Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lifehouse In Concert

Awesome panorama of the group. PJ, where are my royalties?

Sneaky me, I collapsed my trusty 400D, and smuggled it into the venue. There are a lot of blurry photos, but, I tried my best.

Can you say California surf? I love the hair. Rock on!

So, life goal attained. Good thing they didn't sing "Everything", I wasn't ready with my wedding proposal yet. Until then. Yup, it's that big.

Lifehouse says thanks. No, thank YOU! Happy concert!
It's looking like 2008 is my year. It's only the seventh month, and I've already completed not one, but two of my life goals. Granted that my life goals aren't really held 'high and lofty', but the fact that I can take them out of my list is achievement already.

Attend a tennis Grand Slam. Check - you've read all about it last February. And just this weekend, I had just finished 'See one of your favorite music artists in concert'. The list of people I have to see perform live isn't exactly a long one, so the chances of completing this life task isn't as easy as you'd think.

Who made it to that list? Garbage, but since they broke up, a reunion tour wouldn't be in the works anytime soon. Daft Punk - they hold their concerts every 10 years, and I missed Alive 2007 in Sydney by only a couple of days. Last on the list, lo and behold, Lifehouse.

I had promised myself 2 years ago that if Lifehouse were to perform in SE Asia, and skip the Philippines, I would definitely pick up plane tickets to watch them, wherever that may be. Luckily, Jason Wade and the boys decided to go to Manila - and nowhere else. Someone must've pulled some major strings to have them break their North American roadshow and cross the Pacific and 12 time zones to perform here.

So, whoever did that, mucho thanks! That's one life goal completed last weekend!
Friday, July 18, 2008

Portuguese Chicken Saved My Macau

Rainy, rainy. Tsk.

Despite my conflicting schedule, I still managed to squeeze a Macau visit. By squeeze, I mean 2 hours in Macau - 3 if you count the time I wasted queueing for immigration. If being harried so bad from trying to catch my return ferry to HK was miserable enough, it rained hard when I was in Macau. I love my quirky city walks, and believe me, it's no fun when you don't have an umbrella, or when you're galoshing through puddles.

However, all was washed away when I had lunch. I literally stumbled into a Macanese eatery (called Cidade on Rua de Sao Laurenco), and fortunately, someone knew how to speak English. The kind fellow recommended Portuguese Chicken and here's what it looks like.

Mmmmm...Portuguese chicken....

It may look like curry, but it's kind of far from that taste. The sauce is a buttery concoction, plus the oven-burnt chicken skin adds a yummy smoky taste to the chicken. Apart from those delectable custard pies, now I have something to look forward to my next Macau visit. Apart from seeing the city other than the ferry terminal.
Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hongkong My Love

Going back few blog posts earlier, what did I do in HK? I walked, battled 95% humidity, and had a fantastic time. Sorry Singapore, but Hongkong kicks your ass big time. Despite having terrible, terrible humidity (as if you're being slapped by a warm, damp piece of cloth as you emerge from an airconditioned room), my HK experience was definitely awesome.

Let me count the ways Hongkong trumps Singapore's bum. The battle of an amazing skyline goes hands down to where IM Pei, Norman Foster, and Pelli have laid their works. And with HK tearing down more heritage buildings as we speak (or type), expect more shiny high rises to sprout in the future.

Dizzying heights, thanks to the world's greatest architects...

Transport is their well-machine. The airport has a convenient check-in counter right at the heart of the city, the ferries are numerous, plus Chek Lap Kok is absolutely gorgeous. They link nearby locales such as Shenzhen, Macau and the rest of China so easily.

Chek Lap Kok, an artificial island on its own

To be fair to Singapore, Changi is chock-full of amenities, so despite the carpeted, stuffy interior, it wins the "Most Useful Airport". Plus, the cultural diversity around the city (Little India, Arab Street, Peranakan lane) is much to be envied.

Still, HK gets my two thumbs up as my favorite SE Asian city (if it counts as SEA), trumping Bangkok, Hanoi, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur. Manila, my love, you are exempt, of course.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Protege in the Making

I've been in love with my DSLR since last year, but was trumped when I handed it to Sophia, a 6-year old (belated happy birthday!) prodigy. Her shots put mine to shame, and she definitely has an eye for color and placement. Well, at least I'll be one of the few to lay claim that I handed her my camera first.

Sssh! Genius at work!
A good eye for primary colors
Still life
Monday, July 14, 2008

The Greatest Match Of All Time

After a long-standing (7-years!) invitation to visit a place that's only 2 hours away, I finally made it to Hongkong. Yup, there may be a lot of pictures right here of other places, but the perennial Filipino favorite, HK, has not been tread by yours truly. Until now.

However, let me start with the things that I did not do:
I did not go to Disneyland.
I did not go to Ocean Park.
I did not take a side trip to Shenzhen.
I did not go shopping at the night markets.
I did not even have Cantonese food.

So, what did I actually do there? As agreed with Mida, we went on to watch tennis history. Not just a match, but HISTORY. We saw, until dawn, the Roger-Rafa Wimbledon final. Through rain, darkness, there was an electric magic through Centre Court that day. Pure genius from both ends of the court. Though the result is not what I had wanted, it was such a pity that someone had to lose that epic battle. If last year's final was hailed to be a titanic match, 2008's culminating match was for the ages.

The coin toss that started it all

Enough tennis for now. More on my trip. Later.
Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Jump

Like I was saying before I got interrupted by Wimbledon, I jumped off a cliff, literally. Whee.

In an upset-filled 2-weeks, and bright, bright sunshine, could it be that a British winner be the final surprise?

QF Match: Federer vs Ancic
The last man to defeat Federer on grass is back, and hopefully in full health. Attorney Ancic must've been weathered from his 8-6 win in the 5th in the previous round, but with a day of rest, we're ready to see him in full force. Federer's performance has been downplayed but make no mistake, he's still the one to beat in this competition. Even Borg has called him out, but it's definitely time to turn up the volume and claim what is rightfully his. Federer in four sets.

QF Match: Safin vs Lopez
Who would've thought that the real Marat Safin would show up and defeat, err, shame the pompous Djokovic? Throw all recent results away, because we're talking about the mercurial Russian. It's also nice to see Lopez (the only other Spanish player that thrives on grass, imho) make it this far, but I'm crossing my fingers for Safin to re-emerge as one of the titans of the game. Straight sets for Safin.

QF Match: Schuettler vs Clement
In a battle of former Aussie Open finalists (both losing to Agassi), it's pretty hard to pick which one of them will have the advantage on this surface. Just based on previous results, I would have to pick Clement to squeeze a win.

QF Match: Murray vs Nadal
Looking for a high-octane match? This one will have an electric crowd, a fiery competitor, and a tantrum throwing home favorite all for show on Centre Court. After his from-the-grave turnaround against Gasquet, Andy Murray is finally putting himself together and giving the very hard-to-please British crowd a real battle. Nadal's routine demolition of Youzhny in R16 did hit one snag - an impending injury. It's hard to let down 15,000 spectators on the bleachers (and hundreds more on Murray Mound), so I'm going to root for Murray to get past grass season's hottest pick and let the British fans rejoice for one more day.

Semis and Final
The last time Federer and Safin met at a Slam semifinal, we all knew what happened, and can we expect to see the same here? I'm still rooting for Wimby #6 and Slam #12, but I bet on Murray a long time ago to be a contender for the majors, and a final appearance has been long overdue. Safin to win it all? That should be a good story, because of all his batchmates (Hewitt, Roddick, Ferrero, etc), he's the only one that really threaten the players of today and the upcoming ones.

Perfection still.
Close, but not just yet!
So, all top 4 seeds are gone, just one of them making it to the second week to actually contest the #1 spot. Then again, Wimbledon has always been a Williams affair, and this year, the show is about to continue.

QF Match: Jie vs Nicole
It was luck that saved a sloppy Ivanovic in 2R, but that wasn't enough to escape the doubles specialist Zheng in the round of 32. Steady groundstrokes make up her game, but with a revived Vaidisova, perhaps she should be ready for some heavy running. Speaking of Nicole, it's nice to see her finally string back to back wins this year. Hope she can put it together and go one past her 2007 result. The Czech in 3 sets.

QF Match: Agnieszka vs Serena
Like I said, it's one-way street here at Centre Court for the sisters, but if there was one to derail that train, it would be this teenager. Save for the drubbing in one set, she played courageous tennis attacking a tentative kuznetsova in the previous round. Which leads to calling myself out for shelving Serena; she won 3 titles on the trot, but lacked inspiration in Paris. It looks like she's back on track but here I go crossing fingers gain to root for the happy-looking Pole to eke out a 3-set win.

QF Match: Elena vs Nadia
What is a Grand Slam QF without an all-Russian match? I'm just crossing my fingers that the new and improved Dementieva comes out here to finally breakthrough on grass. Good serving an consistent baseline play will deliver Elena to the SF in straight sets.

QF Match: Venus vs Tamarine
Two asians in the QF, yey! It's a battle of 2 veterans here, one who's reached the 4th round six times already, while the other has won it four times. Though it's pretty obvious who's going on top with this one, just would like to highlight that grass seems to be Tammy's surface of choice. Remember when she defeated Hantuchova, and celebrated prematurely? That one's a classic.

Semis and Final
It's going to be a tough road for Radwanska, but she's won this one before, but she didn't face two Williams. One is wishful thinking at this stage of her young career, but two (at Wimbledon at that) might be stretching it. I'm going to play it safe and anticipate that the star of Venus will shine on final Saturday.

Trying to catch up with Federer!
Another debutant at a Slam Final!