Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for December, 2016

Send off this horrible year with a George Michael New Year’s Eve Playlist.

December 28, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood, Current Events, Movies, Music No Comments →


How can a music icon and jillion-selling artist still be underrated? Well George Michael was, because he only released new music when he wanted to, he didn’t think every moment of his life was for public consumption, and he expected no praise for his kindness and generosity. Thank you, George Michael.

Let’s start the playlist with Outside, which responds to a very public shaming with defiance and strength.


And the Year of Obituaries continues with the death of Carrie Fisher, who as Princess Leia taught the women of my generation how to fight, resist tyranny, and be the equal of any man, and as a writer showed us that no one has to be perfect, our flaws are what make us strong. The Force is with you, General Leia.


Our Writing Boot Camp returns in February 2017

December 23, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements No Comments →


You’ve always wanted to write, but you don’t know how to get started.

You used to write, but you haven’t done it in a while and you feel rusty.

You’re sort of interested in writing, but you’re afraid to even admit it.

You’ve started many stories, but you ran out of steam.

You think you can write, but you need a second opinion.

You have a writing project that you’ve kept putting off, and you just looked at the calendar and it’s almost 2017.

(Or you have a friend who is any/all of the above and you want to give them a little push.)

Join our Writing Boot Camp! The objective is simple: to start and finish a piece of writing (story or essay) in two weekends.

Dates: February 4 and 11, 2017, from 1-5pm.
Venue: WSI Corporate Center, Metropolitan Avenue, Makati (near the Makati fire station at the end of Ayala Avenue)
Cost: Php5,000.

For inquiries and to book a place, email

Near the end of an epically terrible year, remember the good things that happened.

December 21, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Current Events 22 Comments →

Doctors of the World Reality Xmas cards designed by McCann London. ’tis the season to give a damn.

2016 has been HORRENDOUS, and it still hasn’t stopped sucking. Surrounded by such gruesomeness, we tend to lose all perspective. We even start thinking that this horror is normal. Well, it isn’t. This will pass—we don’t know how long it will take, but it will. In the meantime there is something we can do. We can live AS IF the world is a good place, AS IF people are kind, AS IF honesty, decency and justice prevail. This is not denial or airy-fairy optimism, but a form of resistance based on our favorite instrument, irony.

From Letters to A Young Contrarian by Hitchens:

Vaclav Havel, then working as a marginal playwright and poet in a society and state that truly merited the title of Absurd, realised that “resistance” in its original insurgent and militant sense was impossible in the Central Europe of the day. He therefore proposed living “as if” he were a citizen of a free society, “as if” lying and cowardice were not mandatory patriotic duties, “as if” his government had actually signed (which it actually had) the various treaties and agreements that enshrine universal human rights. He called this tactic “The Power of the Powerless” because, even when disagreement can be almost forbidden, a state that insists on actually compelling assent can be relatively easily made to look stupid.

And this stratagem sounds like something out of Clueless! Later in the same chapter:

The process often involved an inversion in the usual relationship between the ironic and the literal. The “People Power” moment of 1989, when whole populations brought down their absurd leaders by an exercise of arm-folding and sarcasm, had its origins partly in the Philippines in 1985, when the dictator Marcos called an opportunist “snap election” and the voters decided to take him seriously. They acted “as if” the vote were free and fair, and they made it so.

No matter how recent history is revised and spun, no matter what disillusionment followed, it was the right thing to do.


While we poke into the wreckage of 2016, we should remember that it wasn’t completely dreadful, even if it feels like it. Hey, gravitational waves were detected. There’s Proxima B and SpaceX. There were wonderful moments in pop culture.

In our personal lives, it can’t have been all dire. Everyone had small victories and big victories. Let’s acknowledge them, and allow ourselves to gloat a little. Tell us about the good stuff that happened to you this year in Comments. I have three things:

1. After two and a half decades of stopping and starting, I finally wrote a novel I didn’t shred.
2. After a lifetime of trying to get my hair to behave, I got a hairstyle I like. (Jay Lozada is a genius.)
3. After a ten-year absence, I visited New York. My timing was off: I figured that by the time I landed, the celebrations would be on. The opposite happened. But New York was exactly the way I wanted it to be: thrilling, tough, slightly scary, vigorous (if somewhat shellshocked), thought-provoking, and also strangely kind. (Lav Diaz said that when he was penniless and without prospects, he would take refuge in the New York Public Library and it became his school. He’s learned something.)


Visits from future past

December 19, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Cosmic Things 4 Comments →


If you’ve heard this story before, please accept my apologies and move on. I bring it up again because something similar has happened to my friend.

Eight years ago, during a particularly bleak period in my life, I had what I like to think of as a visit from the future.

In retrospect, I had no more reason for despair than I do now. However, I felt like I was trudging through a dark tunnel with no end in sight. Usually I am very good at cheering myself up—why else would I read so many novels or watch so many movies—but I was convinced that I would never get out of that cave. I knew I was being irrational and self-dramatizing, but I could not help it.

Mercifully I could still sleep nine hours a day even in this state, so my mind could take a break from thinking about itself. Early one morning—it must’ve been just after sunrise—I woke up from a deep sleep and saw a figure in brown robes standing at the foot of my bed.

Immediately I doubted the reality of what I was seeing. I had the impression of an ancient person calmly watching me sleep. It was a dream, I told myself, then I noticed my cats crouched on either side of me like marble library lions. They were wide awake and staring at the foot of my bed. Which, when I looked again, had no one there.

Here is where it gets truly odd. Instead of leaping out of bed, inspecting my house for intruders, or taking my temperature, I went back to sleep. Suddenly I felt better. The darkness had lifted.

Someone said it was a Jungian archetype: the wise old person, mentor, or guide. She thought it significant that I had been comforted instead of freaked out. Since that time I have thought of this split-second incident as a message from the future: nothing grand, just, “You’ll get here.” My visitor was myself.

This afternoon I was having merienda with Chus when he told me about his own visitor.

Early this morning he was awakened by a noise. When he opened his eyes he saw a small boy in a striped t-shirt rummaging among his papers. He said, “Hoy!” The child jumped onto his bed the way children do when they want to play, and Chus held his arm up to keep the child from landing on him. Except that the child had vanished. And Chus went back to sleep, untroubled by this home invasion.

“Could it have been you?” I asked Chus, and he said he thought so. What was he trying to tell himself? Was there something in his past that he needed to remember?

Of course, it could’ve been a dream. Or a product of indigestion. Or a trick of the light. But wouldn’t it be great if our past or future selves could show up once in a while, to remind us where we came from and assure us that we’re going somewhere? You are haunted by the memory of a figure at the end of a jetty. That figure is you yourself.

I can’t find La Jetée online anymore.

How to deny, deny, deny

December 17, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Television No Comments →

Fly in the face of confirmed fact! He’s not dead, he’s pining for the fjords.

Do people really want freedom from freedom? 2016 suggests that Loki in The Avengers was right.

December 15, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies 2 Comments →

The evidence suggests that people do not practise critical thinking. Or do not want to think. Or do not think at all. It’s so much easier to surrender your decision-making processes to the nearest strongman who claims to have the answers to everything. Freedom comes with responsibility, and who has the energy for that? Yeah, join the hive mind and hide behind the supposed strength of numbers. If you agree with everyone, you can’t possibly be wrong, right?

Nope, it just makes you a scared little waste of evolution. Throughout history people have died to fight and to escape from slavery, but you choose to be a slave. You do not have to be anyone’s tool. Think.

You can choose to be free. We are responsible for ourselves and our fellow humans.

* Star Wars analogy redacted because every viewer naturally assumes she is the hero and not the oppressor.