21 August 2014

Video: Birth School Work Death (Singapore Version)

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I first heard the song Birth School Work Death by The Godfathers in 1988 when I was a college student in the US.



I thought the title really reflected modern life, especially in Singapore. I also thought, how cool it would be if someone actually performed the song in Singapore?

But the song was not a big hit. It didn't help that the lyrics made references to Michael Caine, heroin and kissing Margaret Thatcher's shoes. I bet most of you have never heard of The Godfathers (apart from The Godfather movies).

But more than 25 years later, it remains one of my favourite song because of the monster guitar riff and catchy shouted chorus.

I thought maybe if I could come up with my own Singapore-specific lyrics for the song, I could...

Actually, I didn't know what I could do. So I carried the idea with me for two and a half decades and did nothing with it.

Then I woke up Tuesday morning and the lyrics just came to me as I was lying in bed. Excited, I decided to record myself performing those lyrics over the orginal song and even make a music video for it.

I downloaded the free software Audacity to record my vocals with a cheap computer microphone and created the video with Microsoft PowerPoint. Yes, this was how low-budget it was.

It took me about two days and here is the result:



My rapping is quite embarrassing, but some of you may be amused by how bad it is. Kenya West doesn't have anything to worry about. Neither does Shigga Shay.

My apologies to The Godfathers.

Like I said, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

18 August 2014

National Day Rally 2014: Door still wrong



By sharing the fishball stick story and announcing the new Municipal Services Office in his National Day Rally speech, is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pretty much conceding that the "no wrong door" policy introduced 10 years ago is a failure?

Introducing the new policy on Aug 12, 2004, then Senior Minister of State for Health and Information, Communications and the Arts Balaji Sadasivan said:
"Many a time, when faced with an issue that did not belong to an agency's purview, the agency would simply tell the citizen that he was knocking on the wrong door, and the poor citizen might have to go from door to door until he found the right one.

"It can be extremely frustrating. And we want to cut that out."
With the new policy, in cases where the feedback applies to several ministries, the recipient civil servant has to contact all the relevant parties and come up with their concerted response.

Unfortunately, judging by these subsequent newspaper reports in 2007 and 2011, the policy didn't quite take.





So it took a stray fishball stick and a frustrated mayor for the PM to create a new agency to fix the problem – but only for "municipal" issues.



I suspect this reflects a wider problem in the government bureacracy, which the would-be "no wrong door" policy failed to solve, and it needs to be addressed.

We need more fishball sticks.

17 August 2014

No littering: She 'wiped her bottom with a tissue & placed it in her bag'



She’s all about that bass, ‘bout that bass.

No treble.

The song by Meghan Trainor was replaying in my head as I kept seeing the photo of the woman’s big bare bottom on my Facebook timeline last week.

Or should it be “bare big bottom”? English is hard.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Of course, you would see pictures of women’s big asses on Facebook. That’s because you ‘liked’ the Big Ass page.”

Well, that’s true, but I’ll have you know that Big Ass is the name of a Thai rock band and they post surprisingly few pictures of actual big asses, if any.

Fortunately, unlike Sir Mix-A-Lot, I don’t really like big butts and I do lie on occasion.

So this omnipresent photo of this woman’s nude glutes isn’t very appealing to me. I would rather watch Sun Ho’s China Wine video again. Asian-reggae fusion rocks! (Yes, I’m lying.)



Further reducing the photo’s appeal is that the woman is in a squatting position, like she is relieving herself. Cannot unsee.

I know that there are people into coprophilia, which is a fetish for faeces, since there is actually a word for it. But I am not one of those people.

And I’m not lying about that.

I could never understand perverts who install hidden cameras in women’s toilet stalls and not, say, changing rooms or shower areas. I guess that’s why they’re called perverts.

So why were people on social media so eager to share this photo of a woman relieving herself like it’s the latest Ebola news or Robin Williams tribute?



Are they coprophiliacs?

No, it was because the woman was relieving herself in a public place with people walking by.

Such scatological incidents have made headlines before.

Last month, it was reported that passengers on a Delta Airlines flight from Beijing to Detroit revolted after being revolted by a Chinese family who allowed a boy to defecate in the aisle on the plane.

Earlier this year in Hong Kong, a couple from China letting their child defecate on a public street also pissed off many people.



These incidents and other things I’ve read have led me to suspect that people relieving themselves in public is not all that uncommon in China.

So at first, I thought the photo of the squatting woman was taken in China. But then I saw the unmistakable SMRT logo on a sign in the background.

Holy crap, this happened near an MRT station! In Singapore!

SMRT confirmed that the incident took place outside Holland Village MRT station on Wednesday.

Wait, could this be the same woman who was caught on CCTV urinating in the lift at the Peennacle@Duxton a few weeks ago?



The MRT station nearest to Duxton is Tanjong Pagar. I advise anyone taking the train to or from that station to watch out for human excrement as well.

Or could she be one of the participants of the Penang Nude Sports Games 2014?



No, wait. Those were just “naturists”. Just because they like being naked in the open, it doesn’t mean they like to do everything in the open.

Understandably, many Singaporeans believe that the defecating woman is from China, but this hasn’t been confirmed although a witness said the woman spoke with a “PRC accent”.

Actually, there’s some debate over whether the woman was urinating or defecating.

Judging by the lack of distance between the floor and the bottom of her bottom in the photo, my No. 1 guess is that it was No. 1. There was just not enough clearance for her to produce a proper stool.

But a witness said the woman had diarrhoea. That makes No. 2 a possibility as there was enough clearance for watery stool.

The No. 2 theory gained more credence with the emergence of a second photo, which showed the woman standing up and wiping her backside.

If it were No. 1, she would’ve wiped her front side. (Or so I’m told by other women.)

Another witness also said the woman “wiped her bottom with a tissue and placed it in her bag”.

Now that doesn’t make sense. Why would she keep the soiled tissue?

She had just done unspeakable things to the floor outside the MRT station and she was worried about littering?

She may be a public defecator, but she’s no litterbug. (What are we? Animals?)

According to an SMRT spokesman: “She’s believed to be of unsound mind.”

So the prevailing assumption is that the woman is either a “PRC” or of “unsound mind”. Of course, she could be a “PRC” of “unsound mind”, but to some Singaporeans, that may be a bit redundant.

But what I find more amazing is that the first photo showed people walking past the defecating woman like it’s the most normal thing in Singapore.

I suppose if I were a passer-by, I would pretend not to see her too because it was too disgusting to behold.

I won’t even mention the smell.

Looking at her would make me feel like a pervert, specifically a coprophiliac.

Let’s say if I had diarrhoea in public from eating too many satay burgers, I would also want people to pretend not to see me.



Partly because I’m a little embarrassed by my fat butt, a result of eating too many satay burgers.

As Meghan Trainor sings: “Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two.”

You will notice this as you watch me go No. 2.

Unlike the woman in the photo, I may litter afterwards.

As for whether I’m of “unsound mind”, the jury’s still out.

- Published in The New Paper, August 17 2014

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