Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Friskies-Bred Posted by Picasa
Check It Out

I finally got off my butt and bought myself one of these.

'Purchased' the sleek black one. Absolutely gorgeous. And I didn't even have to pay cash -- a certain insurance company gave me $600 worth of vouchers, ooh yeah. :)

Now if only I can find the time to play around with it, heh.

Recommended - If You Have A Strong Stomach

I just love these dudes.

Why does everybody think I'm so serious and goody-goody? Nothing could be further from the truth. :D

The show airs on cable's MTVAsia Channel 20 every Friday at 10:30pm. There's another repeat somewhere but I usually watch the Friday edition.

These guys do the craziest things, like grabbing wild anacondas by the tail, jumping in as human scratching posts for Bengali tigers, eating / drinking all sorts of disgusting things, and strutting around in thongs and loin cloths.

They're vulgar, grungy, throw up at will... but boy are they funny.

You're gonna either love 'em or hate 'em. Try it out!

And Speaking Of Cable

Looks like April's going to be a blast.

Re-runs of Grey's Anatomy begin next month, so if you missed most of the first season, this is your chance to catch up.

I used to prefer Derek Shepherd ( the hunky neurosurgeon played by Patrick Dempsey ), but am now quite taken with George O'Malley ( the surgical intern played by the lovable T.R. Knight ).

Then there're the back-to-back doublebills of James Bond movies every Saturday night on HBO. The one I'm watching out for it The Living Daylights, starring Timothy Dalton. Has always been my personal favourite, always will be.

Also, they've got the cable debut of Constantine ( Keanu Reeves' excellent performance as the world's coolest exorcist ) and The Incredibles.

Soft Spots

After a crappy week at work, it was great to be able to unwind with a couple of good guy friends.

Had a celebratory birthday lunch with one. The wood-fire pizzas at Spageddies Paragon are TO DIE FOR. As is the Seafood Sizzler, wah lau. :)

Hit the Kinokuniya bookstore after that. Beats Borders hands down. I just love its medicine section. Felt tempted to buy a whole armful of books, but had to rush off to meet...

Guy #2, who's kind of a total opposite of Guy #1, but has always been extremely accomodating of my random whims and fancies, and who gamely helped me pick out the iPod that evening. Funny how he followed me to HMV despite some initial protesting ( that's how I found out the store doesn't carry Jason Mraz's Live At Java Joe's CD ). Then it was a loooooong dinner at Swensen's nearby. The chef on duty was terrific, by the way. I ate this sambal fish course which melted in my mouth, while he took 2 whole hours to finish his black pepper spaghetti.

Seems our GE episode during an internal med houseman call has become the stuff of legends. A fellow HO met my friend during reservist training and remembers it to this day. Yep, we always have the best laughs about that horrible experience. :)

He surprised with an offer to walk me back to my car, which was parked ALL the way back at The Tanglin Club. I've been wondering how I should tell him something for quite a while now, but can never muster up the nerve to do it. He mentioned my birthday before we parted ways, so I've got another 2 months to figure this out.

And last but not least, Guy #3, whom I haven't seen for 3 years, but who's apparently been keeping very close tabs on me. I need to tell him something as well, but again, no good opportunity for it. ( Though he did SMS that he would be dropping by my workplace today, but unfortunately, I was away on course. Argh! )

I was supposed to unburden myself last year when I hit 30. This procrastinating habit is getting out of hand.

Finished Truman Capote's In Cold Blood -- well-written, but probably won't appeal to many in this day and age of desensitization to violence and various degrees of perversion. I did enjoy his style though -- very poetic, conveying tonnes of detail with his wise choice of words and beautiful metaphors. Funnily enough, I found the last few chapters ( post-conviction ) the most compelling. All those character studies of death-row inmates easily rival criminal-profile pioneer John Douglas' in-depth analyses anyday.

My latest bedside reading: Sherwin B. Nuland's The Mysteries Within, where he delves into the organs of the human body, mixing history and myth with his own personal anecdotes. So far, so good.

Next blog post will be up soon after Jamie Cullum's concert next Tuesday. If you haven't bought your tickets yet, I strongly suggest you do so ASAP. Don't say I didn't warn you. :)

Perhaps a discussion on ER issues will be possible at a later date.

For now, I shall leave you with a picture which currently graces my laptop's wallpaper.

9 years old, but looking not a day older than 2. Who needs a man when you can have this little darling? :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Jason Mraz ( apologies about the red eye effect ) Posted by Picasa

Toca Rivera & Jason Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Review of Jason Mraz's concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall, March 17 2006

I'm on a timer here 'cos I have to drop my mum off at church then rush to work later.

Oh boy... where do I begin? :)

I remember how, after the show ended, I grappled with my attempt at reshuffling my personal choices for Top 3 performances thus far, and finally decided that it's time to do away with that restriction and just classify them all into different categories, 'cos I've seen way too many great shows in this lifetime.


And the dude was just 10 feet away, right in front of my 3rd row centre seat. *thud*

The Music

If you're not familiar with Mraz's albums, I strongly suggest you drop by a CD store the next time you're able, sample both and, hopefully, purchase them in the same sitting.

He writes and arranges his own compositions, and catapulted to stardom with his debut effort, Waiting For My Rocket To Come, released in 2002. The famous tracks You And I Both and The Remedy ( I Won't Worry ) sealed his reputation as a force to be reckoned with, and his latest, Mr. A-Z ( 2005 ), only illustrates this fact even more brilliantly.

Jason opened the show with a breath-taking rendition of Plane ( off Mr. A-Z ), beginning with a soft, relaxed whistling routine then sliding smoothly into a leisurely guitar riff, later joined by percussionist Toca Rivera on the bongo drums, before launching into whispery vocals.


Those first few minutes were only a mere taste of what was to follow. The next 1.5 hours were pure bliss, with gorgeous acoustic versions of Wordplay, Geek In The Pink, Life Is Wonderful, Please Don't Tell Her, The Boy's Gone, You And I Both and The Remedy.

He also sang perhaps 4 or 5 songs I'd never heard before -- whether it's new material or covers, they were all amazing and captivated the full-capacity audience from start to finish.

However, he almost brought the house down with a medley of 2 covers, kicking off with Talking Heads' Our House, during which he got the audience to do a little singalong, later transitioning seamlessly into the Black-Eyed Peas' Where Is The Love? The latter sounded 100 times better than the original ( especially when you consider what poor 'live' performers the Peas are -- I've seen enough of their sub-standard work on awards shows to form an opinion ). Jason took a bass-heavy hip-hop piece and transformed it into a real treasure -- quiet, introspective, almost like a lullaby. And when we all hummed along to the catchy chorus, it wasn't a shout-fest, but a hushed, religious murmur. This song has never sounded more beautiful than it did at that very moment.

THIS, my dear readers, is what truly great music is all about.

The Man

In person, Jason's thin and pretty tall ( slightly less than a 6-footer I reckon ). Dressed in a simple plain white T-shirt, well-worn jeans and sporting a greenish baseball cap, he nonetheless enraptured his 1,500 fans.

His skill on the guitar is mind-boggling at times, and from my vantage point, I could see all 10 of his fingers doing their thang on the strings, woohoo. John Mayer and Eric Clapton, eat your hearts out. :)

And his voice! I'd already heard his 'live' performances on the radio in the past, and was expecting a good showing vocally, but he completely blew all that into smithereens when he delivered a pitch-perfect 90-minute showcase, despite the absence of any breaks and maybe 3 swigs from a mineral water bottle during the entire course of the concert.

His studio recordings on the albums almost always feature a full band, so you may not totally appreciate the crystal clarity and power of his pipes. But last night, with the excellent acoustics of the Concert Hall and the bare minimum of just a guitar and bongo drums, Jason's vocal gift took flight, right up to the rafters and beyond.

Like he sang in one sweet little ditty about wanting to visit outer space, those spine-tingling glory notes took us all up to the stars. Whether he was belting out a rock number or exercising his divine falsetto, this guy could do no wrong. I felt tears sting my eyes. And my heart skipped a beat. Yow. :)

Last but not least, there's the humour! There were SO MANY gems I can't possibly recall every single one at this time, but if I remember any I missed out they'll get posted stat. Of course, if you were there too and have any to add, please do so in the comments section!

Example #1: During Our House, Jason asked the audience to sing the chorus. After a couple of trial runs, he requested that only the ladies sing, but got a bashful, lukewarm response. He thanked "the four of you who represented everyone else", then asked the guys to take over. Huge difference, which was hilarious ( I could hear all the dudes around me belting their guts out ), after which Jason quipped, "AND NOW THE TRANSGENDERS!" No-one knew how quite to react, but percussionist Toca gamely opened his mouth, and the crowd roared. :D

Example #2: His witty impromptu lyrics, the earliest of which included a change in the words to Plane right at the end. He started to sing "Gotta get myself off the floor / Gotta get to Singapore" to loud cheers of appreciation. He loves to start and end each song with a little improv routine, be it some funny humming or cute verses or one-liners. While singing "It's gonna be a long, long time", he suddenly told us "It's true, this could be the entire show. We can do this for the next 90 minutes. It's REALLY going to be a long, long time!"

Example #3: Somewhere in the middle of the show, Jason remarked how beautiful the Concert Hall is, and how he felt they should've dressed a little better for the gig. He then said he wanted to sing in a more appropriate fashion, and went straight into a very competent operatic falsetto, complemented wonderfully by Toca. I loved it!

Example #4: His anecdote about the food. You see, someone sent a hamper of food to Jason's room Thursday night, and he claims he didn't know who was responsible ( although I'm dead sure it's one of the organizers ). He said he didn't eat it, but "I slept with it. Placed it on the bed next to me, put a blanket over it and whispered into the cake..." What a riot! :D

Of course, Toca was the perfect sidekick. All dreadlocks and toothy grins, he punctuated key moments with a trademark decrescendo-ing guffaw ( HA-ha-ha-ha-ha ), initially not even speaking a word, until Jason commented that "Laughter is the official language where Toca comes from". Heh heh heh!

The Audience

I loved the crowd! Mixture of young ( teenagers to undergrads ) to older ( yuppies, Mediacorp artistes ) and much older ( my mom was with me, more on her comments later ).

Very enthusiastic, very into Jason's music ( hence those singalongs were fantastic, especially on You And I Both -- we sang the whole chorus while Jason just stood back and soaked it all in, eyes closed, a whimsical smile on his face, before whispering ( I heard it! Did you? ) "That was nice." at the end of our bit. AAAHHHHH :))

Lots of cheeky greetings and even cheekier questions. Rapturous applause. At least 2-3 standing ovations. What a night!

Famous faces spotted in the crowd: Taufik ( our Singapore Idol ) and Adrian Pang.

The Autographs

Many many many thanks to the lovely lady who helped me yet again in my quest to get a signature from the divine Mr. Mraz. No autograph signing session post-concert, so I will treasure this forever.

My Mom's Review

Believe it or not, she LOVED the show! She isn't actually a fan, but was extremely taken with his music, and loosened up in the 2nd half, during which I spotted her laughing really hard whenever he cracked a joke. She rates it at least 9/10, but still prefers Michael Buble ( of course :)). However, she also thinks Jason and Taylor Hicks ( the American Idol 5 finalist ) are very much alike -- passionate about their craft, great showmanship, effortless at capturing audiences.

So there you have it. :)

The Esplanade has done well this year, with the likes of Kings of Convenience and Jason Mraz in the line-up. Am greatly looking forward to the next Mosaic Music Festival. And I hope Jason will return to Singapore very soon at a much larger venue, so more can experience the magic for themselves.

I actually sneaked about 5-6 photos on my digital camera. Prohibited, yes, but c'mon, you can't expect die-hard fans in the first few rows to NOT want pictures of the dude, can you? Considering the fact that a meet-and-greet wasn't even organized?

Will post 1 or 2 pictures at a later date. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


1. I made it through the last 10 days of crazy shifts intact. Woohoo!

2. Taylor Hicks wowed my socks off tonight with his latest performance! This dude is actually becoming quite sexy, imagine that. :) I want him to win. Reaaaaally bad.

3. A surgical professor recognized me during a mass casualty exercise the other day. Stuck out his hand and said it was "a great pleasure" to meet me. I was too dumbfounded to phrase an intelligent reply, but I offer a retrospective, sincere "thank you very much, sir". :)

4. The orthopaedic MO-on-call a few nights ago rejected a referral for acute osteomyelitis. However, thanks to the A&E consultants' veto rights, my senior-on-shift approved my request to ship the patient up to the ortho ward ANYWAY. No complaints so far. Ahhh, it felt goooood.

5. Patients perishing from outright exsanguination are few and far between ( excluding the usual horrendous RTA cases at least ). Terminal cancers are scary. Still vividly recall a gentleman with NPC who burst his carotid artery a year ago. Last night, a lady with advanced CA cervix died after a MASSIVE PR bleed. Premorbid state was already poor, but we went the extra mile with 7 pints of fluids, 1 pint of blood, 3 peripheral iv lines, 1 intraosseous needle ( we have the kit, with a drill and everything ), iv atropine / adrenaline, stopping just short of an intubation. Unfortunately, we couldn't save her, and once in a while, I feel something that goes beyond the usual disappointment and fatigue. Yesterday, I paused yet again as I filled out her death certificate, staring at the healthy, young woman smiling from the NRIC photo.

Sometimes, being a doctor is a lot toughter than one can ever possibly imagine. And I'm not talking about the hours or exams.

TV Updates

Seinfeld is currently airing reruns. All NINE seasons of them. For 6 whole months! Starworld Channel 18 every weeknight at 7:30pm. MUST NOT MISS!

House reruns are on the way. Apparently "by popular demand". Watch for these on AXN Channel 19.

If you missed the better part of Grey's Anatomy Season 1, fret not, as Starworld will air this in April, starting from the pilot. I didn't really like the show much initially, but I gotta say, it's kind of growing on me. George O'Malley is quite cute, no? :)

Lost Season 2 is due to return 30 March!

And of course, American Idol 5 boasts perhaps the best lineup ever ( not even Season 2 compares, save for Clay Aiken ). The final 12 are upping their game and letting it rip. Time magazine predicts the top 4 will be Paris, Katharine, Ace and Taylor, but I just want Taylor to win. He's so darn excellent! :D

Am currently reading Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Was prompted by the recent Oscar buzz. Haven't had any time to watch any movies this year, but I plan to read the novel then catch the film if possible. Preliminary reviews are good. I'm a fan of compelling, slow burners -- I'm quite obsessed with Thomas Hardy and John Berendt -- so Capote's detailed character studies are right up my alley. Wealthy family slaughtered in an otherwise quiet small town. Neighbours start locking their doors, people start talking, secrets unravel. I always worry that a book I'm enjoying just a little too much will end up disappointing, but I have a good feeling about this one.

Next on my list of to-do's: a blissful evening with the divine Jason Mraz this Friday. Review to follow this weekend. :)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Short Pre-lunch Rant

The weekend was FANTASTIC, but I've got 10 straight days of work ( starting now ) so who knows when I'll next post something.

To cut a long story short, the recently concluded emergency medicine Annual Scientific Meeting was truly INSPIRATIONAL. In large part thanks to Prof. Colin Robertson, who edits the latest version of MacLeod's Clinical Examination, co-authors the excellent and indispensable Oxford Handbook of Emergency Medicine, and is a really REALLY nice person to boot.

Expounding on the merits of ER physicians in his gentle Scottish accent the other day, he boosted both morales and egos by stating what many are either too arrogant ( those NOT in e-med ) or too humble ( those who are ) to even suggest.

This was a closed-door thing, so I'm not going to quote him. Suffice to say, it dispelled a lot of the frustration I ( and countless others ) have been battling for the longest time, and gave me new insight into my personal motivations and the vital roles ER physicians play in the healthcare system.

I will mention something else Prof. Roberson said though:

"I've been an ED physician for 30 years, and I have NEVER once heard anyone say that they're bored. They may say they're exhausted. They may say they're frustrated. But THEY ARE NEVER BORED."

How right he is. :)

In other news, my Saturday afternoon shift turned out to be peptic-ulcer-inducing, NO thanks to a certain specialist who came down for a consult and almost drove my consultant and I mad. Nice chap, I'm told, and very senior ( he recently returned from an extended research sabbatical ) but he made some extremely dubious decisions and scared the hell out of even his own fellow specialists ( who are more junior but a lot less rusty clinical-wise ). Thank goodness the patient didn't suffer significantly ( except for a rather unnecessary visit to the CT room ). And granted, the specialist called my consultant later to apologize and provide an update of the patient's progress in the ward.

Oh well, as long as someone learnt something and no-one died.

Another incident which worsened my IBS is a certain MO ( whom I shall call X ), who almost sabotaged me. I believe it wasn't deliberate, but I just can't understand why, after 5 whole months in our department, X still possesses no independent thinking skills, almost always takes a grossly inadequate history, seldom exhibits any tinge of resourcefulness, and likes to argue when a senior points out deficiencies in his/her management.

This has happened so many times I've become pretty immune, but when I almost kena ambushed, my blood started to boil.

I shall not provide details here, but those working closely with me have already heard the facts and been duly warned to be extra-vigilant. I'm hoping X will quickly leave us once the next MOPEX rotation comes round. If not, I will personally recommend for X's physical removal from the ER.

Am tempted to scold X severely, but am too tired at the moment. Sigh.

The Oscars Cometh

I asked a male friend ( who's straight ) what he thought of Brokeback Mountain ( which I haven't seen ). His reply: It was boring. I dozed off.

Interesting. :)

I haven't seen any film in the cinema since King Kong. Am starting to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Anyhow, perhaps I'll write something after Jason Mraz's concert March 17. Hear it's selling out fast. aliendoc: Have you bought your tickets yet? I have. :)

Argh, wanted to review Mraz's latest album, Mr. A-Z, which I bought a week ago and have been blasting till I got tinnitus. In brief summary, it's EXCELLENT, and far better than his debut ( Waiting For My Rocket To Come ). I especially love Bella Luna ( best track ) and O. Lover ( very raw, very sexy ). What I enjoy most is how he's matured so much yet retained his trademark styles ( ie. cool wordplay, catchy rock-pop fusion, still that endearing boyish quality ).

May do a track-by-track review one of these days. If I survive the next week.