Saturday, July 31, 2004

Insomnia Beckons Yet Again

After an unpleasant surprise this evening at the start of my night shift -- 37 cases on queue &*%^$# -- things thankfully quietened down at around 2am, though the stress from that experience has left me tired yet unable to sleep, dammit.

So here's an entry that hopefully won't get me into too much trouble. :)

John Kerry's Speech At The DNC

I have both Kerry's and Edwards' speeches on video, Gen, if you're ever interested in borrowing that. ;)

And after watching the Democrats' top choice give his acceptance speech this morning, I have no doubt that Bush and Cheney will be beaten -- badly.

Of course, I could be wrong. But like I said, this is just my perspective. It's part gut feeling, part mass opinion. But you can't deny the widespread cynicism and distrust the American people have for the Administration post-Iraq, post-Abu-Ghraib, post-no-WMDs-as-claimed. Screw 9/11. Bush mangled his one chance for a second term, choosing to parlay that prime opportunity into a personal vendetta that, for all we know, was instigated by his good ol' dad ( wasn't there some rumour that Saddam sent an assassin after Bush Sr. following The Gulf War, though the mission failed? ). Here's a perfect example of taking an entire country for granted. Big mistake, Mr. President.

Kerry's address today was, I think, very sincere. I didn't think much of Time magazine's profile, which seemed to paint him as a rather unremarkable politician, though a patriot at heart. The turnaround came when a Steven Spielberg-produced/directed short film was aired, narrated by none other than the distinguished Morgan Freeman, complete with Band-Of-Brothers images of Kerry and comrades in Vietnam, endless endorsements from friends and family, and a superbly written script that put a lump in my throat ( I kid you not! ). Propaganda, you scoff? You bet. But I tried my best to see a little beyond the hype, and what I discovered is a man with good intentions, possessing decades of experience in the military, followed by the legal system and the US Senate, and who has been working slowly but surely to this very moment, finally ready to take that great leap forward and offer himself as the new leader of the free world.

His speech lasted almost an hour, and like Edwards', was delivered with much conviction and eloquence. And although his running mate eats up the camera with his boyish Southern charm, Kerry is more of a slow burner, growing on you with each passing minute as you soak in his words and catch little glimpses of the soul within.

With graying hair and a sometimes goofy grin, he still exhibited admirable strength and resolve, putting forth ambitious plans but backing them up as best he could. Numerous worthy quotes and slogans had the crowd up on their feet, and I am awed by his command of the audience -- how he managed to captivate them, how he switched topics effortlessly when the occasion called for it, how he touched on so many different yet important subjects in such determined yet intimate ways, quoting individuals' names and relating their very personal trials to millions ( maybe billions ) around the world.

But most telling is his message to George W. Bush, whose own Republican campaign has already begun hurling insults at this very dynamic duo. "Let us be optimists, not just opponents," Kerry implored, asking for mutual respect and promising to unite America in every way possible, even by harnessing the talents of Republican politicians for his Cabinet if their skills and expertise are invaluable.

I can't predict if Kerry will follow through with these vows when and if he takes over the Oval Office. But like I mentioned before, I saw something that strongly resembled authenticity and integrity during those 45 minutes he spoke. I firmly believe that he has had these plans for many long years, but only recently found the courage, support and appropriate timing with which to put them into motion.

Perhaps the most endearing comment came from his daughter, Vanessa, when she introduced her father. Speaking of her late grandmother's reaction when Kerry told her he'd decided to run for President, she replied, "It's about time!"

Well, it's about time the US repaired its tainted reputation and restored its people's faith in the Administration. Let's hope Kerry and Edwards will have a chance to achieve that goal.

P.S. With regards to Kerry's disdain for American companies who outsource jobs overseas, and the possible review of the US-Singapore free trade agreement, I say: Let our politicians solve that problem. That's what they're paid for. :D

A Delayed Congratulatory Entry

My profuse apologies for overlooking this during my last post!

Happy wishes go out to a friend I've known for almost 20 years, whose wife gave birth to an adorable baby boy on the 26th of July. Baby-phobic that I am ( I always have this nightmare that I'll accidentally drop someone's kid ), I still managed to keep my arms steady and carried him for quite a while, which was a wonderful experience. Of course, it helped that he was extremely dopey from the effects of an epidural. :)

But then, my mom, who was there as well, just had to say that I don't appear to have any intention of giving her grandchildren. C'mon, that's not entirely true! Find me the right guy, and I'd be happy to have a whole football team of them. But finding the right guy might be impossible, and I refuse to be matchmade, so you'll just be patient, mom. :D

Time to get back to work. Break's over. :/

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Potent Kid Virus Part Deux

24 hours after the bug hit me, I'm still reeling from nausea, churning abdominal discomfort, an early morning fever ( 38.5 deg Celsius ), severe diffuse myalgia, and the occasional bout of diarrhoea ( sorry, I hope you didn't just eat :)). Which just goes to show that washing your hands after every patient doesn't guarantee adequate protection. Or maybe I shouldn't have taken a sweet from the container sitting on my consult room table -- the one that every kid sticks his/her hand into, drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

Luckily for me, I was on standby today, though 2 phone calls at around 9am almost gave me a heart attack ( good thing it turned out to be a fellow emergency medicine trainee arranging a tutorial, and not my department secretary telling me someone at work is on MC and I have to cover him/her, yikes! ).

I didn't have a very productive day, as you can tell. But many hours of sleep and vegetating have done wonders, and I'm all ready to face another busy day tomorrow. I hope...

The Democratic National Convention / John Edwards

If you have access to CNN, and are able to turn it on in the morning this week, you can catch live coverage of this very exciting event, which will culminate in John Kerry's nomination acceptance speech tomorrow ( about 10-11am local time ).

I had the opportunity to watch John Edwards today, and have to admit I haven't seen charisma of such gigantic proportions since the Bush / Clinton tussle 12 years ago. College classmates may remember how I once missed a Maths class in order to catch the election results on my Walkman. Since then, the US Presidential Race has been rather lacklustre, with the likes of Al Gore and George W. Bush taking centrestage. But this year... THIS YEAR... is different!

Although Kerry is the frontrunner, and Edwards the sidekick ( sort of ), I find the latter a lot more fascinating. A North Carolina native who hails from Raleigh ( Clay Aiken's hometown :)), he made a fortune from medical malpractice cases, representing children and raking in more than US$152 million in 63 lawsuits, of which he got a one-third share.

With very humble beginnings ( both his parents worked in mills, even having to take out a $50 loan once in order to pay a hospital bill ), Edwards worked hard in order to make a better life for himself, finally becoming the first in his family to go to college, earning a law degree and carving out an illustrious career as a hotshot trial attorney whose willingness to take on ruthless insurance companies coupled with a natural gift for oratory resulted in a meteoric rise in the legal arena, and subsequently, an almost unprecedented record soar through the Senate in 6 short years.

The love story is no less compelling. He met wife Elizabeth in university, pursuing her despite being 4 years her junior, then presenting her with an $11 ring for their wedding ( which she wears to this day ). Tragedy struck in 1996, when their 16-year-old son, Wade, was killed after bad weather overturned his car. The depression that followed was almost incapacitating, as the couple retreated from work, friends and family, and Elizabeth lay on the couch for months, watching TV with the sound turned off.

One day, however, they re-emerged from their coccoons, and the rest is history. One aspect of their lives I find especially heart-warming, though, is how they decided to have more children at a relatively late stage in their lives -- Elizabeth gave birth to Emma-Claire at age 48, and son Jack at 50. Seeing these two extremely cute tykes cavorting on-stage at this morning's DNC after their father's rousing speech brought a big smile to my face. :D

Unflattering things have been said about Edwards, thanks to a mud-slinging Bush campaign -- "ambulance chaser" being one of them. But I think his record speaks for itself, and details I admire include how this multi-millionaire still wears simple ( ie. cheap ) digital watches with his thousand-dollar suits, and how he celebrates wedding anniversaries at Wendy's ( a fast-food restaurant ). Elizabeth has been described very favourably as well, with one advisor saying "She has the smarts of Hillary Clinton and the charm of Tipper Gore." Another relates how she even once joined a strategy meeting at her home barefoot and dressed in overalls.

12 years ago, I had a gut feeling Clinton would sweep the votes -- which he did. This year, Kerry's win is all but guaranteed, due to widespread disillusion with Bush's many mistakes and attempted cover-ups. But Edwards, the man with "the golden tongue", had audiences riveted during his excellent speech today, rallying supporters with an unscripted, passionate delivery, relaying his slogan, "Hope Is On The Way", and getting thousands to join in the chant. I'd like to see if Kerry can stir up this sort of enthusiasm tomorrow.

Ben Affleck On The Campaign Trail

Here's something else I caught on CNN -- Ben's stint as a commentator on Larry King Live. In a word, it was, well, really sexy. Okay, that's two words. :P

Must be something about a good-looking guy talking politics in an intelligent manner. He held his own with the likes of King, Pat Kennedy, Al Sharpton and a host of CNN journalists. And I got a major kick out of hearing him say things like "acrimonious" and "oratory", heh heh.

SMA News July 2004

It's online, and features two interviews with the current and former Directors of Medical Services, as well as an eye-opening piece by Dr. Lee Chung Horn, a consultant endocrinologist I had the privilege of working with 5 years ago when I was a house officer at Changi General. Very very nice man, and a rocker no less! Cool. :)

The Apprentice

Nothing new to report actually. Just wanted to say how much I love its theme song, with the repetitive "money money money" lyrics and bluesy/rock riffs, superimposed on images of stock markets and private jets. Yowzah! :D

Time to go drink some black tea to try and calm my intestines down. Just started raining. Fantastic. :)

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Who Woulda Thought
...that I would find Sex And The City dull?!?!

Tardy post here, as you can see. I caught the back-to-back episodes last Friday on HBO, and decided to give it a miss thereafter. No-one's more shocked than yours truly here, 'cos I honestly expected to be wowed, charmed, blown away, etc. Instead, the crass jokes left me cold, the repetitive sexual-promiscuity-is-hip-and-liberating theme triggered some uprolled eyes,  and I somehow couldn't stay interested in their idle chatter about shopping, New York, and finding the perfect guy.

If I sound a little uptight, then it's probably a matter of opinion. I don't think I'm a snob or prude when it comes to comedies -- Seinfeld remains my all-time favourite ( aka The Show About Nothing, with one classic line about a name that rhymes with a certain part of the female anatomy, ie. Dolores :) ). I also love Friends, with its modern takes on the ( dysfunctional ) family unit and its equally ample supply of risque humour. Or how about That 70s Show, featuring the likes of airhead Ashton Kutcher getting high on marijuana and waxing lyrical about the ladies with his motley crew of high school pals?

Sex And The City has won more accolades than most, and its stars have become fashion trend and feminist icons. And yet!!! And yet I found myself getting increasingly irritated by its (inane)dialogue. Or maybe it's just Sarah Jessica Parker's little-girl-voice. *shudder*

But then, that's just me. One detractor in perhaps tens of millions of other diehard fans. Who cares, eh?

The Apprentice

Things are heating up! In the latest installment, the male and female teams reshuffle, with the stronger players squashing the weak beneath the heels of their leather shoes. Am a little sad about Christi's departure though. Probably the most sincere and honest contestant in this cut-throat race, she was eventually deceived by the team member she trusted most, resulting in a "strategy" that projected resigned defeat instead of the all-important fight-to-the-death mentality  -- 100% fatal if you're up against Donald Trump The Ruthless Tycoon.

But the saddest part, I feel, came after the credits rolled. Christi, seated in the back of an NYC cab, pours her heart out to the camera, saying how much she's learnt from the experience, and wishing the other competitors the best of luck. No mention at all about the woman who betrayed her so terribly. And that idiot stayed on the show! Is this consistent with real life? You bet. :(

The Simple Life

The Apprentice might have made my skin crawl, but Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie keep the laughs coming, and I'm telling you, their antics would boost anyone's deflated ego. :D They are so useless it's downright embarrassing. And the tricks they pull to get out of difficult situations border on kindergarten-level behaviour.

E.g. Last week, Nicole shed major crocodile tears when confronted by an annoyed cattle farmer for piggy-backing some Mother's Day gifts on his supplies bill. Her ingenious idea? Fake a pet death.
"[ long excruciating wail ] My cat died! I'm soooooo saaaaaaaad! Waaaaaah!" -- actual transcript (!!!)  -- she bawled, in between surreptitious glances through parted fingers.
The clincher -- the farmer didn't buy it for a sec. "I'm sorry your cat died. But I still want that money." Bloody fantastic! :P

The Exams Cometh

Exactly one month to go before D-Day, and I'm feeling the pressure in a big way. Insomnia despite exhaustion mostly, with the occasional near-panic as reality hits me on and off. The upside, though, is having 3 other friends for much needed mutual support. They're all my seniors, but we're crossing the same hurdle together.  One of them whispered to me during a tutorial today: "Time to show our ignorance again!", before flashing a huge grin and laughing heartily. It's stuff like this that helps relieve the stress and tension, and I'm really very grateful for it. Thanks, guys!

Mystery Man

Xena knows who I'm talking about, yes? :)
I met that actor fellow a couple of days ago, standing at the mailbox in the basement, retrieving his letters. I could recognize him from a mile away, and he looked at me for a split second as I approached, before glancing back down. I must say, he looks really young considering his age. Metrosexual lifestyle maybe, heh heh.

Clue for those who can't take the suspense: he's been mentioned twice in the Life! entertainment section this week, with one prominent photo ( kissing a certain Hong Kong actress ). If you can't get that, then you're better off not knowing at all. :)

And before I sign off...

Anyone In London Interested In This?

Just spotted this piece of info on the Jamie Cullum website ( bottom right ). Seems he and his equally prolific brother, Ben, composed music for the stage version of When Harry Met Sally, currently running at the Theatre Royal Haymarket till 4 September. No CD available, so if anybody catches the show, give me a holler 'cos I'm really curious.
( FYI, original compositions from these guys include:
From Pointless Nostalgic -- I Want To Be A Pop Star, Pointless Nostalgic ( Jamie )
From Twentysomething -- Twentysomething, All At Sea ( Jamie ); These Are The Days, It's About Time ( Ben )
Good stuff :))

Anyhow, I won a minor battle with my mom yesterday. Discussing my future HMDP posting which will inevitably come up in a few years' time, I managed to convince her that the UK is THE place to be, instead of Australia ( her preference because of proximity and err, greater safety ). I think I sold the idea pretty well, and have my sights set on London if the AST panel is open to the suggestion. Yay. :)
( Although, my top choice would've been the US -- maybe Boston, Chicago, LA or Las Vegas -- but the USMLE gives me migraine, so scrap that. I'll visit as a tourist, heh heh. :)) 

2 more hours to go before the night shift ends. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Sorry, my brain matter's a little mashed up right now. Blame it on a loooong night at a mass casualty exercise that turned out to be something of a letdown -- details scarce in the interest of national security ( and self-preservation :P). Sure, getting out of the ER -- which had a waiting list of 30 when I left -- was, of course, a huge bonus. But climbing in and out of vehicles, loading and unloading equipment and enduring long road trips in the middle of the night took its toll on me towards the end, mostly because I'd slept a total of ONE hour earlier that day.
The morning after that exhausting activity was spent nursing a stomachache from some oily satay supper ( courtesy of my consultant ) at Glutton Street opposite Centrepoint. But it wasn't the food that caused the problem. Maybe just the fact that I don't normally engage in gorge-fests at 4am in the morning.
Anyhow, I just had a bleary afternoon, didn't get much studying done, but felt a little more productive after attending a short clinical tutorial at TTSH, with thanks to a very accomodating consultant there.
I'm feeling low, despite some good stuff that happened last week. How can this be?! Okay, I failed to mention that it already hit me the day after the Jamie Cullum showcase, when reality reared its ugly head in the middle of an impossibly busy shift, and I suddenly thought: Damn, last night I shook hands with a guy whose music I can't live without, and today, kids are vomiting on me left, right, centre. Kinda like leaping off a skyscraper and landing with a splat. Right, a little too graphic perhaps. :)
Or maybe it's the exam stress getting to me. And so many errands to run as I hand in forms for AST / MOPEX, buy yet another A&E text ( this time a recently published local effort ), and try to disassociate myself from the paediatric mindset ( detrimental to the process of thinking straight during mostly-adult-topics emergency medicine tutorials ).
Yikes, I can't even write properly. Did you understand any of the above paragraphs?
Well, at least I got my photos developed. Those taken at The Esplanade ( Ten Tenors and Hello Broadway ) turned out really well, but Jamie Cullum's were rather dark, and some idiot in front of me kept getting in the way. Still, I've got 2 great shots which are extremely sharp and in vivid colour. Jamie actually looks different in them -- a lot younger ( maybe even less than 20 years old! ) and more baby-faced. No idea why this happened, but it's perfectly all right. :)
Another day off tomorrow, but am gonna spend it driving from one end of the island to the other. Yippee.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Life! Review of Jamie Cullum's Singapore Showcase
-- by Jill Alphonso
It's Jazz His Style
[there's a side-profile photo of Jamie standing at the piano, banging the keys and singing, with the caption: "I Tell Ya, He Rocks: With his rocker moves, Jamie Cullum eschews the way of jazz greats to creat his own style."]
"It is debatable whether singer and songwriter Jamie Cullum will be remembered as a great jazz musician.
Especially since his music is heavily influenced by pop culture, and since even he admits that it is not 100 per cent jazz.
But what is obvious, once you have seen him play, is that he is a madcap live-wire performer with an irresistible onstage charm.
Clad in a T-shirt, Diesel jeans and sneakers, Cullum, 24, sauntered onto the stage at a private show at Aquadisiac last Friday night before a crowd of 500.
He casually took a sip of wine from his glass before breaking into a cover of the song, I Get A Kick Out Of You.
His second song was a now-famous cover of hip-hop brand N.E.R.D.'s Frontin', which he first performed on BBC Radio 1 earlier this year, and which caused the crowd at Aquadisiac to cheer wildly as he started to sing.
During the rest of the one-hour performance, he played hits from his latest album, Twentysomething, which included originals All At Sea and These Are The Days, and covers like Radiohead's High And Dry and Jimi Hendrix's Wind Cries Mary.
Throughout the show, he was literally all over the piano.
He leapt off the top of it twice, drummed on its sides to the beat and plucked at its strings. He even rolled on his back on the floor and drummed the base of the piano with his hands.
If one was tempted to think that he was abusing his instrument, he also paused once at the end of a song to plant kisses on its side.
"I'm not a polite performer," Cullum said in an interview at his hotel a day before the show. "What's important to me is that I'm comfortable onstage."
And comfort obviously means pouding sharply on the piano keys, barely sitting down at the instrument, but rather standing to dance and tossing his hair.
He said the dancing was honed at raves in his hometown of Wiltshire when he was 16 years old.
There, he would dance all night to drum 'n' bass music, which has had an influence on his own compositions, he said.
But where do suspiciously rocker moves like the hair-tossing and stamping of feet come from?
Cullum has played in numerous bands since he first picked up a guitar at age 13.
He also played guitar and keyboards in a rock band, Taxi, before going solo.
"I find music infectious, and I want to bring that to the audience throught he performance," he said of his onstage antics.
That philosophy certainly won the crowd over last Friday. By the time he left the stage, sweaty, smiling and thanking the crowd for its enthusiasm, the audience had gotten onto its feet to give him a standing ovation.
Rock on, Jamie."
Nice review, I think. :)
By the way, forgot to put in this link to his official website, which features lots of news updates, photo galleries, and even a journal section from Jamie himself.
Also, sincere thanks to his bassist and drummer -- Geoff and Sebastiaan -- who actually took the time to answer an email I sent recently ( after the showcase ). The former tells me they'll be recording a new album come January 2005, so look out for that. :)
Right, I need to sleep before my night shift. Going for a mass casualty exercise later, which should be quite fun, mostly 'cos I won't have to see patients for maybe 3-4 hours, ha!

Saturday, July 17, 2004


-- title of a song by Kurt Nilsen, Norwegian / World Idol 2003

Or more accurately, I'm so high. :)

* the following post should be read only if (1) you're a Jamie Cullum fan, (2) you're genuinely interested in the events surrounding his Singapore showcase, (3) you don't mind overdosing on some really major gushing, or (4) you just want to know what the heck I did with my Friday night. Don't say I didn't warn you. :) *

It's 9:45am Saturday, and I'm suffering from a case of almost-overwhelming fatigue mixed with giddy euphoria. As you can guess, I did indeed enjoy Cullum's performance last night ( more below ), but two incidents -- totally unexpected and once-in-a-lifetime -- and two people ( complete strangers who went out of their way to help me ) definitely contributed to the adrenaline rush! 

The Aquadesiac Bar at Indochine Wisma

First, a little bit about the venue. It's located in the back of the mall's Top Shop outlet, with 2 levels and a glass-floor-and-steps decor. The stage is near the bar at the front, but surprisingly small in size, like that at The Marriott's Bar None. Still, this arrangement offers great intimacy during band gigs, and this was just fine with me. :)

The set-up: grand piano to the left, bass in the centre, drums to the right. First row: small tables with low cushion seats. Second: high tables and chairs. Behind that: free standing area, with more tables and seats at the sides -- all of which were reserved for industry executives. Large fish tank to the right covering the entire wall, which was quite a novel concept.

My location: initially second row of free-standing spectators, slightly to the right. Later, people in front of me shifted to the reserved tables ( warranted, so don't worry :)), leaving me with an unobstructed view of Jamie ( most important ), and partial views of his band members -- Geoff Gascoyne on the bass, and Sebastian de Krom on the drums ( both blonde, 40-ish, and extremely proficient with their instruments, wow ).

It was packed, with one Universal Music exec ( seated just in front of us ) saying at least 300 guests were listed ( though I'm not sure if that includes contest winners ). Lots of photographers, at least 2 video cameras recording the whole thing. But best of all, personal cameras weren't prohibited, so I whipped mine out and snapped away. Gonna get the roll developed ( finally ) soon -- and it's got my pics of The Ten Tenors and Judy Kuhn as well! :D

The Man Arrives

After a short intro by Class 95's The Flying Dutchman, Jamie sprang on-stage at 8:20pm, sporting his signature T-shirt, jeans and sneakers ensemble. In the UK, he usually wears the Fake London brand, but here, his shirt had the Tiger Beer logo emblazoned on the front ( very smart move :)). He's diminutive, but looks taller than his 1.63m frame. Bushy dark brown hair, prominent eyebrows, very boyish ( exactly like his publicity shots ), and unbelievable eyes -- they just seem to fill his entire face, and are positively hypnotizing, with a touch of the impish, the melancholy, and maturity way beyond his tender 24 years.

Unlike most artistes who either offer a short greeting or go straight into their performances, Jamie put the mike to his lips and started singing a capella -- a piece I did not recognize, but I might have been too delirious to fully understand anything at that point :P -- keeping it up for at least 5 minutes, to rapturous screams from the appreciative audience. Soon after, he jumped ( yes, jumped ) to the piano, kicked the seat back, and started to bang the keys while standing (a position he maintained for the next full hour ), playing the opening chords to I Get A Kick Out of You.

Now, I Get A Kick is a song I've been dying to hear him perform live ever since I heard it on the CD. It's a tour de force combining mind-boggling piano techniques with an infectious swing rhythm, and a very cheeky delivery of the Cole Porter classic. And with this guy, "live" means "prolonged, unadulterated jamming". I estimate that he performed 10 songs in total, but this stretched to more than 5 minutes per song, thanks to major improvisations and drawn out piano solos ( which I had absolutely no problems with! ).

Anyway, I digress. After that exhilarating opening number, he launched into Frontin', a rocking jazz piece which is probably from his first album ( before Pointless Nostalgic and Twentysomething ). Other songs that followed: These Are The Days, What A Difference A Day Made, Singin' In The Rain, I Could Have Danced All Night, Wind Cries Mary, Lover You Should Have Come Over, High And Dry and Twentysomething.

Antics Galore

Listening to his CDs may be loads of fun, but you can never fully prepare yourself for the man himself! Jamie is one exuberant firecracker, and holds true to his statement that "I treat the piano the way Hendrix played the guitar". Whereas most ( if not all ) plant their butts on the seat and maybe jerk or sway to the music, Jamie launches a full attack on the ivories, sweeping his hands across the keys in an effortless, laws-of-physics-defying manner. He also did his famous piano-string-plucking thing, reaching over with his left hand to tug at them as his right stayed on the keyboard. The effect was amazing!

Then there were the many times he actually stood on the edge of the piano, teetering precariously before leaping off onto the ground ( very agile, I must say ). At one point, he went under the huge instrument, drawing many a gasp from the audience as he used its belly as a substitute drum. Oh yeah, he can play the drums like a pro too. My gosh! :D

Most importantly, though, is his wonderful rapport with his fans. Instead of making us feel like outsiders with his eccentricities, he draws us in even nearer. He grins at us when he bangs the piano, he always stops for a moment to stare in our direction before hurling himself off in one direction or another, and he regularly stops playing to stand at the edge of the stage, singing to the audience, getting us to clap ( even asking us to set the pace for I Could Have Danced All Night ), and to sing a capella with him ( on Twentysomething ).

As for bantering, there was the usual "thank you for having us, everyone's been really nice/great, we can't wait to come back to do a show for you". But in between, he did mention going to Clarke Quay for some spicy crab, an experience he described as "possibly the spiciest meal I've ever had in my entire life, and which I think - and hope - helps my performance tonight!" :)

The Two People I Have To Thank

I can't mention names or details here, but one of them got me into the showcase, and the other got me Jamie's autograph. You both know who you are, and I am forever in your debt! Thank you so much!

The Two Incidents

*major gushing ahead, stop before you get nauseated!*

(1) Jamie shook my hand!

This happened during Twentysomething, when he was singing the a capella doo-wop bit with us. And through some twist of fate, he hopped off the stage, and walked directly towards my location. Media execs in front parted like the Red Sea as he strolled through the crowd, and before I knew it, he was just two feet in front of me, though still looking around and clapping away. Things are a bit of a blur to me, so this is the account my mom gave ( yep, took her with me to the show, which she absolutely loved! ): I screamed "Jamie!" once, and got his attention immediately. I then stuck out my hand, arm extended as far as I could manage, so it was hanging right in front of his lower chest. I vaguely remember saying, "Can I shake your hand?", but my mom didn't hear it. Jamie continued to clap for a few seconds more, but kept his eyes on me, with a slightly bemused expression on his face, and as I froze in my awkward position and contemplated withdrawing my hand 'cos it didn't look like he was going to take it, he suddenly stopped clapping and grabbed it! Aye-carumba!

It was surreal to the point that I don't remember anything other than that handshake. Everything around me just disappeared, and the memory is seared into my brain for all eternity.

FYI, he has a very firm grip, and his hands were slightly cold ( maybe a little sweaty too because of all the jumping around ). I'm very sure he held my hand for at least 3-5 seconds, and my mom swears he had a definite smile on his face. Before I knew it, the moment had passed, we let go at the same time, he turned around, crouched a little like a cat waiting to spring on its prey, and sped back on-stage.

He never came down to the audience again after that. And everyone around me kicked themselves ( they told me so, haha! ) for missing the opportunity that I was just too thick-skinned to pass up. :D

(2) I got Jamie's autograph!

Thanks to yet another generous soul from the sponsoring company -- a person I never met until last night -- Jamie obliged with a personal autograph on the CD sleeve of his Twentysomething album. It says "To [my name], Love Jamie Cullum, 2004" in a haywire scrawl with a purple marker. The interesting part is how he also included a small doodle of the keyboard below his name, and put an "X" at the end. It's now sitting on my bedroom shelf together with signatures from Clay Aiken, The Ten Tenors and the Hello Broadway! cast. Hmm, methinks I've got a new hobby going here. :P


So here ends the rambling. The adrenaline rush has yet to abate, and it was an evening I will never, ever forget. I hope Jamie and gang will return for that concert real soon, and if you haven't bought his CDs yet, don't wait any longer, 'cos he is going to be a gigantic star, and I think I'm pretty adept at spotting such talent ( had similar hopes for Robbie Williams, Michael Buble and Peter Cincotti, who are all doing very well ).

Last but not least, Jamie brings a breath of fresh air to the jazz genre, has an irresistible personality, a pitch-perfect voice, and so much talent. He truly deserves all the success he's enjoying, and I wish him the very best for the future.

Adios, amigos! Have to hit the books again. Sigh.

:D :D :D


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride

2 days more and I'll be seated in the Aquadesiac Bar at Indochine Wisma, sipping some Chivas Regal liquor and soaking in the sweet sounds of Jamie Cullum on the grand piano. :)

Read in a jazz magazine that Jamie's quite the character:

-- born to parents of Burmese-German-Jewish descent
-- taught himself to play the piano by ear, and can't read music scores at all
-- also played the rock guitar for 10 years before returning to the ivories at age 17
-- never has a set programme during performances, choosing pieces only by reading the crowds' reactions
-- has played for the Queen of England in Edinburgh
-- is selling out concerts across the UK, and making waves in the US
-- spent a year in Paris playing bars, weddings and bar-mitzvahs
-- enjoys solitude
-- studied English literature and drama / theatre at Reading University

And to continue the song lyrics above:

... ain't nothing gonna bring me down
Oh no, I gotta keep on moving.

Bring on the sick kids! I'll have a big smile on my face all day! :P

More on this later in the weekend. Might be a little hung over. ;)


To Genevieve, my friend from Clay Aiken Singapore, who just attended her convocation ceremony today.

She also recently started her own blog, an introspective narrative that makes me sound extremely manic. :)

New Man On Board

We're still setting up his login account, but The Lingual Nerve (LN) is very honoured to welcome Tom Reynolds onto the team!

Tom is a trained nurse who's now tearing up the streets as an EMT. Check out his awesome blog, and watch for more of him on LN.

Last but not least, I found out last week that a male Mediacorp actor lives just 7 storeys above me. He's quite well-known, and has been in the business for decades. He's also very friendly, and extremely tall. Make a guess. :)

Just dropped by Kinokuniya at Takashimaya this afternoon. Man, that place makes my mouth water. I've got so much reading to do after my exams!

And try out The Soup Restaurant in Paragon's Basement 1 sometime. It's got the best Chinese / Cantonese food ever -- surpassing that of the Crystal Jade chain at least ten times. I'm so bloated right now. But contented. :D

Time to go for a dip and burn off all those calories, heh heh!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Momentum Is Building

A number of interesting discussions are going on over at The Lingual Nerve.

Shameless plugging, I know, but I honestly think it's pretty good stuff, so take a look won't you.

Post-call, with an editorial deadline to meet, tape-recorded CSI and Amazing Race episodes beckoning me from the TV console, and later, The Apprentice and The OC.

Someone scold me for not studying. Please.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Don't Rain On My Parade!
-- lyrics from a song taken off the musical Funny Girl

Aaaaaahhhh. It's 11:20pm, I've just had a very uneventful off-standby day ( ie. I didn't get called back, YES!) and now there's a goofy grin on my face which will probably last another 2 weeks.

The Reason...

I got tickets to Jamie Cullum's Singapore showcase next Friday night, woohoo! Don't ask me how they landed in my lap. I'm forever indebted to this one extremely generous person, but sadly, I can't mention any names. You know who you are. Thank you thank you thank you again! :)

Spider-Man 2: A Brief Review

It's really good! More below.

**Spoilers ahead**

I thought the first film was fantastic, but the sequel blew me away.

The storyline's more fleshed out this time round, the actors have settled into their roles very nicely, the action sequences are unbelievable, and the romance element even more bittersweet.

Apologies for the lack of details as per my usual rants about movies. I'm very rushed for time at the moment, and just want to say that:

1. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst share some of the greatest on-screen magic ever.
2. James Franco ( Harry Osbourne ) has definitely been working out -- he looks buff compared to his scrawny self 2 years ago. And, he's even more fascinating than before -- there're already clear indications he'll be the villain for Spider-Man 3. Cool. :D
3. The harrowing operating theatre scene had me biting my nails. And I don't bite my nails. Ever. ( More on The Lingual Nerve )
4. Peter Cincotti makes a brief cameo in a glitzy party scene -- he's the pianist with the floppy hair and beaming smile. All of 3 seconds. Darn it!
5. The bit where Mary Jane sees Spider-Man with his mask off made a lot of people cry. Well, my batch, at least. As well as the part where she left the groom at the altar and went to look for Peter. Is it just me, or did the line "I've always been standing in your doorway" make you choke up too? Sigh, I'm a hopeless romantic at heart no matter what. :P

Go see it!

Next up, King Arthur ( opens 14 July ), produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and starring the very broody Clive Owen as the great King. I need beta-blockers! :D

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Some Get Their Kicks From Cocaine
-- lyrics from I Get A Kick Out Of You

Following a fantastic evening out at The Esplanade, I'm still a little high from the Hello Broadway! concert last night, featuring Judy Kuhn ( the singing voice of Disney's Pocahontas ), Jerry Dixon ( part of the original cast for Five Guys Named Moe ), Welly Yang and Dina Morishita ( from last year's The Wedding Banquet ).

Backed by a competent ( and surprisingly hip Singapore Symphony Orchestra ), the repertoire comprised favourites from Phantom of the Opera, Chess, Rent and Chicago, among others. With pitch-perfect deliveries, friendly banter with the audience, and even an autograph / photo-taking sesson after the show, the 4 leads clearly won hearts with their warmth and talent. ( I've become quite thick-skinned since my encounter with The Ten Tenors, so I just blatantly asked each singer to pose for snapshots, heh heh! )

Highlights for me include Kuhn's touching Colours of the Wind ( Pocahontas ), Welly Yang's very emotive This Is True ( The Wedding Banquet ), Jerry Dixon's fun, jazzy Caldonia ( Five Guys Named Moe ) and Morishita's show-stopping, sexy All That Jazz ( Chicago ).

For collaborative efforts, there's real-life couple Yang and Morishita's sweet and beautiful Last Night Of the World ( Miss Saigon ), the finale Seasons of Love ( Rent ), and 2 unbelievable jazz performances -- ie. a very creative interpretation of Circle of Life ( The Lion King ) with only piano, bongo drums and singer ( sent chills down my spine ), and I'm In Bizness ( a full-throttle swing number that sent me into orbit ).

The pianist -- also the conductor / arranger -- is Jason Robert Brown, more well-known in the vicinity of Broadway, but boasting a very impressive resume, and phenomenal prowess on the ivories. He sings too! *palpitations* :D
I tell you, during these 2 songs, I suddenly realized what jazz pianists ( male, of course ) can do to me --> turn me into a blithering idiot. And I thought Clay Aiken held that sole honour, haha. :)

Sadly, Brown wasn't present during the autograph-signing, which was a pity. Would've liked to get a picture with him. And get a good look at those amazing hands of his. :)

Feedback on The Lingual Nerve

...has been mixed so far. Some people like it, some people think it's still a little "too medical".

We're working on it! Give us a chance! Please! :D

Will see if I can write something after this. It's a pretty quiet shift at the moment. Euro 2004 fever coupled with Youth Day tomorrow equals fewer ER attendances.
Well, at least I hope it does.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

It's 3:15am. Night shift, naturally. And severe insomnia, due to an unexpected turn of events -- I usually rest later, but have been asked to take the first nap this time round. Aargh!

Sitting in the call room, unable to wind down after a string of maybe 15 patients at one go, I thought I'd plagiarize from re-minisce (as I do on the odd occasion :)). Hope you don't mind, my friend.

10 Best Things In Life - My Current List
( yeah, it changes from time to time, and this is in no particular order )

1. laksa ( I never tire of it )
2. a giant steak, medium-rare ( the bloodier the better )
3. a mug of ice-cold Root Beer ( I'm 50% Root Beer - no kidding )
4. my cat snoozing in my lap as I study ( he's still such a baby )
5. the hour I spent at the edge of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, NZ last December -- munching an apple and dipping my toes in the crystal-clear water ( absolute heaven... )
6. a rollicking good time at a great concert ( e.g. Michael Buble, Robbie Williams, The Ten Tenors )
7. a photo of mine bearing Clay Aiken's signature ( priceless )
8. Dead Poets Society ( the one movie I never get sick of )
9. writing ( I can't express myself any other way )
10. a kiss someone once gave me ( and no, it wasn't from my ex ;P)

I suppose I could subdivide into various categories, but that would be a little restrictive. I churned this out in 10 minutes, and am a little surprised by a few of my choices. Thanks, re-m, for that stroke of inspiration. :D

The Bachelor - He Sucks!

Have been meaning to talk about this for a while, but kept getting sidetracked. Bob Guiney is now on my hate list, thanks to his mistreatment of the lady he picked ( don't want to give her identity away in case some of you don't want to know ). He broke up with her a few months ago, and is now engaged ( yes, ENGAGED ) to a soap opera actress. The broken-hearted gal told reporters that he ended their relationship over the phone ( what!?! ), and had an ulterior motive ( fame and fortune rather than true love ) when he appeared on the show. Don't be fooled by his ready smile and glib tongue. I used to root for him, but now, it's mostly cursing. Tsk, tsk.

The Apprentice

The winner - a guy - is starting to shine. And he's delicious. :) Clue: he looks a little like Aidan Quinn ( the oldest brother, Alfred, in Legends of the Fall ), but is more blonde. He's also in People magazine's Hottest Bachelors issue ( June 2004 ). 6 ft 3 inches! He's even taller than Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett ( 6 ft 2 in ). Okay, I need to stop stuffing my brain with such information. :)

I've got 30 minutes left. Better lie down a bit, or my patients will suffer later.

Friday, July 02, 2004

It's Out!

SMA News June Issue

I'm concentrating on The Lingual Nerve for the moment. Drop by for a read, 'cos it's gaining quite a bit of momentum.