Tag Archives: rome

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch

So you want to write a novel …

This video encapsulates it all.

Favorite quote: ‎”It’s Science-Fiction crossed with Chick-Lit, crossed with Literary Fiction.”

Maybe I need to stop going to book parties …

Listen

I know what you’re thinking. This song is incredibly random. It’s coming at you from summer 2007. I remember laying  with my sister on narrow beds in a old world hotel in Rome, watching this video. It was 107 degrees outside. If we sat still, we could feel the central air-conditioning blowing into our room through a tiny little vent. Apart from BBC, the only channel we somewhat understood was MTV Italy. They played this song on a continuous loop. (Guys, remember when American MTV played music videos? Like, when it was the reason the station was created?) My sister loved the fact Italian MTV played back-to-back music videos. It was a novelty compared to the Real World, MTV reality show network she was used to. I was amused by the fact an Italian pop star recorded this song in Spanish and it was a hit in Italy, but not in Spain. After our afternoon of MTV-watching, we started hearing this song everywhere; while walking in the Trastevere, waiting on a two-hour long line for the Vatican tour, on the train to Florence, and in the airport as we boarded a plane (along with a shackled prisoner) to Sicily.

When we returned to the states, Alexandra and I would catch each other humming this song for months after our trip, a sheepish smile crossing our faces when we called the other out on it. This song was a musical souvenir that bonded us in a land where we could only communicate with each other, where words ended in vowels, MTV played music videos, and everyone hummed along.

Read

I’m starting Steve Martin’s latest book this week. I attended a reading and Q&A he did at Barnes & Noble (Union Square) University last week and it blew me away. His prose writing achieves greater heights with each book he writes. Even if he wasn’t Steve Martin (genius and master of pretty much every medium he chooses) I would still be in awe of writing and exquisite sentence structure. An Object of Beauty takes place in the New York art world of the 1990s through to today. I can’t wait to get lost in the word canvas Martin paints in this book.

P.S. If, like me, you’re on the Twitter, you should be participating in #FridayReads

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Grazie, Dino

On my first trip out to Los Angeles, I was armed with one name and one meeting: Martha De Laurentiis. Martha and her husband, Dino, ran The Dino De Laurentiis Company out of the former Hitchcock bungalow on the Universal Studios lot. On the day of our meeting, Martha took an hour out of her busy, pre-production schedule to given me advice, make some phone calls, and supply me with more names. She became my mentor. Though I didn’t end up staying in California, Martha and I continued to stay in touch.

During my annual visits in July, it became a tradition to stop by Martha and Dino’s for lunch or dinner and a birthday toast — Martha’s and my birthday are three days apart. Dino would sometimes join us. Our conversations would run the gamut from movies (Italian, American, Japanese, it didn’t matter where they came from, just if they were worth watching) to books, to my former boss and his latest project. Dino would speak mainly in Italian, throwing out a few english words for my benefit. He was sharp, listened to everything and didn’t miss a trick.

One year I asked Martha for a list of Italian films to watch, starting with the neo-realists. In reply to my email, I received a syllabus worthy of a grad school film class. Three years later, I am nearly finished with the list. I’ve discovered some of my favorite films through their recommendations, including L’avventura and Dino’s own heart-breakingly beautiful, Le Notti di Cabiria:

When I traveled to Italy for the first time, Martha and Dino sent me off with a seven page list of where to go/what to do/see/eat in Rome. My family called it The De Laurentiis List and we never deviated from it. We went to some fantastic off-the-beaten path places, in both the heart of the city and the upscale suburban areas, where we ate and drank alongside Romans. We saw Italy through the eyes of an Italian rather than a tourist. In a sense, they gave me the gift of their city. It was one of the best presents I have ever received. Whenever someone I know travels to Italy for the first time, I send them off with a copy of The De Laurentiis List — the best form of re-gifting there is.

This past July was the last time I saw Dino. I went up to the house to meet Martha for lunch and our birthday toast. She was running late. Dino was there, sitting in the darkened living room watching the World Cup on a large screen. I joined him. “Who are we rooting for?” I asked. Dino looked at me. “You don’t follow football, do you,” he half-asked me, pretty much knowing how I would answer. “No, not really.” “Orange,” he said. “We like orange.” Orange was Poland. They were winning. Dino and I sat watching, he broke the silence by occasionally muttering in Italian at the men on the screen, until a player from the orange team head-butted the ball into the goal. Dino let out a cheer as the announcer yelled: “GOALLLLL, GOALLLLL, GOALLLLL!!!!” We watched the replay of the shot, then a replay of the replay. Martha walked in shortly after and I left Dino to cheer on the orange team alone. Our lunch that afternoon was punctuated by background noises: Dino shouting at the TV; the announcer’s “GOALLLL, GOALLLL, GOALLLL!!!” When the game finally ended, Poland had won. Dino was happy. And Martha and I toasted to another good year.

‎”When you are born and when you die…who knows? I don’t know for what this pebble is useful, but it must be useful. For if it’s useless, everything is useless. So are the stars!” – La Strada


popewatch.com

I’ve been joking that I’m going to start a website called popewatch.com so we know where he is at all times. I’m thinking of somehow bringing google maps into play with this scenario.

I initially came up with that idea last summer, while visiting the Vatican and seeing so many people being disappointed that the pope was not “at home,” but rather, at his seaside summer residence. There’s no sign that tells you if he’s in or not — somehow I had it in my head that it would be like visiting Santa Claus with a little clock sign up on his throne pointing to the time he’d be back. This is not the case, instead, you have to actually ask someone that works there. But it’s pretty much implied that during the summer months, no one is actually home in a city if they have the means not to be (pope included).

If the pope is home, he appears at his fourth floor window, which is thrown open and a red velvet banner is placed over the sill. As in our case however, the window remained shut tight against the 110 degree heat. Thus, popewatch.com so you know where he is at all times. This would be especially useful when it comes to traffic (especially in and around Rome) and when he visits other cities around the world, since it literally cripples transportation.

While the pope’s in our city, I will be happily ensconced in the suburbs, enjoying the lovely weather, our visitors from D.C., seder dinner and the beauty of having a street to escape to that the pope won’t be cruising down anytime soon.