26 February 2009

He's Just Not That Into You (2009)

I have quite a bit to say about this movie. So hang around for the ride or eject now. First off, it's well known that I'll take a seat in front of any rom-com, if only to "spoil my love life." Having had my eye on the progression of the movie's title from Sex and the City catchphrase, to book, and now to movie, I was prepared for anything. Well, one of my first friend reviews about the film came from my sister, who literally hopped and skipped out of the move in glee when she saw it last week. Then Lilly gave the movie a favorable review in her wonderfully entertaining post. So I was ready for a winner and that's what I got... sort of.

First, I was thoroughly entertained throughout, even if there were plenty of times/lines when I had to suspend disbelief more than normal. It didn't hurt that two of my top five (Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Connelly) were prominently featured. To sum the whole movie up, I'd say it was like "Harry Met Sally" plus "Love, Actually," two movies I loved and absolutely hated, respectively. Maybe it was just the simple cut-scene interviews that reminded me of "Harry Met Sally," and just the multiple interconnected characters that were like "Love, Actually," but I couldn't shake the comparisons. To be sure, HJNTIY isn't nearly as intelligent or well formed as "Harry Met Sally," the seminal film in romantic comedy history. In fact, maybe we can blame it for all the crappy romantic comedies that have come afterwards. It was so good that it ruined 90% of the copycats that followed.

All that aside, I thought HJNTIY was really well made. Not from a cinematic standpoint necessarily but from a "we reverse engineered every romantic comedy over the past few years, spliced everything together into easily recognizable bite sized chunks/stereotypes, and then blended it all together with a dash of new ideas." It was a romantic comedy smoothie and while it wouldn't win any awards for originality, I think the movie did a good job of integrating the various storylines together (except for the Drew Barrymore one) and justified the long running time.

Plus, on top of all that, it provided some excellent food for thought, as it brought up a potpourri of romantic situations that are just dying to be dissected and reflected upon. All in all, I liked the movie. But then there's a dark side to that.

I kind of hated the happy ending. I know, I know, happy endings are a pre-req for this type of thing. But as Lilly pointed out, that wasn't the message of the book. According to an Amazon review, the book is meant "for the twentysomething career women who have been dating for a while, [and aims to share] the empowering message that a woman deserves a man who truly loves her and not one that she must constantly make excuses for." That would have been a fine message, and I'm not sure that's what we got when the credits rolled. What I heard was the more traditional "love (should) conquer all" tune playing and I didn't like it one bit. I prefer my happy endings with some bite I guess. Or at least a twist. Or at least earned.

We watched the movie with two guys and two girls. The two of us guys liked the movie infinitely more than the girls. In fact, my friend sitting next to me could barely force herself through the whole thing. Afterwards, as we stood in the recently rainy streets of San Francisco, I heard the girls' take about how demeaning and cookie cutter crazy the movie made women seem. They objected to the way all the female characters were depicted as being detail obsessed and unhinged from reality. I said that it was a natural progression of our post-Sex and the City view on how a group of girlfriends are. They said that it was an insult to compare the way these characters interacted to how Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte were. I can concede that point, I guess, since Sex and the City is a hundred times cleverer and ten times more nuanced than anything HJNTIY had to offer.

While I could take an equal stance on the merits and failures of "He's Just Not That Into You," I think the movie exceeded my expectations and there were numerous moments when it made me think about my past relationships and the relationships of people I know. There could probably be a fun game trying to figure out which combination of the characters (and couple situations) everyone most related to. And isn't a relatable romantic comedy already a success?

For the record, this is potentially a terrible movie to watch with your significant other. I imagine thousands of couple fights broke out on Valentine's Day when this movie came out. Whew! Too many of the situations hit too close to home and that's just a mess all around, unless you have a picture perfect relationship and you can just hug each other and say "Oh I'm so glad we're in a perfect relationship honey!" But that probably didn't happen, did it?

Bonus: I stumbled across this page that offers up the essentials (and story structure) for writing a romantic comedy. It's fascinating and I can't wait to see how it matches up to romantic comedies I've seen. Step four, for example, states: "At about page 50, they kiss, have sex, or say 'I love you' for the first time." How did they come up with page 50? Inteeeeresting.

24 February 2009

The American Nightmare

"The European stereotype is that Americans are greedy; older Americans stereotype younger ones as a mercenary generation out to get rich quick. What neither the Europeans nor the senior citizens understand is that young Americans want more money because they need more money. Even if they don't covet mansions or luxury cars, they need big bucks for housing, health care, and education. In the 1980s, young people sold out to enjoy a life of luxury; now they sell out to stay afloat.

...

A whole slew of retailers have grown wildly successful by noticing what mainstream economists and pundits have missed: although education and income often track together, for a whole class of people they don't. This class's incomes are usually lower than their education levels would suggest because their values lead them toward public interest work or creative pursuits. Seeking high-brow goods at modest prices, they furnish their homes at Ikea, feed their familes at Trader Joe's, and buy everything else they need at Target.
-The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America-

20 February 2009

I'll Be There for You

You know me, I love lists, categories, and anything that involves names and rankings. Well, here's a project I've been working on for some time. Ever since seeing this NBA Archetype Hierarchy, I've been wondering how such a model could apply to friendships.

Even if you don't know much about basketball, it can help to take a look and see how it's set up. There are five tiers, each containing a certain archetype coveted -- or not coveted -- by NBA teams. As you can see, the top tier is an elite point guard or a refined big man. Think Chris Paul and Shaquille O'Neal, respectively. Traditionally, finding a true superstar at either position will set your franchise up for success if you can surround them with the appropriate complementary parts. (Ignore the blue dot that is Lebron James; he's a freak and doesn't really fit into any archetype.) Basically, the NBA Archetype Hierarchy defines the types of players that are available and then orders which ones are more valuable -- and also harder to acquire.

Using those guidelines, I thought it'd be fun to construct a friendship archetype hierarchy. Personally, I've always maintained a strict rule of fives for my friendship pyramids. Five tiers ranging from super close friends to acquaintances. Five "best" friends. Five important people to fill communication routines (in person, phone call, email, text, AIM). I've always tossed around the idea of a hierarchy, we all do, I'm sure. What I haven't done is come up with archetypes, or roles, that my friends fulfill. Well, now I have.

Introducing my Friendship Archetype Hierarchy. Keep in mind that by definition, this would have to be individualized for each person. Mine won't look like yours and vice versa. It's impossible, there is no generic template. Some people have a bigger tier three than a tier two. Some people have a ton of super close friends, some people have a few. It's all dependent on what kind of person you are and how you've structured your social circle.

The point of such an exercise is to figure out what sorts of roles, and support systems, you need in your life. I mean, sometimes when you think something is missing (friendship wise), you can't figure out what it is exactly. You miss a specific person maybe but at the same time, what you're also missing is someone to fill their niche. Not to say that people are replaceable, because they're not, but having a broad view of the sorts of niches you require for maximum happiness should illuminate something about yourself.

I mean, if friends are a huge part of filling up our happiness meter, shouldn't they deserve just as much thought and study as our careers, relationships, and families? After all, friends contribute heavily to our hierarchy of needs don't they?

Lest you think that such an exercise is frivolous and entirely narcissistic, there's a lot of ramifications for figuring out how to create friend hierarchies. Think about the current state of social networking. You may have 300 Facebook friends but wouldn't it be nice for the program to somehow differentiate between tiers? I mean, Facebook gives you a few options to do that (by changing your privacy settings) but someday soon, social networking sites will start to group your friends automatically.
"Current social networks differ from reality on where action is required: In the real world, friendships fade because of inaction: He slowly stops calling and emailing as much, you don't think to invite him to your party. No one is to blame, it happens all the time.

But in the current online world, friendships can only end by action. Someone has to make the decision to actively de-friend the other. This feels intuitively slimy, and it's a waste of effort and attention on someone who by definition you aren't concerned with."
-Friend Decay: Social Networks need passive un-friending-
Also, this blog post from Adaptive Blue talks about a "hierarchy around friendships built on trust across verticals and subject matters: I trust this person on subject matter X, and this person on subject matter Y even though the network might trust Z." That's such an awesome point. There are broad tiers but then entirely different categories and networks.

The online catch all term "friend" will soon be spliced apart into its component parts, just like we do in the real world. That's the next step for social networking sites, once they can figure out how to get around the (admittedly thorny) problem of offending people who think they're closer to someone than they are. I mean, think of the fights that people already had over their MySpace Top Eight and multiply it. Whew, that's not going to be a fun feature to implement. But it'll be more honest, and revealing, wouldn't it?

One of the key phrases that gets thrown around is "trust relationships." Fundamentally, social networking is a great idea but currently it's too invasive and broad for some people. We want to have something that allows us to maintain our trust circles while remaining open to the possibility of staying in touch with random people. It's a very hard tightrope to walk. If you go too exclusive, you get Facebook in the earlier days, and not enough users. If you get too inclusive, you get the cluster fuck that is MySpace. Will Facebook find the answer? Will something new?

I hope somebody hires me to think about the dynamics of friendship all day long. Or maybe I should have studied this in school instead of whatever the hell I ended up studying...

15 February 2009

Coraline (2009)

I'm a sucker for anything 3D, especially if it's animated. I've even got a pair of sturdy 3D glasses sitting in the glove compartment of my car, just in case some random 3D things happens to break out. I'm a boy scout of useless things. Coraline was probably the best experience I've had with three dimensional movies actually. While you'd hardly lose anything by watching it the traditional way, I love how objects and textures pop out with the glasses on. It's worth the extra two bucks or whatever it is.

The entire movie was a charming experience. I loved the look of the film, the imagination of the sets, and the story was interesting even if the moral was a bit unclear (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). There's a lot of energetic eye candy and nothing beats hearing a random little kid saying "wow" during a particular scene. The back half of the movie could certainly be quite scary though. The young girl next to me was asked by her mom if she was scared. Her answer? "I'm terrified!" Kids are cute aren't they?

Neil Gaiman is everywhere in movies these days (MirrorMask, Stardust, Beowulf, Coraline). Not that I'm complaining.

Gran Torino (2008)

Well, I like me some Clint Eastwood but his much buzzed about performance isn't exactly different than anything else he's done over the past few years. Everyone likes a crotchety old guy who is handy with the steel, if you know what I mean, (earn your keep). So the movie was better than I expected but there's one nagging little thing. It's a movie about anti-racism but it throws racist remarks around all day long. And it's kind of funny. I mean, I even learned a few new terms. "Zipperhead" for example. Never heard that one and I'm not quite sure what the etymology is.

Halfway through, after realizing that many of the laughs in the movie (and there were quite a few) were generated by Clint calling people things like spook, slanty, mick, and mispronouncing ethnic names, the PC light bulb in my head flared for a bit. In the context of the movie, the overt racism was fine. Clint is a good hearted hero, even if he uses disturbing slurs and makes side comments all day long about how Asian his neighborhood's getting. He's a character and a caricature. But in real life, would you sit around as grandpa swore up and down and called people names to their faces? Hopefully not.

But I guess we let a lot of things slide when people are old (well, sort of). It's kind of funny to hear intolerant and ignorant old people mouth off, as proved by crowd reaction to the movie. The question is: should we let it slide? I mean, Miley Cyrus gets roasted for making slant eyes in a picture. Could everyone in the picture just have been joking? Are people being overly sensitive? Or should she be more aware because she's younger, has Asian fans, and is hypothetically more accountable for her actions? Was she being racist? Personally I'd have slapped myself if I was the Asian guy in the photo, the one semi-validating them simply by being an accessory. "Oh but there's an Asian there and he's okay with it!..." But who knows what the true context of the photo was.

There's always an available excuse for why people say/do racist things; unless it's over the top and obvious but racism these days is not usually overt. You have to draw your own line somewhere. Letting shit slide for age, ignorance, or context. It's a slippery slope isn't it? Choose or lose.

Related but unrelated, an old article about "Stuff White People Like" I've been meaning to share.

14 February 2009

The Book of Revelation: Vol.1

Recently, I had a conversation with someone about how she's no longer accepting applications for guy friends. It's either dating (toward a relationship) or nothing. While this may sound a bit draconian, she had a great point. Her friend archetypes are busting at the seams with platonic guy friends; males who are kind of flirty and maybe might make a move while drunk; and gray area friends who have a lot of potential and semi-chemistry but need some time to figure it all out, etc.

As a prudent woman of the recession, she realized that she's filled to the brim with platonic guy friends and has decided to shut down shop. After all, what can one new guy friend do for her that the other twenty five oldies-but-goodies can't? Nothing really. She has her guy friend to chat with on the phone. She has the one to talk about movies and books with. She has the one she calls for computer help. She has her running buddy. She's got a handful of party guys. She's got it all. More guy friends are always nice, but are they necessary?

The answer is "No," unless they are absolutely freaking A-plus amazing. And if they are absolutely freaking A-plus amazing, it's probably worth it to give them a quick date, just to see if there's maybe a spark there. Think about it. If you meet an amazing person now, doesn't your mind already go "Um, could I date this person?" Of course it does. And if it doesn't, you're a liar.

See, this is the logical extension of our increased age and maturity. We need to stop living our lives like it's our early twenties. It's not anymore. Hello, I'm in my early thirties. Nobody has time to waste anymore "waiting it out," seeing if weeds will blossom into flowers, or whatever analogy you want to use. Time is a valuable resource and if we're not using it in a goal orientated way, it's lost. Forever. I'll repeat that: Forever.

Ten years ago, you could sit around and take a few months to build a bond and then maybe lose that bond due to circumstance or lack of interest, no harm done. Now, those months could be spent nurturing your current stable of friends, interacting with the people you already know are supremely valuable and really want to spend time with.

I mean, think of it like this. When you were younger, wouldn't you go into a dinner party and maybe make an effort to meet new people, to try to engage everyone, just give it all a chance? Nowadays it's hardly rude to just go in, hang out with the three friends you came with, and then pick up and leave knowing that you're not likely to meet any of those people ever again. And that's okay because we are now more discerning and focused about who we choose to let into our lives.

Some might contend that it's best to be friends before dating. Hogwash I say. With our shortened time line in relationships, it's a wonder we conceive of any amount of time as being sufficient to find out if he/she is the right one. These days, once you've been seriously dating someone for over a year, those wedding bells will start tolling, even if it's just your phone ringer set to silent and vibrate because your parents won't stop calling to innocently ask, "How are things?!"

If you are in my age group, and especially if you're a girl, we no longer have the luxury of going though a three or four year relationship to find out if this person is The One. We're too jaded, we're too wary, and we're too damn positive that shit can always happen -- even when it seems like shit could never, ever, ever happen. We're not cynical, we're just experienced. We've had our eyes opened, we've seen too much, and we've gotten used to the impossible, for good and for bad.

I mean, really, what will you know about a person as a romantic prospect after being friends with them for a few months that you couldn't find out in six weeks of dating them? Probably nothing. And to be completely honest, it's a near fallacy to assume that the person you bought into as a friend is the same person you'll date. People have their friendship side and their relationship side. It's best to just get in there and figure out what's what before any more time is wasted. The truth must be freed and in romance it can only be freed if you shed the shackles of friendship. That's the current theory anyway.

I'm just extremely thankful that I made it before my friend's platonic cut off date. Yah, I'm in, I'm in!

10 February 2009

Ode to Old School

Do you remember a time when TV teens weren't over the top loquacious and their conversations weren't filled with repartee and sarcasm? Probably not because the past few years have presented us with any number of TV shows starring hyper aware teen protagonists. Our current TV super teens are invariably quick of tongue, prone to emotional diarrhea disguised as self psychoanalysis, and full of witty one-liners that reference obscure pop culture. Well, there was a time when this wasn't de-rigeur. In fact, that time was pre-1998, or rather, pre-Dawson's Creek.

Over my past weekend in Seattle, I was cruising a used record store (yes, they still have those, especially in Seattle) and found myself purchasing Season One of Dawson's Creek for the low low must buy price of $15. Fifteen dollars to relive my sophomore year? Absolute steal. When Dawson's Creek came out, it was ridiculed for any number of things. James Van Der Beek's giant head, Michelle Williams' not-hot-enough hot girl, Joshua Jackson's Mighty Duck past, and well, nothing was wrong with Katie Holmes -- she's proven to be a late bloomer in the crazy department obviously.

The big controversy over Dawson's Creek was how much the fifteen year olds talked about sex. Rewatching the pilot, even I'm a bit surprised at how often the young teens are openly obsessed with the topic. I must have overlooked it because, at the time, I was more focused on Kevin Williamson's dialogue and how fast it moved. Critics said it felt unreal. They accused the writers of writing dialogue that was too articulate for teenagers; stuff the writers would have liked to say back in high school, instead of what teenagers actually sounded like.
"The vocabulary of the teens can be a bit much, so many four-syllable words; for example, in one episode, heard from Dawson, 'Is the proposition of monogamy such a Jurassic notion?' How many fifteen year olds do you know that speak like that? Add to that the fact that every situation is analyzed so minutely, far more than can be realistically expected between teen to teen, teen to adult and adult to teen."
-Television Heaven review-
As it turns out, Dawson's Creek was just leading the way for the next generation of teen soaps. It laid down the framework -- with a big nod of appreciation to 90210 -- for everything from The O.C. to Gossip Girl. Before Dawson's Creek, teens were more likely to be mumbly and stumbly on the outside, even if they were quite observant and coherent on the inside (cue Kevin Arnold, cue Angela Chase). Dawson's Creek gave teens the power of adult speech and we're all the better for it.

Well, maybe only slightly better for it. The explosion in teen-adult speak probably led us down the dark and dirty path of using friends as pseudo-therapists but hey, whatever. It's about the DDTs anyway right?

I think Dawson's Creek is actually way underrated in retrospect. I rarely ever hear it referenced as a classic, probably due to how fast interest in the show waned. I mean, after Dawson and Joey finally hooked up (and broke up, and hooked up, and broke up, etc.) there just wasn't that much to see anymore. But the show went on for six seasons, probably losing prominence with each successively melodramatic season, to the point where it started to become an automatic channel flip. But without Dawson's Creek -- and Buffy -- the WB would have probably collapsed that much sooner and a whole generation of kids would have suffered. Thanks Dawson. And what the hell are you up to these days? K.I.T.!

For the record, watching the pilot episode was a musical time warp too. Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait," Sophie B. Hawkins' "As I Lay Me Down," and Chumbawamba's "I get knocked down. But I get up again. You're never going to keep me down." This may have been the best fifteen dollars I've spent so far this year.
"Girl: You party?
Jen: Party as in do I like to have a good time or party as in drink and use drugs?
Girl: It's subjective."

07 February 2009

Sitting in the Tree

"My college students are romance-starved. Some of you may be asking, What has this to do with my students who are in middle or high school? I know this leap is unscientific, but I'm making it anyway: by the time your former students are midway through college and sitting in my classroom, many (dare I say most?) are tired of sex, sex, sex. They're empty, spent, and longing for seriously chaste, old-fashioned romance -- we're talking stargazing and hand-holding, the end -- and they have no idea how to find it. So now is the perfect time to introduce your students to sweet, innocent-yet-sexy romance novels. That way, when they get older, they'll have narrative models to show them how to make simple, romantic gestures (like asking someone out or setting up a first kiss), and they won't end up having a sex-life crisis in college.

Writing a kissing scene is hard. Writing a good kissing scene (or, for that matter, any romantic encounter) is even more difficult. When I was working on my first novel, somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that eventually I would have to write a kissing scene. This was a daunting thought. I blush even now just remembering that I actually wrote one! I think I may have typed it with one hand screening my eyes (you know, like, when you get embarrassed and can't stand to watch). Therefore, I stand in great admiration of any writer who can pull off a romantic scene with flair and ease."
-Donna Freitas, Be Still My Heart: A Shameless Guide to Sweet, Sexy Romance Novels for Teens and Tweens-

04 February 2009

Pod Vader

A few months ago I started getting on the podcast wagon. Although I clearly knew about them (I did a whole chapter on podcasting in the RG book), I didn't have any podcasts in regular rotation. I finally got it in gear and now I can't live without them.

Generally speaking, the podcasts I listen to are sports related. One about the NBA, one about fantasy football, a few other ESPN podcasts, and then the mighty Bill Simmons podcast. I've found that this has changed my television consumption habits. I no longer have the patience to have ESPN on in the background, I just want the information I'm interested in fed to me immediately. No commercials, no teasing intros, no need to waste time passively sucking in peripheral news.

Bill Simmons suggested that podcasts will replace radio soon, and it's quite possible. Ease of use, the low barrier to entry, and the continual segmentation of people's interests could result in an ideal landscape where you get what you want, when you want it, and from sources as professional or amateur as you'd like.

Some of the other podcasts I'm addicted to are about books (general reviews, a Twilight podcast), movies, a comics and general geeky things one, a podcast about Dungeons & Dragons, and stuff from Democracy Now!, NPR, and This American Life (also, an interesting article on Ira Glass). I'm always cruising around for new podcasts to listen to and it's entirely replaced my radio and Internet news sources.

My absolute favorite podcast is Slate's Culture Gabfest, hosted by Stephen Metcalf. It's only half an hour long and released every two weeks or so. Generally, Stephen (Slate's critic at large) is joined by Dana Stevens (Slate's movie critic) and Julia Turner (Slate's deputy editor) and they cover everything under the big umbrella of pop culture -- defined simply as anything that's popular and in the public conscience. Aside from always having interesting topics on the table, all three of them sound incredibly smart when they talk about things. They are eloquent, critical, revealing, and persuasive. Not a hint of pretentiousness or condescension.

Recent topics they've covered have included Leno and late night TV, the dire state of the publishing industry, the death of David Foster Wallace, Michelle Obama's role as First Lady and Mom-in-Chief, the mysterious relationship between Madonna and Alex Rodriguez, the NBA's Olympic Redeem Team, and the B.I.G. biopic Notorious. Awesomely eclectic right?

Each episode is typically structured around three items and then interspersed with books, articles, movies, or music they recommend. It's the type of discussion you imagine having with your smartest, most worldly, and intellectually curious friends. But realize you can't because if you knew people who could talk like this, you'd not be invited to participate anyway. Or maybe you'd be invited but as a water boy.

What's so great about this podcast is that it assumes pop culture has something significant and insightful to say. And not in a trivial, satirical, or flippant way. It's thinking and talking about entertainment in a way that justifies and validates the time suck that can happen as you sit in front of the TV or read trashy magazines. It makes me feel smarter just listening to it.

Needless to say, if you're going to explore the world of podcasts, download this one immediately.

In a coincidence, the most recent episode of the podcast revolved about a few things that we talked about this weekend in DC. First, Mike gave us the heads up about a New York Times article about female sexual desire and the Slate team opined on it last week. We also engaged in a discussion (that needs to be expanded on and continued sometime) about minorities versus whites and there's a piece in the Atlantic Monthly about the end of white demographic dominance. My real life and podcast life are coming together. Terrific!

01 February 2009

Clash of the Titans

I spent four hours Saturday night/morning watching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal slug it out in the finals for the Australia Open. There was a time when I watched a lot of tennis. Heck, there was a time when I played a lot of tennis. Nowadays, my tennis game is confined to video games. George has a Dreamcast and we've been on a major Virtua Tennis 2 kick. It's incredible how fun and satisfying playing doubles on this thing is, even though it's a decade old game system.

Federer is often spoken of as the greatest player of all time. If he won this match, he would have tied Pete Sampras' record of fourteen Slam championships, all at the age of twenty seven. The only thing standing in his way was Nadal. Of course, as any casual tennis fan knows, Nadal is kicking some ass right now. The two of them are the definitive rivals of this generation and lately, Nadal has expanded his clay dominance to include a five set Wimbledon win over Federer that was hailed as the greatest tennis match of all time.

To be honest, I've never really seen Federer or Nadal play. I wouldn't have seen this match either except Helen got all excited at three in the morning and flipped on the television for the live broadcast. Everyone else I was with ended up falling asleep, but I kept watching because prime time for me is the middle of the night. Plus the match was just so damn good.

Throughout the whole thing, I couldn't help comparing the relationship of Federer and Nadal to Superman and Batman. All through the match I was trying to draw similarities in their games and their competitive relationship to their superhero counterparts. For awhile, I couldn't even decide which one was Superman and which was Batman. I flip flopped a few times before settling on Federer as Superman and Nadal as Batman. This comparison was pushed along by Federer's choice of blue shirt and Nadal's black (sort of) getup.

Watching Federer, it seems like he would be impossible to beat. He has every shot in the book, incredible touch from every angle, and no discernible weaknesses. He's been described as nigh invincible by writers and opponents. I read that he doesn't even have a full time coach because he's just that good.

Nadal, on the other hand, has fewer weapons at his disposal. He has blistering groundstrokes, incredible defense, a few tricks up his sleeve, and is tenacious as hell. Coming off the longest Australian Open match ever two days prior, Nadal had a dinged up thigh muscle that threatened to hurt his mobility and endurance. But while the injury was certainly a factor, it didn't prevent Nadal from prevailing in another classic five setter.

At first I wanted Federer to win because he could tie history, but as it got past the third set, I noticed I was admiring Nadal's game more and more. He just kept pushing, kept running around, and wouldn't give up. He seemed to be on his heels quite a few times but always managed to grab the momentum back. It's exactly how Batman always beats Superman. Supes gets a little frustrated because he knows logically he should crush Bats but all his crushing blows keep whiffing. He's starts to lose his mental edge and suffers from a bit of insecurity.

If you're a fan of Superman and Batman, you know that Batman almost always wins in their head to head matchups. Bruce Wayne's just a weak human but he recognizes his disadvantages and works around them, enabling him to out-think and out-hustle Superman every time. He carefully pre-plans, picks his spots, and only engages when he's sure he's got the advantage. He knows he can't fly, he doesn't have heat vision or super breath, but all those things can be negated with forethought and fortitude.

Superman's arch-nemesis is Lex Luthor but his arch-rival, Batman, is clearly the more compelling story as evidenced by fans' insatiable appetite for their battles. As the two greatest heroes in the DC Universe, they team up as often as they face off but there's always an ongoing subplot of who's better. Because of this, they make each other better in comparison and reflection, driving their "games" to new heights. Federer and Nadal have the same sort of quality about their relationship (even though they never team up) and without the other, we might not be able to fully appreciate their respective strengths, weaknesses, and legacies.
Question: If Nadal is Carlos Moya in Virtua Tennis (they both just pound the shit out of the ball), who is Federer? When we play Virtua Tennis, it's conceded that Moya and Tommy Haas are the two best characters in the game. It would be nice if virtual Haas' game was like Federer's but it's not. So my question is, who is Federer?