Friday, February 25, 2005

A Moment Of Silence

For Dr. Chan Kah Poon, aka "Garfield", who was a member of the SMA News' editorial board, and whom I met a few times during our ed board dinners.

Always such a jolly man, with so many wonderful stories to share. I last spoke to him about a year ago, when we were seated next to each other at the table, enjoying a buffet spread. We spoke of medical and political issues, and he related his retirement plans.

The illness struck unexpectedly, and its progression was swift. But his last moments were spent with many people who loved him dearly, and he will be missed tremendously.

It's Time -- Michael Buble

As I mentioned earlier, the shamefully brief review in Life! is a huge travesty, considering the calibre of this second effort.

The best descriptions for it are: adventurous, versatile, vocally exceptional, playful and sensuous.

In a word: WOW.

Get ready for the track-by-track!

Feeling Good -- one of many Big Band pieces on the album. Buble's velvety voice coupled + a pounding orchestra + James Bond-esque theme = a big winner.
Best bits: the bridge, which features the brass instruments in all their full-bodied glory; the line "Oh freedom is mine " being belted by Buble in the later half of the song, followed by his purring "I feel so good " right at the end. Yow. :)

A Foggy Day ( In London Town ) -- this has the word "happy" written all over it. Buble delivers it with a light yet assured touch.
Best bits: the bridge ( again! ) with its infectious swing beat and sweet saxophones; Buble's soaring "everywhere " in the last line of the piece.

You Don't Know Me -- crooning at its best! Lovelorn, oozing with deep longing, and rife with the regret of missed opportunities and unrequited affection. Buble in his element!
Best bits: a beautiful electric guitar solo; the lines "Afraid and shy / I let my chance go by / A chance that you might love me too " ( that's my life story right there, haha )

Quando, Quando, Quando -- I first heard this done by Engelbert Humperdink ( remember him? ), thanks to my mom who's a fan ( and that guy could really sing, you know ). Humperdink did a fast version, whereas Buble's duet with Nelly Furtado ( yes, believe it ) is a simmering rumba. In fact, she sounds so different from her usual nasal self I mistook her for Renee Olstead.
Absolutely wonderful, this one. Definitely one of my favourites on the CD.
Best bits: everything. :D

Home -- an original composition by Buble and his resident pianist, Alan Chang ( who's also really nice-looking, heh ), this is a lovely little song which will certainly hit a nerve in anyone who's ever been homesick.
Best bits: Buble's smooth and appropriately under-stated vocals; "I'm surrounded by a million people / I still feel all alone / I wanna go home " sung with raw emotion.

Can't Buy Me Love -- one of his "adventurous" forays in the sense that he's deviated from the mainstream, crowd-pleasing fare which populated his debut album. This piece starts off with a frenetic bass accompaniment, then switches to a finger-snapping swing tempo. Great trumpet bridge, and more of that James Bond theme!
Best bits: the bridge, yeah!; the ending, which swings to lyrics from The Beatles' She Loves You ( Yeah Yeah Yeah ), if I'm not mistaken ( ie. "With a love like that / You know you should be glad " ).

The More I See You -- the Big Band makes another appearance in this cool-cat song. Conjures up images of giant white tents on even bigger lawns, or smoky nightclubs, take your pick.
Best bits: Buble's soaring vocals in the second half; his nicely done scatting at the end.

Save The Last Dance For Me -- I've heard this sung by Nat King Cole before, but Michael Buble does it sooooo much better!
Never fails to bring a smile to my face, 'cos it's just so fabulous. From the opening guitar riffs, to the castanets, to the Mexican-flavoured trumpet and piano melodies. Another of my favourites on the album!
Best bits: the entire arrangement; Buble's purr/growl of "Baby don't you know I love you so" early in the song.

Try A Little Tenderness -- a beautiful, slow, romantic ballad. I tend to pick out the piano in almost everything I listen to, and this piece features an absolutely gorgeous keyboard accompaniment. Don't miss it!
Best bits: the piano ( in case you've forgotten :)); the last part for sure, where Buble hits high notes and does some vocal acrobatics with the word "tenderness". Someone hand me a cold towelette please. :)

How Sweet It Is -- with a chugging beat ( literally ), this is a far cry from James Taylor's version, but of course, both are excellent in their own ways. I personally prefer songs that keep me awake, so no prizes for guessing who won.
Best bits: the very creative and thumping sound effects.

Song For You -- my interest in Michael Buble all started when I heard his voice on The Way You Look Tonight 2 years ago ( not, as some of you may think, after spotting his CD cover shot! ). So it should not come as any surprise that I favour his slower pieces. This track showcases his ability at crooning to amazing effect.
Best bits: the noir-ish feel, with its brooding trumpet solo and sensual piano melody; Buble's emotional delivery ( "And when my life is over / Remember when we were together / We were alone and I was singing my song for you " ).

I've Got You Under My Skin -- you must've heard Frank Sinatra's original, or perhaps his duet with Bono from U2? Here, we have another worthy cover of a great classic. What can I say, Buble can't possibly go wrong with jazz. :)
Best bits: All those trumpets, trombones and clarinets; the Big Band bridge; those awesome vocals again, switching effortlessly from high octaves to low growls.

You And I -- okay, I have to admit this is my FAVOURITE SONG from Michael Buble EVER. For now at least, haha. I'd never heard this piece before, but now that I have, I don't think anyone else can hope to surpass this version. There's a gem in every jazz album, and not necessarily one that gets the popular vote ( my personal choices include Buble's You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine and You'll Never Know, Jamie Cullum's I Get A Kick Out Of You, A Time For Love and It Ain't Necessarily So, and Robbie Williams' One For My Baby ). This song, IMHO, takes the cake!
Best bits: from beginning to end. No kidding. The kicker -- in the 3rd minute, when he hits the higher octave with "You and I / In my mind / We can conquer the world in love / You and I " ). Sigh.

Dream A Little Dream -- I've heard this sung by a variety of people, but heck, Buble makes it sound as fresh as if it's just come off the composer's wet manuscript. Another crooning session, but that's exactly how it's meant to be done.
Best bits: his wonderful voice ( "Stars fading but I linger on dear / Still craving your kiss " ), the sweet piano solos.

Mack The Knife -- if I have to find one, just ONE, complaint about this album, it would be this track. And only because I've heard the "live" rendition from his Come Fly With Me CD/DVD offering, which possessed great energy that only "live" performances can exude. This version is upbeat and well done, with Buble experimenting liberally with the core melody, but my mind's already made up, sorry. :)
Best bits: the second half, with all those "alternative" tunes; the inevitable buildup to the climactic finale; Buble's glory note right at the end.

What're you waiting for?! Go get a copy right now!

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Hmm, looks like I've neglected the blog for a bit. Being promoted hasn't been a bed of roses. Nothing unexpected, of course. As always, "Your salary's higher now, and they expect to get their money's worth."

And how...

This is my 2nd day off in almost 3 weeks. Worked through the Chinese New Year, and even hung around the hospital for 12 hours earlier this week, thanks to a sedation lecture at 8am, a Mortality Round which ended at 10:15am, and my shift from 1-9pm.

Have been milling around in the MO pool this month -- and getting saddled with a few "experimental" shifts like 5pm-1am, 11am-7pm and the like. Things should improve a little in March, when I'll start actual Registrar hours ( and be expected to vet MO's cases, ack ).

This place is just so darn busy. Where do all the patients come from?! And they're so sick. I mean, really really on-the-brink-of-death sick. Resus is a continuous stream of AMIs, BGITs, APOs, cardiac arrests, bad COPDs, septic shocks, unexplained hypotensions, multiple traumas etc. Just yesterday, I became the resident resus doctor, with nurses and paramedics wheeling in an endless line of unstable cases, then asking me to help see them. Well, I actually enjoyed it, haha, so it's all good. :)

Lots of old folks too. Quite a few debilitated ones ( ie. bedbound, verbally uncommunicative, multiple contractures, NG tubes, indwelling urinary caths ), but even those with good functional status are extremely sweet. "Thank you, doctor. You look so young! You're so smart! So skilled! So capable!" ( I just sit there and smile. Hey, none of this is solicited, okay. :))

The nurses at this ER are just THE BEST. I worked with many of them in 2001, and although a few new faces have joined the pack, the overall efficiency is still top-notch. They come up to you before you can even ask for help. They constantly make the rounds to see if they can expedite something or other. They are whizzes at handling patients' relatives and friends, keeping them outside the Critical Care Area and thus effectively reducing the doctors' stress levels.

And... they love to feed us. Cherries, cakes, fried noodles, kuehs, Indian cuisine -- I'd better exercise more. :D

Have got 3 more off days in the next week, but one of them will be spent camping out at BCLS and ACLS recert courses ( I'm expected to turn Instructor sometime soon as well. Yikes. ) Another will be used to visit a special school ( more on that in the near future ), yet another will include a relaxing time at the Norah Jones concert. Then once March arrives, 3 days of intensive HAZMAT courses ( with experts from the US, woohoo! ), and another 2 for our local Annual Scientific Meeting. Cool. :)

Leisure Activities

Another highlight for my 30th year on Earth -- met Taufik Batisah, aka our very first Singapore Idol, at Junction 8 during a meet-the-fans session today. I only learnt about the event yesterday, and since the place is a mere 5 minutes' drive from my place ( and I eat dinner there almost weekly anyhow ), I gamely zoomed over with my mom, with 3 CDs in tow. ( Explanation for multiple copies: will be keeping one, and sending 2 to America to certain people with connections to the music industry. Oh well, it never hurts to try. :))

Interestingly, I happened to stand at 2 very strategic points, such that Taufik practically brushed past me on his way in and out of the venue. Very tall guy, and extremely good-looking. Bear in mind that my admiration isn't of the Clay-Aiken variety, but there's no denying that Taufik is one talented dude who would've done very well if he'd had the chance to perform on the World Idol stage.

He started off with a few greetings, a short interview with the host ( ??a Power 98 DJ ), then went straight on to the autograph-signing. Having hit double platinum ( 30,000 copies sold ) already, Blessings has certainly broken lots of records in the local music scene. Still, Taufik remained energetic and friendly, even taking the initiative to shake hands with each and every one of the fans at the autograph-signing table. Including me, ahem. :) Close up, he's even more handsome than the best photos I've seen. And the sincerity in the smile he flashed was genuine. Strong grip, direct and prolonged eye contact. Man, his PR skills are admirable. :)

A very enjoyable experience. I wish him the very best in his career.

CD Overload

Bought so many I've earned a lifetime membership discount from That CD Shop, heh heh. :)

Your Love, My Home -- Joshua Payne

His album cover was the main draw, I admit, but this guy has a beautiful voice that's just a total mismatch with his physical appearance. Amazing vocal control, with some wonderful tracks ( e.g. The Moon, Nature, Let It Be Me ).

When I Fall In Love -- Chris Botti

This blue-eyed blonde used to tour with Sting before embarking on a successful solo career. I wasn't that keen on his earlier fare, but this album -- which features quite a few jazz pieces -- sounds so fabulous in my car I played it to death and almost drove my mother crazy. :D

Check out his smooth, sexy grooves on the trumpet, accompanied by terrific arrangements of classics like Someone To Watch Over Me, When I Fall In Love, My Romance, One For My Baby And One More For The Road ( one of my all-time favourites ), Let's Fall In Love and Make Someone Happy.

Paula Cole's sultry voice adds to the sensual mood on What'll I Do? and How Love Should Be ( gorgeous! ), while Sting raises the temperature on his duet with Botti on La Belle Dame Sans Regrets.

But I absolutely LOVE Botti's interpretation of No Ordinary Love ( sung by Sade many years ago ). Very dark, which is exactly what makes it so fantastic. Perfect for my late-night drives home after a tough shift at work. Ahhh.

Josh Groban Live At The Greek

This package deal is so sweet you'd be a fool to pass it up. A full-length concert DVD with an accompanying CD recording of selected tracks, and it costs less than $20!

Josh does well "live", but the sound quality isn't as pristine as that on his first concert DVD, and he seems a little breathless on the tougher songs. Wardrobe needs some twiddling as well -- red and shiny jersey isn't, err, quite right for him.

However, great bits abound: a drum-pounding session ( I think it's after Canto Alla Vita ), his competent piano-playing ( on Remember When It Rained and a nice cover of Paul Simon's America ), and my fav -- his performance of Remember, that haunting theme from "Troy". Great stuff.

It's Time -- Michael Buble

I was supposed to get this in the hamper I won on Class 95, but ironically enough, we're all still waiting for it 'cos the recording company is sending over some exclusive Michael Buble merchandise which got held up somewhere.

So, I couldn't tahan anymore and decided to pick it up today ( after its official release in Singapore 2 weeks ago, yeesh ). A full review will follow ( naturally :)), but if you're interested in hearing some of the better tracks, try Home, Quando Quando Quando, Save The Last Dance For Me, I've Got You Under My Skin and Dream A Little Dream.

Don't believe a word of Tay Yek Keak's unflattering review in Life! today. I get a feeling he isn't that much of a jazz fan. And in my opinion, if you don't love this genre, you shouldn't be reviewing jazz albums because you just won't be able to appreciate them lah.

Other Goodies

The Very Best Of Sting & The Police

When I Look In Your Eyes -- Diana Krall

Genius Loves Company -- Ray Charles

At Last... The Duets Album -- Kenny G

The last one is a MUST-HAVE! More detailed reviews of each will be posted another time, but for the Kenny G CD, pleeeeaaase sample Don't Know Why ( feat. David Benoit ), Pick Up The Pieces ( feat. David Sanborn ), Careless Whisper ( very well done by Brian McKnight ), Baby Come To Me ( feat. the timeless vocals of the very talented Daryl Hall from Hall & Oates -- someone tell me where I can find their albums already, aargh ), and The Way You Move ( feat. Earth, Wind & Fire -- which was also covered by Outkast ). Hot, hot, hot. Can't wait to blast it on my hi-fi -- after I get sian of Michael Buble, that is. :)

Turn On Your TVs

Survivor: Palau

Just when I'd sworn off Survivor for good ( after the debacle on Vanuatu where all the guys and the young women got picked off leaving only the old fogies ), the 10th season grabs me by the throat and stuffs me in my seat yet again.

Lots of young 'uns this time round, with 3 eliminated on the first day. Interesting group dynamics are already beginning to show, and my favourite right now is Ian, the Marfanoid bespectacled dolphin trainer. Yeah, I have funny taste.

CSI Season 4

Absence does make the heart grow fonder. I've missed the Las Vegas original so much, and am ecstatic about its return to cable telvision ( Channel 18 Wednesdays 9-10pm ). The first episode had 4 simultaneous cases and a mysterious subplot involving Sara Sidle's alcoholism. Did I miss something somewhere?

Nick Stokes ( played by George Eads ) shaved his head, ick. But Gil Grissom ( William Petersen ) is just THE BEST. Welcome back. :)


Starting on AXN Channel 19 next month, and hailed by Newsweek as 2004's Best New Television Series. Matthew Fox from Party of Five leads a motley crew of plane crash survivors as they cope with life on a seemingly deserted island. Nice!

CSI: New York

Coming to AXN in March or April. Gary Sinise heads the team, which also has a couple of young good lookers. Always a pleasure. :)

Desperate Housewives

I think this show is totally overrated, but it's fun to watch, so what the heck.
The character I love most? That young Hispanic gardener having an affair with the hot Latino tai-tai. Seems to have more personality that the entire cast put together. Spin-off, hint hint!


The final season airs Monday on Channel 18 at 9pm, and FINALLY has Niles propositioning Daphne. It's about time!


This was screened on the Disney channel over the New Year, but may be repeated in the future. One of the best Disney cartoons ever, it made me realize how much I love this film when I found myself singing all the lyrics as if the past decade didn't even exist. Wish they'd show The Little Mermaid. :D

I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow. Have a nice week. And thanks for reading this far. :)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Review Of "Constantine"

**spoilers beware**

And for good measure, check out the very cool website. Be sure to click on "Photos". But then, if you don't want this to ruin your enjoyment, you can always look at the pictures after you've caught the show.

Yes, readers. I spent the morning of the first day of the Lunar New Year being blown away with maybe 15 other moviegoers in a huge cineplex. ( Turns out I'm not the only person who thinks visiting people is a colossal waste of time. )

To put it simply, Constantine is AWESOME.

However, you first have to get past the equally glaring fact that it's actually kinda HOKEY too.

The HOKEY-NESS stems from the liberties the writers take with major Christian themes. I'm Anglican, so I don't know about the Catholic belief in The Spear Of Destiny. But throw in Hell Bibles, extra Bible chapters, something named Mammon, and you basically have a foolproof recipe for B-grade camp.

Thankfully, there're 3 saving graces that prevent this debacle: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, and director Francis Lawrence.

Reviews in the print media would've sufficiently brought you up to speed plot-wise ( if not, then just go to the website already ), so I'm gonna dwell more on the film itself: a visual spectacle of fiery landscapes, dark rainy depictions of Los Angeles, and nail-avulsing ( though few ) battles between good and evil. Maybe it's because I've never even heard of the Hellblazer comics, thus resulting in my finding everything novel and thrilling. But hey, that's what I paid good money for, and Constantine delivers it in great abundance.

From the vertiginous crossing of dimensions to the exorcism sequences, the movie is reminiscent of many famous predecessors, yet also manages to inject new ingredients that elevate these scenes way above the rehashed-and-cheesy standards of most horror flicks. The sweet Chinese girl scaling her bedroom walls and spouting foreign tongues is lifted straight from The Exorcist, but instead of the conventional priest wielding a crucifix and chanting Bible verses, we have John Constantine, dressed in a black suit, $200 white dress shirt, and loose black tie, flashing star-shaped talismans and stomping out cigarettes, before climbing over the demon and whispering in its ear, "This is Constantine. John Constantine. Asshole."

Casting Reeves in the lead is yet another inspiring choice in the previously straightlaced ( ie. boring ) land of Hollywood. Like Johnny Depp, Reeves started out as a poster boy, rising the ranks on the strength of his good looks and athleticism, before breaking out into less mainstream projects, then successfully turning those into box-office gold. From his early days in Bill & Ted adventures, to supporting roles in films as diverse as Parenthood and Much Ado About Nothing, he soon found himself carrying entire movies like Point Break ( one of my all-time favourites, never mind its inherent stupidity ), The Matrix trilogy ( of which only the first installment is worth anyone's time, IMHO ), Speed ( dumb, but only made believable through capable acting ) and The Devil's Advocate ( his best performance so far, in my book at least ).

As Constantine, his haunted, gaunt face already brings a deep sadness to the role, but awareness of Reeves' real-life tragedies will no doubt be additionally significant. After losing an unborn child and a subsequently depressed girlfriend, and in the midst of caring for a dying sister, the lines of pain and suffering are evident. And yet, despite being 40 years of age, Reeves has retained his boyishness, and is even more handsome today than he was a decade ago.

As John Constantine, vigilante exorcist with recurrent haemoptysis and a rebellious compulsion for smoking, he is so cool it's scary. Cool because he carries the role so effortlessly, making it a surefire cult legend with a heart-throb edge. Scary because like Neo in The Matrix, this hip but dark character may induce copycat behaviour the same way it supposedly did in the Columbine High School shootings.

Similarly, Weisz has blossomed following her Hollywood induction via the interminably dull Chain Reaction ( in which she also co-starred alongside Reeves ). Her transformation began in The Mummy, hit its peak in The Mummy Returns, and sailed even higher in About A Boy. Here, she exudes an understated yet undeniable sensuality, especially in 2 particular scenes where she and Reeves literally come into very close quarters. ( This on-off chemistry phenomenon seems to recur with Reeves -- note his 2 movies with Charlize Theron, where they sizzled [ The Devil's Advocate ] then fizzled [ Sweet November ] with equal aplomb. )

Then we come to Francis Lawrence, who fought hard to get Reeves as his leading man, disregarding rabid Constantine fans' howls of protest ( apparently, the character was modelled after Sting, aka My Man :)). Lawrence steers this movie with a strong hand, wisely toning down on the CGI effects, then letting the script, the actors and the sparse sets do all the work.

There're some truly creepy bits in this film. Especially the exorcism sequence. Brrrr.

With regards to the grand themes of God and Satan, good and evil, redemption and eternal damnation, I leave it to you to decide. Like I said before, some of the answers provided don't exactly sit well with me ( and perhaps fellow Christians alike ). But the questions asked ( e.g. Constantine's remark that "I didn't go to church. I didn't pray enough." as the reason he is burdened with such a curse ) certainly bear pondering.

I jokingly said to my mother ( who caught the show with me ) that people who've seen Constantine may be frightened into going to church or getting baptized. But then again, you also have to remember that it's a movie based on a comic book series.

Here's a nice quote in closing:

[ Constantine kneels over the possessed Chinese girl, who suddenly stops writhing and stares intently at him. ]

Girl: [ foreign tongue, likely rife with vulgarities ] sdnkofdoiugfoijgkwe...

Constantine: [ listens quietly, then smiles almost imperceptibly ] Sure. [ proceeds to brand her with his talisman ]

What a classic. :)

Friday, February 04, 2005

There's Something Very Liberating About...

... waking up after 8 in the morning then having a truly leisurely breakfast. On weekdays.

... speeding home on a deserted highway at 1am in the morning.

... going for a swim when no-one else is around, then eating fantastic Thai food for lunch, before heading to the hospital feeling fresh and well-fed.

... being trusted to handle resuscitation cases on my own. From start to finish, without nary a stare nor question from the attendings.

... being post-night on Mondays, so I can do whatever I like while the rest of the working population has to suffer, heh heh.

... seeing my name next to the word "REGISTRAR" on all printed documents. ( It's been a long journey, but I finally got there. :))

... parking in the "real staff carpark" located in the basement just below the ER. But it desperately needs upgrading. Those ceiling pipe thingies are going to rip off some unsuspecting person's scalp one day.

Anthony Fedorov

For the uninitiated, this is the blonde, bespectacled fellow on American Idol 4 who's being compared to Clay Aiken. Personally, I think the similarities encompass the physical aspect, and nothing else. Voice doesn't stand out and lacks Clay's immense power. Personality isn't as strong.

Oh well, he's the only contestant whose name I can remember. Counts for something eh?

The House Of God

... is so awesome it's practically sinful. Go buy one right now. :D

Busy weekend coming up -- spent working at the hospital. Shifts are always busy, but having rotated through once before in 2001, for some strange reason, I just never feel stressed out in this particular department. I love the people -- docs and nurses alike. Meals in the pantry are absolutely the best. :)

Glad I made the right choice.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

So Close

Oh well, I didn't win the grand prize -- an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to see an exclusive Michael Buble showcase at the Rose Theater in the Lincoln Center ( also home to the world-renowned Juilliard School of Music ). But it was kinda fun to do something I've never done before, ie. sing solo "in front of" a large audience ( thank goodness it was over the phone, haha ). And the high's I experienced in the week leading up to the finals were just unbelievable. :)

Suspect it came down to a toss between myself and the winner, another Buble fan named Edwin. I admit I was REALLY SAD when they announced he'd won, but hey, he definitely deserves it, and I hope he has fun on the trip.

Trying not to think about the meet-and-greet session Warner Music is organizing for fans at the showcase. Aarggghghghghghghgh!

Ahem. :D

Anyhow, I was informed that Michael will be coming down to Singapore for a proper concert later this year, so that's consolation enough. Now if only I can find a surefire way to get front-row seats this time, instead of 8th row centre. :)


Returning to my favourite ER for good, though slowly easing into the routine of senior resident for now. A bit out of touch, so will probably have to ask my superiors a lot of questions. Ack, my brain has been rotting for 3 months, and I haven't touched my stethoscope either! Terrible, ain't it?

The best part? Not having to wake up at 6:30am every single day, and fight heavy traffic to and from work. Having time off on weekdays to go to town, run errands, or maybe catch movies with no-one else in the theatre, woohoo!

Gotta run. More another day.