Tuesday 21 March 2017

Breast 'error' in my column: Yes, please read the entire article first

I received this e-mail from a reader about my Beauty And The Beast column yesterday in The New Paper:
Dear Mr SM Ong,

I am sending this email to you in relation to your spelling in an article you wrote on the 20th Of March 2017 which was posted on TNP's Facebook page. Below i have attached a screenshot of your error and I hope you could use this as reference and a stepping stone for future articles to be released by you.

Error: Breast

Yours Truly

The e-mail came with this attachment:

Before I had a chance to react, I received another e-mail from the same person seconds later.
Dear Mr SM Ong,

My sincere apologies for the previous. Kindly ignore. I was ignorant to not go through the entire article. My bad.

Yours Truly

I'm bemused that the reader was so galvanised by the "error" that he went through all the trouble of screen-grabbing the article and attaching it to the e-mail without reading the article beyond the "error" he spotted.

Because if he had read just one line beyond the "error", he would've realised it's not an error (just a bad joke) and saved himself a couple of e-mails.

Hey, at least I have a reader.

So I'm grateful for that.

EARLIER: Beauty & The Beast controversy controversy: Movie no gay enough

Monday 20 March 2017

Beauty & The Beast controversy controversy: Movie no gay enough

My 17-year-old daughter WhatsApped me last Thursday: “Did you watch Beauty And The Beastiality?”

I ignored her misspelling and replied not yet.

She had just seen the movie, the title of which is actually Beauty And The Breast. No, wait, I’m thinking of the picture of the nursing mother on the train.

Aiyah, you know what movie I mean.

I asked my teen terror what she thought of it.

She messaged back: “Cheesy and not gay enough.”

Yes, “not gay enough” appears to be a common complaint from those who have seen the live-action remake of the 1991 Disney animated classic.

And can you blame them?

It all started with director Bill Condon telling British gay magazine Attitude about the movie character LeFou, who is sidekick to villain Gaston and is played by Josh Gad.
“LeFou is somebody who one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.

“He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it.

“And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Being a gay magazine, Attitude naturally hyped this up as “a landmark moment for LGBT representation”.

Editor-in-chief Matt Cain said:
“It may have been a long time coming, but this is a watershed moment for Disney. By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural — and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.”
To some of the latter countries, them’s fightin’ words.

Perhaps hardened by its recent dust-up with North Korea, Malaysia is standing its anti-gay ground against an even more powerful foe — the Walt Disney Company.

The Malaysian censorship board chairman, Mr Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, reportedly said that the board could have allowed the film with “minor” cuts if Condon had not announced that the movie has “a first exclusively gay moment”.
“We could have let it go with potentially minor cut… and this whole thing would not have become an issue. But the moment the ‘gay element’ is thrown into the mix, we had to protect ourselves, so what was initially three seconds, has become more than four minutes.”

Russia is allowing only those over 16 to see the movie, although one lawmaker did try to get it banned.

This is surprising considering that the country hasn’t banned those gay-baiting photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin pursuing outdoor activities without a shirt on.

Closer to home, the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) released a statement about “the gay agenda in Disney’s Beauty And The Beast”.

After citing Attitude magazine, it said:
“NCCS would therefore encourage pastors and church leaders to urge members of their congregations — especially parents — to exercise discretion in guiding young children concerning viewing this movie.”
With all that controversy, if the movie is anything less than wall-to-wall same-sex orgies, you can’t help but feel cock-blocked.

Keep in mind that the movie is rated PG. So forget about orgies, same-sex or otherwise.

What about the “short but explicitly gay scene” touted by the Attitude editor?

I have seen the movie. Got meh?

The “gay moment” that Malaysia wants to censor is during the performance of the song Gaston by Gad.

“The way he dances is... gay, and the dialogue and the lyrics of the song are too,” said Mr Abdul Halim. “In the same scene, he also lifts up his shirt and shows a love bite on his tummy.”

Maybe I haven’t been in enough gay relationships, but why would anyone have a love bite on his tummy?

In his latest interview with Malaysia’s New Straits Times, Mr Abdul Halim said there were three other parts in the movie that were deemed “inappropriate”.

“The first is during the performance of a song, where a male character (Gaston) hugs the other (LeFou) from behind.

“Second is the suggestive song lyrics with sexual innuendos.”

Could he be talking about the line “In a wrestling match, nobody bites like Gaston”? Ohhhh. So that’s how you get a love bite on your tummy!

The third part is at the end of the movie, probably the “nice, exclusively gay moment” that Condon the director was referring to earlier.

To me, the gayest thing in the movie is actually the relationship between Lumiere the candelabra and Cogsworth the clock (played by openly gay Ian McKellen). You don’t know where his hands have been.

Then again, it’s a musical. So the entire movie is a 128-minute “gay moment”.

In another interview, Condon was asked about LeFou’s sexuality and he replied:
“Can I just say, I’m sort of sick of this… It’s such a teeny thing, and it’s been overblown.”
No kidding. And whose fault is that?

Plus, the movie is cheesy too.

- Published in The New Paper, 20 March 2017

UPDATE: A reader points out an error in my column

Friday 17 March 2017

IT Show 2017: 4-hour wait at M1 booth

So I went to the IT Show at Suntec yesterday.

I figured since I was there, I might as well re-contract my M1 mobile plan and maybe get a free phone.

I queued up to get a queue number from a machine. After registering, instead of a piece of paper with my queue number, I received an SMS:

Two hours and 14 minutes?!

Are you kidding me?

I haven't queued that long for anything since paying my last respects to LKY for SG50.

Someone working for M1 told me there were 300 people ahead of me.

I wanted to cancel my queue number, but then thought, why bother?

I left Suntec but then returned two hours later because I changed my mind about buying something at the IT Show.

I looked at the M1 signboard to check the queue number.

This photo was taken at 6.10pm, two hours and 45 minutes after I received my queue number - and more than 100 people were still ahead of me.

I gave up and left the IT Show again.

At 8.07pm, I received this SMS when I was nowhere near Suntec.

"Come back to the M1 Roadshow"? Are you kidding me?

This was four hours and 42 minutes after I received my queue number, more than double the original estimated waiting time.

Eleven minutes later, I received another SMS.

Why does M1 even bother?

Saturday 11 March 2017

Four days in Hong Kong: Scrambled eggs, dim sum and Disneyland


Arriving at Hong Kong airport:

The hotel provided a free phone with 4G!

The Alcatel handset was a life-saver because I couldn't get any service on my own phone even though I signed up for Singtel's ReadyRoam service.

My wife and I took the MTR to the confusingly named Australia Dairy Company, a cafe everyone says you have to visit for its scrambled eggs and toast and terrible service.

Then we went to queue for Jenny Bakery cookies, allegedly the best cookies in the world:

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by a 24-hour Tsui Wah Restaurant (recommended by my wife's friend) in Mongkok for supper, in my case, the pork chop bun:


For breakfast, we went to Mido Cafe, which was just next to our hotel. Google Maps said it was 100m away. That was a lie.

Then it was on to Disneyland!

In the afternoon, we took the train to nearby Citygate mall where we ate at McDonald's because I wanted to compare the Hong Kong McDonald's with the Singapore McDonald's.

We also went to a place called Cafe de Coral, where we had problems with our order.

We returned to Disneyland for the night parade and fireworks with bananas from the mall.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by a place called Dim Dim Sum (another recommendation from my wife's friend) in Mongkok for, well, what else?


For breakfast, we went to Capital Cafe, another scrambled-eggs-and-toast place. I also ordered the macaroni and ham.

We joined a walking tour on Hong Kong island and rode the tram.

Hollywood Road:

For lunch, we went to Kam's Roast Goose and ate goose for the first time in our lives:

In the afternoon, we explored eastern Hong Kong island on our own and took a break at another McDonald's in Cityplaza mall where I had a nap.

In the evening, we went for a two-hour cruise around the harbour for the Symphony Of Lights show, which was a major disappointment.

After the cruise, we visited my wife's nephew who is working in Hong Kong, and he took us to another Tsui Wah Restuarant for a late dinner. I ordered the "Malaysian" beef brisket curry.


We woke up at 11am to check out of our hotel as we were flying home that night. After checking in our luggage at Kowloon station, we went to the Tim Ho Wan at Central station for brunch. We had a hard time finding the dim sum restaurant.

I wanted to compare the Hong Kong Tim Ho Wan with the Singapore Tim Ho Wan and I gotta say, I prefer the Singapore one.

After the meal, we took the MTR to Sogo and Times Square mall, where we stumbled onto a Toast Box. I ordered the Horlicks Dinosaur and took a nap there as well.

Then it was time to head for the airport to catch our flight home.

After the plane landed in Singapore, I discovered I had lost my wallet, which contains cash, credit cards and my identity card. It was a disheartening way to end what had been a fun trip.

But I e-mailed the Hong Kong airport's Lost & Found and they replied the next day that my wallet had been found, which was a relief.

So I have asked my wife's nephew to pick it up for me and I'll probably get my wallet back in a few weeks, which is better than not at all.

READ: My wife's version of events

Monday 6 March 2017

K pop fans-Xiaxue deathmatch: Who are you calling 'trannies', you tranny!

So you thought calling a museum exhibition Syonan Gallery was controversial.

Xiaxue: “Hold my beer.”

Just over a week ago, the Internet enfant terrible likened K-pop boy band Monsta X to “a group of trannies” on Twitter.

Since then, she has been accused of hate speech, told to commit suicide and even worse, was called a “tranny” herself.

In other words, just another Friday night for the woman also known as Wendy Cheng.

And then someone tweeted her: “I dare you to come for BTS or EXO.”

(For you non-K-pop fans who can’t tell Super Bang from Big Junior, BTS and EXO are the names of two other K-pop boy bands.)

Not one to back down or pass up an opportunity to troll, Xiaxue accepted the dare and replied, “OK. BTS sucks and EXO sucks worse.”

And thus she incited two additional K-pop fandoms to urge her to kill herself.

This led to a particularly disturbing image sent to Xiaxue of a tombstone with a picture of her and her young son, Dashiel.

Inscribed on the tombstone: “Xiaxue and her family. Cause of death: Made fun of EXO and BTS.”

And you thought wild chickens were a public health risk. Who knew that mocking K-pop idols could be fatal? We may have been culling the wrong thing.

The sender of the image also tweeted: “I’ll make sure to kill you, your baby and ur womb.”

The “kill ur womb” part seems rather redundant since after you kill someone, the womb is pretty much rendered inoperative. Perhaps it's for emphasis.

Despite the criminal intimidation, Xiaxue hasn’t said anything about making a police report and seems more amused than concerned by the awkwardly Photoshopped threat on her life and family.

After all, she has been an online provocateur since 2003, sometimes not even on purpose. What’s another death threat?

On Friday, she uploaded a YouTube video entitled “Xiaxue Vs Rabid Kpop Fans!! Trolling is fun” to explain what happened.

She says she was on the same flight as Monsta X and “nobody actually gave two hoots about them”.

So on arrival at the airport, “everyone at the luggage carousel was actually puzzled because there were screaming teenage girls beyond the gates”.

Xiaxue says in the video: “I got home and I received a tweet from a disgusted Monsta X fan that says I don’t deserve to be on the same flight as them.”

This prompted the host of Youtube series Xiaxue's Guide To Life to google “Monsta X”, which resulted in the tweet:
“I didn’t know who Monsta X is but when I google imaged them, I genuinely thought they were a group of trannies.”
She says she woke up the next day to learn that “hell has descended on me” and she had become a “transphobe” and “homophobe” overnight, referring to the somewhat negative response to her tweet.

In the video, she addresses the issue of whether “tranny” is a slur and after citing US drag star RuPaul (“I love the word ‘tranny’”), concludes that “the trans community are still debating it till today”.

This is despite the Inter-University LGBT Network of Singapore releasing a statement in the wake of Xiaxue’s Monsta X tweet that the term “is usually understood by many transgender people as a dehumanising slur” and should be avoided.

But according to Xiaxue, banning offensive words just makes the problem worse. She says: “The solution is to make those words meaningless by refusing to take offence.”

Yah, you anti-Syonan Gallery people. You should have just refused to be offended by the name.

Xiaxue then goes on in the video to gloat about the numerous ways she trolled K-pop fans (and Yahoo News) and delineated how by supporting their idols, the fans are actually “propping up torture” in the K-pop industrial complex.

It’s exhausting.

If you’re a neutral bystander who is not a fan of either Xiaxue or K-pop, whose side would you take?

What a Monsta-rous choice.

It’s like Alien versus Predator.

Whoever wins, we lose.

- Published in The New Paper, 6 March 2017


I received this tweet from Xiaxue:

I replied: