Thursday, January 29, 2009

Of Wacky Superheroes & Broken English...


Today is the 2nd day MediaCorp is shut down this week due to cost-cutting measures. Everyone's on forced leave and our office floor (where all the radio station DJs are) is a ghost town. But of course, The Living Room team is still dishin' out your daily dose of 'live' interviews! 

Today, we had director Beatrice Chia and actress Karen Tan in The Living Room to tell us more about Toy Factory's upcoming musical Sleepless Town. It's the one where singer Debbie Gibson was supposed to be in! Yes, yes, it's been resurrected and hitting our town on 27 Feb. 

Here to spill the beans on Sleepless Town: Beatrice Chia & Karen Tan.

Personally, I'm excited not because the musical's filled with wacky superheroes, but that the costumes are created by celebrity designer Federick Lee! *lol* I mean, what are superheroes without cool costumes? And wait, Mark Richmond debuts as scriptwriter & Don Richmond as music composer? This, I gotta see... 

Also on our couch this morning was Heather Hansen, a language trainer from California. We had such a good time guffawing at the things we Singlish speakers say without realising how ridiculous we sound to foreigners. 

"Your pipe is choked," said Heather's plumber. She could not, for the life of her, understand how a pipe could "choke". Did the plumber mean...... "clogged"?  

Then there was the immigration officer who wanted to "chop" her passport. Heather was horrified as she envisioned him with a butcher's cleaver... 

When we told Jason & Esther - our listeners now living in Sydney - about our Singlish session over lunch, the couple had a good laugh. Esther added that once she remarked to an Australian colleague, "He's so blur!" and the poor guy had no clue what she meant! 

My jaw dropped. Aussies don't understand what "blur" means? *gasp* 

 Lunch with our listeners from Sydney: Jason, Esther & their adorable kids.

Well, after an excellent zi-char lunch off Eng Neo Ave and a free flow of good conversation, we adjorned to Ben & Jerry's @ Dempsey for some ice cream. It's always wonderful to meet our listeners outside of work. What a lovely way to end the week! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MP In The House, but the Butler's Gone Missing!

Happy Lunar New Year! It was surreal for Pamela & I as we returned to the office today after the long Lunar New Year weekend and public holidays. This is the week MediaCorp 'shuts down' in a cost-cutting effort company-wide. Darkened corridors, empty car parks and quiet as a graveyard. Most staff are on forced leave except for what I'd love to label as 'essential' staff like us. Gee...it's nice to know we're 'vital' since The Living Room goes on - rain or shine, good times or bad.

As usual, we had some great conversations going in the studio. Hope you didn't miss them!

Before I go on, here's some trivia:
- Which Member of Parliament set up a theatre group with his wife and some friends some years back?
- Which constituency's residents were initially concerned when told that a former polyclinic building in their estate would be turned into a foreign worker dormitory, albeit temporarily?
- Which public relations firm just hired an MP as an account director for its public affairs practice three weeks ago?

Answers: Baey Yam Keng, Queenstown, Hill & Knowlton

We hosted perhaps the most youthful-looking MP this morning. We invited him onto our show the day after we'd heard he had joined Singapore's largest PR agency Hill & Knowlton. After explaining to us how a common thread ran through his jobs at EDB, MICA and most recently Capitaland, it didn't seem far fetched that he would join the industry and farther hone his communications & PR skills. Furthermore, which MP wouldn't be in need of those skills given their regular meet-the-people session and the granting of the occasional interview with the media. You can read periodic blog entries by Yam Keng at http://www.p65.sg.

Kickstarting today's first episode in the Year of the Ox was our chat with theatre and stage director Loretta Chen and actor Timothy Nga. After chatting with the both of them, something tells me What The Butler Saw will be a blast. It's the same sense I had after we featured Hossan, Elena and Dwayne on our show ahead of Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs. And the show was truly sensational, drawing rave reviews! So we say, times are bad, morale's low, handouts have been announced, what are you waiting for?! Go spend it on tickets to catch this promising production that boldly sells itself as the 'wackiest farce' in town this year! We all need some cheers and lots of laughter in these times! Staged by Zebra Crossing Productions, it opens at the Drama Centre Theatre next weekend.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spice It Up!


Spices, Spices, Spices. Although Singapore food uses lots of it, how much do we really know about the various types of spices? how to store them? cook them? 

Lucky for us, we had the Spice Queen of Singapore in The Living Room today. She's no stranger to those in touch with the culinary scene here. Devagi Sanmugam is a renowned food columnist, cooking instructor, entrepreneur & author of 16 cookbooks! 

I loved listening to her ~ she talked about spices with such passion. For instance, I learnt from Devagi that if you listen really carefully, different spices give off different crackling sounds when they're cooked, so you can always tell - by listening - when they are ready. Only a Spice Queen can speak of spices like that!

 Queen of Spices: Devagi Sanmugam spices up our morning!

Well, 30 minutes was too short to have all our questions answered. A few listeners called in with queries but we couldn't air them all. The good news though is that Devagi runs a Spice Appreciation Workshop at her cooking school, Epicurean World. And if you're keen to taste her cooking, drop by her newly-opened restaurant Spice Queen @ Race Course Road!

Guess who else spiced up our day? Pierre Png. And if I dare say so myself, he is handsomer in real-life. *wink* 

Pierre came to tell us about a CNY telemovie he's lead-starring in, called A Kucinta Reunion Dinner. We chatted too about his Peranakan roots, his love for food (especially his dad's home-made ngor hiang) and his plans for the Lunar New Year. 

Be sure to catch Pierre, with Mindee Ong (881 fame), on the 2nd day of CNY @ 10pm. Only on Channel 5!  


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prive @ Keppel Bay

We join our colleagues in bidding a tearful farewell to the late Saturday morning talkshow, All About Food. She breathed her last breath on 27 December 2008 and passed away peacefully as a weekend talkshow. All is not lost though. She's been reincarnated into a capsule and replaces what was formerly 'Buon Appetito' on 938LIVE.

However my mum's taught me that we can stinge on anything BUT food. So it is with this wise saying that has prompted us in The Living Room to fill the void. Henceforth, we plan to bring you more food features by way of food reviews, interactions with chefs, bartenders, bakers, farmers, food connoissieur, photographers, consultants and restaurateurs on air and on this blog.
We begin this endeavour with our review of Prive (pronounced as 'pre-vay') - a multi-concept F&B lifestyle venue that encompasses a bar, a cafe and a fine-dining restaurant.

REVIEW
The restaurant's just had a menu makeover and you'll be in good time to be among the first to try the new menu devised by Michelin-starred Master Chef, Wayne Nish. Wayne who's a New Yorker is a trend-setter and champion of fusion cooking. And it comes through in his dishes. Take for instance, Torchon and Saute of Foie Gras de Canard ($32) under 'Starters'. It allows the diner a compare-and-contrast of a chilled cake of creamy goose liver and one that's fragrantly sauteed with a honey-like soy sauce. The Carpaccio ($28) was a light pink palatte-pleaser of yellowtail tuna slice refreshed with ligurean olive oil.

Wayne was also experimental with his Poached Hokkaido Scallop Lasagna ($48), choosing to use sliced tomatoes as the 'pattie' rather than sea urchin roe cream as indicated by the menu. Basking atop the flat sheet of pasta were six juicy scallops calling for the fork to strike. Wayne quipped he might attempt at using the zucchini in place of the tomato the next time. Here's a chef who'll never stop at bringing the enjoyment of food to the next heaven.

If steak's your kind of meat, choose the New York Strip Steak ($68) from the grill. It's 340g of USDA Prime Angus Striploin packed with aromatic juices that made the accompanying dish of brown sauce redundant. The narrow cut made it easy to chew on, but be wary of pockets of fat.

Don't walk away from Prive without a stab at their dessert selection. If you're down to your last cent or final air pocket in your stomach, make it the Molten Center Chocolate Souffle ($23)! Attack it as soon as it's served to avoid disappointment. Leaving it standing may lead to a potential cave-in of the blob of ice-cream and pastry into a pipin' hot bed of chocolate sauce. If you haven't called for the bill, add sixteen dollars more to it by ordering the Lemon and Rasberry Chiboust ($16). Nothing like the zing of Italian meringue to end off a meal.

Alcoholics, you can proceed to the Bar just out the door to your left or the Bakery Cafe beside it for a cuppa. I'd personally recommend the latter's glorious milkshakes. Needless to say, be prepared to pay more than what you'd get at Macs. It's a world of a difference both in quality and price. Some things aren't worth stinging, like my mum says.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Corrinne May on The Living Room!

You've heard her sultry voice on the radio, on soundtracks of movies & TV series. Her latest album 'Beautiful Seed' became Singapore's #1 best-selling album on the very week it was released!

We're of course talking about singer-songwriter Corrinne May, who was our guest on The Living Room today, together with hubby Kavin Hoo. But while it appeared that we had 2 guests, we actually had 3... 

Yes, Kavin & Corrinne are expecting their first child - a girl - come April this year! *grin* And if you're wondering how a 6-months pregnant Corrinne May looks like, here she is: 

Match Made in Heaven: Corrinne May & hubby Kavin Hoo. 

Kavin & Corrinne met at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, and moved to Los Angeles to embark on a music career upon graduation. Corrinne has since released 4 albums: Fly Away, Safe in a Crazy World, The Gift & Beautiful Seed; while Kav started a successful music production company, Earthtones Studio. His instrumental albums have sold over a million copies to date. 

We got Kavin to share about his latest album 'A Moment in Time' (now out in major music stores) which features Corrinne's vocals on 2 tracks. Find out more about what the dynamic duo is up to by clicking on Corrinne & Kavin's websites. 

Well, it seems we won't be seeing as much of Corrinne May once her little bundle of joy arrives ~ at least not for a while. We will surely miss her angelic voice and beautifully-penned songs. But she'll be back! In the meantime, we wish her all the best as she embarks on a new journey... to motherhood. 

Kavin & Corrinne with old Berklee friend, Tong Jen of Symphony 92.4FM.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hungry Go Here!

Today, Stan & I had a lunch date with HungryGoWhere.com's Dennis Goh, who was a guest on The Living Room recently. The die-hard foodie & founder of Singapore's No. 1 food website had promised to take us out for makan, and well, TODAY is the day. But where's he taking us? We didn't find out till this morning. And this is where... 

 Ming Ji Bak Chor Mee @ Blk 1A coffeeshop, Eunos Crescent!

As you can see, there's a queue snaking all the way to the stall. But hey, no one seemed to be complaining. So was the wait worth it? The verdict: A resounding YES! *grin* 










While this bak chor mee is not the vinegar type that I like, I loved the springy meepok, the tasty mushrooms & ah! the chilli mixed into the noodles. But the highlight for me was definitely the fish maw soup. It's one of the best I've tried. My take: Get the bak chor mee + fish maw soup combo for $6. 

I love this job because we get to meet so many people from different walks of life, and sometimes these friendships are extended beyond the Living Room. 

Beyond The Living Room: With HungryGoWhere.com's Dennis Goh. 

We're already planning the next stop on our makan trail ~ char kway teow @ Bedok! 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When The Lion Dances

"What's that ruckus?", you ask. The lions are here and they're not sleeping tonight! They stand ready to pounce, their roar masked by the deafening beat of the drums and clashing cymbals. More lions will be on the prowl as we close in on the Lunar New Year.

The world turns topsy turvy when the lions dance at Chinese festivities. Men have always ridden on beasts, but never beasts on men. Just look who's on top of elephants, camels and horses. The lions have it better in the Chinese culture because the men do all the work while the felines just bat their eyelids seductively and clank their wide lower jaw shut as they prance around.

Thankfully the lion that visited The Living Room (courtesy of the Zhou Guan Sports Centre & Lion Dance Troupe) was vegetarian. It was an eye-opener prying into the world of a lion dancer, getting inside the head of a lion (above: Pam in the lion) and feeling the weight on your arms as you make sudden jerks under the $2,000-plus costume that's made in Hong Kong and weights about 10 kilogrammes in all.

(above from l-r: Wong Gek Heng, Calvin Wong & Laurence Wong with us!)

The weight distribution is almost half borne by the person who manipulates the head movement (usually the lighter of the two dancers who concentrates on the facial expression of the lion) and the guy behind who's hunched over almost 45 degrees to literally hold up the behind (this guy usually the stouter and stronger of the two; he has to be able to carry his buddy on his shoulders and hold him steady when the lion stands on its hind legs).

video

It's one sure weight-loss strategy to be under the lion's skin. Our guest Laurence says their troupe's on the hunt for females to join the pack. Don't worry if you think the lion's are way too huge or heavy, we were surprised to hear they come in smaller sizes too!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rhythm of the Middle-East

What a treat to have sizzlin' rhythms in The Living Room on a Monday morning. No better way to shake out the Monday blues!

We were shocked when percussionist Amit Gilboa came in lugging gargantuan bags filled of percussion instruments of different shapes and sizes. He tells us that the most widely-used drum in the Middle-East is the Darbuka, which can be played solo (like accompaniment for a belly dance performance) or in a band with string instruments like the Oud

Well, Stan & I got to roll up our sleeves and have a hand at playing the Darbuka. Here we are, trying our darnest to keep in rhythm while Amit added a layer of percussion solo over our base rhythm. It wasn't that tough lah, and we had a blast! 
 
Getting into the Groove: Stan & Pam play the Darbuka!

But hey, nothing compares to seeing the Master in action. So here he is:  

video

This (soon-to-be) father of two formed a band called the Al-Bedouin Middle Eastern Music Emsemble in 2004. You can also find out more about what he does here. Or if you're keen on some 'live' Middle-Eastern music, head down to Shiraz @ Clark Quay on Friday & Saturday nights to catch Amit in action. 

We also found out about Singapore Polytechnic's new Diploma course in Creative Writing for TV & New Media from three lecturers and veterans in the media/broadcast industry. They are Frederick Sui TanLee Sher Lin and Gamar Aziz (pictured). It was a very lively and informative discussion ~ but what would you expect when you thrust five media people together in a room? *grin*  

Find out more about this very exciting course here or at Singapore Poly's website. I truly believe the journalist of the today needs to be effective in multiple platforms, especially New Media ~ this is where it's heading with MediaCorp's Newsplex, so this course is surely timely. 

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Miami Ink's Chris Garver Visits!

I've been waiting for this for weeks... actually since I found out from my sis last year that Singapore will host its 1st ever tattoo convention in Jan '09, and more recently, that Chris Garver of Miami Ink is coming down to our sunny island.

The talented team from Miami Ink: Chris Garver on extreme right.

I'm a fan of the show for two reasons: Firstly, the people who step into the shop requesting for tattoos each have a story to tell. I'm personally fascinated by these real-life stories, which have opened my eyes to the myriad of reasons ordinary people get tattoos. With Miami Ink, I started to see tattooing more as an "art form", a mode of self-expression.

Secondly, I am mesmerised by the artistic flair and raw talent of the tattoo artists on Miami Ink. I see people trickle in to the shop earnestly sharing their ideas, sometimes armed with a sketch or photo, and then I see how these guys transform these ideas into pure works on art. It's like bare skin is their canvas. The final product always blows my mind!

Miami Ink's Chris Garver & Kirby Lian on The Living Room.

In my opinion, one of the best tattoo artists around is Chris. This man is seriously GOOD at his craft. And I hope to one day be inked by him. He tells us though that the waiting list as of now is 15,000...

"15,001," I remind him, pointing to myself. Expectantly. But no such luck.

I must say it was a real pleasure chatting with Chris. He's warm and down-to-earth, and when he listens to you, he looks you attentively in the eye. When we were snapping the blog photo, he jokes, "So, do you want us to take off our shirts?" I was like OH. OKAY. But he just laughed it off... DARN.

Also on our couch this morning was Kirby Lian of Utopia Studio - the visionary behind the Singapore Tattoo Show 2009. It's undeniable how passionate this self-taught local tattoo artist is about his profession. He took a leap of faith by organising this convention, which will bring together tattoo artists from around the world.

It's truly an international platform where cultural ideas, styles and expertise will be exchanged. It's even garnered the endorsement of the Singapore Tourism Board. Kirby tells us that he plans to make this an annual event, which is exciting I think!

Well, I'm looking forward to checking out the convention this weekend. Who knows? You may just spot me with a brand new tattoo next Monday?



Singapore Tattoo Show 2009

9-11 Jan '09

11am - 10pm (Fri-Sat) 11am - 8pm (Sun)

Singapore Expo Hall 6B

$18 (1-day) / $50 (3-day)

www.tattoo.com.sg



Wednesday, January 07, 2009

When Ducks go "HONK!"...

...you know you're in a strange place. You'd be even stranger if you were the only duck to 'honk' rather than quack your way through life. It was loads of laughs when we hosted Joshua Lim and Ann Lek, the two student leads of HONK! The Musical to be staged by SMU later this month.

Calling the shots is first-time director, actor Sebastian Tan, of Snow White & Seven Dwarves (where he played the wicked Queen) and Broadway Beng fame. The story's based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the ugly duckling. The show will be staged over two evenings later this month.

(above: Pam with Sebastian, Ann, Josh & Chris who's programme director of the SMU Arts Fest)

We bring you an x-clue-sif Living Room Blog interview with Sebastian Tan. Click on the picture below for an enlarged view of his handwritten answers to our questions.

HONK! The Musical
presented by the Singapore Management University
Fri, 23rd Jan & Sat, 24th Jan 2009
Victoria Theatre, 8pm
Tickets @ $20/$25

Email to book your tickets!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Coined "The Year of the Ox"

I'm still scratching my head trying to decipher how different a cow from the West would look from an ox from the east. Pam stumped me when she remarked it was a "Western-looking" cow after taking a look at the picture (left) of the 2009 Australia Year of the Ox 1oz 999 Silver Coloured Edition Coin being sold by the Singapore Mint. You decide.

After today's chat with Singapore Mint's Director Yip Pak Ling, I think it's a novel idea to replace the traditional red packets we give out to children at Lunar New Year with special edition coins or the 2009 Hongbao Coin Set which consists a scallop-shaped $5 uncirculated coin and newly minted coins of the 5, 10, 50 and one-dollar denomination.

Speaking of sets, we've got two Singapore Lunar Ox 2 oz 999 Silver Piedfort Proof Colour Coins each worth $163 (design below, but colours aren't precise) to give away to two lucky listeners/blog readers of The Living Room, courtesy of the Singapore Mint. Either email us at or leave us a comment on this blog, telling us why you ought to be the one charging away with one of these limited edition coins! (mintage: 20,000)
Hurry! Closing date for submissions is Thursday, 8th Jan 2009.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year, New Nonsense

It's our first day back at work in the New Year, and Stan & I are brimming with new ideas. For one, we've decided to freak our guests out by placing these emoticators on the console - facing them - so they know how we're feeling. *grin*

I thought Stan was kidding, but when I didn't bring mine down, the boy made me run up 4 floors to get it! *grumble*

Stan & Pam's moods this morning: Now plain for all our guests to see...

Well, it didn't help that our first guest of 2009 was an NLP coach & trainer! Bless her heart, Sylvia Fernandes (who's also founder of Via Group) looked a tad concerned when she saw my emoticon staring back at her. "Why?" she asked kindly. I smiled and shrugged it off as I seriously was not soliciting free therapy.

A little perplexed, I ask Stan later, "Should I tell the truth ah?" He looks at me for a moment, then says matter-of-factly. "Tell the truth lah." Oh. Alright.

In any case, I totally enjoyed the uplifting conversation with Sylvia! One takeaway for me: Seize this time of economic gloom to do the things we've always wanted to do but held off because we were going on auto-pilot. It can be a period that brings us closer to our passion.

I've decided to travel this year and just agreed to go skydiving with a friend. *gulp*

I was also heartened by the real-life story of Francis & Dorothy Chong, who shared candidly about how their marriage survived adultery. The brave couple hopes that their book 'No More Tears: Reconciliation After Adultery' will help other couples going through similar pain to find hope.

Well, the couple has generously offered to give away 2 copies of their book to our listeners. So if you'd like a copy, perhaps to pass to a friend you know who is in such a predicament, email us at livingroom@938LIVE.sg.

We look forward to having you join us in our Living Room this year. Do continue to write us as we'd love to hear from you! Happy New Year!!!