Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Tennis’

9th anniversary, 9 stories

September 21, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Movies, Tennis 8 Comments →

The Cat’s Eye Nebula, from the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day archive.

On Thursday we mark the 9th anniversary of Jessica Rules the Universe. We started blogging quite late, after having declared that we would never blog. At the time, we did not anticipate that we would join the ranks of the unemployed, and that if our byline did not appear in a newspaper every week, readers would simply assume that we had moved to another country and forget that we exist.

Our first blog was on blogspot and it was called Twisted by Jessica Zafra. Once, as an experiment, we turned off the comment moderation. The section was quickly overrun by trolls so we abandoned the blog altogether. In 2006 Melo Villareal offered to host our site, which he continues to do to this day. We couldn’t use our own name because someone had bought the domain name back in the mid-90s, so we decided on Jessica Rules the Universe.

On this blog we cover our personal interests: Books, Movies (and lately, TV), Travel, Tennis, Music, and of course, Cats. Occasionally, when riled, we write on Politics and Current Events (mostly Traffic). We also hold Contests, do Group Translations (See Camus in Tagalog, above), and organize Reader Support Groups when we take on books that require extra attention (War and Peace, Blood Meridian).

To mark our 9th anniversary, we’re showcasing 9 representative blog posts over the next three days. If you have any particular favorites, let us know in Comments.

From 2010: Emotional Blackmail

Mat the Cat: I would like a treat, please. (My cats are haughty but polite.)
Me: This is not a treat day. Your next treat is on Friday.
Mat: I would like one now.
Me: No, we don’t want you to get super-fat.
Mat: I am not fat, I am big-boned.
Me: This is not a negotiation. No treats till Friday.
Mat tries poor, pitiful expression (See photo).

From 2012: Roger Federer, we release you

Before Sunday, Roger Federer’s last grand slam victory was at the Australian Open in 2010. Since then it’s been two and a half years of mental torment, recrimination and self-doubt—not for Federer, whose perfect hair remained unruffled by the dominance of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, but for Federer fans like myself.

I hope you’re a better human than I am, because I was reduced to hoping that Nadal’s knees would fall off (Not impossible, given the way he plays) or that Djokovic would split in half (Not impossible either—his upper torso goes left, his legs go right, boom! Manananggal). Sportswriters wrote Roger off (He’s 30)—I stopped reading them. He got cranky after his losses—I figured he’d been babysitting his twins. I watched the grand slams almost furtively, lest others gloat that he’d become “vincible”.

From 2010: 86. Try A Little Suicide (Danny Zialcita’s Tinimbang Ang Langit)

Victoria sees Sandra and has a fit of jealousy, or maybe she just had some bad shrimp for lunch, it’s hard to tell. Joel takes off to a beach resort to write songs, and he’s so distraught he walks around in shiny gold hot pants.

Now Roger Federer is showing us how to age gracefully

July 01, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis No Comments →


Excerpts from Brian Phillips’ wonderful essay in Grantland

Four years ago, trying to comprehend the phenomenon of Federer’s late career, which even then seemed like it had lasted an astonishingly long time, I wrote that the best athletes usually have a “still” phase. First they’re fast. Then they’re slow. In between, there’s a moment when they’re “still” fast — when you can see the end coming but can’t deny that, for now, they remain close to their best. Federer, I wrote, had spent longer in that “still” phase than any great tennis player I could think of.

The slow-motion euthanasia that time inflicts on athletic talent is, for me, the hardest thing to watch in sports. But time is treating Federer with a tenderness that almost defies reason.

Because the truth is that while we talk about his late career as if it were a sort of beautifully written epilogue, a casual marvel, it has now lasted longer than his prime.

These days, though? Federer’s career doesn’t seem so sad. Partly this is because other top-rank tennis declines — specifically Nadal’s injury-aided shuttlecock dive to the bottom of the top 10, but also arguably including Andy Murray’s failure to emerge as a consistent threat after winning Great Britain’s first Wimbledon men’s singles title since the boyhood of Æthelred the Unready — have been so much more dramatic (and therefore so much more consistent with how tennis careers usually end, i.e., not gently and with years of further sustained success). But it’s also because Federer seems to be enjoying himself so much.

What you take from watching him now is not so much a sense of tennis, the abstract world of angles and pure calculation that he seemed to represent in his youth, but the sense of a life. You watch him, and even though his physical signatures are the same, even though he tucks his hair behind his ear with the same patient care and spins his racket with the same agitation and hops along the baseline with the same sprung tension in his legs, what you think about, because he’s been around long enough for you to know him better, is also what’s offscreen.

Read The Sun Never Sets: On Roger Federer, Endings and Wimbledon in Grantland. Thanks to Rossan for sending us the link.

How to spend your summer vacation (if you’re a student)

March 25, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest, Current Events, Language, Movies, Tennis No Comments →

1. Watch German crime thrillers for free.

Every Wednesday 6pm at the 4th Floor, Room 3 of Goethe-Institut Philippinen, Adamson Center, Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati.

April 8: Dreileben – Etwas Besseres als den Tod (Beats being dead). Directed by Christian Petzold (who made Nina).

A sexual offender escapes from a hospital. His escape and the police’s hectic search serve as a background to the love story between Johannes, a boy from a rich home undertaking his civilian service, and Ana, a pretty girl from Bosnia.

April 15: Dreileben – Komm mir nicht nach (Don’t Follow Me Around). Directed by Dominik Graf

A sexual offender is loitering somewhere in the Thuringian forest. Police psychologist Johanna is sent to Dreileben to assist in the case.

April 22: Dreileben – Eine Minute Dunkel (One minute of darkness). Directed by Christoph Hochhäusler

Frank Molesch, convicted of murder, uses an opportunity to escape. He takes refuge in the forest. The awareness that he has become fair game changes him. The police combine all their technology and manpower to capture the fugitive.

For more information, visit their website.

2. Get a free trip to France (if you speak French).

Filipinos aged 18 to 25 are invited to participate in LabCitoyen, an annual program launched by Institut Français that selects French-speaking youth from all over the world to participate in a series of conferences, debates, and workshops on citizenship over the course of a ten-day, all expenses paid visit to France.

Each year, Institut Français opens this contest to Francophone youths to raise discussion and awareness on various issues concerning human rights and citizenship.

This year, interested participants are to create a 5-minute video documentary in the French language on the theme “Human rights in the face of environmental challenges,” in view of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) to be hosted by France in December 2015.

COP 21 is vital as 195 governments will endeavor to sign an ambitious, universal and legally binding agreement to limit global warming to 2°C,
before the effects of climate change become irreversible.

One Filipino shall be chosen by the cultural section of the Embassy of France to the Philippines to participate in the 10-day program in France from July 15 to 25, 2015.

The deadline for submission of videos is on April 20, 2015. For the complete mechanics, visit their website.

3. Tennis lessons

Since our eldest niece was two we have been bugging her mother to let her take tennis lessons. After all Martina Hingis was only two when she picked up the racquet. True, her mom was playing in tournaments during pregnancy, but the point is that we can make like the Djokovic family at tennis matches and jeer at the enemy. Or the Federers and invite fashion editors to sit courtside wearing large sunglasses.

We volunteered to take the kid to her lessons, and then our sister pointed out that her classes are at 10am. Yuccch, sunshine. So we won’t be trundling out our horrible tennis relative impression (Mary Pierce’s dad, Jennifer Capriati’s dad, Steffi Graf’s dad, etc), but who knows.

The niece is expected to balk at physical activity since she’d rather dress as various Disney princesses, so we have recommended a regimen of Maria Sharapova videos (free earplugs for the whole family).

The decline and fall of the Big Four tennis empire

February 02, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis No Comments →


Empires fall, but seldom all at once. They fall slowly, piece by piece. Barbarians mass on the borders. Unrest builds in the capital. Weak rulers poison strong ones. The army wins battles but loses provinces. The collapse can take years. Afterward, no one is able to pinpoint the precise moment when the old order failed. There was no single moment. There was only an epoch of decline, followed by the spreading realization that what used to be the empire has now become something else.

Continue reading

This is not the end. This is the Roger renaissance.

July 08, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Tennis No Comments →

In the Wall Street Journal: In Defeat, A Vintage Federer Appears

And we’re not being crazy fans. Did you see the final?* He lost the match, but the beautiful strokes are back.

Which is not to disparage Djokovic. He deserved the victory. (Obviously we will no longer depend on The Fed for our victory fix, just for the tennis.)

Where Federer always wins: The writing on Federer is far superior to the writing on any other player.

* We had decided not to watch the final because our nerves have had enough exercise. Besides, we don’t have cable in the house. We dropped by Juan’s house to get a look at the first set, but FoxSports on Destiny Cable was on some kind of loop last Sunday at 2130, and after we had seen the same report on Neymar’s injury thrice we went home.

If the real Roger Federer follows Not Roger Federer on Twitter, would it tear a hole in the fabric of space-time?

June 27, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Technology, Tennis 1 Comment →






And our favorite: