Thursday, May 22, 2003

Nice collage of photos on the front page of The Straits Times yesterday, depicting a group of men who were caught spitting in public. Keeping in line with the “name and shame” tactic, this is probably the first time I’ve ever seen spitters identified in this manner.

My response: Good one! Spitting’s a disgusting habit that many Singaporeans treat too lightly. It’s about time we put a stop to it, especially in these SARS-troubled times.

But I do wonder how these people got caught in the first place. Inconsiderate citizens all over the country do this on a daily basis, and I’m witness to it. However, I never see policemen around when it happens, so these men either have the worst luck ever, or the police may have been working undercover.

In any case, here’s a tip for the authorities: go to the Heartland Mall area, and you’ll hit the jackpot.

The finals for American Idol 2 have come and gone, but the results are still pending. As usual, I ccouldn't wait for the show to be aired in Singapore today, and have already downloaded the video clips of Clay's performances, all of which were brilliant.

Spoilers alert for those who live outside the U.S.!

Clay's first song was This Is The Night, which I believe is an original composition written specially for the final. I earlier heard it's written by Diane Warren, and it sounds perfect for Clay. It starts out slowly, but the minute he hits the chorus, and his wonderful voice soars with the words "Lift me up", you know he's going to do well for the rest of the night. What a power ballad! This song will be included in his CD single ( which in fact contains 2 tracks ), and is sure to be a bestseller. It may be a love song, but the lyrics "I've been waiting forever for this - this is the night" also reflects his amazing journey up till this point, and serves as the Clay Aiken anthem. Terrific! :)

His second choice was Here, There & Everywhere, written by The Beatles. It's a leisurely, sweet little piece, and Clay is accompanied by a harpist, no less, on this one. Though not demonstrative of the strength of his voice, it shows off his versatility, and his low-key rendition touches the heart. I sang this with the RJC Chorale many eons ago during a concert, so it brings back many memories. Clay's version sounds like it belongs in a Disney cartoon, but that's actually a great compliment. :)

His tour de force, Bridge Over Troubled Water, is appropriately kept till the very end. This all-time classic was written by Paul Simon and made evergreen by Art Garfunkel. Naturally, other artistes have done covers, with the most recent being Russell Watson ( aka The Voice ). But instead of trying to imitate Garfunkel, as Watson did, Clay does his own interpretation, bringing his distinct style to a well-loved inspirational piece, and let me tell you very frankly, it brought tears to my eyes. Whoever did the arrangement deserves a medal. Not only did they give Clay 30 gospel singers as backup, they also redid it with a cool pop / rock feel, and made it all the more enjoyable and uplifting. Clay's range is once again on display, so listen out for the low notes, which are filled with rich timbre, and the high ones ( yes, he ends with one! ), which just melt your heart. Never have the lyrics sounded more poignant -- "When you're weary / Feeling small / When tears are in your eyes / I will dry them all" -- because Clay Aiken has indeed become America's idol, with his radiant personality, his big heart, his beautiful smile, and his splendid voice. He is a great role model for his younger fans, and a great inspiration to the older ones ( like myself ).

If these 3 songs don't seal his fate as the victor in this competition, the votes have got to be rigged. I'll be checking the official website and keeping in touch with American fans online, so once the results are known, I'll be sure to post it here. And if I go a little crazy, please forgive me. :D

I’d also like to add this link to The Charlotte Observer. . Leigh Dyer, who covers all events related to Clay, has been very kind to add my comments to the list. Many thanks!

Well, my day off has come and gone, but I got a lot of things done ( moving house, you see ), and even managed to squeeze in a bit of recreation as well. I finally got my hands on Josh Groban’s concert DVD, which also comes with an 8-track CD that includes live performances of “For Always” ( from the movie “A.I.” ), and the beautiful love song “Broken Vow”. I’ve been playing it over and over again in my car. Pure heaven. :)

Also, I was introduced to David Foster’s latest discovery -- the very boyish Michael BublĂ©, who sounds like a combination of Harry Connick Jr. and Frank Sinatra ( I kid you not! ). His debut album is sure to give you goosebumps, as he lends his smooth-as-honey vocals to everything from “Fever” and “Kissing A Fool” to “Come Fly With Me”. I particularly love his renditions of "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine", “Sway” and “The Way You Look Tonight”, which made me lose track of time while driving today. What a knockout collection of songs! This is one CD you must buy!

And of course, I watched The Matrix Reloaded, which I thought was poetry in motion. Ignore the new-agey philosophical jabbering and you’ll definitely enjoy this movie. After all, it’s the action we care about, right?

Spoilers beware!!!

I was not disappointed, even though I was already blown away by the first installment 4 years ago. Keanu Reeves excels once again as Neo, aka The One, this time more powerful than ever, with the abilities to fly, battle 100 Agent Smiths simultaneously, and yes, even bring the dead back to life. Lean and not looking a day older than 30 ( he’s actually 38 ), he is no doubt the main draw for moviegoers everywhere, and will go down in film history as a cult figure, like Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones.

Trinity, Morpheus and the Oracle also reprise their roles, but a number of newcomers threaten to overshadow even these strong characters.

The Merovingian, played with delicious venom by Lambert Wilson, gives Frenchmen a really bad name, but adds just that bit of spice and humour to an otherwise dark and depressing story.

Monica Bellucci also ups the heat as his deprived wife, Persephone. The scene where she asks Neo to kiss her, or more specifically, to do so the same way he kisses Trinity, was priceless.

And Jada Pinkett-smith ( Will Smith’s other half ) made a good impression as Niobe, a plucky captain who may be tiny, but sure packs a wallop.

However, the Twins, aka Ghosts, are the best examples of the creative genius of the Wachowski brothers. So-called because of their ability to morph into spirit-like forms, and played to perfection by real twins Neil and Adrian Rayment, these guys are really scary, and had me biting my nails. Wow…

The action sequences are astounding, but even that is an understatement! I’m not sure if other Matrix fans feel the same way, but I thought this sequel was eye-popping. We get to see Zion in all its sinful glory, and the fight scenes are even more amazing than ever. The climactic highway chase has also raised the bar for all future action films, and is flawlessly executed. I just wish the protagonists, especially Neo, didn’t have to wear heavy coats when doing kungfu. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think it hampers their movements, and makes them look just a little clumsy. Contrast this with Trinity, who gets to wear tight leather catsuits during combat. Now she looks really cool.

So yes, Matrix Reloaded is highly recommended by me, and be sure to watch it on a big screen instead of a smaller one. My personal favourite is Theatre 6 at Great World City – it’s clean, there’s no smell, the leg space is more than adequate, and the toilets are spotless. Plus, That CD Shop is located in the same building – I just love that place. :)

There’re lots of other fabulous movies coming up in the near future – Bruce Almighty ( starring Jim Carrey ) and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, just to name a few. I can’t wait!

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