Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for September, 2010

Miss the Inquisition much?

September 30, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 10 Comments →

I think they have themselves confused with their professed employer.

I’d say somewhere between Delhi and Montreal

September 30, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic, Places No Comments →

GOOD has this infographic of the cities with the most frustrating traffic problems. Manila was not included in the study, but I’m guessing that on the pain index we’re somewhere between New Delhi and Montreal. Though our drivers would probably claim Beijing-level aggravation, just to top the survey.

The 2010 IBM Global Commuter Pain Study


September 30, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Movies 1 Comment →

Click here for short descriptions of the featured movies.

LitWit Challenge 3.8: Sounds like this

September 29, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Contest, Music 18 Comments →

Every week in the LitWit Challenge we give you an assignment. We’ve asked you to reveal some deep dark secret (Some secrets were so dark you asked that they be deleted). We’ve had a competition for the worst ex (Yours are horrendous. We’re impressed). We’ve asked you to remake classic literature in Carlo J. Caparas mode, translate Gatsby into Filipino, and write mash-ups of mythical monsters and historical figures. We’ve asked you to write stories involving tennis (Oddly all your tennis stories involved sex), to describe the aftermath of debauchery (Obviously more sex), and to spin tales based on a photograph (Even more sex).

And you have delivered. You’re good. What else can we make you do?

We can toss you a LitWit Challenge with no clear instructions. Just this piece of music. Click on the link.


The music is from a famous French movie. You don’t have to know what it is, but if you do, bravo.

Now write us a story in 1,000 words or less that goes with this piece of music. Think of it as the theme music for your story.

Post your story in Comments by 11.59 pm on Sunday, 3 October 2010. The prize you are vying for is this:

And some consolation prizes. The Weekly LitWit Challenge is brought to you by our friends at National Bookstore.

Wall Street 2: Ham and cheese

September 29, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Money, Movies 3 Comments →

This is the perfect time for a sequel to Wall Street. Surely the people who made “Greed is good” the catchphrase for an era would have a lot to say about the global financial meltdown of 2008. You know Oliver Stone likes nothing better than “explaining” (critics always use a harsher verb) history to the audience. He’s taken on Vietnam (Platoon and Born on the 4th of July), Watergate (Nixon), the JFK assassination (JFK), and most recently the Bush years (W). These movies may have all the subtlety of a pistol against your skull but you can’t say that Stone shies away from the issues.

Why, then, does he tiptoe around the causes of the financial meltdown? Aww, are we afwaid to impwicate the audience? Or does he think that the viewers are stupid and he has to dumb down the discussion? Granted, the reasons for the meltdown are vast and convoluted, but there is little attempt to address them. Instead we get sermons about greed and why it is bad. And you discovered this when?

In Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, this is why the markets crashed:

Because Josh Brolin is evil.

This is the first Oliver Stone movie that didn’t give me a headache—because I was too busy laughing at the dialogue. It is pure cheese, stuffed with enough cliches and platitudes to make a traditional politician barf. To deliver the cheese, Stone hired some fine actors and turned them into ham. Michael Douglas won an Oscar for playing Gordon Gekko in the first movie; his performance in Wall Street 2 has to be one of the worst in his career. And Josh Brolin whom we loved in The Goonies and No Country For Old Men: awful.


Eli Wallach: terrible, but he’s forgiven because he’s Eli Wallach. Susan Sarandon: overacting. The actors playing the Chinese investors would not be out of place as taho vendor-stereotypes in a 1960s Tagalog movie. (People, have you spoken to a Chinese investment banker recently? Listen carefully. You work for them now.) The actor who looks like US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner: good casting.

Shia LaBeouf and Cary Mulligan: You’re young, you’ll survive this crash. The only actor who survives with his dignity intact is Frank Langella. Because no one makes a fool of Langella.

The songs in Wall Street 2 are by David Byrne and Brian Eno. Usually this is a good thing, but the movie is so relentlessly overscored you just want to scream, “Shut up! Shut up!”

The name on the poster almost stopped me from watching Devil: M. Night Shyamalan. Movie tricksters are always welcome, but this one ran out of tricks years ago. The last Shyam movie I saw was Signs. Hydrophobic aliens from an advanced civilization invade the earth, and they don’t notice that it’s three-quarters water.

Turns out Devil was directed by John Eric Dowdle, based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan. It goes like this: Five complete strangers get stuck in an elevator and one of them is the devil. One by one the people die.

The real horror as far as I’m concerned is the ineptitude of the building security and maintenance staff. They have no emergency procedures. One guy services all the elevators in a 50-storey building. The security agency hires a temp with a long police record. The guards look dumbly at the CCTV screen as the body count rises both in and out of the elevator. This is scary because it probably happens in real life. This movie will convince you to take the stairs.

The Devil feels like an above-average episode of Twilight Zone. Much of the suspense is in waiting to see how the stupid people will get themselves killed. The mechanic who served in Afghanistan is cute. There is plenty of religious hooey. Of course there is a cheesy plot twist, you know who wrote it.

At one point they’re talking about the devil and someone says, “And just like that” and snaps his fingers. Immediately I had the urge to watch The Usual Suspects again. What a screenplay, what a cast. Keyser Soze is the devil.

Best-Dressed Despot

September 29, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing, Current Events 5 Comments →

No contest: Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya. (We didn’t say “Best-Dressed Despot’s Wife” so sit down.)

He was already a colonel when we were kids, you’d think he’d have promoted himself by now. On the other hand, he has resisted naming himself general of generals, that’s something.

Foreign Policy has a photo essay on the fashion statements of the world’s dictators.

If I had my own country I would wear only Lacroix.