Sunday 29 June 2008

Match? What match?

A few years ago, I was walking on the street when a TV camera crew approached me to conduct a quick man-on-the-street interview.

After all, being an adult male and walking on the street as mentioned above, I was by every available measure, a "man on the street".

The producer with the camera crew asked me if I watched football.

Recalling that I used to catch the occasional English league games on free TV before the advent of cable when paying to see televised matches was as inconceiveable as Singapore not being in the Malaysia Cup, I answered, "Yes, I watch football."

So they pointed the camera at me and rolled tape. The producer asked me who I thought would win the match that night.

I was stumped. "Is there a match tonight?" I asked on camera. The producer was momentarily stunned.

Although I wasn't telepathic, I could tell what was going through his mind in that split second.

It was this: "Why did you say you watch football when you don't even know about the big match that everyone is talking about? Are you so desperate to be on TV that you would lie about something as banal as watching football?

"Or are you so insecure about your manhood that you're afraid that admitting you don't watch a macho sport like football would reveal you to be the pussy that you are? What kind of sad pathetic idiot are you?"

Even the cameraman and soundman looked at me as if I was the biggest loser they had ever seen in their life.

They turned off their eqiupment as they tried not very hard to keep from sniggering. The producer recovered from his mild shock, thanked me politely for my time and hurriedly looked for another man on the street, hopefully one who was more football-literate and not a sissyboy.

Up to this day, I still have no idea what mystery match he was talking about. Oh, the woes of a casual football fan. OK, maybe "fan" is too strong a word. Actually, "casual" is too strong a word.

For a long time, I thought the Reds and the Red Devils referred to the same team because the "Reds" was obviously and logically the short form of the "Red Devils". I just wasn't sure the team was Liverpool or Manchester United. It simply didn't occur to to me that two different teams competing in the same league could have the same word in their nickname. Confusing, much?

And I've never heard of Euro until four years ago. And suddenly it's being hyped like it's the biggest football event apart from the World Cup. If the European Football Championship is so big, how come no one seems to care as much about Copa America which also features past World Cup-winning countries?

And why do Singaporeans care more about the Spain-Italy Euro quarter final than our own national team beating Lebabon in a World Cup qualifier the same night?

Yes, I'm clearly ignorant about the game, an even more cripplig affliction now that I'm working at The New Paper where football is practically the second language. And especially this week as Euro08 builds to a climax. If I felt like a pussy before ...

So please don't ask who I think will win the match tonight. My manhood is barely hanging on as it is.

- Published in The New Paper, 29 June 2008

Sunday 8 June 2008

Don't drink on the MRT (though it may help)

When you read about the wild booze party on the London Tube the night before the alcohol ban came into effect on 1 Jun, was your first reaction “You mean alcohol wasn’t banned on the Tube before? We’re not even allowed soft drinks on the MRT”?

Was your second reaction “Let’s say I’m drunk, do I still have to give up my seat to a pregnant woman”?

Was your third reaction “Only if she is in at least her second trimester and she’s also drunk”?

Yes, you see all kinds on the train. Even without alcohol, public transportation already brings out the worst in all of us.

Despite SMRT’s claim to have increased train frequency last month, it’s still a dog-eat-dog-to-get-other-dog’s-seat world out there.

Even if you’re the most civilised people living in the most modern city in the world, come rush hour, we’re all reduced to animals. And not cute animals like puppies and kittens, but vicious animals like puppies and kittens after you’ve taken away their favourite toy.

For a daily live demonstration, visit the zoo that is the Jurong East MRT interchange.

For commuters not living in Bukit Batok, Bukit Gombak or Choa Chu Kang who think that changing trains at City Hall and Raffles Place is bad, it’s time you are relieved of your innocence.

Once the train doors slide open at Jurong East, the frenzied stampede for the connecting train across the platform is reminscent of the hordes of orcs storming a battlefield in those Lord Of The Rings movies. There is no trace of humanity in their eyes.

And unlike City Hall and Raffles Place, Jurong East is not an underground station. So no safety barrier between you and the oncoming train. Thus getting accidentally (or not-so-accidentally) pushed onto the tracks by the surging throng is always a gruesome possibility.

So why do we put up with this – giving up our dignity, any semblence of personal space and in some cases, risking our life and limb on a daily basis just to get from Point A to Point B?

Because the alternative is to buy a car, and have you seen the price of petrol lately?

And the cost of ERP, road tax, insurance, maintenance, parking fees, traffic fines, vehicle radio licence, car deordorant and so on. We can’t even go to JB for cheap gas anymore.

So unless you’ve recently divorced Paul McCartney, you have no choice but to descend a few rungs down the evolutionary ladder and join the other simians in the air-conditioned cages on wheels we call public transportation.

Save your money – and the planet while destroying your soul. It’s enough to drive you to drink.

- Published in The New Paper, 8 June 2008

Sunday 1 June 2008

'Sex': I don't get it

It was a defining moment in my brief movie reviewing career.

The film was a now forgotten 1993 Bruce Willis thriller called Striking Distance.

Panning it on live television on a now forgotten variety show called Live On 5 hosted by a still remembered newcomer named Gurmit Singh, I summarised my biggest problem with the movie in four words: Sarah Jessica Parker’s nose.

Her nose stole every scene she was in. Whatever else was happening on the big screen, all I could see was her gigantic schnozzle. And she was supposed to be the "babe" of the movie.

(Years later, Angelina Jolie’s bulbous lips would have the same effect on me in The Bone Collector. If lips could kill...)

A viewer wrote in to complain about my complaint about Ms Parker's probiscis and I did’t continue reviewing movies for much longer after that.

So you can imagine the vindication I felt when Maxim named her the unsexiest woman on the planet last year. You go, girl!

And you can also imagine my pain now as the Sex And The City movie opens in cinemas this week and pictures of Ms Parker and her nose are everywhere. Even Mas Selamat’s surly mug is preferable.

Obviously, I’m not a fan of the HBO series and it's not because of Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s because I don't have a vagina.

While I'm usually up for anything that promises explicit sex scenes and female nudity, this is just too much girly talk to sit through for a chance to see 52-year-old Kim Cattrall naked.

Besides, I’ve already seen her undergrowth in the horny teen classic Porky’s when she was still of child-bearing age.

That is not to say that I think Sex And The City is a bad show. Heck, it was created by a gay guy, so how bad can it be? Desperate Housewives was also created by a gay guy. But I’m clearly not the target demographic, being neither a housewife nor that desperate.

My Sex And The City would be Star Trek, another TV series-turned-feature film, but otherwise the complete opposite of SATC. I can’t wait for the new Star Trek movie coming out next year, but women won’t care for it. Why? Because they have a life.

Star Trek enables guys like me to fantasise about flying around in a spaceship with busty female aliens.

Sex And The City allows women to live out the fantasy of finding the perfect Jimmy Choo mules to match that fab Fendi clutch. (I have no idea what I’m talking about.)

However, SATC devotees may be lured into watching Star Trek VII: The Undiscovered Country because Kim Cattrall is in it – with a horrifying Vulcan haircut Samantha wouldn't be caught dead wearing even on Halloween.

And if Sarah Jessica Parker should ever star in a Star Trek movie, the collision of the two fanbases could result in the collapse of the cosmos itself.

Where’s Bruce Willis when you need him?

- Published in The New Paper, 1 June 2008