Monday, 14 October 2019

Inspired by Alfian Sa'at, I wrote a poem called McDonald's, You Did Not Have My Pyjamas

Dear McDonald’s,

Look what you made me do.

Last Monday at exactly 6pm, I opened your app to order the $24.90 McDelivery Night In bundle that included loungewear (which is just a McFancy way of saying “pyjamas”).

But all I got was this message: “The service is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.”

So I tried again a few seconds later and got the same message. So I tried again. And again. And again for the next few hours.

I had flashbacks to April when I was traumatised trying to book the Avengers: Endgame advance tickets online.

At 6.55pm, you posted on your Facebook page:
“Thank you for your overwhelming response. We’re experiencing high traffic to our McDelivery website and app at the moment.

“Please bear with us as we work to get it back up as soon as possible.”
That was no help.

After about three hours of clicking repeatedly, I was finally able to order the set on the website, but only the women’s jammies were available. The men’s set was sold out.

And because I didn’t want to go through all that for nothing, I ordered the women’s. I should mention here that I am a man, not to be overly binary about it. So I didn’t get what I wanted.

Inspired by award-winning writer Alfian Sa’at’s poem, Singapore, You Are Not My Country, I decided to write you a poem to let you know how I feel:

McDonald’s, you did not have my pyjamas
McDonald’s, you did not have my pyjamas at all
You are surprising McDonald’s, promo-starved McDonald’s, sold-out McDonald’s of two-piece loungewear in Big Mac-and-fries print.
You apologise, but without compensation, without placating, without Mayor McCheese,
but through your Facebook page,
through your 40 Days of Thank You 1-for-1 deals
and that white chocolate strawberry cream pie I swear
is working voodoo on my body fat percentage.

McDonald’s, what is this “high traffic” on your website?
There are so many pyjamas fans,
You should’ve anticipated the demand.
McDonald’s, I assert, you did not have my pyjamas at all.
Do not thank us for “our kind understanding”,
I am not afraid of your mascot
although the clown is scarier than It and Joker.
And how can you call yourself a restaurant,
you terrible hallucination of queues for Hello Kitty dolls,
My Melody food holders and McGriddles hoodies?

That was as far as I got.

Writing poetry was harder than I thought, even when I didn’t have to rhyme. Props to all poets.

I give the Ministry of Education permission to reprint my poem in future literature textbooks and welcome the Education Minister to quote it in Parliament when your failure to have my pyjamas is brought up for debate.

Yes, I know you started taking pre-orders for the “loungewear” on Friday, but the estimated delivery is the end of next month.

By then, I (and the rest of Singapore) would’ve moved on to the next craze, like KFC underwear or who knows what. Yes, I do want my crotch to smell like fried chicken.

What’s the point of me posting pictures of me in McDonald’s pyjamas on Instagram in a month’s time when no one cares about McDonald’s pyjamas any more?

And I’m not going to pay double for the men’s jammies to some opportunistic reseller on Carouhell.

So what did I do?

I posted pictures of me in the women’s pyjamas.

I was that desperate.

I got 16 likes.

Even though the clothes are supposed to be “free size”, the top is a bit snug around my manly shoulders. The shorts, however, are so small that if I tried them on, I would’ve castrated myself. That’s because, if you need reminding, I am not a woman. Hear me rant.

Look what you made me do, McDonald’s.

You turned me into a cross-dresser for 16 lousy Instagram likes.

- Published in The New Paper, 14 October 2019

Sunday, 6 October 2019

The problem with Tommy Koh's 'Third World' comment: Did he actually say it?

The headline:
Tommy Koh laments that Singapore is a First World country with Third World citizens
What a great quote!

But if you read The Straits Times report carefully, Prof Koh isn't quoted as saying that at all.

The report on the Singapore Bicentennial Conference starts with the sentence:
Veteran diplomat Tommy Koh laments that Singapore is a First World country with Third World people.
But it's not clear whether Prof Koh actually used those words or the reporter was paraphrasing him.

"Third World" is not mentioned in the article again.

Considering how ST has gone to town with the line, I wish the paper had reported the exact quote.

What Prof Koh did say was:
"I am more critical of Singaporeans than of the Government. Many of our people don't give a damn for the environment when they should. Many of our people are selfish and unkind. Just look at the way they drive."
Even in ST's follow-up report "Singaporeans are Third World people? Public figures react to Tommy Koh's comments", nowhere is Prof Koh quoted as using the term "Third World".

Instead, it's someone else, Singapore Management University sociologist Paulin Straughan, who is quoted as saying: "We can't really have a First World Country with Third World behaviour."

So it may appear that ST has put the words "Third Word" in Prof Koh's mouth. Is it (dare I say it) fake news?

Because if he did say it, it would be a rather undiplomatic thing for a diplomat to say, especially to Third World nations.

What does "Third World" mean anyway?

Here is an explanation from a website called World Population Review:
What is a third world country? Recently, third world countries can be defined by high poverty rates, economic instability, and lack of basic human resources compared to the rest of the world.

The term “Third World countries” was first used during the Cold War. This term was used to describe countries that were not aligned with the Communist Bloc or NATO or that were neutral. This term was first used to categorize countries into three groups based on their politics and economics.

During the Cold War, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Western European nations and allies were categorized as First World countries. Second World countries included China, Cuba, the Soviet Union and their allies. Third World countries typically had colonial pasts in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the terminology of the “three worlds” has changed somewhat. Today, the term Third World is used to describe a country that is not developed as much as other countries and faces economic, social, political, environmental and other issues. This has led to some confusion as to how the term was originally used.
Despite the confusion, people still tend to use "Third World" to mean poor countries and "First World" to mean rich countries. I haven't heard or read anyone use "Second World".

This would mean that what Prof Koh supposedly said was that Singapore is a rich country with citizens who behave poorly like they're from a poor country.

The problem with this is that it equates being poor with poor behaviour, which I find offensively elitist.

And that is why I hope Prof Koh didn't say what The Straits Times said he said.

For me, Third World will always be this reggae band:

Monday, 30 September 2019

Toggled: I watched Joanne Peh's 'nude' scene in Last Madame and I feel so dirty now

Okay, I fell for it.

When I read that Mediacorp actress Joanne Peh was going nude for the first time in a drama, Last Madame, I was curious enough to want to watch the show.

Yes, “curious”. That was it.

At first, I thought it’s a Channel 8 drama series, but then I learnt it’s in English.

Oh, so it’s on Channel 5?

Wrong. It’s on Toggle, sort of like Mediacorp’s version of Netflix except nobody says “Toggle and chill”.

All 12 half-hour episodes of the M18-rated series dropped last Thursday for you to binge and purge.

On the day of release, Peh posted a blurry photo on Instagram with the warnings “Mature content” and “Restricted access”. What a tease!

When you swipe left, you can see a still from Last Madame of Peh and co-star Jeff Chou topless in bed but not showing much, just a lot of bare shoulders.

I guess if you want to see more, you have to watch the show.

Peh, a mama of two who plays a mamasan in the drama, wrote on Insta:
“It took me a long time to decide if I would go nude for our bed scene in Last Madame. A story set in a brothel in the 1930s, we can’t shy away from sex.”
The 36-year-old ex-girlfriend of Bobby Tonelli said she made the right decision because “showing two bodies moving in unison captured the passions and inner conflict of the two characters so vividly, it pushed the show to a different level”.

“Two bodies moving in unison”? I couldn’t create my free Toggle account fast enough.

Again, I was just curious. Perhaps a little too eagerly so.

I made the mistake of watching the whole of the first episode before realising the “bodies moving in unison” scene is not in the first episode. That was 36 minutes of my life I will never get back. (The episodes are laboriously longer than publicised.)

I went online and found out that the sought-after nude scene is in the ninth episode after the 23-minute mark.

Here’s what you see.

It starts with a close-up of clasping hands before fading to black.

Then a close-up of Chou kissing Peh’s upper lip, which is how actors in local shows pretend to kiss each other on the mouth without actually kissing. No tongue.

Another fade to black.

Next, a close-up of him kissing down the side of her waist and some sort of weird puncture wound or a very scary mosquito bite above her right hip.

And yet another fade to black.

The scene continues with a few unrevealing shots of them “moving in unison” and breathing heavily interspersed with even more fade-to-black transitions.

It’s over in just over a minute (no reflection on Chou, I’m sure) and half of it is a black screen. That’s all we get for M18?

I now suspect the M18 rating is just for all the smoking in the first scene of the first episode.

Even Peh wanted more nakedness.

Asked about the scene by 8 Days magazine, she said:
“When the final cut came out on Toggle, I was, mmm, slightly disappointed. I think we could really have shown a little bit more probably, because no body parts were shown.”

Actually, body parts are shown – hands, hips, plenty of shoulders – just not the right ones.

So why do I feel so dirty after watching the scene?

Mrs Qi Yiwu used the promise of nudity to appeal to my basest instinct – curiosity – and I let her.

I should have known better. It was the oldest trick in the book. Sex sells.

I wonder how many other people fell for it too and created a Toggle account they will never use again.

If I didn’t have the potential to excel in life, I should be punished by being forced to watch all 12 episodes of Last Madame.

Fade to black.

- Published in The New Paper, 30 September 2019