Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for August, 2008

The Incendiaries

August 28, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis 2 Comments →

Marat, originally uploaded by saffysafina

“They were children of the waning cold war, a pair of Russian firecrackers, brother and sister born to a tennis coach and a tennis club director, into hellish temperaments and grand ambitions in 1980s Moscow. They arrived on the premier courts of the United States Open yesterday passing a torch.”

The New York Times on the Safins, Marat and Dinara, at the US Open. I’m used to reading harsh criticism of Marat, but this one is just mean and reeks of schadenfreude. Then again the NYT coverage of the US Open so far has ranged from blah to idiotic. Even the editing has been sloppy. “Marat came to the US Open to revive her career”—they can’t tell the boys and girls apart. “Bahjin is practice partner to Serena Williams, whose job is a combination of athlete, assistant, and friend”—Serena is his assistant?! “James Blake etc discuss their favorite moments were at the Open…”—Someone fell asleep at the keyboard.

The Appalling Alphabet

August 28, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

Z is for Zillah, originally uploaded by saffysafina.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies
by Edward Gorey

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
C is for Clara who wasted away.
D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh.
E is for Ernest who choked on a peach.
F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.
G is for George smothered under a rug.
H is for Hector done in by a thug.
I is for Ida who drowned in a lake.
J is for James who took lye by mistake.
K is for Kate who was struck with an axe.
L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks.
M is for Maud who was swept out to sea.
N is for Neville who died of ennui.
O is for Olive run through with an awl.
P is for Prue trampled flat in a brawl.
Q is for Quentin who sank on a mire.
R is for Rhoda consumed by a fire.
S is for Susan who perished of fits.
T is for Titus who flew into bits.
U is for Una who slipped down a drain.
V is for Victor squashed under a train.
W is for Winnie embedded in ice.
X is for Xerxes devoured by mice.
Y is for Yorick whose head was knocked in.
Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin.

About Edward Gorey, Neo-Victorian writer and artist.

Today in. . .irony?

August 27, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Current Events 3 Comments →

“Dave Freeman, co-author of “100 Things to Do Before You Die,” a travel guide and ode to odd adventures that inspired readers and imitators, died after hitting his head in a fall at his home. He was 47. Freeman died Aug. 17 after the fall at his Venice home, his father, Roy Freeman, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.”

Ironic, unfortunate, or meta? (Reminds me of that Alanis Morissette song whose refrain should be rewritten “Isn’t it a bummer?”)

This is why I don’t like book titles that end with “Before You Die”. 1000 Movies To See Before You Die, 1000 Places to Visit Before You Die, etc. They sound like threats.

Viva Viral

August 27, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Music 1 Comment →

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, the new album by David Byrne and Brian Eno, is here. You can stream all 11 songs, or buy permanent versions in digital and physical formats. “We both wanted to make an album that combined something human, fallible and personal with something very electronic and mathematical. We wanted to paint a picture of the human trying to survive in an increasingly digital world,” Eno told the Times of London.  

The Laundry List

August 27, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 15 Comments →

Muppet massacre in the back of a taxi, originally uploaded by saffysafina. 


Inevitably dinner conversation turns to “What is wrong with the Philippines?” and whoosh! everyone’s venting. We all agree that this country has problems. All countries have problems, and this is not the worst place on earth, but I suspect we are among the world leaders at beating ourselves up and rushing to denounce the national awfulness. We can’t get a rational discussion going because we’re immediately consumed by melodrama. 

If we’re going to solve anything at all, we have to identify our problems in a cold, apolitical, dispassionate manner. I invite you to post your own list of basic issues that must be addressed. Keep it short and succinct, no rants, no arias. Think of it as a science experiment in which you have to state the problem as clearly as possible. If possible, let’s stick to the tangible, quantifiable, empirical. If you’re in a foul mood because you just spent four hours in traffic, do something else and get back to your list later. 

1. Poverty, hunger, and malnutrition
2. The huge gap between rich and poor
3. Widespread corruption
4. Inefficient bureaucracy
5. Heavy road traffic aggravated by lack of discipline among motorists and pedestrians, general disregard of road etiquette, decrepit infrastructure, the absence of zoning, and sudden floods when it rains.  
6. Pollution and unsanitary conditions
7. Poor quality of education, as shown by test scores
8. Overpopulation and congestion 
9. Lack of economic opportunity at home leading Filipinos to look for whatever jobs they can find in other countries, doctors retraining as nurses, etc.
10. Crime

By the way, if you’re posting from another country, could you say where? So we can note variables. 

P.S. I apologize to the readers who could not access this site on Monday and Tuesday. Hate when that happens. The problem has been fixed. Thank you for bearing with us.

Q’J’Q’Sha by any other name

August 26, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Language 2 Comments →

In Salon, David Zax notes the unusual African-American names in the Olympics roster (Tayshaun, Deron, Rau’shee, Raynell, Deontay, Taraje, Jozy, Kerron, Hyleas, Chaunte, Bershawn, Lashawn, Sanya, Trevell, Sheena, Ogonna, Dremiel) and offers a history lesson on distinctive black names in the United States. From early on, he writes, some distinctive black names were tied to black resistance against white oppression.

Alright, who will explain “Jejomar”, “Heherson”, “Hexilon”, and “Joker”? (We know what they mean and how they were concocted, what we need is a context.) Not to mention the onomatopoeic “Dingdong”, “Bingbong”, “Bongbong”, and the botanical “Apple”, “Strawberry”, “Peaches” etc. What is the socio-historical basis for these Filipino names? (I can account for “Baby Girl”. It was explained to me some years ago that many senior citizens are named “Baby Girl” because they were born during World War II, and in the chaos, these generic labels were scrawled on their birth certificates.)

You can’t say “Only in the Philippines” and roll your eyeballs because other countries have the same experience. In Venezuela they actually tried to limit name choices to an approved list of 100, because people were having their children baptized “Hitler Adonys” and “Batman” (I nominate Joker Arroyo for ambassador to Venezuela). There’s a kid in New Zealand with the unfortunate monicker, “Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii” (I say jail the parents). We’re talking about given names, by the way, meaning the parents chose to name their child…that.