Blood Read

Just a poem written.

Blood Read

Blood
in veins
in my body
runs continuously
A strip of paper
Cuts my finger
A wound opens
Blood flows,
fast.
Paper, red, stained
with my own blood.
I stare, guitar in hand
and pluck, strum
what I see on the paper

Beautiful.

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The 2002 West Finals, Game 5: Mike Bibby Wins the Game!

Ten years. I am now a college student, my brother’s soon to take college entrance tests. I just left my teenage years behind.

Yet images from the legendary seven-game Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers Western Conference Finals in 2002 still remain fresh in my mind, as fresh as the wounds which were reopened by watching part 6 of “The Greatest Tragedy In Sports” series on YouTube.

The next week or so will mark the 10-year anniversary of perhaps the greatest playoff series of the new millennium.

It was the series which I really tuned in to from wire to wire of every game, from the opening tip to the final buzzer; from the broadcasts opening billboard to the network’s “All rights reserved…” display on the TV. I fondly remember one game in the series which was scheduled to air on ESPN Asia at 8 am Manila time. I had a dream, and in that dream, the clock showed 8:00 am and I was still in bed. When it ticked one more minute, it was already 8:01 and I was still in bed. I panicked that I might miss the game. “Oh no!” I thought.  I bolted up from my bed and checked the time. It was not even 7 am yet.

I was that engrossed with that playoff series it permeated my dreams.

So here’s a series of entries to commemorate each game from Game 4 to Game 7, the most dramatic games of the series.

**********

Game 5, May 29, 2002 (Manila time)

Game 5 is a memorable one, not just because of the tight game, but because of my experience of watching it.

I can still vividly remember the sequence of events that day. It was a rainy weekday. My mom and my brother were out. I think mom brought my brother to his taekwondo classes. I was alone. The game, as was the previous game, was tightly contested. Sacramento was trailing the Lakers by one point 91-90, with 11.4 seconds left to play. The Kings had possession.

The rain outside was strong and it was dark. Soon, a lightning struck, and the rumble of the thunder followed. As play was about to resume, lightning struck — a figurative one: the electricity went out. Just as the ball was about to be inbounded. The final 11.4 seconds are the ones I would miss.

As if to add insult to injury, the electricity came back on less than 10 minutes later. As soon as I heard the sound of the electric fan, I hurriedly got the remote and turned on the TV. I can’t believe what I saw. It was the banner showing “All rights reserved…”. The game just ended. I had to wait till SportsCenter came on hours later to see the highlights of the game.

The only shot of the game which I didn’t get to see: Mike Bibby’s game-winner.

It was only those precious 11.4 seconds that I missed, and that is a number which has a significant sentimental meaning to me now. Every time I see or hear 11.4, images of Mike Bibby curling around Chris Webber’s screen on the right wing, escaping Derek Fisher, then rising up for this jumpshot, come to mind.

The 2002 West Finals, Game 4: The Shot II

Ten years. I am now a college student, my brother’s soon to take college entrance tests. I just left my teenage years behind.

Yet images from the legendary seven-game Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers Western Conference Finals in 2002 still remain fresh in my mind, as fresh as the wounds which were reopened by watching part 6 of “The Greatest Tragedy In Sports” series on YouTube.

The next week or so will mark the 10-year anniversary of perhaps the greatest playoff series of the new millennium.

It was the series which I really tuned in to from wire to wire of every game, from the opening tip to the final buzzer; from the broadcasts opening billboard to the network’s “All rights reserved…” display on the TV. I fondly remember one game in the series which was scheduled to air on ESPN Asia at 8 am Manila time. I had a dream, and in that dream, the clock showed 8:00 am and I was still in bed. When it ticked one more minute, it was already 8:01 and I was still in bed. I panicked that I might miss the game. “Oh no!” I thought.  I bolted up from my bed and checked the time. It was not even 7 am yet.

I was that engrossed with that playoff series it permeated my dreams.

So here’s a series of entries to commemorate each game from Game 4 to Game 7, the most dramatic games of the series.

**********

Game 4, May 27, 2002 (Manila time)

I don’t remember much from the first three games of the series. All I know is the Kings won 2 of those games to take a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4. Heck, I don’t remember much from that fourth game. The only image that mattered to me was this:

If Michael Jordan had ‘The Shot’, Robert Horry has his own version of ‘The Shot’. (Photo: Hector Amezuca/The Sacramento Bee)

Kobe Bryant, with the Lakers trailing the Kings 99-97, drove to the basket trying to draw the foul. No whistle, layup missed. About five seconds remained in the game. The logical thing to do for the Kings, if they can’t grab the rebound, is to tap the ball out as far from the basket as possible. Sadly, it went to the hands of Big Shot Rob, Robert Horry. Three-pointer from the top of the key, bullseye! Buzzer sounds. The red light goes on. Lakers win 100-99 with a shot that lives on as one of the greatest in NBA playoff history.

Horry’s celebration was simple: hands down, bouncing up and down while his teammates parade themselves around him, hugging him, thanking him for sending the series to a pivotal Game 5 with the series tied at 2 instead of being down 3-1.

The 1 That Got Away (from the Lakers)

Somewhere in Los Angeles, Katy Perry is dedicating one of her hit songs to the Los Angeles Lakers: The One That Got Away.

Game 2 of their best of seven Western Conference semifinal series against the Oklahoma City Thunder was right in the Lakers’ hands. They were presented with all opportunities to tie the series at one game apiece. But did they capitalize? No, they let it slip away from them.

It was a 75-68 game in favor of the boys from Long Beach with 2:08 left in the game. The way OKC played the whole second half, I thought they were definitely done for the game. The Lakers were rolling,  Kobe was hitting his Kobe shots, and the Thunder just can’t make any. All signs pointed towards a Game 3 in LA with the series tied at 1.

That’s when the Thunder started rumbling.

Sixth man of the year James Harden ignited Oklahoma City with a hard drive to the basket for a layup. On the Lakers’ next possession, Durant came up with the steal for a fastbreak dunk. Their next two possessions ended with a turnover and a blocked shot, respectively. Another score by Harden and all of a sudden, it was just a one-point LA  lead with less than a minute to go.

Lightning struck afterwards.

Kevin Durant receives the ball on top of the arc from Russell Westbrook with 26 seconds left. Metta World Peace, probably the Lakers’ best defender, was guarding him. Kendrick Perkins sets a screen on World Peace, giving  Durant space to drive to his right. He attacks the basket, easily going by Andrew Bynum. He was now driving at the right baseline, with the last line of the LA defense being Pau Gasol. Durant lobs up a floater, Pau challenges him. A roll, a bounce, swish. And the crowd erupts.

Durantula stings the Lakers. It was now 76-75 for Oklahoma City. 18.6 seconds left.

For 13 seconds the Lakers held the ball on their next possesion before Thabo Sefolosha committed a foul to give on Kobe. Perfect timing on the foul too, as he committed it with time winding down, and with Kobe on his way to the basket.

But there was still 5.7 ticks on the clock. The game isn’t over yet, not with Kobe in it.

World Peace was set to inbound the ball. Steve  Blake, guarded by Westbrook, rushed to the near corner. Westbrook, as Reggie Miller said in the broadcast, was caught sleeping in the play. He did not go after Blake, instead giving up a wide, wide open three pointer.

The Lakers, once again, let the win get away. You can’t miss wide open threes in the Playoffs, especially in close games. And most especially if that shot spells the difference between winning and losing. And the difference between going back to Staples Center tied at 1 or down 2-0.

Had that shot gone in, though, everything will be pinned on Russell Westbrook. And it won’t be surprising if the Lakers play ‘The One That Got Away’ on the PA system to introduce Westbrook.

This series looks bleak for the Lakers. Games 3 and 4 will be on back-to-back days. Seven games for Denver, a right-down-to-the-wire Game 2. The Lakers are tired. This series might get away from them, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it does.

 

She

A poem I wrote last Jan. 18, 2010. Inspired.

***********

SHE

I know She’s out there
Maybe beside me
She may be invisible
And yet to be seen
She may be a droplet
in a sea of people
She may be the rock
that causes a ripple
She may be a grain
in the warm beach sand
Or the nice sand castle
which stands so grand
She may be one
of the hairs I can’t count
or that lone white strand
so tempting to pull out
She might be a song
used as a filler
She may be the encore
that people remember
She may the habit
I’m so used to doing
She may be the dream
which ends up in ruins

In all fairness
I know she’s like air
I still haven’t seen Her
But I know She’s just there

Watch Out for the Western

I won’t keep you reading for long and I’ll quickly get to my point: this year’s NBA champion will come from the West, and no, it won’t be the LA Clippers.

The East is predictable. It will either be the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics. Indiana? They lack a premier go-to scorer that the Heat have in Lebron and Dwyane Wade. The 76ers? Too young for the battle-tested Boston squad.

Miami should have its way against Indiana. The way Lebron ransacked the Pacer defense with 32 points while also grabbing 15 rebounds with 6 of those coming on the offensive side, it’s hard to spot anyone in the opposition capable of stopping him. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s quick, and he can score that basketball so well.

Boston core lineup of Rajon Rondo,  Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett have been together for the past 5 seasons, reaching the Finals twice and winning one title along the way. Too much experience and skill. The all-around Rondo can pick the Sixers apart. His ability to run the offense and to defend well will be too much for Philly to handle.

Out West, the Clippers can’t pull this one off, I’m sorry to say. The way they played against Memphis was admirably ugly — being scrappy and rugged — and definitely far from pretty. I’m not saying “pretty” wins games, but against San Antonio, against Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, you can’t play ugly. Turnovers must be kept to a minimum because that Spurs team takes very good care of the basketball: they averaged just a little over 11 per game against Utah. Plus, LA is far too inconsistent, especially at the free throw line. Blake Griffin is hurt, as well as Chris Paul. They can’t win a 7-game series, especially against San Antonio, without those two being effective.

The other West matchup is a battle. Kobe versus Durant. World Peace versus Harden. Derek Fisher versus his old team. Bynum’s shot-blocking versus Ibaka’s shot-blocking. Tough call here. Both teams are very evenly match. But I have a feeling Derek Fisher may be to the Thunder what Don Nelson was to the Warriors in 2007. I can’t wait to get this match-up going.

It’s the West’s year this year. Take your pick. Spurs, Lakers, or Thunder. Barring any injuries, it’s going to be either Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant who will be hoisting that Larry O’Brien trophy up in June.

Read, and Smell Your Experience

iPads. iPhones. Kindles. E-Book readers. Torrents sites.

Modern technology such as these have made carrying books around as simple as carrying a single notebook. These innovations have managed to squeeze hundreds — or maybe even thousands — of books into a chip as small as your thumbnail Or maybe something even smaller.

And for good reason. Compare the weight of a single novel to the weight of a Kindle. The paperback probably weighs as much — if not more — than the Kindle, but the popular e-book reader can hold hundreds of titles in it. Convenience. When nanotechnology is slowly gripping the world we live in, everything must be smaller, quicker, faster, more convenient to carry around.

Not only is it more convenient in terms of weight, but also financially. I have a friend, an avid reader as well, who bought a Kindle. She said she spent over 3,000 pesos on books recently in such a short amount of time. She decided to buy a Kindle since it costs about as much as she spent on the books she bought. Plus with a Kindle, she can just download titles online. Unlimited. Free.

Nothing against her. She was being resourceful.

But I’m not treading that path. It’s not my thing. For me, the convenience of having an e-book reader kills the reading experience. I have a pretty bad memory. Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of a novel, I would forget some details and so I would go back a few pages — sometimes a few chapters. And I could easily do this by flipping the pages back, something absent from these technological innovations, where you have to press this, go there, click that, enter this, et cetera, before going back to a particular page.

Having a tangible reading material also enables me to view two faraway pages side-by-side at the same time. If page 12 is directly related to page 224, no sweat. I’ll use my left hand to hold it open and my right to hold the pages in between, then proceed to reading.

There are various other things you can do with the real thing which you can’t with the virtual one. No bookmark? Fold the top corner of the page. Found a quotable quote? Underline it, or highlight it using a highlighter (well, this can be done if you want to write on your iPad’s or your Kindle’s screen). Your favorite author visits the country? Have him or her sign inside the front cover, or wherever in the book. Want to dedicate a book to someone? Write a note on the title page.

These are things you can’t do with an e-book. And these are precisely the things which make books special. Never mind the story that you get, or the entertainment which can be had. An e-book can give these to you. But those mentioned above? No, they can’t.

Oh, and one last thing. Take the 3 or 4 books nearest to you, hold them close to your nose, ruffle the pages and smell them. They won’t smell the same. Try it. Fight Club smells different from SuperPanalo Sounds! smells different from The Hobbit smells different from The Best Of This Is A Crazy Planets.

Because each experience will be different. What you do with one will not be what you do with the other. What happens around you reading one may not be the same events that happen when you read the other. Just like how each book smells different, each experience will also be unique.

And that smell is something  absent from e-books.