Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

What TV shows do CEOs watch? Deutschland 83, Narcos and others

September 28, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Television

Based on these recommendations, I looked up Deutschland 83, a German mini-series by Anna and Joerg Winger that aired on the Sundance channel. I started watching the first episode late at night, which was a terrible mistake because it makes a compelling argument for abandoning sleep.

Deutschland 83 invites comparison with The Americans: both shows are set in the early 1980s and their protagonists are Communist moles working in the West. They also feature a lot of pop music from the ’80s, though Deutschland 83 leans towards the cheerful Eurotrashy synth-pop that was presumably popular behind the Iron Curtain. The opening theme is “Major Tom,” Peter Schilling’s tinny rejoinder to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” and if you guessed that Nena’s “99 Luftballons” would be in there, how clever you are. On the other hand, the show also uses New Order and The Cure, and you can guess what happens next based on the musical cues. (They’re playing “Our love’s in jeopardy”… could it be that their love is in jeopardy?)

Read our TV column The Binge at BusinessWorld.

9 years, 9 stories: Travel, music, and world domination

September 27, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Music, Travel Diary: Turkey, Traveling, World Domination Update

From 2013: Turkey Travel Diary, featuring some of the handsomest cats we’ve ever seen


From 2008: Sad, Sadder, Saddest, in which we wound up at a “Lost 80s” concert.

Either all the ticket-holders had already gone inside, or they were all late, because there were no queues of any sort. Ernie went up to some people standing by the flower beds and asked them if they needed tickets.

Sad: They all said, “Hindi kami manonood niyan (We’re not watching that),” with matching expressions of loathing.
Sadder: A woman glared at Ernie and said, “I already have tickets.” What she meant was, “Extra tickets to an 80s concert is a problem I don’t need.”
Saddest: Later, Grungella realized that they probably mistook Ernie for a scalper.
Positively funereal: Being mistaken for a scalper to A Flock Of Seagulls show.
Lugubrious: They literally could not give the tickets away!

World Domination
From 2012: Let’s Buy Spain. We can afford it, it would be our revenge for three centuries of colonial oppression, and we can call them our muchachos and muchachas.

9 years, 9 stories: Game of Thrones in Tagalog

September 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Contest

From 2013: A Translation of Ice and Fire

You win or you die from A Game of Thrones, translated by japz20

Takipsilim nang magtagpo sila ng reyna, habang nagsisimula pa lamang mamula ang kalangitan. Mag-isa lamang ito, alinsunod sa hiling nya. Ngayon lang nya nakitang payak ang bihis ng reyna, botang balat at simpleng luntiang gayak. Nang tanggalin nya ang kanyang talukbong, nakita ni Ned ang pasa na bakas ng sampal ng hari. Nabawasan na ang pangingitim at humupa na ang pamamaga, ngunit hindi maikakaila kung ano ito.

“Bakit dito?” tanong ni Cersei Lannister.

“Para nakikita tayo ng mga diyos.”
Read the rest of this entry →

9 years, 9 stories: 100 Books, 2015 edition

September 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books

Fjærland, Norway – the Norwegian booktown (bokbyen)

The Once and Future King, T.H. White
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
Anecdotes of Destiny, Isak Dinesen
The Stories of John Cheever
The Ashenden Stories by W. Somerset Maugham
Dune, Frank Herbert
Read the rest of this entry →

9 years, 9 stories: 9 winners of the LitWit Challenge

September 22, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest

One of our regular features is the LitWit Challenge, in which we furnish a situation, premise or photograph, and the participants develop it into a story of 1,000 words or more. This contest has generated a lot of good stuff over the years—bizarre, hilarious, absurd, inventive, moving, filthy, and always extremely readable. This is our core audience: the nerds, the weirdos, the people who carry entire galaxies in their heads.

What follows is a selection of stories written by our readers. It’s interesting to view them as standalone pieces outside of the contests. There are dozens more that we could feature, but these are the first ones that popped up in our not-very-thorough search through the archive. We really should put a book out. Remind us of your favorite stories in Comments.

Thanks to National Bookstore, which has supported the LitWit Challenge since its inception.

We can’t think of proper illustrations for the stories, so if anyone has suggestions or feels like doing visuals, email them to

1. Agalmatophilia by Qsdn

September 22, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest

Anne Tamondong
Illustration: Watercolor on paper by Anne Tamondong

Published 15 Sept 2010

We walked together in this hallway, and sat on this self-same Persian runner, gazing into space, saying sweet nothings, making love. Yet, love was forbidden between the two of us and quickly I became your Romeo, and you, my sweet Juliet. We kept our secret hidden, yet I couldn’t resist. I bought you the latest fashion, dressing you up like a queen one second, and wantonly removing it in bursts of lust the next. This was our downfall. Your nubile body was always in my thoughts, fueling fantasies beyond the ordinary. You couldn’t take the strength of my desire nor the unquenchable lust I felt for you and one day, as a cradled you in my arms, the heat rising in my body, you fell apart.
Read the rest of this entry →