Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Is your pet lonely? Take this quiz.

June 14, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Psychology

Drogon Targaryen-Targaryen explains the ways of the household to the new cat, Jacob Totoro Howlett.

Take the Lonely Pets Quiz.

Additional question:

When you’re at the computer:

– The cat sits on the keyboard, preventing you from typing.

– The cat immediately goes to her favorite websites.

– The cat ignores you to play with his imaginary friends.

Why Aren’t You Laughing? David Sedaris reckons with his mother’s alcoholism.

June 14, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Psychology

Any week that we find two new David Sedaris essays is a good week. The funniest memoirs deal with old pain.

The author (rear) with his sister Lisa and their mother, Sharon Sedaris.

Sober, she was cheerful and charismatic, the kind of person who could—and would—talk to anyone. Unlike our father, who makes jokes no one understands and leaves his listeners baffled and anxious to get away, it was fun to hear what our mom might come out with. “I got them laughing” was a popular line in the stories she’d tell at the end of the day. The men who pumped her gas, the bank tellers, the receptionists at the dentist’s office. “I got them laughing.” Her specialty was the real-life story, perfected and condensed. These take work, and she’d go through half a dozen verbal drafts before getting one where she wanted it. In the course of the day, the line she wished she’d delivered in response to some question or comment—the zinger—would become the line she had delivered. “So I said to him, ‘Buddy, that’s why they invented the airplane.’ ”

Read Why aren’t you laughing? in the New Yorker.

Reasons David Sedaris has been depressed lately (We know exactly how he feels)

June 12, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Current Events

Chus and I went to David Sedaris’s reading at Powerbooks Greenbelt some years ago. He was hilarious and shockingly nice. He got to the venue early and went around asking people if they wanted their books signed. We chatted about Chickenjoy. He did an impression of his sister Amy going shopping (“Buy it!”).*

David, I hope you’re feeling more cheerful. We know exactly how you feel. And you live in England now. You could go back to France…Would you like us to Fedex you some Chickenjoy?

One. It’s early September of 2015 and I’m on the island of Santorini for a literary festival. After the short reading, which takes place outdoors on a patio, the Greek audience asks questions, the first of which is, “What do you think of Donald Trump?”
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The reviews promised epic awfulness, but The Mummy is just dull.

June 11, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies

Sofia Boutella in Kingsman could slice and dice The Mummy.

I love bad movies, not for the movies themselves but for the opportunity to laugh at them. Between a movie that’s just dull and mediocre, and a movie that is full-on garbage, I choose garbage. It is hard to describe blandness without boring yourself, but mocking the truly terrible is fun. And if the awfulness comes from a major studio with a huge budget and superstars, mocking it feels like dispensing justice.

(Just the other day, I felt the black clouds hovering above my head so I put on my favorite bad movie to chase them away. The movie is The Oscar starring Stephen Boyd as a petty criminal jerk who becomes a Hollywood star, treats everyone like dirt and sets the stage for his own downfall. Harlan Ellison (!) is one of the credited writers. Watching The Oscar is like drinking liquefied jamon serrano through a straw. If you love The Oscar, too, we can hang out.)


Hollywood these days is all about franchises, and Universal was feeling left out at not having any superhero or space opera or fast car melodrama properties. What it has are monsters, so it has launched its “Dark Universe” starting with The Mummy. No, you are not having déjà vu—versions of The Mummy were made less than 20 years ago with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, and there was even a spin-off called The Scorpion King starring The Rock. The new The Mummy is about an ancient, ageless being who is out to rule the world, and who knows more about that than Tom Cruise.

If you had given Tom the Oscar for Jerry Maguire or Magnolia he might’ve had higher aspirations.

The Mummy is an evil alien who is dropped into a volcano which is then blown up with atomic bombs, scattering Thetan spirits, who then possess the souls of newborn babies—no, wait, that’s Tom’s religion. The Mummy is an Egyptian princess who makes a grab for power, and then invites the God of Death to take mortal form. Clearly, she did not think her plan through.

The Mummy opened last week and got dismal reviews. My favorite is the one that says it should be sealed in a crypt for a thousand years. Imagine my expectations—I was sharpening my tongue as I lined up for a ticket. “Mummy awakens after thousands of years to ask Tom for beauty advice!” Seriously, Tom looks younger than he did in last year’s highly enjoyable Mission Impossible: 578 and Jack Reacher: Why does this sequel exist? Tom is a couple of years older than Russell Crowe, who plays Dr. Henry Jekyll (as in Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde) and looks like his dad. (Dr. Jekyll’s office functions as the S.H.I.E.L.D.) The scariest scene in The Mummy happens near the beginning, when Russell Crowe pauses inside a cistern. For one terrifying moment, I thought he was going to sing again.

My hopes for epic badness were quickly dashed as The Mummy fell into the usual contrivances and overwrought mayhem that pass for thrills in the franchise era. It is not good, but it is not much worse than the typical big budget Hollywood drivel Transformers, Jurassic Worlds and Hunger Gamesss. What those blockbusters have that this flop does not are characters we can care about, even if our allegiance is really to the actors playing them. Sorry, Tom, charm cannot carry this.

One may argue that The Mummy is more honest than other movies because it openly admits that its ambition is to take our money for years to come. It is not about art, or love for the cinema, or the sense of wonder, its aim is purely cynical. It is devoid of spark or inspiration. It just wants us to show them the moneyyyy.

If Universal wanted a proper monster series, it could’ve just turned Penny Dreadful into a movie. It already had Amunet, the Egyptian goddess who kept trying to take over Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). It had the Wolfman, Dracula, Jekyll/Hyde, Victor Frankenstein and his creatures, Dorian Gray, and a fey Egyptologist. It had well-defined characters and a story, neither of which The Mummy can claim to have.

Forget it.

The Lost City of Z: Meanwhile, another Amazon casts a spell

June 08, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History, Movies

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Your brain is a time machine.

June 08, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books

“Time is a road without any bifurcations, intersections, exits, or turnarounds.” With that, neuroscientist Dean Buonomano sets up the meat of his new book, Your Brain is a Time Machine – and an intriguing difference between the way we animals navigate time as opposed to space.
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