Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A new blog

I have a new blog. Nope, I'm not abandoning this one, just had to create a mini-blog that's supposed to keep the music I've been listening to recently.

Check it out at monsterboy music
Lindsay vs Justine
Ironically, these two players have crept up to the quarterfinals with minimum fanfare, yet their match-up is the de facto final. Last time they played in Melbourne Park, Lindsay squandered a 5-2 lead to lose the match. With an ankle injury hobbling her, it looks like JHH will definitely move a step closer to that delicious SF encounter with Maria Sharapova. JHH in 2 tight sets. Dang it, I hope I'm all wrong with this one.

Maria vs Nadia
Interesting to note that of the 24 tournaments Nadia has joined she reached the QF or better in 17. That's consistent, and that's why I should've chosen her over Elena. Crap. However, Maria has definitely the will and firepower to blast her off court. So, straights for the Maria glamour-girl-but-has-poor-tennis-dress-taste Sharapova.

Patty vs Amelie
Amelie is too strong for Schnyder. But granted, Schnyder has had her most success on Rebound Ace, albeit in other tournaments. So I'd say, 3 sets, going to Amelie's favor.

Martina vs Kim
The match to watch. I hope I'll be sitting at home in time to watch this game. How are all those injuries Kim? Looks like there is yet another opportunity in the draw that Martina Hingis can capitalise on. Having tested by Aussie Sam in the previous round, I hope she regained her ability to win through difficult times, since she's going to do a lot of running in a match with the reigning US Open Champion. I dunno, I'm hoping for a Martina win, for a fairy tale ending, but my head is saying Belgium in straight sets.

Semifinals and Final
An all-Belgian encounter, again? And this time, Kim will make sure that she sure ain't going to be the bridesmaid at Justine's wedding party again. That's 2 slams in a row, for Kim, I hope.

This thing ain't worth 2.2 million, but I'll take it!Yes, I forgot how it feels like to be runner-up...
Back to regular programming....And on with more predictions.

Federer vs Davydenko
Whoa, Tommy Haas sure did give Roger quite a scare. Granted, Haas was able to knock him out of Kooyong, but it does take a true champion out of Federer to squeak out a match like that. I just would like to note that it takes a really sloppy performance to give away two sets like that, and a doggedly determined retriever like Haas to win two sets like that. So, how about another match
with fellow 5-set survivor Nikolay Davydenko? I think not. Straight sets for the Swiss maestro.

Kiefer vs Grosjean
No signs if injury for the top-ranked German in the draw, although there are no signs of slowing down for the reliable Frenchman as well. Grosjean, benefitting from a rather benign draw from the get-go, must be able to put away winners and outlast Kiefer to make it through to the semis. I see Kiefer having the very slight advantage here, with a better command of the hardcourts of Australia. Brace your self for a coin toss, this one is going to last a long 5 sets, with Kiefer making his Grand Slam SF debut.

Santoro vs NalbandianSurprise! The oldest player in the draw is *gasp* not Andre Agassi. What's even more surprising, is how Fabrice The Magician returns ALL those balls into play. This amazing ability to frustrate players and make them go for shots is the true asset of Santoro, and could come up quite useful against Nalbandian. However, big matches seem to be a niche for David, as he made quite a consistent run last 2005. He will win the craftiest match of the competition yet, in straight sets.

Ljubicic vs Baghdatis
Wow, those Greek people are a real rowdy bunch, aren't they? But, those Croats shouldn't be a pushover anyhow. And they sure have much reason to cheer for, as Ljubicic and Baghdtis, along with quite a number of the last 8, have not been to the QF of a GS. If Baghdatis brings out the spark he used to take down Andy Roddick, then he can topple Davis Cup hero Ivan in 4 sets. I'm still going for the seeded player here, that will keep the fans cheering well past midnight in 5 sets.

Semifinals and Final
It's becoming clearer, Roger vs David for the finals. And this should be a treat, because unlike with Roddick and Hewitt, Federer is actually on the wrong end of this head-to-head match up. Since he will be coming off from an easier semifinal match, I'd still pick Roger to win in 4 sets. Ooh, Is that a 7th Grand Slam already?

Number seven!Close, so close
Monday, January 23, 2006

Mrazt've Been Some Night

Mrazman in action!

Okay, intermission muna. Lest I drown my blog with my longings to be a tennis commentator, I tried to do something else this weekend - watch a concert.

Long before the heat and excitement was roasting Melbourne due to the Australian Open, I reserved my seats for Jason Mraz Live in Manila. Row 5 - sweet! In the same way Martina Hingis' draw opened up for her, the schedule of that night aligned for me so I can enjoy the Mraz concert without worrying about my tennis matches and fantasy league. Perfect, perfect. One hitch, though. And I'm not telling. (Drat, I couldn't stop the tennis metaphors!)

Anyway (funny how these little thoughts of mine interrupt my train of thought, oops, here I go again with a random interjection), Jason Mraz was abolutely brilliant. I missed his first show here, no thanks to my provincial assignment, but I think I made up for it this time around. How do I put this to words, errm, Jason Mraz is where talent meets genius. I mean, he writes his very, very witty songs (ah, yes, wit), and his voice is just golden. I can't seem to recall any male person with voice as good as his. Is he classically trained? He can range to a crystal clear falsetto to a well-tuned scat and switch to and fro. Wow.

Admittedly, his studio recordings aren't as good as when they are performed live. Waiting For My Rocket To Come was not just in the same level as the Live At The Eagles Ballroom CD+DVD set. Saturday night didn't have a full band, but the crowd was not deprived a single bit of musical satisfaction. In fact, the acoustic set only enhanced the clarity of Mraz's voice.

Here is the complete playlist of what was performed that night. A miss with After An Afternoon, No Doubling Back and Sleep All Day, but a great addition with Rocket Man, snippets of Wonderwall and Our House, and the well-sung hook to Where Is The Love. He made Justin Timberlake sound like a bathroom singer.

set list:

-life is wonderful
-you and i both
-mr. curiosity
-0% interest/our house/where is the love
-sleeping to dream with paolo santos
-1000 things with paolo santos
-curbside prophet
-no stopping us
-the remedy (i won't worry)/wonderwall
-geek in pink

encore: plane


My favorites? 1000 things with or without Paolo. Paolo Santos did a great job jamming with Jason. So I'll leave it at that. The 0% Interest medley was great as as it was fun and amusing, and his cover of Elton John's Rocket Man was definitely better than anything Ive seen and heard (although they were mostly on American Idol). Tsk, No Doubling Back wasn't performed. It's been on my playlist forever. My regret? I really should've bought the Mr A-Z album first, learn the lyrics so I could've gone to the concert prepared. Damn, that is so wrong, a concert is not a test.

ps. I hope that Warner releases another Live Mraz album - the music is, in a scale of one to to a hundred, about a fifty, billion, that is.
Sunday, January 15, 2006

Australian Open 2006: Predictions Part Two

Women's Draw
Defending Champion: Serena Williams

I've been making these predictions since '03 and I've never been more excited. The women's draw offers the best collection of the players, past, present and future. Minor injuries aside, all bets are off in a race to claim the 2006 Women's Singles Championship crown. But before we proceed with the picks proper, let's have a rollcall on who's already at Melbourne Park.

Stars of the mid-90s? Bonjour, Mary. Late 90s? Hello Lindsay. And hello again to you, Martina. 2000-02? One big WASSUP to the sisters. 2003? Bienvenue to Team Belgium. and 04? How do you say 'Hello' in Russian? JenCap, there's one big party Down Under and sadly, you're missing it.


Q1. It's always hard to make a prediction for Lindsay's preparation before any slam, since she, like Agassi, tends to be more particular now in conserving their energy. Well, se, as her road to the quarters is hampered by Svetlana, Maria Kirilenko and Tatiana Golovin. Should be an easy run, if she's playing on top form.

Justine dug deep, recovering from a 1-6 1-4 deficit to win in Sydney. Will she need that much fortitude to defeat Venus in R16? Most probably not, but I'm so glad to see them both back.

And did I mention that Jelena Dokic is in this side of the draw, as an Australian, again? Not that i'm expectiig her to make a major dent in the draw, but, this has been her 3rd nationality, right?

QF Match: Lindsay vs Justine

Q2. Who said Serena was fat? Anybody got a picture? If all the internet speculations are true, then it will be a juicy rematch with Maria for a spot in the quarters. Screaming Sharapova will be fighting through pain (naughtily placed in the right pectoral muscle), and Shrieking Serena through a leg injury. Missed the live telecast of last year's SF, so I do hope their 4R encounter will be as thrilling as it is ear-shattering.

While some hope that this be Elena's maiden slam, she's not properly placed in the right side of the draw. Granted, her road to the quarters won't be as hard as the others, but she will face either Serena or Maria in the QF, then either Justine or Lindsay in the semis. Lots work ahead for you.

QF Match: Maria vs Elena

Q3. I hate to say this, but on a per-quarter basis, Amelie Mauresmo seems to be the luckiest player in the Top 4. Her main hurdles in the draw would include the red-hot Nicole (off court and on court, hehehe) and probably Anastasia or Patty in the quarters. She may have the momentum of winning the WTA Championships last November, but the early exit at Sydney failed to put a commanding stamp on the court authority.

The lack of a formidable contestant for Amelie is compensated by a bevy of dangerous floaters seeded an otherwise. Eleni can easily upset Patty, Michaella can end Vijay's over-the-top cheering for Sania in 2R, and sister Dinara might do a Marat and crash out early. I'm going out on a limb here to predict that neither Amelie or Patty make it in the quarters.

QF Match: Anastasia vs Nicole

Q4. All eyes are on Martina Higis as she re-debuts in the Australian Open - home of her 6 consecutive finals appearance. She takes on 30th seed Vera Zvonareva in her opener. While this may look like a winnable match, she has to be ready to face a rejuvenated Mary Pierce in 3R.
It took Mary a good 2 years to climb from an injured has-been to one of last year's fairy tales, and should be able to teach Martina a thing or two about resuscitating careers. Mary is on top of her game, and should rake in ranking points since she crashed out of the 2005 Open in the first round and has barely no points to defend here.

Kim Clijsters through to the quarters. Questions?

QF: Mary vs Kim
It's the time again for the Grand Slam predictions! Yipee. Gents first, I'd like to reserve the energy for the Women's Draw because that seems to be where all the action is.

Men's Draw
Defending Champion: Marat Safin

Q1. We've been asking who can stop the Federer Express since 2003, and the only ones to do so in 2005 are notably absent. However, the latest victory over Federer was claimed by Tommy Haas might probably show a chink in his armor. Nah. Besides, Haas has a tough first-rounder against 13th seed Richard Gasquet. I'd pick the German to win that, but not against the Swiss in 4R.

To complete this side of the draw, steady ATP achiever Nikolay Davydenko faces big (and I do mean tall) Karlovic in the opening round. Tough. Should he get past this, I see a 4R encounter with Slovak Hrbaty. I did notice that he has no apparel sponsor yet. Top 5 in the world and no sponsor? Yet Hrbaty has that pink cutout of a shirt?

QF Match: Federer vs Davydenko

Q2. Homeboy Hewitt again lost the draws lottery again - primed for a semifinal clash with Federer. Roadblocks to the quarters? None really, Kiefer would've been a good pick on hardcourts, but since limping out of Kooyong last week, I'm more likely to say no. Ferrero has yet to find consistency to string a series of victories, and the others have yet to make a splash at Melbourne Park.

The other hometown hero, who was able to enter on a wildcard entry is another victim of a draw gone bad. Mark Philippoussis plays seasoned veteran Sebastian Grosjean in the opener - although a potential matchup with 6th seed Coria does not sound too alarming, meeting up with either Gonzales or Monfils would most probably end his run in Down Under. Methinks 1R will do for The Scud.

QF Match: Hewitt vs Coria

Q3. Riding high from his success in Shanghai, Nalbandian hopes to score his maiden Slam immediately right after. And why not, momentum is high, the field depleted, and the draw more than inviting. Past Henman (who by the way is already unseeded), Robredo and Tursunov, Blake seems to be the most compelling challenge for David towards his first Slam. It's a fairly even toss up, with the latter claiming the title in Adelaide.

As for Nalbandian's compatriot Gaudio, I would expect an upset from Ancic. Gaudio honestly is an okay hardcourt player, reaching the semis of the Championships last year. However, since that whitewash by Federer, the respect for him has been thrown out the door. He'll get over that, similar to Sharapova's double bagel in Indian Wells. Sorry, thinking out loud.

QF Match: Ancic vs Nalbandian

Q4. Based on the draw, this looks actually trans-Atlantic battle held Down Under. Europe will grab a seat for the quarters, be it Croatia, Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Russia even. Team USA will place themselves on the other side of the pond - Ginepri? Dent? Roddick?

QF Match: Ljubicic vs Roddick
Friday, January 13, 2006

Travelling While Being In A Cube

Work has been murder recently, so I guess I haven't been able to update my blog as much as I want to. However, all things must start from somewhere, so here's to a productive blogging for 2006. *raises glass of wine*

One of my recently discovered hobbies is travelling. Okay, not recent (and most definitely not a hobby - let's just say, umm, interest), I think I'm one restless guy when it comes to travelling. Last year was beautifully lucky, as I was able to go to three different countries. My plans for this year? I don't know, but I'm hoping for at least 2, one for personal purposes, and the other from work. Besides, my lounge access pass will expire by February 2007, so I'd best make the most out of that. There is a pending invitation for Bangkok and Angkor Wat in May, and a Macau-Hongkong-Shenzen in January 2007. As for what happens in between, I'm still hoping to get a whiff of Singapore within the year.

Long term goals? Beijing and Melbourne 2008. I absolutely vowed to watch a Grand Slam tennis tournament in this lifetime, so the Australian Open is the most practicable, and least expensive one. Beijing, has one great come-on, "negative two degrees celsius". If Shanghai was cold, this will be frigid. So, how do I manage these? I currently have 35 thousand miles, I think I can purchase the HKG and BKK tickets, which leaves me enough miles for Melbourne. *crosses fingers*


However, since my resources are really limited, there is a better way to travel. Forget surfing the Web, I found a better one. It's called Google Earth.

I absolutely adore maps, and the one the Google Earth provides is a clear satellite image that allows you to zoom to an area with the click of a finger.

Syempre, inuna ko na yung Manila. Unfortunately, the staellite images of Manila aren't as clear as the others - which is okay, the building views of New York or Chicago are fine by me. What's funny is, the fields of Pulilan, Bulacan are clearer than Manila's. What gives?

This is a great substitute to picture viewing, on one day, I was coasting the Red Square in Moscow, the other minute, I was looking for La Guardia Airport in New York City. Words cannot simple express how happy I am with this program. Really.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The 2005 list

Here's a list of stuff that caught my fancy for 2005:

Bangkok and Ayutthaya - Thailand is gorgeous!
The Streets - Mike Skinner is the man, bringing a fresh spin with his spoken word/rap album.
Venus vs Lindsay in Wimbledon - Definitely the tennis match of the year.
Shanghai - East meets West, powdered with the mystic past, and an enviable future.
Scrubs - Laughter is the best medicine. Plus, the soundtrack was a great buy.
The OC - Yes, teen dramedy, but with a kick-butt soundtrack that features the up and coming indie and alt-pop artists, it single-handedly rejuvenated my CD collection.
Garden State - When you take out the Spider-man out of Peter Parker, this is kind of the result. Somewhat.
The Emancipation of Mimi - I must admit, it is an outstanding album.
The Coversproject.com Website - Who did who, musically of course.
The Amazing Race Fantasy Game, volume 2 - My first time to host. And it was a blast.
www.thestone.com - Learn a lot from the website by playign a game.
The Killers - Hot Fuss ushered in mod-rock. Suddenly, we're back to the 80s.
Sky High - Candy-pop fun laced with 80s music. Nostalgia without being sappy.

That is an incomplete list, some I forgot, and some I'm keeping to myself. Haha.