Sunday 23 June 2013

I'm not talking about the haze

Everyone is talking about the haze.

So I won’t.

For one thing, talking about the haze can get you into trouble.

Like what happened to radio DJ and ballet aficionado Rosalyn Lee.

Commenting on the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) reducing physical and outdoor training with the PSI exceeding 100, Lee posted on Facebook: “REALLY!? Shouldn’t the SAF, of all people, train in all weather conditions and be at least haze-ready?”

I do recall training for chemical warfare in a gas mask during my national service. Does that make me “haze-ready”?

Can the haze be considered a chemical weapon? I know a few Singaporeans who want to declare war on Indonesia as retaliation.

But wait. Lee wasn’t done dissing SAF.

Replying to another Facebook comment, she wrote: “They way i see it, I reckon I trained harder in 4-hour ballet classes than some of these NSFs do! lol!”

Ouch. Comparing full-time national servicemen to girls practising pirouettes in tutus – that must sting more than the haze in my eyes.

Lee was understandably flamed for her Ah Boys To Ballerinas comparison. As one detractor pithily observed: “Girls talking about NS is like guys talking about giving birth.”

In her defence, I would like to point out that Lee did include an “lol” in her comment.

Also, I have never taken a four-hour ballet class, so I really can’t say for sure if it’s harder than NS, but I have seen the movie Black Swan and I can safely say that I don’t know anyone in NS who thinks he is turning into a big black bird.

In the end, Lee apologised for her comment. No, wait, she didn’t.

She wrote: “I am overwhelmed yet heartened all at once at the immense support towards the SAF and national service.

“Regardless of how we each express our views, I believe the common goal that binds us is the obvious fact that we all care about our country and that we will stop at nothing to keep it safe - and that is something I choose to take away from these humbling exchanges.”

Perhaps not humbling enough.

Well, at least, McDonald’s apologised.

The fast food chain ran an ad promoting its new wasabi and honey mustard dip sauce for its McNuggets with the headline: “Today’s Peak Sauce Index is looking deliciously high.”

PSI stands for Peak Sauce Index, get it? That joke is even more forced than many of my columns.

Some people were upset by McDonald’s attempt at humour as they felt it trivialised the haze problem.

One of them told The Straits Times: “If the advertisement had been used when the PSI first came up, the joke might seem funny. But when the PSI hits 300, it is not a joke any more.”

Is this person talking about the three-hour PSI or the 24-hour PSI?

Let me get this straight.

So it’s okay to make fun of the haze as long as the PSI is 299 or below.

But once it hits the number that’s also the title of the movie directed by the same guy who directed Man Of Steel, jokes are no-go?

Someone should tell Mr Brown.

And everyone else on the Internet.

If McDonald’s should apologise for anything, it’s for making people queue overnight outside in the haze for The Ugly Duckling Hello Kitty toy.

But then again, this isn’t really the fault of McDonald’s. It’s the Singaporeans who are so willing to risk their health on the night when the PSI hit 321 for a toy.

No wonder Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono likened us to children.

But Hello Kitty is so cuuuuute!

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about the haze.

I want to talk about the movie World War Z, which I saw a few days ago.

Not sure whether it’s pronounced World War Zee (since it’s an American movie) or World War Zed (since we’re in Singapore).

I read somewhere that Z is the Roman numeral for 100,000, so the correct pronunciation should be World War One Hundred Thousand. Most people don’t know this because it’s not true.

Regardless of how you choose to pronounce the title, the Brad Pitt-produced zombie movie turned out to be one of the better summer flicks this year, surprisingly more engaging than Man Of Steel and Star Trek Into Darkness.

World War Z is about how governments fail to take a problem seriously despite early warning signs until the problem is literally on top of them.

Like I said, I’m not talking about the haze.

I just hope the PSI falls back to double digits on Wednesday night because McDonald’s is releasing the Singing Bones Hello Kitty on Thursday and I don’t have any N95 masks.

And in case the PSI hits 300 when you read this, I apologise.

Time to sign up for some ballet classes. I already have the tutu.

- Published in The New Paper, 23 June 2013