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This Blog Is Called Friday

Because who doesn't love it, thank God for it and want it to arrive sooner?


Oscar Opining 2007
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Ah, Adrien Brody with a cute dog. How can you lose? Certainly not Adrien. He won in 2003 for Best Actor in The Pianist, an upset win over FOUR previous Oscar winners (Jack Nicholson, Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Daniel Day Lewis). Adrien is also the youngest man to win Best Actor Oscar at age 29. (Previous record holder: Richard Dreyfuss for The Goodbye Girl.)  It was one of the better Oscar wins in the last few years (read: one of the wins details_later really liked). That was the also the year Martin Scorsese was supposed to get his (pity) Oscar for Gangs Of New York. But alas, another dramatic upset: Roman Polanski trumps Marty! Roman directed The Pianist.

I really feel for Martin Scorsese, even though I'm not his fan. So many people believe in his greatness and it must have been tough to see him lose. Well Marty fans, your agony is ovah! No more whining about the injustice, OK? He didn't deserve to lose back then, but he sorta didn't deserve to win now. It's kinda all balanced out.

Many of you may already know thefashpack is the best at getting you to uh… do her bidding. (We say this with great affection: "You failed me!") She requested my Oscar opinion in the comments section of the "Meet Me In Montauk" entry. I, of course, followed instructions despite it being 1 AM in the morning! So here goes…

The Departed—sigh… once again, I feel very Emperor-has-no-clothes about this movie. They saw fireworks in the acting, the script, the direction and in Jack and Leo. All I saw was dull, dull grey. I struggle with being honest with myself on whether it's my Infernal Affairs bias. The most striking thing about The Departed is the plot and all its surprises… and that goes solely to Infernal Affairs. So that already is a huge strike against Scorsese's movie. (And even that gets distorted: we're supposed to be following the fates of Matt and Leo, and all of a sudden it hinges on Jack? Who is a *BEEP! SPOILER* himself?)

So we are left with the acting. Who did great here? Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin. And they played NOTHING roles. Leo was awesome? Yeah, he awesomely chewed the scenery. And Jack? Is a virus eating everything and everyone alive in this movie.

So Best Picture? Hell to the No! (tm Whitney Houston)

Martin Scorsese
A "sige na nga" Oscar for sure. Kawawa naman the other nominees when they saw Francis Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg presenting the award. They must thought the fix is in, for sure! And imagine if Marty lost again? Wow, egg on their face. And all over the Kodak theater!

But still, Martin's earned it, and I feel at peace him winning. (Because it's all up to me, di ba?)

Jennifer Hudson—Andre Leon Talley was supposedly responsible for her look on her Oscar night. Seriously, the silver shrug/bolero? Andre—what happened?! Jennifer looked good
pa naman each and every step of the way during awards season. I like the silhouette of all her outfits though.

My lingering thought: Okay, so Jennifer had to change outfits to perform onstage. But she ended up wearing THREE outfits for the night. Girl, you don't have the right to skip out on watching who won Best Sound Editing (or any other award) to go backstage and dress up. You're still paying your dues. They made you sound great in the movie—show your darned appreciation while their 45 seconds in the limelight is happpening! Where would your performance be if your voice didn't sync with your lips onscreen? In No Oscar-land, most likely!

The ceremony—Didn't get to watch it through. Hoping to catch the Star Movies repeat so I'm not crushed from the volume of ads. Saw Daniel Craig. That was cool. Loved Robert Downey, Jr, Al Gore for being a sport (and having comedic timing!) and… that's all I have. Saw Michael Sheen on the red carpet. Did he do anything on stage? He played Tony Blair opposite Helen Mirren in
The Queen. I love him. He's the next Who-To-Watch-Out-For. And I've called a few in my day, if I may so. (In my blog. So I guess that's OK. That's what blogs are there for.) He deserves to win an Oscar. And he probably will. (Take that, Kate Beckinsale!)

Best Dressed and Over-all-Put-Together:
Kate Winslet. Just right. Everything.

Also approved Cate Blanchett, Penelope Cruz (you know how I feel about her, but she really did look Oscar-worthy. Ceremony lang, ha. Don't know about the statuette), Ryan Gosling, Nicole Kidman (very fashion-forward, editorial outfit).

Sorry (you looked bad in front of billions): Gwyneth Paltrow (shapeless mess). There were others, but luckily they won't get as much attention as Gwyneth!

I'm glad there's a Star Movies broadcast to enjoy. We've all survived the onslaught of REPETITIVE ads on RPN 9. Now that I've seen the ceremony…

Ellen de Generes as host. Pretty good going. She didn't hit out of the ballpark, but she did a lovely job. She weirdly stretched out her only bad joke in the monologue—the one about billions watching and being nervous. I don't know. But she can come back and host again.

I loved the Jack Black-Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly musical number. "I'm going to beat you down with my Nickelodeon Award!" was just AWESOME.

James McAvoy
was the "cuting" who presented with Jessica Biel, thefashpack. Another one in my list of He's-Going-To-Be-A-Star/ Hit-The-Big-Time. Want more details? Now? Not later? Just ask Terrie. For reals.

The Parabola Shadow Dancers Whatever They're Called alternated between "Amazing!" and "Again?!"

OK, I want to hear your what you thought of the wins and the ceremony this year, a week late as it is. Especially from thefashpack and Terrie!

Next week's assignment: tentpoles.

And just for fun: I changed the little quotes on the right-hand side of the blog. Give me shoutout if you recognize any, or have any questions about them, or want to let me know what made you laugh!

Meet Me In Montauk
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Fancy the idea of a Jim Carrey love scene?

Yeah, it's either you're squicked (sooo likely) or you might a fancy a bit of it.

Terrie, Rachelle, Hazel and I watched The Number 23 last night. Rachelle squished her nose and sheepishly didn't like the movie, party-hearty Hazel snoozed (she didn't like the movie probably, nothing sheepish about sleeping through it!) and Terrie was sufficiently entertained.

As for me?

I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Carrey's shoulders, and they are more than lovely. Why hasn't he shown them off more? He's always wearing suits or winter clothes or something non-shouldery.

I am pro-Jim Carrey's shoulders. Totally.

More on this in a bit.

Really. No three-month wait. I'll try THREE HOURS.



Meanwhile, enjoy this pic of the Kooyong 2007 tennis tournament participants. I like this bunch of dudes. OK—I mostly like the dude fifth from left.

oOo


OK. I'm back. Like I promised!

The Number 23 is a Joel Schumacher movie. That alone should give you a tipoff. This will not be a milquetoast flick. (And normally that's a good thing.) But then Schumacher often doesn't know when to step on the brakes. His new movie has got a very intriguing premise (oooh, the number "23" disturbingly keeps showing up in the most significant times and places) with a potential conspiracy theory AND a murder mystery to boot. Jim Carrey in drama mode turns (most) people off, but I'll always give him a pass because of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. (And it's a pass that'll still never make me see The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or Ace Ventura movies.)

The movie could go either way. You may have patience and enjoy it, or think it's pretentious (see varying Terrie, Hazel, Rach reactions). The beginning is so tightly made it'll draw you in, no doubt. The ending gets a bit messy. I liked it enough for Jim Carrey's shoulders and  the affecting performances—Jim is heartbreaking, Virginia Madsen keeps you off-balance, Danny Huston is so good at being instantly slimy, in an enjoyable way, and the dog who played Ned The Dog is adorable.

Then there's the love scenes. Jim gets to be sexy (shoulders!) but Jim is polarizing enough to make you avoid this movie because of it. So… (shrug).

By the way, it is SO hard to find a decent pic of Jim Carrey in a nifty tee showing off the gorgeous shoulders. 15 pages of Google images didn't yield anything useful. This is your fault, Jim! It's either he's goofy, or he's bald… many other wrong things. So a standing O for the Details stylist who saw the light of Jim's shoulders. You have done a service to humankind! OK, maybe just to details_later.



Odds & Ends (or what you end up doing if you ignore your blog for too long)
Music & Lyrics is a definite Run, Don't Walk. (That's the Karen system of movie rating.) Hugh Grant is effortlessly charming, and it's a quality that hasn't reached it's expiration date yet. And hear me, Kara, Sandy and Paula! Who's the one who pushed you to watch "Euro-pudding" movies like Champagne Charlie and Impromptu, starring the old Hughs-ter? (Oo na, they said.) The 80s jokes are hilarious.

• Roger Federer (figure out which one he is in the Kooyong pic) won the Australian Open last month. This year should be so exciting! I began Sort Of… But Not Really when Roger won the US Open. Some kind of extra wonderful: Roger is a GREAT dresser. Thank you Mirka!



• Robbie Williams needs to get centered. Like many brilliant guys, he seems to be on the edge one too many times. Get well, soon Rob. (BTW, it was his birthday February 12th.) I'd like to put a recent GENIUS (of course) quote by him as feather to this entry's cap.

"In the future, EVERYBODY will be anonymous for 15 minutes."

Amazing. Think about it.

Daniel Craig? Is Made Of Awesome
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Wow, people know about James Bond movies. A lot about James Bond movies. People look at me askance each time I mentioned some innocuous bit of movie trivia. You are such a freak. But when I would mention that I got to watch the Casino Royale Wednesday night screening of Star TV, right away the question is asked: What gadgets did he have in the movie!?

Why do they know? How come this is the first bit of info they ask about? Aren't they interested on how good the movie was?

And in Casino Royale, there aren't any gadgets that'll offer vertical liftoff getaway via jetpack, a pen that contains a poison dart (oooh) or a device to render your car invisible. The niftiest and awesomest gadget this movie offers is in the glove box of the agent's Aston Martin. Which I won't spoil. Maybe not so gee-whizy, but never has a gadget seemed more vital!

Which I guess is the real story behind Casino Royale. There are no gimmicky gadgets, no silly girl shrieking  "Oh James!" while the British agent does battle with nefarious henchmen (can you say Tanya Roberts in A View To A Kill?), no creaky villain wasting time jeering  at our disadvantaged hero (and giving time for the hero to find his way out. Of course).

Casino Royale makes its mark as a legit, viable and terrific action movie. 007 or no 007.

I have to disclose a bit of background here. I have never been interested in the Bond franchise. I have seen three: A View To A Kill (because Duran Duran sang the theme song! Hence the familiarity with the thespian stylings of Tanya Roberts), The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill (only because Timothy Dalton possesses the most buttery voice in the business. And I love his acting). I have also seen various bits of Bond (naughty!) from the previous 20 movies in the franchise because my dad is devoted to this series and watches his DVD's all the time.

Just goes to show you I'm bereft of cool cards in this area too. (And also because I use the term "hence" regularly.)

Adding Pierce Brosnan to the mix made me even less interested. The guy has no heft whatsoever. Pretty as he is, he's just so benign.

All of which goes to say, the casting of Daniel Craig as James Bond meant: Daniel Craig's big acting break has finally arrived!

Years ago, Yeyey Cruz and I caught him at a Euro-Manila Film Festival screening, in a movie called Hotel Splendide. We didn't choose to see this movie. We just decided to catch whatever movie was playing in the 5:30 PM slot. It's a very sexy movie about cuisine and bowels (I'm not kidding!). Daniel Craig plays an oppressed chef who comes to life when he falls in love with Toni Collette, left an indelible presence. Who was that guy? Where can I see more of him?

He's slowly made his way into the limelight since then (Splendide came out in 2000). People (ie., the universe) were worried how he would fare as the secret agent. Certain Pierce Brosnan fans started an infamous Internet campaign to ditch Craig. (And they're still at it, even though the movie has been released. Too late, kids.)

My own worry was that the Bond franchise wouldn't do justice TO Daniel Craig. He was so much better than that role signified. But hiring the blond actor, plus the promise of getting back to a more grounded-in-reality plot meant Casino Royale might not just be another blow 'em up Bond movie.

And it isn't. Casino Royale makes its mark as a legit, viable and terrific action movie.

And Daniel Craig is the central reason why. He brings the smarts, the guts, the sexiness and the pathos (ding ding!) to the movie.

He might be the best Bond ever, only because I believe Daniel Craig would reject any 007 script that called for cheezy winky-wink or evil villain out to rule! The! Universe! He'd keep franchise straight.

And I finally did get to see MORE of Daniel Craig. Need I mention a certain swimming trunks scene? Daniel though, really ROCKS the T-shirt. The man can wear T-shirts all the live long day, as far as I'm concerned.



Exile From Cool Island
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A few weeks ago I was having a super late lunch (call time: 3PM!) with LA Consing Lopez. Things got super relaxed post-meal, we started admitting on what would take away our "cool cards"--the little quirks that would label us terminal (or at least, long-term) dorks if we declared them in public. We're not talking about "I don't like Tom Cruise" levels here. We're hardcore! Naturally, admitting them AGAIN here makes us fearless and/or does nothing to restore our coolness. (Hey LA! Population Dorkdom: One--only me. They won't be able to tell what is where, up or down, left or right!

"I really can't stand Cameron Diaz!"

"Almost Famous is kinda over-rated. So is Dead Poet's Society."

"I really love Rocky, and it totally deserves its Best Picture Oscar."

"I don't watch movies that have Christian Bale in them. He's a terrible actor."

Then it happened: I revealed what apparently is the TRUMP CARD of un-coolness. Beats all others, hands down.

"I can't stand Johnny Depp! I think he's a smug ass."

Hey, where'd you go?

This from a person who thinks phone-throwing Russell Crowe is a sweetheart! The Deppster has been eternally tainted with me since his days on the TV show 21 Jump Street, where he was a surly whiner despite being the star of the show that shot  him into the public consciousness. (And unleashing the icky Richard Grieco upon us because of it. Dear Johnny: Eeew! No thanks, Karen)

Ever since, I've never been able to buy  his I'm-cool-because-I'm-so-awesome-I-only-do-alternative-stuff-none-of-that-mainstream-shite persona. Whatever acting skills he possesses can't  overcome it.  Pirates Of The Carribean only compounded it.  Sure it was a Disney movie,  but his faux charm was just another form of smugness. Me no likey.

LA's jaw dropped to the ground upon my confession, and he's probably exhausted from dragging it off the floor since he hasn't raised it back up since.  No way--you can't NOT like Johnny Depp., he said. (Subtext: You can't NOT like Johnny Depp. It's like, not liking Christmas!)  Alas, I don't care about Johnny Depp the way some people don't care about some vegetable, or chopped liver. It's just not for me.


Consider this a refreshing sorbet after all that heavy Depp-ness. Seen here is Alessandro Nivola with Frances McDormand. Because I HAVE seen a few select Christian Bale movies, like Laurel Canyon. But only because Alessandro and Frances were in it. Especially because of Alessandro. Yummmm. 

A Word Of Thanks...
... goes to mrshobbes (go check her blog! She's in my Friends page) for being my very own Thom Filicia/Nate Berkus in renovating my very vanilla blog! This swanky new look--in fact this blog's very existence--is a testament to her blog passion (and how well she twisted my arm! Ha ha! She know's I'm joking!). Thanks so much!

mrshobbes,  otherwise known as Alexis Aldeguer, is leaving us at the ol' workplace. To say she will be sorely missed is a severe understatement. The fun won't be the same if you're not there, Lex. You were so patient with my snark! More than that, having Lex on the team was like the Hope Diamond--so valuable. You'll want her on your lifeboat. She had that joy d'viver.

Here's a little surprise for you, Lex!



Awww, Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh in A Month In The Country, circa 1984. Or 85. Can't remember. So young, these are probably baby pictures! Consider this part, dessert!




Hi-Jacked!
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I bet my photos aren't working again. Or is it? Is Andy Lau here?

Here it is upon us, the American version of Infernal Affairs called The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese. When I first saw the Hong Kong version, it was so good it made talk a lot. (And I already talk plenty!) I just couldn't shut up what a great movie experience it was. Movie fanatic that I am, it is actually rare  for me to have an out-of-body, damn-this-is-a-good-movie sensation inside a theater, and this was one of them. I keep trying to re-live that experience each time I buy a movie ticket, but it doesn't happen as much as I want to. Even with movies with actors I deeply adore in it. Maybe for key moments in a story, but the all-the-way-through ones I can count on one hand.

Infernal Affairs
is the story of  two moles, deep undercover (Andy is a mobster who's infiltrated the ranks of the cops, Tony Leung Cheu-Wai, a policeman taking on the Triads) for nearly 10 years. Tony understandably wants out, the ugliness of his task weighing heavily on his psyche. Andy wants to stay in--he's a smart cop who's life is coming together with a new promotion, new digs and he's newly engaged (to Sammi Cheng, so their chemistry is like gangbusters. Oops. Bad pun. Their chemistry feels genuine).  During a failed drug bust (truly one of the best action set-pieces EVER. The suspense won't let you breathe) it is apparent to both our protagonists' bosses (Eric Tsang, Anthony Wong) that a stooge is in their midst. Now Tony and Andy are tasked to smoke each other, and in a way, themselves, out.

In 90 minutes, Infernal Affairs plays out this story with depth, tackling identity and destiny with insight and  twists that punch you in the gut. It's a perfectly formed, almost geometric creation that wastes no energy, no moment. That this was done with a minumum of violence speaks to the movie's exquisite greatness. (Well, the psychiatrist played by that Kelly actress girl should've been played by someone else. Good thing her buzzkill wasn't enough to affect the movie.) A fandom was born: Andy and Tony gave such superb performances that I inhaled about 20 of their movies in the last two years.  Don't get me started on the sequels. Infernal Affairs III is a complicated puzzle, but boy did it pull out the rug from under me. I was gutted by its very last scene. Ouch.

It's no surprise then, the IA got picked by American producers for a big, splashy remake. Well, big and splashy it was. I was frightened when Martin Scorsese got the call to direct the movie. He is SO the opposite of perfectly formed, almost geometric. He's usually sprawling  and leisurely (that's not the word I'm looking for. But you get the drift).

True enough, The Departed is like a ginormous SUV  to Infernal Affairs'  sleek roadster. If you haven't seen the Hong Kong version, The Departed is actually quite enjoyable.  It was obviously made with care, the dialogue has lots of amusing moments, Leonardo Di Caprio (in the Tony Leung role) has finally returned to his lean, spare acting style (almost. There's a chewy  moment here and there) and and the always-premium Matt Damon (as Andy Lau), especially in the earlier part of the movie, shows the viewer (or just me) something he hasn't shown before: all-out charm. (Could his next movie be a cutesy rom-com? The adorable-ness would be off-the-charts.)

What's missing though, is the pathos (Karen's abused word of 2006) and desperation of Leo's and Matt's predicament. Instead, loads of movietime is spent on Jack Nicholson's gangster. Yeah, the evil behemoth that needed to be brought down and propel the movie forward, but the movie became all. About. That. He hijacks the story, and we learn over and over and over and over again that he is a Nasty Man. He's bad, okay?!!! Instead of confronting the crisis of redefining identity, it's how do we stop the heinous monster that is Jack?

Then there's the awkward plot development of the girl who comes between Leo and Matt (Vera Farmiga's is appealing, but her character makes me furrow my brow), the shocking violence, the two-hour-and-a-half running time (seriously!) and the very final frame of the movie. That gutted me with its LAME-O-SITY. Did the acclaimed Martin S really think that would great? Dude. No.



One thing that Matt and Leo have it better in The Departed? There's no way the two leads would ever sing the movie's theme song, like Tony and Andy did. I confess with no shame though, that the Infernal Affairs' theme is catchy as (eternal) hell.

Is Daniel Craig here?
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I'm trying to figure out if my picture-posting abilities are up to snuff. Roger Federer's pic WAS supposed to be here on Entry #1, but he's hiding. Maybe Daniel on flickr should do the trick. Is he? Doing the trick?

Daniel Craig is James Bond, you know. The only other James Bond I've seen is Timothy Dalton. How cool am I? (Not very.) I've always found the James Bond movies so tedious. Bang, bang. Nudge, nudge. What ba is the pathos of the Transformers? as I queried once on another blog. It didn't help that Pierce Brosnan was cast as the most recent Fleming hero. I've never cared for him. (And I grew up in the Remington Steele era. The annoyance begins! Go Miles Murphy! Or Murphy Miles! You were loads cuter!) Pierce always seems so… benign . Plus, no substantial acting chops. He was OK, but that was it. OK.

As for Daniel, he's the opposite of benign. He exudes and expresses so much. I've been having a Daniel Craig month. First, the mini-series Sword Of Honour, from Evelyn Waugh's novel, then Archangel, from Robert Harris's novel. Blew my Hong Kong money buying British DVD's!

It helps that Martin Campbell and Michael Wilson, producer and director of Casino Royale respectively, promise a real plot, real PATHOS for James Bond this round. Daniel Craig is just the man for the job.


Curmudgeonly Grumbling blah blah
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So, some people are named Geoffrey. Why do some people insist on pronouncing this as JOFF-rey? Where did they get that idea? If you're nickmaed Geoff, your name is Geoff (read: JEFF!). So the English are an eccentric bunch who have weird spellings that don't follow their phonetic appearance. The English are eccentric, full stop!

Worcestershire? WOOOS-tersheer.
Leicester Square? LESSS-ter Square.
Gaol? JAIL.
Sean? SHAWHN.
Geoffrey? JEFF-rey!

Capisce?

This came up because I finally have in my hands, Stephen (STEVEN! Yes, "ph" masquerades as "v." Eccentrics I tell you) Fry's new book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking The Poet Within. Stephen is a genius. I don't where else to go with that. Just kick ass smart in the loveliest, peachiest, creamiest sort of way.

It's time to take away my cool card, for two reasons: 1) My whininess on matters "Geoffrey" (Really, Karen. Does it matter?); 2) I am foisting upon you an excerpt from Stephen's (STEVEN!) new book. Honestly, it's renewed my will… to blog. Ha ha! Curmudgeon state hereby removed!

"Do you give up the Sunday kick-around because you'll never be Thierry Henry? Of course not. That would be pathologically vain. We don't stop talking about how the world might be better because we have no chance of making it to Prime Minister. We are all politicians. We are all artists. In an open society everything the mind and hands can achieve is our birthright. It is up to us to claim it.

And you know, you
might be the real thing, or someone with the potential to give as much pleasure to others as you derive yourself. But how will you know if you don't try?

About the name change
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Yes, this journal began life with a different name. Was trying my darndest to remember this phrase (this is the right one) that I swore would be my famous last words. Jenny (of course!) came to my rescue.

Oh Jenny... I still see DeKalb and the Maynard building so vividly in my head. Including the rude Sabrett's cart person who was rude to you (and never approached in your honor!)

Starting On The Best Possible Note…
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It's sweet (or hilarious) that people (I'm looking in the direction of mrshobbes) are eager to see me blog. I mean REALLY blog. I do have some blathering living somewhere in the Internet universe, but it's location is very near (non-)planet Pluto. Right by Neptune, in other words.

I should attempt a blog meant to be found on planet Earth. So welcome, kids!

I have recently been bothering mrshobbes about the Feder-Bear, Roger Federer's adorable Beanie Baby version of himself available for sale to aid UNICEF.

"You should blog about that!" (It was snarkily sweet and hilarious when she said it.)

As I am fond of following directions (but not really…), I happily share with you all that viewing the kee-yoot Feder-Bear can be done right here. It's for a kee-yoot cause too. And important.

Did I mention something about a high note?

Oh yeah, the Feder-Bear is all the more adorable because of Roger Federer, the world's number one tennis player and super awesome, even in the minds of the legends of the sport. In Jessica Zafra's column for The Philippine Star today, she describes in the creamiest, loveliest terms why this is so. For some tennis observers, Federer seems "cold, self-contained, lost in a world of mathematical probabilities (for what is tennis but calculus with a racquet?)." But Jessica, a longtime fan, counters:

"When Federer is on, he's inhuman. He routinely makes shots that defy physical laws…

We all want excitement in our lives… but we also need proof that we can be better than we've ever imagined. We need to remember that the sublime is possible. That it exists. That is why there is Roger Federer."


There you have it: a celestially talented person discussed in a blog that's finally on Earth.


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