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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Jonathan from Buffy has made a J.D. Salinger biopic called Rebel in the Rye starring Nicholas Hoult

July 24, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies

And I don’t know how to process that sentence.

If you want to read a novel about Dunkirk…

July 24, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History

(One-fifth of a novel, to be exact.)

Dunkirk is a big, impressive, very accomplished film about an event little known outside of Britain. I leave you to read the critics spraining their fingers to praise it, many of them using the K-comparison, which almost certainly guarantees a backlash.

I did not know about the Dunkirk evacuations until I read Ian McEwan’s Atonement, in which Robbie Turner, who is imprisoned on the false testimony of the child protagonist, is let out of jail when he volunteers for the army. The middle chapters of the novel follow Robbie and other stragglers as they try to make it out of the town and to the sea, where they hope to board the ships that will take them home. It’s an elegant portrait of chaos and fear.

Aggretsuko and Gudetama: Adorable and anti-capitalist

July 23, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Shopping

If Hello Kitty represents happy-go-lucky submission to globalization, Sanrio’s newer characters respond to the market with soul-crushing resignation or seething rage. Aggretsuko “is a symbol and expression of the pent-up stress and irritation that is rife in the world today,” her designer, Yeti, wrote in an email. And Gudetama, Amy wrote, parallels “the people in modern society who despair amid economic hard times.”

How Sanrio Makes Anti-Capitalism Adorable and Profitable

The most human movie of the season is War for the Planet of the Apes

July 18, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies

Yes, a movie that makes us root against our species also shows humanity’s potential for greatness. This humanity resides in Caesar the ape (nurture wins this argument). He is a hero in the classical sense, possessing what the Greeks call arete.

Few had high hopes for a prequel trilogy to a 1960s science-fiction movie that had already spawned a movie series, TV series, a failed reboot (Burton-Wahlberg) and this classic Simpsons musical sketch.


I hate every chimp I see, from chimpan-A to chimpan-Zee…

But they did it. From Rise of the Planet of the Apes, where James Franco raised Caesar the super-intelligent ape and accidentally brought about the end of the human race; to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, where Caesar tries to establish peaceful coexistence with the remaining humans while fighting off the challenge to his leadership from Koba, who believes in total war with the humans; to War for the Planet of the Apes, the trilogy has grown stronger. This conclusion to the Apes trilogy is majestic.
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19! Roger Federer wins his 8th Wimbledon title in straight sets (Didn’t drop a set in two weeks)

July 16, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis

This year he has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Next month he turns 36.

Let’s read Jane Austen’s Emma and talk about it. (Updated)

July 16, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books

Jane Austen is all over the news this month as we mark the 200th anniversary of her death and ponder, once again, how an 18th century single lady writing novels about women looking for good husbands became one of the most-read, most-loved writers of all time. The more she is dismissed (marriage novels, early chick-lit, feh), the greater she is revealed to be.

Here, data analysis tries to explain why Jane Austen’s work endures. Here, writers weigh in on which is the greatest Jane Austen novel.

My favorite Austen is Persuasion, in which a woman with an irritating family (a staple in her novels) encounters the man she had been in love with years earlier. Yes, it’s a second chance novel. The first Austen I ever read was Pride and Prejudice, which I hurled across the room the first two times I attempted it, and loved when I finished it. And I’ve seen a lot of film and TV adaptations, including Love and Friendship, Whit Stillman’s funny, caustic version of an early novella (It may be argued that all Stillman’s movies are Austeniana); and Clueless, Amy Heckerling’s take on Emma, which injected Paul Rudd into our bloodstreams. However, I’ve never read Emma, so I will do that this week.


Why are there no dragons or wights in this book, Drogon complains.

Join me! Here’s Emma online. We’ll discuss the novel in Comments.

* * * * *

I’ve been reading Emma in coffee shops, where I feel compelled to sit up straight, chin up, lest I be judged for my posture. Jane Austen described Emma Woodhouse as a character only she, the author, would like; I concur that she is not a character one takes to instantly. The book begins with this description.

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

Note the word “seemed”. Handsome (as in “striking”), clever, and rich as she is, she is also manipulative, quick to judge, given to interfering in other people’s lives, and a terrible snob. She is, for all her advantages, Clueless (I am impressed at how faithful that adaptation is to the spirit of the novel). We want her to fall on her face…and she does. Her designs are thwarted, she gets her comeuppance, and earns our respect.

While reading the novel, I could not help but feel how small Emma’s world is, how constrained. She is the queen of the village, but it’s a place where nothing much ever happens, so if a single man so much as crosses the street to say hello to a single woman, it’s news. No wonder Emma has to scheme and throw people together; left in her comfortable house with her kind but doddering hypochondriac father, where the high point of her day is a visit from the neighbors, she would be bored to death.

* * * * *

Critics describe Emma as Jane Austen’s experimental novel—for one thing, her protagonist Emma Woodhouse is not your traditional heroine. She is not downtrodden or disadvantaged, and while she lived at a time when women had few opportunities outside of marriage and child-raising, she could pretty much do as she wanted. Emma was antagonist material, a kontrabida who became the bida.

After the first burst of enthusiasm, I found my reading pace slowing to a crawl in the middle sections, then picking up in the last quarter. I had to get used to the slower, more contemplative rhythm of Austen’s prose. As long as I’ve adjusted to the slowness, I will proceed to two other Austen novels I have not read: Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park.