Monday, January 02, 2006

Basketball "Evil" and the New Year

My New Year thing today came up in my reading:

I was more into the NBA news and of course, my childhood favorite, the Harlem Globetrotters. Watching the cartoon versions of Curly, Goose, and Meadowlark (my brother and I called him Medo-loc, because we couldn't understand their accents) was a rare treat in those days PRE-CABLE. That seemed a happier time, too, for a host of other reasons.

Wow! Evil Globetrotters! That would be a huge idea. We already have Bizarro the Anti-Superman, Sinestro the Anti-Green Lantern, among a few, even Venom the extra-powered Spiderman. Evil Globetrotters would be great - but put in some "evil" Pinoy basketeers: Rudy Distrito and Onchie de la Cruz subbing at point, Ricky Relosa and Rico Villanueva playing small forward (this is the States after all, and yes I think Rico is a dirty player), Larry Villanil at shooting guard, EJ Feihl at power forward/center, and don't forget, Sonny Jaworski as Coach.

I'm lost with some of the other positions, maybe Ato Agustin and Jimwell Torion (guards really do make dirtier players, hehe), Yoyoy Villamin at swingman (and a really legit power plus skill player) and for some street smarts Ramon Fernandez in the early to mid '80's, playing the skill positions instead of forward. Chito Loyzaga comes to mind as a Charles Barkley-type (undersized power forward), and I'll probably insert Marlou Aquino as another post player. Sadly, I can't think of any other legit power forwards who will be classified as "evil" or at the very least, "magulang" (as in street-savvy). Benjie Paras, Alvin Patrimonio, and Jerry CodiƱera are too clean-cut, and Nelson Asaytono is just plain stupid. Among the newbies, Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle are too soft, Andy Seigle is often overwhelmed, and I can't name most of the others. Sonny Alvarado maybe, or Eric Menk. Maybe I'll settle for Nick Pennisi, Asi Taulava, and Davonn Harp. I never did like Yeng Guiao's teams, for some reason.

As for the rest of my New Year:

The Muslims observe the New Year just as a passing of the year. They respect this Western tradition but their New Year is normally the month of Muharram, following the annual tradition of Hajj. Since the Muslim calendar is lunar (354 days), Hajj moves up earlier in the year every year. This year, our holiday begins on the 9th and ends on the 14th. I have no plans of hanging around here and will probably go to Bahrain where I can eat pork and party!

As I am a bachelor (in status as well as in fact), the Christmas season here is pretty much a Do-It-Yourself-or-Else-You-Get-Nothing affair. Most fellows hook up with their friends or family and find a safe place to retreat to and have a few drinks. It's really wise to stock up on "our friend" (literally, "sadiki") so that you can have stuff to gulp down during the holidays. Some guys who work at Aramco or any of its subcontractors normally have an easier time especially if they have female friends within the Dhahran community --- people are free to party within the Aramco compound so long as there is no misplaced noise or an excess of drunkenness.

Or if you don't drink, there are some prayer gatherings as well among the families. Or just quiet dinners where people exchange presents. In the closed compounds, they also have Christmas parties among the expats. Companies with more zealous organizers can get to celebrate Christmas inside the employee camps, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Last year, we had enough juice to organize a Christmas party, but with half the HR Department on holiday, I wasn't about to start something I couldn't finish.

The best combo is to hook up with a family or families and then you can eat and celebrate until the morning. Our last party (Thursday the 29th) started at 9:00pm, revved up at midnight and then we all bunked down at 4:00am. I got up at eight (I had to leave because I was teaching a class on Friday), but the others got up at noon and still had great leftovers to eat.

It's a shame there were no single ladies, though. There are still happenings of that sort but I tend to shy away from them because of the general seediness of such events. One practice is to raffle off one girl for a sure lay to the winner so long as she takes home one month's salary (for some, about SR900 or P13,000). Naturally the ticket sales rack up. If I wanted that kind of meat factory I would have stayed in the Philippines. In some cases, there are also some homosexual things going on (it would be fun watching lesbian action, but aw shucks, we just have the boys!) and that's not my thing. Besides, the authorities are pumped up to catch people in the act and over the past month, I heard of two raids in our area. There must have been more. One raid was just across our apartment building, and on Christmas Eve, no less.

New Year's Eve was quiet. We finished our Toastmasters' meeting at 8:00pm and after the clean-up and getting a ride, we made it back to downtown Khobar a few minutes before nine. I joined one of the families I knew for a small dinner and we prayed the Rosary of all things. Still, I am thankful because I have hardly used my own Rosary here (showing it would invite all kinds of trouble).

The same New Year sentiments still hold for this year, so I'm going to live this year as best as I can, because I am working on borrowed time.

Happy New Year everyone!

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