Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for January, 2018

We love The Shape of Water for the same reason many people don’t: because it is truly freaky.

January 31, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →

Some see a bizarre fairy tale about a mute woman who falls in love with a fish-man, in which the lovers DON’T get transformed into beautiful humans. But that’s the point. Guillermo Del Toro tells us that they’re ALREADY beautiful. (Something terrible happens to a cat, but we understand it in the context of the tale.)

In reminding us of the power of film to transform the drudgery of our lives, it calls to mind The Purple Rose of Cairo. (I know, I know, its creator. That doesn’t diminish the movie.)

Excite your synapses with this Essential Playlist of Early Music

January 26, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Music 2 Comments →

From my classmates I picked up indie rock, and from musician friends I picked up jazz (Hard bop, so I was thrilled to meet Patrick de K, whose mom was the patron of Thelonious Monk and other greats). From my audiophile friend I learned this specialized burn: “Eh, that’s a lifestyle product.”

When I got my first apartment I had two housemates: one loved Broadway, and one collected recordings of early music (“classical” from 1600-1800). So I got to know the work of Stephen Sondheim, but I’ve never done a deep dive into early music. Recently I discovered that the albums he ordered from European record companies are all available online on music streaming sites. No more excuses—time to plug in the gaps in my education.

I asked Leo to make a list of essential early music, say 25 works. Little did I know that the resulting playlist would come to almost 40 hours of early music. Listen to these playlists and feed your dendrites.

Early Music Essential Playlist: Orchestral


Ursula K. Le Guin, 88. Her words will always be with us.

January 24, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

You will see many obituaries today describing Ursula K. Le Guin as a science-fiction and fantasy author. That is an inadequate description. Ursula K. Le Guin was a literary master.

Read this story and understand the bargains we make with ourselves to ensure our comfort and security. Make your friends read it. Spread it all over the social media. Then let us all walk away from Omelas.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
by Ursula Le Guin

With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the city Omelas, bright-towered by the sea. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags. In the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old moss-grown gardens and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved. Some were decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and grey, grave master workmen, quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked. In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance.

Read The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.

Sign up for our Writing Boot Camp at the BenCab Museum in Baguio, March 17-18

January 21, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Books, Workshops 3 Comments →

Email for details.

Our recent books are now available online.

Each book costs Php350. Free shipping nationwide if you buy both books. Offer good till 28 February 2018. Order now through

And now you can buy them on Lazada!
Buy Geeks vs Jocks here, and The Stories So Far here.

Alan Hollinghurst’s The Sparsholt Affair is his warmest, funniest novel, and a masterpiece.

January 19, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

If you can’t wait till it appears in local bookstores, it’s available at online bookstores.

My friend and I have this game in which we cast the roles in a film adaptation.

“Armie Hammer as David Sparsholt.”
“Too American. Henry Cavill.”
“Armie can learn a British accent.”
“Henry is already British.”
And so on.

“We still believe in free speech, the world just needs a new theory of it.”

January 19, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Language, Technology No Comments →

The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out. They look like epidemics of disinformation, meant to undercut the credibility of valid information sources. They look like bot-fueled campaigns of trolling and distraction, or piecemeal leaks of hacked materials, meant to swamp the attention of traditional media.

Read It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech by Zeynep Tufekci in Wired. Then read the entire issue: Free Speech, Tech Turmoil, and the New Censorship.