Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for June, 2008

Go over the top, then keep going.

June 30, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Cosmic Things, Movies 7 Comments →

I was feeling glum for no good reason (which is better than being depressed with good reason) so I thought I’d cheer myself up by watching Wanted. Excellent idea: the movie blew the gloomy thoughts out of my head. Tibur Bekmambetov’s (Russians Russians everywhere I look; really must move to St Petersburg) adaptation of the graphic novel (My sister says they changed it substantially) is ridiculous, exhilarating, insane, and fun for anyone not overly attached to the laws of physics (You mean the trajectory, not the bullet!) or probability. In it, James MacAvoy’s cubicle rat shmoe is recruited for a fraternity of assassins formed in the medieval period. (His minder is Angelina Jolie, who is more lethal than any of the men.) The Fraternity was founded by a weavers’ guild, so I kept imagining the members of the Fashion Designers’ Association of the Philippines hunting down the evil and corrupt and garrotting them with tape measures.

The Fraternity call themselves “the assassins of fate”, “fate” being represented by a loom which churns out cloth, the warp and weft of which they translate into binary code and then into the names of their targets. So if I decide that I am the instrument of fate and I eat a bowl of muesli for breakfast every day (The Bowl of Fate), and I discover a pattern in the cereals which corresponds to the names of actual people…The point being, don’t think too much and you’ll enjoy the flick.

The Circus

June 30, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 2 Comments →

LeCarré, originally uploaded by 160507.

For the next month I’m going through the LeCarrés, so if anyone spots a copy of Smiley’s People, let me know (Forget Constant Gardener, zzzzz). I just finished Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which is wonderfully bleak and nerdy (We consider nerdhood an honor). So that’s what the fuss was about. Was, because the Smiley novels are harder to find in stores, which probably means fewer people are reading them, which bolsters the argument that the audience is getting dumber. Another reason to miss the Cold War: enemies you get to know so well they’re practically your friends. After all, your adversary is the instrument of your destiny.

In Tinker, George Smiley is looking for a mole inside the Circus (British intelligence). Having been ignominiously booted out of the Circus, he has few allies and assumes everyone an enemy. He only knows a few details, not the whole picture, so he has to sift the rest out of files he has no access to. His allies manage to get their hands on them, and they start plowing through reams of documents, just digesting vast amounts of data. If there are gaps, they point to what the mole doesn’t want him to know. It’s basically auditing, but thrilling. Occasionally someone gets killed in a brutal manner that the author doesn’t dwell on, because it’s a given that if anyone is found out, he’s already dead. It’s about waiting patiently for something to click into place and show how everything is connected. Then you wish you didn’t know, because it destroys your faith in institutions, nations, and human beings. It’s a deep, dark pit that LeCarré plumbs, and it’s a trip worth taking.

Another resemblance between Saffy and Koba Stalin: She insists on being in every picture, and Stalin had his associates erased from his pictures—and from this world.


The Weight

June 29, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Sports besides Tennis No Comments →

Living in the Philippines often feels like blunt force trauma so it makes perfect sense that our hero is a boxer. Considering that he carries the weight of the expectations of 90 million Filipinos along with the added weight needed to move up a division, it’s a wonder Manny Pacquiao can stand up at all. Little guy beating up the bigger guys—resonate much? But he destroyed David Diaz in impressive fashion, demonstrating that a boxer in late mid-career can learn new things—something Pinoy politicians can’t seem to grasp.

Kevin Mitchell in The Guardian: “…that is why Pacquaio is making such a buzz: he delivers. The fight game is slowly relearning some of its old habits – like the best fighting the best. This is not out of any concern for the fans or the legacy of the sport, but an admission by TV moguls and promoters that professional boxing is losing its lustre. For years, TV, with the limp co-operation of the sanctioning bodies, has pandered to the tactics of rival matchmakers, whose overriding concern has been to keep their star money-earners apart until they could no longer credibly do so…Since the most recent, and hopefully final, retirement of Mayweather, Pacquaio has inherited the mantle of the best fighter in the world, pound for pound.”

Helpful worms, sprayable corn, stamp-on make-up

June 28, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, The Workplace 1 Comment →

The proceedings of the 2008 Young Entrepreneur Award regional finals at the HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong.

Pitches included a spray-on acoustic application (Philippines), worms for waste management (Malaysia), weeds as fertilizer (Bangladesh), and waterproof make-up you apply like a temporary tattoo (Thailand). The winner was the make-up.

The Goran factor

June 27, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis 1 Comment →

Ten years ago this September, Gail, Aye, and I went to Singapore to watch the Heineken Open. That year the Open drew some big names: Marcelo Rios, Michael Chang, and Goran Ivanisevic. Gail was already ill, but she spent as much time as she could trawling tennis forums on the web to defend Marcelo Rios. Aye, we decided, was destined for Michael Chang. I was a Goran fan who believed despite everything that the Crazy Croat would win a major (I always root for the monstrously talented but unstable underachievers). Not content with getting tickets to the matches, we decided to bring gifts for our favorite players. Gail and I bought these anting-anting pendants, and when we got to Singapore we dropped them off at the concierge of the hotel where the players were billeted.

We never found out if Rios and Goran had gotten the stuff, although Gail thought she saw Rios wearing the anting-anting during the Masters championships later that year. If you watch tennis, you will notice that the players wear some interesting stuff around their necks. I’ve seen a few pukka shell necklaces. Marat used to wear The One Ring on a chain, which is another reason we love him, even if it probably didn’t help his game (It’s Evil).

I remembered this at dinner because my friend mentioned that she wrote a fan letter to Shintaro, The Samurai, and he (or his people) sent her an autographed picture. Then another friend recalled how he wrote a letter to Stan Lee and Stan Lee personally wrote him back (The letter is gone). I never heard from Goran Ivanisevic or his management, but three years later he finally won Wimbledon.


June 26, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis 8 Comments →

Marat def Djokovic Wimbledon 2008, originally uploaded by Koosama.

Holy Eastern European swearwords, Marat Safin just mowed down number three seed Novak Djokovic in the second round at Wimbledon, 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-2! HAHAHAHAHAHA! alternating with tears. Yes Marat is mental and we love him. His pre-Wimbledon tune-up was mountain-climbing in the Himalayas. Yes he may lose in the next rounds to some guy ranked 400. No, we’re never going to change my cat Saffy Safin’s name no matter how bonkers her papy gets!

The old guy (28) and former number one looks across the net at the young guy (21) who’s gunning for number one and thinks, “So this is the hot guy on the tour.” And the young guy freezes. What Marat can do when his head is screwed on right, but never mind that.

Saw the live scores on the Wimbledon site. Starsports was airing women’s singles, so Safin vs Djokovic was not aired live, and not in its entirety.

Update. Marat defeated a scrappy Andreas Seppi, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 on Court 1 (Before he beat Djokovic, he was playing in Court 11) before a crowd that really, really wanted Marat to win. The match finished at 9.30pm London time; he complained that it was so dark, he couldn’t see the ball. On another court, another of the missing made his presence known: Mario Ancic is back, beating fifth seed David Ferrer. Of the seeds, Davydenko, Roddick, Sharapova, Ivanovic are out. Great matches so far at SW19, epic struggles of high quality.