Thursday, December 31, 2009
As the year finally draws to a close, I look forward to the start of a new one, and all the wonderful opportunities and experiences it will undoubtedly bring.
As always, I swear that I won't make a list of resolutions, but do so anyway. And no, the one I posted in an earlier entry is nowhere close to the real thing. :)
I did promise to review a couple of albums, so let's get that out of the way before 2010 officially begins.
Adam Lambert's For Your Entertainment is a dazzling debut, full of bold melodies and even bolder lyrics. Boasting Lady Gaga and Pink as collaborators, the tracks are uptempo with heavy dance influences and radio-friendly tunes. From the opening number - the pumping Music Again - to the cheeky Strut and Sure Fire Winners, it's guaranteed to keep you awake, or jolt you out of whatever stupor you might be in.
I like to blast it on the way home after a night shift so I don't fall asleep at the wheel. How's that for safe driving, heh.
Personally though, I prefer the slower songs, where Adam's vocals truly shine and make you realize that voters made a big mistake with Kris Allen.
Track #5, Soaked, has Middle-eastern inflections which blend seamlessly with Adam's glory notes. A Loaded Smile drips with sensuality as he tenderly caresses each note. Sleepwalker has a darker edge, buoyed yet again by Adam's heartfelt delivery. And Aftermath allows the listener a chance to savour his lower register, which is, in my opinion, tonnes better than the higher octaves he's famous for.
But it is Broken Open which seals the deal. With its skeletal accompaniment, this New Age-flavoured track lays Adam's voice bare, producing an almost choirboy-solo-in-a-cathedral quality.
Little wonder he's beaten Kris severely in album sales. Don't suppose he'll come to Singapore for a concert?
Robbie Williams' much anticipated Reality Killed The Video Star sees him back in fine form, following the dismal reviews of Rudebox ( which I didn't think was that bad to begin with ). I rate this close to his best album so far, namely Sing When You're Winning, which launched chart-toppers like Rock DJ, Better Man and Supreme.
On Reality, Rob returns to his pop/rock/dance roots, complete with tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Lots of catchy melodies here ( I'm not the type to memorize verses ), with favourites including the hard-hitting Bodies, the obvious Pet Shop Boys-inspired Last Days Of Disco, an infectiously fun Do You Mind?, and the George Michael tribute Starstruck, where RW sounds eerily similar to the former, and the whole number is a dead ringer for an original GM piece titled Star People.
Again, will you please come to Singapore for a gig already? Haven't seen you since 2001!
Last but not least, Jamie Cullum's The Pursuit.
Definitely more mature, continuing his trademark preference for experimenting, but still not as enjoyable as his best work on Catching Tales.
He does good covers of Rihanna's Don't Stop The Music and Stephen Sondheim's Not While I'm Around ( from Sweeney Todd ); standouts include Mixtape and Wheels, mostly because of the interesting melodies and tempo switches.
My favourite of the lot, though, is Music Is Through, a 7-minute whopper that serves as a fitting finale. I've played it to death on the stereo. :)
Due to time constraints, I'm going to sign off here.
But I will say this before I go - if you have Starhub cable, watch out for 3 new TV series coming this month, namely Hung ( starts this weekend ), The Good Wife, and Glee.
Happy New Year everyone. :)
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Always a relief when I'm on standby and my phone doesn't ring. :)
This was taken from the Marina Mirage at the Gold Coast. Just 5 minutes' walk from Sea World, and looks like a hangout for rich people, many of whom come from the nearby posh hotels.
Ate at the Omero Brothers seafood restaurant, with its out-of-this-world Moreton Bay Bugs - tried the BBQ and Mornay dishes, plus a Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, serving an orgasm-inducing Belgian waffle sprinkled with chocolate syrup and served with a gigantic scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream. Thank you, M and P, for buying us such a wonderful meal! :)
There's an establishment just next door called the Palazzo Versace, which has an eye-popping marble floor in the sprawling lobby. I went in to use the restroom, heh. No security checks!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Unearthed these hilarious Viggo Mortensen interviews. :)
With David Letterman, Part 1 and Part 2.
The latter has a priceless story about duck hunting. LOL.
And with Jon Stewart. Key phrase: "4-hour erection". Heh!
Quite surprising to see VM's easy sense of humour. Don't think he's ever done any comedy before. Think he should start, like James Marsden did with Enchanted. Someone should also persuade VM to star in a musical. It's a talent that ought to be shared with moviegoers all over the world.
And... a clip from So You Think You Can Dance Season 4, of an unbelievable Bollywood dance routine.
They are such consummate pros, picking up the steps within a week yet looking as if they've been doing this their entire lives.
Joshua emerged the victor in this competition - was curious why when I read the result on the Net, but it's becoming pretty clear to me now. :)
After wearing out Adam Lambert's CD on the car stereo, I'm now blasting Robbie Williams' Reality Killed The Video Star.
Definitely his best work since Sing When You're Winning, which spawned monster hit Rock DJ, among others.
One of my favourite tracks, Do You Mind, has been incorporated into a very stylish montage. The song gets cut off halfway, but the "video" gets high points for looking really professional.
Full album reviews to follow at a later date.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Better do this before I run out of opportunities. It's an annual tradition, after all.
So another year flies by yet again, and it's time to reflect on highlights from the past 12 months.
Was 2009 a good one? I would say yes. Not the best I've had - that would be 2005 - but on the whole, far from disappointing.
1) Hands down, Jason Mraz!
Finally got to meet him after being a fan for 6 long years, and it was worth the wait. Lovely guy, with an extremely bright future ahead of him. Hope I'll have the chance to say hello again the next time he drops by Singapore.
2) The Secret Service agents
A huge thrill, loads of fun, and some of the best conversation I've ever had.
3) Jenson Button
Didn't get to talk to him, but standing an arm's length away was good enough for me! Nice, humble chap.
4) Various handsome Australian young men
... whom I met on holiday. There's the sales staff at Sydney's Virgin Megastore who chatted with me; a beautiful waiter in Brisbane who's a tall version of David Archuleta, with impeccable manners; a delicious blonde cashier at Woolworths who insisted on giving me bags even when I didn't want any ( thought that was rather funny ).
And all the hot bods at the Gold Coast, where shirts are optional, and the guys love a woman's appreciative attention. Eating breakfast at a beachside McDonald's has never been more enjoyable. :)
5) The professors from Mount Sinai Hospital
Fascinating and gracious, had everyone practically eating out of their hands.
One's older and very distinguished. The other's pure eye candy. Good combination. :)
1) The Dolphin Adventure at Gold Coast's Sea World
I've been meaning to write about this, but eventually decided not to. Keeps it more special that way.
But I highly recommend it to anyone who's game for a great time, loves dolphins as much as I do, and is a competent swimmer ( otherwise they won't let you participate ).
2) The Sea World whale-watching cruise
Not the most pleasant trip if you're prone to sea-sickness and the water's choppy, but in my opinion, just do it at least once. Even if you get violently ill like I did, you won't regret it!
3) Visiting Sydney & Brisbane
Travelling always makes the cut, and both cities were very entertaining indeed. Definitely helped that I've got friends there, and we were very lucky to meet lots of nice, helpful Aussies.
I especially love Sea World, with its awesome aquarium, dolphin lagoon, polar bear enclosure and sting ray feeding / petting area. It's almost as festive as Disneyworld, I kid you not!
4) Jason Mraz's gig
It was in March. Go to the archive to read my 5-star review!
5) The Bridge Project's The Winter's Tale
Not the best choice of play, but unprecedented in terms of sheer star power. Also in March, so check out the archive.
6) The emergency ultrasound workshop in Brisbane
Very inspiring, and made new friends in the process. Plus, I didn't have to pay for it!
7) The Society for Emergency Medicine in Singapore's Annual Scientific Meeting
What a mouthful. Got arrowed as organizing chair, but was assisted by a terrific committee, and pulled off a very successful conference.
Looking forward to the Mount Sinai Hospital professors' return. Need to bring them sightseeing again!
Okay, so I've only seen 2 full episodes overseas, but the music is what really gets me. Sure, they may consist of covers, but I have great respect for a cast that can make me actually like a hip-hop tune, when I would otherwise switch off completely.
You absolutely must listen to their version of Duffy's Mercy, and watch the YouTube clip of that dance the football team does to Beyonce's Single Ladies. A riot!
2) True Blood
Seasons 1 & 2 aired on cable in quick succession, and I couldn't be happier.
Alexander Skarsgard is such a pleasure to watch. :)
I can't stop raving about this show. Season 3 is a stunner once again. Can't wait for Season 4 to hit our shores.
4) Ghost Hunters & Ghost Adventures
I'm such a sucker for supernatural stuff. With GH on hiatus on Starworld ( some stupid computer show took its slot ), I'm now glued to GA, especially since its team leader is much better-looking than most of the GH guys. An early episode had Zak being scratched by a malevolent spirit, in real time as the camera rolled. When a Catholic priest later exclaimed, "You provoked it on purpose? You're playing with fire!", Zak didn't even raise an eyebrow.
5) American Idol
Haven't been so excited about a runner-up since Clay Aiken. Adam Lambert's album is bloody fantastic, go buy it!
6) So You Think You Can Dance
Mark Kanemura from the 2008 season is quirky sexiness at its best. Search YouTube - you won't be sorry.
Kevin Spacey jumped on the wagon, and answered my tweets a few times, yes!
Edward Norton also started an account, and kept me coming back for more with his marathon training updates.
Too bad Viggo Mortensen, John Cusack and James McAvoy haven't shown up on the radar - yet.
Set up my account, at long last.
Having a blast and connecting with friends whom I haven't seen in eons.
9) My cat
Late November marked our 1st year anniversary with Nemo, and he continues to bring joy and laughter into our lives every single day.
Nothing - and I really mean NOTHING - beats having a big fat purring cat cuddle up to you in bed on a rainy night.
10) Laurell K. Hamilton
Always exciting to discover a new author, especially if s/he has loads of novels for me to chew on.
Just finished her excellent short story collection. Will plough through the Vampire Hunter series once my journal article's done.
I have priorities, you know. :)
11) Lev Grossman's The Magicians
A rollercoaster ride with a likely sequel in the works. Violent, perverted and insane. Love it!
12) Clive Owen
A revelation in The International and Duplicity.
Plans For 2010
Helping the organizing chair with this. Expecting a turnout of thousands, and looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces from New York and Australia. :)
Have picked my next destination, although I was outvoted by my parents. You'll find out what it is in 9 months' time.
3) Get promoted!
If I'm going to get tortured everyday, might as well get paid well for it.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
My boss won't be happy with this, and my mom's been nagging me to "stop reading novels and get your journal article done already!", but I can't resist the public library, especially the one in my neighbourhood, which stocks a whole bunch of dark, Gothic works.
Hey mom, you need to share some of the blame for dragging me there to find books for you. :)
My taste this year has shifted dramatically, thanks to True Blood, and maybe partly due to the Twilight franchise hype. But definitely much more credit goes to TB.
I've read Grossman's Codex from a few years back. Found it so-so, and got completely lost in the last few chapters, so I didn't get his follow-up right away when it was first published.
Strangely enough, I came face to face with it a few weeks ago while looking for another author, and decided to give it a go.
Am really glad I did. :)
In a nutshell, The Magicians is what I'd describe as a very grown-up, very vulgar and very disconcerting version of the Harry Potter series. The characters begin their education at the age of 18, experiment wildly with everything from booze to drugs to sex and dangerous spells of all varieties, then embark on a perilous adventure to a Narnia-like world which is actually a milllion times more evil.
The central character, Quentin Coldwater, is richly yet delicately drawn. He doesn't have a tragic history like Harry Potter, but possesses his own personal demons, and is far from likeable in the conventional sense. He is egoistic, sulky, anti-social and unfaithful. But he also displays a great talent, earning a place in the fast-track programme at school, and wins the love of a fellow top student.
Ambiguity is the common thread among all the principal characters, with Quentin's close-knit group of friends garnering the most page-time. Girlfriend Alice is wonderfully interesting -- small in stature but huge in magical strength. Eliot is clearly gay and alcohol-dependent, but provides comic relief when least expected. Then there's Penny, the punky but super-uptight fellow ( yes, he's a guy ) who leads his friends to Fillory, a land which was originally thought to be fictional, but soon turns out to be frighteningly real.
The novel has garnered rave reviews from all the top critics, and it's easy to see why.
Grossman's style is abundantly peppered with words that make me reach for my dictionary, but maintains a smooth texture and never sinks into dullness. I love reading his detailed descriptions of Quentin's school, with its supernatural fountains, hidden passages and a marvelous welters board ( read the book if you need to know ). The characters' relationships are in a constant flux, and I enjoy the fact that each chapter brings an entirely new dynamic into play.
Humour is what won me over, with 2 references making me literally laugh out loud. One mentions Quidditch, and the other - of all things - The Karate Kid. Reading the line "wax on, wax off" during a most appropriate incident was priceless!
Where mind-boggling scenarios are concerned, there are too many to choose from. Just off the top of my head: 1) Quentin's audition for magician's college, 2) the many lessons the students participate in, 3) a beautiful rite of passage involving a trip to the South Pole, 4) the terrifying first encounter with The Beast and, of course, 5) their entire journey through Fillory, with a nail-biting confrontation with The Beast -- can't imagine how that will translate onto the screen, if someone ever decides to make a movie / TV series out of this.
Grossman's already juggling ideas for a sequel, as clearly indicated in the last page, when Quentin embarks on a new adventure.
Next time, I'll be sure to make a reservation at the library. :)
At the moment, I'm hooked on Laurell K. Hamilton, whom I knew nothing about until my eyes happened to glance over at a nearby shelf while searching for something else. All the early Anita Blake novels are on loan, so I decided to sample her short story collection.
So far, it's been an exhilarating ride!
Hamilton doesn't favour bombastic vocabulary like Grossman, but her simple and concise prose is equally evocative, and works extremely well in this format. She can flesh out characters in 20 pages flat, make you love or hate them, and make your skin crawl as well.
I'm only halfway through this, and have already encountered zombies, vampires, demons, lake monsters, elves, black and white healers, and violently persistent Cupid cherubs.
If your head's spinning, I don't blame you.
It's a rollercoaster, but the adrenaline rush is so worth it!
Another book I'm eyeing: Tom Holland's The Vampyre, which claims Lord Byron was a member of the blood-sucking family. Semi-fictional - I hope.
( And yes, I stumbled across it at the library. Heh. :))
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
As I reach the last hour of a HORRIBLE night shift, my thoughts drift ( no pun intended :)) to the Sea World Aquarium.
This is just one of many photos taken at this wonderful place. I could've spent a couple of hours just standing and staring at the display, but not possible when you're with your mum, plus 2 other friends.
The variety of fish is staggering, and the reef an explosion of vibrant colour. Here's a female visitor doing some snorkeling, with a shark swimming around below her ( not pictured ).
Love the tranquil New Age soundtrack playing in the background. Dropped by on a Sunday so the place was packed with family groups. But the kids were very well-behaved, and everyone huddled in hushed awe.
A definite must-see if you're ever at the Gold Coast.
By the way, a big hello to the regular visitor from Google headquarters, whoever you may be. Always an honour to have any Google staff member show an interest in my inane rants. :)
Anyway, I just discovered that the Adam Lambert video has been removed from YouTube, due to copyright issues. Boo...
A consolation: YouTube now mysteriously works on my office computer, though I doubt this will last. So I'm posting another link for your viewing pleasure - something from So You Think You Can Dance Season 4, which I'm currently watching on cable's AXN channel.
So far, this is the one routine I remember and love. Mark Kanemura - the sexy dude in this video - transformed from a quirky dancer who did crab-like movements at his auditions, into an utterly believable Spanish Lothario.
I can't dance, but I do enjoy watching the pros do it. :)
And make sure you watch them salsa, yow!
Time to do an exit round.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I caught Adam Lambert's explosive performance on the American Music Awards on YouTube. In high def.
Verdict: Whoa... and in a totally excellent way, my man. :)
He's just so much more entertaining than Kris Allen, who's cute but honestly, rather dull. Apologies to my cousin, who's a big fan.
Have downloaded Adam's MP3 album. Going to blast it on the car stereo later. :D
Also downloaded Jamie Cullum and Robbie Williams' new albums, for US$1.50 each -- Thanksgiving offer, plus US$50 free bonus, beat that!
Reviews to follow at a later date.
In other news, tickets for The Bridge Project's The Tempest are now on sale.
I've bought mine. I strongly urge you to see this!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It's my blog, and I can post whatever I want. :)
Haven't had the time or energy to watch Adam Lambert's controversial AMAs performance on the Internet just yet. Bet it was memorable!
I have my own values and beliefs, but where Adam's concerned, I tend to give him a wide berth. Maybe I would've tsk-tsked more if I were younger, but having travelled quite extensively over the past decade, I think my tolerance threshold where entertainers are concerned has shifted considerably.
All the hoo-ha over "the kiss" and the S&M theme is such a load of crock, especially coming from the United States, where freedom of expression is sacred and encouraged.
So a gay fellow locked lips with another gay fellow. Big deal.
So it happened during a prime-time programme, on a network that's owned by Disney. Err, don't you have a 5-second lag time for editing purposes?
So Adam's affiliation with American Idol is now a sin? For many - including myself - he's the only reason viewers bother to tune in.
Let's dispose of the blatant hypocrisy and accept Adam for who he is - flamboyant, courageous, and undeniably one of the most exciting performers to hit the mainstream in a long while.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I've been looking forward to this all year!
The official announcement is still pending, but I have a source from the Singapore Repertory Theatre confirming that the production will be in Singapore April 2010, and that ticket sales will start soon.
Sounds like only The Tempest will be staged here. No As You Like It? Darn...
By the way, the guy in the bottom left photo looks like the actor who played Dexter's serial killer older brother in season 1. Don't know his name, but hey, he's from Dexter! :)
A quick review of Michael Buble's new album - it's good, but still can't quite compare to his debut release and follow-up It's Time. The latter really set the standard in terms of what Michael's capable of, so it's going to be tough to top that stellar effort.
Crazy Love has all the quintessential MB elements - big band numbers, swing, pop, covers and original compositions. Detractors will no doubt complain that a predictable formula is emerging, but that happens to lots of singers - though not to Jason Mraz, heh - and I'm more than happy to hear more of the same, as long as the repertoire and musical arrangements aren't below par.
Favourites on this CD include a smooth rendition of Georgia On My Mind, a dreamy tribute to the '50s on Stardust ( think Mr. Sandman ), a head-bobbing duet on Baby ( You've Got What It Takes ), and an upbeat cover of Some Kind Of Wonderful.
Michael always adds a little spring to my step. Have been blasting the album in my car, and beaming all the way to and from work. :)
Now if only he'll come to Singapore for a concert. It's way overdue!
A blog reader told me I sound angsty. Do I really? Think I've been sounding rather chirpy actually, at least in recent weeks.
The wedding dinner last night was saved by the good food. Love the drunken prawns, yum! Pity the event wasn't as cozy as it could've been. Also, there was lots of security on the ground floor. Some of the APEC delegates must still be around.
The best wedding dinner I've ever attended was at the Orchard Parade Hotel, where we dined on lobster and the creative programme added a lovely personal touch to the festivities. Wonder if my JC friend's upcoming nuptials at the Conrad next month will match that. Looking forward to meeting my old classmates again!
Before I sign off, a culinary recommendation: Watami Japanese Restaurant at Ion Orchard, #B3-23. Try the Sukiyaki Nabe set and all the desserts! The food is superb, and the prices more than reasonable.
No reservations though, so go early.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
With all the hoopla over the APEC Summit and President Obama's inaugural visit to Singapore, I've been disappointed about not being able to get myself on the medical cover teams.
Not sure why, just wasn't asked. Maybe 'cos I was away for most of October?
But at least I've been fortunate enough in the past few months, since despite being at the ER doing mundane shifts, I still had the opportunity to meet people from a couple of high-profile events.
During the F1 race, Jenson Button dropped by in the wee hours of the morning, with model girlfriend and a small entourage in tow. I stood next to him for a few minutes, listening as he conversed with his manager(?), and no-one in the waiting room even knew who he was!
I also met two F1 crew members from Britain, who were a pleasure to treat and chat with.
Last night, I was slightly taken aback when the nursing officer on evening shift with me suddenly mentioned that a Secret Service agent was in her office, as part of the SOP for President Obama's overseas trips.
After settling my cases and handing over to the incoming night team, I introduced myself to him and we ended up chatting for 45 minutes.
Didn't get his name - not sure if agents are allowed to reveal such details - but he did say he's 41, that he migrated to the U.S. from Korea when he was 3, and that he's been in the SS for 7 years after switching from police detective work in Richmond, Virginia.
He's extremely friendly and answered all my questions as thoroughly as he could. If my queries were deemed a little sensitive, he'd tactfully withhold certain facts and figures and I'd get the hint.
The time really flew by as we discussed a wide range of topics, from his work to our views on politics and even Hollywood movies like In The Line Of Fire and Guarding Tess.
He was decked out in a full black pin-striped suit and tie, with a walkie-talkie sitting next to him on the table. He stopped in mid-sentence a few times to listen whenever someone conveyed a message ( usually to someone else on another w-t ), but our conversation remained mostly uninterrupted otherwise.
One of the messages I caught a snippet of sounded like, "We're rolling, we're rolling out."
Can't really post too much about what was exchanged, but suffice to say, it was wonderfully enlightening, and the most interesting thing I discovered was that the SS is regularly approached by police departments to assist in difficult investigations of everything from fraud to murder to child pornography.
No, the SS does NOT limit its work to White House-related matters. In fact, quite a few police departments dislike the FBI, and it seems the SS agents feel the same way.
All that glamour bestowed on the FBI? Pure Hollywood imagination.
Last but not least, I couldn't help noticing how good-looking the agent is. He appears to be my age rather than 41, and I found myself checking out his left ring finger, which was bare. Not that it necessarily means anything, but that's what I do when I meet an attractive guy - I look for a wedding ring. :)
Sadly, I had to cut things short as I finished my shift and headed home. Would've been nice if I had been on call, 'cos I still had so many other questions to ask.
Today, I had the opportunity to speak to another agent, named Larry. He's been in the Secret Service for 12 years, and specializes in counterfeit U.S. currency. Our chat lasted an hour, before President Obama's departure on Air Force One cued Larry's exit from our department to head to the military plane which will take the agents to Korea.
I found it interesting how different both men are in terms of personality and how they steered the conversation. Lee, whom I spoke to yesterday ( Larry kindly provided me his name :)), let me ask most of the questions and enjoyed discussing politics. Larry, on the other hand, prefers to ask ME questions about myself and Singapore, although he did fill in the blanks when I quizzed him on aspects of the job which I didn't have time to ask Lee last night.
Another fascinating chat, with these little tidbits that're probably harmless enough to share.
Presidents Clinton and Obama are usually late, but Reagan and Bush are ALWAYS on time.
Clinton stayed at the Raffles Hotel when he visited our island, while Obama was at the Shangri-La.
Come to think of it, I'm attending a wedding dinner there tomorrow.
The best part about meeting Larry? He gave me his Secret Service name card, and asked for my email address so he can contact me the next time he's in Singapore. This is his 2nd time here, and he fully intends to return 'cos he absolutely loves this place - believe it or not!
He's also promised to bring me some Secret Service stuff, woo! :D
Would be great if I can bring a group of agents around. If anyone wants to join me, let me know. :)
Am in the midst of watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona (VCB), after a huge delay in securing the DVD from the Tanglin Club library.
I've never been a Woody Allen fan, but softened somewhat after Match Point scored with its young, vibrant cast and snappy script.
Hated Scoop, but love VCB.
And I'm only halfway through, heh!
Why do I love it? Definitely not because of Scarlett Johansson, whose compulsive hair-tossing and pouting get on my nerves.
Rebecca Hall is the main draw for me, especially since I saw her in The Bridge Project's production of The Winter's Tale.
Javier Bardem is also perfectly cast. Not conventionally handsome ( think he needs to correct his ptosis a bit ), but swoon-worthy for a variety of reasons.
I find this film captivating because of its insightful analysis of relationships in their many forms. How a sensible woman does something completely out of character when the conditions are just right; how a man can still love an ex-wife who once stabbed him; how one chooses to stay in a marriage because "I still love him, I'm just not in love with him."
VCB strikes a chord with me. I was once at a crossroad contemplating a choice between 2 men, and picked the wrong one who made me the cynic I am today. I also have very fond memories of the time I spent with a charming European gentleman I met on a Bavarian tour, who unabashedly propositioned me one night as we sat in the corner of a cozy restaurant. For the record, I politely declined, though I sorely regret it. :)
A lot of things happen when I travel, most of which I don't write about here. ;)
I'll finish the movie after my shift tonight. Don't think I'll be able to get any sleep otherwise!
True Blood Season 2
FINALLY finished watching this today. Fan-freaking-tastic!
I just can't believe how mind-bending the whole storyline has become. Especially the romantic rivalry between Eric and Bill. Delicious!
Also, there's a chilling cliffhanger.
Can't wait for Season 3. :)
Sex And The City
Took me eons to start liking this series, but cable telecasts of Seasons 1 & 2 - which I've never seen before - have me hooked.
Pity about the censorship rules. I've seen episodes in the U.S. and Australia, and honestly speaking, the nudity and simulated sex scenes are actually vital plot components.
Chris Noth, who plays Mr. Big, and whom we're familiar with from his days on Law & Order, is gorgeous here.
My mom wants me to order the original version from Amazon. Ahh, I'm so proud of her. :D
Right then, it's time for dinner. Have a busy week ahead. Feeling tired already.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Pictures from Surfers Paradise at the Gold Coast.
[ click to enlarge ]
Here's the view from my 20th floor deluxe suite.
Sunrise occurs at 5am daily. Who needs an alarm clock?! :)
The dolphin show at the Imagine dolphin lagoon. A huge thrill!
The trainer in this photo also took my group for the dolphin adventure session. Very nice chap.
Just one of many leaps featured. Made me realize I need to get a new camera, haha.
Busy burning a Michael Buble CD. Downloaded ( legally ) his latest, Crazy Love. Sounds much better than the last album, yes!
Haven't actually finished posting pics from Sydney yet. Maybe next time.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Haven't had a chance to blog for 3 weeks, a common side effect after returning from long leave.
Hence, note the time of this entry.
Much has happened since my last update, which I will elaborate on in a series of posts.
Haven't even had time to upload my photos yet, despite logging into the laptop almost daily this week to prep an upcoming tutorial.
A sad state of affairs indeed.
In a nutshell, however, I had an excellent time at Brisbane's Gold Coast - Surfers Paradise, to be exact. Spent 15 days in the area for the purpose of attending 2 ultrasound workshops, and did a bit of touring in between.
Had the pseudo-good fortune of being there during the V8 race, which is kinda like Australia's version of Formula 1, just with different types of cars and an entirely Aussie line-up of drivers.
Will tell you more in a later entry.
Also met up with 2 friends who reside in Brisbane. Had a great day at Sea World then ate the most heavenly dinner and dessert at the nearby Marina Mirage.
Details to follow. :)
The Sea World Whale Watch was truly memorable, for good and bad reasons. But the latter are wholly due to natural causes, and I have no regrets about the suffering I had to endure to get a glimpse of these majestic creatures in the wild.
More about that another time.
Last but not least, the highlight of my trip: the Sea World Dolphin Adventure, which costs a pretty penny but is worth every cent.
Sorry to say it again - "will post more information the next round" - but I really need to do this justice, and it requires a lengthy post.
But suffice to say, the experience was a heady mixture of surreal, awe-inspiring, heartwarming and hilarious.
Getting up close with a dolphin has been on my to-do list since childhood. You have no idea how lucky I feel to finally fulfill this life-long wish.
I recently got on the MP3-downloading wagon, but will definitely dish out the moolah for Jason Mraz's CD/DVD collection, due out November 10.
If you're a JM virgin, take it from me that this is one artiste you absolutely MUST sample, preferably 'live'.
I can't wait to hear the new tracks!
John Mayer's new album is in the November 17 slot. Get ready for more bluesy rock masterpieces. Love the CD cover, by the way. :)
Next, Adam Lambert's For Your Entertainment, November 23. I hope the trackes titled Strut and Soaked live up to their names! Am a big fan of Glamorize, which oozes sexual heat.
And not forgetting... Robbie Williams, a perennial favourite since his Take That days during my junior college era. Also out November 17. What's with the massive squeeze of release dates?
He's reportedly been going through a difficult period these past few years, but I hope this album will see him returning to fine form, like during his Sing/Swing When You're Winning heyday.
This is one talented guy, and I wish only the best for him.
Here's one already on the market so I won't have to wait - David Archuleta's Christmas CD, which came out in October.
Believe the 5-star reviews, 'cos I've seen the YouTube clips and know he excels at X'mas carols and hymns.
A previous performance of O Holy Night at a dinner event caused me to tear up. The sound quality wasn't great and he sang with only a piano to back him up, but it was so uplifting, it's exactly like what the reviewers say: you can feel him pouring his heart and soul into every word, and you the listener gets swept up in a tidal wave of emotion.
I wasn't impressed with his fluffy pop album - no doubt targeted at squealing, lovelorn teenage girls - but am certain that David's strengths will be beautifully showcased here.
Will go MP3-hunting this weekend. Legally, of course. :)
Almost forgot to mention Michael Buble's latest offering, which I didn't have time to get before going on leave. Reviews have been generally good so far, but as someone on Amazon remarks, the orchestral arrangements sometimes overwhelm the vocals, and that's definitely a pity.
I suspect this is the reason I didn't enjoy his previous album, Call Me Irresponsible. But that CD had some inherent problems with song choices and guest artistes ( Boyz II Men doing backup? Come on! ), so crossing my fingers that the situation has improved since that debacle.
I don't know if the Glee soundtrack is available in Singapore, but most of its songs have been floating all over the Internet for ages. I guess the MP3s are high-quality recordings culled directly from TV, uploaded by some tech-savvy, kind-hearted soul to share with the rest of the world.
There's a cover of Duffy's Mercy which strangely fails to appear on both Volumes 1&2. Be sure to listen to it - and a rousing version of Amy Winehouse's Rehab. Am sure you'll find it easily through Google.
At least I managed to catch 2 episodes of Glee in Brisbane. Could it be the pregnant cheerleader and gay teen who're keeping the show off local TV? Even digital cable? If the sex-and-blood-soaked True Blood made the cut, why didn't Glee? Yeesh.
Another programme I got hooked on: Australian Idol. I've seen about 4 episodes over the past 2 months, and predict that Nathan Brake will win, barring some voting fiasco like the Clay Aiken / Adam Lambert mess.
He did a chill-inducing cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Music Of The Night on one episode, and wowed everyone with Michael Jackson's Thriller another week.
Only 17 years old, but unusually confident on-stage, and an AMAZING singer.
MP3s online? :)
3 movies I desperately want to catch in cinemas: 2012 ( John Cusack doing a rare blockbuster! ), New Moon ( trailer looks good ), and Avatar ( trailer gave me goosebumps ).
Will watch on DVD ( and maybe buy it ): An Education, which stars the sexy and fascinating Peter Sarsgaard ( aka Jake Gyllenhaal's brother-in-law ). Earning rave reviews everywhere, maybe some Oscar buzz as well.
If you haven't seen Sarsgaard's stellar turn in Shattered Glass ( where he completely overshadowed Hayden Christensen ), I highly recommend it. Keep forgetting to buy the DVD, dammit. And I never see it on cable.
Short reviews of flicks I saw on the plane:
The Hangover - quite fun, but also crass. Has a few hilarious scenes but strictly for males.
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince - found it very disorganized. The book is just too thick to fit into 2-3 hours.
Up - love this film! Not Pixar's best ( faves include Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Ratatouille ), but the animal characters are priceless, and the scene where Carl first unveils his balloons and the house floats over the town is totally awesome!
That giant bird thingy is a hoot! Someone tell me if the creature has a proper name ( not "Kevin" ).
(500) Days Of Summer - another hyped-up movie, which I found a tad disappointing. Where rom-coms are concerned, I still think Someone Like You ( Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman ) and Something's Gotta Give ( Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson ) take the cake.
But it's nice to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt looking clean-shaven and perky for once, considering his usual choice of dark / bizarre roles.
A certain Hall & Oates hit is used to convey happiness in a cute dance sequence. An inspired choice!
Reminder to self: go rent The Hurt Locker.
Watch For It
The Bridge Project 2010 recently announced a Shakespearean doublebill. Doesn't have any big names, but a great improvement from the lesser-known The Winter's Tale.
Kevin Spacey's rumoured to be touring in 2011. Do you think he'll try Shakespeare? The first character that pops into mind is Shylock. But if he wants to do comedy, then please take on Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing! :)
Enough for today.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Again, and not a moment too soon.
It's only been a month since my return from Sydney. Felt good for about a week, then things started to spiral downhill quickly, thanks to a fortnight of some of the worst shifts I've had in quite a while, compounded by MOs going on mass MC, most likely due to fatigue, which is completely understandable.
I've been tempted to take MC myself, but my conscience won't let me. Damn. :)
Anyway, I won't be posting anything for the next 2 weeks, and am greatly looking forward to a sponsored workshop catered to my subspecialty interest, plus a few days of touring, meeting a couple of good friends, and yes, another visit to the casino. :D
A few updates before I sign off:
1) Edward Norton's on Twitter - just a gentle reminder in case you missed my last blog entry. He's playing lucky draw host and seems to be getting a terrific response, so good for him! It's for a worthy cause, so please chip in if you're able.
You can also check out his recent TV interviews on YouTube. I caught his Conan O'Brien chat on cable, which had me in stitches. Something about "playing with yourself" that didn't come out right, and a hilarious Robert De Niro impression showcasing Norton's affinity for comedy.
He doesn't do funny roles as much as he should. Remember Keeping The Faith? And how many of you have seen Death To Smoochy? I love both films.
2) Royal Pains is a new series currently airing on Starworld every Tuesday, and stars Mark Feuerstein as an ER physician who gets suspended when a rich patron of the hospital where he works dies on his watch, then unexpectedly finds his niche as a concierge doctor in the Hamptons.
Not considered a big hit in the U.S., but I could care less, since I'm a Feuerstein fan, converted after his lovely performance in the Cameron Diaz / Toni Collete dramedy, In Her Shoes.
He also played a neurologist on the short-lived 3 Pounds ( co-starring Stanley Tucci ), but Royal Pains is far superior to Pounds in terms of plot and acting. Still a bit quirky - i.e. all those eccentric wealthy people trying to avoid the press - but on the whole, very watchable.
Campbell Scott, who plays the enigmatic Boris, ages beautifully. Those of you who enjoy sexy, older men, make sure to tune in. :)
3) Another promising new show: Warehouse 13, which just premiered last Friday on Starworld. Obviously inspired by The X-Files, but with a lot more humour thrown in. The special effects are a little cheesy, but the cast is likeable, and there's a scene in the pilot episode involving a wishing kettle that spits out a live ferret when one of the agents makes "an impossible wish".
I actually laughed out loud when that happened. Very rare, but a sure sign that I will continue watching. :)
4) And speaking of The X-Files, I finally caught the movie ( I Want To Believe, aka sequel to the first big-screen version released eons ago ). Disappointing to say the least, especially after such an impressive buildup with the shady Catholic priest acting as psychic, and all those body parts found buried under the snow. The ending is extremely, frustratingly stupid.
But it isn't anywhere as atrocious as The Happening.
5) New album releases: Michael Buble's Crazy In Love, which I haven't had time to purchase yet ( hope I can get the much cheaper MP3 version ), and Sting's If On A Winter's Night.... He's doing traditional songs again, which put me to sleep on Songs From The Labyrinth. Why isn't he doing rock and pop these days?
It's the tail end of a busy night shift - only had time for supper and a hurried blog post - then I'll be busy running errands and clearing chores before I start packing tomorrow and fly on Saturday morning.
Will post pictures when I return. Am hoping to snap spectacular ones, considering the tours I've booked!
Till next time...
Saturday, October 03, 2009
The spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour from my 21st floor hotel room window.
My favourite shot in the collection, taken during an afternoon cruise around the harbour.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Glee is accessible online from Singapore!
Am now watching Episode 1 on this website. No need for a fake IP address or downloading software that could potentially crash my computer, woohoo!
Of course, you do need to pay a small membership fee, which in my opinion is very reasonable.
And hey, my Blogger dashboard page is back to normal! Guess my post in the Help Forum page made a difference.
The Sydney photos are on another site. Will transfer them over this weekend if I have time. Can't believe I narrowly escaped the dust storm. Hope things will return to normal soon. The poor Sydney Opera House...
Back to Glee... :D
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Professional discussions have permanently moved to Singapore MD - check out a debate about the new residency programme being rolled out by MOH.
As the local haze gives me allergic rhinitis and the humidity makes me itch, I seek refuge in my DVDs and television.
Finished Season 1 of Gossip Girl in less than a week, and greatly enjoyed it! Episode 17 stood out with its endless plot twists. I actually went, "WTF?!" when Serena Van der Woodsen made a shocking revelation. Now that hasn't happened in a long time. Thumbs up to the scriptwriters! :)
Was very saddened by Patrick Swayze's passing. He may not have received much news coverage, since he isn't exactly considered part of the A-list anymore, but this actor starred in many films which impacted me significantly during my formative years: The Outsiders, Ghost, and a truly underrated whammy of a thriller called Point Break ( co-starring a super-gorgeous Keanu Reeves ).
Still, Dirty Dancing will always remain a top favourite. His portrayal of Johnny Castle helped make this a cult classic, and watching the DVD the other night transported me back to my pubescent years, when I discovered a whole new world that includes, ahem, hormones. :)
Also bought a discounted DVD for Valkyrie, despite swearing never to pay for anything starring Tom Cruise after reading Andrew Morton's damning biography a few years ago.
I'm trying to convince myself that it's worth it just because of director Bryan Singer, who helmed the first X-Men movie, revived the Superman franchise, and helped catapult the great Kevin Spacey to Oscar-winning fame in The Usual Suspects.
Despite earning bad reviews, I found myself enjoying this action-thriller, which is well-paced and boasts a terrific cast.
Only complaint: the mish-mash of American and British accents, with no attempt by the principal actors to even feign a German twang. It's not as if Cruise can't do a foreign tongue - look at Far And Away. Tsk tsk!
Another WWII film is Defiance, with Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell playing Russian brothers who set up a camp that protected 1200 Jews from annihilation by the Nazis. The outstanding cast is shortchanged by director Edward Zwick, who fails to keep things interesting and loses the viewer ( i.e. me ) somewhere at the halfway mark.
Craig looks amazing though - haunted but very handsome, if that makes any sense.
However, Schindler's List wins hands down. No-one can beat Steven Spielberg at what he does best.
Am beginning to favour British actors over American ones, especially after catching Duplicity on the flight back from Sydney. A very fun romp through the industrial spy landscape with Julia Roberts and a dapper Clive Owen, who hasn't ever looked this good!
Other hot English thespians: Jude Law, Hugh Dancy, Hugh Grant, James McAvoy, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Gossip Girl's Ed Westwick. ( This list isn't exhaustive. )
The Hollywood version of the BBC series State Of Play literally put me to sleep en route to Sydney. Maybe I was already burnt out from work, but it definitely pales in comparison to the TV show, which was a thrilling whodunnit populated by loads of quirky characters and boasted much stronger acting skills.
Russell Crowe is pudgy and grungy, while Ben Affleck is wimpy and whiny. Choosing to focus on the female journalist ( played by pretty but soft Rachel McAdams ) irked me immensely, since the original TV character has a more secondary role. Jason Bateman was a hoot as the flamboyant Dominic Foy though.
Watched Doubt yesterday evening. Good, but didn't live up to the hype, at least in my opinion. Meryl Streep is unbelievably fabulous, as always, and she's expertly supported by Phillip Seymour Hoffman ( whom I've been a fan of since his Scent Of A Woman days ) and Amy Adams ( utilizing her huge eyes to great effect ). Guess I was hoping for an explosive ending after the nail-biting buildup, which failed to materialize. Tough translating a stage play to the big screen.
Had enough? There's more. :)
Another Krisworld film I saw: The Soloist, with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx. Heard great things, but was disappointed. Starts off nicely, then sort of degenerates into melodramatic cliches halfway through. A pity, considering my huge appreciation for all things Downey, Jr., and the fact that it's directed by Joe Wright ( who did such wonderful interpretations of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement ). What happened?
Speaking of happened, I finally sat through M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening on cable, and still can't believe I managed to stay awake. It was soooo bad, from the acting to the dialogue to the execution of the whole film. Started to feel really sorry for Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel after the first half hour. Bet they signed the contracts without reading the script first - you know how secretive Shyamalan can be. This guy is losing his touch, big-time.
The Jay Leno Show began airing on Universal Channel 99 on Tuesday. I've watched a few episodes, and dig both the familiar and newer aspects of the programme. There's the usual opening stand-up routine, celebrity interviews, Jay-walking and Headlines segments. But he's managed to attract huge stars this past week ( Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Robin Williams, etc. ), and did a hilarious bit with Cruise and Diaz, asking them 10 questions each ranging from safe to embarrassing topics. Quite a hoot!
I also watch Conan O'Brien from time to time - started off a bit shakily, but seems to have gained a comfortable momentum. He did a side-splitting spoof of a South American TV soap opera, speaking fluent Spanish and donning a ridiculously bushy moustache. Funny!
A few things to look forward to: Season 3 of Dexter, starting Monday 21 September on FoxCrime Channel 86. More blood - yes!
Ghost Hunters Season ??? returns to StarWorld Wednesday nights after being derailed by I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! these past few months. Lots of cool footage of investigators having their collars yanked by spirits - unnerving!
And yes, I have time left over to read books / magazines, do chores, write reports, play piano for church service, go out with friends and family, among other things.
It helps when you're not in a relationship. :D
Have a few days off this coming week. Hope to take a look at Ion Orchard now that everyone else in Singapore has been there.
Also counting down the days till my next trip overseas, in about a month's time. Dolphins and whales this time round, woohoo!