Sunday, January 31, 2010

Aussie Open 2010: Final Round Up

Well, another Aussie Open has come and gone and there were some exciting finishes, if not surprising results. Nothing could really top the awesomeness of last year where Rafa beat Federer in 5 sets and Federer cried in disappointment, but it was still two weeks of great tennis.


We had a great women's final with Serena Williams defeating Justine Henin in 3 sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. This was especially satisfying for me since I've had an irrational distaste for Henin since my college days. She physically resembles someone who I used to know that annoyed me and I've rooted against her at every turn. Not that she hasn't given me reason over the years to find her unpleasant. There was that whole incident a couple years ago where Henin held up her hand as Serena Williams was serving, the chair umpire didn't see it, Serena got called for a fault and Justine refused to admit that she had indicated that she was unready to start play. Boo, Henin! Poor sportsmanship! Even if I don't like her, I do love the drama she brings to the women's tour (and she does have the skills to back it up.) Serena started this tournament very strong but was struggling in the later rounds. Henin, in her first tourney back after about two seasons of retirement, was only getting stronger, totally steamrolling through her semifinal match. It was hard to say what was going to happen in the final. The tennis was strong, the tension was high and in the end, the player I wanted to win actually won and that's what matters most. Bravo, Serena!
The Bryan brothers also claimed another Grand Slam title, beating Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia, winning the men's title on Saturday for a second straight year with a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3 victory. The Bryans had been on a five-match losing streak against Nestor and Zimonjic, so the victory was that much sweeter. It's nice that even if the United States is having a hard time coming up with Grand Slam contenders in the men's singles tennis tour, the Bryan brothers are still going strong in doubles.

And of course Federer dismantled Murray again in the men's final 6-3, 6-4, 7-6. The third set tie-breaker was a doozy though. I watched most of the match live, but fell asleep halfway through the third. When I woke up, I saw that Fed won in three sets, but watched the DVR'ed conclusion. It's kinda funny to watch a tiebreak like the one Fed won in the third set. I knew he would win it, it had already happened, there was nothing Murray could do as I watched to alter the course of reality. Still, as I was watching I was SURE Murray would win. He seemed to be in control for much of the tie break. I bet it would seem that way if I rewatched the end of last years Roddick-Federer finale again. Sometimes even if you know the outcome, tennis has a way of making you feel as you watch it, like something else could happen. It's like anything is possible on any given shot, even if you can know it will reach only one outcome.

So Federer takes home Grand Slam title Sweet 16 and Murray is denied once again. Murray is still only 22. If he can stay healthy, he'll have his chance to hold the big trophy. Rafa has a new knee injury which is disappointing but it should heal in a month. His ranking will drop from 2 to 4 next week, his lowest ranking since 2005, but what else can happen when he's not playing due to injury? I wish him a speedy recovery and again contend that if he's healthy he's the only guy out there that can consistently challenge Fed in tournament finals.

Fed's win is incredibly impressive. He's made every Grand Slam final for over two years. The Grand Slam finals are quite literally Federer vs. Somebody Else. It's crazy! I know everybody on the planet was ready to hail Tiger Woods for Athlete of the Decade (and he basically WAS Pro Golf for the past 10 years, I grant you that), but take a minute to consider the man Rodger Federer and the titles and records he's accumulated over his career. It's really astounding.

So that's it from Down Under! Hopefully Rafa will be able to rest and be healthy for his favored upcoming clay court season and take back his French Open title. I'll be here on the blog to follow him on his journey. Vamos!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rafa Down Under: Aussie Open Quaterfinals

Oh, Rafa. This was the worst of all outcomes. Not the loss. You win some, you lose some. I didn't have the best feeling going into this match against Murray anyway. But to end in injury? Ugh, that's the worst. I feel so bad for him, and of course wish him a speedy recovery.

Rafa played really well in the first two sets, even though he lost both of them 6-3 and then 7-6. It was worth getting up at 4am to watch the match live. The 6-3 set was a lot closer than it looks, with Rafa having many chances to break on Murray's serve. Murray just played the big points better and was able to end up ahead. The second set was closer, but Rafa still had break chances on which he couldn't capitalize. He hurt his knee in the second set tie-break and after going down 3-0 in the third, Rafa could go no further.

Afterwards, Rafa was upset, but remained optimistic. "I didn’t have lot of problems for the last six months,” Nadal said in a news conference. “And today is the first time. I felt something which I think is a bad movement. But is not because the knee is tired or has been a bad movement or gesture. No, I think it’s going to be OK.”

Rafa is an amazing athlete with the heart of a true champion. He has my full support for success in the rest of the season and I hope he recovers soon. As for the rest of the tournament, I'm hoping for a Federer-Murray final, and it would be nice to see Murray win his first Major. He's Rafa's pick to win too. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rafa Down Under: Aussie Open Round of 16

Last night Rafa secured an impressive 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the round of 16. Rafa has made it to week 2 of the Aussie Open! Woohoo!! Dr. Ivo is the tallest man on the tour, and is known for his booming serve. Nadal, said the strategy against Dr. Ivo was just not to blink. "Just be focused all the time, move the legs, because you going to have a lot of points only with one shot," Rafa said after the win. To give you an idea of just how tall Ivo is, take a look at the picture below when he meets Rafa at net after the match. Rafa is over 6 feet tall, and he's still almost a full head shorter than Ivo!

This victory sets up a highly-anticipated quarterfinal round match between Rafa and Andy Murray. Rafa has a solid 7-2 record over Murray, but I'm already nervous about this one. Murray has been playing really well, and Rafa has been having some mental trouble against top 10 players lately. Still, Rafa is healthy and playing big tennis this tourney. I expect him to throw everything he has at Murray in his quest for another win.

Rafa's thoughts? "Being the quarterfinals is a very good news for me ... I'm going to have a very difficult match against Andy It's completely different. He's one of the more talented players on the tour. he can play aggressive, play offensive. I want to play my game. ... If not maybe I will have a good flight home."

Don't book that early flight yet, Rafa! You can do it! Vamos!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rafa Down Under: Aussie Open Round 3

Rafael Nadal continued his winning ways (while wearing questionably stylish shorts) last night in the 3rd round at the Aussie Open. He dispatched the No. 27-seed, Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

On the surface, that score doesn't look so bad, but Rafa wasn't thrilled with his performance over all. He lost the third set, but the others looked okay on paper. Still, here are Rafa's thoughts. In the first set, "I played bad." In the second set, "a few moments, I played well." In the third? "I started terrible, no?" What about the fourth? "I think I played much better in the fourth set than the rest."

One undeniably bad stat for Rafa is that he only converted three of fifteen break point chances. He's gotta grab control of those opportunities! Then again, as Rafa put it, "Everybody has not very good days." He still found a way to win.

Next up, Nadal faces 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic. Dr. Ivo is notorious for his high number of aces, but they don't always lead to wins. Nadal just needs to play aggressively, and extend the rallies to tire Ivo out. Still it's going to be a tough match. Vamos Rafa!

Side note: Okay, so what the hell is going on in this picture? It looks like Rafa is running into one of the linespeople. He's not sexually assaulting this dude (it's a dude, right? don't let all that pink fool you.) because the racket is clearly placed in between their private areas, preventing contact. Still, as Rafa would say, it's an awkward moment, no? It bears mention that the only people wearing worse outfits than Rafa in this tournament are the linespeople. Hot pink wind breakers and hot pink hats with flaps, are... very bright. There's no way to look dignified in an outfit like that. No way at all.

One thing that's also nice to see in Rafa matches is crowd support. For some reason, the crowds are not always with Rafa, cheering him towards success. I always find this hard to believe, but I've seen it so many times nonetheless. I like pictures like the one below that show the crowds in Rafa's corner. Keep up to good work, Aussie spectators!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rafa Down Under: Aussie Open Round 2


Last night, Rafa easily won his second round match against the enjoyably named Lukas Lacko. It was a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 display of awesomeness by Nadal. It was such an impressive display, there isn't a whole lot to say about it, except "good job!'"


After the match, Rafa said, "Well, I think I played [a] serious match. I think I played the match what I need to play. Winning 6‑2, 6‑2, 6‑2 is a really good news." Next up for Nadal is Philipp Kohlschreiber on Friday, who defeated Wayne Odesnik 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Vamos Rafa!


Fashion note: For some reason, Rafa has become a bit of a successor to Agassi as the ATP Fashion Player. He changes his color scheme for every major tournament and some of his outfits have raised eyebrows and sent tongues a'wagging in the past. At first it was his sleeveless looks that showed off his massive arms, and last season his hot pink shirt during the French Open, and his checkered shorts at the end of the season.


As I awaited last night's match, the commentators were discussing Rafa's fitness and someone asked Brad Gilbert how he thought Rafa looked. Gilbert made this pinched face and basically said that his technique looked good, but his "look" left something to be desired. He didn't like the plaid and the stripes and the color combos. Now, I had gone through a bunch of pics from the 1st round match online, and didn't understand what Gilbert was talking about. I admit the orange shirt with yellow and pink horizontal stripes, paired with one pink wristband and one white one, was a very European palette choice, but where was the plaid that had so offended Brad? Then during the match i saw it:



His SHORTS. His shorts are oddly plaid. At some angles you can't really see it, but then if the sun is positioned just so in the sky, this pattern of orange diamonds shows up in the shorts. It's... a little busy. I think Rafa's nonchalant attitude about it is endearing. It's like he simultaneously thinks a lot about what he's wearing, but never considers if it might look weird. If he didn't like it he wouldn't wear it. And if his outfit didn't matter to him at all, I don't think he'd change it so drastically so often.


I think if he had to face the 360 degree mirror with Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, they'd probably have some choice words for him on what not to wear. As long as he's happy and playing healthy, I don't care. I just can't get over how dismayed Gilbert seemed over the situation. He wants him playing good and looking good. Some people want it all.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rafa Down Under: Aussie Open Round 1

The Australian Open is underway with Rafa playing his first round match last night... well, last night for us. The time difference is a little baffling. As I write this at 7:50am on Monday, in Melbourne time it is 11:50pm heading towards Tuesday. Rafa must've played at like 4am EST. I can't throw off my sleep schedule that much to watch live. I'm hoping that ESPN2 will show some of his match later this afternoon. It's always more relaxing to watch Rafa play when you already know that he's won.

Anyway, from what I can tell in the press Rafa started off a little sluggish, but found his form after the first set to collect a routine win against Australia’s Peter Luczak 7-6(0) 6-1 6-4. It's not always easy for the top players to go against Aussies in the early rounds because the crowd gives the Aussies so much support and guys like Rafa are still finding their rhythm.

“Playing the first round of one Grand Slam, you know, you know always the first round is a little bit more nervous and you have to start. First rounds are always difficult to play very well,” Rafa said. “Winning in three sets is good news, so very happy to be in second round,”

Next up, Rafa will face either Lukas Lacko from Slovakia or Leonardo Mayer from Argentina in Round 2. Obviously, Rafa is the heavy favorite. We can't take anything for granted though! Vamos Rafa!

Also of note, before the day before the tournament started, Rafa took part in a benefit exhibition for Haiti relief called Hit For Haiti. The event was organized by Roger Federer and featured many other top players in the men's and women's fields including Novak Jokovic, Andy Roddick, Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters.

The event was staged as a sort of mixed-doubles match featuring player substitutions. The players wore microphones on court, adding fun commentary to their play. In the end, Federer's Red Team beat Rafa's Blue Team (booo!) 7-6 in the one-set match.

The event raised more than $185,000, an amount that organizers expected would increase throughout the Aussie Open. Some tour players made separate contributions, including 2008 Aussie Open winner Maria Sharapova ($10,000), John Isner ($5,000) - after he won the Auckland tournament - and Marcos Baghadits ($5,000) - after he won in Sydney.

I don't know what's going on in the above picture, but I feel like there's a good story here. Overall, this seemed like a very fun event that both players and spectators really enjoyed.

I applaud everyone involved for taking time out of their prep schedules for the Open to help with such a worthy cause. Especially Federer, who was really the creative force behind the whole thing. Bravo!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Globes 2010: A Golden Recap


Hey folks. So I'm flumped on my living room couch, not feeling too well, and waiting for the Globes to start. I'm gonna write down my thoughts in real time, but not hit "publish post" until the end. Spell check is not working right now, so be gentle about typos.

Here we go:

8:00 - Cue the globes theme and out comes Ricky Gervias! Yay!!! Please be mean! Eh, it is okay. I don't know why the crowd laughed so hard for that Angelina Jolie joke. You could see the set up coming a million miles away. On the other hand, it's nice to hear penis jokes spoken about so openly in the 8pm hour. Hopefully he's just warming up.

8"05 - Kidman gives a shout out to Haiti and moves on to announce Best Supporting Actress in a Movie. It's gotta be Mo'Nique. Although Julianne Moore's presence reminds me I still want to see A Single Man. Mo'Nique wins! Make your way to the stage Mo'Nique! I love heartfelt speeches, so this is a good one, but the show is already over by about 10 minutes.

8:10 - The hottie from Modern Family and Matthew Fox are here to announce Best Actress in a Comedy for TV. I hope Lea Michele or Tina Fey wins! Toni Collette? ... I used to really like Toni Collette, but I honestly don't know anything about this show. She's kinda awesome and chill in her acceptance speech though. Good for her. I just realized that Lea Michele doesn't have a last name which I find... troublesome. Her last name's not Michele, right?

8:13 - Time for commercials! I need some soda...

8:17 - Miss Golden Globes is a second generation hollywood beauty and the daughter of Alfre Woodard. Now for Male Supporting Actor In Anything That's Shown On Television Regardless of What Type of Program It Is. I'm hoping for John Lithgow in Dexter, because I love John Lithgow. Not so much for 30 Rock, but I like his stage and movie work. And while I've never seen a full episode of Dexter, what they showed of Lithgow in the commercials alone was award-worthy. He WINS! Love the speech. He's a classy guy!

8:20 - Paul McCartney is in the house. Why? I don't know, but everyone is happy he's there. Best Animated Feature Film! He's plugging Yellow Submarine, REALLY? A Beatles product needs a plug to be successful??? No no no! For shame, the only one of these movies I've seen is Up, and I'm rooting for that one. It won! Hooray! Don't play the theme music! I will CRY!! I say for shame, because all these animated films this year all looked really awesome. I'm still hoping to catch Mr. Fox somewhere in the city and Coraline on DVD before the Oscars. Don't play that dude off just cause nobody knows him! Mo'nique! See what you've done??

8:24 - Commercials! Time to catch up on Sassy's blog. bt-dubs is an awesome phrase. I will only use it in conversation if I have time to explain that Una's responsible for it. I can't remember if Golden Globes has an in memoriam segment? Because if we have to remember the dead celebrities in both TV AND Film who died in the past 12 months, we're gonna be here forever.

8:28 - Kate Hudson is here. She's showcasing a scene from Nine, a movie that has fallen from critical grace after it's release. We're not supposed to look for it in the Oscar Noms. and this year there are TEN movie nominations, so it's fallen pretty far.

8:29 - Gervais is back. And drunker than in the last segment! I like where he's heading! Felicity Huffman is on stage, saying a lot, but not saying much of anything. What has happened to her??? And there's this other guy on stage looking petrified. What the hell has happened here? They all need to regroup!

8:33 - We're sweeping these fools off the stage and here we go with NPH and Jane Krakowski bringing us the winner for Best Actor in a TV Drama. I'm rooting for Michael C. Hall in Dexter. Again, a show I don't watch but somehow I still really like him and want him to win. He DOES! He's battling cancer in real life, and is wear a black skull cap on his head. I sincerely hope his chemo is going okay.

8:35 - We're moving straight on to Best Actress in a TV Drama. I'm hoping for Julianna Marguiles. SHE WON!! How do you like that? I watched that show twice this past season. She's really good on it! It seems like a show that requires a lot of attention though, and i don't have a lot of attention. I need to watch shows like Biggest Loser that I can FF through 73% of the show and not miss anything important. Still Juliana is beautiful and sweet and I'm glad she won.

8:39 - Commercials! I can't tell if I have a fever or if it's just that my apartment is overheated to 94 degrees. Either way, I'm sitting here sweating. My peanut princess wok dinner from Wave Thai was really really good tonight. My walking across the street to pick it up was the only time I left the house today. It was cold and drizzly during my walk and made me think that I didn't miss much by staying in today. Yesterday was beautiful weather though, wasn't it?

8:42 - Harrison Ford is introducing Up In The Air. Why? I don't know. He seems... like a zombie. What's wrong with him? Up In The Air was not at the top of my list for Best Drama, but then I saw An Education and A Serious Man and it seriously went up in my estimation.

8:44 - Increasingly drunk Gervais makes fun of McCartney and introduces Cher (!!!) and Christina Alguilera (???) to introduce the best song award. I haven't heard of ANY of these songs and I've seen a few of these movies. Crazy Heart wins! As long as that horrible Avatar song didn't win. I haven't forgiven Leona Lewis for that horrible rendition that took up time in the SYTYCD season finale last monght. But wait... the guy who accepts the award... didn't write the song? He's just waiting for that guy to get up on stage? And then he bails? But he was kinda witty in his acceptance on the other dude's behalf. Now we're straight on to Movie Score. It has to be Up! Or Where The Wild Things Are. But it's UP! Thank goodness. That score is marvelous. And they are playing it again as he walks up on stage and again I start crying. I can't handle it.

8:49 Commercials! I'm glad that if I had to not feel well this weekend, it happened on the middle day of a three day weekend. Last night was an amazing party hosted by LMM with incredible dancing and awesome people all around. and today i got to watch a repeat viewing of the 2009 Aussie Open Men's Final (the one where Rafa wins and Fed cries) during the day and then this awards show tonight. That's like 8 hours of TV. I'm not kidding. Hopefully I feel better tomorrow.

8:53 - Amy Adams and Josh Brolin. Beautiful people indeed. No one is sitting down or paying attention so we must have moved on to television movie categories. I have no idea who could win this. I say Little Dorrit or Grey Gardens. It's Grey Gardens! I'm not doing too badly in the cateogies tonight. Could you people actually walk any slower up to the stage?? Jeez! And now they are talking WAY through being played off. OMG Get of the stage!!! BOOOOOO!!!! They refuse to leave! Get lost!

8:58 - That's right - the stupid category took 5 minutes. Tom Hanks is here to introduce Julie & Julia. I think he zings Alec Baldwin, but everyone takes it as a zing against Staley Tucci. Hanks thinks everyone should just take it, and like it and ask for more. Agreed.

8:59 - Gervais is back. Pretending to have sobered up only to zing easy target Colin Farrell. It's Female Lead in a Comedy/Musical Movie. I'll go with Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia. I am right! She's both an winner AND a loser tonight! How does it feel Meryl?? She gives a great speech. She want's to be known as T-Bone? She usually does. She's had the right amount of practice to get it perfect.

9:05 - Commercials! Did they give out the award for Best Actor in a comedy or Best Comedy for TV? I swear the order of this ceremony makes no sense. No wonder so many people get drunk, wander away to the bathroom and miss their categories. They have no way to judge what's going to happen next. Also? I want Cyndi Lauper to win Celebrity Apprentice. i won't watch. but i want her to win.

9:09 - Helen Mirren is on stage, but I can't see her legs, so what's the point? Show us the gams, HM! She is here to introduce Precious. Really? WHY? Can't someone remotely connected to the movie introduce it?

9:11 - Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, by people who may or may not have been introduced. It happened so fast. Kevin Bacon wins. He is drunk. And he's the first of the presenters or winners to look like they actually got caught in the rain that is pouring in LA this afternoon.

9:13 Actress in a miniseries or movie. I hope it's Joan Allen, because I think she's awesome. But it could be either of those Grey Gardens ladies. Or any of them. Drew Barrymore wins. This speech should prove to be magical. She gives a shout out to Mo]Nique. A good way to start. Ramble on, Little Girl Lost. Sam Worthington was one of the presenters. And I think the other one was Zoe Saldana (who I might, add, had a VERY good year with two sci-fi movies, both of which have a shot getting Oscar nods. How weird is that?)

9:17 Commercials! I have this weird cut above my left eye. Did this happen at the party last night? I don't think so. It's not like I blacked out or anything. I'd remember someone scratching my eye. But I haven't even seen anyone since then. Hmm...

9:21 Here's Cameron Diaz randomly introducing It's Complicated, a movie I think I'll eventually see on TV or on a plane and enjoy.

9:22 - Gervais is back. A dark moment in the show... about writing. Jennifer Aniston's leg has come out to present a screenplay award. Original screenplay? Sure! Wait, do they not make a distinction? That's bullshit. Gervais wasn't kidding that the GG's don't really care about writing. Quentin, please win! Up In The Air wins for it's ADAPTED screenplay! Disappointing. Though I do like Jason Rietman.

9:26 - TV Actor in Comedy with J.Garner and Asthon. Not all the nominees are here. Including Alec Baldwin who is off in Canada doing a charity event (or something like that) so we don't get a funny speech from him when he wins. But maybe we made up some time we'd lost from the Grey Gardens crew going on forever. Matt Morrison looked awesome and nervous when they were announcing his name. Matt Morrison rocks, y'all.

9:27 - Maggie Gyllenhaal runs on stage to tell us to donate to Haiti relief. This seems... oddly placed. I wonder if the real person who was supposed to say this tripped and sprained his or her ankle backstage and she reluctantly had to rush out at the last second to fill-in. It sorta felt like that.

9:28 - Commercials! I have a headache. I don't like these DROID phone commericals. Have you people learned nothing from BSG? Fear the andriods and their crazy technology! I need more soda...

9:32 - Sam Jackson is on stage. And it makes sense, because he's introducing Inglorious Basterds. A movie he is actually IN! I love Inglorious Basterds. It might be my favorite movie of the year.

9:33 - Sophia Loren is on stage looking fucking fantastic. Why is she here? Foreign Language Film? Oh good. I guessed right. I have no idea. White Ribbon? Oh good. i guess I DO have an idea. I want to see this movie. I want to see Broken Embraces too.

9:38 - Best TV Series Drama with Amy Poehler and Too-Tan Zach Levy. Mad Men wins, which is almost a surprise given the early momentum of Dexter in the other categories. I've never seen Mad Men and I've had Season One on DVD in my house for roughly 6 months. I know I'm terrible.

9:40 Commercials! I hope there's more Gervais on deck when the show comes back from the break. I don't know what to have for dessert. I will make myself a banana shake after the Globes are over. Unless it's after midnight and then maybe my neighbors won't like it. Although the dogs upstairs and my Domestic Dispute couple across the way don't really consider MY need for quiet late at night. Also? The Marriage Ref looks like a horrible idea for a show. About as bad as The Jay Leno Show.

9:45 - Universally sexually-harrassed young star Taylor Lautner is on stage introducing (500) Days of Summer. I have that on my netflix, I swear.

9:46 - Supporting Actress for all of TV. Jane Lynch better win this category bitches! Chloe Sevigny wins!! Well, FINE. She's good. But Jane is amazing! Dude just nearly ripped the dress right off her body. Awesome. Her speech is short and sweet.

9:49 - Gervais!! Drinking the night away. Halle is on stage looking like a HOT MAMA. Best Supporting Actor in a movie must go to Christoph Waltz, because he is the best thing ever. He flies through like 4 languages in Inglorious Basterds. He's gotta hurry it up with the speech though, Thank some people, papa! He's so sweet. I might watch IB again this weekend. I'd eat it up, I love it so.

9:52 - Commercials! bathroom break!

9:56 - Cecille B. DeMille goes to Martin Scorsese presented by Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio. I feel like I've seen him accept this award 90 times in the past five years, so I'm gonna kinda wander away right now. Marty seems like an awesome dude though. Great movies! No denying that!

10:08 - Marty is done. I liked his speech.

10:09 - Commercials! Time for me to play the game "Where'd I leave that bottle of Tylenol?" It's fun for the whole family. Unless you live alone, and then it's just as good in one-player mode. Valentine's Day has 48 stars in it. Could this movie possibly have a plot that justifies having that many characters? I am highly skeptical. Wait, was that kid in the Ronald McDonald House commercial MISSING AN EYE??

10:12 - Jodi Foster hits the stage. She's introducing Hurt Locker, which is by far the best movie I've seen this year. I prefer Inglorious Basterds as entertainment, but Hurt Locker is so intense. It's amazing.

10:14 - Gervais continues to drink on stage. Slurring all the way. OH!!!! He totally scored on Mel Gibson!!! Well played, with the joke about alcoolism, RG. Best Director should go to Kathryn Bigelow, but it might go to Avatar (nooo!) The only other acceptable winner is Quentin, but they didn't give him Screenplay so... Cameron FTW. WTF. I understand that the HFPA has a history of loving Cameron and the movie has made almost 2 billion dollars worldwide, but still. A win for Avatar at the Oscars will feel very hollow to me.

10:18 - Kiefer and Thirteen from House are here with Best Comedy Series. Entourage is nominated for reasons unknown. I hope Glee or Modern Family wins. Give something to the fresh blood! GLEE!!!!!! HOORAY! Oh this is fun. The show really won me over by episode 13. I'm looking forward to the back half of season one. Don't worry 30 Rock. I think this season is as strong as anything you guys have done.

10:21 - Commericals. I am eating crackers. They were within arm's reach from the couch. When did I bring them in here? I foung the tylenol on the dresser in the bedroom, by the way.

10:25 - The Hangover Guys and Mike Tyson introduce their movie, The Hangover. I think it's the inconsistency

10:26 - Reese Witherspoon is out on stage presenting Best Comedy or Musical Movie. My DVR chooses now to want to go to sleep, but I tell it NO! Can't it wait until I am not actively watching TV? Hangover should win this. And it does! Well-earned, gentlemen and ladies. Although it's weird that you guys were JUST on stage and then you took your seats and now you're getting back up again. This movie is very funny. I approve.

10:27 Commercials! I have no interest in the Winter Olympics and something on TV I wasn't really paying attention to just put the thought in my head that I'll never be in a relationship again. I'm alone and that's how it's gonna be. Wow, I really think I have a fever.

10:33 - Ahh-nold is here. He wants you to know why he's introducing Avatar. Actually this Cameron-connection is pretty clear without having to connect too many dots. It's not like trying to figure out the six degrees between Helen Mirren and Precious. We see a scene from Avatar that is not action packed which I think is playing against its strengths.

10:35 - Mickey Rourke looking... well odd for him would be normal. Best Actress Drama goes to Sandy Bullock. Dude she could win the Oscar. Streep will be nominated and the front-runner. but Bullock had TWO amazingly successful movies this year and Blind Side made over 200 million at the box office. So it could happen.

10:39 - Actor in A Musical/Comedy. RDJR wins for Sherlock Holmes!! This is all sorts of awesome, because when they announced his name as a nominee, I thought. Why is Sherlock Holmes not in the Oscar Race. i swear I thought it was better than An Education or A Serious Man or Avatar for that matter. I was gonna type that before he won but I got so confused by this strange woman was presenting and I have no idea who she is. I thought it was gonna be Kate Winslet or something but it was not. Ah well, fun speech RDJR!

10:44 - Commercials! We're almost done! Light at the end of the tunnel.

10:46 - Here's Kate Winslet! I knew she'd be on-hand. Who's gonna win for Best Male Drama. I liked George Clooney a lot in Up in The Air. But Jeff Bridges seems to be the front runner. Jeff Bridges wins! George could've just gone and set up the Haiti telethon and it would've have mattered. It's nice to see Jeff Bridges get some love and attention from the crowd. I now understand Meryl's T-Bone joke from earlier in the night. It's about the guy that accepted the Best Song Award. Thank you for clarifying, Jeff Bridges. JB actually thanked some awesome people, like his stand in. That's awesome.

10:51 - Commercials! The announcer assures us not to worry and that Avatar will be named Best Drama when we return. This eliminates all drama from the race for best drama.

10:55 - Julia Roberts is on stage, presumably still loving her life from the time she gave Denzel his Oscar. Avatar wins. But we knew that at 10:51 (if not earlier). I guess it doesn't matter if it wins the Oscar. I just could go without another opportunity for Cameron to speechify.

10:59 - Gervais plugs his show on HBO (which looks awesome) and we're out on time! Only because Alec Baldwin wasn't there to make a speech. Thank you, Alec Baldwin. Thank you.

11:00 - The announcer babbles for a while about how all the results were verified, but no ones really listening so maybe he says the whole show is rigged. Everyone's making for the exits. It's over! This was fun! Let's do it again next year. Minus the fever.

Help For Haiti

As the relief efforts in Haiti continue following last week's devastating earthquake, I believe it's important to make a donation to the cause and to encourage others to do the same. Following the initial search and rescue amidst the rubble and destruction, there is a serious threat that chaos will consume the country as thousands of people are left homeless and living without food, clean water, medicine or even a semblance of a functioning infrastructure. Many American and International organizations are sending relief workers down to Haiti to help maintain order and provide life-saving and life-sustaining resources. We need to make sure they have the monetary resources to get the job done. Everyone should give a little to support this humanitarian effort.

It's very easy to make a donation to the relief effort, simple by texting a message to the non-profit of your choice. Web sites and mobile phones are helping people to contribute record amounts to Haiti relief. Since launching it's mobile fundraiser on Tuesday, The Red Cross has raised over $10 million for the cause.

Though Text-To-Give donations may be held for up to 90 days before they reach their intended organization, that's okay. The issues facing Haiti are not going to be corrected overnight. It's going to take a long time to get a handle on the situation, and these funds are essential to helping groups continue their work in Haiti, long after the initial media coverage fades away. Below is a list of different organizations to which you can text donation pledges. Please give what you can. You can also go to www.whitehouse.gov to learn more about the coordinated efforts to help the people of Haiti.

•Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
•Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
•Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
•Text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10 through the Clinton Foundation
•Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
•Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
•Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International
•Text RELIEF to 30644 (this will connect you with Catholic Relief Services and instruct you to donate money with your credit card)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Team Conan


(or I'm With Coco or Free Conan... any of these titles would be fine.)

I know this has been talked to death, but I wanted to take a few seconds to voice my support for Coco in the Great Late Night Scheduling Debacle of 2010.

I first became aware of Conan O'Brien in high school, when my friend Brigette became obsessed "with Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (it was on WAY too late by my standards at the time to ever watch it). Back then, Conan's show was literally getting renewed by weeks at a time. Who knew if his show would last? But last it did, and as I stayed up later and later, I became a big fan on his brand of comedy.

It's amazing to me that even with YEARS of planning by NBC, they nevertheless managed to completely mishandle the transition from Jay Leno's Tonight Show to Conan's Tonight Show. They apparently learned nothing from the debacle they created when Leno took over for Carson, and Letterman defected for CBS 17 or 18 years ago. I know the corporate suits are probably worn by totally different people now, but they clearly don't care about how bad they make their brand look as long as they get what they want. Leno apparently didn't learn anything either, beyond knowing he can get what he wants. Instead of retiring after the Tonight Show, he accepted hosting this new show that would air to 10pm. His new show is a failure that network affiliates demanded NBC take out of prime time. Instead of retiring at THIS point, Leno will instead RETURN to his Tonight Show perch, knocking Conan off the schedule completely. And Leno is okay with this. I understand it's business, not personal, but Leno needs to let it go. He is not the Favre of Late Night.

It's totally bullshit that NBC would treat Conan this way only 7 months after his version of the Tonight show first aired. It's the failure of the Jay Leno Show which has messed up so much of NBC's primetime schedule, but NBC refuses to let go of Leno, considering his inclusion on the schedule the most essential part of their solution. They would rather move the Tonight Show to after midnight in order to keep each of their late night talk shows in tact. But even that's not really true. That 12:05am start time was always an insult that Conan was going to refuse, so that NBC could effectively force him out and reinstall Jay at 11:35pm. It's totally callous and transparent. Again, it's pretty shameless that Jay is going along with it.

At least Conan has been awesomely and bitterly funny though all of this. Knowing that his show has effectively been cancelled and nothing he can do will stop it, Conan is free to unload all of his resentment at NBC and Leno in a funny way. I will be watching the tonight show regularly until Conan is yanked from the air, and then no longer. I am boycotting as long as Leno is there. This will not be hard for me, since I never thought Leno's take on the Tonight Show was particularly funny anyway. I hope that NBC and Leno are not rewarded for acting in bad faith with higher ratings.

To close, here is a clip of Hitler being totally floored by the news of Conan being let go from the Tonight Show. Even HE thinks it's unfair. That should tell you something, considering the shit he pulled in his day.

Whatever happens, from here on out I'm with you, Coco. All of your fans are with you Public support is in your favor. Have a new show on Fox, work children's birthday parties - whatever it is I'm there. You shall overcome.

h

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mysteries of the Interwebs!

So yesterday, the internet at work went down. This happens every once in a while when there is a problem with the server. Yesterday's issue, however, had nothing to do with the server. It has to do with some Verizon thingy on the outside of our building that has stopped functioning. Whatever the thingy is supposed to do it has left us weirdly paralyzed and cut off from our email. Here's a brief run-down of what we currently can and cannot do.

*The computer says we have an internet signal, but we cannot load the internet in any browser.

*We can receive in house office emails from each other from Outlook, but these messages won't show up on our blackberries and likewise no messages sent from our blackberries will reach our Outlook.

*I can send and receive emails connected to my gmail account on my blackberry, but no incoming/outgoing emails to my office address will go through on the handheld.

*I can BBM and change my FB status, but I cannot load the web browser on my blackberry.

*I can synchronize to the server from my laptop, access my calendars, and remotely connect to the printer at the office.

*I cannot get to my work email trough web-access from an outside computer on a different internet signal.

Isn't this the weirdest set of seemingly contradictory impairments? How can some things work, but not others? How can the server be fine but still not be accessible from outside the building? It doesn't make any sense to me and I'm really curious as to what the malfunctioning piece of equipment is that is causing us so many problems at work. We have to CALL people in order to get information about things! Nobody calls people anymore! And then if there's follow-up to be done I have to tell them to call me back! Oh, I hope this situation is fixed soon.

If anyone has a guess as to what's broken, feel free to let me know. If you comment on my note, I should be able to still read it on my FB blackberry app (thought it's unclear if I'll be able to reply back!_

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Roman Holiday Part 5 - The Pantheon, The Gay Rights March and the only Non-Pizza Dinner

At long last! Part Five!

Okay, so getting to the 39 steps proved a challenge, but it was nothing in comparison to finding the Pantheon. The night before as I was making my way to Trevi Fountain, I saw all these signs for the Pantheon and figured I’d swing by to look at it (even though it was too late to go in) on my way to my destination. No matter how many signs I followed, I couldn’t figure out where this thing was. I also wasn’t 100% sure what it looked like. Was it really tall? Would it blend in with the many other ancient churches lining the back alleys of Rome’s streets? I was not sure. Bottom line: I never saw it that first night. Yet here I was, having just crossed the 39 Steps off my list of things to see and was feeling confident that I could find anything – Anything! – that I wanted to see in the city. I checked my map in my Frommer’s Guide for the bajillionth time that day and found what I thought was the most direct route to where the Pantheon (allegedly) stood. There are actually a couple of direct roads in Rome (Via del Corso, Via Nazionale and Via Cavour stick out in my mind) but there’s also just a lot of small alleyways that connect everything and it becomes like a maze. You could be right around the corner from what you are looking for, but if you turn left instead of right you might go on a loop that takes you in a loop that will take 20 minutes before you get back to where you wanted to be. I guess it’s a bit like the financial district in NYC.

From the Steps, I made my way back to Via Del Corso, took that straight shot street south but then had to veer off eastward into the maze of backstreets for the pantheon. There was an extra place I needed to find right around the corner from the Pantheon: Giolotti. Giolotti is this giant Gelati store that has hundreds of flavors of Gelati on-hand. It’s what all Gelati stands wish they could be. I actually came across Giolotti before the Pantheon which was exciting because a) I knew that I was close to the Pantheon and b) Giollotti to me looks like the candy store in the beginning of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory where they sing "Candy Man." Oh, what delicious fun! I had just had a gelati at The Steps, so I thought I’d hold off on getting another one and find the Pantheon first.

I took a couple more wrong turns after following a few signs with arrows that in fact did NOT lead to the Pantheon (so frustrating!) but eventually I made my way into a piazza that gave way to the sight of the Pantheon. The Pantheon is beautiful, dark and awesome. It’s not the tallest building but it’s hard not to see it for the first time and be like “damn.” Some things just stand the test of time and the Pantheon is at the top of the list for surviving for millennium in style. I particularly loved the giant Egyptian granite columns outside. They were just so striking.

There was a big crowd outside the gates to the Pantheon and I made my way through the people to find out that there was actually a church service going on (because it’s still a functioning religious site) and we’d have about 40 minutes before tourists were allowed back in. I knew what that meant: Time for my trip to Giolotti! I cautiously made my way back through the streets trying to remember exactly how I’d gotten from one place to another. Fortunately, it was not too difficult in reverse. Once inside Giolitti, I was not sure what flavor combination I should go for. I wound up with a delicious chocolate, watermelon (which chocolate chips for seeds!) and frutti de bosco which in Roma was a kind of purple grape flavor. SO SO GOOD! Armed with my massive gelati I made my way back to the Pantheon. It was actually very crowded in Giolotti’s so it took up most of the wait time. When I got back to the Pantheon gates the crowd had swelled even more. People were getting restless. Can’t those freaks inside finish praying to themselves silently as they exit the building? Do they really have to finish the whole service just sitting there? Finally the worshippers exit, the gates open and the crowd rushes in. Now, this place shouldn’t be any different from the other churches of Rome, where there are signs asking you not to take pictures and people oblige, but that was not happening in the Pantheon. Camera flashes start going off left and right. People are trying to get pictures of the dome (which is even wider than the dome at St, Peter’s Basilica) and the whole place is just filled with noise and people falling all over each other trying to see what’s around them. Thankfully after that initial push in, the place calms down a bit and people filter throughout the space. I just loved being in that building. Some buildings speak to certain people and for me I just adored the Pantheon and the Colosseo. Those were my favorite buildings in Rome (with a shout out to the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica as well.) There’s not a whole lot to DO inside the Pantheon though so after about a half hour of breathing the place in, it was off to my next adventure.

I wandered back to Via Del Corso and did a little window shopping. I had visions of me buying myself a new spring coat in Italy, but when I saw the prices with the exchange rate of the dollar I gave that dream up really quickly. There’s not much else of note about my time shopping other than to say that I did manage one whole conversation about the price of something with a sales clerk in my limited Italian. Also, they have many of the same retail stores we have on Via Del Corso, but at prices you wouldn’t believe. A jacket at Diesel for $450 American dollars! A pull-over sweater at H&M for $140 American dollars! No wonder we have so much European tourism in NYC. It’s already more than a 1.5 exchange rate and then the prices are still half as high here than they are there! It’s a sweet deal.

I made my way to the end of Via Del Corso which opens up to the giant monument Vittoriano. I make a note to myself that I want to climb to the top of it tomorrow for a great view of the city (it’s too late to do it now, because the sun has already started to set) I walked around to Via dei Formi Imperiali to make my way back to my hotel, when I came across a gay pride march. Now, I had seen signs about the March for the past two days and I knew it was happening today (which coincidentally was the same weekend as the Equality March in DC). I had wanted to go to the March in DC so I felt happy that I at least got to share in the experience of it’s Italian cousin. It had started in the Plaza Repubblica, which I assumed was where I happened to find myself, but upon further examination of my map later on, I realized that they had started in a completely different area of Rome and had marched their way down to Vittoriano. I sat on these giants steps as people flooded into the piazza. It was a very pleasant laid back sort of atmosphere which fit with the rest of my experience in the city. People congregated, there was a short speech which I couldn’t understand besides the word "equality" and the waving of the rainbow flag. Then everyone cheered and started wandering off to get cappucino. This also fit with the rest of my experience in the city. It was nice to see so many young people out and proud and letting their voices be heard. It has to be a weird dynamic with Vatican City being like a 15 minute walk east of where they were. Not that we’ve had an easier time trying to get marriage equality recognized in the States, without a religious base of operations right on top of us, but it has to be a strange dynamic under which they live.

So after that, I went back to my hotel to rest my feet for a bit before heading out to dinner. I unloaded my bag, which was still packed with my sweater and jacket and everything I’d picked up along the way from when I’d started my day back at the Colosseo. Doesn’t that seem FOREVER AGO? It did at the time as well. It was still a little early for dinner so I watched some International news. I didn’t write it down in my notes, but I believe they were discussing Obama having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Also I saw a travel segment about visiting Germany at a time other than Oktoberfest and what it had to offer.

Dinnertime! I was very tired after my full day of walking and didn’t want to go too far from the hotel. The only problem with that was since I was so close to the Colosseo there was a lot of tourist trap restaurants around my area. I walked for a bit and settled on one that seemed minimally tourist trappy. When I sat down to eat, my main goal was to have some kind of leafy vegetable, because all I’d had for two days was pizza, pastry, gelati, water, wine and the chewy granola bars I had been carry around in my backpack. A vegetable was required. I wound up getting a nice salad (which on the menu translated to daily vegetables) and a pasta with ham in a cream sauce. The dish has a name you’d know, but I can’t think of it now. I got to sit outside at this restaurant and people watch which is all I really wanted to do. But then these two guys sat at the table next to me and we struck up a conversation.

The younger guy’s name was Dano. He was from Slovakia and seemed to be mid-20's. He was apparently staying with the older man who lived in Rome and who never formally introduced himself. For the entirety of the conversation at dinner I couldn’t figure out what the relationship was between these two people. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. There seemed to be a solid 30 years between them in age. I don’t think their relationship was sexual. I guess it could've been. Dano seemed very interested in every female that walked by our outdoor seating area though. Maybe the older guy was Dano’s relative? It was possible. The reason I don’t know (and outright asking seemed a bit rude) was because Older Guy was not really interested in talking. Dano was VERY interested in talking and so when Older Guy wasn’t responding, Dano turned his attention to me.

Dano was very nice. He had just arrived in Rome earlier today, he was staying with Older Guy (for reasons undisclosed) and was enjoying the city. I told him I was from New York. He asked me if people were happy there. This struck me as odd, because the dude who asked me for directions earlier in the day asked me the same thing in almost the exact same wording. I think I told him people were okay but that the economy was still bad. He had never been to New York but was very interested in visiting someday. He had travelled through a lot of Europe. We then got into a big discussion about renting apartments in NYC. I don’t know why we stayed on the topic for so long, but it really was like half of our dinner conversation.

I probably would’ve hung out a bit more with Dano because he seemed like a nice guy and he had a good grasp of English, but Older Guy really creeped me out. He seemed uncomfortable the whole time. So after I finished the last of my wine with dinner, we said good night and parted ways. I went back to my hotel and got my bookbag in order for the next day. It was a little before midnight, and I knew that the hotel bar stopped serving at that time, so I went down to see if I could get one last cheap glass of wine, and see what the scene there was like. Unfortunately, the bar was kind of a bust. It was a very nice room, but it was empty. I was hoping for people, but there was no one worth talking to. I tried to get a glass of the house red, but the bartender lady said they had no more and she gave me a glass of a more expensive wine that did not taste good, and this was one of the few instances on my trip where I though “enh, this didn’t work out so well.” but I checked my email on the computer there and sipped my drink for a long time and read some of the book I brought with me. Then it was back upstairs to bed! Today had been a long successful journey across the city several times order. On the list for tomorrow was a stroll through the parks at Villa Borghese, a trip up Vittoriano and much more Gelati!

Up Next in Part 6 – Owen Meets Nilor -his BBF (bicycle best friend), and explores the natural beauty Rome has to offer. Also, more gelati!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Than Two Tons Of Fun


Dude, first tennis start up so fast, and now Biggest Loser! Before we have time to digest our holiday feasts and forget who won the last season that ended just weeks ago (it was... Danny, from the Brown Team... right?) here we are ready to start another season with The Fattest Fatties who ever were Fat. Bring it on, BL! I'm ready to tell you what I've done today to make me feel proud.

This season is bigger than ever. They say it every year, but every year, they DO get bigger. They're not just round, but they're tall too. They are just massive slabs of people in Season 9. It doesn't seem like anyone's story is as emotionally devastating as Abby's was last year, but we've got a lot of never-been-kissed kids who are looking to slim down into hotness and start getting it on. Always a noble endeavor in my book.

The game starts off by mercilessly cutting the two teams who bike 26.2 miles the slowest. Yellow Team with Father and Daughter Fatties who need lots of love and support? YOU'RE GONE! Blue Team With Mother and Daughter Fatties, whose mom-half experienced unbearable cramping during the bike-a-thon? YOU'RE GONE! But it seems they were given Biggest Loser for Wii or something and we'll see if they can claw their way back on campus 4 or 5 episodes from now.

Bob and Jillian are training the whole cast together again, which limits the amount of immediate team adversity and alliances that would otherwise form on-screen. Instead everyone is just feeling each other out this week. The Green Team won the biking challenge and look like they will be strong competitors. The other team of note was the Half-Ton Identical Twins in Brown, who immediately fell below the yellow line and one had to be sent home. I don't know how you really choose between them. They are identical players. Flip a coin. Everyone in the judging room said it was a difficult decision, but no one gave the real reason it was so hard: how can you tell them apart? They are 1 lb apart in weight, so they are essentially equally gigantic, they lost exactly the same amount of weight during week 1 and while one is sort of injured and one is about as mobile as you can be at 400+ lbs, the strategy of who to keep there kinda cancels itself out. It seemed like the same choice to me either way. Get rid of this one guy, or this other guy that is the exact copy of the first guy. If i was in the position of the voters, I would just write down one name and probably not know which of the brothers it was that I was actually voting for. The brother who got evicted actually did quite well at home and has so far lost 100 pounds! Very impressive.

We've still to see who will emerge as this season's villain. Crazy Tracey didn't really show her true colors til she emerged from the hospital in episode three last year. I think the Red Team could be a game player team, but it looks from the preview that Melissa of Red Team actually GAINS a pound next week, so that might hurt her chances for domination if she's eliminated next.

If you enjoy Biggest Loser and have time to kill at work, I suggest the new Biggest Loser Concentration Game, which I stumbled upon totally by accident. Match their fat faces as quick as you can! It's sorta fun. It doesn't burn a lot of calories though, so be careful about snacking during game play!

http://www.nbc.com/the-biggest-loser/games/concentration/

FernGully: The Last Avatar

Now I should start by saying that when I saw Avatar last week, I liked it just fine. I fear that it will turn into another Gladiator or A Beautiful Mind for me (both starring Russell Crowe. interesting.) where I thought it was perfectly okay, and then people start raving about it like it's the best thing ever and an Oscar favorite and the overkill will make me start hating it. It's got some things going for it, it's beautifully rendered, but the STORY is... well, it's basically the plot of FernGully; The Last Rainforest. Do you remember FernGully? It was a kids movie when I was little. So a long long time ago. I don't think I went to see it as a kid. Perhaps my parents found it too preachy in its eco-friendly message. I certainly knew about FernGully though. The basic plot is that this company is cutting down the rain forest and the indigenous tree fairies fight back and in the process one of the human workers gets turned into a fairy-sized dude, who winds up helping the fairies stop the loggers and an evil forest spirit from destroying their home tree. Sound vaguely like a current blockbuster movie you've heard about?

I wasn't thinking about Ferngully going into Avatar, but the similarities become so striking that by the time the armored tank in Avatar rolls up in front of the Na'vi's Home Tree intent on it's destruction, I found myself leaning forward in my chair, brow furrowed and thinking, "Hey, wait a minute. I've seen this before."

Many others on the Internets have also noted this similarity but my favorite evidence can be found in this mash up of the trailer for Avatar using images from Ferngully. It's not that Avatar borrows solely from FernGully (there's some Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves in there too, apparently. Also? Sigourney Weaver talks to this character named Parker using dialogue that I swear's right out of Alien) but it lifts from the FernGully story more egregiously than others. Take a look-see for yourself.



Tennis: New Year, Same Obsession

Even though we are only six days into the New Year, Rafa has already managed to win a tournament in the new ATP season. I know, right? Who even knew they started playing again? Can't they even take a break through the New Year? Well, the important thing is that Rafa is back to his winning ways and feeling 100%. The tournament in Abu Dhabi might have just been an exhibition, but winning is better than losing, and beating Robin Soderling (a player who gave Rafa so much trouble last year) 7-6(2) 6-4 in the Final is great news for Nadal.

After the match Rafa said, “It is very important for me to begin the season winning. It’s been a real a difficult battle to win a tournament in the last six months and it’s never easy to compete against the best in the world all the time, but I will be giving it my all this year. For the moment though, it’s very important to start off the year with a title,”

He has already moved on to Doha for his second tournament, getting through the first round just fine. Vamos Rafa! We're gonna repeat winning that Aussie Open title later this month!