Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘History’

Excite your synapses with this Essential Playlist of Early Music

January 26, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Music 2 Comments →

From my classmates I picked up indie rock, and from musician friends I picked up jazz (Hard bop, so I was thrilled to meet Patrick de K, whose mom was the patron of Thelonious Monk and other greats). From my audiophile friend I learned this specialized burn: “Eh, that’s a lifestyle product.”

When I got my first apartment I had two housemates: one loved Broadway, and one collected recordings of early music (“classical” from 1600-1800). So I got to know the work of Stephen Sondheim, but I’ve never done a deep dive into early music. Recently I discovered that the albums he ordered from European record companies are all available online on music streaming sites. No more excuses—time to plug in the gaps in my education.

I asked Leo to make a list of essential early music, say 25 works. Little did I know that the resulting playlist would come to almost 40 hours of early music. Listen to these playlists and feed your dendrites.

Early Music Essential Playlist: Orchestral


Start the working week with Seneca the Stoic

September 04, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History, Notebooks 4 Comments →

Read Seneca on the Antidote to Anxiety in Brain Pickings.

From 100 Days of Overthinking by Maria Sanoja

Dear Moleskine,

As a loyal Moleskine user I am dismayed that your recent Limited Edition notebooks (Avengers, Beatles, etc) are available with ruled pages only. Consider that many of the people who shell out uncomplainingly for your expensive merchandise are the sort of people who appreciate the freedom of plain, unlined pages. I am close to deserting Moleskine for Leuchtturm 1917 or those Romeo spiral notebooks by Itoya, both of which have pristine, heavier paper. Only habit and my preference for seeing rows and rows of notebooks of the same height but differently-colored spines (and your flat-opening pages) keep me faithful. Will it kill you to put out a few Rolling Stones Moleskines with plain pages?


If you want to read a novel about Dunkirk…

July 24, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History 2 Comments →

(One-fifth of a novel, to be exact.)

Dunkirk is a big, impressive, very accomplished film about an event little known outside of Britain. I leave you to read the critics spraining their fingers to praise it, many of them using the K-comparison, which almost certainly guarantees a backlash.

I did not know about the Dunkirk evacuations until I read Ian McEwan’s Atonement, in which Robbie Turner, who is imprisoned on the false testimony of the child protagonist, is let out of jail when he volunteers for the army. The middle chapters of the novel follow Robbie and other stragglers as they try to make it out of the town and to the sea, where they hope to board the ships that will take them home. It’s an elegant portrait of chaos and fear.

A real-life monster tale: The Beast of Gevaudan

June 28, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History No Comments →

The beast was known for killing mostly women and children, who would’ve been easier targets. (Musée Fantastique de la Bête du Gévaudan)

The monster’s first victim was Jeanne Boulet, a 14-year-old girl watching her sheep. Her death was followed by others, almost exclusively women and children. Throughout 1764, the brutal attacks—victims with their throats torn out or heads gnawed off—riveted France. The violence was so shocking, news of it traveled from the countryside all the way to the royal palace in Versailles. What was this beast of Gévaudan, and who could stop its reign of terror?

It sounded like a fairy tale monster, but no one imagined marrying it.

Read When the Beast of Gevaudan Terrorized France.

Remember The Brotherhood of the Wolf with Mark Dacascos as the Native American companion of the knight sent to capture the beast?

Now I have to read some Angela Carter.

My father lost me to The Beast at cards.

Read The Tiger’s Bride.

Albert Einstein on our mightiest weapon

June 19, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, History, Science No Comments →

In a long life I have devoted all my faculties to reach a somewhat deeper insight into the structure of physical reality. Never have I made any systematic effort to ameliorate the lot of men, to fight injustice and suppression, and to improve the traditional forms of human relations. The only thing I did was this: in long intervals I have expressed an opinion on public issues whenever they appeared to me so bad and unfortunate that silence would have made me feel guilty of complicity.

Read about Einstein and the duties of the individual in Brain Pickings.

The Lost City of Z: Meanwhile, another Amazon casts a spell

June 08, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History, Movies No Comments →