Saturday 30 April 2011

A song dedicated to Nicole Seah: At home she feels like a tourist

Nicole Seah: "Now, every time I take the train, it feels like I'm in a different country. It is like taking a holiday, I don't even need to bring my passport."

At Home He's A Tourist
by Gang Of Four (1979)

At home he feels like a tourist
At home he feels like a tourist
He fills his head with culture
He gives himself an ulcer
He fills his head with culture
He gives himself an ulcer

Down on the disco floor
They make their profit
From the things they sell
To help you cover
all the rubbers you hide
In your top left pocket

At home she's looking for interest
At home she's looking for interest
She said she was ambitious
So she accepts the process
She said she was ambitious
So she accepts the process

Down on the disco floor
They make their profit
From the things they sell
To help you cob off
And the rubbers you hide
In your top left pocket

Two steps forward
(Six steps back)
(Six steps back)
(Six steps back)
(Six steps back)
Small step for him
(Big jump for me)
(Big jump for me)
(Big jump for me)
(Big jump for me)

At home she feels like a tourist
At home she feels like a tourist
She fills her head with culture
She gives herself an ulcer
Why make yourself so anxious
You give yourself an ulcer

Friday 29 April 2011

Ah Ma?

Maybe Neo Swee Lin is a Trekkie.

Sunday 24 April 2011

After Justin Bieber, you should listen to music by ugly people

Dear True Beliebers,

Tuesday, April 19, was an exciting day for Singapore.

That was the day when Parliament was dissolved and Singaporeans learned that Polling Day will be on May 7.

But, of course, you don’t care about all that because being a Justin Bieber fan, you’re not old enough to vote.

(And in case you are old enough, I believe lawmakers are currently rushing legislation to bar anyone who knows all the words to Baby by heart from going anywhere near a polling booth.)

No, April 19 was special for you for a whole different reason – it was Bieber Day in Singapore!

That night, the Canadian singer-songwriter, movie star and all-round cutie performed at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to more than 10,000 of you.

So now that the concert is over, what’s next for you?

Who knows when the Bieb will return to Singapore?

He’ll probably release two or three more albums and fade away like so many teen pop phenoms through the decades from Fabian to Leif Garrett to Hanson.

Never heard of them? My point exactly.

And let me tell you, all of them had very nice hair too – and I know about hair.

But then Bieber may become like Elvis Presley, who remains an international cultural icon 34 years after his death.

But then Bieber will also have to get fat, have a daughter who will marry and divorce a suspected pedophile - excuse me, I mean the King of Pop - and be found dead in the toilet.

Hey, never say never.

You may not know this now, but you will recover from Bieber fever – and sooner than you think.

So what do you do after you’ve outgrown Selena Gomez’s boyfriend? Whose music can you listen to through puberty and beyond?

Well, you need to listen to artistes who can keep you interested for a lifetime. So forget your Jay Chous, Big Bangs, Rihannas, Katy Perrys and Lady Gagas.

You need to listen to music by ugly people – yes, even uglier than Lady Gaga.

Music by ugly people must be good because you know their fans can’t be going to their concerts for their good looks.

To help you ease into music by ugly people, I recommend the May 15 concert at Marina Bay Sands by enduring non-threatening Australian soft-rock duo, Air Supply, who have been touring Asia regularly and pleasing fans in Singapore since the 80s. Just beware of the old people smell.

Then later, you may graduate to the harder stuff by such award-winning ugly people as Foo Fighters and Arcade Fire.

Before you know it, you’ll be old enough to vote. Hopefully, by then, you would've forgotten the lyrics to Baby.

You may even vote for ugly people.

- Published in The New Paper, 24 April 2011

Hi Mr Ong.

I was quite enjoying your commentary on Bieber fever until I came to the part about artistes who cannot 'keep you interested for a lifetime'....and was shocked to find that you had lumped Jay Chou into the same category as Big Bang, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga...!

It makes me wonder if you really know Jay's history at all!

In a nutshell, he shook up the Chinese music industry with his original brand of pop waaay back in 2000, has released an album almost every year (all self-written!), won NUMEROUS awards for his songs, acted in movies, directed his own music videos and also a well-acclaimed movie (Secret), written goodness-knows-how-many songs for other artistes as well as for movies and is still going VERY strong.

He is the undisputed King of Mandopop in Asia and a wonderful role model who respects his elders, doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs and has a close-knit company which he set up with his longtime friends, JVR Music.

He recently won six awards at the inaugural Global Chinese Music Golden Chart Awards and is currently working on his next album and another movie with Nicholas Tse, directed by Dante Lam.

And he's just getting more and more fans over the years.

To top it off, when he first started out, he was deemed 'not handsome enough to be a pop star' but it was his music which enchanted the public then, is still doing so now and which has enabled him to do so many other things over the past TEN years.

His concert tickets sell like hot cakes (in Singapore last year, three nights of concerts sold out in five hours and left many disappointed fans still).

And you can bet his next concert will do even better!

Here's a feature on him in TIME from 2003:

Fast forward to 2009 and a very insightful interview on CNN:

For Jay and his fans, it's always been all about his music and I forsee that he'll go on for another good ten years, if not more.

I hope I've made my point.

Thanks for listening!


Wednesday 20 April 2011

Nicole Seah's high forehead problem

She's 24, but with her hair tied back, she looks 10 years older.

I recommend bangs.

Or maybe a hat.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Prada of the proles: How This Fashion took on 'upmarket' Orchard Road

Have you heard the good news? I was so relieved. It was like Borders all over again.

Two weeks ago, Singapore was faced with the grim prospect of the possible loss of another beloved retailer that has been part of our cultural landscape for so long.

Then yesterday came news that it won't be going out of business after all. Hallelujah!

I am, of course, talking about This Fashion.

The Marc Jacobs of the masses. The Helmut Lang of the hoi polloi. The Prada of the proletariat.

Every time I walk by a This Fashion outlet, I’m tempted to go in and look around even though I know This Fashion doesn’t sell men’s clothes.

The prices of the clothes are so low that I wish I were a woman or a cross-dresser just so I could buy something.

Earlier this month, when The Straits Times reported that a China-based apparel manufacturer wanted to wind up This Fashion after the latter couldn’t settle a $170,000 debt, my heart broke.

But now that they have reached a settlement, my heart is whole again.

Started in the late 80s, This Fashion reportedly had 65 outlets all over the island at its 2008 peak. According to its website, there are now only 24.

The company website also tells the inspiring tale of the chain’s against-the-odds expansion into “upmarket” Orchard Road in the mid-90s:
“Although by then, This Fashion was already a popular store among many young ladies, we were still rejected by landlords of upmarket shopping centres in the Orchard Road area.

“These landlords were worried that we would not be able to survive with such low prices and that our low prices would affect the other tenants' business.

“Lastly, they feared that with such low retail prices, we would affect the upmarket image of their shopping centres.”
Then came the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The website continues:
“In 1997, when Orchard Road rents plunged and many retailers in the area moved out, we seized the opportunity to expand into the Orchard Road area. ...

"Fortunately, your generous support over these years has proved those landlords wrong. Not only did we survive with the low prices, we have built an identity of our own.”
I get all choked up just cutting and pasting that from

Someone should make a movie out of this. It would literally be a rags-to-riches story, similar to The Social Network but with spaghetti straps and hot pants.

A few years ago, I wrote a scene for Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd where a character commented on Rosie’s ugly blouse and Rosie was supposed to say, “What ugly? I bought this from This Fashion!”

But Irene Ang, the actress playing Rosie, was uncomfortable with the line and wanted to change it.

So what did we change it to?

“I bought this from Orchard Road!”

If only we had known then.

- Published in The New Paper, 17 April 2011

Sunday 10 April 2011

How should I spend my Grow & Share Package?

Free money alert!

Have you received your 2011 Grow & Share Package letter yet? I just found out I’m getting $700.

On top of that, I’ve also received the refund cheque of $110 for the 2011 Radio and TV Licence fee.

I’m rich!

Maybe now I can afford to buy the iPad 2.

No, wait. I just realised it’s not available in Singapore yet.

Then maybe now I can afford to eat at a “cultured” Holland Village restaurant.

No, wait. I just realised I don’t like Dutch food.

Then maybe now I can afford to buy over the domain name since the website’s editor has said that it’s shutting down.

No, wait. I just realised I don’t want to be sued by Temasek Holdings.

Then maybe now I can afford to buy tickets for the Justin Bieber concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

No, wait. I just realised I’m not a 13-year-old girl and no longer wish to contribute to the further decline of civilisation.

Besides, I like only that one song: “Baby, baby... oh!”

Then maybe now I can afford to hire a company to write me a song with a chorus that sounds like “Baby, baby” and produce a video of me performing it with my friends, which I can then upload onto YouTube.

No, wait. I just remembered I’m not a 13-year-old girl and no longer wish to contribute to the further decline of civilisation.

Then maybe now I can afford to buy that Kate Spade bag which I’ve wanted, like, forever. It’s white to match my cute white baker’s hat.

No, wait. I just realised I’m not a 27-year-old woman who is really, really concerned about such important issues as caring for the elderly and how Mother Tongue should be taught.

Hey, isn’t Sharon Au back in Singapore after completing her studies in Japan?

Then maybe now I can afford to hire her to star in the follow-up to her 2005 dramedy Tiramisu.

No, wait. I just realised I can’t remember the name of her hunky Thai co-star or much else about the show – except that it was one of the lowest rated local series on Channel 5, ever.

Then maybe now I can afford to erase the biggest regret of my life by finally taking my parents to Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa.

No, wait. I just realised my father is dead and I can’t stand my mother.

Then maybe now I can afford to hire a maid to help me carry my wallat which is getting so heavy from all the money I got for my Grow & Share Package and TV licence fee refund.

No, wait. I just realised I’ve already completed my national service. So I don't need a maid anymore.

Then maybe I should just donate the money to charity.

No, wait. I just realised the iPad 2 comes in white, which matches my cute white baker’s hat!

I think I’ll just wait for the iPad 2 – the white one.

- Published in The New Paper, 10 April 2011

UPDATE: iPad 2 released same day as my Grow & Share Package - coincidence?

Sunday 3 April 2011

So you think you can be a Singapore citizen

Dear would-be Singapore citizen,

Thank you for applying to be a Singapore citizen despite Seth Rogen describing Singapore as a “very frightening” place. You are indeed the bravest of souls.

Your timing couldn’t be better because the TV and Radio Licensing Fee was just abolished and people have stopped saying “boomz” as a joke.

But before you get your pink Identity Card, you’re now required to complete an orientation programme called the Singapore Citizenship Journey, which includes visits to the National Museum of Singapore, the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s City Gallery and Singapore Parliament House.

Wait, before you cancel your citizenship application, those places aren’t as boring as they sound. Okay, maybe they are, but worst comes to worst, the tour takes only half a day.

Surely, it’s worth half of your day just to be able to count Gong Li, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat’s wife as your fellow countrymen.

You will also have to take an online course as part of your “journey”. At the end of each section of the course, there will be a online quiz.

Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions correctly because many who are Singaporean by birth can't too.

The following are examples of questions that won't be in the quiz:

1. Singapore is in the Guinness Book of World Records for which pointless record-breaking feat?
A. Most people playing sudoku simultaneously.
B. Most people sitting on one chair.
C. Most couples on a blind date in 12 hours.
D. Longest queue for overpriced bubble tea.

2. Who are the heartlanders who should stay out of Holland Village?
A. Anyone who is uncultured with no manners.
B. Anyone in shorts and slippers, and like, weird coloured hair.
C. Vincent Ng, Aaron Aziz and any member of the cast of the cancelled local TV series Heartlanders.
D. Anyone who is not from the Netherlands.

3. What is currently the biggest threat to Singapores defence?
A. Myopia.
B. Failing your Individual Physical Proficiency Test.
C. Japanese food.
D. Maids.

4. What will be the top issue in the upcoming election?
A. Rising cost of living.
B. You (as in “foreign talent”).
C. Netizens too mean to new People's Action Party candidate and foot-stamping hat model Tin Pei Ling.
D. Too many polls asking people what the top issue in the upcoming election will be.

So how did you do?

As a prospective member of the “world’s second coolest nationality” (according to CNNGo), you're expected to be geeky enough to find the answers yourself on the Internet.

Congratulations! You’re almost a citizen of the 189th (or is it 191st?) largest country in the world by land area.

Just don’t forget to take your Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty like that Japanese guy.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 April 2011

Saturday 2 April 2011

Tin Pei Ling head-scratcher

Never mind the stamping feet, how come no one has said anything about the hat?

Get your own cheap knock-off of Tin Pei Ling's hat here! (Matching Kate Spade bag sold separately.)

UPDATE: I'm rich! I want more than just the Kate Spade bag