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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Phantom of the Opera on Broadway New York

I hadn't planned on doing anything in New York the first day I touched down from Indianapolis except collect the New York Pass which I had purchased, esp since my flight had been delayed by an hour because of the foul weather in NYC. However, because the collection point for the pass was at Madame Tussauds which is at the Times Square area, I ended up at the TKTS booth located at 47th Street, Broadway. There were several short queues of 5-6pp each for each counter about 7.50pm and despite not really knowing what they were standing in line for ( I had a hunch it might be for broadway tickets), I decided to join a queue anyway.

As luck or fate would have it, I was the very last person served at that counter. The server impatiently asked me what show I wanted to watch and I said Phantom because I had watched the movie before and rather liked the dark drama. He told me he had tickets for the 8pm show which was the last show for the day and to quickly pay before it was too late. So even though I had no idea whether USD71 was a reasonable price to pay for a broadway ticket, I gave him the money and he told me to run to the Majestic Theatre on 44th Street as the play would start in 3mins. And as I turned away from the counter with my ticket in hand and the person behind me stepped up at 8pm sharp, the server cried out that there were no more tickets for sale and pulled down the shutters.

I only realized later what an excellent deal I had gotten - as per the ticket above, the price I had paid was at a 50% discount and for fourth row seats from the front at that! However, I had to run at full speed from 47th to 44th street to get to the Majestic Theatre on time and less than 2 mins after I had fallen into my seat huffing and puffing, the doors were closed (about 8.10pm). I guess the moral of the story is to buy last-min discounted tickets at a theatre which is near enough to TKTS on 47th street so as to avoid being denied entry (until the interval) or missing the start of the play.

Of course, photography of the play is prohibited and with the LCD screens most cameras have these days, it is easy to be caught taking photos or videos during a performance. So like most people, I took photos of the theater before the play begun. As per my pic below, there are circle and balcony seats on a higher level other than the main floor which was quite fully packed.

The picture below is of course the stage of the theater - the chandelier (top right) plays a rather large part in the play as per the plot but so do the other seemingly unmovable parts. However, these features/effects pale in comparison to the costumes, props (there was even a fake elephant), dancing and acting by the performers on that stage.

The Slog Reviews: 10/10. Awesome. Truly spectacular in every sense of the word. I am not a musical person or one who appreciates or likes plays but Phantom on Broadway had me riveted and converted. The change of each scene was carried out with precision and maximum efficiency without compromising the quality of the setting. And the performers conveyed the different emotions of each of their characters with not just song but by their entire body language.

I haven't watched any other Broadway plays to make a fair comparison of Phantom but I dare say that one should most definitely catch a Broadway play if one is in NYC instead of just shopping and if one isn't sure of which to watch, just remember that Phantom is the longest running musical on Broadway and the Slog here who has nary an artistic bone is raving all about this play. :D

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love and Other Drugs (2011) Movie

This was the 1st movie I watched on the flight to LA, and the 1st movie that I've watched in a long time that had me sitting there with tears flowing uncontrollably down my cheeks. So despite my earlier post, I am still a romantic and sentimental sop at heart. Really. I easily give this movie 10/10.

Not because of the plot alone - intelligent but wayward handsome guy who goes for anything in a skirt falls in love with a woman with a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system (Parkinson's). But because of fragments of life captured in the film, and of course, the very moving ending bit. Definitely a must-watch for all who liked My Sister's Keeper, and anyone else who has a sentimental bone. Oh, and I should mention there is top front nudity and some rather intense love-making scenes.

Anyway, there is a pretty good review of the film's plot written here so I won't write a recap of the movie. But it is the ending which made me cry - all last 10mins of it. You know, the scene where Jamie (the male lead) is putting his heart out to win back Maggie (the female lead) after he watched the video tape they made together where she said something along the lines that this moment with him was perfect and even if she had 10 thousand more moments like this one, they would all be the same, so this one (moment) was enough for her...because she has that (moment). Anyway, Jake says to Maggie that she needs him, and she says "No I don't" and he says "Everyone needs someone to take care of them" and she says that she will need him more than he will and it isn't fair and she can't ask that of him. And Jake says "You didn't ask me to." Maggie tells him that she has places to go and Jake replies "I will carry you.". Jake also adds that if there was a parallel universe where she was healthy and he perfect, he would still choose the current her, the current them. I think that is when I bawled. Meh - what a sad sop.

So anyway, other than this sappy ending, the movie has its moments of humor, sizzling scenes but its core and essence never shifts from reflecting accurately the realities of life. Jamie says at the very end of the movie "Sometimes the things you want the most don't happen and what you least expect happens...you meet thousands of people, and none of them really touch you. And then you meet that one person and your life is changed." If you are reading this entry my friend, the Slug, I thought of you right after I watched it and I believe that you'll like it as much as I do so go catch it if you haven't already. Till I get back!

Newark Airport SAS Lounge and Loving Me at the end of this trip

I've got about 2 and a half hrs before the 18hours flight back to SG and rather than exercise my credit card(s) some more at the duty free shop here, I've decided to spend my time in the SAS lounge to write this instead. Below is a pic of the SAS lounge's complimentary internet stations, one of which I am hogging.


The selection of food at this lounge is rather meagre - just a salad bar really, (as compared to Changi Airport T3's lounge which I shall blog about another time), but since I have just USD30 in my wallet and I've also developed a taste for salads, I'm not complaining too much about my free dinner.


You know, there is this scientific finding that people always remember how they feel, and not so much the details of the specific incident/event. I could and will write about the places I've been, but right now I want to write about how I feel at the end of the trip before I get on the plane and watch more movies.

So. My "takeaway feeling" from this trip is that I am actually happy and comfortable being alone. There is no sense of loneliness or wishing that anyone was here with me. Sure, I do wish my sister was here when I see all the louboutin shoes but I don't wish she was here with with me on this trip. Sure, I do think my mother would have liked the awesome view of NYC from the Empire State Building but I didn't miss her when I was on the observatory deck taking photos or asking strangers to take photos. I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and it was all good. Being by myself didn't stop me from doing things that I wanted to do - such as eating at nice places or doing touristy things - even when everyone else had someone else with them. I only observed that I was the only one alone, but that observation was nothing more than just that - an observation, and then it was me being with me, and loving me.

Maybe it is because shopping is therapeutic, as is eating, and I was doing plenty of both. Or maybe it is because my circumstances are such that solitude and I are destined to be together...and given how futile it is to lament, reconciling myself to what I cannot change is the best and perhaps only way forward. Don't get me wrong that I don't like people or that I am going to do another "runaway" (and I really hope that I won't) But painful experience and my good colleague have taught me better than to pin my happiness and hope on another person.

So while I still hold to my favourite quote by Emily Kimbrough ("Remember we stumble everyone of us. That's why it is a comfort to go hand in hand""), I have learnt how to love me, be friends with me, and depend on me primarily for happiness and pleasure. And the one person whom I would like to dedicate this new me to is my younger sister. For someone almost a decade younger, she has shown and taught me with brutal honesty what life really is all about - God and self-loving. Hence, all the Chanel, Louboutin and Gucci shoes, belts etc I have walked my a*rse off around Manhattan just to buy back for her. Viva Forever Sister - U are 1 of the best things in my life!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Off to New York in a matter of hours

I'm in my company's office writing this before I do the farewell rounds in an hour. The trip to Indianapolis has been nothing short of awesome and I've so much to write about that I don't really know where to start. The rest of the lawyers up in the US are more than just names on an email, they are real people with different personalities and I feel more connected to the new company than I did a couple of weeks ago. We are going to meet again in Brazil (yoohoo business class again!) come September so as in the previous post, I'm going to do my best to stay alive till then.

I didn't expect to do so much shopping in Indianapolis given that it is afterall, a midwest state known for agriculture and good beef, but last night, I spent a full hour trying to squeeze all the stuff I bought into the largest luggage bag that I had brought along with me. And I had to sit on the bag to be able to zip it. Seriously. I think the fact that the luggage bag was half filled with clothing (including winter clothing) when I arrived might have contributed to this. The weather here is so unpredictable and I am glad I brought my thick winter jacket because the temperature dropped by 30 degrees Farenheit from yesterday and there was hail in the night. I hope the weather is better in New York and I am so glad I decided to buy a shuttle bus ticket to get to the hotel there instead of taking the train. My current luggage bag weighs a ton and I hope there isn't any problem getting it up on the domestic flight from Indy to New York.

My intention is to hit the Woodbury Premium Outlets tomorrow and hopefully manage to score myself a new luggage bag. Because there is absolutely no way that everything will be able to fit into that one large luggage bag which is already filled to bursting. The good thing about flying business class on SQ is that one gets to check in two luggage bags (up to 46kg) and have two carry-on bags (up to 14kg). I'm not deliberately buying stuff, mind - but there is no way to get a Calvin Klein suit in Singapore for less than USD100, or a pair of Coach shoes for less than USD 100 either! I've already bought 3 Coach bags, 1 pair of Coach shoes, 2 CK suits, 2 CK dresses, 3 Hilfiger polo Ts all for me and 2 Ralph Lauren sweaters for my mum and sis. I also bought a comforter and a couple of bath floormats from Nordstrom - whatever happens this time, I'm still going to get my own pad one day some day. And yeah, this is just the shopping in Indianapolis without counting the vitamins and other misc stuff I bought from the Hard Rock Cafe here.

I'm happy. With this present job at least. I like my new boss well enough, the colleagues in our global law department, the friends I have made in the SG office, and of course,the travel (esp if I get to fly Biz!), the pay and the ability to afford the few things I like. I'm not my sister with her S$1400 pair of shoes or many branded bags (each of which is more than the money I've set aside to spend on this trip) so my needs are pretty much easily met. It is good to live, and to have expectations within one's limited means. It isn't all so hunky dory for me though - the workload is pretty much crazy, and the travelling may get too much as circumstances change but most frightening of all is that this company was almost bought out in the 90s.

But hey, I can't keep chasing shadows or worrying about things not within my control. Each day is a gift, a bonus, and a blessing. So I just have to live for the day, for the moment, and prepare but not worry about the future. I let God take care of the rest, of things not within my control. If one good thing came out of the Engaged Encounter, it is that I walk closer now with God, come what may,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bliss

Ignorance is bliss. :) I thought this pic which we just received from our wedding photographer captured the bliss that my CEB and I have found. Not just in other, but also (I suspect) from being ignorant about how far behind we are in terms of wedding preparation. I am flying off to Indy this Sat afternoon and the next weekend he is flying off to Denmark for 2 weeks. So that makes three weeks apart without any wedding preparation being carried out. Woot...! And this reminds me, we forgot to file the ROM notice this evening when my CEB came over for dinner....oh dear!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Off to the States (Mid and East Coast)

I was just joking with my sis last night that I'm going to do my best to stay alive till the end of' this month. Because, I'm off to USA for a week! With my present boss's resignation, the mandate has come down that I am to report directly into the USA so I guess that week up there is going to be critical in terms of career and all. I am a strong believer in chemistry and have been fortunate to have great bosses all my life. Okay, not fortunate. If anything, I am more choosy about who I work for than the size of the company or the pay.

Still, I'm totally excited about this trip despite the mad connections because

(a) I am flying biz class on SQ both into LA and out of New York. It is the second time I'm flying biz but this time, it is SQ, and for 15 hrs and 18hrs respectively! It better be worth the excitement I am working myself into esp given that the cost is over 10grand (with the internal flights it comes up ot more than 12grand!); and

(b) my boss has kindly agreed to let me spend the weekend in New York (at my own expense of course!). I just know I am going to have an awesome time at the Big Apple! The hotels and taxis are horribly expensive but I'm so looking forward to this trip already. I've been to Florida, and the West Coast (San Fran, LA etc) but this is the first time I'm going to be spending time in Indy and New York and oh boy, I'm going to shop till I drop!

Monday, March 07, 2011

I am Number 4 (2011) Movie, Drive Angry (2011) Movie and Adjustment Bureau (2011) Movie

We caught 3 movies last week, the first "I am Number 4" on a Wed, and the other 2 movies over the weekend. It wasn't because of a lack of things to be done but my CEB was on a movie-roll of some sort and there was just no stopping him.

Anyhow, here is my personal review of the movies:

"I am Number 4" <- 6/10. A teenager flick aka a weak version of Twilight. Alien boy with supernatural power falls in love with a lovely lowly earth being. Alien boy is hunted by ugly big Voldemort-like aliens and manages to join forces with another alien (No 6). And really, that's about all to it. A waste of time.

"Drive Angry" <-4/10. I didn't think anything could get worse than the first movie but Drive Angry proved me wrong. We didn't think the movie could be that bad given that Nicholas Cage was starring in the movie but B- action flick it turned out to be with echoes of Cage's famous movie "Ghost Rider". In this case, Cage plays a character who escapes from hell with a weapon called the Godkiller, intent on taking revenge on his daughter's killer, Jonah King, the head of a satanic cult. Jonah King also has the daughter's child which Cage is determined to save at all cost. However, Cage is hunted by the "Accountant", a being tasked to bring him back to hell. There is quite a bit of senseless violence and unrealistic unreal fighting scenes. Watch only if there is nothing else to do

"Adjustment Bureau" <-6.5/10. While my CEB agreed that Drive Angry was a lousy movie, he thought that this movie "wasn't too bad" (to quote him). I on the other hand felt that we would have done better purchasing the DVD for the same because it really wasn't anything remarkable. Men in fedoras altering the world to make sure that the "Chairman" 's grand plan for each individual went smoothly. You can read more about the plot here. Be warned though that the movie has a happy "against-the-odds" fantasy ending. Which reminds me of my friend The Slug, who would try still despite the cards being decked against his favour.

Professionally taken pre-wedding photos

We spent this weekend selecting the pre-wedding photographs that we wanted for the wedding album. We had negotiated for 25 poses over 13 pages and although more than 100 different photos had been printed for our selection, through a process of elimination (2 rounds), then selection, we managed to quickly weed down the number of photos to just 25. My CEB and I work well together like that.

For those of you my friends who read my blog but do not have facebook, I thought I'll take the chance to share with you some of our pre-wedding photos which our bridal studio, EM, uploaded on their website. This picture below is one of my favorite pictures of my CEB and me, and among the 25 we selected. It was really raining at the railway station when we were out for the photo-shoot and this photo was taken quite by chance when our beloved photographer Henry told us to pose with our umbrellas. My CEB is supposed to be whispering the magic three words in my ear but do not be fooled by the look on my face, he was whispering another 3 words! In any case, I think Henry is marvelous at capturing the mood/emotion.

The photo below is 1 of those which EM put on FB but which we did not select as 1 of the 25 because we had quite a number taken at the same location which we really liked. We certainly didn't expect Henry to ask my CEB to lift me because my CEB and I are about the same height. However, my CEB gamely tried (yes, his knees are really buckling as in the pic!) and he even managed to hold the pose long enough for this shot to be taken. You rock, my CEB!

The shot below is one of those "Arty" types which we didn't pick either for our photo album. However, I thought I'll share the picture below too because the lighting and composition of the picture is just beautiful. Henry's skill is just amazing and I hope he wins many awards in the years to come.

The whole wedding planning process has had its stressful moments but being with my CEB has made the process a painless one - we had so much fun doing the pre-wedding photoshoot over the 2 days, and even when it came to choosing the design for the invitation card inserts today, we were as much aligned as when it came to choosing the pre-wedding photos. I think my CEB is indeed the man for me. :D

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A dose of reality

You may have read that my resolution this year is to stay positive and though it sounds simple enough, it is a real challenge when the cloud of "gloom and doom" has been my constant companion. Even a dear friend who is prone to being hit by waves (of depression) failed to commiserate with me and instead gave me the third finger when I complained. My sister says I have a great life. I look at my life, what I have and I go, yeah BUT THEN...

So anyway, while FBooking this morning, I saw a friend had posted an American Idol link which I clicked out of sheer curiousity. Yup, no marks for guessing correctly that it was about Chris Medina's life story. I spent one year doing personal injury work so I do know all about the tragedies wrought by car accidents. Not the tragedies of just the ones directly involved in the accidents but the lifes of those around them as well - collateral damage. And I believe that there is a compelling reason why God didn't forfeit the lives of those who survived the accidents changed forever in ways that they never forsaw. It's just that if God gave me a choice, I would rather die.



My beloved ex-boss once told me I had no idea of the cruel reality out there. I do actually. I've been where I felt I was blessed to have 2 eyes, a brain and 4 limbs that function just fine. I've walked with the dying, I've gone out on a limb (no pun intended) for those who were maimed. It's just that the balance between being grateful and overwhelmingly depressed was tilting in the wrong direction from the emotional weight. And I had the choice, and made the decision to right that.

So this morning I saw Juliana Ramos's before (the accident) and after pictures. As well as read her story of losing control of her car on a wet patch in the early hours of the morning, just two months before her wedding to a man she clearly dearly loved. In an instant, she lost many physical functions that come to us naturally, she lost her looks, she lost an eye but most of all, some of her mental capabilities. And then I look at what I am complaining about or focusing upon, and I'm all of...wait a minute. I'm depressed and suicidal about this ?! Reality check!

And Chris, he didn't really get what he signed up for and he could have walked. Some men walk when the going gets too much - the crying kids, the nagging wife. They promise to love their woman all their life but these words mean nothing when it is clear it is easier to escape their problems than resolve them.

But Chris has a song that for Juliana, the words of which he is living out on a daily basis. I salute this man. It isn't an easy job being a caregiver. And it is even more difficult when the person disabled is someone you love.

What are words
if you don't really mean them when you say them
What are words
if they are only for good times
What kind of guy would I be if I leave when you need me most.