Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for July, 2011

Poverty without sentimentality

July 28, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Money, Places 8 Comments →

George Orwell’s first book Down and Out in Paris and London is supposed to be a novel but it feels like an autobiography (bildungsroman, as first novels usually are). Orwell had moved to Paris to become a writer, but he managed to sell only a few articles and his short stories and novels were all rejected (he threw them away). Then he was robbed of his savings and he descended deeper and deeper into poverty. Down and Out is a fictionalized account of that period.

George Orwell

We’ve read a few warnings on the net—Do not read this book if you are unemployed, etc—but we take the opposite view. Read this book if you are unemployed, it might make you feel better. (Granted, if you are unemployed in the Philippines and you would think to read Orwell then you are not that down and out.) We found it oddly cheerful, harrowing but often funny, and always honest. Consolata and I agree that from Orwell’s description it was more fun to be destitute in Paris than in London.

Henry Miller has written several books (Tropic of Cancer, which Orwell praised, Black Spring, Quiet Days in Clichy) about being down and out in Paris. Tropic of Cancer has style while Down and Out is so matter of fact as to be anti-style, and plenty of sex where Orwell maintains primness and propriety. But Down and Out is still worth reading for Orwell’s clear, unsentimental, no bullshit writing. You can tell from this book that George Orwell—Eric Blair was an outstanding human being.

In the Philippines where the majority of the population is poor it is almost impossible to discuss poverty without sentimentality. Is it guilt you think? Trying too hard to show that you care? Looking forward to the next election (the poor by their numbers decide the vote)? Catholic notions about suffering and the promise of eternal reward? We have turned poverty into the stuff of telenovelas, as if to say “Yes you have nothing, but glamorous actresses will play you on TV and movies about you will screen at Cannes etc”.

The Hopia Challenge, part 3: Hopia Emporia and the Smackdown of the Majors

July 27, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places 17 Comments →

Part 1 is here, Part 2 here.

In order to understand hopia we went to the motherlode: Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown.

It’s amusing to note that if we spot a fly buzzing around a restaurant in a shopping mall we question their sanitation standards, but if we see a rat in a restaurant in Chinatown we make jokes about what we’re eating. Adaptation.

The Weekly LitWit Challenge 6.5: Make rust beautiful (+emergency handbook)

July 26, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Contest, Places 5 Comments →

Last Saturday on our hopia tour of Binondo we saw this.

It’s some kind of warehouse crammed with chains, hardware and all manner of junk. We found it strangely beautiful. So your assignment this week is to explain why this rust is beautiful.

Write us an essay of 500 words describing this picture and post it in Comments on or before 11.59 pm on Sunday, 31 July 2011. Remember: Beautiful.

Unexpected bookstores

July 26, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Places 1 Comment →

You’ve probably heard of the one that used to be a church; it’s on many “Most Beautiful” lists.

Notes on the death of Amy Winehouse

July 25, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Fame, Music 8 Comments →

1. We heard the news as we came out of a screening of Rakenrol: Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment. We assumed her death was drug-related. These were the things we knew about Amy Winehouse.

a. She drank a lot and did drugs.

b. She was an amazing singer and songwriter.

c. Her debut album was good but her second album was genius.

d. The beehive and eyeshadow.

2. Despite what we’d heard about her lifestyle we were still shocked to hear of her death. Why, when the media had been on an Amy Winehouse deathwatch for years? Perhaps we were hoping that because she was a genuine talent she would be spared the cliché ending. That she would survive her own excesses and hang around to laugh in her detractors’ faces—looking 100 years old at age 50 but with more vitality than singers half her age.

It is hard for us to accept that our good wishes will not keep people alive.

3. Many professed a complete and utter lack of surprise at Winehouse’s death, beginning with those who’d maintained the deathwatch. We suspect that the people who do deathwatches wish someone would do the same for them, for it would mean that a stranger cares whether they live or die.

4. This casual dismissiveness—“I knew this was going to happen”—is interesting because while the speaker professes disinterest, she admits that she is interested after all.

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Zombadings translation awaaards

July 25, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Language, Movies 7 Comments →

The official Zombadings tote bag modeled by harried yet fabulous writer-producer Raymond Lee.

Apelonyo, allancarreon, Tara and shadowplay, ang tataroush ninyo! You get the official Zombadings 1: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington tote bag and pin. Please post your full names in Comments (they won’t be published) so you can claim your prizes.

Tara, shadowplay and allancarreon: You can pick up your prizes any time at Wild Ginger restaurant in the basement of Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati. Just tell the staff you’re picking up your prize from this site. Apelonyo, we’re waiting for your full name.

Here are excerpts from the winning entries, for your delectation and amazement.