Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for August, 2007

The Despair of Possibility

August 31, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Cosmic Things, Emotional weather report 3 Comments →

In the course of my friend’s quest we sought out a psychic who’d been recommended by a columnist. This manghuhula used regular playing cards to read the future. We sat at a table—I was the designated note-taker—and he shuffled the cards. He asked my friend to cut the deck, then he lay the cards on the table. “You used to live in Makati,” he told my friend, looking her straight in the eye. In a sort of trance, he described the house she’d grown up in, including its color, the color of the gate, and the stones leading up to the front door. Then, in similar detail, he described my friend’s mother.

“Wow,” my friend said, “You can see all that in the cards?”

“No,” the manghuhula replied, “Don’t you remember me? I was your houseboy in 1973!”

Emotional Weather Report, today in the Philippine Star.

Violently precise

August 30, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places, Tennis 5 Comments →

Last Saturday I went to Manny del Rosario’s birthday party. So that’s what Embassy is like: long queue of people dressed to impress and waiting to get in. Made a mental note to call Jim Libiran and suggest a sequel to Tribu. Tribu 2: Shet, pare. Chus prefers Tribongga. In the climactic sequence there would be a walk-off, then a dance-off, then the in-crowd would send in their security guards to do the fighting. We left the place round 1 am, before anything exciting had happened, and went back to that 24-hour carinderia to eat lechong kawali, tokwa’t baboy and beef pares. Heavenly. You don’t get food like that at The Fort.

The party was 90% advertising folk. I had a chat—okay, we had to yell over the music, but in a polite way—with a risk management consultant. He said, Could you not write about Roger Federer? So here’s something about the Fed on the practice court from 3Quarks.

Seen at close range, I can perhaps best describe his play as explosively graceful, or violently precise. He wasn’t very focussed, though, missing some shots and laughing, “Nein!” (Federer tends to exposulate in different langauges, using “Allez!” for the French, and “Come on!” in Queens.) At one point, Kiefer aced him, and Federer, without looking, smashed the ball off the tarp behind him, neatly banking it into the hands of a waiting hitting partner. It was the kind of thing you might see a magician do, yet for Federer it was just an absent-minded expression of annoyance. Such is life as the greatest practitioner ever of tennis.”

Life. Death. Amphibians.

August 29, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 3 Comments →

The other day we were talking about Magnolia. I love that movie, not in a feeling-movie-critic-cineastey sort of way, but on a visceral level. The first time I saw it I grabbed my head and shrieked to myself, “What is he doing!?! I want more!” It’s the kind of all-out hang-by-your-balls high wire act that film production profit margins don’t allow anymore. There are so many things that could go wrong with it—emotion teetering on the brink of hysteria, multiple plotlines stretching the movie to breaking point, flirting with absurdity (that sing-along might have been hilarious)—but writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson holds it together. By the time that thing happens, we’re ready; he puts us through the wringer, but he pays up. Many critics deemed it a disaster, but that is how I want my disasters to be. I want to get hit in my soul, because I’d feel like I had one.

Even Tom Cruise is fine in Magnolia—maybe not in the scene with the dying father, that was a little cringe-making, but in the interview with the TV reporter, where he looks at her with those dead eyes and says, “I’m silently judging you”. That is the secret to casting Cruise: he’s really effective at playing assholes. Look at him in Collateral and Jerry Maguire. He does well in roles where his little-boy charm can not save him, and he’s forced to dredge up other resources.

It’s been five years since PTA’s last movie Punch-Drunk Love (in which we discover depths to Adam Sandler, not that I mind him shallow). His new film There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a prospector in the oilfields of early 1900s California, opens in December.

The wisdom of crowds

August 29, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 1 Comment →

In a better world, intelligent people would have more power and influence than the stupid, mediocrity would be criminalized, no one would have to pander to anyone just to earn a living, and bloggers would actually make money for their good work.

Now let’s act AS IF this were a better world. Visit the Madcrowdmedia site now.

A Defense of Gluttony

August 28, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, twisted by jessica zafra 1 Comment →

Colman Andrews writing in The New Republic: “It is my opinion that whoever said “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” has probably never sat down with three ounces of Iranian osetra, a stack of freshly made blinis (the kind that aren’t made with pancake mix), a small bone spoon, and nobody else in the room; or attacked a steaming plateful of fettuccine alfredo made the right way (with only very rich butter and the best parmigiano-reggiano, no cream); or addressed a big, juicy bacon-cheeseburger with homemade fried onion rings and a bottle of Cornas on the side. Or maybe that person has done all or some of the above and just didn’t like the experience. It’s possible, I guess. We all have blind spots in our appreciative abilities. Vladimir Nabokov apparently didn’t see the point of music. François Truffaut, in so many ways the quintessential Frenchman, considered food a necessary annoyance, and probably would have preferred watching an Ozu movie for the fourteenth time to eating lunch. Me, I wouldn’t care if I never saw Cirque du Soleil again in my life.”

Hmm, makes me love Truffaut a little less. One reason I love The Sopranos: everyone constantly stuffing their faces. They eat, they whack each other, they eat, they whack each other. (Reminds me of a conversation I once had. “What’s the plot of Less Than Zero?” my flatmate asked. “They do coke, they do each other, they do coke, they do each other,” I said. My flatmate was floored. “They do the polka, they do each other?!” That might’ve helped the movie.)

The week in apocalypses

August 28, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Cosmic Things, Current Events, Movies No Comments →

Too big a deal is being made of today’s eclipse. I watch for signs of the apocalypse, and I don’t think it is one. It’s not extraordinary enough. There are five, six eclipses every year, and the red moon stuff sounds like fear-mongering—it makes people think of war and Old Testament plagues. (I hate to break this to you but the world is already at war, there’s always been a war going on in some corner of the world, and war is big business.) In many ways we’re still the ancient tribesmen beating the drums to keep the moon from swallowing the sun.

My druid kept getting text messages from people asking about the effect of this eclipse upon their personal destinies. Her answer: Probably none. We were at a bookstore and two kids asked the staff for a book called Eclipse. We thought they wanted a science book, but it turned out to be a young adult novel with a vampire protagonist. So we started riffing on eclipses: that movie about Rimbaud’s affair
with Verlaine starring Leonardo DiCaprio, that horrible Bonnie Tyler karaoke staple that makes me want to rip people’s throats out through their noses, and the Antonioni movie with Alain Delon and Monica Vitti in which they arrange to meet but neither one shows up and for about ten minutes the camera shows the empty street corner, lampposts, random pedestrians, and you figure something has to happen, and then it’s The End. My friend came up with a great idea for a costume party with an Eclipse theme. Half the guests show up as the sun, the other half as the moon, and they take turns covering each other. On the way home I noticed an Eclipse gym. What profound insights am I trying to impart? None. Absolutely none.