Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for March, 2014

A chastity belt for the brain

March 31, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing, History, Places, Shopping No Comments →


Noel’s latest find from the Legazpi Sunday Market: “One-of-a-kind Cleopatra-inspired Gargantilla. Pieces of Spanish brass, turquoise, mosaic sapphire,” a.k.a. a choker. The stones give it a medieval look, but the circlet makes it science-fiction. It’s beautiful. The artist’s name is Uan, and we’re going to drop by the market next weekend to find out more.

gargantilla detail

The keyhole pendant brings to mind a chastity belt, except that you wear it around your neck. Aha, a chastity belt for the head. To keep people from thinking about sex. Of course, wearing it guarantees that you will think of nothing else.

The Legazpi Sunday Market is open Sundays from 0730 to 1400 at the corner of Rufino and Legazpi Streets in Legazpi Village, Makati near Greenbelt.

Reading year 2014: Isak Dinesen is so marvelous, we could read her backwards

March 31, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 2 Comments →

Anecdotes of Destiny & Ehrengard by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). Background: Sinamay fabric woven in Iloilo.

The stories in Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard read like fairy tales told by a very elegant realist. That sensible fabulist is Isak Dinesen, the writer we want to be when we grow up. (Good thing we are unlikely to grow up, because disappointment is inevitable.) This collection contains Babette’s Feast, adapted into one of the greatest food movies ever made. (If you have not seen it, get a sandwich and watch it during your lunch hour. Here it is.)

We recall the movie as a procession of fabulous dishes arriving at the table (or are we confusing it with The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover). Isak Dinesen’s story barely mentions the dishes, just turtle soup and some fine wine. It is a sublime tale of art and how the true artist has an obligation to create art whatever the circumstances.

Anecdotes of Destiny also includes The Immortal Story, about a wealthy, dried-up tea merchant in Canton who decides to turn an old sailor’s tale into reality. And then there is Ehrengard, a romance involving a crown, a dynasty, an heir arriving two months earlier than decency dictates, and the courtiers and subjects who must conceal this ignominy.


If you want a glimpse into your favorite authors’ thought processes, you could try copying their sentences in your own hand. We admire Dinesen so much we’d like to know her stories forward and backward. So we wrote parts of them backward. (We taught ourselves mirror-writing in order to stay awake during boring classes.)

dinesen flip

What the page looks like, flipped.


Classic Comic Geek Story: X-Men Vs the Jabberwock, Submariner and Greek mythology

March 28, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 3 Comments →


The poet RayVi Sunico (You may remember him as the Philosophy of Religion teacher who required you to read the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trials, German optional) was in childhood an avid reader of Marvel Comics.

When the mutant called The Juggernaut was introduced in X-Men #12, something clicked in the geek brain. “Juggernaut” sounded like the subject of a beloved Lewis Carroll poem that all good little geeks memorize in as many languages as possible (inc. Esperanto).

Here is a piece of that poem, read by the Cumberbatch.

So RayVi fired off a letter to Stan Lee in which he replaced “Jabberwock” with “Juggernaut”.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock Juggernaut, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

And Stan Lee wrote him back! Marvel sent RayVi a free copy of that issue, with a short note from Stan handwritten on the title page. Uncle Stan said, “Nice poem.”

RayVi can claim to have invented the mash-up. Unfortunately that precious artifact is lost—his brother gave away the comic book (Aargh). Later, the words “Beware the Juggernaut, my son” appeared on the cover of an X-Men issue. (Not that he’s taking credit for it.)


In another letter to Stan, RayVi noted that if Sub-Mariner is the son of Poseidon and his sometime adversary Hercules is the son of Zeus, that would make them…first cousins! That note was printed in a Sub-Mariner comic book.


The week in stuff

March 28, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing, Notebooks 1 Comment →

beaded front

beaded back

An elaborately decorated zippered pouch that we bought at the souvenir tiangge in Puerto Princesa for 90 pesos, now doing service as our phone case.


Funny earrings we made out of Solane LPG keychains, zero pesos. Our friend required our presence at a media lunch to introduce the LPG provider Solane’s gas-tight safety cap and seal, tamper-proof for auto/shut-off valves. The safety cap completely plugs the gas to prevent leaks. We could’ve used these at our high school chem lab, which always had a whiff of gas early in the morning. (Ah, fond memories of hair burning in bunsen burner flames. Not ours, of course.)

Simpsons Moleskine

The Simpsons 25th anniversary Moleskine notebook, Php1495 at National Bookstores. We like the yellow version better, but that one has lined paper.

villa del conte

Every movie we see #29: In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap discovers that fascism still lives and he may be its tool

March 26, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies 7 Comments →


You should probably avoid reading any review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier until you have seen it at the cinema. No matter how much care is taken to avoid giving out spoilers, unwanted revelations are almost inevitable. Of course to the dumb, everything is a spoiler.

Completely spoiler-free review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier is enthusiastically recommended. In the current Marvel Universe, we would place it higher than Iron Man 3 and almost level with The Avengers (it may still pull ahead).

Watch out for two additional sequences, one in the middle of the credits and one right after the end. And pay special attention to a certain gravestone.

In the hands of lazier, less-skilled filmmakers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier might’ve been a series of gags in which the world’s strongest recently-defrosted 95-year-old (Chris Evans) deals with young whippersnappers and their pesky technology. Thankfully, Community alumni Anthony and Joe Russo and their writing team have the smarts to take Captain America’s defining quality—his unquestioning patriotism—and put it in situations where questions must be asked.

Appearing as Cap’s adversary is an actor who has built a great career playing characters who question the authority of the red, white, and blue: Robert Redford. Redford’s presence makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier rather more serious and relevant politically (See NSA surveillance, drones, etc) than its fellows in the current Marvel universe.

“Serious” here does not mean ponderous—this movie is witty, funny, and packed with jokes within jokes. It is also very thrilling—for a pair of TV comedy directors, the Russos sure know how to mount complicated action scenes.

Another good call: pairing off the “Sentinel of Liberty” with the ex-KGB assassin Black Widow/Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson), the most morally compromised character in the Avengers (Or is that Nick Fury?). Johansson had already been nominated for an Oscar when she signed on as Romanov, but playing the Widow in The Avengers has made her a more interesting and nuanced performer. We could argue that she was the star of The Avengers. Johansson and Evans have appeared together in many movies, and as allies they have an easy rapport. She needles him about his comatose social life, he fends them off good-naturedly. Granted, it’s hard to get insulted when one looks like that.

In a recent review, we noted the difficulty of playing a good person onscreen without looking like a sap. Evans steers clear of that by giving Captain America/Steve Rogers a wistful quality, an air of melancholy as befitting a man out of time. His scene with a former ally who has gone on and aged without him is particularly moving.

In World War II, Captain America’s mission was crystal clear: Kill the bad guys. You could tell which ones they were by their swastikas. In the present day it is not as easy to spot them, especially since their avowed concerns seem no different from Cap’s. Whose side is anyone on anyway? Russians have made a big comeback as big-screen baddies, which is great because the cinema really needs them. Here they are represented by The Winter Soldier, whose true identity any self-respecting comics fan knows and should not reveal. (We are severely disappointed in the fanboys sitting behind us, who giggled knowingly at everything, and then were surprised at the revelation.)

Anthony Mackie joins the team as a veteran of the Iraq War struggling to make sense of his recent past. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury, which is to say Samuel L. Jackson. Why the Winter Soldier is in the title escapes us; he’s not the scariest villain in the piece. Our friend noted the profusion of product placements, but that’s the American Way, is it not?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is so enjoyable that we went to the cinema with a horrific migraine, forgot about it, and only remembered it when the credits began to roll. All this means is that we have to watch the movie again with a clear head.

Every movie we see #28: Muppets Most Wanted is a light-hearted masterpiece

March 26, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →

Movies we saw while vegetating in Palawan—#25: 300, which seems brilliant after you’ve seen 300 Rise of Empire. #26: The Help, the Civil Rights movement done Hallmark movie of the week-style. #27: The Matrix, still a ton of fun even after it’s been ripped off over and over and over again.

…that we nearly missed because we did not know it was already showing. It is funny and crammed with star cameos from Tom Hiddleston to Frank Langella to Hugh Bonneville. It has clever and memorable songs by Bret McKenzie, and as the opening number declares, it knows exactly what it is. Tina Fey as the commandant of a Siberian gulag leads the inmates in a doo-wop song, and tough guys like Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo perform a scene from A Chorus Line. Sam the Eagle and Ty Burrell as a CIA and an Interpol agent, respectively, have a contest as to whose badge is bigger. Christoph Waltz does the waltz, and Usher, well, he ushers. We see the possible offspring of miscegenation in the muppet universe. Gonzo finally gets to do an indoor running with the bulls number. We like it better than the Muppet Movie from two years ago, where Kermit and company were second banana to the people (Jason Segel, who is going to play David Foster Wallace. What??). The muppets are the protagonists, the humans are the guests.

Apparently few of us think so, because the reviews are so-so and the movie is a flop. Maybe we’re inclined to love the muppets because we grew up with them (and regard them as more real than some humans)? Or maybe the audience expects too much of felt performers and too little of human actors?