Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Monsters’

How ordinary people become monsters or heroes

July 07, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Monsters 1 Comment →

Here is one of M.C. Escher’s symmetry drawings. Look at the white spaces and you see angels. Look at the dark spaces and you see devils.

It’s like humans. ‘Normal’ people turn into monsters. The person you least expect to do something courageous becomes a hero. How does this happen? The American psychologist Philip Zimbardo proposes an explanation in his TED talk from 2008.


Show me the monster

February 01, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Monsters, Movies 9 Comments →

There’s a lovely piece on Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Cronos) and his horror iconography in the New Yorker. Read it here.

Does this article put you in the mood for a little H.P. Lovecraft? Check out the H.P. Lovecraft Archive. Everything online, don’t you love the internets?

Help, all my photos are blurry.

December 12, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Men, Monsters, Rugby 152 Comments →

1. The still photo setting on my pocket video recorder is a little tricky. Please email me your photos of the Meet & Greet with Jon.
2. Jon is way cuter in person than in photos.
3. I am a midget.

Thanks to listbonne, Elle, ifrico, Jeffrey, Ruth, jules, Watermalong, the chronicler of boredom, brewhuh23, atomic_bum, and Jon for coming to the Meet & Greet at La Cuisine.

Jon has just been named captain of the Manila Nomads rugby team.

Momelia, you were sorely missed. (I didn’t read your message until I got home so we figured you’d stood us up because you were horrible haha.) Apologies to the two who didn’t join the group (I tried to murder their books), but the point of the meet & greet was for the readers to mingle, not have the waiter summon me for a private signing. It takes effort to plan these things you know.

Cacs, bomberman and winespirits, you can pick up your orders at La Cuisine.

Random matters discussed at the meet: Favorite death scenes in movies.

listbonne: John Travolta’s in Phenomenon
brewhuh23: Obi Wan-Kenobi in Star Wars
Me: Boromir in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Jon: Satine in Moulin Rouge

Meet & Greet with Jon, photo from chronicler’s camera.

Favorite Jon stories:

The Hard-Boiled Egg
The 3 Jerks Theory of Rugby, feat. “I thought _____ was a dick.”
Advice from a parent who went to UP to a son going off to college
Kazakhstan rugby
Beijing jejemon accent
Getting tackled by 2 Saunders brothers
Vision problems

Thanks to brewhuh23 for the 3 pairs of camera stud earrings! Here’s one on my giant head.

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tehanu, dibee, jeffwar314, Neogorbash, jouvs, jake, roseanna: We just got the shipping costs; the delivery charge will be about P150. Please check your email early tomorrow morning for the bank details. Thanks.


August 18, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Monsters, Places No Comments →

While writing a column about Italian brunch I remembered that I had an unread copy of The Monster of Florence, so I opened it and promptly ruined a good night’s sleep. Bad idea to start reading a true story about a serial killer who kills couples making out in parked cars—and then cuts out the woman’s vagina—at 11 pm.

The Monster of Florence murdered 16 people between 1968 and 1985, and according to authors Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, he’s still out there. Three people were arrested and convicted as the Monster, but their convictions were based on testimony that was probably manufactured, given by witnesses who were mostly unreliable, to support wacko conspiracy theories pushed by prosecutors and judges who leveraged the very high-profile case into plum official positions for themselves. Evidence that did not support the conspiracy theory (A Satanic cult hired the killers to murder couples and steal the vaginas for their black masses!) was thrown out, and a profile requested from FBI’s famous Behavioral Science Unit completely ignored.

At one point journalist Mario Spezi, who had covered the Monster from the beginning and knows more about the case than anyone besides the serial killer himself, was arrested for obstruction of justice. So the book is actually two horror stories: the bloody crimes of a serial killer, and the Stygian labyrinth of the criminal justice system.

The man whom Preston and Spezi believe is the real Monster was never tried. He continues to maintain his innocence. He is now in his early 50s (The authors say he did not commit the 1968 murders but he started while he was still in his teens). In interviews he seemed less bothered by the suspicion that he was the Monster than by the implication that he was sexually impotent.

According to Preston (who also writes a bestselling series of crime novels with Lincoln Child featuring FBI Agent Pendergrast), the Monster investigation provided Thomas Harris with a lot of material for Hannibal, his sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. (Apparently there is a whole Monster subplot in the book that was not included in the film.) For instance, Sardinians were among the initial suspects, and Sardinian clans were known to engage in kidnapping for ransom. In one case the ransom wasn’t paid, so the victim was fed to man-eating pigs. Like the Gary Oldman character in Ridley Scott’s film adaptation. (There are also man-eating pigs in Deadwood.)

Ridley Scott himself has a cameo in the Monster story—a tape of the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis was playing in a van where two of the victims were killed. (Which Filipino classic movie features music by Vangelis? Temptation Island! Walang tubig, walang pagkain, magsayaw na lang tayo.)

Thomas Harris also borrows from Florentine history—the policeman played by Giancarlo Giannini in the film is a descendant of the Pazzi who tried to assassinate Lorenzo de Medici. The historical Pazzi’s gory end was similar to his fictional descendant’s. Harris had asked the noble Capponi family if it would be all right to make Dr. Hannibal Lecter the curator of the Capponi archive. The Capponi family agreed, as long as the family would not be the main course.

Hysterical Histories: the winners of our historical-mythical mash-ups

July 16, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Contest, Monsters 11 Comments →

The winner of the Historical Figure-Mythical Monster Mash-Up is Tandang Sora, palabang lola by johnbristol6. It’s inventive, bizarre, witty, and (high compliment) it made coffee shoot out of my nose. (Budjette, let’s make it a comic book!)

The prize:

We enjoyed the entries that futzed with the Hero vs Monster formula, so we decided to award consolation prizes to

Jose Rizal: the man, the legend, the aswang by hypnerotomato
Revisionist History—Now Na! by stellalehua
Love and Diversity by kindler
Agaw-Dilim, Agaw-Liwanag: Mga Itinagong Kwento ng Rebolusyon by Grafton Uranus

If you haven’t read their stories, they’re here.

Hypnerotomato gets The Once and Future King by T.H. White, stellalehua gets The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage, Kindler gets Uther by Jack Whyte, and Grafton Uranus gets A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History.

Congratulations! You may pick up your prizes any day starting today, 16 July 2010 at National Bookstore in Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati. Go to the Customer Service counter. Your prize is listed under your username and the email address you used to register on this site. Yes, you may send someone to pick up your prize as long as he/she has the information.

Thanks to our friends at National Bookstore for the prizes. The Weekly LitWit Challenge returns soon.

Can’t get enough of vampires and zombies (Updated with your entries)

July 10, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Contest, Monsters 22 Comments →

The publishing industry is convinced that its salvation lies in the undead.

Among the most-touted books of the season are The Fall, the sequel to The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, out in the fall (where there is fall); and The Passage by Justin Cronin.

The success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has spawned a host of literary/historical mash-ups, including Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter.

Vampires, demons, and zombies are all very interesting, of course, but for true weirdness I prefer manananggal, tiyanak, and other creatures of the Filipino darkness.

Let’s make some mash-ups!

The rules:

1. The protagonist has to be a Philippine historical figure.

2. The monster has to be a creature out of Philippine mythology: manananggal, aswang, tikbalang, kapre, tiktik, tiyanak, mambabarang, etc. Yes, it’s tempting to cast a politician; no, we want a more attractive monster.

3. The setting has to be somewhere in the Philippines.

4. The tale has to be told in less than 1,000 words. It doesn’t have to be a short story, it can be a concept paper, movie treatment, or synopsis for a novel.

5. The entry has to be posted in Comments by noon of Thursday, 15 July 2010.

6. The prize: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter.

Thanks to our friends at National Bookstore for the freebies!

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enajie, swanoepel, overnitesensation, gilbertjohngarcia, irvin mclovin: Upon swanoepel’s suggestion I’ve asked Budjette Tan to sign your copies of Alexandra Trese. You can pick them up starting Monday, 12 July 2010 at National Bookstore in Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati.

epaloids: You said July, right? You can claim your copy of PostSecret at National Bookstore in Rockwell any day starting Saturday, 10 July 2010.

Alrey and Richelle: When are you going to pick up your watches from the Prince of Persia contest?

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Entries received so far:
Apolinario Mabini: Manananggal Killer by rinabanana
Lapu-Lapu: Vampire Hunter by e@rl_hickey
Jose Rizal: the man, the legend, the aswang by hypnerotomato
Tandang Sora: Palabang Lola ni johnbristol6
Revisionist History—Now na! (or, OMG, ang anak ni K!) by stellalehua
Francisco Dagohoy, Imortal ni jeffwar314
Jose Rizal, Doppelganger Slayer by wickedmouth
Love and Diversity by kindler
Agaw-Dilim, Agaw-Liwanag: Mga Itinagong Kwento ng Rebolusyon by Grafton Uranus
Tooth and Nail: The Declaration of War and Martial Law by banzai cat
The Real Treaty of Paris by virgoan
Apolinario Mabini: Child of Prophecy, The Last Bruha Slayer by blahblah
The Aswang Trilogy by flipflopstore

Click on Comments to read the contestants.