Friday, November 25, 2011

Flashback Friday - Nat King Cole - Hark, The Herald Angels Sing

The day after Thanksgiving means one thing to me and one thing only. I can start playing Christmas music!

I miss albums. There's something special about taking out the vinyl, checking for scratches/dust, and then putting the needle on the record.

I strongly believe jazz and classical music sound better on vinyl... warmer, richer.

My parents had one of those stereos that was inside a piece of furniture. It was a huge deal to me when I was old enough and trusted to put the records on the turntable. For some reason, I can't remember why, my mom never touched the thing. My dad was the DJ of the house.

Along with the Francoise Hardy, and The Mighty Sparrow records, we had a several Christmas albums. The album we played the most was the classic by Nat King Cole. I have this CD as does my brother and sister.

I love this man's voice. Now it feels like the Christmas season has now officially started. Thank you Mr. Cole.

Buon weekend tutti.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Brown Thursday?

I get it. I know that in America 2/3 of our GNP is from consumer spending. We used to be a country that made things, now we buy things.

Trust me, if I had a million dollars, I would do my part to help generate the economy. Still, something about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day seems wrong to me.

I wonder how surly the salespeople will be.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flashback Friday - Heavy D & The Boyz "Somebody For Me"

R.I.P. Mr. D.

When I heard Heavy D died last week from pneumonia at 44, I couldn't believe it.

Dwight Arrington Meyers was born in Jamaica (Caribbean represent!) and raised in the NYC suburb of Mount Vernon. He was very popular in the late '80s and the '90s.

Not only was he a successful rapper, he played a big role behind the scenes as well. As President of Uptown Records he hired a young Sean "Puff" Combs as an intern and guided the early career of Mary J. Blige. He collaborated on too many hits to list. Like Janet Jackson's "Alright" and the theme song to "In Living Color." He was also an actor.

Here's one of my favorites from 1989. Man, most rap was so innocent back then. You had your fun/party rap and your more political/social conscious rap like P.E., instead of the sexist super materialistic crap that dominates hip-hop now.

This video cracks me up. Check out the high-top fade haircuts and Al B. Sure!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Perfect E-book For People Who Love ltalian Coffee

My friend Sara Rosso has just published an e-book on

It's a great guide for anyone who loves Italian coffee and/or plans to travel to Italy.

Sara is an American who has lived in Italy for over eight years. She's also a very talented photographer and cook/baker. Sara was one of the first expats I met in Italy. It's partly her fault I moved to Bella Italia in the first place.

Here's a link to her BLOG that has all the information you need to purchase her book. It's only .99 cents. A bargain!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bye, Bye, Berlusconi!!!!

Last night I walked over to Palazzo Grazioli (the PM's residence in Rome) with my friend Max. Max lives in L.A. but is studying in Florence for a semester.

The energy was electric and joyous. On the news there was a clip of a choir singing "Hallelujah".

I can't believe he actually resigned. It's ironic that the financial markets were responsible for his downfall, not all his scandals, not the opposition, not his low approval ratings (below 25%), or the power struggles within his coalition.

As he left Grazioli, the crowd booed and people yelled, "Shame!"

Who knows what the post Berlusconi era will look like. He's left the country in a huge mess. I think Ari Gold from "Entourage" sums up how I felt about Silvo B. (NSFW)

The buses in the background were stuck.

My friend Max.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Very American Life, In Italy

Ciao Bloggisti,

Recently, it has become painfully clear that I don't really speak Italian.

I speak:
Restaurant Italian

I Can Get By Italian

Shelter and Fashion Magazines Italian (not to be confused with newspaper Italian. That I don't speak well)

Running Errands Italian (my butcher, the shoe repair guy, drying cleaner lady, etc. somehow understand what the heck I'm saying)

Easy Conversations With My Italian Friends Italian

I had a HUGE wake-up call the other week. I started an internship (more on that in another post) with a Italian furniture/interior design firm. Everyone speaks English, so we are able to communicate. Also, they have many international clients and vendors. I can help out with those projects.

However, it's an office in Italy. When I have to call Italian vendors or clients, I completely panic. This is not good.

My reading comprehension is decent, but I had no idea my verbal skills were so low. Then I thought about it. I speak and write English pretty much 95% of the time here.

I do have Italian friends, but I work in America. I watch American programming and read American news. I do know what is going on in Italy. However, I'm not married to an Italian and before I did not work with Italians.

If I'm honest with myself, I worry that being fluent in Italian will somehow, "throw off" my English. I'm a screenwriter working in Hollywood. I can't afford to forget words in my mother tongue.

It's easy in Rome to be lazy. There are so many expats here. Many of the shopkeepers speak some English because of all the tourists. The majority of my close Italian friends speak English.

I went to a party in Monti with a friend and her Italian friend. He said, "look around, this is why your Italian isn't stronger." Almost everyone at the party was American.

That same night I went to a good-bye party for an British-American friend who was returning to NYC. That crowd was the exact opposite, all Italian. This friend was in Italy for only a few months and spoke better Italian than I did (I had been here three years!) She's also a writer, writing in English. I can't use that as an excuse anymore.

My Italian friends switched to English because I asked them to or they sensed my frustration. I'm concerned that I sound like an idiot in Italian, so I clam up. I should just plow ahead and speak. Italian grammar is no joke. Even very well educated Italians sometimes misuse the subjunctive. I can't believe that tense shows up in childrens' books. grrrrrr

I know some expats get annoyed if you speak or try to speak Italian with them. I guess they think, "We're American why the heck aren't we speaking English?"

Well, I'm going to try an experiment, more immersion. It can't be full immersion because of the work I do. If I'm not working on my book, scripts, blog, etc. I need to be writing, reading, and speaking Italian.

Last week I watched THE GOOD WIFE dubbed and with Italian subtitles. About twenty minutes in I switched to original language and keep the subtitles. It was so much easier to enjoy the show because I didn't have to concentrate. After ten minutes I turned it back to Italian. I have to suck it up and stop taking the easy way out.

I wonder if it's useful to watch American shows dubbed in Italian, but with the English subtitles.

Anyway, I'm going to try this experiment until the end of the year. I'm curious to see if I can actually speak this language well or if I'm a lost cause.

It might mean stepping back a little from the expat scene. I'm not talking about my close friends who happen to be expats, but the larger circle of acquaintances.

My expat friends are fluent. Most of them are married to Italians and/or work with Italians. All of them have said this level of Italian is the hardest to get through.

The last two weeks, since starting my internship, I've spoken more Italian than in all of 2011. Today when I turned on the Italian news, I noticed my comprehension was better. Small steps.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Diving Into The Self-Publishing Pool

Ciao Bloggisti,

The last few months have been very hectic. I'm working on a few film/TV projects (all on spec) with various producers and my novel.

I cannot believe it's November. What the heck?

My manager and I decided after much discussion to self-publish my novel.

There has been a great deal of press lately about the massive changes in the publishing world. Nobody knows how things will shake out.

Hundreds of e-books are uploaded everyday. While many people dream of making some serious money, the reality is most e-books don't sell. The reason we hear about the success stories is because they are rare.

It's a lot of work. The writer is responsible for doing all the things a publishing house would normally do, editing, designing the cover, marketing, etc.

So why do it? I am tired of book agents (before reading a single word of my manuscript) telling my manager that it's impossible to sell Womens' Commercial Fiction to publishers, especially if the protagonist is African-American.

I know the agents are right. It IS very difficult to sell commercial fiction to publishers unless you're a reality star or writing about vampires.

We're going to try to sell directly to readers.

This will be a very interesting process. Who knows what will happen? I hope readers connect with the characters in my novel.

The goal is to have the book up later this year.

Have any of you self-published? How was your experience?

The Washington Post had a very interesting ARTICLE on the subject a few months ago.