“Smoke what smoke?!”
6 July 2014 Sunday | 20:04 | -

I decided to stop smoking. And Cruz Teng, being Cruz Teng, turned it into a very public campaign — on Radio and online.

A few months before I turned 21, I asked a friend for a cigarette. It was at a birthday party— we were becoming ‘adults’ one by one, and I sort of felt emboldened by the thought of it all. (I think the government has to raise the legal age or something, because it is evident that people turning 21 would still make stupid decisions. Ha.) Of course, I didn’t like the taste of my first Menthol Lights. But that didn’t stop me from giving it a second try. People were smoking in camps, and it wasn’t difficult to ask for a free stick to try. See! Clever people would have stopped experimenting after choking on the toxic smoke. Only stupid people would go out of their way to shorten their lives prematurely and pay a hefty sum for that.

Very soon, I became a regular smoker. By that, I mean that I had willingly transformed myself into a nicotine addict, and allowed the evil drug to take precedence over everything else in my life. REALLY?! Smokers would hate to admit this, but it’s true. Before a flight, smokers had to look for smoking lounges, and perhaps smoke double the usual quantity ‘for the road’. It doesn’t matter that 90% of smoking rooms in the world— with the exception of the ones at our Changi Airport— are gross and disgusting spaces that even hard-core smokers hate to step into. And by the way, I was very upset that Taoyuan, Taiwan closed their smoking rooms in T1 for a while— and I refused to fly China Airlines back then.

On a daily basis, I had to arrive 10 to 15 minutes earlier for business or leisure appointments, because I had to find somewhere— and trust me, it’s getting more and more challenging— to light up. (The positive side to this, is that I’m very early most of the time.) And I absolutely hated the smell. You have no idea how much I spent on cologne because I was spraying myself multiple times a day to mask that disgusting odour. But I carried on smoking. Stupid.

And then I decided to stop, thanks to a conversation with Mike— someone who started smoking way before I did. The question isn’t why, but WHY NOT? We all know the various factors— the smell, the health risks, the costs, the social stigma, etc.

For me, the single most important factor was that I wanted to regain FULL control of my life. I don’t want to be ‘forced’ to leave my desk every hour or so, to replenish the poison in my body. I don’t want to be distracted at functions, wondering when it would be an appropriate time to smoke. And oh yes, some dignity as well- I’ve stood in the rain and even SNOWING conditions, just to light up away from prying eyes. FOR WHAT?!

Ok, so I stopped. From twenty to zero overnight. It’s been a week. Of course it’s not been easy. I still get that little urge to light up, and think about smoking sometimes. But my objective is clear— I don’t want to anymore!

Thank you for the encouraging comments and likes on social media! And thanks to my friends and family for the moral support. That is extremely important! Thank you! I won’t waste your time. I won’t smoke again!

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31.3.1996
31 March 2014 Monday | 0:06 | Pass Me the Mic

This went out on Facebook and Instagram a while ago. It’s been 18 years! Thanks to the people who made this possible, and thank you for staying close, whoever and wherever you are.

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New on Y.E.S. 93.3FM
3 March 2014 Monday | 10:10 | Pass Me the Mic

林佩芬与谢家发留守早班《就是万人迷》
陈罗密欧与张振寰加入Y.E.S. 93.3FM

顶尖流行音乐电台Y.E.S. 93.3FM将在3月10日进行年度节目改版,上下班交通尖峰时段DJ维持不变— 林佩芬与谢家发继续主持《就是万人迷》;钟坤华与蔡伟彬继续主持《古德衣服宁》。与此同时,新传媒电视艺人陈罗密欧与张振寰将与陈宁搭档主持《宁.可听一听》。

已连续二十年蝉联新加坡收听率总冠军的Y.E.S. 93.3FM传统上在每年第一季的台庆活动之后进行年度节目改版,今天公布的DJ时间表并没有出现巨大变化。去年在《新传媒金唛奖》获颁“933最受欢迎DJ奖”的林佩芬将继续与谢家发主持早上六点至十点的《就是万人迷》。傍晚五点至八点的《古德衣服宁》继续由钟坤华和蔡伟彬掌舵。

新传媒人气小生张振寰与2013年《红星大奖》“年度飞跃奖”得主陈罗密欧将首次挑战广播,与陈宁共同主持晚间节目《宁.可听一听》。张振寰说:“能在戏剧演绎各种人生百态,而广播却能展现最真实的自己。希望能通过节目和更多朋友交流,播出大家喜欢的歌曲。” 陈罗密欧说:“自小就听着933长大,入行后也常上933,与各位DJ挺熟络的。去年尝试歌唱,今年能够当DJ,我非常期待。” 张振寰将主持星期二晚间十点至午夜十二点的时段,而陈罗密欧则将出现在星期四晚间十点至午夜十二点的节目。

去年首次成军的午餐组合萧嘉蕙和Jeff将依然主持中午十二点至下午两点的《午餐霸王》。原本主持下午时段的嘉蕙将提前主持早上十点至中午十二点的《快乐嘉码》,而陈艾薇将从原有的午夜时段调往主持下午两点至五点的《薇笑.喝茶》。

另外,星期一至星期天晚间八点被设定为音乐与娱乐专属时段。星期二、星期四、星期天晚上八点的《我也是DJ》节目将由亚洲华人地区的歌手与演员轮番上阵担任广播主持。星期一和星期六晚上八点,谢家发主持由亚洲七家最具代表性电台主导的《全球华语歌曲排行榜》,倒数区域十五大歌曲。星期三晚上八点,钟坤华和蔡伟彬推出音乐节目《音乐真相》,揭开华语流行歌曲背后的故事。星期五晚上八点,丁志勇将重新出任榜主,与陈宁主持新加坡最具权威的华语音乐榜《醉心龙虎榜》。

Y.E.S. 93.3FM节目副总监丁志勇说:“933致力于拟定最好的歌单,并由最强的主持阵容带来最有创意的节目。《就是万人迷》和《古德衣服宁》去年取得佳绩,两段收听率调查期的数字均有所提升,也是早晚收听时段个别排名第一的节目。除了保留最有默契的组合,我也要求所有DJ推陈出新,呈献有别于往年的节目内容。我们希望在改版之后,仍继续获得听众的支持。”

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I left the morning show a year ago, and the ratings increased!
1 March 2014 Saturday | 0:37 | White-Collar WOOHOO!

It’s been exactly one year since I traded my headset for a new business card. Punters who thought I would lose my job prematurely are now sorely disappointed. I’ve been working my ass off in the last twelve months, because I don’t like to lose— unless you are talking about mahjong with close friends and family.

People have finally stopped asking if I have gotten used to office life. And I can finally tell you the full story, since it’s been a year, and that we have established the fact that I will not be going back to doing any power packed drive-time shows for five days a week.

I still enjoy going on air. I can still do it, but I don’t want to. I’d reached a point where I felt I wasn’t evolving as a radio presenter anymore. We all know our strengths and weaknesses, don’t we? I was only doing things I was good at— shouting ‘It’s Friday’, for instance. (I know I didn’t invent that phrase, but in my personal opinion, all other versions on other stations suck.) I avoided stuff I wasn’t good at, or situations which would expose my vulnerabilities. I can’t do emotional programmes like Music Diary, for example.

After a certain stage, my feedback sources dwindled. There were only a few people left who would—or could— still review my work. The rest either didn’t bother with me, or simply didn’t dare to. I admit I appear rather intimidating when I don’t smile. Well, I guess I could continue doing the morning show for a few more years. But you would just hear the same thing day after day. It’s not a good thing when things get too easy. It’s not cool to be able to close your eyes to do the highest rated radio programme in Singapore, and get away with any hiccups along the way. I didn’t want to sink to the levels of a mediocre DJ. I tried but I wasn’t improving or offering anyone anything new anymore. I had to exit, before I was asked to.

I had to get out of the comfort zone. That’s painful for most, and excruciating for me. Apart from losing the prestige of hosting Singapore’s #1 radio show, and the perks for being someone remotely famous, I gave myself a huge paycut. I wasn’t hosting events anymore. That additional income—pretty substantial honestly— which came on top of my regular pay wasn’t coming in any longer. But I had no choice.

I had to find a new meaning in life, and perhaps get used to a modified lifestyle because I’m not earning as much as I did. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that there aren’t too many legitimate jobs at this stage to match my previous salary. And I gave that up voluntarily because I needed a new challenge, a new start.

Incidentally, the first session I chaired a year ago was titled, ‘Y.E.S. 93.3FM Family Meeting: The Reboot Session’. I told my guys that ‘an iPhone is still an iPhone’— Y.E.S. 93.3FM is still the Mandarin station offering good music and quality entertainment programmes for students and young adults aged 15 to 34. And when you switch from iOS6 to iOS7, you get a brand new interface and some new features. Original functions you loved might had been dropped. I reminded my team that all developers want to push out the best software they could, but would inevitably discover some bugs along the way. That was a disclaimer: I may have all the best intentions, but I will probably make some stupid mistakes somehow. It is always better to under-promise and over-deliver, than the other way round. Ha!

It’s been a year. I thank the people involved, for this extraordinary breathtaking prelude to my corporate life. The honeymoon period is officially over. Fine, you can call me an idiot in my face if I repeat the same errors I made. In my sophomore year, I’m embarking on several highly exciting projects. That line really means that my folks have a lot more work to do this year.

We will be launching a new product line. Think Marc by Marc Jacobs, CK by Calvin Klein, or Armani Exchange by Armani. It’s an exhilarating experience to launch something from scratch— conceptualization, budget approval, inter department coordination, and finally making and delivering the product. You should be hearing of this publicly in the next couple of months. And if I screw things up, that would be delayed to 2046. But it will certainly happen.

And of course, my primary job is to ensure that YOU continue to listen to Y.E.S. 93.3FM. And while YOU are doing that, can YOU sorta influence your friends and family who aren’t already tuning in to do so please? Fine, I can’t have all five million people on this island claiming they are fans of the station. One more a day— while not losing any— goes a long way. YOU will do it for me, right? Ha! Long-time listeners like YOU would be aware that it is a tradition for us to unveil a new lineup in the first quarter of the year. 365 days ago, I said that I didn’t know when I would finally fade away. I took myself out of the morning show last year, and I will be removing myself from the weekday lineup this year. But, I will still be doing a weekly show. We’ll be announcing the full details on Monday.

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Fab Feb: Taipei
27 February 2014 Thursday | 23:26 | 2014/02 Taipei

I fell sick on the fourth day of the Chinese New Year, and had to see the doctor twice. I’m extremely sorry to the people whose appointments I had to reschedule. The ones who insisted that they had to see me in my office braved the risk of catching the bug. My mucus changed from brown to transparent to green, and I had to use copious amounts of three-ply tissues. I ran out of those at one point and settled for toilet paper. That was a bad idea. Because I had to blow my nose several times an hour, I soon felt the abrasion caused by the low quality paper. Nasty. Ha!

Anyway, I got well in time for the trip we began planning last year. It started with an innocent remark shortly after Stefanie Sun’s concert details were released. I said I wanted to go, and a few others replied they wanted to watch the show as well. So we booked the tickets really quickly, and a couple more joined us for the trip— without watching the show as the tickets were sold out in no time. And so, more than ten of us made it to Taipei— one of my favourite cities in the world and a place I visit more often than Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok.

It was the same SOP. Dates were blocked. Air tickets and hotels were booked separately to suit individual timings and budgets. The first group set off on 15 Feb— I think there was a crazy offer on Singapore Airlines for that period.

I can’t believe it took us only 45 minutes to hit Taipei Arena from Taoyuan Airport! We were in such a panicky rush the last time we watched Jam Hsiao’s concert. There was a new expressway or something, which ensured we had more than enough time to have dinner before the Kepler show.

There she was, in complete control of the crowd. Stefanie Sun is still one of the biggest divas despite the inertia after marriage. Taipei would be a safe place to kickstart the brand new world tour with fans and media converging from across Asia.

This was the dazzling scene as she sang her latest title track, Kepler. Awesome.


All concert pictures by Universal Music Taiwan

It might be necessary to note that I bought the tickets myself. I think I could have asked for complimentary passes to any Mandopop event in the region because of my job. But I shouldn’t— because of my job. I don’t want to invite any unnecessary gossip, and I can’t damage my own reputation— and the station’s— just to save on a few hundred bucks.

We were seated in different sections of the venue, so the WhatsApp group chat was kept rather active.

I got myself invited to the post reception just to say hi. I didn’t expect a full buffet spread, and the pleasant conversation I had with Mr and Mrs Sng later. The affable mum of a superstar told me she used to like my programme a lot. There you go, I’m a certified true blue auntie killer. Haha! And I sure didn’t expect to be asked for a photograph when I stepped out an hour later. Groups of Singaporean fans were at the show, and some strayed outside the restaurant.

Introducing Jan, my friend from school. I’ve known her for a really long time.

She got herself into a little accident on the first night, which led to me doing a safety demonstration.

Ten Singaporeans and a Taiwanese friend. Knowing how hospitable he is, I texted everyone in advance to get the bill before he did. But we failed. He knew the staff and no one accepted our cash. We were on foreign soil, and I couldn’t use the often-repeated trick on them, “Don’t you know who I am? Surely you should listen to me!” HA!

I was glad to have friends who were in Taipei for the first time— else I’d never re-visit the touristy places like Danshui and Jiufen.

I don’t know why or how they developed this fascination with ginger tea (姜母茶). They were checking out the various stalls we came across, and worse, they had to convene for meetings each time to decide how many packs to buy.

We were in Shenkeng one afternoon where we saw this delicious-looking malt candy coated with generous amounts of peanuts. It was chewy and non-sticky! The storeowners’ cheerful banter made us toss our NT$ almost immediately, knowing full well that we wouldn’t be able to finish it. Two minutes later, we were standing in the middle of the street when How Han knocked the box off my hand. “Uncle! I’m usually the clumsy one. What did you just do?!” We bent down to pick up the mess when the lady scrambled out with a dustpan. She offered us a free box, which we declined and opted instead to buy another box.

I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It’s the company, and the non-stop laughter. There were so many of us, we could buy plenty of food to sample and yet not overeat. And I totally appreciate how they would let me vet all the photographs before they uploaded those to the various social media platforms. Justin (in the foreground) asked if I minded this pic where I still had food in my mouth. “It’s all right to upload ugly unglamourous pictures, as long as my double chin isn’t visible!”

I was seated in the last row of the MPV and was car sick by the time we completed the winding route up to Jiufen. They gushed over the glorious view, while I tried to decide if it was better to hold it all in, or induce vomitting. Fortunately, I was fine without making a mess.

The place was swamped with Japanese tourists that afternoon. I muttered under my breath, to the amusement of my friends, “Diaoyu Islands belong to the (Mainland) Chinese!” Hahahahahaha.

Left: Half a face lost there and an extremely prominent photo-bomber, but I like the vibrancy. I can recall the scene vividly. “You guys just stand here. I’ll take a photo. Don’t care about the crowd. We’re not coming here again in the short run anyway!” I had my photo taken on the long staircase years ago, and I wasn’t allowing them to leave without one.

Right: It looks like a posed picture, but it was totally candid!

After a 90-minute oil massage on the last evening, I knocked on one of the doors when I realised that everyone was reluctant to sleep. We could play Guess the Word, like we did the last two days! They soon learnt of the amount of remaining cash I had, and therefore insisted on a trip to the convenience store where I would foot the bill.

I reported— in a rather sombre tone— that there weren’t any packaged cold noodles for sale. I had been harping on Chen Jia Cold Noodles before the trip, but we just couldn’t find the time to pop by. Well, even if we could find a slot, we didn’t have the capacity to consume everything.

Helen, whose birthday we celebrated a day ago, exclaimed, “Why are you looking for cold noodles here?! We should go to Chen Jia NOW!”

I hesitated. I hadn’t showered after the oil massage. I wasn’t hungry to begin with. It was 2AM— we shouldn’t be eating whether we were starving or not. Two of the girls were braless— we had only planned for a short excursion across the road. We weren’t expecting a cab ride anywhere. But she was really decisive and persistent when it comes to food.

a. Helen was good at psyching people.
b. I am a glutton pretending that suppers ain’t cool.
c. both (a) and (b)

So we went.

Where we ate this round— and where you should go. Most are really old favs, with the exception of the first restaurant.

潮肉壽喜燒
度小月
- 陳家涼麵
- Grilled oyster stall, 饒河夜市
Dazzling
咖啡弄

Several more pictures on Instagram.

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