Sunday 29 July 2012

Know your Great McDonald’s Curry Sauce Saga: A trilogy

Yesterday, my teenage son returned home from McDonald’s with some McNuggets.

I asked him if he got the curry sauce. He said no.

“What?” I was outraged. “They didn’t give you any sauce?”

My son said, “They asked me if I wanted any sauce and I said no.”

“What?” I was shocked. “You said no?”

He said, “They looked kind of shocked when I said no.”

They must look like what I looked like at that moment.

I wasn’t sure if he was acting blur or was really blur. Was he not aware of The Great McDonald’s Curry Sauce Saga?

So for his benefit and others who may be as blur as him, here’s a little history lesson.

Part 1: The Fellowship Of The Sauce

Last November, McDonald’s in Singapore unexpectedly ran out of curry sauce.

And thus began The Great McDonald's Curry Sauce Panic of 2011.

Fear of a McDonald’s curry sauce famine spread throughout the land. Many went online to express their anguish.

“Is it true about the death of the curry sauce?”

“What are we going to dip our fries and nuggets in and mix chilli sauce with?"

“It felt as if the world lost a shade of brown.”

“Took a picture of the curry sauce in my fridge. I know it's expired, but hey, now it's an even more opportune time to keep it for memory's sake, right?”

“It’s more saddening than the death of Steve Jobs.”

But as it turned out, reports of the discontinuation of McDonald's curry sauce were greatly exaggerated.

The fast-food chain released this statement:
“Due to unforeseen supply issues, our stores are currently experiencing a temporary shortage of curry sauce.

“We assure our customers that we are doing our best to bring in stocks of curry sauce and these will arrive from the US by the end of next week.”
And thus The Great McDonald’s Curry Sauce Panic of 2011 was over. The crisis was averted… or so it seemed.

Unknown to fans of the sauce, their precious would never be the same again.

Part 2: The Return Of The ...Wait, Why Does It Taste Different?

True to its word, McDonald’s brought back the curry sauce in a brand new packaging by the next week. Fans rejoiced!



Then they tried the new sauce.

“I tried last Saturday ...told my family curry sauce was more diluted and tasted different, a bit too sweet. Not the old taste, so sad.”

“I compared it with the old curry sauce that I kept in the fridge, and it also tasted different!”

“What type of curry they use for curry sauce, fish curry? Mutton curry? Chicken curry?”

The answer is... soybeans?

McDonald’s released another statement: “From time to time, we do make minor tweaks to our sauces in response to changing tastes or to improve the quality of the product.

“Our curry sauce now comes in an attractive new packaging and no longer contains peanuts – which is great news for some allergy sufferers.”

The company added: “We hear your comments on the consistency of the sauce and we’ll be discussing this with our supplier.”

But many diehards couldn’t accept the change.

“The new curry sauce has a charred taste! Bring back the old curry sauce please!"

What would McDonald’s do next? Does Batman really die in the end? Oops, wrong saga.

Part 3: The Dark Price Rises

To reduce wastage, McDonald’s last month started a trial in 30 outlets where after you were given your ration of dipping sauce for your McNuggets, if you wanted more sauce, you would have to pay 30 cents for each additional packet.

This also applied to the oft-forgotten BBQ and sweet and sour sauces, but to many, this was an assault on their right to a free unlimited supply of a sauce that seven months earlier, they had rejected and demanded the return of the old recipe.

Mmm, can you taste the irony?

“PUI! If I have to pay for the sauce, then I will bring my own bottle in the future! And you better not disallow me using it in ur store!”

“Sad to know McD is implementing such a money-making policy in the name of wastages to destroy the good thing about McD all these while. Just disappointed... I hope this trial will end immediately and never repeat such mistakes again. I will minimise the visit as long as the trial is on-going.”

But despite the complaints, on Monday, McDonald’s announced on Facebook that this 30-cents policy is now islandwide.

Once thought to be extinct, then resurrected and abhorred, curry is the new gold.

The circle is complete.

So I tried to explain to my son why when he is offered free curry sauce at McDonald’s, he must always say yes.

He then opened the fridge and showed me the shelf overflowing with packets of expired McDonald’s curry sauce.

“That’s why I said no,” he said.


- Published in The New Paper, 29 July 2012

EARLIER: Phew! The Great McDonald’s Curry Sauce Crisis of 2011 averted

2015 UPDATE: 2015 curry sauce crisis over

2016 UPDATE: McDonald’s Curry Sauce available in limited edition take-home bottle

Friday 27 July 2012

Getting your chicks for free: What are the career options?

People sometimes ask me why my hair is so long.

The answer is simple – haircuts cost money.

And it's not just a one-time cost because hair grows back. So to maintain a short length, you need to pay to get your hair cut again and again. It adds up, you know?

Some people have suggested that I shave my head.

I don't understand how that suggestion helps because shaving my head costs money too.

Even at the Hair For Hope event at VivoCity this weekend, you have to pay at least $20 as a walk-in to get your head shaved.

I understand it’s for a good cause, but it's only $10 at QB House.

Perhaps the idea is that if I shaved my head, it would take longer for my hair to grow back and so I would need to visit the barber less often and thus save money.

My response to that is, wouldn't I save more money by not cutting my hair at all?

Anyway, when I was in school and national service, that was sort of what I did – I cut my hair botak each time I went to the barber so that I got my money's worth.

Then I would let my hair grow until the discipline master or the encik started giving me the evil eye and I would get a durian head again.

This went on until I was 40 when I got my Hamilton watch from the Government for my years of military service to the Republic of Singapore and was no longer liable for call-up.

That was when I decided that since I don’t have to cut my hair anymore, I would stop doing it. Free at last!

Okay, all that you have just read? It’s just a cover story.

Want to know the real reason my hair is so long? It’s because I want to look like a rock star.

Why do I want to be a rock star?

Because I want to get my money for nothing and my chicks for free. You know how much I like free stuff.

But after all these years of using a Dire Straits song as a guide for major life decisions, I now realise that I could have aspired to other professions if my aim was to get chicks for free.

I should’ve gone into medicine or law instead – just like my mother wanted!

Last week, a psychiatrist was suspended and fined for having a sexual relationship with a patient while a National University of Singapore law professor was charged with having sex with a student in exchange for giving her a better grade.

If only I had listened to my mother, I could be naked with a patient or a law student (maybe even both) at this very moment.

Too bad I wasn’t so academically inclined in my youth. Instead of trying to get into medical school or law school, I was too busy learning the guitar and writing songs about selling my soul for rock ‘n’ roll when I should be writing songs about selling my soul for a roll in the hay.

Remember recently, it was alleged that former Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) chief Peter Lim Sin Pang had sexual encounters with three female IT executives in three different carparks, a Clementi flat, a Tanjong Rhu apartment and a Paris hotel?

I was so jealous. Even Russell Brand would be jealous – and Brand used to be married to Katy Perry’s breasts.

And as if to purposely show me up, the SCDF guy looks like the opposite of a rock star. Still water runs creep.

And he didn’t even go to medical school or law school. He studied mechanical engineering. I studied electronics engineering.

Hey, I also know CPR (I give great mouth-to-mouth) and how to handle a hose. Why can’t I be the head of SCDF?

But I guess I should stop deluding myself. I’m never going to be a head of a government agency so that I can have sex in a stationary vehicle.

I’m never going to be a psychiatrist or a law professor. And most tragic of all, I’m never going to be a rock star. So Adam Levine has one less rival to worry about. Anybody wants to buy a used guitar?

Well, what are my career options now?

I applied to be the director of the movie Snow White And The Huntsman, but apparently, that position had already been filled.

Wait. I know what to do – I can become a teacher!

That’s the way you do it.

Finally, I have a reason to cut my hair. QB House, here I come.

- Unpublished

Monday 23 July 2012

A fire rises in the cinema: Should you stay or should you go?

Ah, the magic of the movies.

A few years ago, I went to see Hellboy 2: The Golden Army at the West Mall cineplex in Bukit Batok. After the usual trailers and ads, the movie began quietly.

The animated Universal Pictures logo came on without music. Next, the logo for a company called Relativity Media.

Then these words silently appeared: “In 1944, a team of paranormal researchers, together with the US Army, rescued a strange creature during a classified mission off the coast of Scotland.”

Next, an old photo of a strange little creature posing with soldiers and more text: “Secretly adopted, this creature now lives among us. It loves candy and TV. Codename: Hellboy.”

So far so good. I thought it was a brave choice to open the movie with complete silence, but it was an effective way to create suspense and an ominous mood.

The first shot of the movie is of a lightly snow-covered army base on Christmas Eve, 1955. Still no music. Still no sound. Now it was getting a little weird, but I was willing to go with it.

Then I saw John Hurt talking but heard no words coming out of his mouth. Yet, the Chinese subtitles indicated that he was saying something.

That was when I began to suspect a problem.

Then when little Hellboy started talking and still nothing could be heard, that sort of confirmed it.

Someone had accidentally set the movie to mute.

I sat there in the theatre and wondered: “Well, what do I do now?

“Is the projectionist aware that there’s no sound? If he’s aware, he would’ve fixed it already. Should I tell him?

“Where is he? Should I be a hero and try to find him or someone else who works in the cinema? Maybe the ticket seller.

“What if someone else in the audience had already done that? Then I would be leaving my seat and missing the movie (albeit without sound) for nothing.

“But what if I stayed in my seat and no one did anything. Would I be willing to sit through the whole movie with no sound and make do with the Chinese subtitles?

“I mean, how important is sound anyway?”

Then I heard someone in the cinema (I think she was a cleaner) yelling in Hokkien to someone else I couldn’t see that there was no sound and to restart the movie. Way to spoil the mood.

The screen suddenly went blank.

Great. So now there was no sound and no picture.

I sat there in the dark and wondered: “Well, what do I do now?

“Should I stay or should I go? I feel stupid just sitting here in the dark.

“Are they going to restart the movie?
From where they stopped it or from the beginning? Do I really want to sit through the beginning of the movie again?

“What if they can’t fix the sound? Do I want to sit here and wait while they try?

“Or should I just get out while the getting is good and try to get a refund? That’s going to be a hassle.”

Suddenly, there was a light and the Universal logo came on again, this time with sound.

I realised sound really did make a huge difference.

The rest of the movie continued without any mishap except for Selma Blair’s acting.

But there was no apology from the cinema staff, not that Selma Blair’s acting is their fault.

So when I read in The New Paper about a curtain catching fire in a Causeway Point cinema 10 minutes into The Dark Knight Rises screening last Thursday, I understood why some of the audience members weren’t sure if they should leave.

If I were in the audience, I would sit there and wonder: “Well, what do I do now?

“Should I evacuate? But they haven’t stopped the movie. I don’t want to miss anything.

“If I evacuate, can I get a refund?

“And even if I can, do I want to go through the hassle of buying another ticket and sit through the first 10 minutes of the movie again?

“It doesn’t look like a very big fire. It’s only the size of A4 paper. Not even A3.

“Maybe someone is just burning a Singapore flag again. I think I’ll stay and watch the movie until SCDF comes.

“I can barely understand what Bane is saying. Is there something wrong with the sound?”

According to The New Paper report, the fire lasted about a minute before it was put out. Everyone was then directed out of the theatre and given free tickets.

One moviegoer caught the next screening for The Dark Knight Rises. He was quoted as saying: “I had also bought popcorn and drinks, and didn’t want to waste it.”

If only he had risen to the occasion and used the drinks to put out the fire, he could’ve been a hero.

But hey, not everyone can be Batman. Or Hellboy.

At least no one was shot to death.

- Unpublished

Sunday 22 July 2012

10 reasons you should watch Le Bisellahause

I remember a time when a new local TV series on Channel 5 was a major event.

The hype! The trailers! The 8 Days puff piece! The premiere! The letdown! The backlash! The indifference!

Nowadays, a show can come and go with no one noticing, skipping all the steps and fast-forwarding right to the “indifference” stage.

And I’m not talking about some whorish sponsored info-tainment programme peddling hair products or Total Defence.

I’m talking about dramas like Keong Saik Street, which I bet you didn’t even know existed because I didn’t know it existed until I came across it on last week.

I thought (okay, hoped) it was about prostitutes because of the title, but it was essentially just a crime story. It had aired on Channel 5 in March.

I was surprised I had never heard of the four-episode series, especially since it starred such “big names” as Tay Ping Hui, Joanne Peh and her Nando’s dining companion, Bobby Tonelli.

I stalk, I mean, follow Peh on Twitter and I don’t remember her tweeting about the show. Maybe she did mention Keong Saik Street and I thought she meant the actual street.

I was even more surprised to see in the credits that one of show’s writers was an ex-colleague and Facebook friend. He has never mentioned Keong Saik Street in his status update.

When I messaged him about the show, he replied that it was “not really well promoted” and that “it really wasn’t very good”.

That actually made me feel sad.

Local productions are not getting support even from the people who worked on them.

Well, there’s a new Channel 5 comedy called Le Bisellahause, which debuted last week and I want to help it avoid the same ignoble fate as Keong Saik Street.

I confess that I didn’t see Le Bisellahause on TV, but I watched the first episode on (That was how I discovered Keong Saik Street, like Christopher Columbus discovering “India”.)

I may not be able to provide $470 million to support local TV productions like the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts has over the past five years, but I can provide 10 reasons you should watch Le Bisellahause.

1. First things first. To answer the question that has been vexing all of Singapore (okay, maybe just my sister) for the past two weeks or so, Le Bisellahause is pronounced “le buy sell a house”.

How do I know? That’s how the voice-over guy pronounces it in the trailers.

Now that you know the pronunciation, you have one less excuse not to watch it. No more “I can’t watch something I can’t pronounce”.

2. Are you a fan of US comedy Modern Family? Good news! You know how Modern Family is shot like a mockumentary with people talking to the camera like they are being interviewed?

Le Bisellahause is also shot like that. So if you like Modern Family, how can you not like Le Bisellahause?

3. Are you still a fan of Modern Family? Good news! You know how the father in Modern Family, played by Ty Burrell, is a property agent?

Le Bisellahause is called “le buy sell a house” because it’s about four property agents. That means it’s four times as good as Modern Family.

4. If there’s one thing wrong with Modern Family, it’s Sofia Viagra. Wait, did I spell that right?

No, it’s Sofia Vergara, the highest paid woman on American TV, according to Forbes.

Obviously, she’s just used as eye candy on the show. That’s sexist. Le Bisellahause doesn’t lower itself to that level because it doesn’t have any eye candy at all. There aren’t even any women in the main cast. We’ve come a long way, baby.

5. NParks didn’t pay $57,200 for the show.

6. Le Bisellahause marks the triumphant return of comedian Mark Lee to Channel 5 comedy after the mega-hit Police & Thief. Admit it, you miss the ah beng. Sergeant Dollah, where are you?

7. It’s nice to see Nicolas Lee (aka Ronnie Tan from Under One Roof) working again. He plays one of the property agents.

8. Le Bisellahause is one of the most talked-about TV shows on social media, so don’t be left out of the conversation. Here’s a sampling of the comments on the Channel 5 Facebook page:

- “Stupid show, please stop it, producers.”

- “I changed the channel after 15 mins. Sorry.”

- “Lame jokes, lack of storyline, poor cast... seriously still cannot believe the local production is getting so bad.”

- “It’s better than We Are Singaporeans. But the joke is predictable.”

Did you read that? Le Bisellahause is better than We Are Singaporeans despite having only one joke. What a ringing endorsement! Take that, Hossan Leong!

9. A few months ago, I was asked to write Le Bisellahause. At first, I said yes. Then I backed out, mainly because I couldn’t pronounce Le Bisellahause. There were no trailers for the show then.

I feel guilty about backing out the way I did. So please watch “le buy sell a house” to help alleviate my guilt.

10. What else do you have to watch until The Noose returns?

- Published in The New Paper, 22 July 2012

Sunday 15 July 2012

Race bib envy: I wish mine was longer

Yes, I’m still alive.

I managed not to die in last Sunday’s Jurong Lake Run, my first time participating in a mass run in 21 years.

This is slightly unfortunate for several reasons.

It means I lived to see the video release of this year's National Day theme song, Love At First Light, with lyrics so awkward, they make last year’s Fun Pack Song seemed pithy.

It means I lived to eat the $4.50 fish and chips at Ikea in Alexandra for lunch on Thursday and the fish was a little too salty.

It means I no longer have being dead as an excuse for not completing the movie script for Eric Khoo that I promised him.

At least I didn’t have to apologise last week for scandalising the courts in my column, but I did have to comfort a fan of The Wanted on Twitter who was distressed that I wrote in my previous column that One Direction have better songs.

Cheer up, @strxwberry!

Last year, another reader e-mailed me a long lecture on the brilliant career of Jay Chou after I apparently dissed the singer in a column.

An excerpt: “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...”

I just hope I don’t get an e-mail from Ikea defending its fish and chips.

After my not-so-near-death experience at Jurong Lake Run, I had an epiphany. I realised the run was not just a run, but a microcosm of Singapore society itself.

Contrary to its tagline “Running as one”, Jurong Lake Run was divided, based not on justice and equality, but on gender, age, nationality, money, ability, ambition and T-shirts.

There were three main distance categories – 10km, 6km and 3km. The longer the distance, the higher the registration fee.

There were 13 subcategories you could join depending on whether you’re a man or a woman, under 22 or over 44 or somewhere in between, and Singaporean or permanent resident or other nationality.

So a more accurate tagline would be “Running as 13 sub-categories”, which is not as catchy, I grant you.

The prize money was also stratified. The top prize for the 10km category was $1,000 while the 6km was $750. The 3km category got nothing.

I had the money to pay more to join the 10km run, but I wasn’t sure I had the ability to complete the distance and I didn’t have the ambition to go for it.

So I joined the 6km run instead. My wife, who had even less ability and ambition, joined the 3km Community Walk-a-Jog.

Those who finished the 10km and 6km got a finisher T-shirt and a medal. The 3km finishers got nothing.

On race day, when I saw runners wearing the 10km race bib, I had a serious case of bib envy. Their 10km bib was like a Ferrari compared to the Hyundai that was my 6km bib.

Immediately, I regretted not being more ambitious. Why didn’t I suck up to my bosses more when I was younger?

But I felt superior to those wearing the 3km bib. (Yes, even my wife.) They were the commuters stranded at the MRT station after yet another train breakdown, which resulted in the transport minister admitting that the Government could have done better.

But my condescension was the least of indignities suffered by the 3km runners that morning.

The 3km flag-off was supposed to be at 8.45am, half an hour after my 6km flag-off, which was on time.

But according to my wife, her flag-off was delayed because the guest of honour, minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was supposed to flag them off, was not on stage even though thousands of 3km runners were warmed up and raring to go.

And when he finally showed up, he went around shaking hands with the runners, including my wife.

She thought the minister would flag them off after all the glad-handing, but instead, he started posing for pictures. My wife said she wanted to clobber a photographer on the head.

By the time she and the other 3km runners were eventually flagged off, it was almost 9am.

Like an MRT train breakdown, the flag-off delay affected thousands of people who just wanted to get moving. The organisers could’ve done better.

And my wife didn’t even get a T-shirt at the end of it.

Not that I’m likely to wear my own 6km finisher T-shirt too often. It will just remind me how I wasn’t good enough to run the 10km. Maybe someone on Twitter can comfort me.

Well, there's always next year. Or will there?

- Published in The New Paper, 15 July 2012

UPDATE: Jurong Lake Run: Close encounter of the Tharman kind

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Playing with numbers: So is Ch 5 viewership up or down?

I read this in yesterday's Today newspaper (owned by MediaCorp):
Even as MediaCorp's Channel 5 has increased its viewership, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim said yesterday that more must be done to "increase the quality and reach" of local Public Service Broadcast (PSB) programmes...

He was responding to Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh's questions on PSB programmes, including a question on measures to "increase the quality and popularity of original English-language programming, in light of decreasing viewership figures for Channel 5".

Dr Yaacob pointed out that, as of last month, Channel 5's average daily prime-time reach had increased to 650,000 viewers, up from the past three years' average of 610,000 viewers.
So according to the minister, Channel 5 viewership is actually growing. So how did Janice Koh get the impression that it's the opposite?

Maybe she read it in The Straits Times. Back in March, ST reported:
According to a survey by data company Nielsen, the daily viewership figure for Channel 5 decreased from 1.038 million in 2010 to 998,000 last year.

This is a drop of 3.8 per cent. In 2006 and 2007, the number was 1.29 million and 1.075 million.
To which MediaCorp countered:
Based on Kantar Media surveys, the daily TV Audience Measurement system used by the industry, Channel 5’s primetime daily reach over the past two years has been stable.


So ST and Janice Koh say Channel 5 viewership is dropping, but MediaCorp and Dr Yaacob say it's not.

Why the discrepancy?

One obvious difference is the source of the numbers: ST uses AC Nielsen whereas MediaCorp uses Kantar Media, which I've never heard of.

When I last worked at MediaCorp, it used another research company called Taylor Nelson Sofres.

MediaCorp and Dr Yaacob also used the word "reach", an advertising term that can be used to puff up figures.

Why does all this matter?

Because if MediaCorp and Mica won't even agree that viewership is falling, how do you argue that Channel 5 sucks and it should improve its programming - as Janice Koh tried to do?

Finally, to further add irony to denial, Dr Yaacob reportedly "stressed that MediaCorp would not rest on its laurels, saying that more would be done to improve the quality and reach of programmes".


Le Bisellahause, anyone?

It's business as usual.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

I almost wrote Le Bisellahause (It's a new Ch 5 sitcom)

In the beginning of March, about a month before Eric Khoo asked me to write the movie script, I got a call from my old boss at MediaCorp who wanted to meet.

She asked if I could write as a freelancer a new sitcom about property agents they had conceived called Le Bisellahause.

It was a rush job. All they had confirmed were the name of the show, the TX date in July and Mark Lee as the star. No one else had been cast.

Three months to write an entire series of eight half-hour episodes was insane, even for a team of writers. And I was just one guy.

I also know even less about property agents than I do about Ah Beng contractors.

But it felt nice to be asked. So despite my reservations, I said yes.

(It's hard to say no to a job, knowing that once you say no, they stop asking you.)

Then I went home and read the contract and realised they also wanted me to write audition scripts and synopses and all that. That was when I baulked. Since I already have a full-time job, it was a greater commitment than I was willing to make.

A couple of days later, I told them I couldn't do it.

So I left them in the lurch a bit. I haven't heard from my old boss since.

And now, four months later, Channel 5 has started the promos for the show, which premieres on July 17, Tuesday, 8.30pm.

I had recommended that they include a female property agent, but they appear to have decided to stick with an all-male cast. Ah, well...

Actually, the real reason I didn't want to write the show is I really hate the name Le Bisellahause. (I think it's pronounced "le buy sell a house". Get it?)

I understand it's just filler until The Noose comes back.

UPDATE: 10 reasons you should watch Le Bisellahause

Monday 9 July 2012

Proof of life after Jurong Lake Run

What happened yesterday morning.

This woman ran ahead of me and she was pushing a pram!

So I didn't die.

But if I needed to be taken to the hospital, it's nice to know it would be done so economically.

I finished the 6km Jurong Lake Run and all I got was this finisher T-shirt.

And also this finisher medal.

Because I didn't die, now I have no excuse for not finishing the movie script for Eric Khoo.

By the way, the prawn at the wedding dinner the previous night came pre-peeled, so I didn't have to peel my own prawn.

UPDATE: Race bib envy: I wish mine was longer

Sunday 8 July 2012

If I die today, consider this my will

By the time you read this, I may be dead.

So this could double as my last will and testament.

This morning, I took part in the Jurong Lake Run, my first organised mass run in over two decades (not counting The New Paper Big Walk, which is not a run but a walk, as the name suggests, however big it is).

Back in 1991, I miraculously survived the Benjamin Sheares Run in the rain, but I was 21 years younger then and filled with less bitterness and fewer KFC Zinger Double Down burgers.

In recent years, it has become alarmingly more commonplace for someone to die in an endurance event.

The reaction is usually “But he was so young and fit. How did he die so suddenly?”

In my case, people will probably say, “Yah, we saw it coming.”

It doesn’t help that last night, I had to attend a relative’s wedding dinner, which now may or may not have been my last meal. If it was my last meal, it would be very sad if I had to peel my own prawn.

By the way, just to clarify, even though you’re reading this on Sunday after the wedding dinner, this was written some time before the wedding dinner, so I don’t know yet whether I’ve peeled my own prawn or not.

In other words, I’m writing this in the past as if the future is both past and present – which, admittedly, is a bit of a deceit – but I can’t predict what the future would be, obviously.

I hope that clears things up.

Remember, I may be dead now.

In which case, I would like to take this opportunity to use what may be my final
column to settle my affairs.

To my long-suffering wife, I bequeath the $100 U-Save voucher I received from the Ministry of Finance (MOF), which she also received.

But apparently, there’s some confusion about the U-Save vouchers, which MOF tried to clarify with as much success as my “the future is both past and present” clarification.

I also forgive my wife for getting the $250 cash from MOF, which I didn’t get. It’s so unfair.

To my son, I bequeath my old army No. 4 uniforms in the cupboard as proof that camouflage used to look cool before this pixellated fad.

And I apologise to him for not being a foreigner, which means he has to do national service. My advice is to get into the navy like I did.

I also bequeath to him my treasured plaque from the Naval Diving Unit for attending the first Underwater Diving Course for underwater medics as a reminder of the pointlessness of being first in something that no one really cares about.

To my daughter, I bequeath my Monkees, Osmonds, Bay City Rollers, A-Ha, Bros, New Kids On The Block, Take That, East 17, Backstreet Boys, ’NSync and Boyzone CDs as warning of what The Wanted will become in a few years – embarrassing old music that kids like her won’t care about anymore.

Despite what she says, I will stand by my opinion till the day I die (which could be today) that One Direction has better songs than The Wanted. What Makes You Beautiful is a pop masterpiece compared to the trashy Eurobeat of Glad You Came.

To my mother, I apologise for all the mean things I wrote about her in previous columns even though they were all true.

To my sister, I’m sorry she still has to live with my mother.

To Eric Khoo, I apologise for not getting around to finishing the movie script I promised him three months ago. Well, I have been busy writing this weekly column and training for the Jurong Lake Run!

This is what happens when you don’t give me a deadline. Uh... sorry, poor choice of word.

Speaking of movies and Benjamin Sheares (about 300 paragraphs ago), I’m also sorry I won’t have a chance to work on this great new movie idea I just had – Benjamin Sheares: Pontianak Catcher.

And I’m sorry I never got to visit the newly opened Gardens By The Bay, although I understand the price of admission may kill me. Ha ha, gallows humour.

But my biggest regret is that I won’t live to see my kids grow up and the release of iPhone 5.

I wonder if I can get a refund for the $39 that I paid to register for the Jurong Lake Run.

No, wait. I can’t because I’m dead.

Maybe my wife can get the refund for me.

Okay, some of you may be pointing out that the Jurong Lake Run is only 10km and it would be rather pathetic for me to die from a mere 10km run.

I would like to point out that I actually registered to run in the 6km category and yes, it would be rather pathetic.

But hey, at least I didn’t join the 3km Community Walk-a-Jog.

I guess this means I won’t be taking part in the 42.195km Standard Chartered Marathon this year.

Do I need to get this column notarised for it to be a legal will?

- Published in The New Paper, 8 July 2012

hi mr ong

always enjoyed reading your articles especially the 8/7/12 one, really cracked me up with your satire on local affairs and self-deprecation.

one of the the really few reasons i still buy TNP.

wishing you good health after your run and read you next week! :)


UPDATE: Proof of life after Jurong Lake Run

Friday 6 July 2012

Anyone else joining Jurong Lake Run?

I'll be taking part in the Jurong Lake Run on Sunday morning. It will be my first mass run in over 20 years. Hope I don't die.

Fortunately, I'm only doing the 6km run and not the 10km. There's also a 3km walk-a-jog.

Unfortunately, I also have to attend a wedding dinner at Amara Hotel on Saturday night. Talk about eat and run. Hope I don't die.

The Jurong Lake Run is endorsed by Yam Ah Mee. He really is everywhere!

Kill me now.

UPDATE: Proof of life after Jurong Lake Run

Sunday 1 July 2012

How to find Sun Ho in the iTunes store (Tip: Don't search for Sun Ho)

It’s about time.

Starting last week, I can finally use my iTunes to buy actual tunes and not just apps.

I mean, I've already bought every Angry Birds game out there – Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio and of course, Angry Birds Space – I think I need to take an Angry Birds management class.

And I’m getting weary of buying CDs (as in compact discs, not certificates of deposit) and ripping the songs on my computer. I tried to rip my vinyl records but couldn’t fit the long player into the disc drive.

Nowadays, shopping at any of the few remaining CD shops in Singapore is like visiting a nursing home for a dying format. I’d almost rather visit my mother – that’s how depressing buying music has become.

I’ve even resorted to buying CDs online, which is a bit like using e-mail to order a fax machine (ie using a newer technology to acquire an obsolescent technology that the newer technology made obsolescent).

The problem is that despite my hip and cool image, I’m still old-fashioned enough that I stubbornly refuse to steal music by downloading it illegally from the Internet even though that’s what all the kids seem to be doing these days.

What if I get arrested?

Then I want to be photographed wearing bug-eyed shades and a red hoody like City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee after he was arrested. Hey, look at me, I’m Spider-Man!

As all of Singapore knows, Kong and four others were arrested last week for allegedly misusing millions of church funds to finance his wife Ho Yeow Sun’s music career.

Remember how after Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston died, many people bought their music because of all the publicity? I also wanted to buy Ms Ho’s music because of all the publicity.

I thought, “So lucky the Singapore iTunes store just started selling music so I can download it from there.”

But when I searched “Ho Yeow Sun” in the iTunes store, I got no results.

Then I tried “Sun Ho” and the closest results I got were songs by Sun Yan-Zi, also known as Stefanie Sun.

I couldn’t believe it. How could Ms Ho not be in the iTunes store?

This is the woman who topped the US Billboard Dance/Club Play chart four times with the hits Where Did Love Go, One With You, Without Love and Gone.

According to, the Dance/Club Play chart is made up of the “most popular songs played in dance clubs, compiled from reports from a national sample of club DJs”.

I checked the Dance/Club Play chart last week and you know who was No 1?

Toni Braxton!

Wait. What? Toni Braxton? Is this 2012 or 1996?

But it really is Braxton with a new song called I Heart You. I guess her “heart” has been “unbroken”.

She is in the iTunes store.

So is Wyclef Jean, who collaborated with Ms Ho on her single China Wine.

You know how big a star Wyclef Jean is, right? With his group Black Eyed Peas, he had No 1 hits around the world with songs like Boom Boom Pow and I Gotta Feeling.

Wait. Oops. I’m sorry I just confused Wyclef Jean with They look so alike!

Jean actually used to be in a group called The Fugees, who had a number No 1 with their album The Score in, uh... 1996.

Another apparent fan of Ms Ho is local deejay Chris Ho and it’s not just because they share the same surname.

He recently wrote on his Facebook page: “I like her and I’m proud of her having busted the Billboard dance chart. The other Singapore Sun got touch Billboard, meh?”

I believe the “other Singapore Sun” he was referring to is Stefanie Sun. Her again!

Then something occurred to me. Since I had already searched for “Ho Yeow Sun” and “Sun Ho” in the iTunes store, why didn’t I try just “Sun”?

So I did - and hallelujah!

There was Ms Ho in the search results - alongside a few other obscure artistes named Sun, plus, of course, that Stefanie woman.

What a relief. If “Sun” didn’t work, I would’ve had to try “Ho” next.

Available for download at $1.28 each were 12 remixes of Gone, 15 remixes of Ends Of The Earth and 18 remixes of Without Love, but disappointingly only one version of China Wine by Sun featuring Wyclef Jean, Elephant Man and Tony Matteron.

So I clicked on the Buy button to download China Wine, my soon-to-be very first iTunes music purchase ever.

As if sensing the ambivalence in my mouse click, iTunes asked me: “Are you sure you want to buy and download ‘China Wine’? Your payment card will be charged for this purchase and your purchase will begin to download immediately.”

Uh... I... well...

As my mouse pointer hovered between “Buy” and “Cancel”, I was calculating in my head that for $1.28, I could get four extra packets of curry sauce at McDonald’s.

Deciding to buy Angry Birds was never this hard.

- Published in The New Paper, 1 July 2012