Sunday 31 October 2010

Forget Halloween - I wish you a happy new year

You know, I like to be ahead of my time because it makes me feel superior to other people.

That’s why I wear a T-shirt that says “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet”.

That’s why I was on Facebook long before anyone heard of the movie The Social Network.

That’s why almost 20 years ago, I raved about this little horror movie called Braindead long before its director, Peter Jackson, became famous for The Lord Of The Rings movies and unleashed onto the world the horror that is Orlando Bloom’s acting.

That’s why I get hungry before it’s time to eat. That’s why I don’t think premature ejaculation is all that bad. And that’s why I read monthly magazines as they too are ahead of their time. Do you know that you can actually buy the November issue of many magazines in October? It’s like time travelling!

Imagine if you can get tomorrow’s edition of The New Paper today. You’ll be rich from betting on the horse racing results. But then you would also have to race against time to save the woman who was hit by a car in an accident that is reported in tomorrow’s paper but hasn’t happened yet. Wait ... wasn’t that a TV show? Anyway, where was I? Oh yah, magazines.

So I was getting my future copy of Yachting World in Borders last week when I noticed the bookstore was selling Christmas stuff. Already?

Then I stepped out of Wheelock Place and I saw the Christmas decorations along Orchard Road. Already?

All of a sudden, I felt so behind the times. And here was I, still preparing for Halloween, which is today.

I’m planning to go as Jack Neo, by the way. My costume consists of a pair of spectacles and an obliviousness to my own moral hypocrisy.

But I have yet to decide on what to wear for Deepavali on Friday or figured out my outfit for Hari Raya Haji, which is less than two weeks after that. I couldn’t believe Orchard Road is three holidays ahead of me.

If I was still living in America, there would still be the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov 25. The Christmas shopping season starts the day after - on what has become known as Black Friday.

In Singapore, the Christmas shopping season can start whenever it wants as long as it’s after the Great Singapore Sale.

Which I think is great because if there’s one thing that this country sorely needs, it’s an excuse to go shopping.

But I’m not letting anyone – or anything – get the better of me, even if it’s a road that has to be raised over the next few months to reduce flooding.

So next week, I'm going to get a haircut, wear red, visit my relatives and demand they give my kids hongbao. Gong xi fa cai!

(The TV show was Early Edition.)

- Published in The New Paper, 31 October 2010

Sunday 24 October 2010

A hazy shade of 1997: It’s not the end of the world

I had such big plans last week.

I was going to start training to become the first Singaporean to climb Mount Everest and not use it as a springboard for my motivational speaking career.

On Wednesday, to commemorate the special 20/10/2010 date, I was going to renew my wedding vows with my three wives at a lavish outdoor ceremony on top of Marina Bay Sands where Katy Perry recently held her poolside press conference.

And then I was going to change the name of my website to, but because of the haze, I couldn’t see my computer monitor clearly and accidentally typed by mistake.

The damn haze ruined everything.

My Everest training and the rooftop ceremony were both canceled, but curiously, the traffic to my website with the new miss-typed domain name has increased hundredfold.

Yes, the haze is bad, but it’s no 1997.

That was the year the PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) hit the all-time high of 226 in Singapore.

That was the year tracking the PSI first became a national obsession.

That was the year we turned on the TV just to see the little PSI number in the corner of the screen rather than the wonderful local programmes like Three Rooms and Shiver. (I’m still quite proud of some of my work on Shiver, by the way.)

Before that, we cared more about psf (per square foot) than PSI.

Before that, we didn’t even know what PSI was – and it doesn’t stand for “pound per square inch”.

Before that, if you wore a mask while walking down the street, people would stare at you like you were crazy or preparing to rob a pawn shop (which I wasn't).

Now, after Sars and H1N1, people stare a little less. They just steal a glance and look away.

Now, we don’t have the 1997 financial crisis.

Now, the haze has become like an old acquaintance whom you wish would stop dropping by every year or so and stinking up the joint with his smoking.

Back in 1997, the haze was unlike anything we had seen before. Like the flooding of Orchard Road a few months ago, I took it to mean Armageddon was upon us. (The movie Armageddon actually came out in 1998.)

Although the world didn’t end back in 1997, with the record-breaking PSI, the financial crisis and the Spice Girls topping the charts, it might as well have.

Wait, could Justin Bieber be a sign of the apocalypse?

- Published in The New Paper, 24 October 2010

UPDATE: Solving the haze problem

Sunday 17 October 2010

I’m sorry but I think slimmed-down Ris Low is kind of hot

Did you see the pictures of Ris Low in The New Paper on Wednesday?

Those legs! That hair! The peek-a-boo panties!

If the pictures were Bengs, they would have beaten me up for staring at them for so long and hard.

Having lost some weight, the former Miss Singapore World looks better and sexier than when she won the beauty pageant last year.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking:


This reaction could be due to a couple of reasons. One is the unfortunate image of a dirty old man like me leering at pictures of a young woman like Low.

The other reason is that saying anything positive about the convicted credit card fraudster is almost like a social taboo tantamount to clipping your toe nails on the MRT train while singing “Love your ride!”

Low has been a target of much mockery since she crashed into our collective consciousness with the infamous “leopard preenz” interview a year ago.

Now I think she’s kind of hot after her weight loss.

And what’s wrong with that? It’s not like I’m complimenting Hitler on his posture. Low didn’t exterminate millions of Jews – she just murdered the English language.

One colleague exclaimed that he wouldn’t sleep with her even if you paid him. I find that somewhat ingenuous, but I can see where he was coming from.

Take US TV reality stars Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian for example. Intellectually, I’m able to understand how they can be considered sexy even though I don’t find them particularly appealing myself – but if you paid me, hey, why not? I’ve done worse things for a buck and half a springroll.

Another colleague said that he was okay with Low as long as she didn’t speak. That’s perfectly understandable.

But that’s also my point. Don’t judge the cover by the book, which may be a slim volume containing made-up words like “boomz” and “shingz”.

Wow, I just managed to associate books with Ris Low. I should get a Cultural Medallion for that feat alone.

You see? I can still make fun of Low even though I think she’s hot. Admitting that she is physically attractive doesn’t mean you’re endorsing anything else about her.

Unless you happen to also own a “Boomz” T-shirt.


- Published in The New Paper, 17 October 2010

2013 UPDATE: Not so slim or hot anymore

Sunday 10 October 2010

Even Loserpool fans are better off than a baseball fan in Singapore

For the past few days, I have been following every game in a major sporting event happening in another country and it doesn’t involve kicking a ball or disqualifying Singapore swimmers for tardiness.

I’m talking about the 2010 Major League Baseball post-season play-offs.

Yes, I’m a baseball fan.

No, wait, don’t run away. This is not one of those columns where the writer is a fan of some esoteric thing (like playing Cafe World on Facebook) and tries to convince everyone else how interesting it is when really, no one cares.

No, this column is about how lonely it is to be a fan of some esoteric thing (like American baseball) and not having anyone to talk to about it.

OK, now you can run away.

If you’re still here, let me clarify a couple of points. I know American baseball is not really an esoteric thing. The sport has millions of fans around the world, but in Singapore, it might as well be on Okto after 8pm.

I also know that if I really want to, I could probably find someone to talk to about baseball on the Internet, like the guy at (except that I’m a Minnesota Twins fan).

But it’s not the same.

How I envy football fans in Singapore ... I mean soccer fans ... I mean ... you know what I mean.

Even if you’re a fan of a faraway football team like Loserpool... I mean Liverpool, you can easily find someone to commiserate with when the Merseysiders are eventually relegated. I mean I can’t swing a corked bat without hitting a pitiable Reds fan in The New Paper newsroom.

But whose shoulder can I cry on when my beloved Twinkies are once again yanked from post-season competition by defending champions New York Yankees? No one cares.

Maybe I can go to The New Paper Sports Bar and cry in my drink, which has to be non-alcoholic because I’m a teetotaler. Perhaps a fruit mocktail.

And I’m somewhat comforted that Liverpool is being bought by the owner of the Boston Red Sox, long-time bitter rivals of the Yankees, the baseball equivalent of Manchester United.

You see? I’m able to appreciate the parallel because I’m a baseball fan. Like the Reds, the Red Sox had a disappointing year too - though not as sucky as Liverpool’s.

Worlds are colliding. Singapore Loserpool fans may want nothing to do with baseball, but it looks like baseball is going to have a lot to do with Loserpool.

And still a baseball fan in Singapore walks alone.

Oh, I also love country music.

- Published in The New Paper, 10 October 2010

Sunday 3 October 2010

Like father, like daughter? Children's Day is so over

Because Friday was Children’s Day, I had intended this column to be about my belief that the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.

Then last weekend, my 11-year-old daughter called me an “asshole”.

Suddenly, I'm not so keen on Children’s Day any more.

What happened was that I was supposed to meet my two kids somewhere in Jurong Point. When I didn’t see them, I called my 13-year-old son’s handphone to find out where they were.

My son said they were on their way. I could hear my daughter snapping in the background, “We're almost there, asshole!”

Okay, I have several issues with this, the least of which is its accuracy.

I know many people who would agree with her assessment of my character, but even they would concede that a Primary 5 schoolgirl likening her parent to a body part is somewhat inappropriate.

But they would also argue that such inappropriate language coming from an offspring of mine is hardly surprising, if not expected - the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that.

In my defence, I had previously forbidden her to use such bad words, which admittedly, may be a little hypocritical in a “Do as I say, not say as I say” kind of way.

Yes, I may occasionally swear like a sailor, but I didn’t start until I joined the navy during my national service, which is as it should be.

When I was my daughter’s age, the worst thing I called anyone was “girlie”. Whereas according to my daughter, her classmates are already using Dick Lee’s name to insult each other.

I know it’s not Dick’s fault, but children seem to be losing their innocence earlier and earlier.

And this is without R21 movies showing in heartland cinemas.

I mean I didn’t realise Boy George was gay until I was in my 30s. I thought all that make-up was just a gimmick - you know, like the band Kiss.

Nowadays, my kids are already savvier about “alternative” lifestyles just by watching a single episode of the animated TV series Family Guy on Fox.

I still don’t understand how Brian the talking dog can have a human girlfriend on the show. Since when did bestiality become acceptable prime time cartoon fodder?

And even though my daughter and her friends don’t meet Facebook’s minimum age requirement of 13, they’re already on the social networking site sharing links to pages such as “Did i ask you? No. Then shut the fuck up” and “Ah Sorry Late Reply My Boner Knocked My Laptop Across The Room”.

And I let her. But calling her father any kind of hole is clearly crossing the line.

But the horses have already left the barn. Would punishing her merely be a “symbolic statement of community values”? If only there’s a filtering tool for real life, like for the Internet.

And if there is one, the first undesirable thing it will probably block is me.

By the way, learning to love yourself is not the greatest love of all. It’s better with someone else.

Happy Children’s Day.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 October 2010