Monday, May 30, 2005
The great thing about the only Grand Slam event played on clay is that this is where most upsets take place. Of course you can argue that in Wimbledon, you have your fair share of upsets when the obscurely-ranked superservers blow away the top-ranked baseliners. But when you look at the stats, you probably have more one-slam wonders who won the French Open: Michael Chang, Andres Gomez, Thomas Muster, Yannick Noah, and Iva Majoli, to name a few. Under the assumption that the following people will never win another slam (and the odds are pretty good for this), you can even add Alberto Costa and Gaston Gaudio (maybe you can even throw in Anastasia Myskina in the mix). And then you can also count the all-time greats who have never won the FO - Sampras, McEnroe, Connors, Becker, Edberg, Hingis, Davenport (although she may, just may, win this one), Venus Williams. It is truly in this particular event where you come to expect the unexpected.
So I guess I should no longer be surprised when last year's defending champ Myskina gets booted out in the first round (of course she had issues to contend with). Or when Nalbandian loses to Hanescu, Mauresmo loses to Ivanova, and even Venus Williams loses to virtual unknown Sesil Karatantcheva. Am I surprised Mary Pierce reaches the quarterfinals after being unable to convert her first 10 matchpoints against Patty Schnyder? Well okay sort of but not really. Even Daveport's win over Kim Clijsters (whose game is better suited to clay) is quite a feat especially when you consider that Lindsay has lost 6 straight times to Kim, rankings be damned. And this just in - Justine Henin-Herdenne wins 4 straight games to come from a break down and win 7-5 in the third set against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The women's draw is wide open with most of the ladies left in the draw having a decent shot at a finals berth, and even at winning the title. The interesting thing though is that whereas the women's game is so unpredictable nowadays, it is quite easy to guess the results in the men's tour, granted of course you have Roger Federer in the draw, or Rafael Nadal if it is a claycourt event. It would in fact be shocking if neither of these two men won the title. But in a tennis event where nowadays the top-seed rarely takes home the trophy, having the favorites lose shouldn't really be big news. Karatantcheva French Open winner? Heck, why not?
It was actually very stressful. Initially, our call time was at 6pm, but because Oz had to work til 6pm and JohnQ was not free til 530pm that day, Dex talked to the organizers and set our call time to 6pm (program starts at 630). That would've given everyone enough time to get there before we had to play. Unfortunately, some of the activities in that event ended early, so we had to bump up our call time last minute to 530pm, and we would start at 6pm sharp.
The problem there though was that Bunky had finals that day and got stuck in terrible traffic. At 545 we find out he is still in Taft Avenue, so we had no choice but to start without him. To make matters worse, Sep's bass was in Bunky's car, so he couldn't play with us either. To say that the stress level right before we play was high is an understatement. I was freaking out (as I am wont to do in such situations) while we were checking which songs we could actually do without a guitar. No more Dave Matthews Band and U2 songs? Horrible!!!
So we start out with a very laid back Counting Blue Cars, followed by The Scientist and hmm well I can't recall anymore. By then I think we had settled down a bit, and Oz walks over to JohnQ and says, let's play #41. Of course we initially took it out of the makeshift playlist because it is key to have a guitar for that song, but we are #41 addicts and the idea of trying to pull #41 off without a guitar was both intriguing and challenging. And heck, most people don't know that song so if we don't play it as well as we normally do, no one but us would notice. =)
#41 ended up being immensely cool! And it allowed us to play a bit more freely afterwards. We even had enough courage to play All I want is you, Where the streets have no name, and With or without you one after the other. Haha, of course we played those songs poorly, but it was a lot of fun (and the crowd had thinned appreciably by that time as the program was over) so it felt more like a jam than a performance.
Right now, I am looking forward to June 24, our next booked gig (I say booked because we might snag another gig or two before then) which will be in Racks in El Pueblo. The other bands performing there in June are Session Road, Indio I and Mojofly. Wow, I can't believe we are now in the same league as those bands! Hehehe I wish! We need to write our own songs first. =)
Friday, May 27, 2005
That said, I still find it such a shame that Bo wasn't hailed as the American Idol. Of course, as I mention in my previous post, there were clues all around that said this would be Carrie's season. Even during the finale. Ryan Seacrest says that each contestant sings one of their favorites from the season, then they have to sing 2 original songs, 1 of them being the AI finale song 'Inside your heaven' which actually sounds so much like a country song (which as we all know is Carrie's forte). Then for his 2nd original song, Bo has to sing this other slow song 'Long, long road.' Come on, everyone knows that Bo's strength is upbeat rock songs (or upbeat songs with rock twists), so why do they get him to sing 2 slow songs? Then even more concerning: Carrie's 2nd 'original' song is 'Angels brought me here' which is NOT an original (it was the first single of Guy Sebastian, the Australian Idol, which I even think he performed in AI3). What was that about?
Conspiracy theorists have said that Bo was given two slow songs because if he rocked out in the finale, the same way he did in the penultimate round, they would be hard-pressed to explain why Carrie would still win over him. The sad thing is that Bo was apparently really sick on finale day too, food poisoning is what they said it was, but none of the judges acknowledged it. Simon even went so far as to say Bo was much more nervous than Carrie and didn't handle the bigger stage as well as she did, even though it seemed Bo was afraid not of the size of the stage but of puking on stage during a performace.
But okay, enough of the sour-grapes. =) Bo is still guaranteed a CD and I will certainly buy it when it is released (and if they don't release it in the Philippines, I will have Amy buy it in the US and have her send it to me). In the meantime, I will list down my favorite Bo Bice performances this season:
#1. In a Dream - okay this one's obvious. I have raved about it before, but I will rave about it again. He attempted something no one else on Idol had ever attempted before. His voice was clear and powerful, and the performance just had so much soul. It was like music ability in its pure, unadulterated form. Carrie's 'Making love out of nothing at all' was actually very well sung (go listen to it again if you can), but the fact that she sang it after Bo's acapella just made it seem forgettable and ordinary.
#2. Whipping Post - this is what put Bo on the map. We only knew him as the other rocker as cameras were glued to Constantine prior to the semifinal round. In semifinal round 2, Bo ended the show with Whipping Post, and that was the first performance this season that Simon felt was definitive (in the same way that Latoya was under the radar until she shocked everyone with her 'All by myself').
#3. Vehicle - if I were Bo and I were choosing a song to do in the finale, this would be the one I would pick too. I still remember the week he performed that song for the first time. He was the last performer and actually everyone had put in good performances. The judges were just about ready to hail Vonzell's 'I'm every woman' as the best of the night until Bo stepped up and sang what Simon felt was the 'only authentically good performance tonight.' I couldn't have said it better.
#4. Sweet home Alabama - okay, this wasn't officially one of his idol performances. But man, it was spectacular. Bo just looked completely in the zone when performing. He had such a glow, comfort level, and natural ability performing this song that if you didn't know better you would actually be led to think that he was really part of Lynyrd Skynyrd. His was the last performance of the night, and it just felt that he had actually won as every other idol came up to the sides of the stage along with the rest of the celebrity performers, and yet the spotlight was still on Bo.
I wish that, apart from the album he will be releasing, another CD would come out with recorded performances of my favorite Bo songs, maybe along with Spinning wheel, I don't wanna be, Heaven (the one by Los Lonely Boys), Free Bird, Don't let the sun go down on me, and Drift away. And if there's still room, let's throw in I can't get no satisfaction, Stand by me, and For the love of money.
I say mixed emotions as the title of this post because as you might already know now, Liverpool won and Bo lost. So let me talk about the bad news first before the good, that way I end my post on a high note.
BO LOSES AMERICAN IDOL FINALE
I know I really should've expected it. The signs were all there. Earlier in the season, Simon claimed that Carrie would win and outsell any other previous idol. In the episode where there only 4 people left, Simon attacks the band for a bad arrangment of Carrie's song. And when Anthony performs the same song SO MUCH BETTER than Carrie, he tells Anthony he needs soul to sing that song (like Carrie has any more soul than Anthony?). On the results show, they preview everyone's performances. The show 5-10 second excerpts of the performance of Vonzell, Anthony, and Bo. Then they show 20-30 excerpts of Carrie's songs, making sure all her high notes and long sustains are showcased (I wished I taped that show, I have a feeling it was even longer than 30 seconds coz it felt like at least half the song was recapped). Then when there 3 left and Bo blows the competition away, Simon tells Carrie after her last performance that he feels she has done enough to move on to the finale.
Of course, even during the finale, there were a truckload more signs that the winner was a foregone conclusion (more on this in a later post). So well, I guess it wasn't so surprising that Carrie won. But despite the fact that I should've known better than hope that maybe, just maybe, Bo could pull the upset, I ended up being bitterly disappointed when Bo lost. Of course he was tremendously gracious when losing, asking the audience to applaud for Carrie. Oh well, I just hope that Bo comes out real soon with a CD.
LIVERPOOL ARE EUROPEAN CHAMPS!!!
One of the biggest talking points this season was Liverpool not having a spot in next year's Champions League even if the win it this year because only the top 4 teams of England will make it to CL and Liverpool placed 5th. The discussion was essentially thrown out for the time being because people were saying, Liverpool haven't even won yet so we shouldn't think about this until it actually happens. We might end up debating merits of giving Liverpool a slot in CL if they win, then they lose so all that discussion becomes pointless.
And they were certainly on the brink of losing the final. AC Milan built a daunting 3-0 lead. I think after that everyone had practically thrown in the towel. But then the 2nd half happened, and in an inspiring 6-minute spell of brilliant team football, Liverpool scored 3 goals to tie with AC Milan. And 3-3 it remained til the end of over time. When it came down to penalties, Dudek managed to block enough shots to bring the trophy back to Liverpool after 21 years. And since this is their 5th title, they get to keep it. Michael Owen must be kicking himself in the butt since Real ended this season with no silverware and Liverpool have one (the biggest one at that!). So congratulations to Liverpool! It is great to be a fan when these kind of things happen. =)
Monday, May 23, 2005
Saturday-Sunday - I took my family to Oakwood for two nights! The room was great and as we were on the 18/F the views were cool. My nephew CJ loved the swimming pool and the bath tub, and the buffet breakfasts were not bad at all. Plus, both my mom and I were able to use the treadmill. Oakwood's location and the fact that is was a serviced apartment made it very convenient too. We were easily able to buy groceries, cook, and use the washing machine and dryer. It also meant I had enough to get my tennis racquet restrung and have the grip replaced. And since we were officially on vacation (albeit in Manila), dessert played a great part - we bought Arce Dairy Blueberry Cheesecake ice cream (you should try this) and Ben & Jerry's Phish Food (you should also try this) on Saturday, and 3 slices of Chocolate Chocnut cake from Museum Cafe on Sunday (this one you should try too). My mom also got to watch Episode 3 and loved it, and on her way back to the room, she bought some pansit and spicy cuttlefish from Superbowl.
What's more, I finally finished the book I bought a couple of months ago (Lucky You). I read about 50 pages on Sat night and the last 100 on Sunday night. I guess I oughtta buy a new book, or okay, read one of the books I have at home that I haven't read. =) But I guess I can officially say that Carl Hiaasen is now one of my favorite authors.
Finally, spending the weekend in Oakwood had one final bonus - I was able to have a full breakfast on Monday morning without being late for my training at 830am. Brilliant. =)
Friday, May 20, 2005
EPISODE 3 ROCKS!!!
SPOILER ALERT - stop reading here if you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want to find out too much about it. Also, a warning - this post will be a bit longer than my usual posts.
I finally got to watch Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith last night and it was fantastic! It was packed with kick-ass action, dazzling special effects, and awesome battle and fight scenes (and often these multiple fight scenes are all happening at the same time, in true Star Wars form). Naturally, the Sith win out here, Darth Vader is born, and the Jedi order is essentially wiped out (remember from Episodes 4-6 that the only Jedis left alive during the rule of the empire are Obiwan Kenobi and Yoda, and then of course eventually Luke Skywalker too). This obviously gives the film a much darker tone and feel than any of the other episodes of this series, and all the violence and death that surrounds the rise of the Empire definitely made this movie depressing to watch at times. But that is part of the entire experience (and then you just remind yourself that Anakin finds his good side again in the end and helps Luke kill the Emperor to bring freedom back to the galaxy). And as Duncan told me last night, the most critically acclaimed of the series so far is the one where the enemy wins (i.e. Empire Strikes back). But hey, damn the critical acclaim. My fave of the series is still Return of the Jedi. Guess I'm a sucker for good endings. =)
But on to the movie. Or movies. For me, all 6 episodes really do feel like just one movie cut into 6 parts because it wouldn't fit into just 2 hours. So well when I say my fave is Return of the Jedi, I guess it is more like my favorite part of the 'movie' is the last sixth of it, but the whole set is my favorite 'movie' of all time. Talking strictly about what happened in this last installment though, some of the most memorable scenes for me are:
- When R2D2 does some minor ass-kicking of his own. You have here this little droid who has shown tremendous courage under duress and who has risked his, er, life so many times in the entire Star Wars series that you can't help but cheer for him whenever he shows everyone that he isn't as helpless as he initially looks.
- Obiwan's battle with General Grievous. When the General pulls out four mechanical arms, each of them wielding a light saber, you would've thought Obiwan would be intimidated. But he shows his true Jedi form and dismantles his opposition as only a Jedi can.
- The battle between Mace Windu and Senator Palpatine. Windu shows everyone exactly why he is one of the top Jedi masters. Even after the three other Jedis he was with had been executed quickly by the Emperor, he fought on bravely almost as if he wasn't afraid of the Sith Lord. And he did have Darth Sidious terribly close to death, and would've put an end to the evil machinations of the Senator had it not been for Anakin's interference. That scene also served as the impetus that led Anakin to become Darth Vader. Many people may say that they felt his metamorphosis was too quick, but that scene for me felt too real. Faced with the possibility of losing the love of his life, Anakin made a rash decision and crossed a line from which there was no turning back. Made perfect sense to me.
- The annihilation of the Jedi and the Separatists by Darth Vader. They say absolute power corrupts absolutely, and once Anakin made a commitment to turn to the dark side, he used his desire for greater power and his rage to grow in strength and power and to strike fear into the hearts of everyone. One of the darkest scenes of the movie came when the younglings seek help from Anakin as they do not know what do while the Jedi temple is under attack, and Anakin turns his light saber on. The faces of the younglings were like masks of confusion, fear, betrayal, and terror. Not for the faint of heart.
- Yoda's demonstration of why he is the head of the Jedi council. He was the only Jedi who sensed that his life was under threat, and thus was the only one who was able to survive 'Order 66' without any luck (Obiwan survived because he was too far away for the shot to be as accurate as it needed to be). And his battle with the Emperor showcased just how powerful he was. Of course we already knew that from Episode 2, but to see it again, this time against an even more powerful enemy, just made you want to cheer.
- The duel between Obiwan and Darth Vader. The scene prior to that provided the necessary emotional element - when Obiwan was virtually begging Yoda to fight the Emperor instead of his 'own brother.' It is also in this battle scene where Darth Vader begins to hate Obiwan (and if you will recall, in Episodes 4-6 you could always feel just how much Darth Vader hated Obiwan). And when Obiwan finally had Darth Vader beaten on the ground, I could feel the anguish and despair in his voice - "You were the chosen one" and "You were my brother" or something like that. I could thus understand why Obiwan couldn't truly bring it upon himself to kill Darth Vader with his own hands, and why he just left him there to burn.
So all in all a fantastic movie. I am planning to watch it again this weekend, and I can't wait for the original DVD to come out. I remember leaving the cinema thinking, 'I want a light saber!', almost as if I was a kid again and coming out of the cinema after watching Return of the Jedi with my family. I guess that is really why the Star Wars series is such a hit - you watch it and it makes you feel as though you were young again. It makes you feel like you want to be there, like you want to be a Jedi and wield your own light saber and be in a great team that fights to save the galaxy from oppression.
Apart from the depressing elements of the movie, there is one more downside to this last installment though: there won't be another one.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
When episode 2 was shown three years ago, I watched the advanced screening at midnight coz I couldn't wait. And well, when the trailers of Episode 3 came out, I said I have to see it on the advanced screening as well. And that was still the plan up until late this morning.
This morning, I checked online to see what happened in American Idol to see how events transpired. And as it turns out, Bo absolutely blew the competition, making the performances of both Carrie and Vonzell look ordinary. And his acapella rendition of 'Within a dream' was, well, I am not sure what adjective to throw in actually. Brilliant? Chilling? Hypnotic? Phenomenal? It was terribly risky to sing acapella in the penultimate round of AI because of the numerous ways that things could go wrong. But he absolutely nailed it! The risk paid off and we have yet another 'Summertime' moment. Acapella in AI? Crazy. Only Bo could pull that off.
But I digress. When I read and heard how AI was, I decided I would rather go home tonight and watch AI with my family. If I watch the advanced screening of Episode 3 tonight, I get home way past midnight, and I either get to watch the 230am run of AI in Starworld or I fall asleep and miss it completely.
At the end of it all I decided to just buy an Episode 3 ticket for tomorrow at 10pm. =)
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
I wonder though how the pilot agreed to let Uchenna and Joyce on the plane even after the door had been shut already. Rob was already laughing his evil laugh when all of a sudden the doors were opened again to let Uchenna and Joyce in. The conspiracy theory is that the producers had something to do with it, but Che told me that someone did have a similar experience before where they were let in even when the doors had been closed and the plane was just about ready to taxi. So I guess their good karma finally paid off. I am so glad the married couple didn't give up!
(Aside - I thought it was so sad that Uchenna and Joyce had great difficulty begging for money. I'd like to think it was the location and the time of day that made it hard for them to find people willing to part with their money. However, in the past, I never saw a Caucasian team have difficulty raising funds by begging. In fact, I recall 'Hellboy' and his partner in last season (what were their names?) raise something like $1200 from begging. Meredith and Gretchen didn't seem to have problems this season either. Makes me wonder - did the fact that Uchenna and Joyce were black significantly impact their ability to raise as much money from begging?)
Btw, I didn't watch the finale (being true to my boycott-TAR7-for-letting-Rob-and-Amber-join form) until I was told that 'good guys don't always finish last.' I guess won't be boycotting TAR8 or any of the future seasons of TAR anymore. =)
Sadly though, we ended up raising a very small amount of money - virtually 15% of what sales made 2 years back. What's worse is that since we spent some money on streamers and flyers (which worked very well for us before), plastic bags for putting stuff in when they are purchased, and hiring people to sell and bring the stuff from the Alimurung residence to Santuario and back, we actually ended up spending more than we earned. What a waste of effort! But well, at least I picked up on a few more things that worked and didn't work, so we will probably give it one last go in the last quarter of this year, and if the adjustments we make still don't result in better sales, we will throw in the towel and focus on our other Fundraisers.
I'm looking forward to this weekend though. I booked a two-bedroom suite in Oakwood for Sat and Sun night, and I'm bringing my nephews, my mom and whoever else there. Last April I booked a room at Manila Pen and my nephews had tons of fun at the pool and in the tub. I figured it's better to get a room in a hotel with a pool and a tub rather than bring my family out of town so I got a bigger room this time (which also comes with free breakfast for more people). Also, it's just next to Glorietta so there are a lot of activities we can do when it is too hot to go swimming. Hopefully it will be a fun weekend (and a restful one)!
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Speaking of band rehearsals, I think Plan B didn't get the Yero gig. However, Still Oz had our reunion gig last night and it was an absolute blast!!! I had a sore throat actually (the teambuilding event we had in Tagaytay on Monday wiped me out completely) but it cleared up sufficiently before the gig for me to sound decent enough and hit most of my high notes. But what made that gig great? Well, for starters, Still Oz haven't played together since Feb 18, and in fact our last gig with John V was way back in December (it should've been January but he ended up getting sick on our only Jan gig before he left). Also, it was the first time Sep played with us as Still Oz, and the bass sound just completely freed up both John Q and Bunky, enhancing our sound. Cholo also played with a full drumset in a gig for the first time. The best thing though was the crowd. Ponti was absolutely packed (it was standing room only!) and the entire crowd were very appreciative of our performance. IT folks from all over Asia who were in Manila on a business trip decided to swing by and check our gig too. Truth be told, we were rusty and made a lot of mistakes, but for the most part it was good, if not great, entertainment and music with lots of passion that seemed to move the people there. Oz mentioned that the owner of Ponti was interested to get us for another gig there soon. John V said that a lot of other people who were there that night wanted to get us for weddings (an alternative rock band in a wedding? go figure), events, and gigs, and that Dex would handle all those things for us. Hopefully this pulls Still Oz out of its hiatus. If it doesn't, at least it gives me good hope that we will end up still playing all together when everyone's skeds start to free up. Cool. =)
Friday, May 06, 2005
Other great things this week:
- Scott Savol is finally out of AI! On paper, Anthony should've gone with that horrible, horrible 'poison ivy' song (he sang it okay but it was just such a terrible song!) but Scott was just such a prick (and he stayed safe a lot of times that he should've gone) that this was his time to go! Bo-Carrie final in the making? Dunno, but I hope Bo makes it at least to the final 2.
- Liverpool are through to the Champions League final beating Chelsea with a controversial goal! Well, whether the goal was really in or not, I don't care. Liverpool didn't call it, and they managed to keep Chelsea from scoring a goal (6 minutes injury time? Since when have 6 minutes been added?). Up next, AC Milan. It'll be another really steep mountain to climb, so I hope Liverpool still have enough game and luck to score another huge upset.