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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for February, 2007

You have to read this.

February 24, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 1 Comment →

Last Night, a short story by James Salter. It’s only 6,000 words long but it’s more filling than most contemporary novels. Critics often wonder why Salter does not have a wider audience. I don’t think I want Salter’s books on the bestseller list. I don’t want him to be endorsed by Oprah, although if justice exists his books should make him a wealthy man. Let him be an open secret among the readers who get him.
Richard Ford on Salter: “It is an article of faith among readers of fiction that James Salter writes American sentences better than anybody writing today. Good writing in the fiction category matters to us because fiction is where we readers expect writing to be the most eventful, where virtuosity within sentences meets the un-plannable energy of the imagination, harnesses it to a narrative and enacts an entirely new and exhilarating and important occurrence dedicated to the reader’s delectation and renewal.
“This is a large part of any fiction’s basic appeal – what makes it, or can make it, exciting. And surely there’s no intuition for the world’s details and for its unobvious emotional business, no glint in the jeweller’s eye for our frail human kind as keen as James Salter’s, and no one who forges great notice and verbal imagination as beautifully, lavishly, surprisingly, sometimes as heartlessly, but always excitingly into sentences.”

Don’t believe everything you read.

February 24, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 6 Comments →

A History Department Bans Citing Wikipedia as a Research Source 

When half a dozen students in Neil Waters’s Japanese history class at Middlebury College asserted on exams that the Jesuits supported the Shimabara Rebellion in 17th-century Japan, he knew something was wrong. The Jesuits were in “no position to aid a revolution,” he said; the few of them in Japan were in hiding.
He figured out the problem soon enough. The obscure, though incorrect, information was from Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia, and the students had picked it up cramming for his exam…

Cake in the rain

February 23, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra No Comments →

February 21 was the centenary of W.H. Auden’s birth. Even if you’ve never read him, there is one poem of his you must be familiar with: Funeral Blues (“Stop all the clocks”) was recited in Four Weddings And A Funeral. I have one Auden seared into my cerebellum: Musee des Beaux Arts (“About suffering they were never wrong, the Old Masters”), which I had to read over and over in class.

To mark the Auden centenary, taxi drivers in his birthplace of York have been trained to recite his poems to their passengers. A pop song from the 70s has a weird sort of hommage to Mr. Auden (I don’t know if it was intended). The song Macarthur Park, which we know from the Donna Summer version, contains the line “Someone left the cake out in the rain.” Auden said his face looked “like a wedding cake left out in the rain.”

Songs from the 70s that make food come out of my nose: the aforementioned; the one that starts “One less bell to answer, one less egg to fry…”; and A House Is Not A Home (“A chair is still a chair…but a room is not a house…”), which sounds like it was written by a desperate Philo 11 student.

Why we shouldn’t take the Oscars too seriously

February 23, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 4 Comments →

David Thomson, film critic and author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, asks: What if the secrecy of the ballot conceals incapacitated voters, dodgy tie-breaks, and even someone reading the wrong name out on the card?

Alfred Hitchcock NEVER WON AN OSCAR. Dances With Wolves won over Goodfellas, Oliver! beat 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kramer vs. Kramer beat Apocalypse Now, and dozens of other examples.

Rumor I like: Mark Wahlberg will win the Supporting Actor award for his foulmouthed sergeant in The Departed.

What I really want to see at the awards night: A losing nominee ditching his “I’m just happy to be nominated” face, screaming profanities, and running onstage to snatch the trophy.

So Roger says…

February 22, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra No Comments →

The winners of the caption-writing contest:
Renfield: “Basta nood tayo ng Equus after, ha?”
Ria Celine: “OMG, your knees. . .it’s smoother, the pores are smaller, and ang lines…parang nawala!”
Carla: “This is your femur. Now bend over and I’ll show you where your hamstring is.”
You’ll be emailed instructions about claiming your prizes.
Thanks to everyone who posted their captions.

Tea in the Sahara

February 21, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 1 Comment →


Erfoud. Desert. Photo by Scrat.

Originally uploaded by Koosama.

I first heard about the writer and composer Paul Bowles from a Police song. Bowles wrote The Sheltering Sky and many amazing short stories. An American, he lived in Morocco for most of his life. Read Paul Bowles’ Journey Through Morocco (1963). (I was a huge Police fan and still listen to their albums but I’m not interested in their concert tour. I find these reunion projects kind of sad. Senior citizens singing Roxanne.)
By the way there are cellphones in Morocco. So much for the American tourists’ troubles in the movie Babel. “I was told that even after riding three hours into open desert with nothing but rocks and sand, kids will appear if you stop,” says Scrat. “I thought the guide was overdoing the hashish and imagining things. We had a flat three hours into nothingness—and I mean nothingness—and what happens. In the shimmering distant horizon, barefoot kids start to run towards us from out of nowhere. A bit like the feral kid in Mad Max2. Don’t ask me where they popped out of, I assure you there was nothing out there. A mystery, although it may have been out of this. . .”