Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Eye Poppin' Show

OK, this blows (no pun intended) my mind a bit. Dresses and gowns made entirely of.... balloons? *raise eyebrow*

I discussed this with Justine (Moss) when we came on air, and just as I was contemplating the physics of sitting down in one of these dresses, Justine cracks me up by saying, "When the wind blows, the girls may just fly away..." Now I must tell you I'm a very visual person, so that image of models floating away in their balloon dresses never quite left me the rest of the show.

Anyway, it was just entertaining to entertain the thought of a fashion show with professional models strutting down the runway in balloon gowns. Ed Chee, a celebrity judge and multiple award-winning balloon sculptor from the US, tells me that the dresses are made with "woven" balloons, almost like they were fabric. Of course, that didn't quite register in my brain, but I'll take your word for it, Ed!

Oh, wait! See this balloon? Ed twisted it for me after the show, in just a matter of minutes. That's supposed to be... you guessed it, ME!!! Man, I sure look gorgeous as a balloon! *wink*

Anyway, "Balloon Runway" happens this Sat 29 Nov, 7.30pm @ Foyer of Downtown East. Admission is free. So do go down and catch this eye-poppin' show for yourself ~ you've gotta see it to believe it!

(L to R): Pearlyn Tam, Brenda Eng, me, Ed Chee and "Uncle David" Tan.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Putting Them Down One At A Time

If you send me an email this week or next, you'll get an out-of-office auto reply shot back at you (amazing how it guises itself as an email I'd tailormade and sent personally to you) that informs I'm guarding 'vital installations' on our island. Given that Thailand's Suvarnabhumi International Airport has been beseiged, we can better appreciate those who truly standing guard to keep the peace and things in order.

Coming back to my out-of-office email text, I'd made a disclaimer that vital installations didn't include lamp posts and traffic lights! Three days into my ICT and you can have the last laugh! I will be working closely with lamp posts, in fact, I'll be putting them down, all 161 of them. "Putting them down? But they're inanimate!", you question. I really refer to assisting the crane (not the feathered type but the one with mechanical extendable arms) operator lay the lamp posts down on the ground once they've been dislodged from their base. These lamp posts are the ones currently lining Lim Chu Kang Road. That's a long and straight public road feeding traffic into cemetery paths and farm tracks and many may not know that this road serves a secondary purpose - as an emergency runway alongside Tengah Air Base. It'll be all over the news these next few days till the large scale exercise unfolds this weekend with RSAF's formidable fighter jets leaving tyre marks on the road rather than motor vehicles!

Thanks to Pam for single--handedly burning the midnight oil to produce and host the show these two weeks. Pam, if you ever need a break, you're entitled to having a third, it's now FOUR months of maternity leave! Beats the max of three weeks a year we NSmen are entitled to. ;o)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rickshaws for Water

About 2 weeks back, I received a forwarded email from a colleague. It was from a Producer with MediaCorp TV, fundraising for a rickshaw race he was doing in India. That guy was Prem Anand, Producer of the hilarious hit show called "The Noose" on Channel 5, which is a parody of Channel NewsAsia, I'm pretty sure. *wink*

Anyway, I met Prem for coffee in the MediaCorp canteen to find out more, and was captivated by the fact that he's doing this with 5 other friends, travelling in auto rickshaws from Ponticherry (south) to Shillong (north-east) ~ through cities, forests, dirt tracks and mountain ranges. What an adventure!

But more importantly, the guys are raising funds for their adopted charity Frank Water ( which funds the building of water tanks in India so that the locals can have clean water. I just had to have them on The Living Room to share about their Rickshaws for Water project. Well, that was today!

Old friends on a mission: Allanjit, Sumana, Prem and Shawn.

Find out more about what this is all about by going to Facebook and typing in "Rickshaws for Water". You can even DARE them to do ANYTHING. Just type in your dare on their Facebook page, tag a price to it, and they will probably do it ~ because they are men on a mission. *grin*

They have set out to raise $50,000 for Frank Water, and are currently at the 25 per cent mark, with four weeks to go. So if you are keen to donate to their cause, go to

Anyway, I mentioned on the show today that these burly guys will be squeezing into a tiny auto rickshaw, which is kinda like a Thai tuk tuk, and whizzing all over India. That's three guys in one rickshaw.

From the picture below, you can tell they are quite big muscular men. And we're not even adding luggage to the equation. So, er... good luck guys...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beyond the Living Room...

It was a crazy week in the Living Room, and it will probably be a crazier 2 weeks ahead with Stanley going on reservist. He tells me it's quite boring, so he... er... writes poetry! *gasp* Shall I cajole him to share his poems on this blog? Shall I? Shall I? *wink*

Well, besides doing 'live' interviews on The Living Room, Stan and I do other stuff as well... outside of The Living Room. Would you like a glimpse? Well, as producer-presenters, we are sometimes invited to emcee events. Stan has done MANY, but I will be hosting my first next Sat at the "Maybe... Baby" seminar. Stan also gets invited to run workshops, like "interviewing techniques", at the Singapore Media Academy.

Sometimes, we have to do roving reports as well. That means we go down to events and field 'live' reports back to the studio. Recently, Stan did one for the Marina Barrage ~ 6 'live' feeds back to the studio during its official opening, where PM Lee Hsien Loong was the guest-of-honour.

This morning, I did my first roving report for the Yellow Ribbon Community Art Exhibition 2008 at the Botanic Gardens. It was quite an experience because I got to check out the amazing artwork by the inmates, speak to the people involved, and then share what I saw, heard and experienced with listeners, 'live'.

Here I am chatting with the Chairman of the organising committee. His name is Rockey Francisco Junior, and he's actually a Prisons Superintendent, with close to 1,000 inmates under his supervision. It was eye-opening chatting with him before the 'live' interview about why he chose to work in the prisons. Maybe one day I'll invite him in to The Living Room so you too can hear his story.

Well, I'll be flying solo the next 2 weeks. I will miss my buddy...... but I look forward to reading his poems when he gets back.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Failures Are But Commas

Yesterday while talking about the importance of IP (or intellectual property) on the show with David Llewlyn from IP Academy Singapore, we were reminded that there are opportunities for us to seize even in the bleakest moments. Today, our guest was counsellor Dr Wolff von Auer from EMCC and our discussion looked at the current economic turmoil and how it's gripped Singaporeans, causing lots of anxiety and distress. How do we bounce back? How do we find outlets to fortify ourselves and care for our mental wellbeing through the grim times? We hope you took away some answers from our chat to keep you grounded as we ride out the storm.

Towards the end of our discussion today, a listener Nash called in to ask about failure, and in his case, failure in examinations. For the working adult, it could be failure in a project, not meeting targets or KPIs, in not clinching a deal or closing it. How do you view failure? Sure...we don't always achieve the ideal or expected results, otherwise the words 'challenges' and 'second chances' wouldn't exist. When we miss the mark, when we are off target, does that brand us a 'failure'? I see these occasions as merely commas, not a fullstop.

Commas indicate that the story's not finished yet, that there's more to it. While it can force a detour, it's not the end-of-the-road. I experienced a huge comma after completing my 'O' levels and barely scraping through it at ACS. I couldn't get into the polytechnic courses of my choice and ended up in a pre-u centre. It dashed my plans and self-esteem plunged like the stock markets in recent days. My self-confidence was shattered. While my peers would complete their 'A' levels in two years at Junior Colleges, I'd need an additional year. I ended up in an institution where I suffered a culture shock. I felt like a failure (and I probably looked like one in many people's eyes then). But through the experience, I dare say I came out stronger and more resilient to face the world of hand knocks. Those three years taught me a lot about entrusting my future to a higher power and of the cliqued 'taking one step at a time'.

I've walked quite a distance since those days. I didn't have a place in a JC, neither a place in poly, but that didn't mean I didn't have a place in life. It wasn't a fullstop, it was just a ',' and despite the harsh conditions we're in and slipping deeper into, I encourage you to look up and know there's still the '...' to your own journey in life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Teen Titans

"It's My Life!" - a musical about teens, by teens & for teens - grabbed me from day one. I have a soft spot for teenagers. In my previous life, I was a secondary school English teacher and a school counsellor, so when I first heard from Tan Kheng Hua and Valerie Lim (producers & best friends) that this project they were working on involved 11 teens who share their real-life stories, I was fascinated.

It's a project one year in the making, which is highly unusual for a local play. It's been a "process", they say. The content, the songs, even the set design has been one amazing journey of discovery and improvisation.

Today, Kheng Hua and hubby Lim Yu-Beng (who is director of the musical) were guests on The Living Room, bringing with them two teenagers from the musical. They're Movin, 15, who performs in the play, and Iffah, 16, who's a designer. They shared about what went on behind the scenes and what you can expect on stage come 27 November, when the musical starts its run at the University Cultural Centre. Find out more at

"Its My LIfe!" guests (L to R): Iffah, Yu-Beng, Kheng Hua & Movin.

All the music in the play are originals. For fans of Corrinne May, you'd be pleased to know she contributed a song too! When I asked the group if this teen musical was inspired by High School Musical, they almost scoffed at the idea. This is the real deal ~ it's raw, real and rockin'!

Well, after the interview, we invited Kheng and Yu-Beng to record a Season's Greeting for you, our 938LIVE listener. So listen out for that as Christmas draws near... *wink*

Monday, November 17, 2008

He Cracked Me Up

I can't think of a better way to start a Monday morning than to have a guy like Neil Humphreys come on the show. I had to exercise major self control cos it's really not cool exploding into uncontrollable guffaws into the highly-sensitive mic attached to my headset. But man, was I wiping away tears from my eyes...

Neil Humphreys sharing about his road to fatherhood and his new book "Be My Baby". Here's Stan & I standing on the sofa to match his 1.96m frame.

The best part was when we started talking about urinating. Apparently, Neil's dad (or was it dad-in-law?) insists that there's an international law that states that pregnant women are entitled to pee anywhere... as in, anywhere... and they can't be arrested.

But wait, that's not the best part. The best part was - in the middle of that urinating conversation - my buddy Stan blurts out suddenly, "Talking about peeing, I really need to go."

And to my horror, the man gets up and runs out of the studio! You should have seen my jaw drop. Yes, I kid you not ~ right in the middle of our Neil Humphreys interview! Stan comes back 5 mins later looking much happier, so all's forgiven. What great timing though - for an "urgent" man - to have that topic crop up just then for an appropriate exit. it's Divine Providence!

Anyway, do grab Neil's new book "Be My Baby", which chronicles his journey into fatherhood (in journal form), and features a host of the dumbest questions a clueless dad-to-be can ever ask. It will have you in stitches, I swear.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shanghai (K)nights

We've had an overwhelming response to our blog trailer running on air and I believe you found yourself on this page because of what you heard. We're glad it's doing what it's meant to...get you onto this harmless site where even kids would find most fascinating!
Where have I been? Well I didn't want to, but I had to. So Pam bravely stepped up to hold the fort for three days (and she did it most valiantly) while I jetted off to Shanghai. It was a trip that was 10% work and 90% leisure. The ATP Tennis Masters is now underway and I'd volunteered to file live roving reports from the Qi Zhong Stadium for SportsZone Minutes.

As Pam said, I am somewhat crazy about tennis and decided to meet Roger and Novak (we go on a first name basis!). The atmosphere in the stadium was intense and so was the racket on the ground (sometimes literally) where men brutally swung titanium to thunderous applause from thrilled fans! This was real tennis action away from the tv set! Alas, downcast Roger was almost a racket length from me at the press conference after losing his opening match to rising Frenchman Gilles Simon.

Here are some photos of my time catching the planet's best tennis players in action.

(photos from l-r: Federer-slayer Simon; Djokovic throwing in the towl; A Roddick return; Knowles & Bhupathi having a breather inbetween points)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Through Groovy Glasses...

It's my last day flying solo ~ for this stretch, at least ~ and I had two really interesting interviews lined up. I could barely sit still all morning!

I've always been a movie buff, and I love film festivals! Nothing beats sitting in the dark, escaping the realities of life, if only for two hours. So hearing that an international film festival was coming to town made my tail wag! What sets this film festival apart though is that all the films featured will be in 3D! Yes, this is the world's first 3D Film Festival ~ and it's held right here in Singapore!

What's more, all the biggest guns in Hollywood will be flying here to our little island city to be part of this red carpet event. And who are the Who's Who? How about this: Director James Cameron, Brandon Fraser, Christopher Lloyd, and the CEOs of Dreamworks Animation, 20th Century Fox, IMAX, Walt Disney Motion Pictures.

As Jim Chabin (one of my guests today) puts it, the closest you'll ever get to seeing this gathering of the world's leading directors, producers, thinkers and talents is at the Academy Awards!

And Jim should know. He was President of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in the US. He produced the Emmy Awards for prime-time television! As it turns out, Jim is Executive Producer of Singapore's 3D Film Festival, or "3DX Film & Entertainment Technology Festival 2008" ~ a project one-year in the making.

Also in the studio was David Glass, Managing Director of Golden Village. GV VivoCity will be one of the main venues for public screenings during the festival ~ including the World Premiere of Walt Disney's new animated film "Bolt" in 3D. I felt a surge of pride when David shared that Singapore's GV Max will be the largest screen on which a 3D film will be projected.

Me in groovy plastic 3D glasses, with Jim Chabin & David Glass of GV. 

Don't miss the 3D Film Festival when it hits town 19 to 23 November. You can expect to watch 3D films in a myriad of different genres: From cartoons to documentaries, even a U2 rock concert! To find out more, visit

Oh, here's a picture of the folks from Noise Singapore 2008.
(From front to back): Candi, Sock Hwang, Abdul, Nick, Rachael and Kevin.

Noise Singapore is not new to me. I did some interviews with past-year mentors when I was still with Vanilla magazine. One being Jessica Lu, a really happenin' Sanxian player from China. You can google her and watch her in action on Youtube. She was classically trained in the Sanxian, but when she joined New Asia band (a Singapore-based band), she branched into jazz improvisations etc. ~ with the Sanxian! It's damn cool lor!

Noise Singapore is a wonderful initiative by the National Arts Council ~ It's an arts festival for young people, by young people; a platform for them to express themselves and showcase their works. They also get paired up with mentors who are industry experts under The Apprenticeship Programme (TAP).

Sock Hwang, Asst Director of Arts Education with NAC was down to tell us more about the initiative, as well as two Noise music mentors, Kevin Mathews and Nicholas Chee. With them were their apprentices: Rachael and Abdul Qader (from local band, S.P.O.N.G.E). Rachael even performed an orginal song for us 'live' ~ that girl has an amazing voice! Find out more at

By the way, have you heard our Living Room Blog trailer? Stan and I want to know what you think of it, so do drop us a comment and let us know if you like it... or hate it... it's hard to stay impartial, I reckon!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Flying Solo

If you didn't hear Stanley on air with me today, it's because he's not. He is in China! *mumble mumble* The lucky boy is at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, and probably watching Roger Federer whacking balls as we speak! If you didn't know, Stanley is an avid tennis player. He even represents MediaCorp in inter-company tennis tournaments! Don't play play, ok? *wink*

Flying solo wasn't all that unnerving ~ thanks to Justine Moss who was with me, reading the news, doing traffic updates, and just being such GREAT company. Justine's a gem! And she will be with me till Wednesday, and then with Stan on Friday when I go on leave. *does a goofy dance*

So how did I feel going solo on air after just 2 weeks? I guess there's something to be said about being thrown in the deep end. You sink or swim. And because you refuse to sink on 'live' radio, you jolly well learn to doggy paddle. And that's the BEST way to learn sometimes, isn't it?

While Stan was away, I got to chat with Constance Singam, the President of AWARE (Association of Women for Action & Research). It's not the first time I'm meeting Constance ~ I interviewed her mid last year when I was still with Vanilla magazine, writing a mega feature story called "(Her)story of Singapore", which outlined how far the Singapore woman has come.

Uncanny as it seems, this was kinda what we talked about today too... not through the printed word this time, but through radio waves! I guess when a story needs to be told, it will be ~ regardless of medium or platform. And I'm a storyteller at heart.

Constance inspires me by her quiet dedication to the work of representing women here and giving voice to their concerns. She's devoted 20 years of her life. You can find out more about AWARE's fundraising dinner "80 Extraordinary Years: Honouring Hedwig Anuar" (19 Nov @ Grand Hyatt) from their website: It's open to the public, and tickets are still available. Do come up and say Hi to me if you decide to go!

Also, I found out Constance Singam has a BLOG ~ and she's 72! If I'm not wrong, she learnt to drive when she was 50. It says a lot about her, doesn't it? Check it out:

Today was special. I met Constance who's 72... and also three 9-year-old boys who talked about their book "Carboxy Wars". Can you believe they wrote and illustrated it? It's been published by Marshall Cavendish and is now being sold (at $8.90) in all major bookstores. So, I say today is "special" because I realise that regardless of whether you're 9 or 72, you can chase your dream, live your passion, and make a difference to others.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Review of Avenue Q

This blog is gonna be YOUR space for some frank reviews from the music, movie and theatre world. And in true Living Room fashion, it's going to be uncut, unadulterated and said like it is.

I caught Avenue Q on Sunday, without knowing what to expect, except that the musical featured puppets, "adult content", and had won several Tony Awards. Can't possibly go far wrong with a Tony, I guess...

And you know what? I absolutely enjoyed It! It was irreverently funny, and what I liked most about it is that it surfaces issues that are always just beneath the surface. Surely, we can all identify with them: The insecurities of loving someone, subconscious racist thoughts, closeting desires, being tempted, or plagued by bad ideas. Oh, don't you just love the Bad Idea Bears? Them bears visit me all the time, I realise... Gosh. *wry grin*

I quite liked Kate Monster's rather silly girly ruminations, like in her "Mixed Tape" song ~ we've all received one of those from potential suitors, no? *wink* Her song "Fine, Fine Line" also played on repeat mode in my mind. There is so much truth in that song. It made my sister (whom I watched the musical with) brush away tears!

Carla Guevara who played Kate Monster is so believable as her, but then the next thing you know, she's playing Lucy the Slut and being 100% believable as her too! With her sexy sashay, rolling hips and sultry voice. Unbelievable!

Well, Stan had his night out at the theatre last evening. So while I had the honour of catching the show before interviewing two Avenue Q cast members, Joel & Rycharde yesterday, my buddy Stan went into the interview 'blind' and probably had a better inkling of how the show would turn out thereafter. Here's what we thought and how many monSTARS we'd give the show.

Pam's Review
MonSTAR rating: 8/10

Stan's Review
MonSTAR rating: 8/10
Puppets rule at Avenue Q and while I've wondered why any serious professional theatre actor would want to play second fiddle to lifeless half-bodied creatures of green, yellow, blue and orange fur, the same sacrificial act of letting the puppets outshine them is truly magnanimous. Throw a stone and you will hit an actor with strong vocals, impeccable sense of rhythm and moves and lots of expression, but find one with puppetery skills and that's where the distinction is made.
Felix Rivera (Princeton & Rod) and Carla Guevara-Laforteza (Kate & Lucy) were amazingly versatile and precise, switching in and out of character voices. Joel (Nicky, Trekkie Monster & Bad Idea Bear #2) was impressive with his level of energy and strict timing. You'd be forgiven to think the puppets were possessed by the spirits of these actors as they oozed energy and emotion from the person who gave them voice and movement. But the issues presented were real and almost all of the time, embarrasingly true! If no one believed it to be so, the audience wouldn't have laughed so hard. Well-scripted, a choice cast (of humans and puppets) and a refreshing twist to musical theatre!

While the music isn't exactly forgettable, it takes more than humour-punctuated lyrics to latch on, and only a couple of pieces did that for me. The set looked pretty much the same throughout, leaving the screens prompting you to a scene/location change. I found many of Christmas Eve's lines (by Frenchie Dy) unintelligible and she'd do well to tone down her Japanese accent, but if you ask me, i still ruv the show and know you will too. Go treat yourself to some pup-petisserie! Now serving at the Esplanade Theatre till 16th Nov!

(Above: Joel Trinidad & Rycharde Everley in The Living Room)

The Q&As of A(venue) Q

In about an hour, we'll be getting up close to two humans who work very closely with puppets. Their every moment in sync with the fuzzy, furry characters they carry on stage. What's life like with a puppet literally on hand? How do professional theatre actors feel about having to share the limelight with these inanimate objects to which they 'breathe life' into? And with all the precise movements, how are their arms holding up?

Pam and I will be posing these questions to cast members Rycharde Everley and Joel Trinidad who'll be on our couch this morning. Pity Lucy (the slut) isn't able to join us; she must have had a very late night doing the things she does. But she did send us some photos which she requested we post here. By the way, she's at 181, Avenue Q if you wanna hunt her down while she's in town.

Watch this space for our post-show review of Avenue Q tomorrow!!!