Sunday, 21 December 2008

And Enya Came…


Do you have a loyal friend that you never met, but always came to you whenever you need a soothing heart? I do. Several of them, really. But one of the most important one is Enya.

I met her for the first time almost 20 years ago, when I was still a junior at my high school. When my friend bought Wilson Phillip’s debut album (and a very very good one), I was captivated by Enya’s first album, Watermark. And hitherto, I kept buying her latest album, listening to her best singles (and I have loads of Enya’s songs that I consider ‘best’), and allowing her to fill my heart with love and hope again.

Such was yesterday, when I was passing by a local music store on my way to yoga and saw the snow white cover of her latest album ‘And Winter Came’; I took her home after yoga and listened to her. The day was steamy, and I found myself wishing that it would rain, for it usually rains when I listen to Enya.

It did not rain yesterday. The heat was unbearable, the fans in my house didn’t work because the fuse kept going off, and worse: I had another broken heart.




But life must go on. So I cried away my pain and slept with Enya next to me, singing her soothing songs with her angelic voice… And I woke up early this morning to hear the hurried sound of rain from afar…

It finally rains. The sky is cloudy enough to guarantee at least half a day of pleasant weather… and though the white winter will never come to my place, particularly these months, at least I have the rain to accompany me enjoying Enya.

It strange, really. She seemed to come to sooth my pain recently. I listened to her A Day Without Rain over and over again on my routine journey to a beautiful mountainous temple in Bali to heal my broken heart, watching the silver rain flowing freely on my window. I listened to Amarantine when I dared myself to embrace a new life without anyone. And now: And Winter Came, another broken heart.

Not that I’m complaining. Seems Mother Nature has her way to show me that everything will be alright, that I will emerge stronger, wiser, and more beautiful within from all these trials… and she asked Enya to help me. In many ways… it is good.

I haven’t decided which AWC tracks that I love the most. Certainly the first instrumental song (And Winter Came) fits the first place: it brings you to the spirit of winter…Christmas… and love. Trains and Winter Rains and My! My! Time Flies! certainly captivate my heart. Oiche Chiuin is basically the Celtic version of Silent Night, and my oh my... is it not gorgeous? And listen to what our Enya said in The Spirit of Christmas Past:

When tears are in your eyes, it's time to look inside, your heart can find another way
Believe in what I say - don't throw this time away,
Tomorrow will be Christmas Day... Christmas Day...

So, let the shadows go and drift away like snow,
Tomorrow will be Christmas Day... Christmas Day...

So, dream until the night becomes the morning light,
Tomorrow will be Christmas Day... Christmas Day...

Or what she said in Last Time by Moonlight:

The winter sky above us was shining in moonlight,
and everywhere around us... the silence of midnight
and we had gathered snowflakes;
remember the soft light of starlight on snow

Oooh, remember this, for no one knows the way love goes
Oooh, remember this, for no one knows the way life goes

We walked the road together one last time by moonlight,
as underneath the heavens the slow chimes at midngith
but nothing is forever, not even the starlight at midnight
not even the moonlight

Oooh, remember this, for no one knows the way love goes
Oooh, remember this, for no one knows the way life goes


Wow... I bet she was a priestess in her past life. Seriously, she must be a Celtic High Priestess there, singing her soothing words to heal others' pains...

But if I may cast a hope for the next Enya album… may she sees me in a beautiful life, no heart breaks; just hope, love, and life. But until then… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And believe that all events in our lives are there to present us with valuable lessons, to make us better beings on this planet.

Pic1: Cover album to ‘And Winter Came’, from Enya.com
Pic2: Photoshop snowflake, from Creativebits

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Bat, the Cat, and the Amazon


I have some epiphanies recently about the lack of BatWondy romance in DC comics and also animated version (naturally). Seems that, although the last two years have been GREAT for Wonder Woman fans with Gail Simone on board, but BatWondy fans are left low and dry. And now with the convoluted Batman RIP arcs, we have Heart of the Hush with Batman-Catwoman romance as the central theme.

Had I learned about this HoH three years ago, I would be very agitated and annoyed with that. Now... I'm a bit down because - again - DC has ditched away the potentials of BatWondy stories, understandably from editorial and historical POV. But I also realise that in another story, there's Trinity and the obvious special bonds between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Diana/Wonder Woman. It might not be romance per Bruce/Selina now, but the bonds are there, the trust is there.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Barack Obama wins!

Oh, I'm not even an American, but I am SO giddy and excited that Mr. Barack Obama wins the 2008 American election! I mean, there he is, a sincere man of golden heart, so smart, but so sweet as well, who makes lots (if not all) Americans remembers what it means to live in a country of hope. That feeling is the exact or similar feeling that I felt when Mr. Mangku Pastika was elected as the Governor of Bali last July. Giddy, excitement... happiness.

Am on deadline, so here's the CNN video of Obama's victory speech. Magnificent. Powerful. Energizing. And this is the BBC link to his full speech (it's so powerful and touching!).



Oh, and his grandma passed away last Monday, but surely she smiles now upon his victory.



Did I say that Obama used to live in Jakarta, Indonesia? Yep, in 1970s. He loves spicy food too! Check this BBC link about the happy reactions of Indonesian students at Obama's old school in Jakarta.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Lord Shiva goes anime!


Wow! Anime is surely booming since the last few decades, and with that, cultural/spiritual anime as well. And - as an avid Shiva lover - I'm very pleased to find out that there soon will be an anime about Lord Shiva.

Yup! Last June, Toonz Animation India, a company that was commissioned to make the animated X-Men by Marvel, declared that they are making an anime about Lord Shiva, Ruler of Animals, the Great Cosmic Archer, the Yogic Lover, and He who has melted my heart (well, Shiva has 1,008 names altogether, beat that, Batman and Superman!).

Here's the excerpt of what Animationxpress said about the production titled 'The Tales of Lord Shiva'; click here for the complete article.

After the mythological flick The Return of Hanuman, Trivandrum based Toonz Animation India is coming up with a 2D mythological television series titled Tales of Lord Siva. The series is targeted at all age groups and in particular at children in the age group of 9 to 12. The studio is currently in talks with major broadcasters.

"We will begin broadcasting in English and plan dubbing in other languages soon. We are looking at broadcast in India, as well as places in Asia such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malayasia, etc." Creative Director for Tales of Lord Siva, Renju Ramesh told AnimationXpress.com.

The series, based on incidents from Lord Siva‘s life, has been conceived, designed and directed entirely at Toonz. The 22x13‘ picture book animation series will have two or three short stories every episode. A group of 40 to 50 artists are working on the series which is expected to be on air within the next six months.
/.../

The visuals in the series are enhanced by powerful music and rendition by renowned Hindustani classical singer-composer Pandit Ramesh Narayan who is a beloved disciple of Pandit Jasraj. The show has generated a lot of interest from national production houses and broadcasters.

Wheee! In six months since last June... meaning that it should be ready by the year end, or early next year! Hopefully so; I can't wait to see it! Here's the sneak peak from Toonz Animation channel from YouTube, enjoy!



Oh, but while waiting for 'The Tales of Lord Shiva', we can also enjoy this other one below. Another anime titled 'Shiva, the God of Love'. Man, I LOVE the title! Watch for His eyes as He meditated on the snow. He was quirking - so damn funny and cute! Om Namah Shivaya...



Pic: Lord Shiva and Lady Parvati, copyright by Toonz Animation India

Sunday, 19 October 2008

‘Shiva’s Fire’: The words are dancing like Lord Shiva’s tandava

It’s hard to describe this novelette in a few words; I just admire it too much. First of all, I’m very fond of Lord Shiva, and it was my original driving factor to buy the book. Second, the book is about a twelve year old girl (named after Lord Shiva’s cosmic consort, Parvati, of all names!) who is very fond of dancing, and always wants to dance. The third: well, I’m weak towards India-themed books, for the spices, curries, and the jingling of payal (anklets) are usually mixed with spirituality at a certain level.

This book did not disappoint me at all. It took me a while to read it, for I had many things to do, and perhaps because the story did not pick at a quick pace anyway. But after the first chapter, everything flew quickly and amazingly. I was particularly amazed at how Suzanne Fisher Staples brought Shiva and His tandava (dance) to life through many levels: from the sandalwood statue that had captivated little Parvati since her first day in this world, through the veena that suddenly humming in every time Parvati lit a fire, and through Parvati’s determination to dance. Having learnt Bharatanatyam myself (though, alas, I am by no means a devoted Devadasi), I am familiar with various dancing terms in the book. The book went further to evoke my longing for dancing, as I read how Parvati suffered through all physical and mental difficulties to perfect her dance. Learning Bharatanatyam is not easy, let alone mastering it!


Friday, 19 September 2008

Rachel Weisz reloaded: Hypatia of Alexandria!


There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.



The passage was taken from Wikipedia, and it was in turn cited from Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History (ca 439 AD). I’ve been in love with Hypatia since I learned about her 1-2 years ago through Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and also Wikipedia. She was this strong woman who died protecting the Library of Alexandria from riot (and the thousands of ancient documents within it) during the 4th AD, and – though she and the documents perished – her name was forever etched and marked by history. 

Monday, 8 September 2008

The Old Peace Treaty between Tibet and China at Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

A regular reader (if any) of this blog would have known by now that I am very pro Tibet. I am an avid fan of Dalai Lama, and – despite His Holiness’s willingness for possible (or impossible?) autonomy with China – I am still pro Free Tibet. Yet, I do not hate China or the Chinese. I have many Chinese friends, and I am an avid watcher of Chinese/Mandarin/Kantonese movies or DVDs. It’s just… Tibet is more than a political issue to me. To me, it is a spiritual issue. Like Indonesia, Tibet is one of the last citadels for glorious ancient civilisations, and thus deserves a respectful treatment of an independent nation, free to shape its own future without anyone’s interference.




Sadly, it is not what is happening nowadays. Nowadays, my dearest Dalai Lama lives in exile, and he has to fight for the Tibetans from outside Tibet. That did not stop him from writing great books, including Freedom in Exile (1990), which is basically his excellently written autobiography. And from this book, I shall quote several paragraphs of an old peace treaty between Tibet and China in 821-822 AD. The original inscription can be found (if not yet destroyed) at the entrance of Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet. I quote the translation verbatim from Freedom in Exile (pp 42-43):




QUOTE

The Great King of Tibet, the Miraculous Divine Lord, and the Great King of China, the Chinese Ruler Hwang-ti, being in the relationship of nephew and uncle, have conferred together for the alliance of their kingdoms. They have made and ratified a great agreement. Gods and men all know it and bear witness so that it may never be changed; and an account of the agreement has been engraved on this stone pillar to inform future ages and generations.


Monday, 18 August 2008

Belated happy birthday, my dear Motherland…

The waves escalated from 2.5m to 4m in a mere few seconds as our boat captain manoeuvred the dolphin-watching boat amidst the flux of the ocean. Earlier, he had spotted the dolphins (well, at least one of them) playing along the waves about a kilometre eastward. It’s no use; the waves were too high. Immediately, he reduced the speed, steered the wheel starboard, and let the boat surfed the waves like the tip of a wine bottle on the high water. We lost the dolphins, but we were safe and sound. The boat did not tipped over as I feared mere seconds ago.

“It’s too dangerous,” our captain declared. “We have to go back.” None of us disagreed with him. In fact, we just nodded together and murmured ‘yes’ in unison. It was indeed too dangerous to go further. Life is precious, we have to go back to try another day.

I did not mind returning back to port either, for in that few seconds, my heart seemed to stop as my mind recalled another event in another part of the sea a few weeks ago, when my boat toppled over and sent six of its passengers (including me) tumbling down the sea. It was a scary thing, but we were safe and sound after the fiasco. Yet, fiasco is still a fiasco. In another word, not again, mate!

So, when in a few seconds our boat wobbled and eventually steadied itself this time, I found myself praying that I would not go through such adventure again. And thank God, we reached the harbour safe and sound.

But why do I have to go through this story? For at the very same morning, four handicapped divers were struggling to hold the Red and White flag, Sang Saka Merah Putih, Indonesia’s national flag, in the depth of Sanur sea in Bali. I did not have to be there to know that they would suffer strong currents and winds. Yet, they strived, survived, and succeeded in holding the Merah Putih under the water, even taking pictures with the flag. Kudos to them.

I’m not saying that my dolphin boat ‘lost score’ to the handicapped divers. No, we had to return to the port that day. The trip must be aborted. We had at least three children with us that day, children that might not survive accidents. But I knew that I would return again the next day to find our animals amidst the ocean waves. Because I love the oceans and the dolphins. I love doing it.

And the handicapped divers… ah, they could abort the mission for safety reasons. But nay, they did not. They chose to hold still and fight the currents, trying as they might to uphold the national flag. For their love of their country, which is my motherland as well.

I guess, I’m writing this because last 17 August 2008, was Indonesia’s birthday. Like the dolphin boat, too often now Indonesia is facing dangerously strong waves and winds that risk splitting or boat/nation into pieces. But that does not stop the fellow Indonesians, men and women, to move forward for a better Indonesia. True, we might have to pause, recalculate our strategies and ways to achieve the goal. We might have to wait for the wind to abate, or strengthen our anchor against the wind. But never does that mean that we stop for good.

For, like the handicapped divers, we know that the ultimate force that drives us through the entire plights and miseries towards a better Indonesia… is none other than our love to our motherland. A beautiful Indonesia that accommodates various different ethnicity, religions, traditions, races, etc, as long as they are within the corridor of love. As long as we keep on walking under the umbrella of Pancasila, our true national philosophy that guarantees and accommodates differences. For what are differences, but different facets of One Universal Truth?

I believe in love. I believe in humanity. I believe that, more than this little dolphin girl will keep coming back to the sea to find her dolphins and whales, more than the little sea turtle hatchlings that struggled and tumbled down before returning back to the sea where they belong, more than the handicapped divers that kept upholding the national flag underwater, this country will survive the waves of life. More than that, this country will celebrate her life as a whole independent loving nation. The One Nation of IndONEsia.

Happy 63rd birthday, dearest Indonesia. May the light of the universe be with you always.

Pic 1: The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa Okinami Ura), by Hokusai, created between 1823-1829 (Wikipedia)

Pic 2: Sang Saka Merah Putih (Indonesia’s national flag), with colourful Galungan penjors. Only in Bali you will find penjor with the Merah Putih flag...

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

My Sister's Keeper: what a great read!

I just finished reading Jodi Picolut’s My Sister’s Keeper this afternoon after two-days reading it (the good side of having cold is that you are entitled to bed rest and reading novels)… and I LOVE IT! 

Now I understand why so many Picoult readers love her work; though the WW run might be an exception. And now, since I’ve read two Picoult novels (Song of a Humpback Whale and My Sister’s Keeper), I think I need to add my two cents, since I disliked Jodi’s run on WW so much (gas station, Diana not knowing how to order coffee… etc etc, though Nemesis’ comment on Diana getting bugs into her eyes while flying was pretty funny actually). It’s a matter of fair play. I didn’t like Jodi’s run on WW; most definitely not. But I love her other work, and that too, I shall admit.

So, go back to MSK. When Picoult’s WW made me winced and frowned, My Sister’s Keeper kept me from sleeping and doing anything else (thank God for the cold…). Jodi Picoult delivered such excellent narrations and characters; I fell in love with some of them almost instantly. Her trademark way of delivering novels in several voices (in this case, at least seven) had grown on me since reading her first novel (Song of a Humpback Whale; an okay one, but definitely not her best). Anna, the teenager who kept donating parts of her body to her sick sister Kate, emerged as my heroine. Campell Alexander, Anna’s attorney, became her side kick, though in reality he’s much older than her. I also feel for Anna’s father, Brian, who tried his best to be a good father, albeit difficult as it was. What I could not really decide is Sara, Anna’s mum. Sometimes I feel for her, but generally speaking, I think Sara’s decisions to make Anna donating her blood, bone marrow, etc for Kate’s health are very selfish… at least controversial. I mean, she coerced Brian to agree to have a genetically-engineered baby to save Kate’s life. Sure Kate’s life is extended long enough… but what of Anna’s freedom of choice? It is very understandable that Anna then decided to bring this matter to a family court, for she felt that her medical independence had too often been compromised.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

I’m in love…

This time, the story starts when my “Book of Shiva” arrived from Amazon.com. I picked it up, brought it to my ashram to read while waiting for the full-moon class starting… and was captivated by He whose matted hair contained the flows of Mother Gangga.
I don’t know what to say about “The Book of Shiva”, other than I am renewing my love to Shiva. I mean, I love and adhere to all aspects of the Trinity, and I bow to the power of Vishnu to preserve the world (next time, there will be a post about Lord Krishna. God willing). But Lord Shiva… I don’t know. 

There’s something within that Hermit of Kailash that amazes me. Perhaps His matted hair, from which Mother Gangga flows. Perhaps His hermit stage. Not His snake… not His snake… (I respect snakes, but only because they’re part of the ecosystem, thank you very much).

But one thing for sure that makes me admire Shiva: His love to Lady Uma/Parvati. So beautiful, so sweet… A while ago, I wept the first time I learned that He too was broken hearted when Sati (the previous incarnation of Parvati) died. Now, after reading the story again here, my heart was crushed again.


Wednesday, 25 June 2008

J.K. Rowling's amazing commencement speech at Harvard Uni!

I'm grateful to my routinely visited procrastination site www.phdcomics.com for their link to JK Rowling's commencement speech at the Harvard University graduation this June 2008. It's indeed uplifting and very wisely spoken (not to mention very witty). The title is

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination




Thanks to The Daily Snitcher, these are the direct links for part 1, part 2, and part 3. And these are some quotes:


Sunday, 22 June 2008

Dance of Life

Full moon was waning up in the sky, but its silver light still graced me as I saw several items of Indian dances last night. In Bali, at the Bali Art Festival. Little Balinese girls danced Bharatanatyam with an Indian woman (she's the dancing teacher here), a Javanese woman danced Kathak, ... and ten Indian women and men were supposed to dance an Odissi-Kathak-Bharatanatyam-Balinese drama called 'Bali Yatra'. It was beautiful... but the beauty will have to come later as I tell you what happened as the Javanese woman danced the Kathak.

She was swirling around with her white dress, blossoming as a white lotus as suddenly... the lights went off! Off, darkness all around in the little theatre. A local transformer exploded (power overload), and hence shut down the electricity for the entire building. The beautiful Javanese woman stopped for a while... and then she retreated to the back stage. It seemed that the next dance would have to be cancelled.

People were going home, understandably. Half an hour passed, and I was about to go home when they announced that they moved the dance show to an open stage 5 minutes walk from there.

I went there out of curiosity; just to see if it's worth the wait. I waited for a few more minutes before they resumed the show, an hour after the power outage.

And by the Gods... it was worth the wait.

I've never seen an Odissi dance before. Have you? You should. Bharatanatyam is gorgeous, classical in many senses. Kathak is poetic. But Odissi mix elegance with sensuality of the dancers in their ways of swaying here and there, like Apsaras we see on the temple walls. Suddenly, I could see the ancient dancers performing their services outside the temple garden. What was it like back then, I knew not. All I know was that I was so damn lucky to be able to witness the show. I need not go to India... the show was brought to me here. The Shaktis were with me. Still with me.


It was a complicated drama dance, a mini opera with lots of scenes. The ten dancers had to change costumes more than five times each person, and God I would have fainted midway if I were them. They had to struggle to adapt to new stage, new lighting, new sound system, and oh what a crowded open stage it was, in a mere 20 minutes! The dancers and music had to compete with other performances in the vicinity, and it was hard for them. So hard. But they endured, and they showed the best of them.

I don't know them, but I'm proud of them. And I was happy that I stayed till late to see them. It was worth it.

[On a side note, and as a positive critique, I think they could leave out the part where the Odissi dancers performed Panyembrama, a classical Balinese dance to welcome guests. I think it was amazing that they tried to do that, and over a length of time the Odissi dancers might reach the Balinese pakem (dancing standards), but for this show, the Panyembrama item could be dropped. Or better, replace the gorgeous Odissi dancers with real Balinese dancers who master the Panyembrama dance the way the Indian dancers master their Odissi par excellence. And this realisation just dawned on me that moment: Odissi (and Bharatanatyam, to that extent) have different head movements to the Balinese one. Their eye expressions, though similar, are different too. The Balinese dance - as I observe so far - have more subtle yet still lively expression; there is a benchmark there that is too subtle for Odissi. By the same token, the dynamic movements of Odissi (and Bharatanatyam) would be too fast and forceful for Balinese dancers. And yet, when appropriately combined, a group of Odissi/Kathak/Bharatanatyam can perform well with a group of Balinese dancers. I've seen my old dancer team (Indian Cultural Center Bali & Indonesian Art Institute Bali, under the tutelage of Ms. Nandini Krishna) doing such a collaboration with Ravi Shankar's Manggalam. It was amazingly vibrant and invigorating. I guess in the end, every dancer has to determine her/his own style, unique way of dancing, and she/he should stick to it. But this critique by NO means lessen my respect to the dancers last night. They still did amazing job out there.]

You know, an aware dancer will always pray before dancing, either by touching the earth/ground, looking at the sky and moon, or others. He or she will seek permission first before the performance. It's something wonderful, something beyond words, when you dance and you know, you can do that only because the whole Existence permits you to do that. It's your gift to the Universe, and you are blessed with it.

I haven't resumed my Bharatanatyam dancing lessons for months, and I missed the dances. I guess, I shall be back dancing again.

And I guess... now and then, life presents you a power outage, and your dance has to stop for a while. But real dancers will try to find ways to resume their dance; in whatever situations, no matter how small their audience may be. It's the dharma, the way of life for a dancer... to dance, even with no witness. Even if the witness is just the waning moon above.

So I thank the Universe, and the dancers and their entourage tonight, for presenting me with the dance tonight. It was a Dance of Life, and I was blessed to see it.

And I know now what to answer if someone ask me why I – a Balinese girl – learn Bharatanatyam. Well, first, I also dance Balinese dance, but I won’t claim that I’m the expert. You can see hundreds of Balinese dancers far better than I am on the island. Second, dance is an art… and art goes beyond the boundaries of nations and ethnicity. Art is beauty, and beauty has no boundaries.

Pic 1. A Kathak dancer from Indtravel.com ( not the one I saw tonight)

Pic 2. Odissi dancers from flonnet.com ( not the one I saw tonight)

Pic 3. A Majapahit Apsara, from the Arts of Asia (November-December 2000) and Wikipedia (I want to invite one of those celestial nymphs to my house. Can I?)

Sunday, 27 April 2008

My two favourite manga girls!

I just got warped back to my childhood when I loved watching certain series of manga. Not that I don’t love them now… just pretending not to have time anymore :-D

But this week’s ‘contemplation’ dragged me into Sailor Moon Universe again, and I remembered that I used to – and still – love Rei Hino, the Sailor Mars! (FYI, Sailor Pluto (Setsuna Meio) and Sailor Saturn (Hotaru Tomoe) are my other fave Senshi). But actually, the first manga girl I ever love is Oka Megumi of the Voltes V series. I first saw her when I was just a teenager, and I fell in love with her and her long green-blue hair (and her pink bow!). I think she’s amazing, pretty, and she’s great; having excelled in Japanese martial arts, including ninja stuffs. I have to ‘fess that I would love to buy an action figure of Megumi. Too bad that the Voltes V lines was drown over the Voltron merchandises, though Voltes was much well-packed and well-written than Voltron (I can’t even buy the English-subtitled DVD for Voltes!).

So I pondered why I love those girls. I know at least that Megumi inspired me to grow my hair long and Rei taught me to keep them long (though never as beautiful as those gorgeous manga girls). But why do I love them?


Perhaps… because they are a blend of uniqueness. Take the gorgeous Rei Hino, for example. Rei is a Shinto priestess (gotta love that red hakama!). Yet, her spiritual living does not reduce the excitement of a young girl with sharp snappy tongue who will often, and with most unlady-like fashion, bugs Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon) to no end. But take note: Rei is also a loyal friend and a warrior who would give her life to protect Usagi.

Hey, have I mentioned that Rei’s gold tiara with red gem resembles Wonder Woman’s tiara? And her red heels and red dress just echo Diana’s signature colour? Love it, love it, love it! I know what to wear for the next Halloween party. Sailor Mars.

And what about my first manga girl: Oka Megumi? This wonderful site mentions that: “Megumi is an energetic, lively, and lovely girl. She always wears red ribbon on her greenish blue hairs. Megumi is trained in the secret way of Ninjutsu and she becomes a Kunoichi (female ninja). She can fight using various kinds of weapons, like long sword (katana), chained sickle (kusarigama), but her favorite weapon is the throwing star (shuriken).” Plus that she’s also well-informed and well-practiced in traditional arts. Superb girl! Not to mention her lovely red boots and skirts.


Gosh, I love Rei and Megumi! They can kick ass, but they’re also very much into traditional knowledge and spirituality. Lovely. I guess, that’s why I love them so. They are the Japanese Wonder Girls.


Pic 1: Rei Hino Sailor Mars, from Wikipedia

Pic 2: Oka Megumi Voltes V, from Voltes V Shrine

Pic 3: Rei Hino Sailor Mars, from this site

Pic 4: Oka Megumi Voltes V, from Voltes V Shrine


Monday, 7 April 2008

It’s official: I’m in love with the Nemesis!

Well, okay. The pre-crisis, Brave and the Bold Nemesis, created by Cary Burkett and Dan Spiegle. NOT the current Wonderpig, resurrected by Alan Heinberg and made worse by Ms. Jodi Picoult (no offence, I think both Mr. Heinberg and Ms. Picoult are great writers in their own media, i.e. television and novel, respectively), the Special Agent Tom Tresser who roams the realms of Wonder Woman comics, tainting the wonders Ms. Gail Simone has brought us with her great story telling. Anyway, I’m not going to waste the introductory paragraph telling why I don’t like the modern incarnation of Nemesis a.k.a. Special Agent Tom Tresser. Instead, I’m going to tell why I love the pre-crisis, 80s Nemesis. Because of what Batman said in Brave and the Bold # 170: ‘In the short time we’ve worked together, I’ve seen a man who would risk his life to save another’s’. And Batman was right. This Nemesis was a hero in his own right.

Now I have to explain that, apart from the current WW runs, I’ve never read a single story with Nemesis in it. Burkett and Spiegle first launched Nemesis in the pages of Brave and the Bold 166 (September 1980), read this chronology for better understanding of Nemesis’ appearance in DC Universe. Most of his stories were in Brave and the Bold and Suicide Squad, hence you really have to hunt them on Ebay or other e-shops. Anyway, since I learned that Nemesis made an appearance in WW vol 3 #1, I decided to learn more about this hero. The fact that Alan Heinberg was ridiculously late in delivering his WW episodes gave me more than enough time to do research and, eventually, formed my own image of Nemesis in my head.

During my research, I’ve read many analysis of the pre-crisis Nemesis, which praised him as a cool hero, whose stories are worthy of being collected into a single TPB. One of them is this excellent post of the Comic Treadmill, read it and you will understand what I felt when I read BB 170; CT did a much better job than I could ever do. I also read here and there about Nemesis’ run in the Suicide Squad, his captivity in Russia, and even him threatening Amanda Waller (for Christ’s sake!) when he was about to walk out of the SS. So far I know, Nemesis was the only man who would threaten Waller like that. The other guy would be the Batman, of course. And I can imagine Wonder Woman one on one with Amanda Waller in a very interesting political/philosophical conversation (that’s never shown in the comics, I guess, but it’s not far fetched). Batman and Wonder Woman are my favourite DC characters (thus, my pairing them); hence levelling Nemesis on par with them speaks volume. And, as I read those reviews and summaries from the web, I began to imagine what kind of person the real Nemesis was, and I began to think ‘Hey, I might like this guy!’

It turned out that I was correct. As I finished reading BB 170 just now, I read of a Nemesis that was brave, rather sombre due to his past (his brother Craig Tresser died after being trapped into killing Ben Marshall, a father figure for both Craig and Tom), rather secretive in the beginning (understandably), but eventually trusted and teamed up with the Batman to defeat the Head (who was, really, only a head, figuratively speaking). This Nemesis was dark enough to be a Batman-lite, with mirroring background as what Bruce Wayne experienced (family member killed tragically, though in Tom’s case, it happened when he was already a grown up, hence his scar should heal faster than Bruce’s scar, whose parents were killed when he was only a boy), and he would walk the fine line between justice and vengeance during his missions.

This Nemesis (praise Jim Aparo for his stunning artworks in BB 170) had similar facial expression with the Batman; eyebrows knitted together while he was thinking. He had similar MO with the Batman, even darker, as he worked totally alone. He did not abhor the use of guns, though, and that’s where the Dark Knight had to warn him against using guns while they were on the same team. Anyway, as BB 170 was written by Cary Burkett, the man who created Nemesis for the first time anyway, I take that this Nemesis was THE Nemesis he should be. A brave hero that will try to uphold justice, or die trying. Heh, even Comic Treadmill said that Nemesis was the best partner for the Batman in Brave and the Bold, and I have to agree with that. With one side note: Diana Prince or Wonder Woman as the best female partner for the Batman in this series.

There is one more reason why I love the Burkett-Spiegle Tom Tresser: he was definitely not a piggish boy. The Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis was not the young blond boy who flirts with Black Canary and Wonder Woman in the current WW runs and at the same time being a male chauvinist pig to Special Agent Diana Prince (who is, of course, Wonder Woman in disguise). In fact, I cannot imagine the Burkett-Spiegle Tom Tresser as someone who will flirt with Diana of Themyscira (or Diana Prince, your pick). Even if he liked WW so much, this Nemesis would not say things that Special Agent Tom Tresser often say now to Wonder Woman. He would be discreet enough to admire her from a distance, ready to protect her, but not getting too close to her for whatever reason. He might team up again with the Batman and, after closing a hard murderer case, he would – very occasionally – say something about how amazing Wonder Woman was, but he would not pursue further. He and the Batman would sit silent with double espresso on their hands, looking at the bright moon, each pondering the possibility of getting closer to the Amazon Princess, but had no guts to do that. For both think of Diana as this amazing goddess they look up to, but dare not touch; for if they touch her, they might taint her light with their hands. That’s the Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis I imagine, romance-wise. Very much like the Batman, sans cowl and cape.

And the Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis in action? Well, I’ve just finished BB 170, and I am on the prowl for BB 193 where Nemesis died during his second team up with the Batman (don’t worry, he was actually saved, and then joined Suicide Squad afterwards). I don’t think I have budget and time to hunt down other Nemesis-related DC comics (Suicide Squad and other BB issues), but I am now 100% supporting the release of a Trade Paperback of Nemesis, from his Brave and the Bold era to the end of Suicide Squad. See this impressive list for a possible thick TPB. We can include the Catwoman and Superman issues, for I also want to read how other writers interpret the Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis in other storylines. From what I’ve heard, Nemesis’ appearance in the Catwoman was rather out of character (he asked her to teach him how to infiltrate an enemy’s HQ or something). Well, he might be OOC then… but I would still consider it FINE compared to the Wonder Pig Nemesis we currently read almost monthly in Wonder Woman.

Bottom line: Print the 80s and 90s stories of Nemesis into one TPB, and kick this current Nemesis out of Wonder Woman comics. Don’t kill him; just kick him out of the pages. The current Nemesis does not deserve the great name of Nemesis, for clearly he’s just a ridiculous young boy who does not know what prudence means, for he does not even have a modicum of decorum in his bones. A shame for the legacy of Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis.

Further reading:

http://www.comictreadmill.com/CTMBlogarchives/2007/2007_Individual/2007_06/001474.php

http://www.comictreadmill.com/CTMBlogarchives/2007/2007_Individual/2007_06/001474.php

http://the-isb.blogspot.com/2006/06/brief-history-of-nemesis-part-one.html

http://www.dcuguide.com/chronology.php?name=NEMESIS

Pic 1: Brave and the Bold 193

Pic 2: Nemesis threatens Amanda Waller, from Wikipedia

Pic 3: Brave and the Bold 170

Pic 4: Modern Tom Tresser and Diana Prince. Do I have to tell you how many fans got irked after the silly portrayal of Diana Prince here? Nope.

PS 24 April 2008:

My new theory about the association between the current Nemesis and the real Nemesis is posted in the Wonder Woman DC message board here.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Hallelujah... So much magnificence

The darkness of night
is coming along fast,
and the shadows of love
close in the body and the mind.
Open the window to the west,
and disappear into the air inside you.
Near your breastbone, there is an open flower.
Drink the honey that is all around that flower.


Waves are coming in:
There is so much magnificence near the ocean.
Listen: sound of immense seashells!
Sound of bells!
Kabir says: 'Friend, listen,
This is what I have to say:
The Guest I love is inside me!'

-Kabir-

from Miten with Deva Premal 'Songs for the Inner Lover'

Side note: Join Avaaz Petition to bring justice to Tibet, to restore the Tibetan culture and sovereignty to her own people!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Megan Gale as Wonder Woman!

Okay, my friends think that I'm a freak for freaking happy about the latest developments on Wonder Woman, but hey, that's what fandom is! First, Gail Simone is writing Wonder Woman, and it's been a great read! Okay, okay, I don't like the WW/Nemesis pairing, to me Diana is always with Bruce 'Batman' Wayne, but what the heck. Compared with WW's fate in 2006 and the first semester of 2007 (please, don't even mention Amazon Attack?), we have many things to celebrate now!

And comes Megan Gale as the new Wonder Woman for the upcoming Justice League movie by George Miller (the man behind Happy Feet). First, I was skeptical: I don't know her except that she's a very famous Oz supermodel. But then I saw interviews of hers, read comments made by her, and I'm convinced that Miller was right: Megan Gale is the 21st Century Wonder Woman. Heh... her pictures practically screams 'Diana of Themyscira'!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The Benefits and Blessings of Periods

Periods can be a pain, so why have them at all?
That’s the first line of an article I read today at lunch, titled ‘The Great Escape’, published in the NewScientist edition 29 September 2007, Issue 2623. And I did not need to read the entire article to know that I will be pissed off. Well, for the sake of science, I did read it all, and still pissed off. Hence, this post, for I need to blow the steam. So here, we go, and I hope I can be as systematic as possible.

I could not find the PDF or online version of the article, so I will just scan the four pages later at my more leisure time and post them here as well. The writer of this article is surprisingly a woman. Ms. Hannah Hoag, whom based on my internet searching, is a truly credible writer in her own right. This is her private blog, or at least I hope it is. This post is definitely not to attack Ms. Hoag’s position or article; but rather to criticize from a woman’s point of view how the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of a natural phenomenon as menstruation leads to the findings of any means to avoid or even eliminate menstrual cycle from women’s calendar, an action that may be based on sympathy, but definitely against the rhythm of the Nature herself.

Moko the dolphin rescued whales!

It seems that I am not mistaken to pick the taxa of my research. Cetaceans ARE amazing! Read this, from Stuff.co.nz, courtesy of Michelle (thanks a heap, M!).

-xxx-

Moko the Friendly Dolphin Saves Whales

'It was like she grabbed them by the flipper and led them to safety'



Wednesday, 12 March 2008

It could have been a scene from a movie when Mahia's Moko the dolphin came out of nowhere to save two pygmy sperm whales from what looked like certain death.

The playful dolphin, who has set up home around Mahia on the East Coast, was the perfect helper on Monday as Department of Conservation worker Malcolm Smith toiled to refloat the mother whale and her one-year-old male calf.

"It was amazing. It was like she grabbed them by the flipper and led them to safety," Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith received a call early Monday morning to say two whales had stranded on the south end of Mahia Beach.

"Generally speaking when pygmy sperm whales strand they end up dying, or they are refloated only to strand again later in the day and die.

"We worked for over an hour to try to get them back out to sea. . . but they kept getting disorientated and stranding again.

"There is a large sandbar just off the shore so that could have been very confusing for them - they obviously couldn't find their way back past it to the sea."

After about four unsuccessful refloating attempts it was becoming highly likely the pair would have to be euthanised.

"The whales were getting tired and I was getting cold when Moko turned up.

"She just came straight for us and escorted the two whales along the beach and out through the channel.

"The whales were sitting on the surface of the water quite distressed, they had arched their backs and were calling to one another, but as soon as the dolphin turned up they submerged into the water and followed her."

Moko led the whales about 200m along the beach towards the headland then led the pair all the way out to sea.

"The things that happen in nature never cease to amaze me.

"It was looking like it was going to be a bad outcome for the whales which was very disappointing and then Moko just came along and fixed it."

Mr Smith said it was quite possible Moko had heard the whales calling.

" She obviously gave them enough guidance to leave the area because we haven't seen them since."

Moko however was seen straight after – the playful dolphin swam straight back close to shore to play with local residents.

- NZPA

Pic: Stuff.co.nz

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

What kind of superhero(ine) am I?

I took this quiz to determine whether I'm more a Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Zatanna or Black Canary kind-of-girl, and it turn out that I should join the Green Lantern Corp!

Your results:
You are Green Lantern
























Green Lantern
95%
Wonder Woman
87%
Superman
85%
Spider-Man
80%
Supergirl
72%
Robin
67%
The Flash
65%
Hulk
50%
Iron Man
50%
Batman
35%
Catwoman
25%
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

In Pursuit of Truth: Insights beyond whales and dolphins

She had never high aspirations for herself as a scientist. Although she liked cetaceans and felt an affinity for them, she knew it was not just for the animals that she did what she did. As with many of her peers, she had been drawn to field biology as much for the life it offered as for its intellectual content – because it allowed her to be on her own, to have no fixed address, to be far from the familiar, while still being a part of a loyal but loose-knit community. This would not change any of that; for the most part it would be the usual grind of writing applications, trying to find funding and so on. Whatever came of it in the end, it was a certainty that it was not going to create an upheaval in science. But at the same time, who would have thought that it would be so intensely satisfying to have your future resolved, to know what you were going to be doing next year and the year after that and so on and son on, until who knew when? And yes, it was true that whatever came of it would not revolutionize the science, or even a minor branch of them, but it was also true that if she were able to go through with it – even a part of it – it would be as fine a piece of descriptive sciences as any. It would be enough; as an alibi for a life, it would do; she would not need to apologize for how she had spent her time on this earth.


The passage was taken from Amitav Gosh’ The Hungry Tide (2004), page 126-127, as Piya the heroine contemplated her way of life onboard a simple and rustic fishing boat. Piya was an Indian-descendant American, a cetologist, who did research on riverine dolphins in the Sundarban, the great mangrove forest regions in the Bay of Bengal, between India and Bangladesh.

Interestingly, the book is not only about the life of a cetologist who is out of place in her own ancestral country. In line with Gosh’ previous book (The Glass Palace), the book also talked about India’s socio-politics, notably during the problems of India and Bangladesh way back in the 70s. But Hungry Tide is not merely about social conflicts. It’s also about respect, showing how Hindus and Moslems of the Sundarban worships similar deities while retaining their traditional believes. It’s also about love that bloomed between Piya, a woman of science and Fokir, a man of the sea, an ordinary crab fisher, with the modern and dashing Kanai – typical smart Indian guy he was – in the middle.