Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Childhood’

Grimm and Grimmer

February 08, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Childhood 7 Comments →

Grimm and Grimmer

On the left, Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales, translator uncredited, published by Barnes & Noble in 2012. Nice dark green faux-leather binding, gilt-edged paper of the kind used for bibles. Gorgeous full-color endpapers, gold ribbon page marker, and best of all, the classic illustrations by Arthur Rackham. 722 pages, 211 stories, with an introduction by Jane Yolen.

On the right, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, a new English version by Philip Pullman. Regular cardboard hardcover, dust jacket cover art, newsprint paper (of a better quality but still newsprint). No endpapers, no illustrations. 405 pages, 50 stories, with an introduction by Philip Pullman. There’s also a brief commentary by Pullman at the end of each tale, citing sources and alternate versions.

They cost about the same, Php1,100 at National Bookstores. Your choice depends on whether you are an Arthur Rackham or Philip Pullman fan.

The Frog King illustration by Arthur Rackham.

In the green book, The Frog King starts like this:

In olden times when wishing still helped one, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face.

In the Pullman translation, the complete title is The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich.

In the olden times, when wishing still worked, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful; but the youngest daughter was so lovely that even the sun, who has seen many things, was struck with wonder every time he shone on her face.

Who is Iron Heinrich? He appears in both versions—in the green book he is called Faithful Henry—as the frog king’s faithful servant.

…when he’d learned that his master had been changed into a frog, he was so dismayed that he went straight to the blacksmith and ordered three iron bands to put around his heart to stop it bursting with grief.

goes the Pullman translation.

Faithful Henry had been so unhappy when his master was changed into a frog that he had caused three iron bands to be laid round his heart, lest it should burst with grief and sadness.

says the older translation.

Both versions differ from the one we remember having heard countless times while growing up. The princess never has to kiss the frog; on the contrary she picks him up and throws him at the wall, and when he lands he is a handsome human prince. We don’t recall ever hearing of Iron Heinrich/Faithful Henry. If there’s a love story here, it’s between the enchanted prince and his loyal servant; the princess is just a brat who gets lucky.

Where did the frog-kissing business come from? Who told little girls that if they kissed enough frogs they might land a prince? Who tacked on that “moral lesson”: She was nice to the slimy amphibian so she was rewarded! Wheee! They need to get their asses kicked.

Customer service guys, read this.

January 24, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood, Money 8 Comments →

Lego Ultra-Sonic Raider. Thanks to Jackie for the alert. We remember how upsetting it was to lose parts of our toys so we really like this story.

From Forbes: Seven-year-old Luka Apps spent his Christmas money on the LEGO Ninjago Ultra Sonic Raider set. Against his father’s advice, young Luka took his newly aquired Jay ZX with him when they went shopping. And then, disaster struck: the figure went missing, never to be seen again.

Luka decided to write a letter to the folks at LEGO asking for a replacement:


My name is Luka Apps and I am seven years old.

With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kit of the Ultrasonic Raider. The number is 9449. It is really good.

My Daddy just took me to Sainsburys and told me to leave the people at home but I took them and I lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat.

I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you a email to see if you will send me another one.

I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.



Mr. Looper

October 18, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood, Television 4 Comments →

We can’t hear “Looper” without thinking of “Mr. Looper”, which is what Big Bird called the old storekeeper on Sesame Street (“It’s Hooper! Hooper!”). When Will Lee, the actor who played Mr. Hooper, died, the producers decided that no one would replace him and that it was time young viewers learned one of the basic truths of life: Death. Three decades later this episode still makes us reach for the tissues.

This is intelligent children’s television, free of the superstitious-sentimental drivel that infests the mass media. That’s probably why Mitt Romney wants Big Bird and company fired.

After we stop blowing our nose we’re off to watch Looper.

Death by Boobies

August 25, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood, Psychology 9 Comments →

From Emotional Weather Report, our column every Sunday in the Philippine Star

Blue-footed boobies are a boon to conservationists. How can you argue with a slogan like “Save the Boobies”?

My friend and I were talking about the sense of guilt and how we blame ourselves for things that are not even our fault. Being of a control freakish disposition, we regard accidents and random occurrences as things we could have prevented. When something goes wrong, we assume that we’d been careless. Yes, we expect ourselves to be psychic.

In contrast, corrupt politicians are apparently incapable of guilt or the slightest sense of responsibility. They seem blissfully unaware that what they’re doing is wrong. If they are, they have the uncanny ability to forgive themselves.

The sense of guilt is probably acquired in childhood, when the most casual remarks from our parents are engraved on our psyche. For instance, mothers often tell their children that giving birth ruined their figure. Even if they’re joking, their kids won’t forget it. (Of course the church lays the first and biggest guilt trip on its flock via the doctrine of original sin. You can’t escape the guilt. You’re doomed.)

When I was a kid my mother used to say that her breasts were my fault. (She died ten years ago but she used to tell these stories to everyone so I have permission to repeat them.) My mother was one of those extremely well-endowed women whose boobs walked into a room a full minute before she did. Shopping for brassieres in the era before globalization and open markets was hell: none of the products in department stores could give her the cantilevering she wanted. For that kind of lift she would’ve needed the jet propulsion lab at NASA.

So my mother waged a losing war against gravity, and I was to blame. Apparently her 42Ds had held up well enough until I was born, whereupon they began to sag. She had plenty of milk so I didn’t have to ingest a single drop of infant formula.

Unfortunately when my teeth started growing, I rejected rubber teething toys and used her nipples instead. In her description I had almost bitten through them, so they were hanging on by a sliver of skin. Not only that, but I was supposed to have amused myself by clamping my teeth on her flesh and pulling it in every direction. While this was happening, she said, I would cackle madly, like an overacting Damien the child in The Omen. Imagine a rubber band that is stretched until it loses its elasticity. That’s what happened to her boobs, she said—not time, not gravity, not genetics, but me.

The boobies tried to retaliate by killing me.

According to family legend, when I was six months old my mother’s breasts attempted to murder me. Not by poisoning or asphyxiation, but drowning. My mother was lying in bed, breastfeeding me, when she fell asleep. I continued feeding, and when I’d had my fill I turned away. The milk kept leaking, and soon there was a pool of milk on the bed. When my mother woke up, the puddle was almost touching my nostrils—if I’d moved my head an inch, I would’ve suffocated in milk. Death by boobies.

What is the point of this story? None, really, except to note that our personalities are formed in childhood. The tiniest details and offhand remarks take root in the memory and never go away. These are the things that make us what we are. Yikes.

Our breakfast every single day for 7 years

July 27, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood, Food 5 Comments →

Kaya toast set at Toastbox: Coffee with condensed milk, toast with butter and coco jam, two soft-boiled eggs. Their service has improved.

A soft-boiled egg and a glass of milk.
A soft-boiled egg and a glass of milk.
A soft-boiled egg and a glass of milk.
A soft-boiled egg and a glass of milk.
A soft-boiled egg and a glass of milk.

Every single morning from prep to sixth grade. Our mother was a firm believer in protein. 22 school days a month, 220 school days a year for 7 years: that’s 1,540 egg and milk breakfasts, enough eggs for a lifetime. The second we started high school we not only gave up soft-boiled eggs, we rejected breakfast altogether.

Recently we noticed that whenever we do have breakfast it includes eggs. Can’t fight early programming. Yesterday Ige took us to breakfast at Benny’s at Rustan’s supermarket. The Eggs Benedict is not bad at Php265, and they have a wide breakfast selection. We prefer the restaurant’s old name, though: Yum Yum Tree.

Abel at Kain

July 17, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Childhood 1 Comment →

We finally got the hand-woven abel iloko bag we’d been coveting. Rene designed it as a maternity bag for the artist Pam Yan Santos—lots of inner pockets for holding bottles, diapers and other baby stuff mommies have to think about. Well we refuse to walk around carrying a maternity bag so Rene had to think of a proper name for it. The bag’s interior looks like this.

“Very Georgia O’Keefe,” he observed.

So this bag is called the Georgia O’Keefe, Georgia O’Keps for short.

Thanks to our loud and regular badgering Rene has come up with new designs.

This is obviously The Matrix. Or the Keanu Reeves. And when you want to look at a different print, it’s reversible.

Rene explained that abel is the generic term for the rough hand-woven fabric produced by artisans in the Ilocos region. Inabel is the process, and binakol is the Op Art-like weave pattern that’s been handed down for generations.

This design in abel and denim doesn’t have a name yet, so for now we’re referring to it as the Ewan McGregor. Because hearing Ewan McGregor’s name brings an automatic smile to the people who know who Ewan McGregor is. (Also, we’re thinking of ordering a kilt made of abel.)

There are only 6-12 pieces of each design. The Georgia O’Keefe costs Php2,500; the Keanu and the Ewan Php1,200 each. For orders and inquiries email

After examining the bags we went to Chez Carine in Serendra for coffee and pastry. Our friends have been Chez-Carine-this, Chez-Carine-that all week so we had to try it for ourselves.

We were extremely pleased with the Muscovado Pudding served in little jars.

Our cats were extremely pleased with the abel bags. After rubbing their faces on the fabric for several minutes they promptly fell asleep on them. Cats love abel—must be the texture of the cloth.

Koosi appropriated the Georgia and an abel blanket (last piece of the white, no longer in stock, but there are queen-size bankies in white/beige and black/white combinations).

There will be an Inabel exhibition opening at Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo on 29 July at 3pm. We’ll post the invitation.