Friday, February 27, 2009

Flashback Friday – Sacha Baron Cohen - Talladega Nights

I was listening to my iPod the other day when some jazz popped up. I immediately thought of this scene. ha

SBC plays a gay French Formula One driver and this is his first scene. I don't know what is funnier, his bad accent, or the discussion regarding crepes being thin pancakes.

Having a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I can't believe this "advice book" has been translated into Italian.

There is a lot of buzz about the author of the book "How To Talk To Girls." He's only 9 years old. The 46 paged "book" has become a hit and a Hollywood studio has already bought the rights. Alec Greven has been on Leno and many other shows. Some think it's cute, others wonder if his parents actually wrote the book.

I do think it's possible that a young child wrote this book. However, I find it creepy that adults would want to take romance advice from a 9 year old CHILD. What is wrong with the world?

I was walking down a major street in Rome and saw this in a bookstore around Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

View of Rome from the Gianicolo Hill

Rome is built on seven hills. One of the tallest is Gianicolo. It's a great spot to see a panoramic view of the city.

I went up to the hill a day or two after it stopped raining.

I used a zoom to get better shot of the snow top mountains in the background. Notice how the "typewriter/wedding cake building" dwarfs the others.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars

They aired at 2:00 a.m. my time. I tried to stay up and watch them but fell asleep during Ryan Seacreats inane Red Carpet "interviews". He is horrible.

I woke up in time to see the show from Best Song on.

I've read a few reviews and they said the show was boring. Was it?

I thought the staging looked nice. I'm glad finally they turned down the volume of people clapping during the memorial clip. I always felt it was distasteful when even in death Hollywood seemed like a high school popularity contest.

Is the reason they had several actors present the acting awards instead of the tradition of last year's winner is because last year all four acting awards went to foreigners? Interesting.

I wasn't too invested emotionally this year because I haven't seen most of the movies. Most have not been released here yet. Slumdog was but dubbed. I'll wait for the DVD so I can see it in Original Language with Italian subtitles.

It's amazing that this film was originally greenlit by Warner Independent. Warner Bros shut down their indie arm. The film almost went direct to video because they didn't think Americans would watch this movie. Fox Searchlight bought it and the rest is history. Kudos to Peter Rice and everyone else at Searchlight.

Later today I will be watching E!'s fashion police as they discuss the best and the worst of the read carpet.

Next year I will go to bed super early then get up to watch the show. I can't watch arrivals any more as long as Ryan is doing them. He really needs to go.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Flashback Friday – Four Weddings and A Funeral

The Oscars are this Sunday. They will air at midnight my time so I will try to watch but you know I'm in bed usually by 10 p.m.

Today's film flashback is one of my favorite Romantic Comedies. This little British film was made for 4 million pounds and became a surprise international hit.

Richard Curtis's script is so funny and has heart. I still can't believe they were able to shoot a movie with this many locations on such a tight budget. This looks like a much more expensive film.

That a movie about a very specific group of folks was so accessible says something about how universal the themes were.

The Funeral. Scene guts me every time. This poem is beautiful and John Hannah was great in this scene.

One of the weddings. Ha

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Writing and music. A playlist.

I know some writers prefer to write without music but most of my friends put together playlists. I do as well. Music helps me get into the world.

If I’m dealing with a tricky piece of dialogue I will switch to classical or jazz so there are no distracting lyrics.

I’m the middle of rewriting one spec after receiving notes from the producers. I really love these characters.

I was already warned this script would be a tough sell. Wedding movies are considered commercial but see there are black people in this one so there you go.

All I have to say is, whatevs. It’s been almost 10 years since the “Best Man” and other commercial, not super broad urban movies like “Soul Plane”.

One screenwriter friend said I should write a script called “STD, A Love Story”, that one would probably sell. ha

What are some of your favorite love songs? I have fifty songs on this playlist. Below are a few in no particular order.

The Wedding March (of course) – Mendelssohn
A Song For You – Donny Hathaway
Nothing Can Come Between Us – Sade
Last Goodbye – Jeff Buckley
I Know You, I Live You – Chaka Khan
Love Will Save The Day (Jellybean Benitez & David Morales Mix) – Whitney Houston
Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
Love Lockdown – Kanye West
The Way He Makes Me Feel – Barbra Streisand
Moonlight Sonata, 3rd Movement Presto Agitato – Ludwig Van Beethoven
Symptom Unknown – Maxwell
Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra in D Minor - J.S. Bach
Waiting For You – Seal
I Was Brought To My Senses – Sting
Maxine – Donald Fagen
As – Steve Wonder
These Words – Natasha Bedingfield
Other Side Of The World – KT Tunstall
I Couldn’t Love You More – Sade
L.O.V.E. – Nat King Cole
Sta Passando Novembre – Eros Ramazzotti
I Say A Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin
You’re All I Need To Get By – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Italian Driving School For Beginners.

I have started classes at the l’autoscuola (driving school). There are three other women around my age but the majority of students are in high school. Two of the guys have braces. They look so young to me.

One of my classmates is American. Her mother is American, father Italian and she went to high school in Italy, which is why she didn’t get her license before. She is studying aboard for a year. She sits next to me in class and translates things I don’t understand.

Apparently our professor is funny. The class is constantly cracking up. I finally got some of the jokes this week. When I first started the class they were covering the final chapter in the book, all about the components of the car. God help me.

Now we are at the beginning of the book. I’m able to follow better since we are covering chapters I have already studied. I’m answering more of the quiz questions correctly. The classes are in Italian but our professor pulled up the test quiz questions in both English and Italian for me.

I have received my foglio rossa (learners permit). I can practice driving with a driver who has at least 10 years of experience. I think I will wait until after I take at least one driving class at the school.

To be honest, now I’m more stressed out about the written test than learning how to drive stick/manual. I miss driving and look forward to getting back out on the road again (as long as it’s deserted…I won’t be driving in the center of Rome anytime soon!)

Our professor told us to really focus on learning signage since 60% of the questions on the test are about signs.

He then said there are over 400 of them! What the heck? Am I wrong to believe that is a pretty big number? Oh well…I have lots of studying to do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I see frappe and confetti all over Rome.

On weekends children dressed in costumes throw confetti in the piazzas. Little lions and princesses seem to be the most popular.

The fried pastry, frappe, is in every bakery. These are so good and I’m so happy you can only get them (the handmade ones) during this season.

The confetti is everywhere. I’m tempted to buy a bag myself.

Are you giving up anything for Lent (it starts next week)? In the past I’ve given up candy and Coca-Cola. One year a friend of a friend back in L.A. gave up alcohol, candy, soda and sex. After a week she was unbearable.

These are so addictive.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bringing sexy back (trying anyway)

Good morning Bloggisti,

Well this was a better weekend then expected given my single butt had no plans for Valentine's Day. I did get a lot of writing done. I'm really into this rewrite, more on that later in the week.

Saturday afternoon I went to work out in Doria Pamphilli. It was little chilly but a bright sunny day. The park was packed. I was grooving to Kanye's "Love Lockdown" on my iPod when an OUTRAGEOUSLY handsome jogger asked me for directions.

I have no idea what the hell he was saying. It sounded like, "rrrrrr, uscire, rrrrrr, giro." I think he was asking if there was a nearby exit. I said something in butchered Italian. He smiled, said thank you and kept running. I noticed he didn't ask anyone else for directions. Maybe he was too traumatized by my babbling.

Last night went to a dinner party. I knew I was getting a ride via motorino (scooter) but decided to wear a dress. I'm really trying to work on my stank attitude and not stress out about my writing career and money. You know what they say, if you look good, you'll feel good.

I have blogged in the past about how my sister was trying to get me to dress less preppy. I was going to wear this oxford-type shirt with a sweater vest and jeans. Instead for the first time in a long time I busted out a wrap dress. I've lost enough weight here that dress doesn't highlight my gut. (Ha) But as you know, wrap dresses highlight every freaking curve. I decided not to worry about something I have no control over and didn't change to the more masculine outfit. I wore heels which I rarely do as it's hard to walk on cobblestone streets. I don't know how Italian women do it.

My friend who gave me the ride asked me where I got the dress. He also asked to me to stop freaking out during the ride. I swear we almost got clipped by a bus. My friend has been in Rome for eight years and is a very good driver. Still hitting a curve and see a huge bus merging on my right, almost made me pass out.

Last night was great. Dinner was good and the guests were interesting. My Italian was alright. I was one of two expats but my friend is fluent so the conversation was mostly in Italian.

I remember back in L.A I said I was going to try to bring sexy back into my life. I was unsuccessful. It's not about what you wear but your attitude. To be honest I felt so blah in L.A. I just gave up.

Regarding men, it was a sad situation. There was no witty banter with the opposite sex, no flirting, no nothing.

I'm still the same person here minus a few pounds but those blah feelings were gone last night. I don't know if it's because I'm trying to communicate in a different language which forces me to get out of my shell a little. I know this might shock some people esp. since I do have a blog, but I can be very shy in new social situations.

It could because the conversation flowed easily despite the language barrier. It was a dinner PARTY not an excuse to network. It's nice to relax and have fun, not feel like you have to be on all the time. Plus we had two bottles of wine and a bottle of champagne (for five people).

Spring will be here soon. I will keep the following song in mind. ha

Friday, February 13, 2009

Flashback Friday – All About Eve

Okay enough with the “woe is me” posts. ha

Continuing with this month's film flashbacks, today it's All About Eve.

Yes there was a time when Hollywood made movies about women who were complex, acted like grown ups and looked somewhat around their age.

This movie is one of my favorites. The dialogue is fantastic. I wish I had the opportunity to say to someone, “you’re too short for that gesture.” Since I’m short myself, it wouldn’t be verticalism on my part.

Bette Davis brought it! George Sanders as theatre critic Addison De Witt was priceless.

This was Marilyn Monroe's first movie and even in tiny part she stood out. All About Eve won six Oscars including Best Screenplay and Best Picture. It was released in 1950.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

The scene with one of the most famous line in cinema, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night".

Bette is at her snarky best in this scene.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don't get depressed, don't get depressed...

That's what I kept repeating to myself last night.

Yesterday morning I felt great. I had written 12 pages for one spec rewrite and had a nice workout. Life was good.

That evening I fell to earth. My manager loved the writing on my latest spec (that would be spec number 3) but said the script was "too inside baseball". Continuing with the same metaphor, this is strike number three.

I lost it. I totally start crying while my manager said just keep writing.

It didn't help that early I read Melissa's blog Women & Hollywood. One nice little statistic that jumped out at me was less than 10% of Hollywood movies are written by women. That is ridiculous! She was quote in an article that was slamming the recent horrendous "chick flicks" that have come out lately. Here is a link that story.

It seems my commercial sensibilities are out of sync with what Hollywood wants right now. The spec market is dead. We are still recovering from the Writers strike, add what one A-list writer said about making it as a screenwriter to the mix, "it's best to be a young, rich, white male" and it's not looking very good for this ragazza.

I gave myself 2009 to be my make or break year because I can't continue to do this for much longer financially or mentally. I see pieces of crap scripts getting bought left and right. So hearing you write well means pretty much nothing if no one cares about the subjects you write about. grrrr.

Last night I had a strange dream. I was in some incredible house listening to a DJ. This man walked in and stabbed the host. I ran to another room and locked the door but he broke in by punching a hole in the window pane glass. I hauled ass with a few other people and ended up on the Rome metro/subway. This was strange because the party looked like it was in a Hampton's house and everyone at the party was American.

I have no idea what the heck that dream means. ha

I work up super early today and rewrote 15 pages. I feel good about them. The sun is finally out. I'm going to download some new music, go on a run and just keep freaking writing.

This year will be a good year. It has to be.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blame It On The Rain by Milli Vanilli

I know it's not Flashback Friday but I heard this song today and it cracked me up.

It has been raining forever it seems. I finally decided to chance it and work out this morning when the sun peeked out for two minutes. I haven't worked out in a while. It felt good.

Now it's raining again.

Yesterday I was putting on a pair of pants and noticed they were a little snug. I'm blaming it on the rain.

Man I love the 80s (the music not the fashion). Here is a "classic" from 1989.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who is Lady GaGa and what does she have against pants?

I’m seeing stories about this woman all over the Internet. I did some digging around and found out she's not famous for being famous, she’s actually a singer. Her single "Just Dance" was a number one hit in several countries.

Her real name is Stefani Joanne Germanotta . She’s from New York City. Her parents are Italian and she went to Catholic schools. She’s been playing piano since she was four and got her start as a songwriter.

I think she’s a breathe of fresh air. Pop music has becomase so programmed and boring. Plus anyone who takes their stage name from a Queen song is alright with me.

Some of her get ups are priceless. Witness the outfit below. It's a little Grace Jonesish

During a recent interview she was asked what she wanted for Valentines Day. She replied, "A good ***k and some carbs." I almost spit out my water when I read that. ha

Don't we all Lady GaGa, don't we all.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Stumbling and Nutella Day Wrap Up.

Thanks to the advice of some other Italy based Bloggers, I’m Stumbling. I'm still figuring out the site but it’s a great way to find interesting websites on your favorite subjects.

Let me know if you’re on Stumble Upon and we’ll connect.

Here is my Stumble page.

Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso have outdone themselves with the Nutella wrap up. Please check out their blogs for recipes and pics from Nutella lovers from all over the world.

Not a bad way to start the week!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Flashback Friday – Sense and Sensibility

Emma Thompson (one of my favorite actresses) won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

This movie from 1995 was nominated for several Oscars and was directed by the very talented Ang Lee. I went to see the movie with co-workers and at the end we all were in tears. Even my intense co-worker who cursed so much she made Christian Bale's rant seem like an out take from Sesame Street.

Here is the trailer. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Today is a most important holiday....World Nutella Day!

Yes bloggisti it is that time of year again. February 5th is World Nutella Day.

We know Nutella goes well with strawberries, bananas and things like biscotti. But did you know it also goes well with...

The Trevi Fountain.

How about the Pantheon?

Ancient Rome.

And one of my favorites, just a spoon.

Big thanks to Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso for planning this glorious event. On Monday there will be a round up.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Finalemente...I found a hairdresser.

Okay, so to most people this would not be a cause for celebration.

However, being a black woman in Rome with natural hair this search was a pain in the butt. I can't just roll into any salon.

Even with black salons in the States you have to make sure a stylist does actually know what to do with hair that is not chemically straightened.

One thing I thought was so weird is that no one could give me a name of a specific person at a salon. I asked every black woman I know whose hair didn't look a mess, where did they go? All I would get is a name of a salon. All were located by Termini.

Months ago someone was nice enough to leave an anonymous comment on my blog with the names of various black hair salons. Another person said to call "Paolo" at X salon. That salon was on the list and I thought phew I'm finally getting somewhere. Well he owned the salon, was not a stylist and gave me the name of whoever happened to be free that day.

I only needed a trim. I went. The stylist didn't say a word to me. Granted at the time my Italian was weaker but still. She was Dominican and I assume she spoke Italian and Spanish. The place was packed. It was very old school. They were selling DAX. I haven't seen that in any shop since the early 80s and even then it was at my mom's hairdresser which was one of those "older ladies" shops.

Anyway, every single woman, included the drag queen next to me, were geting weaves. My stylist did an okay job. I left and was pissed. I felt like a number and the place was a dump.

The woman who does my brows is also Dominican, and speaks not a single word of English yet the first time I met her (through an expat friend), she was engaging and I have been going to her every since. I go to Nail Bar for manicure/pedicures, budget allowing. My manicurist is Italian, we speak Italian when I see her. One day I walked pass the shop window while running an errand and she waved. Is it too much to ask for the same level of service from your hairdresser?

A blogger (thanks Antoinette) gave me the name of a friend of hers at Contessa Rock Style. Then one day I was walking down Via del Corso and happened to see a woman with a big 'fro in Sephora. I ran into the store, up the steps and was surprised to see an Italian woman (I only saw the back of her head). I forgot the Italian word for hair salon but she figured out what I was asking. She went to the same person at Contessa.

I was skeptical. In the States other than some stylists who work in fashion and with celebrities, most white stylists don't "do" black hair. It like how some stylists are know for color and other are know for great cuts.

I went to see Elena for a consultation. She has worked with my texture in the past. She talked about keeping hair healthy and not fighting against it. She asked me how I normally wear my hair and a bunch of other questions. She suggested we start working together and see how it goes. I scheduled an appointment.

I went to the salon. She was professional and I acutally got out of there in an hour. She's Australian, her parents are Italian and she moved to Rome a year ago or so.

I don't think she does twists. However, she did a great job with my cut and everyone at the salon was chill. I paid more but it was worth it. The salon reminds me of the place I used to go to in LA. and NYC.

I have heard of Noi, where a lot of my white female expat friends go. Two of the owners are Italian but lived in So. California where they operated a popular salon for years.

Contessa Rock Style has salons in Rome, Florence, one in Miami and one in Shanghai. Here is the website.

Now that my hair drama is over I have one less thing to worry about. ha

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rare Richard Avedon Photos at Villa Medici and Musei Capitolini

On Saturday night I attended the opening night for the new Avedon exhibit. An expat friend who works in the arts and fashion and invited me. It was a fun night. Folks were very fabulous. We saw one women wearing sky high heels (I guess she wasn't walking on cobblestone streets) that had the British flag on them.

The Avedon photos were found in a trunk belonging to late model Anne Theophane Graham.

This is the first time the photos have been displayed publicly. If you are in Rome and like fashion and/or photography, the small show is worth checking out.

Avedon was one of the most influential photographers in the world. These photos, mostly from the early 50s, are incredible.

Here is more information from a Reuters UK article .

Monday, February 02, 2009

Octuplets. An ethical question or MYOB?

I first heard about this on Now the news about a woman from a L.A. suburb who gave birth to eight babies has become national and international news.

At first I thought, wow good luck with that. It’s her choice why are people judging her? Then some details (mostly from the grandmother) came to light.

She’s only the second woman to give birth to octuplets in the United States. This is a very rare thing.

The 33 year-old already had six older children. The oldest is seven and one child has special needs. She is single. The sperm came from a neighbor who is angry that she continued to use his sperm after he asked her to stop. He was getting married.

She loves babies. Is it a coincidence she went back to IVF after her youngest were no longer newborns? Hmmmm

Who is the doctor that transferred more than two embryos into a woman with six kids? How did she afford the IVF, which is very expensive?

She lives at home with her parents not because of an extended family situation but because she has no job. The family is broke. The grandfather who is Palestinian had to return to Iraq to work as a translator to bring some money in. I’m sure that is the last place he wants to be. He is the sole breadwinner for 14 children.

One of the eight babies is less than 2 pounds, the others avg. 5 pounds. How is she going to take care of 14 children?

This is different from the Duggar family who have 17 kids (without IVF or fertility drugs). The kids are spaced out and the older kids help with the babies. They are not on welfare and have a big enough home for their family.

I think this woman has some kind of mental problem. If one loves babies so much go volunteer at a hospital working with AIDS babies, become a nanny or a foster parent. I don’t know the medical term for her condition is but what is she going to do when the kids are older? Ignore them?

The grandmother said all the embryos are gone. She also said she wished her daughter had become a kindergarten teacher instead of having so many kids.

Of course there is a lot of controversy. Some say if you are truly pro-choice you can’t say anything about this woman’s choice. Others say since it might cost over 2 million dollars to take care of her kids who will have major development and/or mental issues, as tax payers people can complain about her selfishness.

Something doesn’t smell right with this. What was the doctor smoking? Multiple births are extremely dangerous for the mother and the children.

This debate is not going any way anytime soon. It’s recommended that doctors transfer no more than two embryos for women under 35.

What do you think?