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.

Rubber-Chicken

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:

August:

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.

September:

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:

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

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

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

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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?”

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And the crowd goes wild

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

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

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with Angelina and Adrian Tan

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

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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“:

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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.

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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…

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

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