Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for September, 2013

Got a question about your brain? Ask our guest neurologist, Dr. Cuanang

September 30, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Podcast, Science 20 Comments →

dr cuanang
Dr. Joven Cuanang at his Cafe Scientifique talk on the brain and art at the Mind Museum.

Do you give a lot of thought to your brain? We do, but then we fractured our skull when we were 8 and had to have electroencephalography, which in the 70s involved sticking 32 needles into the nerve endings on our skull. A formative experience, no? Since then we’ve been wondering what’s in there, how it works, and whether we can cause people’s brains to explode like in Scanners.

On Friday we’re doing a podcast with our favorite neurologist and art lover, St. Luke’s Medical Director Dr. Joven Cuanang. We’re going to ask the expert the questions we’ve been hoarding over the years, like:

Does free will exist?
What causes migraines? What’s the best way to treat them?
You mentioned that the brain needs glucose and sleep. What other food is good for your brain?
Are we our brains? Are we our memories?
What happens when we sleep? Are we correct in assuming that writing gets done during sleep? (Our excuse for sleeping 8 or 9 hours a night.)
In Mike Alcazaren’s Puti, the protagonist loses the ability to perceive color. Can that really happen?
We read somewhere that humans use only a small percentage of their brain power during their lifetimes. How do we maximize the use of our brains?
Can a brain overheat and blow up like an overloaded electrical transformer?
What causes zombies? Can they be saved?
Do you believe in psychic powers? If clairvoyance is possible, where in the brain does it happen? Could Charles Xavier exist outside of comic books?
Our overenthusiastic parents had us take every IQ test in existence. How do you feel about IQ tests? Is it possible that a high IQ only means you’re good at taking tests?
We love Oliver Sacks’s essays about people who mistake their wives for hats or relive the same year over and over again or have phantom limbs. What are some of the strange neurological disorders you have encountered?
What part of the brain governs smiling, and is it bigger in Pinoys?
How can people prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

From reader and former student of Dr. Cuanang, Dr. Feelgood:
Did you really work with Dr. Adams, who wrote neurology’s bible, at Harvard?
Any hilarious/horrible stories from your internship and residency?
What current developments in Neuroscience research are you most hopeful about?

Post your questions in Comments and we’ll cover them in our podcast.

The Breaking Bad School of Business

September 30, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Television No Comments →

Heisenberg poster from the Breaking Bad Store.

There are obvious reasons for watching “Breaking Bad”: for once the Hollywood hype surrounding the television series is justified. But there is also a less obvious reason: it is one of the best studies available of the dynamics of modern business. A Harvard MBA will set you back $90,000 (plus two years’ lost income). You can buy a deluxe edition of all five seasons of “Breaking Bad”, complete with a plastic money barrel, for $209.99, or a regular edition for less than $80.

“Breaking Bad”, whose finale airs on September 29th, takes place in a recession-ravaged America where most people are struggling to get by on stagnant incomes but a handful of entrepreneurs live like kings. The hero, Walter White, is a high-school chemistry teacher with a second job in a car wash. When he is diagnosed with cancer he is also shaken out of his lethargy: he decides to go into the highly lucrative methamphetamine business to pay for his cancer treatment and leave his family a nest-egg.

Read Schumpeter: The best show on television is also a first-rate primer on business, in The Economist.

Thanks to our friend who could’ve saved his tuition at Harvard Business School for the link.

Interesting how some of the best television shows of the 21st century are about business. Deadwood chronicles the rise of the free market during the Gold Rush. The Sopranos is a primer on capitalism. The first season of The Wire is a dissertation on the drug trade.

Update: Our friend’s spoiler-free review of the final episode of Breaking Bad.

“Pitch-perfect ending, like a good poem.”

Update: World Domination t-shirts

September 29, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing, World Domination Update 4 Comments →

Last month we announced our impending line of World Domination t-shirts and asked you for your opinions and suggestions. Thanks for the feedback.

The first edition of the World Domination t-shirts will be available online in November (Just in time to take your Xmas money!), and later in selected retail outlets. We’ve decided on the following colors:

shirt colors

Black, neon pink, and purple-gray. Shirts for girls (and girly boys), available in S, M, L, XL. The colors of the satin collars vary.

We’re deciding on the text for the shirts. If you have any vehement requests, let us know.


You asked for longer sleeves, so voila.

We’re still working on the shirts for boys, and testing the strength of the material for the shirts with overlays.

All t-shirts are made of 100 percent cotton, and maintain their color after dozens of washings (We know, we tested them.) Tentative retail price: Php250. Bulk discounts available on online sales. If you’d like to be a dealer of our World Domination t-shirts, email

Difficult Men: The story of a TV revolution

September 27, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television 6 Comments →

drogon difficult men

Our friend who convinced us to watch The Wire and Breaking Bad sent us a copy of Difficult Men by Brett Martin. We were going to skim through it the other night and ended up reading the whole shebang. The writing is slightly annoying GQ-gushy, but the story is thrilling. (There’s an extended pun on the use of Nick Lowe’s The Beast In Me in the Sopranos soundtrack that makes us want to punch Martin in the face.)

Difficult Men is about a bunch of guys who kept saying, “This is great, but no one will watch it,” and then proved themselves wrong. Who knew that the idiot box would be the site of the next New Wave? Even David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, thought he was selling out by working on TV.

The book is 90 percent The Sopranos and The Wire, with a sidebar on Deadwood. (Early on, the writer calls Al Swearengen of Deadwood “as cretinous a character as would ever appear on television”. Really?? Someone throw a dictionary at the writer.) The face of Bryan Cranston as Heisenberg on the cover is a total gyp, designed to draw Breaking Bad fans who are having withdrawal symptoms even before the show ends. Breaking Bad, a true spawn of The X-Files, merits just 14 pages and an epilogue by its creator Vince Gilligan.

Essentially, Difficult Men is the story of three Davids: Chase, Simon (The Wire) and Milch (Deadwood and the ill-fated Luck), the thinking that went into their groundbreaking shows, and the process of making them happen. (Index cards and whiteboards are essential. Story conferences must have plenty of food.) It’s also a reminder that Method acting can kill you. We wonder if that really was the first chapter of the book, or if they moved it up after James Gandolfini died.

Sex and the City is dismissed in a few lines. Fine, that show self-destructed, and the title of the book is not Difficult Women, but the condescension is palpable. (“Its characters were types as familiar as those in The Golden Girls…”) The horror of the final season and subsequent movies does not negate the role of Sex and the City in the cable revolution. Have some respect. There’d be no Girls without it.

The main lesson from the TV revolution: Let the writers run the show.

“Ramdam na ramdam kooo.” Movie reviews by our readers

September 26, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies 21 Comments →

Hindi na kami puedeng mag-review ng Sana Dati. Sa kakabenta at panood namin ng pelikula, parang kami na rin ang gumawa. Kaya’t ipapaubaya namin ang mga rebyu ng Sana Dati at iba pang pelikula sa inyo. Paki-post sa Comments.

Sabi nga pala namin sa aming mga kaibigang walang panahong manood ng mga bagong indie: Sige kayo, pag tinanong kayo kung ano ang inyong mga paboritong pelikulang Pilipino, luma lahat ng sagot ninyo. Pagkakamalan kayong matanda!

* * * * *
Sana Dati, reviewed by swanoepel.

OMG OMG Napanood ko na yung Sana Dati.

Don’t tell me natalo si Lovi ng Best Actress sa Cinemalaya. SHUT UP!!! Ninakawan si Lovi Poe ng award. (Note: Masasakit na salita deleted. Nakakaloka yatang makipag-away sa Vilmanians and Noranians.) Hay naku!!! Message ko sa mga jurors ng Cinemalaya ng nagpatalo kay Lovi Poe eh pfffftttt at DUH!!! Bulag kayo!!! Napaka-natural ng acting ni Lovi walang ka-OA-yan at RAMDAM KOOOO…

Sa eksena nga nya sa kitchen ay parang nilalagyan ng kalamansi ang puso ko, ramdam na ramdam ko ang peyn…sobrang affected ako sa eksena na yun (kaka-relate ang gurl).

Super Ganda 9.9/10 ng movie (Yun nga lang sayang ang diamond ring sana dinonate na lang niya kay Napoles).

BTW Jessica, crush ko yung receptionist ng Cocoon Hotel. Ano name nya? May FB ba siya?. At i-hug mo nga ako kay Jerrold Tarong (galeng galeng nya).

Best Movie 2013 for me (as of Sept.26): Sana Dati. Buti naman at breath of fresh air ang mga indie ngayon hindi tulad noon na puro kabaklaan na dramahan na walang relevance at sex lang ang bentahan.

Mga characters na bentang-benta sa ‘kin sa movie: Mga Agaw-Eksena.
– Si Auntie. Siya yung tunay na buhay na Aunt/referee ng sister at niece nya (totoong totoo) kahit na sandali lang siya sa eksena, ramdam na kasali siya sa movie.
– Si Acting PokPok BFF. Nakakatuwa siya, keber na keber ang peg at mga linya niya, very very kakatawa at natural na natural ramdam ko na naman.
– Si Emcee Beki. Umagaw din ng eksena ng bonggang-bonga: parang walang script, natural na natural ang akting.
– Si Longkatuts sa house. Si Ate man agaw-eksena, naramdaman din sa movie ang kanyang presence.
and Last But Not the Least:
– Si Engot Receptionist ng Cocoon Hotel. Ganda ng presence niya sa screen, na- capture niya ang puso ko, love at first sight ba tawag doon (Di siya ganun kagwapo pero ang dating ay umaapaw).

A subdued review of the same movie by eam.

Just watched it yesterday and I thought TJ Trinidad was good. With the ending scene plus “Indak” playing, it was heartbreaking. And I just remembered that Armi Millare also has a very good song called “Delubyo” in Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.

Because life is one film festival after another

September 26, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →


Read the synopses here.