Thursday, November 24, 2005

Review of Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire

Don't worry, it's short ( tired out after a busy week ).

Overall, I thought it was pretty good, so let's dwell on the plus points first.

1. Awesome visual effects - check.

I can't remember much from the book, since it's the 2nd worst installment in my opinion ( the absolute lousiest being the latest one, yech ). All those flying horses and giant ships bobbing out of the sea are definitely impressive, as is the cool fireworks display with the dancing leprechaun during the Quidditch World Cup opening sequence.

Triwizard Tournament excitement is ample as well, with a vicious dragon doing a pseudo-King-Kong routine on a Hogwarts tower, a horde of deeply scary merpeople, the unnervingly creepy maze, and ( brrr ) all those teens suspended underwater waiting to be rescued ( reading about it and seeing it on the big screen are two very different experiences ).

2. Angst and hormones - check

These came in spurts, but each moment possessed its own magic. Full credit goes to the wonderful cast, without which the film's mood would never be effectively conveyed.

3. Cool new characters - check

Add spark, complicate things a bit, flesh out the story, provide eye candy.

My favourite of the lot: this dude. Like most of his fellow secondary role-players, he spoke little. But there're 3 scenes I remember clearly - him strolling up to the goblet to add his name to the list, another where he strides along the lake while being stalked by a chunk of groupies, and the greeting at the staircase to the great hall.

Trust exotic European men to draw the deepest sighs. With his athletic build, rugged good looks and lovely accent, he brings a quiet strength to the role, expressing volumes without even speaking a word. Despite his young age ( 20 ), he seems to have acquired a gift for conjuring ( pun unintended :)) the Intense Stare whenever he wishes. And the staircase bit, with the gorgeous uniform ( I love capes :)), smart salute and impeccable manners - ahh, I beamed from ear to ear. :D

He's got potential, but much will depend on how he markets himself in the near future. I, for one, would like to see how he handles an action role.

The not-so-good parts:

1. Bad pacing

This is when the novels start getting too cumbersome to adapt. The 1st 3 books were thin tomes, yet translated into films that stretched beyond 2 hours. Goblet hit the 150-minute mark, but STILL felt woefully incomplete. Each scene seemed truncated, with the enjoyable bits prematurely halted before audiences get yanked on to the next subplot. Others - like the nightmares Harry keeps having - shouldn't be repeated, thus saving 5 extra minutes for, say, more of the Triwizard Tournament maybe?

What suffered most, I think, is Cho Chang, who appeared as early as Book 1 or 2, but was relegated to a couple of lines and a handful of short appearances in Movie 4. The actress( Katie Leung ) is very sweet and pretty, like the character she plays. However, Harry's lovelorn infatuation isn't convincing, both because of the sudden-ness of Cho's introduction, and the measly screen-time she's granted. If you're not familiar with the novels, you might think Harry's lost his marbles. If you only knew he's been admiring her from afar for 3-4 years, you'd understand his behaviour much, much better.

2. A rather lacklustre Ralph Fiennes

This just perfectly illustrates how the worst makeup in the world can't compare with good direction, script and execution.

I saw Fiennes in Wuthering Heights ( a BBC special ). In Schindler's List. In Red Dragon. In Quiz Show. In The English Patient and The End Of The Affair ( never mind about Maid In Manhattan, which is vapid fluff. ). This is a man who excels at oozing pure evil at the drop of a hat. Who sent chills of terror down his co-stars' spines when he first stepped out in his Gestapo garb as Amon Goeth. Who effortlessly swung between gentle lover and crazed serial killer Francis Dolarhyde. Who ALWAYS exudes darkness in some form, even in the most romantic, sweeping epic.

As Voldemort, he ( most unfortunately ) didn't scare me at all.

In fact, he came across as campy and hysterical, which aren't the best attributes for something named "The Dark Lord". Now Sauron from LOTR, THAT'S a Dark Lord if I ever saw one.

Next up, The Order Of The Phoenix. Which incidentally, happens to be my 2nd favourite, after The Prisoner Of Azkaban. There's a secret society of Hogwarts students trained by Harry in Defence Against The Dark Arts, a new professor / headmistress who's absolutely horrid, and a whopping wizard battle right at the end, which will no doubt look spectacular on the big screen.

I can't wait. :)

House Quotes

James Wilson: Some doctors have the Messiah complex - they need to save the world. You [ i.e. House ] have the Rubik's complex - you want to solve the puzzle.

House: I'm in pain.

Very very ill but sagely patient: Aren't we all?

Lisa Cuddy: I can't believe you authorized something like this.

House: Really? Sounds EXACTLY like something I'd do.

House: NEVER apologize for a medical opinion.

Wilson: You really don't need to know everything about everybody.

House: I don't really need to watch "The O.C.", but it makes me happy.

Medical student: Dr. House, you're reading a comic book.

House: And you're calling attention to your bosom by wearing a low-cut top. Oh, I'm sorry, I thought we were having a "state the obvious" contest. I'm competitive by nature.

House: Treat them all [ i.e. patients ] as if they have Korsakoff's. We all lie anyway.

House: If it's dry, keep it wet. If it's wet, keep it dry. If it's not supposed to be there, cut it off.

House: You wanna know how 2 chemicals react do you ask them? No, they're gonna lie through their lying little chemical teeth. Throw them in a beaker and apply heat.

Patient's father: So you're treating him for BOTH diseases? So you're throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks?

Robert Chase: Works for spaghetti.

House: Fascinating story. You ever thought about adapting it for the stage? [ it's sarcasm, by the way ]

Chase: How would you feel if I interfered in your personal life?

House: I'd hate it. That's why I cleverly HAVE no personal life.

Wilson: What happened to you?

House: I had a massage.

Wilson: Looks like you had the masseuse.

Allison Cameron: All this hate - it's toxic.

Chase: Then stay away.

Ran out of time for an entry about med students, with apologies. Have to conduct a course tomorrow. On my day off. Sigh.

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Essay Time

Get ready for a long one.

First Up

I need to get a few things out of the way. If you're female, you might enjoy this. :)

1. It's about time!

I always knew his chance would come, woohoo! What an absolute hottie. :D

First spotted him in "A Time To Kill", loved his performance in "EdTV", beamed through "The Wedding Planner" and "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days", and had a nice time ogling the tan and pecs in "Sahara" ( probably why I didn't suffer motion sickness during the 12-hour flights to and from Italy, heh heh ).

The big draws: That cheeky mega-watt smile and confident swagger which many have compared to "the other blonde bombshell" - Paul Newman. The unmistakable Southern accent coupled with chivalrous manners. A true story involving his revival of a passed-out middle-aged lady in a cinema ( told by the woman herself on an episode of "Oprah" - I caught the whole thing, and let me assure you that the account reduced all the women to mush :)).

And of course, who can ever forget that highly publicized scoop about Matt playing the bongo drums in the nude during a wild, wild party? No photos, unfortunately. :D

Congratulations, dude. And People mag, you made a great choice!

2. Vintage wine, in the flesh.

Exhibit #1 - I watched him in "Mobsters" way back in secondary school, and thought he dropped off the radar, until he made comebacks on "The Practice" ( episodes currently airing on local cable Wednesday nights, 10pm, Starworld Channel 18 ), followed by a major role on Grey's Anatomy ( which hasn't debuted here yet, but probably will - and soon, I hope! ).
Anyway, if you're hungry for more, read this.

Exhibit #2 - Long-time readers of this blog will no doubt recall my drooling sessions, especially when LOTR came by. Not to belabour a point, but I visited a film location in Wellington where Viggo previously lay on the shore of a lake with a horse ( Return of the King ), and also stole a touch of his Aragorn costume on display at the LOTR exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre last year.
Hope to meet him in person one day. :)

Exhibit #3 - Have always known he's the sexier of the Matt & Ben duo, despite being shorter and more introverted. Oscar-winning co-screenwriter of "Good Will Hunting" ( one of the best movies ever ), cold-blooded homosexual serial killer in "The Talented Mr. Ripley", naive and lovelorn in the hilarious ( though not exactly profitable ) "Stuck On You", and - my favourite - ultra-cool trained assassin Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Identity" and "The Bourne Supremacy", this fellow has been among my top 5 fav actors list for a long time ( sharing space with Kevin Spacey, John Cusack and Edward Norton ).

Exhibit #4 - One of the best reasons to watch CNN, IMHO. :D Another Southerner, eloquent, intelligent ( appeared on "Jeopardy" ), gutsy ( almost got blown off the road during his coverage of Hurricane Rita ) and refreshingly bashful ( I caught his embarrassed blush during his Anderson Cooper 360 segment on CNN this afternoon - can't even remember what I had for lunch, heh heh ).
My mom keeps asking if he's married. I have no idea, but for the record, guys with prematurely greying hair ( e.g. Richard Gere, Steve Martin ) rank high on my list of attractive physical qualities. :)

Exhibit #5 - GAH! Spotted him in "The Bourne Identity" ( he played a fellow assassin sent to get rid of Bourne; get a load of that tense 5-minute scene where he and Matt Damon hunt each other in a field of tall grass ). Didn't think much of his follow-ups ( "Beyond Borders - vapid, "Arthur" - yawn ), but "Closer" was a revelation. His raw portrayal of a doctor prone to kinky sex tricks and super-foul language earned him a well-deserved Oscar.

Funny how lots of this year's guys are in their 30s or older. Yum, I say. :)

Jamie Cullum's Catching Tales

Track-by-track, as promised. Those in bold are my favourites.

1. Get Your Way

Riff: Bass- and brass-heavy baselines, with samples from an old big band record by Joe Williams, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis.

Sleeve notes: "I didn't want corny pop lyrics but something Cole Porteresque with a contemporary feel. So it's about a gent taking a chick out with the intention of getting laid, but hopefully it's a little more sophisticated than that as well."

Lyrics snapshot: "Although my feelings are all juxtaposed / But the truth be told, I'm as fickle as hell / But gentlemen never kiss and tell"

Jammin': Not much, but the pumping bass and trombones / trumpets more than make up for it.

2. London Skies

Riff: Quiet, lots of guitar ( played by Jamie ), escalates to a rousing chorus.

Sleeve notes: "I wanted to express the idea that the grey skies in London weren't so bad. I often find some of the bad weather we have quite romantic, and on the song I try to be quite poetic about the 'ghostly ballet' of the fog and mist."

Lyrics snapshot: "Will you let me romanticise / The beauty in the London skies / You know the sunlight always shines / Behind the clouds of London skies"

Jammin': Lots of rock-ish strumming. Catchy song.

3. Photograph

Riff: A fusion of rock and pop ballad.

Sleeve notes: "This is about two snapshots I found...The photographs brought back very distinct memories."

Lyrics snapshot: It's just another story / Caught up in another photograph I found / And it seems like another person lived that life / A great many years ago from now"

[ blog author comment: I hear ya, man. :) ]

Jammin': Quite a large amount. You can easily picture him jumping all over the piano, kicking the seat back, tossing his head, etc. I love it. :D

4. I Only Have Eyes For You

Riff: The slowest track on the album. A very cool acid-jazz cover, coupled with a lazy, sexy vocal performance ( he's got a great falsetto, yow ).

Sleeve notes: "We wanted more of a pumping bass and a delayed electric guitar doing the Doo-wop part - more of a Massive Attack approach."

Lyrics snapshot: "My love must be some kind of blind love / I don't see anybody but you"

Jammin': Not the conventional sort, considering the leisurely pace. Good for chilling out to.

5. Nothing I Do

Riff: Uptempo swing piece in the tradition of "Mack The Knife", "Clementine" and "Artificial Flowers" ( ie. they all share the common trait of having really morbid lyrics set to deceptively upbeat melodies ).

Sleeve notes: "I love Kurt Weill, and the way that songs like Mack The Knife is the happiest sounding song about a serial killer. So I wanted a song like that - very uptempo but with lyrics about something really horrible."

Lyrics snapshot: "We were so drunk last night / When we had that stupid fight / You called me a / Useless, selfish prick"

Jammin': A very nice reggae bridge in between all the swing. Trust Jamie to come up with something as radical and ingenious as this. :)

6. Mind Trick

Riff: A beautiful blend of soul and pop. Jamie gives one of his strongest performances on this one.

Sleeve notes: "So we ( ie. Jamie and brother Ben ) put on some Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, had a few drinks and wrote the music in about half an hour."

Lyrics snapshot: "If there's music in the night / And it's really really right / It's the only thing I need / It intoxicates your mind / All your troubles left behind / So come on and take my lead / It's not just me who feels it / Music plays a mind trick / Watch me forget about missing you"

Jammin': Little bit o' blues, some prerecorded sounds of friends at a party.

[ blog author's comments: Highly enjoyable. Love blasting it in my car. ]

7. 21st Century Kid

Riff: Part anthem, part pop, part rock. The song Jamie's most proud of thus far.

Sleeve notes: "The optimistic part in the track is about holding out for the truth. I'm very proud of this song."

Lyrics snapshot: "Nothing is certain / Except a memory / And that's soon washed away / By a low sea"

Jammin': Definitely the pounding chorus. I like it, but don't exactly love it. Sorry, Jamie. :/

8. I'm Glad There Is You

Riff: Another cover, this time done in a conventional style. Very slow. Very quiet. VERY romantic. Turn down the lights, get a glass of wine, put your feet up, and close your eyes.

Sleeve notes: "So here it is very straight, just one take with the vocals and piano with a beautiful Geoff Gascoyne string arrangement."

Lyrics snapshot: "In this world of overrated pleasures / And underrated treasures / I'm glad there is you"

Jammin': None, but it's still perfect. :)

9. Oh God

Riff: A collaboration with Guy Chambers, who wrote a whole long string of hits with Robbie Williams years ago ( culminating with the excellent Sing When You're Winning album, which I feel is Robbie's best to date ). This is a piano-heavy "statement song", but really nice once it grows on you.

Sleeve notes: "It was right after the Asian tsunami, and after we got the main hook, 'Oh God, tell us when it's going to stop', it wasn't so hard to write the rest of it."

Lyrics snapshot: "We're looking at the stars / Without explanation / We contemplate as kings / And simple men on trial / Our little world's fragile"

Jammin': Would be inappropriate, so none here.

10. Catch The Sun

Riff: Cover of a famous Doves piece. Combo rock/pop, a bit of watered-down punk maybe.

Sleeve notes: "It's such a classic song and hopefully my version treats it well and does something different with it."

Lyrics snapshot: "Catch the sun / Before it's gone / Here it comes / Up in smoke and gone / Catch the sun / It never comes / Cry in the sand / Lost in the fire"

Jammin': Moderate throughout. My best comment on this would be that it showcases Jamie's remarkable flair for versatility and interpretation. Good song.

11. 7 Days To Change Your Life

Riff: Slow jazz. Longest track on the CD. And top on my list of favourites.

Sleeve notes: "This song is specifically about the people that try and sell you these miracle cures to change your life. I saw these long adverts in America when I was jet-lagged and hung over for various things like this and I loved the idea that there was this quick fix that would change your existence."

Lyrics snapshot: "I know sometimes your life is a bitch / So come purchase my easy fix / I've been there myself / Sad, fat and bald / But soon with my help, you'll have it all"

Jammin': Too slow for any to occur. But there's this line where he sounds as if he's going to say the f-word, but stops himself. He did this on I Get A Kick Out Of You on the Twentysomething album too. Obviously a habit of his - thoroughly amusing, especially the fact that they kept this "slip" intact for commercial consumption. :)

12. Our Day Will Come

Riff: My 2nd favourite piece. Dreamy opening, a potent reggae-jazz beat, perfectly blended with light yet full-throated belting from Jamie. Fantastic.

Sleeve notes: "... the thing that really made me want to do it is the opening groove. It's the coolest thing - a reggae, bossa-nova, pop groove - very different."

Lyrics snapshot: "Our day will come / And we'll have everything / We'll share the joy / Falling in love can bring / No-one can tell me that I'm too young to know / 'Cos I love you so"

Jammin': A very snappy bit in the middle featuring pure jazz piano - a little erratic, classically offbeat. Great stuff.

13. Back To The Ground

Riff: More soul and jazz. Infectious despite a bare arrangement. Clear hallmark of great music.

Sleeve notes: "I remember one of my old friends saying to me in the pub a few months back, 'You're the same twat you always were.' I love that phrase - this song is written in that spirit."

Lyrics snapshot: "When you're attracted to the danger / And tasting every flavour / Then bring it on and / Bleed yourself dry / Reality is twisted, your mind's getting shoplifted / Is there underneath / An innocent guy?"

Jammin': Possibly the best on this album. Bridge kicks off with a Maroon 5-ish beat, then the wurlitzer joins the ride and things just get crazier and crazier. You can hear Jamie laughing in the background during the whole bit. Yeeha! :)

14. Fascinating Rhythm

Riff: Another Fred Astaire cover like Singin' In The Rain from his 2nd CD. Highly original and exceptionally inspired.

Sleeve notes: "A verse in the original went 'The neighbours want to know / Why I'm always shaking just like a flivver'. Apparently a flivver is an old noisy car, so I changed that to 'Just like my grandmother' whilst we were doing the take. You can actually hear me laughing after that. Sorry nan."

Lyrics snapshot: "Got a little rhythm / A rhythm a rhythm / That pitterpats through my brain / So darn persistent, the day isn't distant / When it'll drive me insane / Comes in the morning / Without any warning / And hangs around all day / I have to sneak up to it / Some day I'll speak up to it / And hope it listens when I say..."

Jammin': Absolutely glorious. Jamie uses the piano's body as a drum, plucks at the strings, sometimes while pounding the keys at the same time ( I'm still trying to work out the physics in my head ). Love the drums - very snazzy. At one point, it sounds like Jamie's running his fingers across the piano strings - the sound's just absolutely amazing. Another piece I love playing on the car stereo. :)

15. My Yard

Riff: Think of this as the cooling-down phase of the album. Lovely guitar from multi-talented and accomplished Jamie. Catchy tune. Background history ( below ) had me in stitches.

Sleeve notes: "It started out as a very romantic thing and I came along and made it just about sex I'm afraid."

Lyric snapshot: "It's nothing fancy / Just a little couch and me / And conversation for your mind / So let's explore all the possibilities"

Jammin': Toned down for the conclusion, I gather. But it's a very sexy song, and I would love to see him perform this 'live'. I need a tissue. Or better make that a towel ( haha ).

Whew, it's finally finished. In short, it's a terrific CD, plain and simple. The sleeve notes are lots of fun to flip through - though diplopia-inducing. Jamie's matured in leaps and bounds since his last effort, and continues to stretch the limits of the jazz genre with his creativity and impish improvisations.

Shall leave you with this classic quote from the little guy:

"I thought maybe [this album] should be called Satan's Testicles, but that might have been a little misleading."

Go buy it. Now.

TV Treasures

If you missed them, then you can either:

1) check your cable catalogue for the reruns, or
2) miss out on some really great moments

For example:

Gilmore Girls - I've followed every episode from the pilot onwards, and Season 4 still captivates effortlessly. Lorelai's long-awaited relationship with Luke crashes and burns in the most devastating manner ( aargh! ). Rory finally takes the initiative and makes the first move ( yes! ). The latter's latest love interest is yet another very cute young guy, this time a fellow Yale student from a filthy-rich family, a self-confessed rascal with a string of ex-girlfriends, but drawn to the innocent and inexperienced Rory nonetheless. That scene at her grandparent's ballroom function left me breathless. Ahh, to be young and in love. :)

Numb3rs - The latest episode was a huge treat, with the Epps brothers chasing down a disgruntled railroad employee wreaking vengeance on the guilty parties. Of course, the main draw is always David Krumholtz ( younger sibling / math genius Charlie ) who grapples with the prospect of asking his grad student assistant to dinner. Wah lau, if I had a thesis advisor like him, I'd be the one dragging him out for a meal. :D

Monk - Undeniably the BEST installment EVER. I STRONGLY recommend that you catch the rerun if you can. I laughed so hard I developed pleuritic chest pain - which got worse a few days later during a very enjoyable conversation with 2 of my junior MOs over dinner in the staff pantry. It's a good thing though. :)

Project Runway - Terrific show, with flamboyant characters and immensely difficulty challenges. Eat their dust, Donald Trump!

House - This one really struck a chord, since House disdainfully stands up to the new Committee Chairman who's granted this honour only because of a hefty US$100 million donation. I love the way House dismisses the guy, because he knows he's just a spoilt brat under that expensive suit. Get a load of the scene with Hugh Laurie banging the table in sync with the theme from "CSI: New York". Priceless!

The Practice - Part 2 of a trilogy involving a high-profile murder. Dentist in a small town has an affair with a promiscuous woman. She's bludgeoned to death one night and he's spotted leaving the house in a distressed state. He denies he killed her, but the evidence ( however circumstantial ) doesn't bode well for his fate. Town judge and well, whole town in general, hate (1) dentist's mother, (2) big city lawyers, in particular, (3) Alan Shore ( the always excellent James Spader ). Patrick Dempsey is a pleasant surprise as the dentist, all thick black curls, chiselled jaw and doe eyes. Tonnes of intra-practice tension, little bit of fisticuffs, some illegal deal-making... too bad this is the last season leading up to the spinoff "Boston Legal". Never could stomach the latter, mostly because of William Shatner, blech.

Before I sign off, here's another blog recommendation. Literally stumbled upon it ( 'cos of the "doctors" in the title ), but worth reading because, if nothing else, it's written by members of the Pixar team. How cool is that? :)

I've been at this for 3 hours. Will save the rest for another entry - new MOs, streams of medical students with their idealistic spiel ( heartwarming but misdirected - you poor little babies ), and more photo-sharing ( including pictures from a friend who just returned from Italy ). Also gonna gear up for some Harry Potter action this weekend.

I'm just glad I got through the week in one piece.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Supply & Demand

I know I haven't blogged in a while.

Partly because I couldn't find the time ( really ).

Partly because I've just been so exhausted lately ( really ).

Also, because I kinda didn't want to. Really .

But quite a few people have been asking, and since I can't sleep -- post-mother's-belated-birthday-feast-at-church and post-2-hour-afternoon-nap-on-my-day-off-'cos-I-gave-up-trying-to-keep-my-eyes-open-after-reading-the-ATLS-manual-while-half-dead, I thought I'd post something while digesting and waiting for the right moment to knock off.

Hmm, seems I received 70 emails in less than 48 hours. Think I need to set up another account. Yeesh.

Make Me A Match

Or rather, the answer is: Please don't.

Funny how I've been getting bombarded left, right, centre this past fortnight, from the usual suspects ( relatives and friends ) to colleagues ( consultants, nurses ).

One fellow even bluntly offered to lend a hand in fixing me up with one of my former year-mates ( you know who you are ). Granted, the guy you mentioned IS cute, and I find it interesting how other helpful souls like yourself seem to have this erroneous view that "nice people should get hitched" ( although I hardly think of myself as nice, LOL ).

Here're a few useful pointers for anyone else who may harbour similar match-making ambitions:

1. I am NOT searching for a mate. I just enjoy looking, heh heh.

2. I do NOT want people to find one for me.

3. I am perfectly happy being single.

4. I have no time for a relationship.

5. I have no energy for a relationship.

6. I don't date. But I do enjoy hanging out - once in blue moon.

7. I hate the inevitable expectations that come with misconceptions about the possibility of a relationship. Hence, why I don't "date".

8. I'd rather spend an hour with these guys every night than listen to a man drone on about his day.

9. Of course, I occasionally listen to guys drone about their lives when I feel up to it. Which is rare. ( Old pals from school don't count. Those can complain all they want. :))

10. I have no wish to have my heart broken again. Once is enough, thank you very much.

Am I cynical? You bet.

Am I a hopeless romantic? Actually, yes.

I believe a person can be both, 'cos I'm living proof of that. I have dreams, but haven't lost touch with reality. I subscribe to the he's-out-there-somewhere motto. I just haven't met him yet. I've also seen enough relationships sour -- when love fades, contempt rears its ugly head, temptation wins and offspring suffer.

How easy it is to be dazzled. But sustaining that spark - now that's another story.

But most of all, I fear that my tendency to believe the best of people will get the best of me. I've become much less forgiving over the years, but still get duped on and off. Much easier to remain detached under such circumstances.

Next On The List

Weekend crowds be damned. I'm seeing this no matter what.

The Cincinnati Pops Concert - A Very Belated Review

I've lost momentum over the weeks, so writing this is pretty hard.

It was very good, to say the least. And they do enjoy a bit of enthusiastic whooping from the audience ( the front rows - including myself - did that a lot, eliciting broad grins all round :)).

Having grown up on a steady diet of films and movie soundtracks, I was fully familiar with their excellent repertoire, which featured everything from classics ( Dr. Zhivago, Gone With The Wind, The Godfather ) to Broadway musicals ( Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chicago, West Side Story ) to contemporary fare ( Apollo 13, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ).


1. The beautiful Disney medley
-- included excerpts from Cinderella, Mary Poppins and Mickey Mouse Club. They played Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and It's A Small World as well, but I don't know if these came from movies. One of the early pieces of the evening. That's when I started beaming. Didn't stop for the rest of the concert. :)

2. Themes from Lord Of The Rings
-- ahh, made me think of New Zealand, with its majestic Dart River and Milford Sound ( Queenstown ), awesome LOTR sights in Wellington, and the most amazing mountain ranges I've ever laid eyes on ( Mount Cook region ).
-- their rendition of Enya's May It Be literally brought tears to my eyes. One of the best songs ever written, IMHO.

3. Speak Softly Love from The Godfather
-- brought back vivid memories of Italy ( I still can't understand why I miss the place when I absolutely hated most of my time there, haha ). The string arrangement is quite Mantovanni-esque, with all those multi-layered chords and rich tones. I've heard many versions, but a 'live' performance by the CPO ranks as the best thus far. Major goosepimples. :)

4. America from West Side Story
-- I watched this movie to death way back in primary school, especially that colourful dance sequence when this particular song came on. Energetically delivered by the orchestra, with conductor Erich Kunzel ( a very sprightly 70-plus-year-old ) hopping around on his podium. I especially enjoy a certain bit when he'd wave his baton in a loop as the wind section played a particular phrase. Amused me no end. :)

5. Sing Sing Sing
-- served as 3rd encore piece for both nights, but I thought the first evening's rendition was better. The drums and trumpets took centrestage on this fast swing/ big band Benny Goodman number. A veritable tour de force!

6. The John Williams medley
-- featured only on Day 1's programme, unfortunately for those who missed it. With selections from Superman ( including a moving instrumental performance of Can You Read My Mind, aka the love theme ), Raiders of the Lost Ark ( the unmistakeable march and yet another sweeping romantic melody ), Harry Potter ( lovely ) and E.T. ( yes, they did the bicycle-flying-across-the-moon bit ), this was definitely a huge crowd pleaser, done great justice by the CPO's luscious sound ( the strings, percussion and brass sections being the strongest of the lot ).

I personally would've liked a John Barry medley ( he wrote music for Dances With Wolves and Out Of Africa, among others ), not to mention more John Williams ( Schindler's List ) and perhaps a bit of Danny Elfman as well ( Batman, Spider-man, Beetlejuice, etc. ).

Maybe next time then. You can email the CPO through the CSO's main website ( just scroll down for the link or do a Google search ). Their PR manager is a mighty friendly lady who hinted about a return trip to Singapore soon. Make sure you get tickets!

Something To Do

1. Type the word "idiot" into the Google search engine then click "I'm feeling lucky". Hasn't changed in a week or two, but if it does, it should still be quite fun, heh heh.

2. Cool site. Since I can't blog during my night shifts ( thanks to whichever moron who put up a bloody firewall at my hospital ), this helps keep me awake during those LOOONG 11-hour shifts. Let's see if this site gets banned as well. Reveal yourself, coward.

P.S. Monk's back! The latest season airs every Monday at 10pm on Starworld Channel 18. Great stuff. :)

Time for bed. Another rough shift awaits tomorrow morning. Opinions about our new MO batch to follow in my next post. *evil laugh*

Just kidding.