Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for March, 2017

Which is the real killer: fat, sugar, or both?

March 31, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Health 6 Comments →

Read Is Fat Killing You, or is Sugar?

Recently a friend of mine was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Usually I do not care about blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, or whatnot, and will eat whatever I want, but this news freaked me out. I’m old, so this shit now affects me. I’ve given up white rice, soda (sob) and those bottled iced teas, which are just sugared water anyway. And I try to eat sensibly, which turns out to be a challenge for people who live on delivery and take-out.

My prescription for everything is still 8-9 hours of sleep a day, and avoiding stress. I quit writing columns because wringing 800 words out of every thought was becoming stressful. (After 20 years of column-writing, I’ve said everything I have to say at least thrice.) Freedom! Being able to watch a movie without reviewing it in my head! Just being!

Also, I’ve edited my newsfeeds because I do not need to hear of developments as they happen. The pronouncements of idiots get enough attention without having mine as well. There’s a difference between staying informed and drowning in breaking news. And a difference between news and stuff that gets spewed for the sake of spewing. Silence creates space for deep thought, and that freaks people out.

Are you drowning? Let me know if you need help editing your life.

Weekly Report Card 11: The exquisite tale of a love affair, to be devoured in one sitting

March 29, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies, Television 3 Comments →

TV: Legion – A. From the showrunner of TV’s excellent Fargo, an X-Men origin story with shades of Wes Anderson. I’ll review it when I’ve finished the first season.

Movie: Get Out – A

Book: Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift – A.

On Mothering Sunday (the religious precursor of the commercial Mother’s Day) in the English countryside in 1924, 22-year-old housemaid Jane has an assignation with Paul, the son of the owners of the neighboring estate. They’ve been having an affair for seven years. He is getting married in two weeks to the daughter of the owners of another estate. This is the last time they will ever see each other again.

It sounds heart-rending, and it is heart-rending, but that’s just the beginning. Graham Swift’s short, exquisite novel is about the English class system, sex, and loss (Jane never knew her parents; her employer’s sons died in WWI and so did Paul’s two brothers). It’s about the stories we invent about ourselves, the stories we find ourselves in, and how stories can be true even when the pieces are made up. It’s about becoming a writer.

(I especially recommend this novel to readers who love Atonement.)


Life is an efficient space horror movie for people who want more Alien

March 27, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →

They really should’ve thought of a more intriguing title because Life could mean anything. In this context it refers to the discovery of the first extraterrestrial biological entity, and its needs are more basic than phoning home. I just realized another admirable thing about E.T.—the filmmakers weren’t interested in turning it into a franchise. Life can’t be turned into a franchise because one already exists. It’s called Alien by Ridley Scott, and its next iteration opens this year.

Faster and less queasy-claustrophobic than Alien, and minus a ginger cat named Jonesy, Life stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds as three of six crew on the International Space Station. You know the ISS—it’s the one that was destroyed in a meteor shower in Gravity, stranding Sandra Bullock in space. The players are all stock characters, with the exception of Jake’s Dr. Jordan (Green Lantern joke?), who doesn’t want to go back to earth, which makes us curious about his history. The most interesting thing about the monster is its name, Calvin. Ryan Reynolds makes wiseass comments (the script is by the Deadpool guys). There are grisly deaths and foiled plans.

We’ve all seen this stuff before, and director Daniel Espinosa knows we’ve all seen it before so he doesn’t pummel the audience into submission. We get 100 minutes of entirely predictable but still effective thrills, just enough to make us wonder what might’ve happened if the filmmakers had more ambition. It does bring up an interesting question: What are the NASA protocols for this scenario? I hope they have protocols, because if they’re as unprepared as the crew in the movie, our species is screwed.

If you have 100 minutes to kill and you want to get out of the blistering heat, watch it.

We’re a three-cat household again: Welcome Jacob Howlett.

March 26, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats 1 Comment →

Last week a reader sent me a series of emails about this stray cat that was always waiting for him at his house. He wanted to know what he should do about the cat. If you bother to send a stranger six emails in a row about a stray cat, it means the cat already owns you. I advised him to feed the cat and see what happens. I said that if he adopted the cat (which had already adopted him, so this would be a formality), he would have to decide whether the cat would be an outdoor cat or an indoor cat.

The outdoor cat arrangement is more casual (You could be one of several human serfs in the neighborhood providing the cat’s meals), but if the cat doesn’t show up for several days you may lose your mind from worry. The indoor cat arrangement requires an initial cash outlay (for deworming, flea bath, vaccinations, spaying/neutering) and causes some stress when the cat is introduced to the household, not to mention that you’ll be stocking up on cat food and kitty litter forever, but it leads to a relationship as intense as any you may have with humans in your lifetime.

The very next day, I myself adopted a cat.

For many years a family of cats has lived downstairs in my building. I used to feed their matriarch, a ferocious white kitty who showed her appreciation by bringing me the occasional rat carcass. The current generation consists of three cats, including a very sweet ginger with a funny walk. A car had run over him when he was a kitten, but he survived. For months I’ve been considering getting a third indoor cat. My foundling Khao Manee Drogon, who’s turning 5, needs a playmate, and my antisocial calico Saffy, who’s turning 17, hates playing (As far as I can tell she is pondering a unified theory of everything). Then last week while I was worrying about bills, I told the ginger cat, “If a cheque arrives in the next three days, I’ll adopt you.” I wasn’t expecting any payments, but suddenly a cheque arrived. A promise is a promise.

After getting de-loused and dewormed and having a thorough bath, Jacob Howlett moved into our house last Saturday. He spent his first night in a cage that Bubbles lent me, because he had to fast for 12 hours before his trip to the vet. (Jacob’s vet is Dr. Pete Tutanes, who works with a big chain of vet clinics but runs a small, spartan clinic in Makati. Telephone 882.0192; 0922.807.9695.) Also I wanted to make sure Saffy didn’t attack him—she’s very territorial. Drogon is already his best friend.

Jacob Howlett is a wee kitty at the moment, but after a couple of months I expect he’ll be enormous.

Would you like to support CARA (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) programs for stray cats and dogs? Among other things they have a spaying and neutering program, which is better for the cats’ health plus it ensures that we will not be overrun by cats. You can find CARA on Facebook or call them at 532.3340.

Classic Sesame Street: Ronald Grump cons Oscar the Grouch into moving to Grump Tower

March 25, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Television No Comments →

via BoingBoing

Roger Federer is back to be our antidepressant in a horrible world.

March 24, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis No Comments →

A few days ago he won Indian Wells for the fifth time. I’m caving in and buying an RF jacket.

To start, Federer looked relatively normal when we met, and definitely Swiss: dark turtleneck sweater, crisp wool pants, black boots. Hiking is Federer’s favorite hobby (his only hobby), but snow was falling and his legs were tired from Australia, so we went out to lunch, for raclette (at his suggestion), a traditional Swiss dish for après-ski, basically a plate of melted cheese. Not what I expected. But what did I expect, really? On the court, Federer is known for almost inhuman focus. Humorless determination. A steel-cut perfectionist with a stevedore’s nose, the finest forehand of all time, and the coiffure of James Bond circa Timothy Dalton. In the stiffest of all countries, why should he be any different? But frankly, he was so easy going from the start, so relaxed, for a second I thought he was stoned. (He wasn’t stoned.) He drove us to the restaurant in his Mercedes. We chatted about our families. I wound up telling a story about the time I did heroin by accident—look, it was in South Africa, and Federer’s mother is from South Africa, and I was trying to find some common ground out of the gate, the way you do when you’re riding in a gargantuan vehicle with a global celebrity you’ve just met—and he barked out laughing. Federer, a big laugher, who knew? Though it got to a point, by mid-meal, where I started to get suspicious—was it for show, to play the Everyman? Who likes melted cheese like the rest of us? (Maybe he was stoned?) This is a guy, I’d learn, who still makes reservations at a nearby public tennis facility rather than build his own private court. Think about that. Consider the fact that Federer has made over $100 million in career prize money, never mind endorsements. Now imagine being the local dude who has to kick Roger Federer off a tennis court because his practice session goes a little long.

Read the story in GQ.

It’s illogical to say that Roger Federer has returned to top form because reading the daily news gives us nervous breakdowns and we really need him to win. But we’re fans and will make the connection.