Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for February, 2008

Always look on the bright side of the pits

February 29, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Emotional weather report 7 Comments →

Two new books on depression note that psychiatrists, biologists, and drug companies tend to view normal sorrow as a disorder and depression as a disease. “This might be an appropriate model for the more severe “melancholic” forms of depression that psychiatrists tend to see, but not for the majority of cases of depression,” writes Paul Keedwell, author of How Sadness Survived. “Regardless of the reason for falling into depression, the journey has the potential to make us better equipped, in a general sense, for life. If we are too busy to think and feel, to be mindful, depression might represent the first opportunity to take an honest inventory of ourselves.”

The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder by Allan V. Horwitz focuses on the validity problem of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. “Just because two examiners concur that a person qualifies for a particular diagnosis does not mean that he has an authentic mental illness. In scientific terms, the diagnosis may lack validity. How do we know, for example, that a person diagnosed with major depressive disorder is not actually suffering from a bout of natural sadness brought on by a shattering loss, a grave disappointment, or a scathing betrayal?” (Sally Satel in the New Republic book review)

In short: You’re allowed to be sad. A bout of depression may be good for you. You’re not sick, you’re just human.

Wanted: Correspondents

February 28, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 11 Comments →

I have a Twisted 8 book-signing with Ige Ramos tomorrow afternoon at De La Salle University in Dasmarinas, Cavite, meaning I won’t be able to attend the rally on Ayala. If you go to the rally, could you describe it to me? I don’t mean crowd size estimates or summaries of the speeches, I need your personal impressions, your reading of the situation, the mood of the crowd, what you saw and felt. Please post your report in Comments—try to stay within 200 words, but I can’t stop you if you want to write something longer. If you take pictures, send me the links. Thanks. I will post a list of unclaimed books from previous contests next week, so correspondents can choose the titles they want.

My Big Lobotomy

February 27, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 12 Comments →

Since I flatlined in the first ten minutes of My Big Love, directed by Jade Castro and starring Sam Milby and Toni Gonzaga, this review follows the Stages of Death.

Anger. This movie is worse than awful, it aspires to mediocrity. We know this is a studio product made specifically for Milby and Gonzaga fans, but must it be so dull and vacuous? They tossed out the basic elements of storytelling (Conflict? Tension?) and replaced them with insipid musical montages. Is it sheer laziness or a refusal to engage the audience’s intelligence? The pace is leaden, the characters’ behavior unnatural, the dialogue stilted and crammed with platitudes, the score relentless. If that music does not stop, I’m going to shoot the speakers.

Denial. This can’t be by the writer and director of Endo.
– Didn’t you say he was brilliant?
– I meant Raul Castro! (of McCann, not Cuba.)
– But you’re a huge fan. . .
– Of Fidel Castro! Especially when he was hanging out with Che Guevara!

Bargaining. Just 5 more minutes, it might get better.

Acceptance. It’s crap. Not that anyone’s opinion matters, since it’s probably a hit.

– We’re not really the target market for this.
– Yes. We’re not in a coma.

P.S. I forgot to include Mike’s comments. We’d already figured out the plot from the poster, so he was free to concentrate on details. “Ay, that lamp is from SM. He didn’t transfer the roast chicken onto a proper serving plate! Luma ang equipment sa Gold’s Gym. May personal trainer ba na 24 hours at outdoors? What does she charge, P10,000 a day? Ang cute naman ng brother niya. Saan ba ang barangay na yan at ang cute ng mga istambay?”


February 27, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Music 6 Comments →

Fans of the movie Once may want to check out Glen Hansard’s band, The Frames. Hansard is also in The Commitments, directed by Alan Parker, about an Irish band performing soul/R&B classics. Their rationale: The Irish are the blacks of Europe. Does anyone know what happened to the actor who played Jimmy Rabbitt their manager? That movie and its soundtrack album is the reason every band I heard in Manila in the 90s seemed to cover “Mustang Sally”.  Andrew Strong, who played the vocalist, went on to a solo singing career. You may also want to look up The Commitments, the novel by Roddy Doyle, which zips along very fast once you realize it must be read with an Irish accent—in your head, spare the neighbors. Or you could hire Colin Farrell to read it to you. Another Roddy Doyle novel, The Van, features characters who had appeared in The Commitments (Jimmy Rabbitt’s family). It was adapted for the movies by Stephen Frears, who also directed The Queen. As far as I know The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, never officially screened in Manila. Do the distributors have any intention of showing No Country For Old Men? No Country is said to be a very faithful adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel. I haven’t ready any Cormac McCarthy (Does the book-on-tape of All The Pretty Horses count? It was read by Brad Pitt). His recent novel The Road is being filmed, starring Viggo Mortensen. Now that Ian McEwan’s Atonement has been filmed (and is now suffering a backlash, which is unfortunate as it’s a fine adaptation), the book I want to see on the screen is The People’s Act of Love by James Meek. In Meek’s acknowledgements he thanks Tilda Swinton for giving him a place to write. No, she does not look like Conan O’Brien who is Irish-American. I hear the movie rights to the Meek were optioned by Johnny Depp. Ah, Johnny. Did any of us watching 21 Jump Street anticipate this?


February 25, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies 17 Comments →

For as long as I can remember, the Oscars have been telecast “live” on Channel 9—so many commercials were squeezed into the breaks that the broadcast ran two hours after the winners’ names were announced on CNN. This year the Academy Awards aired live on the Velvet cable channel, which some of us do not have, so we invited ourselves to a friend’s house for Oscars brunch.

As far as I am concerned this is an excellent batch of nominees, but there is one work of true genius among them, and it is Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. Even its flaws underscore its brilliance. That said, I did not think it could win Best Picture—because The Coens’s No Country For Old Men had swept the guild prizes, and because I didn’t think the voters would like it. It is not a picture that wants to be liked. So I joined Raymond in betting on No Country, while Leo and Chus bet on Blood. The fact that Leo and Chus had not actually seen Blood, and the fact that No Country both impressed and repelled me (I’d like to believe that humanity deserves more than a stain on the bottom of a shoe), were immaterial—we were going for probabilities and outcomes.

– Alright, no one say anything about the host, he’s my husband.
– Is everyone pregnant?
Obscene proposal to Javier Bardem.
– Why is Amy Adams (from Enchanted) dressed like a matron?
– Or a congressional spouse.
– In something from Karimadon.
– Poor girl, that song doesn’t really work without the rats and cockroaches. She doesn’t even have visual effects or back-up dancers, it’s not fair.
– Tilda Swinton! Upset!
Nanalo si Aling Tilda, makakabili na siya ng manggas. (Now that Tilda’s won, she can buy another sleeve.)
– All the live action short nominees are foreign.
Haay ang guapo ni George Clooney! Aww, I’d do Seth Rogen.
– Make up your mind. Clooney or Rogen?
Obscene proposal to Colin Farrell. A talented actor whose best work is still that sex video.
– Colin, you need to see Chus about your hair.
– The sound is awful, I can barely hear them sing Falling Slowly.
– This show looks like it was thrown together at the last minute. Did the montage-makers go on strike too?
– Ricky texted. They forgot to put Brad Renfro in the In Memoriam montage.
– Ha ha, the orchestra won’t interrupt the winner for Musical Score with a snippet from his musical score. Because that would be ironic.
– Nooo, the orchestra cut off Marketa!
(Big laugh at “That guy is so arrogant!”)
– Jon brought her back! I love you, Jon.
(Cate Blanchett grimaces at the clip from Elizabeth: The Golden Age, summing up how we feel about that movie. Applause.)
– Oh no, is Juno going to win?
– La Vie en Rose was so-so, but Marion Cotillard was spectacular as Piaf.
Tapos na ba? Pag local awards show, last ang Best Actress. (Is it over? On local awards shows, Best Actress is awarded last.)
– Gil-roy! Gil-roy! Oh blast.
In fairness, carry ni Diablo Cody ang damit na yan. (To be fair, Diablo Cody carries that outfit well.)
– Why is she pulling it down? If you’re going to wear a dress slit to there, be prepared to show “there”. And she’s a former stripper.
– (All together) Viggooooooooooo.
Sana yung fight scene na lang ang pinalabas para nakahubad siya. (They should’ve shown the fight scene where he’s naked.)
(I decide to change my cat Mat’s name to Matthias Eomer Federer-Urban-Day-Lewis.) He’s really a writer’s son, note how he summed up the theme of the evening.
– This really is a beauty contest. Marty should wear a cape and crown and pass them on to his successor.
– (All together) P-T-An-der-son!
– Oh well. Which one is married to Frances MacDormand?
– We win! Let’s get halo-halo.
(We all get up and walk to Kozui for halo-halo.)

Ark of the Covenant found?

February 24, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Cosmic Things, Current Events 5 Comments →

According to the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box that contained the Ten Commandments. It could also zap people and reduce them into columns of ash. The Ark was reportedly kept in the Temple of Solomon, which was razed by the Babylonians. According to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the lost Ark was found in the Egyptian desert by the intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones (who, considering the amount of time he spent away from his university and the fact that he never seemed to publish any papers, would’ve been kicked out of the academe). The Ark was then snatched by the Nazis, who did not do their research—they looked when the Ark was opened, and were promptly incinerated. Spielberg and Lucas go on to say that the Ark is now stored inside the Library of Congress or some other building in Washington D.C.

According to Professor Tudor Parfitt of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, the Ark—or a replacement container—is currently on dusty shelf in a museum in Harare, Zimbabwe. In the 80s, Parfitt supported the claim that a South African clan called Lemba was a lost tribe of Israel. Subsequent DNA tests supported this claim. The Lemba venerated the ngoma lungundu, a drum that contained ritual objects. It also zapped people and reduced them into columns of ash. Parfitt concluded that the ngoma was the Ark, which the Lemba had brought to Africa.

Naturally this theory would be greeted with skepticism, but it is fascinating stuff. Interesting how this surfaces while a new sequel to the Indiana Jones movies is in production. By the way, one thing has troubled me since the last Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade. Anyone who drinks from the Holy Grail becomes immortal, right? And Indy and his dad both drank from the grail. Does that mean they’re immortal?