SORRY GWYNETH PALTROW, I’M STILL REFERRING TO IT AS “DIVORCE”, LIKE SOME SORT OF BABARIAN


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I know for a fact that Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t want you to discuss the end of her 10-year marriage to Coldplay hipster Chris Martin. That’s why she came up with “Conscious Uncoupling”. Gwyneth Paltrow is an Oscar winner and Oscar winners do not get divorced like commoners.

When I read those words, I frowned hard. I blinked, and instinctively enlarged the font size to ‘72’. My ears got itchy. My face went close to the screen, then back. My mind could not process the words, because my brain was angry.

Why did she have to complicate a 150-year-old, universally accepted term called “divorce”? It must have worked, because here I am, consciously writing about “Conscious Uncoupling”, instead of her supposed affair with entertainment lawyer Kevin Yorn. Hey let’s deconstruct clumsy phrases instead of addressing why celebrities-who-have-everything stray!

Coldplay’s new single is called ‘Magic’, but I think Chris Martin is calling it quits. Who wouldn’t, when you have a New Agey-wife who hates gluten, eats naked in front of the mirror to stay slim and hangs around flirty billionaires all the time? I, too, would lock myself away in some wintery log cabin to write morose albums called Mylo Xyloto while growing an epic beard.

I can only imagine the hair-pulling euphemisms Mother Gwyneth imparts to her children Apple and Moses at home, you know, phrases that would make every other child in the playground wonder if they’re aliens.  Does she refer to “taking a dump” as “Pre-Composting”? Or a fart as “Unfriendly Methane”? Or the act of intercourse as “Blooming Flowers”? I mean, who knows, right? It is very hard to predict people who hate the dictionary.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, and Gwyneth and Chris are on to something radically “transformative as co-parenting resources”. See how I’m starting to sound like them? Who am I to suggest this “conscious” and “unconscious” thing won’t catch on? I shall refer to every wedding as “conscious coupling”, and every couple divorcing while in a coma as “unconscious uncoupling”. Right?

Follow the writer on Twitter and Instagram @TommyWee.

Turf Love!


HSBCGolf

I would watch any competition that involves tough women athletes. I’m also excited about games that involve scenic locations, heavy swinging rods (pow!), hole-in-ones, and tough women athletes. Fine, I shall call it women’s golf.

This year’s HSBC Women’s Champions 2014 is set to provide the Singaporean public with yet another international sporting event to savour with world’s top players including World No. 1 Inbee Park, returning champion Stacy Lewis as well as Suzann Pettersen battling for the winning title, starting Thursday 27 Feb till Sunday 2 March.

There will also be roadshows happening at Marina Square and Chevron House with more than $10,000 worth of prizes to be won. These attractive prizes include HSBC Women’s Champions entry passes,  Fairmont Singapore Hotel stays, Jaguar premiums, Sentosa Golf Course flights, premium airweave mattress toppers worth >$1000, Casillero del Diablo wine and more! Check out this link for details! [ http://www.hsbc.com.sg/1/2/miscellaneous/hsbc-womens-champions-2014/events_calendar]

Did I mention that this year there is also a nice “pre-game” contest even for non-golfers, specifically the “Snap and Win” Photo contest (happening 10 – 26 February 2014), where a nice photo with a good caption can very well win you a pair of tickets to the Maldives! In addition, you can stand to win a pair of season passes to the HSBC Women’s Champions tournament at Sentosa Golf Course, 13 daily prizes in total, to catch all the action happening there.

All you have to do is tweet a photo with the most exciting place you can think of to tee off in Singapore (Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade, Singapore River etc) with the hashtags, #SingaporeIsOurTurf, and let the judges do the rest! Do look out for your winning entries to be announced via HSBC Women’s Golf’s official twitter account @HSBCWomensGolf.

I’d suggest tweeting places with a nice open field (Gardens By The Bay, maybe?) or a superb vantage point (top of new The Westin Hotel, perhaps?). Either way, have fun and good luck with your Maldives hole-in-one. :)

It’s A Mobile Thing


It was supposed to be a simple question about renewing the road tax and insurance for my car, but the customer service officer said some pretty surreal stuff instead.

“Er, Sir, it appears that there is a warrant out for your arrest.”

Hey, I thought. Not bad for a Thursday afternoon. This civil servant is quite funny. I waited for him to say something else.

He said nothing and waited. I looked at him quizzically. He looked down at his girlfriend’s photo on his desk. She was chubby and she was eating an ice-cream cone and it was getting awkward.

Long story short, it turned out I had a parking violation sent to my old address, and because I had moved house and didn’t get the summons (or paid the fine) in time, a warrant of arrest was issued to my name.

I had no intention of seeing the inside of a jail cell so I paid a couple of hundred bucks and had the warrant revoked on the spot. Was that dramatic or was that dramatic?

So it goes without saying that I got the free AXS M-station App (available on App Store and Google Play) as soon as I knew it existed. No more hunting for an AXS machine in peak hour traffic to pay a phone bill, credit card bill, or parking fine. The whole process is right there in your palm.

So here’s how you can download the app and pay your bills on the go.

1)     Go to the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (Android) to search and download the free app. It’s called AXS Payment.

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2)     Pick out the Category of Bills or Fines you wish to pay – General, Credit Cards, Loans or LTA , Traffic Police, URA etc

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3)     Get your online banking token ready, and pay with eNets.

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It’s as simple as that!

5 #Selfie Rules


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If you’re not getting married or having a baby, it’s hard to browse Facebook without wondering why you’re not getting married or having a baby.

I ask myself, has Facebook become the matrimonial/baby channel? Why are population agencies telling us there is a baby shortage? Where are all these babies going? Don’t get me wrong, these are very happy, meaningful occasions and they are definitely worth celebrating. What is amazing though is how we share these occasions via dozens of photos while friends never tire of commenting or gushing endlessly about them. The supply has to meet the demand, right?

I join in the fun sometimes, by commenting on candid pictures. But I think we need some broad guidelines people, since some of us run the risk of over-sharing details that are best kept private. So in the interest of public service, here goes:

1)      If your newborn is having the runs and the colour of the discharge is highly interesting to you, it might be a good idea to not post the close-ups. This is because some people browse Facebook even while eating.

2)       We know newly-weds are thrilled to be starting their lives together. We humbly request that you refrain from posting intimate photos of yourselves in compromising positions in bed or in the Jacuzzi while on holiday. We’d like to keep you as friends.

3)      If you have to post a Selfie, excuse me, #Selfie, then keep it interesting or smile for the camera. Don’t sulk or look like you just had three wisdom teeth removed. If you’re not spreading joy online, then you’re basically just sharing a passport photo on the timeline.

4)       Sometimes, injuries happen while newly-weds renovate their new flats. While it may be very tempting to showcase a close-up of that bleeding thumb or ripped toenail, may be suggest you describe the incident instead, and how others can avoid such mishaps. Refer to reason 1).

5)      If you’re thinking about changing your profile picture to your baby’s photo, the answer is always no. Your friends will forget what you look like. 

YOU ARE NOT YOUR JOB


 

Pyjamas. Best friends on a vacation.

Pyjamas. Best friends on a vacation.

I’m writing this note 24 hours before I fly off for a short break. I’m looking forward to it because while I enjoy my job, I can’t get too close to it.

I love working with an earnest, competent editorial team, but life, unfortunately, is not all about work. We need our breaks. Work to live, not live to work.

There is an awful lot of cliches that say you should go on vacation to recharge, unwind, and rejuvenate for the job, but the opposite also holds true. The vacation puts some distance between you and the job, and forces you to ask yourself, “Is this what I’m meant to do?”

The moment we peg our values and personal worth too closely to our jobs, that’s the moment we’re giving our work more power over us.

That’s not right because we will eventually sacrifice who we are. You’re not defined by your sales reports, marketing proposals or performance reviews. Those merely pay the rent, and I’m assuming here you’re more interesting than your rent.

I’m also not saying we shouldn’t love our jobs, but there is so much more to life than work! The world is much smaller now, thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Every social feed is giving us ideas where to go, what to read, what to see, and who to talk to. Do you need better reasons to escape?

This is healthy logic for two reasons 1) When work gets overwhelming and, as they are wont to, we have other things that re-energise and satisfy us, and 2) in the future, when we’re old and weak and nodding off in the afternoons, I don’t think we’d be wishing we spent more time slogging in the office, or dealing with tragically inept colleagues.

The last thing I want to regret is not giving myself time to enjoy time.

Later,

Tommy

(This note first appeared in the June 2013 issue of Lifestyle magazine)

 

 

 

So You Bought Plane Tickets…


 

This note appeared in the May 2013 issue of Lifestyle magazine.

This note appeared in the May 2013 issue of Lifestyle magazine.

 

Spring Is Here


Tiger Beer SG picked a sweet spot to host Spring Wave. Gardens By The Bay makes a great venue for gigs because it's like partying on a manicured, giant lawn. Marina Bay Sands makes an amazing backdrop, and the Singapore cityscape doesn't get more beautiful anywhere else. Don't ask me what happens when it rains, though.

Tiger Beer SG picked a sweet spot to host Spring Wave. Gardens By The Bay makes a great venue for gigs because it’s like partying on a manicured, giant lawn. The Marina Bay Sands makes an amazing backdrop, and the Singapore cityscape doesn’t get more beautiful anywhere else. It was a VERY GOOD thing the rain stayed clear.

I’ve said this often, and even mentioned it a few times to shocked foreigners, but if Singapore had the four seasons (the climate, not the singing group), it’d be the perfect place to live if you’re a multi-millionaire. But that’s another story hur hur.

Summer would make sense. Right now, it’s just a sticky, cloying, year-long affair. Winter would be so nice. People would have compelling reasons to dress better. Seasonal food would have new meaning. Fireplaces with leopard skin rugs would make sense. Sorry PETA.

And Spring would feel like Spring. Last weekend’s Spring Wave Music Festival, held at Gardens By The Bay, felt more like Summer SweatFest 2013. But that didn’t stop 5,000 Mandopop fans from having loads of fun chugging refreshingly cold Tiger Beer in the heat. (Yes, the very winsome Tiger Beer associates swanning about the concert venue enhanced the experience for many thirsty fans). After all, it was Spring Wave Music Festival’s first venture out of Taiwan and I think Singaporean fans gave it a very warm welcome. The Spring Wave Music Festival is a huge annual event in Taiwan, so here’s to a growing line-up in Singapore every year.

Fact: Gardens By The Bay is an awesome and sprawling concert venue. It’s a lot more spacious compared to Fort Canning, and the backdrop of Marina Bay Sands adds magic to the night scene. And nobody complains about the NEW WASHROOMS that don’t look like swamps. If only the music came with a breeze on such balmy nights.

I have to thank presenting sponsors @TigerBeerSG for inviting me to the 7-hour long sun-and-sweat festival, which included some very notable Mandopop acts like Jam Hsiao,A-Yue,  Joanna Wang, Cheer Chen and my favourite Asian rocker, Wu Bai.

The 'King Of Live Music' Wu Bai strapped on his guitar and sang ragged and chest-thumping poems to a 5,000-strong audience at Gardens By The Bay. The wind was in his hair, and he had the swagger and complete adulation of fans.

The ‘King Of Live Music’ Wu Bai strapped on his guitar and sang ragged and chest-thumping poems to a 5,000-strong audience at Gardens By The Bay. The wind was in his hair, and he had the swagger and complete adulation of fans.

I’ve seen Wu Bai in concert a couple of times, and I can honestly say the man doesn’t lose it. After so many years on the road with Chine Blue, selling millions of albums, he’s still strangely and deeply relevant. That devil-may-care attitude cuts across everything he does. Perhaps even more so these days, when manufactured pop dominates everything on radio.

That long hair, trapped-in-the-’90s rock star swagger doesn’t hurt either. A man for all seasons, indeed.

I got served by these lovely lads and I think we can safely dispel the whole 'Tiger Beer Aunties' thing. Also, spare them the 'Tiger Time' jokes please, it's 2013.

I got served by these lovely lads and I think we can safely dispel the whole ‘Tiger Beer Aunties’ thing. Also, spare them the ‘Tiger Time’ jokes please, it’s 2013.

The Grass Is Always Greener In The Wild


 

I’d like to say a few words about ‘fire’.

Not the fire you barbecue with. Not the fire you see licking the woks of pad thai street stalls on Khao San road in Bangkok. But that fire in your belly. That thing people sometimes call ‘passion’.

(there’s a joke here about the Passion Card supermarket cashiers always ask me for, but that’s another post)

Whatever you’re passionate about, if it’s not harmful, damaging to society, or illegal, it should be worth cultivating. Music, engineering, fine arts, sciences, whatever. Do what makes you feel whole.

Having that fire in you can only result in a few things. You feel highly accountable for it, responsible, for what you do with your passion. You understand it like a lover, you struggle with it like a lover, and yet you want more.

Inevitably, you become an expert in your field of passion, because you seek continuously to master it. And sometimes you get competitive about it, defensive, even.

It’s all good and natural. Friendly rivalry, or a bit of self-cleansing doubt, never hurt anyone or any business.

BUT, THE DAY your passion is threatened, THE DAY you lose faith in your environment to make a change with your ability, your colleagues or your company, that’s THE DAY you have to seriously question your surroundings.

Whether they deny you your expertise, clip your wings or slash valuable resources, or it’s some cruel combination of all three, it’s time to flip the script. And do what you do best, but somewhere else.

That’s just how it is. You don’t deny what you excel in. You don’t deny your God-given abilities. You don’t deny you.

Because that fire in you makes you think better and work smarter than anyone else. All in the name of improvement.  It keeps you alive, purposefully.

Without that burn, that ache to fly, what are you living for, exactly?

Don’t let anyone douse the flames of something you care about. Never quench that fire. Never lose that feeling.

 

I Like To Wave It Wave It


CitiQuickPay

The same thing always happens when it comes to paying with credit cards. They ask me if I’m paying with this card, that card, or half a dozen other options, well, because you know, there are a lot of banks in Singapore. Then they rattle off a list of promotions; This card gives me 10 per cent off, that card gets me vouchers, and the other card lands me a one-year complimentary membership. You get the point.

Me? I like my credit card payments to be fuss-free, and so I opted for the Citibank Quick Pay Tag. I like to wave it, pay it, and go. Like, literally leave the restaurant, movie theatre or whatever. No waiting, no receipt signing. The best thing is, the Citibank Quick Pay Tag is so tiny that you can stick it to the back of your phone (that blinking thing that’s with you 24 hours a day, making you smile and laugh when you scroll through it), and wave your phone for easy payment.

But I know you’re busy, so here’re THREE THINGS you really need to know about the Citibank Quick Pay Tag:
1. There are 11,000 retail payment points – including Starbucks, Burger King, Andersen’s Of Denmark – and a whole bunch of e-Coupons and rebates at major participating outlets.

2. Are you concerned that anyone can just take your phone to pay for stuff? (Assuming they can pry your phone off your cold dead fingers first). You can log onto Citibank Online or Citi Mobile to switch the account off. If you’re old school on security, you can call the Citibank hotline at 6225 5225

3. If you’re already a Citibank Visa Credit Card holder, you can easily sign up for a Quick Pay Tag, and earn a $5 credit. Check out http://www.citibank.com.sg/quickpaytag for more details.

[THIS POST WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY CITIBANK QUICK PAY TAG]

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Horsing Around


Here’s something I’m liking at the moment, Birdy’s ‘Skinny Love’ (a Bon Iver cover)

When I heard the news that they found horse meat in the meatballs sold in some European IKEA stores, my reaction was, unfortunately, not one of disgust.

I was like, “Hey calm down guys, do I drench the horse meat balls in cranberry sauce too?” Is my curiosity somehow indicative of my wanting morals as a foodie? Is this the rock bottom for gluttony?

Don’t get me wrong. I like horses (kind of). I fell asleep watching The Horse Whisperer not because the horses weren’t emoting enough. I just don’t understand what the horse meat fuss is all about. Horse meat eating is called hippophagy. I know, ‘hippo’ just adds to the confusion.

I mean, we eat cows, birds, lambs, so why the earth-shattering, first-world shock that some of us may have accidentally consumed horse meat in those meat balls? How’s that possible, when we spend every other day piling trans-fat, refined sugars and gluten in our faces? Horse meat eating was actually a widely accepted practice in the 19th century, and it still is, in places like France, Sweden and Belgium. Studies also report that horse meat has less calories and fat than, say, beef. But enough about meat, I’m getting hungry.

We need  to address our attitudes towards food. Let’s not take the high-road just because we watched War Horse and Black beauty. We’re also not calling for everyone to eat overly clean, rabbit foods. Why turn eating into a chore? You should be eating well, staying fit and having the time of your life. Work out and sweat it out. The flush of endorphins will beat any meat, any day.

(an edited version of this piece first appeared in the April 2013 issue of Lifestyle magazine)

 

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