Saturday, May 29, 2004

It's the weekend, and here I am nursing a tension headache at home on a Saturday night. Sigh.

Am actually seeing close to 30 cases per shift at my current department, despite the occasional parent with a thousand questions about the most minute details, or infants with fevers whom I can't clear from my list because they just fail to produce any urine even after 5 hours of waiting. Yes, 5 hours. 300 minutes. Count them. Solution? Believe it or not, in-out catheterizations. My first cath of a tiny 3 or 6 month old made me extremely nervous ( ack, what if I damage something?! ), but it's surprisingly a lot easier than adults, with their urethral strictures, hypertrophied prostates, uterovaginal prolapses and what not.

So Fantasia Barrino has been crowned this year's American Idol. I didn't really like her at first -- especially after her outburst at Simon early in the competition -- but she's mellowed over the past few months, and worked hard to become the victor. Will I buy her album though? Err, sorry, nope. The only Idol worthy of my money so far is Clay Aiken. :)

Singapore Idol auditions commence 5 June. No word about my roster as yet, but if I'm free, I'll be dropping by SUNTEC to catch the action, plus some chow for my celebratory birthday dinner. Need to finish a roll of film so I can develop my photos with the Tenors too, heh heh.

More VCD / DVD reviews:

Intolerable Cruelty -- disappointing, considering it's from the Coen brothers. I like George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, but the story made no sense to me...

Paycheck -- hey, not bad at all. Okay, so the ending was hokey. But the premise is interesting, and no matter what the critics say, I'm a Ben Affleck ( and Matt Damon ) fan for life. So there. :)

Cold Creek Manor -- Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff and Juliette Lewis in a thriller that just never seems to take off. A dream home being threatened by a jealous psychopath? I prefer "Pacific Heights" any day ( Matthew Modine, Michael Keaton, Melanie Griffith ).

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen -- Not as terrible as I expected, but is there something wrong with my VCD, or is it supposed to look colourless all the time? Shane West and Stuart Townsend look really good. Yeah, that's my summary of the movie. :P

Identity -- John Cusack, need I say more? Quite unique, good twist at the end, but on the whole, pretty forgettable. Good way to spend 90 minutes of idle time.

Under The Tuscan Sun -- Love this one! Kinda like "Chocolat", only set in Tuscany. Diane Lane shines in her lead role, and the scenery is breath-taking. Primer for my Italy trip next year maybe? :D Get a load of Raoul Bova, who plays the very delectable Marcello. Is it getting hot in here? ;)

I bought the DVD for "LOTR: Return of the King". Haven't sat down for a full viewing yet, but once I get a day off, I will. Have been selecting various scenes to savour again -- the lighting of the Beacons, Aragorn's walking the Path of the Dead, Shelob's Lair. Wow, it's just amazing how much I love this film.

Nip / Tuck

If you haven't started following the series yet, I strongly urge you to do so ASAP. It keeps getting better and better, I tell you! And Julian McMahon ( Dr. Christian Troy aka the pai kiah -- Hokkien-speak for "bad boy" ) is drop-dead gorgeous ( to me, anyhow ). Last night's episode had a scene where he was forced to seduce a patient so she would drop a 10 million dollar lawsuit against him and his partner. Priceless!

The Joint Venture

My apologies for sounding like a broken tape recorder, but I'm excited, so shoot me.
The site is up, woohoo! We're testing it out, then it'll be all systems go pretty soon. Very promising. Watch for regular updates.

Movie quote time

From "Under The Tuscan Sun"

Frances ( played by Diane Lane ): Do you know the most surprising thing about divorce? It doesn't actually kill you. Like a bullet to the heart or a head-on car wreck. It should. When someone you've promised to cherish till death do you part says "I never loved you," it should kill you instantly. You shouldn't have to wake up day after day after that, trying to understand how in the world you didn't know. The light just never went on, you know. I must have known, of course, but I was too scared to see the truth. Then fear just makes you so stupid.
Martini: No, it's not stupid, Signora Mayes. L'amore e cieco.
Frances: Oh, love is blind. Yeah, we have that saying too.
Martini: Everybody has that saying because it's true everywhere.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

On The Road... recovery! Yes!
And in good time too. Night shift today, followed by an M+M meeting tomorrow morning, during which I'm supposed to present a case of phaechromocytoma. Presentation just done, which exonerates all feelings of guilt as I blog, heh heh.

Did the EES save my throat, or would I have gotten well on my own eventually? Guess I'll never know. Nice to have my voice back. Choice of song to try singing today: Jamie Cullum's What A Difference A Day Made. :)

American Idol 3 concludes this week. Funny how I've hardly talked about it, considering my lengthy analyses of AI2 when Clay was a contestant. I don't know. The magic just wasn't palpable this time round. I thought Jon Peter Lewis had it, but he quickly fizzled and was eliminated. George Huff was quite interesting, but didn't survive the cut. With the multiple voting debacles and Jasmine advancing much further than she deserved, I've lost faith in the franchise, and the final outcome elicits nothing more than mild curiosity now. Diana or Fantasia? Who the heck cares?!

At least I have The Bachelor 4 to keep me entertained. This season's a bit different from the rest -- everyone knows who the guy is, and all the women are already hung on him. Bob Guiney is extremely likeable ( talk about an infectious laugh! :)), and it's fun to see how gorgeous gals fall all over themselves in his presence. There's hope for the underdog yet!

My Apologies

For not posting more about my medical exploits of late. In the interest of the Joint Venture ( shameless pimping, haha :P), I'll leave such accounts for a later date. But feel free to visit other medical links provided on the right. Guaranteed to provide hours of immense reading pleasure.

Just want to share something from Time magazine's 100 World's Most Influential People issue. Here's their profile of Peter Jackson, who's included in the list of Artists & Entertainers:

"In 1996, Roger Ebert called Peter Jackson's The Frighteners "a film that looks more like a demo reel than a movie -- like the kind of audition tape a special-effects expert would put together, hoping to impress a producer enough to give him a real job." Ebert couldn't have known how right he was. For in making the film, Jackson had amassed a gigaload of effects technology. He just needed the right subject in which to put his cybertoys to spectacular use.

The subject, we know, was the Middle-earth wars. J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books handed Jackson a quest story involving dozens of exotic species and hundreds of dreamlike or infernal settings. Over a seven-year stretch in his native New Zealand, Jackson brought this vast canvas to life, eventually earning nearly $3 billion in movie theaters and oodles more on home formats. He blended live action and computer animation in a way that could not have been realized, or even imagined, 10 years ago. Just as important, the trilogy infused the fantasy genre with a grace and gravity unseen on such a huge scale. LOTR was an artistic and financial coup so impressive that even the Motion Picture Academy was bowled over, giving the film a record-tying 11 Oscars.

Today the project sounds golden. But Hollywood didn't always think so. Disney-Miramax rejected Jackson's proposal, even at a compromised two-film length... potential sponsors had only to measure the $300 million Jackson needed to make the trilogy against the measly $35 million or so his five previous features had earned worldwide.

Jackson's duty, as he saw it, was to make a faithful translation of Middle-earth -- a kind of transmedial cloning. His triumph was to oversee a production as mammoth as his early films had been intimate, and to keep the grand scheme in mind while enriching each screen moment. Moveimakers appreciated the breadth and depth of his commitment. And studio execs learned that once in a while it's a good bet to trust a director's passion and vision.

Now that Jackson has all this power, what will he do with it? Remake King Kong , a monster film he has loved since his youth. And Universal Pictures is happy to bankroll the third version of a story that most people thought was perfect the first time around and the redundant the second.

This might seem to be the whim of a rich kid in a man's body. But the smart money was wrong before in underestimating Jackson's imagination and ambition. It would be folly to do so again."

-- by Richard Corliss, film correspondent for Time

Well said! My admiration for Jackson and his LOTR team isn't restricted to pure movie enjoyment, but extends far beyond, thanks to hunting down multiple documentaries and reading materials on their long and arduous journey in bringing this masterpiece to life, as well as an amazing eye-opening experience during my foray to Middle-earth itself last December -- breath-taking, gorgeous New Zealand, filled with the friendliest people I've ever met, and LOTR tours that offer huge chunks of encyclopaedic knowledge.

My recurring interest in Jackson is also influenced by the Wellington Rover LOTR itinerary. In addition to taking us to filming locations for Helm's Deep, Rivendell, the River Anduin, the Gardens of Isengard, and favourite cast / crew hangouts like The Chocolate Fish Cafe along the Miramar Peninsula, there's one feature that I'm not at liberty to discuss, but is forever seared into my memory. I respect Wellington Rover's wishes to keep this particular detail secret, but anyone who joins the tour will see it, and believe me, it's an indescribable feeling. After that, Peter Jackson will hold an entirely different sort of significance for you. :)

By the way, I passed the boat which will be used in King Kong -- it's a white-and-green vessel which was anchored along the coast the day we drove by, but we couldn't stop for photos. Our guide, Dan, says it will be undergoing a major overhaul ( including a paint job ), so it may look completely different. Still, I'll be looking out for it in the film.

LOTR: The Return of the King is out on video and disc. Go get it!

Monday, May 24, 2004

Checking In

Is it Day 7 of my URTI already? Okay, that doesn't make sense. No URTI lasts a week, especially since I'm STILL nowhere near my normal state. The EES is kicking in though, and my voice is improving, though at a painfully slow pace, interspersed with the occasional bout of debilitating coughing / hacking episodes. Was contemplating a CXR at some point, but why bother really? I'd feel guilty taking medical leave anyhow. Won't subject myself to more stress by entertaining the possiblity of a raging pneumonia, thank you very much.

Work continues at spinal-reflex level. Fever? Antipyretics, sponging, fluids, fever advice blah blah blah. Abdominal pain? First-line: fleet enema, THEN we'll talk further. :) I kinda enjoy trauma cases -- lacerations, fractures, etc. Less explaining, more doing, sedation if the kid decides to kick up a fuss ( almost ruptured my tympanic membrane last night when I tried to stitch a 2-year-old after applying the usually dependable LET gel to the wound, but the child is quite the fusspot, and fought 3 grown adults for 5 whole minutes, causing my suture knots to loosen before I could secure them properly, after which I said, "That's IT! Knock her out!" -- in front of the parents, 'cos I couldn't care less anymore. It was midnight, she was the last case I saw before I could go home on time for once, and I wasn't in the mood for any nonsense, hmph. )

Still haven't seen any resus cases, but I'll get my chance soon enough I suppose. A friend attended to a toddler who perished in a road traffic accident, but details are pending and I'm not sure how this event has affected him. Believe it or not, for some reason, I've never witnessed a paediatric death firsthand before, even though I did paeds as an intern ( with a full month in paeds oncology ), and have done quite a number of A&E rotations. Well, it's certainly something I can do without.

Quick Rundown

What do you do when you're sick and incapable of anything productive? Why, you vegetate big-time, of course. In my case, by renting truckloads of VCDs / DVDs.

Mona Lisa Smile -- shallow and uninspiring.
Secondhand Lions -- a little too childish and winsome for me, Haley Joel Osment's a fine actor, but he's also growing up, and needs to look... happier. For once!
Phone Booth -- Joel Shumacher and Colin Farrell couldn't even save this stinker.
Love Actually -- unexpectedly boring, despite a stellar cast and a screenwriter with a (previously) untainted track record. How could this happen!?
Seabiscuit -- not too bad, but I've seen better.
The Italian Job -- finally, something good! Really enjoyed this one, but can't compare to its blockbuster counterparts ( e.g. Ocean's Eleven ). Thank goodness for Edward Norton, Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron. Plus a thumping soundtrack from John Powell ( The Bourne Identity ).

I've got The Last Samurai left to view. Don't expect much, but hey, it only cost me 3 bucks. :)

Target Launch Date

Teaser countdown for that "joint venture" I mentioned in earlier posts. :D
Aiming for July 1st. Keep your eyes peeled.

Movie Quote for the Day

Here's one from a film I DON'T like. But hey, it earns points for campiness. :)

Velkan ( Anna's brother -- the dude who turns into a werewolf ): I'd rather die than help you!
Count Vladislaus Dracula: Oh, don't be boring. Everyone who says that dies.

Friday, May 21, 2004


It's Day 5 of the flu, and my voice still hasn't returned. Went back to work on Day 4, with catastrophic results -- my slightly better larynx deteriorated towards the end of my shift, and now I'm back to square one. Also, my nose is starting to give problems. What kind of bug IS THIS?!?!

Anyhow, re-minisce, I made the changes you asked for. Not too sure about their significance, but hope it worked. :)

Post from The Ten Tenors' Managing Director

... can be seen under the comments box for my last entry ( May 18 2004 ). I dropped them an email, which is how they know about my blog. Very nice of Matthew to post something. Thank you!

Btw, the August entry he mentioned is in the archives, under August 16 2003. That was the first time I saw the guys in concert. Ahh, good memories. :)

Matthew Hickey's Message on The Ten Tenors' Website


Website here

It's finally here -- one of the edgiest medical dramas around is now being screened on local television, despite its controversial content.

If the pilot episode is anything to go by, this series promises to deliver more eyebrow-raising, stomach-churning moments in the months to come. In the 90-minute premiere, we're already treated to scenes of liposuction ( crude and messy, we all know, but one wrong move by an uptight patient's relative and everything literally gets hurled in all directions -- yuck! ), jetsetting / sexually promiscuous plastic surgeon lifestyles, a scene that borders adultery ( though ultimately not consummated ), and a torture chamber sequence using Botox as a weapon.

Too extreme for you? Then you'd better not watch it. This is one of those shows that you either love or hate. Or even both. I love it for being, well, different. It can be a little too much at times, but at the end of the day, it gets me thinking, and that's what's important. But then, I also hate it because it depicts surgeons in such a blood-curdling manner -- they're in it for the wealth and the women, they'll even take drug money because it's just so easy. Hardly something docs everywhere would be happy with, even if some of this stuff is true ( speaking as someone "in the know", part of it is DEFINITELY real, even in the local context ).

The next question is: which character do you gravitate towards? Is it guy-with-a-conscience Sean McNamara ( Dylan Walsh ), or bad-boy-to-the-core Christian Troy ( Julian McMahon )? Traditionally at least, the good guys are often bland, so yeah, I prefer Christian, imperfections and all. McMahon possesses the dark looks and sex appeal to pull this role off, with an ability to be menacing and cold with a client, yet soft and kind with an ex-flame.

The 2nd episode ( and the rest of the first season ) airs every Friday at 11pm starting tonight, after The Bachelor 4, which boasts Bob Guiney, the boyish funnyman from The Bachelorette, in the hot seat. A treat for the ladies. :D

The movie quotes return

[ Taken from "Snatch", written and directed by Maddona's hubby, Guy Ritchie, and starring Brad Pitt, Benicio Tel Tor, et al. ]

Brick Top ( dispensing-advice mode ): You're always gonna have problems lifting a body in one piece. Apparently the best thing to do is cut up a corpse into six pieces and pile it all together.

Sol ( has a body he doesn't really know how to get rid of ): Would someone mind telling me, who are you?

Brick Top: And when you got your six pieces, you gotta get rid of them, because it's no good leaving it in the deep freeze for your mum to discover, now is it? Then I hear the best thing to do is feed them to pigs. You got to starve the pigs for a few days, then the sight of a chopped-up body will look like curry to a pisshead. You gotta shave the heads of your victims, and pull the teeth out for the sake of the piggies' digestion. You could do this afterwards, of course, but you don't want to go sievin' through pig shit, now do you? They will go through bone like butter. You need at least sixteen pigs to finish the job in one sitting, so be wary of any man who keeps a pig farm. They will go through a body that weighs 200 pounds in about eight minutes. That means that a single pig can consume two pounds of uncooked flesh every minute. Hence the expression, "as greedy as a pig."

This one had me laughing from start to finish. Can't believe I actually caught the jokes despite the heavy accents and multiple slang expressions. I have new-found respect for Ritchie, and rank this among indie greats "Raising Arizona" ( starring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter in their younger days, written and directed by the unbeatable Coen brothers ) and "Shallow Grave" ( one of Ewan McGregor's earlier films ). Hmm, better add "Ravenous" to that list as well -- super-gory movie set in the wilderness, but sharing a common "dark humour" theme. Right up my alley. :)

Will be on night shift again this evening. Not looking forward to it, considering how my throat acts up at the most unexpected -- and inconvenient -- times, causing me to go into major coughing fits. Ah yes, the hard life of a junior doc never ceases to hit new lows.
Shall use my nap time for napping -- for a change. Next blog entry: who knows when really?


Tuesday, May 18, 2004


I've been hit by the flu bug, no thanks to the influenza vaccine forced on me last October. With the bad weather, hazy skies and major bug-spreading going on right now, PLUS my recent rotation to the paeds ER, small wonder I've been hit. And hit bad.

Started off with a fuzzy throat, then escalated to hoarseness, a low-grade fever and dry cough, before culminating in a near-complete loss of voice this morning. I'm currently down to a whisper / croak, and will be on medical leave till tomorrow. My deepest apologies to the standby guys if they're called down. I would've gone to work if I could. But there's no way I can see patients if they can't even hear me. :(

Anyhow, I may be sick, but I'm far from depressed about it. Had a terrific Monday, thanks to a well-timed day off:

LOTR Exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre

Xena asked if it's worth the $20 admission ticket. My reply: depends on what you consider "worth the money". I got some discount, but even if I'd paid the full price, I have absolutely zero regret. First of all, it is the exhibition's only stop in Asia, in between London and Boston. We're also fortunate enough to be the first venue featuring props from all 3 films.

I took 2 hours to get through everything -- mostly displays of costumes and various accessories like weapons, crowns, rings; some life-size cave troll / goblin / Treebeard models. Each section is accompanied by video presentations that offer in-depth explanations. There's also a booth where you will experience first-hand the camera gimmicks employed in creating the effects responsible for shrinking the likes of Elijah Wood to hobbit proportions.

My favourites are definitely the costumes: Gandalf, Saruman, Arwen, Legolas ( wow, this one is really gorgeous ), Galadriel ( by far the most beautiful ) and Aragorn. I almost freaked out when I read that this is the same one Viggo Mortensen wore throughout the trilogy -- he even washed and mended it himself, thus giving it a very "lived in", slightly tattered look. Like the others, this outfit was protected by a plastic case, but only up till shoulder level. And guess what, I managed to tip-toe and touch its left sleeve. :) Sorry, you just CANNOT put something Mortensen wore right in front of me and expect me to walk off without copping a feel. That put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. :D

I can confidently say that LOTR fans will not be disappointed. A friend who accompanied me is a faithful follower of the series, and was duly impressed. The intricacy of the designs, and sheer ingenuity of the many visual effects, are enough to make you gawk. It was also a nice time to reminisce about my recent NZ trip, whenever filming locations were mentioned and I realized I'd been there. :)

My only complaint is the merchandise store, which sadly didn't stock up on sold-out items like movie posters, mugs and other popular paraphernalia. Thank goodness my friend, who was in NZ last year as well, was kind enough to help buy me an Aragorn T-shirt before returning to Singapore. I really treasure that!

The Ten Tenors Concert @ the Esplanade Theatre

Official website

List of the Tenors

To top off an already excellent day, my smile grew even larger when the guys stepped onto the Singapore stage yet again in the space of just 9 months. After charming the socks off local audiences last August, they graced us with their good-humoured antics once more, playing to a packed hall and an even more appreciative crowd ( in comparison with last year's ). Lots more cat-calling, whistling, squealing, and a unanimous standing ovation after the 3rd encore.

This is my first time in the larger theatre ( I've always attended shows in the smaller concert hall ), and I found the acoustics slightly flawed. The tenors definitely sounded better last year, when they gave a one-night show in the less expansive concert hall. No fault of theirs, believe me. Their voices remain exceptional in tone and control, never wavering even when they're engaged in disco moves, country square dances, rock-star head-banging or cabaret-style high-kicking. The repertoire isn't much different from 2003's, but I'm not complaining! I never tire of their classic covers of Bohemian Rhapsody, Good Vibrations, Dancing Queen, "opera without the boring bits", Rawhide, Love Is In The Air, and the biggest crowd pleaser -- Bee Gees songs.

A few subtle differences this time round: more singing, less banter. I didn't recognize some of the new pieces, and the opera / Australian medley segments had maybe 1 or 2 songs missing.

Still, I just adore these guys, and watching them "live" is always the experience of a lifetime. Consummate performers oozing charm, confidence and loads of rhythm, you'd have to be a corpse in order to NOT enjoy yourself.

Will they be back in 2005? I sure hope so!

Post-Show Surprise

I'm trying to remember if they had this the last time, but I don't think so.
Last night, the tenors were accomodating enough to hang around after the concert to sign autographs and pose for photos in the foyer. Of course, their CDs were being snapped up at a nearby counter, after which you can join a queue and get the opportunity to get every single member's signature and mug shot.

It was a thrilling experience for me, but imagine my amusement when I witnessed middle-aged / elderly ladies turning into groupies as well. :P The woman just before me, who looked like she was in her late 50s or early 60s, kept snapping pictures of the tenors and bantering with them unreservedly, and they returned in kind, striking various side-splitting poses for us ( yep, I took advantage of the situation and clicked away, haha! ). They were so friendly and sweet, with each guy making sure he looked you straight in the eye, before beaming a bright, sincere smile, giving a warm greeting then thanking you for coming.

I didn't want to hold up the line, so I couldn't pose with all of them. However, I'm delighted that I managed to grab my favourite of the lot. Here's his profile:

Tod from The Ten Tenors

I already noticed that around 3 or 4 of the tenors are new, so to speak. Tod is one of them, 'cos honestly, if he'd been around last year, I would've remembered. :) I describe him as a shaggy-haired blonde -- a Rod Stewart look -- but with a much more pleasant voice. A fixture in the 2nd-from-right position on-stage, he takes the lead in songs like Volare, Burn For You and the opening verse to Bohemian Rhapsody. I also heard him sing opera a little, to great effect. He has a very lovable personality, and will no doubt be easily remembered as "the guy who did those pirouettes". In person, he is ( in my opinion at least ) the nicest of the lot, and much better-looking. I was a little nervous when it was my turn to get his autograph, but he put me at ease immediately, flashing a gorgeous smile and talking to me a little as he scribbled his name. I'd already told my friend ( who was gamely helping me snap pictures as I made my way down the line ) that Tod was my favourite and I HAD to get a photo with him, but Tod was very observant, and spotted my friend focussing for a shot, after which he actually said, "Let's pose for a proper one." and roped in 2 other guys ( the younger, cuter ones, heh heh ) for a group pic. Tod leaned in on my right, another was behind me, and the one on my left ( I have to develop the photo in order to identify him, 'cos everything went by so fast! ) even plastered himself to me, and according to my mom, put his cheek right next to mine. Haha! That was a real icing on the cake!

All I can say is, the Ten Tenors have oodles of talent, and will surely win the world over someday. Thanks, guys, for making me forget my flu for 2 whole hours, and for being so unbelievably nice. I just hope I didn't pass any of you my potent virus. :)

More Troy

I just can't get enough of this film!

*Spoilers alert, as usual*

Cool scenes ( both of which involve Brad Pitt, hmm )

1. When Achilles leaps off the ground and swoops down on Sparta's chosen warrior, ending his life with one well-aimed blow to the right shoulder. Thereafter, he faces Sparta's troops, yelling arrogantly, "Is there NO-ONE ELSE?!"

2. When Achilles rides up to the gates of Troy, then screams Hector's name repeatedly. In between, he paces the ground like a hungry lion, his breath heavy with rage and impatience. Woo. :)

Right then, I have to go eat lunch now. More later. Man, my throat hurts.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Review Of "Troy"

***Spoilers beware***

First of all, I am happy to report that it is TONNES better than Van Helsing -- though I'm still a big Hugh Jackman fan no matter what crap he stars in.

For starters, here's a link to the official movie website:

Troy @ Warner Brothers

Second of all, this is easily one of the best film experiences of my entire life. 3 hours passed by in an adrenaline-filled blur, and I definitely include it on my top 5 list of all-time favourites. "Gladiator" doesn't even come close anymore.

You can read about the plot on the above site. What I'd like to discuss further are my impressions of its layout, cast, and various other details.

Cinematography and locales are magnificent. Shot along a coast in Malta, gigantic sets were painstakingly put together, with computer-generated effects added only when necessary for sweeping angles and the illusion of vast empires and their tens of thousands of troops engaging in epic battles. Warm golden hues and bright blue shades permeate throughout. Kudos too to the makeup and costume teams for making many of the actors look their best ever.

Wolfgang Petersen ( Das Boot, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm ) expertly directs his crew, giving Ridley Scott ( Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, the Alien trilogy ) a major run for his money. Movies revolving around the legendary Romans and Greeks of yore were intimidating undertakings back in the 50's and 60's, with only a few ( Spartacus, Cleopatra, Ben Hur ) winning accolades. The genre fizzled for another 30 years before being revived in grand splendour by Scott. And now, "Troy" not only follows in "Gladiator"'s footsteps, it even surpasses it.

I can't find anything not to like about this film. But a vital part of my enjoyment comes from watching the perfectly cast actors -- Brad Pitt as the feared Greek warrior Achilles, Eric Bana as the Trojan prince Hector, Orlando Bloom as his younger, romantic / foolhardy brother Paris, Peter O'Toole as their conflicted father Priam, and Brian Cox as the hated Agamemnon.

Greek mythology is filled with over-the-top drama, but the cast expertly handles all that angst, delivering beautifully measured performances. Cox obviously relishes his role as the villain, while O'Toole's sad pale blue eyes and trembling demeanour bring palpable, heartfelt grief in his turn as a ruler whose imperfect decisions result in the loss of a beloved son. A poignant scene where Priam sneaks into Achilles' tent to plead for the return of Hector's body for a proper burial is excellently executed. Who would've thought O'Toole and Pitt would one day face each other on the big screen, and to such amazing effect? Those short 5 minutes left me in tears.

Bloom, who continues to grow on me, admittedly doesn't have much to chew on, but does his best nonetheless, putting his boyish looks to good use and baring lots of skin as well for a change. He also shares terrific chemistry with Bana, thus the two men are completely convincing as siblings who are tightly knit yet polar opposites. While Bloom excels as the impulsive, lovelorn Paris, Bana practically devours every bit of scenery in his career-making role as the steadfast, courageous and fiercely protective Hector. In fact, at certain points, he eclipses even Brad Pitt.

Now we come to the Golden Boy himself. Not looking a day older than 30, the 40-year-old walking pillar of testosterone gives the performance of his life, sporting shoulder-length wavy blonde hair, loads of cockiness and sexuality, and some gravity-defying moves in exciting fight scenes. True, his skills as a thespian aren't exactly of Oscar calibre ( Bana, however, is a good bet for next year's Academy Awards ), but he does pretty well as far as I'm concerned. Whether standing on a hill with his sword raised as thousands of soldiers cheer, riding off on his chariot with a mildly disdainful expression, or commanding his men that "Immortality -- it's yours. Take it!", Pitt has gone against convention in a totally different manner this time -- rather than playing scruffy parts in edgy classics like "Snatch", "Fight Club" and "Se7en", he now plays up his Greek-god gorgeousness in all its glory. He's never looked more magnificent.

The women in "Troy", sadly, disappoint. Diane Kruger, who was handpicked for the role of Helen -- aka "the face that launched a thousand ships" -- is rather bland. Saffron Burrows plays Hector's distressed wife, but doesn't demonstrate any of the tortured sensuality that was so evident in "Circle of Friends", where she starred alongside Chris O'Donnell, Minnie Driver and Colin Firth, as a status-hungry but ultimately betrayed poor college student caught in an illicit affair with a despicable nobleman.

The only female who caught my attention is Rose Byrne, a dead ringer for Monica Bellucci who plays the virginal Bruseis, later turned Achilles' lover and proverbial "Achilles' heel". Her scenes with Pitt are nothing short of hot-blooded. I haven't seen him generate this much heat with a female co-star since Geena Davis in "Thelma and Louise".

Yes yes, I LOVED IT! :) Wish I could watch it again, but alas, I don't have the time to do so. *sob*

Additional bonus:

If you're a Josh Groban fan, a wonderful surprise awaits once the closing credits roll. He sings the love theme, titled "Remember", a haunting Middle-eastern-flavoured number which shows off his exquisite voice and range, thanks to Oscar-winning composer James Horner( Titanic ). The film's soundtrack is elegantly written and conducted, even boasting a Crouching Tiger-Hidden Dragon-esque sequence where Hector and Achilles fight to the death to the beat of a single drum.

The summer blockbuster season has officially begun! Next up, "Shrek 2" and "Harry Potter: The Prisoner Of Azkaban". Woohoo!

Signing off. And guess what? Auditions for Singapore Idol start on my birthday. Tempted to make my way down to SUNTEC for a peek. Hmmm... :)
Whoa, Blogger has changed its format -- AGAIN. What's up with that?

If you guessed I'm on night again, you're absolutely right. I don't know what it is about my schedule nowadays. I just don't have time to blog. Frustrating, aaargh!

4am, lull in the queue compared to 32 waiting when I walked in to start my shift at 11pm. The patients were magically cleared within an hour, but continue to trickle in every few minutes. My brain function continues to regress, as I see fever after fever after fever. But am really enjoying the kids -- bawling one minute as you stick a spatula into their mouths, then smiling and waving goodbye the next after you give them a sweet as compensation for those few short seconds of torture.

Had my first foray into the local courts this morning when I was called as a witness in a case involving a married couple. Can't be specific about it for legal reasons, but looks as if all these years of watching The Practice on TV has payed off. :) I must've come across as one of the most non-commital, vague people around. But I did try to help both parties in turn. The lawyers were thankfully kind, as was the judge. The only complaint I have is how judges in Singapore have to transcribe testimonies word for word by hand, in their own writing some more. No stenographers. No clerks. Takes too long lah.

Another thing I noticed is how crowded the family court was today. In fact, it was so packed I had problems squeezing through at certain areas. As I passed one small group, I overheard a man telling the others, "It's a fine line between love and hate." Another young lady sobbed in the waiting area, while formally attired attorneys conferred along the corridors. Interesting experience.

I've been informed I may get subpoenaed for yet another case later this month, involving a youth who was slashed and is now disfigured. The case I missed out on was the one involving that Japanese fellow on the SQ flight who pleaded guilty to molesting an air stewardess. It was in the Straits Times but I didn't get the chance to read it, relying only on my parents for information. I was initially called upon to testify because I saw him on the night of the incident and took his blood for alcohol level, but was later let off the hook when he pleaded out and avoided a trial. There goes my 15 minutes of fame. :P

I recently heard a disturbing tale involving a high-profile medical professional in a government hospital. The facts have been verified by multiple sources close to the person in question, and all I can say is: a HUGE INJUSTICE has occurred. Details? Only if I have a death wish. But some people know what I'm talking about, and the saddest part of this is: we wish so much that we could do something, but our hands are tied. Sigh.

The finale for Eye For A Guy was bizarre. My head was spinning, and I'm still reeling from the completely weird conclusion. Rachel picked Sivert ( cute hair salon manager guy who seems very down-to-earth ). But shortly after, she started dating Mark ( cocky polytechnic lecturer with a thick American accent and the title of Cleo magaizine's Bachelor of the Year 2003 ). R and M are now going to Paris together, but S has bought himself a ticket as well, and will be joining them there. HUH???
Ok, better not waste any more brain space pondering that situation. :)

Will be watching Troy this afternoon, post-night fatigue or not. The film garnered 5 stars in the Life! review, but I already know it's going to be superb, judging from an MTV making-of special I caught the night before. Everyone looks fantastic, the visual effects are stunning, the dialogue dramatic yet lacking in moronic cheesiness. The cast has also perfected this pseudo-Brit / neutral-sounding accent, so none of that funny American / Australian brogue creeping in at crucial points to distract viewers. It's a Greek legend, so twangs make a big difference. Brad Pitt is pretty good with accents ( Snatch, The Devil's Own ). He sounds great spewing cerebral lines in that deep voice of his. I'll post a review soon.

Right then, time to freshen up before starting work again. 3 more hours to go. Just ate a whole Snickers bar. Mmmmmm, chocolate. :)

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Desperate Measures

Guess what. It's 4am, I'm on my first night shift in the new posting, and have resorted to using my rest period to blog.

What can I say -- the first few days were rough. REALLY rough. New environment, new patient demographics, new colleagues, new %&^%$# computer system -- took some getting used to. But most of us have adjusted, and things are flowing pretty smoothly now.

It's pretty fun, no doubt about that. We get the occasional FON parent or fussy patient, but most -- surprisingly -- are actually nice and easy to handle. It also helps that our seniors gave us lots of tips on how to put our interpersonal skills to good use. It isn't exactly WHAT you say, but HOW you say it.

Babies are sooooo cute. :) And some of the toddlers and older children I've seen are extremely sweet. So is it just the Eastern population that's consistently irritating? Seems so. :P

Lots of procedures down here. A paeds A&E reg once told me the paeds ER enjoys a lot of autonomy, and from what I've observed, he's absolutely right. We do the usual toilet and sutures, manipulations and reductions, BUT just yesterday, one of my consultants gave me permission to drain a superficial lower neck abscess. One MO who once did a paeds surgical posting told me he's had admissions for less, but I guess if your seniors have confidence in you, anything goes. Cool. :)

Weapon of choice -- oh wait, I meant drug of choice, heh heh -- KETAMINE. The wonders of this drug never fail to amaze me. 5 minutes after an IM injection, a screaming child is reduced to a floppy, dazed rag doll. Some exhibit nystagmus -- a horizontal zig-zagging of the eyes -- which always amuses me no end. Peace and quiet for the next 30 - 60 minutes. Aaaah. :)

The only thing is, my brain may start to rot a little after a while, so I'd better keep revising for the upcoming exam in August. Almost every paediatric case here falls into one of the following categories:
1) fever
2) vomiting / diarrhoea
3) breathlessness
4) non-specific abdominal pain
5) fit -- usually febrile

Resuscitations are few and far between, and after a while, I sound like a broken tape recorder as I dish out fever / gastroenteritis advice ad nauseum. I've learnt to make full use of the patient information leaflets, which I consider real lifesavers. "Take this home and look through it. Very good explanations inside!" I tell them in a chirpy voice. "Ooh, okay doc! Thanks!" Works every time. :P

More medical stuff another time. Hopefully that venture will materialize soon. :)

Van Helsing

Caught the movie this afternoon, and all I can say is: thank goodness I didn't have to pay for the tickets ( credit card points redeemed for movie vouchers, yeah! ).

That 3.5-star review in Life! by Ong Sor Fern is sorely overrated. I started getting bored 30 minutes into the film, which almost never happens ( other unfortunate candidates for me include Chain Reaction and Beautiful Girls ). Never mind that director Stephen Sommers helmed The Mummy and its sequel. Never mind that there're loads of eye-popping special effects and monsters galore. Never mind the gorgeous leads Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale.

My main qualm is how the story got majorly distorted, and all in the name of (mindless) entertainment. Won't give the plot away here, but personally speaking, I hated it. Almost as much as I hated Chain Reaction, blech.

The only saving grace is Jackman, of course. Towering, ruggedly handsome and sexy in spite of that cringe-worthy costume he's made to wear, he manages to keep the movie afloat, spouting bad lines like a pro, and being every bit the athletic, fearless hunter.

Will this make pots of money? Probably. But watch at your own risk. And redeem your UOB credit card points. :D

Jamie Cullum's Album

I've already played it to death in my car, but will spare you the track-by-track breakdown. ( I'm a little tired as well, so there. :))

This is one talented dude, folks. And a Brit, no less. Twentysomething has already gone double platinum, and he's received accolades from both sides of the Atlantic. Like Peter Cincotti -- another rising jazz star in his 20s -- Cullum is an excellent pianist, with the additional credentials of composer and arranger. Both men have produced terrific albums, but greatly differ in style and personality.

While Cincotti has a mellow, boyish voice, Cullum's vocals are raspy, almost rough even. Or as one reviewer wrote: sandpaper finish. But both use their unique characteristics to great effect, with Cincotti favouring more conventional, breezy fare, and Cullum experimenting with an edgier repertoire.

In Twentysomething, choice selections include:

1) Original compositions -- Twentysomething, All At Sea
The former is a playful, albeit cheeky, take on life as a young adult ( Maybe I'll go to the gym so I won't get fat / Aren't things more easy with a tight six-pack? ), and the latter a beautifully introspective mood piece about personal space and the need for quiet reflection. Love them.

2) Songs from 50's musicals -- Singin' In The Rain, I Could Have Danced All Night.
Singin', originally done by Gene Kelly, is given a modern makeover here, with smooth grooves that actually work well despite having some huge shoes to fill. The second piece is taken from My Fair Lady, but put to pumping synthesizer beats and a head-bobbing rhythm. The songs kinda grow on me, but lo and behold, my mom LOVED them when I blasted my hi-fi today. And she's a purist! Can't get better that that! :)

3) Jazz classics -- lots of them here. What A Difference A Day Makes starts things off as the CD's first track. Wonderfully done. I especially like Old Devil Moon, Blame It On My Youth and I Get A Kick Out Of You ( the last showcases Cullum's prowess on the piano ). Think my mom sums it up best by commenting that he has a "sexy way of singing", which in my opinion, is vital in the jazz genre. You can't just robotically belt out the lyrics -- you have to feel them, give them life, make them your own, and draw the listener in.

This week's American Idol had a big band theme. The best performer is very obviously LaToya London, whose dynamite performance easily equals some of our century's greatest -- a natural gift given her lack of experience. The other contestants may have good voices, but they lacked the requisite pizazz *snap your fingers when you say that word :)*.

Cullum, Cincotti, Michael Buble, Robbie Williams -- they all have loads of pizazz. There seems to be a jazz revival in progress, and these 4 young men may very well be our generation's Rat Pack, just as Sinatra, Martin and Davis were their generation's icons. I've already seen two on this list. Waiting patiently for the rest to come to Singapore. ;)


Forgive the vague-ness. Let me put it this way: in a recent public incident which divided locals into 2 distinct camps, and in which a certain high-ranking figure flouted a rule, I have it on good authority that the person who made this high-ranking figure break that rule had it coming.

Apparently, the "victim" spewed forth unspeakable vulgarities, even insulting the high-ranking figure's family in the process. Showed zero remorse, is a consistent and defiant repeat offender, and in all likelihood, gives authorities the middle finger on a regular basis.

Internal sabotage hasn't been ruled out, but those closely involved are keeping mum. It is indeed a sad day for Singapore.

Time to have a snack before I pass out. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

A quick entry...

It's been hellish these past few days, but things will settle down real soon. I hope.

New home, new posting, new blog direction.

First, the new home.
Excellent beyond imagination. Never mind about how we furnished it. I'm talking about the view, the proximity to the park, major highways, detour routes to town, reservoirs, bustling malls. Now, we've even got a free shuttle service to and from our residence to the MRT station. Even on Sundays and public holidays, woohoo!
Just went to the nearby park this evening for a stroll. Very pretty place, totally not what I expected at all.
I see the sunrise every morning, and enjoy the gorgeous sky hues during sunsets. We face a lengthy green belt surrounded by beautiful street lights. I'm wondering what else I'll discover, haha. :)

New posting.
Was 5pm-midnight yesterday. Nightmare, but only because we were new to the system, and many of us have little to no experience in paediatrics, which is a whole new world, to put it very mildly. But our senior staff are very supportive, the nurses extremely capable and nice, and fellow MOs already working well as a team.

New blog direction
Something's in the works, but I'm not at liberty to discuss it further at this point. As a result, I will be dwelling less on the medical stuff over the next few weeks, and will post information on this new format as soon as I receive the go-ahead. It's a very exciting venture, and guarantees a much more enjoyable experience in terms of variety and reading pleasure. Watch this space!

A big hey to Class 95's Mark Richmond, who's been playing my Peter Cincotti requests this past week during dinner jazz. :) My choice today was "Are You The One?", and guess what? That CD Shop outlets have ordered a whole stack of Cincotti's albums, so be sure to grab one ASAP. Great stuff!

I've got a new jazz disc, titled Twentysomething, by that's right -- Jamie Cullum. I just started listening to it, so a review will follow soon. Preliminary opinion: Fantastic. So fantastic that Harry Connick's latest offering -- a compilation of all-time jazz favourites which I sampled at the store, and which should have lots of mass appeal -- pales in comparison. For me at least.

If you can't wait, go here.

No time, no time, aargh! Signing off for now.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Check this out.

Forecast: Hazy today. My brain, that is. Subsisted on 3 1/2 hours of sleep for the whole of Friday and the earlier part of Saturday, before finally hitting the sack at midnight and getting up before 7 this morning to do a bit more unpacking. I'm tired, but immensely relieved. And I just love my new room. :P

Not too happy with my department secretary for ignoring my request to have at least one day off this week. She's usually quite sharp, but didn't give me what I asked for, for some strange reason. Oh well. Tomorrow's my first day at KKH, and none of us even knows our shifts yet. Not good.

So now I'm stuck here from 8-4, fighting off the constant urge to yawn, or to give yet another NS boy a piece of my mind. But why bother? I may be losing steam, but things will only get better once I move on to the next ER. No more 50-patient calls, or 40-patient shifts. Crying babies aren't my cup of tea, but it's a welcome change nevertheless. 6 months of it -- tolerable. :)

After a full year in emergency medicine, I'm inadvertently forced to (re-)evaluate my opinion of this field. It's a natural process regardless of which specialty you're in. What I feel isn't different from my past experiences in other departments -- the highs and lows, the usual difficulties that come with each job, adapting to new colleagues / environments, facing the occasional FON cases and getting stabbed in the back with a belated bloody complaint letter.

Why emergency medicine? Reading someone's blog entry about The One (pertaining to mate-choosing), I guess a lot of it can be extrapolated to specialty selection as well. You know when you know . I didn't aim for a life in the ER from the word go. I'm a big fan of the TV show, but considered it little more than simple entertainment. There isn't a particular moment which I can pinpoint, when I said, "Eureka! THIS is what I want to do for the rest of my life!" It was more of a gradual realization, though technically over a relatively short period ( 3 weeks at most, which equals the length of my 4th year A&E posting ). True, I had novelty on my side at the time -- wet-behind-the-ears med student dipping her toes into the ocean of ACLS / ATLS / breech deliveries in the ER -- but now, many years down the road, there's a new kind of novelty. I may have seen almost every common condition in the book, but it's the sleuth work that always gets me going. Pinpointing the patient's problem(s) ( sometimes through history alone ), knowing what to do based on your best clinical guess ( e.g. man presented with postural giddiness, not particularly pale, but I PR-ed anyway and found a fungating rectal tumour; young lady complaining of "generalized numbness", who looked just a tad edgy -- I pulled down her turtle-neck collar and found a goitre; guy who couldn't stop walking x1 episode and almost knocked into a wall, neurologically normal -- CT head revealed an acute subdural bleed, but had zero history of trauma ).

Patients don't understand what's involved in making such diagnoses, so don't expect any gratitude. In fact, in the field of emergency medicine, I don't expect thanks at all. Short consultation, no follow-up, high stress situtations with tense psyches all around -- ideal recipe for complaints, I guarantee you. Busy shifts, manpower shortage, getting rapped for incidents that are beyond your control... why did I choose this again? :)

At the end of the day, though, I know I wouldn't be happier anywhere else. And that is what matters most. For every idiotic patient who gives me a hard time, there's another nice one who appreciates my efforts. For every complaint about "missing a diagnosis", there's one that I managed to make based on clinical acumen alone. The ER is where you hone your skills and practise "minimalist medicine". If I had a choice, I'd like to work in a rural field hospital in a developing country for a short stint, in order to experience medicine in its most primitive form. But that's an issue my parents and I have to resolve. :)

A few fellow trainees have expressed feelings of disillusion, with a number of them dropping out along the way. It's expected, of course. But again, not restricted to this particular specialty. I gripe and rant, yet am certain that this is where I want to be. Besides, I have my ways of coping with the stress, as you readers are well aware of. :P

Adios, CGH A&E. Hello, KKH Paeds. I'm not too optimistic about seeing fretful kids and hyper parents. But life's unpredictable. Who knows, I may actually end up liking it. ;)

And how could I possibly forget...

Movie quote: from "Four Weddings and a Funeral", which introduced foppy-haired Hugh Grant to the world.

( oh heck, there're so many good ones, let's have a few all at once )

Gareth: I've got a new theory about marriage. Two people are in love, they live together, and then suddenly one day, they run out of conversation.
Charles ( Grant's character ): Uh-huh.
Gareth: Totally. I mean they can't think of a single thing to say to each other. That's it: panic! Then suddenly it-it occurs to the chap that there is a way out of the deadlock.
Charles: Which is?
Gareth: He'll ask her to marry him.
Charles: Brilliant! Brilliant!
Gareth: Suddenly they've got something to talk about for the rest of their lives.
Charles: Basically you're saying marriage is just a way of getting out of an embarrassing pause in conversation.
Gareth: The definitive icebreaker.

[at Gareth's funeral]

Matthew: Gareth used to prefer funerals to weddings; he said it was easier to get enthusiastic about a ceremony one had an outside chance of eventually being involved in. In order to prepare this speech I rang a few people to get a general picture of how Gareth was regarded by those who met him. "Fat" seems to have been a word people most connected with him. "Terribly rude" also rang a lot of bells. So "very fat" and "very rude" seems to have been the stranger's viewpoint. On the other hand, some of you have been kind enough to ring me and let me know that you loved him, which I know he would have been thrilled to hear. You remember his fabulous hospitality and his strange experimental cooking. The recipe for "Duck a la Banana" fortunately goes with him to his grave. Most of all, you tell me of his enormous capacity for joy, and when joyful... when joyful, for highly vocal drunkenness; but I hope "joyful" is how you will remember him. Not stuck in a box in a church! Pick your favorite of his waistcoats and remember him that way! The most splendid, replete, big-hearted... weak-hearted, as it turned out... and jolly bugger most of us ever met! As for me, you may ask how I will remember him; what I thought of him. Unfortunately, there I run out of words.

Charles: Why am I always at, uh, weddings, and never actually getting married, now?
Matthew: It's probably 'cause you're a bit scruffy. Or it could also be 'cause you haven't met the right girl.
Charles: Ah, but you see, is that it? Maybe I have met the right girls. Maybe I meet the right girls all the time. Maybe it's me.

[Charles comes running after Carrie]
Charles: Ehm, look. Sorry, sorry. I just, ehm, well, this is a very stupid question and... , particularly in view of our recent shopping excursion, but I just wondered, by any chance, ehm, eh, I mean obviously not because I guess I've only slept with 9 people, but-but I-I just wondered... ehh. I really feel, ehh, in short, to recap it slightly in a clearer version, eh, the words of David Cassidy in fact, eh, while he was still with the Partridge family, eh, "I think I love you," and eh, I-I just wondered by any chance you wouldn't like to... Eh... Eh... No, no, no of course not... I'm an idiot, he's not... Excellent, excellent, fantastic, eh, I was gonna say lovely to see you, sorry to disturb... Better get on...
Carrie: That was very romantic.
Charles: Well, I thought it over a lot, you know, I wanted to get it just right.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The answer to my prayers!



and This!!!

Okay, time for me to go to resus. Moving Day. Woohoo! :)