One of my favorite Italian songs is by a young pop star, Francesa Michielin, from her 2015 album di20. She rose to fame when she won the 5th season of Italy's X-Factor. I find great emotion in this song. I think she captures much of what I have felt in my life when I have been (and still am) in love. Lyrics in both Italian and English after the video.
David Bowie's death hit me much harder than I could have anticipated. I was still basking in the amazingness of Blackstar, telling everyone I knew that they needed to go buy it, that I thought it was the best Bowie album yet. I certainly didn't expect it to be his last. I could write a whole post on how much he has impacted my life but I think everyone is starting to weary of the collective mourning that Bowie fans are going through. Instead, I wanted to share another place where he inspired me. A few years ago, he shared a list of his 100 favorite books, and of course, it's going around again. It was another poignant reminder of why I admired him so much. It got me to thinking about my own voracious reading habit. If I had to list my 100 favorites, what would they be? I found that it was a hard list to come up with--I have read SO many books. In recent years my reading time has dwindled but I bet on average, over the years, I have read 75-100 books a year. So which of those has really stayed with me?
Last year I had a few goals that I wanted to meet related to reading and writing, some of which I accomplished and some that I didn't. However, I did:
My 2015 New Year's Resolution of reading 52 books in 2015 is complete! I even did better than that and read a few more too.
60. Slade House - David Mitchell Ending the year with Slade House was a good decision. I slurped it up in about two nights of reading--it was that good. It's one of the most unusual ghost stories that I've read. Mitchell toys with point of view in the most artful of ways and his method of telling the story across the decades is equally masterful. I didn't find it to be a scary story, just one that kept me wondering what on earth might happen next.
One of the most well-known Italian Christmas carols outside of the US is Caro Gesu Bambino which means "Dear Baby Jesus." It's a newer carol, dating to about 1960 and one of the earliest American-known singers to cover it was Frankie Avalon. The lyrics are here (Italian and English) if you are interested, and below, Italian treasure Andrea Bocelli does a beautiful version of the song. Buon Natale my friends! And Buone Feste to those of you who are celebrating other holidays. I wish the best for you and yours this season.
I was watching the Italian station RAI Interational the other day and one of the things that I love about the station is that they have little segments with snippets from variety and music shows over the last 40 years or so. It's a fascinating look at the wacky, beautiful, funny and talented side of Italian performers. One of the things they showed last night was a bit from a show that the Kessler Twins did. The Kesslers hail from Munich and were well known in Europe back in the day, particularly in Germany and Italy. Here's a sample of their awesomeness:
I have been rather remiss, I fear, in keeping my book list updated here on my blog. I've been reading far more than I had hoped, but certainly not as much as I would like. I am happy to have passed the 50 book barrier with more than a month to spare! Let's see if I can get close to 60 books this year. I'm confident I'll finish at least 2-3 more this month, and hopefully another 3-4 in December. October
I posted last month about my goal of reading at least 52 books this year. The good thing is that I'm well on my way! Here are the books I read in June.
Back in 1987, archaeologists discovered a treasure trove in a floor drain of the Roman Forum. This "treasure" was 86 loose teeth, all intact but with cavities in various stages. Three decades later, they've finally determined that they were all extracted by a highly skilled dentist of the time. Also of interest, up in England, researchers have pinpointed the advanced stages of dental decay in a young Roman toddler, to excessive consumption of honey.
Medicine was quite advanced in Ancient Greece and Rome. Surgeons regularly practiced lobotomies, Caesarean sections (didn't you ever wonder where that name came from?) and amputations, and were the inventors of tools such as forceps, catheters, scalpels and bone drills. Along with all of this fancy "technology" the Romans also relied heavily on herbs and the beneficial properties of food. Pliny writes (in addition to telling us how bees manage their colonies) that honey is good for afflictions of the mouth, pneumonia, pleurisy and snake bites.
One of my goals this year is to read, on average, a book a week, or at least 52 books this year. I'm right on track...even a little ahead!
I'm not entirely sure what I think about drone technology. It has incredible possibilities and on the flip side, terrifying possibilities. On the incredible side of things, I love that you can be an armchair traveler and have a birdseye view of beautiful places in the world. One of my favorite videos of this sort is this wonderful view of Rome by drone. It makes me feel desperate to be there again, walking the streets where my novel's characters once walked. httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTw-kvXS9Sk
It seems like the last retreat has just come and gone and here we are again, leaving husbands and children behind, off to Maine and a kickass writing schedule with good good friends and inspiring fellow writers.
Many people I talk to think my retreat is a boondoggle of sorts, as though I'm only saying that I'm going to Maine to write but I'll really just be sitting on the beach getting tan. So to prove that idea wrong, here's our schedule.
Awhile back I mused on the myriad of writing rules that are out there to help any aspiring writer. Part of what was most amusing for me was that there were so damn many. We writers are wordy, opinionated sorts and it seems that everyone who is successful at their writing has a word of advice for other writers. I came across dozens upon dozens of long winded lists of what to do, or what not to do (all seen at the link above). And then I came across this bit of brilliance from Anne Rice, which I think mostly says it all:
On Friday night my husband and I had the immense pleasure of checking out a new restaurant in Boston, M.C. Spiedo, located in the Renaissance Hotel on the waterfront. The chefs are from Maine's famous Arrows and MC Perkins Cove, Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier (they're also Top Chef:Masters as well!). We're fairly big food nerds and love trying out new places, but when I heard about M.C. Spiedo's focus on Italian Renaissance inspired food, the excitement went to a new level. Here? In Boston? Someone creating the dishes from the era of Bartolomeo Scappi, the central character in my second book? How incredible is that?
Pretty damn incredible, let me tell you. The restaurant is modern, but everywhere you look there is a reminder of the past, from the big red bordello-style booths, to the large portraits hanging, to the fantastic bookplates from Scappi's L'Opera on the walls in the bathroom.
The movie Pompeii, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, is coming out in February and I have to say I've not really been this excited about a movie in a long time. The film has the eye candy of incredible special effects and also Jon Snow himself (Kit Harrington) but what has me most intrigued is that Anderson apparently cares a lot about authenticity when it comes to the story and the era. The film comes out on February 28. I can't wait to find out for myself if that's true!
I love the Ringing of the Bells very much, but it's all the more magical when done by Muppets!