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I'm the voice that you wish were yours.

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Shadowhunters S01E02 “The Descent Into Hell isn’t Easy”

Well, this show is moving faster than I thought. Spoiler everything here. It’s only episode 2 but we already know that Clary is Valentine’s daughter. Even Simon is in Raphael’s clutches already. I just have a little doubt over what they’re going to show us for the rest of the season when we already reached this point by the second episode.

On the other hand, I like how the show explains itself. Clary seems to be so unfazed by this new, confusing shadowhunting world, and Simon asks her about it. Clary explains that she doesn’t have time to be surprised when her mother’s life is on the line and this is the only way she can save her. Izzie has also slipped into her skin more comfortably. We’ve started seeing the budding friendship among her, Simon, and Clary already. Alec is still as distant as ever. I thought he would meet Magnus already, but nope, not yet.

And, oh, Clary is so dainty! She looks hot in that leather attire, but I can’t see how she’s going to be a Shadowhunter. At least her character is consistent. She’s clueless on fighting, but she’s fighting nonetheless. Where her heart stands is pretty much established by now.

Have I mentioned that they licensed Basecamp’s “Emmanuel” for the soundtrack? They only use the song’s intro but it excited me to hear it. The show’s cred shot a lot of points for me just for having Basecamp there.

I haven’t checked out the general review of the show, but I hope it’s good. I hope this show would have many seasons, because I know it’ll be good once they explore all the characters and give them more focus on future episodes. They all have interesting backstory after all.

Can’t wait for the next episode! I want Alec to meet Magnus soon!

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160116 Teater Pandora’s “Pernikahan Darah”

University of Indonesia has spawned another theater community, Teater Pandora. Last week I attended their recent production because Ignas was performing. Pernikahan Darah was an adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s ‘Blood Wedding’, premiered in 1933. I never know the original material, so I saw it with a set of fresh eyes.

I was impressed by how they incorporated Batak wisdom in their adaptation. A widow is left with her only son and is full of anger towards the man that killed her husband and first son. On the other hand, her remaining son is getting married to a girl that she isn’t sure about. The plot thickens when we find out that the girl has an ex-boyfriend that hasn’t really moved on from her yet (even though he’s married and has a kid). Shit hits the fan when this ex-boyfriend runs away with the girl/bride on her wedding day. A fight ensues. Both the groom and ex-boyfriend die.

To be honest, it was dull in the beginning. The whole revenge plot is getting old. And it was actually old considering the original material. The Batak adaptation was exciting enough, but the excitement stopped on the setting. I thought they could have put more into it. When it comes to Batak culture, they could have talked about how important marga (family name) is (is she from a good family? Who is she related to?). But no, they kept the original names and didn’t touch marga at all. Moreover, in Batak culture, a groom has to pay a price to marry the bride, depending on her background. They could have talked about it, expanded it, explored it, to see how different the two families are and why this marriage is doomed. There was one point where the mother asked for a granddaughter to keep her company and I thought that is so not Batak. They’re strong on their patriarchy. Even if she wanted a granddaughter, she could have said, “But it’s unfortunate she won’t be able to continue the marga.” It’s only one sentence, but it still raises relevant issues. The play could have been more than a story of revenge and affairs. It could have contributed something, but it didn’t.

Then the characters. The groom is weak and a pushover. Unless they intentionally made him that way, he wasn’t interesting. The ex-boyfriend was full of passion and charisma, I understand why the bride would choose him. There’s also the confusing angle about why the bride chose the ex-boyfriend. She said she still loved him. Her relatives said she was raped. Now, if we want to take the rape angle, it could have led to interesting discussion, but strangely, the rape thing went away quietly. I honestly also don’t understand why the girl didn’t marry the ex in the first place if that’s how much she loved him. The girl’s father did nothing either when the groom’s relatives talked shit about the runaway bride. In the end, when both of her boyfriends died, the girl got to say nothing. She just cried. Ugh.

What I’m sorry for the most is the Neighbor character. In the beginning, I thought she was going to be that nosy Neighbor who knew everything about the village. Naturally, she also knew about the bride and ex-boyfriend who ran away. Interestingly enough, she had the decency to not tell the ex-boyfriend’s wife about it. Finally, we got to see some character! I don’t know what happened, but suddenly it was her who told all the wedding guests in the end about what happened. Now, that’s a let down.

But there’s a filler scene though. There was an interesting interaction between the Moon and Death (Ignas). It was obvious the scene was there for variety, and at least it succeeded. The discussion finally had some substance when they debated whether the Moon should be a male or a female. The Moon was hella adorable by the way. Love him. And the scene happened in this makeshift forest made of the actors. It was beautiful.

It was quite a short play, 1.5 hours. It would have been boring if it weren’t for the awesome choreography. They graced us with beautiful Batak dances for the wedding and fight, and I love the makeshift cartwheel they made for the newlyweds.

At least I learned a lot from this one. Mainly how to give female characters voices. That they’re not there just to be led around and cry. And how important it is to treat your characters with respect, to not just let them be a plot device.

Enough critiques. Let’s finish our own script.

All pictures taken from Teater Pandora’s twitter.

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Shadowhunters S01E01 “The Mortal Cup”


I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS SERIES. I just have to let it out of my system.

I’ve talked about the books here. It’s a very brief review. You’d better read it first so you could understand why I’m so excited about the tv series.

In The Mortal Instruments’ universe, demons live among humans. There are special kind of humans called Shadowhunters that protect humans from these demons. Oh you think that sounds a lot like Joko Anwar’s HBO series “Halfworlds”? All I can say is the demon vs human kind of thing is an age old story and The Mortal Instruments was released first.

The first book, City of Bones, was adapted into a movie in 2013. Despite having Jamie Campbell Bower in it, the movie sucked (except Godfrey Gao, you’re the best everywhere, honey). It was disappointing, because I was looking forward to it. Can you imagine how glad I am that they haven’t given up on the material? They’re making a TV series instead with Harry Shum, Jr. in it! HNNNNNNNNGH DREAM COME TRUE.

The series just premiered and the first episode made me feel like Buffy the Vampire Slayer all over again! That is not a bad thing! That is a great thing because we need awesome teen flick on a weekly basis today. One you can relate to, unite under, and be creative over. This series has everything a teen flick should be: cool cast, cool characters, cool plot, cool action, cool fights, cool worldbuilding, and the list goes on and on. I’m happy it doesn’t take the direction the movie did. Not much anyway.

(Mild spoilers alert, to those who are not into The Mortal Instruments anyway.)

The Mortal Cup wasted no time. They got right into action. In the first episode, they already explained that there’s a secret background to Clary Fray. They even showed us Valentine already. I wonder how they’re going to play out the incest thing when we get there. In the books, we get inside the characters’ heads. On screen, I assume it’d be different.

As for the casts, everyone looks great in their characters. They’re all just as I imagined they would be. It’s a plus that Matthew Daddario is HOT HE’S SO HOT MY HEART IS SINGING and I really can’t wait until we get to Malec BEAUSE OTP YES MATT AND HARRY TOGETHER ARE BEAUTIFUL. I was a bit doubtful with Dom Sherwood as Jace, but he has that sassy streak in him, though it doesn’t show physically. I guess he’s alright and will progress with more episodes. He needs more lines. Emeraude Toubia though, hottest girl in the world or what? Exactly how I imagine Izzie would be. The lines are sassy enough, but I think Toubia needs to have more energy. Alberto Rosende is also perfect for Simon. There’s a puppy-like quality to him that makes you adore him.

I hope this show becomes a hit so we can have season after season of this. Seriously, make it popular so they can get more budget and give us better special effects. There are 6 books to this series, you can make seasons out of it!

Guys, if you miss Buffy, you might want to watch this. It’s on Netflix! :D

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I Could Have Been Richer

So I learned of this new app that has turned my world upside down: YNAB, which stands for You Need A Budget.

It’s an app that makes budgeting much easier. You see, something came up last weekend which freaked me out in terms of money. I finally realized that I have never saved enough, that I’ve been spending recklessly. Suddenly when I need the money, I don’t have it. I plan to have the money by a certain date, but I don’t know how to manage it.

Then YNAB saved the day. It’s a fairly simple app to plan and manage your money. If you find it a little bit difficult in the beginning, don’t worry, it’s only because you’re not used to it. YNAB has an extensive guide on how to use the app. It’s long, but it’s worth the read. Once you understand how it works, everything becomes considerably easier. Another plus is YNAB has a lot of financial tips for you on how to manage your money better.

I’ve only used the app for 24 hours now and I love it hard already. It’s very simple, I could have made the same system in Excel. But I can’t comprehend Excel’s formula to save my life, so I guess this is what YNAB’s for. The most help YNAB has given me during the 24 hours I’ve started using it is it puts my money into perspective. In YNAB, there cannot be idle money. Each Rupiah must be budgeted for something. Even if it’s money you’re saving, you have to state what you’re saving it for. And now I can see that all of my assets are manageable.

It also helps you to track down your saving. Say you need a certain amount of money by a certain date, it will tell you how much you need to budget each month. It’s a seamless integration between your income, expenses, and plans. Why didn’t I know about this app sooner? I could have saved more, I could have a lot of cash today, I could have done something about my impulsive purchases. I sure as hell didn’t have to open multiple accounts for the sake of saving money.

Remember that I was stressed about money? I’m not as stressed out today. In fact, I feel a lot more relieved. Having YNAB feels like having someone keeping my money safe for me. I don’t have the amount of money I need yet, but YNAB has helped me to plan how I can gather that money. I feel like an angel has blessed my bank account.

I should note that YNAB isn’t free. It has a 34-day free trial, and after that it’s $5/month or $50/year. It may seem a lot, but it’s not. YNAB can connect to your bank accounts, of course we gotta pay for such security. Besides, it makes your life less stressful and I think they deserve my $50 a year.

Maybe this post sounds like an excited advertising to you, but this is just how much YNAB means to me. If you want to know more about it, their site is http://youneedabudget.com . Knock yourself out! :D

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My 2015 in Books

It’s that time of the year again! Here’s a brief review of all the books I read in 2015:

1. Crazy Rich series by Kevin Kwan
It consists of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Crazy Rich Girlfriend”. It talks about these super duper rich Asian families that compete with each other, who’s richer than who. I don’t know if I should call this a guilty pleasure, because it’s just pleasure, living vicariously through these Richie Riches. The characters are a bit flat, but I don’t mind, because in the end what matters is the extravaganza and the lavish way they spend money. It’s pretty much a mild social commentary on rich Singaporeans and Chinese. The most interesting part is, Kevin Kwan actually visited the expensive places for research. I hope the royalty pays him well.

2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I was looking for a light and simple novel to read, so why not a teen romance? This book was referred a lot in pop sites, it was a natural choice. I guess the story is not bad. How Park and Eleanor came to fall in love with each other is not convincing enough though.

3. Delirium series by Lauren Oliver
It consists of “Delirium”, “Pandemonium”, and “Requiem”. Again, I was missing some good YA action and desperate to read a good one. I’d been seeing this series in a lot of places, so I decided to read it. It has everything a YA story usually has, but the whole fighting-for-love thing falls a bit cheesy for me. It’s not as epic as I hoped it would be.

4. How Google Works by Eric Schmidt
I love this book to bits, not only because I’m a Google fangirl, but it also offers new perspective on how to run a company effectively. Of course, they only could get away with it, because they have a lot of resources in Google, but we still can learn a thing or two from them, especially on breakthrough recruitment method.

5. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Overall, it’s an ok book. It’s sweet, because on the surface it’s about books and bookstores, but not much so. There’s also a touch of technology (ie. Google) on their quest to decipher centuries old codes hidden in books.

6. Koala Kumal (Dirty Koala) by Raditya Dika
I’ve always read his book. I used to think he had interesting insights. But this latest release of his is a disappointing one. It’s loaded with heteronormativity and homophobia, and there’s even one line straight out of John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” without any credit or mention. I wonder if his books have always been this way, but I wasn’t critical enough to notice them. Too lazy to reread his old books now.

7. Malay Sketches by Alfian Sa’at
Have I told you that I collect local books from every country I visit? This one is from Singapore. It’s written by a Malay Singaporean, and it’s basically a whole book of social commentary on the sistemic racism experienced by the Malays in Singapore. It’s sharp, but not vulgar. I became an instant fan.

8. Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
It took me a long time to finish this book. I don’t get what the story is. I understand the plot, but I can’t comprehend what it’s trying to say.

9. Please Look After Mom by Kyungsook Shin
Another addition in my books-around-the-world collection. This one is from South Korea. It’s about this Korean family whose mother suddenly went missing. They went all over Seoul to look for her. From this book, I got to peek how a child is raised in Korea and what’s expected of them. There’s some similarities to family values in Indonesia.

10. Ayah (Father) by Andrea Hirata
The book I waited for so long. It’s still about residents of Gantong, Belitong. It’s still very much in the style of Hirata’s, but the overall story didn’t touch me the way his previous books did. Is it because it’s not about Ikal? Hirata talked about new characters this time, and what it means to be a father. But somehow, it feels like a Belitong version of Forrest Gump, only it’s more poetic.

11. Pines by Blake Crouch
I watched Wayward Pines because M. Night Shyamalan was producing it. The series itself was draggy, but the concept intrigued me enough to look for the book. It’s definitely a mindboggling one. When you start reading, you’re not sure if it’s a mystery, horror, crime, scifi, or other. It’s definitely a chilling one. At least once or twice it’ll scare you a bit.

12. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
This one is a teenage romance with substance. It mainly talks about depression, without the sugarcoating. Niven wrote it like is, that depression is not romantic, it’s an illness, and it needs medication. I guess it’s a depressing story. I had a lot of things to wonder about when I finished the book.

13. Bumi (Earth) series by Tere Liye
It consists of “Bumi (Earth)” and “Bulan (Moon)”. The next sequel is not out yet. I had no idea who Tere Liye was, but a lot of his books were displayed in Gramedia. Bumi got my eye because the cover looked like a proper fantasy novel, and the synopsis was great. The main character is a girl called Raib who can disappear. The witty part is, ‘raib’ means ‘disappear’ in Indonesian. Of course I bought it immediately. I’m always ready to appreciate Indonesian fantasy novels. As it turns out, Tere Liye is not that good of a storyteller. His writing is not bad, good command of Indonesian, but his story has plotholes played by flat characters. It’s obvious he doesn’t read that many good books.

14. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
I read this because it won Best Novel in all prestigious science fiction awards. It was that hard to believe. As soon as I finished it, I no longer questioned why it was Best Novel everywhere. Russell Letson wrote in in Locus that this is not an entry level science fiction. I can’t help but agree with him. I think I only understood what’s going on in the middle of the book. Reading it took quite a concentration, but it paid off.

15. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
It consists of “City of Bones”, “City of Ashes”, “City of Glass”, “City of Fallen Angels”, “City of Lost Souls”, “City of Heavenly Fire”. I became a fan of this series quickly. Quickly. After browsing titles after titles, I finally found a great YA series. It’s pure YA: romance, adventure, epic worldbuilding, and magic. Cassandra Clare did her research extremely well, and it shows in her worldbuilding. Everything is solid. Clary is also a strong and smart female heroine, whose priority is not only about boys. Too bad the movie was bad. But good lord Godfrey Gao is HOT. They’re now making a TV series out of it called “Shadowhunters” and I can’t wait for it. Harry Shum, Jr.’s in it as Magnus!

16. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
This is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments, set in the Victorian era. I’m not a fan of the era. I find it not colorful enough. Needles to say, the book bored me, even though it was filled with familiar characters. I haven’t been interested to read the sequel yet.

17. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. It’s a psychological thriller all right, but in a deeper kind of way, because it’s essentially about marriage.

18. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
Business books are much better than self-help ones. Amoruso’s journey until she became a billionaire is an inspiring one. She did everything, hands on, neck deep in her own business. Her value is clear. She could see what she wanted and she made sure that her employees see it too.

19. Eve: Memoirs of An International Sex Worker by Annika Cleeve
I thought this memoir would be steamy, but it’s not. It actually talks about sex as a commodity. I found it to be quite humbling. Especially when Cleeve compared herself (a prostitute) with girls who flirt with guys to get free drinks. She called that kind of girls ‘gin & tonic hooker’.

20. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
The last installment of the Peculiar Children series! We got to know more about the universe and why their talents are different. I’m satisfied with the ending, and of course, the collection of vintage pictures. I can’t wait to see Asa Butterfield starring in the film, made by Tim Burton!

21. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy, my hero! This memoir of hers is so fun, I wonder why I found Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” not as entertaining. I got to learn a thing or two from Amy’s writing. But the biggest service this book did me was encouraging me to watch Parks & Recreation. Yup, I’ve finished all 7 seasons of the series and I LOVE IT. Ugh some people are just so talented and write really well. ;;

22. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
This memoir pissed me off a bit. She’s only older than me by a few years and I don’t like her telling me what to do, acting like she’s figured it out, when we’re all still in this together. Besides, if you read closely, there aren’t that many experiences in this book. She wrote the same stories over and over again, but from different angles with different names. If you watch Girls, it’s basically the live action of this book. There’s a lot of her in that series. And nope, I really don’t like Hannah Horvath. She’s an ungrateful, spoiled brat.

23. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
I read the first 2 books, “The Eye of the World” and “The Great Hunt”. I finally got to read it! It’s a must read classic in the SFF genre, but I never had the energy to order the book online. Suddenly, I found the first book on sale, and it was only $3! After reading the first book, I found the second book at the same place for the same price! I think I was meant to read this epic adventure. Each book is at least 600 pages long and I finished both in a heartbeat. It’s that good! There’s a lot of magic and worldbuilding here, carried by many, distinct characters. There are 14 books in this series by the way. An endless adventure!

24. Bencana di Planet Poa (Disaster in Planet of Poa) by Djokolelono
It’s the first book in “Penjelajah Antariksa (Space Explorers)” series. I was so excited when I found the books in Gramedia. I didn’t know we have a scifi series here? And it was written in the 80s too! They reprinted the series and the book design is amazing. They put a lot of thought in it, and it shows on each chapter’s title illustration. The story itself has a lot of plotholes though, as many Indonesian books do, but I appreciate the scifi spirit.

The list above does not include all the mangas and graphic novels I read in 2015 though. I read a lot of them, Sandman, Ender’s Game, Master Keaton, etc. I also reread Orson Scott Card’s Shadow series, which I already discussed in last year’s review. And somehow the books did not appear on my Goodreads’ 2015 reading list. Is it because it’s a reread? And finally, time for my personal award!

– Best Book of the Year: How Google Works by Eric Schmidt
– Worst Book of the Year: Bulan by Tere Liye
– Best Fantasy Book of the Year: The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
– Worst Fantasy Book of the Year: Bulan by Tere Liye
– Most Recommended Book: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
– Most Recommended Collection: The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
– Most Overrated: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
– Most Underrated: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
– Most Favorite: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

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