Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for August, 2007

Weekend epiphany # 5

August 27, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Amok, Emotional weather report 9 Comments →

If you’re not in the mood for revelation, look away. I hated high school. It’s no secret; I’ve written about it a few times. Most of those years I remember as an abyss of rage, misery, and loathing. You don’t know how angry I was, I was about two minutes from going Columbine. I don’t blame the school; I probably would’ve been as miserable elsewhere, and my family life didn’t help. I don’t blame my classmates because I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. I was an angry, alienated teenager—not a unique situation, and not one I relish remembering.

That should be the end of the story, but for the ironies that follow. Anger gave me material. I actually became mildly famous for being angry. (It was the grunge era; rage was in.) This is not how I thought my life would turn out, but on the whole it works. And now because of the fame shit my old school wants to have something to do with me.

Do you know how warped and bizarre that is? I have no school spirit. I can’t get nostalgic for the time I spent seething. When I watched Auraeus’s movie Pisay I wished I had been like those kids, well-adjusted and happy. I can’t feign retroactive bonhomie. Then I realized that no one is asking me to do these things. It’s just a gig for which I’m qualified. I talked it over with my friends, I talked it over with the alumni, and I thought, what the fuck, I’ll do it. It’ll be an exorcism.

Support your neighborhood writer.

August 27, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies No Comments →

Read Newsweek. I have an article in this week’s issue (cover date 3 Sept 07) about three new Filipino movies: Tribu, Pisay, and Endo.

Danger: falling metaphors

August 25, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 11 Comments →

Who was it who told me to watch A Love Story? I hope you were kidding, because if you weren’t I’m going to have to euthanise you. The non-linear storytelling: different. The movie: a steaming turd. The sheer grinding obviousness. Wall to wall cliche. Rampant overacting. Relentless overscoring. The 45-minute drunken Aga self-pity orgy. The godawful phony melodrama. This movie should’ve been released months ago, there are enough tears shed onscreen to end any drought. Put those people out of their misery.

Nighthawks at the Carinderia

August 24, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Emotional weather report, Food, Places 10 Comments →

Emotional Weather Report, today in the Philippine Star.
Saturday, 2 am, somewhere in Makati. Raymond insists that we go to this 24-hour carinderia, a favorite among filmmakers.

“What’s it called?”

“It doesn’t have a name,” Raymond says. “You have to try the tokwa and lechong kawali.”

“Where is it?”

“I don’t know the name of the street.”

“Then how will we get there?”

“I know the way. Sort of.”

“Di kaya tayo ma-Tribu nyan?” Ricky asks.


“What do they serve?”

“Pares. Lechong kawali and tokwa.”

So at 2 am, after only three minutes of confusion that Raymond blames on a tikbalang, we find the carinderia on a crowded street. I can’t be more specific because the place has gotten popular enough as it is. It’s so popular that by the time we get there the only food left is lugaw and tokwa. True, the fact that it’s past 2 am may have something to do with the lack.

The carinderia is clean and bright, with that cruel fluorescent lighting that picks out and reveals your zits from twenty years ago. We sit on the bench by the long metal table and order lugaw and tokwa. The neighborhood is pretty lively despite the hour—people keep popping up for midnight snacks. At the next table, the owner is having a serious conversation with a transvestite in a halter dress. Across the street is an electric sign offering “24-hour organic massage”, whatever that is. (“They massage your organ?” is Raymond’s guess.) Down the street someone is doing karaoke: it sounds like he’s being garrotted with his own vocal cords.

Two picturesque teenagers sit at our table and inhale bowls of lugaw. Raymond wants to put them in a movie, but they leave before he can deliver his spiel. However, the woman at the counter tells us their names, addresses, and hobbies without our even asking. Then it starts raining again. I feel like a character in the Edward Hopper painting, or more accurately, the Tom Waits album. “There’s a rendezvous of strangers around the coffee urn tonight, all the gypsy hacks, all the insomniacs, now the paper’s been read.” In that instant I even wish for a piano, until I remember that I don’t play.

No wonder their pets are bored.

August 23, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Current Events 9 Comments →

The Chicago Tribune, quoting Veterinary Pet Insurance, says the most popular name for cats and dogs in the US for the fifth year running is. . .Max. The top ten names for cats are Max, Chloe, Lucy, Tigger, Tiger, Smokey, Oliver, Bella, Sophie, and Princess. For dogs: Max, Molly, Buddy, Bella, Lucy, Maggie, Daisy, Jake, Bailey, and Rocky.

Bo-ring, dull, blah. Where’s the imagination? Where’s the majesty? A cat needs a grand name like Koosalagoopagoop Galadriel Ivanisevic-O’Brien. A friend of mine called his dog Torquemada, because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Unfortunately his mom couldn’t pronounce Torquemada, so she took to calling him Turkey.

We deal in deception, but not self-deception.

August 23, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, twisted by jessica zafra 2 Comments →

Just read Old School by Tobias Wolff (This Boy’s Life). I found it on the bargain bookshelf at Powerbooks last Sunday while waiting for a friend. Hardcover, P99. The other day I picked it up with the intention of skimming through it before I fell asleep. The next thing I knew the sun had risen and I was on the last page.

Wolff has won many prizes for his stories, but this is his first novel, published in 2003. It’s about a scholarship student at a New England prep school in the early 1960s. The narrator wants to be a writer, and his school emphasizes Literature. Every year a famous writer is invited to give a talk, and one student gets a private audience. In his final year the visiting writer is his idol, Ernest Hemingway. To get the audience his story has to be personally selected by Hemingway. But as the deadline looms, he finds he cannot write the story. Being an adopted member of a tribe (the rich), he has thoroughly imbibed their habits and attitudes while revealing nothing about himself. He hasn’t lied outright, but he hasn’t corrected the misconceptions about himself, either. He’s allowed himself to be mistaken for one of them. You can’t do that when you write a story; it’s an act of revelation.

“The life that produces writing can’t be written about. It is a life carried on without the knowledge even of the writer, below the mind’s business and noise, in deep unlit shafts where phantom messengers struggle toward us, killing one another along the way; and when a few survivors break through to our attention they are received as blandly as waiters bringing more coffee.”

Despite the narrator’s adoration of Hemingway, Old School is squarely on Scott Fitzgerald territory: the fascination with the rich, the longing for acceptance by the tribe, and the discovery that it’s not worth it. I’ve always loved Scott Fitzgerald, a fact that has boggled my friends, and as I grew older I figured out why. Being from a middle-middle class background, I was raised to look up to the rich and pretend to be one of them. Being clever, even “adoptable”, I’ve been allowed to observe tribal behavior at closer range, and goddamn Scott is right. The writers we love always tell us the truth. Scott Fitzgerald lied to himself a lot, but he has never lied to me.