Friday, January 30, 2009

Flashback Friday – Eddie Murphy/Randy Watson - "The Greatest Love Of All"

It's awards season in Hollywood so I'd post a film related clip.

Eddie is known for his family/board comedies now but back in the day he was hilarious. One of my former bosses brought in the Best of Eddie Murphy from SNL and we were on the floor.

"Delirious"? Priceless. His nine minute description of Uncle Gus and Aunt Bunny (Why you always burn down my mfing yard Gus?), at a family bb-q is one of the funniest monologues I have ever heard.

Here's a short clip from "Coming To America". Eddie plays several roles in the film and here is one of his characters.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A week from today is a very important holiday...World Nutella Day

If you are interested in participating in this glorious holiday please check out Sara at MsadventuresinItaly or Michelle at Bleeding Espresso.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wait a minute, you can get washboard abs from plastic surgery?

I had no idea. I remember a few years ago there was a rumor that LLCool J and other men well known for their six-packs had work done. I assumed they meant some lipo.

Well I happened to see that lovely show "Dr. 90210". An up and coming rapper said he need help. He didn't like to take his shirt off during his concerts. He did work out but he had a three-pack instead of a six-pack. I didn't see what the big deal was but he was fixated on "his problem".

I can't remember the medical term but his plastic surgeon had also had the same procedure. When the doctor lifted up his shirt I was freaked out a little bit. He was maybe in his mid-40s but he had the LLCool J six-pack. It looked strange.

After the surgery the rapper had the abs he wanted.

I think people famous for their abs who have had this surgery should freaking come clean. There are men who spend hours in the gym trying to get the same shape and it will never happen without surgery. Also many times the abs are "sprayed" on. Britney used this make up technique a lot. Sometimes it wasn't applied well and you could tell.

It's great to be in shape. Most of the men I have dated were very athletic, either playing during school/college or as adults in tennis or soccer leagues. However if I met a guy who had this abs surgery I would be turned off. That is too vain and weird to me. It's as bad as the over Botoxed forehead that doesn't move.

LL is almost 50. (ooops I stand corrected I've been told he's only 41).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is there a patron saint for passing the written exam for an Italian Drivers License?

If so, I will need their help. I might also call on Jesus, Mary, Joseph, God, The Disciples, (except for Judas of course).

Last night I went to the Autoscuola (driving school) to register, have the doctor check my eyesight ...ask if I had any health problems, and purchase my books.

Instead of spending hundreds of euros on those Prada boots I saw on sale, I spent them on getting ready for this test.

I hear it’s very hard. I felt I should just suck it up and get it over with.

My classes will be twice a week in Italian. However, I can take the test in English. I have been warned already that the wording is crazy.

I was skimming through said books and I came across Chapter 8. This chapter was all about the components of a motor vehicle. I’m sorry, am I training to be a bloody mechanic?! What kind of shenanigans is this?

Seriously, there are diagrams of the engine, the cooling system, drum brakes, dual circuit brakes, etc. My head was spinning.

I was speaking to a Spanish expat friend who said the test in Spain is just as hard and it’s even more expensive to get your license. As he talked about the process, I tried to look at the bright side.

I know folks like to clown Italian drivers and say there are horrible but technically my Italian friends are excellent drivers. They know the rules of the road but chose to ignore them. That is very different from not knowing how to drive, which is what I had to deal with in L.A. for ten years. My fear of getting shot was the only reason I wasn’t cursing folks out everyday.

I have been driving for over 20 years but I will look at this class as a way to unlearn bad habits. I should know more about how a car functions.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention I also have to learn how to drive a stick/manual. I could take the driving exam on an automatic car but then I would have a license for only automatics. Of course it makes no sense to have an automatic license in Italy given 98% of cars sold are manuals. Automatics are an option for some models but not all and are more expensive.

Why is it most Americans drive automatics while most of the world drives manuals? When I took Driver’s Ed in high school we could only practice on automatics. Manuel wasn’t even an option. Is this a recent thing? Growing up I remember several of my friends' parents drove manuals especially if they had a foreign car.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Yes, the dollar is on the upswing again.

A few weeks ago it was 1.48 to the euro and now it’s 1.27. Of course I'm annoyed I transferred the last of my old paycheck then instead of now.

Will it go to 1.25? We’ll see.

p.s. I wish this “Canadian Pharmacy” would stop spamming me with e-mails about their special deals on penis enhancements. I'm not interested!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Flashback Friday – Something's Gotta Give

Tomorrow is the birthday for Saint Francesco de Sales, Patron Saint of writers.

There are not that many movies about writers. It's a hard thing to make cinematic.

I enjoyed Something's Gotta Give. Diane Keaton played a single, successful Broadway playwright who finally falls in love again. It was funny, sweet and her Hamptons house (especially that kitchen) was some of the best house porn I have seen on the big screen.

Here is the trailer.

One of the clips from the move. After Jack breaks her heart, Diane's writing block ends. I know it's sad but the beginning of this sequence had the audience howling. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Few Of My Favorite Things: Fontana della Tartarughe/The Turtle Fountain

During my second trip to Rome I looked in vain for this fountain after reading about it. I finally “found” it after I moved here. I was meeting someone for dinner and decided to cut through the area known as the Jewish Ghetto. I walked a few blocks and boom, there it was.

There are over 600 fountains in Rome and this is one of my favorites.

Usually during the day there are too many people taking photos so I went back at night to snap these.

The fountain is located in Piazza Mattei. The Mattei family commissioned the work in 1581. One hundred years later my favorite sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini added the turtles.

In 1979 someone stole one of the turtles, so the originals are in the Capitoline Museum. Again I must ask who the heck steals something like this? You can’t sell it.

There’s something very sweet about this about this fountain. I know where it's located, yet I always smile when I come upon it, as if I’m surprised that it’s there.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tears, fashion and congrats to my sister.

Good Luck Mr. President.

During the hours that Inauguration was on, I got chocked up several times. I cannot believe how many people were on the mall yesterday. Amazing

When President Obama got out of the limo and started to walk down the street, I became very nervous and kept saying get back in the car.

I had to switch from CNN International to the Italian channel SKY because some of the commentary was getting on my nerves.

There is a lot of work to do but on a completely shallow note, everyone looked fantastic. I loved Michelle Isabel Toledo swearing-in outfit. That color looks great on her. Laura Bush's coat was very pretty.

How cute are the "wee Michelles" in J. Crewcuts?

photo ap

Congrats to my sister who starts working in the West Wing as a senior advisor next week. I hope she will still take her older sister's calls.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's the end of an error!

Good-bye George W. Bush.

I know his approval ratings are terrible and the press has been very harsh. However, a few letters to the editors brought up a good point.

Not to defend GWB but we don't live in a dictatorship. Where was Congress? The press? The man was re-elected.

We were warned five years ago about sub-prime lending and yet people still kept buying houses with no/little money done. Congress voted to reduce banking regulations. We can't blame GWB for everything.

In the build up to the Iraq war there were a couple Op-eds against the war but I really don't remember there being an outrage about it. Remember how some members of Congress mocked France for not supporting us and renamed French Fries, Freedom Fries in the dining halls? Some members voted for war authorization without even reading the bill. I know it was a lot of pages but come on, this is voting for war, not American Idol.

When I look back on the past eight years I get a little freaked out. What happened to checks and balances? Bush couldn't help that 9/11 and Katrina happened during his presidency. 9/11 happened within his first year and would have tested any new president. It was his and his administration's reactions to these events that he's being judged on.

At least Bush is reflective as he leaves office. All the people I know who have dealt with him like him as a person, it's Cheney they can't stand. True to form Cheney is leaving the office disgracefully. No class, no regrets, he should be arrested for trampling all over our Constitution.

I'm curious to see what Laura Bush's book will be about. I've always wondered what she was really thinking during the past eight years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Birthday MLK.

Without him and the work/sacrifice of so many people, Barack would not be sworn in tomorrow.

That said, we still have work to do in this so-called "post racial" America.

Here is an interesting article in today's New York Times about two Methodist churches on the same block on Capitol Hill that are segregated. In the nation's Capitol in 2009? Sad. The bishop wants them to reconcile.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Flashback Friday – Take That - "Everything Changes"

I happened to have MTV Italia on while they were playing Take That’s Top Ten. TT was huge in the UK but not so much in the States.

I barely remember a song called “Back for Good” which I think was their biggest hit in the U.S.

I forgot Robbie Williams was in this group. When did this video come out? It’s so upbeat and cheesilicious.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Drinking and knives are a bad combination.

Earlier this week I had a language exchange over aperitivo. Later as I walked through Campo de Fiori I noticed there were several police cars. On weekends there aren't that many cars. What was going on?

The Italian I was with told me the Mayor had deployed more cops after an American tourist was stabbed the other week. The man was visiting from California. He went to an after-hours, members only club and got into a fight with two Romans from the 'burbs early Sunday morning. The fight spilled into the street. The neighbors called the cops. He is in critical condition after a major artery was cut. The two Romans were arrested quickly thanks to neighbors and the club owners.

The residents of the area have been complaining for years about the bars on the Campo. I noticed on Christmas Eve when even Aristocampo was closed the American owned The Drunken Ship was open. I should take a picture of their window. They have T-shirts that say things like "Show Us Your Tips". Clever no?

In any city there is a battle between the resident and bars/clubs. However, the residents were here in the Historic Center long before the pubs and pubs crawls became popular. The drinking rates among younger Italians is growing, which is something new.

I only rent so I just throw on ear plugs to sleep. I don't even live on the square but on warm nights you can hear the noise from blocks away and all the side streets get crowded with mostly drunk exchange students. However I understand why my neighbors are annoyed. Trust if I paid 1.1 million for a two bedroom condo and couldn't get any sleep because of all the drunk kids I'd throw buckets of water on them too.

I get that Friday and Saturdays are bad but when it's every night during the warm months, it's a pain. Some of us have to actually work and don't get to spend our parents money aboard drinking instead of studying. One expat professor I know told me one of his students got so drunk she fell off a bridge.

There's a movement back in the States to change the drinking age back to 18. I wish they would. Binge drinking is a major problem on our campuses. It's crazy to me that at 18 we can vote, fight in a war, but can't have a beer with pizza. We as a country have a bizarre relationship with alcohol (and sex) and think by telling a young adult they can't drink that they won't. As a freshman in college, during the first semester I did get caught up in the drinking to get drunk atmosphere. I understand why the under 21 studying abroad crowd goes nuts when they come to Europe where the drinking age is around 16-18.

I do worry when I see the drunk American girls weaving around the Center. While Rome is very safe when you are that drunk you don't have your wits about you. This is still a big city and not Disneyland.

I'm curious if the increased police presence will be here all year. I heard the Campo a few years back was even worse with constant fights, Ultras (soccer hooligans) getting into fights with fans from visiting teams, etc. I'm not sure what the solution is. What role do the bars play? Should they be held responsible for the behavior of their customers? You can't ban them from selling shots.

Why do you think about the American drinking age being 21? Should it go back to 18? Why do so many young people drink to get drunk?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rome, why must you tempt me with your sales?

Everywhere I look I see SALDI (sales) signs.

In the States stores can have sales whenever they want. I read the law had changed, but here the big sales are still twice a year. In July the stores clear out their inventory to make way for the fall/winter season and in January it's the reverse.

These are some serious sales. We're talking 20 - 70%.

I had to meet a friend Saturday night by Piazza del Popolo. It was nice out so I decided to walk. Via del Corso and Via del Babuino were packed with shoppers. Stores from H&M to Prada had lines out the door. Stores like the latter however, do not have big signs advertising the sales, just little note cards.

I don't have a lot of winter clothes and I really need another pair of winter shoes. I drove all the time in L.A. and 90% of my shoes are not practical for winter, walking long distances or cobble stone streets. I saw a pair of boots that were 50% off. I was tempted to try them on but a voice yelled RENT in my head. I kept on walking.

Some of my Christmas money must go to doctor/dentist appointments but I would like to buy myself at least one gift. Then again until I know I'm getting a paycheck, I should probably save that money for bills.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2009 - My Make or Break Year

Last year was one of transition. I quit a job I liked, moved overseas, quasi learned a new language (still working on that), and decided to write full time.

I'm no spring chicken. To make so many changes at the same time might have been as one of my Toronto/Caribbean friends says, "a little wackadoo."

However, despite early tears shed at the Comune when the level of Italian red-tape really gave the French a run for their money, it has been a great experience. I want to stay.

One needs to actually make money in order to live unless they have a trust fund. I do not. It would be hard for me to stay in Rome without income. While my parents are very generous, after over 11 years in the "biz" I need to finally "make it."

The money I earned as a producer on TRAITOR (p.s. the DVD just came out in the States. Don Cheadle and Guy Pierce fans need to get a copy.) will be finito soon. Savings? What is that?

I know the realities of Hollywood and what my chances are regarding a screenwriting career. Yet I keep going. I'm in the middle of two specs (original scripts) and enjoy what I'm working on. That said, at some point I have to sell something. My manager back in L.A. is not going to rep me forever. It would make no sense.

This year is the one. What is my Plan B? I don't have one. Plan A is going to have to work. ha. Even late last year I was hesitant to say I was a writer. Now I'm claiming it and moving full steam ahead.

I have quite a few goals for 2009 but one of the biggest is to sell a project in LaLa land. For the first time I don't feel like my life is on hold, or a spectator in it. This year all the hard work, 8 years of being underpaid and working with crazy people will pay off. I know it.

I'm very thankful I still have my Italian project. Without it I would be in a Defcon Level 2 financial situation. We're waiting to hear back from an Italian screenwriter. If she says yes, the next step in my deal goes forward. Fingers crossed.

I've pitched a few other ideas to the same company and hopefully they will respond to one or two.

I have to believe with all the various projects percolating something will pop this year.

I'm not Catholic but I think prayers to Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers and journalists wouldn't hurt. I might add Saint Jude, patron saint of impossible causes to the mix as well. There is a specific patron saint for TV writers but none for film. Strange.

View from my former office.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Burger + fries + NFL Playoffs should = ?

Great fun right? Well it helps if your freaking team wins. ha

Despite the Giants (aka i giganti) inability to convert a 3rd down, I had a good time last night.

An expat friend of a friend invited me to watch the game at a pub with him and some of his Italian friends. I haven't had a burger and fries since I've moved here. Delicious.

The crowd was pretty diverse with Italians (there was a Roma game playing in another room but I was surprised how many Italians were into the Giants/Eagles game), American students and expats. Lots of couples. Most of the fans were for the Giants but unfortunately some Eagles fans were also in the house. heh

Not sure what the heck was up with the refs. Horrible calls all night against both teams.

While Donavan McNabb is a fellow Syracuse Alum I cannot root for the Eagles.

I'm rooting for the Steelers to go all the way. Back in the day Franco Harris was the man. He along with Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann led the Steelers to several Super Bowl Championships in the late 70s.

As I walked home I wondered why didn't I do things like this in L.A? A couple years ago I asked some friends to meet up at pub for the Superbowl. The whole time we talked about the biz, my friends could care less about sports (which was distracting when you're trying to watch the game) and we left at half time. It was a disaster.

Last night we did talk about work for maybe one minute. As in:

"How's work?"
"What the hell is Eli doing now? Don't ***king pass!"

The graphic below from the New York Daily News cracked me up. Poor Giants.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Flashback Friday – Jill Scott - "Golden"

It's a new year and an important one (more on that next week).

Jill Scott is one of my favorite artists and it's a shame "singers" with less talent top the charts. Some younger people are discovering Jill from Grand Theft Auto 4 of all places. Good for her.

If you're a Jill Scott fan, was/is your favorite song? I also like "He's Loves Me", "Hate on Me" and "The Way".

Anyway this is one of my anthems for '09. No matter what happens this year, I'm going to live my life like it's golden.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

It's cold, it's's a little Don Draper to brighten your day

Season Two of Mad Men started here last month.

Love it.

This photo of Don Draper reminds me of my dad. He used to wear suits with this cut and a hat back in the day.

A trailer for the second season

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ice Skating in Rome

A few weeks ago I walked past this spot and wondered what they were building.

Now I know. This looks like so much fun but I haven't skated since middle school. We used to go ice skating on the lake in my

Temporary outdoor rink next to the Castel Sant' Angelo.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Under The (chilly) Tuscan Sun

Once again it seems every chid in Italy is in my neighborhood. It's the Epiphany today. School is out. No mail delivery and quite a few of my friends are not returning to work until next week.

The day after Christmas my friend who made the amazing Christmas lunch invited me to join her and her friends in Tuscany. You know I like to plan my spontaneous actions but decided to just go. The next day we took the train to a very small town three hours from Rome.

My friend lived there for a while before moving back to Rome. There were no other expats when she lived and there still aren't any. No wonder her Italian is perfect.

Oh I get the whole Tuscan love now. Darn Tuscany filling my head with silly dreams of a farm house on a hill surrounded by a beautiful garden, views, veggies and maybe even a couple chickens. Darn you!

The center of town was maybe a block and a half long. Everyone was super friendly. We went to the little bar/cafe/tabacchi both days. How can you not love a place where an excellent glass of prosecco is two euros!! When we ordered three glasses and the owner said that will be six euros I assumed he meant each. Non tutto.

The bar was nothing fancy. We were chilling while the TV aired Cocoon dubbed, some older gentlemen were reading the paper while at another table, a group of teenagers flirted.

The next day we went to the bakery to buy something for our host. The owner gave us free slices of this amazing bread (still warm) while we waited for her to wrap our purchases.

The family we stayed with were warm and feed us extremely well. The whole family lives together in a big house (separate wings). I was thinking about my siblings and how great it would to be able just to walk downstairs or next door and see them. Not sure how my in-laws would feel about that though, it might get on their nerves. Ha.

It must be nice to have your parents near you and not thousands of miles a way. Living with your children is the norm for older people in the Caribbean but it's very unusual in America.

I'm still thinking about the lunch we had with the entire family, the fresh bread from the town bakery with just the right amount of salt and olive oil ( the name escapes me but it starts with an "S"), the prosciutto and sausage from local pigs, the wine (I'm detoxing. In three days I drank more wine than I do in maybe two weeks), the views, did I mention the wine? etc.

My friend said I have to come back in the spring when everything is in bloom.

It was freezing. It snowed the next day after our visit but didn't stick.

At night it was very dark and quiet. When we walked back to the house from "the town" there was one part that was completely dark. No house lights, no street lights, nothing. Were I walking by myself I would have been freaked the heck out as there are wild boars in the area. Even walking with two other people I was nervous.

A room with a view.


View from the center.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Unfortunately I'm getting over a cold so I did not go out last night.

Clearly Rome threw down. There were fireworks at the Colosseum, Piazza del Popolo, I think Pz Navona and next door. I'm kidding about next door but it sounded like rockets were being launched right by my building. I was too sick to actually go down the street to see if there were in fact fireworks in the piazza.

I did look at the window and the sky was light up.

Here's a little clip from last year's celebration at the Colosseum.

I am very excited about 2009.