June 26, 2011

wms: our weekend movie sessions

Lucas and I don't always seem to have the same taste in movies. And because he is the download freak in this house, my job is to select the ones that deserve to be in our weekend movie sessions.

The thing is yesterday he bumped into a movie he had seen many years ago. I normally try not to read the summaries before watching a movie because I do judge books (and movies) by their covers, you know. Shallow grave is a lame title, c'mon! But he said it was good and... well, I decided to give it a chance, though I must admit I first thought of green monsters and zombies as in Michael Jackson's Thriller. Don't get me wrong: I like his videoclips but, in this case, my plan was not to spend and hour and a half watching zombie ninja moves. Except it was nothing like that at all! 

SHALLOW GRAVE (1994) «« thriller
Three roommates living in a four-bedroom apartment are trying to find the perfect tenant for their empty room. After lots of unconventional interviews, they finally agree on one of them. They give him a key, the guy moves in, locks his door and well... that's when the most unexpected things happen.

It's not like it deserves an Oscar or anything, but I thought it was totally worth the time invested. A surprisingly young Ewan McGregor is already a very good excuse to watch it.  

June 25, 2011

winter craze

Change is good. There are few things in life I appreciate more than having four different seasons during the year, though I must admit that, unlike most people, I dread the summer and its insane heat - not to mention the constant sweating and the smell on the subway.

I love winter. Love it. 

Winter is the season of new beginnings, family holidays and it is also the season I was born in. It may sound crazy, but I feel a lot more active when it's cold. And even my social life is much more intense when the cold weather comes. Lucas and I normally find refuge inside nice bars among friends with enough wine to satisfy China's thirst. We often go on short trips to snowy mountains and even to our lake house which is surprisingly more romantic during the winter with the crackling fire in the fireplace. We have chocolate con churros for breakfast still in our pajamas on the weekends. Tasty hot food. Coffee. And, well, I guess everything else feels nicer when it's cold, especially watching a movie, cuddling on the sofa with him.

Apparently, that dog fells the same way.
(photo taken somewhere near a ski slope in Madrid - not my dog, btw)

And so do the cute little ducks.
(this one was taken near our lake house) 

And so do the lions.
(Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid)

Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid
stolen from: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/3/5659570_08d504de26.jpg

Summer has barely arrived and I miss the winter already!

June 20, 2011

absolutely cute

Isn't that a great idea? Who wouldn't love to get a gift like that from a father? 

I am not sure I'd trust internet to keep all my kid's childhood memories one day. I am almost thirty, old school, and a huge fan of real paper, cards, letters and all that (I send Christmas cards, print my favorite pictures and actually keep photo albums). However, I must admit cute pics and videos + lovely messages like these = the sweetest thing. This dad is a rock star!

The web really is what you make of it.

June 19, 2011

this blog's new look

This blog has been through a complete remodel and now... well, I think it looks much better! So much pink was making me nuts, I guess. It now looks much simpler, more readable, and it also feels more like home than before. Less is more, as a friend said about the changes.
I'm learning new blogging skills, through trial and error (emphasis on the error). Hope you guys like the new minimalist look; and if you don't, just keep coming back anyway. Have a nice day! 

Este blog passou por uma reforma geral e acredito que agora está bem melhor! Acho que tanto rosa estava me enlouquecendo. Assim ficou mais simples, mais fácil de ler e ainda me sinto mais como em casa que antes. Menos é mais, como disse um amigo sobre essa tranformação.
Estou desenvolvendo novas habilidades com este blog, no estilo tentativa e erro (enfoque no erro). Espero que gostem desse novo aspecto minimalista; e se não gostarem, que, pelo menos, continuem passando por aqui do mesmo jeito. Um bom dia pra vocês! 

June 16, 2011

good old stuff

Talking about movies you must see before you die… I guess I could go on and on and on that subject for hours. Yet, I totally freeze when people ask me what my favorite movie is. I guess I never knew the answer to that one: it is almost like asking parents to pick their favorite child. I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what my favorite movie is. I could never, ever choose among the ones I really love which, by the way, would be too many to list. And I don't think I could even remember all of them at once, not to mention try and sort them in order of preference (God forbid!). Here are two good old ones I genuinely love:

COOL HAND LUKE (1967) «««««
The very best example of how an unbelievably simple plot can turn into a great movie. Luke is a former war hero; he is bold, impulsive, inquisitive. He is not very fond of rules and he doesn't really appreciate being told what to do. He ends up in prison for damaging public property while being drunk. It actually seems he has chosen to be there, though: just to prove a point or something like a personal challenge. He keeps confronting authority just for the fun of it.
Luke escapes and gets caught, escapes and gets caught. Maybe he runs only to see how far he can get. Maybe he doesn't even want to be out to begin with. With his captivating personality, everybody loves him and he quickly becomes an idol in prison. Some people have talked about the biblical symbolism of the movie, as for Luke representing Christ: a good man, hated by the authorities but loved and followed by his prison disciples like a savior. Note the scene when he kneels down and prays to God.
I personally recommend special attention to the fight scene and also to the one other prisoners eat off his plate. They are truly amazing. And if you have company, why don't you bet if he can eat the fifty eggs? I would have won. :P 

What we got here is a failure to communicate!

BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) «««««
A photo slide show leading to a great motion picture. Bonnie works as a waitress in a small town when she meets Clyde, a small-time thief who had already been in jail before for robbing a gas station. She feels deeply bored and sees in him the opportunity of having some kind of adventure.
Bonnie and Clyde is filled with violence (it is no Pulp Fiction, though) and I absolutely loved the way they handled sex and impotence (it was 1967!). People say the movie is way too simplistic to portray Bonnie and Clyde’s real lives but, hey, I loved the story the way it was told and I assume the most important things are there (and, frankly, there is no need for further details). The movie is great the way it is.
Their dreams alternate from becoming crime stars and having lots of money to forming a family and being completely anonymous, but they soon realize that the life they chose to live will make it impossible for them to have it all.

"You ain't gonna have a minute's peace," Clyde warns Bonnie. "You promise?" she replies.

I chose those movies by chance, and it was a coincidence they were both released in 1967 – and that they never get old. How cool is that? And both movies end pretty much the same as well: people try to break them but they just won't break.

Watching a movie is always something special for me. It is something like a ritual: lights off, silence and a glass of wine. The thing is I haven’t come across many good ones lately. Any suggestions?

June 9, 2011

isn't it true?

Be yourself. Have you ever thought how totally unbearable would life be if EVERYBODY suddenly decided to follow that advice? Before you think I have totally lost it, and I am absolutely sure I am getting angry comments here (or maybe not, because this blog isn't that old and my closest friends tend to be polite), let's think about it a little. [Psychologists, freeze and drop your weapon! Pretend for a moment you are economists or something.]  

As I was saying here, I try not to give advice. I'd rather sell them. Really. If advice was so freakin' good, people would not live in a constant advice giveaway spree. However, the problem lies deeper than that. Some kinds of advice can sometimes be even harmful. 

We should start by separating me from my actions and achievements. I already am myself, good and bad stuff included. Who would I be if not myself? It's crazy! I am myself when I do something bad and when I do something good, when I achieve my goals and when I don't. And, especially, when I'm being stupid. How could I be more myself than that? 

On the other hand, people normally say that from a not-so-thoughtful standpoint and they are not really talking about behaving consistently with their ideas, always taking other people into consideration and all that jazz. What they are really saying (in a highly inspirational Carpe Diem kind of way) is do whatever comes to mind in utter disregard to other people's rights or feelings as selfishly as possible. Isn't it so? 

I don't know about you, but I'm not nearly as often surrounded by Budas or Gandhis and I do not consider myself a very likable human being 100% of the time either. How in the world would we get along if everybody decided to be their supposedly REAL selves? All the time? That is why we have labeled human behavior as socially acceptable/unacceptable: so we can coexist on this planet. 

Weirdly enough, everybody says 'be yourself' as if it would magically grant you life with absolutely no problems and, by following that basic principle, you would promptly have the cosmos and angels working together in order to suddenly make everything right for you and help you succeed in life. No, kiddo, the world will not bend to accommodate who you are. That's bullshit and only children and immature people really think that way. It is too freakin' narcissistic to assume such a thing. Instead, you must grow yourself to adapt to the world. 

People would love to go to work on their pajamas (some do, you know), tell their boss he/she is a complete doofus and just tell that neighbor next door to worry about his own business. But the bitter truth is you have to dress accordingly, people with wild green hair will not be hired for an executive position and you had better watch your mouth if you want to have a nice environment in your neighborhood / school / workplace… 

I am NOT saying 'throw away your beliefs and live up to what society expects of you' (which would be the anti-be-yourself advice). What I am really talking about here is all the nonsense that young people seem to be more inclined to believe these days. We have to be consistent to our ideas, but there's a limit to that too. 

Telling some people to 'be themselves' could be destructive to them because being themselves already sucks big time. They already have too many problems because they are so poorly adapted. If they have absolutely no understanding of what it means to be part of society, you will be giving them even more room to fail. Maybe the best advice to these folks would be something like 'straighten up and fly right or go be a hermit somewhere in Greenland'. De donde no hay no se puede sacar. And why does everybody say 'be yourself' all the time anyway? Are they implying by that we don't need any improvement?

June 6, 2011

My name is Bates, Norman Bates.

I was listening to one of the episodes of This American Life podcast (totally recommend!) the other day. They were talking about psychopathic traits and a psychological test for determining if you are a psychopath. They said this test is used in the US prison system in order to determine if a prisoner should be sentenced for a crime, released after doing his/her time or if they’re ready for parole. They ask many questions so as to search for the fundamental and distinctive characteristics that would eventually put an individual under the ‘psychopath’ classification.

Here are some examples of the questions they ask:
- How would you teachers describe your behavior in high school? (Should I be freaking out already? By the way, my answer for that one would have to be: rebellious, irresponsible and underachiever. I didn’t do poorly by any means, but I could have done a lot better, I guess). I had better stop answering the questions here for the sake of my reputation...
- As a child, did you get into a lot of fights?
- When you were young, did you ever do rowdy things outside school like vandalize, break windows, set fires, hurt animals?

As a non-practicing psychologist but yet very curious person, I dig a little deeper to find out which are the basic psychopathic traits so I could see what a regular psychopath should be like. I will share them with you just in case you run into one on the way to the grocery store. 

There are different ‘check lists’ according to each researcher, but basically the first one I found is a collection of narcissistic factors while the second focuses more on behavior. 

Persuasiveness/ superficial charm and good intelligence
Grandiose sense of self-worth 
Pathological lying 
Cunning/ manipulative 
Lack of remorse or guilt 
Emotionally shallow
Insensitive/ lack of empathy
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions 

According to this list, I'm totally convinced most politics are psychopaths.

Socially deviant lifestyle
Constant need for stimulation/ tendency to boredom
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral control
Promiscuous sexual behavior
Lack of realistic, long-term goals
Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink and sometimes without
Juvenile delinquency
Early behavioral problems
Many short-term relationships 

According to this one, absolutely all teenagers are psychopaths.

I’ll confess to fit almost every trait to some extent. Does that make me a clinical science fair case? But still, I’m far too neurotic to be psychopath. 

Anyway… just in case you are wondering, the test rates each item on a score from 0 to 2. The sum total determines the extent of a person's psychopathy which means: even under the most favorable circumstances, you will always be only two steps away from being a psycho.

June 4, 2011

wild honeymoon

When I told my parents we were going to spend our honeymoon in Scandinavia, my mom's first reaction was something like "And why the hell would you do that?". She was totally convinced I was forcing my future husband to pack for a trip he didn't really want to take. If only she knew.. I guess it came from the idea I would be freezing up there and maybe also that she just never thought we would choose Scandinavia. Not that I think she already had further thoughts in this matter anyway, but I guess she would expect me to say we had chosen the Caribbean or maybe some other european city we hadn't visited yet. Just like everybody else we know, I guess.

Well, I love traveling (it just ocurred to me I totally forgot to include traveling in my sweet things post. Shame!). But I don't just love traveling. I actually think it's absolutely necessary for my mental and spiritual health. Really. Nobody knows human nature until they've got to know many different kinds of people from different places. People are not the same everywhere, though they tend to behave really alike in small towns. The smaller the city is, the more likely people try not to stand out. Maybe they're just trying to avoid gossip - there's a lot more gossip in small towns than in big cities. I digressed a lot, didn't I?

We almost never plan our trips. I remember one holiday we had decided to go to the south of France and we ended up in Lisbon instead. We are spontaneous people and I love it. I'm a freaking sagittarius, for God's sake! I need the adventure so I can be alive! Thank God Lucas loves that too. I even suspect he's somehow related to Indiana Jones or something. Anyway, we decided we would only book the fligths and that's it. Just like we always do. My friends freaked out (how could we do that on our honeymoon?), though my parents this time just nodded as they always do because they are pretty much used to that already.

We rented cars and lived like gypsies for two weeks. We almost had to sleep in the car one really cold night (I'll write about it in a future post) and yet I'm pretty damn sure ours was the best freaking honeymoon ever!!! So you not-yet-married guys can quit trying to beat us already! :P

June 3, 2011

sweet things

getting real emails from friends
good wine
norah jones
a date with my husband 
unexpected incoming money 
snowy nights 

June 1, 2011

distressing opinions and all kinds of unsolicited advice

Vou colocar no mesmo saco duas coisas: opiniões fora de lugar e conselhos não solicitados. 

Às vezes me ponho a pensar em que ponto é que as pessoas decidem que a vida de alguém deixa de ser problema só dela e passa a ser objeto de assembleia. Tem gente que nasce com ponteiro do bom senso na reserva. E, convenhamos, há poucas coisas mais desgraçadas que um palpite infeliz.

Eu não deveria dar muita bola pra isso, mas essas coisas me inquietam. Eu, que já sou muito sensível a respeito das injustiças cotidianas, vejo que minha paciência é alvo fácil para esses pseudoterapeutas de plantão. Tenho a sensação de que muitos pitacos são uma tentativa frustrada de apropriação da vida alheia, veja só. É até um pouco sinistro, na realidade.

O caso é que creio que os palpites sempre são desnecessários, especialmente quando não foram pedidos. Aí, então, nem se fala. Mas eu não costumo seguir as regras estabelecidas: talvez seja essa a fonte de inspiração desse bando. Sou uma pessoa bem independente, ligeiramente impulsiva, um pouco moralista e antisentimentalóide mesmo in extremis. Por isso me parece penoso que aqueles que choram a morte do bezerro venham dar palpite na vida do próximo. Até mesmo porque, via de regra, se trata de gente infeliz, dona da vida mais chata e aborrecida do mundo, e que gasta muito tempo e dinheiro em várias formas de autodestruição. Acho que as pessoas interessantes não costumam encontrar tempo para isso.

this is what i think of your judgment 
A minha vida não é a mais intensa e rocambolística do universo, mas está cheia de abelhudos. E cabe comentar que lidar com esse tipo de comportamento é complicado porque o opinante normalmente não compreende o ofendido. Nunca. Além do mais, os conselheiros compulsivos costumam pedir (meus) conselhos. Aí vem o dilema do prisioneiro porque a lei de Murphy se aplica perfeitamente à análise do pitaco. Veja bem:

a. dar conselho é roubada na maioria das vezes
  a.1. quando seguem um conselho, se fodem.
  a.2. quando não seguem um conselho, se fodem.
    a.2.1. voltam com as mesmas penas, somadas ao desastroso resultado de a.2., jurando que desta vez seguirão o seu conselho. Aí, voltamos a a.1.
b. aconselhar conselheiros compulsivos não só reforça esse mau comportamento, como também lhes outorga o direito de devolvê-los todos, um a um.