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Archive for April, 2010

Gianluca’s Travels, Day 2: Melbourne

April 30, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Shopping, Traveling 3 Comments →

Mamma mia, what vile curse has befallen me, which powers have I offended, that I should belong to a woman who does not own a single pair of high heels? She intends to tread the ground in. . .I dread to say the words, they are too distressing. . .Sneakers! Flats! A ridiculous pair of wellingtons!

Stop it, Gianluca, stop it, I say. At least she did not fly coach this time. Look, I am the handsomest suitcase on the carrousel at the airport of Melbourne. The other humans and their cargo, they back away, they are feeling proletarian.

We arrived at 7 am, too early to check into the hotel, so we proceed to the Queen Victoria Market, the largest open-air market in the hemisphere. Here we have the epiphany: All the world’s markets now look alike, they are hawking stuff made in China. She says it is like the Divisoria, only organized, clean, and more expensive. What is a Divisoria? I only know the mercato with the Porcellino.

The owner, she is only interested in two things:


The Australian cheeses,

and the hats. She is obsessed with finding the tweedy old guy hat that fits her enormous head. I swear to you it is ginormous, molto molto, it should have its own satellite. The amused hat seller helped her to try on dozens upon dozens of trilbies, porkies, homburgs and other tweedies, but none of them would fit. I must call the Guinness. Andiamo!

The meaning of “plangent”

April 30, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies 2 Comments →

Before reading Juliet Barker’s study of the famous battle, I checked out Shakespeare’s version. Here’s the St. Crispin’s Day speech before the Battle of Agincourt from the 1944 film version of Henry V, directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier. It was wartime propaganda to inspire the troops fighting the Nazis. Note the way he delivers the speech.

In the 90s my roommate dragged me to a screening of Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V at the CCP. This is the post-Vietnam interpretation of Shakespeare’s play: less of the glory of dying for country, more of the horror and atrocity. Branagh was not my idea of a Plantagenet king—he’s short and tubby—but that voice! The definition of “plangent”. I remember thinking, So that’s what Shakespeare sounds like. Not the high-toned oratorical stuff people giggle at, but the rhythms of everyday speech (if everyone had a beautiful vocabulary). Not reciting, but talking.

I loved Patrick Doyle’s score, but I wish it hadn’t been blaring throughout the St. Crispin’s Day speech. The words are so stirring they’re music enough, they don’t need the competition.

Yes, that is the young Christian Bale as Henry V’s servant. Later Branagh has to carry him across the field.

Meet Gianluca

April 29, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling 1 Comment →

Ciao, I am Gianluca Dietrich Visconti-Rimowa. I am the new luggage. I am gorgeous, yes?

I arrived late last night so she packed hurriedly but it is alright, I am so light and roomy you can just toss things in and my zippered compartments make the chaos neat. What was the question again? Ha ha ha, you are jesting. I am the gift from the nice friend.

As you can see, I have already met the kitties. They are hilarious. Koosi, she is the terrible snob and she approves of me.

This Saffy she is crazy, I love her. She tried to sharpen her little claws on me, but she cannot! I am the polycarbonate, there is nothing to shred. They jump all over me, it tickles. Look, the kitties are adorable, they turn my gift-wrapped box into the fort.

Mat is my favorite, he has the lovely manners.

Tonight the owner and I fly to Australia. We will look at the penguins. See you later. Ciao.

LitWit Challenge 2.9: The end of the affair (Updated daily with Yucch-meter)

April 29, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Contest 62 Comments →

This week two winners will each receive a hardcover copy of Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje.

In the last LitWit Challenge, we asked you to write the scene in which you meet the beloved for the first time. You like that stuff, huh? Alright, let’s fast-forward to the breakup. One of my favorite partings takes place in another Ondaatje novel, The English Patient.

He untugs himself from her and walks away, then turns. She is still there. He comes back within a few yards of her, one finger raised to make a point.

“I just want you to know. I don’t miss you yet.”

His face awful to her, trying to smile. Her head sweeps away from him and hits the side of the gatepost. He sees it hurt her, notices the wince. But they have separated already into themselves now, the walls up at her insistence. Her jerk, her pain, is accidental, is intentional. Her hand is near her temple.

“You will,” she says.

This bit is rendered brilliantly in the film adaptation by Anthony Minghella: Kristin Scott-Thomas turns away from Ralph Fiennes and there’s a loud crack as her head hits the post. Oww.

Your assignment in the Weekly LitWit Challenge 2.9 is to write the scene in which two lovers decide to part. Unlike in the previous challenge, you do not have to be one of the characters. This way you can observe your subjects from a safe distance and spare us the schmaltz.

We don’t have to know why they’re breaking up, but we have to know what they’re thinking at that exact moment.

Post your entries in Comments; the deadline is at 11.59 pm on Saturday, 1 May 2010.


My copy of Divisadero, signed by the author. Bonnie went to Michael Ondaatje’s reading in Paris and lined up to have a copy signed for me.

* * * * *

LitWit Challenge 2.9: The end of the affair is now closed. The last entry is #58, which we’re accepting even if it came in two minutes past deadline. Thanks to everyone who joined this challenge, stay tuned for the next one.

Shitter Island

April 28, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 2 Comments →

We knew that D’Survivors would suck. We knew that we would be annoyed, irritated, bored, exasperated, insulted by it. No one can accuse us of having high expectations. There is only one reason we went to see D’Survivors (and generally we shun anything with ‘D, apostrophe’ in the title), and it’s this.


Photo from http://finissimo.com.br/

Daniel Matsunaga. So beautiful. No bad angles. How could he possibly disappoint us? If he just walked around the island reciting the alphabet in Portuguese we would go home happy. Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. Your looks, our brains (not that we’re suggesting we are superior to you in that respect), world domination.

We even tried to find out when Daniel was watching his movie, so we could contrive to be present in the cinema. His manager says he’s in Brazil. Having seen the movie, we adore Daniel even more. Good call, not being around for this.

And now the viewing experience.

Ricky: Turns out Madonna’s Swept Away is an Oscar Best Picture.

Jessica: I don’t think this movie has a script.

Vivien: I feel like I’m in a tenth-rate comedy bar.

Daniel Matsunaga appears, picking fruit with no shirt on.

Everyone: Haaaaaaaaay.

Ricky: It’s got English subtitles?! They actually think this will do the film festival circuit?

Vivien: We’ve sent lots of bad movies to the film festival circuit. Just nothing this bad.

Daniel Matsunaga appears, explaining what he’s cooking. Even his accent is lovely.

Everyone: Aaawwwwwwwww.

Vivien: Ang luma ng avant-garde niya. Lumang bago. Bagong luma. Lumang luma. Ang luma-luma. (His idea of avant-garde is old. New-old. Old-new. Plain old. Very old.)

Jay: Ang pangit-pangit. (Very ugly.)

Vivien: Omigod, Daniel’s abs are in 3D.

Daniel Matsunaga gets a closeup for no reason, because you don’t need a reason to give Daniel a closeup.

Everyone: Oooooooohhhhh.

Jessica: I apologize for calling Adolf Alix the Hell Portes of the 21st century. I owe Gil Portes an apology. I want to find Adolf and slap him.

Ricky: You should review this back-to-back with Shutter Island. Both are set on islands. Both are What The Fuck movies. Except that Shutter Island is brilliant.

Daniel Matsunaga does a silly dance in a talent portion sequence that materializes because they ran out of ideas after the opening credits.

Everyone: Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy.

Jessica: I can’t believe they made a movie with three Brazilian-Japanese models and there’s no sex in it. I can’t believe the director does 30-minute tracking shots of people looking for a goat but he can’t keep the camera on Daniel for 2 minutes.

Vivien: I can’t believe this movie was made, I feel bad for the producers.

Ricky: There is one brilliant thing in this movie. That green long-sleeved shirt Daniel is wearing. You can see every curve.

Jessica: Look at those trapezius muscles, those deltoids.

Daniel Matsunaga has a conversation with Akihiro Sato, who should probably not stand next to Daniel Matsunaga.

Everyone: Oooooooooooooooooohhh.

Ricky: Every time we’re about to flatline we get a glimpse of Daniel and we’re alive again. He’s a defibrillator. He should’ve directed this movie.

The movie limps to its idiotic denoument.

Jay: Tayo pala ang D’Survivors. (It turns out We’re the survivors.)

Another reason to move to Brazil.

April 28, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Science 3 Comments →


Map of Brazil from Edible Flags.

Brazil official urges more sex for better health

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s health minister has a remedy for the nation’s high-blood- pressure problem: More sex.

Minister Jose Temporao says adults should be exercising more to help keep their blood pressure down — and he says a good cardiovascular workout includes sex, “always with protection, obviously.”

Temporao also recommends dancing, a healthy diet and regular blood-pressure checks.

The minister made the comments Monday while launching a national campaign against high blood pressure in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

The Health Ministry says that 21.5 percent of Brazilians had high blood pressure in 2006. That jumped to 24.4 percent in 2009.