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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘Books’

Make your drafts look like illuminated books.

September 01, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Notebooks, Sponsored No Comments →

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We’ve started writing a book-length memoir of our feline companions.

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We want it to be different from the two columns we write every week, so we’re not using our trusty Moleskines. For this project, we got these faux-antique notebooks by Paperblanks. The two above are reproductions of a 1688 binding adorned a la fanfare, a hand-tooled pattern edged in gilt.

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There are metal clasps holding the books shut.

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And look at the spines. They’re ready for the library.

This way if the book turns out blah, the manuscript will still be gorgeous.

Paperblanks are available at National Bookstores.

Oliver Sacks now investigating the afterlife if there is one.

August 31, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Science No Comments →

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Oliver Sacks. Photograph: Adam Scourfield/BBC/AP Photo/AP

Goodbye, Dr. Sacks. You were one of the best friends that nerds obsessed with thinking and consciousness ever had. Fortunately for us we can continue our conversation with you every time we read your books. (As many books as he wrote, there were other manuscripts that he never got around to publishing, as mentioned in his autobiography On The Move.)

Blast, too many obituaries this month.

Shakespeare’s Globe’s Hamlet: Depth takes a holiday

August 28, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Theatre No Comments →


A public service announcement from Benedict Cumberbatch, now playing Hamlet at the Barbican in London.

In truth, writing about Hamlet intimidates me. I’m afraid that Professor Wilhelmina Ramas, who taught Shakespeare at UP, will train her death stare on me and say, “No. No. Nonononono.” I had to armor myself by re-reading Shakespeare’s fan club president, Harold Bloom, who goes into such raptures over the play that I ended up even more daunted.

The Shakespeare’s Globe theatre touring production of Hamlet is designed to remove the intimidation factor and make the play audience-friendly and accessible. This it does, with great efficiency. The company composed of 12 actors and four stage managers is in the midst of a 150-country tour; the Philippines is its 125th stop. There is no set, just a curtain strung between two poles and several trunks that get moved around a lot—the stage design choreography would score high marks in a time-motion study. Actors in modified modern dress take on several roles and swap assignments for each presentation, probably to prevent them going mad from repeatedly performing a play about a guy who is either faking madness or really is mad.

Read our review of the Globe theatre’s touring production of Hamlet at BusinessWorld.

Sexing up the classics

August 17, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Design No Comments →

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Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein. . .great books that generations of students have been required to read for their edification. They’re supposed to be “good for us”, like exercise or a trip to the dentist. Nothing kills the pleasure of reading a good book faster than treating it like homework.

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What if the novels of Shelley, Bronte, Austen and company were regarded not as prerequisites for intellectual improvement, but as intended by their authors—as entertainment? What if the classics could be fun?

Pulp the Classics is a brilliant idea: taking some of the most famous works of literature and packaging them as 1950s pulp paperbacks with sensational covers, witty taglines, boldly-colored edges and fake scuff marks.

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There’s a Ryan Gosling-like Dorian Gray peering out of his portrait saying, “Hey Girl…I’d sell my soul for you!” Marilyn Monroe as Tess of the D’Urbervilles—”She’s…No Angel.” A louche Mr. Darcy, the Colin Firth version, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and the tagline, “Lock up your daughters…Darcy’s in town!”

The only cover we’re not crazy about is Wuthering Heights with Humphrey Bogart as Heathcliff. We love Bogey, but he’s not a Heathcliff.

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The series is so effective, we bought copies for the design and ended up reading Tess again. We’re looking for the edition of Dubliners whose cover is based on Reservoir Dogs.

Pulp the Classics, available at National Bookstores, Php249 apiece.

Meg Wolitzer, Matthew Quick headline Philippine Literary Festival 2015

August 13, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Books No Comments →

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Fantastic Four: They forgot the fun

August 05, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies 2 Comments →

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Questions we asked after watching Fantastic Four

1. Why is it so dark? Not dark as in “bleak and pessimistic”, but dark as in “They couldn’t turn on the lights in the studio?” Did they forget to pay the electric bill? Everything is in murky deep blue tones.

2. Why is it so serious? It’s about a botched experiment that turns the leads into a guy with stretchable limbs, an invisible girl, a guy on fire, and a pile of rocks. Does anyone see the comic possibilities inherent in the material? The filmmakers don’t. They’re too busy over-explaining their pseudo-science, preferably in the sonorous tones of Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey).

Read our column at InterAksyon.