Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for October, 2017

A Halloween Story about my late cat Mat

October 31, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Notebooks No Comments →

Illustration by Anne Tamondong

Yesterday I organized my journals, meaning I collected them from wherever they were scattered and put them in a trunk and in a big plastic box (there’s a lot of them). I found my journal from mid-2015, a leather notebook I got from Papers and Tschai, a handmade studio in Cebu.

In it was an account of my cat Mat’s last day. Since he had fallen ill a week earlier, he had been very weak and sleeping in the kitchen. On his last day, I was awakened at 6:30 in the morning by something fluffy landing on my feet. It was Mat, who had used his last burst of strength to walk to my room. I knew then that he didn’t have long, so I stayed with him all day and tried to make him comfortable. At 8:08pm, he breathed his last.

There was no place to bury him, so I asked my friend Tina if I could bury Mat the following morning in her garden. Then I wrapped Mat in one of my old T-shirts and put him in a box. The janitor wrapped him up some more and we put the box in the lobby where the guard could watch it overnight.

I went to bed at midnight, exhausted. At 2:45am I dreamed that someone was pounding furiously on the door. I woke up, but there was no knocking. In the morning I noticed that the welcome mat had been moved.

I like to think that Mat was trying to get back in the house, or maybe the angel of death had come to collect my firstborn male cat. (I’m sure it wasn’t a Pet Sematary scenario because Koosi and the neighbors’ dogs are all buried around here, and none of them came back.) Mat was a sweetie. The next day we couldn’t get a taxi to take us to Tina’s place (pre-Uber) so Juan lent me his car and driver. So Mat arrived in an SUV (according to witnesses, he leapt out of one and ran to my building) and left in an SUV. He was a sosyal cat.

I bought a pair of ipis earrings from the beercan art guy of Poblacion

October 30, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Design No Comments →

I kept hearing about how Poblacion is the place to be, so when I met my first workshop group I suggested we eat at Bucky’s then cross the equator to El Chupacabra. You can feel your ears pop. The difference between the two sides is a subject for an anthropological paper.

Afterwards I was waiting along the street for the car when a skinny man came up to me holding a small sculpture made of recycled beercans. I was more interested in the large silver cockroach, also recycled from a beercan, that he was selling.

“You can put it on your shirt and take a selfie!” he said.

I said that I was more interested in its earring possibilities. “Can you make two small cockroaches that I can use for earrings? Just make them, I’ll attach the hooks and rings.”

We traded emails and I got them a few days later. They’re delicate but impressively detailed. Clearly Mika, the can art guy, had spent a lot of time observing cockroaches.

He can also make Edward Scissorhands thingies that you can attach to gloves, which means he could make Wolverine claws. You can find him on Felipe Street off Burgos, Makati every night. I’ve commissioned beercan cats for earrings and he’s working on them.

Thor Ragnarok is the funniest superhero movie AND the most fun!!!

October 25, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies, Music 4 Comments →

It’s a scream, a hoot and a blast! (Plus lark, riot, barrel of laughs)

It’s anarchic and hilarious! A different kind of funny from Guardians of the Galaxy, which is pop culture-centric. Here the comedy springs from the disconnect between the characters’ ideas of themselves, what they say they’re going to do, and what they actually do. And the brightly colored CGI worlds look grotty, which make them seem more real.

It rescues Thor from the bottom of the Marvel superhero franchises! Yes, Thor is no longer the loser in the pack (I saw Thor: The Dark World in Czech and it still doesn’t work), and they saved it by allowing Chris Hemsworth to fall on his face and be funny.

It’s packed with guest stars, including actors not in the Marvel universe!

It has the rare villain (Cate Blanchett being the Anti-Galadriel) formidable enough to wipe out the heroes, plus planet-shaking consequences!

Led Zeppelin in Valhalla! Immigrant Song should be the Thor theme like Black Sabbath’s Iron Man should be Iron Man’s (it turns up occasionally) and Misty Mountain Hop should be Gollum’s (Yes, we all read the same things).

Jeff Goldblum in gold lame!

Taika Waititi is my favorite director name!

It must be discussed in exclamation points!

It has two credit sequences, FYI.

I don’t need to see another superhero flick until Black Panther! This year I’ve seen five good-to-great superhero flicks and will quit while I’m ahead.


* * * * *

I wasn’t the oldest person at the cinema (I saw it in the early afternoon, surrounded by senior citizens), but I was by far the happiest to hear Led Zeppelin in the battle sequences. “Hammer of the gods?” “We are your overlords?” Nothing could be more appropriate, not even Wagner, said my friend, a blues guitarist.

Since watching Ragnarok, I’ve been listening to Zeppelin constantly. I miss them. When I was a kid, they were schoolbus music: it was either Zeppelin or disco. Up to the 90s it seemed to me that on every overpass there was a beggar with a tinny amp singing “Stairway to Heaven”. In every dive where a band played, some drunks would inevitably start yelling “Stairway to Heaven”, which was the cue to take cover as bottles would start flying. Ah, childhood. Here’s a playlist.


Two or three things I learned in Czechia

October 23, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

Travel is always an edifying experience. Two things I learned from my recent trip.

First, the poetry you pick up in school is never completely lost. It will pop into your head when you see its real life counterpart (even in a different country). This is The Wild Swans at Coole by W.B. Yeats.

The Vltava River in Cesky Krumlov

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;

The Vltava River in Prague

Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

Second, I learned what money is for. Sure, it’s to pay bills and buy cat food, but there’s more.

Money is so you don’t have to travel coach on long-haul flights when you’re over 40 (my demarcation line between youth and age, long past). Listen to me, kids: You need those wide seats that turn into beds. You need a constant supply of drinks. You need space. When you fly a total of 15 hours, you feel every minute in your bones.

There endeth the lesson.

* * * * *

The Witcher, the story that launched Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy series, is one of eight stories from Central Europe and the Philippines in Ang Manggagaway, an anthology of science-fiction and fantasy tales edited by Dean Francis Alfar; József Bencze, Hungarian Ambassador and poet; and Jaroslav Olša, Jr., Czech Ambassador and founding father of the Czech science fiction monthly Ikarie (He knows George R.R. Martin). The stories are by Csilla Kleinheincz of Hungary, František Novotný and Julie Nováková of the Czech Republic, Juraj Cervenák and Alexandra Pavelková of Slovakia, and Elyss Punsalan and Edgar Calabia Samar of the Philippines. The Filipino translations are by Eros Atalia, Joselito de los Reyes, Beverly Siy and the Bob Ong.

Ang Manggagaway was launched recently, and will hit bookstores soon. As our world grows ever closer to the dystopian societies envisioned by Philip K. Dick and the cyberpunks, we all need to be reading science-fiction. It is no longer just the genre that helped nerds stay alive through the torments of high school. It is a matter of survival.

Jacob Jonesy Totoro Tormund Z. Howlett is 2! Today he is The Oracle.

October 20, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats 17 Comments →

Hello, I am Jacob the cat.

I am named after Jake Gyllenhaal; one of only two survivors of the xenomorph attack on the Nostromo; Miyazaki’s forest spirit; the wildling from Beyond the Wall; and the Wolverine, because when I was a kitten I was run over by a truck but was protected by my adamantium skeleton.

My hobbies are eating, exploring the house, eating, wrestling with my older brother Drogon, eating, and eating.

My human has decreed that today is my name-day. Do you have questions about your past, present, or future? Post them in Comments and I will answer them. I will also grant wishes, but first you must find a stray cat and feed them.

* * * * *
I fed the three strays downstairs and here’s a wish. I wish Lin-Manuel Miranda would do a benefit concert of West Side Story for Puerto Rican relief. With Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, everyone.

A Possessed Chorus: A review of Tanghalang Pilipino’s Ang Pag-uusig (The Crucible) by Deo Giga

October 20, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Theatre No Comments →

Sinapiang Koro (A Possessed Chorus)
by Deo Giga

Sa mga huling sandali ng pelikulang The Crucible, maaalalang may pagka-sentimentál ang tagpo sa pagitan nina John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) at ang may-bahay nitong si Elizabeth Proctor (Joan Allen). O lubhang sentimentál nga naman; tila layunin lamang ng pelikula na magpaiyak. Natatandaan kong puspos ng luha at hinagpis at pagpapaalam ang mga saglit na iyon—ngunit hindi sa paraang malamhing o nakasusuya o walang-kabuluhang sentimiyento lamang. Humantong sa ganoon ang pelikula mula sa sali-salimuot at makahulugang mga tagpo. Hindi ito tearjerker lamang. At lalong hindi ito pantasyang tulad ng The Craft na tungkol sa kulam at salamangka. Naalala ko rin kung gaano ako napoot at mabilis na humusga sa tinawag ko noong kakitiran ng pag-iisip ng mga “kontrabida.”

Kasalukuyang itinatanghal sa CCP “Ang Pag-uusig,” isang pagsasalin ng dulang The Crucible ni Arthur Miller sa Tagalog. Nilayon ni Miller na magpatungkol ang dula sa mga kalagayang pulitikal noon, lalo na ang McCarthyism (ang pagpaparatang ng kaliluhan sa bansa na walang sapat na katibayan).

Ayon mismo sa kanya, malimit matanghal ang dula sa Latin America, “just before a dictatorship is about to take over—as a warning—and just after one has been overthrown, as a reminder (bago magsimula ang isang napipintong diktadurya—bilang babala—at pagkatapos maigupo ito, bilang paalala).”