Press the Face: Interview I: Janice Wong
You know how the newspapers have been full of stories about blogs and bloggers and this thing about blogs being online diaries? Well, it's time the tables were turned, said a friend of mine. So, I turned the table and nothing happened and everything looked the same. So my friend told me, no dude, I didn't mean turn the table clockwise or anti-clockwise. Turn the table upside down, like this. Press The Face is a series of interviews with real-life news journalists. Yes, you heard me. Real journos. For real newspapers. Not bloggers and not wannabes like ourselves. Also, being the really honest feller than I am, I have to tell you the title comes from a segment of a comedy skit programme in Australia called 'Full Frontal' (where Eric Bana made his name). Also, the style of the interview mirrors that of the Sunday Times' email interview, y'know, the one where they give you questions to sabo yourself? That also means that it is not quite the same as a real back and forth conversation. The questions are composed, emailed, and the answers are emailed back. No follow up questions. So, anyhoo, the subject of the maiden Press The Face interview is Janice Wong, formerly a journalist for the top broadsheet and some of the top tabloids in Singapore. She has written for Streats, The Straits Times and The New Paper. Like you, Janice has also asked why she, of all the top journalists in Singapore, is being interviewed first. Simple. Janice has written for three, not one, newspapers. How many top journalists can boast that? So what if she's no longer a journo? She's been there, done all that liao! Actually, Janice was the first journo to say yes, and I've yet to receive a response from any of the others I emailed. As you can already tell, Janice is a real sport. More importantly, Janice has a "cyber-journal" too, where she keeps copies of some of her favourite articles as well as a frequently updated "random thoughts" section. And since it's already there, we'll jump right into the interview now:
What do you like for breakfast?Janice Wong's 'cyberjournal'McDonald's Big Breakfast, if it's a non-working day and I can wake up by 11am (which is rare). And no, it's not for the Happy Meal toy. It's for the fibre content.You are Hakka by dialect origin. Transcribe phonetically in Hakka the following English sentence: "Hi, I'm Janice, and I'm a 28 year old Scorpio who once was one of Female Magazine's 50 most gorgeous people."Sorry, I can't speak Hakka but I can swear in Hokkien. Do I get some brownie points?On your 'online journal', you write that you want to publish a book 'about a twenty-something career woman like me and her unceasing search for love'. Would that woman actually be you? Would the book elucidate why love is so elusive for you? Are you a bitter woman?Yes, the book is autobiographical. Mr Miyagi, that's quite a no-brainer guess, eh? The book traces my columns over the last 5 years and my new thoughts relative to my old opinions. There are other topics besides love, like career and friends. Actually no publisher has inked a deal with me (yet?), so this discussion is a little premature. My book may never see the light of day. I think I am bittersweet, like Valrhona dark chocolate - enough sugar to be palatable, and enough cocoa to be sophisticated.Would your benefactor - the one who wants to finance your book, and who shall remain unnamed - be one of your suitors/admirers? Is he the same person who proposed to you and got rejected?He's just a friend. (Why do I feel like Fann Wong talking about Christopher Lee?!) And, no, different guy.How many times have you been proposed to? Have you ever said yes? If yes, when? If no, why not? And don't lie. If Mr Miyagi can find out the truth about Steph Song, Mr Miyagi can find out anything!Four times, but never formally, like with a diamond ring, if that is what you have in mind. Not that a ring makes a difference to the decision. The first two times, I felt that I was too young to settle down. The last two times, I wasn't in love with the men. It boils down to mismatching rather than a lack of desire. At 28 (I am really 28!), I feel that I am finally ready for the commitment. Now all I need is someone to fall in love with.You'd read the instructions on a tampon box if you couldn't get hold of a book. Have you found inconsistencies in instructions between different brands of tampons? Has your life improved after reading these instructions?No, the last time I read, all brands still advise not flushing a used tampon down the toilet bowl. Of course, my life improved. No more choked pipes.Just yesterday, you were a cyber-bimbo, today, you have an online journal. Do you know what an RSS feed is? (You are not allowed to Google this one, or ask your friend Ash, 'the creative brain behind your website')Since I can't call a friend, can I go for 50/50? Seriously, no.One day, you were an 'air-stewardess, then a journalist the next, and now, a marketing executive'. Are you upset at this rapid regression?Not at all. After the neuron-burning intellectual activities associated with being a cabin crew, my brains, or what passes for my brains, needed a break. So I went into journalism. But my brains still couldn't cope, and I moved down the food chain again. The rapid regression was necessary. I have settled nicely into marketing and have no regrets experiencing such vastly different professions."I must do one kind deed a week without telling anyone about it. I must dance more, eat more vegetables, chew slowly, complain less, gossip even less and be unreservedly patient with people who are stupid. I must be more organised and keep in touch with my contacts. I must wake up early every day to exercise and read the newspapers leisurely. I must believe that I was created for a purpose, however insignificant, and seek to fulfil that purpose." - How are the New Year's resolutions doing? Good?I can't speak about the first resolution cos I will be contradicting myself if I do, no? Is yoga a dance? Is French fries a vegetable? If so, checked, checked. I have been very patient with you so far, haven't I? *grin* Like everyone, I have good days and bad days in terms of self-discipline. The last resolution was put in as a reminder to myself. My mood tends to become pensive, especially on rainy days. I question life's purpose, the existence of God and hit nihilism. Life can seem so pointless, if we think deeply enough about it. Do you get what I mean? Never mind.What do you think of Xiaxue?She is clearly a talented blogger with a strong command of the language and a rare populist touch. I like her frankness but sometimes she can get a little overboard. There is a fine line between dry wit and wicked sarcasm. If she can temper her style (without losing her original identity that makes her so refreshing and disarming) and seize the right opportunities, she will go far.What do you think of Sumiko Tan?I interacted with Sumiko briefly when I was working for The Straits Times' Life section. She struck me as capable and hardworking, single-handedly leading a team of about 30. That's a heavy responsibility. Unknown to many people, she is also the author of some 10 books, ranging from crimes to politics. I am impressed by how prolific and versatile she is.What do you think of Mr Miyagi? [Ed: This question was appended by Janice, who didn't know you cannot anyhowly add your own questions to a Press The Face email interview.]I think it is sweet of him to ask me for an interview, considering that I am not anywhere near the same top league as Fiona Xie, or even Steph Song. Thank you. And judging from pictures, he is marginally better looking than Mr Brown.
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