Wednesday, December 31, 2003

3:40am New Year's Eve morning. I'm feeling okay, though my appetite's still about 60% normal. It's been a good shift so far. Not that relaxed, but I like the people who are on call with me, and we're just hanging out together like a bunch of old pals. :)

Here's something I just found. Kinda strange seeing my name on an expat website. Wonder when this occurred?

Review of my blog on

They wrote some nice things though. Greatly appreciated! :D

I've intubated 2 old fellas so far, both of whom had a combination of heart failure, asthma and maybe pneumonia all rolled into one nice thick mixture. I wore the spacesuit again, after a hiatus of quite a few months. It's a lot of fun. You should try it sometime, haha! :)

If you're wondering about the effect of the isolated SARS cases in Taiwan and China on Singapore, the answer is: life goes on as usual. For now, at least. I was really bothered way back in March and April, especially after I signed up one lady who was subsequently confirmed to be a SARS case. But now, we feel more confident about the precautionary measures, and take things one day at a time. If you get worked up about it too much, you'd just end up completely immobilized, I suppose. :)

Now we've got a standby case of a young lady with a head injury from a road traffic accident, who's unconscious. ETA 10 minutes.

Yeesh, now I realize how hungry I am. Hmm, that's a good sign, actually. :P

More later. Gotta glove up and prepare myself.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Is it Monday already? Gosh, my weekend went by in a blur, and not in a good way.

The last time I made an entry (on Friday), I was a little nauseated, but otherwise getting through the night shift okay. Then, at 4am Saturday morning, I started to develop severe symptoms of gastroenteritis ( food poisoning in layman terms ), which continued for the next 48 hours, with fever and the inability to eat anything except for a few mouthfuls of porridge and small cups of water and fruit juice. I got to know my bed and pillow very well, and only started eating better yesterday evening. I had to call in sick, of course, and hope the ER wasn't too busy during my absence. I'm still having a low-grade fever at the moment, and my tummy's churning, but I'll see how it goes when I report for afternoon shift later today. Do I feel well enough to work? Honestly speaking -- no way. But do I have a choice? Nope. We're short enough as it is, and the way my department works, if you take medical leave and the standby MO gets called down, you jolly well make it up to him/her, meaning you forfeit your off day and pay him/her back another time. In my opinion, this nullifies the concept of "medical leave", 'cos c'mon, if you have to pay someone back for a legitimate sick day, you shouldn't even consider that an MC, right? Oh well, there are forces beyond my control, so let's hope I get through today in one piece ( that's my new mantra, by the way :P ).

So what's the cause of my illness? Probably something I ate from the staff room pantry -- they leave food on the table as supper for the night shift people sometimes. I took some noodles in a packet, but it tasted funny so I threw it away after taking a couple of bites. Must've been super-toxic, considering the effects it had on me. I still get nauseous just thinking about it, blech... That's the last time I ever touch the food on that table.

The upside in all this is how well my mom takes care of me. Really grateful to her for that. :)

I start work at 3. Last temperature check 37.4 degrees Celsius. 5 more hours to go. Help...

Friday, December 26, 2003

Before I proceed, here's the link to medical blog run by a nurse practitioner in the States. My thanks to him ( I think it's a him :P ) for linking to mine. It's a nice fast-paced read, and provides a list of other medical blogs as well. Check it out :D

Spankysplace Blog

I finally got the chance to see The Return Of The King this morning, after having to stew for more than a week. I was in New Zealand the day it opened, aargh! You can't imagine how badly I wanted to watch this while I was there! But the tour schedule didn't allow for it, and besides, the screens there are pretty small in comparison to ours, so I decided to be patient and wait till I got home.

In a nutshell, ROTK is fantastic!!! And what's more, it has toppled the 10-year reign of my previous favourite film, Dead Poets Society. So now my list is thus:

1) LOTR: The Return Of The King
2) Dead Poets Society
3) The Sixth Sense

In my book at least, that's quite a feat. But ROTK touches me in so many ways really. Despite being a little cheesy in certain parts, my enjoyment of the movie also stems from the fact that I've been extremely lucky to have recently been to "Middle-earth" itself, ie. New Zealand, and viewed quite a number of the filming locations. E.g. Queenstown's Dart River and The Remarkables ( the latter looming large in many scenes ), Wellington's Dry Creek Quarry ( the venue for Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith ), Matamata near Rotorua ( the actual sets for Hobbiton lie in this small farming area, but I missed out on visiting the actual site -- I did, however, pass the outskirts, and the whole place just looks like The Shire, just without the little houses, which was a real treat! ).
Seeing the locations first-hand also illustrated the many challenges faced by both cast and crew during shooting. Many of these places are isolated, with fickle weather conditions and rough terrain. Another thing I noticed, again thanks to Dan, our Wellington guide who's this huge fountain of information :), is that director Peter Jackson paid lots of attention to details, sometimes using one specific location for a scene lasting less than a minute, just because it had "the right trees". I kid you not! Other touches you probably don't know about include the fact that the boots worn by the warriors in the movie were embroidered on the inside as well -- something audiences would never see, but which the team added because it was commensurate with the practices of the novel's characters. Wow...

If you're still reading, here's my review of ROTK :P

Spoilers beware!!!

Spoilers beware!!!

Spoilers beware!!!

This is by far the best in the whole trilogy, and I am rooting for Jackson to win as many directorial awards as possible for making LOTR the masterpiece that it is. The Oscars beckon, but rumour has it the Academy doesn't favour blockbusters and "maverick" directors, so it could be a kinda-stupid-show-beats-really-really-good-film year like that of Forrest Gump ( which beat "The Shawshank Redemption", a major travesty, in my opinion ). A friend of mine from the US says "Cold Mountain" will get the Best Picture nod this year, for various unfair reasons. Let's hope that does NOT happen.

What's not to admire and love about ROTK? I never got round to reading JRR Tolkien's book, and this could be good or bad, 'cos some friends who did tell me the book is better. Anyway, I'm first and foremost a film buff, 'cos I rarely have the time or energy to read entire novels nowadays, and in terms of enjoyment factor, ROTK the movie has it all: a wonderful screenplay, a cast that shines more and more with each new chapter, a director with great vision and skill, a crew that excels in every area imaginable, and the set that IS Middle-earth: gorgeous New Zealand.

This installment features battles galore, with the climax at Minas Tirith, where all the forces of good and evil collide in a massive war involving Nazgul, oliphants, cave trolls and gryphons ( like I said, I haven't read the book, so forgive me if the terminology is incorrect, especially regarding the gryphon bit :P ). If you thought Helm's Deep was something, you ain't seen nothing yet! The visual effects in ROTK are eye-popping, and put the clone wars in Star Wars Episode II to shame. I only wish more magic could've been included. My favourite scenes always have Gandalf wielding his staff: his confrontation with the Balrog in The Fellowship Of The Ring ( "You shall not pass!" -- awesome! ), his charge down the mountain to Helm's Deep with a beam of white light illuminating the sky in The Two Towers, and this time, the bit where he rides out across a field, staff lit up again, to fend off a group of vicious Nazgul from fleeing warriors as they head for the refuge of Minas Tirith.

Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are terrific as Frodo and Samwise respectively. The two actors bonded strongly in real life, and it is clearly evident in the film. The most poignant scene, where Frodo is believed dead after a frightening attack by Shelob ( a giant spider that is guaranteed to make you arachnophobic *shudder* ) has Sam weeping, "Don't go where I cannot follow." I lost it then and there *dabs at eyes with tissues* And how about the last part when Frodo is too weak to take the final steps to the edge of Mount Doom? Sam says, "I cannot carry it (the ring) for you, but I can carry you!", then proceeds to lift his friend and continue climbing despite his exhaustion. Extremely touching. :)

The action sequences are fantastic! I've always liked swordfights, so I was grinning from ear to ear :D Orlando Bloom, who's slender yet athletic and graceful, is the one to watch. Keep an eye out for the oliphant scene, where Legolas shimmies up the giant creature, then in a step-wise manner, manages to topple the massive beast. Humour abounds as Gimli, upon seeing Legolas land on the ground looking pleased with himself, exclaims, "Well, it still only counts as one!" ( in reference to a competition they had in keeping score of the number of enemies they felled ). Don't think that was in the book, right? ;) Anyway, Orlando's my mom's favourite. He's got cheekbones to die for, and for me, his smoky voice is the best part. Just saw on HBO last night that he's due to star in "Kingdom Of Heaven", a tale about a peasant ( Orlando ) who becomes a knight, then saves a kingdom and wins the love of the princess. Fluff, you scoff? Let me tell you who the director is: none other than Ridley Scott! Can't wait to see that one! :)

Romance is also abundant, as Aragorn chooses between Arwen and Eowyn. I don't think there was ever any question Arwen would win, but I prefer Eowyn, the strong-willed princess who can match a man in battle. She even chopped off a dragon's head to defend her injured uncle. Beat that, Arwen! :P So yes, I wasn't too happy when Aragorn rejected her and broke her heart. But then, Arwen has always been his first and only love. Gotta give him points for loyalty and self-restraint. Guys like that are really rare. :)

Ah, Aragorn. Or more specifically, Viggo Mortensen. My favourite from the very beginning, and cast perfectly ( Stuart Townsend was the original choice, but got fired after just 1 day of shooting. He's the pale, effeminate type, so I'm glad Viggo got the part in the end :)).
As the title states, Aragorn finally takes his place as rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. It's a pleasure to see Mortensen go through the various emotions as his character grapples with his fate -- hesitation, even denial, then eventually, resignation and acceptance. He exudes a quiet regal quality never seen before in his prior films ( "Daybreak", "28 Days"... although he was darn sexy in "A Perfect Murder" :P ), so it's nice to have him play a courageous king for a change. He infuses Aragorn with kindness, honour and a deep introspective spirit, and demonstrates great sword skills in the battle scenes. He's 45 years old but looks 10 years younger. A poet, artist and song-writer, Mortensen lends his vocals to a short song near the end of the film. It is a haunting melody. Wonder if it's in the movie soundtrack? ;)

Here're some interesting things you may not know about ROTK ( thanks to Dan who told me during the LOTR tour, as well as an ROTK special I saw on NZ TV -- the perks of being on vacation, haha! :)):

1. The sound effects for the war chants and stomping of soldiers' feet were recorded at the Wellington sports stadium during a sellout rugby game. The participants ( a 35,000-strong crowd ) did it for free. That's the spirit! :D

2. Viggo wears a wig. Didn't think it was necessary, he's already got longish dark hair what. :P Also, his dressing room mirror is always covered with clippings and photos. Apparently Viggo never preens. Cool :)

3. Some of the roars you hear in the films are contributed by lions from the Wellington zoo. We passed by during the LOTR tour, and believe it or not, the zoo is located right smack in the middle of, get this, a residential area! Dan said you have to really love animals in order to live there. Heh heh :)

4. One scene in ROTK, with Aragorn whispering to Gandalf in a crowded room as they ponder the progress of Frodo, lasts less than a minute but required 60 takes! Such is the perfectionist in Peter Jackson. A little scary!

5. The part where King Theoden rides past 200 soldiers, touching their spears with his sword, was an improvisation on the original script. The horses went a bit nuts during the shoot, but they managed to complete it without any major injuries. ( p.s. people say Theoden's speech is the highlight of the movie, but I much preferred Aragorn's battle cry: "Someday men will betray one another, but it is not this day!" or something like that. )

6. If you watch all 3 movies closely, you will realize that the Hobbits are always moving from the left side of the screen to the right, ever since they leave Hobbiton. This is deliberate, thanks to Peter Jackson, who wanted consistency throughout their journey. In ROTK, when they finally return home, they move from right to left. Cool :)

I'll add more if I think of something. Right now, I'm on night shift yet again, after failing to sleep a wink in the afternoon even though I tried to ( hmm, maybe I tried too hard. I don't know... ). Not feeling too good still. Persistent nausea, a bit of a headache. I just want to get through tonight in one piece.

On a happier note, my old friend, Adrian, is getting married tomorrow. Many congratulations!!!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2003

I'm post morning shift, but it's 4pm, and I'm going home, woohoo!

Merry X'mas to all the readers! :)

By the way, I just realized that I've been included in a list of Asian / Singaporean blogs up for various awards. I only have 3 votes so far, so I thought I'd put this link up and see if you loyal readers can help. I don't really care if I win or not, but it would be interesting to see how far I go in this. :P
Thanks in advance for any assistance rendered!

Vote For Best Singapore Blog

Have a good X'mas! Till next time...

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

A big hello to everyone! I'm back home and it feels great! :D

I'm now sitting comfortably in the house, and got my cat from Pets' Station a few hours ago. He looked really traumatized from being caged up for 20 days, but is now back to normal and yowling his head off, which is fine with me :) But if he continues this for too long, I'll have to give him a smack on the tush. :P

Well, what can I say? It was a heavenly holiday, and I've got the sunburnt face to show for it! It was cold, but one of our guides told us the ozone layer above New Zealand has patchy defects in it, and I never use sunscreen on my face, so I have no idea how much UV radiation I've absorbed so far. The distribution's a little strange too -- it was pretty cold, so I was wrapped up in jackets and sweaters, but my face was exposed, so that's the only part that's brown at the moment!
The weather can be rather harsh, especially in the glacier region, which was where I first noticed my face had turned lobster red, after an hour of hiking to the glacier's terminal face ( it was awesome, but more on that in later posts ).

Unfortunately, I've always been a poor air traveller, and suffered on the plane to and from New Zealand. It didn't help that I was placed in close proximity to crying or hyperactive children on both trips, so I didn't sleep a wink for the whole 10 hours. Then nausea would kick in, so I ended up not eating either. Then there were bits with air turbulence, ugh.

But enough about the bad. Like I said, I loved this holiday, and NZ is truly a magnificent country! Full of awe-inspiring beauty that reminds you every single day of God's hand on Earth. I kept a journal during the trip, so I'll try to transcribe the entries from time to time. I haven't gotten myself a digital camera yet, and can't post pictures on this blog, so I'll provide links to pics from the Internet ( they're probably nicer anyway :)).

So, here're a couple of lists for you:

Favourite tours:

1) Wellington Rover Lord Of The Rings Tour
2) Dart River Jet Safaris / LOTR Tour in Glenorchy, near Queenstown
3) Glow Worm Grotto / Waitomo Caves in Waitomo ( between Rotorua and Auckland )
4) Fox Glacier trek
5) the Agrodome in Rotorua

Favourite place:

Winning by a huge margin -- Queenstown

New Zealander traits:

1) very friendly
2) very hospitable
3) very helpful
4) extremely proud of their country's heritage and natural resources
5) extremely proud of Peter Jackson and his astounding film achievement with LOTR

Things you should eat in NZ:

1) beef!
2) Tip Top ice-cream, of which a single scoop equals a double by Singapore standards, and which comes in a giant cone, and too many flavours to count! My favs include Apricot Supreme and Triple Chocolate, yum!

Things I enjoyed doing most while I was there ( not counting my favourite tours ):

1) eating their giant steaks, haha!
2) eating their ice-creams ( not kidding! )
3) feeding and playing with a group of frisky lambs on a farm
4) feeding wild ducks and geese at the boat jetty along Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown ( they just come up and daintily pick the bread from your fingers! )
5) trying all the different Chinese restaurants in each town we stopped at ( we became experts at hunting these places down, I must say :P )

People we met who really made huge impressions:

1) Dan, our guide for the Wellington Rover LOTR Tour -- witty and fun, he is a veritable walking encyclopedia on information regarding the films, as well as everything New Zealand. He spent a whole day with just 6 of us ( that's considered a fully booked tour on most occasions -- there were 20 a day round the time of the world premiere on Dec 1st ), but made it extremely interesting with his many anecdotes and enthusiasm. We all loved his warm and dynamic personality, and I hope some of you will get to meet him should you join the tour in the future. :D

2) Jason, from Kea West Tours in Greymouth / Twin Glaciers -- most guides have to be well-informed and hospitable, but Jason took very good care of us, and warmed up to us with time ( we got him for 2 consecutive days -- the first for Punakaiki / Pancake Rocks and the second for the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers ). We really enjoyed both trips, and I especially loved the detour to Lake Matheson, which is a very secluded little place that is so quiet you'll feel all the tension in your body seeping away into the still waters. Wonderful. :)

3) Stuart and Donna Hamilton from the Coast-to-Coast Tour in Auckland -- this lovely couple runs a sheep farm, and invited us to their home for lunch and a visit. Donna's a fantastic cook ( the merengue with whipped cream is to die for! ), and Stuart is a very sweet fellow. We got to feed their lambs, play around with their menagerie of sheepdogs, parrots, bunny and guinea-pigs, and spent a great afternoon just chatting and sharing experiences. They're very warm and hardworking people, and we just adore them. :D

Whoa, it's getting a little late! I have to take a nap before my night shift -- yes, I'm doing a call the day after I just returned to Singapore, sob! -- so I'll leave you with this superb letter from Clay Aiken, written to the Charlotte Observer after he recently graduated from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is wise beyond his years, and never fails to teach us something valuable about life and ourselves. Congratulations, Clay!

"Some opportunities present themselves just once, and no doubt, I've been blessed to experience several beyond my wildest dreams this year. High on that list -- with "American Idol," the "American Music Awards" and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, among others -- is an event every bit as exciting and memorable: my college commencement at UNC Charlotte.

Yesterday, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education. I donned the robe and mortarboard, sat with fellow students, and took in the sights and sounds of a transformed Halton Arena. People were brimming with anticipation, pride and joy.

I "walked" in line to receive my diploma. I shook hands with the chancellor and the College of Education dean. I turned my tassel upon the conferring of degrees, cheering loudly upon joining the ranks of the 49er alumni.

And I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

While I truly regret any inconvenience my attendance may have caused, I am grateful to have had the chance to come back to UNC Charlotte to celebrate this milestone. A triumph four years in the making, this was a "magical moment" that I wanted to capture -- for myself and those whose support made it possible.

In what could be the understatement of the year, my life has changed dramatically since that first American Idol try-out. It's surreal, actually, thinking about the whirlwind of events that have unfolded. The interviews. The awards. The invitations. Even the rumors, which, unfortunately, come with the territory.

I was warned, "It's the price of fame." Yet fame and glory are fleeting, especially in the music business. That's why completing my degree and graduating from college were priorities. How long this ride will last is anyone's guess, but the fact remains that if it all ended tomorrow, I'd still have Plan A to fall back on -- and that's not a typo. My first dream was to work with children with disabilities.

Reaching that goal began with my education at UNC Charlotte. I am indebted to the faculty and administrators of the College of Education for their support and guidance in the special education program, including my special study on service needs for children with autism.

However, college also opened doors beyond the classroom that provided a glimpse of life in the "real-world." For example, the Bubel family not only welcomed me into their lives, but entrusted me to help care for their most precious gift -- their son, Mike, who has autism. He continues to be my inspiration and motivation to help children with disabilities.

If my career detour from special education to singing has done one thing, it has afforded me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. In founding the Bubel-Aiken Foundation, we hope to be able to help families receive much-needed support with the care and education of their special needs children.

What's more, the friendships I made with special ed majors and other UNC Charlotte students are as valuable as the knowledge gained from my studies. In time, good memories will only grow stronger -- and those few hours at commencement with friends have already become precious. For a short while, I was who I was before fate intervened: Clay Aiken, Class of 2003, caught up in the moment of graduating.

Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again, and now I understand. In 12 months, my life has changed forever. I've learned a lot outside the classroom -- about myself, business, friendships and especially, the value of time. I missed out on some opportunities due to schedule conflicts -- and while those windows may open again, second chances aren't guaranteed.

I did not want my college commencement to fall into that category. I worked hard to earn my degree, and so, too, did a lot of others who invested their time, talent and concern to help me reach my goals.

Still, for all of the changes that come with being in the public eye, there is one that I embrace because I am a teacher at heart. I can lead by example and encourage others to pursue their educational goals. I hope that my participation in UNC Charlotte's commencement sends a clear signal that far outlasts whatever fame my future holds: there is nothing more important than obtaining an education.

Hmmm I wonder if there's a song in there.

More another day then. It's good to be home! :)

Friday, December 05, 2003

Almost 2am right now, and feeling a little tired despite the adrenaline rush from earlier today. Yes, only ( checks watch ) 19 hours to go before I jump on the plane and head to New Zealand! Major packing this morning, but all done. Had to take my poor cat to Pets' Station to board him while we're away. Feeling really sad about that...

Anyhow, better not dwell on that or I'll never leave the country :P

Let's talk about something good, like Clay! :D

Perfect 10 Interview : The file was put up by fans in the US who streamed during the telecast on Thursday afternoon Singapore time. Absolutely amazing! The interview itself didn't offer any new revelations. Carrie Chong, the DJ who got to talk to him ( lucky, lucky lady! ) didn't know some of the facts that the whole world's already privy to, but Clay answered her questions very patiently, and even threw in some good-natured banter in between. Clay was just laughing the whole way, which was really cute. :)
Then at the very end, Carrie ( bless you! ) got him to sing 2 lines from Invisible a capella! He resisted initially, but relented quickly and belted it out, pitch perfect and clear as day. Be still my heart! My mom and I were tuning in from home, and loved it all! :D

Here's the link: Perfect 10 Interview Cap

New Photos Of Clay:

Scroll down to karebear's post of the pics. Clay's wearing clothes from Armani Exchange! I buy my stuff from them from time to time -- mostly winter wear -- and I just love how Clay looks in these outfits. Get a load of that smile! :P There's an A/X outlet in Singapore at Takashimaya. Hey, Clay, when you do drop by our shores, be sure to check this place out for some really gorgeous outfits. ;)

Grammy nominations for 2003 announced : Clay's not on it, sadly, but Kelly Clarkson is up for Best Female, which bodes well for the American Idol franchise. They say Clay wasn't eligible for the major categories because his album didn't meet the deadline, but then, he wasn't nominated for awards he was eligible for ( ie. Best Single, Best New Artist(?), People's Choice ). Oh well, the CD has many other great tracks, so hopefully he'll get his chance in 2004. :) Personally speaking, I think 2003 is going to be the year of Beyonce and Justin Timberlake. I like them both, so no complaints there!

Continuing this entry from where I left off earlier. :)

Couldn't really sleep during my rest time, so I'm still yawning. I hope to get off the shift at 8am on the dot so I can rush home, eat a big breakfast, then sleep for 6 hours before waking up to leave the house. I've never had to fly after a night call before, so I have no idea if this will aggravate my tendency to get motion sickness. Anyway, I've got my trusty Stemetil on standby, at a fellow MO's suggestion. If it works, all my problems are solved! :D

Okay, here's a rough guide to my itinerary ( from memory, 'cos the actual list is at home ):


Greymouth via TranzAlpine train

Fox Glacier -- this is probably the one we're joining, based on the timing in our schedule

-- looky here for one of the awesome LOTR tours we'll be joining!
--> Dart River LOTR Tours
--> and for an up-close pic of what we'll be doing on that jet boat, click HERE
( I was telling my mom about it yesterday, and she looked a bit pensive, but didn't say anything else, thank goodness! She refuses to let me go bungee jumping though. *mumble mumble* )

There's also a Taieri Gorge Railway train ride we're hopping on to Dunedin, which you can check out here.
-- it's ranked right up there with a famous mountain railway in Colorado.

-- this is where the other LOTR tour is ( links available below in the Dec 3 entry )

Lake Taupo
-- breath-taking pictures right here!



Click on the various names to see pictures from the Net:

Other main attractions included in this tour -- which was customized by a NZ tour operator based on my to-see and to-do list -- are Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks , Milford Sound, Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, and the Mount Cook National Park.

Hope that didn't make you giddy! :D It's going to be busy, but I figured hey, we're already there, so let's just make full use of it and see as much as possible!

Additional activities outside the itinerary:

Meeting up with the NZ Clay Aiken fans in Christchurch and Wellington -- they're such lovely ladies, really, and will be picking us up from our hotels to bring us on a stroll through the two cities. I will be passing the Embassy Theatre, where the world premiere of The Return Of The King was held on December 1st. There's a giant dragon perched at the top of the cinema, which is quite a sight!

It's now 6:17am. Time couldn't possibly pass by any slower, aargh! :P

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

15 minutes till I knock off the afternoon shift. It's 11:45pm right now, and it's been a busy day. Can't wait to get home :)

Surfed the Net a bit once things finally quietened down. Here're some links you might want to check out, 'cos I'll be joining the Wellington Rover Rings Tours and visiting the LOTR movie sites, woohoo!

Wellington Rover Rings Tours website

Travel Guide to LOTR film locations

Ian Brodie's Guidebook to LOTR Locations

Brodie's book will be available in Singapore come early 2004, with updates on The Return Of The King. I'll try to grab a copy while I'm in NZ. :)

One more day to go before Friday hits!

And here's a gentle reminder on Clay's interview with the Perfect 10 radio DJ on Thursday. He sings Invisible a capella -- I heard a bit of it today, and all I can say it, don't miss it! :D

Click below to tune in via the Internet, and download the MP3 file once one of the other local fans gets it done.

Clay Interview With The Perfect 10 Thread

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Two more days to go then I'm outta here! :D
Sorry if I sound gleeful. I haven't been overseas since June 2001, and that was a very short 3-day trip to Bali. Feeling a little deprived.

Here's something I'd like to share with you all, especially fellow Clay fans in Singapore.

You can view it at the Clay Aiken Singapore forum at this link:

CAS Forum thread

Or if you prefer to read it here, the transcript of the message is included below:

This is an email from Diane Bubel, the co-founder of The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, and mother of Mike Bubel, the autistic boy mentored by Clay before the latter joined American Idol. She replied after I wrote to her recently, telling her about Clay's fanbase in Singapore, how much we support the BAF for their wonderful vision, and how Claymates here are doing their part to help individuals with special needs in the local context. I also thanked her for including our country on a list of BAF / Clay Aiken Able To Serve Awards being handed out internationally ( I mentioned this in a prior post on the blog, so scroll down to look for that ).

She has kindly agreed to have her message posted on the CAS website, so I thought I'd put it here as well. Thank you, Diane, for your generosity! :)

From Diane:

"Thank you for your kind email. I am very proud of TBAF website. It's amazing to me the number of fans, like yourself, that are willing to help. As you can tell by the pictures of Clay and my son Mike, Clay has been a great friend to Mike.

We found that Mike had autism shortly after his second birthday.
We, as a family, have tried to make life experiences available to Mike. He is a challenge and a joy all wrapped into one young man. Having individuals like
Clay walk into our life and accept and strive to help Mike with his challenges has been wonderful. We have been truly blessed.

Thanks to you and your group for your support to Clay Aiken. When he left to try out for American Idol, I don't think we ever imagined that he would touch people as he has. Clay is an amazing individual and I hope he has many years of success. I look forward to working with him and making a difference through this foundation that he has started."

More news on Clay:

Catch him on the Perfect 10 for a 10-minute interview segment with DJ Carrie Chong. It will be aired this Thursday at 3pm, 9pm and 2am.

I've already talked about the AI X'mas special on cable. But watch out for the Diane Sawyer interview with Clay ( this is really, really good, so don't miss it! ) which will be screened on Channel NewsAsia on Christmas Day at 7:30pm. There're also features on Josh Groban ( Dec 22 ) and John Mayer ( Dec 23 ). Good stuff. :)

Okay then, that's it for now. Resus is going nuts again.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

1 more hour to go before my night shift ends. Darn server broke down earlier, so I have to reproduce most of my post. :(

Anyway, it's been a pretty good call. No complaints. Plus, I'm counting down to my NZ trip, yay! :D

Here's a link to a post on Clay Aiken Singapore. It features bits from Simon Cowell's book on American Idol, with highlights on his thoughts regarding Clay. Despite his criticisms on the show, his comments here are absolutely glowing. :)

Clay Aiken Singapore Forum -- Thread on Simon's book

If you are asked to register in order to access the thread, just register lah. Real quick, and it's free! :P

And speaking of Clay, it's his 25th birthday today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CLAY! What a phenomenal year it's been, and millions of lives all over the world have been touched by this remarkable young man. He'll have something else to celebrate come December 20th -- his graduation from UNCC. Congratulations!

Check out new clips of him on 2 X'mas specials below:

AI X'mas Show and Nick @ Nite

I'm going to see if I can watch one of them after this. I keep hearing how wonderful they are, so make sure you take a look! :)

Here's a delayed review of 2 TV reality shows:

The Bachelor -- Singapore television screened the finale of the 3rd season on Thursday, where I got a big kick out of seeing Andrew Firestone pick Jen over Kirsten. I've never liked Kirsten, and neither did Andrew's brother, who took him aside and told him to think very carefully before proposing to her. She appeared to take it well -- saying sweetly, "I want you to be happy. That's what's important.", before turning nasty when riding off in the limo ("Just thinking of him proposing to Jen makes me sick / want to throw up.") My mom and I gasped when we saw this -- sacre bleu!!! Sure, we never rooted for her -- she just seemed so materialistic and fake, not to mention that mysterious "boyfriend" she left hanging back home -- but this really takes the cake. I couldn't be happier for Jen -- down-to-earth, kind, humble, sincere, good-tempered, homely. Andrew, you picked a winner! Word on the Internet states that they're still together, and may get married after a year's engagement. That puts the date tentatively at early 2004. Hope this relationship pulls through, especially after Alex and Aaron fizzled with their ladies.

Survivor:Pearl Islands -- As if one detestable character isn't enough, Jon has overtaken Burton in terms of the "ick" factor after asking his visiting best friend to pretend that Jon's grandmother died in order to help him gain sympathy votes from the other tribe members! I was shocked beyond belief, and of course, no-one knows this. However, Jon has gleefully ( albeit also stupidly ) proclaimed his strategy to the entire world by saying it himself while on camera. Man, I wanted to reach into the TV set and throttle this weasel. This tactic is way below the belt. He should've been kicked off a long time ago. How he managed to come this far is really beyond me.
This week, Tijuana was voted out. But next week, watch as hot potato Sandra does what I was hoping she would -- egging the other females on to kick the guys out. Yes! These 2 fellows don't deserve to win! If it were Rupert, I'd want him to be in the final two for sure, but NOT, DEFINITELY NOT Burton or Jon.

And before I go off, let's talk about Michael Jackson :)

The mugshot in yesterday's paper said it all. Jackson has aged tremendously, looking haggard and sad, with a deer-in-the-headlights expression, as if asking, "Why is this happening to me?", or "Why are you doing this to me?" (take your pick). I can't possibly say if he's innocent or not, but I can just as easily imagine why he'd molest a boy, or believe that he's totally incapable of such an act. He's just too difficult to understand, behaving so erratically that no-one can be sure anymore. But I'd like to think that he isn't guilty. The prosecutor in charge of this case sounds like he's got some personal vendetta against Jackson, which always gets my hackles up ( just watch me during episodes of "The Practice" and you'll know what I'm talking about :D ). With his fortune dwindling and poor sales of his latest CD, he may very well end up penniless and destitute in his old age. I only hope his two children won't become media freak shows as a result of all this.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

My day off! :D

Spent the morning mopping the house -- boy am I getting old and weak :P -- then gonna pick out the clothes I need to bring to NZ later tonight. It's raining, and I got my order of the Internet edition of Josh Groban's Closer in the mail today, less than a week after the distributor emailed to say it was shipped *scratches head, but doesn't mind :)*

This edition isn't available in Singapore, or in any stores for that matter. It isn't called the "Internet edition" for nothing, but it's worth every cent! Boasting 4 additional tracks and an accompanying 30-minute DVD on the making of Closer, it's an absolute treasure.

The tracks include:

Mi Morena -- Latin-infused, haunting, beautifully sung by Josh. "Come like a ghost / I'll watch you dance alone / Mi morena / You're the light within my soul"

She's Out Of My Life -- Originally done by Michael Jackson, it has always been one of my favourite MJ songs ( I also love "Ben" and "I Will Be There" ). This is given the macho treatment, 'cos Josh has such a deep, rich voice. Orchestral backup adds to the wonderful effect.

You're The Only Place -- Snippets of this can be heard on the JG concert DVD released earlier this year. Not one of the CD's stronger pieces, but I love the lyrics. "I've seen perfection in a rainbow in the sky / I've seen a child make the coldest grown man cry / But loving you I thought was greater than them all" Gorgeous :)

My December -- The highlight of the album, surely! This is a cover of a very quiet but lovely song from Linkin Park. Kinda like Guns 'N Roses' very acoustic "Patience". Here, the piece hits epic proportions with a FULL ORCHESTRA, and soaring vocals from Josh. Wow...

And now, on to ClayNews :P

He's featured in the December issue of Lime magazine. Great interview, and I love this quote right at the end:

"To me, the measure of a man is about being a role model, setting a good example and not compromising myself. And that's what I want to be."

My mom just adores this guy. :D

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

*waves to all the readers -- thanks for posting your comments! :)*

Wednesday morning shift in resus.

What was supposed to be a quiet day ( based on previous experience anyhow ) has turned out to be action-packed. The cases came in a constant stream starting from 8am on the dot, and hasn't let up till now ( almost 4pm ). We've had about 3 collapse cases so far. One of them was a 24-year-old Indian male with a gunshot wound to the head. Investigators are trying to confirm whether it was self-inflicted, but from the looks of it, it probably was. He was already pretty bad when the paramedics brought him in, and prognosis is grave, so he was eventually extubated and sent to the general ward after a neurosurgical consult. I didn't speak to his parents myself, but I'm sure they're devastated. His mother's a nurse in our hospital, and told one of our ER sisters that her son had an argument with his girlfriend prior to the incident. Seems the young lady wanted to break up with him. Sigh.

The other collapse case was handled by myself and one of the ER consultants. A 57-year-old Chinese man lost consciousness after choking on a fishball, and the Heimlich manoeuvre failed to expel it. He flatlined soon after, and when I stuck the laryngoscope down his throat to intubate him, the culprit fishball was sitting there like a giant ping pong ball, entirely intact. We fished it out ( sorry, pun not intended ) and intubated him, jabbing in Atropine and Adrenaline in liberal doses. He was down for almost an hour, but miraculously ( and I really mean that ) managed to regain a pulse and a pretty reasonable blood pressure post-resuscitation. He's probably sustained extensive brain damage from the prolonged period of hypoxia, but in most collapse cases, the patient's family just needs time to deal with everything that's happening, so even though this man most likely will NOT make it in the end, at least his wife and children have the chance to say goodbye and grieve. I absolutely hate breaking bad news to relatives. It's distressing to them, and makes me feel awful. Some relatives have turned violent before as well, which then necessitates reinforcements from our hospital security guards, perhaps even the ER's in-house police post. Very unpleasant.

A young Indonesian female was just wheeled in after stabbing herself in the abdomen with a pen-knife. Blood pressure's low, and the surgical team is coming down to see her. I've got 10 minutes left before I call it a day. Getting a little tired, to be honest!

Okay, I don't think I have that much time to go on and on like I always do :P so before I sign off, Clay Aiken fans listen up! The Singapore premiere of the music video for Invisible takes place tonight at about 10:55pm, just after "Charmed". I've got my VCR ready. :D

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Survivor: Pearl Islands Debacle

I can't believe it! Rupert was voted out!!! How could this happen?!?!
Okay, I'm officially disgusted with Burton. How he turned traitor, and formed an alliance with, major yuck, Jon the slimy, smirky, lazy, scrawny, nasty, foul-mouthed bum.

Yes, it's just a TV show, but I like Rupert. He's always been a gracious player, winning on his own merits ( strength, speed, smarts ) rather than double- or triple-crossing people. Sure, Rob Cesternino from Survivor: Amazon did the betrayal routine like a pro many times over, but Rob was essentially manipulating gently ( those who fell for his tricks weren't the brightest -- admit it! ) while Burton is being a flat-out ingrate. His "friendship" with Jon serves only to ensure that, once they're the final two, he will win by a landslide, 'cos the jury hates Jon a lot more than they do Burton. With Rupert out, there aren't any strong contenders left -- the other 5 are all gals, aaargh! So Burton might win every single reward and immune challenge from now on, then choose Jon the weasle to join him in the final two. NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Sigh. Poor Rupert. He looked absolutely defeated. It never pays to be nice in this game.

Church service was really enjoyable today. Yeah, I've never mentioned church specifically on my blog before, but we had the semi-retired Bishop Revd. John Tan visiting because of confirmation, so he gave the sermon as well. And what a terrific sermon it was! He discussed a chapter from Romans, and used a few interesting examples to illustrate his points.

He had us laughing till our sides hurt with the following: (let me try to reproduce it as closely as possible)

"I know we have doctors here in the congregation, so you'll probably agree with what I say about how corpses behave after death.

Did you know that the nails and hair continue to grow even when the person is already dead? So if you don't cremate quickly... ( laughter from the audience )

Some corpses quiver! You can imagine what this is like at night! Economic downturn or no economic downturn, you will never find me working as a mortician. ( loud guffaws throughout the church )

Others have muscle contractions strong enough to catapult them off the table! ( audible gasps heard -- :P ) If this were to happen with me sitting beside the corpse, you'll end up with two dead bodies instead of one."

He really is an excellent speaker. I served as the confirmation service pianist today, so it was an honour to play for him. :)

Sunday afternoon has been quiet so far. *touches wood frantically just in case* Where are all the NS boys? They're usually swarming our ER by now, but maybe they'll show up later. Anyway, our department has an ongoing active discussion on the different tactics employed by national servicemen in their ongoing quest to get medical leave. I've had fellows come to me claiming that they have to come to the A&E because they have no camp MOs, or that they're not allowed to see the polyclinic or GP, blah blah blah. Being an ignorant Singaporean female with no close male relatives to educate me on the finer points of army medical cover, I've been duped many times, darn it! But let me tell you I've been taught well these past few days, so NO MORE MCs UNLESS CLEARLY NEEDED. We've got quite a lot of soft, girl MOs in this batch, so the early lesson is extremely useful. In particular:

1) Every single NSF in Singapore has an assigned army medical centre, with, yes, an SAF MO. No crap about "not having an MO at my particular post"!?

2) All NSFs are allowed to see the polyclinics and GPs. First-line is the camp MO, but after office hours, the polyclinics and some private clinics stay open, so NO EXCUSES. Some guys try to tell you their superior at the army TOLD them to come to the A&E. NONSENSE. ( sorry about all the capital letters -- I'm FED UP, can you tell? ;) )

3) Of course, as doctors, we're committed to our most important task -- do no harm. If the NS boy's condition warrants an MC, sure, we'll issue one (I've already given 2 today, despite my new stringent criteria ). But if the guy clearly doesn't require medical leave, and tries to korek some ( usually with a poor-thing-stray/starving-animal look, and the "Errr, can I have one day's MC please?" request ), just give him light duty and refer him back to the camp MO.

I have nothing against NS guys in general, but seeing the bulk of the black sheep in the ER wears you down, especially when the real emergencies are stacked on top of, say, 5 army boys with an assortment of problems such as backache for 2 months, a mild runny nose, or a sprained finger ( *&#%$@! ).

Anyway, I shall end with some Clay Aiken news :)

Airplay Central

Go to the link to get WRAL's video of the Raleigh X'mas Parade. I don't have the opportunity to check it out right now, so have fun. :D

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Adding something before I call it a day -- getting a headache into the 8th hour of my shift, ugh.

Here's something I stumbled upon, and it's perked me up lots. Absolutely hilarious Clay thread, with some priceless doctored photos. Get a load of "Fireman Clay" that isn't really Clay, but nevertheless gorgeous. :D

Yada Thread

Hats off to the ladies who run this wonderful discussion!
Ok then, time to go home. Have a good weekend!

Starting off a morning shift after getting home at close to midnight yesterday -- no, not because I was partying ( getting too old and tired for that :P ), but because I had a 3-11pm shift. It was a pretty quiet one, but I got called away at about 9-ish to help escort a 9-year-old with bad asthma to the KK Children's A&E Dept. He was breathing at a rate of, oh, what looked like 80 breaths per minute. Pretty worrying, but we made it, whew! :)

After that, the ambulance detoured to SGH's Blood Bank to collect some packed cells for a patient here. The trip took about 45 minutes in total, and since I drive myself around almost all of the time, by the end of the journey, I was suffering from a severe case of motion sickness. Thank goodness one of the MOs on night shift took pity on me and saw a few cases on my behalf, so I basically rested till 11pm when I was cleared to go home. Thanks, Wai Yip! :D

I'm a little concerned that I'll puke during the 10-hour flight to NZ next month. I've always been a poor traveller by sea and by air. Trains, coaches and cars are okay, but now even an ambulance gives me major problems, so I have to get some meds / herbal remedies on a standby basis. Preserved ginger is popular, as is Stemetil / Sturgeron / Dramamine. I'll try a couple of these and report back after my vacation. :P

Just heard that one of our regular ER MOs is nursing a fracture and might be on MC for a week. There was apparently a last-minute scramble during Thursday's night shift as this same MO was supposed to be on but couldn't make it because of his injury. Here's wishing him a speedy recovery -- spare a thought for your fellow colleagues who are suffering without you! :P

It's been quite a change these past couple of days, after I finally took Clay's Measure Of A Man out of my car stereo after more than a month of non-stop playing that's made me lose touch completely with the outside world :D I'm blasting Josh Groban's Closer now, which is equally enjoyable. This album is really growing on me, so I hope Josh will stage a concert in Singapore really soon. Michael Buble showed up for a local show just 4 months after his CD was released after all!

Speaking of Clay, I hope he's back home with his family and friends by now. He will be the Grand Marshal at the Raleigh X'mas Parade on Nov 22, and this will be broadcast over the Internet at 10-11pm either today or tomorrow Singapore time at the link below:


Another piece of good news is that Clay will graduate from the University of North Carolina ( Charlotte ) on December 20th! He's reportedly studying hard despite his hectic schedule, and all his fans are so proud that he's getting his degree. Congratulations on your momentous achievement, Clay :)

The above piece of info is also reported on the newly launched Bubel/Aiken Foundation website.
Go to the "Home" section to read more, then scroll down to the bottom, where they talk about the Able To Serve Awards being handed out in the US, as well as internationally. New Zealand, England, Ireland, and yes, Singapore, are listed for the latter category! Those eligible have to be between 5-22 years of age, with some intellectual disability, who contributes greatly to his/her community in some way. There's a 65-page PDF file that you have to look through, but some of us at Clay Aiken Singapore will condense the important bits and post them on the website ASAP.

Our thanks to the BAF for including Singapore in this wonderful campaign!

Okay then, back to work :D

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Is it Thursday already? Wow, seems the past few days have been really busy ones. Yesterday's 4-12 shift was pretty good 'cos I was in resus, but consult got a little out of hand -- don't ask me why people suddenly showed up at the ER on a Thursday evening of all things -- so I was deployed outside to help clear the crowd before the night shift turned up and suffered the rest of the call. Thank goodness it became pretty manageable at around 11pm. But it was still busy for the ward docs, 'cos I think I admitted almost all the patients I saw in resus -- some were really sick, some just wanted to be admitted for social reasons or general anxiety about their health. Sigh. I'm just glad I'm not on the receiving end anymore. :) *pat on the back for those upstairs who kena these funny admissions last night*

Anyway, I think all the late working hours are taking their toll on me. I've now got 3 -- THREE! -- mouth ulcers to contend with. No joke when you have to talk non-stop for 8 hours straight, and have little opportunity to drink water to soothe the dryness and pain. Dosing myself with everything from sugar-cane juice, to water chestnuts and barley. Hope my agony will end by tomorrow. Ouch.

Recommendations for some leisurely activities:

Yummy food -- Borders Bistro . Located next to the Borders bookstore in Orchard Road, it boasts a menu that greatly underplays the actual dish. I tried the salmon pasta, while my mom took the turkey, and our friend ordered the seafood linguini. Absolute heaven -- and I am NOT kidding here! The service is excellent, the prices quite reasonable (healthcare workers get a whopping 25% discount, so make sure you bring your employee card along), and the ambience enjoyable, whether in the restaurant itself or dining al fresco. I'm just waiting for another opportunity to return. :)

Great music -- Mezzanine at the Meritus Mandarin Hotel. I literally stumbled across this lovely little lounge / bar one evening after attending a church celebration dinner. A trio of Filipinos takes the helm, strumming guitars and plucking a cello as they do swoon-worthy renditions of well-loved oldies and loads of requests from the audience. I asked for "Bridge Over Troubled Water" while I was there ( you know, 'cos Clay sang it, haha! ), and was impressed with their gentle yet inspiring version. Later, they sang "Spanish Harlem", some pieces from The Everly Brothers, and even "Bengawan Solo" and a couple of Chinese songs! They're extremely friendly, and go around chatting with everyone. If you plan on dining at the hotel's up-scale restaurant, these guys play there daily from 7-11pm.
After 11, a separate group takes over. Comprising 2 men and 2 women, they favour uptempo songs ranging from pop to jazz. The ladies do a mean dance routine, their manes of big hair and hot pants a big draw for male guests, I'm sure!

Okay, before I go, two more things to report:

Clay is featured in People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue for 2003.
Noooo, he isn't the sexiest man alive, but he's part of their lineup of "pretty hot" fellows, which includes Sanjay Gupta, the medical correspondent for Time magazine and CNN ( I just love his columns in Time, and saw his picture when the mag covered a trip he made to Iraq recently ).

Here's the link to the report:

Clay in People Magazine

I'm glad Johnny Depp's top on the list. No argument with that decision! :D

Second, I finally got my copy of Josh Groban's latest offering, titled Closer. Although it was released more than a week ago, I didn't buy it immediately, 'cos I'd already ordered a special Internet edition from a company in the US. But that's going to take 3 weeks to get here, and another Clay fan -- who's also a JG fan -- shared Josh's music with me this morning when I visited her at home, and I couldn't stand it any longer and had to get it ASAP! Don't worry, I'm first and foremost loyal to Clay. But Josh does have a beautiful voice, and the songs on Closer are so gorgeous they suit him to a T. Here's a track-by-track review:

Oceano -- A lovely, poignant start to the CD that will definitely hook anyone who's hearing Josh's vocals for the very first time. He has a tendency for singing in foreign languages, which is perfectly fine with me. :)

My Confession -- This is among a few pieces featured in Closer that can be either love ballads or religious songs. My Confession has lyrics that go "I have been blind / Unwilling / To see the true love / You're giving / I have ignored every blessing / I'm on my knees / Confessing". This is one of my favourites on the album -- uplifting melody, full orchestral arrangement, powerful words. I'll have this on a continuous loop pretty soon. :P

Mi Mancherai ( Il Postino ) -- I fell in love with this piece when I heard Itzhak Perlman play it on the "Cinema Classics" CD, and it gets a new lease of life in the vocal version here. With Joshua Bell doing a terrific job on the violin, Josh brings soulful emotion to this theme from the touching Italian film.

Si Volveieras A Mi -- Very haunting, with what I detect to be a little Spanish flavour. Turn the volume up and it sounds ten times better!

When You Say You Love Me -- Although it bears the same title as a song from Clay's CD ( what a coincidence! ), the two couldn't be more different in style and message. This is by far my favourite song on Closer. Josh hits the high notes and infuses the lyrics with so much feeling you'd have to be made of stone in order to not be moved. "When you say you love me / The world goes still so still inside and / When you say you love me / For a moment, there's no one else alive" Sigh. :)

Per Te; All'improvviso Amore -- I've put these two together because they run consecutively on the track list, are both in a foreign language, yet differ greatly in mood and tempo. The former is slow and a little operatic, the latter fast with a pumping beat during the chorus. A very nice mix.

Broken Vow -- This is featured in Josh's concert DVD and bonus CD set. It is one of the best love songs I've ever heard, period. Absolutely heartbreaking and sung gorgeously by Josh. "I close my eyes / I'd give away my soul / To hold you once again / And never let this promise end". Wow... :)

Caruso -- I know this tune from somewhere, but can't recall exactly, darn. :P I love drama, and this piece certainly provides tonnes of it.

Remember When It Rained -- From the beautiful intro to the opening verse, this remains the most introspective song of the album. Again easily interchangeable between the romance and religious genres, the lyrics go "Wash away the thoughts inside / That keep my mind away from you" and "Remember when it rained / I felt the ground and looked up high and called your name". The orchestral backing adds an epic effect, then a piano solo cuts in during the bridge. Oh man, I can't begin to describe how much I adore this song! :)

Hymne A L'amour -- Another melody I know from the past ( a movie? a famous classical composition? aaargh! :P ). Lovely, as always.

You Raise Me Up -- Someone from my church might play this on the PA system so we can sing this during service, and for good reason too. This is one of those pieces that touches the very depths of your soul, despite a simple melody and only 2 verses of words. "When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary / When troubles come and my heart burdened be / Then, I am still and wait here in the silence / Until you come and sit a while with me" probably sums up a lot of what devout Christians feel in times of sorrow and despair. Very uplifting.

Never Let Go -- This starts out in what I can only describe as an "interesting" manner, but what do you expect from a collaboration with Deep Forest? :) You need to listen to this a few times in order to let it grow on you. I like the chorus a lot, and it's a nice showcase for Josh to do some new-agey stuff.

Kudos to David Foster for yet another excellent production. Josh has a voice, but you need the right songs and the right musical arrangement in order to come out sounding good. With Closer, Foster succeeds in helping Josh mature. It's sometimes hard to imagine that we're listening to a 22-year-old!

I got my copy from Carrefour, where it costs only $17.50 ( compared to $20 or more at most CD stores ). What the heck are you waiting for?! :D

Monday, November 17, 2003

Braiken News :)

Clay won the Fan's Choice award at the recently concluded 31st American Music Awards which was telecast this morning Singapore time over cable TV. I happened to be at home -- I'm on night shift later -- but shared the good news with fellow fans via phone and SMS. There was a small gathering at one of the ladies' homes, which I was too tired to drive to ( sorry :)), but it was great screaming with them when they called just after Clay walked off the stage with the prize. Woohoo! :D

Here're pictures from the show:

AMA Photos

And Clay's mom, Faye, in a TV interview after his win, said she's really happy, that she and his grandma cried when he won, and Clay himself said he'd like to move back to Raleigh once the time is right and he's no longer needed so much in LA. Good for you, Clay. :)

Clay's date is a young lady named Amber, whom Faye says is one of his friends from college. :)

Okay, time to take a nap. Had very little sleep last night! :P
Congratulations to Clay from the Singapore camp!

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Good Saturday morning :)

It was a great start to the day, thanks to a terrific article in the Life! section of The Straits Times today. Thank goodness the title "Mama's Boy" is only a red herring. Jill Alphonso got all her facts straight, put in the important info regarding his album's success as well as his charity work, and even poked around for his opinions on Singapore.

E.g. When told about his huge fan base here, Clay isn't surprised because he's already heard about it. He remembers Fynn, the risk analyst who flew to New York to see him in the American Idol concert ( "Didn't I take a picture with her?" ), and although there aren't any concrete plans for a concert here as yet, Clay says he would like to visit our shores. Woohoo! :D

Here's the link to the full online version.

Feat Of Clay ( Straits Times November 15 2003 )

I've already emailed to pay them my compliments ( it's been a while :)).

And here's the link on, where there're comments from fans in NZ and the US.

The Clayboard

Friday, November 14, 2003

For the first time this month, the night shift was terrific! :D It was a mixture of good karma, fast MOs, a relatively quiet weekday night, and some praying thrown in for good measure. In any case, I'm relieved, and hope I'll be on call with the same MOs again in the future. :P

Another piece of good news -- my annual leave in December has been approved!!! After some major wrangling for cover, an old friend from med school became my lifeline by agreeing ( without any hesitation ) to locum on the weekend just before my return home. Full steam ahead for the NZ tour! LOTR, here I come! :)

Clay Aiken Updates

(1) He will be in yet another Straits Times feature tomorrow, and you can see the ad here. I hope it'll be objective and flattering.

(2) Measure Of A Man has pushed 10,000 copies to date, and needs another 5,000 to make platinum in Singapore. If you haven't gotten your copy yet, what the heck are you waiting for? ;)

(3) Streats had a picture of an HMV ad, captioned "Essential Buys For X'mas". MOAM is among the 5 CDs listed, woohoo!

(4) The 2003 American Music Awards will be shown live on Singapore cable television this coming Monday, starting from 8am local time. I'll be tuning in for sure. :)

And speaking of the AMAs, below is a link to Clay's latest US TV appearance, this time on Jimmy Kimmel's talk show. ( Kimmel will be hosting the AMAs come Monday. )

It's a really funny interview, with lots of witty banter, and Clay holds up fabulously -- as always. :) I love the skit he did with Kimmel's girlfriend too -- what a hoot! :D
And what's more, he's sitting right next to Britney Spears!
Don't miss this!

Clay on Jimmy Kimmel

Time to vegetate in front of the TV. Right after I give my cat a big hug. :D

Monday, November 10, 2003

I just spotted this on one of the Clayboards, and wanted to post the transcript. It's a great article about Clay back in his high school / college days. I've bolded the really good parts. :)

By Alisha Puckett The Herald
(Published May 20‚ 2003)

My seventh-grade year, his eighth-grade year. Fall 1992.
The room was silent, and no one was working harder than Clayton Grissom. While the class was diligently working on yearbook layouts and figuring out how to photograph the winter dance, Clayton's mind was elsewhere.

It always was.

Clayton was busy masterminding jokes and witty remarks, which he conjured up with great ease. He was one of Leesville Middle School's class clowns. Often sarcastic, often theatrical, borderline annoying.

But the witty, funny boy that I shared my middle school, high school and college days with is all grown up; now, he practices his talents of a different kind -- singing in front of millions on national television every week.

Clayton Grissom is Clay Aiken, one of two finalists vying for a recording contract and pop stardom on Fox TV's hugely popular show, "American Idol 2."

Clay changed his last name after high school and shortened his first name at the suggestion of friends and "Idol" producers. It's weird to hear people call him Clay, because I think, "Don't they mean Clayton Grissom?"

Of course, it's weird to know a kid I grew up with in Raleigh, N.C., is rubbing elbows with celebs like Paula Abdul, living it up in the Hollywood hills and making girls everywhere drool at the sight of his green eyes and wild hair.

Of course, his hair wasn't like that when I knew him, and his eyes weren't as easy to see under his inch-thick eyeglasses, rimmed with bright gold.

His face bore tons of freckles and some zits, too, until "American Idol" artists got ahold of him. It's amazing what makeup and some mousse can do.

And he's always had the lanky, beanpole look to him. Clay's reddish-brown hair used to be neatly trimmed and styled, never out of place.

His clothes were never trendy. He loved to wear jackets -- it didn't matter if it was raining or cold.

To top things off, Clay wasn't a "ladies man," and he didn't have many girlfriends. The Web sites and message boards filled with women clamoring to get his autograph or gossiping about his relationship status would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. He remained low on girls' radar screens until college, when I last saw a few ladies swooning over him at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2002. I'm still convinced it was his sweet voice that won them over.

Clay's appearance and image have undergone an extreme makeover, but his genuine convictions to music, his faith and to helping children haven't changed since I met him in 1992.

In yearbook class, in the middle of conversations, in the middle of lunch and even in the middle of lecture, Clay would break out into song. He had a voice, as we all know, and he loved to practice for anyone who would listen.

My classmates and I would go to choral concerts, and Clay was the easiest to spot and had the most recognizable voice. He was front row and center, the only boy among 40 girls, yet he looked like he was having fun on stage.

Growing up, Clay would tell me stories of his auditions at the Raleigh Little Theatre or his travels with Leesville High School's top choral group.

He starred in a few musicals and loathed the hard work, but he basked in the delight of singing to an audience who clapped just for him. He would tell me his singing might not take him anywhere in life, but he still enjoyed doing it for children at hospitals and for the elderly at Christmas. And that was why God had blessed him with such an awesome talent -- not to make six figures and live in a recording studio, but to tickle the ears of people who needed to hear his music.

It's funny to recall the conversations we had about his singing. All of the obstacles he would have to go through and the competition he would face seemed daunting, but he was determined to keep up his passion.

The last time I talked with Clay was a couple of months before he auditioned for his big break on "American Idol 2" in Atlanta. I was the editor-in-chief of UNCC's campus newspaper, and Clay called me, begging to have a reporter cover a charity dance he was organizing; it would benefit disabled senior citizens.

After he informed me of his plans, he chided, "Don't you think college kids would rather read about a bunch of old geezers on the front page of the newspaper instead of mundane academic topics?"

I was stunned at his putdown of the people he was trying so hard to help.

He chuckled, and I imagined a wicked smile coming across his face. What a jokester.

Clay said he was kidding, his program was more than worthy of coverage and I'd be a fool not to offer publicity of such a worthwhile cause.

Some things never change.

Clay may be the next Justin Timberlake or, heck, maybe even the next Elvis.

But to me, he will always be Raleigh's Clayton Grissom, and the class clown who was the only boy in concert choir and whose hair was never out of place.

Alisha Puckett is a copy editor in The Herald's sports department.
Mark: Yes, I'm still alive, but barely. :) The shifts are taking a toll on me. Not that I don't like what I do -- it's just making me so very exhausted, such that I can't do anything besides slouch in the armchair and stare blankly at the TV, or zonk out for hours on my comfy bed. My emergency medicine texts are collecting dust. :)

Here's a link to the Clay Aiken Singapore Forum, which was just launched a couple of days ago. I haven't started posting yet 'cos I'm waiting for my account to be activated. ( I think I have some sort of "moderator" status, hmmm. :))

Anyhow, the new MOs are still in the early stages of coping. Waiting times aren't terrible, but definitely longer than before. Tempers, on the other hand, are short. I have a pretty high threshold for losing my cool -- I fume silently, but don't usually lash out -- but the nurses and health attendants tell me other junior docs in the ER haven't been very nice to them during busy shifts. Long faces, sarcastic remarks, with one even asking that her queue be stopped ( why? because she had too many patients waiting! ). Interesting concept, but sadly, not feasible. :/

Speaking as an emergency medicine trainee, I guess my tolerance for heavy workloads, a fast pace and daily stress should be high. Still, the last batch of MOs seemed to adapt really well under similar conditions, especially on crazy Monday and Saturday mornings, and some legendary night shifts. Most of them were older, with more work experience, and many were married. Do those factors play a part? Am beginning to miss the "good ol' days". :D

Am in the process of watching the HBO Special "Hitler: The Rise Of Evil".
I've always been fascinated with Hitler's legacy in World War II, and this 2-parter is very compelling. A riveting performance from Robert Carlyle ( the lead actor in "The Full Monty" ) lifts this above the usual dull documentary film format, and the supporting cast ( Matthew Modine -- whom I had a big crush on when I was younger :P -- Liev Schreiber, Julianna Margulies, Peter O'Toole ) add polish.

A bit from Part 1 made me sit up. In it, Modine, playing a journalist who opposes Hitler's anti-Semite ramblings, speaks to a roomful of colleagues, as he states his case for stopping the presses and changing the headlines to one that takes a firm stand against the latter's campaign to expunge Jews from Germany and the world at large.
In this poignant scene, Modine says:
"The worst thing we can do... is nothing."
Eight simple words filled with so much meaning. Something to think about in everything any of us does in life.

Time to sleep some more. ;)
Don't forget to vote for Clay in the AMAs! ( link provided below ) Many thanks!
Ahhh, my 3rd night shift in a week. Deja vu. :)

It's rough! 4am, and I haven't slept a wink. Seen more than 30 patients already, and am now in resus after tending to a collapsed case. Very, very tired.

However, I'm optimistic about the locum situation. Getting a good response from the MOs who just went through here -- they've gladly agreed to return to help cover weekends and evenings. Am also recruiting my other friends to come down. The money's really good, so hopefully we'll have a big pool of locums to call upon.

My NZ trip will most likely follow through, thanks to a very understanding ER chief and lady consultant who handles MO leave requests. Due to the manpower shortage, I had to wrangle some swapping of duties / off days, then paying back, etc. Complicated, but necessary. Anything for a much needed vacation. ;)

Anyway, more updates on Clay Aiken ( couldn't resist :D ):

He is nominated for the upcoming American Music Awards, which will be beamed live to Singapore cable TV on November 17th local time on StarWorld Channel 18, starting from 8am ( red carpet special, then the ceremony proper ).
Clay is in the running for Male Pop Artiste and Fans' Choice Awards. The latter is voted on by the fans, and rest assured we've been doing so everyday! If you'd like to help us out, though, the link is available below. We've got a week left to ensure Clay wins this, so thanks in advance for any assistance. :)

AMA Fans' Choice Award ( there's no limit, so vote often! )

Here's an eyebrow-raising article about Clay's song-writing ability and his connection to a piece made famous by Josh Groban ( one of David Forster's prodigies ). You absolutely must read this.

Foxes On Idol Article

Fellow Clay fans tell me he was back home in Raleigh very recently, and attended a hockey game there about a day ago. Hopefully, he's getting some rest and catching up with loved ones, before hitting the road yet again. He'll be in Raleigh again next on November 22nd, as the host of his hometown's Christmas parade. His birthday is November 30th, so it's great he'll be seeing his family again during that period. :)

Anyway, a few of us were reminded of our package, which is now sitting in Clay's Raleigh home. Hope you open it before you head back to LA! :D

Last but not least, check out the newly vamped up Clay Aiken Singapore website. I haven't seen it myself, 'cos it was launched just a few hours ago, and the ER computer isn't compatible with the software. A forum and other nifty functions have been added on, so please drop by. :)

Okay, gonna get something to eat. Can forget about sleeping, I think.

Friday, November 07, 2003

And the madness begins. :)

Hey Mark, hope you don't mind my replying to your comments in this entry. I'm so tired right now I just want to get all my thoughts down in one sitting.

My first night shift since the new batch of MOs arrived, and as expected, it's been rough. No sleep at all, a persistent queue that can't be cleared -- it's 6 am, and there're still cases waiting -- and my efforts to help the newbies out were sabotaged by some complicated cases on my end. Had a cream puff for supper, some water to wash it down, and only the Internet -- with my Yahoo mail, my blog, and the Clay Aiken site :P -- are keeping me sane. 8am can't get here soon enough.

So Mark, did you see Matrix Revolutions? My guess is yes. Do tell. :)

Am a bit worried about my leave situation. My NZ trip is already confirmed, but I've been asked -- gently, of course :) -- to start a night shift on Dec 22. Considering the fact that I'll be leaving NZ on the afternoon of Dec 22, thus arriving in Singapore only around 11pm that same night ( time difference taken into account ), and since I'll need a day to recuperate, unpack, and fetch my poor, lonely cat from Pets Station, I can't officially return to work till X'mas Eve. It's a terrible dilemma, but after wracking my brain ( while seeing an endless stream of patients -- no fun, I assure you ), I've come up with a tentative alternative solution, which I hope my chief will consider and agree to. Please, please, please....... Will update as soon as I know. ( if you're interested in my ramblings :D)

Okay, time to shift the focus off my egoistic self, and recommend a blog that apparently links to mine. Here it is:

Ron Silliman's Blog

From what I could gather from my short stop there ( before a guy with intractable seizures interrupted me ), it's a very philosophical site, very literary, very intriguing. Will try to read more when I have some time. Thanks for the link, by the way. :)

And looks like I can't leave Clay out of my post after all. :P

He was just on The Ellen Degeneres Show, and you can see the video at this link:

Airplay Central

Taking a while to download. If I have the chance, I'll write about it later. If not, just watch it for yourself -- ah, the grumpiness sets in again. :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

It's Wednesday morning/early afternoon, and none of us can quite believe how many ambulance cases have passed through so far. It's been a non-stop stream of patients, with every single one of them warranted ( very uncommon ). But it's been pretty exciting, with a variety of cases like severe asthma, accelerated angina, status epilepticus, fractures, sepsis and so on. I'm in resus with my department chief, which helped clear the area fairly quickly, 'cos we're both quite fast.

A prisoner just came in for complaints of chest pain. But this is no ordinary prisoner. He's got 4 or 5 escorts, dressed like CISCO guards, with a couple of guys in plain clothes. I don't think I can be specific, but here's a clue: radical religious sect. Pretty scary-looking fellow.

Only 1.5 hours to go before I can call it a day. And since it's suddenly gone quiet here in resus ( touching wood as I type this ), I'd like to do some movie reviews. :D

But before I proceed further, in case you're wondering about Matrix Revolutions, I've decided NOT to see it in the cinema. Yes, even I'm shocked! :) But after reading Ong Sor Fern's opinions in Life! today, I'm not going to spend that kind of money to get disappointed. I didn't like Matrix Reloaded, and seriously doubt the final installment will fare any better. Would much rather save the cash for Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, or Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban. Maybe those of you who do see Matrix Part III can post your comments here. :)

Okay, I rented a whole bunch of VCDs last week, and loved every single one of them. Here's a rundown:

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle -- Granted, this is a moronic show, but everyone looks fabulous, no-one makes any pretensions that this is nothing more than fluff ( unlike the Wachowski brothers with their philosophical mumbo-jumbo in Matrix II ), and director McG infuses the film with a giddy, gaudy style that elevates this sequel way above the original. The various set pieces -- from the convent, to a seedy bar in Mongolia, and a striptease joint -- give the gals ample opportunity to dazzle and have fun. And let's not forget Demi Moore, in a spectacular comeback sans chubbiness. Perfect for any occasion, and for both men and women. :)

Chicago -- The one thing going for this movie is Rob Marshall ( the director ). Without his expert leadership, this might have turned into a total disaster. It isn't an easy musical to adapt, with its dual storylines (one anchored in reality, the other literally a product of whimsical daydreaming ), attitude-laden characters and songs, and not exactly musically-inclined actors ( except maybe Zeta-Jones, who has performed on Broadway previously ). Renee Zellweger is the most pleasant surprise here, showing great skill in dancing, and boasting a strong voice. Richard Gere's nasal tenor vocals get a little jarring after a while, but he does a satisfactory job as a publicity-loving lawyer who could care less about his client's guilt or innocence. However, you can't possibly miss Zeta-Jones, with her piercing eyes, growly singing and amazing splits. This lady has certainly got talent written all over her.

X-Men 2 -- I missed this during its theatre run because I was just too tired to get out of the house ( I recall it being screened during the SARS outbreak ). Anyhow, the sequel has its pros and cons. Pros include a much more fleshed out plot, the addition of new and interesting characters, and a good twist in the story ( involving Magneto ). Cons? Well, it's rather long, and can get tedious if you're not in the mood for a talkie. Fortunately, I was wide awake, and riveted from beginning to end. Beats The Matrix anytime in terms of discussions on futuristic moral dilemmas. A must-see.

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days -- I'm a big fan of Matthew McConaughey. Something about those blonde curls, blue eyes, rascal-ly smile and easy swagger. :) He's been compared to Paul Newman, which I definitely support. Here, he stars with another good-looker, Kate Hudson, generating wonderful chemistry together and helping to make this film a lot more than it actually is. McConaughey has a knack for creating sparks with his leading ladies ( Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner, Jenna Elfman in EdTV, Sandra Bullock in A Time To Kill ), reminiscent of Michelle Pfeiffer's own agility with leading men ( my favs being Jeff Bridges in the saucy, classy The Fabulous Baker Boys, and George Clooney in One Fine Day ). Wish someone would put McConaughey and Pfeiffer in the same movie -- that'll floor me for sure! :D
Anyhow, after that little digression, HTLAGITD is enjoyable in a light-hearted way, with both protagonists holding up nicely. This is a character piece, so don't pay too much attention to the script ( which is apparently based on a book ). Good for dates, but also for relaxing at home after a long day.

The Emperor's Club -- My favourite of the lot, this one. Starring Kevin Kline as Mr. Hundert, a Roman history teacher, it traces the progress of one particular class at a prestigious boarding school, where he strives to mould young minds and, hopefully, the future of America as well. Things get complicated when he is confronted by Sedgewick Bell, the privileged but neglected 15-year-old son of a powerful Senator. What then transpires is a constant battle of wits between Hundert and Bell, culminating in a dramatic twist in the plot during the school's Julius Caesar competition. This is no straightforward film, and the story will carry forward 25 years later and teach you even more valuable lessons.
Quite similar to Dead Poets Society, but unable to surpass it in my book. :) Still, this is a gem of a movie, and one of the best lines from it is this:
"One's life is not measured by a single failure -- or a sole success." Highly recommended. :)

10 more minutes to go! Have seen quite a few other cases since I began this entry, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, woohoo! CSI:Miami is on tonight. :D More another day then.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Oops, looks like I've been neglecting my blog for a while. :P

Okay, I finally have a day off after a long stretch of work. Boy does it feel good! Like Clay said, after getting the Double Platinum Award and being asked what he wanted to do the following week: "Hopefully, take a nap!"
But I never sleep when I'm off. Time is too precious for that. I usually use it to catch up with reading, writing, some exercise, maybe meeting up with friends/family, watching TV or movies, surfing the Net... Should study a bit as well, but it's difficult when your brain isn't functioning optimally due to a sleep deficit. ( Excuses, excuses :))

Anyway, here're bits of a rebuttal from Raymond Goh, aka the assistant editor of 8 Days, a local entertainment magazine. This was his response to emails from Clay Aiken fans here, after his bad review of Measure Of A Man a couple of weeks ago.

"Yes, I gave Clay Aiken...a bad review. Some of the Clay fans out there, after reading the review, probably wanted to shout in my face, what the hell were you thinking?! Well, I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I gave Clay a bad review. Maybe -- just maybe -- I was thinking, it's a bad album!!

(The fans sent me) a fistful of emails to protest my lack of love for Clay. But to their credit, none of the emails were rude or belligerent. Some were, in fact, cleverly caustic and very, very lucid. But most importantly, none of the Claymates threatened me with bodily harm or Barry Manilow ballads. They all had a point to make and put it across very eloquently -- that they wanted to tear me down like a daffodil.

"How on earth does a music critic like Raymond Goh come to the conclusion that Measure of a Man is only worth 2.5 stars?" questioned one indignant Claymate. "Does he have any music sense at all?"

Look, lady ( let's call her 'lady'. 'cos using her real name, Charlene, would just be unethical ), I don't know how the rumour got started in the first place, but the myth that all music critics have "music sense"? Completely bogus. I mean, if we had any music sense at all, we wouldn't be music critics, we'd be Simon Cowell. And since none of us are Simon Cowell, the logical conclusion here would be that all music critics are really Paula Abdul.

Clay got 2.5 stars because I was torn between mildly liking his songs ( which would earn him 3 stars ) and mildly disliking them ( which would earn him 2 stars ). If Clay's album made me want to dance the funky chicken, then I would've given it 4 stars.

Another grouse with my review was that I called Clay a "marketer's problem". The email pointed out that he had sold 613,000 copies of the album in its first week of release ( and over 200,000 in the second week, meaning over one-third of them bought the album again ), and Billboard magazine called it "the best pop album of 2003".

So Claymates are of the view that these dazzling sales figures, further compounded by such unequivocal validation from the music industry's most illustrious trade rag, means that Measure was certainly not, as I had put it, "a marketer's problem". My response to that is -- I cannot hear you, I cannot hear you. "

The bits I omitted were left out because they didn't really make much sense to me ( e.g. his metaphors involving buttercups -- huh??? ). Anyhow, once again, a reporter ( sorry, can't bring myself to call him a journalist ) has disappointed me. I was privy to the second email that he mentioned -- I know this lady, and read her letter before she sent it to 8 Days -- and just want to say that it was heavily edited, so that its message was horribly truncated, and all the intelligent wit contained therein completely lost to the wind.

And as I told my fellow fans just a few moments ago -- "Charlene" is NOT the correct name, Mr. Rayson Goh -- the problem with a lot of reporters here is their inherent inability to accept opinions that differ from their own. I mean, if you're going to put yourself out there and get paid for it, you've got to develop some pretty thick skin. I myself write for the Singapore Medical Association newsletter, and run this blog -- doing both without any monetary compensation, mind you. I've had people tell me they don't agree with what I write on a few occasions. One blog reader was pretty nasty even, saying my "schoolgirlish gushing" over Clay was making him/her nauseous. My answer: if it makes you feel that bad, then don't read my blog, 'cos I'm certainly not going to stop supporting this talented guy because you're unhappy. Which planet are you from?

Of course, Raymond Goh can't tell readers to stop buying the magazine he writes for. So he has no choice but to make fun of them. Smart move. That's going to help sales.

But fret not. There're a few journalists out there who deserve our respect for staying open-minded and polite, even in the face of hate mail. My top picks are Helmi Yusof and Sumiko Tan from the Straits Times, both of whom have received heated correspondence from me on previous occasions, but who truly surprised me with their immense graciousness. The result? I read their columns regularly, and defend their writing when others pass critical comments.

It's part of human nature to get fed up when one's views are questioned. But what really matters is how you handle the situation. Lashing out and insisting you're right is the cowardly way. Searching for valid points in your opponent's arguments and making concessions where they're due will win you even the most stubborn detractor's admiration and respect. If only more journalists possessed this rare quality.

And for the record, even though Clay Aiken has been the victim of unduly harsh comments both on and off American Idol -- remember Simon Cowell? and Clive Davis / RCA giving him a hard time? -- he has always demonstrated amazing self-restraint, taking criticisms in his stride, but also accepting praise with humility and grace, and taking a stand only when the time was right.

Perhaps Raymond Goh can get past his dislike for Measure Of A Man, and take a good look at the man himself. Clay could teach him a thing or two.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Clay Aiken's Invisible video has premiered in the US, and you can view it at the address below. I'm still in the process of downloading, so comments will come later. Enjoy :)

Invisible Music Video

Okay! Time permits, so here're my thoughts on the vid. :D

I like it a lot! After first getting wind of the shoot a couple of weeks ago, I've been greatly anticipating the final product, and can tell you that it will definitely make everyone happy.

The premise, as you can see, is for Clay to set up stage along a busy street, start singing, then attract passers-by to stay and watch. Although, if you ask me, this sort of thing would hardly occur in real life -- he already gets mobbed when he's just driving around!

Anyway, back to the video. I like the mildly grainy quality with all the bright, almost glaring colours. Interesting wardrobe for Clay -- hooded sweatshirt worn over 2 other layers of clothes -- but he looks right at home in them, and is boyishly handsome. :)

Is the video ground-breaking in any way? Nah. But who cares really? ;) I've already viewed Clay's live performances of Invisible during the American Idol concert tour, then on a whole slew of TV shows from Jay Leno to Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer. This version is nothing new, but more importantly, introduces "the new Clay" to the MTV audience, that all-important group of consumers that can make his star rise even higher. The fact of the matter is, Clay is extremely talented, and appeals to a huge number of people. But he also needs to be marketable, which is where image comes in. After a major transformation from bespectacled geek to blonde heartthrob on American Idol, and further honing his on-stage persona during the AI tour, Clay is now officially solo, and can't rely on the other Idols to keep audiences preoccupied.

To our delight, of course, Clay has blossomed beautifully. :) He rarely danced during American Idol, but gradually got cheeky and more confident on-stage during the many AI concerts, where he sang Invisible alone. He's obviously getting a hang of things, with his own cute style in grooving to the music, even a new move -- the Jacket Flash ( the others being the Knee Bends, Shirt Tugs / Yanks ). In the video, he comes across as a full-fledged rock star, thanks to the many shots of adoring fans leaping up and down and clapping along with their idol. There are times when I just can't believe how different he is from the Clay we all saw in the early stages of AI, but I am NOT complaining! :D

I have no idea how long this video will be online for you to download, so I suggest you get it onto your hard disk ASAP!

Will MTV help Clay's career hit the stratosphere? My bet is yes. I certainly hope he will win fans in Asia -- Singapore seems to be the only Clay camp right now -- as well as in Europe. It's about time Clay was shared with the rest of the world. :)