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News Archives - January 2008

: The Things That Tennis Has Taught Me

January 28 2008

Based on the number of updates I've posted here on Pants about tennis, one might assume that I'm a fan. The truth is that I'm not really a truly 'fanatical' fan of the game, infact you'll notice that I only talk about tennis once a year... But for that one section of the year, I definitely have a hunger for tennis.

To talk in food terms, this hunger typically manifests itself as a craving for Gruyère cheese covered with a thick oozy layer of Subway's chipotle sauce. In more literal terms though, I used to watch the tennis for the graceful motions of Martina Hingis and the smooth sultry southern accent of Jim Courier.

So here I am right now, at home enjoying my Australia Day holiday even though Australia Day actually happened 48 hours ago. God bless this country.

Just as I'm bludging now, like a true Aussie I spent the *proper* Australia Day near the BBQ, playing backyard cricket and drinking beer. In between all of that, me & the lads were also watching the cricket and the tennis on TV. Like most years though, the Australian Open is probably the only tennis tournament I'll pay attention to this year.

And with this, I present some of the observations I have made thanks to this year's Australian Open broadcast:

1. Amélie Mauresmo looks like a man

Amélie MauresmoSorry to any fans of Mauresmo, I'm not being racist or Frenchist or lesbianist, but she really does look like a man. And to prove I'm not just making stuff up, I had the Pants research team do some fact-checking to back up my comments.

Firstly, the brains-trust at Yahoo! Answers ("the largest knowledge-sharing community on the Web [...] with more than 21 million unique users in the U.S. and 90 million worldwide") not only have suspicions but have conclusively determined that Mauresmo looks like a dude. 90 million people can't be wrong, especially twice in a row.

As if that wasn't enough though, the research team have discovered that Martina Hingis herself (the true embodiment of all that is woman) thinks that Mauresmo is a guy. Here's a quote from the Swiss Miss at a press conference on the eve of their 1999 Australian Open final:

Martina Hingis, 1999 press conference:
Hingis was asked after the semifinals about the difference between Mauresmo now and when they played last year in a Federation Cup match.
 
"She's here with her girlfriend. She's half a man," Hingis was reported to have said in German.

So there you have it. I'm thinking of starting an online petition so that the ITF forces Mauresmo to compete in the mens circuit next year. :)
 

2. Move over, Swiss Miss...

Ana IvanovićIn all of the previous tennis coverage here on Pants, it was impossible for me to write about the sport without mentioning my childhood sweetheart (the beautiful Martina Hingis) about a million times.

This update is obviously no different — this is the third reference to her in this post so far — but Martina's surprising and upsetting retirement late last year meant that I wouldn't be seeing much more of Hingis in my once-a-year tennis frenzy.

Watching the Australian Open this year, another player caught my attention for sharing many qualities that prompted me to start stalking supporting Martina so many years ago. The lady was 20 year-old Serbian player Ana Ivanović.

There was actually quite a lot of similarities between the Swiss Miss and Ivanović (who doesn't have a nickname yet, since "Serb" is hard to rhyme against). Not only is she stunningly beautiful, but her strength and grace in her tennis game is really great to watch.

In any normal Pants update I'd pad the article text enough so that there's suitable space for me to neatly link all the photos I want to link, but that's clearly not going to happen here because this article is already getting lengthy.

I'll finish up by saying that Ana is not only good for tennis, but good for everything. :)
 

3. "Welcome to my lovenasium..."

Zapp BranniganDespite my slightly noticeable admiration above, I don't want it to sound like I was only watching tennis for the womenz™ — the quality of all the matches this year was way up from last year, which made for some very entertaining viewing throughout the whole tournament.

Bob Labour's Barina looked different this year with the new blue Plexicushion surface, which resulted in faster ball speeds & gameplay. On top of this, the top seeds were being dethroned by unknowns — Tsonga defeated second-seed Nadal in the semis and top-seed Federer (The Swisster Mister) was dominated by Djokovic, who went on to win the tournament.

The biggest personal disappointment in the mens draw was when Andy Roddick dropped out in day 5 of the 14-day tournament; not because I'm a fan, I just miss Jim Courier's non-stop "eh-roddick" in his commentary, but Futurama filled that void.
 

4. Channel Seven puts on a good show

Jim CourierI've always been a fan of Seven's sports coverage, from AFL/motorsport/the Olympics to the AusOpen.

From the visual design whore in me, I'm a big fan of their on-screen astons/graphics, which are both crisp and (somewhat) minimalist, yet show a unified and consistent design across a number of vastly different sports. That consistency is hard to do well, but Seven's had it worked out for years.

I think they also get mad propz due to how they approach and present each broadcast, partly due to their array of (dare I say, likeable) anchors. The Australian Open in particular has Jim Courier headlining the team; I've already admitted my huge Courier man-crush before but I really do think that combining him and the likes of Todd Woodbridge & Roger Rasheed makes for some good television, both entertaining and informative.

Courier's contract is now over for the Australian Open coverage, but I really hope Seven renew it next year because I need my yearly fix of two-sizes-too-big hair and his smooth (almost Canadian-sounding) accent saying things like "eh-roddick" and "Hawk-Eye"... Love ya Jim! :)
 
 

: Red Ring, Red Ring!

January 15 2008

From the makers of "REDRUM, REDRUM!".

After somehow surviving the Christmas onslaught, I spent the last week of my holiday break doing a little shopping for myself. I had a fever, and the only cure was some stuff for my camera or maybe a cowbell... Since all the places I checked had sold out of the latter (what can I say, they all need more cowbell), I decided to get some L-series glass instead.

An L-series lens is basically one of Canon's top-of-the-line lenses. It means the lens sports a rugged build quality, environmental sealing, special glass elements (ultra-low dispersion glass, fluorite and/or aspherical elements) and a tell-tale red ring around the end of the lens. L lenses also happen to have a chunky price tag too, but they are well worth the money.

Have you ever seen those huge white lenses on the sidelines of sporting events? Those are L-series lenses. My first L lens (EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM), which I've owned for about a year, is another one in Canon's series of white-barrelled fatboy (big-zoom) lenses.

It was time for another L though, so here is my brand new EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM lens:

Much like the 70-200mm fatboy I bought is the best-of-range telephoto (big-zoom) lens in the Canon lineup, the 24-70mm is considered the standard (mid-)zoom lens of choice for paparazzi and photojournalists around the world. And now I've got one! But then I got greedy and also got their best ultra-wide zoom as well, the EF 16-35mm f2.8L II USM here:

So now I'm happy because I'm fully L'd out from ultra-wide to super telephoto focal lengths. :) But then I got thinking, I should probably start using my camera a bit more because I'm putting a lot of money into this hobby, so I got the Pants statistician department to whip up this graph showing the relative cost-per-kilogram of my camera gear versus a few other things.

* NOTE: The weight rating in my original calculations did not factor in that my iPod doubles for a huge (hence, heavy) piece of shit. Please take this into consideration when viewing the graph results and/or purchasing a portable media player (or anything made by Apple).

Now although this graph doesn't make my camera hoarding seem that impressive, keep in mind that my car weighs over a ton, my phone and iPod* are 100-200g each and I have over 8 kilos of camera stuff. The bottom three items in the graph are some of the other (cheaper) loves of my life — I plan on drinking at least 10 litres of Lipton Mango Iced Tea at the Big Day Out with my comrades in a few weeks (and not pay a cent for it), and I always stock up on Gatorade before the Clipsal event, which this year is in late February.

Although last year's Clipsal 500 photos still aren't on the site, I am working on them right now and hope to get a gallery up before this year's event begins. Keep an eye on the Photos section of Pants because there'll be a few new things showing up there soon, provided my computer doesn't essplode again... :x

Fingers crossed!

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