Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Reflections 2007

Ahh, another year draws to a close yet again. But 2007 seemed to pass by at a much faster speed compared to most. I attribute this to my post-AST work schedule, which has been insane ( to put it mildly ).

A quick rundown of memorable events:

Best of 2007

1. Jersey Boys on Broadway, NYC

Regular readers know how much I love this musical, so I won't belabour the point any further. :)

For the uninitiated, you can read my review posted October 20th 2007.

I'm just hoping JB will be staged at the Esplanade sometime in the future. We've already had quite a number of hit shows at that venue ( including the upcoming We Will Rock You ), so keep your fingers crossed.

2. Trekking across the USA

I survived 4 weeks of 24/7 contact with my parents, and had a great time along the way ( imagine that! :)).

NYC was obviously the biggest highlight of this holiday, but Las Vegas came a very close second.

I haven't blogged about Seattle or Los Angeles yet, but will do so in the coming weeks.

The weather was fantastic, the sights spectacular, and the people -- surprisingly pleasant! Singaporeans -- especially the men -- have lots to learn.

3. A Few Good Men

Not local, of course. :)

Seattle: Nick, our waiter at a cozy Chinese restaurant ( but populated by Caucasian staff ), looks only 17 or 18 years old but possesses perhaps the best public relations skills we've ever witnessed in one so young.
My mom still talks about how he kept replacing her glass of Coke every 15 minutes. Not refill, mind you. It's "replace". He'd come sweeping over with a brand new glass and take my mom's half-empty vessel away. It was unbelievable!
He also stopped at our table every 5-10 minutes to ask if we were happy with our food or if we needed anything, and kept saying "awesome" ( which my mom found very amusing -- oh well, he's pretty much still a teenager after all :)).
Looks-wise: cute in my book, heh heh. Blonde, blue-eyed, slim and clean-cut.
But ultimately, it's his impeccable manners and terrific personality which won us over. The generous tip I left was well-deserved.

Seattle: Again! This time, there're 2 guys whose names I don't even know.
One's a fellow who was about to walk into a shopping mall as my parents and I were exiting. He opened the door for my dad, but continued to stand there for 5 whole seconds, patiently waiting for my mom and I to walk towards him, smiling broadly the entire time. He graciously acknowledged our effusive thanks, before entering the complex after we'd emerged. Young man, maybe in his late 20s or early 30s.
Since returning to Singapore, we've had no such luck with local guys, who make it a habit to slam doors in other people's faces, rush in front of you to get ahead, or just act like you're invisible in case they're expected to behave a certain way.

The 2nd chap, I suspect, is a fellow emergency physician. I met him at a souvenir store within the Convention Centre where the ACEP Scientific Assembly was being held. I accidentally dropped something but caught it before it hit the ground, and suddenly heard a male voice exclaim, "Great catch!" just behind me. He looked like he's about my age, with brown hair and glasses, slinging the same conference bag as I was. He had a huge grin on his face, so I laughed and said, "Thanks!"
Unfortunately, the story ends abruptly, because even though he clearly appeared eager to strike up a conversation with me, for some strange reason I didn't take the bait ( damn! ). Still kicking myself over it.

By the way, the people of Seattle are the nicest I've met so far in my travels.
Coming in a close second are the Japanese, followed in third place by the New Zealanders.

Las Vegas: Gorgeous young man at the front desk who checked us in at Caesars Palace, and upgraded us to a Deluxe Suite for free, just because he "can tell that you really want it". He means my mom, since I was the one who kept telling her NOT to get it.

Las Vegas: Juan DeAngelo. Enough said. :)

Manhattan: An African-American fellow who runs a stall selling branded perfumes at wholesale prices ( at least I think that's why they're going so cheap, 'cos they definitely smell genuine ). We went back a 2nd time to pick up more bottles, and for some funny reason, he decided to throw in an extra one for free. We didn't see him do this for any of the other customers crowding his stall, and as we walked away, he came running over to whisper, "Now I don't do this for anyone, so don't tell anybody okay?"
We just stood there stunned for a moment until it finally sank in. Our lucky day indeed. :)

4. Favourites of the Year

Movie: Transformers -- just rented the DVD, and am already watching it for the 2nd time! I'm a long-time fan of Michael Bay's work, and couldn't be happier with this film. It's chock full of Bay's trademark dramatic, vivid-coloured shots and creative camera angles. There's enough migraine-inducing action to earn every cent of whatever money you put into the experience ( movie ticket or DVD rental ). But best of all, this might be the only movie of his that actually shows real heart and soul. From the geeky protagonist to the macho military and yes, even the hot chick -- every character is likeable and memorable despite being somewhat stereotypical and/or psychotic ( e.g. John Turturro's over-the-top Sector 7 agent, who had me in stitches :)).
Really hope Bay's future projects will stay true to this winning formula.
Plus, Bay's pretty hot himself. ;-)

Of worthy mention: Hairspray, which I watched on the plane back to Singapore -- twice. I'm such a sucker for musicals :) -- and Ratatouille, an absolutely perfect piece of animation and storytelling.

Actor: It's official. My latest list of Top 3 Favourite Actors include Kevin Spacey ( #1 ), John Cusack ( #2) and, new at #3 -- Shia LaBeouf.
I've already seen him in Constantine, The Greatest Game Every Played and I, Robot. But last week, I rented Disturbia and Transformers, which put him dead centre in the lead role. How I adore him. :)
LaBeouf reminds me of John Cusack in many ways -- the same limpid brown eyes, similar speech patterns and nervous tics, a laid-back everyman quality yet also sexy in a non-threatening way.
Cusack kinda missed the blockbuster mark with his career choices, but LaBeouf has the great and powerful Steven Spielberg behind him, so it's going to take a meteorite to annihilate the entire human race in order for this young talent to fade into obscurity.
Mark your calendars: Indiana Jones 4 ( where LaBeouf plays Indy's son ) is due for release on May 22nd 2008.

Album: Maroon 5's It Won't Be Soon Before Long is galaxies away from their debut effort Songs About Jane, but they've experimented successfully and are up for a few Grammys -- for Pop Vocal Album and Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo / Group.
Of worthy mention: The Jersey Boys original cast recording, which features covers that far exceed the original Four Seasons' versions, and East Of Angel Town, Peter Cincotti's 3rd studio release which features more pop, but still stays quite close to his jazz roots ( a full review to follow in a subsequent entry ).

TV Shows: None to speak of this year. Lost interest in Heroes after all that Sylar mumbo-jumbo kicked in. But I do love Milo Ventimiglia ( Peter Petrelli ), who will always be "Jesse from Gilmore Girls" to me.
Most of the TV fare hasn't lived up to my expectations. Managed to catch a lot of fall season premieres in the US, including CSI and CSI: New York ( both rather dull and unchallenging ), Grey's Anatomy, The Closer and Private Practice ( a Grey's spinoff which is so childish it's painful ).
The only one that didn't disappoint is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, guest-starring Sex And The City's Cynthia Nixon as the scariest psychopath since Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

Books: Read minimally this year. But Raymond Tallis' Hippocratic Oaths and Mohamad Khadra's Making The Cut are quite excellent.

Upcoming in 2008

At least 3 to look forward to:

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice -- Jubilee Hall, January

The Police in concert -- I'm seeing Sting again in February, woohoo! :)

Maroon 5 -- their 1st gig in Singapore come March. Am REALLY excited about this one.

Now all I need is a Michael Buble performance, and I'll be happy for the rest of the year. :D

Here's wishing everyone a Merry X'mas in advance. Please don't get too drunk over the New Year. Or if you do, don't come to my ER ( oh wait, I won't be on call that day, so who cares haha ). :P

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