Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Directions borrow an often used motto from Glee.

And yes, the Kevin Spacey photo clearly indicates that I'm still reeling from the meet-and-greet!
( This is just one of many shots freeze-framed by a fellow KS fan from the video clips I uploaded on YouTube. Thank you so very much! )

But that's not the main gist of this entry. As the title aptly says, my recent encounter with the great Mr. Spacey jumpstarted a dream which has been brewing for way too long. A dream I've had since childhood. A dream many friends and relatives ( even my mother ) have asked me to pursue ( without jeopardizing my day job, that is ). A dream one friend seriously offered to finance, if I ever needed assistance. A dream which almost took flight 7 years ago when this blog gained global attention during the SARS epidemic.

While medicine - emergency medicine, in particular - is something I enjoy to a certain extent, it has become clear over the past decade that it is not fulfilling a deep void in my psyche.
Sure, I get to help people, earn good money, blah blah blah. But at the end of the day, what I yearn for most is a chance to express myself, and to make an intellectual and emotional impact on others.

I know that I will never be a renowned expert in my current profession. No passion for medical research, little protected time for teaching / mentoring, hate administrative duties. Work has become an endless stream of undifferentiated shifts, fraught with PR annoyances and systemic obstacles. The monotony is mind-numbing, and patients / relatives these days offer minimal appreciation for healthcare providers.

This past week, I made a number of decisions and took action to set things in motion.
First, an effort to establish collaborative working relationships with key people in the entertainment industry, to further the objectives of a group blog I contribute to.
Second, joining an online community which provides peer support and critiques on writing efforts. I haven't provided a link to the site because my username's a little obvious, so would prefer to maintain a degree of privacy in that area.
However, if anything interesting occurs, I'll be sure to post an update here. :)
Third, contemplating a medical website idea proposed by a tech-savvy reader. Anticipating a minefield of restrictions to manoeuvre around, but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Initially planned to blog at the end of the month to herald in the New Year, but since I'm at the computer now, it wouldn't hurt to do a quick summary of 2010's main events.

1) Not to belabour the point, but meeting Kevin Spacey wasn't just the highlight of the year, it has been the highlight of my life!
The fact that it occurred so unexpectedly is definitely a bonus. Sometimes, when you have lots of time to anticipate something, the actual event itself loses the oomph factor.
Although I think being post-call that evening resulted in a degree of lethargy which blunted my affect. If I'd been physically and mentally optimal, I would've bordered on manic!
Never in a million years did I ever think I would have a chance to come face-to-face with my favourite actor.
Add this to my meet-and-greet with Jason Mraz ( my favourite singer ) in March 2009, and I'm pretty much done with my personal list of People I'd Like To Talk To Before I / They Die.

2) France. Or more specifically, Paris.
Again, an unexpected surprise. This country has never been a priority in my travel plans, and was chosen only to accomodate my mom.
Even I was shocked by the effect it had on me. I've never visited a place that made me exclaim, "I don't want to go home!" before.
Paris is so exquisite, but I didn't have time to see most of the city, so a definite return is on the cards. Think maybe on my 40th birthday. Might hop through a few favourite destinations at one go. :)

3) Got promoted at last. My habit of procrastinating proved dearly when a journal writeup was massively sidetracked. But I proved a few things to myself in the process. On to the next 5, so I can make senior consultant when the time comes.

4) Took the plunge and went for Lasik surgery, because my glasses were giving me intractable headaches and contact lenses were becoming a problem. My high myopia and astigmatism haven't deterred the wonders of modern technology, and thanks to an opthalmologist who comes highly recommended by many, results have been good so far, and will probably improve with time.
No regrets at all. :)

5) Memorable concerts: attended very few shows this year, but Jamie Cullum and David Foster were both fabulous and worth every single cent.

6) Favourite movie of 2010: hands down, Inception. Didn't get to see The Social Network, which I'm pretty sure I would've enjoyed as well, so will have to wait for the DVD release.
In any case, if it wins the Best Picture Oscar and Kevin Spacey makes the thank-you speech, I will hit the roof. Literally. :)

7) Favourite TV shows of 2010: Dexter and The Closer. This is, in my opinion, as good as it gets in terms of acting and writing. I do have other favourites, but none comes anywhere close to these two.

Plans for 2011?

1) Non-work-related projects, mentioned earlier.

2) A trip back to the USA with both parents, visiting a couple of cities we haven't seen yet. But Manhattan is definitely on the itinerary. Watching a few Broadway musicals, meeting up with old friends, maybe getting one of them to bring me backstage at the Lincoln Centre ( he's got connections :)).

3) Gearing up for Russell Watson and Michael Buble's shows. Have a contact in the music industry who might be able to grant me access to the artistes.

4) The Bridge Project, featuring Kevin Spacey in the lead role of Richard III! Okay, no more gushing for now. :)

Another good year is about to conclude. Here's to an equally great 2011.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Best Day Ever!

This entry contains additional details which Kevin Spacey fans may be interested in, so if you want a condensed version, go to the other post on Just Watch Lah.

As you know, my blog is named in Mr. Spacey's honour. So's my Twitter username.
And while he won Oscars for his roles in The Usual Suspects and American Beauty, it was actually The Negotiator that turned me into a diehard fan.
The exact moment? A tense scene where Spacey's character, hostage negotiator Chris Sabian, blasts the police and FBI for storming a building without his okay, then pleads for Danny Roman's ( Samuel L. Jackson's ) life.
If you watch that bit, you will hear Spacey's voice break. And that was when I knew that he was my all-time favourite actor.

Through the years, I've seen many of his films, often multiple times.
Personal fave: Swimming With Sharks, in which he plays the boss from hell, Buddy Ackerman. You absolutely MUST watch this movie. "" LOL!

Other faves: American Beauty, The Usual Suspects, Se7en, Beyond The Sea ( which he also directs ), Pay It Forward and Recount.

Ever since I started travelling annually, I've tried to see Mr. Spacey on stage, but the timing just never seemed right. And sending a fan mail package to The Old Vic 2 years ago didn't help either. He's probably too busy to read everyone's letters, or the envelope's gotten lost somewhere.

And when he came to Singapore early this year to promote The Bridge Project, I was devastated that I didn't get a chance to meet him.

So when an old friend alerted me about the Audi A8 event, I used every means possible to get tickets.

I've already discussed the interview segment and mentioned a list of general impressions, so here're a few extra things.

The majority of the audience didn't seem to be huge Kevin Spacey fans. Yes, he was bombarded by quite a few guests later on, but I suspect they were just making general conversation, and haven't seen a lot of his less famous films. From what I could hear, Spacey was talking about his work in the theatre more than anything else. Nothing very specific.

A few of the guests were rather rude. Even though I was quietly waiting my turn and arrived first, others barged in front of me before I could step forward, monopolizing the actor for the next few minutes as I waited. Again.

But this had its advantages. Since I had a reason to be there, I used the time to take a very good look at Mr. Spacey, who was just inches away from me. I also listened to him speak, and couldn't help thinking how surreal it was to be standing right next to a man I've dreamed of meeting for more than a decade!

My first encounter took place in the general buffet area, just outside the restricted access lounge. Mr. Spacey's assistant initially wanted to usher him inside, but I pleaded with him for a few minutes and asked if his boss would oblige with an autograph, to which he smiled and replied, "You can ask him!"

I wanted to take a quick photo with him, but MY CAMERA JAMMED. Yes, my brand new Nikon Coolpix which is only a few months old, decided to die on me at the most crucial moment, ARGH!

So the only thing I could do was fish a DVD out of my bag ( I brought 3 just in case ), and due to the time constraint ( his assistant was getting very antsy ), I decided to pass him the first one I pulled out, which happened to be Swimming With Sharks. How strange is that! :)

Once Mr. Spacey was done with the last guest, I quickly stepped forward and stretched out my hand. He immediately took it and gave me a smile, as I introduced myself and told him I'm a "very big fan" of his. I think I rambled on for a bit, explaining how my camera jammed and asking if I could have his autograph instead. He instantly agreed.

I promised myself that, in the event that I got to meet Mr. Spacey, I would do everything in my power to recall as many details as possible, instead of getting flustered and forgetting things, like I did with Michael Buble.

Here's what happened:

I gave him the Swimming With Sharks DVD box.
He opened it, likely looking for the booklet inside.
There was no booklet, because I'd mailed that to The Old Vic. But I didn't tell him this.
He then started to remove the DVD sleeve located on the outside of the box. It is, as you know, tough to manipulate, because there's a plastic cover over it.
When I saw what he was doing, I asked him to sign the disc instead, because "it's easier".
He didn't say anything to that, just smoothly whipped the sleeve out ( like magic, haha ), put it on a nearby table, and asked me for my name.
That really stunned me, because I honestly didn't expect it. I just thought he'd sign his name and that would be it.
So for a split second, I was speechless. But I recovered pretty quickly, and spelled out my name as he wrote it down with a marker pen I brought.
While he was doing this, I mentioned that he once answered one of my tweets, but he didn't acknowledge it specifically, though it looked like he heard my remark.
And since I'd met celebrities before, I took that as a cue to not push the issue, and stood there patiently as he scrawled the rest of the autograph for me.

Here's another surprise - I thought he'd just hand the stuff to me in pieces, but he slotted the sleeve BACK into the plastic cover, and closed the box, before returning it to me with a smile!
I thanked him profusely, and just as he was walking off, he spotted my pen still on the table, the same time I was about to reach for it.
He then REVERSED, took the pen in his hand, and gave it to me. At this point, I blanked out, but vaguely recall him saying something along the line of "Here you go."
I think. Sorry! :)
Before we parted, I passed him an envelope, saying that it's a "fan letter". It's from me, of course. Nothing mushy ( not my style ), just how much I admire his work, my tributes to him on Blogger and Twitter, etc.

Then he entered the lounge.

I loitered outside the area for a while, not because I wanted to bug him again, but for the simple purpose of looking at him a little longer. ( Hey, he's my favourite actor, I can't just walk away! )

About 5 minutes later, Mr. Reinhold Carl, managing director of Audi Singapore, said hello to my mum and I ( details of our earlier exchange on Just Watch Lah ). Upon hearing that my camera malfunctioned earlier and I never got a picture, he led me inside the lounge and deposited me behind Mr. Spacey, asking me to wait for my chance once he's done talking to the other guests.

The next 10 minutes were very tense. 4 ladies chatted with him, followed by a large Caucasian man - who, by the way, JUMPED QUEUE. Then Mr. Spacey's assistant tried to ask me to leave, since I'd already gotten an autograph. I told him that Audi's managing director asked me to get a photo, then he backed off a bit, but I could tell that the first chance he got, he was going to whisk his boss away from me.

Lo and behold, a male Audi staff member came to my rescue. I think it's because I helped him track down the event photographer earlier, and the gesture paid off! He took my camera and told me he'd snap a photo for me. Then when the assistant protested, the Audi guy sternly said, "One photo! Just one photo! She's been waiting for a very long time!" ( There's actually a double meaning there, 'cos I've been waiting more than 10 years, not 10 minutes! )

When Mr. Spacey was finally free, I stepped forward and apologized for bothering him again, explaining that my camera was now functional and could we take a fast picture?
It would've been understandable for him to say no, or to look unhappy about the intrusion, but none of that occurred. He smiled, faced the cameras ( mine and the event photog's ), moved in close and gently placed his hand on my back. I was a little worried that he might look at the wrong camera, but he gazed straight into mine, so the picture turned out great!

A quick thank-you and farewell, and I was outta there!

After getting home, I scrutinized his autograph because I couldn't tell what he'd written ( other than our names ). It's quite illegible! Later, I figured it out: To XXXXX, with thanks, Kevin Spacey.
Cool. :D

I can't wait to see him as Richard III next year! Will I try to meet him again? You bet! Hopefully there won't be such a big crowd to fight through, 'cos I'd really like to ask him a few questions.

It's been the perfect end to a very good year. Am so thankful for the many blessings I've received. And there're even more to come in 2011, I'm sure!

To end off, my permanent tribute to Mr. Spacey - am changing my profile to a quote from his late mother. Because so many of my own dreams have come true, and it's important to always have new ones.

Thank you again, Mr. Spacey, for your kindness and graciousness!

p.s. Finally, after multiple attempts, all 3 video clips are up! Part 3 contains Mr. Spacey's hilarious Bill Clinton impression, and ends with his mother's inspiring quote. Hope you enjoy it!
( p.p.s. that is NOT me coughing in the background )