Saturday, May 31, 2008


despite having serious blisters and requiring a medical timeout, rafa won against nieminen. glad that we had dinner last night at café alfonso coz i was able to catch some of the 3rd round clash between rafa and jarkko. i hope that the blisters won't bother him this time, as he faces verdasco in the fourth round.

the biggest news however was the early departure of serena and venus! too bad that our cable connection was suddenly changed from sky to home (w/c doesn't have balls channel in their lineup), that's why i didn't see how stunning the 2 defeats were. the williams sisters are usually vulnerable during early rounds, but i think their losses were too premature, as they had a pretty decent clay season, especially serena.

i don't really like serena to win this year's french open so her loss was ok, but i was rooting for venus to make a considerable run or possibly win the whole shebang. their opponents, katarina srebotnik and flavia penetta played really well. outmaneuevered the sisters, stayed in and won long rallies, forced errors... good job!

now that the williams sisters are out of the tournament, spotlight shifts to sharapova (who plays safina for a place in QF), kuznetsova and the serbian duo of jankovic and ivanovic.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


roland garros is underway! the first 3 days were almost completely washed out, but several big names have already progressed to the next round... ivanovic, jankovic, williams sisters, federer, djokovic and of course the claycourt wiz, rafa! sharapova was given a huge scare, but got past rodina.

old timers like hewitt and safin also got through the first hurdle. tennis-wise, these players are already considered oldies, even if they're only 27 and 28, respectively. well, because as boris becker puts it, tennis players' lives are measured in "dog years". anyway, pete bodo, tennis analyst, provided few short insights on safin, the alpinist. here it is:

But Safin, perhaps disoriented by that remarkable early-career statement and the pressures it brought to bear, was unable to follow up. He would reach the no. 1 ranking, and three more Grand Slam finals, winning one (the Australian Open of 2005). He had all the skills - no doubt about it. In fact, he may be the most skilled player (after Roger Federer) of his generation. But Safin's moody, auto-tormenting nature, part-and-parcel of his overall philosophical bent (further irritated by a steady stream of injuries, large and small), was unable to withstand the kind of weight that was being put on it.

Instead of becoming a dominant, always-in-the-mix champion, Safin came to represent a different and certainly happier if less celebrated type of player: the "tennis bum." The term sounds harsh these days, when an all-obliterating professionalism is the norm even among lesser players, but a few decades ago the term was still used with affection, and thinly-veiled admiration and envy, to characterize the fun-loving, talented, roguish, n'er do wells who stubbornly clung to boyhood by trying to make a living in a sport that didn't offer much of one. Safin, in some ways, has raged against the machine, but the machine ate him. What, did you think it wouldn't?

zel was asking a while ago when would safin ascend to the top again... i think it would be a longshot. maybe he can come back to the top 10, given his extraordinary skills. but with a lot of more determined (read, hungry and ambitious) and younger players around, it might be difficult to regain that place.

of course, tennis gods are somewhat kind to some gifted players. who knows... safin might do a capriati comeback and win a few important titles and maybe another slam, before finally fading into total bum-ness. obviously, j-cap did not achieve what she was able to do without the renewed dedication, proper training and conditioning, as well as a more positive game outlook. marat, with his immense skills, just needs to focus... should have less bumming and partying. even kid sis dinara, who won this year's berlin masters, is saying that!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


61. Cook bacon. Lay out the bacon on a rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

62. Hold a baby. Newborns should be wrapped tightly and held against the chest. They like tight spaces (consider their previous circumstances) and rhythmic movements, so hold them snug, tuck them in the crook of your elbow or against the skin of your neck. Rock your hips like you're bored, barely listening to the music at the edge of a wedding reception. No one has to notice except the baby. Don't breathe all over them.

63. Deliver a eulogy. Take the job seriously. It matters. Speak first to the family, then to the outside world. Write it down. Avoid similes. Don't read poetry. Be funny.

64. Know that Christopher Columbus was a son of a bitch. When I was a kid, because I'm Italian and because the Irish guys in my neighborhood were relentless with the beatings on St. Patrick's Day, I loved the very idea of Christopher Columbus. I loved the fact that Irish kids worshipped some gnome who drove all the rats out of Ireland or whatever, whereas my hero was an explorer. Man, I drank the Kool-Aid on that guy. Of course, I later learned that he was a hand-chopping, land-stealing egotist who sold out an entire hemisphere to European avarice. So I left Columbus behind. Your understanding of your heroes must evolve. See Roger Clemens. See Bill Belichick.

65-67. Throw a baseball over-hand with some snap. Throw a football with a tight spiral. Shoot a 12-foot jump shot reliably. If you can't, play more ball.

68. Find his way out of the woods if lost. Note your landmarks — mountains, power lines, the sound of a highway. Look for the sun: It sits in the south; it moves west. Gauge your direction every few minutes. If you're completely stuck, look for a small creek and follow it downstream. Water flows toward larger bodies of water, where people live.

69. Tie a knot. Square knot: left rope over right rope, turn under. Then right rope over left rope. Tuck under. Pull. Or as my pack leader, Dave Kenyon, told me in a Boy Scouts meeting: "Left over right, right over left. What's so f***ing hard about that?"

70. Shake hands. Steady, firm, pump, let go. Use the time to make eye contact, since that's where the social contract begins.

71. Iron a shirt. My uncle Tony the tailor once told me of ironing: Start rough, end gently.

72. Stock an emergency bag for the car. Blanket. Heavy flashlight. Hand warmers. Six bottles of water. Six packs of beef jerky. Atlas. Reflectors. Gloves. Socks. Bandages. Neosporin. Inhaler. Benadryl. Motrin. Hard candy. Telescoping magnet. Screwdriver. Channel-locks. Crescent wrench. Ski hat. Bandanna.

73. Caress a woman's neck. Back of your fingers, in a slow fan.

74. Know some birds. If you can't pay attention to a bird, then you can't learn from detail, you aren't likely to appreciate the beauty of evolution, and you don't have a clue how birdlike your own habits may be. You've been looking at them blindly for years now. Get a guide.

75. Negotiate a better price. Be informed. Know the price of competitors. In a big store, look for a manager. Don't be an a-hole. Use one phrase as your mantra, like "I need a little help with this one." Repeat it, as an invitation to him. Don't beg. Ever. Offer something: your loyalty, your next purchase, even your friendship, and, with the deal done, your gratitude.


41. Speak to a waiter so he will hear. You don't own the restaurant, so don't act like it. You own the transaction. So don't speak into the menu. Lift your chin. Make eye contact. All restaurants have secrets — let it be known that you expect to see some of them.

42. Talk to a dog so it will hear. Go ahead, use baby talk.

43. Install: a disposal, an electronic thermostat, or a lighting fixture without asking for help. Just turn off the damned main.

44. Ask for help. Guys who refuse to ask for help are the most cursed men of all. The stubborn, the self-possessed, and the distant. The hell with them.

45. Break another man's grip on his wrist. Rotate your arm rapidly in the grip, toward the other guy's thumb.

46. Tell a woman's dress size.

47. Recite one poem from memory. Here you go:

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,And nodding by the fire, take down this book,And slowly read, and dream of the soft lookYour eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,And loved your beauty with love false or true,But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fledAnd paced upon the mountains overheadAnd hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
—William Butler Yeats

48. Remove a stain. Blot. Always blot.

49. Say no.

50. Fry an egg sunny-side up. Cook until the white appears solid . . . and no longer.

51. Build a campfire.There are three components:

The tinder — bone-dry, snappable twigs, about as long as your hand. You need two complete handfuls. Try birch bark; it burns long and hot.

The kindling — thick as your thumb, long as your forearm, breakable with two hands. You need two armfuls.
Fuel wood — anything thick and long enough that it can't be broken by hand. It's okay if it's slightly damp. You need a knee-high stack.

Step 1:Light the tinder, turning the pile gently to get air underneath it.

Step 2: Feed the kindling into the emergent fire with some pace.

Step 3: Lay on the fuel wood. Pyramid, the log cabin, what-ever — the idea is to create some kind of structure so that plenty of air gets to the fire.

52. Step into a job no one wants to do. When I was 13, my dad called me into his office at the large urban mall he ran. He was on the phone. What followed was a fairly banal 15-minute conversation, which involved the collection of rent from a store. On and on, droning about store hours and lighting problems. I kept raising my eyebrows, pretending to stand up, and my dad kept waving me down. I could hear only his end, garrulous and unrelenting. He rolled his eyes as the excuses kept coming. His assertions were simple and to the point, like a drumbeat. He wanted the rent. He wanted the store to stay open when the mall was open. Then suddenly, having given the job the time it deserved, he put it to an end. "So if I see your gate down next Sunday afternoon, I'm going to get a drill and stick a goddamn bolt in it and lock you down for the next week, right?" When he hung up, rent collected, he took a deep breath. "I've been dreading that call," he said. "Once a week you gotta try something you never would do if you had the choice. Otherwise, why are you here?" So he gave me that. And this . . .

53. Sometimes, kick some ass.

54. Break up a fight. Work in pairs if possible. Don't get between people initially. Use the back of the collar, pull and urge the person downward. If you can't get him down, work for distance.

55. Point to the north at any time. If you have a watch, you can point the hour hand at the sun. Then find the point directly between the hour hand and the 12. That's south. The opposite direction is, of course, north.

56. Create a play-list in which ten seemingly random songs provide a secret message to one person.

57. Explain what a light-year is. It's the measure of the distance that light travels over 365.25 days.

58. Avoid boredom. You have enough to eat. You can move. This must be acknowledged as a kind of freedom. You don't always have to buy things, put things in your mouth, or be delighted.

59. Write a thank-you note. Make a habit of it. Follow a simple formula like this one: First line is a thesis statement. The second line is evidentiary. The third is a kind of assertion. Close on an uptick.

Thanks for having me over to watch game six. Even though they won, it's clear the Red Sox are a soulless, overmarketed contrivance of Fox TV. Still, I'm awfully happy you have that huge high-def television. Next time, I really will bring beer. Yours,

60. Be brand loyal to at least one product. It tells a lot about who you are and where you came from. Me? I like Hellman's mayonnaise and Genesee beer, which makes me the fleshy, stubbornly upstate ne'er-do-well that I will always be.


21. Argue with a European without getting xenophobic or insulting soccer. Once, in our lifetime, much of Europe was approaching cultural and political irrelevance. Then they made like us and banded together into a union of confederated states. So you can always assume that they were simply copying the United States as they now push us to the verge of cultural and political irrelevance.

22. Give a woman an orgasm so that he doesn't have to ask after it. Otherwise, ask after it.

23. Be loyal. You will fail at it. You have already. A man who does not know loyalty, from both ends, does not know men. Loyalty is not a matter of give-and-take: He did me a favor, therefore I owe him one. No. No. No. It is the recognition of a bond, the honoring of a shared history, the reemergence of the vows we make in the tight times. It doesn't mean complete agreement or invisible blood ties. It is a currency of selflessness, given without expectation and capable of the most stellar return.

24. Know his poison, without standing there, pondering like a dope. Brand, amount, style, fast, like so: Booker's, double, neat.

25. Drive an eightpenny nail into a treated two-by-four without thinking about it. Use a contractor's hammer. Swing hard and loose, like a tennis serve.

26. Cast a fishing rod without shrieking or sighing or otherwise admitting defeat.

27. Play gin with an old guy. Old men will try to crush you. They'll drown you in meaningless chatter, tell stories about when they were kids this or in Korea that. Or they'll retreat into a taciturn posture designed to get you to do the talking. They'll note your strategies without mentioning them, keep the stakes at a level they can control, and change up their pace of play just to get you stumbling. You have to do this — play their game, be it dominoes or cribbage or chess. They may have been playing for decades. You take a beating as a means of absorbing the lessons they've learned without taking a lesson. But don't be afraid to take them down. They can handle it.

28. Play go fish with a kid. You don't crush kids. You talk their ear off, make an event out of it, tell them stories about when you were a kid this or in Vegas that. You have to play their game, too, even though they may have been playing only for weeks. Observe. Teach them without once offering a lesson. And don't be afraid to win. They can handle it.

29. Understand quantum physics well enough that he can accept that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped. Sometimes the laws of physics aren't laws at all. Read The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone, by Kenneth W. Ford.

30. Feign interest. Good place to start: quantum physics.

31. Make a bed.

32. Describe a glass of wine in one sentence without using the terms nutty, fruity, oaky, finish, or kick. I once stood in a wine store in West Hollywood where the owner described a pinot noir he favored as "a night walk through a wet garden." I bought it. I went to my hotel and drank it by myself, looking at the flickering city with my feet on the windowsill. I don't know which was more right, the wine or the vision that he placed in my head. Point is, it was right.

33. Hit a jump shot in pool. It's not something you use a lot, but when you hit a jump shot, it marks you as a player and briefly impresses women. Make the angle of your cue steeper, aim for the bottommost fraction of the ball, and drive the cue smoothly six inches past the contact point, making steady, downward contact with the felt.

34. Dress a wound. First, stop the bleeding. Apply pressure using a gauze pad. Stay with the pressure. If you can't stop the bleeding, forget the next step, just get to a hospital. Once the bleeding stops, clean the wound. Use water or saline solution; a little soap is good, too. If you can't get the wound clean, then forget the next step, just get to a hospital. Finally, dress the wound. For a laceration, push the edges together and apply a butterfly bandage. For avulsions, where the skin is punctured and pulled back like a trapdoor, push the skin back and use a butterfly. Slather the area in antibacterial ointment. Cover the wound with a gauze pad taped into place. Change that dressing every 12 hours, checking carefully for signs of infection. Better yet, get to a hospital.

35. Jump-start a car (without any drama). Change a flat tire (safely). Change the oil (once).

36. Make three different bets at a craps table. Play the smallest and most poorly labeled areas, the bets where it's visually evident the casino doesn't want you to go. Simply play the pass line; once the point is set, play full odds (this is the only really good bet on the table); and when you want a little more action, tell the crew you want to lay the 4 and the 10 for the minimum bet.

37. Shuffle a deck of cards. I play cards with guys who can't shuffle, and they lose. Always.

38. Tell a joke. Here's one:
Two guys are walking down a dark alley when a mugger approaches them and demands their money. They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin taking out their cash. Just then, one guy turns to the other, hands him a bill, and says, "Hey, here's that $20 I owe you."

39. Know when to split his cards in blackjack. Aces. Eights. Always.

40. Speak to an eight-year-old so he will hear. Use his first name. Don't use baby talk. Don't crank up your energy to match his. Ask questions and wait for answers. Follow up. Don't pretend to be interested in Webkinz or Power Rangers or whatever. He's as bored with that sh** as you are. Concentrate instead on seeing the child as a person of his own.


since i don't have time to write down anything, it's high time to copy from other sources and put 'em here! (",)

The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master

(Tom Chiarella of

A man can be expert in nothing, but he must be practiced in many things. Skills. You don't have to master them all at once. You simply have to collect and develop a certain number of skills as the years tick by. People count on you to come through. That's why you need these, to start.

A Man Should Be Able To:

1. Give advice that matters in one sentence. I got run out of a job I liked once, and while it was happening, a guy stopped me in the hall. Smart guy, but prone to saying too much. I braced myself. I didn't want to hear it. I needed a white knight, and I knew it wasn't him. He just sighed and said: When nobody has your back, you gotta move your back. Then he walked away. Best advice I ever got. One sentence.

2. Tell if someone is lying. Everyone has his theory. Pick one, test it. Choose the tells that work for you. I like these: Liars change the subject quickly. Liars look up and to their right when they speak. Liars use fewer contractions. Liars will sometimes stare straight at you and employ a dead face. Liars never touch their chest or heart except self-consciously. Liars place objects between themselves and you during a conversation.

3. Take a photo. Fill the frame.

4. Score a baseball game. Scoring a game is an exercise in ciphering, creating a shorthand of your very own. In this way, it's a private language as much as a record of the game. The only given is the numbering of the positions and the use of the diamond to express each batter's progress around the bases. I black out the diamond when a run scores. I mark an RBI with a tally mark in the upper-right-hand corner. Each time you score a game, you pick up on new elements to track: pitch count, balls and strikes, foul balls. It doesn't matter that this information is available on the Internet in real time. Scoring a game is about bearing witness, expanding your own ability to observe.

5. Name a book that matters. The Catcher in the Rye does not matter. Not really. You gotta read.

6. Know at least one musical group as well as is possible. One guy at your table knows where Cobain was born and who his high school English teacher was. Another guy can argue the elegant extended trope of Liquid Swords with GZA himself. This is how it should be. Music does not demand agreement. Rilo Kiley. Nina Simone. Whitesnake. Fugazi. Otis Redding. Whatever. Choose. Nobody likes a know-it-all, because 1) you can't know it all and 2) music offers distinct and private lessons. So pick one. Except Rilo Kiley. I heard they broke up.

7. Cook meat somewhere other than the grill. Buy The Way to Cook, by Julia Child. Try roasting. Braising. Broiling. Slow-cooking. Pan searing. Think ragouts, fricassees, stews. All of this will force you to understand the functionality of different cuts. In the end, grilling will be a choice rather than a chore, and your Weber will become a tool rather than a piece of weekend entertainment.

8. Not monopolize the conversation.

9. Write a letter. So easy. So easily forgotten. A five-paragraph structure works pretty well: Tell why you're writing. Offer details. Ask questions. Give news. Add a specific memory or two. If your handwriting is terrible, type. Always close formally.

10. Buy a suit. Avoid bargains. Know your likes, your dislikes, and what you need it for (work, funerals, court). Squeeze the fabric — if it bounces back with little or no sign of wrinkling, that means it's good, sturdy material. And tug the buttons gently. If they feel loose or wobbly, that means they're probably coming off sooner rather than later. The jacket's shoulder pads are supposed to square with your shoulders; if they droop off or leave dents in the cloth, the jacket's too big. The jacket sleeves should never meet the wrist any lower than the base of the thumb — if they do, ask to go down a size. Always get fitted.

11. Swim three different strokes. Doggie paddle doesn't count.

12. Show respect without being a suck-up. Respect the following, in this order: age, experience, record, reputation. Don't mention any of it.

13. Throw a punch. Close enough, but not too close. Swing with your shoulders, not your arm. Long punches rarely land squarely. So forget the roundhouse. You don't have a haymaker. Follow through; don't pop and pull back. The length you give the punch should come in the form of extension after the point of contact. Just remember, the bones in your hand are small and easy to break. You're better off striking hard with the heel of your palm. Or you could buy the guy a beer and talk it out.

14. Chop down a tree. Know your escape path. When the tree starts to fall, use it.

15. Calculate square footage. Width times length.

16. Tie a bow tie.

17. Make one drink, in large batches, very well. When I interviewed for my first job, one of the senior guys had me to his house for a reception. He offered me a cigarette and pointed me to a bowl of whiskey sours, like I was Darrin Stephens and he was Larry Tate. I can still remember that first tight little swallow and my gratitude that I could go back for a refill without looking like a drunk. I came to admire the host over the next decade, but he never gave me the recipe. So I use this: • For every 750-ml bottle of whiskey (use a decent bourbon or rye), add: • 6 oz fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice • 6 oz simple syrup(mix superfine sugar and water in equal quantities)
To serve: Shake 3 oz per person with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice or, if you're really slick, a float of red wine. (Pour about ½ oz slowly into each glass over the back of a spoon; this is called a New York sour, and it's great.)

18. Speak a foreign language. Pas beaucoup. Mais faites un effort.

19. Approach a woman out of his league. Ever have a shoeshine from a guy you really admire? He works hard enough that he doesn't have to tell stupid jokes; he doesn't stare at your legs; he knows things you don't, but he doesn't talk about them every minute; he doesn't scrape or apologize for his status or his job or the way he is dressed; he does his job confidently and with a quiet relish. That stuff is wildly inviting. Act like that guy.

20. Sew a button.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


peste ang dulot.

kapal ng mukha.

ka-rimarim ng gawi.
ka-nginig ng laman.
may gusto lang patunayan.

anting walang humpay.
'yun lang ang pakay.

mahipan sana ng hangin.
maglaho sa lalim ng bangin.

matapos na sana ang lagim.

Monday, May 19, 2008


rafa wins hamburg masters!
he now has won 6 out of 9 masters series and his 11th masters series shield, tying the great pete sampras. he has notched his 10th win in 16 matches over federer... 8th win over roger on clay.
this win came at a good time... he lost in the in the second round to juan carlos ferrero in rome, after getting a bye in the first round. he suffered from a serious bout of blisters, which limited his movement and agility on the court.

with the french open coming, this win boosts his preparation. vamos rafa! rothenbaum, by the way, is the main tennis court of the hamburg masters.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


this trip, just like the usual out-of-towns that i had with idc peeps was blighted by untoward episodes... makati day + payday + friday = heavy jam, cab-getting difficulty. the result was a chopsuey of walking around makati cbd, taking a bus to go to buendia mrt station, mrt ride up to cubao and a hurried walk to aurora blvd. terminal of partas. with all of these, we missed the intended bus, resulting to light dismay from mabel (peace!), as we took the 11 pm sked instead. however, the immense beauty of ilocos erased all these hiccups, even when rain came when we got to pagudpud.

we got to batac, ilocos norte ahead of schedule. we headed directly to paoay church (my newest UNESCO World Heritage Site conquest!!!). the church was magnificent, huge buttresses, well-maintained old feel and original architecture, wide open space in front, although i saw a minor smokey mountain at the right side of the church.

after this, off we went to paoay lake. i wanted to see this coz this has been mentioned in historical accounts, plus some chapters of eddie romero's noli me tangere abc-5 series was filmed here. this is where chorvs uttered "jutting out", a piece of land extending to the body of water. malacanang of the north was there as well, so we toured every corner of it. this was actually a relic of the marcos extravagance, with separate rooms for both macoy and melding, whenever they travel without each other. the structure is in danger of literally falling down if neglect continues.

as much as mabel and chorvs ensured that we're on budget, we got ripped off by our tricycle drivers! 350 per trike for the less than 2 hour ride from paoay church to malacanang ti amianan and back. good thing, we had a hearty lunch from herencia, where we tried pinakbet pizza, poque-poque and the yummy crispy dinuguan. we rented a van from paoay to get us all the way to pagudpud. on the way, we saw marcos' refrigerator frp (final resting place), complete with ala-wax museum lighting and interior design.

finished with batac, the ilocos kalsada trip continued. we reached burgos, where cape bojeador lighthouse is located. this cape faces the south china sea directly and was completely ravaged by a typhoon. good thing, it's now standing once again… i even got a chance to climb its winding staircases, up to where its lamp is.

roadtrip went on, bangui was the next stop… for the windmills! who would've thought that we have actual working windmills! these white towers with 3 rotating blades were glorious, able to produce electricity that would supply the entire town and other neighboring ones.

we said bye to the windmills and its kangkang café, and made the final rush to pagudpud. there, we stayed in polaris. we braved the rains to see the patapat (ilocano for 'belt') aquaduct. some portions of this highway belt was destroyed by falling rocks due to strong typhoons last year. the next day, we walked for over 30 minutes to see kabigan falls. of course, we took a dip! then headed back to see blue lagoon. because of the rains, ripping tides were all over, no chance to be a beach-comber. we chose to got to saud beach instead, but the ripping tides were also there. good thing, mabel came up with a good and innovative way to enjoy the beach even if the waves are crazy – butt-surfing! we waited for the huge waves to strike and let it swish and swoosh us in all directions. after this activity, the collected sand in our undies could have been used as wedding souvenir (if you repack it in small bottles).

all in all, the quick ilocos roadtrip was a good one. i saw a lot of sights, enjoyed the company of tita c, 'day and the rest of the edithas, minus madam, food was good, nice time to while away a weekend. libre pa kami ni cathy sa karamihan ng gastusin! sa uulitin!


when you're on top of the league, has dominated the game by finishing number 1 in 2007, winning 10 titles and over USD 5 million prize money and won 2 out of 4 slams, while 2008 showed some considerably decent outing, and you're only 25... how did you come up with the decision to retire altogether? was it something that just popped out of your mind? or after a bad night, woke up the morning after and said that i'll stop.

it was surprising to see justine henin retired. this year, she had really bad losses... 6-2, 6-0 washout from serena in indian wells final; 6-4, 6-0 defeat to maria sharapova in australina open QF; 7-5, 3-6, 1-6 to dinara safina in berlin third round. then, she skipped rome masters. and then she's retired.

she said that she's lost the drive that brought her to the top and would want to move into other fields, although she's one of the most ambitious players of her generation. she's not one of my fave players, but i think her presence and dominance is great for the game. while she generally dominated most of the top-10ers today, most of the players are putting extra effort to beat her, so improvements are seen in games of most players. her dedication and professionalism is phenomenal. plus, the skills and that beauty called henin backhand... is such a potent weapon.

her retirement is such a big loss to the game. but i think she'll do a "hingis" later on and rejoin the tour. that's just my hunch!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


claycourt season is here! another good hunting ground for rafa and a host of spanish and south american players who are at home on the slow courts. all minor and major clay court tournaments will lead up to roland garros by the end of this month.

with such bad losses during the hardcourt swing, rafa is finally at home! although he has a lot of points to defend this month, i hope that he's ready to take on the challenge from the slumping federer and the best-player-to-date, djokovic. federer is eager to wrestle the french open crown from nadal, to be able to cap a career slam, while novak is out there to prove that he can also do well at slow courts. this trio surely makes tennis-dom a worthwhile spectator sport.

i'm excited to see who wins the 3 masters, but i definitely want to see rafa lift the coupe des mousquetaires for the fourth consecutive year. vamos rafa!


mai-mai's latest collection didn't show anything promising, at least from the deck of current movies. so i browsed on their oldies collection and stumbled upon mysterious skin and decided to give it a try. this is a story of two boys who in their early formative years, experienced sexual abuse from their baseball coach. the movie's central theme is about accepting your past, making peace with what happened and moving on. the actors were very good, especially joseph gordon-levitt.

what was striking about the film is the downright honesty of the movie's characterization of the pain and loss of innocence that stemmed from a mistaken love from a pedophiliac baseball coach. levitt's neil sensed early that there was something wrong about his relationship with coach bill, but true to his age, was tricked to believe that what his coach was doing was only "out of love". although he and his mother (elisabeth shue) had a close relationship, the somewhat dysfunctional orientation of a promiscuous mother might have led to neil's ultimate demise as a kid. since then, he led a life of a young hustler, selling his body to old rural patrons of young male flesh-peddler. he has a close friend in wendy (michelle trachtenberg), who knows his trades, not self-righteous but closes in on what neil needs, love and support.

brian, one of neil's teammates, also experienced the same thing from the same man. while neil took the more controversial route, brian was a nerdy kid whose fascination with aliens, alien abduction and the whole alien shebang, masked the inner demon that he wanted to exorcise but couldn't zero in on what was the struggle all about. although i think what happened to brian was a bit less depressing primarily because he didn’t find himself in flesh trade, he was also struggling due to the black hole in his memory… something he long wanted to find clues that he can piece together to somewhat make himself complete. this search led him to meet eccentric avalyn, who claims that she was also abducted by aliens but turned out to be another repressed individual who also found an outlet in alienology.

brian met eric, one of neil's best friends and is in love with neil. through this, brian finally met neil, who gave him the bright light of realization – both of them were victims of abuse. the movie's tagline of "Five hours, lost, gone without a trace..." was now explained, became clear to brian that this was what happened. the movie also suggested that brian's dad knew about what happened, but instead of helping his son, turned his back and didn't do anything.

the movie was in a sense, not mysterious at all. bad things happen to good people. individuals deal with such experiences in divergent manners, some face it blankly, going with the flow, while others mask it with bogus outlets, which can be literally out of this world. families that appear happy also deal with grave situations… true that everybody has their fair share of problematic situations. the theme of the movie was serious, but it's unapologetic way of presenting what might be happening in the real world, while rebuffing preaching spectral morals was what made it good. the topic could have been easily melodramatic, but the filmmaker (gregg araki) was successful in keeping it grounded ala indie cine; quiet but graphic, honest and raw, powerful and very good.