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.