International Women's Day (a day too late)

Since it was International Women’s Day yesterday, here a Hollywood story about equality. Few weeks ago, new six episodes of X-Files premiered and caused a big stir. Not so much because of the fans and their genuine interest in seeing what agents Scully and Mulder have been up to in all this time, but more because of one of Hollywood’s two new favorite topics: women & Hollywood and race & Hollywood. Equal pay is all the rage for past years, becoming a huge issue after Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech last year, with Jennifer Lawrence quickly jumping on the bandwagon.

The fact that women should be paid the same amount for the same job as men is undisputable. 

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Yoga Pants, the New Perfume

When I lived in Europe and read celebrity magazines (I’ve always been a sucker for celebrity magazines), I often wondered why famous people go out in public in their workout clothes. And get caught on camera. In Europe you don’t go outside of your home or gym in your workout clothes. Now that I’ve spent so much time in LA I finally have an answer: it’s not the people, it’s the city! I wrote a very fun article for the February issue of Gloria Glam about LA’s obsession with yoga pants. I was very honored to speak about this topic with Catherine Adair, acclaimed costume designer whose work on “Desperate Housewives” brought her an Emmy. Cate’s first reaction was: “Cars!” 

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Feeling Philosophical

Every time I hike on my favourite canyon, I see people running up the steep hill in hot Californian sun. And every time one of them passes by, I wonder how fit they must be to run up this hill, and feel a bit bad about myself being lazy. And in 95% of times, the moment I turn the corner, I find that same person walking and panting and drinking water. I just realized on my hike yesterday what an important philosophical lesson it is: Never ever envy people. Because you never know what their situation will be just around the next corner.

The Big City of Small Plates

Because Croats like their food – and lots of it – I wrote a story about L.A.’s trendy restaurants serving their food on small plates for the December issue of “Delicije.” Like all the stories (and that’s why I love doing this!) the story about small plates revealed some very interesting facts.

Because it is hard to motivate a person to eat two hamburgers instead of one, some 20 years ago, fast food chains invented “supersize” – a much bigger portion for a bit more money (but resulting in a lot more profit). This led to a portion size war: in last 20 years, the size of an average American portion has increased two to three (!) times. Combined with the sinking quality of ingredients, this had terrible effects on people’s health: it’s expected that by 2020 ¾ of Americans will be obese.

Partially to contrast this trend and partially to introduce a novelty, since the beginning of the millennium, fine restaurants started offering all their food on “small plates”. These are sized between an appetizer and a main dish, you order them all at once and are meant for sharing.

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Hollywood Stars With Brushes and Rubber Gloves

I’m having so much fun with my new (and absolutely fantastic) position as the Los Angeles (and Hollywood) correspondent for a big group of magazines which includes (among others) a high end fashion magazine (Gloria Glam), a gourmet magazine (Delicije), a celebrity magazine (Gloria) and another fashion magazine (Gloria In). A story I wrote for the  December issue of Gloria Glam took me inside of the world I would have otherwise never entered: the world of Hollywood’s celebrity hair colorists. When I started researching, I was stunned with the fact that there are people in this city who  pay $400 for hair color. But what I learned is that the star colorists won’t even start work for that amount. Largely depending on the services, their work goes for around $800 or more. Some of those colorists are such big stars that I had to go through their agents and PR people  if  to get an interview.

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El Niño and Nobel Peace Prize

Hello after a long time – and a baby which is already 14 months old and just the best thing in the universe! Here’s a funny anecdote for my comeback. Last night, my husband attended one of the dinners organized by a Hollywood writer “which are for men only because we like to have an intelligent conversation.” As a good Hollywood wife, I will not comment on his statement.

But here’s the fun part. My husband was sitting next to an environmental scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the very same guy who in the 1970’s invented the term “El Nino” They talked about the El Nino that’s about to hit California (in January through March), about global warming, droughts and other environmental catastrophes. After hours of conversation, my husband desperately asked him where we should move. “To whenever makes you wife happiest,” the scientist replied.

I really believe this amazing gentleman for the Nobel Prize. If not for science, definitely for peace!

Why I Didn't Hate Maleficent

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. My friends and I left the cinema and everyone was bitter and angry and agitated – except for me. Highly opinionated, intellectually snobbish and very emotional, the furious one is usually me. There were countless moments I’d leave the cinema wanting to punch the director and the producer and the whole crew just to get rid of the anger that collected while I watched their offensive trash. This time, I left quite satisfied, I dare even say: mesmerized. “The story didn’t make sense, the first act was completely different, CGI was so cheesy, I wanted to see the story of Maleficent and not Sleeping Beauty retold, what’s with the lesbian connotation, there were so many cheap tricks (including freezing characters to make them shut up)!” My friends were furious.

I stayed quiet, listened to their complaints and wondered why I didn’t hate it. It took me some time to figure it out. But then I got it:

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Happy May 1 to all you workers!

It's International Workers' Day and people all around the world are out in the streets reminding of what workers fought for almost 130 years ago (and  in many countries is still lacking): fair treatment of the workers, fair wages, 8h work days, holidays.

It is surely no coincidence that yesterday, OECD issued a new study warning about growing inequality and a desperate need for tax reforms. It already sounds boring but: While rich are getting richer, their taxes are drastically sinking.

Here the link to OECD's study:

And an image from Barcelona today:

The Tyranny of Experts

I just got invited to the discussion of William Easterly's new book "The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and Forgotten Rights of the Poor" but unfortunately it's in New York, where I'm not. The book sounds extremely interesting so I wanted to share the information:

Global poverty has largely been viewed as a technical problem that merely requires the right expert solutions.Yet all too often, experts recommend solutions that fix immediate problems while ignoring the political oppression that created them in the first place, accidentally colluding with autocrats who violate the rights of the poor.  The Tyranny of Experts traces the history of the fight against global poverty, showing how development has long suppressed the vital debate on the individual rights of people in developing countries, the crucial debate on whether unchecked power for dictators is the problem and not the solution.

Why George Clooney’s Love Life Matters

I’m so in love with Philosophers’ Mail idea of giving gossip deeper meaning that I’m going to steal the idea and serve you some gossip. Apparently – and this has been a rumor for months – George Clooney is dating…. Ready?.... A successful intelligent woman with a serious profession! Few months ago, they’ve been papped (for all those normal people not living in L.A.: a picture taken by paparazzi) in a car, leaving a restaurant in London. And few days ago, she accompanied him to “The Monuments Men” screening at the White House. (That’s what I call a date!)

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Unapologetic Barbie

So, Barbie just appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary annual swimsuit issue (wearing the swimsuit she wore when she first appeared in shops in 55 years ago). And this cover caused a huge stir. Apparently it’s giving girls a wrong body image. This might be right but I don’t understand why a picture of a doll is worse than a picture of what is supposed to be a live, breathing woman but is so photo-shopped that no live breathing woman, even the one who posed for the picture, could ever look like that. Because her name adorned the title of my first book and because I (believe it or not) used to be nicknamed Barbie, she was always present in my work. This is why in my last interview for Croatian Cosmopolitan, I was asked a very interesting (and tricky) question: What have I learned from Barbie? I was always very quick to criticize Barbie (for her unnatural body image and dumb activities) but never spent one thought wondering if there ever was anything positive to having grown up with Barbie. This really wasn’t an easy question.

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Cheers to "The Philosophers' Mail"

Alain de Botton, one of the world’s most famous living philosophers and author of numerous bestsellers just started a new website called "The Philosophers' Mail". Irritated by the gap between what’s popular and what’s important, he decided to marry the readability and fun of "Daily Mail" (and even its format) with deep perspective, even philosophy. The ultimate goal of this exotic mix is to get people to care about important things. Currently without advertisement, the site has three full time employees (which is amazing, considering that some of most famous sites expect people to write for free). Check it out, it’s fun! You will find articles such as why paparazzi pictures of Natalie Portman playing in the park with her son help motivate people to do mundane things, why Rosie Huntington’s beauty isn’t normal and why low unemployment numbers can mean misemployment. I applaud de Botton (again) and wish his site lots of success!

Link to The Philosophers' Mail

How Chivalry Could Heal American Misogyny

I just found on my Facebook wall a post titled „5 Reasons Why Women Should Celebrate the Death of Chivalry.“ It made me jump to the ceiling. Since Woody Allen scandal came up again few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about women in the United States a lot. Actually, I’ve been thinking about women in United States a lot since I moved here three years ago. Before I moved here, I lived in Croatia and Austria. And I just can’t stop being shocked about how much, and how deeply women are hated in this country. Something went terribly wrong here and somewhere along the path to equality, and instead of partners, American men and women became competitors, even opponents.

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Mama in the Mirror - The Art of Aging

“Jagoda Kaloper in the Mirror of the Cultural Screen,” a book about my mother’s art film “Woman in the Mirror” has just been published. Only few months ago, she celebrated her 66th birthday by opening a new exhibition. There were hundreds of people, lots of journalists and the exhibition received great reviews from art critics. Yesterday, she had a 45 minutes interview on Croatian National Television. She talked about her life – but what really impressed me was her talking about age and how she feels better now than she did when she was young. Yes, I am in love with my mom. I believe I have all reasons to be: She is the most caring, loving and supporting mother in the world (don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect) but she is also a very strong, independent, successful woman – the kind of woman we would like our daughters to look up to. 

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Laughing at Death?

Yesterday, I have witnessed my first Dia de los Meurtos celebration – a Mexican tradition of celebrating the passed ones and smiling at death. Coming from two very Catholic countries – Croatia and Austria, I am used to give honor to the ones that passed away once a year, on 1 November, All Saints Day. On that day, Croats (Austrians to a much lesser extent) visit graveyards, and fill them with big quiet crowds overwhelmed with respect and sadness. They buy flowers – white, stern flowers, a certain kind that is connected to cemeteries - and candles and turn cemeteries into lakes of warm quiet candlelight. In our culture, death is bad, it’s scary, it’s the end, it’s dark. We have completely estranged ourselves from death. 

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All the World’s a Stage (a book review)

In «Our Man in Iraq» Robert Perišić talks less about Iraq but more about Croatia and the eternal play that's life. “Our Man in Iraq” is a story of Toni, a Croatian journalist who sends his cousin Boris to Iraq to report on the war for his newspaper. Boris’ reports turn out to be nebulous poetic blurbs, and Toni decides to rewrite them hoping nobody will ever find out he sent a dilettante – and his cousin - on this important task. But one day Boris disappears. To cover up the scheme, the editor decides on an even bigger scheme and asks Toni to pretend he is Boris. The story is great. But there is more to it and with every page, Perišić 's book exposes new layers. A love story. A story about transition from socialism to capitalism. A story of a country recovering from war. A story about media and journalism. About consumerism and postmodern identity crisis. But mostly a story about the roles we are playing. Yes, you can expect to find a lot in this book. Just don’t expect the war in Iraq.

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“It is necessary to stop being a patient"

Eva Illouz, one of today’s most established sociologists (yes, I am a HUGE fan), whom German “Die Zeit” called one of a few people that will shape the thinking of tomorrow just published a very interesting essay on psychology titled “How therapy became a multimillion dollar industry”.  In 2008, Illouz published a book on this topic called “Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help”. In her new essay, she talks about some very important and interesting (but also controversial: Israeli psychoanalysts attacked her strongly because of the essay) aspects of the commercialization of psychology.

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