Saturday, February 23, 2008

Early Predictions for American Idol 7

It's never too soon to make a few so-called bets ( though mine are strictly non-profit in nature :)).

Top Favourite: David Archuleta. Hands down.

He was featured prominently throughout the audition and Hollywood week episodes, and has proven formidable with his unbelievable performance of The Miracles' Shop Around a few days ago.

Despite being a tender 17 ( and refreshingly innocent for someone his age, considering teens these days ), he owns a jaw-dropping set of pipes, hitting those beautiful high notes perfectly and exuding stage presence like a pro.

No surprise then that he was a winner on Star Search when he was only 12 years old. This boy has significant prior experience to back him up.

Still, there's no mistaking his God-given talent. I would even say that of all the seasons so far, David is the only one who boasts the oft-talked-about "whole package" -- i.e. good looks, great voice, star quality. ( Carrie Underwood comes a close second, but she blossomed only AFTER winning the title. ) His age is an advantage rather than an impediment. If he keeps this up and audiences remain loyal, he can easily win this competition.

His reaction to the judges' high praise was so hilarious! Stunned speechless and stammering uncontrollably, he even got Ryan Seacrest nudging him in the ribs. It was a rare heartwarming TV moment. :)

2nd Top Favourite: Jason Castro, age 20

This fellow, on the other hand, was hardly seen this past month, and only made his big debut this week singing What A Day For A Daydream - a folksy, happy piece showcasing his comfort with a guitar and minimal backup from the band.

His vocals didn't wow me the way David's did, but he does have an easy, slightly goofy charm, nicely complemented by the odd yet appealing combination of dreadlocks and warm blue eyes.

Based on this 1st performance, he's definitely a contender. But it remains to be seen whether he can remain consistent and survive to the end.

3rd Top Favourite: Ramiele Malubay, 20

Very talented, this one. She's the only female contestant I can stomach, and her rendition of You Don't Have To Say You Love Me was terrific.

She's got a huge voice for someone so tiny, and the tone is a husky soulful mix yet superbly controlled in terms of volume.

Last year's crop of contestants was a letdown ( winner Jordin Sparks? puh-leeze ), but this batch looks mighty promising.

Update On John Lloyd Young

He's giving his debut solo concert Feb 23rd ( Sunday morning Singapore time ) at the Lincoln Center, performing songs from the '60s. Read a recent interview here.

Wish I could be there, but alas, I'm stuck here. Working. Bleah. :)

Congratulations, Singapore

I rarely get excited about local news events, but this is considered a huge coup, so it's something to look forward to eh?

All I can think about is how our hospital is going to be the designated first-line medical centre yet again. Not necessarily a bad thing, but colleagues who had to endure some major prima donna behaviour from World Bank delegates 2 years ago have made me wary of foreign visitors coming to our ER expecting VIP treatment.

I mean, we promise to do our best for you medically, but within reason. If I have a collapse or a critical patient, don't expect me to come running over to treat a minor condition that can jolly well wait.


It's going to be a busy week ahead, not to mention a crazy schedule next month.

However, I'm thrilled that the SMA News nabbed interviews with 2 high-profile medical figures recently ( both from the US ), one of whom is so renowned he's a regular guest on Larry King Live.

Shall not ruin the surprise. Watch for them in our February and March issues. :)

Wishing you a fun weekend.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I really should chart these little episodes. Have a strong suspicion they're becoming more frequent in recent years.

So much to talk about, so little time...

First, the easy stuff.

Impressions of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Actually watched this on Jan 31st, but had no opportunity to review it ( such is the sad state of my hectic life ).

In short, I loved it! By far the boldest, and probably the best, effort from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, though the songs aren't exactly my cup of tea.

Despite the unwieldy plot and gore factor, this unconventional film has one vital saving grace -- the incomparable Depp, of course.

Clad in ghoulish makeup and effortlessly spewing dialogue in a British twang ( Jack Sparrow speaks the same way, come to think of it ), he impresses most in 2 areas -- (1) singing, and (2) scaring the wits out of movie audiences ( well, me for one ).

He possesses a very decent tenor voice, and demonstrates an intuitive touch in his song delivery, emoting spectacularly in every piece. The high notes are especially enjoyable. Bravo, Johnny!

The frightening bits aren't your typical jump-out-of-your-skin scenarios. Rather, they make you cringe and hold your breath ( or perhaps gasp, depending on the individual ). All that spurting blood wasn't a pretty sight. I may be immune to gore in a hospital setting, but seeing the vicious throat-slitting act itself is something I found difficult to stomach, hence the frequent episodes of averted gazes or covering of eyes during violent scenes. ( I'm still traumatized by Jurassic Park, which featured a poor cow being devoured by velociraptors -- remember that? Brrr. )

However, I still recommend this to anyone who's game for a good movie, 'cos that's what it is. I can't guarantee that you'll like it as much as I did ( or like it at all, for that matter ). But you definitely shouldn't miss it.

Memorable line: Depp's sneery "At last, my arm is complete again." as he lovingly caresses his trusty razor.

Last but not least, LOVE the poster slogan: Never forget. Never forgive.

Ahh, I couldn't agree more. :)

Digital Cable Rocks!

The recent upgrade has proven to be a wise move. My mind is officially boggled. :D

Just a sampling:

Foxcrime - features reruns of all 3 CSI series, from Season 1 onwards, every night of the week; also has reruns of Law & Order; I absolutely love Born To Kill ( Saturdays 11pm ), which showcases a serial killer every week ( recent profiles include Ivan Milat [ murdered hitchhikers in Australia ], Frederick and Rosemary West [ House of Horrors in Gloucester ] and Dr. Harold Shipman [ the quintessential Dr. Death ] ). Fantastic stuff!

Crime and Investigation Network - growing on me slowly, with shows like The Unexplained / Infamous Murders. A recent episode discussed cannibalism through the centuries, and featured serial killers like Ed Gein, Andrei Chikatilo and Jeffrey Dahmer, as well as the Guangxi province in China ( which practised its own barbaric form of human consumption during the Cultural Revolution *shudder* ).

I just love informative tidbits like these, haha. :)

Turner Classics channel - screens old gems from musicals ( Singing In The Rain, An American In Paris ) to thrillers ( Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray ). You get to see the stars of yesteryear in action ( Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Gene Kelly, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, just to name a few ), and honestly speaking, most of these classics trump current films by a mile in terms of content, style and acting. Now if only they'd show something with Sir Laurence Olivier in it, or every single Alfred Hitchcock movie known to Man.

MGM Classics - Another terrific channel to rave about. Features more recent shows ( 1970s onwards ) spanning the spectrum from thrillers to romantic comedies to action-adventures. I especially enjoy the John Hughes classics from the '80s ( starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and James Spader ), and experienced a jolt of nostalgia watching Untamed Heart last week ( a lovelorn Christian Slater wooing the perky Marisa Tomei -- super-sappy fare, but very moving :)).
Today, there's a 1970 version of Wuthering Heights with a youthful Timothy Dalton in it. I saw him in Jane Eyre once ( he played Mr. Rochester ) -- broke my heart, that one.

E! Entertainment - loads and loads of fluffy Hollywood gossip. But you'll be surprised at how much general knowledge you may accrue from this. They've got some decent shows on the movers and shakers of the world ( and their glamourous offspring ).

HBO Signature / Hits / Family - they've got completely different programmes lined up, and I spent the whole of last week getting stuck on Pride & Prejudice ( the remake with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen ). I couldn't pry my eyes away each time it came on ( and it aired every night for a week ). Bad time management. Bad, bad, bad...

I haven't even had time to check out the other channels yet ( i.e. NatGeo Adventure, extra Discovery channels ).

So the morale of this story is: get digital cable! :)

Here's an interesting recommendation:

One Man Star Wars Trilogy with Charles Ross

I first heard about this from a fellow colleague who saw the show in NYC a few years ago. He assures me it's funny and worth catching, so I've booked my tickets.

I have great faith in one-man comedy acts from the West. A good example is Rainer Hersch, who performed at the Jubilee Hall maybe 4-5 years ago, and made me laugh so hard I literally cried. It was so bloody cathartic. I need another session like that so I won't have to see a psychiatrist.

So How Was Your Valentine's Day?

I am a non-believer where Feb 14th is concerned. Ask my ex and he'll tell you I detest soppy gifts like flowers and chocolates.

But being a non-believer doesn't mean I lack a romantic core. My recent obsession with Pride & Prejudice made me realize what a pathetic wimp I am where aspects of love are concerned. True, a Jane Austen classic is hardly applicable in this day and age. But I am totally susceptible to the charms of tall, good-looking, eloquent and beautiful-mannered British gentlemen ( or American / European, I'm not picky :)).

And I repeat: Singaporean men need to brush up on their chivalry!

And Speaking Of The Locals...

Recall reading a few Straits Times articles / Forum letters about ugly Singaporeans this month ( what's new eh? ).

What can I say -- travelling extensively will surely open your eyes to the utter disgrace of our fellow countrymen and women. ( Though I can confidently state that the males are a lot worse than the females. )

To cite a recent example, the North Americans took me completely by surprise during my vacation ( even in LA and Manhattan ). Drivers let pedestrians cross even when it's the former's right of way. The men almost always open doors for women ( including strangers ), and the public toilets are spotless ( Americans routinely drag their carriers / strollers into the stalls without a second thought -- try doing that in Singapore, yuck ).

But nobody can beat the Japanese. I love the people so much I want to go back ASAP. :)

And Now For The Health Matters

In short:

1) A recent dialogue session with a high-ranking ministry official was deeply depressing. Sorry I can't tell you more.

2) The Straits Times article on ER overcrowding was, thankfully, quite forgiving, though not as helpful as we'd hoped. The Health Minister's closing comment about emergency cases being "attended to immediately... don't worry" was quite distressing, to say the least.

3) Kena a major arrow ( the biggest so far in my career ), which essentially means the next 12 months of my life will be hellish. More weight loss, yay. But hopefully this will herald a bigger year-end bonus. :)

4) Had another dose of the Administrative Firewall during a meeting last week. I don't want to blame anyone, so let's just blame the system, shall we?

5) The problematic MO I mentioned previously chose to do medical administration, but was thrown in the ER instead. Like I said, it's the system, stupid.

Ooh, Flight Of Ideas :)

That last line links to my closing topic for this entry: the 2008 U.S. Presidential race.

I've been following it closely, but couldn't find time to post anything.

To cut it short, I'm rooting for Hillary Clinton ( not just because she's a woman, but because she comes across as a lot smarter and level-headed than Obama, who sometimes gets carried away by his emotions and talks in annoying circles ).

After the George W. Bush re-election fiasco of 2004, let's hope John McCain will suffer a clear-cut defeat this year.

Till next time...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Review of The Police Concert, 4th February 2008, Singapore Indoor Stadium

[ p.s. I just noticed visits from The Police fansite's message boards, but can't access them because I can't register as a user - keep getting prompted to choose a U.S. state but I live in Singapore.
So if someone can post a comment to update me on what's being said over there, I'd greatly appreciate it! ]

Simply put, it was FREAKING AWESOME!!! :D

Worth every cent ( i.e. S$400 x 2 ), and the seats ( 1st tiered row ) offered an excellent, unobstructed view.

My main grouse: that the show proper started at 9:15pm. Didn't really enjoy the opening act ( Fiction Plane, starring Sting's son, Joe ) -- very rock-star-ish, complete with a leap from the speakers on stage, head-banging and long hair. I wasn't even aware that the singer's related to my idol, though I did notice that he sounds a lot like him.

Anyway, on to the concert repertoire. Here's a list of the songs that I remember hearing that night:

Message In A Bottle ( 1st of the night )
Every Breath You Take ( last song of the 1st encore set -- there were TWO, woohoo! )
Roxanne ( the BEST! )
Don't Stand So Close To Me ( fantastic! )
Hole In My Life
King Of Pain
Can't Stand Losing You
So Lonely
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic ( LOVED this one )
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

There were more, but I'm not familiar with all their songs, so please add to the list if you know the titles.

It was a beautiful show in every aspect. Sting looks even better now than he did 3 years ago when I caught him during his solo concert. ( I still can't believe I've seen him twice in 3 years! Yay, more please! :)). He wore this tight black ensemble which showed off his bulging biceps, tight abs and long legs. Back in 2005, when I reviewed his performance ( entry dated January 11, 2005 ), I mentioned how darn sexy he is. On Monday night, he looked gorgeous, sounded phenomenal, and even gave my mom a few chills of her own.

The songs are classics from the '80s, yet redone spectacularly by The Police in a 'live' setting, and it's just amazing how 3 guys can produce such a rich, layered sound, sans backup.

Sting, as always, delivered the goods with his pitch-perfect vocals and mesmerizing stage presence. He was friendlier this time round, chatting with the audience and egging us on to sing along, clap in rhythm and yell ourselves hoarse. He smiled a lot, laughed a few times, and looked visibly impressed when the 10,000-strong crowd filled in the blanks at certain points when he deliberately stopped singing to see if we knew the lyrics.

Naturally, the biggest hits got the best response -- Message In A Bottle, Don't Stand So Close To Me, Roxanne ( the audience was practically roaring on this one! ) and of course, Every Breath You Take.

His buddies -- drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers -- kept pace and intermittently stole the show. Copeland, especially, is a joy to watch. 55 years old with graying blonde hair, but decked out in '80s regalia -- complete with a sweatband on his head, something with a net-like pattern on his sleeves, and a pair of Michael Jackson-style gloves. His physical prowess on percussion is astounding, as he pounded non-stop for 2 hours without losing any steam, and left everyone breathless during Hole In My Life and King Of Pain, where he hopped between the drums and a set of chimes behind him, doing what I can only describe as a fluid dance number, accompanying Sting flawlessly on both pieces.

Summers impressed with his guitar skills ( he's 65 ), but compared to his fellow partners, he paled in terms of personality and stage energy. Still, his numerous solos had fans cheering their approval.

Another thing I noticed is the beat-up instruments wielded by Sting and Summers. The new plasma screens hanging above the stage provided high-definition vivid pictures of the band, and I could see all the scratch marks and flaky paint on their guitars during the close-up shots. I found it very apt, considering the nature of these performers -- old but still rocking hard and beating their younger counterparts hands down. It seems only fitting that we realize it's the musician that matters, not the condition of his instrument.

I'd also like to give kudos to the full-capacity crowd at the Stadium that night, for making the evening such a success. The audience ranged from kids to white-haired seniors ( many Caucasians attended as well ), but from the moment The Police stepped on-stage, we stayed on our feet, sang and screamed ourselves hoarse, and managed to generate enough noise to garner TWO encore sets ( 4 songs in total, yeah! ). Sting obviously likes Singapore ( he received an equally effusive response in 2005 ), so maybe the fans have something to do with that. :)

At the very end, the 3 blokes came to the front of the stage to link hands and take a bow, before Sting yelled a good-natured "Happy New Year!" and waved goodbye.

I remained partially deaf until the next morning, but enjoyed an adrenaline high that kept me up till 1am and helped me wake 5 hours later for some early morning New Year marketing. I'm now blasting Sting's All This Time 'live' concert recording on the car stereo, and counting down to his next show in Singapore ( hopefully it won't take another 10 years to get him down here again ).

Rock on, dudes! :D

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Short Entry

Just returned to work after a week-long break, and it's still a warzone in the ER.

But at least there's some element of crowd control now, with the new staff-card-only access to the Critical Care Area. ( It's about %^&*$ time. )

There're a few reasons I didn't blog during my short holiday ( even though I didn't travel overseas ).

1) was too busy ( sustained a few bruises from spring-cleaning )
2) preferred vegetating to blogging, which can sometimes be quite tiring
3) wanted to blog about controversial topics, but thought better of it
4) recently switched to digital cable, and am now preoccupied with Foxcrime and E! Entertainment :)
5) am a bit fed up about a few things ( which I may or may not blog about )

Further updates will follow once I have time and am in the right frame of mind to write coherently.

In the meantime, only 2 days to The Police concert, woohoo!