On sale

“..that there’s nothing that a little black tape cannot fix… …and that when there’s really something that black tape cannot fix, you need to mark it with white tape”..

I am very chuffed about my first book being on sale from today “at major bookstores”. I don’t know how other authors do it, or what they do, walking into bookshops and seeing their own work on the shelves.

What I’m going to do, is go to Kino and Borders, find the shelf “In My Time” sits on, bring a couple of copies to the bestsellers’ shelves and put them there. You know? So that people think it’s a bestseller? And will also buy? It works you know?

From today’s Straits Times Life!:

Blogger Mr Miyagi pens NS book

From water parades to ‘elephants’ in rifles, Benjamin Lee’s comic book chronicles the ins and outs of national service

by Stephanie Yap, Arts Reporter

IN November 2005, blogger Benjamin Lee, better known as Mr Miyagi, wrote a series of posts about his experiences during a Singapore Armed Forces exercise in Queensland, Australia, which his national service (NS) unit was a part of.

He took the posts down from his popular blog at miyagi.sg, however, after The Sunday Times asked the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) what its policy on blogging about military exercises was, leading the ministry to conduct an investigation.

In the end, Lee was given the go-ahead to blog about his national service (NS) experiences, though Mindef did ask him to refrain from re-posting one or two photographs due to security concerns.

Almost two years later, Lee has published a book about NS – with the full knowledge and support of Mindef.

In My Time, a 120-page comic book published by Marshall Cavendish with Mindef, presents NS in a humorous and nostalgic light. The title refers to how former NS men like to boast that things were much tougher back in their day.

The book, which has an initial print run of 2,000 copies, was launched at the Army Open House on Sept 1, and is available at major bookstores from today at $9.30 without GST.

“I enjoy telling army stories, and I thought it would be a good time to put a comic book of anecdotes together since it’s the 40th anniversary of NS,” says Lee, 37, who holds the rank of corporal and serves in the 433rd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment.

Organised as a guide to common characters and situations that NS men encounter during their years of service, the book makes inside references to water parades, elephants in rifles and the various
“kings” that one finds in a platoon – keng, bobo and topo, given respectively to malingerers, poor shots and bad navigators.

The book’s copyright is held by Mindef, and Lee says that the ministry helped him by supplying military-related photographs, which he used to guide illustrator Chua Jon Depp, a Malaysian artist based in Kuala Lumpur who was recommended to Lee by Marshall Cavendish after no suitable local illustrator could be found.

“He was really helpful… he saved some panels by injecting his own humour and style into the scenes,” says the freelance writer.

Meanwhile, readers of Lee’s blog should not expect to see as much of his trademark irreverence and sarcasm on the printed page. Lee says that the decision to leave out the more negative aspects of
NS was a personal choice.

“I do have darker stories about NS, but I intended for this to be a commemorative book. There are other forums for other NS stories,” he says.

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Tremors II


OK, I got my sleep interrupted by a very long series of tremors, and we’ve just turned on the telly to watch CNA talk about last night’s quake, aftershocks and then this morning’s shaking news.
“Normally our building code is sufficient to build buildings of safety”, says the engineer/professor who’s a guest on CNA right now. So, how safe are we? When do we evacuate? When do we rush down the stairs and stand in the car park, within the shadows of our tall apartment blocks?

How sure are we that the buildings we live and work in haven’t been damaged by the tremors? What’s our building code? Does it specifically say that the building must be able to withstand sways of up to 1m? So many questions, so hard to type. Because I’m sleepy, and I would have swayed as I walked out to get my computer even if there wasn’t a quake anyway.

The engineer/professor also says that we should evacuate to where “only if there’s really open ground”. So, OK, we’ll just wait till the open ground eventuates before we do anything. Personally, I reckon the waves of en-bloc sales do more damage to old apartments here than quakes ever do.

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This just in. Naomi thought the cat was under the sofa rocking it, causing her to feel a little dizzy. Then we found the cat on his perch, and so she asked me to sit on the sofa to feel it swaying a bit.

“Why ah?”, she asked. Being the professional bullshitter that I am, I said, “I think the seat of the sofa sits on the base in an unstable way.”

I sat on the other sofa, which didn’t “sit on a base in an unstable way”, and said, “No, this one don’t have”, and then, “eh? Got”.

For confirmation, we stared at a glass of water on the coffee table, and saw ripples.

Oops, there it comes again!

There are no thundering sounds, so Jurassic Park III is ruled out, and I don’t think our neighbours have bought their 5:1 Dolby home theatre system yet.

Just switched on CNA on the telly, and they say there’s been a quake near Bengkulu, Sumatra at 7.9M.

USGS says its preliminary magnitude is 8.0 and a tsunami warning has been issued.

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Basket, kenah bluff

I just had a funny conversation on IM with a friend that went like this:

D: Hey, I ask you ah, the iPhone is it worth buying?
M: Of course, old technology, but looks beautiful.
D: Yay, I’m ordering one, and choosing the engraving on the back.
M: Order from where?
D: Apple site lah!
M: Got meh?
D: Got! Apple.com.sg
M: But I thought next year then got?
D: No! Order now, get September 28! Should I engrave my full name or just first name?
M: Wait, I go order also!
D: Yah! Fasterer!
M: Dude…
D: Yah?
M: Where got?
D: Got! Apple.com.sg!
M: That’s the iPod Touch.
D: Har?
M: It’s an iPhone without the phone.
D: Basket! My friend bluff me!
M: Hahahahahaha! It’s ok, I won’t tell anyone.
D: Wah lao! Nearly bought it!
M: And I nearly got bluffed by you also.
D: Stupid!
M: Uh huh!
D: OK, I’m going to drown my sorrows in Diet Coke.

 7 248 2041 2657 Store.Apple.Com Catalog Singapore Images Ipodtouch-Hero 7 248 2041 2657 Store.Apple.Com Catalog Regional Apac Touch Img Overview-Display

 7 248 2041 2657 Store.Apple.Com Catalog Regional Apac Touch Img Overview-Interface 7 248 2041 2657 Store.Apple.Com Catalog Regional Apac Touch Img Overview-Wifi 7 248 2041 2657 Store.Apple.Com Catalog Regional Apac Touch Img Overview-Downloads

I think there’d be people willing to forgo the phone part of the iPhone and shell out $498-698 for this little wi-fi enabled beaut. Hell I wouldn’t want to be making or taking calls if I had this to play with.

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Who wants to be a superhero?

Captain Obvious

We’ve had Survivor (1997 – yes, that old!), Big Brother (1999), Fear Factor (2001), American Idol (2002), America’s Next Top Model (2003), Beauty and the Geek (2005 – a favourite), amongst many, many others. Granted, the format’s nowhere near new, but there are now so many “reality” tv shows that the makers of reality tv shows are running out of real things to make reality tv shows out of.

So how, like that? Running out of reality? Turn to fantasy lah!

HyperstrikeWhich is exactly what “Who wants to be a superhero?” is trying to do I suppose – get people to break out their spare spandex, toss a lasso, spin a web, leap over tall buildings and so on. Quite fun if you’re keen on reliving primary school games. One of my primary school classmates who went on to become a Channel 8 actor used to lurrrrve playing Wonder Woman when we played at being superheroes during recess and between classes. It didn’t matter a tiny bit to himself that he was a fat, mostly Chinese-speaking boy with a chipped tooth. Didn’t matter how much he got teased either, with taunts like “你那么 fat, invisible 飞机 how to fly?”

But with a little imagination, and little regard for what people think of you, some of the contestants have created super powers that are quite um… interesting. Take “Hyper-strike“, who is “able to turn his own sweat into a weapon”. He’d be a hit in Singapore. Air-conditioning would be to him what kryptonite is to Superman. Noooo… Not. The. Air. Con. Must. Perspire. Probably also faces tough competition and turf wars with Captain Stinko.

Then, there’s also “Basura“, an environmentally friendly superhero who “turns trash into treasure and reshapes rubbish into robots.”

If we had a similar program in Singapore, seeing as we’re rather prone to adapting formats for local consumption, what heroes would we conjure up from our spare fabric lying at home?

Sick and tired of loitering louts downstairs of your home? Be sick and tired no more!

Behold! Void-Deck Man!

Look out for his monogrammed jersey, and every time you see louts hanging around your void-deck, drinking, playing chess or, more likely bottle caps, call out for VD Man! Not to be confused with the fella who takes trips to Batam!

Or, behold! Captain Jump-Q! Able to get you that box of donuts you’ve been hankering for in under three hours! NDP tickets? No problem! You just have to reimburse him for his cab fare. Don’t worry about the taxi queues either!

8DayscoverBut really though, who do we really have? Who will save us? Who will defend us while we sleep? Not VR-Man. (James Lye is damned lucky that that show was aired almost ten years ago, before the ingterneck became really big and everyone started uploading pictures of bad tv shows – I can’t find any pictures!).

Then who? Who? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to who? Who?

Captain SMRT

Behold, Captain SMRT! Captain who? SMRT?

That’s the best we can come up with? Captain SMRT? WTF?!

How do you even pronounce his name? Captain Smurt? Captain Ass Am Arty? What kind of hero name is that?

CaptainsmrtBesides, I’m not really sure what his superpowers are, and I only read in the Straits Times yesterday that he goes around giving out free SMRT tickets to people who hold on to handrails and stand on the left side while riding escalators. Also, I hear that SBS bus drivers are wondering, “Captain, so what? We also bus captain, you don’t see us in a mask and cape. Siao.

And there’s probably good reason for Captain SMRT to be masked. His mild-mannered secret identity might be beaten up if he wasn’t. And does his mild mannered secret identity hold on to handrails and stand to the left while riding escalators? Or would that give his game away? So many questions, so little time.


Still, I’d give a little more time to guessing Captain SMRT’s mild-mannered secret identity’s day job.

You know how traditional superheroes (if there’s such a thing as a traditional superhero) have secret identities which are mundane, like Peter Parker’s a photographer, Clark Kent is a junior reporter, and Bruce Wayne is a millionaire…. eh? OK, but anyway, our local hero would have a job that’s really, really, really, really mundane, so that being Captain SMRT is a real step up.

So, I’d go for “chief bonelessness inspector in a boneless chicken factory”, where, you know, by day, all he does is poke around to ensure the bonelessness of the boneless chickens in the boneless chicken factory?

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Now That You Got It remix feat. Damian Marley

I like Gwen Stefani, and I like Bob Marley. But Bob Marley’s um… not around, so it’s great that Stefani’s new single features one of his many sons, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley. Unlike Bob, Damian’s not a reggae artist. It says on wikipedia that Damian’s musical specialty is “Toasting“, which is the Jamaican style of rapping. That’s quite different from Microwaving, Steaming and Double Boiling, which is the Chinese style of rapping. Or something.

Here’s a 2 minute preview of the single’s music video:

“Now That You Got It” will be released September 17.

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National Days

Flags for sale

I was just wondering the other day that there were lots of independence days in August. We had ours, they had theirs, and they shouted Merdeka till they were hoarse.

Then a couple of days passed and I thought it was a little late to talk about things happening in August. But then, fortuitously, I looked things up and found out that August and September are tied for the most number of independence days at twenty one each! Amazing – the wonderfully useful pieces of information you find on the net and then feel like you’ve achieved something by finding them! Isn’t it? No? I don’t care, I’m going to list them here anyway:


Benin, Switzerland, Niger, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Jamaica, Singapore, Ecuador, Chad, Pakistan, Bahrain, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Moldova, Kyrgystan, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago.


Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Qatar, Swaziland, Brazil, Macedonia, North Korea, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Armenia, Belize, Malta, Bulgaria, Mali, Botswana, Tajikistan

If a tie-breaker was needed, I’d give it to August, because the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua just happened to be granted independence from Spain on the same day in 1821.

The other interesting thing in my little foray into wikipedia was that Israel has an independence day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) that lies between between April 15 and May 15, because it’s based on the Hebrew calendar.

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In My Time

I’ve never been to an Army Open House because I don’t have kids to bring them to, and my family would scream if I asked them “hey you wanna go to the Army Open House and see Army gear and stuff?” and they’d scream, “We wash your Army gear every time you come back from reservist”, and they’d scream, “if that’s your idea of a joke, it’s not funny”.

So I’ve never been to an Army Open House.

Until Saturday, that is. And I was pretty chuffed about seeing the latest in Army gear, and was even more chuffed to see a sign pointing to one of them:


Good thing I slowed down. Might have hurt some people:


The teeming crowds didn’t seem to be bothered though:


Apart from Army gear, it isn’t every day one gets to give a comic book to a defence minister:



And then spend a few hours telling people “yes” at the Open House who ask in Mandarin, “Is this book for sale?”, when they actually mean to be asking, “How come it’s not free?”


And the crowd goes wild

Still, it’s not every day one gets to autograph books for kids:


And then meet the author of one of the country’s most popular books – one that was made a movie:

with Angelina and Adrian Tan

Outside, my best friend was getting photographed as often as some of the exhibits:

No, the signboard I mentioned earlier wasn’t pointing to him.

Inside, I was explaining to the Chief of Army that “no, I’m not the clown in page 36-37 of the comic book“:


But seriously though, “In My Time” is a comic book written by me with a lot, a lot of help from various people from the publishing company, Marshall Cavendish, Mindef (who gave me all the photographs I said I wanted, although for some reason, the old Ali Baba bag couldn’t be found), and the indomitably cheerful illustrator Chua Jon Dep, who, despite being Malaysian and based in KL, managed to draw the cartoons I described to him over the phone and email over a period of two months.

And if you buy the book, you’ll see at the bottom left corner of every two pages, there’s a little marching soldier who, well, marches as you flip the pages. Yes, I know it’s called a flip book animation. That was the idea of the layout graphic artist, Lock Hong Liang, another long suffering fella who thought it was a great idea to put in the marching soldier in all the pages, then did so, then woke up one morning in a panic because he realised the pages weren’t finalised yet, and if we had swapped or omitted pages, his marching soldier animation would have gone to shits. So it was a good thing we didn’t.

with Hong Liang and Jon Dep

The one thing that really wasn’t fun at all was the fact that Naomi was at home, her back having flared up in the last few days, and she wasn’t able to accompany me to my first ever book launch, and to see Army gear. Hmmm…

On sale in bookstores from 21 September. Only $9.95!

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