Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Illustrations for the Apocalypse

April 18, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books, History


In the 8th century, in a monastery in the mountains of northern Spain, 700 years after the Book of Revelations was written, a monk named Beatus set down to illustrate a collection of writings he had compiled about this most vivid and apocalyptic of the New Testament books. Throughout the next few centuries his depictions of multi-headed beasts, decapitated sinners, and trumpet blowing angels, would be copied over and over again in various versions of the manuscript.




Read about the Beatus of Facundus at the Public Domain Review.

Is this art?

April 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Places

Ivar in London

If I suddenly exit, is that performance art?

What to do with all these spectacles

April 15, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing, Design

Steampunk eyeglass frames by Sunny

We love spectacles. We have a lot of eyeglasses because we wear them all the time (If we had contact lenses we would end up poking our eyes out from sheer clumsiness). Everyone wonders how dumb the population of Metropolis has to be not to see that Clark Kent is Superman with eyeglasses, but having worn glasses since age 8, we know they make effective disguises. No one can recognize us minus our glasses. The disguise has become the person! Nyahahahaa (thunder, lightning)!

While relocating dust from one piece of furniture to the next (i.e. cleaning), we found a bag full of old spectacles we don’t use anymore. Not the vintage frames—we’ll use those forever—but fairly ordinary plastic glasses from the 90s, with plastic lenses in our old prescription (Our astigmatism has lessened since then). Fourteen in all. What can we do with them?

Reading glasses we found at a flea market. They’re warped with age and no longer usable as glasses, but we’re keeping them to turn into a pendant or something.

We could donate them to charity. Better, we could sell them and donate the proceeds to charity (or have them auctioned for charity, assuming anyone would buy them).

We could give a pair to anyone who makes a donation in a specified amount (Say, Php2500) to CARA (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) or PAWS (Philippine Animal Welfare Society).

We could give a pair of glasses to anyone who buys three sets of books in The Last Twisted Sale.


We could give the frames to Sunny Garcia who makes funky spectacles and sells them at Legazpi Market on Sundays (They’re closed this Sunday). Or give them to Leo Abaya to fuse onto a sculpture project.

That’s a handwoven abel table runner in python weave. Ask Rene Guatlo.

Ideas are welcome.

The Rains of Castamere by Sigur Ros is a soundtrack for your waking dreams

April 14, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Music, Television

Anything we have to say about Game of Thrones at this point will contain spoilers, so let’s not speak of it at all.

The Icelandic band Sigur Ros can make anything sound haunting. They make us want to learn Icelandic (Lolo Tolkien would be pleased). Here they take the Lannister song The Rains of Castamere and turn it into the kind of music you hear in those prophetic dreams whose details you can never remember when you wake up. (We recommend listening to Sigur Ros while visiting tropical islands in blazing sunshine. It makes for an amazing contrast.)

Hey, today’s theme is dragons.

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Look, here’s a short film with music by Sigur Ros in which Aidan Gillen (Lord Baelish, who has a larger role this season) meets a fox.

Every movie we see #39: Excalibur tells us how to summon the dragon

April 14, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books, Movies

Catching up:

30. Vertigo. Our annual viewing. We were trying to convince Juan to drop by San Juan Bautista and “reenact” the body on the roof, but the drive to San Simeon took longer than he expected.

31. Philomena. Written by Steve Coogan, directed by Stephen Frears, based on true events, Philomena could’ve easily been a diatribe against the terrible crimes of the Catholic Church. Instead, it gives the villainous nuns of the story the compassion they never gave Philomena, an Irish woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock, is put to work without pay in a convent, and has her son taken away from her and given to adoptive American parents. Philomena is brilliantly portrayed by Dame Judi Dench in the most un-Dame Judi performance we can remember, and Steve Coogan continues to surprise. (See What Maisie Knew)

32. Stranger by the Lake. You think it’s gay porn, but it’s a thrilling psychological drama about how some kinds of love make us want to live, and others can’t be distinguished from the longing for death. Definitely NSFW.

33. The Lady Vanishes. We could recite this. We talk to the screen. “Look at the window! The win–” (merge with train whistle).

34. The Avengers. We had to decide which movie in the Marvel cinematic universe is the best.

35. Captain America: The First Avenger. Even better when you see it again! Chris Evans has been seriously, seriously underrated. Maybe no longer.

36. Byzantium. A contemporary vampire story starring Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton that may be Neil Jordan’s apology for the excesses of Interview With The Vampire.

37. Prince of the City. Treat Williams plays the police detective turned whistle-blower in this Sidney Lumet film from 1981. He thinks he’s making like Al Pacino in a previous Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon. Turns out that to overact like that, you have to BE Al Pacino.

38. The Thirteenth Tale. Vanessa Redgrave and Sophie Turner (Sansa) in an entertaining contemporary Gothic tale.

* * * * *

39. Excalibur by John Boorman is still one of our favorite adaptations of the Arthurian tales. Because of Excalibur and The Once and Future King, we would’ve majored in Medieval English Lit (Fortunately we realized that the curriculumn would include lots of Piers Plowman ugh).

The Boorman movie is cheesy in parts (Nicol Williamson as Merlin is a runny Stilton), and it takes liberties with the source materials—Arthur himself becomes The Fisher King, Morgana is merged with Nimue—but it is wildly entertaining and it gets the spirit of the legends.

This wonderful scene in which Arthur awakens from his long stupor and rides through the land, awakening it, introduced us to O Fortuna! from Orff’s Carmina Burana.

We had to watch Excalibur at the cinema twice so we could memorize the Charm of Making.

In Old Gaelic: Anál nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha. (Serpent’s breath, charm of death and life, thy omen of making.)

Yes, that is Helen Mirren, who played Morgana.


Here she is with her then-boyfriend Liam Neeson, who was Gawaine. Here’s a funny story about them.

gabriel byrne

Gabriel Byrne was Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father.

stewart hinds

And Patrick Stewart and Ciaran Hinds were King Leodegrance (father of Guinevere) and King Lot (husband of Arthur’s sister Morgause and stepfather of the bastard Mordred, but not in the movie).

Ah! We know what illuminated manuscript we’re going to make: The Sword in the Stone, the first book of The Once and Future King by T.H. White.

If you are interested in the Arthurian tales, White is the best place to start. Mary Stewart’s Merlin series—The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment—is excellent, and Lloyd Alexander’s children’s books The Chronicles of Prydain are a great introduction to the Welsh myths The Mabinogion.

(c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Beguiling of Merlin by Edward Burne-Jones, which was the cover of Possession by A.S. Byatt.

It’s Koosi’s birthday. And Drogon’s! Today he is The Oracle.

April 12, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats


Koosi would’ve been 15 years old today. We miss her everyday, though we still see her in the corner of our eye, jumping from shelf to table and flaying the spines of books in the process. She picked Drogon as her successor, and since we don’t know the exact date he was born, we hereby designate 12 April as his birthday. (Our vet did say that he was about 18 months old in September last year.) So our annual ritual of divination continues.

Photo by RickyV

Happy Birthday, Drogon!

You may ask The Oracle questions about your future. Post them in Comments. Drogon will answer your questions all weekend.

I am two! Send more questions!

The oracle locket with Koosi’s kitten pictures