Sunday, May 31, 2009

Roseto Comunale, Rome's Rose Garden

I have walked past this spot many times. However, last week was the first time I went into the garden. I had a doctor's appointment on the Aventine Hill and saw the entrance after getting lost.

The garden is built on the site of an ancient Jewish cemetery. From the top of the garden you can see that it's laid out like a Menorah.

The garden is free and for this blooming season is open May 16th - June 28th. It's worth a visit.

Here's more info on the garden, directions, from Wanted In Europe.

You can see the Palatine Ruins on the left.

"I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden." This a very pretty place. Smells lovely.

When I looked at these roses, the line "Think Pink!" from the film Funny Face came into my head.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Barcelona Wins...A Major Upset!

Remember how I asked where the Barcelona fans were the other day? Well they were at the Stadium and in my neighborhood.

The energy here was incredible. Was it just me or did it seem like most of the Italian fans were also rooting for Barcelona? If so, why?

Here is a great article and fantastic photo in the New York Times.

I noticed that most of the Barcelona fans were comprised of families. I saw many children sightseeing with their parents while wearing flags/team shirts.

I'm glad my "boyfriend" Mr. Henry was so happy. I forgot he was traded to Barcelona.

Manchester United fans have to be disappointed. All week I was reading/hearing how Manchester was going to kick Barcelona's butt. This surprised win caps a great year for Barcelona who also won the Spanish League.

The headline following headline from Reuter's made me chuckle:

Rome Confounds Critics With Smooth Champions League Final

Photo inside my local supermercato. The city banned selling of alcohol for 24 hours. Other then a few arrests, things went well.

Barcelona fans start to arrive early at Aristocampo, Campo dei Fiori.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why writers write.

When I read author Felicia Sullivan's post yesterday, it moved me.

Here is the link.

She is an incredible writer and I cannot wait to read her critically acclaimed memoir.

We met last year. Felicia was visiting Italy and our friend Kara suggested we meet.

The following really jumped out at me;

Somerset Maugham once said, “The only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty that men create out of chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all of these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.”

So, this is our work, fellow writers, and the start of our very auspicious journey: to mine for beauty within ourselves and in the world in which we live, to bring this beauty out of dark and into the light. To find our voice and speak it, shout it from moving cars, fire escapes, and rooftops. To find our story and share it, because words have this magnetic ability to bind us to one another, because regardless of where we live, the color of our skin, or how many zeros are in our checking account, every human being profoundly understands hurt, loss, joy, and love. And our words are connectors – they’re able to unite, even when it feels like everything else is falling apart.

Because being a writer isn’t about fancy book parties, handsome hardcovers sitting prominent on bookstore shelves, or the accolades of our peers – don’t get me wrong, these are all very nice things, but they’re merely things; a published book is an ornament, not a checkmark of achievement or a validation of your character. They don’t make us a man, nor a woman, and more importantly, and they don’t make us a committed writer. A writer isn’t someone who publishes a book; a writer is someone who writes, constantly, obsessively, and passionately. A writer seeks to communicate without interruption, bound on a constant, tireless search for truth – he or she looks deep within him or herself, then peers out into the world and tries to make sense of and between the two. In short, the journey of an artist is to show the reader where you are and where you’re going.

What I'm working on is entertainment. But even within my (hopefully) commercial wedding movie I had something to say. Movies are different from novels. They have to be exterior not interior and it's a director's medium. My script is a blue print for the house.

There are days I struggle with the whole "am I really a writer" thing. I know it's because I have yet to make a living from it. Reading Felicia's post was very helpful. I'm a writer because I have to write. There's something compelling me to create my characters and their worlds.

So why do you write?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Champions League Final in Rome - God help us.

Ha. Tomorrow is the final between Manchester United and Barcelona.

Where are all the Barcelona fans? Man U. is definitely in the house. I see their fans everywhere.

There are thousands of fans coming who don't have tickets to the game. I'm thinking I should avoid Campo dei Fiori and any other places where the hard core fans hang out. It's going to be crazy.

Manchester United is heavily favored to win.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Campo dei Fiori - Sunday afternoon, music and food

I love checking out streets fairs. I really missed them when I moved to Los Angeles from New York City. I'm glad to be back in a walkable city.

I do eat calamari but octopus is still a little difficult for me. I had this one dish at a friend's house that was delicious, octopus and potatoes.

Sorbetto hits the spot on a hot day.

Leave the gun....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Flashback Friday – Kool and the Gang - "Too Hot"

I was never a big Kool and the Gang fan. I thought they were a little corny (i.e. "Celebration") but all week this song has been running through my head. I do like this version. JT sounds great and there's a nice sax solo.

It's hella hot in Rome. A good 10 degrees (F) above normal.

I hope those in the States have a great Memorial Weekend and my fellow residents on "the boot" stay cool.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We interrupt this blog....

Ciao bloggisti,

I am starting yet another spec script so I will be cutting back on blog posts. Instead of posting Monday-Friday, I'm trying for 2-3 times a week.

It's been an interesting past few weeks. I'm trying to stay positive. At some point working 24/7 has to pay off.

I finished the rewrite on the wedding movie. One of the producers gave it to his boss. She loved it. The producers are going out to directors. Once a director is attached then my script will be sent to studios/buyers. Since you can only go to one director at a time, this might be a loooooong process. I have to believe this project will sell or lead to a writing assignment. If not, to say I'm screwed is an understatement. One producer friend said, "so what if it doesn't sell, keep on writing."

No matter what, I will always write but in order to be a working screenwriter one must actually get paid for said work. Like I said in an earlier post, 2009 has to be the year. After 11 years in this crazy, dysfunctional business, I cannot continue to bang my head against a wall.

It's good thing I'm in Rome, where my cost of living expenses are lower. If I were in L.A. trying to do this, it would be beyond depressing. Hearing an actress say, "I told my agent, it's bullshit I'm only making 2.5 million a year" when I'm trying to keep my lights on is not fun.

Being surrounded by everyone hustling to stay in the biz or get in to biz isn't healthy. That energy is not helpful when writing.

I think I had a minor breakthrough. I was/am so worried about being pigeonholed however, there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. It's kind of freeing. I will write what I want to write. I don't give a flying you-know-what-about making movies for teen boys.

I get it. Hollywood is what it is. It's boys club. Always has been, always will be. Thank god there are one or two female and male studio execs who are making movies for everyone, not just the targeted teen boy demographic.

OBSESSED may have received some of the worse reviews I have ever read but that movie, which only cost 20 million to make, is out grossing the much more expensive STATE OF PLAY and THE SOLOLIST. Hollywood only cares about green so maybe some more "urban/black" scripts will be bought. Is it too much to ask that some of them actually be good? grrrr.

Anyway I'm also writing a TV spec pilot. TV scripts have a completely different structure than feature (film) scripts. I'm having fun with it, even though I have no idea what I'm doing.

It's almost the half way point of the year. I'm happy with how things are going creatively. I'm insanely optimistic about the business/financial side. Something positive will happen in the next few months.

Some might say I'm setting myself up for disappointment. However, if I wasn't optimistic, if I really looked at the statistics of how many people like me (not a white male under 30) make it Hollywood, then I would have thrown in the towel years ago.

I have to think this way or I wouldn't be able to get up every single freaking day and work on scripts that might never sell. I wouldn't be able to handle the constant rejection. I would still be full of rage thinking about my horrible first D-girl (Development exec) job in the business.

I love movies, telling stories, hearing stories. I want to continue to work in this business.

I survived getting my Italian residency. Hollywood is not going to break me. ha

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rome, Sunday Morning - Men in Tights.

It was so hot yesterday. You know these folks were burning up.

I have no idea what the parade was for. I was running some errands and came across it.

The drummers were very good.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flashback Friday – Clueless - "You're Getting on The Freeway!"

The clip below is how I felt during yesterday's lesson. I haven't been on the Autostrada yet but Rome traffic is no joke.

I love this movie.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day Trip to Naples, Part Two: Electric Boogaloo

My friend E has posted photos on her blog including one of this fab woman on her motorino wearing plaid shorts and plaid shoes. Never mind that they weren't the same plaid pattern, girlfriend was rocking her outfit.

Everything seems bigger/exaggerated in Naples, including the fashion.

I forgot to mention the one brutta figura incident. E.'s response to the woman was, "I have a lot to say." haha

E. has a newborn so we don't get to see each other too often. The train ride was the perfect time to catch up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Italian Driving School Diaries - I drove into the Historic Center and lived to blog about it.

Dear Diary,

The lessons continue.

Last week I had to start on a hill. Not fun. ME NO LIKE.

Anyway, today we tried the hill again and I only stalled out once. I seem to have a problem with releasing the clutch too quickly.

Bruno asked me to drive part of the way to the Parco della Auditorium. It wasn't too bad. I'm used to that street now.

However, this time on the return trip back to the school, I drove the entire distance, which meant into the Center.

The scooters are one thing, then you have tour buses and a billion tourists who don't know how to cross the street.

After I made it in one piece through Piazza Navona and driving on Corso Vittorio Emmanuele (a major street here) I had to park the car. Putting the car in reverse I managed to back up without knocking down any scooters.

Bruno said I'm getting better but I really need to work on shifting from 2nd into 3rd and back. I keep going from 3rd into 4th instead of 2nd. That's a problem.

Downshifting from 3rd into 2nd before curves is going to take some time to get used to as well. So much to remember.

Over the weekend part of me was thinking, "Screw this. I'll just take the test on an automatic car and be stuck with an automatic license. It will be easier."

While I miss how easy driving an automatic is, I've been driving standard for less than two weeks. I don't why I thought I would drive like Formula One driver.

A couple of friends offered to practice with me. I think (hope) with more time behind the wheel, my comfort level will increase.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A quick day trip to Naples: Art and some of the best pizza in the world.

Yes I realize saying the pizza is some of the best in the world is a bold statement but I stand by it. More on that later.

On Friday my friend E. and I went down the Naples. Of course forgot my camera. If E. posts photos to her blog, I'll link to them.

Now that I think about it, we were a little crazy. We took the slow train down (had to save money) and spent more time on the round trip than in Naples itself. ha

First we went to MADRE (Museo D'Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina). There was a Pop Art exhibit (ends later this month). I'm not the biggest Jeff Koons fan or of Pop Art but loved the Museum.

There's a great permanent collection and the space itself is worth a visit. This contemporary art museum is a former 13th Century palazzo. On the third floor there is a huge terrace with incredible views of the city and Mount Vesuvius.

There is a fantastic Francesco Clemente mural and tiled floor.

After the museum we went to Santa Maria Donna Regina Vecchia. This church was started in 780. There was massive earthquake in 1293 and the church was rebuilt.

It's beautiful and one of the few Gothic style churches in Italy.

I was starving by lunch time. I had no idea the pizza place E. was looking for was the infamous Da Michele. There are only two types of pizza to choose from; Margherita or Marinara.

This place is worth the hype. I'm used to the thinner, crispier Roman crust (and like it) but I would return to Naples just for the pizza. After all it's the place where this amazing dish was invented.

Da Michele opened in the 1870 and it's nothing fancy. It feels like a neighborhood joint. There was a wait to be seated but the pizza arrives quickly after you order. We sat in the first room where we could see the chefs put the pizza in the old wood burning ovens.

I assume the key to the great taste are the fresh simple ingredients. Growing up with excellent pizza I'm picking about my pie and my slices. I have eaten Dominos and Pizza Hut in the past (college, office parties, etc. ) and I'm glad I never have to again.

This was my second time in Naples. It's Rome hectic, chaotic and mixed with astounding beauty. I felt so disoriented. There appears to be no urban planning at all. You walk down a block and look into what you think is a store window but it's someone's living room. The elaborate religious shrines are incredible. In Rome everyone wears helmets when driving/riding scooters, Naples? No.

Another thing that stood out in Naples was the lack of tourists. We saw a few in da Michele but that's it.

Random note: Did Trenitalia have someone completely redo their website? I bought my train tickets online and printed out my paper tickets no problem.

The site was easy to navigate and for certain routes you receive a discount when you book online. Two years ago I tried to use the site and got so frustrated I gave up and just bought my tickets at the station.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

USA agribusiness comes to Europe.

This article in the New York Times really bothered me. Why are EU subsidies going to a big Fortune 500 corporation that is driving out local farmers? I didn't even know US based agribusinesses ran farms in other countries until the Swine Flu outbreak. The Mexican farm being investigated as the possible source of the outbreak is American owned.

While it's nice the price of pork has gone down in America, I don't think the cost to the pigs and the environment is worth it.

True local meat is more expensive. But I don't eat meat often and I don't want to support places that treat animals like this:

Every stage of a hog’s life — from artificial insemination to breeding genetic characteristics — is controlled. A handful of employees tend thousands of hogs that spend their lives entirely indoors, under constant lighting, to spur growth. Sows churn out litters three or four times a year. Within 300 days, a pig weighing roughly 120 kilograms, or 270 pounds, is ready for slaughter.
Smithfield fine-tuned its approach in the depressed tobacco country of eastern North Carolina in the 1990s. In 2000, money started flowing from a Smithfield political action committee in that state and around the United States. Ultimately, more than $1 million went to candidates in state and federal elections. North Carolina lawmakers helped fast-track permits for Smithfield and exempted pig farms from zoning laws.

Some of this pork goes Africa. In the article one local African farmer said he can't compete with the cheaper imports so he is going to move to Italy or Spain for work. So weird that this man in a small village is being impacted by the actions of a wealthy company thousands of miles away.

More and more people are trying to be "locavores." To buy foods that are grown/raised near their homes and to support local farmers. I have found it a lot easier to do this since the move to Italy. Other than the occasional avocado and banana my fruit, veggies and meat come from the boot.

Yes it sucks when your favorite foods are out of season but after tasting real tomatoes again, I can't go back.

I read that in the States more people are planting gardens partly due to the economic downturn. It upsets me that so many people don't have access to good fresh produce. When I lived in DC the local supermarket had veggies and meat that was so foul it turned my stomach. Meanwhile in Potomac, MD the Giant Foods was amazing.

Do you garden or go to a Farmer's Market? Why?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Italian Driving School Diaries - Day one of learning to drive stick.

Bloggisti my instructor, Bruno, threw me into the deep end.

First he drove from the Autoscuola to the Parco Della Musica. There's a big parking lot there and the roads don't have too much traffic. I saw several other driving school cars there.

For my first time EVER driving a stick I didn't do too badly. I stalled out only twice. The clutch feels so foreign to me. To start the car I had trouble remembering to depress the clutch, then give some gas, come slowly off the clutch, etc. Ack.

Going from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd gear was actually fun. Stopping and starting are going to be a problem. ha.

We were driving on the quiet side streets. Bruno said I was doing a great job. Then instead of making a right onto another side street he had me go straight and turn left onto the busy street (Lungotevere) that runs along the Tiber. Was he crazy? WTF?

I went right into heavy traffic with scooters, underpasses and to top it off, it suddenly started to pour buckets. I drove closer and closer to the Center while trying not to freak out. Then he told me I couldn't use the right hand side mirror in the test so don't use it now, only the rear view mirror. Great.

Finally we were close to the Cavour Bridge and we switched seats. I'm glad he didn't make me drive through Piazza Navona.

Bruno told me I needed to relax. I'm a good driver and tensing up will cause me to make mistakes. I haven't driven in over a year, so I was feeling rusty earlier. Plus, I know this is strange, I get nervous driving with other people in the car. Even after 20 plus years. It makes no sense.

If I were going to take the test on an automatic car (I have that option but then I would only have an automatic license) I would take at least one or two driving classes. Bruno busted me for putting my right hand in the wrong position when I went to turn the steering wheel for a left turn. I griped the wheel with my palm facing upwards. That is one bad habit I need to break.

I think I will be better prepared for my next lesson. Now I get why my friends who drive stick/standard say you have to pay more attention. I also have to pay attention because these lessons are mostly in Italian. My comprehension has definitely improved since I started going to the school.

Monday, May 04, 2009

One advantage of having a ridiculously small apartment.

Of course lower heating bills but also it's easy to clean.

My place is so tiny it doesn't take long at all. I turn up some music and get to work.

Thanks to my mom I'm a clean freak. I really HATE clutter. Growing up I wasn't a fan of chores and now I get anxious when my place is messy. ha

The one chore I dislike is vacuuming. I'm so happy I don't have carpeting in this apartment. My place in L.A. had disgusting wall-to-wall carpeting. It was old and a very ugly color.

I don't know why I dislike vacuuming. It's not like the vacuums did anything to me. Am I the only one?