Thursday, September 29, 2005

Draw again

Another draw. What am I supposed to make of that? I guess it means life ain't too bad but that there is room for improvement.

Liverpool drew their Champions League match against Chelsea in Anfield. Home court advantage didn't do them any good. But at least they prevented Chelsea, current runaway leader in the Premiership and CL favorites, from taking all the points from this game. They get to play against Chelsea again this weekend, this time in EPL. I hope this time they manage to pull off the upset.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Last night, the volleyball team I am coaching, Grin team, played the last game in their best of three finals against the Stingers, the defending champion. Grin team and Stingers had split the first two games, both of which were played in three sets. The game started at 8pm but I had a meeting that finished at that time so when I got to Meralco for the game, they were already in the 2nd set. My team won the 1st set convincingly, 25-10, so they decided to let the rest of the team play in the second set. They ended up losing that set by about four points though, but at least everyone in the team got to play.

The third set was up and down. The Stingers took initiative first, taking an early lead. But good play and placement allowed Grin team to catch up and take the lead midway through the set. Unfortunately, at 19-16 in favor of my team, the wheels came off. The Stinger's star player found her range and took control of the match by blasting several tough spikes and wallop serves. Grin team lost 9 of the next 10 points to lose the set and the championship. Too bad. At least they had lots of fun and all their players got to play in the final game of the series. Til next year!


Mig Ayesa made it to the final 3 of Rockstar INXS last week, but no further. How sad. I am proud of his achievement and I am even more pleased that he thanked his supporters from the Philippines and Australia. And as I guessed, INXS picked JD over Marty to be their new frontman. JD's voice and style match better.

While I am on the topic, I have to say that I don't think Marty is really that good or as great as people rave about. When I look back at some of his performances - Live's "I Alone", Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here", and Radiohead's "Creep" - I just think that he doesn't have the vocal versatility nor the appropriate emotional interpretation when performing (he always has this intense, bugged-out-eyes look). "Trees" was his only performance that I saw that I thought was great. But now that I mention it, maybe he doesn't cover other people's songs very well but he does a kick-ass job of performing his own. So maybe he actually is really good as long as he doesn't cover other people's songs.


Michael Owen is starting to make a move in the Premiership once again. He had a lackluster performance in his first outing in Newcastle. But in his second game, he managed to score a goal with a great header and helped Newcastle win 3-0 over Blackburn. Then he scored the loan goal in their game against Man City helping Newcastle claw its way from the bottom of the league to 10th spot. Great job!

On the otherhand, Liverpool have not had as much success. They managed to hold Man Utd to a draw at home which is not the best result, but it was against ManU so I guess a draw ain't so bad. Unfortunately, they also drew against Birmingham away. They are now in unlcuky 13th place, although they do have a game in hand (or 2 even). At least they are so far doing well in Champions League. Hope Liverpool manage to upend Chelsea tonight!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Band stuff

Last Friday, we played 5 songs in a fashion show in IAME (Bunky and Cholo's previous school). Lots of the their classmates have supported us in many of our gigs so we agreed to play pro bono (although we did get unlimited free drinks which was a good deal). Besides, it was 5 songs only so not really a lot of work.

This Saturday, we are going to have an audition in Ojay's in Eastwood at 730pm. I've never been to Ojay's so don't ask me exactly where it is (I will figure out on Saturday how to get there). It would be fun if we get this gig so that we have a venue outside Makati for a change. But I don't really know what type of crowd goes there, so I'm not entirely sure they will appreciate our music.

Then on Sept 23 (Fri next week), we will have a gig in Racks El Pueblo. There will be three bands playing that night, and I don't know yet exactly what time we go on. Since three bands are playing, we will be on for only one set.

The good thing though is that despite the hectic sked, we aren't really playing 2-3 sets each time (or at least not yet), so it is still not as tiring as two 3-set gigs in a month.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tennis recap

After losing four grand slam finals (three of them to her compatriot, Justine Henin-Hardenne), Kim Clijsters finally shakes off the title "best player never to have won a Grand Slam" by trouncing Mary Pierce 6-3 6-1 in a little over an hour last Saturday to win the US Open. By doing so, Kim won $2.2 million ($1.1 M for the US Open title plus a 100% bonus for also winning the US Open series). This is the biggest paycheck in the history of women's tennis!

  • Aside from this fantastic record, here are a couple of other statistics:
  • Kim has now won 7 titles this year, more than any other woman so far
  • She also goes up to #3 in the WTA rankings
  • However, based on points won this year alone, she leads everyone else, including #1 Maria Sharapova and #2 Lindsay Davenport
  • With her huge paycheck, Kim also now has earned more money than anyone else on tour

Now that she's won, I am hoping she starts winning at least a couple more slams (perhaps the Australian Open next year). She didn't seem as nervous as she used to in Slam finals against Mary, apart from two consecutive games in the 1st set where she made multiple errors and barely won a point. But now that she has one Slam neatly tucked under her belt, the floodgates may have just opened for her.


Congratulations go out to Roger Federer for beating Andre Agassi in the final to win his 2nd US Open and 6th slam overall. Congatulations as well to 35 year old Andre Agassi for getting to the finals, winning three 5-setters in a row.


If there was an award for the ugliest tennis shirt, though, it has to go to the shirt worn by Dominik Hrbaty. He was actually asked about his shirt and he laughed about it and said something to the effect that maybe the designers thought that the holes at the back of the shirt were good for letting air in or something (although I don't think it's good for tan lines). If you don't believe me, check this photo out:


Interesting little thing. Last year, Mitch asked me if I could coach her volleyball team in their inter-department ladies volleyball competition. Naturally I agreed. They have a really good team actually, and last year they placed second, narrowly losing in the last set in the finals.This year, Mitch asked me if I could coach them again. My sked has been a bit tight as of late, but I figured I might be useful to them as a coach for at least a couple of games.

Tuesday night last week was their first tough game, against the defending champion. My team though buffed up their line-up: they have a new player who can spike and has great placement, and one of the players in last year’s champion team was reassigned to another division so she was now in my team. The defending champs though weren’t as strong as they were last year, so on paper, my team looked to be in a better position to win.

I got there in the middle of the first set, which they won comfortably 25-16. In the second set, however, their opponent started getting in the groove. With several strong serves from arguably the best player in the league, their opponents managed to take the lead late in the set and held on to it, winning 25-22.

The third set was a different story. With several well-placed shots and great ball control, my team built a big lead early in the set, and they just never looked back. A 6-point lead grew to 10 and by the end of the set they won very comfortably, 25-11. It was a very well-played game, and an exceptional third set.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Birthday wishlist

It's a couple of weeks 'til my birthday, and I decided to put up my wishlist in my blog. I got this idea from Dale. If you are interested in getting me something but don't want me to know, please leave an anonymous comment saying which item you intend to get me so that others no longer get me that item. Warning: some of the CDs might be hard to find:

DVDs (non-pirated):

  • X-men 2
  • Babe
  • Chicken Run
  • Sister Act
  • Sister Act 2
  • A few good men
Note - for the DVDs, please get my the widescreen edition. If you can't find a widescreen edition, please get me something else na lang. =)

Music CDs (non-pirated please):

Note - the CDs with * are the ones which I think should be easy enough to find.

Others (these items pwede more than one ang makuha ko):

  • Body Shop For Men Aftershave Gel
  • Rustan's GCs (I need to buy a lot of new pants but I'd like to fit them myself first so GC na lang)
  • Starbucks GCs
  • Band accessories, like a cool necklace or bracelet
  • Suriya Spa GC for Spot-tension release back massage (I don't like having full body massages so the back one will do)
(Update: I already got a few Aftershave gels to last me a while so I am striking this one off in the meantime. =))

They don't make gigs like this everyday (part II)

You can read about the first set of this incredible gig in my previous post. As for the rest of the story that night, read on… After our first set, we took a break and the band Bridge played one set. We had known that there would be two bands that night, and before we played, Bunky shared some concerns about the fact that Bridge covered similar songs to us, mainly those of Dave Matthews Band (DMB) and Sting.

So we were jolted when we heard Bridge play Sting’s “It’s probably me” then Bob Dylan’s “All along the watchtower” (although we do DMB’s version of this song) both of which were part of our 2nd set playlist. We were supposed to play 11 songs in the 2nd set, and since we didn’t want to play the same songs that Bridge played, we were now down to 9 songs. We were rushing to figure out what other 2 songs to put in when Oz told us that management said we had time for only 8 songs in the second set. We looked at our playlist and we decided to take out Poison’s “Every Rose has its thorn” since it was the slowest song we had that set.

I quickly show Oz the final playlist of the set, and he gives me a look like he’s not satisfied with it. We were about to go on, so I just told him let’s just play each song as well as we can. I myself was worried that we wouldn’t be able to live up to our last 3 songs of the 1st set, but those worries were soon put to rest the moment we started. Here’s a run-down of what we performed

“Lightning crashes” by Live. This is one of my favorite songs and one of the first ones we learned, so sing this is almost second nature to me. Since Oz didn’t seem confident in our set-list, I felt that I needed to sing this song well enough that it sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Sep had insisted that I stand up, partly to give us more space on stage and partly so that we would have more passion while performing. I’m glad that Sep insisted on this as it freed me up a bit more and allowed me to be more intense and use my vocals and my range a bit more. By the time I hit my first high note, there was an unmistakable vibe from the audience. And when song built up and became more powerful, we knew that we had picked up from where we left off.

“Bright lights” by Matchbox 20. We’ve gotten great response from our audiences with this song in the past, and tonight was no exception. The cool thing was, when we were learning Beatles songs for Ray’s wedding way back in January, Bunky realized that the instrumental part at the end of Bright Lights had the same chords as “Hey Jude”. Since then, we had been playing the “Na na na na na na na… Hey Jude” part of that song during the instrumental of “Bright Lights” and each time, the audience would start singing with us as they also did that night.

“Grey Street” by Dave Matthews Band. This was the only song that we played in the second set that was never released into the mainstream. But the song has such a great riff and tempo to it that it didn’t matter that almost no one in the audience knew the song. They still gave us a massive ovation once we were done. It was at this point that I realized that everyone in the bar was actually watching us. It wasn’t like we were background music anymore. At that point, the whole gig had the feel of a concert where everyone came there to watch us perform.

“Better man” by Pearl Jam. By the time we played this song, I knew that we had the set in the bag. This song was something that we generally did okay with, but we were already zoned by the time we played it that all of a sudden it felt like it one of the best songs we play. In fact, I saw Dex signal to me to try and ease up a bit as he was worried that I might be straining my voice too much. But my voice felt so strong that night that I knew it would hold up the rest of the set.

“One” by U2. 90proof crowd is an 80’s crowd, and as such a lot of people there are fans of U2. This is one of the most passionate songs that we do, and the atmosphere was electric while we were performing. I could hear the audience sing “Love is a temple, love’s a higher law…” along with me and when we were done, the audience had given us wild applause for the 8th song in a row that night.

“Knockin’ on heaven’s door” by Guns n Roses. We’ve never played this song and not have the audience sing along with us during the chorus. I recall looking at the audience right before we got to the chorus and I could see so many of them gearing up to sing “hey, hey, hey yeah yeah.” The instrumental bit though was absolute magic. Oz opened up the instrumental with his solo and Mano then followed suit on percussions, both of wowing the crowd. The cool thing during this solo was that Bunky started playing percussive guitar along with Mano thus enriching the sound quality. The audience was going crazy the entire song! It was uncanny.

“With or without you” by U2. We had put this song in to replace “Where the streets have no name” after we moved it to the 1st set. And it was the right decision to add "With or without you" to the playlist. The response we got from the crowd on this song was immense! It felt like everyone there sang along with us from the very first note. That has never happened to us in any gig, so it felt like we had broken new ground while performing this song.

“Ants marching” by Dave Matthews Band. Anyone who’s seen us perform before would know that we almost always cap off our night with this song. That night, we were all playing out of our wits, and yet we all remained in very good control (does that make sense?). Oz got the crowd going when he played his solo while standing atop a bar stool. We got raucous applause during most of the song. While playing "Ants Marching", we knew that we had just played the best set, and best gig, we've ever played, and we were simply putting icing on the cake. And what perfect icing it was too.

Cheers from the crowd for us to play more, even an encore of #41, filled 90proof but we had to stop as we were told by management that we had played our last song that night. We humbly apologized to the crowd that we couldn’t play anymore. But I guess it didn’t matter that much. Everyone in the band was on a natural high! We excitedly recounted how the set went with each other and with our friends. Noel confirmed with us that we had just passed our audition, and both Treena and Jaygat agreed that it was the best gig we had ever performed.

My hope now is for us to be able to duplicate this feat when more of our family and friends are in the crowd. Maybe even have John V and John Q playing with us when we nail another gig like this. In the meantime, I will continue to relish how well we performed that night. After all, they don’t make gigs like this everyday.

Friday, September 02, 2005

They don't make gigs like this everyday (part I)

Last Saturday, my band Still Oz played what is now considered to be our best gig ever!!!

Almost a week after we performed, everyone in the band is still on a natural high from it. I just remember, while performing, there was one distracting thought in my head - that I wished my family and friends were there to witness that performance. After each song of the second set, everyone in the band just kept looking at each other with disbelief, almost like we couldn't believe how well we were playing.

But the clincher was the audience response. We were playing in 90proof as part of its 2nd year anniversary. 90proof is a resto bar. And normally, when you are in a resto bar, you spend your time talking to the people you are with and drinking beer, only giving cursory applause to the band playing after each song (sometimes not even). But that night, during that second set - EVERYONE was watching us. It was almost like it was a concert. Our concert. And it felt unbelievable!

There were a couple of bad omens actually that gave us the feeling things wouldn't go all that well. Cholo couldn't play with us because of an exam. Also, the night before the gig, I hung out with my office friends because it was Pia's birthday, and we sang for 5 hours, from 930pm to 230am, in IO. I promised myself I wouldn't sing a lot that night, but when I got there, well guess what? I couldn't stop singing, even when I wasn't holding the mic (not surprising, really). Needless to say, my voice was clearly strained the next day. It was sufficiently hoarse that my band agreed NOT to do our U2 medley of "All I want is you-Where the Streets have no name" because that is one of the most taxing song combo that we do. We planned to play "All I want is you" in the first set and "Where the streets have no name" in the second.

When we got to 90proof, I started feeling jittery since that was the first time we were to play there and I wasn't sure how well my voice would hold up. Add to that the fact that there seemed to be a new TV show that would be shooting our first song and maybe part of our 2nd (the camera was actually about 2-3 feet away from my face and pointed directly at me). Our first set was going to be a bit laidback, so I decided I would sit while we were performing. We did a sound check, then I took a deep breath and we kicked off our first set.

We played "Counting Blue Cars" by Dishwalla first, to try and start off laidback and get the band in a playing groove. We are technically clean when playing this song, and it's a good song for me to open up my vocal chords with. We followed it up with Matchbox 20's "3am" which is another cool but laidback song, then performed our first of five U2 songs that night - "Stuck in a moment you can't get out of." The crowd sort of sang along with us for the chorus of "Stuck..." and we played every song very well, but for the most part, the crowd wasn't responding too much (since those songs, as I said, were all quite laidback).

Now since Oz and Bunky draw their energy from crowd support, there was some desperation in the atmosphere after the lukewarm reception to our first 3 songs. Oz said we needed to throw in a DMB (Dave Matthews Band) song to shift gears, but we didn't really have anything we could put in at that time. Instead, we decided to drop "Yellow" by Coldplay, another cool laidback song, and jump straight into "Anti-gravity" by Incubus which was a bit more loud and would hopefully get the crowd going a bit more. Ack, bad move! That was our only bad song that night, and I think it might have been because we were distracted. We still hung tight though, and I just kept thinking - we are following this up with "All I want is you" by U2 so we can still turn things around before we end our first set.

Now remember how I had a hoarse voice earlier that day due to singing too much the night before? Somewhere during "Stuck..." I realized that for some reason the strain in my voice while singing had disappeared. Maybe it was the adrenaline, or all the hot tea and mints I had that day. Whatever it was, when I hit the high notes of "All I want is you" I didn't feel as much strain on my voice as I normally do when singing that song.

The thing now was that the host and crew of that TV show shooting us earlier in the evening started cheering like crazy when I started belting out those high notes. And it seems everyone took their cue from those guys as now the whole crowd was getting a bit wild.

But that wasn't the defining moment. When I realized my voice was on top of its form that night, I quickly looked back at the band during instrumental and said "Let's do our U2 medley!" So I start hitting those high notes again, then I held that last high note without strain and longer than I have ever been able to hold it, and by the time I stopped, Bunky had started playing the chords of "Where the streets have no name." The crowd interest in us had definitely gone up.

The fantastic thing about our performance of "Where the streets.." what that we didn't practice it that day and we didn't talk about how we would play it either. But at the very last minute, Bunky, Sep, Oz and Mano decided to play a version of that song that they had practiced once and that we played once in Ponti. I picked up on it and started singing one of Bono's live versions of it. By the time we were done with the song, the crowd was definitely applauding a lot more loudly and were more involved and appreciative.

We capped off the first set with our first DMB song for the night, #41, and by the time Oz started mesmerizing the audience with his violin-playing, we knew that we were on to something special.

After that set, we were all going crazy. I recall telling everyone else, how the heck are we going to top that? We normally play that U2 medley towards the end of our last set but now we've tossed out our trump card too early. I was worried. But at the same time pleased at how well we played that first set. Save for "Anti-gravity," we played every song very well, crowd reaction notwithstanding, and it was by far the best first set we've played in a long while (or maybe ever).

(Stay tuned for details on how the second set went! This post is already too long! hehehe)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

US Open early upsets!

Wow, Andy Roddick is out of the US Open in the first round! That has to be one of the most surprising results I've seen this year! Which is maybe followed closely by Svetlana Kuznetsova's 1st round loss as well. Who is that, you may ask? Well, she is just the defending champion of the US Open!

What a truly interesting year of tennis, especially Grand Slam tennis. So far, none of this year's slam winners have more than one slam trophy - Marat Safin, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer on the men's side and Serena Williams, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and Venus Williams on the women's side. The most interesting stat though is in the women's side which was pointed out by a reader of the - all of the women Grand Slam winners had to overcome a matchpoint on the way to the title. Serena saved a matchpoint against Maria Sharapova in the AO semis, Justine had to overcome matchpoints against Kuznetsova in the quarters of the FO, and Venus had to save a matchpoint against Lindsay Davenport in the Wimbledon final. Pretty damn cool stat, the one.

So back to the USO. I used to really dislike Roddick, but now he's no longer as in-your-face as he used to be, and I actually felt bad that he lost. Someone said that maybe the fact that even on his best day right now he is still incapable of beating Roger Federer has been playing in his head and has been eating away at his confidence.

Going on the who I think will be the winner, the men's side is a bit more predictable - barring injury, Roger will take it, and as such will have his 6th major. On the women's side, I am hoping that Kim Clijsters finally breaks through and wins her first slam. On paper, she is the player to beat on hard courts. She lost only once on hard courts this year, a fluke result against Shuai Peng (not to be confused with Feng Shui) but won five tournaments on the surface best suited to her game. And she did it by beating all the other top contenders - Davenport, Sharapova, Henin-Hardenne, Myskina, Dementieva, Kuznetsova, Mauresmo and even Venus Williams against whom she has such a bad head-to-head record. The only top player she hasn't gotten to beat on this surface is Serena Williams whom she hasn't played yet this year. But Serena is not in very good form as she hasn't played since Wimbledon so the odds favor Kim there.

Problem with Kim though is that she always loses the big matches. 4 slam finals, no titles. What a shame! Seems she doesn't have the killer instinct to close out the most important matches. So right now, the award for best player never to have won a slam goes to her hands down. I just hope she doesn't hang on to that title for too long. Good luck, Kim!