Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Too Much Chocolate



If you like Chocolate and Come to Singapore - Check Out the Chocolate Bar at the Marina Bay Sands' Rooftop Bridge. You'll go nuts.
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During the first half last week’s Champions League El Clasico, someone tweeted something like: “So this is what it feels like when you’re given that third sundae cone”. The tweet caught my attention because I knew exactly what it felt like. About 2 weeks ago, my wife and I were invited by a very good friend of mine to celebrate his birthday atop Singapore’s latest icon: The Marina Bay Sands to enjoy its famous chocolate buffet atop its now-famous sky bridge (almost 60 storeys into the sky).
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This is what I looked like BEFORE and AFTER I massacred my FIRST plateful of Chocolates. It's clear in this picture that despite not having taken my first bite - that I'd already gone nuts.
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We arrived early and excited like a bunch of kids. And of course took photos of the million dollar views from the top before heading inside to marvel and the mouth-watering array of choices we had. It was chocolate paradise. When it was time to ‘raid’ the buffet tables, all of us in the dessert party had a real go. As I consumed my first plate, I gushed at the mouthfuls of flavors and commented upon them like some wannabe chocolate connoisseur. When I got to my second plate, I was happy to have finished it. By the third plate… I was ‘crawling to the finish line’ and found the conversation to be far more interesting than the chocolate: I can only hypothesize that my other friends were feeling the same way as we ended the night endlessly talking about how unhealthy that ‘meal’ was and how utterly futile any exercise plans for the next day would have been.... despite the gastronomically orgasmic treat that we just experienced. I just had way too much.
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At this point, this to me is how this World Series of Clasicos feels just like. The stomach if full, the throat has gotten sore, palate is numb and for some reason the bodies are all tired.
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Perhaps this is why an emotionally ravaged Real Madrid limply went down 2-3 to Zaragoza this weekend and Barca went down 2-1 to Real Sociedad 90 minutes later. Both against teams battling relegation.
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Madrid started the match by presenting the REPLICA Copa Del Rey to the public – but it actually seemed like they were holding aloft an urn carrying the ashes of our Champions League title hopes for the season for the Bernabeu to mourn.
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There were some good moments though: Granero showing flashes of improved confidence (there were some great displays of technique from him I hadn’t seen) and some entertaining buildup play too – all for naught of course given that Zaragoza, extra motivated by ex-Colchonero coach Javier Aguirre were smart enough not to play like Unai Emery’s Valencia last week (with their high line of defense and shambolic defending). The ultimate testament perhaps to Real Madrid’s emotional and mental exhaustion was the fact that it was Club Captain Iker Casillas and Mourinho’s old warhorse Ricardo Carvalho who committed the critical errors in the game (a goalkeeping error and a clumsy penalty conceded). If anything, it was a shock to hear / read Mourinho say that that fault was his in failing to motivate his men for this one.
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It wasn’t much rosier for Barca either: having played immediately after us, they were presented with the golden opportunity to finally claim the La Liga title against liga strugglers Real Sociedad. They played their ‘B Team’ too (plus Messi and Xavi): with La Masia’s new wonderkid Thiago Alcantara scoring the opening goal: only for them to collapse and go down 2-1 at the Anoeta.
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Tonight, we look to the Camp Nou as Real Madrid now beaten to a pulp by the media (salt and fuel was further added to the fire with coaching luminaries such as Omar Hitzfield and Guud Hiddink joining Cruyffs’ attacks on Mourinho). And while I agree that Mourinho went way overboard / hit below the belt / went out of bounds in his ranting after the first leg, I deplore how the world seems to have ganged up on Real Madrid and ignored (or at best went ‘hmmm…. Well… yeah’) the Barca players’ attempt to use the football pitch as an audition to get into a Hollywood movie.
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Even more disgusting is how Sergio Busquets’ now-exposed racial abuse of Marcelo seems to have been swept under the carpet by UEFA. And even as the media have gone on to point this out, you will find that the headlines talk more about Real Madrid REPORTING on the abuse rather than the RACIAL abuse itself. What’s even more sinister of course is how the video of Busquests calling Marcelo a monkey shows La Masia’s ‘best’ cunningly shielding his mouth as he spewed out the poison from it. Pep’s reaction:
“They love this sport. Some of them, during the game, can make a mistake but as players they are exemplary both for Spain and for Barcelona… We are not proud when they make mistakes but I know these players. If we do something wrong, then Uefa have to decide. It won't happen again."
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It is a subtle yet damning admission. And no, I’m not asking for Busquets to be fined or suspended. Believe it or not, I actually don’t care (I don’t even want it) if they get punished to give us a convenient advantage: it doesn’t matter to me at this point. What truly bothers me is how many times I’ve to read about the pontification of the Blaugrana and the vilification of Madrid and Mourinho even amidst such deplorable actions from them.
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Did. Real Madrid play tough physical, football. Yes - Last I recall, that wasn’t wrong.
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Did Mourinho sound like a sore-loser Jackass postmatch in the first leg? Yes.
Was that punishable? Yes - And he’s rightly suspended for it.
Does he deserve to be criticized for it? Yes – and he is / was.
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Were the Barca players diving, whining, playacting ‘like babies’ as Adebayor called them out? Yes.
Is that punishable in the rulebook? Yes.
Were they punished? No.
Were they criticized for it. Yes – but only as a ‘side dish story’.
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Is Busquets a racist bigot for calling Marcelo a monkey. YES.
Should he be punished for it? Yes.
Should he be criticized for it? Yes.
Has either happened? No.
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It is no wonder that even the ever mild-mannered Aitor Karanka was not able to get his head around it. Pep Guardiola summed it up beautifully yesterday: “Tomorrow it all finishes” he said.
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Thank God for that.

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