Thursday, January 28, 2010

Catch No Ball with Singlish?

If you tell someone that you 'catch no ball', you're in fact telling the person that you don't get the drift. That's just one of many examples of Singlish that you can find in A Dictionary of Singlish and Singapore English. The online resource is the hobbyhorse of Jack Lee who qualifies that he has no formal qualifications in English linguistics at all, kosong. Jack who was once Assistant Director for the Singapore Academy of Law is now in academia as Assistant Professor of Law at the Singapore Management University.

(above: Me, Kirpal, Jack and Justine)

I was dead sure today's chat about Singlish in The Living Room was going to be the perfect bait that would get listeners calling in. Die die sure got people call one! If only I'd backed my gut feel with some dollars, I'd be able to enjoy at least a fine-dining meal tonight rather than rice and kiam chye.

The talking points (listed below) I'd prepared for our discussion were simple, but with such a topic that evidently resonates and resides within each Singaporean, I knew it was going to be one dynamic and free flowing chat we'd have with Jack and his colleague Kirpal Singh, who's Director of the Wee Kim Wee Centre at SMU and Associate Professor of English Literature at the institution.

Talking Points:
- How was Singlish born? Out of necessity of communication across cultures and language groups?
- What is it and what is it not?
- Should we promote it or clamp down its use?
-The place and purpose of Singlish
- How is Singlish evolving? Who shapes Singlish?

One area that was raised by one of our listeners Mona on air had to do with how broad or narrow we'd like Singlish to be defined. Should the definition of Singlish exclude the use of other languages? Should it be grammatically correct or can it break the rules? Singlish though widely used by everyone from pushcart vendors to political leaders, remains an enigma whose parameters remain ill-defined. Perhaps Singlish is too fluid and wildly organic that try as one might, no one can successfully put a lid on it.

(above: Justine brought a copy of the Coxford Singlish Dictionary for the ride, a gift she'd received in 2002! Her favourite Singlish phrase in 'chop chop kali pok'. I suspect she uses that a lot with cab drivers once she hails one down and jumps in.)

The jury is out as to what Singlish really encompasses, but slit it right through to the belly and I bet you'd still be figuring out what this special brand of English is all about. Surely, Singlish is the soul and spirit of Singapore, it is one component that contributes to the Singaporean identity and it unifies one people.

If you don't speak Singlish in Singapore and amongst your own people, you're not quite one of us. Tear down that facade and come clean can or not! You think we cannot see is it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beyond The (Yorkshire) Pudding

Mention 'Yorkshire' and the first thing that comes to my mind is 'pudding'. Forgive me for the simplistic association with this historic county - one of the UK's most exciting and vibrant counties. Beyond its pudding, I'm sure this county of about 5 million people has lots more treasures to boast of. Yorkshire's after all been nicknamed 'God's own county', and God surely wouldn't pick it as His own if the proof was only literally in the pudding.

Yorkshire and Singapore, though separated by almost 11000 kilometres, is linked by the sea and the latter's colonial past. I was today most privileged to witness the coming together of two communities in the first ever cultural exchange programme between Yorkshire and Singapore. The ceremony at Keppel Bay Marina though without pomp and pageantry was significant as it involved the gifting of prize-winning literature. The Chief Executive of the National Library Board, Dr N. Varaprasad, was on hand to receive from Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Mr Gary Verity, a rare 1877 antique edition of the English classic Wuthering Heights from the Bronte Parsonage Museum. This emblematic gift was printed just 30 years after the novel by Emily Bronte was completed and published in 1847. In preparation for my chat with Dr Varaprasad and Gary, I came to learn that 'wuthering' is a Yorkshire word that refers to 'turbulent weather'! That makes us, yes, you and me, just about the only enlightened Singaporeans around!

An exchange isn't quite one if it's one sided is it? So this is where award-winning local author Su-Chen Christine Lim comes into the picture. The first author to win the inaugural Singapore Literature Prize in 1992 had the honour of presenting a copy of her critically acclaimed novel Fistful of Colours to Gary. What are her thoughts and impressions of Yorkshire and Singapore, and the two novels that have been exchanged?

"On the surface, Yorkshire and Singapore seem worlds apart. One is known for its brooding moors, the other for its city spaces. Yet the two novels, Wuthering Heights and Fistful of Colours chosen for this historic cultural exchange, share universal themes like love, passion and betrayal. Both critically acclaimed novels reveal history, culture and spirit of the land and its people. And although written in a different time and context, both novels will deepen the reader's understanding of passion, love and art."

To view the symbolic gift of the 1877 edition of Wuthering Heights, it will be housed for public review at the National Library of Singapore on Level 7 from 1st to 28th February 2010.

Before I wrap up this entry, and as if to convince me that Yorkshire was famed for more foods than just the pudding, I walked away from the literature exchange not only with the essential Living Room interview recorded on-site and some photos to show for, but tea time delights from out of the county.

I'm sold on a visit to Yorkshire sooner than later! How about you?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Want a Hybrid Car...

I want a hybrid car. After sitting on the fence for so many years, I've finally been pushed over.

All because I was "forced" to do research on hybrid technology when producing eco tips for our client Hybrid Motors, and I got to learn so much about the latest developments. And of course the pivotal point was chatting with Hybrid Motor's CEO, Eddie Lo.

Pushed off the fence by CEO of Hybrid Motors, Eddie Lo.

... that a full tank of petrol, which now gets me about 400km in my conventional Suzuki SX4, will get me 700km with a hybrid car? That's cos a hybrid car not only has a petrol engine but an electric battery, which (in case you didn't know) charges by itself as you're driving. There's no need to plug it in to charge, and it lasts the lifetime of your car!
And there's more POWER. A 1.8L hybrid car has the power of a 2.4L car, but the petrol consumption of a 1.0L car. Isn't that the absolute coolest? :0

Eddie, who set up Hybrid Motors in Singapore in 2008, has been driving a hybrid car for the past 6 years. In fact, he's been in the automobile industry for 11 years, being originally from Hong Kong. He settled in Singapore 5 years ago, and it's really his passion & conviction about hybrid technology that compelled him to start a company that imports hybrid cars.

I was down at the Hybrid Motors showroom at Ubi, and it's a whole collection of hybrid cars all under one roof... different brands, different models... from sedans, to SUVs and MPVs...

Eddie reveals that he'll be bringing in the hybrid sports cars very soon! Imagine a sports car that's quiet. That's another thing about hybrid cars -- it's a quieter drive.

I swear that hybrid cars are getting more handsome. I have to admit I was always a little put off by the boring, standard look of the earlier models. But now... they're quite good lookers, I must say! *wink*

So yah, I'm pretty much sold. And I'm not just saying that. It just makes so much sense to me, in the long run. And personally, it matters to me that I'm doing my bit to save the earth.

If you'd like to find out more about hybrid cars & hybrid technology, visit Hybrid Motors website by clicking here.

After all, celebrities like Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Prince Charles... and many others... have jumped on the green bandwagon, and traded gas-guzzling luxury cars for hybrid ones. So, what do you think is really "in"? *wink*

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Emergency Charity Concert in Aid of Haiti Victims

The situation in Haiti is devastating. I was googling some images, reading scattered updates from eye witnesses & foreign correspondents, and checking out vids on YouTube, and it leaves me with a heavy heart.

The death toll from the Jan 12 earthquake is estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000. Not to mention the many who survive but are dying slowly in makeshift hospitals all around its capital Port-au-Prince.

Sure, Haiti is far far away from sunny Singapore. And we are probably quite comfortable going on with our lives with just a vague knowledge of the plight of the people there. But if you were to put yourself in their shoes... seeing your partner, child, friend, lying there slowly dying... how would you feel?

That's why I want to blog about this charity concert in aid of the victims of the Haiti, because in some small way, I feel like I can make a difference. And I trust that you will too, when you respond by supporting them.

Organised by Cafe Diplo, this concert titled Haiti Haiti aims to raise $50,000 -- through public & corporate donations -- for World Vision's Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.

We had the Founder & Director of local peacebuilding organisaton Cafe Diplo, Jonathan How, come in to share with us what compelled him to put up this concert. What really touched me was when he read excerpts of eye witness reports from World Vision on air. I was frozen in my swivel chair, holding my breath.

Veteran singers Robert Fernando, Cat Ong and Cafe Diplo's Jonathan How tell us about a charity concert for Haiti earthquake victims.

The bottom line for this blog entry is please support them. You can go down to their concert next weekend or donate via their website. I'll provide you info for both:

Haiti Haiti
(Emergency Charity Concert)
Sat, 30 Jan
8pm - 10pm
City Square Mall (Main Atrium)
FREE Admission

For more info, or to make a donation, click HERE.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Date with Men in Tutus!

My colleague Melanie Oliviero (F-Cube, weekdays 12noon-3pm) and I have a date. With Men. In Tutus. It doesn't quite sound like the sort of date we girls would be excited about. But oh, we were!

We grabbed a quick bite at a Japanese restaurant before heading for Men In Tutus at the Esplanade Theatre. I guess after a crazy day in the office, we were just looking forward to some hearty laughs.

The truth is, Mel & I secretly hoped we wouldn't doze off during the performance... But the show was just so insanely brilliant that we were hooked from start to end.

These men are first & foremost world-class male ballet dancers. And while we imagine they just want to don pretty tutus, Brian Norris (Artistic Director, Les Ballets Grandiva) explains that the real reason is that most of them want to do pointe work [pictured, left], which until quite recently was exclusive to ballerinas.

I will tell you one thing: These men are unbelievably graceful! I swear they're 100 times more feminine than me!

But ever so often -- because they are parodying ballerinas -- they'd lapse into what I call "ugly movements". It's just the whole unexpectedness of these ugly movements that cracked me up!

My favourite must surely be Dying Swan (from Swan Lake), performed by Joshua Thake, whom we interviewed yesterday. Think shedding feathers... death spasms... body parts going limp bit by bit... collapsing in a messy heap on the floor. This scene will forever be etched in my mind: The brilliant juxtaposition of graceful ballet & dying poultry.

The Men in Tutus came out to greet us after the show, and everyone wanted a piece of them! Can you spot Brian and Joshua?

Joshua Thake [right] reminded Melanie of Lady Gaga, while this dainty Japanese dancer [left] reminded me of actress Maggie Chung!

Was there anything I didn't like about the show?

Well, there were several times when the dancers were fighting for the limelight on stage (deliberately, of course, as part of this whole diva thing), so they'd have their cheeky tactics of stealing the thunder from each other. While it was hilarious, it got a tad tedious after a while. Move on already!

But all in all, I had a wonderful evening! On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give them an 8.5. I never thought I'd enjoy ballet. But Men In Tutus was anything but boring & stuffy. How many popcorns would you give them, Mel? *LOL*

If you want to catch them, it's still not too late. Men in Tutus is on till Sunday 24 Jan. Click here for tickets.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Men in Tutus!

They arrived in MediaCorp in their tutus, but we missed them in it cos they had changed back to their shirts & jeans by the time they came over from Channel NewsAsia... *awww*

I wanted to shoot a vid of them doing pointe work, and was a tad disappointed that they were wearing rubber slippers! *LOL* But these guys are the best. They wasted no time kicking off their slippers & slipping into their ballerina shoes.

In fact, they offered to change into their tutus for us. At this point, Brian Norris, Artistic Director of Les Ballets Grandiva, pulled out these white tubes [pictured, left] which kinda look like giant versions of my bolster. Yes, I still have one! *blush*

Apparently, this is how their tutus are stored! In fact, he was in the midst of folding & stuffing them in as we were chatting...
Although he's Artistic Director, Brian is a performer too, having danced from 1994 to 2001 with the world-famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. He's even performed for President & Mrs Clinton in 1998!

"Male comedy ballet is not about men playing women, but men parodying ballerinas," he clarifies, adding that this genre of ballet is anything but stuffy. "You'll be laughing till you cry! But we're first of all world-class male ballet dancers, so you'll be seeing high standards."

In fact, Les Ballets Grandiva is the largest company of its kind in the world, with over 50 ballets in its repertoire, and 19 of the best international male ballet dancers from 7 countries.

Joining our chat is dancer Joshua Thake, whose ballerina persona is Ida Crayne. Every dancer has an on-stage persona. What tickled me most was how the name Ida Crayne came about.

Josh is 6'2", a tall strappy chap. And because of his height, he's usually the one who does a lot of the carrying in the dances. And his ballerina name is a play on that. Ida Crayne = "I the crane"! *LOL* Aren't these guys hilarious?

Although he had changed out, Josh still had his full makeup & ballerina hairdo on. Stan was mesmerised by his pink lip gloss, while I was mesmerised by his thick, luscious eye lashes! ooh-la-la!

Joshua & Brian from Men in Tutus in The Living Room.

We had such a blast chatting with them & learning more about male comedy ballet as a genre. Did you know that the tradition of men playing female roles dates back to Ancient Greece, when women were forbidden by law to perform publicly on stage?

Well, the tradition of men portraying women's roles continues in male comedy ballet today, purely for comedy's sake. And we're glad! Who says ballet has to be stuffy & boring???

As promised, here's Joshua showing off his pointe work...

Men in Tutus is in town for only 4 days, so don't procrastinate! I'm looking forward to catching the show with my colleague Melanie (Oliveiro) tomorrow night at the Esplanade. Come over & say hi if you see us!

Men in Tutus
21 - 24 Jan
Esplanade Theatre
Tickets via SISTIC.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What has Nanz Chong been up to?

Nanz Chong is looking GOOD! And is that a tan we spot? *wink* It's hard to imagine she's a mother of three; definitely easier to believe she was once a fashion model. She doesn't look a day past 35, and oh, check out those boots!

"Forever 21," she grins, following my gaze.

When the once hugely-successful retail chain One.99 crumbled, Nanz did not sit on her butt for long. For the past 7 years, she has been going around giving inspirational talks locally & overseas, even writing a book - One Business, 99 Lessons - which became an instant bestseller.

And she's at it again, with a new online portal targeted at the Asian woman called Nanz Inc.

It's Nanz's new baby - one she conceived with long-time friend, Theresa Tan. Theresa was former Editor of Female magazine, and Editor-in-Chief of Elle. She's also Founder & Director of Women Make A Difference, a non-profit organisation that addresses women's & children's issues.

"We're the sort who can't sit still," explains Theresa with a chuckle. Both she & Nanz have 3 kids each. "As my mother would say, we have itchy backsides!"

Well, we're glad that they do! Because just 3 months after its launch, Nanz Inc is already reaching out to women beyond our shores. And men, too! It's a marvelous thing, really - a form of public service they're providing to us women - because hey, our men surely need to understand the psyche of us Asian woman! *LOL*

Do check out Nanz Inc by clicking here. Watch out too for events that will be comin' at you ~ You can follow these tech-savvy chicks on Facebook or Twitter.

My guest-host Justine Moss & I had a lovely Girl Talk session with Creative Head of Nanz Inc, Theresa Tan and Nanz Chong-Komo.

Well, another conversation we had in The Living Room today was with some talented young people from SIM. Yes, it's the first-ever Broadway musical put up by an educational institution, and SIM is bearing the torch...

We're talking about Thoroughly Modern Millie, 1967 American musical film about a naive young girl from Kansas who moves to New York to begin a new life. It traces her madcap adventures, especially when she sets her sights on marrying her wealthy boss. But does Love win at the end of the day? You'll have to catch the production to find out.

And here to tell us more are the production's Producer, Shane Lee, and the two lead actors Madeline Teo and Robin Chiu. So what is the highlight of the show for them?

Talented students from SIM staging a musical: [L to R] Lead actors Robin & Madeline, and Producer Shane.

Madeline looks bashful. She nudges Robin. Then a smile creases her pretty face. "I think Madeline has something to share..." says the ever-observant Justine.

"The kissing scene," Madeline reveals, bashfully. "It's a little awkward..."

"Is it a long kiss or a short one?" Justine presses on, clearly not letting her off the hook.

"It's not long, but there are a few of them," Madeline chuckles.

Oh! We love to see young people embarrassed & awkward like this! And so we carry on this line of conversation, teasing more out of them. "Is it a real kiss, or one of those where you cheat and hide behind your hand?"

"It's real!" Robin & Madeline assure us.

OK, for the kissing scenes alone, we will catch the musical, guys! *LOL* Here's wishing you all the best & don't forget your mints!

Thoroughly Modern Millie Junior
6 Feb
3pm & 8pm
NAFA Lee Foundation Theatre
Tickets via SISTIC

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Science of Change

Science is an intriguing subject - ever that quest for an answer, leaving mystery only permission for temporary residency. Today in The Living Room, it felt we were in Science class. Despite not having any open flames over bunsen burners or instrusive vernier calipers, three quarters of our chat was related directly and indirectly to the subject.

Andrew Melia warmed the couch after the 10 o'clock news. The senior science educator at Science Centre Singapore was on the show to shed light on the cloak of partial darkness to be cast on the surface of our planet this Friday afternoon. Singaporeans can join many in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East in witnessing the first annular eclipse of the new decade. While preparing for the interview, I caught myself for having misunderstood the word 'annular' to mean 'annual'. What would I do without Wiki?! Now all we've got to do is to hope for a cloudless day to be able to fully appreciate the darkening of the skies by around 20 to 30% when the eclipse is at its peak at about 4.25pm. If you're planning to catch it, never stare at the sun with the naked eye. Make sure you put some 'clothes' on, like the cool-looking solar glasses we're wearing. Don't we look like X-Men characters?! But trust me, we were totally blind in those glasses as they're only good for looking at the sun!

The sun's truly been shining on Science Centre Singapore. More than 14 years ago, a man assumed the post of Chief Executive. He was Dr Chew Tuan Chiong, green and who admitted to almost having lost his job just days into his new office when it concerned the hosting of a head of state at the facility's motion simulator. But what wasn't simulated was the centre's expansion. We're not talking about just the facilities or volume of activities, but a two-fold increase in the visitorship! How's that for signs that the centre truly had a visionary leader?

Dr Chew relinquishes his post this Friday with what we hear are plans to enter the real estate industry. The trained engineer doesn't look at it as 'throwing in the towel' as he will still maintain ties with the national institution that doubles up as both an educational establishment and a tourist attraction.

He is convinced that the Science Centre is and will remain "one of the most potent media we have, to get a child to like science, and to like learning as a whole". We're going to miss this man and wish him much success in his future undertakings.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Merchants of Bollywood!

I love Bollywood! The whole spectacle of it! The colours, movements, energy, music, costumes, everything!

Some years back, my friend Glenda (Chong) introduced me to the Bollywood film Devdas and I was hooked. These Bollywood stars are just all so gorgeous... Shahrukh Khan... Aiswarya Rai... And they're expected to act + sing + dance. Unbelievable!

So I was pretty excited that the hit musical The Merchants of Bollywood has rolled into town! It's birthed from the bowels of Bollywood, and the cast members are based in Mumbai. It's the real deal. But instead of gracing the big screen, they explode spectacularly on stage! Here's a sneak peak:

We had on the couch today the beautiful leading lady of Merchants of Bollywood, Carol Furtado, who plays Ayesha. She came in all dolled up in her sari, Indian jewellery & makeup, and she caused quite a stir with Bharai & Keith (FRESH) even before she came onto our show. I swear it made Keith & Bharati want to dance and chase each other around a coconut tree! *wink*

Joining Carol were Producer Mark Brady and Choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant, on whom the story of the musical is based. She is a renowned choreographer in Bollywood and the story basically revolves around her and her grandfather. You'll have to catch the show to find out the rest!

Carol, Vaibhavi & Mark sharing with us about The Merchants of Bollywood!

I can't wait to catch the performance! There are only 8 shows scheduled in Singapore. So don't miss it!

The Merchants of Bollywood
12 - 17 Jan
Esplanade Theatre
Tickets via SISTIC

For more information, click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I swear it was the presence of Neil Humpheys that made me say, "Hi, I'm Pamelo" on national radio. Boo boos aside, this bloke just brings in rays of sunshine when he plonks himself on our couch ~ every time.

When he was coming in to the waiting area of our studio before his interview, he peered at Stan & me through the glass and made a monkey face at us like a little Primary school kid. While I was trying hard to concentrate on the ongoing conversation, a smile did escape my lips!

And who would've imagined that talking about match fixing & illegal betting syndicates could elicit gaffaws from us? Well, that's Neil Humphreys for you!

Neil Humphreys shares about his 1st novel, Match Fixer.

Corruption, match fixing & illegal betting syndicates in squeaky-clean Singapore? Isn't that like voluntarily putting his head on the chopping board?

But Neil wants the controversy! He's hankering for the book to be the Saint Jack (1970s movie that was banned in Singapore for 30 years for featuring prostitution & homosexuality) of 2010!

But everyone's been so accepting and supportive, and it's driving him nuts! *LOL*

Well, I'm eager to bury my nose in Neil's book. I love that we get review copies from publishers! (Thanks, Marshall Cavendish!) But this time, we got another gift ~ and ooh, what a cool one!

Check out these football jerseys we got! They are limited edition, only 40 jerseys in circulation, and all numbered. Mine's 14. I feel special. *beams*

Win Neil Humphrey's debut novel, MATCH FIXER!

Courtesy of publisher Marshall Cavendish,

The Living Room has two copies of Neil's debut novel, Match Fixer,
to be given away to two lucky listeners of 938LIVE!

To be let in on the murky world of football corruption, illegal betting syndicates & match fixing in squeaky-clean Singapore, email us at and tell us why you deserve a copy of Match Fixer.

Match Fixer is retailing at $18.50 (before GST) at all major bookstores.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Do You See a Goal Post?

Welcome to a new year of The Living Room! We've kept from renovating our show because we want to keep things familiar. But familiarity won't mean a show that's turning yellow at the corners and showing its age. Rest assured the conversations will continue to be served pipin' hot and catered to suit your palate's preferences.

I thought it most apt to invite a personal coach onto the show today, the first work day of the year, to talk about how we can seize the day (carpe diem) every day in 2010! If organisations do their audits annually and one component they assess is the number of man hours lost, then on a personal and individual level, how many 'man hours' have you lost because you (i) proscrastinated, (ii) got your priorities wrong, (iii) succumbed to bad habits, (iv) got distracted, (v) delayed or (vi) went off course?

While 362 days still lay ahead for us to grab each day by the tail (it's the year of the tiger!), Justine Moss and I wasted no time on the show picking the mind of executive and personal coach, Sabreena Andriesz who heads up her own consultancy, The Conscious Choice. She's also current President of International Coach Federation Singapore.

Here are her 7 Golden Rules for Goal-Setting & Goal-Getting:

1. Goals must be expressed in the positive where it concerns outcome or destination goals; these set the direction for us.
2. Make the goals as specific as possible.
3. Decide how you will get evidence and feedback for your achievement.
For the ultimate goal, set the evidence that will tell you that you have 'arrived'.
For the journey, or process goals or pit-stops, decided on the feedback to pay attention to.
4. Identify the resources available to you.
5. Be proactive.
6. Pay attention to ecology or your environment.
7. Make an action plan.

Here's wishing you success in netting some precious goals this new year!