Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Childhood’

The no-scoop perpetual sifting litterbox

February 09, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Childhood No Comments →

Consisting of three identical stacked trays, this aesthetically pleasing litter box just needs you to lift the top tray to separate the waste from the clean, useable litter, which would fall into the tray beneath and be ready to use again. After throwing the waste away, simply turn the top tray around and place it at the bottom of the stack and you are done.

Not only is this an incredibly easy and quick way to clean out a litter box, it is also a method that ensures zero wastage as you would never have to throw away clean cat litter again.

Read about it at DesignTaxi.

Thanks to Noel for the alert. At dinner the other night he reminded us of that soap ad where the model takes a leaf and slathers half of it with lotion. Then she crushes the dry half and says, “See how it crumbles?” The slathered half doesn’t, ergo buy the soap. (Somebody send us that ad.)

That commercial used to drive our Physics teacher nuts. “What kind of experiment is that! It has no control group!”

In our section freshman year there was this guy who used to move his head from side to side constantly, like an Indian dancer, and our Physics teacher said, “What’s wrong with you? You look like the dog at the back of the car!”

Garage of Dreams

June 22, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Childhood, Design No Comments →


In a repurposed garage in a city not very far away (Cebu), Johanna Velasco Deutsch, Mark Deutsch and their team make stuff.


Such as their rendition of a certain seat of power. Instead of swords melted by dragonfire and surfaces so sharp they caused the derrieres of kings to bleed, they fashioned a comfy chair from old action figures, toy cars, Lego bricks, Viewmasters, and plastic animals.


They do animation, design, illustration, painting, sculpture, toys and photography. Coming up: an alphabet book in Bisaya.


Under the glass are 364 pictures they took, one a day, for a year.


They pay tribute to our feline overlords and encourage people to drink better coffee. Their work is delightful without being self-consciously cute.

Visit them at Happy You can also check out their work for the Four Seasons Marrakesh and Raffles Seychelles.

This week we pay tribute to our favorite teachers.

June 02, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Childhood 5 Comments →

Linus classroom

We’re a little confused as to when school starts exactly, but this is as good a time as any to think about the teaching profession. If life were fair, teachers would be the highest-paid professionals in the world. Their job isn’t to cram young people’s minds with information they can regurgitate on command, it’s to teach these young people how to use their minds. They deserve our highest admiration, an admiration which society chooses to lavish on celebrity dimwits.

As in any profession there are good teachers and there are bad teachers. There are teachers who inspire you to reach your aspirations, and there are teachers who try to mock you because you’re smarter than they are. There are teachers who forego lucrative careers in other fields in order to guide ungrateful jerks like ourselves, and there are teachers whose families traded the family carabao to buy them a teaching position because they’re too inept to get a job. And there are teachers who imprint themselves on our minds, whose influence on our lives goes beyond classrooms and report cards.

To mark the start of another schoolyear, we’re paying tribute to our favorite teachers. We invite you to tell us about the teachers who made a real impact on your lives. Post your tributes in Comments. We’ll start.

* * * * *

“Misery” does not begin to describe our four years in high school: we were so unhappy that we hid in the least-used girls’ bathroom in order to avoid all human contact and read books in peace. The horror began to ease only in our fourth year, when we became editor-in-chief of the school paper for a second term. As the school was focused on science and math, literature and the humanities were almost an afterthought in the curriculum. We recommend that anyone who intends to go into literature and the arts attend a science high school: if you can survive having your ego crushed on a daily basis, if you can maintain your resolve despite constant reminders that what you want is not allowed by the system, then you are prepared for the writing life.

In senior year, our Literature teacher was Mrs. Helen Ladera. She was elegant, straightforward, and formidable. The passing grade for Literature may have been lower than that of Chemistry and Calculus, but her teaching standards were consistently high. She demanded the best of her students, and for this she was considered a terror by some. She welcomed and enjoyed unorthodox interpretations of class assignments as long as these interpretations were well-argued.

At the beginning of the schoolyear, she gave us a list of novels from which we could choose four to write papers about. It was this list that introduced us to Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Augie March. For some reason she thought we might be interested in a book about Babi Yar, and now that we think about it, this kicked off our interest in Russian literature. She praised us when we did good work, and called us out when we were being jerks, like the time we wrote a wall news editorial asking why we had to take the national college entrance exams when they were so easy.

The word we used was “chickens**t” and she was not amused; we argued, unsuccessfully, that we meant chickensuit, chickenspot, chickenslut, etc. Excessive pride must be punctured early lest the student become an insufferable adult, but the response should be calibrated so that the student’s confidence is not damaged permanently. Even when she was reprimanding us, she never talked down to us. She explained that the issue was not fact, but respect and humility. She did not spew threats as lazy teachers might; she treated us as intelligent humans.

Thank you, Mrs. Helen Ladera. You were badass, and we mean that most respectfully.

By Jove, Thor and Toutatis! and other childhood cusswords

March 18, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Childhood 1 Comment →


Supposedly all women turn into their mothers, and we thought we were spared because we don’t have children (never liked them, even as a child), but we live with cats and the youngest, Drogon, can be a pain. He’s extremely affectionate and hyperactive, and the other night while jumping from our desk he upset a cup of coffee over the papers we were reading and we found ourself uttering an oath we haven’t heard since childhood, when our mother said it.

Lilintianan! That’s Bicolano for “Lightning strike”. She also said Babagratan a lot—that means “Thunder!” (Our ancestors came from the volcano; that’s all the Bicolano we have left.) Which is like saying “By Jove!” or “By Toutatis!” Basically it’s “Hala, kukunin ka ni Thor!” (Yes, please.)

Every movie we see #6: The Babadook is a Bring Your Own Monsters horror feast.

January 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood, Movies 2 Comments →

3. Torn Curtain. In one of the Hitchcocks we’d never seen, Paul Newman plays an American nuclear scientist who is apparently defecting to East Germany. His plan is nearly foiled when his sniveling secretary/fiancee Julie Andrews thinks he really is defecting and follows him to East Berlin.

“Somehow we couldn’t believe Paul Newman was a nuclear scientist,” we told Noel. “Hitchcock must’ve known it, too, because when Newman writes equations on the blackboard he doesn’t show them.”

“But if Paul Newman circa 1965 looked at you, would you believe it?” Noel said.

“We’d nominate him for a Nobel Prize. May tao palang walang chemistry with Paul Newman: si Julie Andrews. He had more chemistry with Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy.”

“And Marlon Brando!” Noel reminded us. Look it up.

4. The Shop Around The Corner. This jewel by Ernst Lubitsch, the template for every single romantic comedy in which the lovers hate each other at first sight, has never been surpassed.

5. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Our sister was flummoxed when our 8-year-old niece told her, “Mommy, Frozen is sooo last year.”

“Why?” we asked. “What is It this year?”

“My point is, she said ‘sooo last year’.

“Then show her the Indiana Jones movies and tell her they’re sooo 30 years ago.”

“I’m afraid she won’t enjoy them and I’ll weep.”

6. The Babadook

There’s a monster in The Babadook, a creature out of a children’s storybook that looks like a coat and hat hanging on a rack. It’s not that scary, but after the Australian director Jennifer Kent has had a half-hour to mess with your head, you’ll be primed to jump at every knock on the door. Like the most effective horror movies, The Babadook provides the plot and atmosphere and lets the viewers scare themselves. Bring Your Own Monsters! The result is a clever and visceral horror feast, a compendium of terrors beginning with the one that cannot be named: the fear of not loving your child.

If anyone knows when The Babadook will open in local theatres, give us a holler and we’ll do a full review.

“Dear Satan”–this is what happens to children who can’t spell

December 23, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood No Comments →

Each year, due mostly to minor misspellings and very poor penmanship, hundreds of children’s letters are sent to Satan, Dark Lord of the Underworld. Always in the market for the souls of innocents, Satan will often take the time to respond.

Dear Satan,

What I really want this year more than anything is a Barbie Dream House. It’s pretty and pink and I will keep it in my room near my bed!

Merry Christmas,

Allison, Age 6



It really should go without saying, but I will not be getting you this so-called dream house because I, of course, do not want to. But I will suggest this: buy it yourself. Simply take two or three dollars from your mom or dad’s wallet each day (adults never know the exact amount they have) and soon enough you’ll have your useless and silly miniature house. (Although, really, it’s Barbie’s body you should be working to attain.)

Why you and so many others feel the need to tell me your age is something that will forever baffle me.


Satan, Infinite

Read it at The New Yorker.

And now, Thor vs Santa! (A historical grudge match, Santa Claus being based largely on Thor the god of thunder. What a gyp, Chris Hemsworth could be turning up at our houses on Xmas eve.)