Tuesday 28 February 2012

Don't play play with handphone radiation!

Just saw this today at Jurong Point.

From promoting graciousness on MRT to promoting, uh ... Quantum Shield!

And then I found this video starring Phua Chu Kang.

The event appears to have been held in Malaysia, which explains a lot.

This is an actual book (but I'll wait for the movie)

According to Amazon, The Great Singapore Penis Panic and the Future of American Mass Hysteria by Scott D Mendelson was published on 17 January 2011.

Book Description:
Forty-three years ago, a strange series of events unfolded on the island of Singapore.

Hundreds of men rushed to the hospitals of the island with the terrifying belief that their penises were shrinking. Each feared that if his penis shrank away completely, he would die.

Some came with lucky red strings tightly wrapped around their penises to prevent the lethal disappearance. Others had clamps holding their wayward organs in place.

Most often it was a firm grasp of a hand, their own or a frightened family member's, that prevented the shrinking penis from slipping away and taking their life with it.

Oddly enough, about a dozen women also fell victim to the panic.

This was the Great Singapore Penis Panic, or what doctors refer to as an epidemic of the psychiatric condition called Koro.

The Great Singapore Penis Panic and the Future of American Mass Hysteria explains the basis of koro in Chinese medicine, and how and why something so peculiar as the Singapore Koro epidemic could have happened when it did.

No, this isn't fiction. The Great Singapore Penis Panic of 1967 is for real.

The book is up for The Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year. Previous winners include The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories and Living with Crazy Buttocks.

The Great Singapore Penis Panic and the Future of American Mass Hysteria should also be shortlisted for having The Worst Book Cover Ever!



I have already negotiated film rights for my book, "The Great Singapore Penis Panic and the Future of American Mass Hysteria".

I am considering asking Danny Devito to play the part of the shrinking penis.

Best wishes to you!
Scott D. Mendelson

Monday 27 February 2012

She was in Spider-Man!

See Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer in Spider-Man at 5:34 because come on, you're not going to watch The Help.

As a bonus, here's the Oscar-winner (with fellow best supporting actress nominee Melissa McCarthy) in a Weird Al video.

As an extra bonus, here is the trailer of the movie, Help!, which is totally different from The Help except both movies are set in the '60s.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Dogs are better than cats and other taboos

What is taboo?

That was the question I was asked the most often at last weekend's All In! Young Writers Media Festival, where I was a panellist with author and fellow New Paper columnist Neil Humphreys.

Okay, I was asked the question only twice, but that was enough to make it the most asked question.

I'm assuming the enquirers were asking me what subject matter, if any, I avoid writing about (and not the meaning of the word “taboo”).

Because of time constraint, my short answer was any subject related to race, religion and gay sex.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) last week told a student group, the Campus Crusade for Christ, to cease all activities on campus precisely because of one of those subjects and I’m not talking about race.

Now that I have a little more time, I would like to expand my answer and add a few other things I also avoid writing about.

1. Anything that would result in me getting a letter from the Prime Minister's lawyers and a letter from the Prime Minister's brother’s lawyers.

That was what happened to Mr Richard Wan, editor of the website Temasek Review Emeritus.

I suspect Mr Wan will receive a letter from the lawyers of the Prime Minister’s dog next.

2. Speaking of which, I would also avoid calling Singaporeans "dogs", even though I'm not a foreign student studying at NUS on a scholarship.

But I have some mixed feelings about this. Is being called a dog that bad?

On the one hand, being a dog means I could get run over by a Porsche driven by a national bowler. (Boo, Remy Ong. Can't afford a Lamborghini, is it?)

On the other hand, it could be worse – I could be a cat.

What’s so bad about being a cat? Apart from getting stuck in a glue-board trap and dying a horrible death, you mean?

Apparently, in Singapore, it's against the law to hit a dog and not stop to help. But if you run over Garfield, hey, no problem. Keep on truckin'!

Besides Odie, the Road Traffic Act also favours cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, goats, mules and asses (which I think are different from "arses"), but not cats, monkeys, rabbits, birds or snakes.

(By the way, unlike Tampines MP Baey Yam Keng, I was born in the year of the horse.)

The law doesn't mention donkeys, rats, armadillos, dolphins, dragons, pokemons and monitor lizards mistaken for crocodiles.

Indeed, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. (Wow, studying George Orwell in secondary school finally paid off.)

Dogs versus cats? No contest. Dogs rule, at least according to the Road Traffic Act.

I expect cat lovers to protest this law at Hong Lim Park soon. Snake lovers can come too. (But no snake eaters.)

3. The phrase “chink in the armour”.

An ESPN editor was fired for using that in a headline for a story about Chinese-American basketball wonderboy Jeremy Lin.

Maybe the editor should’ve used “ChiNkBaLLa88 in the armour”.

(“ChiNkBaLLa88” is an online nickname Lin has used for himself.)

4. Okay, this has nothing to do with writing, but it’s a new taboo: walking near an MRT track where dislodged metal rail clips could be falling on your head.

5. I previously thought this was taboo until it was broken by singer Rob Halford of UK metal band Judas Priest last Monday at Fort Canning Park: performing in concert while wearing the Singapore flag draped around your shoulders.

He was about five months too early for National Day. (Or was it six months too late?)

Did anyone call the fashion police? Was he singing Breaking The Law at the time?

Who does Halford think he is? Jacintha Abisheganaden?

Did I mention that Halford is openly gay?

Oops. That’s taboo.

- Published in The New Paper, 26 February 2012


the plural of pokemon is pokemon

HC Tan

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Free McDonald's ice-cream! A sign of the (curry sauce) apocalypse?

So I ordered McNuggets at McDonald's during lunch today. I was given McNuggets and an ice-cream cone.

I said I didn't order the ice-cream. I was told they're out of curry sauce, so they're giving me an ice-cream instead.

Am I supposed to dip the McNuggets in the ice-cream? (Actually, that could work.)

Is another Curry Sauce Crisis imminent?

According to Yahoo, McDonald's said in a Facebook post: "In regular product checks, we have noticed that a small number of samples from our most recent batch of Curry Sauce have had their packaging compromised.

"As a precaution, we have made the decision to withdraw the entire batch from circulation...

“We know many of you will be disappointed at this unfortunate situation, and we’d like to try and make it up to you in some small way.

"From 10 – 24 February 2012, any purchase of Chicken McNuggets at our restaurants will entitle you to a FREE treat with our compliments:
- 4pc: 1 Soft Serve Cone
- 6pc and 9 pc : 1 Apple Pie
- 20 pc: 2 Apple Pies"


Monday 20 February 2012

Presidents' Day is the Black Friday of February?

I just received this email from Shoponline comGateway, a local company that provides shipping from America for Singapore residents who shop at US online stores.

OK, a couple of problems.

According to my new favorite website, Presidents' Day is a US holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honour of George Washington, the first President of America.

I love Black Friday as much as the next guy, but calling Presidents' Day the Black Friday of February is like calling Good Friday the Black Friday of April.

(I believe Presidents Day, which is today, is better known for mattress sales in the US.)

But what makes it even more ironic is that February is also Black History Month in America and George Washington was, uh, not black.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Thanks, Wikipedia, for giving me my own page, but...

Dear Wikipedia,

I woke up last Sunday morning to shocking news.

And I’m not talking about the death of Whitney Houston, although that was certainly shocking. (My first reaction was: “And Bobby Brown is still alive?”)

No, I’m talking about an unexpected message from a Facebook friend that included a link to a Wikipedia page.

After clicking on the link, I was shocked to discover that the Wikipedia page is about me!

How did this happen? Why and when did you create this page?

I mean, I Google myself regularly (but not too often, in case I go blind). How come I had never come across it before?

On the one hand, I'm a little spooked that someone had dug up some info about me and put it on the Web without my knowledge.

On the other hand, I’m flattered that someone bothered.

I have to admit that I'm more excited about this than that time I discovered I was being used in an English assignment question for a Secondary 2 class.

I know I'll never be a millionaire. I'll never win the $10 million Hongbao Draw. I'll never win a Grammy. I'll never play for the New York Knicks.

But, hey, I have my own Wikipedia page!

I had long been jealous of my friend and fellow The New Paper on Sunday columnist Sylvia Toh Paik Choo who had her own Wikipedia page way before I did.

Call it Wiki-envy.

This is despite Sylvia's page incorrectly stating that she lives in the Bahamas. In reality, she lives in Farrer Park.

When are you getting around to fixing that, by the way?

Regardless, I want to thank you for now making me one of (I think) only three people writing for The New Paper who has his or her own Wikipedia entry, the other two being Sylvia and Neil Humphreys.

Neil's entry is the longest (not that length matters), but I’m one up on both Sylvia and Neil because I also have my own IMDB page (again created without my knowledge), although it’s grossly incomplete.

Do you know anyone at IMDB who can fix that too?

I understand that Sylvia and Neil are in Wikipedia because both have authored bestselling books - but I haven’t.

My attention span is barely long enough for me to finish this letter, much less a whole book.

My sister at first accused me of "bribing” Wikipedia, but then remembered I'm too much of a "miser" (her word) to spend the money.

I know of course that you don't accept bribes, but despite what my sister said, I'm willing to make a "donation" if you could make my entry longer than Neil's.

Or at least a little more accurate than it is.

My Wikipedia entry says that I’m “best known as a producer and writer for the popular comedy show Phua Chu Kang". Really?

Since someone will likely refer to this for my obituary, I'd like to request a couple of minor corrections.

The entry also says that I “was the writer and producer of Phua Chu Kang The Movie”. Yes, guilty as charged, I wrote the movie - but I wasn't the producer. If I were, the movie would've turned out differently.

Also, although I wrote and maybe directed the Daddy's Girls episode that won the Asian Television Award for Best Comedy in 2005, it's inaccurate to say that I won the award. It was the show that won it.

(I’m tempted to make the changes myself since Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, but that would be too narcissistic, even for a fan of self-love like me.)

If you could update your Yaw Shin Leong page so swiftly last week to include his sudden expulsion from Workers' Party over “indiscretions in personal life”, I'm sure you can make these small amendments for me.

And if not, then maybe just add that I'm living in the Bahamas. I hear I have a friend there.

S M Ong

- Published in The New Paper, 19 February 2012

UPDATE: My Wikipedia page has since been re-edited several times

Sunday 12 February 2012

Whitney who?

The Greatest Love Of All by George Benson

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us of how it use to be
Everybody's searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadow
If I fail, If I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity

Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we use to be

And if by chance that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

Alamak! I’m up against Nicole Seah at Young Writers Media Festival

It’s my first time. So please be gentle.

I e-mailed the person I will be doing it with, fellow New Paper columnist Neil Humphreys, for guidance.

He wrote back: “Don’t worry about it. Do these all the time.”

I’m glad at least one of us has done something like this before. He reminded me that a third person will be there to make things easier.

As if it isn’t awkward enough that I’m a virgin at this, it’s going to be a threesome at a hotel with two other guys I’ve never met before.

And people will be paying to watch us do it.

And my parents thought I wouldn’t amount to anything.

Yes, my participation in next weekend’s All In! Young Writers Media Festival at Rendezvous Hotel has been confirmed. My picture is in the festival booklet and everything. So they’re stuck with me.

“Targeting aspiring/emerging young writers and tertiary students who have interest in writing and the literary arts”, the event is organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore, but those in the know just call it The Book Council, which sounds hipper and requires remarkably fewer keystrokes.

Since 2009, the annual event was known as the All In! Young Writers Seminar and lasted only one day. But this year, it has levelled up from seminar to media festival and is on both Saturday and Sunday.

According to an e-mail I received from The Book Council, “the two-day event will bring together established practitioners in their respective fields to discuss interesting current topics and also educate and inspire these young writers”.

Hey, I’m an “established practitioner”! I want that engraved on my tombstone, along with “Earned three stars on all Angry Birds Rio levels”.

So how did a joker like me get involved in something as well-meaning as this?

According to that same e-mail, it was another fellow New Paper columnist who recommended me - Sylvia Toh Paik Choo.

My guess is that the Book Council asked her first and she fobbed it off on me.

So I wasn’t the first choice. I’m just a second-string substitute. Was Mr Brown unavailable?

To quote the great Smokey Robinson: “Now there's some sad things known to man, but ain't too much sadder than the tears of a clown.” (No copyright infringement intended.)

My only consolation is that the festival booklet said there will be a lunch-time special featuring a “stunning lunch buffet”. Did you read that? “Stunning”. The lunch buffet will stun you. I want to be stunned by my food.

The “stunning lunch buffet” alone should be worth the festival registration fee of $30 for a two-day pass and $20 for a one-day pass, which I don’t have to pay, I hope. The things I do for free food.

I believe I don’t have to pay because I’m part of a one-hour panel on Saturday with Neil Humphreys called “Pun intended or unintended - should everyone attempt humour in writing?”.

The third wheel in our threesome is moderator Desmond Kon.

I have never met both these men. I’ve seen Neil around but have never spoken to him even though we both write for the same paper.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid our threesome will be upstaged by another panel at the festival held concurrently in another hotel ballroom.

That panel is called “Using new media to reach and engage the community”.

And you know who will be at that panel?

Ms Nicole Seah. Yes, that Nicole Seah.

How can two not-so-young guys like Neil and me hope to compete with the Opposition Sweetheart of General Election 2011?

Maybe I can talk Neil into wearing some make-up.

And you know who else will be at that panel with Ms Seah?

Mr Yee Jenn Jong, the new Workers' Party treasurer, who last week replaced Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong.

The latter is dogged by allegations of an affair with another married party member.

If I could, I would skip my own panel and attend the other panel just to grill Mr Yee for some gossip. (And perhaps check out what Ms Seah is wearing.)

Maybe you should do the same. Anything is better than watching me pop my cherry.

- Published in The New Paper, 12 February 2012

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Is it real? No, it's Phua Chu Kang

Once again, while trawling the web, I came across someone "studying" my past work.

Previously, it was an old New Paper column. Now it's an old Phua Chu Kang episode I wrote, produced and directed.

It was the highest rated regular episode of the final season (thanks to a Mr Bean lead-in) aired during Christmas 2006.

The episode is called VR Man.

Even though the story is hokum, I'm particularly proud of this episode because of how the 3-D computer animation was integrated into the episode, which I don't think has ever been done before in local TV or ever since. (Look out for a cool blooper at the very end.)

Some kids decided to analyse it for what purpose I don't know and posted the analysis on a blog last year.

VR Man forever!


"Virtual Reality" Episode - Simulation

Phua Chu Beng (PCB) has a new device: VRHMD - Virtual Reality Head-Mounted Display where he is able to experience a simulation in a small device!

It is a device where we can be in a 'total immerse in a interactive computer simulated graphic environment' which gets to "show the client what the house looks like before it is being built".

Instead of just a drawing (2Dimension) of the house, he is able to experience stepping into the house (3Dimension) as he views the house from the VR HMD.

This is reflective of what we have learnt about the simulacra - a representation of the real which is different from the original.

By viewing the simulation of the house from the VR HMD, PCB is able to get a feel of the house as if he has been there before.

Like what PCB says "total immerse in a interactive computer-simulated graphic environment!", "like the matrix movie", it gives us almost the same simulation as the real everywhere we go, and we do not need to be in the house to have a taste of what it is like!

This VR HMD blurs the line between the real and the virtual real, and PCB is unsure whether there is a fixed reality as the real is re-represented by another medium (in this case, the VR HMD) again.

"This actually puts you in the house... It is a computer simulation of the house.. Oh so it is not real.. No it is virtually real, that's why it is called virtual reality!"

There is also a case of irony where PCB remarks that "we are not talking about some stupid local TV show here, we're talking about the real thing! Or the virtual real thing..."

However, the TV show is actually a simulation of the lives of a typical Singaporean family who is undergoing a simulation through a virtual reality device! So, do we consider it as a real thing, a virtual real thing or none?

Just some food for thoughts here :)

Sunday 5 February 2012

Before Fandi, I talked to her when no one else would

Last month, my wife posed for pictures with a topless male model at the entrance of Abercrombie & Fitch on Orchard Road.

Because he put his arm around her, she felt obliged to reciprocate – or so she claimed – and ended up "unintentionally" touching his naked torso.

She posted the pictures on her blog and wrote: “Absolutely awkward but look how happy I was!”

To even things up, I shall now recount my own encounter with a hot model.

Once upon a time, I attended the opening of a boutique at Paragon Shopping Centre. If I remember correctly, the boutique belonged to local designer Celia Loe.

I used to get invited to many openings and launches because I was, ahem, “media”.

As usual, I was there only for the free food.

On this occasion, I noticed a tall, interesting-looking young woman of indeterminate race sort of standing apart from everyone else.

Even though she was hot, no one was talking to her or paying her much attention, which I thought was strange. She seemed a little lost, like she didn’t belong there, which was also how I felt.

It turned out she was a model hired to model the boutique’s clothes at the opening, and I guess guests aren’t supposed to chat with the hired help. I actually felt sorry for her – as much as one could feel sorry for a hot model.

And since no one was also chatting with me, I decided to chat her up. (Okay, before you judge, I had never done anything like that before and I wasn’t married at the time.)

She was a little shy, but friendly and easy to talk to. She said she was from South Africa and came to Singapore recently with her father who was posted here.

I asked for her number because I might have a modelling job for her.

Okay, I know that sounded like a line, but it was the truth as I was working for a magazine publisher at the time. Really!

Maybe she thought it was a line too because she didn’t give me her number and instead gave me the name of her modelling agency, which was Bess. (Yes, there was actually a modelling agency called Bess. I checked.)

She said if I wanted her, I could call her agency.

Oooh, looked like somebody was playing hard to get. Sure, I’d play along.

Unfortunately, the next day, when I told my colleague – who did the actual hiring of models at my company – about this hot model whom I just met and he should use, he pretended to be interested, then made no effort to follow up.

And that was that. I thought I would never see my hot model again.

Then one day, I read in the news that national football hero Fandi Ahmad was engaged to a South African model named Wendy Jacobs.

Hey, I saw her first!

I was the one who talked to her when no one else would.

And now she was marrying Singapore’s greatest footballer.

Well, that was a step up. Good for her.

And him.

I wonder if she made him call Bess.

I eventually met Jacobs again many years later but didn’t bother to mention we had met before because there was no hint of recognition in her eyes.

I wasn’t worthy enough to be remembered – but I will never forget.

Almost two decades after that fateful day at Paragon, I can finally share my sad Wendy Jacobs story because I feel it’s safe now that her husband has joined Johor FA as a technical advisor last week.

Thanks, Football Association of Singapore, for letting a homegrown talent go.

I mean, Fandi is moving to Malaysia for his new job, right?

He's not? Uh-oh. I hope he doesn’t tell my wife.

- Published in The New Paper, 5 February 2012

WENDY JACOBS UPDATE: The New Paper, 11 February 2013