conjunctivitis and loneliness

I should have posted this blog like a month ago. So 3 weeks ago, I was suffering from conjunctivitis. Not a bit deal, I just took 3 days off from work and since I was all alone at home, it felt a bit lonely. Actually it's not really a big deal. I just feel that at the end of 2012, at least I could say that I was suffering from something memorable other than some cold. So there you go, I had conjunctivitis.

In case you're wondering what conjunctivitis is. It's an eye infection. Mostly caused by virus, but in some cases, it could be bacterial. It wasn't really anything that one should worry, too much anyway. The symptoms of the disease are usually: 
  1. Your eyes are red, it could be one eye or just both
  2. There will be extremely dark circles around your eyes. It probably looks like the after-effect of one-week crying. Not that I had the experience, but I assume.
  3. Sometimes itchy.
  4. There will be excessive amount of eye crust, especially in the morning. Not pretty.

Anyway, usually it took 4 to 5 days for the disease to be completely gone. But unfortunately in my case, it stayed a bit too long due to my lack of knowledge of the disease. Here are a few tips from one survivor, me!
  1. Don't panic! I know it sounds like a stupid suggestion, but really, don't panic. There are doctors, eye-specialist doctors that you can go to. I've waited for 4 days before visiting one. I'm a dumb-dumb.
  2. Never put a wet warm cloth on your eyes although it might feel like you're getting better, but actually you're not. The wet cloth actually is actually like a bar for germs. So just don't.
  3. Wash your hands every time you apply your medicine to your eyes or for no reason touching your eyes. This is what I call compassion, so other won't be infected. Be responsible.
  4. Avoid sharing anything. Even if you're not sick, unless it's some B-movies DVDs, you shouldn't share anything with anyone .. Just saying.

they found love in a hopeless place

Director: Jacques Audiard
Stars: Matthias Schoenaerts, Marion Cotillard
Year released: 2012

Rust and Bone tells a tale of a struggling single father who somehow involves with an killer-whale trainer who lost her both legs. Ali left Belgium with his son, Sam. Being broke, Ali had to collect leftovers for their supper. Arrived in France, they stayed with Ali's sister as he started his job as a bouncer in a club where he met Stéphanie, a killer-whale trainer, who seemed to be unhappy with her life. I might be a bit subjective, but in case you didn't know what a good actress Cotillard is. She could make her character look depressed without even trying too hard.

Somehow, they found comfort in each other. Unlike many love stories, this one squeeze out the romantic aspect and left it completely raw and bare. The relationship between Ali and Stéphanie grew after she had an accident that caused her both legs amputated. From a club bouncer, a mall security to boxing, Ali tried to make living. To all his illegal boxing matches, Stéphanie was never absent. Until she finally became his manager with all her disability.

Their relationship was going on a very rocky road as she dealt with her disability and he dealt with his own issues. After an accident that almost killed his son, Sam, everything started to fall into places. We all know it's love when Ali whispered through his phone to Stéphanie, "Je t'aime". I guess at that time I was jumping up and down and happy that they finally made it.

First time, I watched the trailer, I thought the movie will mostly talk about Cotillard's character, Stéphanie and how she dealt with her difficulties, but it was a love story between two people, whose world were falling apart and about finding that someone who you can be comfortable with.

Although I might not be the expert when it comes to films, I confidently say that this might be Cotillard's best performance since La vie en rose, which she won an Oscar for the best actress. As someone who struggles to go on living after a life-altered tragedy, Cotillard didn't have to go over the top, at times, simply one look can make you feel her pain. Do you know that Cotillard is so good at her craft, that Christopher Nolan agreed to postpone filming The Dark Knight Rises so the actress could actually join the cast?

With Cotillard as his co-star, Matthias Schoenaerts was not out-shined. Schoenaerts' performance is raw and very convincing. I believe they have successfully created a new kind of love story, the kind that was vulnerable, real and yet most-easy to believe.

De rouille et d'os has been released as DVD in Europe since last month and that's how I got so lucky to actually watch the movie. However, if you're really into this kind of movie, wait for the Europe on Screen Film Festival, this movie will be one of the selections.

what's the x that made the x factor uk awesome?

I have a confession to make: I found a new guilty pleasure in the ninth season of The X Factor UK. There have been so many TV Talent Show, that at some point, we (read: me) got really sick of it. I cannot even name American Idol winners after Kris Allen. Wait, Kris Allen did win, didn't he? HAHA.

The video I shared above is about one of the contestants, Ella Henderson. She's only 16 and it's the later stage of the competition. She performs Cher's club anthem, Believe completely in a different way. I love how everyone changed their mind from implicitly disbelief of her song choice to be in awe of her performance.

I agree with Gary Barlow that all this time, we never really take this song seriously, until now. I believe Gary Barlow's comment how all the sudden the lyrics meant something is kind of true and it's really nice to see Nicole Scherzinger breaks down in tears.

Also in my wildest imagination, I picture Cher bitch-slaps Gary Barlow for calling her song annoying. 

Here are the x factors why I like the X Factor UK, well, at least for now:
  1. Like many talent shows on TV, The X Factor UK has given a starter point for many of today's well-known artists. Leona Lewis was the winner in the third season, One Direction was one of the finalists in 2012 (Oh, I bet you're humming What Makes You Beautiful right now)
  2. I am always questioning how real a reality show is. The X Factor US, for me is obviously staged. Yes, there are moments that I enjoyed, but The X Factor UK is definitely more raw. Ella Henderson's performance is just one of the memorable performances.
  3. The contestants, especially for this year. In my opinion, Ella Henderson is just one of this year's best contestants. I love Kye Sones - whom sang Bonnie Raitt's I Can't Make You Love Me in one of the episodes and my heart was breaking. The other contestant worth mentioned is Lucy Spraggan, who is so amazing that they actually released her original song before the contest ends
Also very unfortunate that we still cannot watch The X Factor UK on TV, but the good thing is we always have youtube.

love is short, forgetting is so long

So I watched this terrible movie about a man who was caught between past memories of his first love and his current life. The movie was not worth mention, however I was intrigued that in the opening credit of the movie, there was a quote from one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda.

So this is his poem. I tried to upload a video, but it doesn't seem to work. Sorry about that.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write for example, 'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to a pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. 
In the distance.

My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

a simple yet subtle separation

Director: Asghar Farhadi
Stars: Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami
Year released: 2011

"What is wrong is wrong, no matter who said it or where it's written."

Never estimate the power of a good script. This movie just proved that it doesn't require much to make a good movie, but a good script and nearly perfect casts. If you notice that the movie does not even have music to manipulate its audience's emotions. A Separation counts on its story line and the casts' perfect performances. 

A Separation begins in a court. Simin who prefers to live aboard with her family so her daughter could have a better life, but Nader, the husband, insists to stay to take care of his father, who suffers Alzheimer. For that, she wants a divorce. One conflict leads to another conflicts which involve another family. I'm not going to tell you the whole story and just ruin it for you. 

I have watched this movie twice since its premier yesterday (28/9). I love how it's made in a very simple yet subtle form. It deals with social, religious issues without over doing it. The story respects its characters so much, that no one comes out in black-white, it's not about good deeds versus bad ones. It's mostly about consequences of one's action. 

I sat there on the cinema without any judgement for any of the characters. I just complied to the movie without my mind be ahead of the story. I didn't guess how it will or should end. The truth is I didn't want to. Like the  story respects the character, I feel that it also respects its audience, in this case, me. Mutually, I respect it back.

I was really surprised that they actually show this movie in cinema and I'm truly glad that I was patient (or busy) enough to not watch it on video. Sadly, somewhere I read that some cinemas even cancelled some showings due to the lack of audience. That Friday night, in Pluit Junction cinema 21, there were only 4 persons watching this great movie and somehow, I felt we were the luckiest four person that night.

They still show A Separation in some cinemas around Jakarta, probably not for long. I hope you get to experience one of 2011's best movies.

the xx and the melancholic coexist

As much as I love listening to pop music, or humming any of Katy Perry's song, I also enjoy exploring new music (well, probably new for me). Lately I've been listening to some UK/European bands and I must admit, it's quite refreshing.

I always hesitate to submit a post about music, since I'm probably tone-deaf, I'm quite certain that I might sound stupid in my previous music-related posts. But I respect and appreciate music that has evoked my emotions (du'uh, emotions!). So for that reason, I'm risking myself to sound like an idiot. I will probably submit a few posts about some of the music I'm listening to. HAHAHA.

The first one is The XX, a band of three.

Coexist is their second album. The overall theme is about heartbreak, loneliness, and sadness, which I must admit is my favorite kind of theme (NOT!). If you have ever listened to their first album (which title is The XX) or some of the songs from the first album, you will be able to tell how different these two albums are.

The XX was more cheerful and more up-tempo, unlike Coexist, which created this gloomy feeling throughout the whole album. The story was after the success of their first album, one of the band members decided to quit the band and apparently it hit them hard.

In Chained, they're asking questions with that guilt of breaking-up, "Did I hold you too tight? Did I not let enough light in? We used to be closer than this. Is it something you missed?" Same question was asked in Tide, "Devote to me. Alone with me. Say with me. Why would you ever want to leave?"

And in another song, they sing about the difficulty of separation, "Fiction when we're not together. Mistaken for a vision, something of my own creation. And it's certainly how am I to tell? I know your face all too well, still I wake up alone."

Musically, Coexist sounds very minimal, with a few melodic elements. There a lot of guitars and occasionally a very light dubstep. Aside from that, how the two members of the band, Romy Croft and Oliver Sims sing together somehow make the whole album sound exactly they (probably) wanted, haunting and heartbreaking.

If it's legitimate for me to rate an actual musical product, I would give Coexist a perfect 9.

Other albums that I'm currently listening to are: Ben Howard's Every Kingdom, Lianne La Havas' Is Your Love Big Enough, Of Monsters and Men's My Head is an Animal and Bill Fay's Life is People which makes you want to evaluate your whole life.

Hey, another thing is I will really appreciate it if you leave some comments or maybe if you have some good music I should listen to, just give me a shout-out! Thanks.

essentially living

I'm probably the last person anyone would ask for beauty tips or fashion tips or anything in that department. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a bit behind when it comes to the newest trend in fashion. But I'm not trying to be a smartass, I just want to share some of the things that are essential for me and sometimes they (some of them) create little joyous moments to my tiny life.

I must also warn you that I'm not endorsing any certain brands. So if I did mention some brands, I'm not selling them or anything like that (yeah, like they'd pay me! HAHA). I just want to point how I enjoy certain things in life. Talking about brand, the truth is I don't even believe in brand, but I believe in being comfort, being decent and sometimes being my unique self. 

One minute oatmeal
Okay, I'm not being philosophic here. I just want to point out the first essential in my life is that one minute fix of breakfast I've been having for the last two weeks. Yes, that tasteless plain not pretty meal we all call Oatmeal. I know, at some point I complained about my weight, but the truth is I believe it's a healthy meal and I owe it to myself to at least have one healthy one out of three. 

Water and ice water
This one is classic. We have heard so much about the advantages of water and how one must drink at least 8 glasses of water. They're all true and there are times when I suffer from dehydration, my body becomes unbalanced, weak and my skin becomes irritably dry. 

I also have this new ritual every morning and night. After I brush my teeth and wash my face with soap, I usually take a bottle of icy water (which was stored in the fridge) and sprinkle my face with the cold water. Although it's not scientifically proved, but I believe it can decrease our facial pores. HAHAHA. Yes, I too can have silly ritual!  

Coffee, coffee and coffee
Like Lorelai Gilmore, I am too a coffee drinker. I usually limit myself to not more than 2 cups a day. But there are days that I could have at least 3 cups. Mad mad day, I say.

Eau de toilette 
Let me tell you that I'm a big fan of L'Occitane, although there's a big fat chance I might have pronounced it wrong. I love the smell of their products. This L'Occitan has been my latest favorite. It has that edgy smell of pepper or some spices mixed with some grass or flowers. I know it sounds so stupid, but I love them. 

I have a few friends who think that using products of L'Occitane does not make you look classy. The truth is I prefer to go for L'Occitane or Bodyshop product than those fake Bvlgari or CK perfumes. At least, I got them from an official store. #JustSaying. HAHAHA.

Hair shaver - Being bald
I have shaved my head for more than a year now and it will continue be my style until I die probably. This has been a dilemma and some of my friends have been so openly against it. All I can say that it's a commitment and I shall not back off now. To all of you who think I look horrible, it's not that bad, really.

I LOVE e-PAPER! I read my Kompas either at work or at home with my PC or my tablet. I never bought printed newspaper since Kompas introduced the electronic version. Beside Kompas, there are Media Indonesia who also uses the same format. I enjoy reading HuffingtonPost online as well. 

They're flat, aren't they shoes?
I don't know exactly what they're called, but they're extremely comfortable. I love these flat shoes. I can walk tens of blocks wearing this shoes. I probably can run marathon in these shoes, well, maybe not. 

The monstore in my closet
Because of my petite figure, it's not easy for me to find the exactly fit tees. But I have found this cool local brand (I think they're actually from Bandung) who produced shirts in my size. I love, love monstore. Not only they're very comfortable, they're quite artsy. 

Hats for my head
At first, I wore hat because I found out that no everyone can cope with me being bald. So I thought hat might tone down their reaction a bit. Yes, it's probably only in my head. But then, that prejudice (if you want it call it that) has turned into a fetish. I love buying and wearing hat. I love my bowler, my fedora and my beret. The only head piece that I might not wear in public is those mickey ears probably. 

oh #residentevil, how far you've gone

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez
Year released: 2012

Before I start, let me tell you that I'm a big fan of Milla Jovovich. I always think that she's one of the most beautiful women in the world. I like some of her movies. I even like the first Resident Evil. It has a stable story-line, it might not be the best movie in this zombie genre, but it's quite entertaining.

Resident Evil has evolved since the first movie released 10 years ago. Alice is no longer just the security staff of Umbrella. She has turned into this fashionista heroine in tight black spandex with killer boots. The umbrella cooperation is no longer one big cooperation, apparently it has turned into something that might cause the extinction to human being. Even the zombies evolved. They're not just the living dead who consume human flesh, they has turned into these zombies with flowery mouth who look like a carnivorous plant. In short, it got weird.

So Retribution begins where the last installment left us (which I totally forget, but seriously I didn't miss much. HEHEHE). Gun shooting, planes crashing, people dying, endless supplies of ammunition and somehow Alice was captured and tortured for I don't know why. I'm not even going to ask why, what or how. It's simply useless. 

At times, I felt frustration watching this movie. I felt that Anderson has ran out of tricks, since the last installment, the big kahuna was that James Cameron's 3D camera technology. And for this one, probably sitting in his uncomfortable desk, he thought maybe he could bring back all the old characters from the first RE could fool us all. Seriously, it didn't work and actually it made it even weirder.

Come from the man who watched the whole series of Resident Evil movies and despite so many disappointment, every time a new Resident Evil movie comes out, I always have this hope that it might actually be good or at least better, but unfortunately it has happened yet.

A friend tweeted a couple of nights ago saying that might be another installment to this Resident Evil movies and it might be its last one. I sighed, but then I thought, for the beautiful Ms. Jovovich, I should keep being hopeful, maybe it requires 5 bad ones to make one masterpiece. Fingercrossed, Milla! 

ni hao, xie xie

I have no idea how many of my previous posts started with how long I have not posted any posts due to being busy at work. Disregard the fact that it might bore you, my friends, the way I started each post for the last 3 months, I actually have been quite busy. 

Recently I just moved to a new house (I told you, didn't I?). There are at least a box or two that I haven't unpacked yet. And at work, we just have this new management which I'm still adjusting to. I just feel bad to not be able to check on my friends, to not meet them as often as I wish I could.

Anyway, for almost a couple of weeks now, there are two very important family friends who stay with us, a man and his wife. I'm absolutely fine with it since mostly I was alone at home. Although sometimes I feel some portion of my privacy has been taken away. 

They're actually from mainland China and they barely speak Bahasa. And since I hardly speak Mandarin (don't let my Chinese eyes fool you!), our conversations always involve miming. I once literally was sounding Moo and Oink to ask / answer questions regarding what a dish made of. Even after my two weeks vacation in Hong Kong, the only mandarin I know is: xie xie and ni hao. As for them, the only Bahasa words they seem to know are bir and mabuk. So you can only imagine how the dinner time went for the last two weeks. HAHAHAHA.

Beside the free dinner for the last two weeks, I also enjoy learning new habits from them. Our dining utensils include chopsticks and bowl instead of spoon, fork and plate. I have been remastering my skill using chopstick. Not bad, I must say. From the blog I found online, I learned that chopstick has been used for at least five thousands years ago. There was an idea that they used chopstick to avoid burning their hands when they tried to get the food out of a pot.

There's even a belief from Confucius, that men should avoid using sharp and pointed utensils (such as knives and fork), which represent violence. One should be in a happy and good mood when they're at the dining table. This is a very interesting, isn't it?

I personally also believe, using a tiny bowl and chopstick also teach us to only take the food in a moderate way due to limited space. A few years back, my brother started this diet, eating only using a tiny bowl and chopstick so he only dined in small portions. Too bad, it didn't go for long.

Although I couldn't find it anywhere, but somehow I believe to take a piece of dish from our dinner companions reflects honoring the recipient. 

bowler hat's new home

Finally, I settled in to a new home. Well, I don't want to say much about it since I don't actually have to change my zip code. So pretty much I still live here in the north side. We of course, hired this cool mover company (not sure how if that's what they are), which helped a lot during the process.

But to get things going, to reorganize and rearrange the whole house is simply not an easy task. Not only that it's not easy, but it's also time-consuming. Let me be very honest, I'm not a fan of moving, or change for that matter. I'm the kind of person that needs time to adjust, although I must admit I enjoy exploring new things, I also want to be secured. To plan is the keyword here, people.

So Yesterday, at around 3pm, where everything's pretty much at where they should be, a friend texted me and asked how the moving's gone. I simply replied, "My wi-fi is working, so I'm pretty much home." HAHAHA. Yes, I'm the victim of the vicious cyber world.

Anyway, that's a joke. I'm just glad that everything's going to be okay (soon). This is my first post from the new headquarter, and (fingers-crossed) many more to come.

Happy Sunday!

a traveler's tale: worry about that later

I did mention somewhere saying that one of the most important things to survive this trip or any trips for that matter, is to have a clear knowledge of directions, to gather information regarding the place you're about to visit.

However, sometimes no matter how well-prepared you are, there will be things happen beyond your control. Sometimes you might miss the correct exit from the MTR (which happened quite a lot. Hahahaha) or you just cannot find the hotel or simply you're required to ask for a direction.

They're inevitable, but how you behave matters. I always enjoy the idea of being lost. Surprised, aren't you? I'm famous for being a control-freak at work, but when it comes to traveling, I enjoy being lost now and then. I always manage to find more interesting places or some unexpected acquaintances (so far). My motto is as long as we're in the safe range of time period, not about to miss a flight, it's ok (see how control-freak I am, HAHA).

Not just about being late, or not able to find direction, sometimes it's about not knowing things, expecting a surprise. In short, less worry, just enjoy the moment. 

Probably the best way to learn about a city is to go by walking. I did mostly on this trip and I must admit I not only had so much fun and worked out (without losing any weight), I felt that I was actually part of the country, the culture and many other thing.

So in short, never forget these two keywords when you're planning to do what I did: #holiday and #adventure.

a traveler's tales: finding mickey

My favorite disney's movie (well, one of them anyway) is The Little Mermaid and one of the songs from the animation is Part of Your World. So can you imagine how I reacted when I hear that song on my way to the theme park? I jumped like a monkey, although then my cynical nephew reminded how old I actually am. 

I believe that's the charm of this theme park. Forget about the rides, forget about the food (seriously!), it's all about the memories. That first sparkling connection we had with any of the characters from Disney's movies.

I remember how my sister first bought me Cinderella video. Remember the scene where the birds woke Cinderella up in the morning by calling her name? That's how I first met Disney. I'm sure we all have our first encounter and it's somehow magical, isn't it? 

To keep it short, if you're an adrenaline junkie and you missed all Toy Story movies, I must say, this theme park might bore you. 

However, the theme park itself, in my personal opinion is a bit small, but if you count the whole area, which includes hotels, the shuttle station, trains station, that's another story. I believe, with many development plans in the future, this theme park might have more varieties. Anyway, Disneyland (currently) is divided into 5 main areas. They are: Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Toy Story land and Adventureland.

My favorite so far is the most dangerous one, Mickey's PhilharMagic (yeah, right!). Hahaha. NOT! But one of the clips featured in the 4D movie is Part of Your World, which had me (almost) crying. Most of the rides allow kids with minimum height of 4 feet. So go figure! 

I spent the last 6 hours all alone. Taking my own photos (with or without timer) in the most inconvenient position, making me look like one big nutso. But I had all the fun I could possibly have. I met a very exciting young toddlers who's crazy about my new Mickey's Ears or this very kind uncle who agreed to take my photos. 

I guess in a way, I want to say that I had great time!

a traveler's tales: lost in translation

So my nephew wasn't really on the mood to travel on our way to Hong Kong. This time, he half-deserved to behave such way due to my inability to locate our first hotel, although it kind of ruined the whole idea I had in my head about our trip, but I forgave him. HAHAHAHA. Anyway, Billy decided to stay at the hotel after the first afternoon we arrived at Hong Kong. I tried to persuade him to change his mind, but he looked really tired and I thought maybe it's better that way. 

But me, I'm an adventurous one. I was not going to let anything hold me back. I was planning to visit some places and I did. I went to the Central part of Hong Kong, which is basically the business and shopping areas. For someone who enjoys walking, this whole area seems like a perfect heaven. I was walking from side to another, at least 20 to 30 blocks before taking MTR (Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway), hitting another station. Stopped by some coffee shop, sipping my black coffee and dreaming of living there.

My other favorite part is Mongkok, which where the hotel we're staying located at. It's like a collision of the old part and the new part of the city. In just between a couple of blocks, you can actually change the scenery from H & M, Dior, Armani to the stores that sell spare-parts for heavy machines or plumbing equipments. It's like the awesome meat district in NYC. HAHAHAHA.

The other part that I spent most of my time is Tsim Sha Tsui. Again, you can find plenty of high-end clothing boutiques, along with fancy hotels and many museums. I sat at the park of the Hong Kong Museum of Arts before I cruised along the Victoria harbor, all by myself. Looking at families, friends or maybe lovers. I felt this strange sensation.

That feeling lonely in the middle of the crowd captured me. That crowded train I took back and forth seemed to take longer. The self-taken photos at certain part of the city seemed nothing, but stupid. At times, I didn't even feel the excitement of taking photos. I suddenly remembered Sofia Coppola's movie, the one with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannsson. How one can be extremely lonely in the brightest and loudest city of the world, I felt the same way.

Traveling alone can be very difficult (especially if you're an acute narcissistic person, which I am by the way). A wise person said, two is better one for no reason. That person has experienced the loneliness of being alone.

a traveler's tale: a very long 20 minutes

As the pilot announced that we soon would land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 20 minutes, my nephew Billy was sleeping on my lap. For that very long 20 minutes, I couldn't help myself to ask this question: what's worse than traveling with a kid? Traveling with a sick kid.

Not that I was being cruel and rude, but series of questions and ideas that popped in my head were: 
  1. Maybe I should send him back to Jakarta
  2. Maybe I could just leave him in a pawn shop and collect him on my way back from Hongkong
  3. Give him a couple of hundreds bucks and said, "see you, kid!"
And no, I decided to stick to initial plan and hoped that he'd get better in time. Apparently, Billy does not share the same traveling spirit I have. He doesn't really enjoy cruising and learning about the new environments and cultures. Breakfast for him is anything served in 3 minutes or less, while I was having this wild dream of enjoying dimsum in Hongkong, bakut tea in Singapore, or some other local dishes.

I also questioned my decision of taking this huge responsibility. What affected my decision of not traveling alone? Certainly not because I needed someone to take my photo with Mickey Mouse. Or maybe I was too chicken shit? Then I remember it's because I care for my nephew, this is his gift for passing the challenging grade six. He deserves this. Maybe he's not at his best condition, this is when I come in, be a good supporter.

And ...

He just asked whether it's possible I could carry his backpack as well. Arrrghhh.

So yeah, it's going to be a little bumpy, more work and less fun, but I must also keep in mind these two keywords: #holiday, #adventure. Also, I must keep in mind that he just turned 12, he after all is just a kid. I have made my decision and I must stick to it. Alright, I'm ready to fly again, Hongkong here I come!

from #ladyinsatin to the addictive #mdna

A week ago, I plugged in my iPod into my computer and there was this dialog box asking whether I want to scan and fix this drive. I have seen this dialog box for dozens of times, but usually I ignore them. But that day, I decided to click on YES and voila, the result of my action was all the songs in that iPod were deleted. 

Let's not talk about how my reaction was to that silly mistake.

Anyway, my iPod was (is) fine, but I (did) need to put, to copy, to get some songs onto my iPod. The big question is which one? Before the incident, my iPod contained more around 200 albums (not many according to some of you, probably). It took me a while to figure out what I really wanted to listen to first, what are the essential  albums for me.

So here they are, in a random order.

LADY IN SATIN, Billie Holiday
Released in 1958, Lady in Satin was not critics' favorite at that time. But for me, it's so personal. Holiday's voice might not be as powerful as her early years, but it's definitely very emotional. It's recorded with full orchestral arrangements, I must admit at certain songs, certain music instruments might have stood up way too strong, but again, her emotion and how her voice vocalized that emotions will definitely captured your attention.

I read somewhere that during the recording of I'm A Fool to Want You, Holiday was actually in tears. Every song from Lady in Satin definitely worth my USD1.99, however if you're not really a fan, you can start with (1) I'm A Fool to Love You and (2) The End of A Love Affair (This one's my personal favorite - if I really have to pick!!).

LEGEND, Bob Marley and the Wailers
I will slap you if you have no idea who Bob Marley is, no matter how old you are. Come on, he's like THE legend, the KING! Two things about Bob Marley and me, Alex. First, if I could sing well, I would definitely be a reggae singer. Secondly, one of the songs that will definitely be on my wedding is Marley's Is This Love. I personally think it's the most romantic song ever written!

I think I first began listening to Marley on one of the trips to Bali and since then, even without my iPod, I can assure you my brain will always have Marley. Songs like Three Little Bird, Is This Love, Could You be Loved, I Shot the Sheriff, Waiting in Vain are definitely where you should start with if you never really heard of him before.

LIFELINE, Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals
This is what I think of Lifeline: A very clever combination between folk, blues, jazz and rock. I think one of my friends introduced me to this album and there were times, when I listened to nothing else but Lifeline. Call me crazy, call me sensitive or anything, but I think listening to certain songs from Lifeline at night escalate certain emotions. Really, I'm not kidding.

Songs like Fool for A Lonesome Train (heavy in blues and folk), Needed You Tonight (Oh BOY!), Paris Sunrise or Lifeline will haunt you, will stay inside your mind and make sure you emotionally drenched. A little note for Needed You Tonight is just a perfect song to listen to if you just had your heart broken.

I was accidentally introduced to Rumer, when I was looking for David Gates' Good Bye Girl. I'm a huge fan of the movie and somehow I found her version, and she's been in my playlist since then. If you ask me how to describe Rumer, I will that she's might sound like Dido singing songs from Carpenters. Rumer sings effortlessly. Every song in Season of My Soul is very light with voice resemblance the late Karen Carpenters. Still, I love this album and think that it should have get more attention that it really deserves.

MDNA, Madonna
Yes, I do need something to shake my bootie and MDNA might have successfully provided the tunes. Okay, I admit that MDNA might not her best effort, but it definitely (quite .. HAHAHA) stands out. It's a very well-constructed record. I like how Madonna contradicts one track with the next one. For example, she wants to kill her lover in Gang Bang, but then she admits that she's addicted to his love in the next track and so on.

If you're not a fan of Madonna, I understand. But it wouldn't be fair to insult her due to her age. I think she still look great. If you're not up to listen to the whole album, you can start with: Girl Gone Wild, Gang Bang, Turn Up the Radio, Superstar.

Other albums that I do listen to regularly are: Soundtrack of Midnight in Paris, Soundtrack of The English Patient, Tori Amos' Tales of A Librarian, Simply Red's Greatest Hits.

#ModusAnomali is not flawless, but still agreeable

Director: Joko Anwar
Stars: Rio Dewanto, Marsha Timothy
Year Released: 2012

Modus Anomali started with a man woke up in the middle of the forest and not able to remember almost everything, include his name. Later, he found that his wife was brutally murdered, pieces of information of the man is and suddenly it became a cat-mouse chase between him and the murderer. 

So we have probably seen the trailer of Modus Anomali since last year's INAFFF, haven't we? Probably some of you have heard about it even long before November last year. First time, I saw the trailer, I seriously rolled my eyes and asked: Why is it in English? Still until today, I consider that as the biggest flaw of Modus Anomali. (BTW, ANOMALI is not an English word).

Now, it's arrived.

I understand Joko Anwar's intention of being playfulness with his audience. How he might soak-up a great deal of pleasure while taking his audience to solve the mystery of the movie. However, although Modus Anomali can be considered fair in as a whole production, in some parts, it looks like it's trying too hard.

Anwar doesn't exactly give us a reason why the psychopath did what he did (to experience a great shot adrenalin is never good enough, #justsaying) although he feels that it's necessary for us to see how he did it. He took at least 15 minutes to explain the whole process and (probably) was hoping the audience had some regrets not paying a good attention to the movie. Unfortunately, many of us are not quite brain-dead yet, so we felt that 15minutes just drenched the whole mystery of the movie. 

Tips for you who haven't seen the movie: avoid sitting next to a row of young girls, they're giggling the whole movie. Seriously annoying. Yes, yes, we know that Rio is a handsome guy.

Probably I'm not in the right chair to compare Modus Anomali to Michael Haneke's works. But anyway, If you remember Funny Games or even The White Ribbon, Haneke didn't bother to explain anything. His movies just show a period of time as an event occurred and that's all. He left his audience to interpret why, how and sometimes he didn't leave an ending to it. 

I strongly believe Modus Anomali should have gone that way. Cut out the last 15 minutes and end the movie while the psychopath got in the car, made that phone call and just drove away. That at least 5 minutes driving scene could have been legendary. It's COLD! It's how a psychopath should be.

Still, I think Modus Anomali is quite agreeable.

Anyway, I'm heading to cinema for #TheAvengers! Exciting! 

hello there, dear void

So today (May 1), we commemorate the national Labor Day, which I myself must admit is quite interesting. Thousands and thousands of people currently are practically taking over Jakarta (Yes, that's me being dramatic). Not the whole the Jakarta, but probably the main business districts in Jakarta. My twitter timeline keep suggesting to avoid Sudirman and Thamrin area.

Anyway, despite the excitement everyone's having downtown, I feel a bit cranky these last few days. Due to that irregular unwanted emotional state of being, I really cannot find any contentment in my daily routines. I also believe I must write a "I'm sorry for being an a-hole" note to a few people at work and my maid at home. 

In case you have watched that movie, You've Got Mail, you'd probably remember there's a scene where Kathleen (that girl played by Meg Ryan) wrote an e-mail about questioning her life and how it might have been if she did or did not do certain thing. Well, I'm probably wearing those same shoes. Yes, maybe I don't have enough of sleep, maybe I'm quite tired or simply bad weather, I really don't know.

I feel a bit useless (I know, you probably are going to scream: again, Alex?). I feel that everything else going in a full speed while I'm a bit stuck. I feel that the first four months of 2012 has just passed by without me achieving anything significant. I don't remember doing anything memorable, neither at work nor everywhere else.

Yes, yes, I know. I have the options of doing or not doing things. I have the options to behave or not to behave certain way. But maybe like Kathleen Kelly, I'm sending this question out into the void without expecting any answers.

So, hello there, dear void! Thank you for listening.

to bali, we went beach-hopping

I should have blogged this journey like 3 weeks ago, but sometimes when you take days off from work, you ought to return to a pile of papers or work to complete. Not really a fun scene. I must admit, it's not easy to go back to work after one exciting vacation. Honestly, my brain did not take the same flight with me, I think it extended its holiday for at least a week.

Seriously, if I close my eyes now, I can hear the waves calling me, calling my name. I can smell the ocean embracing me. And the pretty sky, either its golden color in the afternoon or the pale blue in the morning, I was home.

I arrive at Denpasar on April 4 with my best friends from work. We have planned for years and years to go on a vacation together, but it never did happen. Until that April, we all came to Bali. I must mention how exciting it was to travel with these awesome people: Clifford, Lisa, Diana, Lingkan, Imelda. You guys rock!

One of the main reasons that we chose Bali instead of anywhere else to go is because of the beaches. I love beach and I love sitting by the beach (either morning, noon or night) listening to the wave. Even without my iPod, I could hear Bob Marley singing in my head and I'm like a 12 years old girl falling in love.

On this visit, I at least visited 6 beaches. Kuta beach (du'uh!), Padang-padang, Dreamland, The Blue Lagoon, Candidasa, Petittenget. I cannot express how my beach-lover persona was profusely spoiled. I know you must have thought I was losing it, but to visit these many beaches and found many different experiences, I felt joy. Although I must admit I chose the wrong time schedule, so I wasn't fully soaking the the joy, but I was still having fun.

The other thing about the beaches in Bali is people need to start taking care of them. This is probably a common knowledge that Kuta has become unbearably filthy. Some people threw trash with any guilt. Watching this with my own eyes, I thought of a small do-it-yourself project to clean the beach. Maybe my next visit, I shall do it. But in the mean time, please let's take good care of those beaches, yes?

So this part is the embarrassing part. You're probably going to ask whether I did go anywhere else in 4 days beside eat and eat and eat. But seriously, I believe I ate less on this trip to Bali. Usually I can go to at least 2 restaurants for one breakfast (high-five, narcistbandit!). But this time, I retained myself, I learned my limits.

There are a few highlights on our gastronomy trip (if I may say so): Depot Gimbo for the smoked pork, Le Spot - Bali Deli for the awesome breakfast package (yum!), nasi campur Chandra in Denpasar (I even forgive you, nasty waiter!), Warung Oppen for its incredible dinner, a kilo of sinful BBQ ribs.

And not too impressive places like: the overpriced dinner by the beach at Kendonganan, Bubba Gump Shrimp (I KNOW!).

Another reason to go back during its opening is Coffee Revolution, which I'm truly proud of my friends for really having the guts to go for it. The place looks amazing and I seriously cannot wait to claim one of the corners of this coffee shop as my own. HAHAHAHA. Best of luck, guys! 

We use numbers to represent certain information all the time. So here I am, being a smart-ass trying to give the statistic of this awesome vacation.
  1. Nights = 3
  2. Travelling friends = 5 + 1 (accidentally met one at the airport)
  3. New friends = 5 + 1 (plus one from the one I met at the airport). Exciting life!
  4. Beaches = 6! (Please stay tanned-skin!)
  5. New shoes = 2 (practically a shoes fetish)
  6. New pants = 2 (just because they're cheap)
  7. Size of new pants = 28 (huge mistake!)
  8. Restaurants visited = 12 (explain the above mistake)
  9. Accumulated sleeping hours = 20 (I'm on vacation, du'uh!)
  10. Seating number to Bali = 9B
  11. Seating number back to Jakarta = 6F 
  12. Work-related emails received = I have no idea (I'm so clever)
  13. Number of reasons to return = TONS!
One of the things that always remind me of why I love Bali is the freedom it offers. I can actually be who I am. Well, I'm not saying I was running around the beaches naked or partying like there's no tomorrow, but if those are the things I like to do, I think Bali offers the freedom for me to do so.

I don't think I could be more laid-back or careless of what people might think when I'm there as much as anywhere else. I can wear a fedora and don't care if it's not cool. I could wear the same shorts for 4 days (which I didn't, for the record!! HAHAHAHA) or not even put on any perfume.

Like I said many times before, I always find the same excitement (or sometimes even new ones) every time I come back to Bali. Due to good friends, to good food, to being laid back and untroubled, to the awesome music of Bob Marley, to shorts and tees, I was (am) home. 

i got bobbled

So there is this new apps that I'm madly in love with and I've been playing with it. HAHAHA. So the left one is me and the other one is Hendro, because today is his birthday.

Happy birthday, Ndro! You just got bobbled. 

i put my bet on you, michelle williams!

So here we are again, at that peak of the awards season, the big fish, the main event, the 2012 Academy Awards, which should be on tomorrow morning, Jakarta time. I was a bit reluctant to write about this, but well, I've watched almost 60 percent of all the nominated movies, so I think I might own the right to have an opinion. To check all the nomination, please go to

Actor in a Leading Role
I think it's either George Clooney or Jean Dujardin. They both have won awards in many other festival. If I have to choose, I would go with George Clooney. I've watched the Descendants, I must say that it's Clooney's best dramatic role ever. Although it would be nice to have a french guy speaking a few french words at the Oscar podium.

Actress in a Leading Role
If you ask me two weeks ago, I would definitely go with Viola Davis. But after I finished watching My Week with Marilyn, I definitely want Michelle Williams to win, unfortunately she probably will not. But it will be a good surprise and by the way, she did win the Globe though. Then again, if Michelle does not win, my bet is on Viola Davis. I know everyone keeps saying it's going to be Meryl Streep, but serious I'm not really a big fan of the Iron Lady.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christopher Plummer. The Academy loves seniority .. and he's captain Von Trapp, anyway. Just give it to the man. He totally deserves it.

Actress in a Supporting Role
This is a very interesting category. Although I'm with everyone when they say Octavia Spencer is going to win it, but I seriously wish that Melissa McCarthy would win the Oscar. It's going to be crazy! You know, if McCarthy wins this category, I would do something crazy! I cannot think of anything right now, but seriously I will do something awesome. Maybe I'll kiss everyone or go to a fancy restaurant or something. Go Melissa!

Best Director
Like you have to ask, Michel Hazanavicius has his name stamped on it.

Best Picture
Nine movies were nominated (strange!) and I've watched 6. The Artist and The Descendants are head to head to win it, but I would love to have Midnight in Paris to actually win the best Picture. Yes, I can dream, can't I? HAHAHA. Well, it's the Artist, then.

If you have any other opinion, please comment. Thanks!

adieu whitney houston

I think it was the late 80s when I first watched her video, I wanna Dance with Somebody. I wasn't really know who she was and I was just this young boy. All I know is that she's American with a big hair and it was a very colorful video. Later, I understood that she's one of the world's most successful singers.

Then I'm Your Baby Tonight was released in the early 90s. Followed by The Bodyguard, a couple of years later. I remember how I repeatedly played only the first 4 songs from the album at the attic of my old house here in Pluit. I believe I might have caused a few of unaware embarrassed moments by trying to sing out loud I Have Nothing which caused a stir. Not that I sang it good, but my mother thought I was in pain or something. That period of my life also confirmed that I cannot sing.

Whitney Houston's songs have been part of my life in a way. Exhale was one of the songs I listened to when I had a crush with my classmate during my high school years (now you can guess how old I am). I remember how a good friend sent me her duet with Cece Winans, Count on Me as I left Jakarta to live in Philly in 2001. 

I read about this very shocking unfortunate news on Sunday morning and realized that an icon, a little part of my childhood has forever gone. I often told my friend that Whitney Houston deserved a huge comeback and I strongly believed she could have done it.

Anyway, many have posted her interviews with Diane Sawyer or Oprah talking about her addictions. As much as I'm terribly sorry to watch those videos, I think I prefer to remember her as that skinny cheerful American with a big hair-do singing: "so when the night falls, my lonely heart calls."

Adieu, Whitney Houston (1963 - 2012).

betty white's if you ask me (and of course you won't)

Book: If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't)
Author: Betty White
Published: May 2011

A few weeks before the new year, there was this survey on twitter on how many books people read in 2011. There was this young woman who read around 100 books and this other guy who read around 50 books. I was tremendously ashamed of how lazy I was that year. I seriously am ashamed even to write this post, for I didn't finish reading any books for the whole year, not even one.

So I decided that this year I should read more. I should commit to at least read more book (more than none. HAHAHA). So the first book of the year is Betty White's If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't). Published in May 2011, I had a hunch that this one is a perfect kick-off and I was right. It's light, it's funny, it's honest, it made me laugh and in many chapter, Betty talks a lot about aging (New Year, du'uh!).

You can actually get away with anything when you're 89 years old. You can say anything, you can do anything and you can actually laugh at anything. I'm positively sure that no one will be offended. You have that privilege once you reach certain age. Betty White certainly knows this advantage and uses  the most out of it.

Fortunate for us, that Betty White has a kind heart and a good sense of humor. If You Ask Me manages to not be a book about trashy gossips, but it only puts a little of that essence to it. It cleverly plays facts regarding movie stars without implying of making any bad judgement. It's sophisticated in the most simple way possible.

She talks a lot about her new television gigs include Hot in Cleveland, hosting SNL and Super Bowl commercial. She mentions a lot of famous names from a wide range of generation without any consideration of being offensive. The way they're mentioned, it makes you think what a wonderful person she must be.

One of the chapter that made me giggle a lot was when she disclosed her admiration towards Robert Redford after watching Out of Africa and how Redford sent her a poem when she won a SAG this year, which she unapologetically chose not to share what he wrote for her. Good for Betty!

I also enjoy how she tells her personal stories. The warmth, the closeness, her passion, the amazing relationship she shared with her husband, her parents and her love for nature touch me. While reading this funny memoir, I at many points could see how humble she is and came to this understanding maybe these are the key ingredients to be successful in everything we do in life, be humble and be passionate.

Betty White, for the truest it can be (it is), you are the queen and we are your people. God bless the queen.

For my next reading "assignment", I have Diane Keaton's Then Again, Pride and Prejudice and Zombie (I know!) and PD James' Death Comes to Pemberley. Exciting!

the rocky 2011 and the hopeful me in 2012

Modern English has been rocking out "I Melt with You" on my stereo for a few rounds now as I have been staring at my computer screen with thoughts and words running around my huge head. Anyway, it's the first day of the year 2012 and here I am blogging. It's a productive year, I surely can tell you that!

At first, I felt that 2011 was a very dark and rocky year for me. Like, two weeks ago, my friend asked this out-of-nowhere question about whether I was (we were) happy. Honestly, I still have not been able to answer that question. I mean, at that time, of course I was extremely gleeful, hanging out with my fabulous mates. But I don't think I could describe my sentiments toward the whole year as a happy one. 

Then, as I was trying to remember a few highlights of the rocky year, I was brought to an understanding that it's not actually that horrible. Well, there are some good memories though. Here they are (I have altered them a few times, HAHA):
  1. I got mugged which caused me quite a lot of financial loss. I seriously tried to make this point sound funny, but somehow it ended making me sound like a loser. However, the accident did teach me to indulge myself more, since I was often reluctant to spend money for me. So, it's a good lesson. 
  2. Remember back in April, when there was this dispute with the MPAA regarding the movie tax which left us with no Hollywood movies for 3 - 4 months. All the available options were pocong and kuntilanak. So I can confidently say that's a very dark time for our cinematic history.
  3. It's not easy to bring back all these memories of what happened in 2011, but this new layout of Facebook helped a lot. According to my Facebook, I added 106 new friends in 2011, which might be a small number for most of you, but trust me, it's a lot! 
  4. My commitment to shave off my head was one of the big decisions I made also this year. I think it's going to be how I look for the rest of my existence. Although I must admit I am often offended when people call me "botak", which describes who I really am. But somehow, I find it offensive. I don't know why, maybe it's their voice tone. 
  5. The delightful wedding of two of my high school friends, Asnih and Effendi. I cannot even put in words how sweet they are (yes, they are sweet!) and how wonderful the wedding was. Also my colleague, the always gorgeous miss Detty's wedding in November. And to friends with new babies this year: Lisa, Hana and Ernih. What a joy!
  6. Bleki, the amazing Bleki was missing in March 2011 but then miraculously found. He was taken care by one of our neighbors in Pluit and this good person put out brochure in order to find the owner of Bleki. It's so rare and it's not something people normally do. God bless that woman.
  7. It's also the year I returned to twitter and tweeted more than 5000 twits in 6 months. I was opinionated apparently. 
  8. A break-up.
  9. Farewell to my awesome boss, Bu Jenny and some good friends at work.
  10. To be introduced to Ramen Hakata Ikkousha, which has been officially my favorite dining place.
Since 2011 was quite out of the rail, I decided to really not care so much about what I must achieve in this year. Although I have a few plans made, some good traveling plans (yes, you shall read them here), some good new acquaintances, reconnecting with some old friends, a new project at work which I'm quite excited about, plan to learning new stuffs and certainly be healthier. 

So, let me raise my glass and cheers to: a healthier life, a job we love, new and old friends, many great opportunities, good jokes, good movies (Prometheus in June 8, btw), good food, a healthy faith, good coffee, wonderful trips, roasted green tea (yes, Sisca!), Tom Cruise, Billy Crystal hosting the Oscar, freebies  (o yeah, sir!), budget airlines (I'm cheap, what can I say?), iPhone 5 and twitter!

Happy new year 2012!