Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for November, 2009

Married to Elvis

November 28, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Shopping 2 Comments →

My heavy hints landed solidly. It’s not even December yet and I got this pair of earrings from Jeffrey.


Yes, that’s Elvis Presley.

Yesterday my sister went to Divisoria for her annual wholesale gift shopping. I tagged along, wearing my new earrings. Roaming around 168 Mall is a blast—except during the holiday shopping madness, when all the merchandise is covered in people. And it was a weekday—imagine what the crowd is like today. (In America retailers call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday and it’s the biggest shopping day of the year.)

There were slightly fewer people on the third floor, so we could browse at leisure. Cookie went into a shop selling sparkly trinkets. I was looking at rings (way too sparkly) when an attentive saleslady noted my earrings. “Ang ganda naman ng hikaw nyo (What nice earrings),” she said.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Sino yang nasa picture? (Who’s that in the picture?)” she asked.

“Si Elvis,” I replied.

“Asawa ninyo? (Your husband?)” she went on.

On one hand I wanted to recite a short history of rock and roll and Elvis’s place in it so that she could grasp popular music in its proper context. On the other hand the trinkets place was slowly filling up and I just wanted to shop.

“Oo (Yes),” I answered. No doubt she thought I was very lucky. It would’ve taken too long to explain that Elvis died when I was a kid. I remember my parents talking about it: the king of rock ‘n roll had died of a heart attack while sitting on the toilet. His diet of fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches may have had something to do with it.

You know how the baristas in coffee shops ask for your name so they can call it out when your order is ready? Sometimes I don’t feel like having my existence announced, I just want my caffeine, so I tell them my name is Elvis. Which means I am married to me.

My Year in Books

November 27, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 1 Comment →

Favorite Books 2009
My favorite books of 2009. Most of them were not published in 2009.

One Sunday while prowling my neighborhood bookstore I spotted a youngish father and his 11 or 12-year-old daughter looking for a book. This reminded me of how my mother used to take me shopping for books. My mother was a teacher, so reading was as natural to us as eating (and considered superior to watching television, which was usually turned off after a couple of hours so the set wouldn’t “overheat”). . .

My Year in Books in Emotional Weather Report, today in the Star.

A for Avarice: the 1 month before Xmas gift registry

November 26, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing, Shopping 41 Comments →

Saffy's scarf
You can never have enough scarves. Raymond found this in ac632. It was the last one haha.

Melo had this idea last year: Why not post a list of the stuff you want to get on Xmas? It would eliminate guesswork on the givers’ part, not to mention the recycled fruitcake, scentless scented candles, and wine so recent grapes are floating in it. Yes it’s the thought that counts, but in the general chaos people just aren’t thinking.

Then I thought: Why should I be the only greedy one? Why not help the readers who dread receiving another recycled fruitcake, unscented candle, and bottle of sour grape juice?

Introducing the Public Xmas Gift Registry. You suggest gifts you want people to give you this holiday season, but are too polite to ask for outright (or the would-be givers are too dense to take the hint). And since you are cleverly disguised by your usernames, you can always deny your participation in extortion. Post your wish list in Comments, and in a few weeks we’ll have a raffle with a prize or something.

Let me start by saying

Earrings! Earrings! I want earrings, the weirder the better. Yeah I have lots but I want more. I went around the mall today and these were the only ones that appealed to me: thick doughnut-shaped cloth earrings from Bleach Catastrophe. The rest were too twee or ballroom-dancing-matronly. (Incidentally gold plating makes me break out.)

Don’t give me books because I might already have those titles. Although first editions of The Catcher In The Rye are always welcome. And James Salter’s books.


Always welcome: Vintage eyewear.

Begin the avalanche of avarice.

And the wiener is. . .

November 26, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 2 Comments →

Little Shop of Horrors
Carnivorous centerpiece, La Cuisine, Makati

The Literary Review presents the nominees for the 2009 Bad Sex in Fiction Prize. They are. . .

Santo Niño Barbie

November 25, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Current Events 4 Comments →

As a columnist I get a lot of invitations to book launches and exhibit openings. I stick them on the fridge, and when I run out of door space I throw them away. But one invitation I kept for show and tell with my friends. It announced the launch, at the main lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, of Warriors of Heaven, a novel by Marlene Aguilar. I have never met the author, but assumed those were her photographs on the invitation.

Warriors of Heaven

In one photo she appears to be channeling the Nazarene or the Santo Nino, and in the other she is wearing butterfly sleeves and nothing else. (Danton Remoto, I challenge you to appear on the cover of the Ladlad books nude and holding a nipple.)

The large-format invitation includes a statement from the author (“If your mind is locked away within the rules of society, religion and other institutions, please do not buy this book”), an excerpt from the novel which I gather is about the secret US plan for world domination (That’s a secret?), and blurbs ranging from the lukewarm (“I really enjoyed reading it”—Howard Marks, author of Mr. Nice) to the enthusiastic (“I love the sex! I loooooooove the sex!!!!”—Inday Espina-Varona, Editor-in-chief, Philippine Graphic). It was so. . .unusual, I filed it away.

My sister just called me. “Remember that weird invitation you got? Well there was this road rage killing and the author’s son is now wanted for murder.”

The Carnet Challenge

November 25, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Notebooks, Tennis 12 Comments →

The Greenapple notebook looks like a Moleskine pocket carnet—from a distance. Instead of smooth black oilcloth its cover is a thicker leatherette. (Moleskine is on the left, Greenapple on the right.)

Carnet Challenge 1

The ribbon bookmark is almost the same but the elastic that keeps the notebook shut is thinner, like a rubber band.

Carnet Challenge 2

Inside the paper is slightly thicker, coarser, and whiter. Unlike most Moleskine facsimiles, the pages are plain, unlined. They soak up ink very well.

Carnet Challenge 3

There is also an expandable pocket in the back cover. I’ll have to use it for a few months to see if the binding holds. (Almost forgot, thanks for asking: No, the Greenapple does not open flat. It has to be held down. Moleskine binding rules.)

Carnet Challenge 4

Greenapple retails for P169, less than a quarter of the cost of a Moleskine. I am devoted to my Moleskines but in a pinch I guess I could live with a Greenapple. The Greenapples are available at National Bookstores.

I’d gone to the bookstore to pick up Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open, and am happy to report that it lives up to the hype. All the reviews and talk show interviews (You must check out Andre’s appearance on Letterman) have mentioned the paternal bullying, the Lord of the Flies years at Bolletieri Academy, the fake hair and crystal meth use. But Andre’s accounts of what was going on in his head during his big matches are riveting, and tennis fans will enjoy his descriptions of his rivals.

Pete Sampras was the archenemy, but it’s hard to hate someone whose only interest is tennis. I did like the part where Andre drags Pete to see Grease on Broadway because Brooke Shields is playing Rizzo. Pete does not have a good time. The player Andre hates with a passion is Boris Becker, and he doesn’t love Jimmy Connors, either. He has a lot of admiration for Patrick Rafter and Roger Federer.

Open by Andre Agassi, P1,215 at National Bookstores.

My friend Reret and I share the view that Andre Agassi became an awesome human being when he won the French Open in 1999, then dated and married Steffi Graf (Before that we capital L Loathed him). Andre’s courtship of Stefanie (she prefers to be called Stefanie) is covered in detail in the book. He’d had a crush on her since the early 90s (“She looked, somehow, as if she smelled good. Also, as if she was good, fundamentally, essentially, inherently good, brimming with moral rectitude and a kind of dignity that doesn’t exist anymore.”) and was crushed when he discovered after winning Wimbledon in ’92 that the traditional dance with the women’s singles champion had been canceled. Then they both won the singles crowns at the French Open in ’99, and he decided she was his destiny. Awww.

Open: An Autobiography was written by Agassi with J.R. Moehringer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Tender Bar. “I was late in discovering the magic of books,” Andre says in the acknowledgments. “Of all my many mistakes that I want my children to avoid, I put that one near the top of the list.”

The Graf-Agassis do not have a tennis court in their house.