Monday, July 31, 2006

Hangin' out

It hasn’t been often enough in recent history that my band, Still Oz, gets together to play gigs. Mainly because our guitarist, Bunky, works a 9pm-6am shift from Mondays to Fridays (well, Monday evenings to Saturday mornings, to be more precise). But last week, our saxophonist, John V, was in town for a business trip (he’s based in Singapore now), and we figured it might be a good time for an audition or even a gig.

So we got ourselves an audition in BG’s last Thursday. We were supposed to play one set at 8pm so that we would finish before 9pm and allow Bunky to get to work. Unfortunately, Bunky didn’t show up, and he wasn’t even picking up his phone. Needless to say, the band was not too pleased. Luckily, our original manager Mike, who is currently in Manila for a couple of months, convinced our keyboard sessionist John Q to swing by at 1030pm and play with us. It was cool too coz we had a few friends in the audience: Anne, Jay Gat, Bam, Mike, and Tricia. John V also brought a colleague, Roch, to watch us and she did stay til about 11pm which was a lot later than she had intended to stay so it was cool that she did.

John Q had to play main melody in lieu of the missing guitar, and since he hadn’t played nor practiced with us for several months, we struggled quite a bit throughout the gig. We did get to play our arrangement of ‘Iris’ once again and I thought that was one of the best songs we played that night. It was kinda good too that John Q was able to swing by, mainly coz he is leaving for the US on August 1 and at least we got to play with him (albeit badly) one more time before he left. Of course, it still sucks that we played 2 1/2 hours after we were supposed to start, and not very well at that, which I would assume essentially means we lost that gig. Ah well. Such is life.

Speaking of John Q leaving for the US, we had a despedida for him last Saturday. It started off at 5:45pm, with Che, Meann, Raffa, Joh, John Q and myself watching ‘The Breakup’ which I really liked it (it was funny and real, and Jennifer Aniston looked really hot). Afterwards, Mike, Tim, and Pia met up with us for dinner. Pia then suggested that we have dessert in 'Crepes n Cream'. I had never eaten there (I think among all of us, it was only Pia who had eaten there previously). I've heard mixed reviews about it so I wasn’t completely sure how it would be, but since it's cool to try new things out, we decided to have dessert there anyway. Which was such a good idea coz we al ended up really enjoying it! John Q decided to treat us (well okay, only after a lot of prodding from the rest of us =)) but since we were still quite full from the huge dinner we just had, John Q just got 4 crepes: chocolate, strawberry, mango, and banana. I’m not a banana fan, so I didn’t try that particular one, but I enjoyed everything else. And it’s definitely quite a large serving for the price (we got the basic ones which only cost about ~P100) so I will definitely be visiting this place again.

Prior to this gimmick, Meann came from Tagaytay with her team, and so she had a poker set, Taboo, and Guesstures with her. We thought it might be cool for us to play poker or something, so we all decided to swing by my place. Tim had to leave, Mike had to go to a wake, Joh and Raffa couldn’t stay too late, and Pia was riding with them, so at the end of it, it was just me, Meann, Che, and John Q. We played four rounds of bridge before Che had to leave (and consequently everyone else).

This was actually the second night in a row where I had visitors in my place. The night before (Friday), I met up with my college friends Anna and Lala. We had dinner and dessert first (are you seeing a pattern here about me and dinners and desserts? =)) before heading to my place where we just hung out and talked. I haven’t really seen Lala in a while so it was nice catching up with her. We are also planning to have a wine appreciation night in my place (where everyone brings a bottle of wine and we cook our own food) in maybe the next 3-4 weeks, and I'm sure that will be a lot of fun.

After hanging out with Anna and Lala, Tricia (who had just watched my gig a couple of days ago) called me and says that Mike was in the Fort, and asked me if I wanted to swing by there to meet up with him. It was still early enough on a Friday night and I still had quite a lot of energy, so I picked Tricia up and we headed to the Fort. Upon getting there, though, it turns out Mike was heading out to a party in Wack-wack. Tricia and I didn’t know the person having the party and neither of us felt like crashing, so we just spent the night chatting away in CafĂ© Puccini, where I saw my HP friends Gabby, Tonette, Tim (again) and Anne. At around 2am, Tricia gets a text from Mike saying his car batt is dead so I give him a call asking him if he needs a jump-start. He didn’t, but when he was on his way home, he asked me and Tricia if we could convoy with him to make sure he got home safely without his car batt dying on him again. So we do that, and when we get to his house, we decided to talk a bit more (a ‘bit’ = an hour so maybe that's not really a bit) before Mike announced he wanted to hit the sack.

Going back to Saturday night, after the folks had left my place, I get a text from Mike saying that Marga, fresh from her Spanish classes in Madrid, was hanging out in Mati. I hadn’t seen her in months, and so I figured I would swing by so I could catch up with her. Marga was with her friends when I got there, but they all had to leave by around 1am so by the end of the night, it was just me, Marga, and Mike. Because I was on meds the last week and a half, I couldn’t have any alcoholic beverages. That Saturday night however, I was finally off my meds so I had a few beers. Needless to say the beers tasted great.

So that’s how my week last week ended. It was also the first time in a long time that I had three night-outs in a row where I went home way past midnight on each of those nights. And I got to meet up with a lot of different sets of friends and catch up with a few who I haven’t seen in a while. Not bad. I should do this more often.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tennis 101

I decided to start taking tennis lessons again. It’s probably been about a year since my last game, but I am hoping that I’ll get my form back after a few shots. And hopefully this time I can play and train enough to be fairly decent at the end of it all.

I was supposed to play last Monday actually, but then it was storming heavily so I had to postpone my first lesson. Was supposed to have it yesterday but then my trainer texted me and said that the shell court we were gonna play on was still wet. So the plan now is for me to hit my first shot later today. And I’m really excited about it.

Speaking of tennis, I’m really pleased about the Wimbledon results. The men’s final was an awesome display of high caliber tennis from the best two tennis players in the world right now – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It didn’t go the full distance of 5 sets, and after the first set I think people thought it would be a whitewash. But as we all know, the next three sets were really tough with lots of magnificent rallies and brilliant shot-making from both sides of the net. In the end, Roger took home his 4th Wimbledon title in a row (Borg is the only man to win more in a row than that) and his 8th Grand Slam, putting him alongside legends like Lendl, Connors, and Agassi.

In the women’s side, Amelie Mauresmo lived up to her #1 ranking and seeding by taking the Wimbledon trophy for the first time, besting Justine Henin-Hardenne in three sets. JHH outclassed Mauresmo in the first set by playing more aggressively, retrieving better, and hitting out more. But things turned around in the 2nd set. Mauresmo essentially served her way to the title, by winning almost 30 points with service winners and aces. That is a scary stat if you are on the receiving end of those booming serves. This proves that her Australian Open title earlier in the year was no fluke.

To cap it all off, the Bryan twins won the men’s doubles while the women’s doubles title went to an all-Chinese pair (I can’t recall which pair). This essentially meant that all the people I was rooting for won the title. Well, apart from Bob Bryan and Venus Williams, who fell short in the mixed-doubles final (I didn’t care too much for that loss, though so it doesn’t really count).

One interesting little stat. It seems that Steffi Graf has the best win-loss percentage at Wimbledon. I would’ve thought that this distinction would be held by Martina Navratilova who has won more singles matches on Wimbledon than anyone. Anyway, it was cool to hear the commentators mention this little piece of trivia. Too bad though that Agassi is retiring after this year. I won’t get to see Steffi in the stands anymore.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


5 hours and 7 minutes. That’s how long it took me to complete my marathon last July 16. Not quite as fast as my previous three runs, all of which were under 5 hours. But I did finish, and I managed to raise more than P40K for charity, too. So when all’s been said and done, it was another great run.

Wasn’t easy though. I keep saying this, but this year is definitely the most poorly trained I’ve ever been for a 42k run. The first time I ran, I had been running regularly for 5 months leading up to it – lots of 5-10k runs for the first three months then fairly regular long runs (15-20+ km) for two. The second time I did it, I trained for about 1.5 months, which isn’t ideal but I did manage to go from 8k the first week to 16k the second week to 21k the third week to 28k the fourth week. And in between that I had a lot of shorter runs to make sure my stamina was up. Last year, I didn’t train distance-wise, but I was the lightest I’ve been in the last 10 years, and my regular trips to the gym combined with tennis allowed me to be the fittest I had ever been in years.

This year though, I knew during my training runs that I was in over my head. After each training run I felt a lot more spent than in previous years. I ran 20km twice and 15km 2-3 times during the last month, but one of those 20k runs was supposed to be 25, but I just ran out of energy and had to cut it short. Oh and this is also the heaviest I’ve ever been during a marathon and the extra 5-10lbs certainly didn’t make it any easier.

The good news is that it didn’t storm during the run (I was worried coz there was a typhoon during the days leading up to July 16). The bad news though was that it was so incredibly hot and humid! Even as I was doing my warm-up at 4am I was already sweating. I ended up with what I think was heat exhaustion or something coz I fell asleep for 5 hours after my run and even after that 5 hour rest, my heart rate was still up and my skin still felt hot. I ended up getting sick for several days after that too, which is a lesson to me to make sure I spend at least 3 months in training for my next marathon.

One more downside. It was the 30th anniversary of the Milo marathon, so to make it special, Milo decided to award a medal to everyone that finishes in the regulation time of 5 hours. And since I missed that by 7 minutes, I end up with no medal. Damn! Why couldn’t the 30th anniversary have been last year?!?! Hehe oh well. Such is life.

Anyway, thanks again to all those who helped out and those who donated. Hopefully next year I can once again break my personal best.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Too bad England didn't get this far

Italy and France in the World Cup final. Whodda thunk?

It’s quite interesting really how things have panned out in this World Cup. Probably the most surprising (for me) is that I actually haven’t seen one entire game yet (the only game I sorta saw live was Argentina’s demolition of Serbia and Montenegro, and that was because I was with Anna and Joyce in Mitch’s house and Ferg had pre-paid WC coverage). I think the amount of stuff going on in my life combined with the lateness of the games and the fact that you either go to a bar at 3am or you pay P6000 to watch the games at the comfort of your own home contributed to my semi-aloofness this WC season. Which is a pity really since there have been a lot of interesting results.

I haven’t been following football for a long time. In fact, my interest in this beautiful sport began only in 2001 when I went to the UK and watched from a sports pub the England-Albania WC 2002 qualifying match with my English friend David and his fiancĂ©-then-wife-now Emma. So I don’t know how things have been panning out in WC history But if memory serves me correctly, Brazil have gotten to the finals in the last 3 WCs (is that right?). So to have four Western Europe countries in the semifinals (Portugal, Germany, Italy, and France) must be an occurrence that doesn’t always happen.

Will I watch the final? Dunno. Maybe. I figure I should but considering that I have a planed 30-km training run on Monday, maybe I should get as much sleep as I can on Sunday night instead. I’ll probably just stick to watching the Wimbledon final.