Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Into the Woods is pleasant, forgettable fluff

January 29, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Music

Even Sondheim fans suspect that in the Sondheim oeuvre, Into The Woods is a charming bit of fluff with a couple of good songs—No One Is Alone became a kind of anthem in the campaign against AIDS. Nonetheless we recall it with great affection as a funny musical riff on Bruno Bettelheim’s interpretation of classic fairy tales. Other than famous stars, the Disney film by Rob Marshall doesn’t add anything to the material: with all the special effects at its disposal the movie actually looks smaller than the stage version.

It is entertaining enough, Emily Blunt is lovely, and Johnny Depp is creepy—who knew he’d be in two Sondheim movies? Chris Pine is hysterical—is he doing an impression of the original James Tiberius Kirk, William Shatner? And of course your Mother Meryl is in it (Our mother is Sigourney). We know the Princes are a joke, but was it really necessary to make them look like Siegfried and Roy? And how come listening to the soundtrack makes us feel things, but watching the movie makes us yearn to scoot outside for more popcorn?

Reading Year 2015: Provocateurs and Comics

January 28, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books


1. The Devil in the Philippines by Isabelo de los Reyes, translated by Benedict Anderson et al. A comic tale by the first Filipino folklorist, first published in 1886.

2. The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq. The professional troublemaker whose latest novel Submission is set in a near-future in which France is an Islamic state. Map is the life story of a successful artist who manages not to connect with any human beings in his lifetime. The prose isn’t beautiful, but his brutal representation of the world we live in is so compelling and often funny, we had to see it through.


3. Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis. Precise, sly, profound, no filler. Her stories may consist of five sentences, sometimes just one, but they’re not snacks, they’re full meals.


4. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. In 1958 the surviving members of the original Victorian crew of famous fictional characters recruited by Britain’s secret secret intelligence service obtain a dossier from a certain famous spy who likes his martinis shaken and not stirred. The file is a collection of literary parodies, in comics and in straight prose, featuring Virginia Woolf’s gender-shifting Orlando, Swift’s Gulliver, Fanny Hill and others.

It’s a hoot, but the report “written” by P.G. Wodehouse’s lovable dolt Bertram Wooster is not convincing at all. It doesn’t have the lightness, silliness, or the effortless wordplay—it lands with a thud. On the other hand, it comes with cardboard 3D glasses for the last chapter.


5. Tabi Po volume 2 by Mervin Malonzo. The continuation of the ambitious retelling of Noli Me Tangere, with the vital addition of aswang. The atmosphere is so thick with foreboding, not to mentioned blood and guts, that it tends to overwhelm the other elements. Not for the faint-hearted.


6. The Red Cavalry stories by Isaac Babel. We’re discussing Emergency (from Jesus’s Son) by Denis Johnson in our writing workshop, and we found out that Johnson disparages his own stories as ripoffs of Babel’s Red Cavalry. So we had to look up Red Cavalry. “The orange sun is rolling across the sky like a severed head.”

Drogon takes a nap, exhausted from trying to distract his human from reading.

Evolution of cats in art: Japan

January 27, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Cats, Places

19th century Japanese art featuring cats doing people stuff.

Their descendant in the media: Maru.

From Des Hommes et des Chatons. Of course a cat would be reading Murakami. And we know that Ben Affleck is super-smart, but the cat looks more convincing.

Feast on your life: Tom Hiddleston reads Derek Walcott’s Love After Love

January 27, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies

Postscript to the demise of grammar…

January 26, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Language

Dragonsnake Bog in Dagobah

Last Thursday we were writing a review of Blackhat for our column at InterAksyon when we went off course as we often do, and by following the detour, ended up with a column about the enforcement of the rules of grammar at our old and much-missed newspaper, TODAY. The second paragraph started like this:

This grammatical challenge reminded me that when I was writing for TODAY, I witnessed a smackdown between two eminent editors of advanced age. They differed on whether Yakuza was capitalized or not, like Mafia or mafia. To buttress their positions they consulted the many dictionaries and manuals of style in the office library.

The column went online on Friday. Today our editor Chuchay informed us that on Friday night, one of those two grammar enforcers, Manny Benitez, died. We had not been in touch for many years.

Our condolences to Mr Benitez’s family.

We still haven’t figured out whether we’re clairvoyant or do long-range psychokinetic strikes. Time for a trip to the Dagobah system.

On the indigenous-artisanal-organic beat: Limited edition handwoven abel Iloko bags

January 26, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing


“Limited” meaning there are only 3-6 pieces in existence, 3-5 of which are available because we got one of each nyahaha.


Probability of running into someone with the same bag: Extremely low.


Designed by the BLB to withstand any amount of abuse.


Prices determined by the day’s algorithm, apparently. For inquiries, post a message in Comments.