Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for June, 2016

Poem to read while standing in a queue for coffee: Campo dei Fiori by Czeslaw Milosz

June 30, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History 2 Comments →

Giordano Bruno’s statue in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori

Campo dei Fiori
Czeslaw Milosz, 1943

In Rome, on Campo dei Fiori,
baskets of olives and lemons
cobbles spattered with wine
and the wreckage of flowers.
Vendors cover the trestles
with rose-pink fish;
armfuls of dark grapes
heaped on peach-down.

On this same square
they burned Giordano Bruno.
Henchmen kindled the pyre
close-pressed by the mob.
Before the flames had died
the taverns were full again,
baskets of olives and lemons
again on the vendors’ shoulders.

I thought of Campo dei Fiori
in Warsaw by the sky-carrousel
one clear spring evening
to the strains of a carnival tune.
The bright melody drowned
the salvos from the ghetto wall,
and couples were flying
high in the blue sky.

At times wind from the burning
would drift dark kites along
and riders on the carrousel
caught petals in midair.
That same hot wind
blew open the skirts of the girls
and the crowds were laughing
on the beautiful Warsaw Sunday.

Someone will read a moral
that the people of Rome and Warsaw
haggle, laugh, make love
as they pass by martyrs’ pyres.
Someone else will read
of the passing of things human,
of the oblivion
born before the flames have died.

But that day I thought only
of the loneliness of the dying,
of how, when Giordano
climbed to his burning
he could not find
in any human tongue
words for mankind,
mankind who live on.

Already they were back at their wine
or peddled their white starfish,
baskets of olives and lemons
they had shouldered to the fair,
and he already distanced
as if centuries had passed
while they paused just a moment
for his flying in the fire.

Those dying here, the lonely
forgotten by the worId,
our tongue becomes for them
the language of an ancient planet.
Until, when all is legend
and many years have passed,
on a new Campo dei Fiori
rage will kindle at a poet’s word.

Translated by Louis Iribarne

Freedom! I’m on leave from column-writing for the month of July.

June 30, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Projects 2 Comments →

saffy yoga

Must finish novel by August. Lockdown very helpful, but having to stop periodically to meet deadlines halts my momentum, and writing a novel is all about momentum. So I have decided to take a month off from professional commitments and allow myself the luxury of doing only one thing.

I am on vacation from InterAksyon, BusinessWorld and the Philippine Star, but will continue blogging for my own amusement. The freedom of being able to watch a tv show without reviewing it in my head! Life as life and not as research! You can reach me in Comments.


Confirmed: R + L = J. Notes on Game of Thrones’ Season 6 finale

June 28, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Television 10 Comments →

Obviously, do not read if.

I preferred the Valentino-ish wardrobe.

Ooh, jewelry. Tommen has been number one in our deadpool for weeks. Will he?

The Walter Murch Godfather I editing. Getting dressed for the trial, getting killed by Little Birds. Glad they kept that bit from the books in, even if someone else was offed.

Lancel crawling to the candle. . .brilliant. (Poor boy, named after a handbag.)

Why is Cersei dressed like Rhythm Nation 1114?

Wonderful music for piano, voice and cello by Ramin Djawadi. I’ve always associated the cello with people going mad.

Aaaaand Ricky wins the deadpool.

The symmetry of Tommen defenestrating himself the way his parents defenestrated Bran. Love that verb, defenestrate.

jaime and walder

I like how Jaime looks nauseous while Walder Frey is speaking.

She has Tommen burned! Krung kruuuung.

Gilly has a new wig.

I want that library. I would have the same reaction as Samwell.

Is Jon the only character on the show who is good? Who will always do the right thing, even if kills him (already happened)? Remember how he threw away his battle plan last week to ride to Rickon. (All-knowing nitpickers: Running serpentine would not have saved him.) Melisandre: useful, but.

“Father always promised”—hindi siya ang ama mo!

I don’t get the Jon and Sansa shippers online. There’s enough incest in Westeros.

“What is your name again, Barbara?” “You shut up, dear.” Lady Olenna is a critic! When TV is invented in the Seven Kingdoms, she should have a talk show.

Wait, the people of Dorne are okay with being ruled by the murderer of their king? Ah, politics.

Ang taray ni Varys.

Hehe Daario is the girl. She can’t bring a girlfriend to the reconquest.

Daenerys and Tyrion are shot like siblings. . .because they are! I think. The Mad King had a thing for Joanna Lannister.

Tyrion’s face when he is named the Hand of the Queen! Another Emmy moment.

A girl is a terrible pastry chef but an efficient assassin. The symmetry of Walder Frey going the way Catelyn Stark did at the Red Wedding. (And where is Hot Pie?)

Ewww Uncle Pervert Baelish. I still don’t get his convoluted game plan.

How is Meera going to drag Bran around? More importantly, if Bran crosses the Wall with the mark of the Night’s King on his arm, won’t the White Walkers be able to pass, too?

Aaaaaand R + L = J. Wish Lyanna wasn’t played by the annoying girl from The Fall. I wonder if they’ll ever show Rhaegar Targaryen on the show. He’d have to be spectacular.

king in the north

Jon Snow is the Song of Ice and Fire. Sansa should be the Hand of the King.

Lyanna Mormont shames everyone by being a badass. She should be Queen.

So the female takeover of Westeros is complete. All the ostensible misogyny on the series was for a reason.

Jaime’s look of déjà vu because he may have to slay another Mad Monarch.

The Dothraki have never been on ships, I hope they have Bonamine.

The dragons will get bored from flying slowly.

And with that, we have to wait another year.


Will we ever see Gendry again? Will Arya reunite with Nymeria? Will Arya and The Hound join forces in the Brotherhood Without Banners? Can Cleganebowl still happen? Brienne and Tormund or Brienne and Jaime? What happens when Daenerys meets Jon? You think they’ll join forces, or fight each other? Will they be allies, or a couple (Again the incest thing)?

Other questions?

Ballet Philippines’ Master Pieces: Dancing to find ourselves

June 28, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Theatre No Comments →

Master Pieces

When Master Pieces—a sort of greatest hits compilation of works by Ballet Philippines—began, I settled in my seat for two hours of dutiful art appreciation. “Dutiful” in this sense can mean

A. Good for you, the way leafy green and yellow vegetables are good for you.

B. The responsibility of every cultured citizen.

C. Showing support for Filipino artists, who are acclaimed in other countries but are unrecognized at home.

D. All of the above.

The first piece, Farandole, set to music by Georges Bizet, confirmed my expectations. It was a showcase of grace and technical prowess, impressive, but largely indistinguishable from a performance by a good ballet company anywhere in the world. Which is probably where the dancers will end up, given the limited opportunities for professional ballet dancers in the Philippines. (Well, maybe not in Britain, where the result of the Brexit referendum backs up my suspicion that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Couldn’t the Queen do something, along the lines of, “We are taking back this country because you clearly don’t know what to do with it”? Excuse the digression.)

As far as I could tell the most Filipino thing about the opening piece, apart from the dancers’ nationality, was the set design: None. The dancers performed valiantly on a stage that announced the lack of a budget for set design. Granted, there was nothing to distract us from the beauty of human movement. The fact that Dance MNL the Philippine Dance Festival exists at all is the brave organizers’ declaration of faith in art over general indifference.

When the piece ended, I joined in the polite applause. “Polite applause” being

A. A tribute to the talent and discipline of the dancers.

B. A way of showing the other viewers that we are not philistines, or asleep.

C. “That’s nice, what else have you got?”

D. All of the above.

The next piece, Halik, choreographed by Paul Morales, was an excerpt from the ballet Crisostomo Ibarra. I did not know this at the time because I didn’t buy the programme. However, I could tell from the very expressive performers that it was an emotionally charged scene between two lovers saying goodbye. There was a sadness about the piece, a sense of wistfulness and regret. Maybe the evening was not going to be as dutiful as I thought.

It wasn’t. My sense of duty rapidly changed into relief that I was there to witness something that reached for greatness.

Keep reading

Fake or Fortune? The Winslow Homer in the trash, the fakes at the Courtauld, and other art detective tales.

June 27, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Television No Comments →


Fake or Fortune? unfolds like a detective series, with a painting in the office instead of a corpse in the solarium. Each episode begins with presenters Philip Mould and Fiona Bruce taking on an art mystery: Is this a genuine Turner (or Vuillard, Gainsborough, etc)? The show derives much of its charm from the pairing of Philip, an art dealer and art historian, and Fiona, a broadcast journalist. Philip is the expert, knowledgeable in the ways of the art business. Fiona is the stand-in for the audience, asking the questions we want to ask and articulating our bewilderment. Philip is generally calm and unflappable, while Fiona is emotional and expressive — she wants the paintings to be genuine, and looks crushed when they aren’t. As viewers, we feel we have a stake in the outcome of the investigation.

Keep reading

The Bookshelf Sale was so much fun, we’ve decided to have a part 2 on Saturday. UPDATE: We’re moving the next garage sale to a later date.

June 27, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements 2 Comments →


Only a dozen people turned up, but they left with cartloads of books and dvds.

Our first customer was Clem, and she carted away some of the best stuff.

Wait, we’re making a new flyer.