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Archive for May, 2014

The worst flu we’ve ever had

May 25, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Health 16 Comments →

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Wednesday night we felt a heaviness in our joints.

Thursday we had a fever that wouldn’t go away.

Friday we felt as if we were being roasted.

Saturday the thought of eating anything at all made us nauseous.

Sunday we could not stay awake.

This is absolutely the worst case of influenza we’ve ever had.

Every movie we see #57: X-Men Days of Future Past

May 22, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

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54. The Railway Man. Harrowing true story of a British POW in a Japanese labor camp in Thailand in WWII. We did not see this stuff in Bridge on The River Kwai (which we saw on Betamax because it stars Obi-Wan Kenobi).

55. Godzilla 2014. See Godzilla Vs Napoles.

56. Mean Girls. A contemporary classic, even better ten years later. Tina Fey understands the subtle ways in which girls destroy each other.

57. Valley of the Dolls. Noel made us watch it for the theme song.

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The funny parts work. The dramatic verbal confrontations and sonorous recitatives about hope, not so much.

We are past the limit of our comic book superhero adaptation endurance and will leave it at that. Recharging.

Some guy seated behind us was reciting the lines along with the actors. Fortunately someone made him shut up before we could gag him with a cardboard popcorn tumbler.

Godzilla Vs Napoles

May 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Monsters, Movies 2 Comments →

GODZILLA

Godzilla 2014 is a thrilling blockbuster that updates the monster metaphor. As Ken Watanabe’s scientist points out (and he has to, because this is a popcorn movie after all), humanity in its arrogance and greed thinks it can control Nature. We are not the alpha predator in this scenario, merely the insects scampering out of the combatants’ paths. Godzilla emerges to restore balance in a world that man has plundered and fouled. Although you could miss that and still enjoy the movie.

And what of the Philippines, where the remains of a primordial beast lie? For many months we have been gripped by the investigation into the dealings of Janet Lim-Napoles, who has been charged with defrauding the Philippine government of billions in pork barrel funds. The two lists allegedly naming politicians and media who had received money from Napoles, whether they are true or not, paint a picture of a system steeped in corruption.

Read our column at InterAksyon.com.

In prison with Manila Hilton

May 20, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Pointless Anecdotes No Comments →

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If Manila Hilton had known her outfits would be confiscated, she would’ve ordered these online. Photo from Second Life Marketplace.

Yesterday we ran into some ex-Today staff having merienda and we got to talking about our colleagues. Like the intrepid reporter M, who served a prison sentence in Guam. It’s not what you think. We’re reposting the story, which appeared here on 17 October 2010.

Every word of it is true.

* * * * *

The following night we continued our anthropological research into the dives and bars of Guam. Our crazy friend brought us to Mac and Marti’s, where a band was playing.

During the very long sound check, we had a pretty good blue cheese burger and the execrable house red (Aged grape juice, but then we’re the idiot who ordered wine in this place). We were feeling badass for hanging out with an ex-convict. Seriously. Not too long ago our crazy friend had to spend 48 hours in jail for drunk driving, so she would start sentences with, “When I was in jail.” Like, “When I was in jail I had an epiphany.”

She was told to bring appropriate work clothes for community service; naturally she brought beaded dresses and thigh-high boots. Of course these were confiscated and for two days she had to wear the orange prison uniform. From hereon we shall call her Manila Hilton.

She remembered to bring something to read, but her book was in hardcover so that was confiscated, too. Theoretically a file could be hidden in the spine of the book and smuggled into prison, only by the time she cut through the prison bars her sentence would long be over. Knowing Manila Hilton she would probably smuggle mascara or an eyelash curler.

So her book was confiscated and Manila Hilton needed something to read, right, she’s not our friend for nothing. She went to the prison library and they lent her a book called Royal Baby On The Way. It was about a princess who visits Texas or something, falls in love and gets knocked up by a cowboy. It was atrocious, but Manila Hilton said, “When I was in jail I learned to focus.” You know, she’s going to dine out on her 48-hour incarceration for the rest of her life.

Manila Hilton not only read Royal Baby On The Way, she actually got into it, and when her 48 hours were up she was distressed because she hadn’t finished it.

“Don’t tell us. You stole a romance novel from the prison library.”

“No! When I was in prison I had time to think.” So when she got out she found a copy of Royal Baby On The Way and finished reading it.

“How was it?” we asked.

“It was the real punishment for my DUI (driving under the influence).”

Cinderella de-censored, de-sanitized, de-wimpified

May 19, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 10 Comments →

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Cinderella illustrations by Harry Clarke

Cinderella is one of the best-known tales in the world, but the Cinderella we know is a censored, sanitized, gutted, Disney-fied version of the original as recorded by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm. We read the Grimms’ Cinderella in an English translation recently and were surprised at the differences between the story we were told and the story as they wrote it.

In the old tale, Cinderella’s mother dies and her father remarries. As kids we were told that Cinderella had a wicked stepmother and two ugly, wicked stepsisters. According to the Grimms:

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The stepsisters were not ugly. Then why were we told that they were hideous? Was it to assure us that cruelty and meanness can be spotted immediately, the bad being ugly and the good pretty? Leaving us to discover as we get older that there is little correlation between looks and character. Evil can be good-looking or ugly.

In the old tale, Cinderella’s father is still alive. In the version we were told, Cinderella’s father died, probably killed by the stepmother. Why the disparity? Was it to gloss over the fact that the father did nothing at all to protect his daughter from his new wife, and allowed her to be maltreated by her stepsisters?

Cinderella doesn’t help her own case by being a doormat and a goody-goody. Instead of protesting her maltreatment and asserting her rights as the daughter of the house, she meekly does what she is told. They enslave her and and throw her peas and lentils into the ashes so she has to pick them out again.

One day her father is going to the fair, so he asks the stepdaughters what he can get them. Beautiful dresses, they say, and jewels. Then he asks Cinderella what she would like, and Cinderella asks for the first branch that knocks against his hat on his way home. What! Fine, she’s not greedy and she’s a better person than her stepsisters, but she didn’t have to fling her goodness in everyone’s face. That’s irritating.

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The father brings home the requested branch, which Cinderella plants on her mother’s grave and waters with her tears. A tree grows on it, then birds settle on it and whenever Cinderella asks for something, they throw it down to her. (She did not ask for a spine or a lawyer.)

In short, there is no Fairy Godmother in the original tale. Who added the fairy godmother character? Was it so all these stories could be called “fairy tales”? Granted, someone also grants Cinderella’s wishes, but that would be Nature and the memory of her mother. Who told us that in times of crisis, some magical creature would appear and solve our problems with a wave of her magic wand? Let’s find them and slap them.

The festival is announced, and the wicked stepmother and stepdaughter make plans. Cinderella also wants to go, and they mock her because she has nothing to wear. However, she insists upon going, so

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Her benefactors the birds pick the lentils out of the ashes, and then they produce a gold and silver ballgown for her to wear. She goes to the festival, makes a great impression on the Prince, then escapes from him. She couldn’t report that she was being oppressed at home and ask him to send the police? Anyway, in the original tale the Prince accompanies her home because he wants to find out where he lives. She manages to elude him by hiding in the pigeon-coop.

As in the version we were told, she goes to the festival three times and runs away three times. The Prince is not a dolt.

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He sets out to find the owner of the slipper by having the women of the kingdom try it on.

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Also, he announces that he will marry the woman connected to the foot that fits—clearly he did not know that some people have the exact same size. He turns up at Cinderella’s house, and of course the eldest stepsister gets first dibs.

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What a wonderful turn of events! It tells us that some people are so desperate to get what they want, they will even mutilate themselves. But this is left out of the version we were told. Why? Too gory?

After this outing by the birds, the eldest stepdaughter is returned to her mother. The second stepdaughter then tries the shoe, and since it doesn’t fit she cuts off her heels in order to wedge them in. Finally Cinderella gets her chance. The shoe is tried on. It fits. They have the wedding.

The stepsisters have the gall to accompany Cinderella to her wedding, and as they are standing on either side of her, birds pluck out the right eye of one and the left eye of the other. On their way out of the church they exchange places and the birds pluck out their other eyes. Thus they are punished for their wickedness.

What does the original tale tell young readers? That there is cruelty within families and they cannot always rely on the protection of their elders.

What did the sanitized and censored version tell us as young readers? That if we are patient, obedient, and especially, pretty, our fairy godmother will find us a handsome prince to marry. Because that is the solution to everything.

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Conversation with Cats: Would you save us from a canine attack?

May 19, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats 1 Comment →

After seeing the video in which Tara the cat saves her four-year-old human from a mean dog, we had this conversation with our feline housemates.

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Us: Saffy, if we were on a bike and a dog attacked us, would you save us?

Saffy: That makes no sense. You do not ride a bike.

Us: Yes, but in theory, if we were on a bike and a dog attacked, would you save us?

Saffy: In theory, yes.

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Us: Mat, would you save us from a dog attack?

Mat: Is that a bag of leftover fish from Kuretake?

Us: Yes. Would you save us?

Mat: Of course. Though it is highly unlikely that a dog would attack you without provocation. Perhaps the dog is psychologically unstable. Doggies are my friends.

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Us: Drogon, would you save us from a dog attack?

Drogon: Yes. I would tell the doggy to go away. If he does not go away, I will call you to tell him to go away.

Us: But what if we’re busy because the dog is attacking us?

Drogon: That is a problem.