Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Travel and Tunes

To sum up 2008, I'd say this has been a great year for traveling.

The Poland trip at the end of 2007 reignited my wanderlust which continued on to this year. And I had some great, great,
great trips this year. There was El Nido with my college friends, and the Boracay teambuilding, and the Hong Kong and Macau trip with some current and former officemates. But the highlight of the year was definitely the awesomely epic SEA backpacking trip from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City with the "cliquish" batchmates from the office. Angkor Wat has been my dream desitnation for a few years now, and let me tell you, right from the time I set foot on Siem Reap International Airport, to riding the tuktuk to the hostel, to seeing the temples and walking around the town, every second of that trip was amazing.

Being able to go to a dream destination is an awesome experience. Yep, this was an awesome year of traveling. Machu Picchu, Lalibela and New Zealand, anyone? =D


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I made the same list at the end of 2007 and since I'm all about routines, I thought I should do it again. So here are the 20 most played songs on my ZVM:

  1. Machines - Biffy Clyro
  2. Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon
  3. 3 Libras - A Perfect Circle
  4. Missed The Boat - Modest Mouse
  5. If You Tolerate This - Manic Street Preachers
  6. Little Motel - Modest Mouse
  7. Keep The Car Running - Arcade Fire
  8. I See You, You See Me - The Magic Numbers
  9. The Comeback - Shout Out Louds
  10. The Origin of Love - Hedwig and The Angry Inch
  11. 9 Crimes - Damien Rice
  12. Grace - Jeff Buckley
  13. Oasis - Amanda Palmer
  14. People As Places As People - Modest Mouse
  15. Warwick Avenue - Duffy
  16. Weak - Skunk Anansie
  17. Dream - Alice Smith
  18. Oh Well - Fiona Apple
  19. Sway - The Perishers
  20. This Year's Love - David Gray
Happy New Year Everyone! May 2009 be great for all of us! (and when I say us, it means me and the people I like...)

Must Saw TV

We're in the first few hours of the last day of the year, and since it looks like this day is supposed to be significant (judging by all the firecrackers and all that noise), I figure why waste it on sleep? So instead of going to bed, I thought I'd spend just a few more minutes blogging while eating some yummy czekolada from Warsaw that my teammate Piotrek gave me for Christmas (although it's not E. Wedel or Wawel, pwede na... Thanks Boss Piotr!)

So as a year capper, and since this is also the season for Top n lists (where n = 10, usually)... I thought I should list down my must-see TV shows in the past year:

  1. The Amazing Race - It's travel porn paired with constant adrenaline rush. Of course it's my #1.
  2. Chuck - It's Alias, but funnier and lighter. And AXN showing back-to-back eps of the first season only added to my addiction.
  3. Pushing Daisies - I'm still pissed it's not coming back for another season. I'm really gonna miss this show, just like I still miss Arrested Development.
  4. Top Chef - A cooking competition featuring great food set on a kitchen filled with competitive egotistical chefs? I'm in.
  5. Damages - I remember wanting to be a lawyer when I was a kid. This brilliantly twisted show actually makes me happy that I didn't go that route.
  6. 30 Rock - Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Kenneth the Page, Elaine and the whole cast is pure comedy gold.
  7. House - Hugh Laurie as House is just completely fascinating to watch, even if the show gets too formulaic at times.
  8. NCIS - It sort of replaced CSI as my favorite crime show. The plots are always interesting, but what really holds it up is the great chemistry between the cast members.
  9. So You Think You Can Dance - Forget Idol (until the new season comes in January, I guess). I'm not one who likes dancing at all, but this show is addicting. srsly.
  10. Family Guy - The best thing about Family Guy is that it consisteblgrruhgse.

Special Mention:
  • How I Met Your Mother- The only problem with this show is I can't catch it often enough on my TV...
  • The Office - You know how there are parts of this show that's so damn funny, and then there are those parts that really make you cringe and want to change the channel? Because it might actually be your office they're basing the plot on, and you might actually be a Dwight? Or a Michael?
  • Digging for the Truth - This is a show on the History Channel, and the host travels from continent to continent to prove (or disprove) a historical mystery. It's awesome if your a history/geography/travel geek like me.
  • The Summer Olympics - Hey, it only comes once every leap year.

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Now playing: Pink Floyd - Shine On You Crazy Diamond
via FoxyTunes

Monday, December 29, 2008

5 is The Number of the Week.

I got five (5!!!!) new shirts as gifts last Christmas. Is that a subtle sign that the clothes I wear suck? If so, noted, and LOL.

The other thing I enjoyed doing last Christmas was buying gifts for my godchildren (I've got 5 so far), mostly because they're all kids/babies/pre-teens and it's always fun to look for the coolest toys and other baby items. My oldest godchild is actually around 10 or 11 (or 12?) years old already (I don't think I was even a teenager yet when he was born) (his name is Denzel btw, and yes, he was named after Denzel Washington), so instead of buying him a toy, I gave him 3 Hardy Boys books instead, since I was about his age when I started reading books.

Yep, those Hardy Boys paperbacks (and Archie comics) were the main reasons why I got into reading.



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Now playing: Newton Faulkner - Foundations (Live On The Live Lounge)
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Another End To Another Year

I finally got a new cam (after my old one got stolen...) It's a Canon IXUS 870 IS that I asked my OFW friend Karon to buy in Singapore since gadgets are usually a lot cheaper there. I was choosing between the IXUS 870 and the black IXUS 980, which looked awesome but was also about 100 SGD pricier. You won't believe how excited I was when I took the camera out of the box. Shiny new things are awesome :D It burned a huge hole on my pocket though, but I guess I'll just tag it as a gift for myself and cross it out of my spending ledger (except I also still have plans to buy a new phone because my old one's batt keeps on falling off. Where's a salary increase when you need one?!??!??)

Anyway, if there was anything good I could take away from being robbed, it's that my cam is new and improved. Woot!

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Last week was a really hectic week for me. It was the last official work week in our company before the annual Holiday shutdown, and it was also a week with Chirstmas Parties, dinners, and get togethers. There was our bundle's Christmas Party, our team's Christmas Party, our dinner with the aforementioned OFW balikbayan Karon (hehe) (pics here), and our monthly batch dinner, where we also met up with another Singapore-based balikbayan, Ben
(pics here)

December is a fun month, isn't it? I hope you're done with your Christmas shopping! (I'm not...)

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Now playing:
Amanda Palmer - Another Year
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gifts as Character Reference

I just did my Christmas shopping earlier today, which is actually pretty early for me. Last year, I was still scrambling to buy Christmas gifts on the 24th.

Anyway, one of the things I found were these cellphone-holder-while-you-charge things:













The idea is you plug in your cellphone charger through the angel/devil's mouth, wrap the charger cord around its neck, and leave the cellphone sitting comfortably on its lap. I found them charming (and convenient) enough (which are also qualities one should look for in a one-night stand, btw), so I bought about a dozen of them, divided equally between the Angel and Devil design. I figured I'd give my nice friends the Angel ones, and my asshole friends the Devil ones. See, this way, not only will I be giving them a gift, I'll also be giving them an idea of how pleasant or nasty I think they are.
*

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Another thing that I recently bought is this 17-in desktop monitor that I'm staring at right now. My old monitor was making its best efforts in giving me a migraine and turning me colorblind by filling the screen alternately with blinking, saturated greens, blues and reds, so I was only too happy to get rid of it. Good thing Mich and James, the eBay conglomerate that they are, were selling this item at the time I was looking for one. At least now, I can put being colorblind at the bottom of my "things to worry about" list.




*For the record, I'm just kidding, and I'm keeping a devil design for myself.
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Now playing: Modest Mouse - Spitting Venom
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All We Need Are Blinking Christmas Lights.

I didn't realize that Christmas is actually less than two weeks away until I bought Christmas gifts for my college friends before our dinner last night. That's odd.

It's probably because luck hasn't been on my side lately. Or because I really am getting a bit too old for the shiz that is the season of joy and gift giving and Santa and merrymaking. Or maybe it's because our company's Christmas party was
canceled because of cost-cutting measures (and to think that I was actually complaining about last year's sucky Christmas Party. Now, all I can say is at least '07 actually had one.) Or maybe it's because our Christmas tree doesn't actually have Christmas lights on it.

Aaaaand, I'm actually part of the Christmas Party committee for our team. So, I really need to step up my Christmas spirit, I guess.



Hell Yeah

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Mixed Bag

In another not-so-good news, my grandfather has been in the hospital since last Friday. I really hope he gets well soon.

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*Some spoilers here, if you haven't seen the TAR 13 finale yet...

On a much lighter topic (because I really need to talk about a much lighter topic), I just finished watching The Amazing Race 13 finale. I really liked this season, and that final leg was pretty exciting with Ken and Tina and
Nick and Starr neck-and-neck through most of the leg. The final task was a pretty good life-sized memory game, and since it was life-sized, there was a lot of running around involved too. I still think last year's final roadblock, the logic puzzle that Rachel (of TK and Rachel, the mellow quasi-hippies) rocked, was more challenging though.

And just like last season, the team I was rooting for won! I love this show, but most of the time, a team that I hate crosses the finish line first... So it's good to have a team I like win two seasons in a row.





(It was the siblings, Nick and Starr btw)


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Now playing: Kings Of Leon - Fans
via FoxyTunes

Monday, December 1, 2008

That's Not a Ghost, That's a Guy in a Red Shirt! And He's Got My Laptop!

Ok... To whoever controls the ways of the universe: When I said that it was gonna be an eventful weekend, I was just being sarcastic, ok?

That being said, I'm absolutely gutted.

Saturday, ~1:30 AM: I got home, went up to the computer room and left my backpack on the chair where I always put it. After that, I went to my room, watched some tv, listened to some music, and then went to sleep.

Same day, ~9:00 AM: My dad woke me up and I had breakfast with my parents and sister. It's been a long time since we all had breakfast together, or for that matter, a Saturday morning together. We were heading to the province, which is why my parents were in Las Piñas, and my sister and I were awake before lunch on a weekend. Anyway, after I finished my breakfast, I went up to the computer room again, and took my cellphone, which I left inside my backpack. The phone's batt was dead, so I took it to another room and charged it. I went back to bed while waiting for my mom to finish using the bathroom.

~10:30 AM: After much prodding from my parents, I got up from bed and took a bath, then I went straight up to my room, got dressed and started packing my stuff.

~11:30 AM: I went down to the computer room to grab my laptop and digicam. I wanted to bring my laptop so that I could watch some movies and tv shows on a decent screen (because there was no cable TV in my parents' house in Quezon.) When I got there, my backpack (which doubles as my laptop bag) was gone from its homey chair. I asked my parents if they've seen it, or if they knew where it was. Of course, they didn't. I suspected that my dad just mistakenly loaded my backpack to the van together with all the things we were bringing to Quezon. So I checked, but the backpack wasn't there either. I checked my room, hoping that I brought it up there, and I just totally forgot that I did for some reason (someone else moving my things, short term memory loss, early signs of Alzheimer's, sleepwalking or other sleep-induced movement, I was willing to go for any reason...) But it still wasn't there.

My backpack, and everything in it including my laptop and its peripherals (geeky word, I know), my cam, my favorite brown jacket, my company ID, and important office stuff, was gone.

Apparently, when my mom was in their room getting ready, she saw, from the reflection in the mirror, someone in red coming out of the computer room. She didn't mind it thinking that it was just me, or it was just something she imagined (some friends have claimed that they see ghosts in our house, so we've gotten used to ignoring things that seem to move out of the corner of our eyes.) Also, apparently, my parents forgot to lock the door to our kitchen after they loaded all our things in the van. And apparently, our neighbor saw a guy in red taking a peek into the screen door of their house, surveying what's inside. Our neighbor locked the door when he saw what the guy was doing and the guy left.


Apparently, the guy in red was a robber, and he went into our house and from right under our noses took the easiest thing he could take: my backpack with my cam, and my favorite brown jacket, and my 3 month-old laptop containing all my work files and important emails, most of which have no backup copy. Lucky bastard.


As I said, I'm absolutely fucking gutted. And pissed and annoyed and depressed.


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Now playing: Modest Mouse - Parting of the Sensory
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 28, 2008

Haiku of Peeves and Random Spittings

I was bored the other night and so I wrote several Haiku about some of the things that generally piss me off (in a way that's enough to rile me up but not in a violent way, that is.) I figured, I'm uselessly releasing pent-up mental tirades anyway, so I might as well put some creative effort into it. In short, these are just silly pet peeves that I've decided to put into short phrases.

Misuse of the words
Worse and Worst. And "In Lieu Of"
Shut up already.
-------
Why crank up the sound
when your playlist is so lame,
you pathetic twit?
-------
You're not paid to be
An asshole in the office,
so don't start now, k?
-------
He's blabbing again
Crap Crap Blah Crap. Someone, please:
Plan my funeral
-------
email signatures
with those annoying icons
just clog my inbox

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I'm going to our province (in Quezon) tomorrow for my grandfather's birthday. His birthday partaaay will be held at my parent's new house. I've never seen the new house, but its the fruit of my dad's year-long labor (and retirement fund), so it's probably something worth seeing. Plus, the last time I was in Quezon was 2, maybe 3 years ago. No cable tv, no internet, and no signal for my Globe cellphone. It's gonna be an eventful weekend, I guess. See ya.


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Now playing: Mogwai - I Know You Are But What Am I?
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tennis 2008

The tennis season just ended (well, is almost ending, there's still the Davis Cup final, which I don't care about because it's not like the Philippine team is in the mix of the competition), and here's the year-end rankings for the ATP and WTA Tours.

The biggest news on the men's side is the exchange of positions between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the World #1 and Wimbledon Champion. Fed was ranked #1 for a record 237 straight weeks from Feb 2004 until August 2008, and has owned Wimbledon from 2003 to 2007. This year was a different story for him though, as he lost his dominance over the ATP Tour. Of course, he can take solace on the fact that he won an Olympic gold medal for Men's Doubles (with Stan Wawrinka) and he's just 1 Grand Slam title away from equalling Pete Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam titles when he won his 5th consecutive US Open title last September. And the fact that he's Roger Federer.

On the other hand, this was a banner year for Rafa, who won Wimbledon and became #1 for the first time in his career. He also won the Olympic gold in Men's Singles, as well as his 4th consecutive French Open title, where he has never been beaten. More importantly in this recession-stricken times, Rafa won more than $6 million in tournament prize this year, and he's been featured several times on TMZ (which if I'm guessing correctly is probably what thrilled him the most.)

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray also comfortably stepped up into the big stage this year, and for the first time in years, there are actually 4 players seriously, legitimately, notproductofhypely in the running for next year's Grand Slams and for the #1 ranking.

On the women's side, Justine Henin is still retired, and her retirement has definitely put a gaping hole at the top of women's tennis. Proof: Jelena Jankovic is the World #1, while the two other players who were ranked #1 post-Henin are now ranked 5 (Ivanovic) and 9 (Sharapova). I like Jelena, but there's no way she'd be #1 if Justine was around.

Of course, given all the active players in the WTA Tour, I'm not surprised that it was JJ who ended up being #1. The Williams sisters are both great tennis players, but they just done play enough, and aren't consistent enough to take the #1 ranking. Ana and Maria both took the #1 ranking but both also took a ranking nosedive after being injured and failing to come back strong (or in Maria's case, at all), and all the other Russians in the top 10 have one weakness too many in their games. JJ on the other hand is consistent in getting to the semis and the finals of the many tournaments that she joins. She's never won a Grand Slam title, but based on the numbers she's clocked in, JJ deserves that #1 ranking.

So what am I looking forward to in the WTA Tour next year? Well, more like who: Caroline Wozniacki and Arantxa Rus.



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Now playing: Arcade Fire - Ocean of Noise
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 7, 2008

Owned In the Head

I don't know what's gotten into me lately, but my musical mood has been pointing me to the direction of these 4 artists who fall on the folk/soul/blues/jazz genre...

Amos Lee:


Duffy:



Adele:



Ray LaMontagne:


They're all great, right? I don't know what it says about my current state of mind, or if it's just completely coincidental. But it does make me want to start thinking, except that involves too much effort.

I was talking to my friend and former teammate Karon to make sense of some things, and well, I still don't know. I'm not that good with introspection, my mind always sidetracks me.

...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Awesome Things, and Things One Should Probably Rethink Before Trying

Had a great time last Wednesday, celebrating my team lead Jonpe's and my former team lead Seph's new roles. The pics are over here. It was a fun night with the free food and beer, and the all-night karaoke. But what really made it awesome was when one of our teammates suddenly was given a rose by a "mystery" guy. What's funnier is my teammates went out to investigate who the "mystery" rose-sender was, and they were given the most obvious clue about who it was by the staff who delivered the rose... ROTFLMAO! Some things just align in a way that makes you think the universe intended them to happen exactly like that, and some things, well, not quite sometimes.

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Nickelodeon is back on my cable. I can finally watch Fairly-Odd Parents again. Yay.

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The Amazing Race 13 had teams going to Siem Reap, Cambodia last episode. Woohoo! They went to Angkor Wat for the roadblock task (where teams had to look for the Chamber of Echoes, which I think I found when I was there, but I had no idea that it was a chamber where you had to thump your chest to hear an echo), and to Bayon Temple for the pit stop. Awesome awesome awesome!

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Krispy Kreme has some new Reese-flavored donuts. Which will probably make me fatter because I love Krispy Kreme, and I love chocolate, and I love peanut butter. (I just took home a half dozen box of donuts for the weekend, right now only two are left.) Hurray for my belly!


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Now playing: The Magic Numbers - Mornings Eleven
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beer and Fireworks

Another October, another month of year-end performance reviews. The good part about fiscal year-ends in my company though is they are always book-ended by the Beer Bash, a night of free flowing beer and partying. The beer was San Mig (what else...) and the food was from Fish and Co., and music from Stonefree and Taken By Cars (there was a DJ too, but I didn't really pay attention to what he was playing, which according to Mia, sucked.)

The next day, our bundle/department/org unit had our s
econd off-site event of the year. Earlier this year, it was an overnight stay at Subic where I got completely trashed. This time, it was just a day trip to Enchanted Kingdom, and it was tagged as a "Friends and Family" day, so I didn't expect to get drunk (I didn't.) On the contrary, I actually was only able to go on 3 rides (2 of them lame rides, and one of them, we had to line up for more than an hour.) I don't know if it was just me getting used to the feeling, but I honestly wasn't all that thrilled while riding on Anchors Away. I guess the thrill of Anchors Away was no match to last month's Abyss at Ocean Park.

The clincher of the night though was I the fireworks competition at the end of the night. There were 6 groups in competition, so it was fireworks overload after dinner, which I wasn't complaining about.


Pics are over here:
Beer Bash 2008
AMG at Enchanted Kingdom

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Now playing: Coldplay - Death Will Never Conquer
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, October 19, 2008

About Things

Little Things

Laughable attempts at being cool and smooth and the projection of being important
Headphones exist for a reason. So does common sense.
Talking endlessly about things when the only person who actually cares about said things is the talker

Different Things

Hearing a great song you haven't listened to for a long time
Drinking a steaming hot cup of coffee and cinnamon-laced sweets
Holding a loaded gun for the first time

Absurd Things

Blood transfusion and
unqualified practices
Resistance to change and confusing signals
Undeserved awards and the feelings you get thereafter

Unconventional Things

homemade hot chocolate from Lindt Dark Chocolate
buskers and the amount of money one can win
insomnia and hunger and the internet


Ok, I'll stop here. This was a weird enough post as it is.


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Now playing: Live - Lightning Crashes
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Before Dusk


This is an unedited picture of the view from outside just a few minutes ago. Isn't it strange how the right combination of the sunset, rainclouds, pollution, and lack of street lights could turn an otherwise drab view that is my village into a dramatic sepia-colored depressionville?



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Now playing: Aqualung - Brighter Than Sunshine

via FoxyTunes

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tricks

I just changed my blog layout to a much simpler one. But just like your salary, or that feeling of greatness and superiority you sometimes get, I don't think it's gonna last. So for posterity's sake, here's a screenshot.


I couldn't sleep last night so I decided to do something boring to make me sleepy. But instead of making me want to go to bed, I stayed up all night trying to find the perfect combination of the green-colored font on the green-hued background for the title above. I'm obsessive-compulsive that way.



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Now playing: Skunk Anansie - Hedonism
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Other Food Products, #4

Damn It. So apparently Lotte Koala Biscuit (Family Pack)(Chocolate Filled)(Double Chocolate Flavor) is contaminated with Melamine. I ate a whole pack when I was in Hong Kong a few weeks ago.

Well, the bright side is, this buys me a viable excuse to go on endless sick leaves from work.

Officemate: Absent ka na naman? Tamad ka talaga.
Me: What? You're calling me lazy? Don't you know what I'm going through??? My kidneys are failing because of the Lotte Koala Biscuit pack that I ate 3 weeks ago! I'm so sick my piss is milk chocolate and my shit is shaped like koalas!
Anyway.

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The Amazing Race 13 premiered last Monday am here in Manila. The 13th season's first leg had teams going to Brazil. Woohoo! I'm a huge TAR geek so I'm happy the show's back. However, the premiere wasn't as exciting as I thought it could've been, partly because the tasks weren't that hard, and partly because the Married Beekeeping senior citizens were so slow and unexciting, their elimination was basically a foregone conclusion. Last year's premiere was awesome, because really, it's hard to top braying donkeys in Ireland when it comes to comic relief.


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Now playing: Massive Attack - Live With Me
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That Box Is Now Empty

I just got my new (work) laptop last week. So far, everything is going well, except for the part where I can't send or receive emails on my Outlook. It's really annoying me big time.

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It's been raining pretty much the whole night.

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Did you know that Ping Lacson
blogs? It's kind of interesting. I wonder if it's actually him who writes on it or just a really smart intern. He posted the transcript of his privilege speech on his blog and I just found it hilarious that the / and // are still there to denote the short and long pauses.

You'd think the intern would remember to remove them before clicking "PUBLISH POST"


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I'm hungry. And there's no ready-to-eat food in my ref or anywhere in my kitchen for that matter. Damn it. I said in my previous post that I brought home one box of Royce' Dark Chocolate. Well, the problem is it was just one box and that box is now empty.

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Funny thing. Last Friday marked my 3rd year working for my company. It's also the only company I've ever worked for after I graduated from college. I didn't think I'd be so loyal, but I apparently am. Funny thing about loyalty, is there's usually an underlying reason that motivates it. Money, comfort, contentment, safety and security. Actual happiness. Or actual laziness that prevents you from searching for a better replacement. Funny, that.


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Now playing: Radiohead - Street Spirit
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

But I Did Get To

OK, so I didn't get to bungee jump from the Macau Tower. But I did get to buy a brand-spanking new running shoe, a duffel bag, and 2 dry-fit shirts all for half the original (Manila) price.

I didn't get to enjoy the best-most-authentic-tastiest-delicious Hong Kong-style dimsum, and I got duped into eating a huge plate of fried rice and spiced beef innards, but I did get to go home with a box of dark chocolate Royce'.

I didn't get to walk along the Victoria Harbour, but I did get to go to HK Disneyland and ride the Abyss at Ocean Park.

Hong Kong was awesome. It wasn't Siem Reap-levels of awesome, but it kicked ass nonetheless.

Pics here: http://bloodsportandriot.multiply.com/photos/album/34/Hong_Kong_08_with_Macau_on_the_side
and here: http://primopen.multiply.com/photos/album/66
and here: http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=-3&id=610357851#/album.php?aid=40029&id=610357851

Thursday, September 11, 2008

HK!

I'm off to Hong Kong in a few hours, for a quick vacation with friends from the office. Hopefully it doesn't rain too hard there as it does here in Manila right now. We might make a side trip to Macau (where I really want to try out the bungee jump from the Macau Tower.) Be back on Sunday!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

13th and 9th

The best thing about Roger Federer winning the 2008 US Open yesterday was that fact that I didn't expect him to actually win it. Don't get me wrong, I was hoping for him to win the year's final Grand Slam. But with Fed's game seemingly off this year and with his closest rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all stepping up their hard court games, it looked like an uphill battle for Federer when the tournament started.

Fed's year thus far was disappointing, by his high standards. Any other player would be extremely satisfied to reach two Grand Slam finals and one semifinal in single year. Not so much for Federer, who has been winning 2-3 Grand Slams each season for the past 4 years. He's already lost 12 matches this year, in contrast to his '04-'07 seasons, where he only lost 6, 4, 5 and 9 matches respectively (playing ~80-90 matches a year). Included in those 12 losses were his stinging loss to Nadal in Paris and again in London. And with his descent from #1 to #2 in the rankings, it was obvious that he wasn't the invincible Federer that I rooted for the past few years.

But enough of the statistics. Becaus
e Federer is more than just that. Federer picked up the pieces of his game and built it up again in New York, like the master that he is. He kept Djokovic at bay in the semis, and swept past Murray in the final 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 to win his 5th consecutive US Open, and his 13th Grand Slam title overall.

Federer had a lot of doubters, saying that he has lost his touch, and that his best tennis is behind him, and his chase for Sampras' record 14 Grand Slams is over. Over the past two weeks in New York, he proved that he hasn't, and it isn't, and the chase is still on. That's what real champions do. There shouldn't have been any doubt about that.

----------------------------------


On the women's side, Serena Williams was going for her 9th Grand Slam title against Jelena
Jankovic, who was going for her 1st. The top ranking was also at stake in the women's final, where both women were looking to take the #1 ranking from Ana Ivanovic (Serena was #1 for 57 weeks way back in 2002-2003, while JJ held the #1 ranking last Aug 18 for one week.)

Serena was the Federer of women's tennis six years ago, she was dominant and was practically unbeatable, but her winning streak ended, and injuries followed. She still had her big wins, but they were too few and far between for her to be able to reach the #1 ranking again. But Justine Henin's sudden retirement gave her the opportunity to get there, and she did. After losing in the Wimbledon final to big sister Venus, Serena sealed her return to the top of the rankings with a 6-4, 7-5 win over JJ. Inasmuch as Fed had his critics and doubters, so did Serena (and even more, probably.) Serena's 9th Grand Slam and return to the top is probably a good enough answer to hers.


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Now playing: Modest Mouse - One Chance
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chances and Choices (And All The Good Things That Fall In Between)

I went to my friend and former officemate Vlam's wedding yesterday at the Grace Christian Church in QC, and since I live way down in the south and the church is all the way up in the northern part of Metro Manila (and because I am Alvin), I was late for the wedding (I went with George, Mich, James and Becca.) If it wasn't for a vehicular accident that caused an awful traffic jam on the way there, we would've made it just in time.

At least we made it to the wedding ceremony... when Joseph, Geebee and Camille arrived, the bride and groom were
already outside the church, lol. Apparently they got really lost on the way there. And when I say really lost, I mean they were supposed to be in Grace Village in QC, but somehow they managed to go to the newly-opened SM Marikina. (Their original alibi was that Geebee was having some problems with her, uh, Movement. Bowel Movement.)

Anyway, we all got to the wedding reception in Edsa Shang on time. The food was great, and the whole event was just awesome. The night started with the newlyweds singing a Chinese song to welcome everyone, then more singing from their friends and family (in English), and more singing from Vlam (pagbigyan nyo na, wedding day nya to...) just before he gave his message to all the guests. Congratulations Vlam and Janice! Enjoy your honeymoon in
Europe :D

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Speaking of former officemates, two more CDW teammates just became former officemates last week. Good luck Mathet and Sheberly (that's Sheryl's party gurl name, lol.) See you around! (since you two are actually one of the very few who resigned from our company and will not be going to Singapore.)

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The last grand Slam of the year, the US Open in New York, is coming to its climax. The women's final will be between American Serena Williams and Serbian Jelena Jankovic. i was rooting for Elene Dementieva (who won the gold in Beijing) over Jankovic, but she lost in straight sets on their semifinal match. Serena will be going for her 9th Grand Slam, while World #2 JJ will be going for her first Grand Slam title. Whoever wins the final match will also take over the #1 ranking from Ana Ivanovic, who flopped to a second-round loss to #188-ranked Julie Coin of France. Ana will go down to #3 in the rankings no matter what happens in the final tomorrow morning (later tonight in New York).

On the men's side, defending champ Roger Federer is trying to redeem his sub-par (by his standards) year at the US Open. He's already passed his big semifinal hurdle by beating Serbian Novak Djokovic in 4 sets, and now he's waiting for the winner of the Rafael Nadal-Andy Murray match to see who he'll be facing in the final. I would've thought that current #1 Nadal will win that match, but as of this writing, Murray has the upper hand, leading Nadal 6-2, 7-6, 2-3.*

*Update: Murray beat Nadal in 4 sets to face Federer in the final.

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Now playing: The Magic Numbers - I See You, You See Me

via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Add Salt and Pepper To Taste

I realized that for the past month that I've been spending way too much money on food. With the frequent take-outs from Sbarro in the nearby SM mall and the almost-nightly deliveries for pizza and giant burgers (and the frequent trips to Starbucks and Seattle's Best for coffee breaks in between work) being the main culprits. So last Saturday, to conserve my dwindling cash-on-hand, I attempted to cook a meal that would last me the whole weekend. I just basically grabbed whatever I saw on our kitchen cabinet and mixed them all up, and I came up with a dish I would like to christen Mackerel with Garlic Mushrooms in Tomato-Teriyaki Sauce. I think I'm Top Chef material.

Ok... So it was canned sardines in tomato sauce with canned button mushrooms with lots of garlic and onions and instant teriyaki sauce from a bottle (+ sesame oil, some basil, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.)

It still tasted good though.

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The 13th season of The Amazing Race is coming in September! WOOOOHOOOO!!! And according to this article, the teams will be going for the first time to Cambodia! Awesome! I've always wanted TAR to go to Cambodia, because 1) it just fits a TAR location, in my mind, with the exotic culture, non-English-speaking people, unconventional transportation methods, and the beautiful landscape. 2) any temple in the Angkor complex would make a great pit stop and 3) up until last month, it was one of my dream destinations that I've never been to yet, so I was hoping my all-time favorite show would take me there. (The linked article has more location and other pseudo-spoilers that came from the show's executive producer, btw)


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Now playing: Massive Attack - Live With Me
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Iconic Structures

I've just posted pics from our trip to Cambodia here and here.
I still haven't gotten around to posting the Vietnam pics. I actually don't have that many pics from Vietnam, even if we were there for three days and a few hours. For some reason, I didn't want to take out my camera a lot (come to think of it, it was probably because we were usually in Bin Tahn Market and Saigon Square, and those places reminded me of Divisoria, which is a place where you really shouldn't bring any valuables unless you don't mind getting them stolen...) I think I'll post the pics the next time I'm on my laptop working from home (not that that's all I do when I'm working from home...)

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Wasn't the Olympics awesome? While we didn't win any medals on the official events (again), I still loved watching the Olympics, and I still definitely appreciate what the Filipino athletes did. (Because the effort for me to drag myself to jog for 30 mins around my village < the years and months of training that they did just to qualify to be an Olympic athlete. I have no grounds to complain.)

The Bird's Nest and the Water Cube are awesome structures too. Great architecture (especially the Water Cube), and definitely iconic. I wish Manila had a great iconic structure too, just as Beijing has their Olympic sites and KL has the Petronas Twin Towers.

Beijing 2008 was great, and I can't wait for London 2012 (although that Olympic logo looks awful, doesn't it?)

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Now playing:
Modest Mouse - Parting of the Sensory
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Made of Awesome

I've been back in Manila for more than a week now, but I just haven't found the time to write about my insanely awesome 8 days of travel around Southeast Asia. Good thing Ish made this kick ass video chronicling our SEA Backpacking trip.

Seriously, just watching this video makes me excited all over again. I can't wait to pack my bags and travel again. Walking around bustling cities and amusing small towns, seeing all kinds of amazing sights and sceneries, meeting both the most gracious and the most (endearingly) enterprising kinds of people, experiencing different cultures and thinking about how similar and different it is to my own, tasting authentic cuisines and the exquisite local fare...

That is why I love traveling. That trip was just made of awesome. I can't wait for the next one!


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Now playing: Mogwai - We're No Here
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

KL -> Siem Reap

Just a quick post, I'm on blog leave...

We just arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and I'm at our hostel's internet area :-)

Kuala Lumpur was awesome! The close view of the Petronas Twin Towers was worth all the long walks. I'll post pictures when I get back. Meanwhile, I'll get back to vacation mode now. Angkor Wat waits for us tomorrow!

See you in a week!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wimbledon Update

It's been a great Wimbledon so far, with lots of surprises and tight matches.

Especially on the ladies' side if the tournament, where the top 4 players in the world have all lost. This is the first time in the Open Era (in ~40 years) that all top 4 seeds in the women's side failed to reach the Quarterfinals stage. Maria Sharapova was the first one to lose (I talked about it on this post), then world number 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia followed shortly, losing in the 3rd round to Jie Zheng of China, who is currently ranked #133. But then again, maybe Ana should just be thankful that she actually made the 3rd round. She barely survived in her previous match, beating Natalie Dechy 6-7, 7-6, 10-8, saving two match points against her along the way. As for Zheng, she won her next two matches and is now in the singles quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career (she has won two Grand Slams before though, in doubles.)

And then earlier today, the #2 and #4 seeds, Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova both lost in the 4th round, to Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn and Pole Agnieszka Radwanska. But even though the top 4 players are gone, it's not like Wimbledon has ran out of WTA stars. The Williams sisters, who have 6 Wimbledon titles between them, are both in the quarters and could easily meet in the finals. I wonder what Justine Henin is thinking about this lineup.

The QF line-up:
Jie Zheng (CHN) vs Nicole Vaidisova (CZE)
(Nicole was a quarterfinalist last year too, she's been having a bad year so far (there was a point where she lost 6 straight matches), but it looks like Wimbledon has revived her)
Agnieszka Rawanska (POL) vs Serena Williams (USA)
(Aga Rad has been having a great year so far, her ranking is now up to #11, but Serena has 8 Grand Slam titles)
Elena Dementieva (RUS) vs Nadia Petrova (RUS)
(What would a Grand Slam be without the pre-requisite All-Russian quarterfinal match? Elena isn't exactly a grass-court expert, and Petrova has fallen from the #3 to #18 in the rankings... But they both outlasted all the other Russians.)
Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) vs Venus Williams (USA)
(This is the Thai 32 year-old's first gra
nd slam quarterfinal. Venus is a 4-time Wimbledon Champ. Mismatch? Or huge chance for an upset?)


On the Men's side, only three of the top 10 players are left, led by the two best players in the world, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The other top ten player is the uber-talented Richard (Reeshard!) Gasquet of France. And right now, Reeshard is still playing his 4th round match, which he could very well lose to local boy Andy Murray, the #1 Brit and #11 in the world. Which is a pity because Reeshard is one of my favorite players. His backhand is poetry in motion to watch.

It's looking to be a Fed-Nadal final for the 3rd straight year, although I wouldn't count out the winner of the Gasquet-Murray match to snatch Nadal's spot up there.

The QF line-up:
The Master Federer (SUI) vs Super Mario Ancic (CRO)
(Ancic was the last player to beat Fed at Wimbledon, in 2002 when Ancic was 18 year old. It might be difficult for Mario to repeat that win though, since his 4th round match lasted for 3 hours and 49 minutes, going 13-11 in the fifth set.)
Marat Safin (RUS) vs Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
(Safin followed up his win against #3 Djokovic with two more wins to book a quarterfinal spot. This is his first appearance at a Grand Slam quarterfinal since winning the Australian Open in 2005)
Rainer Schuettler (GER) vs Arnaud Clement (FRA)
(These two surprise quarter finalists are the oldest men left (Rainer is 32, Arnaud is 30.) The other thing they have in common is that their best Grand Slam performance was reaching the final of the Australian Open (Clement in 2001, Schuettler in 2003). The other, other thing they have in common is that they both lost to Andre Agassi easily on those Aussie Open finals.)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs the winner of the Gasquet/Murray match
(Nadal is trying to be the first man since Bjorn Borg in the 80's to win back to back French and Wimbledon titles. Gasquet and Murray are now in the 5th set of their match, Gasquet won the first 2 sets but Murray came back to win the next 2 sets)



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Now playing: Muse - Sing for Absolution
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

After The Jump

As Paolo Nutini sang it: Where'd the days go when all we did was play? And the stress that we were under wasn't stress at all, just a run and a jump into a harmless fall.

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Big typhoon last weekend, and while I love the rainy season, I kinda felt sorry after reading my teammate Mich's accounts of what happened in her hometown.

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I'll be going on a trip around Southeast Asia with some friends next week. Everything has been planned out well for several months now, but damn, mofo Cebu Pacific strikes again. I guess it really is true what they say about Cebu Pacific giving no value for your little money. Unfortunately, I still have to deal with them some more in the future because I've also booked another flight with them to HK with my F/OM/FTM*. They better not fuck that up.

*friends/officemates/former teammates

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Why is a convenient excuse so hard to come by when you most need it? I guess now I really have to do something. Then again, the excitement of jumping off of cliffs or planes or skyscraper rooftops is in the falling. It's the landing that ends the thrill and begins the thirst for the next jump.



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Now playing: radiohead - jigsaw falling into place
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Surprises at Wimbledon

The biggest one? No matches have been delayed yet because of rain.

So Wimbledon started last Monday, and we're just at the 2nd round and two big contenders are already out and packing their bags. #3 Novak Djokovic was beaten in straight sets by former #1 and 2-time Grand Slam champ Marat Safin last Wednesday, then #3 Maria Sharapova was beaten earlier by 154th ranked Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia. On paper, Masha shouldn't have lost to AK, but man, she was playing awful tennis a while ago... She could barely hit the ball in or past the net. To think that I thought she would be winning her 2nd Wimbledon this year. Meh.



Djokovic's
lost was also still a bit of a surprise, despite Safin's credentials. Safin hasn't been playing well the past few years. His last tournament win was at the Australian Open, where he beat Federer in a classic 5-set semifinal match. Since then, his form has waned, and his rankings has gone down to #75. But against Djokovic, he played like the Marat was in the top 10 and actually won tournaments. I hope he keeps this kind of tennis going, because he and Federer are the most talented tennis players out there, imo, and I want to see Marat slugging it out with the Big 3, damn it!


So more Wimbledon for the next one and a half weeks. It's been great so far, and I hope it doesn't rain.


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Now playing:
Travis - Why Does It Always Rain on Me?
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Monday, June 9, 2008

Circadian Rhythms

Now I know what's wrong with me. Thanks, wikipedia!



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Now playing: Sigur Rós - Svefn-g-englar
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Two Forehands

Ana's and Rafa's, that is.

Our French Open 2008 Champions everyone.



A
na Ivanovic used her forehand to full effect the past two weeks to win her first Grand Slam in Roland Garros. She's got a great serve, her movement has improved greatly, and her backhand is powerful when she hits it on cleanly of her racket's sweet spot. But her whole game is anchored around her huge forehand.









R
afael Nadal's forehand is even more menacing. It's the absolute weapon on clay, and it's what he used to DECIMATE Roger Federer* earlier today to win his fourth consecutive French Open.





Paris, France
Men's Singles Final

Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Nadal wins his fourth consecutive French Open title. He is two championships away from tying Bjorn Borg's record of 6 French Opens.

Women's Singles Final
Ana Ivanovic (2) (Serbia)
Ana wins her first Grand Slam title, and will take over the #1 ranking from Maria Sharapova starting this week.

Women's Doubles Final
Anabel Medina Garrigues/Virginia Ruano Pascual (10) (Spain/Spain)
This is VRP's 9th grand slam doubles title and AMG's first

Men's Doubles Final
Pablo Cuevas/Luis Horna (Uruguay/Peru)
Cuevas and Horna are the first all-South American duo to become Grand Slam champions in the 40-year Open era

Mixed Doubles Final
Victoria Azarenka/Bob Bryan (3) (Belarus/USA)
This was the first tournament that Bryan and Azarenka played as partners

Boys' Juniors Singles Final
Tsung-Hua Yang (Taiwan)
Nice to see an Asian in the mix of champs

Girls' Juniors Singles Final
Simona Halep (9) (Romania)
Halep beat fellow Romanian teenager Elena Bogdan to win the title. So will Romania be the next Serbia that once was the next Russia that once was the next Belgium?


*As for Federer, he suffered his worst loss at a Grand Slam earlier today. The French Open is the only Grand Slam that he hasn't won, having already won 5 Wimbledons, 4 US Opens and 3 Australian Opens. As Morrissey sang it, there is a light and it never goes out.

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Now playing: The Smiths - There Is A Light That Never Go
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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Numero Uno

Ok. This is an all-tennis post/Roland Garros update:

The men's and women's French Open Championship matches are now set! Tomorrow, World #2 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia will square off with Marat's Lil Sis Dinara Safina of Russia for the French Open title. Whoever wins here will get their first ever grand slam title. This will be Ana's third grand slam final, after she lost to Justine Henin in last year's French Open, and to Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open last January. On the other hand, Dinara will be making her grand slam final debut.

The 22 year-old Dinara, ranked 14 in the world, has been having the best clay court season of her career. She won the German Open a few weeks ago by defeating three top 10 players (then-#1 Justine Henin, #5 Serena Williams, and #7 Elena Dementieva.) At the French Open, she did a repeat by beating current #1 Maria Sharapova (6-7, 7-6, 6-2, after being match point down in the second set), Elena D again (quarterfinals, after being down a match point again 4-6, 7-6, 6-0), and #4 Svetlana Kuznetsova (semifinals, 6-3, 6-2).


I
caught Ana's semifinal match against 3rd ranked and fellow Serbian Jelena Jankovic yesterday. It was a great match that ended 6-4 in the third set after 2 hours and 15 minutes. Lots of tension too, because whoever won that match would not only get the chance to play in the finals, but would also automatically overtake Sharapova and claim the #1 ranking (Masha lost in the 4th round.) So Ana won, and she'll now be ranked #1 next Monday, no matter what happens in the final match against Dinara.

Congratulations, Ana. Not just because you'll be the new #1, and because I think you'll win the ladies' final tomorrow, but because you also managed to land on the cover of FHM UK next August. You're not just taking Maria's titles. You're also getting her magazine cover opportunities.

You've truly made it.

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Ok, I spent so much time talking about the ladies' part of the draw. So moving on to the men's side. #2 Rafa beats #3 Djokovic (also from Serbia) in the semis to keep his perfectly undefeated record at the French Open. #1 Fed defeated surprise finalist and #59 Gael Monfils of France. Rafa beats Fed in the men's final on Sunday. That's all there really is to it.

ETA: Ok, since I was unloading a bunch of info on the women, I might as well go all the way on my tennis dork mode and talk more about the men's semifinalists too. Rafael Nadal holds a 26-0 w/l record at the French Open, By reaching the semis here, Roger Federer extends his record of reaching 16 straight semifinals at Grand Slam events. Novak Djokovic also has his own albeit smaller streak by reaching his 5th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. He is only the fourth player in the Open Era to reach 5 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals (the others are Fed, Becker and Lendl.) As for Gael, well, this really is the French dude's first big result in the ATP Tour... He's been hyped up a lot as a future champion when he was a newbie, and it took him about 4 years to finally come up with a nice result for all that hype.

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Now playing: Modest Mouse - Out Of Gas
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