Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm an Auntie....again

My nephew Quincy (aka "Q") came a little early, just like his older brother.

Very excited.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Four weeks until Rome

Four weeks from today I will be on a plane. I don't arrive until almost midnight the next day. I'm using flyer miles so I have no complaints. I have been in the best mood despite my car drama of last week.

Last night I went to a co-ed baby shower and several people couldn't believe I was going out of town again. Didn't I just get back into the country? Yes, and I plan on not bringing a single script with me. Okay, maybe one or two to read at the airport. I'm not going to sit in any piazzas in Rome reading scripts.

I had a great time last night. It was a heavy industry crowd (the dad- to-be is an agent) but the people invited were true friends not just biz colleagues.

What a difference a year makes. I stopped going to showers last year because I would leave feeling awful. Now that my clock has rung (that ticking sound is finito) I don't beat myself up about not having kids. What's done is done. I could adopt at some point if I ever earn a decent salary, but I know my chances of having a baby at this age are slim. When I was younger and the window was still open I felt all this pressure like time was running out. That I wasn't dating didn't help.

I love my nephew and can't wait to meet nephew number two who should be making his entrance into the world in a couple weeks. Yes, I did think by this age I would be married with two children, but it didn't work out that way.

I have to say without getting all L.A. crunchy, working on the book also helped. What started out strictly as an American woman in Rome book, has also touched on identity and how do we define success. The yardstick used here is making me crazy. I need to define it for myself. I don't know when the American dream became all about getting paid and/or being famous.

Speaking of being famous there were some actors at the party last night and a bunch of writers and directors. Some of them I have not seen since my first production company exec job. One director I met when he was a music video director and my friend had just signed him as a client. Since then he has directed four films including a couple of huge international hits. I was truly happy to see how well everyone was doing, including my hosts. When I first met my friend he was an assistant (an agent in training) on a desk working insane hours. He still works insane hours but now he is kicking ass and has some incredible clients. His wife (aka sfashionista) has become one of my closest friends and is one of the most creative, grounded people I know.

One of my friends at the party who is a little older than me told me I must live in the present more (yes she is a native so. cal woman). She is right. It's hard to do. I need to stop dwelling on the past and obsessing about what may or may not happen in the future. It's a very American way of looking at the world. Sometimes things are just out of our control, shocking as that might sound. My Roman friends think it's hysterical when I say things like "I'm planning to move to Italy in three years." It's crazy talk. I mean who the hell knows what will happen next week?

So I might not have a nice ride or a kick ass house in the Hills, a boyfriend or a bunch of money in the bank. It's okay.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You on a diet by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

I finally broke down and bought this book after hearing so many good things about it. My mom used to work with Dr. Oz and said he was the nicest man.

I kick off the diet on Saturday. I better finish my swedish fish candy today.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lezione italiano, car drama

I finally have my car back after paying over $300. I forgot to mention in an earlier post the stronzo (shithead) who hit my old car last year is not paying my insurance company. Therefore I will not be reimbursed my $500 deductable. I am so glad I called my insurance company the minute the accident happened and did not let the mom of the driver convince me to resolve the problem ourselves. I highly doubt she would have sent me a check for 4K to pay to repair my old car.

I went to my make-up class last night. It wasn't too bad. We worked on comparisons (meglio, meno di etc.) This class is one chapter behind us. I don't like losing a chunk of my weekend, but it's better for me to take classes on a Saturday. Trying to get to Westwood after work is a major pain. I am so wiped out from work I really can't concentrate in class. After class (two of my friends are in the class) we went to the "W" for dinner. It was good to catch up. One friend is dating a man in Florence. Amore.

I called Forest to say congrats on his nomination. I figured I would call his cell and just leave a message since he is so busy. Of course he picked up. I really hope he wins. He was amazing in LAST KING OF SCOTLAND.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I love New York, The Hills and a little Ocsar

Yes, it's Oscar morning. I haven't printed out the list yet. From what I saw on the news there are many major stunners. Glad to see the surprising Ryan Gosling, Pan's and Paul Greengrass noms. I still haven't seen Dreamgirls but for it not to receive a best pic or directing nom is a shock, since the PR campaign was spinning it to be a lock to WIN best pic (I didn't believe that. Everyone here who has seen it says it's okay not great, esp. once Hudson's character leaves).

All this love for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is very interesting. Can it pull an upset against BABEL? Oh well, I will be on a plane to Rome during the Oscars so I will have to hear the results when I stop over at Heathrow. I hope my former boss, Mr. Whitkaker, wins for best Actor.

Now from honoring the best in film, let's talk about the worst in TV. I LOVE NEW YORK is so bad it's amazing. Last night there were so many great quotes like "Pootie has lost his damn mind" or "Jesus, let's us pray for Whiteboy (yes that is one of the bachelor's name) who lost a friend today." We had temper tamtrums, a man passing out and a bacherlor named T-weed (another great name) who said he was worth a 100 million dollars (hahahah). It was all fantastic.

I have never watched LAGUAN BEACH or the HILLS before. I watched THE HILLS last night because it was on before J.Lo's dancelife show. I couldn't stay awake past 10:40, so I only saw THE HILLS. I fear for our nation. Why does everyone one the show say "like" every other word? Who are these young clueless people?

My car still isn't ready. Very annoyed. I have to catch a ride with one of our screenwriters for our studio meeting. I better have the car this afternoon so I can make it my make-up Italian class tonight.

Monday, January 22, 2007

HBO's ROME

Too bad this is the last season. I don't understand why, since all the sets have been built already. I wonder what they are going to do with them once the show shuts down. They spent over $100 million on the sets.

When I was in Rome back in May, a friend at HBO arranged a tour. The historical consultant, Jonathan, along with Grace, one of the producers (who I met randomly at a dinner the night before), took me around the set. Unbelieveable. The scale of the sets and the amount of detail were incredible.

It was funny to see "Roman soliders" in full costume, smoking and speaking Italian on their way back from lunch. The scene I watched on set (the show down between Marc Antony and Octavian) aired last night.

I also saw the sets left over from the GANGS OF NEW YORK. Where is Daniel Day-Lewis these days?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Car issues again, Hillary get in the ring, the book

First, I missed my Italian class today because my car started smoking, made a horrific noise and wouldn't start. AAA came and towed my car. One of my belts broke and it will cost me $350 to get my car back on Monday. Sigh.

Hillary says she's in. This is shaping up to be one of the most interesting Presidentials races in decades. There are a bunch of Republicans and Democratics already in the race. It has been years since we haven't had an incumbent or current VP running. I am still doing my research on the candidates. Looking forward to hearing what they have to say.

I spoke to one freelance editor yesterday. The fee? $8,000. Let's just say that is way past my budget. I am waiting to hear back from a few others.

Last night a screenwriter friend took me to dinner at Ago to celebrate my book. She is so sweet. I am still working on it but she said finishing drafts of 300 plus pages is an accomplishment. She liked the book and had some good notes. She is a very talented writer and her comments made my day. She also told our waiter I spoke Italian (ha). He asked me some questions and then complimented me on my outstanding Italian. (ha, again)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Yet another book about Rome

So I'm reading my daily dose of Media Bistro and there is an article about Regan Books. The imprint is being shut down. One of the books that will be now published under the HC name is a memoir called WHEN IN ROME. How An American woman lost weight, eating, living and loving the Roman way.

Of course I had a freak out. This book is coming out May 07. From working in film I know buyers do not like to buy material that is similar to what they already have in development. I am trying to get more info about the book. I think it might be more in the vein of FRENCH WOMEN DON'T GET FAT. I hope so.

My sister told me not to worry. WIR is a memoir and my book is fiction. If I would be so lucky to find a buyer for my book it would be at least a year or two before it came out.

I am also stressing out a little because I am close to the finish line. Yes, I have had people give me feedback. I like getting notes and working hard to make my book better. However, looking for an agent is a different story. I don't want to embarrass myself and nobody likes to have something they have worked on for so long be rejected.

I'm beginning the process of looking for a freelance editor to read my book before I send it to any agents.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro

One word. Amazing.

The story of a young girl during 1944 in Facist Spain, this movie is a stunning work of art and an accessible moving film. The fairytale world is creepy, but the human world of "Il Captain" is even more frightening. Sergi Lopez, whom I've seen mostly in French films, plays a brutal man. Some of the movie is tough to watch and it is def. not for young children.

One of the producers is Alfonso Cuaron, who directed the incredible CHILDREN OF MEN. It is outrageous neither one of these two brillant filmmakers were nominated for a Director's Guild Award.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Golden Globes

I spent MLK jr. day watching a little bit of the parade and suffering from the migraine that would not go away. I stopped working on my book, my head hurt so much.

Regarding the Globes: I thought Meryl's speech was great and was glad to see Forest and Helen win. Sasha Baron Cohen is very attractive. I am not mad at Isla.

The Globes seemed to lack energy this year and I kept switching back to that wonderful show, I LOVE NEW YORK. Mere words cannot describe it.

That's all. Back to work.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

First day of Italian class, Under the Sand by Francois Ozon

Allora, my first day of Intermediate Level Two wasn't too bad. Yes, I would start speaking in Italian then switch to some bizarre combo of English and Italian. After six months of no classes, it will take a while to get up to speed.

I really like my Professor, Laura (pronounced laawh -rra). She is from Northern Italy and has been in the U.S. for only a few months. She moved here with her American husband. I understood 90% of what she said, which is pretty good. My former Professor was from Genoa, but he lived in Rome for years. I notice when I would take classes with subs from other parts of Italy I had a hard following their accents. There was one professor from Milan who spoke so quickly, I was completely lost most of the class.

We spent a majority of the class on grammar and of course it was....the dreaded congiuntive (the subjective). A verb tense rarely used in English, but important in Italian. I think I finally got it, well at least how to use it in the present. My class is small, five of us and we are around the same level. There is one big director in my class. We were talking after class. He mentioned a book I like and he is going to direct the adaptation. I have to say he was very down to earth during the class and not stuck up. I knew his name and credits, but not what he looked like.

UNDER THE SAND by Francios Ozon. This is the fourth film of his I've seen and like the others, I enjoyed it. Charlotte Rampling is fantastic. She plays a women who's husband disappears while swimming at their country house. However, she pretends he's still alive much to the dismay of her close friends.

Thank god for foreign films and filmmakers or else Charlotte Rampling, Dame Judi Dench and Helen Mirren would not be working. This Hollywood fascination with vapid pretty non-actresses, like the Jessica's (Simpson and Alba), is boring. I'm still salty about the last Oscar ceremony, where a celebrity like Alba (granted she looked pretty in her dress and was in Us, People etc. and I hear she is very nice) was selected to present, but an oscar nominated actor who is routinely hailed as one of the best cannot. I have to remind myself I work in a business and get over things like that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

David Beckham and Posh Spice are coming to Los Angeles

Yes, there was a terrorist attack against the American Embassy in Greece, but the number story on the local news last night was the arrival of the Beckhams.

They will fit right in. David according to Variety, wants to act more. While I am over men who are too manicured, esp. those with high pitched voices, David is an outrageously good-looking man.

Victoria Adams Beckham, with her Rachel Zoe sized double zero self and huge fake breasts will be right at home not eating at Mr. Chow's. I am glad Katie Cruise's friend will be here. Poor Katie is probably very lonely.

I don't know if this will increase the popularity of the world's number sport here in the U.S. I remember when Pele came to play for the NYC Cosmos in the 70's. I could tell you the names of some of the French, Brazilian and Italian players, but I don't know a single member of the USA team.

In other news, a USA Today cover story said over 80% of Generation Y (18-25) number one or two goals were to be rich. 51% want to be famous. The pollster said the reality TV craze and mags like Us etc. are fueling these desires. Great.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

I zipped through this novel in a of couple days. Her writing just blows me away, but I didn't emotionally connect with some of the characters.

If you go to the reviews on Amazon, they are very split. Some are call Smith's latest book a masterpiece and very deserving of the Booker nomination. Others, were quite harsh.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Truly human, fully ourselves, beautiful," muses a character in Smith's third novel, an intrepid attempt to explore the sad stuff of adult life, 21st century–style: adultery, identity crises and emotional suffocation, interracial and intraracial global conflicts and religious zealotry. Like Smith's smash debut, White Teeth (2000), this work gathers narrative steam from the clash between two radically different families, with a plot that explicitly parallels Howards End. A failed romance between the evangelical son of the messy, liberal Belseys;Howard is Anglo-WASP and Kiki African-American;and the gorgeous daughter of the staid, conservative, Anglo-Caribbean Kipps leads to a soulful, transatlantic understanding between the families' matriarchs, Kiki and Carlene, even as their respective husbands, the art professors Howard and Monty, amass matériel for the culture wars at a fictional Massachusetts university. Meanwhile, Howard and Kiki must deal with Howard's extramarital affair, as their other son, Levi, moves from religion to politics. Everyone theorizes about art, and everyone searches for connections, sexual and otherwise. A very simple but very funny joke;that Howard, a Rembrandt scholar, hates Rembrandt;allows Smith to discourse majestically on some of the master's finest paintings. The articulate portrait of daughter Zora depicts the struggle to incorporate intellectual values into action. The elaborate Forster homage, as well as a too-neat alignment between characters, concerns and foils, threaten Smith's insightful probing of what makes life complicated (and beautiful), but those insights eventually add up. "There is such a shelter in each other," Carlene tells Kiki; it's a take on Forster's "Only Connect;," but one that finds new substance here.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The two characters I had the biggest issues with were Kiki and Levi. I couldn't latch on. There is a difference between Black American culture and Black British culture. I didn't get KIki at all. Why did she marry Howard? Why did she have no friends? What black american mother from that generation shrugs when her teenaged son stays out all night in Boston, a city with serious racial problems. Just curious is 'scene" the new slang ala "word"?

My friends are spilt on this book as well.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Back on track, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

I am back on schedule,waking up at 5:00 a.m., going to the gym and then writing for two hours before work. I extended my workout to forty minutes. I was started to look like the Michelin Man so I had to cut into my writing time a little bit.

I am enjoying this latest re-write. One of the notes I received said the bones of the novel are there, but I needed to add some meat. Taking the time to sit and re-reading it over the holiday after taking a break really helped. I was able to read the book with semi-fresh eyes.

Speaking of novels I read ANGELS AND DEMONS by Dan Brown. My sister let me borrow her copy. It's a very quick read and not grounded in reality. There is no way you can get across town the Historic Center of Rome within minutes. Akiva Goldsmith is getting paid four million dollars to adapt the screenplay. On Hollywood-elsewhere.com one poster said that is a lot of money for Zeroxing a book.

We'll see if they can make an entertaining movie out of this book. There is even more exposition in ANGELS than in DAVINCI CODE, which was the most boring movie I attempted to watch in a long time. They are going to have to spend a lot of money on sets, since they will not be able to shoot anywhere near the Vatican. Unless the movie changes drastically from the book, I imagine the Catholic Church will be salty about this movie. I'm very curious to see who they will cast. Perhaps Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Alessi Boni among others, will be joining Tom Hanks. ANGELS will probably be just as critic proof as the first one and make a zillion dollars worldwide.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Alfonso Cuaron's CHILDREN OF MEN, I LOVE MISS NEW YORK and a cure for the post-holiday blues

Wow...I am still trying to figure out if the movie I saw was one of the most depressing movies I have seen or one that showed the power of humanity. What I do know is the movie is visually stunning and Mr. Cuaron is one of the most talented directors working in film. Period. I loved A LITTLE PRINCESS and Y TU MAMA TABIEN. I hear his HARRY POTTER (The Prisoner of Azkaban) is one of the better ones of the series. I could not get into the first one so I haven't seen any of them from beginning to end.

The premise is in 20 years or so humans are not able to reproduce and Britain is the only country left standing. Terrorists have used nuclear bombs to wipe out most of the world. Millions of refugees are pouring into England and the gov't is rounding up all illegal immigrants and taken them out. Literally. Clive Owen has to get one of these refugess transport papers. That is all I'm going to say. Despite following the movie with a Miss New York chaser I still had trouble sleeping. There is one shot alone that is worth getting the DVD for. I hope in the commentary the filmmakers explain how it was executed.

I LOVE MISS NEW YORK. Really what is there to say about this? Where did they find these men? Chance is crazy and Romance? Please. Sister Patterson, (I thought her name was Michelle), Miss New York's mom is rude. Also I wonder
how do people get tiime off from work to appear on shows like this.

This time last year I went into a major funk after spending time away and with my family. The best way to cure these blues is to think about my next trip. I booked a trip to Rome using my Frequent Flyer miles. I am already counting down the days. I am leaving the day of the Oscars. Can I afford it (I still have to pay for housing and food), not really. I do need to buy a lap top and a new couch? Yes. Instead my mental health is more important and already my mood better. Non vedo l'ora per la mia viaggio. (I can't wait until my trip) .

Monday, January 08, 2007

Anguilla, melodramatic relatives and I heart Williams Sonoma

It's good to see that Anguilla (italian for eel, named by Christopher Columbus) has not turned into a super sceney St. Barts. Yes famous people do go there, Bill Clinton was playing golf the day we went to check out St. Regis Temenos, but Anguilla is still laid back. I heard the local gov't is putting a hold on any new foreign investment.

The island is part of the British West Indies, population approx. 8,000. Both of my grandmothers were born there and I spent many summers helping herd goats, freaked out by mongoose and going to the beach.

I love going to SXM, but there is a downside to small island living. One of my aunts had a fit because she felt we didn't spend enough time with her at her birthday dinner. She was worried one of the other guests was going to gossip about how her nieces and nephew didn't care about her. She was so salty she dissed my mom at church, as if our mom had anything to do with our "horrific" behavior. We called our high maitenance aunt and worked everything out. My aunt is too much. She is so fearful of "catching a draft" and getting sick, she puts on a hat before she opens her fridge.

I used the W/S gift certificate from my sister and brother-in-law. There was a big sale at the Beverly Hills store. I bought Ina Garten's latest cookbook. There are at least 15 recipes I want to try. I also score with a blue and white cheese platter from France that was so pretty. I almost lost my mind in the store.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

online dating

My sister during the holidays kept encouraging me to give try it again. I do know two women who have met their boyfriends online. However, it's not for me. It's very time consuming to read all the profiles and I have heard too many horror stories about men posting old/fake photos or just lying about their single status. Seeing how one of the things I miss about living back east is the sense of community and the daily human contact, why would I date online?

Seeing this article in the NYTs sealed the deal.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/07/nyregion/07triangle.html?ref=nyregion

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Westin, beaches and french bagettes

I have heard the horror at Dawn beach looks better on the inside. We drove by there last week and I almost cried. The hotel looks very corporate, like it belongs on Route 3, miles outside NYC. It takes up too much of the beach and the parking lot is huge. That side of the island is very windy and is on the Atlantic Ocean side. I heard more than one local saying they hope the next big storm takes it out.

I don't know what the Westin was thinking. This hotel is part of the Starwood group which includes the W and the St. Regis, which are very nice. Why would they build a non-descript hotel like that in the Caribbean? Also what was up with all the security? Yes crime has gone up, but St. Martin is much safer than other islands and cities in the U.S.A. I get the sense this all inclusive hotel (you never have to leave because there is a casino in the hotel) is for people who want to come to the Caribben, but not stay IN the Caribbean. The food and drinks are very expensive and most of the staff seem to be from other islands, so their knowledge of the island is limited (see jess's blog for a first hand account). Who cares that they have the largest infiniti pool on the island? We can use infiniti pools back home. Beaches like Dawn Beach are rare. I was talking to my former boss who has a time share on the Dutch side. There are no property taxes or capital gains taxes on that side of the island. Also zoning laws (if there are any) are lax. This is why the Dutch side is more developed than the larger French side. On the French side there are taxes and zoning laws (and the roads are better). The amount of construction happening now is going to over develop St. Maarten right into the ground.

Speaking of beaches, Le Gailion was incredible and we loved Guana Bay which we visited for the first time. It's a little hard to find, but worth it. The old Scavenger's crew is there on Sundays and will be opening full time sometime later this month.

I ate so much fresh, warm french bread, none of my clothes fit. LOL. I also average two frozen drinks a day. Good times.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Year!!

I just returned a few hours ago so I will post later about my fantastic trip to SXM and Anguilla. I already miss the view of the mountains from my bedroom and bathroom windows.

First, I hope everyone had a great holiday and best wishes for 2007. I like lists and always make resolutions. I usually stick to 75% of them. Last year voluteering and reading more non-work related books were high on the list. I will try to continue with those resolutions this year. In no particular order here are the new ones I wrote the other day for 2007:

1. After being in paradise for two weeks, I realized I really must talk to my landord about some changes. If she refuses to do them, I will move budget allowing.

2. Lose weight. I'm not going to go on a "diet" but will try to eat better. The goal is to drop one size,

3. Finish novel.

4. Save more money, at least 10% of my little salary.

5. Taking writing classes

6. Understand Intermediate Italian level two esp. freaking Passato Remoto and Congiuntivo.

7. Go on at least one proper date. Not sure how I will accomplish this goal but I figured it wouldn't hurt to say it out loud. I am so ovah this "strike". My mom asked my brother in law during the holiday about fixing me up with one of his friends. Between my hairstyle and my single status she is very concerned about me. LOL.

8. Get a mammogram and a check up at the dentist. I don't have dental insurance but it's better to pay now for maintenance then wait until something hurts.

9. Be more patient, less judgemental and critical of others and myself.

10. Try to look at the postive side of things instead of dwelling (obessesing really) on the negative. I made major progess on that front in 2006. Having a job I enjoy and spending less time with super negative friends has help but I could improve.

11. Consider moving up my "stop living in L.A. full time" goal. Instead of three years maybe I could do it in two. We'll see. I have already cleared one major hurdle by getting my E.U. citizenship.

12. Yes it's a cliche (ala stop and smell the roses) but I really need to have more balance in my life and live a little.

Okay I have 80 new emails to read. In later posts I will do a SXM wrap up. Other than some drama with a very melodramtic aunt I had a great time. I spent some quality time with my family, met blogger Jess, relaxed at some of my favorite beaches for hours and saw some hot gerdamnes (not sure about the spelling. They are the police on the French side, very attractive).