Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Brazilians and brand names

A funny habit that we Brazilians have is to call certain products by their brand name. For example, no one in Brazil says “I have to buy a new blade for my shaver”, they say “I have to buy a new gillette for my shaver”.  Gillette everyone knows as a famous blade maker, among other products.

The same goes for chewing gum: we call it chiclete, yes, the famous Chiclet brand. Other examples: we don’t say “I have to make some copies”. We say” I have to make a xerox of this”. Yep.  We call any cola beverage “coca” or “pepsi”, no matter what brand of cola it is.  How do we call milk with cocoa powder? Nescau.  The famous Nestle brand of cocoa.

One of the reasons for that is that our industrialization happened later than in America, and some products had no competition for a long time (take “gillette” for example). These names stuck, even though newer brands came along.  Do any fellow Brazilians remember other examples?


March 28, 2009 Posted by | Difference between cultures | 5 Comments

Exotic fruits and me

1970’s: you would see me feeling old and confident enough to walk to the nearest little deli and buy 10 pieces of Ping Pong chewing gum. Anyone over 40 who grew up in Brazil knows how “chiclete Ping Pong” was a staple amongst kids. I still remember the price for 10 of them: 1 cruzeiro, the currency before the real took over.

During my teenage years in Brasilia, my guilty pleasure was to buy Kit Kat and “bomboms” , which were a real treat. I grew up in a household where my mother knew a lot about nutrition, so our meals were very healthy. Since the 70’s we had whole wheat bread, brown rice and skim milk in our house. We even had soy steak for lunch sometimes (don’t forget that lunch is the main meal in Brazil, something that is hard for me to get used nowadays when I go there). So sneaking in some chocolate and candy was my way to rebel from all that healthful lifestyle 🙂

Several decades later, my guilty pleasure is fruit, not your basic apple, bananas and oranges, but any fruit that is not easily found-and unfortunately, pricey. Besides a need to stay healhy and looking fit, I was also influenced by a friend from Bosnia who consumes large amounts of fruit. With my sweet tooth, fruit is the closet I can get to the sweet taste I crave. Otherwise I would be eating candy and M&M’s in a daily basis:)

The other day I had a big craving for pineapple. Pineapple in Brazil is dirt cheap and sweet.  We really take it for granted there. Brazil has wonderful fresh, juicy and sweet fruit. I can find papaya, mangos and even guava here in the US, but it is often tasteless and not ripe. I ran to Whole Foods to satisfy my craving and paid 6 dollars for 4 slices of pineapple…at least they were sweet and melted in my mouth!

Recently I fell in love with kiwiberry. It is a mini kiwi that looks like green grapes. Sweet and probably full of Vitamin C. Problem: the price is scary. Better stick to the other more affordable berries I also love.

Finally, the fruit that really rocked my world is Durian. Anyone from Thailand and Hong Kong knows what that is. Durian is a big round fruit which looks a bit like a green pineaple from the outside-and smells horrible when ripe. You really have to either keep it outside your house or throw the carcass out as soon as you cut it-preferably far from your front door…Inside the Durian however, there are 4 or 5 big black seeds surrounded by the sweetest and creamiest pulp you will ever eat. Simply heavenly. No wonder durian is known as the fruit that “smells like hell and tastes like heaven”. Serve the pulp cold (one seed per guest) for an exotic and delicious desert.



March 28, 2009 Posted by | Health | Leave a comment

How important are looks in finding a relationship?

“You need to look good to get a man”. Feminists go nuts when they hear that. Mind you, I am also a feminist in the sense that I believe both sexes are equal and one should not try to have control over the other. But some feminists used to say a man needs to love you for what’s “inside you”.  That notion was popular in the 60’s and 70’s, but then after a whole generation of women stayed single, the 80’s came in full force and brought back pencil skirts and red lipstick. That’s all fine and dandy, but your “great personality” and brains by themselves will not always land you a relationship.

As in most things in life, there has to be a balance. A balance of looks and personality and brains. An overweight woman is not only putting her health at risk, she will also lower her chances of finding  a relationship. She will not be able to be picky.  Why?

Because we cannot ignore biology and the fact that men are visual. Their  first impulse when they look at an available woman is if she pleases their senses. After that first barrier is broken, she needs to show him she is also intelligent, kind and all the other good stuff, or he will simply see her a as possible one night stand.

Looking good has nothing to do with being obsessed with your looks. It has nothing to do with spending loads of money in hair salons, tanning salons, boutiques and skin treatments. It requires some basic grooming: combing your hair, seeing what style and color suits you the best, taking care of your skin and your teeth, wearing some make up to enhance your good features and keeping your nails and toes clean or polished.

When it comes to weight, obesity is never good. Obesity is synonimous to ignorance. Someone who is not exercising or is eating too much. Very rarely is obesity incurable. 

When it comes to clothes, a woman does not need to look like a million bucks all the time. She also should not dress slutty. She should strive to look feminine though.  Clothes that are not too tight nor too loose, colors that enhance your complexion, styles that enhance your best features such as your bosom or your legs (don’t show too muc skin!) and some jewelry to make you look like  a….woman.

In the past, if a woman was born ugly, she was condemned to be ugly for the rest of her life or she would join a convent. Nowadays, the most ugly duckling can look ravishing. Plastic surgery to correct enormous noses, breast implants to add volume to completely flat women, make up tricks and foundations and false eyelashes, hair coloring and hair extensions, color contacts, fake nails..and the list goes on.  But none of this works if a woman is grossly overweight.

Too skinny is also not good. Men always say they like women with some curves. Why do you think Joy Behar looks good for 66? Because she is not too skinny. Her just right plumpiness makes her face look younger. Some Hollywood celebrities starve to look like waifs, but oftentimes they lose their beauty in that process.

I once knew a woman lawyer who was approaching 40 and had never been married or had children. She was starting to panic.  She was pretty and was not overweight.  I remember I wish I could have told her why she wasn’t lucky in love, but I did not have the courage.  All she needed to do was change her style. She wore long skirts with shapeless lawyer suits. She wore her hair in a short conservative hairstyle and absolutely no make up.

I  wanted to take her shopping and give her a makeover…but…she was my boss. I haven’t see her for many years, but the last I heard was that she had given up on finding a man and had had IVF from a donor, becoming a single mother….I wish I had given her a bit of my “Brazilian” fashion sense 🙂

For every pot there is a lid. This is one of my favorite sayings in Portuguese. There is someone for everyone, but to enhance your chances of finding love, you have to love yourself first.


March 27, 2009 Posted by | Being a woman, Fashion, Relationships | 2 Comments

The 10 worse things that can happen to a woman in her life

1. Lose a child. Parents are not supposed to outlive children.

2. Have her baby removed from her right after childbirth without her consent

3. Be raped

4. Be left at the altar at her wedding day or a few days earlier

5. Be cheated on/left for another woman/man

6. Lose a sibling

7. Lose a parent

8. Find a lump on her breast or having an abnormal pap smear

9. Lose a job

10. Go through a devastating break up

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Being a woman | Leave a comment

I could be buddies with Barack Obama

Watching President Obama on Jay Leno the other night made me think: if Obama was not the president but  just a regular lawyer, he would be the kind of guy I would like to be friends with. I say that because the chances that I bump into the president during a happy hour in DC are very slim…:)

I never wanted to have a beer with Bush. I cannot relate to his mentality. But Barack Obama and I have many, but many similar points of view. He has international experience, he is cultured and likes technology. He has a great sense of justice. He  is modern and is not afraid of innovation. On top of that, the man is cool. He is funny, he is cool, he is down to earth. Who doesn’t like to have a friend like that?

Ah, and Michelle would be a great buddy too. I like smart woman, and since she is tall, we could talk face to face 🙂 

On a more serious tone, I am feeling confident that this administration is doing the best it can do to take the US out of the economic fiasco, as well as making it more competitve internationally. If this team cannot make it, no other will. We have the best heads together now. Let’s give them time. We know we are in honest and capable hands, and this is comforting.

March 23, 2009 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Lessons learned with the David Goldman case

I heard recently that every American man who marries a Brazilian woman should be weary, since she might want to go back to her country one day. I know numerous cases of Brazilian women married to American men who are stable in this country and would not think of going back. Those who have no kids with an American man have no problem to deal with, and  there are those who want to go back but would not separate children from their father, so they wait for the kids to grow up.

The David and Bruna Goldman story teaches us a lesson, and this can occur between different countries and nationalities. Some people have a harder time adapting to a new country. Some have very tight ties with their families, or feel their lives would be better or easier in their mother country.  When children are part of the equation, things are much more complicated. And this applies to most divorces where one parent feels the need to move to another state or city, or is transferred because of their job: how to share the kids. Invariably, kids live with their moms and visit with their Dads. This seems to be the most common arrangement, but there are all kinds of arrangements. Mothers who abandon their children, fathers who abandon their children. Fathers who do not conform in being weekend fathers, mothers who think they are entitled to have full custody, etc. But sometimes couples from different countries face a bigger challenge: the vast distance betweeen both countries.

In Bruna’s case, she did not want to stay in the United States and decided that her son would stay with her no matter what, and screw the father. She wished the father would just disappear magically, but he did not.

My advice to men who marry foreign women, or Brazilian women such as this case: talk to your bride about what would happen if she wants to return to her country. Even have some kind of agreement made in advance about what would happen in that case or in case of divorce. Know what you are dealing with and what to expect in case anything happens.

March 19, 2009 Posted by | Being a mother, Difference between cultures, Relationships, Society | 1 Comment

The DC rally for David Goldman

I just came back from the rally. It was a miserable day in terms of weather, which was getting worse with each passing hour, but I was thrilled, as were the 2 friends that were there with me, to be there. The speeches, the posters, the press. I had the opportunity of speaking to Chris Smith, David’s father (Sean could not wish for a better grandpa!) and David’s sister (she has 2 kids Sean’s age, how cool is that, Sean will have cousins his age near him when he comes back!). I also talked to Bob D’Amico who was very nice too and informative. The only thing I missed was knowing who was who (we needed name tags), I did not feel confortable enough to ask everyone “Who are you on BSH?”. I met Mom25 because she is Brazilian like myself, and the guy whose daughter is in Brazil. I am sure if the weather were more pleasant everyone would have been more inclined to socialize more. We had to hold posters with one hand and the umbrella with the other! Hopefully NYC will have better weather next week for those who live there.

Still, my friends and I left the rally very very happy. We stopped for coffee and sandwiches because our toes were simply frozen. But we felt very good in going.

We were rained on too (not heavy rain, fortunately, but light drizzle) but the rally, as well as meeting David’s grandpa and aunt and David’s friends, only made me MORE determined to continue fighting for this case to be resolved.
PS: At the coffeeshop (Potbelly’s actually) we met 2 Brazilian tourists who had heard a little about the case. You know downtown DC there are always tourists. We talked to them about the rally, and guess what? One of the women lost her mother when she was a child and was raised by her grandma becasue her father was young and in those days Dad’s did not know how to raise girls. Guess what? From this woman’s mouth, she said she always wanted to live with her Dad, who later remarried, and he wanted too but did not have the courage to take her away from the old grandma. She said she longed for her Dad all her life. She was a pretty upbeat woman. We told her and her friend to go bacl to BR and spread the word about David.

See picture below:

That is me with the light grey umbrella and the white button on my coat, long blonde hair.

March 14, 2009 Posted by | World Events/News | 2 Comments

The DVR saves the TV

I was not watching much TV in the last decade. In Brazil, you know what shows are on that night, because there are less channels and people tend to watch the same things: the 8 o’ clock news on Globo TV, the 8:30 PM soap opera, the comedy show at 9:30 PM.

When you come to America and you get full cable, you suddenly have 200 + channels to choose from. And after a while, you realize that most of it is crap. And when you find a show you may like, you have trouble in finding which channel it is and what day it is on, since it is not daily like Brazilian evening soaps.

Between a busy life and not finding or remembering shows on TV, I just lost interest. I would watch something big (like The Oscars) or a movie here or there. That changed last year, when I got one of my favorite eletronics: the DVR. I finally could watch what I wanted when I wanted! I could finally select a few shows I had interest in and watch them at my convenience, usually after a long day of working, going to the gym and working out.

I now record my favorite shows like Real Time with Bill Maher, The View and also some guilty pleasures that drive my husband crazy: The Real Housewives of New York City 🙂

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Technology | Leave a comment

My “soulmates”: Joy Behar and Bill Maher

In the last decade I became more interested in talk shows, and my favorite shows are Real Time with Bill Maher and The View. I try not to miss them. The women on the View sometimes get on my nerves with their loud voices and talking over each other, but I am often amused by their debates. I like Barbara Walters, she is still so lively and quick thinking for her age, I like Whoopi with her funny faces and tendency to philosophize and I like Sherri with her “regular gal” common sense and funny remarks. Elizabeth drives me nuts with her incessant banter and her insistence in defending all things Republican, whether they are right or not. But, for the sake of diversity and being open minded about different opinions, we have to put up with her.

But my favorite one is Joy Behar. I think like Joy, our minds think very similarly. We do have the Italian blood and the Social Sciences background in common 🙂 I have rarely, if ever, disagreed with Joy’s opinions. I am sure if we met in real life we would have fun being friends. I have even made my husband like her too, and sometimes he watches The View with me in the evening (DVR’d of course).

My other soulmate is Bill Maher. There have been very few occasions, if any, where I did not agree with one os his comments. We also think alike. It’s almost eerie. If he changed his phobia about marriage then we would think more alike, and I also don’t dig being “high”.

I think I would have the time of my life if I went out two dinner with those two. I wonder if they would grant me that wish if I were dying of cancer 🙂

Anyway, Bill and Joy, you are the twin sister/brother I never had 🙂 I hope both of you stay on the spotlight for a long time. Joy, you will probably substitute for Larry King one day and become the first female late night talk show hostess.


March 9, 2009 Posted by | Celebrities | Leave a comment

Barbershops and hair salons


This is a funny difference between the US and Brazil when it comes to getting a haircut whether you are a man or a woman: women go to hair salons/hairdressers, men go to the barbershop.

I believe that many countries, such as Italy, still have barberhops. In Brazil, when a man wants to have a haircut, he does not stop by the neighborhood hair salon. He goes to a barbershop. If a man in Brazil arrives at a hair salon and asks for a haircut, the women inside the place will look at him as if he were: 1) crazy, 2) perverted, 3) gay.

Hair salons in Brazil are abudant. Almost every corner has one. They range from luxury ones where everybody wears black to small hair salons tucked between two stores in busy streets. They do everything, from waxing to manicures to facials. It is a place where women socialize with other women and talk about celebrities, soap operas, beauty tips and gossip. It’s a place where women can be women and do not have to worry how they look with foil on their hair or there pants rolled up for a pedicure. If a man enters that environment, he will break that easiness that you see when women are only in the company of other women. The only man on site in hair salons are gay men, sometimes the master hairdresser, who usually air kisses his favorite customers and fills the rich women with compliments to stay in their good graces.

Meanwhile, barbershops became more commercial and impersonal, but in the 40’s and 50’s in Brazil and places like Queens and Brooklyn, it was a gathering spot for men, who would usually discuss politics (before it became a subject that women also love).  A woman walking into a barbershop in Brazil will feel like she has no clothes on.

So, even though this does not constitute a big issue when a Brazilian moves to the USA, it does make us confused when we go to a hair salon, expecting to relax and not worry about how ugly we will look with rollers in our hair, and a man comes in. And for the Brazilian man looking desperately for  a barbershop to have a hair cut, he will have to get used to waking into places called “La Beaute”, “Elite for hair” and “La Femme”.

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Difference between cultures | 3 Comments