Thursday, December 30, 2010

R.I.P. Teena Maria

I can't believe she died this week in her sleep at age 54. The New York Times obituary is HERE.

Referred to as the Queen of Blue-Eyed Soul, Teena was one of the few whites artists that received airplay on R&B/Soul stations back in the day.

Her first album didn't have her picture on the cover (this was the pre-music video era) and when her second album dropped with her picture, her R&B fans were shocked to find out she was a white woman from Santa Monica, California.

Her biggest hits were in the early-mid 80s but every time I went to a party in college, the DJs would spin some Lady T.

My favorite songs are Portugese Love, Behind The Groove and of course this one:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve, St. Peter's Square, Rome Italy

Last night Erica, The Professor, Baby X and I went to St. Peter's Square after enjoying a tradition Christmas Eve dinner. It was the first time I've been to St. Peter's on Christmas Eve.

The Vatican unveils their life-size manger on Christmas Eve.

It was raining and I'm not Catholic but I was moved by the entire experience.

Merry Christmas/Buon Natale a tutti!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A few holiday lights in Rome

I cannot believe Christmas is only five days away.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flashback Friday - Sandra Lee's Kwanzaa Cake


This abomination is probably one of the funniest and scariest things I have ever seen.

There is no such think as a Kwanzaa cake. Earlier, she made a Hanukkah cake because she had converted to Judism for her ex-husband. Never mind that nothing in the cake was Kosher.

She's dating New York Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo. Is Mrs. Lee going start screwing up Italian food? I could see her taking a can of Spaghettios throwing some grated cheese on top and saying "Here's a lovely semi-homemade Eye-talian dinner!" Her "tablescape" would look like a trattoria on crack and God only knows what type of hideous cocktail she would make.

Some people watch her show as part of a drinking game. That number is not enough to explain why her shows/books are so popular. She not a cook or a chef. I don't get it, I really don't.

I have no idea which part of this "cake" is more offensive. What do Corn Nuts (WTF?!) have to do with Kwanzaa? How can using all store bought goods represent a celebration of the harvest? My mind is blown. This woman is making millions a year.

Yep, making millions and doesn't even write these "recipes" herself. wrote a POST about the woman behind this and other lovely treats.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Favorite Things: Clementini

Never had these until I moved to Italy. They are grown mostly in Southern Italy, Morocco and South America. They are delicious.

At the market I go to, (Trionfale) you can buy a kilo for 1 euro. This morning I noticed they were over 3 euros per kilo at the Campo dei Fiori market. This is why I walk all the way to Trionfale...over triple the price? Uhm no.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Will Silvio Berlusconi survive....again?

***update. He won by three votes. This is a very narrow margin. I have no idea what will happen now. I assume more gridlock.

There are demonstrations in the big cities all over Italy today.

Tomorrow the Prime Minister is up for a vote of confidence. It's too close to call. If one or both of the houses vote no, he might have to resign. This article from the Guardian sums things up.

This drama is bananas. I don't get it. Last week, it looked like he was going down and now, who knows?

It cracks me up how Bossi, who is known for flipping the bird during the Italian National Anthem, is all of a sudden trying to front like he's some elder statesman.

There may be some major demonstrations and protests tomorrow. If you're going to be in the Center, you might want to check the news before heading out.

Speaking of politics, why was Kate Gosselin on Sarah Palin's reality show? Are they friends? Random.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rome...should I stay or should I go?

When I went to L.A. I was told by a producer I need to move back if I want to be taken seriously as a screenwriter in Hollywood.

My head was spinning. Of course my career is important to me. I had sacrificed a personal life since college for it.

Well, the joke's on me. If I were paid in full, perhaps the years of working for unstable people 24/7, the migraines and the panic attacks from stress would have been worth it.

I am fine with being single and child free. I'm not happy about being so broke when I first started in Hollywood, I missed weddings and other big occasions in my friends' lives back East. I'm not happy I let my former boss with his passive aggressive bullshit get to me. I'm not happy that at my age I don't own a home and still have no idea how my bills will get paid next year.

I'm older now and once again I made another big change in my life.

It's different this time. The move was to Rome was for my life. I was drowning in L.A. I kept a lot of things to myself but during my return trip every single friend commented on the physical and emotional differences.

Two of my closest friends from L.A. visited Rome during Thanksgiving. We all grew up in the "biz" together. They said it was interesting to see me in this environment and the kind of life I had here.

I thought long and hard about my trip to L.A. Could I move back? Would things be better as a writer vs. an exec? Am I doing great harm to my career by not living in Hollywood?

I did a pros and cons list (hello, I'm a Virgo). At the end, it was no contest. Not even close, I'm not going back.

The simple fact is, there is no guarantee returning to L.A. will make this what I do for a living any easier. One of the top screenwriters said to make it in Hollywood it's in your best interest to be a rich white Jewish male under 30 from the Westside of L.A....extra points if your father was in the business.

I'm none of those things. It's going to be a struggle regardless. I'd rather be in a place I love and where I have a better quality of life.

My lawyer and my manager reminded me that things really started to click for me once I moved. They stressed how difficult the business is and things are only going to get worse. Why fix what's not broken?

One of my friends who visited Rome over Thanksgiving is a producer. She said that the goal is to get movies made, all the rest is BS. We know so many writers who have sold scripts but none of their projects have been made in over twelve years. You can't build a career that way and eventually those writers leave the business.

If I wanted to work in TV I would have to move. Film is different. When I mentioned all the successful screenwriters in the UK, I was told, "you're not a white male and I'm a little worried that you're comparing yourself to Peter Morgan."

I wasn't but I realized at that moment I really can't deal with American ethnocentrism anymore. Film is a global medium. I resent that as a black woman I'm constantly being put in a very narrow box in my home country.

I find it fascinating that an Italian company had no problem buying an idea of mine set in an Italian high school.

I wonder sometimes if my parents were not from another country, would I have the same rah, rah, rah, America is the ONLY country that matters attitude? Of course as a super power we're important but we are part of the global community. Without international box office profits, the studios would go bankrupt.

I don't know what will happen with my career. I do know living in Italy at this point in my life is better for my mental health.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flashback Friday - Nat King Cole "The Christmas Song"

I wasn't feeling very Christmasy until two seconds ago. I won't be seeing my family this year.

While for some Americans, Thanksgiving is the big family holiday, for us it's Christmas.

Yes, my mom cooked a big turkey with all the sides, we watched football, etc. etc. but it's an American holiday not a Caribbean one.

My parents grew up celebrating Christmas. The Christmas season didn't start until my dad busted out his Nat King Cole and Mario Lanza (!) albums. There was a classical music one that I don't remember the name of. We added the Jackson 5 Christmas, Charlie Brown and a few others over the years.

When we lived in New York, we didn't have a chimney. I remember being very confused as to how Santa was able to get into our apartment. My dad said he came through the fire escape. Oh, okay.

The earliest Christmas morning memory I have, is running out into the living room, seeing the tree lit up, presents underneath, the smell of hot chocolate and Nat King Cole playing.

The holiday lights have gone up in Rome. There are Christmas apertivi, brunches and dinners to go to. No, I won't be in St. Martin this year but I'm pretty darn lucky to be in a beautiful city surrounded by amazing friends.

I finally felt ready for some Nat King Cole.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Sometimes I forget Mehcad Brooks was our intern

Especially when I see this photo.

When he was on "Desperate Housewives" a former co-worker emailed asking could it really be the same person?

He was a great intern. Very nice and hard working but I don't recall if he was pursuing acting. I think he was at USC. I do remember thinking he was quite tall.

Mr. Brooks' career is going quite well. He was/is on "True Blood" too. I don't watch that show so have no idea if his character is still on it.

***I was just informed that his character on "True Blood" was killed.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"The Sky Isn't Visible From Here", by Felicia C. Sullivan. "Freedom", by Jonathan Franzen

I received this book as a gift (thanks Susan!) for my birthday. It's excellent. I was completely invested in Patty and Walter's story, despite the fact that Patty was annoying as hell. Seriously, I thought she was one of most unlikable protagonists I've come across in a while. Walter had his issues too.

The way Franzen writes about marriage, love and family is incredible. I felt like I knew these people. He has a way of getting under the surface of what is going on in American society. If you enjoyed THE CORRECTIONS, I recommend FREEDOM.

I have linked to Felicia's fab BLOG in the past.

We met in Rome through a mutual friend in NYC when Felicia was on vacation. Reading her memoir was kind of strange because I had a hard understanding the amazing, together person I met had experienced such horrible things. How was she able to overcome them?

The book is beautifully written. Felicia's memoir talks about her difficult childhood with her drug addicted mother. After she graduated from college, her mother disappeared and she didn't hear from her for over twelve years.

I'm always drawn to stories that deal with identity. How we seen ourselves, how others see us. Growing up in a tough section of Brooklyn back in the 80s, Felicia didn't know where she fit in. Then at college with the rich kids, she had to try on yet another different skin. It's a fascinating book.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Favorite Things: Restoration Hardware's Cashmere Hot Water Bottle

When I was in Los Angeles, my friend Nichelle gave me this present. She heard about it from another writer.

At first I thought, "What in the old ladies gift is this?" Now, I have seen the light.

It keeps the bed nice and toasty. Very helpful for us single ladies. heh

Friday, December 03, 2010

Flashback Friday - Big Deal On Madonna Street/I Soliti Ignoti

A giant of Italian cinema died this week. Mario Monicelli was 95. The New York Times has a nice write up about his career.

His film 1958 film I SOLITI IGNOTI (English title, BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET) is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Starring Vittorio Gassman, Toto and Marcello Mastroianni, the movie is hilarious and moving.

It was later remade twice in America. The latest version was the film WELCOME TO COLLINGWOOD staring George Clooney.

Mr. Monicelli had a cameo in the film UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. He played the older gentleman who left flowers by the shrine every day.

RIP Mr. Monicelli.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Annette Bening is "brave" to show her wrinkles in The Kids Are All Right?

I kept hearing this over and over again. Imagine my surprise when I finally saw the movie. She looks like a women in her early 50s! What is all this talk about "bravery"?

Annette is a successful doctor in the movie. If she were Botoxed like crazy, it would have taken me out of the movie. It's a 4 million dollar indie flim. Why the heck would she need to look like a middle-aged lady trying to look 25?

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie. Annette and Julianne were outstanding as was Mark Ruffalo. There are some very funny moments.

Can I talk about Mark for a minute? He is sooooo sexy. Ever since I saw him in the film "You Can Count On Me", I've thought he's an excellent actor and the hotness as well. Good looking stars who can't act don't work for me on the big screen. I get bored and annoyed.

There is Oscar buzz for both actresses. Will they cancel each other out in the Best Actress category? I feel Focus Films had no choice but to push for both in that category. I don't think Julianne's role belongs in Best Supporting Actress.

The movie is controversial.


Some lesbians have a real issue with the Paul/Jules relationship. I'm not gay so maybe I missed something. From the beginning of the movie it was clear there were cracks in Jules and Nic's relationship. Paul just happened to be there and was attentive. I didn't think it was a contrived plot point.

I would love to hear your opinion if you saw the movie.

Sunday, November 28, 2010 arrives in Italy, curious to see if our books show up

I have ordered from (France), and the Book and received my books no problem.

When the news first hit about Amazon starting an Italian website, Linda, a Canadian exapt in Milan said, "It's exciting news, isn't it! Your books may not show up but it's the thought that counts." ha.

Poste Italiane has a terrible reputation. The funny thing is, it used to be worse. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that.

We'll see. I use the other sites only for English language books I can't find here. Living in Rome, I have access to great independent bookstores and several chains, like la Feltrinelli.

I love bookstores and will always support them, even if I have to pay a little more. I can't see buying Italian books from but if I lived in a small town, this would be a fantastic resource.

I assume they will start to sell more international books and other products. Amazon in the States sells much more than books.

Will Poste Italiane be up to the challenge of delivering books in a timely fashion? If it goes well, maybe Netflix would be next. Now, that's a service I can be very exicted about as most of the mainstream/commercial film DVD rentals places are automated anyway.

The picture above is from a billboard near the Ponte Sisto bridge. It's massive.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Italy.

Many Americans ask me if Thanksgiving is celebrated here.

Why would it be? It's an American holiday!

However, several of my American friends, who are married to Italians, will be hosting Thanksgiving lunches this weekend.

Turkeys have been ordered from the butcher, wines have been selected and I can't wait. The food is a mix of favorites from the States (stuffing!!) and Italian dishes.

I hope everyone Stateside has a fantastic Thanksgiving Holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Creative and life inspiration from Diana Strinati Baur

Since returning from L.A. I've thinking a great deal about my future. There are times when I lay in bed and cannot fall asleep because I'm too busy panicking.

While I'm excited and happy about Jumping The Broom, the reality is, it is one project. What happens next year? Will any of my other scripts sell? How will I pay my bills?

I read Diana's recent POST and had a moment (hopefully I can sustain it) of clarity. Diana and her husband, Micha, gave up very successful corporate careers and bought a ruin in Piemonte. How they transformed a "pile of rocks" into a beautiful home and B&B is incredible.

I have some control issues. Yes, living in Italy has forced me to slow down and "let go" a little. However, I still too easily work myself into a frenzy. Usually, I stress out about one thing, then it spirals into OH MY GOD WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME? WHY AM I STILL SINGLE? WHY AM I STILL BROKE? and on and on.

I usually keep these freak outs to myself so I don't scare my friends. Reading Diana's post I realized I'm going about things in the wrong way. I'm an optimistic person except when it comes to myself. I'm not sure why I dwell so much on what is not going on with my career and life. Is it some kind of Puritan guilt thing? My male Hollywood colleagues toot their own horns all the time. Even when they had nothing to do with a success of a particular project. ha

I've been procrastinating like crazy lately. I did have to write two treatments after my L.A. trip but after I finished them I've been very slow getting my new spec off the ground. Some days I feel so overwhelmed by all the things I need to do, I end up watching home renovation shows like Grand Projects/Grandi Progetti instead. Then I get depressed because I don't have a home to renovation. Then I think about why I don't have a home and spiral into a full blown existential crisis. This leads me to eat some San Carlo Rustica chips while I read home design and fashion blogs instead of working.

I need to get it together.

Like Diana said:
Begin Somewhere
Learn From People Who Do Want You Want To Do
Fight For Your Inspiration From The Very Beginning
Obstacles Will Hone Your Skill Set
Enjoy Your Accomplishments

Very wise words.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday - Ron Burgundy's definition of diversity

Today's Friday Flashback is from one of my favorite comedies. I saw this movie opening with my friend Susan and for some reason the phone booth scene made us cry with laughter.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Favorite Things: Fresh Pasta!!

Seriously, one of the things I love about living in Italy is easy access to fresh amazing pasta. Once I move to an apartment with more than 2 inches of counter space, I will finally make pasta from scratch.

All of the markets around me have vendors who sell fresh pasta. I have tried several and have my favorite stand in the Trionfale market.

There are even stores that sell nothing but pasta. What a glorious thing.

One question that kept coming up during my trip in carb-phobic Los Angeles was, how on earth did I lose weight while eating pasta?

Does anyone know how the gnocchi on Thursday tradition started?

I make a pot of marinara sauce. Freeze some of it. Buy some tortellini, add a side dish of vegetables or salad and poof, super easy, super fast lunch or dinner.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Over priced Italian restaurants and a list of my fav. restaurants from my L.A. trip.

I met a writer for dinner at AGO. Our dinner for two, with three glasses (not a bottle) of wine and no dessert, came to over $170. Yes, the food was delicious and it was fun to speak Italian with the host. However, that is bananas for some pasta with porcini mushrooms. Really.

I noticed in general the wine lists were very expensive. I get there's a markup and I understand why the Italian, French, South African, etc. wines are pricey but why the heck are California wines so expensive? Are they carrying the wines down the coast on foot from Napa Valley?

Unless an exec is taking me to Ago, I will have to stick to La Buca on Melrose or avoid Italian until I get home. Not sure what it is about L.A. and super expensive Italian restaurants (like Giorgio Baldi). In NYC there's more of a range.

I forgot how insanely huge portions are in most American restaurants after being gone for almost three years.

The only meal I could finish was my lunch at sushi restaurant The Izaka-ya. What's the deal with these massive portions? How do the restaurants turn a profit?

I had lunch with an actress from Canada at a place in Century City Mall. When we picked up our bowls, she said I had to take a photo.

I don't think the picture does it justice. I was starving that day. I could barely make it though 1/3 of this dish...a serving for one person. My friend couldn't finish her's either.

One serving of noodles is half a cup. I'm pretty sure my dish had at least four servings.

Here are the places I enjoyed during my trip.

A small Southern Mexican restaurant my hosts took me to. I would have never found it as it's tucked away in a small strip-mall on the Westside.
11676 Gateway Blvd (near Pico)

A big fan. Used to eat there all the time.
8454 Melrose Avenue (West Hollywood)

This is the more laid back version of Katsu-ya but it's just as delicious. Returning for a lunch with my former co-workers was a blast. If you're into celebrity sightings this place is full of them.
8420 West Third Street (West Hollywood)

700 South Grand Avenue (Downtown)
This restaurant opened after I left. It's Downtown with a great energy. It's loud so not the place for a quiet dinner. I was told the Lakers (not a fan) go there after games at the Staples Center. I had a very good burger and their cocktails are outstanding.

Very popular for brunch
7450 Beverly Blvd. (West Hollywood)

1445 4th Street (Santa Monica)
An oldie but goodie for Mexican food.

202 Wilshire Blvd. (Santa Monica)
Does anyone remember the original restaurant in Georgetown (DC)?
I always get the chicken salad. I say I will try something new but then I don't.

115 South Fairfax (near The Grove)
The restaurant for the funky hotel, The Farmer's Daughter, TART is known for their somewhat pricey but good breakfast.

I also went to Quality on 3rd. Their biscuits still rock but the service was terrible. Especially since it wasn't crowded.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flashback Friday - In Living Color's Men On Football

The hat Damon's wearing kills me.

I wonder what happened to Tommy Davidson's career? In Living Color kicked off the careers of Jim Carrey, Damon Wayons, Jamie Foxx, etc.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lo Shopping: White Gallery in EUR. Fashionistas in Rome rejoice.

Actually, for me it was "Lo Browsing". My friend Erica has written a fab
POST about this amazing store. I'm still dreaming about the forest green Celine tote.

The store is opening a cafe with outdoor seating in the Spring.

I'm so over being broke it's not funny.

The architecture is very interesting. There's a lot of marble.

I think the books were for sale too.

Fabric for custom made shirts.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Favorite Things: A Pasta e Fagioli recipe from Giada de Laurentiis

I don't think I ever had this dish until I moved to Italy. Each region of the country has their own way of making pasta and beans soup. Every region thinks their way is the best/correct way.

I have heard it pronounced in New York and New Jersey as Pasta Fazoool.

With all this rainy weather I crave this delicious hearty soup.

Here is Giada de Laurentiis' RECIPE.

What is your favorite winter soup?

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Sartorialist comes to Rome!

Yesterday, I met up with Erica, her husband (aka The Professor) and Baby X to attend an open casting The Satorialist had in Rome. He's shooting the OVS campaign again and asked the ad agency if he could open it up to non-professional models.

While occasionally he will shoot fashionistas or celebrities on his blog, the majority of his subjects are interesting people he sees on the street.

Erica and I, much to the amusement of The Professor, were totally geeked to meet Scott Schuman. Scott was extremely nice and I was nervous. Yes, I knew I didn't have a chance in hell but it was fun to attend the casting.

Scott's blog gets over 150,000 hits a day and he has been called one of the most influential voices in fashion.

French blogger Garance Dore was also at the casting. I love her blog as well. And I told her so. She was very gracious. Recently, she and Scott became a couple. You can see how they influence each other's work.

Has anyone bought Scott's photography book? He has been doing book signings all over the world. I haven't seen it in Rome.

Sometimes Garance will post little shorts of Fashion Week or shows that she has attended/shot. They are fantastic. I really love the passion she and Scott have for what they do.

Garance is writing a series about how she went from being a frustrated illustrator to shooting ads for some of the top design houses in the world. It's a great read. Her site used to be only in French but now she does have an version translated into English.

Scott, Baby X and Erica.

Lights, camera, action. There was a pretty big turnout yesterday. Thank God we got there early.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Trailer for Jumping The Broom

I am so excited about this cast! It's a good mix of familiar faces and some break out performances.

This is Salim Akil's feature debut and he did a great job. The film looks gorgeous. Every penny (the few we had) is on the big screen.

The trailer will be in front of "For Colored Girls" this weekend (in the States).

JTB is a small indie movie. It will be on about 700 screens. As we get closer to the release day I will try not to freak out.

I've been told already by several writer friends not to read reviews. It will be hard for me not to do so.

Opens Mother's Day 2011.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Social of the best movies I've seen in a long time.

I had a chance to see it when I was in L.A. (it opens in Italy next week).

I read the script earlier this year and understood why so many people in my industry loved it.

There is some backlash. Some folks think Aaron Sorkin is overrated and the movie is sexist.

The movie is based on a non-fiction book and court documents. Aaron defended himself against the sexism charges. As for him being overrated, when other writers say that, I chalk it up to pure hateration. Really.

The man broke almost every rule Hollywood is shoving down our throats when it comes to writing a script.

There's voiceover, flashbacks, an unlikable protagonist and the movie open with a long scene full of quick dialogue between two people sitting at a table. This script is fucking brilliant.

In a climate where the majority of movies are geared to teen boys with ADD, I walked out of the theater moved and inspired.

Aaron (a fellow Syracuse University Alum) should win the Oscar for best Adapted Screenplay.

It's a drama but like The SOPRANOS there were many laugh out loud moments. I will see the movie on the big screen again and buy the DVD.

This is not a movie about Facebook. It's so much bigger than that and very timely.

Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara and Armie Hammer (in his first major movie role) were stand outs in a movie filled with excellent acting. Jessie Eisenberg...fantastic. There were several times I wanted to punch his smug face in. Other times I felt bad for him because he was so delusional about basic human interaction. I think people can stop comparing him to Michael Cera now.

Fincher proves again why he's one of the most interesting directors of his generation.

I'm glad Amy Pascal (the Chairman of Sony Pictures) took a risk and greenlit this movie.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Lo Shopping: Los Angeles edition. Club Monaco and J.Crew FTW

It's election day in the States today. I dropped off my absentee ballot while I was in L.A. Tomorrow we will have a new Speaker of the House.

Speaking of Los Angeles (okay, that was a stretch) I didn't have time or the budget to hit any of the fantastic boutiques on 3rd, Beverly, Abbott Kinney, etc. I desperately needed some basics, like one pair of jeans.

Clothes in Europe are a slimmer cut. What is a 6 in America is a 10 here (seriously) and most stores do not go much higher than than.

Having a limited budget forces me to pay attention to every single thing I buy. Even when my financial situation improves I will continue to do so.


What is going on with this store? Patrick Robinson is a very talented designer. I do not understand why the clothes looked so awful and the fit sucked. I used to have excellent luck with their jeans. This time no dice. The fabric felt and looked cheap and none of the styles fit.

I know they are opening one in Milan and Rome soon. We'll see what they'll sell here. Maybe I've aged out of the GAP? Then again, how can you age out of classics? The GAP has been struggling for years. They're getting slammed on the lower-end by H&M/Zara and on the higher-end by J.Crew.

That said, I went to the Gap Body section in their store at The Grove. Hands down one of the best places for yoga pants, cotton panties (much better quality than Victoria's Secrets) and PJs.


I went to the one on Robertson. Friendly, helpful and generous with the samples. I finally tried the Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak after hearing so many people rave about it. Blogger Afrobella also said it was a great product for black women with natural hair. Worth every single penny. It's an excellent conditioner.

I interned at the flagship NYC store during college. I've always loved this store, especially for cosmetics, shoes, housewares and bedding.

I stuck to my list and stayed on the first floor. I wish Bobbi Brown sold her cosmetics in Rome. New color lipstick for me, her Blackberry. It's a pretty plummy color and the closest I could get to a discontinued Trish McEvoy shade. I almost got sidetracked at the Chanel counter but remembered they sell Chanel all over Rome.

The J. Crew of Canada. I can't find any of the dresses I bought online for a photo so believe me when I say I scored. I wore one of the dresses, this Jackson Pollack type print, to a drinks a friend hosted for me at the Avalon pool bar. I received so many compliments on it. Several women said they were going to buy the dress. I have a particular shape, it's hard for me to find things that fit. I always find well-cut, fashionable (without being too trendy) clothes at Club Monacao. Their color palette is not as wide as J.Crew but I think both stores do Modern Classic well. Club Monaco is more Pradaish while J. Crew is preppier.

J. Crew

I have worn J. Crew since it was catalog only, then became a regular at their first retail store in NYC's South Street Seaport. The founder was from Montclair, NJ and the clothes used to have a very East Coast, outdoorsy prep school vibe. I've seen the brand struggle when they tried to be too fashion forward and when it because super popular. First Lady Michelle Obama has definitely increased the brand's profile. When her daughters wore J. Crewcuts (the online store for children) to the Inauguration, so many people went online it caused the site to crash. At J. Crew's 3rd Street Promenade store I finally found a pair of jeans. They fit perfectly. There were so many things I wanted to buy but remembered I have to pay rent.

Stuck out here. I did buy some tights and a sweater but their clothes seemed too business casual to me and kind of boring. I used to find great dresses there but that was over six years ago.

FRED SEGAL on Melrose
Went to look for a turban but all they had were headbands. The clothes in this store are too fabulous for mere mortals as myself. I went into the shoe department. There wasn't a pair under $500. Even when I have money I will never spend hundreds of dollars on a T-Shirt. I go through white v-neck T-Shirts pretty quickly. I'll stick with J.Crew and Club Monaco's.

However, it's a great place to buy gifts, books, candles, stationary etc.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Run, don't walk to Beppe E I Suoi Formaggi

Katie Parla wrote about this new cheese shop in the Jewish Ghetto.

Then Erica mentioned she had stopped by the store as well.

This store is going to be a problem.

I went there today to buy some robiola. The co-owner Francesco was so friendly. Next thing I know, I walked out with brie, the robiola, some kind of tartufo (truffles) cheese, a skinny long link of sausage and a bottle of Dolcetto d'Abla from the Piemonte region.

The store is not quite finished yet, photos still need to be hung, but if you like or love cheese (or wine from Piemonte or France) it a must.

The prices are moderate but the quality is very, very high. I spent 25 euros more than what I had intended to spend. I kind of wish I didn't know about this store. Katie Parla, I'm salty with you!

Her post (see link above) has photos. Do not read if you're hungry.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NYC's Magnolia Bakery has opened a bakery in L.A.

Back home in Rome.

My trip to L.A. (my first to the States since moving aboard) was very productive. I will write later about the whole "you need to move back for your career" advice I received.

I feel like I gained at least half the weight I lost. I went a little bananas with the junk food.

My former co-workers took me to lunch at the amazing sushi restaurant, Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya, on 3rd street. George Clooney's girl friend Elisabetta Canalis was at the table next to us. She's stunning in person. As is Kelly Osborne who was with her mother and brother at the table behind us. Has Kelly spoken about her weight loss? It seems like she's everywhere lately.

After lunch we walked up the corner to Magnolia Bakery. The bakery was one of my favorite places in NYC. This branch opened a few months ago in a former dry cleaning store.

If I still lived in L.A. I would probably eat a cupcake, a slice of cake or the banana pudding everyday as it's walk distance from my old apartment. Delicious.

It smelled so good in there.


I really like the decor. This shade of blue is very pretty.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Flashback Friday - The Mamas & The Papas "California Dreamin'"

I heard this song the other day zipping down Olympic Blvd. The weather has been cold, foggy, and rainy. I forgot how thick the marine layer can be.

I love the harmony in this song. Simply gorgeous.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"WTF. Are you aging backwards?!"

A producer asked me that question. I feel like Benjamin Button.

Here are some more quotes from my L.A. trip:

"If you move back to L.A. I will kick your ass."

"Why do you look younger?" Studio executive.
"Because she moved out of this crazy ass city," Agent.

"You haven't aged at all."

"How is it possible you've lost weight eating pasta?"

"Are you dating?"

"Who are you dating?"

"Do you have a hot lover?"

"What's up with the sexy times?"

"I like your hair. You found a hairdresser in Rome who knows how to cut black hair?"

"Do you speak Italian?"

"Tell me what do you do everyday." (I heard that one a lot)

"Do you miss L.A.?"

"What do you eat?"

"Are you in love...what's his name?"

"How do Italian women wear high heels on cobble stone streets?"

"You're glowing."

"I hate you."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flashback Friday - Swimming With Sharks

Perhaps this movie from 1994 should be filed under documentary.

Check out Benecio in one of his first roles.

The shoulder pads are huge.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Randomissimo - Hollywood Edition

Ciao Bloggisti from "The Big Orange". Hmmm, I was never a fan of that nickname.

This is my first trip back to America since moving to Rome. Many expat friends told me I would have reverse culture shock. However, other than almost passing out in the supermarkets (more on that later) and the strangeness of not hearing Italian all the time, it feels like I never left. The traffic still sucks, people still complain about the "biz", and barely anyone walks on the street.

With three hours of arriving at L.A.X. I saw my former boss in Beverly Hills. I went to buy a phone at AT&T on Santa Monica Blvd and Bedford. As I crossed the intersection, a car beeped at me. I thought the driver was honking at the lady next to me who had a ton of cleavage going on, so I ignored them. Then someone rolled down the window and said my name. It was Don Cheadle in the back seat. Random.

You know you're on the West Side in L.A. when there's Valet Parking at a supermarket. That the store is already in a mall with plenty of parking and there's still Valet, says a lot.

I walked into Gelson's and almost passed out (same thing happened earlier at Ralphs). So big! All the choices! The fruit is perfectly lined up (and super expensive). I was paraphrasing Kanye in my head, "Yo Italy, I'mma let you finish but America has the best junk food of all time!"

Seriously, I forgot about the soda, chips, cookies aisle. Where did all these new products come from? There are like ten different versions of the Oreo cookie.

I bought the Entenmann's Raspberry Danish. It couldn't be helped. I was craving it a few weeks back. I was filled with joy as the lady rung it up. It takes so little to make me happy. It's kind of sad.

Within the first 24 hours of my arrival, I was told by two industry execs I need to move back to L.A. if I want to have a career in this business. Heavy thing to think about. Still processing.

Why the hell is there June Gloom in the middle of October? The marine layer is so thick.

Club Monaco, how I've missed you. I'm loving the new items for fall.

The friend I'm staying with went with me to Club Monaco and told me I need to accept that I have lost weight since moving to Italy. I keep trying on clothes a size too big. She insisted I go down a size. She was right.

I have no money yet I went to J. Crew and other places anyway (I'll do a Lo Shopping post later) as I have no clothes. I have a zillion meetings, lunches, dinners and I can't be looking crazy. I'm justify the spending the money as early Christmas present. Plus I'm super stressed about my career (especially after the "you need to move back" comment) and some retail therapy was needed ASAP.

I'm looking for a turban. Haven't found any.

Nobody flirts.

Mexican food, hello, I've missed you too.

Downtown L.A. more restaurants and services (supermarkets etc.) have opened in the last 2 1/2 years. I had a dinner meeting at a new place called Bottega Louis. It's Italian so I had a burger as I can eat Italian when I get home. The burger was amazing. More on that place in a upcoming food post.

The weaves are still out of control.

There is an Obika (an Italian restaurant based in Rome) in Century City Mall! I can't believe it. It was packed at lunch time.

Traffic is still horrendous. Nobody should talk smack about drivers in Jersey until they have tried to go anywhere in Beverly Hills during the middle of the day. People, please use the freaking turn signal and get off your cellphones.

I was worried about driving as I haven't been behind the wheel in a year. It's fine and fun (when not sitting in traffic). I have an automatic. I can't imagine trying to tackle that hill at La Cienega and Sunset with a stick. I slide backwards with an automatic. Maybe next time, if the rental car company has them, I'll get a stick. I don't want to forget how to drive one after spending all that money at the L'Autoscuola.

I miss Rome.

Air France has great service.

Going through U.S. Customs was interesting. Very intense. We had to put all our bags on the ground so the cute security dog (a beagle) could sniff them. I was asked a bunch of questions. The officers were friendly but for foreign visitors it must be a pain to have to get your fingerprints scanned, etc.

The mood of the electorate is beyond angry. The mid-term elections are going to be brutal.

There's a lot of Spanish spoke in Los Angeles. Thanks to learning Italian I can understand some of it.

I met a black security guard named O.J. I feel bad for brotherman.

Century City Mall, not as amazing as Short Hills (Jersey for the win) but it's a darn good mall.

All the leaf blowers, that sound is so L.A. to me.

Trying not to have a panic attack about my career. Could I move back? I have a lot to think about on this trip.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Flashback Friday - Run-DMC - Peter Piper

Man, do I feel old. This song came out 25 years ago.

I saw the Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake clip of the hip-hop medley they did backed by The Roots. Priceless.

One of the songs was this classic. Good times. Remember those huge glasses? I think they're coming back.

RIP Jam Master J.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I'm going to rebuild my wardrobe (eventually). My Style Inspiration: Shala Monroque

Despite having no money, I've been pulling photos from magazines and fashion/design blogs as I dream about rebuilding my wardrobe.

I was having dinner with an expat friend. Like me, she also lived in Los Angeles before moving to Rome. I told her most of my clothes are too casual for Rome and for my age.

When I moved to Los Angeles from New York City, I had a lot of black (of course) and winter clothes in my closet. It was all wrong for sunny Southern California.

The style of the two coasts couldn't be more different. However, one positive thing about moving West was, I started to add more color to my wardrobe. With my dark complexion certain brights, yellows, blues, greens, really pop. When I would wear white (rare as it gets dirty quickly) my friends/colleagues would always compliment me.

Black was a uniform for me and my co-workers when I lived in NYC. It was easy and flattering (so I thought).

My L.A. wardrobe was all over the map and not in a good way. My body and L.A. "fashion" do not mix. I can't wear cute cammies over skinny jeans as my large breasts are real and therefore I need a bra. I think it's weird to see women in their 50s dressing like teenagers. I get it though. The pressure in L.A. to look like a member of "The Hills" is unrelenting.

Now, I'm ten years older and living in a city that's closer to NYC than L.A. when it comes to fashion. I have yet to see an Italian woman or man in the supermarket wearing pajama bottoms.

Thanks to the "Jersey Shore", people think people from Jersey dress like Snooki and Jwwow (even though both of them are from Upstate New York).

That was not the case in Verona, New Jersey, where I went to junior high and high school. It was the 80s and the most popular style was preppy. Sure there were a few girls who had super big hair but looking through my yearbook, there was a lot of L.L. Bean and Izod. And the Madonna influence. Some girls would combine both.

Someone said "Style is what you have, not what you buy." Fashion is different from style. A stylish persons looks great regardless of what is going on in fashion. They know what looks good on their body.

I wasn't sure what the hell my style was when was in L.A. During the move to Rome I had to seriously downsize. Then I realized my style is Classic/Eclectic, bigger emphasis on Classic. While I can appreciate minimalism, it doesn't work for my short, curvy body. Bohemian can dwarf me, or make me look like I'm wearing a costume.

As I get older I have more confidence to embrace color and my Caribbean roots have definitely influenced me. This bring me to Ms. Monroque. It seems like she's everywhere lately. Vogue (American and international editions), Harper's Bazaar, fashion blogs, etc.

Shala's from St. Lucia and moved to New York ten years ago. The editor-at-large of POP Magazine has great style. She was rocking turbans before they became "on trend". I adore turbans and wanted to get one for years but worried I would look like Mrs. Roeper. Having a short natural, there are days I am so sick of my hair.

I would wear scarves once in a while in L.A. but felt like I stood out too much. Now I don't care. I don't have a weave so I will never fit in there anyway.

Shala travels a lot for work and was the talk of the town during last year's fashion weeks. Her boyfriend is influential art dealer Larry Gagosian.

It's fantastic how she mixes high end designers like Prada and Hermes with vintage she finds on Ebay.

Here's a LINK to the Style Spotlight blog with some photos.

I love, love, love, the white and yellow Prada skirt, the red dress and the black outfit at the top of the page.

I started to write down the things I need to get my wardrobe together. Number one is a single-breasted trench coat. They're not easy to find and I can't wear double-breasted. Wait, I'm broke, I can't buy one now anyway.

Also, I'm going figure out how to wear heels on cobblestone streets. I have a few pairs of great shoes I don't wear in Rome. They're just sitting there in their boxes. Sad.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Fatamorgana Gelateria in Prati...I DIE!

Yes, I had to channel Rachel Zoe. It's that good.

Last week my friend Annie, concerned about my mental health, picked me up on her scooter and we went to try out the gelateria several friends have raved about.

I had an hour or so before a conference call with my manager regarding the latest draft of my spec. It felt good to actually leave my apartment.

It's funny that my favorite gelato places in Rome are all in Prati. So despite living within walking distance of the San Crispino by the Pantheon, I find myself in super residential Prati (not close to my house at all) eating gelato.

Fatamorgana is outstanding. It's fresh, made without preservatives and some of their flavors are very creative.

It was so delicious, Annie had to get two cones. The prices are cheaper than what you pay in the Center.

I didn't try the infamous Kentucky flavor as I'm more of a fruit person.

I will be back. It's located two blocks from the Trionfale Market and worth the schlep.

Via G. Bettolo, 7 (Prati)

I was overwhelmed by the choices. I went with one scoop of cherry and one scoop of blueberry cheesecake. Outstanding. I returned later in the week and had the vanilla with caramel. So freaking good.

Annie with her first cone. She had the Greek yogurt with Cacao. I'm going to get that next time if they have it.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Flashback Friday - R.I.P. Tony Curtis

Hollywood icon Tony Curtis died yesterday at the age of 85. He acted in over 150 films and was an accomplished writer and painter.

SOME LIKE IT HOT is one of my favorite films. I'm also a big fan of the following:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Exhausted, brain fried, overwhelmed, the Tea Party and watching bad reality TV.

I have a new manager. She's great. I love working with her. She's very proactive and doesn't play. She gave me an outrageous deadline for the rough draft of my latest spec. I met it, writing up to 17 pages a day.

With every rewrite the deadlines are shorter. Her notes have been brilliant. We talk about each draft, what's working, what's not. She asks me hard questions about the creative choices I've made.

This weekend was a killer. I wrote all day. Now I'm sitting in my apartment and I'm overwhelmed by the mess. My place is TINY. How the heck did it get so messy so quickly?

I HATE clutter. Like an almost irrational dislike for it (thanks Mom). One of my friends used to have an office with scripts everywhere. I used to get anxious sitting in her office and would wait for her by her assistant's desk.

I can't afford a cleaning lady. I know it's not that expensive but that's my grocery money.

I don't even know where to start. Dishes, ironing, sweeping? Not to mention some of the bigger jobs like switching my closet from summer to fall clothes. Since I live in Europe and have no closet space, all my fall clothes are in under the bed storage boxes.

I also need to mop my hardwood floors, clean the windows, dust everything, clear my dining table of scripts, notes, magazines etc.

I live alone in a 40 square meter apartment (approx. 430 sq feet). My commute consists of walking three feet from my bedroom to my living room/kitchen/family room/office.

As I have mentioned before, my mom somehow managed to work, commute, raise a family, cook, keep a spotless house, etc. Yes, we had chores and my dad helped (mostly outdoors stuff) but it's not like I was cooking dinner.

On the other hand, my mom didn't spend time on the Internet reading about the cast of Jersey Shore. Can I say I find it depressing that Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is going to make 5-10 million dollars this year?!

Why the hell did I go to college or work so hard again? Why is Bristol on Dancing With The Stars? Why am I still broke?

Instead of cleaning I'd rather read fashion and home design blogs. I had to take a break from the news as this election cycle is making me downright stabby. If any of the Tea Party far right lunatics get elected to the Senate or Governorship, I fear for my home country. Why is the GOP trying to act like this is a good thing for them? The Tea Party candidates are knocking out incumbents/stronger Republican candidates and giving the Democrats a better change to hold on to or to win seats. Are they scared of the Tea Party? Why? Where are the moderate Republicans?!

There are not enough words for me to describe how much I dislike Sarah Palin. I will never forgive John McCain for unleashing this ignorant hypocrite on the American people. What happened to the John McCain from the 2000 election?

I watched a new reality show on E! about an entertainment P.R. firm in L.A. That almost pushed me over the edge. This partner in the firm told a young first year associate she needed to put collagen in her top lip because it was too thin. Mind you the woman is gorgeous. She goes with an older colleague to the doctor's office and starts crying. The doctor gives her a temporary filler that lasts a few hours. Even for that she had to get shots and there was a little bleeding.

She returns to work and her boss is like you look great. The other partner could tell she was upset. Then when she said she couldn't go through the real procedure, he flipped out. He started yelling at her and berating her in front of everyone.

I wanted to reach through the screen and punch him out. This sexist Ed Hardy wearing jerk needs to look in a mirror. I doubt any real client would care about the jr. publicist's face and would be more concerned about her ability to do her damn job. The sad thing is PR is one of the most stressful jobs out there. Shows like this makes it seem like it's a fall back job for people who are shallow but can't be famous themselves so they work for celebs instead. For example, this firm asked Mario Lopez to host a party for a tanning lotion. Mario is Mexican-American and has tan skin. He doesn't use or need tanning lotion. He told them that. He did it anyway. I wonder how much he was paid.

Not all reality is mindless. Top Chef and Project Runway are very interesting.

Okay, so why did I bust out laughing when I saw the photo of Bishop Eddie Long rocking skin-tight Spandex? Why are the folks who are the most publicly homophobic the ones who keep getting busted? Why would Bishop send such a photo to anyone other than perhaps a personal trainer?

Speaking of personal trainer, Tracy Anderson needs to STFU about her "Teeny Tiny body" claims.

Alright this post was longer than I intended. I'm procrastinating. My mind is spinning in a million different directions. I have a lot of questions but will save them for another day.

I'm going to drink a glass of wine and make some dinner. Of course this means I will have even more dishes to clean. Arrrgh

Friday, September 24, 2010

Flashback Friday - Desperately Seeking Susan - Trailer

This movie came out 25 years ago? How is that possible?!

Madonna was living Downtown and was cast before her singing career blew up. She was perfect in the role. I'm not sure what happened to her acting career. Bad choices?

The City has changed a lot since the early '80s. The film captured a pretty unique moment.

This trailer cracks me up. The narration is not great.

Have an excellent weekend.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Favorite Things: Gerbera Daisies.

Yes, I watch my budget closely but decided the 4 euros I paid for these flowers was worth it. It meant one less gelato or glass of wine that week.

I put them in an old milk bottle I bought at Gelson's supermarket in L.A. I know it's kind of wacky this silly bottle made the move overseas but I love it.

When I start making money I will always have fresh flowers in my apartment. Gerbera Daisies, along with Peonies, are among my favorite flowers.

Once I do buy a house in the country, I plan to work with a fab landscape architect and plant a gorgeous flower garden. I'm being optimistic despite having no idea how I will pay rent in a few months. I continue to read home design magazines/blogs and real estate ads for houses in Piemonte and Puglia. Denial is a good thing sometimes.

I wonder if there's a flower mart in Rome, similar to the ones in NYC or L.A. If so, is it near the Center?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Flashback Friday - Lucy Pearl - Dance Tonight - From the Love And Basketball Soundtrack

The first job I had in the film business was on the movie Love And Basketball.

I had moved out to L.A. a few months earlier with a few names and no job prospects. Looking back, I must have been on crack. I should have moved after saving up some money. Anyway, I had to start all over again. I was the oldest assistant on set and was told to lie about my age.

Nobody in Hollywood cared about what jobs I had before. The pay cut was outrageous and I would continue to make no money for the next eight years.

It's one thing to be a broke writer like I am now. It's another thing to be working 24/7 and get paid crap. However, it's Hollywood. There's a line of people who would (and can) work for free.

I LOVED working on this movie. Some of my friends really dislike being in production. Yes, the days are long and can be tedious as you watch take after take of the same scene but I enjoy seeing a movie come together.

It's sad this movie would never get greenlit today. We're going backwards.

Okay, trying to stay positive so will end with this clip from the movie's soundtrack.

Lucy Pearl was a collaboration between Dawn Robinson from En Vogue, Raphael Saadiq from Tony!Toni!Tone! and Ali from Tribe Called Quest.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some great advice for wanna be expats from Ieishah in Barcelona

One of my favorite bloggers was responding to an American who wants to move to Spain.

While her advice was to a black woman moving to Barcelona, this advice (except the specific catcalling) is universal.

Regarding the catcalls, maybe it's because I'm old or the neighborhood I live in (I notice when I'm by Termini I hear more comments, especially from the African and South Asian men) but all I get is a "Ciao Bella", "bellissima" etc. Not once in all the times I've lived or traveled here has someone made a catcall mentioning my race. Unlike in D.C. where I would get the lovely back handed "for a chocolate girl you're cute" compliments.

I cracked up reading her advice about American privilege. I was at a dinner party during my first trip to Italy and one of the guests told me he had a hard time reconciling his love for Malcolm X and jazz with his strong dislike for America. This was five years ago at the height of the Iraq war .

I wondered why/how this young Italian man connected with Malcolm X in the first place. He's barely mentioned in American schools. Is Malcolm's popularity (like jazz) greater overseas?

Speaking of Malcolm X, the movie was on SKY Cinema yesterday. I hadn't seen it in a while. Denzel knocked it out of the park. He looks nothing like Malcolm but within five minutes you forget and believe it's him.

I digress (which I do whenever I think about Denzel). Here is the LINK to Ieishah's post "Mastering Your Expat Life: Barcelona, The Starter's Kit.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A show celebrating Keith Haring in Rome featuring Jessica Stewart

The very talented Jessica was selected to be one of twenty artists paying tribute to Haring on the 20th anniversary of his death.

I met up with some friends at the opening last night in Monti. The turnout was fantastic. Congrats Jessica!

The popular artist Mr. Klevra was also included. I felt honored to have a piece of his art...temporarily.

I've linked to Jessica's RomePhotoBlog before. She has a great eye. Check it out for more info about this exhibit and to see her Flickr stream of the evening. She was able to take some photos of the art.

I remember seeing Keith's "people" all over downtown Manhattan back in the day.

Mr. Klevra at work.

Too bad I have to take a shower.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I can't believe it's been nine years.

RIP in Nigel.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Flashback Friday - Intolerable Cruetly Trailer

I thought this film was hilarious. The chemistry between Clooney and Zeta-Jones was fantastic.

I don't know what happened to the "leading man" in American romantic comedies. It's slim pickings. Justin Long is funny but is he a romantic lead? Did anyone see the Drew/Justin film "Going The Distance"? How was it?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Jumping The's a wrap

First congrats to two of our stars:

Paula Patton was just cast as an operative in Mission Impossible IV. This is a big deal. I'm still over Tom Terrific but I will see the movie to support Paula.

Julie Bowen was nominated for an EMMY for her work on the hit ABC TV (in Italy the show airs on Fox Life) series MODERN FAMILY. I think it's the funniest sitcom on TV. Hilarious.

After shooting in Canada, Martha's Vineyard and New York City, our movie is in the can. The shoot went well. As of now, JTB scheduled for a May 2011 release.

Once a trailer is cut, I will post it.

It's said a film is "made" three times...the writing, the shooting, then the editing. I cannot wait to see how it all comes together.

Monday, September 06, 2010

One of my favorite things: Hotel de Russie's Garden Bar

The other week my friend Erica took me to Hotel de Russie for a Birthday Drink.

This outdoor garden is one my favorites place in Rome. Located just south of Piazza del Popolo, the garden rear ends Villa Borghese Park. You feel like you're at your rich relative's villa in the country.

The prices are at the Beverly Hills/Madison Avenue level. 19 euros for a mojito?! However, they are delicious and very, very strong.

It's a great place to people watch. Last time I was there the crowd was quite eclectic. Chic locals, wealthy businessman from the Middle East, very preppy Americans who were staying at the hotel playing cards with their children, etc. This hotel (along with The Hassler) is very popular with the Hollywood crowd and many stars and producers stay there while in town.

If I had money, I would go there at least once a week.

Hotel de Russie
Via del Babuino, 9

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Rientro "aka Back to School"

Slowly, Rome is coming back to life. Thank God.

This summer even fewer of my friends were around. There was a mini-baby boom amongst my friends so many of them were at their parents/in-laws' places in the country/hills/beach for the entire month of August and some for most of the summer.

Some days it felt like I was the only non-tourist in Rome. Everyone in my building was gone.

The upside is, I got A LOT of work done. August was a productive month, despite the outrageous heat. A few days I didn't leave the apartment all day, it was too hot.

The next place I move to must have AC. I'm American, I can't take the heat. Back in early July, I went to a dinner party with my friend G. His friend has a lovely terrace but no AC and not even a fan. I'm perplexed how she lives in Rome without a fan. While I was sweating like crazy, she looked cool as a cucumber. I don't get it.

This morning there was a crispness to the air as I jogged through Villa Pamphili Park. I'm so glad the hot weather of July and August is over.

I'm looking forward to Fall. I have no idea why but I'm feeling very positive about the rest of the year.

Are you excited for Fall?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hurricane Earl hits St. Martin

Ciao bloggisti,

I've just returned from a last minute quick trip to St. Martin (more on that some other time). I was very worried about this hurricane.

It's the middle of hurricane season. Many islanders are on vacation and business are closed. I did read about some stranded American tourists who have to stay on the island as their flights were canceled.

I've heard from my family and while the power is out in some places, it seems the damage isn't too bad for a storm of this size.

The last big hurricane to hit the island was Hurricane Luis back in 1995. It was the worst hurricane to hit St. Martin in 35 years. It was devastating but the French side was rebuilt pretty quickly, while the Dutch side (i.e. Mullet Bay) took a little longer to get it together.

There are some pictures on this SITE. For those who speak French, there's a clip of a news report from Martinique.

This is the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I can't believe it. Has it really been that long?!

I hope this hurricane season is a mild one. There are parts of the Gulf Coast that are still rebuilding after Katrina.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Siamo in Ferie! (We're on Vacation!)

Well, at least this blog is. I'm starting a new spec and need to focus. Then again, after reading about the Justin Bieber biopic in 3D movie and the movie based on the Magic Eight Ball toy, I wonder if I should forget about writing original material and instead pitch "Slinky: The Movie".

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Art installation next to the Teatro di Marcello

I meant to post these photos weeks ago. I was walking by Teatro di Marcello when I noticed this carriage on a crane.

On the way back, I snapped these photos. I'm not sure how long this will be up. It was installed the same week at the MAXXI opening.

I wonder who the artist is.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Brother, I'm Dying - Edwidge Danticat, Dreams of Rivers And Seas - Tim Parks, Lunar Park - Bret Easton Ellis

My friend Erica let me borrow her copy of Lunar Park. I read it before Ellis recently ran his mouth about why there aren't more female directors. His theories (having something to with the male gaze) were full of crap. Anyway, while I HATED the book American Psycho (I threw it across the room when I was done with it. But I LOVED the movie, which was hilarious and featured an amazing performance by Christian Bale) I did enjoy Lunar Park. It's a weird book. The first part reads like an autobiography where Ellis expresses some regret for his past excesses and talks a great deal about his difficult relationship with his father. He uses real names from the publishing world and writes about how his life changed after Less Than Zero was published. Then all of a sudden, it becomes a thriller. Ellis swears his stepdaughter's doll is alive and is trying to kill them. No one believes him and thinks he's coked up again. I haven't read Glamorama or Ellis's new book but I think this is his best work since Less Than Zero.

I won this book in a contest on Milanese Marsala's blog. I've only read Tim Park's non-fiction in the past. Dreams Of Rivers And Seas is beautifully written but his characters were so damaged, I became frustrated with them. Albert, a well known and controversial anthropologist, has died. His son, John, flies to India from England for the funeral. John's mother, Helen, is a strange bird. I was very impatient with her. She's extremely cold to her son, as if he was an inconvenience. John, searching for an identity, finds India confusing. What were his parents doing there? Why did his dad die so suddenly? John is full of questions but may never find the answers.

A heartbreaking true story, this book by noted novelist Edwidge Danticat was hard to read. I don't want to give away the ending to those who didn't see the newspaper articles/press about the book. Danticat writes about her father and her uncle. Her parents moved to America leaving her and her brother to be raised in Haiti by her uncle until her parents could bring them to the States. The story moves between the present and the past. What happened to her uncle made the international press. Even though I knew about it, as I read about it in her book I became furious. That something like that could happen in my home country infuriated me. I have heard from non-Americans black and white that going through US Customs is not pleasant. Apparently it's so bad, it's one of the reasons Chicago lost the Olympic bid. I do understand why post 9/11 why we have more security. However, I find it a little frightening that the "Underwear Bomber" was able to get into the country (while on a watch list, with no luggage, a one-way ticket he paid for in cash, etc.) but a friend's British girlfriend is given the third degree while traveling to the States with her American boyfriend for the holidays.