grew up so sheltered yet encourage her kids to be worldly. She was a talented musician (piano) and I know my love of music comes from her and my dad.

When I moved to L.A. my parents had no idea what it was I did for a living, (I neglected my duty as a first generation American to be a doctor or a lawyer) but they supported my crazy career (what is a development girl?) emotionally and financially. I was getting ready for the move to Rome and found a letter my mom wrote to me a few years ago. I was going through a really tough time with a psycho passive-aggressive boss and she told me, "not to give up, that this person could not break me. When all is said and done what is money and power without family? Nothing. You have your family, you will be okay." The letter made me cry.

A classic from one of my parents' favorite singers. This song reminds me of their relationship, (except when they are bickering). Ha