Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for December, 2006

Off with his nose!

December 31, 2006 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 3 Comments →

When I heard that Patrick Suskind’s novel Perfume had been adapted into a movie, my first thought was, How will they translate all those smells into visual terms? (Short of providing the viewers with pellets of scent—”offal”, “chamber pots”, “rotting teeth”, etc—that they should break open at specific parts of the movie.) Perfume is about a man in 18th century France —an incredibly stinky period, Suskind writes—who is born with an amazing sense of smell but has no smell of his own, so he goes about creating one. How do you put that in a movie? My second thought was, Is Adrien Brody in it? Clearly the lead would have to act with his nose, express desire, lust, and pure evil with his nose, and Adrien is not only a great actor, he also has a prodigious schnozz. He’s so good that for much of The Pianist he doesn’t even have to speak, and he carries the movie.
The answer to my second question is No, Adrien’s not in it, and the answer to the first is, They didn’t. Instead of creating visual equivalents for olfactory sensations, the director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola, Run) uses a voice-over narrator (John Hurt, which puts me in mind of the Jim Henson TV series The Storyteller, a production superior to this). I am not against voice-overs, but in this case it’s a cop-out, a gyp, and just plain lazy. If I wanted the book read to me I’d get the mp3. If it is impossible (though I don’t believe it) to translate smells into cinematic terms, why bother to film Perfume?

Can’t wait to see Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron’s adaptation of the PD James novel, and Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s fairy tale set in Spain under Franco. On the big screen, please. I tried to watch a bootleg of The Illusionist, and a man was speaking Russian over all the dialogue.


December 30, 2006 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra No Comments →

Happy Birthday to Riccardo: your age is now “tantamount”. I would send you Borat to sing the pseudo-Kazakh national anthem to the tune of Happy Birthday, but having read of his cousin’s work on the theory of mind (as The Economist put it, “the ability not only to hypothesise what other minds are thinking, but to hypothesise what they are thinking about what you are thinking”) I’ve decided that since we’re sort of in the same business, I’m going to marry into the Baron-Cohen family myself.

The Z’s

December 29, 2006 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 2 Comments →

Emotional Weather Report, today in the Star.

When people complain about their insomnia as if it were a badge of honor, I find I have nothing to contribute to the discussion. I never have trouble sleeping. Waking up from a deep sleep, yes, but never falling asleep. If I sound smug it’s because I am. I am a virtuoso at sleep. I can fall asleep anywhere, and fast. When I was in college I would get on the bus, find a window seat, lean against the glass, and lose consciousness. Yes, I was one of those annoying passengers who lurched and swayed with every motion of the bus, occasionally crashing into a fellow passenger. If I ever drooled on you I apologize, and I hope my saliva did not eat through fabric, or worse, bone. Terrible when that happens. . .

My year in books

December 28, 2006 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 1 Comment →

Almost forgot to post my own list. In no particular order:

Last Night by James Salter. Short stories like a knife in your soul.
The God Delusion (science/religion) by Richard Dawkins. See Floodlights.
The Lost Painting (art/journalism) by Jonathan Harr. See Current Obsessions: Caravaggio.
American Purgatorio (novel) and I Am Not Jackson Pollock (stories) by John Haskell.
Suite Francaise (unfinished novel) by Irene Nemirovsky. Manuscript stashed in a suitcase, a devastating memoir of Paris in WWII.

The Perils of Tantamountism

December 27, 2006 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 4 Comments →

We were trying to see if we could build a new school of philosophy. Our founding text would be this utterance by the actor-director Cesar Montano: “Essential yung eksena, so dapat tantamount ang level niya.”

The new philosophy covered dinner arrangements easily enough.
—What about dinner with Chus on Tuesday?
—Chusday is tantamount lang ang level para sa ‘kin.

But would Tantamountism hold up in the face of that great intellectual challenge, window-shopping and imaginary retail? Riccardo, Noel, and Carlo were going to Greenbelt 4 to see if any of the merchandise was “them” (viz. They point at the product and ask, “Is that me?”); I tagged along.

In the window of the Gucci store there was a golden gown, very slinky, reminiscent of Farrah Fawcett in her Charlie’s Angels period. Noel and Carlo examined it closely. Carlo remarked that it was just the right size for a female friend of his. “You’re the same size,” Noel said, “Why don’t you try it on?” Which led to our first thought-problem for Tantamountism: Can a man try on an outfit made for a woman? After some discussion we decided that if the outfit was essential and the man could afford it, then it was tantamount. Especially if he brought us along to observe and record the salespersons’ reactions.

Then Noel spotted a scarf that had been turned into a halter-top. “It would be alright if the wearer herself had taken a scarf and repurposed it into a top, but for the manufacturer to make that decision for her is presumptuous.” Almost fascistic, I added. In Tantamountist terms, it would be essential but not tantamount.

Riccardo pointed to a handbag. “That’s the finest leather they’ve produced, la pelle Guccissimo.” I gasped and gazed upon the handbag in awe. “What is it? Is it made of dead Guccis?” We agreed that it was not only essential but tantamount, especially if one could buy it without going into hock.
Exhausted by our philosophizing, we broke for dinner.

Answers to Book Quiz # 1

December 25, 2006 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra No Comments →

Saffy the library guard
Originally uploaded by Koosama.

Winners will be notified by email.

In El Filibusterismo, where was Simoun’s bomb hidden? In a lamp
Which author wrote a series of short story collections and a novel set in Cubao? Tony Perez
In this book, Benedict Anderson asserts that Jose Rizal’s writing was influenced by anarchism. Name the book. Under Three Flags
Which short story by Nick Joaquin was filmed as Tatarin? Summer Solstice
What novel by Star columnist Krip Yuson was set in the St. Louis World Exposition of 1904? Voyeurs and Savages
A new translation of Noli Me Tangere was recently published by Penguin Classics. What is the translator’s name? Harold Augenbraum
The Katipunero general Artemio Ricarte wrote a fascinating autobiography. What was his nom de guerre? El Vibora
What is the title of the first anthology of erotica written by Filipino women? (It was published in 1992.) Forbidden Fruit
“Dead Stars” is one of the first published Filipino stories in English. Who wrote it? Paz Marquez Benitez
The title of this groundbreaking gay anthology is now the name of the gay, lesbian, and transgendered Filipino political party. What is it?

Books into Film
Which Ian McEwan novel, made into a film starring Daniel Craig, begins with a ballooning accident? Enduring Love
Whose short story was adapted into the Nicolas Roeg film, Don’t Look Now? Daphne Du Maurier
Daniel Day-Lewis plays an English twit who gets dumped by the heroine in the film version of E.M. Forster’s novel. What is the title of the book and movie? A Room With A View
The first rule of Fight Club is. . .You do not talk about Fight Club.
True or False: Alan Furst’s World War II spy thrillers have never been filmed. True
What poem by e.e. cummings is recited in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters? “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond. . .”
The line “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” is taken from whose poem? Alexander Pope’s
Which book of the Old Testament is quoted in P.T. Anderson’s film Magnolia? Exodus
Luchino Visconti’s magnificent film The Leopard was based on the novel by this Italian nobleman. What was his name? Giuseppe di Lampedusa
What is the title of the book Hugh Grant is reading in the last scene of Notting Hill? (It was also made into a movie. A terrible one.) Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

The narrator of Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn suffers from this affliction, which causes him to go off into linguistic riffs. Tourette’s syndrome
The narrator of this Mark Haddon novel has Asperger’s syndrome. What is the title of the novel? The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Who is The English Patient in Michael Ondaatje’s novel of the same title? Count Laszlo de Almasy
This Irish author had cerebral palsy, which did not stop him from boozing, brawling, and writing My Left Foot. What was his name? Christy Brown
Dostoevsky’s The Idiot spent many years in an institution because of this ailment. What is the ailment? Epilepsy

What is the name of the dog in Harlan Ellison’s post-apocalyptic story, A Boy and His Dog? Blood
The all-knowing cat in the title role of this short story by Saki (H.H. Munro). Tobermory
Merlin’s owl in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. Archimedes
Who’s the guy in Franz Kafka’s story who wakes up one day to find himself transformed into a cockroach? Gregor Samsa
What is the title of the short novel by Evelyn Waugh set in a pet cemetery? The Loved One

This novel by Leo Tolstoy begins with a comparison of happy and unhappy families. Anna Karenina
Name at least three of the Glass children in J.D. Salinger’s stories. (Bonus points if you can name all of them, extra bonus points if you give the titles of the stories in which they are the main protagonists.)
Seymour, Buddy, Boo Boo, Walt, Waker, Zooey, Franny
What was the name of King Arthur’s evil sister in The Once and Future King? Morgause
Which House emerged triumphant at the end of Frank Herbert’s Dune? Atreides
Why did Clytemnestra kill Agamemnon?
He sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia for a good wind so the fleet could said to Troy.

What pastry set off Marcel Proust’s looong recollections? A madeleine
Who is the pastry chef in Cyrano de Bergerac who loves poetry and feeds freeloading poets? Ragueneau
This early play by Shakespeare features cannibalism. Titus Andronicus
What is the title of that Roald Dahl story in which the murder weapon is a frozen leg of lamb? Lamb to the Slaughter
In this novel by Chuck Palahniuk, the protagonist frequently requires the Heimlich maneuver in restaurants. Choke

What doorstopper-sized recent American novel is set in a tennis academy? Infinite Jest
Holden Caulfield was the manager of which team at Pencey Prep? Fencing
In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway was dating Jordan who played what sport? Golf
In The Age of Innocence, Newland Archer’s wife May dabbled in what sport? Archery
This Nabokov novel about a chess grandmaster was sometimes published as The Defense. What is its slightly longer title? The Luzhin Defense