Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Watcha Readin'? Part 2

Parenthood Gone Awry

Although I first read this a few years ago, when it was published back in 2003, the award-winning “We Need To Talk About Kevin” isn’t the kind of novel you easily forget and now that it’s back in the limelight due to its cinematographic adaptation by Morvern Callar’s director Lynne Ramsay, I thought I could recommend it on today’s “Watcha Readin’?”.
Lionel Shriver (pseudonym of journalist-come-novelist Margaret Ann Shriver) writes a disquieting, gripping novel about a mother, Eva, in a desperate attempt to understand why her teenage son Kevin premeditated and executed a Columbine-style massacre in his high-school, reaches out to her estranged husband Franklin and their need to talk about Kevin.
Kevin has, not surprisingly, a sociopath’s behaviour: he has no affection or moral responsibility and pretty much hates everyone in his family and community but the portrayal is so subtle you really tend to dismiss his actions, signs of disturbance and social detachment as being common childish mischief, as Eva did: after the tragedy, suffering from extreme guilt, she questions every aspect of her son’s upbringing, questioning every punishment or scolding.
The central theme for the story is the rationale behind Kevin’s horrific behaviour. “Why?” is the simple question to which none of the characters, including Kevin himself, knows the answer.
With “We Need To Talk About Kevin” Shriver provokes the eternal social debate of Innate vs. Experience: are we intrinsically good and it is society who corrupts us? Or are some people just born evil, no matter what their upbringing? Are we born with character or do we only acquire it through behaviour?

Equally igniting some debate on parenthood, although – thankfully! – in a completely different tone, was this year’s The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.
The story starts off during a family and friends’ barbecue, when a spoiled 3 year-old threatens another kid and, to everyone’s shock, is slapped by the threatened kid’s father, who will later be charged for assault by the spoiled child’s parents. The reverberations of the slap and the subsequent court case raise all sorts of issues and doubts in the lives and relationships between all those who witnessed it happen.
With a very clever narration through each of the eight primary characters (four women and four men with very different ages, social backgrounds, ethnicities and sexual orientations), Tsiolkas makes each one of them a main character at different stages of the novel, each giving insightful observations and shedding light on the others, allowing the reader to fall in and out of love with each character throughout the book.
A brilliant portrayal of multicultural Melbourne (with no lack of profanity and graphic sex), The Slap exposes the many flaws and cracks of modern families and society and exploits recurring controversial issues: have we become too soft? Can children not be disciplined anymore? How can an apparently harmless (and justified) domestic incident transform a community of family and friends?
Must we handle every responsibility and issue over to a nanny state?

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Marni For H&M

Forget Versace, forget Viktor & Rolf, forget Lagerfeld, forget Jimmy Choo… After Lanvin, Marni for H&M is THE BEST COLLAB EVER, hands down! I'm so giddy and thrilled I practically pissed myself when I read that this was happening for the SS12 collection. *SHRIEK!*

Please do accessories, Consuelo, pretty please! Shoes, sunnies, necklaces… the lot!

Pics from here, here, here and here.

Monday, 28 November 2011

American Horror Story

Being an incorrigible Gleek, I had to check out Ryan Murphy’s latest project, American Horror Story (AHS), which premiered October last on FX.
Although Nip/Tuck was already about troubled souls and disturbed lives (McNamara, Troy, their families and patients: wackos, the whole lot!) and even the apparently glossy, sugary Glee was actually about inner turmoil and anxious kids, I couldn’t have imagined that Murphy, or anyone else for that matter, could have such a twisted, bloodthirsty imagination.
The show centres around the Harmon family, who moved from Boston to LA to escape their latest family drama: after Vivien has a miscarriage, her husband Ben has an affair with one of his Psychology students and their daughter Violet is unavoidably neglected in the middle of all this.
They move into a macabre mega-mansion which reeks of bloodcurdling, spine-chilling, haunted horrors but, somehow, the miserable couple don’t seem to notice and their angry teen daughter doesn’t seem to care.
AHS brings to life (or death, rather) the most horrific urban legends you could think of, decked with disturbing hallucinations, an all-too-scary-to-be-funny-but-also-kinda-sexy gimp (reminds me of Pulp Fiction’s “bring out the gimp” scene) and sh*t-your-pants secondary characters, such as Jessica Lange as the spooky fifties-era next door neighbour and Six Feet Under’s Frances Conroy as glass-eyed governess Moira.
Influence of 60s and 70s horror movies is palpable, from the characters to the setting but, when compared to AHS, Rosemary’s Baby should be playing on Nickelodeon.
Honestly, no matter how blazé you are about this stuff, AHS will scare the sh*t out of you. For real, my heart’s racing and stomach tightening just thinking about the damn show, that’s how good it is! I admit I scare easy and
normally I wouldn’t be caught dead (no pun intended) watching a thriller or horror movie. Only Ryan Murphy can make me endure hour-long episodes of permanent fear. The only time I wasn’t curled up in foetal position was when Dylan McDermott, albeit in a pretty disturbing scene, struts naked around the house, showing off his perfect, tight booty. Hubba hubba!
In an interview promoting AHS when they were still doing Glee, Murphy said he and co-creator Brad Falchuk were "doing some squeaky clean, sweet, optimistic, non-cynical piece, [Ryan Murphy] wanted to do something that sort of tapped into the different side of [his] personality”. Oh, it’s different alright. But different’s good, very good.

Well played, Mr. Ryan Murphy You sick, twisted, demented, disturbed genius. Well played.

Friday, 25 November 2011


Despite sharing their name with a Norwegian island and the Latvian Goddess of Light, Austra actually come from Toronto. A sort of cross between goth-pop and new-wave, this three-piece has inevitably been compared to the likes of Ladytron and Zola Jesus.
I have to admit I wasn’t too taken by the rest of their debut album Feel It Break but their single “Lose It” is perfect for TGIF!

Thursday, 24 November 2011


As my fellow Lisbon girls will know, nothing butchers heels quite like our beautiful yet treacherous national pavement (a calçada portuguesa). Since I walk to work, I’ve long traded in my towering pumps for comfy flats. I tried the whole New York deal, where you commute in your Nikes and switch into your Choos at the office but it’s easier said than done. First, you get an awful lot of unwanted stares when you’re wearing a pencil skirt with trainers, particularly if you’re sharing the lift with the CEO… Second, I lose stuff like you wouldn’t believe, so I’d say the odds are pretty high of me leaving the high heels on the tube and spending the rest of the day avoiding being caught in my “executive with a hip-hop twist” look and being asked if I’m recovering from foot surgery…

Anyhow… I digress. The thing is I miss wearing fancy shoes… and having the money to buy them, mostly. I’ll splurge on two things (amongst many others) when I’m rich: shoes, of course, and a chauffeur so I can spare and show off said shoes. Heel-slaughtering-pavement be gone!

These are few pairs which have been lingering in my Wishlist for some time now:

Fabulously Fancy!


These Miu Miu glittery pumps are heavenly...

... especially when worn by Diane Kruger with little else.

Sienna's wooden heels: NEED!

Nude pumps: a must-have classic.

No one rocks a heel quite like Kurt Geiger.

And because a girl still needs her cosy flats, these are the hottest (and warmest) item on my list:

Happy Thanksgiving to all our US readers!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


7 Minutes In Heaven

Mike O’Brien, an SNL writer since 2009, started this summer a web series called 7 Minutes in Heaven, in which he invites (mainly comedy) celebs into his very awkwardly small closet for a few embarrassing questions, nonsensical role-play sketches and, of course, as the name tipped you off, an uncomfortable smooch at the end.
There are only a couple dozen videos and they’re all under 5 mins so absolutely worth watching, but the best are, not surprisingly, the ones with Jack McBrayer and Andy Samberg.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

I Want To Go To There...

I can't quite belive this house is for real.
It's Aerin Lauder's Aspen getaway.
I want to go to there...


Monday, 21 November 2011

Talking Funny

Through a recent NYT piece on female comedians, I read a 2007 Vanity Fair article by Christopher Hitchens entitled “Why Women Aren’t Funny” which left me nothing short of stunned.
Hitchens’ starts off by claiming that, whereas women list a man’s sense of humour as a quality, men seldom reciprocate and won’t be heard saying “Oh, she’s great, beautiful… and, man, does she make me laugh!”. Firstly because men usually don’t find women funny and, secondly, because they don’t really care if they are. It’s all about looks, says Hitchens. Men, he writes, are funnier because they need to be funny, otherwise they won’t get laid. Being funny’s a survival instinct. Women, on the other hand, need do nothing than just “be” to attract men.
I beg to differ.
I don’t know whether Hitchens’ a perv or surrounded exclusively by beautiful women but that whole “just being” thing never got me anywhere.
I, unfortunately, lack many a physical attribute. I’m no Shrek, thank the Lord (and my parents, they had something to do with it after all), but I’m no stunner either. However, for some inexplicable reason, I always end up hanging with the cool crew of beautiful people: since school my friends are so incredibly good-looking you’d think I picked them right off the runway. So, from a very early age, rather than being the pretty girl, I was their little gremlin sidekick.
But I was ok with that because I was funny. I made kids laugh. I was the typical class clown and nothing thrilled me more than hearing the classroom roar at one of my insolent, cheeky remarks that could get me into trouble, sure, but, God, was it worth it!
Plus, I moved around a lot as a kid and changed school every 3 or 4 years, leaving friends behind and having to make new ones all the time. Humour was the best and quickest way to make new friends: girls weren’t threatened by me and boys knew I would be hassle-free and “one of the guys”, so we all got along just great.
Indeed, humour’s been my defence mechanism since forever and, contrary to Hitchens’ belief, being funny is actually a great way to get guys’ attention.
Obviously, you’ll always have your stereotypical alpha-male with an inferiority complex, who’d rather date a brainless bimbo with a pretty face, round ass and great pair of legs and tits than a girl that can keep up a conversation, even if she too has a pretty face, round ass and great pair of legs and tits. But those boys aren’t really my type anyway, so it’s all good.
Risk number two is that being funny is a trip on the fast lane straight into the “friend zone”. That never really bothered me either: I didn’t really give too much a damn about dating until very late in life. Spending lunch-break smooching and walking around hand in hand with a boyfriend seemed to me like an utter waste of time and I’d much rather spend it running after a football or fooling around (in the non-sexual connotation of the expression, of course).
But, overall, those brave few guys that liked me, I know liked me because I was witty and sarcastic. So, either I‘m the exception to your rule, Mr. Hitchens, or living proof that your theory’s bullsh*t.
Hitchens’ then outrageously concludes his article by affirming that women could never be as funny as men because they reproduce and conceive babies whilst men don’t. Because we women carry babies, everything else in life is secondary, wit included. *GASP* Seriously?! It’s just too offensive and despicable for words. It would be like arguing with Tom Cruise about scientology: pointless. Best I just move on…
I must, nonetheless, sadly agree with Hitchens on one thing: funny women are, sadly, an exception.
I know it’s incredibly sexist but women have to work twice as hard behind a stand-up mic because the simple fact that they’re female makes me think “ah, this is going to tank”. I don’t know why it is. Prejudice, pure and simple? If a woman and a man tell exactly the same joke, odds are we’ll laugh at the guy telling it but not the girl, right? A very silly yet credible Stanford University research proved that men and women have the same humour-response system, they find the same things funny, so the problem isn’t so much the message, i.e. the joke, but rather the messenger, i.e. the comedian.
But what if women simply can’t come up with funny material? Hitchens’ theory is that humour, being a sign of intelligence, should not be demonstrated by women, being men threatened by clever women and all… *GASP AGAIN* Wait, what? Jesus!, where did this guy come from? Again, I really don’t know which crowd Hitchens’ been hanging out with but he needs a new batch of friends, preferably from the 21st century.
So then is it because men, in general, are just better at telling jokes, no matter how good or bad that joke is? Or are women doomed to social bigotry?
This discussion on whether women are as funny as men or not isn’t new and it hasn’t been settled, nor does it look like it will be any time soon but, the sad truth is my main comedic references are, indeed, overwhelmingly male.
However, there is hope! My “funny girl” quota’s been increasing in recent years and female comediennes have become very important and solid references I greatly admire.
Tina Fey is an obvious choice. I absolutely adore her and everything she does, acts in and writes. She is the best thing to have hit the comedy scene in a long time and 30 Rock is one of the funniest shows ever. Plus, she’s gorgeous to boot, that geeky, gawky, gangly kind of gorgeous. My all time favourite funny girl, without doubt.

Sexy Sarah Silverman was nothing short of groundbreaking when she started doing stand up. Unfiltered and brash, she’s shockingly funny, leaving even the most open-minded audience uncomfortable: nothing’s taboo or off limits. You don’t know whether to gasp and cringe or laugh and applaud.
She famously jokes “I was raped by a doctor, which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.” It’s all there, wrapped into a one-liner. “Come on”, she adds, “who’s going to complain about rape jokes? Rape victims? They barely even report rape.” Cherry on top.

Kristen Wiig is another SNL girl that is funny through and through. Although I’m not quite sure she does stand up, her SNL characters are wonderful (Dooneese will make you wet yourself, seriously) and her self-depreciating humour, which delights me to bits, made the relatively crappy Bridesmaid worthwhile.

And there are others: Wanda Sykes, Catherine Tate, Mindy Kaling, French and Saunders, even Ellen DeGeneres, despite her God awful, annoyingly obnoxious talk show (what’s with all the dancing?!) made me laugh to tears with her HBOspecials. And then there are female comediennes ranking my all time favourite TV characters: Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Jane Lynch as Coach Sylvester, Kristen Schaal as the adorably awkward Mel on FOTC
I honestly believe women can be as funny, it isn’t a gender issue. It’s a social issue.
Men, in general, are ballsy, outspoken, candid and somewhat thoughtless and inconsiderate, whereas women tend to overthink, care too much about others’ opinions and feelings, prefer to withdraw and keep a low-profile. I am aware this is a simplified generalisation and that there are obviously exceptions to both genders but, come on!, it’s been so overdone only because it’s true: a ruthless businessman is a competent go-getter; the women, a stone-hearted bitch. It’s no different in comedy: a man tells a dirty sex joke, it’s hilarious and daring; if it’s a woman, she’s a crass whore.
As we grow up, humour becomes increasingly about sarcasm and mockery: being funny becomes synonymous with being mean, even if it’s being mean to no one but yourself. Girls don’t like being mean. We’re all sugar, spice and all things nice, right? Truth is I’d rather offend someone than pass the chance of getting a laugh, even if only my own. Eyes almost popping out of their sockets in shock is the new laughter.
It’s a man’s world, right? So, girls, grow a pair and be funny!!

The Evil Twin Supports The Beauty Routine - Part 6

Back to The Beauty Routine! And today it’s all about the boys!Read up, here!

Friday, 18 November 2011

First Aid Kit

I first discovered these sweet, singing, Swedish siblings through their haunting rendition of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”. Their woodsy, weather-beaten vocals received much praise in the folk circuit and got them to play along side big names such as Bright Eyes and Jack White, who produced their track “Universal Soldier”.
Their sophomore record “The Lion’s Roar” will be released early next year, but the homonymous single has already been put up on Youtube.

It’s the perfect winter soundtrack. It just makes you want to put on a chunky knit and wander round a campfire in a leafy, snowy Nordic forest whilst eating cinnamon and ginger biscuits. Bliss.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Watcha Readin'? Part 1

I Was Told There Would Be Cake”.
Or How Sloane Crosley Gave Chick-Lit A Good Rep.

I first found out about Sloane Crosley through a piece she wrote for Elle UK 3 or 4 years back, about turning 30. I was blown away at how someone could approach such a worn-out, unoriginal and saturated subject with such a fresh and hilarious take. I tore out that article, had it hanging over my desk for a couple of years but, as the ink started to fade, I’ve since taken it down and now keep it in one of my many memory-filled shoe-boxes and will probably hold on to it until it crumbles into dust.
I then found out that Crosley, a literary-publicist-come-writer, once dubbed New York’s most popular publicist, had just released her very first book, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, a collection of 15 essays which quickly became a New York Times bestseller.
Very much like Seinfeld, I Was Told There’d Be Cake is a book about nothing and everything that happens to young New Yorkers, from hateful diva bosses to being locked out twice, on the same day, from different flats, without forgetting an embarrassing secret My Little Pony collection.
I agree: it isn’t exactly ground-breaking stuff. You could fill an Olympic stadium with all the books written by witty New Yorkers telling tales of unpleasant jobs and unfortunate apartments. And, truth be told, I Was Told There’d Be Cake resonates best with women between 20 and 40 tops.
But, still, Crosley stands out from the crowd. Repeatedly compared to both Nora Ephron and David Sedaris’ ironic and self-pillorying yet laugh-out-loud funny styles, critics and reader alike raved about the book, Crosley’s mordant sense of humour and, most importantly, her brilliant writing. She makes it seem effortless and simple when, as every knows, real quality and talent are neither.
Plus, I Was Told There’d Be Cake has a very portable and beautiful edition by Riverhead and, with only 230 pages, it’s the perfect commute book. You’ll be sure to start off your day with a big smile: it’s not so much as reading a book but more like having a laugh with a friend.
I must admit that deep down I envy Crosley and, basically, want her life: she interned at the New Yorker; she’s dabbled in pretty much everything, from essays, interviews to fiction and criticism which have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Vogue, the Village Voice and the BlackBook where she’s been a contributing editor and columnist; she’s a publicist for Vintage for the likes of Toni Morrison and Jonathan Lethem … And has notoriously beautiful, shiny hair.
Her sophomore book “How Did You Get This Number” was released in paperback earlier this year and is also very much worth a read, particularly the odd episode with clowns right here in my hometown, Lisbon, Portugal. She tells Craig Ferguson all about it:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Evil Twin Supports The Beauty Routine - Part 5

Round 5 of the Evil Twin's participation on the best beauty blog out there.
It's even starting to get hate mail so it must be worth a read, right?
Check it out.

It's All About The Leather, Baby!

I’ve always had this love/hate relationship with leather. I love its rebel undertone, luxurious feel and sexy look. However, whenever I wear a pair of leather pants or jacket I feel like the missing member from the Village People or an extra from the S&M version of the Matrix.
The truth is leather is pretty unforgiving: you need a stunner figure so it looks chic and an even more stunning budget to blow on quality leather – the low-cost or faux versions such as pleather are never worth the money, no matter how cheap.

Jitrois does amazing skin-tight leather but the cut’s a bit too much “Russian slut” for my frame and taste (apologies to any Russians – sluts or not – reading this). High street stores carry trendy cuts but the leather’s quality rarely matches the over-inflated prices they try to rip you off with a menacing “but it’s leather!”.
I didn’t really find my match until I fell in love with Balmain and Burberry’s gorgeous biker jackets and blazers, which they’ve been making for a couple of years now: ultra feminine, über sexy and incredibly comfortable, this is what leather should be.


Along with the white shirt, LBD and trench, I believe every woman should invest and own a great leather jacket. It’s unexpectedly versatile: it obviously goes with any casual attire but really gives an edge and youthful feel to fancy gowns.

Black leather trousers are an absolute classic but nobody pulls them quite as beautifully as Miranda Kerr.

Isabel Marant’s mod-inspired red pants are a must but it's colours-galore for all leather pants, even metallics!

But designers are letting their imagination loose and are going beyond the basic jacket and trousers: from cropped tops to hot pants, leather is everywhere, is everything! Here are a couple of suggestions for all you non-vegans (please don’t hate-mail me! I love cows too!).