Sunday, May 31, 2009


I am really not doing much these days. I don't mean to lapse into silence here, but I just don't have much to talk about. My beloved boys of summer return for a new season of Entourage in a couple weeks, along with a fresh batch of True Blood and Edie Falco's new series, Nurse Jackie. Maybe that'll give me something to talk about. I'm already deeply missing my local movie theater, which closed down just after Christmas. I used to go to a movie at least once a week, and now, suddenly, I can't even see the new Terminator. Sucks.

But, luckily, some of my friends have been more industrious than I. So let's talk about them.

Donald Capone has a review of a story up at Five Star Literary Stories. Both the original story ("AAA" by Jo Page) and the review are excellent.

Donna George Storey is hosting a virtual "Spicy Sunday Blog Tour" -- and that spice means recipes full of spices, along with the added spice of sex talk. Good hostess, she is. (See that? I'm deprived of new movies/material and I already fall back into hack yoda talk. Fuck!)

Robert Scott Leyse has had his debut novel released. Liasons for Laughs: Angie & Ella's Summer of Delirium is an erotic romp that's perfect for beach days or poolside reading, or, even better, reading in bed on a humid night, maybe aloud with a friend (or gondolier) nearby.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Well, that's weird isn't it? That whatshisface beat Adam tonight?

I don't begrudge him, he's a nice guy. Cool, it seems. It just seems...odd. That he sang with Keith Urban and it was pleasant and all, and then Adam comes out and literally sets the stage on fire with KISS. I thought Janice Dickinson being there was oddly cute. Then Steve Martin. And then, the winner is...WHATSHISFACE!! WHOOO!

Just odd. To me at least. I did not expect that at all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One Winner

Perhaps after the results I'll have something more eloquent, witty, or insightful to say. But for now, Adam rocks. That's all.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Slash and Burn

I'm gonna assume that if you watched and listend to Idol tonight, you REALLY don't need me to point out who Slashed it up for Rock Week and who just burned out. But since I'm a master of the obvious, I'll go ahead and be as subtle as a sledgehammer nailing it home.

In my high school years and a bit beyond, I had the good fortune of being pals with a dude who had an amazing set of pipes. So we'd have a grand time going out to watch him and his bands play the local bars. One of the things we'd love is when he'd break out the Robert Plant and do it justice. Everyone was playing Led Zeppelin in the bars, but only this guy could really hit those notes and kill it and bring the house down. It made you want to get nuts and maybe even go a little GGW (in a youthful, innocent way, without the nasty Joe Francis connotations) and flash the stage in appreciation. Just, you know -- rock out!


Tonight, if Adam Lambert didn't make you at least want to flash the rock sign and yell "WHOO!" back at him, then you're either dead, deaf, or just plain dumb. "Whole Lotta Love" was missing the Bonham-bashing drums and Jimmy Page slide, and maybe those obscenely tight dungarees that Plant wore in "Song Remains the Same," but the wild vocal range remains the same as Adam gave this song a whole lotta Lambert. If I was in the "mosh pit" right then, and if the bloom of my rose hadn't already wilted enough to require Playtex support, and if it wasn't for that advanced age of mine which would've made the whole thing sickly-scuzzy instead of just silly and sleazy, I'd have climbed up on Cowell's shoulders and flashed the fucker in appreciation for that performance. I would've! But I am, admittedly, older and I don't act like that anymore. But I did give the devil sign and stick out my tongue, just as Adam did when they were giving out his number.

Sweet Child o' Mine
Allison, also, managed to Slash it up. He steered her right in her choice of "Cry Baby," even if the idiot judges didn't get it. She didn't top Adam, but she sure as shit didn't make the whole Rock Week seem silly and didn't make the presence and mentoring of Slash seem even more preposterous. Girl should stay.

And their duet? Last year, Carly and Michael Johns started this duet trend during the finale show with "The Letter." But A&A raised the bar with "Slow Ride" -- having fun and complementing each other and just making the whole thing


While he was pretty gracious in letting Kris play his guitar, it was a nice symbolic signal of things to come when Slash then repossessed his guitar, telling Kris he couldn't keep it. Understandable. In all fairness, Kris's version of "Come Together" wasn't really bad. In fact, it was better than I thought it'd be and I kinda liked it. Nevertheless, if it was a live show in a bar like in my wayward youth? I wouldn't have hesitated to use the opportunity to go buy a beer or even stop in the bathroom and tuck my boobs back in my shirt.

This performance was prefaced with the Kris and Danny duet of "Renegade." (The Styx song, not Eminem's. Idol got a little cooler tonight, but let's not get nuts with it, after all.) This was...not very good. They harmonized nicely, but they're not Crosby, Stills & Nash. And it was just sort of lame -- the kind of thing that makes rock fans flinch when they think of rock songs being performed on American Idol. But I don't blame Slash that it wasn't Velvet Revolver so much as Velveeta Revolver.

Fall to Pieces

But, luckily for fans of disaster, the flinch-worthy followed by the forgettable was then followed by the always anticipated train wreck. Back to my misspent youth for a minute. Back when Dude was still doing bars, he'd do covers other than Zep sometimes, and mostly it'd be Aerosmith. And that's cause he could pull off "Dream On." I mean, he would shatter that shit. But there'd always be other bands around with singers who couldn't handle that song but they'd try it anyhow. Instead of making me want to go nuts in the good way and flash them, it'd make me flash them the finger.

Now, granted, I have a slight predisposition against Hokey Gokey anyhow. But COME ON! That was so bad that it made me sit up and listen just so I could take it all in. I knew it was coming. Slash tried to play coy about it, saying that it all depended on the moment when he performed, but he said it with a smirk that was literally tongue-in-cheek and so I just knew it was coming.

I knew it was coming anyhow because, come on, I admit, Danny can sing, but not like THAT. So it cracked me up that he was clueless enough to try it in the first place, and then the execution was just so EXACTLY what rock fans despise about American Idol -- and what fans of American Idol who have an appetite for destruction love about the show. The whole thing sucked, starting with the stupid vest and ending with that screech that I haven't heard the likes of since Janet Leigh met Anthony Perkins in a shower. Christ in a cracker, that was an earful! That should provoke more sanctimonious outrage from Tyler fans than Danny could've from the general public if he actually had busted out some Eminem.

Danny also takes home double-bonus points score for getting the outlandish reactions from the judges. Pauler had valiantly hung in there with him, standing up and shaking her arm at him until he overreached his first dream on, when she gave it up and sat down! Then, he got the Dumb-Dumb DioGuardi comment of the night when she told him he should be doing Aerosmith, but should be doing early Aerosmith like "Cryin'" and "Crazy." Only in clueless Kara's world does "Dream On" not pre-date "Cryin'" and "Crazy" by twenty years.

Nevertheless, even though Danny didn't show that song a whole lotta love, you can dream on if you think he might actually be going home. It's been a slow ride to the final three, but after tonight, I'm a little hopeful that Alison might pull through for one more week if the viewers come together and pull a renegade move and Kris has to be the cry baby and gets sent home. That was lame, I know it. But after that cheezy screech, I felt at liberty to wrap up in a slapdash manner. Because as Simon said, nothing was going to top Adam anyhow. (insert your own obvious sexual pun here if desired.) And, as usual, it didn't. He didn't make me young again, but he did remind me of what I loved about being young and rocking out, even if my tits have wisely gotten demure with age. (But they're still real, and they're still fabulous.)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Three Coins in the Fountains

Here's my book entering its swank hotel on Via Veneto. This is a nice, historic location with easy walking access to the Villa Borghese, Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain. It's also the setting of Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita.

The hotel had an indoor pool, and you know I love my pools. This one was done up to be reminiscent of a Roman bath. Noice!

Via Veneto starts at Piazza Barberini, which is where you'll find Bernini's famous Triton Fountain.

Via Veneto hasn't fully escaped the progression of time and consumerism since La Dolce Vita -- there's now a Hard Rock Cafe on the lower portion of the street.
But it is still fairly sweet with many "Dolce Vita" cafes and bars still around.

Via Veneto used to host the movie stars with all the hot bars and nightclubs in Rome to party the night away. The hot spots for nightclubbing are now the Ostiense and Testaccio area, though. Via Veneto's stylish nightclubs have been replaced with places like this. Dolce, indeed.

At the upper portion of Via Veneto, you pass through the Aurelian Walls and then can enter the Villa Borghese Park. It's pretty awesome, with lakes and fountains and the incredible Villa Borghese Museum. It's also a great place to just sit and relax and enjoy a lovely day in Rome.

Just about ten minutes from Via Veneto, you can find the Trevi Fountain. It is, of course, awesome. Both my book and I took a stroll there and tossed a coin in the fountain, which is supposed to guarantee a return trip to Rome. A lesser visited, but kind of cool place right near the Trevi is on a small side street leading away from the fountain. You can go into this one building and see one of the aqueducts that feeds it and hear the water rushing through it. The water in the fountain, Romans tell me, is actually drinkable. They also tell me that it flows through the Trevi and then gets recycled in the Triton.

Oh the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
ancient footprints are everywhere.
You can almost think that you're seeing double
on a cold, dark night on the Spanish stairs.

Bob Dylan, "When I Paint My Masterpiece"

From the Trevi, it's another short walk to the Spanish Steps. Here's my book in the Piazza Spagna getting ready to make the hike up the one hundred and thirty-eight steps..

Here's a better shot where you can see all the way up to the first landing, and then see the second plateau above it, along with the church, the Trinita dei Monti. The second pic here is of my book, taking a quick breather on the first landing, looking down at the Piazza Spagna square.

And this is my book on the landing, looking up at the church and checking out what's left to climb. We already felt like doing the Rocky dance at the mid-way point.

And, here my book has made it to the top. It is so exhausted it can't even consider doing the Rocky victory jog. It was so tired it couldn't even hum the Maynard Ferguson theme at that point.
In fact, it needed some support to keep from passing out and falling over the railing and back down to the Spanish Square. When in Italy, my book was rarely at a loss for a charming Italian gentleman to hold it. (YAY!) This particular fellow giving it a hand is an artist who shows his stuff on the upper landing of the Steps, in front of the church. This is common, and some of the artwork, including his, will blow you away. He not only held my book, but also gave me a lovely ink drawing of Piazza Navona.
He wanted a copy of AC, and I was a fucking idiot and wanted to take it a few more places, so I said I'd meet him on the Steps a few days later to give it to him. My book started getting bitchy, though, still pining for Gondolier who'd held it and read it so wonderfully and so it absolutely refused to walk back up the Steps. So I ended up screwing over this darling Roman. Real American class on my part, huh? I'll be sending him a copy of the book to make up for it, because that particular copy still refuses ownership by anyone other than Gondolier.

The ink drawing of Piazza Navona inspired me to visit there in the evening. The whole area around Piazza Navona is a great section of Rome, with wonderful restaurants and pretty neighborhoods.
And the Piazza itself is a great place to people watch. Here's Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain. Some say that if you throw a coin into the Fontana de Quattro Fiumi and make a wish, it could come true. But since my wish was only to return to Rome, and I'd already covered that by tossing a coin into the Trevi, I figured I was good. But my book, of course, pines for a return trip to Venice, so we chucked a coin in to try to cover that city, too.

There are cafes and artists and musicians all through the square, all with an amazing backdrop.

My blowing off of the Roman artist came back around and karma-kicked my ass nearly immediately. On the the day I was to leave Rome, I boarded my plane, but was then kept on the runway for over four hours before they decided to cancel the flight until the next day. After de-planing, we had to go through customs again and my passport was once again stamped as entering Rome. Because I am unsure about the technicalities regarding the Trevi Fountain return trip deal, I decided to not take any chances. So that night, I made a return trip to the Trevi to toss another coin. I'll keep you posted if it works out.


Sunday, May 03, 2009


Who loves American Cool? Roman Gladiators, baby!

In fact, all of ancient Rome digs AC!

Alright, seriously, I won't screw up every picture with my crass product placement. This is the Il Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia, honoring the first king of unified Italy and housing the tomb of the unknown soldier. It's enormous and all carved out of white marble, sitting at the start of Capitoline Hill, and it's not exactly beloved by most Romans, as it destroyed a portion of Capitoline and is also a large and obtrusive structure, rather garish. They often refer to it as the "wedding cake" because it's so glaringly white and ornate. But it does mark the official start of the Capitoline and right behind it you can begin your climb up the hill for a stunning view of the Forum ruins.

The Colosseum is most certainly the most identifiable symbol of Rome. Not as famous, but just as essentially Roman is the representation of Romulus and Remus suckling on the She-Wolf, signifying the founding of Rome. If you bothered with my Pompeii post, you know I mentioned the Lupanar, or brothel. Lupe is the Latin word for wolf, but was also the term for prostitutes. So the fable about Romulus and Remus being found by the "She-Wolf" and suckled and raised actually refers to them being taken in by a prostitute. How could you not love a city with such a charming beginning?
This particular piece stands at the entrance to Capitoline Hill.

And here is the view once you reach the top of Capitoline Hill, with the Colosseum in the distance,

The Colosseum with the Arch of Constantine to the right. No explanation necessary.

Now, if you're a bit of a history freak like me, I do suggest getting a ticket and going inside the Colosseum. You can go it alone, get audio guides, or take full tours through the Colosseum and then up Palatine Hill where you then enter into the site of the ruins and can walk around and explore. It's a lot more fascinating than you might expect, and really, just freaking cool.

I don't want to bore you with endless pictures and descriptions of the ruins, but I will mention this one, because it surprised me. In the Forum, they have the ruins of the Temple of Divus Julius, or Temple of Caesar, which was built upon Julius Caesar's cremation site in 29 BC by Augustus after Julius was deified.
It is not fully in tact, but the most unique feature of the temple remains -- a small, half-moon altar marking the funeral pyre. And people still, to this day, place flowers and offerings upon the altar.

Once you've spent a day climbing the Palatine and Capitoline Hills and checking out the ancient historic and archaeological sites of Rome, maybe you'll want to chill out with a trip south to visit the island of Capri for a day of sun and surf. However, if you think you're going to escape uphill climbs there, forget it. It's very similar to Amalfi (and parts of Como, actually) with its steep terrain and stunning views. I went to Naples and took a boat from there.

Capri, also like Amalfi, plays host to a lot of limoncello, which is always a good thing. It's also the setting of the famous "Blue Grotto." The Tyrrhenean waters around Capri are already gorgeously blue, but you haven't really seen blue until you've been inside the Grotto. However, to reach the Grotto, you have to use a rowboat. The entrance is only 1 meter wide by 1 meter high, and it has to be timed with the tides, and you have to lay down in the rowboat to enter. That's all cool, but by the time I visited, there was no way I was going to potentially sacrifice my camera, and all the pictures on it, to the god of the sea. So I did not take any pictures inside the Grotto. I hope you'll enjoy these pictures as poor substitutes instead. I should also mention that Capri has its own perfume factory, and that when I visited, there was wisteria in bloom nearly everywhere. I don't know how long this lasts, if it's a short blooming period like lilacs or not, but it made the island smell wonderful.

I didn't allow my book a trip into the Blue Grotto due to water issues. (First , it was still drying out from its ill-advised swim toward Villa GoodLooking at Lake Como. Second, though it got a quick fondle from that studly gladiator, my book was still sort of missing the cute Venetian gondolier that didn't just hold it, but opened it up -- his strong fingers grazing across its pages as his eyes inspected the words while he smiled in appreciation. Book liked that loving treatment very much. Therefore, I was a bit worried it would attempt to make a break for it and hurtle itself into the sea, hoping the tides would somehow push it back toward the Grand Canal, where it would reunite with Gondolier and place a lock of love around his... oar.) Therefore, I kept my book on a short leash for a couple days, though it did enjoy some safe views around Capri.

After Capri, it was back to Rome to enjoy some fountains and steps.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Amalfi Post

My book decided to visit some (many) touristy/educational things while in Italy, and one of those places was the city of Pompeii. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79, it buried the Roman city of Pompeii under sixty feet of ash. Because of its rapid destruction/burial it was extraordinarily well preserved, so, when it was then found and excavated, it gave historians, and now visitors, incredible insight into the daily details of Roman life. Here's my book on a curbside in Pompeii.

Vesuvius in the background of the ruins.

I won't give you a detailed history lesson, but since I tend to focus on all things sex related here, I figured these details would be pertinent. So, suffice to say that Pompeii was a port city, and when the sailors came home, one of the main, and first things, they looked for was some company. The brothels (Lupanare, from Lupe for she-wolf) were clearly marked on the roads and building. Instead of using street signs, they used a fairly universal and recognizable symbol.

Once inside the Lupanare, you can see the rooms with stone beds and erotic paintings on the walls, very well preserved, still in color. It's not clear if the paintings are directly advertising specific services, or if they're just meant as inspiration.

Another thing that set me right with these ancient inhabitants of Pompeii? They had these bars all over the place. Good folks, indeed.

Once you're south enough to visit Pompeii, you may as well make a day or two out of it and go visit the Amalfi coast. The Amalfi coast is the southern side of the Sorrentine peninsula facing the Gulf of Salerno and it encompases many towns, including Positano. It is, as is much of Italy, mountainous, with narrow, spiraling roads and gorgeous cliffside scenery overlooking the Gulf part of the Tyrrhenean sea.
I wish I had another picture of this railing, because just off to the left you can see a large portion of the bars covered in padlocks. They're locks of love, which are also starting to pop up around Rome near the Trevi fountain and certain areas near the Tiber. Lovers come and afix a padlock to a gate or post and then toss the key into the sea or river, signifying eternal love. It's a cute theory, but in practice, the locks can accumulate to such an extent that they'll start bending and ruining the gates and railings and many of them end up having to be cut off anyhow. Kind of makes you wonder about the fate of the relationships whose lock gets cut. Also? Any other fiction writers out there reading this -- back off, it's my idea to use next for a book! Anyhow, the views from the coast just keep getting better than this.

The water, on clear days, ranges from gorgeous shades of nearly-clear cyan to azure.

One of the things they grow really well on the Amalfi Coast (and Capri) is lemons. At first, I thought they were bright grapefruits. This may seem like a dumb detail, but all will be revealed.

Once you've driven and walked down the seemingly endlessly winding downhill slopes, you get to the town of Positano, which is a big tourist destination for visitors and Italians alike, due to the beaches, boating, and awesome seafood.

When you turn around and look up from the beach, it's an equally impressive sight to see the buildings built into the side of the mountains. I couldn't wrap my mind around how they even were able to build the damn things, getting the materials where they needed to be.

Here's more of those lemons, which are highly prevalent. And you can get everything lemon: lemon candy, lemon chocolate, lemon gelato, lemon soap, ect.

But here's the best, and most ubiquitous, product from the lemons: Limoncello! Awesome! You can find all different limoncello shops, and many of them offer free samples!

And once you're socked on the limoncello, you can take boat rides to enjoy the views. Just, make sure it's a calm day if you do that, otherwise you may have lemon foam all over the side of your boat.

I know these posts seem to be going on for an eternity, but coming up next is the Eternal City.