Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Music’

How to get back into reading when you have been distracted by the outside world

July 11, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Music 5 Comments →

Method reading!

This has been my worst reading year so far. For many years I’ve read at least one book a week to keep my brain running; in the last six months I’ve finished exactly three (The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild—very amusing, Gun Dealers’ Daughter by Gina Apostol—required reading on the last years of martial law, and the Modiano. Almost forgot Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, which is a very short novel). In that time I started but abandoned A Little Life, My Brilliant Friend, The Three Body Problem and City on Fire. I will go back to them, but for now I just want to get back into the habit.

So method reading. Like method acting, but not so extreme. Just pick a soundtrack for the novel, and maybe food and drink. It’s all about the mood.


Patrick Modiano writes short (120pp), intense novels about memory and identity, very “French” in that nothing much happens outwardly and he doesn’t go for great stylistic effects but you feel wrecked afterwards and wonder how he did it.

Pair with the Elevator to the Gallows soundtrack by Miles Davis, and Pernod.


Noah Hawley is the creator of TV’s Fargo, which is better than any movie I’ve seen at the theatre this year. I’m looking forward to this thriller.

Pair with the Fargo season 2 soundtrack, and whiskey.

Update: Riveting. It’s a lot like Fargo season 2, in which every character is the protagonist of her own story, and then all their stories collide and we try to make sense of the rich randomness of life. Before the Fall starts with a literal bang: a private jet takes off from Martha’s Vineyard (which reminds me of JFK Jr) and crashes into the water minutes later. Was it an accident, or was it a crime? The Bill O’Reilly-like TV host thinks it’s terrorism because the passengers included the head of a cable news network who routinely receives death threats and a Wall street guy who deals with blacklisted governments. The only survivors are a four-year-old boy and a failed artist whose canvases, unfortunately for him, portray the aftermaths of disaster. Especially recommended for long-haul flights.


Emma Cline’s novel is about a girl who joins a cult led by a Charles Manson-like character in late 60s California.

Pair with California Dreamin’ by The Mamas and The Papas. Do not read while eating a chicken sandwich (Look it up, children).

Update: Compelling and evocative. Transforms the reader into a 14-year-old girl in California in 1969. Evie is living with her divorcee mom who is on a perpetual quest to find herself and bouncing from one terrible boyfriend to the next, fed all the cliches about how girls are supposed to be, and raised to believe that a female is nothing if she does not get male attention. One day she sees a girl not much older than herself, who seems to be perfectly comfortable in her own skin. She gets drawn into the cult. The descriptions of the filth and squalor of the cult’s ranch made me want to boil myself. The Girls is both seductive and repulsive: you can’t stop reading it; you know the horror that is coming and you want details. It makes a snuff movie voyeur out of you, and as good as the novel is you find yourself asking why this oft-told story had to be repeated.

Today is Prince’s birthday.

June 07, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Music 1 Comment →

Your Purpleness, we know you did not want your work uploaded on YouTube, but we need it.

See how the weather provides the production design for Purple Rain.

Chris Evans, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nate Parker interpret Diamonds and Pearls.

You need to listen to the cast recording of Hamilton now.

May 13, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Music, Theatre No Comments →


WHAT A COMFORT it is after an intense and contentious election to hear a musical that makes you want to give standing ovations to the idea of nationhood. The hairs on my arms rose, there were icy sparks down my backbone, and an irresistible force propelled me out of my seat to applaud this work. And I was all alone in my room.

Good luck getting tickets to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, which apart from earning a MacArthur genius grant for its author has won a Pulitzer, a Grammy, Obie, and Drama Desk Awards, and is poised to win a truckload of Tonys. Hamilton has united two often opposing camps, the critics and the audience, with its rousing hip-hop treatment of American history. Until you manage to book your tickets, you’ll have to content yourself with listening to the original Broadway cast recording.

The subject of the play is Alexander Hamilton, the founding father who established the American financial system and is best known today as the face on the ten dollar bill. As a line from the show says: He doesn’t get enough credit for all the credit that he gave (them). I know little about American history, but I know who Hamilton is because I read a Justice League comic book in which he and his adversary Aaron Burr traveled through time and met Superman and company.

Continue reading The Binge, my column at BusinessWorld.

Listen to the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton at Spotify.

Daydreaming, a new song from Radiohead, video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

May 09, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Music 3 Comments →

Thom, get a haircut.

Their new album A Moon-Shaped Pool dropped yesterday. Critics call it A Haunting, Stunning Triumph.

Electric Word Life: The rapture of Prince

April 29, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Music 1 Comment →


I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray. I’ve been trying to write about Prince since the terrible news broke early Friday morning, Manila time. It seemed important to get the word out before all the commentators had picked the bones clean, shaken their heads over his weirdness, and made quips about “The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.”

They would not be wrong. He was weird, with a pure and honest weirdness that was not calculated for image-making, and he created a universe in which it wasn’t even worth remarking upon. At the height of his conflict with his record label, he did change his name into an unpronounceable symbol. This is cited as another instance of his weirdness, but let’s not forget that it hurt his record label, and it cost him millions. How do you buy albums by an artist whose name you can’t say? In his desire to get out of that contract, he churned out albums faster than the record company could sell them.

Read my column at BusinessWorld.

Prince is dead. We hate everything.

April 22, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Music 3 Comments →



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Here are our favorite Prince songs. Send your lists.

Jessica Zafra
Anna Stesia
If I was your girlfriend
Sexy MF/Pope
When Doves Cry
Pop Life

Ricky Villabona
Raspberry Beret
I Would Die 4U
When Doves Cry
Strange Relationship
plus I Feel For You (Chaka Khan)
Nothing Compares 2U (Sinead O’Connor)
When You Were Mine (Cyndi Lauper)