Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for August, 2010

Waiting for the Barbarians

August 27, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books No Comments →

Rooftops by Edward Hopper. No reason, I just like this painting.

Read this, I guarantee it’s worth it.

Waiting for the Barbarians
by C.P. Cavafy

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

Hopper, Soir Bleu.

Fear of a moving bus

August 26, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic 6 Comments →

I do not take the bus. Buses bring out my natural paranoia. I’m worried that the bus will get mugged. Also, I always fall asleep on the bus and I might miss my stop. Most of all I fear that the perceived lack of discipline among Metro Manila motorists is not so much unruliness and a lack of consideration for others as a basic ignorance of traffic rules. The number one traffic violators are bus drivers; traffic violations lead to accidents.

My bus-related anxiety may seem irrational, but in the last few weeks it’s been entirely justified. There used to be a bus service inside the UP Diliman campus, but the bus company’s permit was revoked because the speeding DM buses had figured in several accidents. We took to calling them Death Machines.

That’s what buses have been lately: Death Machines. If they’re not falling into ravines, killing dozens of passengers, they’re crashing into cars, killing beauty queens, or getting involved in bloody hostage dramas (which is not their fault but there it is), or as one irate texter to an AM radio show pointed out, causing Miss Philippines to lose the Miss Universe pageant. (Hindi tuloy makapag-isip si Venus dahil sa lintik na hostage dramang yan! She couldn’t think straight because of that bloody hostage drama!)

Taxis aren’t much safer, either. Do you get the feeling that a lot of today’s cabbies arrived in Manila yesterday and learned to drive a car this morning? Today I hailed a cab along Ortigas Avenue and told the driver to take me to Rockwell. He said, Where is that? I gave him directions, and that’s when I noticed the driver. He looked like the novelty singer Vincent Daffalong circa 1988 with a mullet, if Vincent Daffalong had been buried for a week and then exhumed.

Where is Edsa? he asked. If a cabbie asks you where Edsa is, you should immediately get out. Even if you have the patience to guide the taxi, the driver’s lack of familiarity with our congested streets increases the probability of accidents. I said, Turn right at Julia Vargas, then go to Shaw. At Shaw I kept saying Turn right! Turn right! but he waited until the light had changed and then turned right, and then the cops stopped us and the driver had no idea what he’d done wrong.

Now cops—there’s another current cause of anxiety. Between the cops accused of torturing suspects and the cops who force-feed meth to traffic violators and the cops who take tour buses hostage, we don’t want to go near any cops at the moment. This traffic cop seemed nice, he was doing his job and declining the bribe openly offered by the cabbie. As in, Magkano ba? How much? It turns out the cabbie didn’t have his license because he’d already been stopped for another traffic violation this week. That’s when I decided to get out of the cab, and when I paid the fare the cabbie said, You’re leaving? Why?

Panoramic photos by banahawtext.

The Silents of the Bands

August 26, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Music No Comments →

Assunta Spina (1915) is an operatic tale of love and jealousy set in turn-of-the-century Naples.

The 4th International Silent Film Festival will be held this weekend at the Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Mall in Mandaluyong. Featured are classic silents from Italy, Japan, Spain, and Germany, with musical accompaniment by Filipino bands.

Saturday, 28 August
1830 Assunta Spina (Italy) with Caliph8
2030 Kodakara (Japan) with Radioactive Sago Project

La Bodega (1929) is a tale of love and betrayal set in the Andalusian wineries.

Sunday, 29 August
1830 La bodega (Spain) with Tanglaw
2030 Berlin, die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Germany) with Out of Body Space

Admission is free.

Martian dessert

August 26, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Food No Comments →

Mike brought some Ube Calamay from Bohol.

It was so dense and sticky it could not be sliced.

Then the utensils got stuck in the calamay.

They could not be extricated.

This would make a great snack for astronauts in space.

106. The joy of cheapness: a gynecological drama

August 25, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Movies 4 Comments →

Shot in his native Holland and starring Dutch and German actors, the World War II drama The Black Book is supposed to be Paul Verhoeven’s shot at redemption after his infamous Hollywood career, during which he directed such. . .masterpieces as Basic Instinct and Showgirls.

(Noel: I don’t agree that he needed redemption after Basic Instinct. I liked that movie.)

Carice Van Houten delivers an audacious, no, a shameless performance as Rachel Stein, a Dutch-Jewish nightclub singer who is hiding from the Nazis. You know something is off when the house she’s hiding in is bombed—presumably killing the people who gave her refuge—and she is entirely unmoved. She’s even relieved that she doesn’t have to memorize any more boring prayers.

Rachel is briefly reunited with her family and they attempt to flee to Belgium with the help of the Dutch Resistance. That doesn’t work out, and before long Rachel is working with the anti-Nazi underground. In the name of freedom she must seduce a Nazi commander, Muntze (Sebastian Koch from The Lives of Others). She prepares for the mission by dyeing her dark hair blonde. All her hair. Muntze immediately falls for her, especially since she has the stamps he’s always wanted for his stamp collection.

The mission looks to be accomplished, except that Muntze turns out not to be stupid. He notices Rachel’s dark roots: Aha, you’re Jewish! She counters by taking off all her clothes and revealing that the carpet matches the drapes. You’re a perfectionist! Muntze exclaims, and decides not to rat her out.

The crotch shot: hallmark of the Paul Verhoeven oeuvre. Think of his films as gynecological exams.

Rachel discovers that there is a traitor within the Resistance and she must flush him out. Plans go awry, Muntze and Rachel are arrested by the Nazis, and her comrades think she’s betrayed them. Then the Allies liberate Holland, Rachel is identified as a Nazi collaborator and the townspeople humiliate her by dumping a drum full of human excrement on her head. It can’t be helped, this is a Paul Verhoeven movie! Luckily a comrade in the Resistance comes along, and Rachel walks out of there all shiny and clean, with no sign of physical or emotional trauma at having been drowned in a drum of human excrement.

But wait! The traitor in the Dutch resistance still has to be flushed out!

This is cheap, tawdry entertainment that should not be mistaken for historical fact, even if the credits claim it is based on true events. I am almost ashamed to admit that I enjoyed it. All right, I enjoyed it! It’s tacky and awful and fun as hell. I approve of any movie in which someone is given an overdose of insulin and she saves herself by gorging on chocolate. Chocolate is life.

Apropos of Verhoeven I remembered a story told by our friend The Count. Many years ago he was a guest at the house of a Filipino family in the US. They had a dog. “What a nice dog,” said The Count. “What’s her name?”

“Prookie,” said his host.

What a strange name for a dog, The Count thought. The following day he spotted the dog and called her by the name he remembered.

“Here, Prek-Prek. Prek-Prek!”

Are we bipolar yet?

August 24, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 15 Comments →

Lash year see died in a sipwreck. Dish year see died in a car crass.
– Bakla movie joke

Addendum from Orosa: Neksh year see will die of emphysheema.

Last night the Philippines was riveted by a hostage drama. This morning the Philippines was riveted by the Miss Universe pageant.

Are we bipolar yet?

And yet these disparate events had the same problem.


I’m going to need a gallon of espresso.