Thursday 31 May 2012

Teacher, teacher...

When I first saw this headline on AsiaOne, I thought it read "New model to help teachers develop hostility".

Which makes sense, considering another story on AsiaOne on the same day (below).

Monday 28 May 2012

Meet the amazing Spider Spud

I was at Toy R Us and saw the funniest toy ever - Mr Potato Head as Spider-Man.

Hey kids, it's the amusing Spider Spud!

Yes, I think it's even funnier than Darth Tater.

Spider Spud is a tie-in with the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man movie reboot.

This new toy is also a reboot. There was another Spider Spud that came out a few years ago.

The new one looks much cooler.

My birthday is next month (hint, hint) and I hope not to get any more socks.

My Spudey sense is tingling.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Beggar? Busker? Who is this man in Orchard underpass?

Last Sunday evening, I was walking from Orchard MRT station to Shaw Centre and used the underpass.

As I was going down the escalator, I noticed an older man sitting on the floor beside the escalator who seemed to be in distress.

A woman was squatting next to him and a third person was standing a few metres away taking pictures of them.

At first, I thought the man was a beggar because the only people I had ever seen sitting on the floor in the Orchard underpass had been beggars.

But as I walked past the trio, I noticed the man appeared a little too well dressed to be a beggar.

Then I thought maybe he was a busker because the Orchard underpass has long been a favourite haunt for street musicians, perhaps attracted to the acoustics of the tunnels. Ooh, echoey.

And since Singapore Idol is no more, the underpass with its constant flow of captive audiences is the next best thing.

So was the man a busker? But where was his instrument? A busker usually has a guitar or keyboard or something.

A-ha! Maybe he was distressed because he lost his instrument.

And the other two were tourists who wanted to have their picture taken with a Singapore busker even though (or because) he was distressed about losing his instrument?

What a strange thing to do, I thought.

But then I had seen many strange things I don't understand, especially around the Orchard Road area.

I just tried not to stare, kept calm and carried on.

Earlier that day, I saw a group of people playing drums outside Paragon, which I didn't understand. Was Orchard Road not noisy enough already?

I couldn't get away from the loud, hearing-damaging drumming because I had to wait for the traffic light to change before crossing the road.

Then, to my dismay, I saw another group of drummers on the other side of the road getting ready to assault my ear drums. They were everywhere!

So I took refuge inside the Abercrombie & Fitch store at Knightsbride and my eyes were ambushed by the startling sight of a shirtless man at the entrance. He had weird bulges on his body that may or may not be muscles.

I just tried not to stare, kept calm and carried on.

In other words, just another typical weekend on Orchard Road.

The next day, on my Facebook newsfeed, I saw a Stomp picture that looked surprisingly familiar.

It was a picture of the old guy and the squatting woman I saw in the underpass!

The Stomp post was titled “Injured old man crying in pain at Orchard Rd, but no one stops to help”.

Oh, the old man was injured? I didn’t know that. So that was why he was in distress, not because he lost his guitar.

The person who sent the picture to Stomp wrote:
"This poor man was seen lying slumped against the wall at the escalator below Tangs at the underpass leading to Orchard MRT.

“My wife and myself had helped him up a staircase earlier near Tangs as he was limping heavily. He then thanked us and took a rest outside Tangs.”

"Half an hour later, he was on the ground and pleading for help after trying to make his way home. My wife, who is nurse, immediately ran over to help. It seemed that he had fallen down a flight of stairs earlier on.

"No one had bothered to help him when he fell again. He was writhing in pain and was in tears and no one bothered to help him.

"We then alerted SCDF as he had a probable fracture and could not move any further.

"Can you imagine the human traffic flow in the underpass on a Sunday evening? Crowded and yet Singaporeans just continued to pass by totally ignoring his pleas for help.

"The only human that day was a lone foreign worker who had ran off to the MRT control station to seek help.

"Even the MRT staff left the situation to my wife, probably as it wasn't on SMRT grounds.

"When a Ferrari driven by a foreigner crashes, the whole nation comes together blasting the driver.

"When a fellow citizen is down and in need of urgent medical assistance, a blue-collar foreign worker comes to his rescue.

"The best part, countless number people just looked and walked past.

"Where are you, Singaporeans? Minding your own business?"

Whoa! Why do I feel like I’m being scolded?

Yes, I was minding my own business because that was what I had been told to do several times in the past (and rather curtly too). No one has ever said to me: “Don’t mind your own business. Go and mind other people’s business.”

But if I had known the man was injured or heard his “pleas for help”, I would’ve minded his business.

But if I see that someone else is with him, I would assume he was already helped and my assistance is no longer required.

And how did this minor incident become another Singaporeans-versus-foreigners issue?

I find it more troubling that someone would take a picture of the injured man just to send it to Stomp to make the point.

I’m already avoiding sitting on the MRT train lest someone sends a picture of me not giving up my seat to Stomp and accuses me of being unchivalrous.

Now it seems I have to avoid Orchard Road’s treacherous tunnels as well.

- Published in The New Paper, 27 May 2012

Hello there

I read ur article this morning.

It is rather weird that no one stopped to help the injured man. There was no signs of him asking alms or him playing any instrument. How can the crowd be so blind? and that too on a Sunday where Orchard is packed like a can of tuna?

I have been noticing this from young that Singaporeans always put a blind eye when their help is needed. Why? Are all Singaporeans suffering from self esteem issues or are they just heartless?

When a hp rings in the MRT or when someone accidentally drops something, everyone stares at that person. It is just so silly. It is so embarassing that Singaporeans behave in such a uncivilised way.

Another issue i would like to bring about. Singapore is being defined as a diverse, multi-cultural country. I totally disagree.

I have witnessed people giving up their seats to a Chinese old lady but not to an Indian man or lady. So may i ask you, will u help someone with a different race? I hope your answer is yes.

U state in the article that you have been taught to mind your own business. So, you would turn a blind eye when someone is injured or crying in pain? We should never assume that if someone else is with him, then he is safe. We should always be vigilant as that person might one day be our loved ones.

Regarding the Ferrari accident, Singaporeans are just using this as an excuse to drive PRcs out of Singapore. Not all of them are concerned with the taxi driver's death.

It is high time that Singaporeans wake up and realize that humanity is above all values.

I just wanted to express my views.

And one more question before i end. Why is this article under humour? I really do not find anything humorous about a man getting injured.

Reshmel Gill

MY REPLY: Agreed, there's nothing humourous about a man getting injured. But I think there's something peculiar (if not exactly humorous) about people taking a picture of an injured man and sending it to Stomp.

Thursday 24 May 2012

I can't give you anything (but Gatsby)

Nothing betrays your age like the music you like.

A few weeks ago, fellow New Paper on Sunday columnist Neil Humphreys wrote about realising how old he had become because he was excited about the reunited Stone Roses coming to Singapore.

Coincidentally, on the facing page in the paper was a column I wrote about how quoting a Carole King song would scare away young readers.

The Stone Roses' heyday was in the late '80s. Carole King's heyday was in the early '70s.

Needless to say, I'm a little older than Neil.

Today in The Straits Times Life section, there's a cover story about big-name music acts coming to Singapore. The cover photo was of the Beach Boys.

I'm guessing whoever chose the cover photo is even older than I am.

The article highlights New Order, Garbage and Snow Patrol, not exactly what I would call the latest hitmakers.

Also mentioned are the Stone Roses and Train, the one act in the article I would consider current but already long in the tooth by today's standards.

But you know which act I'm most excited about that's coming to Singapore?

No, not Lady Gaga. Or Jason Mraz.

I've never heard of Christina Perri, but I've heard of Gym Class Heroes.

I'm a little excited about the Jesus And Mary Chain since I have two decades-old JAMC T-shirts.

And I'm more mystified than excited that Dan Hill is coming.

Of the acts coming for this year's F1 concert, which include Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and '80s favourites like and Bananarama, I'm most excited about the Proclaimers and the Pretenders.

But the act I'm most excited about and actually considering paying good money to see is the Stylistics.

What's holding me back is that only two original members are left and the original lead singer is not one of them. Like that how can?

The Stylistics had a micro-revival of sorts a few years ago thanks to the use of I Can't Give You Anything in a series of Gatsby commercials.

But Sing Baby Sing remains my favorite Stylistics song.

What's your favourite Stylistics song?

Or have you even heard of the Stylistics?

Go ahead, betray your age.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Are mioTV, Felicia Chin and Diablo III national issues?

Wednesday was Nomination Day for the upcoming Hougang by-election.

So it's Workers' Party candidate Png Eng Huat (huat ah!) against People's Action Party candidate Desmond Choo (ah choo!). Bless you.

It has been debated whether this by-election is a national or "local" issue, which I believe is a usage of the word "local" that Singaporeans aren't familiar with.

More often, "local" is used to describe things that most Singaporeans don't care much about or even have disdain for, as in "local artistes", "local music", "local TV shows" and "local sports".

In this case, it means: If you don't live in Hougang, should you care about the by-election?

Even though I'm not a Houganger (or is it Hougangite? Hougangian? Hougangsta?), I still care about the by-election because it will determine whether the Opposition keeps or loses a seat in Parliament.

Also, it's just fun to see who the loser will be.

I usually root for the underdog to win, but in this case, I'm not sure who the underdog is. The guy who already lost once before or the guy from the same party as the guy who was kicked out of the party, which led to all this kerfuffle.

Anyway, this whole "national or local issue" issue got me wondering whether other recent issues are national issues or not.

For instance, the SingTel mioTV disruptions during the live telecast of the deciding match of the English Premier League (EPL) season.

SingTel blamed viewers for switching channels at the same time between the Manchester City-Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland-Manchester United matches.

I didn't know there were so many QPR and Sunderland fans in Singapore.

My own conspiracy theory is that since SingTel has the same corporate colour as the Red Devils, who failed to win the league title this year, the telco simply had to ruin it for everyone else.

Or maybe it's the universe's way of punishing football fans in Singapore for not caring enough about "local" football.

But is this a national issue?

Or does it only concern mioTV subscribers - albeit rather vocal mioTV subscribers?

The Media Development Authority pretty much made it a national issue by saying it is investigating the disruptions. Will there be a another long tedious inquiry like for the MRT train disruptions?

I remember how unhappy EPL fans were in 2009 when SingTel won the exclusive EPL broadcasting rights from StarHub. Now they finally have a good reason to be.

Back then, having to get another set-top box was such a major issue that it was actually addressed in Parliament. Hey, as long as we got our priorities right.

I'm beginning to understand why "local" actress Felicia Chin doesn't think much of "local" men.

I may be generalising here (like Chin), but I believe the majority of EPL fans are men, even though I'm not one myself. (An EPL fan, I mean)

Chin, who is single, reportedly complained that Singapore men "lack quality", are "lacking in substance" and not "mature" like her father.

Is this a national issue?

Yes, it is. We have lost enough of our hot actresses to foreign men - Joanne Peh, Jamie Yeo, Sharon Au ...okay, maybe Au is not so hot, but you get my point.

And judging by her comments, I think Chin is headed that way too.

Man up, Singapore men! It's a matter of national pride.

Which brings me to my third thing - people queuing for hours for a new computer game, Diablo III.

Is this a national issue?

You bet, because how are you geeks going to impress a babe like Felicia Chin if you spend hours queuing for a computer game, then more hours struggling to log on to the Diablo servers and even more hours, days and weeks playing it?

It's like gift-wrapping our hot actresses for all the Bobby Tonellis of the world. They are the real Diablos.

And now billionaire Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has given up his US citizenship and is reportedly living the high life in Singapore (not in China).

Is this a national issue?

Yes, more competition for Singapore men.

I mean, this is the guy in the movie The Social Network who was played by the guy who’s the new Spider-Man. What chance do we have against Spidey?

If only we could have an election to vote for who Felicia Chin should date.

I understand Glenn Ong may be available again. Dr Poh Lee Guan could be the backup candidate.

- Published in The New Paper, 20 May 2012

Hey Smong,

Let's get to the f-ing point and get the head honcho of Singtel to say a few words abt d disruptions.

Softer ALL, he had a LOT to say n brag about wen he snagged this from Star Hub. Let's hear Wat the F he has to brag abt his wonderful product that he had brought to the screens.

Now on d subject of soccer, euros is being brought to US by StarHub that other gem of a Provider!!!

Last world Cup, They bragged about bringing it all to u on 3 or more platforms. Tv, Hp n Internet.

Alas only one of d three passed the test. No guess for getting whh one survived the grueling test.

Whenever I tried to log-on to IP or Hp protocol - it Failed n failed miserably.

StarHub reason- too many pple trying to access this service. The cheek of it all. Doesn't it sound familiar!!

After all Singtel/ StarHub. Is d right pocket/left pocket of our great govt money making machinery.

To fuck with the people who pay thru their noses for wanting to get decent coverage at decent rates.

Never mind that. After charging us the sun n moon to watch these games. They then tell us it's our fault that things went wrong.

What the Fuck. Only can happen in spore. Pay and pay so much and still e d up gettin FUCKed good and proper.

And all pple in d press, u included can do, is make a JOKE out of it.

Hey wake up man. And wrote a piece condeming this type of treatment they dish out to d good pple of spore.

Write something in defense of the common man n d masses.

Or else like That Neil HUMP-Frees guy says: Eat my balls.

And while we are on the subject of Dear Felicia, if she thinks that all spore men are Shit n wants some one like her Father..... Simple.... Tell her to go ....

Errrr... Better not. ..... That wld b


But tell it to her, next time should you BUMP into her.

Michael Lim (Sent from iPhone)

Friday 18 May 2012

Avengers (and Homer) assembled!

I don't remember how many KFC Double Down Zinger meals I ate to collect the Avengers toys before I realised you can get the toy with any KFC meal (plus $3.80 of course), not just the Double Down.

I could've gotten the Bandito meal instead!

Even though I liked the Double Down Zinger, it was perhaps a little too much of a good (or bad) thing.

I'm keeping all my Avengers mint in box. If you want to buy the whole set from me, make me an offer. I'll even throw in Homer Simpson.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Cleopatra? No, it’s the Avengers’ next villain!

And here we go again.

Last August, after Singapore’s second election in four months, I wrote in this column:

“Are we done? This is it, right? No more elections for at least the next four years, right?

“And don’t let me catch anyone sneaking in any by-elections. I’m all election-ed out.”

As usual, the universe hates me.

Nine months ago, if you had predicted that one of the precious few opposition Members of Parliament we have in Singapore would be kicked out of his own party after some salacious allegations, resulting in a by-election on May 26, people would’ve thought you were sillier than Loki standing up to the Hulk.

No, wait, that analogy doesn’t work because The Avengers movie wasn’t released nine months ago.

The big movie then was Cowboys & Aliens. So the correct analogy should be “crazier than aliens who thought they had a chance against James Bond and Indiana Jones”.

Aiyah, it wasn’t a very good movie anyway.

Has it really been nine months already?

It seemed like only yesterday when four men with the same surname wanted to be the President of Singapore, but there can only be one.

And we debated what powers the President actually has. (Was he a super-MP? If we had that debate now, would we be discussing whether an MP with super powers can join the Avengers?)

And eventually, the candidate endorsed by self-described “former TV actress-host” Sharon Au won.

Oh, how I rejoiced when the Presidential Election ended. No more Nomination Day. No more rallies. No more Cooling Off Day.

No more following #sgelection on Twitter for the latest poll results deep into the night.

No more recount. No more Mr Yam Ah Mee.

Oh, how wrong I was. Now it looks we'll be doing it all over again - for the third time in 14 months.

One “watershed” General Election last year wasn’t enough. So we had the sequel, the Presidential Election.

Then newly-elected Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong had to get himself expelled from Workers’ Party in February – bada bing bada boom, the by-election date is set and it’s going to be a trilogy.

That means I have to wait for the boxed set before getting the Blu-Ray. I’m a completist. I hope there'll be screen-specific audio commentaries by the director and cast (including Mr Yam).

The buzz around the upcoming by-election is even threatening to overshadow the other show in town starring a controversial woman with weird-coloured hair – and I’m not talking about Lady Gaga.

I’m talking about the MRT inquiry where ex-SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa took the stand on Thursday. Her hair was described in The New Paper as “tufts of fuchsia and metallic green on her fringe”.

I’m not even sure what colour fuchsia is or how to pronounce it. Was she auditioning to be the next Avengers villain?

But even Ms Saw can’t top her costume in the famous “Cleopatra” company dinner picture – which turned out not to be of her being Cleopatra after all. The costume was actually inspired by the Maori tradition of haka from New Zealand.

How do I know this? Because I read it in her blog she started in March called “isaw-isphy”, which I can’t pronounce too.

She wrote: “I was told I must agree to be carried in a chair (I guess as a tribal leader). We were all dressed in costumes. At the ballroom entrance, my sedan bearers, to my amazement, took off their shirts.”

She also wrote: “I would do it again, as after all, it was for the staff. The little we could do to make it fun for the staff and for them to see management as one of them, rather than people on high horses, was why we did the events that way.”

So that was why instead of a high horse, she rode in on a high sedan carried by shirtless men. Way to get your staff to see you as one of them.

Ms Saw hasn’t updated her blog for more than a month now. Her fifth and last post, dated April 11, has only six comments, down from 87 for her first post.

Don't tell me she has quit her blog like she quit SMRT.

(UPDATE: She has abandoned her blog)

But no one asked about her blog or the “Cleopatra” photos at the inquiry.

How long is this inquiry supposed to last anyway?

Train delays are happening even as the inquiry on train delays is going on.

The elections may be a trilogy, but the train delays are becoming a long-running series.

Not even the Avengers can help us.

But - to paraphrase Tony Stark aka Iron Man - they can damn well sure avenge us.

(I'm not sure what that means.)

- Published in The New Paper, 13 May 2012

Monday 7 May 2012

The Avengers movie not as good as...

I ate the KFC burger, so of course I must see the movie.

Marvel's The Avengers just had the biggest box-office weekend in the US ever, a week after it already opened in Singapore.

Most of the reviews have been positive, so maybe my expectations were set too high - but I was a bit disappointed by the movie.

My biggest problem with it was that for much of the running time, the characters are literally standing (or sitting) around in the helicarrier playing Basil Exposition.

For a superhero action movie, it's surprisingly talkie and static.

Yet, despite all the exposition, parts of the plot still raise questions because scenes were probably cut.

Like how can a presumably super-sophisticated military vessel like the helicarrier be so easily attacked?

And exactly how much control does Bruce Banner have over the Hulk?

Did I miss something?

Loki often comes across as a weak villain. For a supposed god, he seems over-reliant on mechanical transportation and human resource.

But I guess a few great moments among the cast make up for the flaws.

I also saw Wrath Of The Titans and Battleship recently.

Wrath Of The Titans is the worst of the lot. It's the sequel to the remake of Clash Of The Titans, which also kinda sucked, but still more fun (the Kraken was released!) despite the atrocious CGI work on Medusa.

The problem with the sequel is the lack of an arc for the protagonist.

In Clash, Perseus went from outcast to hero.

In Wrath, he's already a hero. He's just trying to save his father and protect his son, which is not as compelling.

Neither is the villain - another god, Ares.

Battleship is also a bit of a wreck, but far more enjoyable. This may be sacrilegious to say, but I like it better than The Avengers.

Both movies are similar in that they involve an alien invasion and often don't make sense.

But Battleship is less mannered and outright goofier, which I found more entertaining.

Being an ex-navy guy, I was also amused by the cross-promo the Republic of Singapore Navy did with the Battleship movie.

The RSN recruitment ad before the movie brought a tear to my eye.

Too bad Subway isn't selling a Battleship sub in Singapore.

UPDATE: Okay, I saw The Avengers again. This time in Imax 3D with my kids and I enjoyed it more.

Maybe because now my expectations were lower. Also, the 3D helped tremendously.

I understand Loki's behaviour better the second time around, but some parts that didn't make sense before still don't make sense.

But the worst thing is that I made my kids sit through the end credits for the shawarma scene that I've read about and thought I missed the first time I saw the movie - but there wasn't one.

My kids weren't happy that I forced them to endure the long credit roll for nothing.

I just wanted to get my money's worth. Imax 3D tickets aren't cheap, you know?

So where was the post-credits shawarma scene?!

Sunday 6 May 2012

Thank you, Constance Song, on behalf of straight middle-aged men

A week ago, The Straits Times reported that middle-aged men are getting testosterone injections to boost their sex drive.

This confused me because weren’t some middle-aged men recently charged with having paid sex with a minor?

So shouldn’t they be trying to reduce their sex drive instead? By, say, going to a Lady Gaga concert?

The first two nights are sold out, but tickets may still be available for the third show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Maybe those middle-aged men getting the hormone jabs were merely trying to keep up with their teenage counterparts.

Last week, The New Paper reported that more than one teenager gets a sexually transmitted infection every day.

Talk about a bad romance. These teens should go see Lady Gaga to turn them off sex as well.

But let me get this straight (since I’m heterosexual and prefer getting it no other way):

So the problem is that teenagers are too horny while some middle-aged men are not horny enough, except for those charged with having sex with a prostitute who turned out to be an underage teenager who may or may not have a sexually transmitted infection.

See this look on my face? I’m not acting blur. This is actual blurness.

All I know is we middle-aged men shouldn’t let ourselves be out-sexed by the kids. But injections are painful and underage prostitutes are illegal.

That’s why I’m grateful to those Channel 8 actresses for doing their part to give our sex drives a boost by flashing plenty of skin at the Star Awards.

So I am puzzled by this report in The New Paper about the great outfit that Constance Song wore:

“Defending her pick, Song told The New Paper: ‘My dress had a mesh that revealed skin all the way to my belly button. I was also wearing nipple tape.’”

I don’t understand the “defending her pick” part. What’s there to defend? (By the way, she said “nipple”. Heh heh.)

If anything, it’s the other actresses whose clothes weren’t revealing enough who should defend their choice of outfit.

Don’t they know there are middle-aged men out there resorting to needles and vice?

Would it have killed Fann Wong to show a little more cleavage this year? (The operative word being “little”.)

Because as much as I appreciate Song’s plunging mesh-covered neckline, as an infrequent Channel 8 viewer, I have to ask: Who the hell is Constance Song?

She’s one of those MediaCorp actresses whose names are familiar, but I wouldn’t recognise them even if they rubbed their bosoms in my face. (Not that I’d mind.)

Beyond the Zoe Tays and Fann Wongs, these women all start to look alike to me.

At least I can now identify Song as the one with the plunging mesh-covered neckline.

At least I had heard of Constance Song before. On the other hand, I had never heard of Kate Pang.

Pang is now famous for kissing Vivian Lai on the mouth at the Star Awards and it appears that’s the only thing she’s famous for.

Some people are upset by the kiss for the same reason I stopped holding my son’s hand when crossing the road with him after he grew taller than me – it seemed kind of gay.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Unless, of course, you’re one of those people who were upset by the same-sex smooch on prime-time TV because children were watching.

But the question is: Was the kiss good for a middle-aged man’s sex drive?

Let’s just say it didn’t hurt – like an injection would.

I have my poker face on. There are no bosoms in it.

I’m waiiitinnng...

- Published in The New Paper, 6 May 2012

Friday 4 May 2012

Why Emma Yong was never a TV star

Actress Emma Yong has died of stomach cancer at the young age of 37.

I've auditioned her for a TV show a few years ago at MediaCorp. I don't remember what the show was.

I had expected her to be lively like her Dim Sum Dollies character, but she was surprisingly quiet and shy when I met her.

Although Emma had guest roles on TV, I don't think she was ever a regular on any Channel 5 series.

Fellow Dolly Selena Tan was a regular in Under One Roof and Daddy's Girls (for which she won two Asian TV Awards) while the third Dolly, Pam Oei, was in Ah Girl and Tiramisu (with Sharon Au).

I had suggested casting Emma as a regular for a show because everyone knew she was a capable actress.

But after the screen test, the consensus was - even though she could look pretty good in photos - on TV, her face looked... well... she just wasn't very telegenic.

But who needs TV, right?

Her passing is a major loss for Singapore theatre. And MRT videos.