Anthony Bourdain

When we were in Washington DC a couple of weeks ago I had a beautiful conversation with one of my cab drivers about Anthony Bourdain.

The cab driver was playing music that sounded familiar to me, so I did a quick search on my phone for “Anthony Bourdain + Ethiopia” and came up with the Parts Unknown segment on Mahmoud Ahmed. I asked the driver if he knew Mahmoud Ahmed, and he became so animated that he nearly drove us into a parked police car. The music he was playing was Mahmoud Ahmed, and he called the singer timeless. I told him I saw Ahmed on Anthony Bourdain’s show and enjoyed the music. The driver said “He [Bourdain] is the luckiest man with the best job in the world!”

We talked about how lucky Anthony Bourdain was because he traveled everywhere and met so many people and tasted so many different foods, which also led to a discussion about the rise of incuriosity in America and how important Anthony Bourdain’s show is as people become less interested in learning about other cultures. “Newfoundland! He just did a show in Newfoundland! Who goes there?” the driver said. I told him Newfoundland has been at the top of my husband’s travel wishlist for years and we have been looking forward to watching the episode (which is still on our DVR) and plan to make a trip there.

Right now I wish I could see that driver again. I would invite him for a drink with my husband so we could talk about Mahmoud Ahmed, Newfoundland and Anthony Bourdain.

We have lost an important voice and he will be missed by so many people who never had a chance to meet him.

If you’re in DC and have to take cabs, think about talking to your cab drivers. I’ve had so many interesting conversations with DC cab drivers from Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Website Renovation

My fab web designer, Cliff, updated my website and now all is right with my internet world.

The site meets the requirements for…whatever (stuff I don’t understand) and can be viewed on all the tiny devices other people use (my phone still flips open and makes tech savvy people shriek).

All of the background photos featured on the site are by my husband and me, and we’ve added a photography section because we’re in love with the picture taking. We’ll probably update that section periodically.

We finally link to my Twitter page, my Tumblr page and my Facebook page, so “friend” me or follow me, and I’ll do the same.

I hope you like it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can’t believe it’s been a little over three years since my last post. Time flies.

I’m always on the look out for natural products with great scents, and after a failed attempt to light Japanese incense in my apartment (I started choking), I found P.F. Candle Co. – Homemade soy candles with marvelous scents like Spruce, Campfire and Summer Breeze.

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. If you’re looking for a cool stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift, and would like to support a small business, I think the 7.5 oz candles are a great idea. They are $16 and the packaging is gender neutral. I think the Teakwood and Tobacco scent is perfect for a man or woman.

My favorite scents are Summer Breeze and Campfire.

Here’s my stash:

Pommes Candles 2

Thank you.

Thank you to all of the readers who have contacted me to say you love Whiskey Road. It has been a long process, and I can’t honestly say I’ve enjoyed all of it. I love the novel I wrote, but the journey from writing the book to seeing it in bound form is long and can truly drain a person’s creativity and confidence.

I’ve been having a tough time getting into my next projects, but each time I hear from someone, I’m motivated to keep working. The really cool thing is, no one just says “I loved Whiskey Road.” All of you have written to say how much you enjoyed His Insignificant Other and Such a Girl. And you urge me to write a new one soon.

I don’t know when my next book will be finished, but please keep your correspondence coming. It may seem like a small gesture, but it means so much! Thank you!

Sydney Pollack.

Have you ever felt great affection for a person you don’t know personally? I adore Sydney Pollack. Whenever I saw his name on a screen in a movie theater, I believed we were in good hands. He passed away yesterday at his home in Los Angeles.

I wanted to list every movie he’s been involved with, but there are just too many, so I’ll list the movies I believe are worth taking the time to watch again (or for the first time). A comprehensive list is available at The Internet Movie Database.

My favorites are starred. My absolute favorites, the movies I could watch over and over again, are bolded.

This Property is Condemned 1966 (director)
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? 1969 (director)
**The Way We Were 1973 (director)
**Three Days of the Condor 1975 (director)
*The Electric Horseman 1979 (director, actor)
**Absence of Malice 1981 (director, producer)
Tootsie 1982 (director, producer, actor)
*Out of Africa 1985 (director, producer)
*White Palace 1990 (producer)
**Husbands and Wives 1992 (actor)
*Death Becomes Her 1992 (actor)
*The Player 1992 (actor)
The Firm 1993 (director)
Sabrina 1995 (director, producer)
**Sense & Sensibility 1995 (producer)
A Civil Action 1998 (actor)
The Talented Mr. Ripley 1999 (producer)
Eyes Wide Shut 1999 (actor)
Changing Lanes 2002 (actor)
The Interpreter 2005 (director, producer, actor)
**Michael Clayton 2007 (producer, actor)

April 1st.

It can’t be April. What the hell is going on with Time? How can anyone possibly get anything done when it’s already tomorrow? My friend Mr. Prince believes we, the people, have screwed up the Earth so badly, Time is wonky. I think he’s on to something.

So, what’s new?

My book, Whiskey Road: A Love Story, is out next month.

A couple of Sundays ago, one of my close friends, Stacey Prussman, had a full page photo and article about her life as a bulimic in The New York Post.

Last week, my friend Sue Shapiro invited me to her journalism class at The New School to meet her students. (Sue wrote a bunch of excellent books including the memoirs Five Men Who Broke My Heart and Lighting Up.) We gave out a few galleys of my book.

My husband and I attended Lori Tharps’s reading from Kinky Gazpacho at our local Borders. She still has the best voice ever.

We saw Spike Lee over the weekend in our neighborhood. (His neighborhood first, I think.) He looked like…Spike Lee. I knew it was him a block away. I smiled when he looked up, but he didn’t smile back. I’m not sure he knew I was smiling at him.

There are too many TV shows I want to watch right now because I’ve been reading so many great things about them. Like Burn Notice, Mad Men, The Tudors, New Amsterdam, Battlestar Galactica, John Adams and Frontline. Mad Men and Burn Notice aren’t even airing now, but there have to be marathons of the first seasons scheduled before their summer season 2 runs begin.

And, hell, Masterpiece Theater is airing a new A Room with a View and a miniseries called Cranford. Two weeks ago PBS aired Madama Butterfly live from the Met, as well as Hansel and Gretel. I’m not much for opera, but it was nice to see these productions for free. This week, they’re offering up Romeo et Juliette.

I wanted to write a bit about the new Sense and Sensibilty (the first part aired Sunday night), but decided it wasn’t worth writing about. It wasn’t bad, but there isn’t much to say about it. We finally watched the last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a show several people told me I would love. I’d considered buying the DVDs (we don’t have HBO) and I’m so glad I didn’t. Not my thing, actually. I wanted to choke Larry David.

And there are too many books I want to read! How will I get to them? Not only the novels and health books I’ve purchased. I’ve just found free classics online. Is this illegal? There’s Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, PG Wodehouse… I used to love to read the classics. Not so much anymore, but a recent interest in The Gilded Age has left me wanting to read fiction by people who actually experienced it.

Speaking of too many books, last week’s Publisher’s Weekly reports the number of books being published each year is approaching 300,000. There’s a call for publishers to cut down on the number of titles they’re putting out, but I haven’t looked for a breakdown of how many books each year are novels. I stay out of this conversation because I think it’s weird to hear a writer say publishers should publish fewer books. I’ve heard several writers say it, and I always wonder if they’re willing to give up publishing their books to make room for better stuff. You know they aren’t, right? Because they think their books should be published.

Last week’s Publisher’s Weekly also ranks the 2007 bestsellers – always fascinating. Can you guess how many copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows J.K. Rowling sold?

13,114,692.

That means she made roughly $40 million. Not including audio rights, film rights, paperback rights, etc. Directly after J.K. Rowling in young adult books is Stephenie Meyer’s third novel, Eclipse. Eclipse sold 1,112,660 copies.

Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns is number one on the fiction hardcover list with 2,201,865 copies sold in 2007. Jodi Picoult sold 609,000 copies of her latest novel in hardcover. Ten more of her books are on the paperback list for a total of over 2 million paperbacks sold.  Which goes to show you what can happen when a publisher chooses to get behind a book 100%. (Oh, sure, the books should be good, too, but how many good books go unread because no one heard about them?) Eat, Pray, Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert sold 4,274,804 copies of her memoir in trade paperback.

2008.

Happy New Year.

One of my minor resolutions is to get rid of all the magazines I failed to read in 2007. I just went through my pile and found copies of Entertainment Weekly from December 2006. Now that’s just pathetic.

Really, I should just dump them all in the recycling bin right now and cross it off my Things To Do list. But, no. I’ve stacked them neatly into a new pile and have told myself I’ll begin reading them tonight before bed. I’m sure I did the same thing last year.

Happy September!

September is my favorite month of the year. Most days are perfect. Not too hot; not too cold. We usually travel in September, but this year my dear friend will be visiting from overseas and trying to cheer me up. I will walk to Central Park with him – my new favorite place to sit and  read (or write) for a few hours each morning. And I will juice good fruits and veggies for him, and try to convince him to do a detox day with me. (I can see it now – we’ll snap at each other all day because he’ll be missing his coffee and I’ll be craving cake!)

I’ve been meaning to post about my adventures with juicing and trying to live a sugar free, dairy free, alcohol free, red meat free, coffee free, wheat free life, but I haven’t had the energy. I should have a lot of energy considering I’ve given up most of my vices (I eat Pamela’s gluten free, dairy free, wheat free cookies). No. I feel all sorts of discombobulated these days. And it isn’t actually hellish to live without all of the above, just time consuming and expensive. I find I have the most difficulty when I go out. I’m the kind of person who loves to snack while I’m sitting in the park or going for a walk, but 3 bucks for a small healthy fruit bar or 7 bucks for an organic bowl of greens is just too much. If I could really get it together, I’d figure out a way to pack stuff  and carry it with me. Oh, and I really hate cleaning my juicer!

I also meant to remind you to tune into Kris Carr’s documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer on TLC. It was fabulous. You don’t have to have cancer to be inspired by her story. My only issue was the lack of information on how she could afford to do everything she did. Did health insurance cover all those weeks at the Hippocrates Health Institute? Or could she afford the travel, specialists, yoga retreats, etc., because she was a successful actress? Kris Carr is on a book tour through October. Some of her stops include a screening of the film. Maybe she’s coming to a town near you.

So, I’m still in pain, but I have no diagnosis. I’ve bought a bunch of books on healing naturally and eating raw foods exclusively. Everything I read seems to agree on one thing: Sugar and dairy are bad. Makes a lot of sense to me.