Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for May, 2016

Honor, duty, courage, Hodor.

May 30, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television 2 Comments →


If you have not seen last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, do not read this. Don’t even go online. Cover your eyes and ears.

For the past week I have not been able to look at a door or get into an elevator without my throat tightening, such is the power of the last few minutes of “The Door”, Season 6, Episode 5 of Game of Thrones. Hodor the running gag has turned out to be the embodiment of honor, duty, sacrifice. Bravo.

Having read the books I knew the Red Wedding was coming, and enjoyed the shock of non-readers learning of the brutal event for the first time. Then the Purple Wedding, the trial by combat, the murder in the toilet, the assassination. Readers used to have an advantage, but now the series has gone off-book and we’re all at the dark mercy of the showrunners. It’s exhilarating.

Read my column at

I forgot to cite the best-known example of a causality loop: Terminator. Kyle Reese is sent back to the past by John Connor to protect his mother Sarah, and ends up becoming the father of John Connor.

Writing a novel vs tickling a cat

May 29, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, The Workplace 4 Comments →

work cats

I have to finish writing a novel in three months so I’ve been in lockdown for two and a half weeks. I only allow myself out of the house twice a week for appointments and chores. So far it’s been working: I’ve written down half of it, and expect to complete the first draft well before my August 31 deadline. Also, I’ve made a detailed outline so I know where it’s going. More importantly I can stand it, so it’s safe from the shredder.

Technically this is my second novel. The first one, I never published. I didn’t like it. However, it wasn’t total garbage so I took the parts that worked and published them as short stories. They’re in The Stories So Far, the ones where the protagonist is named Jude.

So I’m living inside my head these days, and the only witnesses are the cats. They are not the most cooperative creatures. They want attention. Saffy challenges me to staring contests.


Drogon invades my workspace in stages.

What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?
Would you like to rub my tummy? It’s very soft.
I’m sure you won’t mind if I park my butt on top of your notebook.
Fur! Soft!
I’m sleepy. This is a good place for a nap.

The Wine Show: Getting to know the grape with Matthews Goode and Rhys

May 27, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Television 2 Comments →


THE WINE SHOW answers the age-old question: good looks or personality? Specifically, would you rather spend time with two very attractive men with average conversational skills, or two not as attractive men who can have a hilarious conversation about nothing? Even more specifically, would you rather drive through Italy in the company of Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey) and Matthew Rhys (The Americans), or with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (The Trip to Italy, reviewed here some months back)? I guess that would depend on whether you want to document your trip on Instagram, or make a TV show.

Read our TV column The Binge.

I had a pain in my knee so I went to a chiropractor.

May 25, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Health 3 Comments →


I’ve had a pain in my right knee for several weeks. I strained it because I thought I was invincible. Like many people who get injured I figured the pain would go away eventually, but after a couple of months I became concerned. Walking is my main physical exercise—taking long walks jogs the brain so it produces stories, and when I’m writing I pace a lot. The stiff knee was getting in the way of my writing.

A friend recommended that I consult Dr Bodhise, a chiropractor. He assists the Artists Welfare project, and his patients include dancers with Ballet Philippines. If there’s anyone with an intimate knowledge of bodily pain, it’s ballet dancers. Also, I’ve always been curious about chiropractors—they figure in so many New York novels and movies. So I made an appointment.

Dr. Paul Brown Bodhise studied at La Salle University in Philadelphia and the New York Chiropractic College. He is a Vietnam veteran who first visited the Philippines in 1973. He was standing on a street corner in Angeles when a bus whizzed by him and two girls yelled, “Hey, soul brother!” After he left the air force he studied alternative medicine. When he retired he decided to move to Asia, and remembering the soul sisters he came here.

Before the treatment, he asked me to watch a video about the natural healing therapies he practises. He combines chiropractic and naturopathic techniques and herbology. The treatment addresses the immediate pain, and figures out the root causes of the pain. Among the common causes are poor diet, too much salt and/or sugar, stress and adrenal reactions. Adrenaline enabled the fight or flight response of early humans who had to deal with large predators. It increases blood flow, breathing, carbohydrate metabolism. Today the probability of running into a hungry direwolf on Edsa is low, but our adrenaline gets going anyway when we get into a bad traffic jam or read provocative comments on Facebook. So the body reacts in a disproportionately big way, and it wreaks havoc on our systems.


On to the treatment. First, ultrasound therapy for the stiff knee. “I’m not gonna crack your bones,” Dr Bodhise told me. He asked me how I injured myself and explained that even before the incident, my knee was already vulnerable due to wear and tear. He massaged the knee and put pressure on the uncomfortable area. The point, he said, was to encourage the muscles and bones to fix themselves.

Then he applied his neuromuscular reintegration technique, essentially a deep tissue massage and traction, to realign the skeletal frame. This harmonizes the nervous system and the muscular system, he explained, to restore their normal function. He pointed out the areas on my back, elbow, and the base of my neck that were misaligned and could cause future discomfort. The therapy usually takes 30 – 45 minutes.

Afterwards my knee was better and my stride was closer to normal. It was still stiff, but I no longer felt like one leg was shorter than the other. What I like about the treatment is that Dr Bodhise doesn’t just write a prescription for the pain. He looks into the causes, advises you on how to prevent illness, and advocates a holistic approach to good health. For more information, visit

Next week I’ll tell you how my knee feels. In the meantime I’m taking my sister to this chiropractor because she has two PhDs in stress.

Dr. Paul Bodhise’s clinic is on the second floor of Seibu Tower, 6th Avenue corner 24th Street, Bonifacio Global City. Call or text 0908 449 7673 to make an appointment. The consultation fee is Php2000.

How fiction molds us, changes our beliefs, and promotes a deep morality

May 25, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Notebooks 3 Comments →

direwolf pocket
The Limited Edition Game of Thrones Moleskines have arrived at National Bookstores. No one joined our Summarize GoT for Newbies contest, so they’re all ours. Even the ones with lined pages, which we will use because we love the direwolves. The pocket-size notebook with Summer and Bran (unlined), Php1160. Hodor. We learn about honor and duty from Hodor. Love that causality loop.

Until recently, we’ve only been able to guess about the actual psychological effects of fiction on individuals and society. But new research in psychology and broad-based literary analysis is finally taking questions about morality out of the realm of speculation.

This research consistently shows that fiction does mold us. The more deeply we are cast under a story’s spell, the more potent its influence. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than nonfiction, which is designed to persuade through argument and evidence. Studies show that when we read nonfiction, we read with our shields up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard. We are moved emotionally, and this seems to make us rubbery and easy to shape.

direwolf large
Large Ghost and Jon Snow Moleskine (lined, dammit), Php1580.

But perhaps the most impressive finding is just how fiction shapes us: mainly for the better, not for the worse. Fiction enhances our ability to understand other people; it promotes a deep morality that cuts across religious and political creeds. More peculiarly, fiction’s happy endings seem to warp our sense of reality. They make us believe in a lie: that the world is more just than it actually is. But believing that lie has important effects for society?—?and it may even help explain why humans tell stories in the first place.

Read Why Fiction is Good For You.

targaryen large
Large Drogon and Daenerys Targaryen Moleskine (unlined), Php1580.

lion pocket
Pocket-size lion sigil with Tyrion Lannister notebook, Php1160.

my books
Incidentally, the paperback editions of Stories and Geeks are now in stores.

Kitty, a short story for people who think they’re cats

May 24, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats No Comments →


Drogon says: Why, Chloe Sevigny, why didn’t you cast me in your film adaptation of Kitty?

by Paul Bowles

KITTY LIVED IN a medium-sized house with a big garden around it. She loved some things, like picnics and going to the circus, and she hated other things, like school and going to the dentist’s.

One day she asked her mother: “Why is my name Kitty?”

“Your name is really Catherine,” her mother said. “We just call you Kitty.”

This reply did not satisfy Kitty, and she decided that her mother did not want to tell her the truth. This made her think even more about her name. Finally she thought she had the answer. Her name was Kitty because some day she was going to grow up into a cat. She felt proud of herself for having found this out, and she began to look into the mirror to see if perhaps she was beginning to look like a cat, or at least like a kitten.

For a long time she could see nothing at all but her own pink face. But one day when she went up to the glass she could hardly believe what she saw, for around her mouth tiny gray whiskers were beginning to sprout. She jumped up and down with delight, and waited for her mother to say something about them. Her mother, however, had no time for such things, and so she noticed nothing.

Each day when Kitty looked at her reflection she saw more wonderful changes. Slowly the whiskers grew longer and stood out farther from her face, and a soft gray fur started to cover her skin. Her ears grew pointed and she had soft pads on the palms of her hands and the soles of her feet. All this seemed too good to be true, and Kitty was sad to find that nobody had said a word about the marvelous change in her. One day as she was playing she turned to her mother and said: “Meow. I’m Kitty. Do you like the color of my fur?”

Continue reading Kitty.

Kitty convict posters at The Oatmeal

and huggable bookstore cats.

bookstore cat

P.S. Do you know a cleaning lady who likes cats? Steph is looking for one. Our cleaning lady is great but has a full schedule.