Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Scenes from the history of medicine

July 18, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books, History


The Wellcome Library, London has made a thousand years of historical images relating to the history of medicine available free to the public.

Images from Wellcome Library, London

For news on works of art, music and literature in the public domain, visit The Public Domain Review.

Weird Al, Grammar Police

July 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Language, Music

“Police”, singular, like they used it in The Wire. A show we loved just a few years ago, which now feels like the distant past.

Thanks to Ricky for the alert.

Somewhere Marvin Gaye is laughing.

The Pinoy-ness of Crime and Punishment

July 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies

We hope you, your animals, and your trees are all right after Typhoon Glenda, which left vast swaths of Metro Manila looking like a botanical apocalypse.

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norte 4
Watch Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian: Why Norte, The End of History is the one film you should watch this week.

From reading so many reviews of Norte in the American and British media (Best blurb so far, from Time Out London: “The summer movie equivalent of the World Cup Final”), all of which mention Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, we had to read C&P again.

We have not read Crime and Punishment in a decade, but we remember being struck by the Pinoy-ness of it: the self-pitying and self-dramatizing, the sudden bursts of violence and the random bursts of goodness. Why should we care so much about these drunken, mad, feverishly overthinking, neurotic perhaps schizophrenic, strangely sympathetic characters? Because if we can understand them, maybe we can understand ourselves.

It’s not an easy read. Periodically one feels like throwing this doorstop-sized book at its author and its many characters with names that take days to pronounce. You do not read Dostoevsky to escape from the mayhem of life, but to drown in it.

And from reading Crime and Punishment, we want to watch Norte again.

(Is Norte eligible for the Oscars? It would have to be selected by the Film Academy as the official Philippine entry. To be eligible for consideration, the film needs a commercial theatrical run of at least one week.)

Some years ago Penguin put out great novels with blank covers so you could make your own.

to be continued

The unfinished films of Stanley Kubrick

July 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies

Cavite Caviar

July 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places


From Sonny Lua at Asiong’s in Cavite City: Huevos de Pescao in Tinta de Choko), fish eggs in squid ink, or bottarga al nero. Eat it on toast and you’ll feel like the Tsar. Before the revolutionaries showed up. Unfortunately it’s available only at Asiong’s in Cavite City (Sonny, you really need an outlet in Metro Manila). We get our supply from Ige Ramos, who organizes food tours to Cavite. If you want to join a food tour and try Cavite delicacies like quesillo and pansit pusit, send Ige a personal message on his Facebook page.

A.V. Club’s Best Films of 2014 (so far) cites Norte

July 15, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies


Best no-budget aerial footage: Norte, The End Of History
Norte, The End Of History, Lav Diaz’s four-hour yarn about guilt and transcendence in the modern-day Philippines, is the director’s most accessible work to date. (Accessibility is, of course, relative, especially when it comes to filmmakers best known for making nine-hour-long movies on black-and-white consumer-grade video.) Part of that is owed to the presence of an honest-to-God director of photography, Lauro Rene Manda. Shot in 2.39 widescreen, in color, and marked by long takes and glacial camera movements, Norte is easily the most conventionally handsome thing Diaz has ever put his name on. It comes as something of a shock, then, when the movie abruptly breaks its rigorous style for a dream sequence composed of no-budget aerial shots—seemingly produced by attaching a GoPro to an RC plane—that hearken back to Diaz’s handmade roots and yet look like nothing he (or any other narrative filmmaker) has done before. Camera-carrying, gimbal-mount quadcopter drones have made inroads in TV production in the last couple of years (expect to see them showing up in movies soon), but the effect Diaz achieves is rawer, and more in keeping with the spirit of the scene. It feels like an unmoored consciousness, hurtling over the landscape.

The full list is here.

The A.V. Club review: “Contemporary festival-circuit culture fetishizes long takes, but Diaz actually earns them.” Note: Wakwak is the psycho played by Soliman Cruz. The reviewer means the convict who is periodically released to do assassinations for politicians, the one who says “Ang buhay ay sumpa.”

Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan is showing on Saturday, July 19, 630 pm at Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma and on Sunday, July 20, 3pm at Alabang Town Center and Glorietta. Tickets at