Category Archives: TV

Paul Wong (黄贯中)’s Career Revival

If you grow up in the 80s and is a fan of Mando and Canto rock, you have to know who is Paul Wong  (黄贯中).

Paul Wong on stage
Paul Wong on stage

For those who do not know who he is, Paul Wong Koon-Chung (born 31 March 1964) is a Chinese musician, singer, songwriter and the lead guitarist of the Hong Kong legendary rock band, Beyond.

He is well-known for his extraordinary guitar techniques and is regarded like a “guitar god” in the Chinese world.

After the lead singer and centre figure of Beyond, Wong Ka Kui (黄家驹) fell to his death in a freak stage accident in 1993, Paul Wong took over the lead singer role in the band. Beyond after Wong Ka Kui never came close to the same level of fame and success.

The musical career of the three remaining Beyond members did not progress much over the years.

Nonetheless, Paul Wong stayed true to his brand of rock music and strived on till today.

After a long period staying out of the media radar, he rocked the Chinese music world recently with his rendition of Beyond’s all-time classic, 《海阔天空》in a China singing programme,《我是歌手》(must watch!):

This is why I idolised Beyond in my teens. After so many years, hearing this song still makes me have that urge to cast aside everything in life to chase my dream.

I remember how I wanted to be a famous artist when I was young. I remember how I would spend all my time drawing and redrawing, designing and redesigning to perfect my illustration techniques.

What cause me to abandon this dream?

This song jolted me again and reminded me that we only live once.

Even at the age of 48, Paul Wong still can rock and inspire!

On a side note, I recently attended the preview of Young and Dangerous: Reloaded 《古惑仔:江湖新秩序》which Paul Wong had a role as a famous gang leader. The movie is a remake of the popular Young and Dangerous movie series in the 90s. Here is the trailer:

Young and Dangerous: Reloaded is stil showing in Singapore cinemas. Go catch it for a whiff of nostalgia. 🙂

Cooking Class with Asian Food Channel’s Chef Wendy Ong

Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) recently partnered Asian Food Channel (AFC) to produce an original reality television series, “The Big Break”. The original production by AFC features 12 underprivileged youths from across Asia, competing to realise their dreams of becoming a chef.

Rachel and I were invited to catch the media preview of Episode 9 of The Big Break where the youths enter the Italian round. They were required to knead, assemble and bake their own pizzas.

Before we watch the episode, we attended a cooking class with AFC’s Chef Wendy Ong to prepare two italian dishes – pizza and cannoli.

At AFC Studio in Orchard Central
At AFC Studio in Orchard Central
Meet AFC's Chef Wendy Ong!
Meet AFC’s Chef Wendy Ong!

The last time Rachel and I attended a cooking class together was in Bangkok at the Helping Hands Thai Cooking School. We had a great time then and found the class with Chef Wendy Ong just as fun and interesting.

The chef was very patient as a teacher and went through each step slowly in details. You know the class is a success when even a cooking novice like me was able to follow her instructions and make some great tasting italian food!

Ingredient for the first dish we are preparing - a personalised pizza each
Ingredient for the first dish we are preparing – a personalised pizza each
Chef Wendy teaching us how to stretch the dough and how to tell if it's ready
Chef Wendy teaching us how to stretch the dough and how to tell if it’s ready
The attentive class
The attentive class
Rachel examining the texture of the finished dough
Rachel examining the texture of the finished dough
The ball of dough is to be left overnight to raise - here is the before and after on the left and right respectively
The ball of dough is to be left overnight to raise – here is the before and after on the left and right respectively
Chef Wendy trimming the dough into individual servings
Chef Wendy trimming the dough into individual servings
Rachel decorating her pizza
Rachel decorating her pizza

While Rachel is adapt at cooking, I seldom enter the kitchen back home. You can tell the difference in our skills level by the pizzas we created:

My deformed and ugly (but delicious) pizza creation
My deformed and ugly (but delicious) pizza creation
Rachel's beautiful pizza creation
Rachel’s beautiful pizza creation

Making cannoli:

Rolling the dough
Rolling the dough
Cutting out the desired circles
Cutting out the desired circles
Wrapping the dough around a metal tube for frying
Wrapping the dough around a metal tube for frying
Using a tong to transfer the cannoli into a pot of boiling oil
Using a tong to transfer the cannoli into a pot of boiling oil
Frying!
Frying!
Extracting the completed cannoli
Extracting the completed cannoli
Empty cannoli for us to fill up
Empty cannoli for us to fill up
Chef Wendy preparing the filling for the cannoli
Chef Wendy preparing the filling for the cannoli
Rachel filling a cannoli
Rachel filling a cannoli
Close-up of the filled up cannoli
Close-up of the filled up cannoli
Tada! Two cannoli each for Rachel and I
Tada! Two cannoli each for Rachel and I

Once we are done preparing our own italian dishes, we sat down together with a group of other bloggers to enjoy episode 9 of The Big Break. The experience was priceless – watching the contestants fumble over their pizza creations just as we had went through a similar process, but at a leisurely pace!

Self-made lunch is served!
Self-made lunch is served!
Me with my creation and another blogger, Melissa crying in the background
Me with my creation and another blogger, Melissa crying in the background because her pizza sucks
Corn tarts prepared with Del Monte corns
Corn tarts prepared with Del Monte corns
Scones to share
Scones to share

For more information on The Big Break, visit their official website. The site will provide the latest information about the contestants as well as summaries and highlights from each episode. The Big Break, the series airs exclusively on Starhub Channel 435. 🙂

Movie Review: TED (M18)

TED movie poster
TED movie poster

TED is a 2012 American comedy film, co-written, produced and directed by the very talented Seth MacFarlane, who stars in it along with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis.

The film is the feature-length directorial debut of MacFarlane who is best known as the creator of the animated sitcom Family Guy (1999–present) and as co-creator of American Dad! (2005–present) and The Cleveland Show (2009–present), for which he also voices many of the shows’ various characters. These are among some of my favourite bedtime cartoons for adults, especially Family Guy.

I knew I had to watch TED when I found out the person behind it was MacFarlene. I love his wicked, random, adult humour which seems so clever at times and yet so juvenile and silly.

Btw, MacFarlene provided the voice-over for Ted in the movie. That’s why Ted sounds so much like Peter Griffin from Family Guy.

After a hard day at work, TED would be the perfect movie to catch and unwind. Rachel and I have not laughed so hard in the cinemas for a long time. The movie got the whole theatre laughing our hearts out with its many irrelevant and unexpected comedic scenes.

The movie is rated M18 in Singapore for Coarse Language, Sexual Scenes and Drug Use. It certainly deserve the rating as there really were liberal doses of these, ranging from a teddy bear smoking pot to teddy bear sex scenes with human females.

Yes, the movie is crude with a predictable romance cum bromance storyline. Yet there lies it’s charm too.

The movie has done very well in the cinema box office worldwide. MacFarlane recently stated he would be open to a sequel.

This show comes highly recommended by me for a comedy night-out. Go catch it! 🙂

TED will be showing in Singapore cinemas from tomorrow (6 Sep). 

Getting to Know Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿)

This March, Celestial Movies, Starhub Channel 868, will be paying tribute to famous Japanese manga artist and film director Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿) by screening a wide selection of his works:

I. Celestial Sunday (Every Sunday at 9PM)

4/3 My Neighbor Totoro
11/3 Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea

II. Celestial Miyazaki Festival (From March 12 – 17 at 9PM)

12/3 Grave of the Fireflies
13/3 My Neighbor Totoro
14/3 Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind
15/3 Kiki’s Delivery Service
16/3 Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea
17/3 Laputa: Castle In The Sky

Through a career that has spanned nearly fifty years, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films including Grave of the Fireflies, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea and Laputa: Castle In The Sky just to name a few.

Stills from various animated feature films by Hayao Miyazaki
Stills from various animated feature films by Hayao Miyazaki

Both Rachel and I are big fans of Hayao Miyazaki. We have watched all of his animated films and owns a few of his DVD box sets, various illustrations and commemorative picture books, Studio Ghibli merchandises, collectibles and more.

Grave of the Fireflies remain one of my all-time favourite films. It moved me to tears the first time I watched it and still touches me when I watched it again for a few more times. 

Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki

What goes in the mind of Miyazki behind some of the famous animated films that he has created? 

Below is an interview transcript with Hayao Miyazaki provided by Celestial Movies: 

Q: Why do you insist on using a pencil to draw your animated characters and backgrounds?
A: Computer graphics are very impressive, but I think animation needs the pencil, needs a man’s hands drawing.

Q: There is a total of 140 staff at the Ghibli studios, any of them tried to use computer graphics?
A: None of them was tempted by computer graphics. Those who don’t use pencils shouldn’t belong to our studio.

Q: How do you create women characters like Sosuke’s mother Lisa from Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea?
A: I create women characters by observing the female staff in my studio. There are many samples around me because half of my staff are women. But they do not realize it is them in the film because I use their essence and not their physique or faces. Usually I’ll choose faces that are easier to draw.

Q: You are sensitive towards the female psyche and you are insightful towards children. You seem to understand their attitude towards fear and loss and their recognition of mortality. Do you know a bit of psychology?
A: I’ve never studied psychology. I get all this just by reading books in general, and by observing people – especially children. I love children. We have a Ghibli-created nursery school near my office. There is a garden whereby we let the children do things that the usual nursery schools would never let kids do. For example, we have a pond for them to fall into, rocks to trip them over. We make slopes to make them fall and there are even trees for them to climb onto!

Q: There is an important message in Ponyo on the Cliff By The Sea. You are bemoaning about the pollution of Japan’s natural resources. Are you angry with the many aspects of modern life?
A: I wish the world would change, for instance, the population of Tokyo should be 10 per cent of what it is now. If you go to the other cities they’re very under populated. It’s like everyone has gathered to make a living in Tokyo. This is a very big issue Japan has to solve. And also, I think Tokyo is going to sink under water soon. All those stupid high-rise buildings will sink and maybe all the traffic will be gone. Everything will be peaceful and quiet. As for the theme of garbage and pollution in Ponyo, it’s too boring just to put a message across about that. It’s better to volunteer yourself to pick up all the garbage than to complain about it. Actually, i go to the river situated near my house every morning, just to do some cleaning. It’s my pastime.

Q: What is your ambition for now?
A: I will continue to create films, but my ambition for now is to teach and raise a whole new generation of animators who still use a pencil to draw. I think I can only continue being a director,” he says, “but as a studio, we want to use new directors and younger directors because we’ll disappear if we keep relying on old people. Eighteen months ago, my first grandson, named Mao, was born. The first thing I said to him was: “Grab the pencil!”.

Q: Why did you refused to license your characters to be included in video games?
A: I don’t like games. You’re robbing the precious time of children to be children. They need to be in touch with the real world more.

Mr Seng Han Thong vs SMRT: Who Should We Believe?

Seng Han Thong, MP at Ang Mo Kio GRC who speaks good English
Seng Han Thong, MP at Ang Mo Kio GRC who speaks good English

A statement by Member of Parliament Seng Han Thong  on the SMRT breakdown fiasco has sparked an online furore. Via TheOnlineCitizen and AsiaOne.com:

“I noticed that the PR (SMRT public relations officer) mentioned that some of the (SMRT) staff, because they are Malay, they are Indian, they can’t converse in English well enough, so that also deters them, but I think we accept broken English.” Said Seng Han Thong on TV.

At no point did Mr Goh highlight any particular race in his remarks.” Said a SMRT Spokesperson.

Minister of State for Community Development Youth and Sports Madam Halimah Yacob has this to say about the whole incident:

“Several friends have raised their concerns over MP Seng Han Thong’s remarks. I am also disturbed by the remarks which are inappropriate and unfair even though he may be repeating what someone else said. Having worked in the labour movement for 33 years before taking up my present post, I am reminded of how employers in the past sometimes try to pin the blame on the lowest elvel workers as a way of… deflecting responsibilty from the management whenever a major problem occurs. Effective communication as we all know requires a properly thought out strategy and plan, putting a system in place, training of employees and testing whether the plan works, among others. It is not right to pin the blame on workers and, what is worse, Malay and Indian workers for the purported lack of English proficiency…”

Liar liar, pants on fire.

Who lied?

Or are both SMRT and Seng Han Thong just extremely  bad at communicating and listening to others?

Here’s the Blog.TV segment which got Seng Han Thong into hot soup:

Here’s a spoof on the whole saga by Mr Brown pretending to be Seng Han Thong:

On a side note, do Singaporeans realise that MPs in Ang Mo Kio GRC like Seng Han Thong and Lee Bee Wah (now transferred to Nee Soon GRC) enjoy “免死金牌” (immunity) status? There is no way we can vote them out no matter how badly they screw up as it would mean voting out our beloved Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong too.