Jan 31, 2011

PMS Asterisk

Spent an evening interviewing these lovely ladies for CNNGo.com.

I’ve to review the videos and transcribe it (kill me, please). But I’m struck by how ballsy and forthright that they are during the interview.


They’re hot, and they’ll “kick your ass” if you meet them in DOTA.

Read their blog at http://pmsasterisk.blogspot.com/.

Buzz: Be Controversial, Be an Ass like Kenneth Tong

Mr Kenneth Tong is an ass.

The rich kid, self-proclaimed playboy from Hong Kong has been prompting a weight loss campaign known as “Managed Anorexia”. To help women (and possibly a few men) achieve that pipe dream, Tong has created a Size Zero pill (there’s actually a size zero!) for ladies to pop, binge and purge until they’re stick thin like Victoria’s Secrets Models.

Read Become Perfect By Following Exciting New ‘Managed Anorexia’ Plan” at Jezebel.com for more information.



My ears ring from womenfolk’s collective wails and howls. They are rightfully indignant about Tong’s campaign. More importantly his campaign has made waves on Twitter, in British newspapers and blogs. And it has garnered this slacker quite of bit of attention and hate.

Johann Hari’s interview with Kenneth Tong is brilliant.

Naturally “Managed Anorexia” is a hoax – according to Tong. He has retracted his claims on his Twitter page (I will not link to this Twit). He tweeted:

I think it is time for to come clean. The whole size zero thing is a hoax. It came about after an interesting discussion I had with a friend of mine. The discussion centered round whether it was possible, to go from nowhere to be a globally recognized figure within a week harnessing the power of the internet and specifically Twitter, which I have always maintained is a better medium than national TV. My friend said it wasn’t possible. I said it was. To prove him wrong, I decided as a hoax to promote via Twitter something that was universally appalling, I chose managed anorexia. I would like to make it clear, I chose the subject as a hoax as I knew it’d be appalling to men and women. The campaign has worked; I have been a Trending topic on Twitter for over a week. I am scheduled to appear on TV, the Press and Radio shows, over the course of the next week: Grazia, Telegraph, The Sun, The Sunday Times etc. Now it’s time to come clean and stop the bandwagon. My honest personal opinion on managed anorexia is it is an disgusting and illogical idea. It is a mental illness. It cannot be managed. To all the people I have offended as part of this scientific experiment, I would like to apologize to you and to show my sincerity I will making a sizeable donation to beat: the leading UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families. Furthermore, I have decided to auction my custom Apple iPod Nano watch on Ebay, the proceeds from this will be going to the charity, beat.

Wah piang. Can’t he be succinct?

What caught my eye was: “whether it was possible, to go from nowhere to be a globally recognized figure within a week harnessing the power of the internet and specifically Twitter…”

Tong has certainly achieved his aims, and a number of women Twitterers (according to Jezebel’s article) advocate his messages. So it got me thinking about how he created buzzzzzz:

  1. The twit used a taboo subject (anorexia) and gave it a new spin
  2. He created tweets that used peer pressure (you know how it feels if you were told that you were useless) and promised a solution
  3. People loathed it, but they retweeted him to their friends

Controversy will always garner attention. But what are you going to do with all that attention, Mr Tong?

Jan 29, 2011

Pet Peeve: Words I Mislike

image“Mislike” is a mis-spelling, but it works when used like so…

"I am no steward, O King. And I mislike summonings" – Dream, Sandman #50

It’s an epiphany how a mis-spelled word can make that pale-faced bastard more aloof than he already is. It’s simply brilliant. Sadly, the rest of us have to rely on the trite and tested:

“We must have a holistic mindset.”

“What’s your value chain proposition?”

“Let’s spearhead this initiative by...”

“There’s a disconnect with what you want and what I want.”

“We want you to make value-added contributions.”

“We are entering a new phase, a true paradigm shift, where we are going to leverage knowledge management as our secret sauce to re-align our market share with high impact customer-centric services exceeding industry benchmarks proactively to ensure future sustainability and top line revenue growth.”

Oww… I just heard my brain go pop at the last trite and tested example.  

And contributed by @smithankyou


" I told you already"


These are my peeves. Why not just say things simply without resulting to linguistic acrobatics? (I suspect these words mask something sinister.)  But the world goes on, and we still use these silly terms. Applicant.com has a nice glossary of words that we hate.



Jan 27, 2011

Photos by Jose Maria Rodriguez Madoz

Found this set of amazing black and white photos on Funzu.com. According to the website, they are the product of a Spanish photographer called Chema Madoz (aka Jose Maria Rodriguez Madoz).

Apparently Chema Madoz studied Art History at Universidad Complutense de Madrid between 1980 and 1983. That’s when he was first exposed to the study of photography and imaging.

I’m loving the simplicity and quirkiness of the photos. It takes an amazing vision to make something so creative seem so simple.




Jan 25, 2011


I wanted to give up.

Say “Fuck it” and trudge home. After all, I had run up and down the slope twice, and I had ran 1.5km to get to the slope.


My lungs were bursting. My knee complained. My abs shivered from fatigue. So “fuck it”, I’m walking home through short cuts and the short way. But if I did it once, I know I’ll stop when my lungs, knee, abs and hamstrings hurt. So I carried on and ran my way home from the slope past restaurants at Greenwood Avenue, up another slope and down again to the cross junction.

Why carry on?

Two reasons: Discipline; Preparation.

After all, talent without discipline to shape it becomes wasted potential; and harder I prepare, the easier it’ll be come crunch time.

That encapsulates Michael Jordan’s philosophy: train so hard that it would be easy on the basketball court. Similarly Blake Griffin takes part in an incredibly brutal training, and why?

"To do this stuff day after day, it wears on you mentally," Matrisciano said. "That's part of it. To go on the basketball court will be nothing for these guys. They will mentally adapt to it.

That’s why I run up slopes and then run back home. Not trudge back via a shortcut. And that’s discipline.

Jan 22, 2011

Monsters: More Navel-Gazing than Monster Flick

The trailer for Monsters promised: “GRIPPING. A sci-fi nightmare similar in plot but more sophisticated, character-driven, and chillingly underplayed than both ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘District 9’." - Village Voice

Hogwashery nonsense by a brain-dead reviewer and talentless storyteller.

Monsters is neither sci-fi nightmare nor sophisticated. It is, however, a 90-minute nightmare to sit through – if you’re not into romance on the road flicks.


The film is really “a low budget romance travelogue with giant squid in the backdrop”. Thus the “character-driven” plot focuses on Andrew’s (Scoot McNairy) and Samantha Wynden’s (Whitney Able) growing attraction – amidst Lonely Planet-ish scenes of beautiful sunsets, trailing rivers, wild jungles and an ancient Incan temple – for each other.

This attraction is expressed by smouldering glances, candlelit vigils, banter over coffee after trekking through jungles for more than 24 hours (won’t they be starving instead?), preachy speeches about America’s ills and destruction of the environment, coupled with Andrew’s pitiful attempts to crawl into Samantha’s pants.

The preceding paragraph describes 90% of the movie, the remaining 10% goes to the monster show: giant squid heads mounted on top a five-fingered torso, like ludicrous versions of great Cthulhu fhtagn.


In keeping with the low budget approach, the filmmaker, Gareth Edwards, tried to up the suspense factor by hiding the giant squid-headed monsters in  great swathes of smoke and night vision goggles as they chuck aside cars like so much dandruff.

That would have been interesting if Edwards had built on that pace and fearful pathos. Instead he backed up for more navel-gazing (sadly Whitney Able’s navel was covered) between the leads. But, like all films, we finally see the monster’s entirety at the end. It was an artery-clogging five minutes where two giant squid heads meet and mate via writhing tentacles above our caffeinated, slack-jawed protagonists. I applaud Edwards at injecting sensitivity into aliens and monster flicks, but a Nat Geo Extra-Terrestrial Mating Special?

That’s just crass, anti-climatic, and insulting; sentiments shared by movie-goers as we clapped and whooped when the cinema doors opened to freedom.

The film’s only saving grace: Whitney Able.


Six years ago, NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples but crashed upon re-entry over Central America.


Soon after, the new life form began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an infected zone. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain "the creatures".


The story begins when a US photojournalist Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) agrees to escort his wealthy employer's daughter Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.



Jan 20, 2011

A Letter to SCGS

I take the bus from home to City Hall every Monday.

And every Monday, just past the Whitley Road Flyover and at 1pm-ish, I run into long car queues that snake out of PIE exit and into the entrance of Singapore Chinese Girls School (SCGS).

DSCN0770 (1024x768)
Car queue choking up lanes 

In the line are luxury cars such as Mercedes, BMWs, and family-friendly, space-hogging SUVs. The drivers wait patiently for the gates to open and they never look to their right – where they squash and block other cars and buses. Naturally, one thinks that it will end end at the gates.

What nonsense. 

The cars continue past the gates and crest of SCGS. Only now, the Mercedes, BMWs and family-friendly SUVs are empty and neatly parked by the roadside. They line up past the bus stop, willy-nilly on double-yellow lines, while dads, moms, god-knows-who-else loiter on the pavements for their precioussss.

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Cars parked at bus stop

DSCN0783 (1024x768)
Cars parked at bus stop

It’s a bloody annoyance. And I’m making it my business to shame, disgrace both institution and overly-sheltering parents.

This email will be the first slavo.

Dated: 18 Jan, 12:31 PM
Subject: Traffic Congestion along Dunearn Road


I experience traffic congestion along Dunearn Road -- at 1-2pm (ish).

Also, I see cars parked willy-nilly along the side of the road, which includes the bus stop. I'm assuming that these cars belong to parents who come to pick up SCGS students.

My question: What are you doing to help ease this congestion?

I understand that it's not really your jurisdiction, but I'd like to know if you're doing anything about it.


I wait with bated breath for their reply.

Jan 11, 2011

Creative Typography in Ads

Typography can a graphic maketh.

After all, plain ol’ words – even in Helvetica – is rather boring on its own. I’m not an expert (Zedy at Hipbip.com is a better design resource), but these ads make creative fun of words.


HongKiat.com has a whole lot to say about using Typography in ads. I loved its breakdown on Visual Puns (reproduced below)

Anatomy of a visual pun:

  1. Take words such as "bad credit," "taxes," and "bills."
  2. Take the shape of prison bars. 
  3. Combine the two by making the bars out of the words.
  4. Add a subtitle, such as "Don’t be a prisoner to your finances."



More uses on Typography in ads over at HongKiat.com.

Jan 9, 2011

Scene: Macau…Sin, Almond Biscuits & Painters

“What’s there to do in Macau?

“They come to gamble and to womanise. If you don’t gamble, there are women for you everywhere! A handjob costs $200, anything else – $800 to $1,000. And that’s for one session.


“Since you’re here, you should visit Bai Fong. You know, it’s an old ruined cathedral where only the facade was left standing after a fire. It’s popular amongst the tourists. You should take bus 3, it’ll drop you nearby.


“I have a kid. She’s six years old. The men come to Macau to play with women. It’s just a need that they have. Her father played with women, so I left him and started work. It’s been five years since.


“There are so many Mainland Chinese now! They gamble with so much money! Everywhere I turn, it’s Mainlanders here, there, everywhere! Sometimes a gwailo comes in here, that’s when I charge him $500. But those from China, or Hong Kong, or Macau, it’s just $200.


“So, how about it?”


Images of Macau



Jan 7, 2011

Scene: Hong Kong (Cheung Chau)

Cheung Chau is quite possibly Hong Kong teenagers’ most favourite resort island. Like Lamma Island, one can reach it from Central Pier by 45-minute boats that ply the route every half hour. It’s also home to many villagers and fishermen.


Unlike Lamma Island, it’s Chinese-oriented. While the signs are still bilingual and everything’s nicely paved, I was hard-pressed to find a gwailo in the thronging masses of lovey-dovey trishaws, 


causal weekenders in the marketplace,


and meandering corridors flanked by close-knit buildings.


Part of Cheung Chau’s charm is its throwback feel to a village stuck in ‘70s where the pace of life is much slower,


where bicycles – not flashy cars – are the main mode of transport,


and sea-wise folk eschew brightly coloured boats for a surfboard and paddles when fishing for seafood.


When night falls, hunger pangs drive us to search for food. There are many stalls along the main stretch. They’re just right to feed a platoon of emaciated soldiers with its mounds of fried rice, heaps of clams and mussels, and tangles of vegetables. Everything fresh, hopefully.

But if you’re just one – like me – then try the stall at the very very end, past the main strip. It’s run by a family where the women deep fry stuffed vegetables, blanch che zhai mian, and bake egg rolls under a canvas awning. Enough for a modest and quiet meal next to the sea.

DSCN0615 (1024x768)

Regardless, Cheng Chau’s best feature is the sea. A  wide expanse of green against grey fog and relentless splashing. Enough to lull a wide-eyed insomniac into slumber.


Images of Cheung Chau






Jan 6, 2011

M1 Fringe Festival 2011

I went for the opening reception of the M1 Fringe Festival, having blurbed about it for CNNGo’s “15 reasons to visit Singapore in 2011”. The opening reception also coincided with Another Me: Transformations From Pain to Power by Achinto Bhadra.


For this exhibition, the documentary photographer from Kolkata created personas for the girls of Sanlaap’s Sneha Girls Shelter. So much so that at first glance, it was a collection of girls who adopt fantastic personalities replete with colourful masks, painted faces, and costumes. 

But it’s not playtime; it’s catharsis.

A Village Girl


“Because…I want to be the way I was before, without any traces of what I’ve experienced. I want people to love me and accept me because I am just like them.”


Age: 18

Explanation accompanying the above Image

The girls, aged eight to twenty-five years old, are survivors of trafficking, rape or abandonment, or are the children of sex workers. Each one had a poignant story to tell, but none dared to tell unless they were safely behind veils, masks, or painted faces.


The girls were dissatisfied and angry at their lot. And it showed in the images and in their choice of personas: warrior-goddess Durga who smites her enemies; goddess Lakshmi who  protects her worshippers from misery and money-related woes; and villagers.

The costumes and make-up were created by the girls and women with the artistic guidance of the photographer. The photography sessions were conducted in ritualistic silence.


As each girl and woman stood before the camera in the silent studio, she transformed into “another me”. The aggressive ones quieted down, the depressed raised their heads, tears of release flowed. For a moment, each felt the power within herself. And today, many months later, that brief transformation remains an inner source of confidence and strength for the girls and women in Sanlaap’s care.


Another Me is a stark and moving photo exhibition. It’s worth a trip up to ION Orchard’s Art Gallery, and I left longing to know more about the girls and their stories.

For more information, go to AnotherMe.org.
The M1 Fringe Festival runs from 5 to 16 Jan; see website for venues and listings.
Preview of the festival on CNNGo.

Jan 5, 2011

Scene: Hong Kong (Lamma Island)

Hong Kong is more than just a city of scurrying money suits, gwailos, and overly tall skyscrapers. There are also nooks where time slows down, and people are friendlier… oh you can leave your doors unlocked here as well.


This is Lamma Island. A tiny patch of mountain in the sea where foreigners congregate to escape from the madness of Hong Kong. There were plenty of gwailos and laidback Hong Kongers.


Lamma Island’s best activities include: hiking up and down mountains, seafood dinners, and bars for conversations.


I loved the oldness and rot in abandoned temples and homes.


Even this boat was a token of wetter times while the boat people of Hong Kong lived on their sampans and canvas-roofed shacks.


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