Saturday, September 25, 2004

Extreme circumstances sometimes require extreme measures.

For the first time in the 2 years since I started this blog, I've made the decision to edit a reader's comments.

Yes, Urgh, my dear boy ( or girl ), you no longer have free rein to mouth off in such an irresponsible manner. Never mind about throwing giant darts at me in particular, but attacking my fellow colleagues and the specialty of emergency medicine itself is the last straw. Worse, you persistently refuse to crawl out from whatever dark hole you reside in, choosing instead to make some of the nastiest comments I've ever come across, without ever thinking of the consequences.

I think many of us will welcome this small change, no? :)

Right then, on to business.

The Amazing Race 5 concluded 3 days ago, with African-American couple Chip and Kim taking the prize money. I was sorely disappointed though, after rooting for top players Colin and Christie this season. The latter led at 6 pit-stops ( a record ), didn't ever use the yield card ( Chip and Kim weren't as kind ), and have consistently shown good instincts and smarts. Unfortunately, it all bore down to pure luck in the end, and a flight delay cost them the win. Still, the paper this morning reported that Colin proposed to Christie on American TV, and she accepted. There's a happy ending after all. :)

13 Going on 30
Believe it or not, the DVD was available even when the film was in the middle of its theatre run here. Supposedly a female version of Big ( which catapulted Tom Hanks to superstardom ), it sadly pales in comparison. Jennifer Garner is pretty, sweet, and I'm a big fan of hers ( Alias rocks! ), but seeing her try to act the part of a girl trapped in a woman's body is just... painful. She isn't right for such fluff, and should seriously stick to kick-ass action and more adult romances. But I gotta say, Mark Ruffalo is very watchable. :D

Do not, I say, DO NOT be fooled by what you read on the cover of this DVD! Rave reviews galore, but IMHO, it sucked. Robert De Niro languishes in the role of a renegade geneticist who manipulates married on-screen couple Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romjin ( scratch the Stamos since they're now divorced ) for his own purposes. Although it starts out promisingly enough, the whole plot soon degenerates, and I started to develop a HUGE irritation towards whoever it is that plays the couple's son -- he looks like Marcus from About A Boy, but without any shred of personality. Dullsville.

Anyone You Want Me To Be

I mentioned this John Douglas book in my last entry, and am happy to report that I've finished it, thanks to his always excellent writing style and the book's riveting content, which traces the horrific crimes committed by John Robinson, a very nondescript-looking family man with closet sadomasochistic tendencies, a frightening ability to control women, and later, a thirst for murder. The story is complex, yet kept interesting with fascinating profiling anecdotes interspersed between the gory details. Also, the author repetitively mentions how even the most normal-looking people can actually be severely disturbed. I wholly agree with this point -- I know someone who outwardly appears very studious and consistently excels academically, yet harbours a deep interest in S&M practices, perhaps even obsessing about them 24-7. Very unnerving.

I also strongly recommend his other novels -- Mindhunter, Journey Into Darkness, and The Cases That Haunt Us. The 2nd book discusses America's most notorious serial killers, and is absolutely chilling.

The next book on my list is Mike Gayle's Turning Thirty. I do believe a couple of fellow blogger friends have read Gayle previously and enjoyed his work, so I'm hoping I will too. The blurb was quite funny -- talking about how when one turns thirty, the choice of pubs mostly depends on whether there's a place to sit down. How very true, haha!

Following this, I will start on The Hiding Place, a gift from a very good friend, and supposed to be very inspiring.

Work-wise, I've been seeing a whole lot of immensely spoiled brats these past few days. Plus their totally ineffective parents. One 9-year-old boy screamed, struggled and kicked so hard I had to ask his mom and dad to help me hold him down ( just for a routine throat exam, yeesh ). Anyhow, they didn't even try, for pete's sake. They just held him limply for a few seconds, then when he kept fussing, they just let him squirm out of their grasps.
"Okay lah, okay lah, mommy kiss kiss, daddy love love. Let doctor see for a while can? *smooch smooch smooch*"
Oh pleeeease.
Thank goodness once in a while, the odd parent will exercise some control over a child that's running amok. Like the father who barked at his son once he started whining.
At that moment, I was really tempted to bow down before him and say a hundred thank-you's. :)

More another time. Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

First of all, my apologies to those of you who've been checking the site religiously this past week, and probably getting pretty frustrated by the lack of updates. It's basically just been a really hectic period, and right now -- as usual -- I'm blogging during a night shift, aargh!

Survivor:Vanuatu has begun, woohoo!

18 new castaways, and the return of the very scrumptious Jeff Probst, who looks better with each passing season. :)
I caught the earlier half of the show last night - before having to scamper off to work - and already, I can tell you John P. and Brady will be the stars of the show, for very obvious ( ie. aesthetic ) reasons. Plus, the latter's an FBI agent. Oh my... :P

Singapore Idol

The finals will begin in 2 weeks, and all I can say is, I was doing the I-Told-You-So dance a couple of days ago when Sylvester Sim, the Ah Beng rocker dude, was voted the People's Choice. This is a guy whom I spotted during the preliminary rounds, and whom I voted for ( though he failed to go through the first time, while a rather lousy Christopher Lee did, hmph ). I was elated when Sly was brought back for the Wild Card, and believe it or not, even though I was working when the episode aired, I told my mom to make sure she voted for him no matter what. Interesting eh? :D

Will he win though? Only time will tell. He's the most unusual of the finalists, no doubt, favouring Bon Jovi and Firehouse, unlike the mainstream pop his peers gravitate towards. And he sounds very competent, like Kurt Nilsen and his U2 renditions ( Norwegian Idol, you may recall ). But I admit it's pretty much a long shot, 'cos the masses are famous for preferring the more palatable genres rather than something as edgy as rock / heavy metal. So I think beautiful-diva Jessea will excel in this respect.

The coming months will certainly be extremely interesting. I'll be keeping my eyes and ears peeled. :)

Books, Books, Books

An Unquiet Mind -- Kay Redfield Jamison: A proper review will be published in the SMA News sometime soon, with a possibly more detailed version on The Lingual Nerve. In short, however, this is the 2nd best book I've ever laid my hands on, just behind the absolutely fabulous Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil by John Berendt. A great pleasure indeed.

Lucky -- Alice Sebold: I actually wanted The Lovely Bones, a first-person account ( or first-ghost account ) of a rape / murder involving a teenage girl, but that was out of stock, so I decided to try Sebold's autobiography instead. Sadly, I didn't like it at all. Past the first chapter ( an admittedly graphic account of the crime itself ), I found her narratives too long-winded. Or perhaps her friends are just uniformly melodramatic. But that's just my opinion.

Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys: A veritable treasure, this one! You know I'm a GIGANTIC Barry fan, and this is so good I decided to keep the book, even though I originally rented it. A lot of the traits he describes hit the nail right on the head, and by golly, my dad is practically The Quintessential Guy, even though Barry's Caucasian and my father's more of a typical Chinese patriarch figure. Believe it, gals -- guys everywhere are exactly the same. It's in their genes ( according to Mr. Dave ), and the chapter on Guy Medical Conditions is priceless!
Also, there's a short quote from an article in -- get this -- The Straits Times, about a man who was bitten in the netherparts by a python hiding in the toilet bowl.
( Gentle warning: DO NOT read this book in a public place, unless you couldn't care less about other people thinking you're insane. )

Anyone You Want Me To Be -- John Douglas: Just started on this today, but I have high hopes for it, 'cos I'm a big fan of Douglas -- a pioneer FBI profiler whose novel Mindhunter served as inspiration for Thomas Harris' Hannibal series. After his last effort -- the very very very excellent The Cases That Haunt Us ( with retrospective analyses of everything from the Lizzie Borden and JonBenet Ramsey murders to the Charles Lindbergh kidnapping ), his latest effort dwells on an Internet serial killer, with fascinating insights and a breezy writing style that never fails to keep me glued to the pages. More on this another time.

My break's ending soon. In conclusion:

1. Gigli really isn't that bad, though neither is it very good. But I wouldn't suggest watching it, unless you're a rabid Ben Affleck fan like myself, haha.

2. Foreign films worth seeing -- The Experiment ( German, very enjoyable ) and Possessed ( Danish, starts off as a medical thriller then meanders somewhere else halfway through -- really depends on how flexible you are; I wasn't too happy about the switch, but my mom liked it ).

3. Clay Aiken updates ( yes! he still exists in my world! ) -- X'mas album due out in October; he's also apparently writing an autobiography which will be published very soon, AND I still get goosebumps listening to him sing. :)

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Thanks for the info about that song. Now I remember the Jimmy Cliff version. And Cool Runnings. :)

Welcome, freshman and alia. People often tell me I'm quite different in person, which basically means I'm manic when blogging, and antisocial everywhere else. Remember that well. :P

It's 11pm, and I'm sitting in my room, cat happily perched next to me, Michael Buble playing in the background. Aaaaaah, life is good. :D

Kingdom Hospital

The series premiered on cable last Sunday, and unfortunately, almost put me to sleep. Despite all the hype, my initial excitement soon gave way to bewilderment, then irreversible boredom.

Produced by Stephen King and Lars Von Triers, with a potentially riveting storyline that combines supernatural and medical components, the show made the huge mistake of thinking audiences would forgive and forget its glaring loopholes and ( at times ) completely unbelievable plotlines.

In the pilot, for example, a man is hit by a distracted van driver while jogging, then mercilessly left in the middle of nowhere, paralyzed and bleeding. There's even some rather, um, interesting "conversation" between the conflicted culprit and his victim ( whose thoughts are beamed to us Look-Who's-Talking style ).

Okaaaaay, I think. Surely this can't get any worse.

WRONG. The next few minutes left me -- to put it mildly -- befuddled. Enter weird-looking creature -- ie. an aardvark, for crying out loud! The animal -- which is later revealed to belong to the ghost of a little girl -- carries on some telepathic exchange with the injured guy, then helpfully drags him to a more prominent location, where he's rescued by a passing truck driver and brought to ( you guessed it ) Kingdom Hospital.

And here's where the overall kookiness escalates to massively overblown proportions.

First, the logo is horrendous. Kinda like 2 blood-red scythes or some horned demon in abstract, ugh. If I were a patient, I wouldn't step into an institution emblazoned with a symbol as gruesome as this even if my life depended on it. Drive on! No, don't you DARE stop the ambulance! I don't care if my guts are spilling out of my abdomen!

Second, the whole place appears to be some Third World / rural hospital from hell. As far as I could see, there's only one security guard on duty ( who spends most of his time reading porn ), and the medical staff looks even more confused than the patient on certain occasions. The only familar face that I can pick out is Andrew McCarthy -- whom, I'm a little embarrassed to admit, I harboured a huge crush on way back when I was a teenager :) -- who plays a neurosurgeon (?) cum borderline sociopath, if his demeanour during a craniotomy is anything to go by.

But that's all right. Really. I'm all for quirks. I love Joel Fleischman the uptight Jewish doctor who was dumped in Alaska in Northern Exposure. I adore Jeffrey Geiger the warbling cardiothoracic surgeon with lots of skeletons in his closet, and the sexy yet dangerously gung-ho orthopod Billy Cronk ( Chicago Hope ). And of course, plastic surgeon Christian Troy from Nip/Tuck, who's so obviously worthy of a woman's disgust, but gets our hormones raging nonetheless, dammit. :)

However... sigh. McCarthy did nothing for me in this thankless role. And the script leaves much to be desired. By the end of the first hour, I'd fidgeted so much my mom thought I had a rash, and I finally decided to call it a night.

If you happen to watch it and disagree with my review, feel free to state your reasons. I'm always open to conversion, like with Sex And The City. :)

The Bachelorette 2

The new season has begun! I'm such a sucker for this show. :P

Meredith from The Bachelor 4 has the honour of being the star this time round. Not the prettiest of the lot, but radiant and classy, and highly sought after by 25 eager beavers. The standards remain high, and this bunch of men far outshines the group Trista Rehn faced. Successful, sophisticated, good-looking, charming -- why aren't these people married?!?!

I know who she picked -- read that somewhere -- and he's certainly a tasty specimen, haha. :D One of the other contenders ( who may be a runner-up ) looks like Viggo Mortensen, ack! Some women have all the luck! :P

And speaking of Viggo, I've been catching up with his film career lately. Besides Hidalgo, I also rented A Walk On The Moon and 28 Days. The latter two are pre-LOTR, and I just don't understand why he never made it big then. Rugged good looks, flawless physique, lovely voice, gentlemanly manners, soulful blue eyes ( my favourite features :)) -- hello? Anyone paying attention? Glad he made it anyhow. Harrison Ford hit stardom relatively late as well, but is none the worse for it.

Getting late. More next time.

Monday, September 06, 2004

I Can See Clearly Now, The Rain Is Gone...

Now who sang that song, darn it?!

Speaking of songs - and irritation - I just finished reading 2 more Dave Barry books, thanks to the ever-resourceful Tanglin Club library. :) One's titled Dave Barry's Book Of Bad Songs, and the other Dave Barry Does Japan. Needless to say, both had me in stitches, even during a sleepless night shift. Who needs coffee or mood stabilizers eh? :D

Here're just some samplings from each.

From Dave Barry's Book Of Bad Songs:

"And when I told him I had been untrue
He hit me and it felt like a kiss
He hit me and I knew he loved me
If he didn't care for me
I could have never made him mad
But he hit me, and I was glad"
-- lyrics from He Hit Me ( And It Felt Like A Kiss ) by The Crystals ( also known, I believe, as the official Sado-Masochism anthem )

And who would've thought that "I've Never Been To Me" by Charlene -- that saccharine ballad which I never really pay full attention to, but sounds pretty harmless -- sounds like this:

"I've been undressed by kings
And I've seen some things
That a woman ain't supposed to see

I spent my life exploring
The subtle whoring
That costs too much to be free"

Whoa! I've got to turn the volume up the next time this is played on the radio! Media Development Authority, here's a chance for you to get more money from fines! :P

And my personal favourite:

"You can tell my lips
Or you can tell my hips
That you're going to dump me if you can
But don't tell my liver
It never would forgive her
It might blow up and circumcise this man!"
-- from "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus ( remember that one? )

From Dave Barry Does Japan:

The chapter on its "exotic foods":

"... the Japanese routinely ear things that have eyeballs or suckers or other flagrantly unacceptable organs still attached to them. No effort is made to hide this. In fact, it seems to be a selling point. So you'd pass by a restaurant window, and you'd see a plastic model of what would otherwise be an OK-looking dish, but lunging menacingly out of the noodles will be a tentacle, similar to the one on the giant squid that attacked the submarine in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. ( You almost expect to see it clutching a detailed plastic model of Kirk Douglas. )"

On kabuki theatre:

"... everybody seemed to whine a lot. It was all that happened for minutes on end. Kabuki has the same dramatic pacing as bridge construction.
The boy, played by a boy who was apparently selected for his ability to whine for extended lengths of time in an extraordinarily high pitch, asks - why not? - whether his clogs are anywhere around. Everybody whines about this for three solid minutes ( or fifty-one minutes in E.S.T., eye surgery time )."

There's more, of course, but my hands keep shaking from all that laughing. :)

Movie reviews:

Right, prepare for an overload of information, although I'm going to keep it as short as possible because my dinner is ready.

Boring beyond belief: Cold Mountain, The Missing ( latter stars Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett in some Civil War-Apache Indian fiasco, as far as I could tell before deciding I had better things to do than press the fast-forward button. )

Not bad: Hidalgo ( Viggo! ), Dirty Dancing 2 ( Diego! )

Overrated: 21 Grams, Mystic River ( but Sean Penn looks really good, and is the only reason either film is worth watching; as for Benicio Tel Toro -- I used to like him a lot, but he's grown a little fat and grungy, and honestly speaking, grosses me out. )

Incomprehensible: Taking Lives ( with Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke and Kiefer Sutherland ) -- somebody PLEASE explain its crappy plot to me.

Hilarious: Something's Gotta Give -- yes, with Keanu Reeves looking so dapper in a doctor's coat. You can take my blood pressure anyday. ;)

Even more hilarious: Starsky And Hutch, with the ever-successful pairing of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Wilson is gorgeous - as always - and I just can't imagine how everyone manages to keep a straight face whenever they say "Huggy Bear" ( Snoop Dogg's character ).

[ And FYI, the MDA's relaxation of censorship rules has resulted in some pretty, err, interesting scenes remaining intact in a few of the above shows. As a kind gesture, let me tell you to go rent 21 Grams, Starsky And Hutch, and Taking Lives, if you know what I mean. :) ]

Time to eat. More another time.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Respite -- Sort Of

Okay, if you haven't already heard from various sources, yes I passed the exam. :)

Here's something else you may have heard: I'm totally exhausted. After months of preparation, followed by 2 weeks of intensive studying and 1 hellish week of actual face-to-face interaction with our panel of examiners, I returned to work less than 24 hours after receiving my results, and haven't had a day off since. I didn't blog because I COULDN'T. And this sensation of something that resembles euphoria ( but isn't quite so ) gave me insomnia, which is the last thing I want right now, aargh!

Remember that scene in What Lies Beneath, when Michelle Pfeiffer's left hand clutches the side of the bathtub as she struggles to get up after being drugged and almost drowned by Harrison Ford? That's exactly how I feel. Talk about inappropriate affect.

Gil Shaham's Performance With The SSO

This was an unexpected move on my part. After an incomprehensible evening listening to Stravinsky and Britten being pounded out by the London Symphony Orchestra earlier this year, I thought I'd sworn off all classical concerts, until a fellow colleague and friend persuaded me to check this one out. Good thing the ticket prices weren't insane for once, or I definitely would've passed on the opportunity.

Thankfully, I enjoyed myself this time round. The atmosphere was a lot more relaxed, and the music actually palatable, featuring Rossini, Tchaikovsky, and a beautiful rendition of the Butterfly Lovers Concerto -- a piece my companion is very familiar with, and kept telling me is "really really nice" ( yes, you're absolutely right! :)).

This is the first time I watched the full SSO in action. Honestly speaking, I thought they were pretty good. However, if they play anything "experimental", I'll still stay away.

Gil Shaham turned out to be a very lovable personality. Plumpish and always smiling -- he tends to beam at the conductor and the audience when he's resting in between solos -- he's also very friendly, as evidenced by his patience and considerate greetings during the after-show autograph session.

Skills-wise ( I'm not a violinist, so take this with a pinch of salt ), I was duly impressed. This was my first solo violinist performance, having only watched the likes of Nigel Kennedy, Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell on television. I can't break down and analyze something as subjective as music appreciation, especially when I know next to nothing about the itty-gritty stuff, and can only go with my gut feeling. But again, all I can say is: I loved it, so in my book, I'd rate that as an excellent evening. :)

On a lighter note, my friend and I had some good laughs along the way. For example, during a bit in the Rossini piece, when the piccolo player got a little high-strung and hit a few wrong notes. They were reportedly recording that, so maybe a little bit of digital tweaking is in order, heh heh. :D
Then, somewhere towards the end of the Butterfly Concerto, the percussionist got a little ahead of himself, so everything sounded slightly rushed. Not to mention Shaham's posture at one point, which threatened to topple him over.

We also had some finger-pointing sessions: "Ooh, cute male violinist! Looks Japanese." ( checks programme for list of orchestral members' names ); "Eh, that girl's quite pretty." "No lah, that one's cuter." ( checks programme again )


Also bumped into Shzr Ee, my RGS classmate who's now an Arts correspondent for Life!, and who's going to London for a few years on a PhD programme in music. We managed to catch up with each other for only a short few minutes, but it was nice to see her again after so many years. All the best! :)

I'm on night shift and my rest-time is ending soon, so I have to stop here. But... I'll try to write more frequently from now on, with a few VCD/DVD reviews in tow.

Before I sign off: Keanu Reeves looks HOT in a doctor's coat! :D ( Check him out in "Something's Gotta Give". Woo mama. :))