Thursday, August 31, 2006


Voters finally make the right choice! Joakim Gomez, you've had a good ( albeit lucky ) run, but it's time to make a dignified exit.

Haven't dialled the numbers yet, but if the current trend continues, I may never have to.

Go, Hady! :D

It's Working Again -- woohoo :)

Picasa seems to have repaired itself.

My thanks to the concerned Google team who offered very personalized help after its initial robotic email reply.

Enough already. Very tired. More next time.

Lake Lucerne Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's 3am in the ER. Finally cleared the cases. Was pretty insane when the night shift first arrived.

So now, it's time to wind down a bit and blog, haha. :)

Emmy Awards 2006

Watched it 'live' on Monday morning. Totally loved it.

Opening skit was a hoot, especially the bits involving House and South Park. The latter looks deceptively simple in its animation style, but still manages to capture a character's essence, as it did with host Conan O'Brien. More amazingly though, is how I instantly recognized Tom Cruise when the cartoon version popped out of the closet. Hilarious!

The rest of the show didn't disappoint, thanks to Conan's witty banter, a few creative bits ( Bob Newhart in a glass case ), nice tributes ( Dick Clark, Aaron Spelling ), funnymen ( Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert), and great winners' speeches ( Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Shalhoub, Kiefer Sutherland ).

My favourite spiel comes from the guy who spoke after The Office won for Best Comedy Series. Don't know his name, but here's what he said:

"Conan and I were room-mates in college, and I remember how we said that someday he'll host the Emmys, and I'll win an Emmy, and we'll lose our virginity.
We're still hoping it'll happen."

Did you get it? Cracked me up. :D

Too bad Grey's Anatomy didn't take home a statuette, despite its 11 nominations. But Jeremy Piven really deserved his award. Didn't I tell you he's HOT?

By the way, Entourage is getting lots more interesting these days -- it's about a month into its HBO run on local cable. Something about Aquaman and James Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio and Sundance and Hugh Hefner and Scarlett Johansson. Yeesh, why are you still reading this? Go watch the show darn it.

In Other News

Recently read a bunch of articles submitted by our local med students, and was completely blown away by them.

These aren't regular writers. They were just pouring their hearts out, with one ( a female in 3rd year ) being unintentionally funny. But that's a good thing. Loved reading her piece. Look for it in an upcoming SMA News issue.

To Do List - May Never Happen

Considering how time-constrained I am nowadays, I'm just going to print this out ( if I ever find the time ), stick it on the fridge door and watch the paper turn yellow.

1. Rent and watch every single season of 24.

2. Rent and watch every single season of Alias.

3. Rent and watch every single season of ER.

4. Rent and watch every single season of Chicago Hope.

5. Rent and watch every single season of The West Wing.

6. Rent and watch every single season of Desperate Housewives.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Now that I've sworn off cinema-going, there're additional DVDs to rent. I HAVE NOT seen Superman Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and a whole bunch of other blockbusters. How pathetic is that.


Been meaning to write about this for some time but kept forgetting.

Recently caught a great comedy featuring actors who are also best buds in real life. They've collaborated on many other films in the past, and I have this recurring fantasty about them spoofing the medical profession someday. ( Maybe I can write the script, heh heh! )

The regular players: Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Luke and Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn.
Intermittent players: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd.

Past large-group projects: Zoolander, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Dodgeball, The Royal Tenenbaums.

Smaller-group projects: The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Meet The Parents, Starsky and Hutch.

Current release: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Caught Anchorman on cable couple of weeks ago. Spoofs news reporters in the 70's, complete with big hair, swanky clothes, heavy makeup, sexist comments and kungfu-style street fights. Will Ferrell plays the lead character ( Burgundy ) and does it proud, being both loathesome and lovable at the same time ( possible only in the deftest of hands ). Look for a scene after his beloved dog gets hurled off a bridge ( see for yourself how that happens ). Burgundy bawls to his pal on the phone and had me in stitches.

Steve Carell and Paul Rudd deserve honourable mentions. The former is priceless as a dim-witted weatherman, while the latter excels at playing against type ( baby-faced but always doing the bad-guy roles ).

Another highly recommended comedy: Bowfinger, starring Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and Heather Graham. Quite possibly the best I've seen so far.

Am off for some MacDonald's grub ( their delivery service is a veritable godsend ), then tuning in to Colbert and Stewart on Comedy Central.

Night shifts ain't so bad after all. :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Looking Good

Got this through a mailing list today. New members definite -- guy on the extreme right resembles Jonathan Togo from CSI: Miami, no? :)

Better still, you can sample the tracks. Recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studio, no less, the result is pretty impressive, considering how cheesy previous albums have been ( I have one copy -- only for autograph-collecting purposes -- but skipped Tenology altogether ).

From the short excerpts I heard, think almost all are up to standard, production- and vocals-wise. I happen to detest Il Divo ( apologies to hard-core fans ), but the Ten Tenors keep the vibratos and melodrama adequately regulated, which prevents me from developing a migraine.

Currently on tour in Europe, followed by the US, let's hope they'll drop by Singapore very soon. Have seen them twice before, then passed on the 3rd show 'cos I thought it was getting repetitive. Now, I'm pretty psyched to watch them again.

Especially the Jonathan Togo lookalike.

Heh heh.

Too Controversial?

My email must've been too strongly worded.

Sent some comments to the paper recently, discussing the farce / failure named "Singapore Idol". My suggestions included scrapping the phone / SMS charges completely, so that calls and text messages will revert to standard rates and hence encourage those sitting on their posteriors ( e.g. myself ) to vote.

I mean, think about it -- every vote costs a very unreasonable 60 cents, and you're not even sure if you're making that much of a difference considering some lousy contestants' rabidly loyal fanbases. Sure, I can call 10 times, but will this trump the fans' 100, or 1000?

Personally, I see no point in spending that kind of money unless I'm at least 80% sure of a positive result.

If Joakim wins this competition, good luck to Ken Lim ( who will manage him ) and BMG Records ( who will see their investment flushed down the toilet ).

Hady did a great job, as usual. Is "sexy beast" from Austin Powers or some Brit movie? Anyway, the term suits him perfectly. :)

House 2

I realize I've sung its praises to the high heavens in the past, but does anyone agree that Season 2 has kicked off to a rather limp start?

Into its 2nd episode, and not one quote-worthy House-ism in sight! And what's with all the mushy empathizing nonsense? Noooooo....

Give me the heartless, sarcastic, vulgar, rude "bored diagnostician", who whacks people with his stick, pops opioid pills and spits on surgeons' scrubs in the OT. If I see another scene of House sitting by a patient's bedside on the verge of tears, I'm literally going to regurgitate my dinner.

It's up for a Best Drama Series Emmy, but let's be honest, I'm rooting for Grey's Anatomy.

However, tune in to reruns of Nip / Tuck Season 1, which airs right after House ( Monday nights, AXN ). Julian McMahon is absolutely delish. :)


To JS, who revealed in a recent email exchange that she reads my blog and actually enjoys it.

I'm always flattered by any form of attention -- good or bad ( urgh - take note :)), but JS is somewhat different, though I'm not at liberty to divulge details.

Again, I appreciate the feedback, and hope you'll keep reading, or perhaps start your own blog someday ( if you haven't already done so ).


'Live' telecast of the Emmy Awards 2006- Monday 9am local time, Channel 5.

Even More Important

Got this from an Amazon discussion thread. Must try!

Best sample of the lot ( stress "sample" not "track" ): Here You Come Again, a song I'm not familiar with, but which showcases Clay's voice at its best -- gentle, emotional, effortless.
Wonder if it's an original written specially for him? Good stuff.

Release slated for mid-September. Get your money ready. :)

More available on Amazon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Photo Sharing - Alternative Route

My blog software's still on the blink, argh.

Thank goodness for Yahoo. :)

The Lake Lucerne cruise was a lovely way to end the trip. Unbelievably good weather, though hot ( 36 deg! ). Still, humidity remained low, so we didn't really feel it ( heat stroke beware ).

These are just a few of the pics I took. Must've snapped close to 50 in those 90 minutes alone, but need more time to upload 'cos I'm still on dialup ( no broadband, resistant Stone Age-r that I am ).

The colours that day were awesome, as were the numerous boats we encountered. Locals and tourists alike were generous with their waves of greetings as our vessels passed each other, and I envied how everyone enjoyed life ( basking in the sun, splashing in the water, sailing, pedalling boats, diving off a makeshift tower ). A far cry from the traditional Singaporean pastimes of eating, shopping, going to movies and pubbing.

More to follow another day. Enjoy the weekend.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


3 Weeks And Counting...

Wow, time really flies when you're in a foreign environment.

Getting the hang of things, but think I'm a little too paranoid sometimes, making cover-everyone's-posterior type of decisions. I actually told a consultant last night that I wanted to admit a patient "to avoid another ST headline", to which he laughed good-naturedly.

Anyhow, a word of caution to all ST readers -- especially those in the medical profession: the paper needs some serious fact-checking, so take everything with a pinch of salt. I tell you this based on firsthand accounts of hapless victims whose names got smeared for no good reason. Patients and their families love to spice up their stories to suit their own purposes.

The Divine Mr. A-Z

A million thanks to aliendoc for the wonderful Live at Java Joe's CD, which features even more original songs that don't appear on his studio recordings, the best of which is undeniably Dream Life of Rand McNally.

All the delicious Jason Mraz ingredients are present in abundance -- acoustic guitar, crisp delivery, naughty lyrics and wordplay, perfect vocals -- and at an epic 8-plus minutes, you'll still find yourself craving more.

Have been playing this particular piece on recurrent repeat mode since I got the album Friday. Heaven. :)

Truth Or Dare?

I've known about this case for ages, but it's still a shocker.

Currently, I'm sitting on the fence about his guilt / innocence. He may not be JonBenet's killer, but he's definitely guilty of SOMETHING.

Did you see him on CNN? Those eyes gave me the chills, man.

Those interested can hunt down John Douglas' terrific book, The Cases That Haunt Us, in which he profiles the murderer. Can't recall whether John Mark Karr fits it to a T, but I'm curious about its accuracy.

Another Photo

Software's a bit cranky lately, so will post that another day.

Wishing you a good week ahead.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My Head Hurts

I guess this is what happens when you can't find time to relax. And when you do, you feel guilty about it.

The effects from the holiday are slowly wearing off. Numerous work tasks beckon, a whopping newsletter theme issue is in the pipeline, a possible early exit exam may materialize in less than 6 months, and a consultant's recent comment has me rethinking my long-term career plans.

Plus, all the turmoil in the Middle East, UK, US, and Asia ( the last with its insane weather patterns and freak power failure incident ).

Trying to read 2 books concurrently, clear 2 months' worth of backlogged Time magazines, plow through a 2000-page emergency medicine reference text, AND squeeze in all that essential ( I stress, ESSENTIAL ) TV time, is just plain... exhausting.

And TV, mind you, is NEVER a trivial pursuit in my opinion. Even if you're watching WWF or Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search ( which I personally avoid, though I hardly think any less of those who tune in, some of whom include top surgeons and at least one dentist ).

I like to think that you can always learn something from TV shows and movies.

Or maybe I'm just trying to justify an otherwise frivolous past-time, heh. :)

2 examples I'd like to highlight though.

1. Numb3rs

I strongly recommend this to anyone who's remotely interested, and can't believe the injustice of the measly single Emmy nomination this year ( for stunt co-ordination, yeesh ). With its highly intelligent scripts, well-executed action scenes ( nicely mixed with moments of comedy and poignance ) and stellar ensemble cast, I don't understand why it failed to garner noms and wins for Best Drama Series and Writing.
Season 1 had two outstanding episodes -- one about tracking sophisticated robbers, the other about a shady computer firm dealing in software which claims to predict human potential.

Season 2 started its run on AXN about 2 months ago ( Mondays, 9pm, just before House ), and seems to be shifting into higher gear. The storylines are even more convoluted, yet the resolutions super-satisfying. Think CSI -- but 10 times more complex.

With the main characters fleshed out from past events in the 1st season, there's clearly more emphasis on plot development, and a recent episode which investigated 2 seemingly unrelated crimes then ingeniously merged both into a mind-blowing conspiracy theory-type thread had me on the edge of my seat!

And CSI has got NOTHING in terms of speed-talking about evidence analysis. In addition to FBI agent Don Epps' harried rundowns on the latest updates, you can also enjoy brother Charlie's entertaining analogies as he expounds on mathematical theories, making a dull subject comprehensible, fascinating and -- dare I say it? -- cool.

I've watched every single episode since the pilot, and love it more with each passing week. You bet I'm gonna get my hands on the DVD. But I'll see if I can win it first. :)

2. Someone Like You

Many would no doubt classify this as a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy or chick flick ( a term I consider quite derogatory ).

Personally, however, I've got a huge soft spot for this film, and not just because I like the stars ( Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman, Greg Kinnear ). And never mind Jackman's awesome abs ( showcased to perfection in a certain nocturnal scene ).

I connect with it mostly because Kinnear's character -- ie. a cad of colossal proportions -- reminds me of "someone". And since I've only had a single "someone" so far in my 30 years on planet Earth, a number of you should be able to guess who I'm talking about.

There's one bit in the movie, where Judd discovers yet another lie from Kinnear, then attends an office meeting with colleagues and her boss. While Kinnear is making heartfelt comments about a Gerard Depardieu movie, Judd laughs then starts to let off steam, shouting about how Kinnear is able to act "sensitive" about a "bald French guy", but fully capable of "stomping all over someone's heart" without even blinking an eye.

I relish that moment, 'cos I wish I could've had it.

Well, perhaps one day I will. Just you wait... :)

If the topics in this entry seem disjointed, blame it on the time ( 3:30am ), the setting ( A&E ), and reason for posting ( mostly to stay awake ).

Will post more pictures the next time I'm on the laptop. For now, let's discuss

TV Hell In Europe

Used to think this was confined to Italy, but went through it again last month.

Sure, there were a couple of hotels with CNN and BBC. The one in St. Moritz had the best selection, with a few good English cable channels thrown in, while Zurich featured a Classic FMTV selection, with music videos from Duel, Enya, Amici, Josh Groban, Russell Watson, Nigel Kennedy, Katherine Jenkins, etc.

Most of the time, though, I sat through loads of Hollywood films dubbed in German and Italian. Films like King Kong, Face/Off, Fear ( Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon in their younger days ), and I think a few horror flicks. It was bearable 'cos we knew what was happening since we'd seen them before. But otherwise, it was pretty dismal from a foreigner's standpoint.

Remember how Oprah Winfrey kicked up a big fuss after being thrown out of an Hermes store in Paris? She later got a public apology from a senior executive, who explained that the salesperson didn't recognize Oprah, causing the latter to gawk in shock.

But if you consider the TV fare in Europe -- which I suspect is similar in Paris -- I'm not the least surprised that Oprah wasn't recognized. The only talk shows I came across were all local. So you can bet Jay Leno, Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres would probably go unnoticed too.

The upside to European TV? Lots of nudity. And MTV Europe is one kinky party.

Haha. :)

Only 5 more hours to go.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lindau's Gorgeous Main Street Posted by Picasa

Fun In The Sun Posted by Picasa

Our Lunch Stop - With The Cute Waiter :) Posted by Picasa

Harbour Front Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Second night shift in a week, and I have to say I kinda enjoy it. When my overall luck is good, that is. :)

Wasn't very productive today though. I'm tired no matter how much sleep I get. No wonder I have no social life, heh heh.

Speaking of social life, perhaps it'll pick up later this month if I do meet him for another dinner.

Maybe I'll muster the courage to spill my guts this time. 6 years is long enough!

Good News

What a beautiful photo. Love love love the hair. :)

No track listing as yet, but Entertainment Tonight mentioned 10 covers and a few new songs. Heard him do parts from Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting. Should be interesting.

There were rumours on the Internet back in 2003 about Clay having written the song To Where You Are, before relinquishing all rights by selling it to some music company, which then passed it on to David Foster, who got Josh Groban to record it and claimed it as his own.

Complicated as it is, Richard Marx got stuck somewhere in the middle as co-writer, and lots of Clay fans were upset and almost petitioned to expose the whole incident.

To cut a long story short, Diane Bubel -- a good friend of Clay's and co-founder of the Bubel-Aiken Foundation -- denied this, though many didn't believe it. But since he's covering a Richard Marx piece, I think that story probably wasn't true after all.

Anyway, my head's stuffed with useless trivia. Good to get it out once in a while. :D

Top Contender

It became very clear last night. Hady Mirzadeserves to win the Singapore Idol title this year.

After wowing me a week ago with an excellent performance of George Michael's Freedom, he did it again with You've Got A Friend.
I've heard Carole King's version, which is extremely gentle and sedate.
Hady's, on the other hand, started off that way but soon escalated into a full-bodied soul / jazz vocal. It was bold, original, sexy, and good enough for American Idol's Top 10.

Yes, it was that terrific.

Only problem is, Singaporeans often vote for the wrong people, and for the wrong reasons. Joakim Gomez is awful yet has a rabidly loyal fanbase. Another screw-up is Paul Twohill, who struck me as different and nurture-able but continues to deteriorate with each passing week. The girls just love him, never mind the icky hair, horrible braces and frightening eye makeup. And what's with the unforgiveable sellout when he chose Boyzone's Picture Of You? No self-respecting rocker would ever do something that stupid. I ended up flipping channels during those few excruciating minutes -- Rock Star Supernova was on cable, and those contestants are the polar opposites of pathetic wannabes like Twohill.

Nurul also needs to be kicked out ASAP. She's a sweet girl, but not star material. Jasmine stands a better chance but also shouldn't make the top 3.

Unfortunately, I don't feel sufficiently motivated to call in at this stage. Once they hit the final 5, I'll be more pro-active.

In the meantime, good luck, Hady!

Waxing Lyrical - Part 3

Rest assured, no more talk about European men. :)

Still reminiscing daily about the recent holiday. And haven't honked or flashed my headlights at anyone yet, despite meeting quite a few a**h***s on the roads.

I fully expect to start swearing again in the near future, but shall enjoy the positive effects while they last.

But how I do miss the European summer, with its intense sunshine and low humidity, which gave me major sunburn without the nasty perspiration. Was blessed with rosy cheeks, a healthy tan and blissful smiles the entire fortnight.

Ate many an ice-cream cone, either on the run through yet another town or city, or just leaning against a wall or railing, enjoying the sun or gazing down at a sprawling valley, waving to tourists taking the cable car up Mount Pilatus ( photos to be posted in a subsequent entry ).

I was practically forced to relax, especially in the lakeside resort of Lindau ( will post pictures soon ). This is also where we met that adorable waiter ( see earlier entry about cute European dudes ). This is one laid back area, like New Zealand's Queenstown, but with lots more flowers.

Still vividly remember our lunch there on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. Sat on the patio of a quaint hotel restaurant, surrounded by fellow diners -- some tourists, but most appeared to be locals -- facing the lovely harbour, with buskers nearby playing the accordion and violin. It was warm, our sodas tasted exceptionally delicious, and the breaded fish fillet caused significant post-prandial lethargy. If only I had a favourite novel in hand -- that would've made everything perfect.

Think I'm becoming dangerously addicted to travelling. Already planning the next few vacations -- may try 2 trips / year instead of the usual one. Japan, Amsterdam, USA, China and Russia are all in the cards. No more new clothes or visits to the cinema for me.

Happy belated National Day. ( I saw the fireworks display from my window, wooo. :))

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hofbrauhaus Band -- Munich Posted by Picasa

Waltz From The Sound Of Music -- Innsbruck Posted by Picasa

As The Kylie Minogue Song Goes: I'm Spinning Around, Move Out Of My Way Posted by Picasa

Who Needs Red Bull? Not Us! Posted by Picasa

Finale Posted by Picasa

Meat & Music In Vienna Posted by Picasa

Swiss Horn Blowing - Lucerne Posted by Picasa

Drink That Beer, Baby! Posted by Picasa

Cute Cow :) Posted by Picasa
The Tipping Point

Lately, I've been wondering about this a lot. Which is worse ( or better )? To be insanely tired after a hard day at work yet also satisfied that you made a big difference, or to be more rested and able to study, read, blog and actually get things done but feel guilty that you may not be pulling your weight?

Will they understand that there were just no cards most times I went by the nurse counter?

It's the Hungry Ghost month. Plus a spate of "bad publicity" -- at least according to inside sources.

All I can say is, the timing is impeccable. Haha. :)

Action At Last!

If you watched last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy, you will know that George finally got it on with Meredith.

I was both happy and unhappy about this.

Happy 'cos George is my favourite character on the show ( oh yeah, I don't even like Dr. McDreamy that much anymore ), and I'm glad he got the woman he loves.

Unhappy 'cos Meredith is just a tad too flawed for someone as sweet as George. That woman has issues -- lots of them. And she's bound to break poor George's heart -- a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey hinted at a possible reunion between Meredith and McDreamy.

But of course, it's just a show. But a darn good one. My mom is HOOKED. :)

Quote from last night's climactic scene ( or a gist of it ):

George to Meredith: I will never leave you. I will never hurt you. And I will love you forever.

Say it with me: AWWWWWWWWW.... :D

Pictures Part 2

Wine, Women & Song

Here's a montage of photos from various musical performances. There were many but these are the ones captured on film.

1. Bavarian band - Munich

This was at the world-renowned Hofbrauhaus beer hall. Visited the massive restaurant / beer garden on World Cup finals night, and it was really crowded with tourists. If you're wondering if football fever was rampant, then you may be surprised to learn that it was disappointingly absent. Germany wasn't vying for the championship title, which may explain the general lack of enthusiasm. Also, the tourists aren't exactly football fanatics either, preferring to huddle indoors with only a small group parked outside in front of the establishment's sole TV screen.

I decided to make the best of both worlds, running between my table within the hall and the garden outside, to catch snippets of the match. Suspect the musicians themselves may have been doing the same, since they kept vanishing after every song. :)

2. Tyrolean Show -- Innsbruck

A real treat, this one! Lasted more than an hour, with alcohol galore and hundreds of inebriated spectators. ( But I couldn't help checking out all the exits, 'cos it's a massive fire trap. )

Anyway, we had a full spread of traditional dances, yodeling and excellent skills on various Tyrolean instruments with complicated names ( my music programme is with a friend, so can't recall them offhand ).

There were 2 major highlights: an instrumental rendition of Edelweiss, during which the audience spontaneously sang the lyrics in unison; and a reproduction of the waltz from The Sound Of Music ( where Maria and Cpt. von Trapp fell in love ). The first made my eyes water ( yes, sentimental fool that I am ) while the second had me holding my breath for who knows how long. Enchanting, I tell you!

For the finale, the singers did national songs from America, Australia, France, New Zealand, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, even Singapore! ( The last occurred because one of the waitresses asked us where we're from, so I guess she conveyed the info to the stage. They did Singapura, not Majulah Singapura, by the way. )

The craziest of the lot? Hands down, the Australians, most of whom were already super-drunk by then, and who stood up to belt Waltzing Matilda at full volume.

What a sight, haha.

3. Dinner & Dance -- Vienna

This was an informal event, but loads of fun. :)

We'd just arrived after a marathon 4-hour drive from Salzburg. We were tired, hungry and in dire need of hot showers.

This quaint restaurant serves EXCELLENT red meat, from roast beef to chicken breast to fish coated with bread crumbs, soaked in heavenly sauces and gravy, with sides like giant potatoes, juicy salads and creamy soups.

As we sat down to enjoy the food, a young fellow struck up a lively tune on his accordion, making the rounds and teasing us playfully with arched eyebrows and winks, even squeezing next to a group nearby ( pictured above ).

Later, 4 of our fellow travellers got up to do an impromptu "chicken dance" -- highly amusing, heh heh!

4. Viennese Concert

Presented by the Vienna Residence Orchestra, the repertoire included excerpts from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Sonata In A, and Johann Strauss' Rose Waltz, The Blue Danube and perennial fav, The Radetzky March.

Thanks to our resourceful guide, we secured front row seats, with unsurpassed views of the orchestra, dancers and singers. The dancers, in particular, were beautifully light on their feet, without the usual loud thuds despite the high leaps.

Nice. :)

5. Swiss Alpine Show -- Lucerne

Thought it would be a repetition of what we saw in Innsbruck, but thankfully, it wasn't.

We had a tasty lunch comprising cheese fondue, rosti, bratwurst and strawberry merengue -- man, my mouth's watering from writing this.

The show itself did overlap slightly with the Tyrolean programme ( ie. yodeling, cow bells, Swiss horn-blowing ), but there was an interactive segment where audience members were brought on-stage to yodel -- solo. Nerve-wracking!

After that, they had to guzzle from a gigantic glass of foamy beer.

I especially enjoyed the bit where the fake cow ran around the restaurant. It may sound cheesy, but the whole thing was done quite tastefully and had us all in stitches. It even knows how to do a Zoolander, ie. mugging for shots. :D

Ahh, good memories. :)

New Fix

Last but not least, here's a recommendation for your viewing pleasure.

Entourage airs on HBO every Tuesday at 9pm. Supposedly based on Mark Wahlberg's wilder days in showbiz, this series is a love-it-or-hate-it concoction of wild parties, one-night stands, totally unproductive days, angsty whining and childish pranks.

Why do I love it though? Because it's unpretentious about its characters' flaws, and has a superb script which ingeniously combines surfer dude talk with intelligent, insightful observations.

Watch for the cameos. And Jeremy Piven is soooo hot. :)

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Fairy Tale Comes To Life Posted by Picasa

Easter Egg Shop In Salzburg -- Whoa... Posted by Picasa

Whoa - again! Posted by Picasa

Concert Hall -- All To Ourselves Posted by Picasa

The Gorgeous Lobby Bar Posted by Picasa
Picture Time! - Part 1

As requested, here they are. :)

Just so you know, I've never posted photos of myself or family / friends on the blog, and don't intend to - ever.

But... I can share them via email with readers whom I know personally, but with the understanding that you shouldn't mass mail them to strangers lah.

Am sure some of you would like to see Pablo, heh heh. :D

Anyhow, since I can't publicize my Yahoo address, I've obtained a new account with Google. It's just below the profile on the right.
In case you have something to say or ask and don't want to put it on the blog's comments section, I guess that route may be an easier one. Can't guarantee a direct reply, but I promise to read everything.

So I'm going to lump the pics according to quirky themes, rather than make it a boring chronological travelogue with dry facts and lengthy commentaries.

Today's Theme: Super-Cool Things I Saw During The Trip

1. Neuschwanstein Castle -- Bavarian Alps

( Click on the link to go to Wikipedia )

Background info can be found there, with a nice photo ( have a similar view on my digicam so have put up a different one ). Looks a bit misty but kinda adds to the overall fairy-tale vibe, don't you think? ( You can click on the image to enlarge. )

It's a hard climb up and a long walk down, so I was pretty exhausted after the tour -- short at 2 hours, but was fighting off a flu bug at the time and almost didn't make it for dinner that night 'cos I just wanted to crawl under the covers and sleep till morning, dammit!

Anyhow, it's very surreal on the outside, but looks like any typical castle on the inside. Rooms are a tad small and not that ornate, but it was fun to walk through and see what life was like back in the day.

Our guide, Rita, kept emphasizing that King Ludwig was "the mad king, the handsome king", so it really got drummed into my head and kept resonating throughout the course of the day ( yeesh, it's there now too! ). But judging from the portraits, he really wasn't too bad-looking, with a very unusual height ( for that era, that is ) of over 6 feet.

We took a little van up ( cramped, with a psychotic driver taking turns at crazy speeds ), but trudged all the way down on foot. Steep slopes caused our ankles to hurt something fierce for the next 3 days, and I'd never seen so much horse poo in my life ( carriages make the rounds every 5 minutes, and the horses must be defecating from all the hard work ). My tiger oil came in very handy, haha.

2. Easter Egg Parade -- Salzburg, Austria

I was SOOOO blown away by this! Rita told us about it before we arrived, but I never once expected it to be so breath-taking.

They're REAL EGGS, mind you. But emptied of their contents, of course. This shop I entered was MAGICAL, and I didn't want to leave. Just kept snapping photos non-stop till it was time to meet up with the rest. If I could've bought the whole store, I would've.

3. The Vienna State Opera House

Was blown away mostly because we were granted access to the grand concert hall, and being the first tour group to enter ( at least 15 minutes before the next bunch ), we had the entire place to ourselves for those precious moments.

I leaned back in my seat and just took a deep breath, imagining all the lavish events that have taken place over the centuries, wondering who might've sat in my spot in the past.

We also poked our heads into the VIP intermission room, where presidents and royalty have mingled, and strolled backstage for a look at the massive space used for props and dressing rooms. Believe me, it's HUGE!

There's also an excellent Chinese restaurant located just round the corner from the Opera House. Chanced upon it while hunting for lunch. Serves succulent stir-fried beef in giant proportions, and for a reasonable price too.

That's it for now.

More Updates

Housereturns to AXN 14th August. Season 2 has already garnered the show 4 Emmy nominations, including Best Drama.

Special thanks to Jennifer Morrison, who plays Dr. Allison Cameron, for a beautiful autographed photo conveyed via the Singapore Medical Association. I guess this means the cast and writer David Shore read my review and liked it. :D

Also, many thanks to AXN Asia for picking me in their House contest. Won myself a Season 1 House DVD set, woohoo!

The Office

This new "Americanized" version airs on Starworld Channel 18 every Thursday at 9pm. Starring Steve Carell from The 40-Year-Old Virgin ( one of the best comedies I've ever seen ), it retains the trademark sardonic humour of the original but still manages to stay fresh with hilarious antics ( like 2 warring colleagues who hammer each other by putting the enemy's stationery in jello, or fortifying the desk with sharp pencils ). If you're scratching your head over this, all the more reason to watch the show. :)

Westlife Cometh

I'm a big fan, and not ashamed to say it. :)

Caught both their shows when they dropped by years ago. No Bryan MacFadden this round, but I have no doubt the concert will be equally entertaining.

Hope they do numbers from their Allow Us To Be Frank album. I love their covers of Let There Be Love and Clementine.

Singapore Idol 2

Used to think it sucks, but have got my eye on 3 contestants now -- Mathilda, Jonathan and Hady. If all goes well ( voters have been kicking out stronger vocalists and keeping the cutesy ones ), they should make it to the end.

Best performance thus far: Hady's HOT cover of George Michael's Freedom. Came close to matching Robbie Williams' version. I'm sufficiently impressed.

Time to get some sleep. Washing house is tiring.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Nighty Night

For want of a better title. :)

First overnight shift at the new place, and still getting the hang of things. Am grateful for consultant cover and a team of excellent MOs ( one of whom's actually a newly minted A&E registrar doing an MO rotation ). However, this computer thing gives me a massive headache, argh!

Constant trickle of P3 cases with the occasional spurt of resuscitations. One middle-aged fellow suffered a heart attack after a virgin dose of "the blue pill". Ahem.

Crossing my fingers that it will remain quiet and manageable till 8am. Didn't get any sleep this afternoon 'cos I was feeling quite stressed, but think it'll pass after the first week or so.

Since I have some down-time and need to stay awake, here's...

Waxing Lyrical - Part 2

This other fellow is a real gem. For personal reasons, I prefer to identify him as M.

Among all the European dudes I met on this trip, I spent the most time with M and got to know him rather well. He's older, but never married and has no children.

Blonde and brown-eyed, around 6 feet tall, very slim, with a preference for attire similar to what Pablo wore ( short-sleeved shirts and pants ), but in various pastel colours.

k, you hit the nail right on the head with your comment about European men knowing exactly how to "appreciate women". It isn't about hand-kissing or holding open doors, and definitely not about simple flattery ( that would imply insincerity ).

With M, you could tell that everything came naturally, no doubt the result of good upbringing and deeply ingrained European culture.

He didn't just zoom in on younger women, but treated all females -- regardless of age and physical appearance -- the same. After a while, however, I did notice that he held my hand longer than necessary compared to the rest, p value <0.05 ( haha ).

I loved our conversations for a number of reasons. One, he has a lovely Austrian accent. Two, he's extremely soft-spoken and well-mannered. Three, he's also a bit of a flirt, heh heh. Four, he never once asked about my personal life until I asked him first. Then the pace really picked up from there! Five, somewhere along the way, he started to look at me differently, and I really enjoyed it.

Last but not least, there's nothing quite as uplifting as basking in the radiance of good ol' European charm. And boy, did M have tonnes of it!

( By the way, k, M isn't in the pictures you downloaded. Someone else took a photo for us and hasn't emailed it over yet. :))

Guess I have to remain vague to preserve my privacy and retain some ownership of those memories.

But thank you, M, for making me less of a cynic and stirring up whatever remnants of optimism I have buried deep within. ( It's still there! I can't freaking believe it! )

Perhaps we'll meet again someday. But if not, I wish you well, and hope you'll find the happiness you seek.

Waxing Lyrical - Part 3

Might as well finish up so the next entry can deal with the trip proper.

Cute European dude #1

( In keeping with k's definition of "cute", this one definitely fulfills all criteria! But no photo! *&^%$#@ )

Blonde and blue-eyed. Young, probably early 20s or less. EXTREMELY GOOD-LOOKING, GAHHHH. Manned the guest services desk at our hotel in Zurich. Handled our tram tickets to the city centre and helped with the initial map-reading. Thought I was imagining his over-friendliness, but my mom independently confirmed it ( she was standing right next to me during the whole episode ).

His fellow colleague's about the same age, but brunette. Also very handsome. Strolling through the lobby has never been more fun. :)

Cute European dude #2

Met him in a quaint hotel restaurant at a beautiful lake resort town en route to Innsbruck. Early 20s, bespectacled and brown-haired waiter who seemed bemused by the presence of 2 Chinese women at his table. Guaranteed to win Employee Of The Month awards if he ever works in Singapore. Very sweet fellow.

Cute European dudes #3 & #4

One of the main reasons returning to Singapore proved so annoying.

Encountered these two in Zurich's city centre. My mom and I were running around on our own, map in hand, and happened to step off the curb a few metres before the next zebra crossing. We only spotted the oncoming car after setting foot on the road, so we came to a dead halt, expecting the drivers to either horn in irritation or zoom right past.

Instead, the vehicle eased into a gentle stop, implying that we could cross even though it wasn't our right of way. We turned to wave thank you, and were very pleasantly surprised to see 2 young men smiling back at us.

Throughout this holiday, we couldn't help noticing that drivers rarely, if ever, honk their horns. In fact, when we arrived at one particularly small town where the boardwalk doubles as a road, our coach came within inches of a woman standing in the middle of the "street" before stopping just behind her. She remained oblivious until another pedestrian told her to step aside. And our coach driver never once horned or swore or made any rude gestures. He just leaned on his steering wheel, patiently waiting for her to acknowledge our presence.

Now there's something worth admiring -- and emulating! ( I've been exercising greater restraint when driving since returning home. :))

Other cute European dudes

There were many more, from salespersons to musicians to tram operators and cooks ( a bunch of young ones in Lucerne grinned at me all the way from the kitchen ) -- the list goes on and on and on. Impeccable manners, respectful and accomodating to a fault, always with an amused smile on their faces, probably because my mom and I were often the only Asians seen for miles around.

There's a reason for all thoses mixed marriages after all. :D

3 more hours to go. Woohoo!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Brain Freeze

Haven't felt helpless work-wise in quite a while. Spent 8 hours fumbling around in a brand new environment today, but what can you expect with a different computer system and a couple of bumps where userID and password are concerned?

But it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and many thanks to my fellow colleagues and ED seniors for cushioning the transition so expertly. It's a lot to take in at one shot, but hopefully I'll get the hang of it soon.

On night shift tomorrow at any rate -- no time to adjust slowly! Would be great if the ghost month trend holds out, heh heh.

Freedom At Last!

i.e. no firewall here, so I can blog in the hospital! Not that I'm going to make it a habit -- unless it's quiet, like now -- but the feeling is very liberating. Aaaaahhhhh. Or rather, nyeh-nyeh-nyeh ( to the person who put up the firewall in the first place ).

Just kidding.

Waxing Lyrical - Part 1?

Not sure if another entry will follow this one, but just in case...

A friend said something about older men not being very cool, but I respectfully disagree.

Especially if you're talking about the European kind. :)

Yes, it's the "European men are divine" post! If you feel a gag reflex coming up, then please stop reading right now.

**warning warning warning**

How should I put this? Last year, I spent 20 days in Italy and was duly impressed with its population of beautiful people -- both male and female. Had quite a few pleasant encounters with the locals, but was also distracted by physical problems, namely a tortured gastrointestinal tract, constant heat exhaustion / dehydration, and incapacitating fatigue.

This time round, the pace was significantly more tolerable, the encounters more personal, the distractions minimal, the weather more balmy.

Not writing in chronological order, but here's one that my mom and I enjoyed immensely.

Place: Salzburg, Austria
Time: late morning, pre-lunch

We cruised into the beautiful city during a short commentary by our tour director, Rita. She told us we'd have a local guide for the next few hours, "usually a woman".

Again, I thought, wincing just a tad. Nothing against females, but wouldn't hurt to have a guy bring us around once in a while.

Suddenly, Rita exclaimed, "Ohhhh, it looks like your guide today is a man. A YOUNG man."

I immediately sat up and peered out the window. ( Hey, being honest here. :))
Wasn't sure where Rita was looking, but the only "young man" I could see was a blonde in his teens standing across the road.

The coach stopped and we got off. When we hit the ground, that's when I saw him -- a man indeed, who couldn't look more quintessentially European than all the stereotypical European men you can possibly think of.

Actually, my mom and I instantly concurred that he looked distinctly Italian. And when he opened his mouth to speak, we were 100% certain we'd clinched the diagnosis.

At least a 6-footer, with black wavy hair, tanned flawless complexion, dressed in a short-sleeved white shirt and beige pants, with sunglasses poking out of his front pocket.

"Hello everyone, and welcome to Salzburg!" he chirped. Unmistakeable accent. My mom and I glanced at each other: Italian, we murmured, grinning from ear to ear.

We spent the next hour taking a stroll around the Mirabell Gardens and main square, through a gorgeous marketplace to the back streets where Mozart's birthplace and quaint shops are located. This was followed by lunch, then a second tour to locations featured in the film "The Sound Of Music".

Won't bore you with the tour details -- saving that for a travel article later. Our guide's name, incidentally, is Pablo. As we congregated again after lunch at the square, he walked up to my mom and I and asked where we're from. Smiling at our reply, he revealed that he's met "many Singaporeans" on the tour, but hasn't had a chance to visit our country as yet.

Curious about his orgin, we asked if he's Italian, to which he replied -- and quite coyly, by the way -- "well, partly, yes, but I'm mostly Spanish and Austrian", flashing us a cheeky grin before leading us to the first highlight.

The next 3 hours were nothing short of magical. Partly because my mom and I are huge fans of the musical ( though my personal fav is "7 Brides For 7 Brothers" -- awesome, that one! ). As Pablo walked us through each location, describing how each was used for this or that scene, he would also re-enact parts of the movie, quoting dialogue and doing voices. It was hilarious and wonderfully entertaining. :D

He also provided a few tidbits about how certain scenery didn't really exist and clashed with the actual thing, like how the Alps appear in the cemetery scene but can't be seen anywhere in the real place. The von Trapp mansion was also portrayed using 2 different residences, with one providing the front facade and another used in the lake sequences.

But of course, it was Pablo's charm that made the tour so memorable. As I stood at a bench while a few of the other ladies went to the loo, he suddenly read out the words on the front of my shirt ( i.e. Deutschland, with a World Cup logo ) and flashed a grin. We then discussed soccer for a few minutes, after which he warned me about the perils of appearing to support Germany while in Austria, 'cos "only Germans love Germany". Hmmmm...

Along the way, he sang a couple of songs from the film, like Sixteen Going On Seventeen and Edelweiss. The latter was en route to the lake house via coach, which was cute 'cos all the elderly folk were doing a sing-along type of routine. Pablo has a mellow tenor voice and did a most tender rendition, like a soft lullaby. Very, very nice. :)

The former, on the other hand, is one my mom will forever hold dear, thanks to Pablo, haha! You see, while we admired a smaller replica of the famous pavilion where Rolf and Liesl danced, he launched right into the signature piece, belting his lungs out ( in perfect pitch, mind you ), then turned to my mom and practically did a solo serenade, stretching out his arms and leaning forward on one bended knee, while the rest of us stood a few metres away, absolutely delighted.

Think my mom blushed a little during that interlude, but I didn't tell her. :)

Last but not least, there's the photo op. I left the group for a moment to snap a picture of a grand driveway just outside, but once I returned, Pablo ushered my mom and I over, offering his arms to both of us, as true gentlemen do, before doing what I like to call a "Mama mia!" pose for the camera.

The result doesn't do him sufficient justice. You can't capture the man's essence in a single take, and he's much better-looking in person. k, hope you have a better idea of what I mean. :)

Anyhow, I had a fine time walking behind him at certain points. He may be in his 40s, but the view was spectacular. ;)

Thank you, Pablo, for a great afternoon in Salzburg!

Got a few more dudes to talk about, so looks like there will be more than 1 part after all.

Will upload pictures later this week. Just got the hard copies yesterday -- fantastic stuff.