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

Woody Allen Presents. . .

December 27, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: twisted by jessica zafra 3 Comments →



A scene from Annie Hall, originally uploaded by 160507.

Found in Quiapo: Marcel Ophuls’ film The Sorrow and The Pity. Look at the top left corner of the front cover: Woody Allen Presents. How else do you market a four-hour documentary about French collaborators during the Nazi occupation?

In Annie Hall, arguably his best movie, Alvy and Annie are two minutes late for a screening of Bergman’s Face to Face, so he drags her to The Sorrow and The Pity. Later, he runs into her as she’s dragging a date to see The Sorrow and The Pity.

Just saw Annie Hall again. Here’s the ending: “This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, Doc, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken. The doctor says, Well, why don’t you turn him in? And the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. Well I guess that’s pretty much how I feel about relationships. You know they’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd but I guess we keep going through it because, uh, most of us need the eggs.”

Three Wakes and A Lunch

December 26, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Cosmic Things, Current Events, Pointless Anecdotes 3 Comments →

Uro’s father died in his sleep on the morning of the 25th. He was in his 80s and had been ill for some time. Butch was thinking of driving to Lucban, Quezon for the wake. “On the way there, we could stop at Ernest Santiago’s restaurant for lunch.” The restaurant had opened about a month before Ernest’s death.

“Great idea,” I said. “Two wakes on the same day, way to spend the holidays.” I never met Ernest Santiago, but I’ve heard many stories about him and the Cocobanana era. Joey Reyes recalled how Ernest used to turn away would-be customers at the velvet rope by saying, “Go away, it’s not your year.”

“And on the way back, we could go to Adrian Cristobal’s wake.”

“Making it three wakes on Boxing Day,” I pointed out. “The Road Trip of Death.” I had met Adrian Cristobal, but never got to know him, much to my regret. He chaired the board of judges for the English short story at the Palanca awards the year my story won. According to Isagani Cruz, Adrian had championed my story over the second prize winner, which was perfect, the more accomplished work. Adrian said my story “grabs you by the neck”—very apt description, as that is how I try to write. In fact that is how I conduct my relationships, which probably explains why most of them run shrieking for their lives. So Portents got the first, and at the awards dinner Adrian broke about twenty fingers of my right hand and boomed, “You don’t look old enough to know what portents are!” That was as good as it got for me at the Palancas; I joined a couple more times and got two thirds, then I decided to quit while I was ahead.

The car’s brakes were shot, so the road trip was cancelled. Instead we had lunch with Tina at Szechuan House at the Aloha Hotel, where David Byrne stayed when he was in Manila, in case you’re a fan. When Dick Baldovino the photographer was alive, we would visit the Norte and Chinese cemeteries after Christmas. It was the best antidote to the enforced gaiety of the season: the reminder that we were mortal.

Year-end EWR #3

December 26, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Emotional weather report 8 Comments →

What was the major or most constant cause of your unhappiness in 2007?
(a) I loathe myself with a passion and wish I were someone else.
(b) I hate my job/I am not at all satisfied with the way my career is going.
(c) Money is always a problem.
(d) I worry about my health and have stress-related health issues.
(e) I don’t like the way I look, and when I run into exes or old classmates my first instinct is to hide.
(f) My relationship bores the hell out of me./ Every time I look at his or her face I want to smash my fist into it.
(g) I know there is something else I should be doing, but I’m afraid to take the risk.
(h) I know I’m meant for other things, but I don’t know exactly what they are.
(i) I can’t sleep and I am constantly anxious.
(j) I think the cosmos is out to get me.
(k) None of the above: Write your answer here.

The IQ Wars

December 26, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 11 Comments →

“To the I.Q. fundamentalist, two things are beyond dispute: first, that I.Q. tests measure some hard and identifiable trait that predicts the quality of our thinking; and, second, that this trait is stable—that is, it is determined by our genes and largely impervious to environmental influences.

“This is what James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA, meant when he told an English newspaper recently that he was “inherently gloomy” about the prospects for Africa. From the perspective of an I.Q. fundamentalist, the fact that Africans score lower than Europeans on I.Q. tests suggests an ineradicable cognitive disability. In the controversy that followed, Watson was defended by the journalist William Saletan, in a three-part series for the online magazine Slate. Drawing heavily on the work of J. Philippe Rushton—a psychologist who specializes in comparing the circumference of what he calls the Negroid brain with the length of the Negroid penis—Saletan took the fundamentalist position to its logical conclusion. . .”

From the New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s review of James Flynn’s What Is Intelligence?

Year-end EWR #2

December 24, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Emotional weather report 6 Comments →

What was the best thing about your 2007? You can pick more than one letter.
(a) Every aspect of my life worked. My career has taken off in a major way. I am making tons of money. I look better than I ever have. My romantic life is the stuff of legend. Everyone adores me. I am in perfect health. Publishers have approached me about writing a guide to living, and Oprah’s people want me on the show. I’m very active in humanitarian and environmental causes, and I am in touch with Al, Leonardo, and Bono. Wha–what are you doing? You’re crazy! Don’t shoot! Call the guards! Nooooooo. . .
(b) I hit most of my career targets/I love my job.
(c) I make enough/more than enough money so I don’t have to worry about it.
(d) I’m in excellent health.
(e) I look good and radiate happiness; when I run into my exes they feel like killing themselves.
(f) My relationship is going so well I’m inclined to think this is The One.
(g) I have finished or am finishing the work for which I will be remembered.
(h) I have wonderful friends who love me no matter how insane I get.
(i) I am completely at peace with myself.
(j) None of the above: Write your own answer here.

Carving up Raymond Carver

December 24, 2007 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

How much of what we know as the Raymond Carver minimalist style is really the red pencil of his  editor Gordon Lish, who slashed some of the stories by 70 percent?

Personally I think the world needs more good, ruthless editors.

“Editing takes a variety of forms. It includes the discovery of talent in a relatively obscure literary magazine or in a “slush pile” of unsolicited manuscripts. It can be a matter of financial and emotional support in difficult times. And, once faced with a manuscript, an editor ordinarily tries to facilitate a writer’s vision, to recommend changes—deletions, additions, transpositions—that best serve the work. In the normal course of things, editorial work is relatively subtle, but there are famous instances of heroic assistance: Ezra Pound cutting T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” in half when the poem was still called “He Do the Police in Different Voices”; Maxwell Perkins finding a structure in Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward, Angel” and cutting it by sixty-five thousand words. In the years after the publication of “Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?,” Carver wrote a series of stories dwelling on alcoholism and wrecked marriages. They were eventually published under a title recommended by Lish: “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” According to the professors William L. Stull and Maureen P. Carroll, who, with the coöperation of Tess Gallagher, have been doing scholarly work on Carver, Lish mailed Carver an edited manuscript in the spring of 1980 containing sixteen of the seventeen stories that eventually appeared in the book. Lish had cut the original manuscript by forty per cent, eliminating what he saw as false lyricism and sentiment. . .”

Rough Crossings: The Cutting of Raymond Carver, in The New Yorker.