Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Remembering the lovely Anton Yelchin

June 22, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies

from Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
by William Wordsworth

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Penny Dreadful comes to an end. Where do we get our Victorian Gothic weirdo fix now?

June 22, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Television

Only watch this video after you’ve seen the final episode.

Is there any heroine in Victorian horror fiction or outside it who has worse taste in men than Vanessa Ives? Yet that is one of the reasons why we love her. Apart from the fact that she is portrayed by Eva Green, who is so awesome she needs no CGI. She needs no co-stars, actually, and the show acknowledged that by giving her a one-woman acting showcase every season. Though her co-stars are fabulous: the ageless Timothy Dalton, Rory Kinnear who gave the Creature a touching humanity, Harry Treadaway as the disturbed genius Frankenstein, the beautiful Josh Hartnett in a role that really suited him. Billie Piper, so grating in the first season, was great in her final scene in the third. Patti Lupone came on so strong in the second season that she was brought back as a different character in the third. As the New Yorkiest alienist (what they used to call shrinks) in London, she delivered the best dismissal of Dracula: “Fuck you.”

Tempting to campaign for a fourth season—the material has even more ways to resurrect the departed than Game of Thrones does—but this is how the creators always envisioned the end and we have to respect that. On the other hand, any of the characters could star in a spinoff…

Great books, fabulous tchotchkes, ridiculously low prices at our Bookshelf Sale on Saturday, 25 June.

June 21, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements

BookSALE 1

This silver teapot is perfect for your Downton Abbey cosplay. Remember to let it tarnish slightly because anything that looks too new is tacky.

We have no idea who this is, but now you can claim him as your ancestor! “Oh yes, that’s my great-grandfather, the Viscount Harington. You know my cousin, Kit? Yes, he’s in show business, Grandmama had a conniption.”

You’ll never have vampire problems ever again with this ornate crucifix. One look and the bloodsucker will cry, “I love it! Where did you get that?”

Something artsy, something useful.

Hate wet rings on your tables? Just cover every surface with coasters.

More items to follow.

Trapped in a Beijing metaphor

June 20, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling

saffy furious

Saffy: That’s what happens when you’re away on my birthday. Saffy turned 16 last June 15.

The day after ASEAN foreign ministers took a swipe at Beijing and then took it back because the Malaysians didn’t want to offend Beijing, I found myself in a taxi in Beijing, in the middle of a quarrel that started over nothing. The quarrel was instigated by the taxi driver, compounded by our inability to understand each other’s language, and aggravated by everyone’s tendency to start yelling as if turning up the volume would bring clarity to the issue.

In short, I had landed in a metaphor.

My two colleagues and I had gone to the Circle Market to buy souvenirs and Mao kitsch. The doorman at our hotel had called a taxi for us. It was past 6pm, rush hour, and the doorman said it might be difficult for us to get a taxi back to the hotel. The fare to Circle Market was 13 Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY, the exchange rate today being PHP7.07 to CNY1).

Circle Market looks like Virra Mall in the 90s. I was kicking myself for overpaying for a Vladimir Putin T-shirt for my sister that I could probably get cheaper in Greenhills, but I was in a hurry. Also, I just wanted the seller to get out of my face. We got our shopping done in an hour. There was a taxi on the curb, so we piled in and showed him the hotel card. So far, everything was fine.

A few blocks from the hotel, our companion, who was the designated wallet, noted that the fare on the meter was already CNY28, more than twice what we’d paid earlier. The route had not seemed longer this time around. “Maybe there’s a rush hour surcharge?” I said, not wanting to assume that we were being cheated, though the evidence was right there. Also I did not feel like having an argument in sign language.

A block from the hotel, the taxi driver stopped, pointed to the meter, and said, “Give me 100.”

Keep reading

From the BBC: South China Sea: The mystery of missing books and maritime claims

Mrs. Christ? Did Jesus have a wife? Did Dan Brown get something right?

June 19, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: History


(Historian Karen L.) King called the business-card-size papyrus “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” But even without that provocative title, it would have shaken the world of biblical scholarship. Centuries of Christian tradition are bound up in whether the scrap is authentic or, as a growing group of scholars contends, an outrageous modern fake: Jesus’s bachelorhood helps form the basis for priestly celibacy, and his all-male cast of apostles has long been cited to justify limits on women’s religious leadership. In the Roman Catholic Church in particular, the New Testament is seen as divine revelation handed down through a long line of men—Jesus, the 12 apostles, the Church fathers, the popes, and finally the priests who bring God’s word to the parish pews today.

King showed the papyrus to a small group of media outlets in the weeks before her announcement—The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and both Smithsonian magazine and the Smithsonian Channel—on the condition that no stories run before her presentation in Rome. Smithsonian assigned me a long feature, sending me to see King at Harvard and then to follow her to Rome. I was the only reporter in the room when she revealed her find to colleagues, who reacted with equal parts fascination and disbelief.

Read Did Jesus Have A Wife?

Back from Beijing

June 18, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling

Random snapshots while I recover from a week of trudging from one site to another.


Fried scorpions! Not.


Fat cat in a houtong.


The Condom People. L-R: Edna Abong and Lucien Dy Tioco of the Philippine Star, our director Pepe Diokno.


Ooh la la.


The antique market. Where being duped is part of the experience. I found a Victorian brass mariner’s telescope that may be overpriced and fake but I like it.


Sleeping cat at a gallery at 789.

And of course we looked at maps. Ancient maps. Lots of ancient maps.