Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for December, 2014

Our Top 10 lists for 2014: Books, movies, TV, taxi names, cat food flavors and more

December 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies, Television 6 Comments →

In no particular order

Top 10 Books that we read in 2014

1. How to be Both by Ali Smith
2. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
3. The Children Act by Ian McEwan
4. My Struggle Volume 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard

5. Life After Life and Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
6. HHhH by Laurent Binet
7. The Blue Flower and Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald
8. The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh-Fermor
9. Isabelo’s Archive by Resil Mojares
10. Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala’s Top 10 Books he read in 2014

1. The Martian by Andy Weir
2. An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
3. The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida
4. The Son by Jo Nesbo
5. The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go
6. For Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta
7. The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
8. Dusk by James Salter
9. The Twelve Children of Paris by Tim Willocks
10. The Fun Stuff by James Wood

Jaime’s Top 10 TV Shows he saw in 2014

1. Gracepoint (US BBC) and Broadchurch (BBC)
2. The Roosevelts – An Intimate Portrait (PBS – Documentary)
3. The Vikings
4. True Detective
5. The Knick
6. Wallander (both Swedish and British versions)
7. Hell on Wheels

Martin Freeman in the William H. Macy role in the TV Fargo, which is different from the movie Fargo.
8. Fargo
9. The Bridge
10. House of Cards

Our Top 10 Movies from 2014 that we saw in 2014

1. Snowpiercer. How to choreograph a fight scene with axes.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy starring Chris Pratt as Han Solo, and Captain America: Winter Soldier, a 70s conspiracy thriller with superheroes. We’re going to cheat and consider all movies from the Marvel universe as a single extravaganza, to make room for a movie someone just reminded us about.
3. Boyhood. Time travel for real. Who knew that the passage of the years, marked by the most mundane events, could be so moving?
4. Nightcrawler. Creepy Jake.
5. Stranger by the Lake. Like Nancy Drew with sex and death.
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel. The movie equivalent of a vitrine of macarons.

7. Only Lovers Left Alive. Who but vampires can really appreciate the history of art, literature, music?
8. The Immigrant. James Gray (Two Lovers, We Own the Night) should be more famous.
9. Edge of Tomorrow. In which Tom Cruise gets killed over and over and over again, to the enjoyment of fans and non-fans.
10. Magic in the Moonlight. A better Woody Allen movie than the fluffy Midnight in Paris, which critics and audiences loved.
(Note: Norte was on our 2013 list. We haven’t seen most of the awards contenders, which just opened in the US.)

Top 10 Taxi Names

1. Ozymandias. Look on yon cab, ye mighty, and despair!
2. from Ricky: Shadow of the Almighty. Not a reference to Sauron.
10. Your choices

Saffy’s Top 10 Cat Food Flavors

1. Fancy Feast Seafood Feast
2. Fancy Feast Salmon Feast
3. Vita Pet Tuna with Prawn
4. Fancy Feast Cod, Sole, and Shrimp Feast
5. Canned food from Bow and Wow (basta mahal)
6. Fried chicken (human food)
7. Vita Pet Tuna Nuggets
8. Friskies Mixed Grill Paté
9. Friskies Salmon Feast Classic Paté
10. Sashimi (human food)

Send us your lists.

The difference between Jealousy and Envy

December 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Psychology No Comments →

Georges Barbier: Envy, 1914
Envy, 1914 by Georges Barbier

Love makes the world go round, says the poet, while the cynic says it’s money; and Peter Toohey, professor of classics at the University of Calgary, constructs an entertaining argument for jealousy being the wellspring of a much greater part of our emotional lives, and of a larger proportion of literature, law, and daily existence, than we may have thought. Elsewhere, Professor Toohey has also worked up boredom and melancholy; in those books as in this brisk survey, he proposes some benefits of emotions usually considered to be negative: jealousy is “a potent means for the assertion of individual rights and the encouragement of cooperation and equitable treatment.”

To distinguish jealousy from its relative, envy, he quotes Peter van Sommers’s succinct definition of the two: “Envy concerns what you would like to have but don’t possess, whereas jealousy concerns what you have and do not wish to lose.” I am jealous of that woman my husband seems to admire; I envy her ability to walk in high heels. Othello is jealous of Desdemona, but Iago is envious of Othello. Toohey emphasizes that the definition is slippery, but that we usually know one from the other; it’s just that the two are intertwined, a Laocoön psychic trope, with jealousy more often than envy associated with violence—thrown dishes, outraged husbands, women scorned, murder. He details some of the more famous, gruesome modern murder cases, but Othello and Medea are the archetypes. “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”

Read Who Is Not Guilty of This Vice? by Diane Johnson in the NYRB.

English Only, Please freshens up the romantic comedy

December 29, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →


Absurdity is a given in the rom-com business. We wouldn’t have to point that out except that lots of people still think their lives are rom-coms, and that at some point they will be loudly declaring their love in a public place in front of a cheering crowd. The achievement of English Only, Please, directed by Dan Villegas (Mayohan) is that it keeps the timeworn tropes of the genre but somehow makes them engaging again. We may see the ending coming a mile away, but we need to see it through.

Read our review at

Some days the editor in your head just won’t shut up

December 28, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Music No Comments →


On the radio: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” the latest incarnation.

– Why should they, if they have other religions?
– And barring freak occurrences, there hasn’t been snow in Africa since the Ice Age.
– What about The Snows of Kilimanjaro?
– Damn you, Ernest Hemingway.

Advertising text: “The Greatest Artisanal Achievements of the Human Hand”.

– As opposed to the artisanal achievements of the human foot.
– I know lots of artisans who’ve achieved greatness with their left nostril, not to mention their small intestine.
– To say nothing of the artist Pricasso.
– Shouldn’t most artists be named that, though?

Thank you, Kim Still Less Famous Than Kardashian

December 27, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies No Comments →


We spent December 25 the way we did last year: hanging out with friends, coaxing Drogon out from under the furniture (sometimes he gets shy), eating leftovers (When will that lechon end?) and watching movies.

This year we saw the biggest talking point of the season: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s The Interview. It’s stupid and hilarious! Even Juan laughed at it (he doesn’t take to stupid as well as we do)! Thank you, Kim Still Less Famous Than Kardashian, for getting us interested in a movie by making it a rallying cry for free speech. Otherwise we might’ve ignored it.

Katy Perry’s song Firework has a major role in the movie, which reminds us of another movie featuring Firework: Rust and Bone by Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet). In the Audiard, Marion Cotillard plays a whale trainer who loses both her legs in a terrible accident. Sitting in her wheelchair, she recalls the choreography to the whale show, so whenever we hear Firework we remember that moment and our hair stands on end. (Cotillard is sublime, the only time we saw her put in a so-so performance was in the last Nolan Batman.)


December 27, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Language No Comments →