Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for January, 2017


January 30, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Tennis 4 Comments →

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

I didn’t watch it. Longish story, tell you later. Going to sleep.

Happy New Year to us all! One day you feel the world is rushing to oblivion, and then Federer wins a grand slam again and suddenly everything will be fine. Sport: the great metaphor.

* * * * *

The match everyone thought would never happen again, where everything turned out the way I have always wanted while agonizing through every Federer v Nadal match in the last ten years, and I missed it.

I was in Thailand for work. Periodically I would check the results from Melbourne but was vewy vewy quiet because I didn’t want to jinx it. Sports fans maintain the irrational belief that their actions affect the outcomes of matches. But it was all Federer and Nadal. They are the best emotional investment we tennis fans have ever made, and they’re still paying off.

Okay, it’s been over 24 hours. We now return to the resistance. Now we see why superhero movies and dystopian narratives took over popular culture in the last decade. The writers could see it coming. We’re living in it now.

One week till the next Writing Boot Camp

January 27, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements No Comments →

Oglaf on preparing the text.

The world is a strange, chaotic place, and one way to deal with it is to write. Join the workshop.

The Impossible Burger tastes exactly like meat.

January 25, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Food 2 Comments →

As a meatatarian, my main issue with vegan and vegetarian food (as long as it does not come with a lecture on how not eating animals is so much better for you and the planet in general) is that it tastes like cardboard. For a long time I’ve suspected that the ingredient that makes meat taste—well, meaty—is blood. Yup, we’re vampires.

A couple of months ago I had lunch at Momofuku Nishi in Manhattan and there was something on the menu called “the impossible burger”. It was made entirely of plants, but claimed to taste like beef. The fact that it was called “impossible” sounded like a challenge, so I ordered it.

It was delicious, and it did taste exactly like beef. They haven’t gotten the texture exactly—it’s softer and more moist, which I did not mind at all. And I was right: the ingredient in question is hemoglobin.

The magic ingredient turned out to be a compound called heme. Their research identified this as the thing which made meat distinct, giving it a richer taste and its bloody, red colour.

The firm has now figured out a way to produce heme on a large scale cost effectively by using fermentation.

Read about the hamburger made of plants.

The Impossible Burger cost USD14 (about PHP700). When it becomes available in Manila, assuming it isn’t already, I hope it’s priced lower, although travelling reminds me that food in Manila is expensive (the value for money ratio is low).

Weekly Report Card 3: Carrie Fisher, Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck and the actor as writer

January 23, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

Books read: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher; A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor (on Cappadocia)

I loved Carrie Fisher, first because she was my Disney princess, and then because she was a truthful writer who mined her mental health issues for comedy without belittling them. I thought reading her last book would be a proper goodbye to someone whose work struck sparks in the darkness. And now I feel bad for her because it seems like she never got over being an outwardly worldly but naïve and insecure teenager in love with an emotionally distant, much older, married man who, to paraphrase Fisher in another book, granted her the use of his penis. That he was playing Han Solo just makes it worse.

Supposedly The Princess Diarist was written because Fisher unearthed the diary she’d kept during the making of a low-budget space adventure called Star Wars. But the stuff from 1976 only consists of some poems—not too embarrassing—and entries describing her confusion and frustration over the non-romance. The first half of the book is her recollection of that rather mingy affair, the third quarter is the old diary, and the last is about how stars of beloved SF&F movies can continue to cash in on past fame at fan conventions. I assume that’s one of the reasons this book was written at all. But Carrison!

I’m glad Carrie Fisher had her service dog Gary Fisher in her final years because his affection and loyalty was never in doubt. If you’ve kept old journals about past amours, shred them now.

Movies watched: By the Sea, written and directed by Angelina Jolie; Live By Night, written and directed by Ben Affleck

The French seaside town is beautiful, Angelina Jolie is beautiful, Brad Pitt is beautiful, their clothes and accessories are beautiful, but they’re miserable for some reason that is vaguely hinted at till the end of the movie. What is their damn problem? Is it that they’re too beautiful for this world? And when the problem is revealed, you have to yell, “That’s it?!” and demand the two hours of your life back. It’s like Antonioni’s L’Avventura without the everything.

Live By Night has already been savaged by the critics, so I’ll be kind. Ben Affleck is a skillful director of taut thrillers. I enjoyed Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo very much. Live By Night, which Affleck himself adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel, is a gangster epic that takes place over two decades from Boston to Florida, and the director seems to be having a crisis of confidence.

The movie feels small and cramped. The characters talk too much, and then Affleck provides a voice-over that explains everything all over again. The tough-guy noir dialogue is soft-boiled, the cardboard crimelords are not particularly menacing, and the star looks tired and ill at ease. Did Batman burn him out? We could not help but notice that Affleck, who does not usually pass up the chance to display his torso (even while whisking embassy staff away from the Ayatollah’s Iran), kept his clothes on throughout the love scenes. Was he feeling a bit hefty? That, we understand. His disappearing Boston accent, not so much.

In Istanbul, living in the present moment is a form of defiance.

January 19, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

Marzipans. All photos of Istanbul vitrines and shop displays by JZ.


Candied fruit

A sparrow was sipping water from a half-filled glass in an Istanbul café Wednesday morning. Customers had their lunch outside, thanks to the warm weather, and chatted about the latest episode of Sherlock, screened hours after the terror attack on the city’s Reina nightclub on New Year’s Eve, which killed 39 people. Two cats were fed leftovers; a stray dog watched the scene from a safe distance. The terror threat level had been raised as high as it would go, not only because of the Reina attack, but also a simultaneous attack in the capital Ankara that had been foiled at the last minute, not to mention many more that had been thwarted in the past month. But this did not at all seem like a city under threat.

How do Istanbulites do it? It is a hard trick to pull, this immediate return to normality. Some consider it an expression of powerlessness, but I find wisdom in the ability to counter shock with calm. After the suicide attack at the Ataturk Airport in June, the scene was cleaned of signs of chaos in a matter of hours. The shattered glass was swept away, airport personnel reopened their desks, baristas served overpriced Caramelattes to travelers—it didn’t really feel as if 45 people had died hours earlier. And yet those people were not trying to erase history. Living in the present moment, for them, was a form of defiance, not amnesia.

Read Kaya Genc’s dispatch from Istanbul.


More teas

Dried fruit


Only two weeks till our next Writing Boot Camp

January 18, 2017 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 (To those who’ve already registered: I’m sending you an easy writing exercise next week.)