Find out more about this Almost-International Man of Mystery.
Q: Are you a true-blue Singaporean (i.e. are you born here)?
A: No, I am an alien from the planet Dorko, sent here to observe Singapore life, study local mores, and bring home lots of duty-free items and hotel towels.
Just kidding. OK, yes, I am a true-blue Singaporean. As Singaporean as they come. Born and bred here all my life. People who think that Singapore is a place devoid of humour should watch "Today in Parliament".
Q: Were you educated in Singapore throughout your life?
A: I have never studied overseas, although I do a very good US-UK-Australian rojak accent (like those people who went overseas to England for two weeks and came back sounding like a New Yorker). I have studied in Singapore schools and even Singapore kindergartens all my life. I even dropped out of a local University. I guess I am one of those sociological exceptions (read: black sheep) who slipped through the Singapore Education System.
Anyways, why does everybody assume that if you can make fun of the Government, you must be educated overseas? We have some pretty subversive (in the fun sense, not the evil Marxist Conspirators out to overthrow our way of life sense) teachers in Singapore too, you know.
I am proud to say that I have been taught by some of the finest warped minds in Singapore. And I think that the most important thing any teacher can teach you is to think for yourself (that, and how to memorise the General Paper Ten Year Series).
Q: Do you have a full-time job or perhaps, part-time job? What's your profession? Anything to do with IT or journalism?
A: I am a part-time Hotbods dancer and frequent Manhunk contestant (furthest round reached: being groped by the gay menopausal organiser). I am particularly popular among ladies who like their men short, bald and overweight.
Kidding. I really dance full-time.
OK, OK, yes, I do have a full-time job. My day job is in an interactive agency (I build websites for others, which is why I have no time to build or maintain my own).
You could say I am in Information Technology because I use Macintoshes (yes, that's plural) everyday at home and at work. But no, I am not in journalism, nor am I in any job related to it (unless you count making fun of The Straits Times). Writing is a hobby of mine.
Q: Where do you get all these ideas for material?
A: It is largely due to massive insomnia attacks and poor late night TV fare (Need an example? "The Price of Peace" dubbed in English. I rest my case.).
Fodder is everywhere (just like The Force), it's just a matter of paying attention to the silliness of things. Having friends and readers tell me stuff also helps. Sometimes the funny stuff just happens (like ERP ads and TCS blunders). I just happen to be the one to tell you guys. So the credit should go to those who give me fodder (long live the HDB!). One day, when _everyone_ does the right things the right way for the right reasons, I will be out of a job and reduced to throwing pies at pedestrians to get laughs. But until then...
I also have an insatiable need to pick on details (my wife calls it Anal, but what does she know), like Lorraine Kraal using what was obviously a walky-talky borrowed from some TCS crew, to pretend as a radio, in the trailers for The Pyramid Game. My dog would have spotted that one, if I had a dog named Spot.
And lastly, I have all this insight from my _true_ identity, which is that of an immortal vampire who has had a difficult childhood, later becomes a cop and has all sorts of amazing powers, including that of shooting computer-enhanced Rays of Sarcastic Put-downs. This part of my life will be made into a TCS Chinese Telemovie soon (with black bars on top and below the screen to fake Cinemascope, the works).
Q: Why the name "mr. brown"?
A: It's a nickname I got from saying "How Now Brown Cow?" too often in my wild misspent youth. Friends started calling me "mr brown cow" and my wife, who was still a young unmarried lass then, "mrs brown". It got shortened to "brown" later. Some of my friends have started teaching their 3-year-old kids to call me "Uncle Brown".
Fun Fact#137: They made a movie about my missus, did you know? Actress Judi Dench got a Golden Globe for her role in "Her Majesty Mrs Brown".
My contribution to the name was to make it all lowercase, in honour of e. e. cummings and in the name of easy typing.
The reality is that in the physical world, only close friends call me "brown" to my face. Most others know me by my Chinese name and my Christian name. I suppose it makes an easy name for readers to remember. Would you rather be reading "Singapore National Education by Mr Theodore Nathanael Lee Kin Mun" or "SNE by mr brown"?
Also, (pause for emotional moment here), I consider you guys reading my stuff good friends too. Sniff.
Q: Doesn't your wife object to the time you spend on the computer?
A: Yes, but she is very understanding about it, especially when she is already asleep. It's the awake moments that I have to deal with.
Q: Have you ever thought of doing this writing stuff full time?
A: Yes, but I was under the influence of cold medication at the time. I would love to do this full time but I doubt if there is any money to be made. Oh, I would love to tell my mom, "Mom, I quit the University and started my graphic design business against every relative's wishes, and now I plan to write funny stories for a living."
Then again, being immune to my nonsense by now, even if I told her I was joining the circus as a cannonball act ("Wanted: Man for Cannonball Act -- Must be willing to travel"), Mom will probably say, "Yes, dear" and ask me if I am still coming home for dinner.
Q. What are your influences?
A. I am deeply influenced by excessive amounts of Jolt Cola and Mocha Spin, as well as Gary Larson (of "The Far Side" fame), Scott Adams (of "Dilbert" fame), Dave Barry (of the Dave Barry series of books fame) and my mother (of "If You Don't Study I Will Cane You Until Your Backside Open Flower" fame). These are people I aspire to be, because of their great wit and, with the exception of my mother, their superb merchandising tie-ins. But I hear my mom is working on the merchandising tie-ins bit.
I hope to become as famous as they are, one day, and have people buy my books, soft toys. T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers and underarm deodorant. Writing is fun, but merchandising pays for the yacht. Ask George Lucas.
Q. If I receive your postings via direct email or through Usenet, why should I visit your website?
A. Because I have posted LARGE COLLECTIONS OF NAKED WOMEN PICTURES there for my loyal readers (...wait while stampede clears...). OK, jokes aside, the site is fun to visit too. I do put stuff there that would be impractical (like those involving photos of me wearing women's underwear), or stuff too large to email people, as well as little bonuses like the Readers' Contributions page (but not LARGE COLLECTIONS OF NAKED WOMEN PICTURES) and even special website-only "Musings" articles that can only be found at the site. So it will still be worth a visit despite getting my direct mailings.
Also I plan to have a website-only promotion involving a lucky draw and prizes, and LARGE COLLECTIONS OF NAKED WOMEN PICTURES will not be part of it.
Q. Do you ever get hate mail?
A. I wouldn't call it _Hate_ Mail, more like Intense Dislike Mail. Most readers who write me have only kind things to say. I have had a few people correct me on some facts (like AIDS and Fiat Coupes -- you had to be there) and on spelling and grammar mistakes, but by and large, the response has been favorable.
One irate reader took offense with my TCS-bashing amongst other things. He said I lacked "empathy and metacommunication". I promise to look into improving myself in these two areas as soon as I figure out what the latter means. Must be some management terms.
Another reader did not like the way I made an issue of some wedding guests turning up with their entire village, their maids and their pets and only giving $50 Ang Pow.
Yet another emailed me one of my SNEs with the word "Yawn" tagged on to the end. I was very flattered because this non-fan was a Engineering Ph.D. guy from the University of Florida. It was so very deep.
And yes, I got this vehement vulgarity-ridden email from an Alan Khoo of Malaysia, who wandered in to my website by mistake (he was looking for "adult pics") and took offense at the fact that I made some jokes about Malaysia, and also at the fact that I did not have any adult pics, save that one of the naked llama.
Q. Why did you start doing Browntown and Singapore National Education?
A. Because I wanted world domination and total control over the world's dental floss supply. (Bwahahahahahahahahaha... echoes...)
OK, serious mode: I didn't start out planning to do a website like Browntown or a series like SNE. It all started with a little posting I did for a laugh (which later became SNE Part 1) that did not even have a title then.
I posted it on Usenet and it got passed around via email and before long, that very posting got forwarded to me through another joke source of mine, but this time with the title "Singapore National Education" on it. Full circle.
I thought it to be a rather clever title and did a couple more "Singapore National Education" postings, which lead to more and more. Then people started writing for past issues and asking for a website to view past issues so I did it for a laugh (again). It has since grown into this monster you see now ("It's alive!"). I fear this whole thing has grown out of my control. I look forward to seeing where all this craziness will lead...
Q. Is your mother my former Secondary School teacher?
If you have ever asked me this, you know which school I am talking about, and which photo on my website you saw her in.