Thursday, 24 April 2008

13 Books on my Shelf

Thirteen Books I Have On My Shelf

Writers read. If you want to be a good writer, you have to read. That's all there is to it. Bearing that in mind, here is a sampling of what you'll find on my bookshelves, should you happen to come by my house, sometime. Sure! You're invited, just let me know in advance, eh? ;)


The Entire Harry Potter series - the Scholastic (US) print. I have a few first editions in there, too. I've read and re-read the whole series a few times, now. In fact, I read the last two of the series in less than nine hours, each. I don't just read books, I EAT them.

The same goes for this series, of course. I've read and re-read every book in the saga, and I enjoy them more and more every single time. I honestly believe that "The Gunslinger" contains the single most perfect opening line, ever: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." Shivers! Ecstasy!

This is one of the first books I became obsessed with, when I was going into sixth grade. I was about 10-going-on-eleven when I found the book version of one of my favorite films. I had to beg my mom to get it for me (she didn't believe I'd finish a book this big!), but she did, and I read it roughly twenty times over the summer. I re-read this at least once a year, and I'm endlessly amazed by the depths of this tale. It's deceptively bucolic, after all - talking bunny rabbits? But in the end, nothing is as it seems. A stunner, and perhaps my favorite book of all time.

This is the most recent release by John Irving, I believe - and I have most of his works on the shelf as well. He's criticized for his recurring themes (absent parents, Amsterdam, "molestation" and others), but I feel that it simply takes me deeper into the universe he's created for the reader. Besides, so many of his books leave me in tears - of the best kind - for not wanting the story to end!


My husband encouraged me to read this one, and I loved it. Stefano Benni is one of Italy's foremost writing talents, and this tale of a young girl's family being destroyed by blatant consumerism is a startlingly profound tale, wrapped in delightful wordplay. If you've never read his work before, do give him a try (a few of his stories have been translated in English).


You've likely seen the movie - but did you read the book? It's much, much better, trust me! There's a depth to the characters (even Will!) that you just can't get from the film, and if you can make it past the scene of Marcus on the doorstep in the rain (that goes for the film, too) without getting misty, well... I just don't know you.

I loved all the books. I even liked the film. Why? Because I understand that Douglas Adams never meant for one medium to accurately reflect the others. And with insanity raging at the levels it does in these stories, do you really think a direct rendering is possible? We miss ya, Douglas... We need your irreverence now.


Oh, yeah... Adriana Trigiani's Big Stone Gap series. I've read 'em all - and loved 'em! - and not just because she's writing about the area where I lived for three memorable years (yes, it's a real place, y'all!). For best results, read 'em all in order: Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and Home to Big Stone Gap. These books were the reason my mother was sold on my Italian hubby in the early days of our relationship. Read 'em and see if you can see why.

Technically, this one isn't "on" my shelf - it's what I'm reading at the moment, and it's a chilling tale, so far. Roth is simply amazing. There's no other way to describe his work.

I'm Not Scared (Io Non Ho Paura), by Niccolo Ammaniti. This was made into a film, as well, directed by the incredible Gabriele Salvatores - and you've never seen anything quite like it. Inspired by a true story, this is the chilling tale of a small Italian town corrupted by greed in the midst of the hottest summer on record, and of one young boy caught unaware in the crossfire.

Forget "Under the Tuscan Sun" - this should be the classic ex-pat tale of love and self-discovery you read this year. DeBlasi's "blueberry-eyed stranger" spotted her during a journey to Venice, and when she returned, he followed his heart to pursue a romance with her. Who could blame her for being swept away? A fun read, with a realistic take on life in Italy for an American - especially one who has taken a big chance on a new love.

The History of Love - Nicole Krauss. This is one of the most haunting and perplexing novels I have read in recent years. It is also one of the most heartbreaking. I weep copiously each time I get to the final pages. It feels cathartic. Sheer beauty on the page.


Not a fan of Russian literature? Give this surreal treat a try and see if you don't change your mind. Entertaining, wry, daring and caustic, this is one book you must read before you die. It takes a devilish concept and spins a fantastic story that you won't soon forget. My hubby and I give this book as a gift to everyone - and they have always thanked us profusely.

That's it for the list... All that's left is to scroll down...

En garde!
(members of the 2006 French Junior Fencing Team)

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Thursday, 17 April 2008

Thirteen Crushes I Have Had

Yeah, I know - it's an oddball - but I wasn't able to prep anything in advance, and I wanted to take advantage of the power of the Internet. Bwahaahaaahaaa!

Anyway, these aren't in order, just how they came to mind as I wrote this...So, here goes:

Thirteen Celebrity Crushes I Have Had


Michael Palin of Monty Python's Flying Circus. I was eight and the show was in re-runs on PBS. I thought he was the cutest thing ever! (He turned out to be my first crush on a Northern England boy, too - and my first Sheffield lad, as well!) I still think he's adorable, even if he is old enough to be my dad. I don't care!

James Spader. I saw him on TV (the name of the program is lost to me, now) when I was about 12 or so - I was fixated on blond men for a long time after that. I don't see much of him now, save for reviewing those old '80s films, because I don't watch much TV. I hear that he's still a lot of fun to watch, though.


Carlo Imperato... Ahhh... You know him best (most likely) as "Danny Amatullo" from the TV version of "Fame". I had such a crush on him that I wrote my first ever fan letter. And got an autographed photo back. And then I lost the photo in all the moves during my early teens. Yeah, I'm still heartbroken. And he's still a cutie! :)

Dustin Hoffman. I loved him because of repeated viewings of "Little Big Man" when I was an impressionable girl. (About nine or ten years old.) To this day, I just find him compelling - I can't explain in greater depth than that.

C. Thomas Howell. OOOOhhhh, baby. When "The Outsiders" was made into a film, I was in Heaven, I tell ya! And that this cutie was selected to play Ponyboy was a real treat! I saw many of his later films, too, and thought he had great potential. I haven't seen his latest work, but I trust that he's gone on to good things? I sure hope so.


Kevin Costner. Just a pretty average-looking guy, really. I'd seen him in "American Flyers" (a sweet movie about bicycle racing) one year, and then found him in "The Untouchables." In those wonderful suits. And a hat. Ohhhh, Myyyyy, Gaaaaawd...! A short while later, "Bull Durham" followed. Let's just say that, for a period in the late '80s/early '90s, Costner found every button of mine and pushed it. I mean, bicycles, fedoras and long coats, baseball... What could I do? That's right. I lusted openly and often. So there.

Jarvis Cocker - lead singer of brit-pop band Pulp, and all around smart guy. He's got wit, a funky and unique sense of style, and those specs. Plus, he's from Sheffield, UK. (Love the accent!) He's the unlikeliest sex symbol there ever was, but he does something to me that I can't explain. And he's got a great voice, too. Listen to "Pink Glove", "Acrylic Afternoons" or any track from "Different Class" and tell me he isn't a compelling artist. I dare ya!

David Gilmour - my longest crush, ever. I discovered him when I was 16 and was mad for him until I was 31. I had a website dedicated to him. I flew from Florida to London to see him perform. I stood outside in the frosty London January cold to get his autograph (and I did get it!). I sat front row for two out of three shows and I'm a small blur in the video of those shows. Did I say "Crush"? Maybe I meant obsession...

Anthony Edwards. From "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" (he was one of the stoners), to "Gotcha", to "Top Gun" - all the way up to "ER", as a matter of fact - he was a favorite. I WUV him!

David Duchovny. I was an "X-Files" fanatic from midway through the first season onward - and he's the main reason why. I also adore his comic turns, and I think he's just dreamy in Romantic Comedy roles (I don't care what anyone says - I loved "Return to Me"!). Unconventionally handsome, with a wicked sense of humor. What more could I ask?

Don't call him "Tracy"! Eddie Izzard - smoking hot - and positively mesmerizing to watch on FX's "The Riches". Naturally, I'm SOL as far as seeing him live on his tour of the US - but maybe lightning will strike in my favor? Here's hoping!

John Krasinski and Martin Freeman, who play Jim and Tim on the US and the UK version of "The Office", respectively. I'm not sure if it was the character who attracted me first, or the actors playing the role, but they're both adorable, and make you really pull for them to win out. Of course, we know how Tim's story turned out - but I don't get to watch the US version here, so I don't know yet about Jim! Don't tell me! I want to see for myself!


Samuele Bersani. What more can I say? He's my current crush, one of my MySpace friends, and I've adored him since I first laid, erm, ears on him. I loved his voice before I could understand the words, and he's looking to be one of my long-term crushes, after all. I urge anyone who is willing to listen to Italian music to listen to him - you won't be disappointed.

And naturally, there's an extra treat for y'all... Scroll down...

Nick Beyeler - Gymnastic Aerobics World Champion and Aerialist.
I can't tell you what it means. But, honestly - do you really care?

Ciao for now!

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

13 Things About Raoul Bova

Welcome one and all to this week's Thursday Thirteen:
13 Things about Raoul Bova.

Why Raoul? Because the ladies love him, that's why. And I have pics to share. Those are all the reasons I need, thanks.

Raoul, all bundled up, in Predator vs. Alien. This is the last time you'll see so many clothes on him, here. I promise.

Besides, he provides quite a bit of, erm... Inspiration, for the writers I know. So, let's jump on in!

1) He was born August 14, 1971. (Which makes him one month younger than me... So he has to do what I tell him to, right? Heh, heh...)

2) At the age of 16 he won the Italian swimming championship of the 100 meters backstroke competing for the team S.S. Lazio, the oldest and most important sport club in Europe.

Splish, splash!

Mmmm... Backstroke...

3) At the age of 21, he performed his military duty in the Italian army's "Bersaglieri" (sharpshooters) corps. (Now there's an image, eh?)

Imagine these eyes sighting down a gun... I hate violence, I deplore guns, but still...!

4) He studied at the Italian Institute of Physical Education. (I could say so many things here...)

5) He was born in Rome. Naturally, he considers himself Roman and feels that he couldn't live anywhere else (a common Italian trait, of course). However, his parents are from southern Italy - his father is from Reggio Calabria and his mother is from Napoli.

Mamma's baby is alllll grown up...

6) He lost 14 kilos (31 lbs!) to portray Saint Francis in Francesco (2002) and named his second son, Francesco, after the Saint.

7) Before becoming an actor, he took an exam to enter in the "Carabinieri", the Italian military police but was refused. (Thank goodness! Though he'd have looked damn good in those uniforms...)

Well, he looks good in white, also...

8) He occasionally plays soccer with the "Nazionale Italiana attori" in charity matches.

9) Raoul made a nude artistic calendar in 2000 for the Italian magazine Max. (Oh, yes, indeed... And verily, we are thankful...)

10) His favorite writers are Paulo Coelho and Luis Sepúlveda. (Wow! They're two of my favorites, too! Good taste, there, Raoul.)

11) He is good friends with actors George Clooney and Alessandro Gassman.

(I personally enjoy this little factoid. Why? I like to picture Raoul hanging out with this:

and this:

and all the fun that could follow, if only in my head. Yes, I know. I'm a sick, sick woman... But y'all can thank me later... Heh, heh.)

12) Raoul, coming from Radulf, derives from the Germanic elements rad meaning "counsel" and wulf meaning "wolf".


13) He has been known to say that had he not gone into acting, he would have opened his own sports club and been a physical education instructor. (Imagine that... having this -

- as your trainer... Yeah, I'm winded just contemplating it.)

And, oh, heck, here's one last one!

Do what you will with it, ladies (and know who you are)!


Thursday, 3 April 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 13 Italian Proverbs

Thirteen Italian Proverbs

If nothing else, one must concede that the Italians are a colorful group when it comes to expressing themselves. Today, I give you thirteen of their most vivid proverbs.

1) A chi dai il dito si prende anche il braccio.
English translation: Give them a finger and they'll take the arm.
Idiomatic meaning: Give them an inch and they'll take a mile.

2) A rubar poco si va in galera, a rubar tanto si fa cariera.
English translation: Steal a little, go to jail; steal a lot, make a career of it.

3) Bacco, tabacco e Venere riducono l'uomo in cenere.
English translation: Wine, women, and tobacco reduces one to ashes.

4) Chi ben comincia è a metà dell'opera.
English translation: A good start is half the battle.

5) Chi fa da sé, fa per tre.
English translation: He who works by himself does the work of three (people).
Idiomatic meaning: Do it yourself if you want it done right.

6) Chi fa falla, e chi non fa sfarfalla.
English translation: Those who act make mistakes; and those who do nothing really blunder.

7) Del male non fare e paura non avere.
English translation: Do no evil and have no fear.

8) Eppur, si muove!
English translation: Nevertheless, it moves. (
Threatened by the Inquisition in his old age, Galileo publicly renounced his belief that the Earth moves around the Sun, but according to legend, whispered, "Nevertheless, it moves.")

9) Fidarsi è bene, non fidarsi è meglio.
English translation: To trust is good, not to trust is better.

10) Gli estremi si toccano.
English translation: Extremes meet.

11) Le bugie hanno le gambe corte.
English translation: Lies have short legs.
(My husband was told this by his mother when he was caught telling a lie involving the guilt of his baby sister in breaking something. He felt so guilty for having tried to place the blame on her, he hasn't told a lie, since.)

12) Il riso abbonda in bocca degli sciocchi.
English translation: Laughter is abundant in the mouth of fools.

13) In bocca al lupo.
English translation: Into the mouth of a wolf.
Idiomatic meaning: Break a leg!

And, in keeping with the fine Italian traditions of beauty in all things... Well, just scroll down. ;)

He's back again! :)

Constantino Vitagliano, Italian TV "Personality"

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!