Archive for September, 2008

16
Sep
08

Form by Herb Ritts

On the cover: Colin Jackson, 110-m hurdle

As sports people, we’ve got to admit that we’re quite vain, because we show off.

Professional athletes define their bodies according to the discipline of their sport. Their bodies are a marvel in design, which timepiece maker Tag Heuer has likened to its Kirium sports watches.

A sports editor had given me a copy of Form, the Tag Heuer souvenir book that features 40 black and white images of international athletes taken by Herb Ritts a few years before he died of an HIV-related illness in 2002.

I love competition, when there’s a good fight. — Marie-Jo Perec, 200m/400m track

I was endowed with power. —Kazu Miura, soccer

When you play a good opponent, he obviously has the same weapons. You have to be patient, to wait until you can make the right move. —Boris Becker, tennis

(Sports) is an apprenticeship for life: we learn to respect our opponents, the rules and many important values. —Antonio Rossi, canoeing

You need to dream of doing something impossible and believing it is possible, then you can actually do something almost superhuman. — Jean Galfione, pole vault

Colin Jackson’s torso

Colin Jackson’s thighs

Colin Jackson’s back and butt

Let’s wear Tag Kirium and have our bodies looking like Jackson’s or Perec’s.

16
Sep
08

A friend’s thoughts on Rafa, Novak

Djokovic: A victory pose that’s open to interpretations

A friend watches men’s tennis for the sole reason of imagining Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic chasing and hitting the ball NAKED.

When Roger Federer lost in Roland Garros, my friend sent me his sympathies but said he rooted for Nadal for the butt and biceps. When RF lost in Wimbledon, my friend again sent me his sympathies and this time aware of my devastation, said he found RF a compleat player, unlike the other tennis great Pete Sampras.

My friend predicates his post-match text messages to me on RF’s performance and tucks a post script about Nadal’s physical magnetism and oh-god-that-butt. After the 2008 US Open, he has included “that young Serb” in his roster of dream boys.

“I’d like to see Nadal posing for Playgirl,” my friend tells me like I have the power and influence to let this happen. He says that if he has to offer eggs to the Carmelite sisters to make this come true, he will. Whether such supplication merits attention is a test of my friend’s faith and of the nuns’ temperance.

Nadal: Butt and biceps

I remember one tennis player who has posed unclad.

Carlos Moya has posed nude for a Tag Heuer magazine but his Herb Ritts pictures are nowhere near Playgirl material. Not that I know what constitutes Playgirl material. (I swear I don’t.)

I confess that I catch my breath and call God when I see the male players take off their shirts to change (Patrick Rafter is my all-time favorite shirt-changer) but I don’t harbor thoughts of seeing them naked.

Carlos Moya in Tag Heuer’s Form

My friend gleefully pictures Nadal unclothed, unkempt and dripping with sweat and striking Playgirl poses. As for the young Serb Djokovic, an image of a pendulous run to the net and baselines is now embossed in my friend’s salacious mind.

The descriptions of the male poses that titillate my friend’s prurient imagination can be summed up as “Whaaat?!!”

But hey, Nadal and Novak posing for Playgirl? Bert, borrow your copy.

Photos from usopen.org

11
Sep
08

Just a paid brawl

The legit name is mixed martial arts (MMA) but it really is just a paid brawl. There is no bloodier and more brutal sport, if one can call it that, than this MMA which has been popularized by UFC or the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The fighters have rock-hard bodies and look like they can beat you to a pulp even if you’re wearing a steel armor. They wear fighting shorts or boxer briefs, the latter distracting me from the sight of blood spewing out of the mouths of the fighters.

Speaking of briefs, Michael Jackson’s CK underwear, the pair he wore when he was said to have molested a boy, is up for auction on eBay with an opening bid of $1 million. What’s this I heard that bidders can smell it too? I’d rather be beaten to a pulp by a UFC fighter than touch Michael Jackson’s soiled underwear even with a white glove on.

That’s not Michael Jackson. That’s UFC fighter Dong Hyun Kim in his Coach Kini underwear.

So back to the UFC fighters. They can box, kick, arm-lock, head-lock, lip-lock, hug, straddle and grope their opponents as long as they do not hit the groin area and neck, gouge the eyes, pull the hair, bite and do other no-nos. Grappling on the mat, they violently canoodle and live up to their name as ultimate fighters.

The fight is raw. It’s wrestling and thai-boxing in one only with more body tattoos. The UFC matches used to be labelled as “no holds barred” and “human cockfighting.”

As I caught glimpses of the UFC 88 on TV last Sunday, I wondered:

How are they going to clean the mat with all the blood sputtered on it?

What does the fighter think when his head is buried in his opponent’s groin?

Can a fighter cry foul if his opponent has funky armpits and halitosis?

What is the significance and symbolism of the tattoos on his body?

Why are his legs too thin for his body?

I didn’t find answers to these questions as I got the shock of the day: Chuck Liddell, the main event fighter, was knocked out in the second round!

I have no idea who Liddell is but that’s the guy on the mat.

(All photos from ufc.com)

10
Sep
08

Chef Jason

The dish is called ravioli di magro al pomodoro but the ones making it barely know how to say it, more so what it means. I, for one, don’t know unless I read its translation in the recipe.

But this isn’t a language class. The kids, between nine and 11 years old, are here to learn how to cook ravioli di magro al pomodoro the way the Italians do it. And Executive Italian Chef Gianluca Visciglia of Acqua restaurant at Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort and Spa is teaching them how.

In their chef’s uniform and toque, the kids look adoring until they start beating the eggs and kneading the dough for the ravioli. “Mommy, help! The egg is spilling over! Help!”

When little hands knead pasta dough, it takes forever to get the task done. The hands can stray into someone else’s dough but for the most part of the class, are kept to their own pasty mass, molding it like abstract art whose value only a mother can appreciate.

Chef Luca, reading the minds of the young and the imaginative, has put a kneading machine on standby to speed up work. The young boys can grow into manhood but have yet to finish flattening the dough with the rolling pins.

The dough done, the filling is next. Ravioli di magro al pomodoro is pocket pasta filled with ricotta cheese and spinach served with tomato sauce.

Because it’s a filling, it requires some mixing of ingredients. The mixing is not as complicated as I make it sound but it does require some precision in the amount of the ingredient to be mixed.

Chef Luca, a soothsayer in the kitchen with kids around, has the ingredients pre-measured. He too had been a boy like them and knows that the spinach, cheese, salt and pepper will get measured according to how they can be shaped into a superhero. But the kids follow his instructions well. Molto bene, very good.

The ricotta cheese and spinach filling done, it’s time to put it in the pasta dough. No sweat. Even I, who can’t slice a cake without leaving it like it’s been bulldozed, can put the ravioli in the pasta dough.

The filling now in the pasta dough, it’s time to slice the dough into rounds using a pasta cutter and locking its edges using a fork. The kids are doing it as instructed. Molto bene, very good.

The ravioli is ready to be cooked. A few minutes later, tanaah!, a plate of ravioli di magro al pomodoro is brought back to the table.

The mothers, looking at a Michelin-starred restaurant future for their children, are beaming with pride, snapping shot after shot of this prodigious chef moment. They imagine dishes named after them by their children; they imagine international fame for their little chefs.

Jason So, awarded Most Enthusiastic Little Chef, says about making ravioli di magro al pomodoro, “It was easy, Auntie Mi.” This is my nephew who, when he was four years old and was left alone with me for a day, praised my cooking, which consisted of the complicated dish called hard-boiled egg. It was the most wonderful compliment I had ever received and it brought me to tears and to Jollibee.

Jason with proud mama Joy and Italian chefs Marco Anzani (the tall one) and Luca Visciglia (the short one)

10
Sep
08

Sleep-deprived for Federer

The past two weeks had deprived me of sleep.

I had my body clock synchronized with the match schedules of the US Open men’s singles. I slept at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. only to wake up at 7 a.m. or 9 a.m. and return to sleep at 11.

On the eve of Roger Federer’s championship match, I was jittery. At 12:30 a.m., I caught up with the bebehs at Mooon Cafe and had a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka Ice on an empty stomach and began to feel nervous for RF but knew better than to tell the bebehs this because they don’t know who Federer is. At 2 a.m., I bade everyone good night and said I had to wake up at 5 but left out the reason, which was to watch the Federer-Murray match.

What woke me up was not the alarm set at 5 a.m. but the loud knocks on my door that came at 6:20. It was my dad, excitedly telling me that someone was down two sets to love. I heard dogs humping in my head and in my chest. I scrambled down the stairs, slipper-less.

Federer was up 6-2 7-5 against Andy Murray! I caught the third set but RF just breezed through it, 6-2.

Andy Murray with the champion(Photo from usopen.org)

Oya! What a beautiful, glorious morning! The dogs had stopped humping.

Cupping an ear, I turned to a Nadal fan. “Dad, do you hear that? Do you hear the applause for Federer? Nadal will never get that applause at the US Open because it’s written in the stars that Nadal will never win the US Open, no?”

I went back to sleep at 7:45, woke up at 10 and went to a sauna where I thought about how Federer vindicated himself from the critics, about the $95-RF shirt and cap that I promised myself I would buy if he won this US Open, about loving him till the end of time, about finally putting my life back in order.

At 2 p.m., the dogs came humping back in my head. Advil put the dogs and me to sleep. I woke up at 7:15 p.m. with a fever, called for the hilot, watched the replay of the match at 9 p.m. and finally had a long, dreamless sleep.

05
Sep
08

A nervous slam

These Grand Slams, particularly the 2008 US Open, will send me to my early demise.

The draws leading to the semifinals have been unpredictable. I’ve been watching the men’s singles matches–from the first rounds to the quarterfinal rounds–to see who Roger Federer would likely play against in the semifinals and finals, and how far Rafael Nadal could go in the only Grand Slam where he didn’t go past the quarterfinals until this year.

As each prospective threat to RF got eliminated, I heaved my chest for Federer who is playing for his fifth consecutive US Open title. As Nadal advanced from one round to the next, I again heaved my chest for Federer who lost his sixth Wimbledon quest to this Spaniard.

It hasn’t been an easy Open for Nadal, a three-week-old number one, as he had to face tie-break sets from Bjorn Phau in the first round and the big-serving upstart Sam Querrey in the fourth round. Nadal also had overcome four-set matches against Querrey and Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals.

The three-week-old number two Federer, after playing four easy three-set matches, found himself fighting for a quarterfinal win against Igor Andreev in five sets. It was just as well that an early morning flight kept me away from watching this match, otherwise, I would have turned stiff and blue from the thrill and suspense of the three-and-a-half-four play. RF lost the first set in a tie-break, won the second in another tie-break, won the third, lost the fourth, and finally won the fifth.

This guy, who leaves me a nervous wreck whenever he loses a set, said after the match that he found it fun to be pushed into a fifth set. Fun?! What about me?! It’s not fun for me! I get so high-strung that I could as well vibrate at every sound of the ball being hit.

And so on Saturday, or maybe Sunday morning, I will be another nervous mess when RF plays Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. This is the 21-year-old Serb he beat in the 2007 US Open in three sets with two tie-breaks and who beat him in the semifinals of the 2008 Australian Open in three sets with one tie-break.

As for Nadal, he’s going to face the unpredictable, big-serving Scot, Andy Murray. Either of them is going to be a tough opponent for RF, but first RF has to overcome Novak, the number three player in the world for over a year now.

I like Novak if he isn’t playing against Federer because he can drub Nadal in straight sets. But I know where my loyalty lies come the semifinals on Saturday or Sunday.

I am tempted to take tranquilizers.

Novak Djokovic (Photo from usopen.org)

02
Sep
08

No comment

For those who didn’t find their comments posted here, I located them for you. They were in the spam queue, some 61 of them either fidgeting to be read or cramping the space like refugees. Not until today did I bother to click on Akismet, which suspiciously views comments it thinks are marketing sneaks or doomsayers.

I did sort out the genuine comments from the spam but I misread a line or two on how to manage the spam queue and clicked Delete, liberating all 61 of them from their current state of limbo.

But I still got to read your comments, belatedly and finally.