February 29: The day for women to propose to men! Ladies, seize the chance!

Image via DNAIndia.com
Image via DNAIndia.com

February 29 is also known as a “Leap Day”, which is an extra day added during a Leap Year, making the year 366 days long – and not 365 days, like a normal year. Nearly every 4 years is a Leap Year in our modern Gregorian Calendar.

Other than it’s rarity, do you know February 29 is also a day for women to propose to men?

Via TimeAndDate.com:

According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.

In some places, Leap Day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day. In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.

Ladies, what are you waiting for?

Seize the chance to propose to the man you love! After all, if he rejects you, you still get 12 pairs of free gloves from him. 🙂

For me, as a happily married man, February 29 is just like any other ordinary day. Nonetheless, I would still like to make use of the romantic atmosphere surrounding the day to let my wife Rachel knows that I still love her very much and am thankful to her for giving birth to my beautiful son, Asher last year.

There are many challenges ahead for both of us as new parents, but I am sure we can sail through these, just like how we weathered through previous trying moments in our marriage.

Download/ update the 2 latest omy.sg iPhone apps and stand to win an iPhone 5 (seriously)

Seriously, this isn't a scam
Seriously, this isn't a scam

This is not a joke.

Apple might not have announce the launch date of their next iPhone after the 4GS, but this is not stopping omy.sg from giving out an iPhone 5, in conjunction with the latest updates to our two iPhone apps.

Here are three simple steps towards winning an iPhone 5:

1. Download/ update either one of the 2 latest omy.sg iPhone apps (or both):

Download/ update either or both of these 2 omy.sg iPhone apps
Download/ update either or both of these 2 omy.sg iPhone apps

2. Click on the splash ad that appears in between pages:

Click on this ad inside the app
Click on this ad inside the app

3. Fill in the form that appears and submit:

Fill in this web form
Fill in this web form

That’s it!

More details are available HERE, including the fine print Terms & Conditions of course. 🙂

Movie Review: HUGO (3D)

Thanks to the folks from UIP, I caught famous American movie director, Martin Scorsese‘s newest and first 3D movie, HUGO last week at the Singapore preview screening.

Hugo movie poster
Hugo movie poster

Hugo is a 3D family mystery film based on Brian Selznick‘s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret; about a boy who lives alone in a Paris railway station and the enigmatic owner of a toy shop there. The film stars Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen (better known as Borat), Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law and Christopher Lee.

The film has been nominated for 11 Academy Awards, making it the most nominated film of 2011, which include a Best Picture nomination and a Best Director nomination for Martin Scorsese.The film also won two BAFTAs and was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, earning Scorsese his third Golden Globe Award for Best Director.

Hugo has received almost universal critical acclaim.Review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 194 of the tallied 181 reviews were positive, for a score of 93% and a certification of “fresh”.

Despite the high critical acclaim, Hugo did not perform well at the box office. As of February 23, 2012, the film has grossed $67,843,944 in North America, along with $46,400,000 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $114,243,944, against its estimated budget of $150 million.

A pity.

I enjoyed the movie very much, but I do think the pacing of the movie may be a tad too slow for more mainstream audiences.

Hugo is a must-watch for film students, those working in the filmmaking industries, as well as amateur filmmakers. In fact, any serious movie buff should see it.

There were many references and tributes made to important moments in the history of filmmaking and film greats like French illusionist and fimmaker, Georges Méliès.

Méliès is a very colourful character for which a large part of the movie, Hugo is based upon. He is famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. A prolific innovator in the use of special effects, he accidentally discovered the substitution stop trick in 1896, and was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted colour in his work. Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the first “Cinemagician”. Two of his most well-known films are A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904), both of which were featured in snippets in Hugo.

A Trip to the Moon still
A Trip to the Moon movie still

There’s movie still from A Trip to the Moon that featured prominently in Hugo. It depicted a rocket wedged inside one of the eyes of a moon face. When I saw the image on the big screen, I could instinctively recall seeing it before in one of my filmmaking 101 textbooks because of the strong visual imagery. That’s the magical appeal of Méliès’ works, brought to live again by a contemporary film great, Scorsese.

Hugo is very different from Scorsese usual offering of alpha-male film genre to the like of Taxi Driver (1976), Goodfellas (1990) and Gangs of New York (2002).

Other than being the first 3D film from Scorsese, Hugo is also his first forage into the fantasy genre, targeted at a family audience.

The automaton on the right was a very important plot device to trigger imaginations
The automaton on the right was a very important plot device to trigger imaginations

There’s no overt fantasy scenes in Hugo where the protagonist gets to fly away into a magical far-away land of mystical creatures like in Harry Potter or the Chronicles of Narnia; but subtle fantasy scenes that relies more on the wonderful world of imagination through a child’s eyes as well as the real-life “dream factory” of filmmaking.

Cohen as the evil one-legged station master
Cohen as the evil one-legged station master

The cast delivered a superb performance, including the two kid actors. I especially like Cohen’s character as a bitter-sweet one-legged station master who toggles between being the film villain and eventual hero.

Hugo is now showing in Singapore cinemas. Go catch it! 🙂

Alvinology @ All In! Young Writers Media Festival 2012

(L to R): Yee Jenn Jong, me and Nicole Seah
(L to R): Yee Jenn Jong, me and Nicole Seah

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I was invited to speak at the All In! Young Writers Media Festival 2012, organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) and supported by the National Arts Council (NAC).

I spoke on the topic of “Using New Media to Reach & Engage the Community”, together with two politicians, Nicole Seah from the National Solidarity Party and Yee Jenn Jong from the Workers’ Party. The session was moderated byEric Alagan, a business consultant and book author.

Me speaking
Me speaking
Taking a question from the floor
Taking a question from the floor

Below are some of the topics raised by Eric and my answers in blue:

1. Social media is a very wide and fast evolving arena – we have Facebook, Blogs and Twitter just to name a few. Which is your preferred platform and why?

Blog. This is because it serves as a container for all my content which I use to share onto Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms. With a central nodal point, this is effective for my personal branding and leaves my content platform agnostic with a archival system. 

2. You mention blog is your preferred platform, can you take us through when and how you started. Your expectations when you first started, Summarise your experience to date – met/exceeded/fell short of expectations

I started blogging on Alvinology.com after leaving my job at Youth.SG as portal manager. I was hired to grow the traffic for the site, which I tripled in less than a year. I started this blog as a social experiment to see if I can grow it’s traffic with just one person fueling the content. Alvinology.com currently enjoys over 10,000 readers a day, a remarkable feat, even triumphing the traffic of Youth.SG, maintained by a team of writers. 

One of the first post on this blog is on a porn comic book, “How To Make Money Like A Porn Star” by Neil Strauss and Bernard Chang, being openly sold in the children’s section of the book fair with no shrink wrap.  When I got hold of this story, I shared it with the mainstream media, while at the same time, releasing it on my blog, with it being the first and only source of pictures and information on the Internet. This will become a characteristic trait of Alvinology.com, always being among the first to report on interesting Singapore news that viral very well on the Internet (hence the tagline “Yes, You Saw It Here First). 

3. After the initial peak, how do you sustain and grow readership/following – what are the challenges and how do you manage these –any tips for our audience

The easiest way to grow blog traffic is to pick quarrels with other bloggers, organisations or simply anyone under the sun so as to fan reactions from multiple parties. Whether they are your supporters or haters, by visiting your site, they are still contributing to your overall blog hits. Xiaxue did it many times, so do many other famous female bloggers in Singapore.

This approach is not suitable for a non-confrontation, peace-loving person like me.

I grow my traffic via consistency in updates and making my content Internet-friendly. I try my very best to update my blog at least once a day. Recently, I have cut down to five days a week after my baby son came along. I usually write many of the blog posts over the weekend and schedule them for release through the week. I keep my sentences short, breaking my writing into many paragraphs for easier reading. Language is kept simple and I make it a point to use at least one photo or video for each entry to break the monotone of a text only entry. 

4. Social etiquette in the anonymous world that is blogosphere – share with us some really nice and nasty experiences and how you handle these. Could you suggest some norms in blogosphere interactions – with regards to language/respect/decorum

Four words – Don’t feed the trolls. Often time, the most critical and nastiest comments come from troll accounts whose aim is to incite a certain response from you. Do not give them the response they want and these trolls will feel helpless.

Eg. When someone calls me stupid, I will just reply with a polite “Yes I am stupid, thank you”, instead of getting angry. 

However, for comments that are written by genuine individuals who are truly upset, I sometime respond to them via email. Some of these people became my friends after that. 

The Greenwich V Experience @ Seletar Hills

Greenwich V by night
Greenwich V by night

Together with a group of omy Blog Club bloggers and a couple of SPH colleagues, I attended the grand opening of Greenwich V, a new and trans-urban mall in Seletar on 10 Feb, a Friday evening.

There’s a whole list of attractive promotions at Greenwich V now, in conjunction with the grand opening. If you live within the vicinity or can afford the time, do pop by for a visit!

Here are a few promotion highlights:

PARADISE INN
#02-05/06 | 6481 5284
50% off signature Floral and Herb Infused Tea
Valid for dine-in on weekdays from 6 Feb – 5 March 2012

EMPIRE STATE
#02-04 | 6483 7249
Signature Roasted Fresh Chicken with Maple Glaze @ $13.50 (U.P. $16.90)Subject to 10% service charge and prevailing tax.

BERRYLITE
#01-08
http://www.berrylite.com
Blind Date (small) @ $3 (U.P. $3.90)

Free food for everyone! Catered by the various tenants at Greenwich V
Free food for everyone! Catered by the various tenants at Greenwich V
Snazzy water feature
Snazzy water feature
Green cotton candy for all
Green cotton candy for all
My colleague, Perrine with a cone of cotton candy
My colleague, Perrine with a cone of cotton candy
Buffet for everyone
Buffet for everyone

The next day on 11 Feb, I was back at Greenwich V again together with 15 bloggers and the two of my colleagues, Janet and Jesslyn as well as the Far East team.

omy.sg was running a bloggers challenge called “The Greenwich V Experience” together with Far East. The 15 bloggers were split into three groups, The Village Team, The Lifestyle Team and The Urban Team to run around the mall and complete a series of ten tasks each at ten different shops.

The teams were to take a photo at each shop that best represents the shop and upload the full set of photos onto Greenwich V’s Facebook page. 

Based on the creativity of the photos and captions, the team will be awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes accordingly (everyone’s a winner in the spirit of friendly and fun competition).

I was in charge of the Village Team decked in green while Janet took the Urban Team in black and Jesslyn took the Lifestyle Team in red.

Event summary video:

The Village Team - led by yours truly
The Village Team - led by yours truly
The Lifestyle team, led by my colleague Jesslyn
The Lifestyle team, led by my colleague Jesslyn
The Urban team, led by my colleague, Janet
The Urban team, led by my colleague, Janet
Bloggers briefing by Angela (standing, in black top) from Far East
Bloggers briefing by Angela (standing, in black top) from Far East at Empire State Restaurant
Green team tucking in
Green team tucking in at Empire State Restaurant
My colleague Jesslyn and I with the giant burger
My colleague Jesslyn and I with the giant burger
Green team with their giant burger
Green team with their giant burger
Grace and Jesslyn from the black team with the giant burger
Grace and Jesslyn from the black team with the giant burger
Close-up of the giant burger
Close-up of the giant burger
Spaghetti meatball
Spaghetti meatball
Pizza is served
Pizza is served
Two flavour pizza
Two flavour pizza
First stop - 7-11
First stop - 7-11
Heating and finishing up some fast-to-cook meal packs
Heating and finishing up some fast-to-cook meal packs
Nigel doing a jumping jack forfeit
Nigel doing a jumping jack forfeit
2nd Stop: BBQ Chicken
2nd Stop: BBQ Chicken
Spicy drumsticks
Spicy drumsticks
Chicken thigh
Chicken thigh
Duck salad
Duck salad
Seafood pasta
Seafood pasta
Chocolate lava cake
Chocolate lava cake
Doing a K-Pop Wonder Girls pose outside the restaurant
Doing a K-Pop Wonder Girls pose outside the restaurant
Tucking in
Tucking in
3rd stop: Fuyogi Hut
3rd stop: Fuyogi Hut
All kinds of flavoured vinegar
All kinds of flavoured vinegar
Assorted health and lifestyle products sold at Fuyogi Hut
Assorted health and lifestyle products sold at Fuyogi Hut
Bloggers interviewing the shop owner
Bloggers interviewing the shop owner
William and Nigel posing with a bottle of Luyin vinegar
William and Nigel posing with a bottle of Luyin vinegar
4th Stop: Jan & Elly Language School
4th Stop: Jan & Elly Language School
Posing with one of the teacher at Jan & Elly
Posing with one of the teacher at Jan & Elly
Playing a game involving phonics
Playing a game involving phonics
Everyone gets a cute little box of colour pencils
Everyone gets a cute little box of colour pencils
5th Stop: Kopi Seletar, the food court
5th Stop: Kopi Seletar, the food court
Kopi Seletar Ice Kachang
Kopi Seletar Ice Kachang
Take picture from outside
Take picture from outside
Take picture from inside
Take picture from inside
6th Stop: Phoenix Medical Group - William meeting the doctor
6th Stop: Phoenix Medical Group - William meeting the doctor
William getting interviewed while getting his face cleaned
William getting interviewed while getting his face cleaned
Smile for the camera
Smile for the camera
William after his facial
William after his facial
7th Stop: Berrylite
7th Stop: Berrylite
8th Stop: Nuts & Nibblers
8th Stop: Nuts & Nibblers
Claire and Rachell rehearsing their chipmunk faces
Claire and Rachell rehearsing their chipmunk faces
Five chipmunks
Five chipmunks
All kind of flavoured nuts are available
All kind of flavoured nuts are available
9th stop: Paradise Inn Restaurant
9th stop: Paradise Inn Restaurant
The Red Team was in the same venue
The Red Team was in the same venue
Salted egg yolk prawn
Salted egg yolk prawn
Seafood fried rice
Seafood fried rice
Pork ribs
Pork ribs
10th stop: Toastbox
10th stop: Toastbox
Take picture before eating
Take picture before eating
Spotted these two stilt walking fairies
Spotted these two stilt walking fairies
Back at Empire State Restaurant to upload the set of 10 images onto Greenwich V's Facebook page
Back at Empire State Restaurant to upload the set of 10 images onto Greenwich V's Facebook page
Waiting for the results by the stage
Waiting for the results by the stage
3rd place: The Urban Team
3rd place: The Urban Team
2nd place: The Lifestyle Team
2nd place: The Lifestyle Team
1st place: The Village Team
1st place: The Village Team

Feel like heading down Greenwich V for a visit after reading this blog entry? 🙂

Find out more about the Greenwich V Experience via this special blog site as the bloggers share on their individual shopping experience and going through the bloggers’ challenge. Also, do LIKE the Greenwich V Facebook Page to view all the photos taken by the three teams!

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite team and win Greenwich V shopping vouchers for yourself!

Bloggers’ Charity Dinner Date at Limoncello Restaurant with Bidders from Sold.SG

Group picture
Group picture

As mentioned in a previous blog post, SOLD.sg, Singapore’s leading online shopping destination for luxury and entertainment products, helped their users find love this Valentine’s Day by partnering with omy.sg to auction off ten popular bloggers as Valentine’s dates. 

Prices the bloggers were sold for
Prices the bloggers were sold for

Over a period of merely five days, this charity auction raised S$2038.50 from the public’s bids, and in addition to the money raised from the auction, SOLD.sg also contributed $1 to match every $2 raised.

A total of $3,100 was raised and were donated to the Spastic Children’s Association of Singapore (SCAS) over a group dinner date at Limoncello Restaurant.

Angeline from SOLD.sg presenting a $3100 cheque to Erick from SCAS
Angeline from SOLD.sg presenting a $3100 cheque to Erick from SCAS

I was at the restaurant too to witness the cheque presentation and to meet up with the SOLD.sg team, the ten bloggers, the ten winning bidders, as well as the representatives from SCAS and Limoncello respectively.

Seated and ready for dinner at Limoncello Restaurant
Seated and ready for dinner at Limoncello Restaurant
Table 1
Table 1
Table 2
Table 2
Table 3
Table 3
A toast to a successful event
A toast to a successful event
Blogger Ang Geck Geck and her date
Blogger Ang Geck Geck and her date
Blogger Claire with her hunky dinner date
Blogger Claire with her hunky dinner date
Blogger Moonberry and her date
Blogger Moonberry and her date
Blogger Christine with her dinner date
Blogger Christine with her dinner date
Vitello Tonnato Roast Veal Served with Tuna and Capers Sauce
Vitello Tonnato: Roast Veal Served with Tuna and Capers Sauce
Burrata Cheese Served with Grilled Vegetables, Rucola Salad, Cherry Tomatoes and Parma Ham
Antipasti Limoncello: Burrata Cheese Served with Grilled Vegetables, Rucola Salad, Cherry Tomatoes and Parma Ham
Impepata Di Cozze: Sauteed Mussels in a Delicate Wine and Tomato Broth, Amalfi Style
Impepata Di Cozze: Sauteed Mussels in a Delicate Wine and Tomato Broth, Amalfi Style
Limoncello’s Napolitana wood fired pizza
Limoncello’s Napolitana wood fired pizza
Scialatielli Amalfitana: Homemade Amalfi Coast Udon like Pasta with Fresh Seafood
Scialatielli Amalfitana: Homemade Amalfi Coast Udon like Pasta with Fresh Seafood
Cannelloni Di Vitello: Homemade Cannelloni Filled with Ricotta and Veal
Cannelloni Di Vitello: Homemade Cannelloni Filled with Ricotta and Veal
Costata Di Maiale: Pan Seared Kurobuta Pork Glazed with Apricot and Balsamic
Costata Di Maiale: Pan Seared Kurobuta Pork Glazed with Apricot and Balsamic
Yummy dessert
Yummy dessert
Close up of the dessert items
Close up of the dessert items
Blogger Joanne and her date getting interviewed by omy.sg
Blogger Joanne and her date getting interviewed by omy.sg
Blogger and actress, Kanny, being presented with a "certificate of bravery" from SOLD.sg
Blogger and actress, Kanny, being presented with a "certificate of bravery" from SOLD.sg
Blogger and radio deejay Daniel getting his certificate
Blogger and radio deejay Daniel getting his certificate
Blogger William getting his certificate
Blogger William getting his certificate
Blogger Calvin getting his certificate
Blogger Calvin getting his certificate
Blogger Eric getting presented with his certificate
Blogger Eric getting presented with his certificate
Qiuyan and Angeline from SOLD.sg presenting a certificate of appreciation to the boss man at Limoncello
Qiuyan and Angeline from SOLD.sg presenting a certificate of appreciation to the boss man at Limoncello

You can find out more about the event via this article on omy.sg or this video:

About SOLD.sg

Sold.sg is an innovative auction website that that offers users the chance to win brand new luxury and lifestyle products and services at greatly discounted prices. Items up for daily auction include technological gadgets like the PS3, iPads, iPhones and digital cameras, and branded accessories like bags, jewellery and wallets. Sold.sg also offer lifestyle items like movie and restaurant vouchers and airline tickets to popular destinations.

About Limoncello Restaurant

Limoncello Restaurant is the brainchild of Restaurateur Mark Anthonisz and Fabio Iannone who have brought about a Team of talented individuals including Evecutive Chef’s Emiddio Cioffi and Mauro Crescendo from the Amalfi Coast.

Fabio Iannone is a Chef by Profession having founded La Braceria with Chef Emiddio who returned from Japan for Limoncello’s project. A Trained Sommelier from Accor Hotels and having worked with Gordon Ramsey’s, Daniel Boulud and Marina Bay Sands Singapore to name a few, Mark has been tasked with heading both the Front and Heart of Limoncello’s House.

Limoncello strives to exceed the expectations of it’s guests. Genuine Service and Traditional Fare from the coast of Amalfi is the focus of each new day. Napolitana wood fired pizzas and charcoal grilled meats and seafood is what distinguishes us from the rest.

高橋美起 (Takahashi Miki) 陪你來吃丼飯 Cookbook

Rachel and I bought this Chinese-translated Japanese cookbook,高橋美起陪你來吃丼飯 that boasts of many recipes for 30minutes, easy-to-cook, delicious meals.

We tried whipping up a few items from the book for a quick meal. Needless to say, Rachel was the one who did the cooking while I did the eating.

Whipping up a meal with the cookbook
Whipping up a meal with the cookbook
Japanese beef stew
Japanese beef stew
Japanese tofu
Japanese tofu
Dinner is served
Dinner is served

How did the food taste?

I am pretty sure Rachel did her best in following the recipes. While the food was palatable, they are probably not what we would want to eat on a daily basis.

Conclusion: There is really no short cut to a delicious meal. 🙂

Nonetheless, the cookbook should still come in useful for many time-starved dual-income working class families in Singapore. It is easy to read and follow with cute illustrations.