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Cycling in Melbourne-Part 1- Chinatown

Oh my God, watercolor, you can be so hard to govern you’d make Bakunin jealous.

I finally finished the first in my ‘Cycling in Melbourne’ series of artworks. I can’t say I am thoroughly satisfied, but at a point you just have to stop before you do more damage.

Cycling in Melbourne - Chinatown

This one is inspired by Melbourne CBD’s ‘Chinatown’ district, which extends from roughly one end of Little Bourke Street to the other.

My Favourite NOFX Song

If someone asked me what my favourite NOFX song was, the top-of-my-head answer would probably be Linoleum.

NOFX in Melbourne, 2014

NOFX in Melbourne, 2014

Not that I think it has the best lyrics – Franco Un-American has better lyrics. And for tunes, I actually like Liza and Louise or The Brews more.

It probably has to do with the fact that it was the first song they played in their first gig in Indonesia seven years ago, in 2007.

I can’t remember how many attended that concert, but an online report says it was about 5.000.

In a city of around 20 million, it wasn’t that much. But it was more about the sheer excitement of seeing a major punk band that the audience have been listening since they were in their early teens.

Back then, there had not been many international punk bands holding concerts in Indonesia, and I still can’t imagine how exciting it would have been for major fans of NOFX.

As I did not manage to get there super early, I wasn’t anywhere close to the stage, so I think there were about 3.000 people between me and the band, plus barricaded area in front of the stage.

So in a typical scenario, that would ensure me being untouched by whatever slamming, pushing or other shenanigans going on in the mosh/circle pit.

But when the first tune played, and yeah, I am pretty sure it was Linoleum, I felt myself being pushed backwards and basically swallowed by waves of human bodies. I can only imagine what it was like near the stage, but if I could feel the impact from that distance, it must be pretty mad.

I recently had a chance to watch NOFX again, this time in a closed venue in Melbourne, with probably a third, if not less, of the number of audience in the Jakarta gig.

It was sweaty, and packed as well, but this time there was a much bigger chance for me to get closer to the stage, and that I did.

Also, I have learned from experience that as a woman, mosh pits in Melbourne are generally safer compared to Jakarta. there are more women in Melbourne’s mosh pits, to begin with, and so far no one tried to grope me. Maybe things are better now in Jakarta, I don’t really know.

But I certainly got a better view of the band playing this time, and was more able to express my appreciation for their set (by jumping around and getting shoved, body-slammed, and headbutted) better as well.

So that was good.

But of course nothing can replace that gig in Jakarta, when half of my excitement was actually fueled by the awe and excitement of my friends.

It was a shame that there were some ugly rumors and happenings surrounding that concert. It was badly organized, for a start, and the waiting time for the gate to open was too long. I heard that there were troubles with their gig in Bali as well. My guess is the event organizers were young, reckless, and did not bother to check in with the scene.

Ah well, that is in the past. See? I am having trouble remembering the bad stuff yet getting all nostalgic with the good ones.

Furniture Refurbishing

A work situation (several work situations actually) ended up with me coming home with a number of things from the office, including two wooden shelves.

I have always wanted to try decorative painting on wood, so that was my chance. After lots of acrylic and varnish, here are the results.

The first one, I was aiming for a moroccan tile look, but it somehow ended up looking a bit like a batik pattern (sigh)

Note: Batik is a special fabric dyeing technique from Indonesia. you can see samples and learn more about that here.

P1020001shelf 1 diagonal

 

 

 

 

Wooden shelf 1 front view

front view

 

 

 

 

 

I decorated the second one below with the classic Japanese wave picture plus some cherry blossoms.

 

Shelf 2 side view

 

 

front view

front view

 

 

 

 

P1020007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think?

By the way, the first shelf has been sold but the second one is still available for 12 AUS$. If you are interested and you live in Melbourne, do get in touch! You can leave a comment, use the contact form, or contact me via Instagram: @dinainds

:)

Forgotten Worlds in Collingwood

Being in a bar when you don’t drink alcohol can be a bit of a bore. I do have a few bars I actually enjoy being in, thanks to other factors at play there, such as the food or the music. Examples in Melbourne are the Pinnacle in Fitzroy North – good food and interesting DJs and live music, Grumpy’s Green in Fitzroy (Nice stage and all eco-friendly with used materials and lots of Vegan options), and The Grace Darling hotel. I am adding another one to the list, and this one is quite special really, to the point that it might just be sitting on top of it. The name is Forgotten Worlds, and it is nestled in Johnston Street, Collingwood. It has plenty of stuff that may be too weird for others but made it work well for me. Forgotten Worlds sign First of all, FW’s interior channels a specific point in time, in which geometric, flat, pastel desk lamps-and other furniture for that matter- are considered cutting edge and analog answering machines are hi-tech. Being my age and from a developing country, I actually remembered thinking that they were, at one point in my life, classy and cool. So it’s an interesting sensation.   Second, I have been in a situation where I think a coffee-or even tea- would be GREAT, at least, to make me more tolerant of the drunken chatter and state of minds of the people I am with. But, alas, the bar doesn’t have any coffee or tea, or they refuse to make one because its past that hour. The same goes for food. And it is a pain in the derriere to go out of the bar to actually look for those things. espresso But not in the Forgotten Worlds.

As long as the bar is open, the espresso machine is too. Since it is an (drum roll) Arcade/Bar/Espresso joint! I am not a coffee snob so can’t do a detailed explanation or critic of the soy latte I had. But it is certainly better than what I can whip up. And next door is a pizza place from which you can order munchies of your choice – pizza, kebabs, chips, even dessert. All right, its not ultra healthy, boutique cuisine, but hey it’s actually open till 11. I think they’ve made a great decision of skipping the food but providing coffee till late hours. It’s not so much pressure on the bar staff and less messier. But that might cause them to be quite dependent on Angelo’s (the pizza place). Forgotten Worlds interior 2

And now let’s move to the first element: Arcade. FW has several arcade machines, including Street Fighter (of course), Mortal Kombat, a shooting one, and..Golden Axe. Oh dear, what a throwback that was. The Street Fighter machine was, alas, broken, during my visit, and I have never been good at Mortal Kombat. But Golden Axe was fun.

I would suggest that they provide more games/rotation of games, and maybe more games that are not necessarily arcade ones. What about comic books? board games? pinball?

Forgotten World Interior

Courtney Love in Festival Hall, Melbourne – As Raw as it Gets

Courtney Love in Festival Hall, Melbourne – As Raw as it Gets

courtney love

I don’t think anyone can say they have seen ‘raw’ performances until they have seen that of Courtney Love.

Let’s spare you, kind reader, of how old I was when I started listening to Hole, but I can tell you that Live Through This have been quite a big part of my teenage years, first finding its way to my hands from quite an idiosyncratic friend of mine.

As with many songs and albums, my appreciation of Hole’s and Courtney Love’s have changed over the years. As far as my memory allows me, I am conscious that I now react differently both to their music and lyrics. I am pretty confident that ‘Northern Star’ moves me in a way I don’t think it could have back then, and while I still love ‘Jennifer’s Body’, I have a newfound appreciation for ‘Gutless”s riffs.

It probably has to do with the fact that I am now about as old as Love when she wrote those songs.

As amazing as it would have been had I watched Hole back in the 1990s, it was not to be. But I managed to catch Courtney Love when she came to Melbourne recently.

What was it that I mentioned about rawness? Right. Imagine this amazing presence appearing in front of you and then proceeded to captivate you both through her striking physique (she is larger than life literally as well) and just her… wholeness.

Watching Love perform, I do not just see self-confidence (which, of course, oozes out of her like juice from an over-ripe watermelon), I see sadness, goofiness, anger, sexiness, strength, and just this amazing femininity…it is almost like this woman does not want to, and does not know how to, keep her cool, and, as so many people have said before, it is possible indeed to love her or hate her to pieces.

courtney love

I loved it.

On to the technicalities, the sound was a bit stumbling at first, but improved quickly. As I did not read any detailed concert reviews before going, I found myself pleasantly surprised, especially with ‘Gold Dust Woman’. ‘Gutless’ was played, so was ‘Rockstar’ (Ha, yeah, I agree with Ms. Love. That is quite a funny choice), some new ones of course, such as ‘You Know My Name’.

One thing that can be improved is my position. I wish I had gotten there earlier, so as to get my ass front and centre of the stage and requested ‘Never Gonna Be the Same’ and maybe exchange a word or two with that gorgeous woman.

Great show, even if the venue was a bit impractical.

The Amazing Usagi-chan!

As my previous post suggests, I am quite fond of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon series. A lot of people have written about how awesome this series is, and how it is so ahead of its time, so likeable and empowering, especially for girls.

So now I want to write about the main character, Usagi Tsukino herself, whose other identity is, of course, Sailor Moon. But I will in fact distance her from her Sailor Moon or Princess Serenity character and argue against a zero-to-hero depiction of Usagi-chan, because I think she is already amazing without having to be Sailor Moon. 

This piece has also been published in ShojoPower, which is quite an interesting website as well. The website master also helped choose and place the pictures used here. Thank you, Anne Lee!

How many of us has heard this description of the Sailor Moon storyline? “Usagi Tsukino, a junior high school crybaby, met a black cat named Luna and then…”

That is probably the easiest way to begin the story, but I find it over-simplifies the character of Usagi. This is evident in the wikia page as well, which says she is ‘Somewhat immature and a crybaby upon introduction, she slowly matures over the course of the series and learns how to make decisions for herself as well.’ 

There is no denying that Usagi is a crybaby. Her crying is actually part of her power (remember the supersonic waves and the crystal forming from her teardrop?). Even when she ceases to be a crybaby as she matures, she is still very much a sentimental person. I find there is so much more to Usagi as simply herself–before she discovers her identity as Princess Serenity or even Sailor Moon.

Standing beside the genius Ami, the domestic goddess Makoto, the boisterous Minako and the psychic, mature Rei, Usagi’s character can be overshadowed. It can be tempting to apply that simple ‘zero to hero’ formula to her. Her destiny is already so huge, what with saving the planet and all!

But destiny aside, the crybaby actually has commendable traits of her own,  apart from her identity as a sailor guardian and princess. In fact, these traits are quite enviable:

  1. Not one for prejudice.

Usagi simply likes to be with people. She is curious about them, likes to get to know more about them, and, if they are not a pain in the ass or are trying to kill her and everyone she loves, well, she likes them fine. The biggest evidence for this is the fact that Usagi plays the biggest role in bringing the sailor guardians together–and keeps them together. While the other students are scared of Ami’s brains and Makoto’s strength, she approached them, thinking, ‘They can’t be that bad, can they?’

A screenshot from Sailor Moon Crystal with Usagi hugging Ami and saying "Mizuno-san, you are awesome!"

Instead of being jealous of Rei’s looks, she follows her around because she is so interested! How many people can do that? Of course we also see that Rei doeshave a lot of female fans, so it is probably a cultural thing as well. 

It’s not that the other guardians are unfriendly. Minako can be a bit too friendly but there is a certain open-mindedness that Usagi has, that is either naïve, wise, or both. 

She is not competitive, and can easily accept that people can be prettier, stronger, and smarter than her, as long as they can get along with her, and perhaps rub their good traits on her. 

It could be that she simply doesn’t bother thinking too much and does not over-analyze things. I find it hard, especially as I grow older, to maintain that open-mindedness. I tend to judge, label, and not bother with certain people, and stick to those I feel I would get along better with. I wish I was more like Usagi.

2. Accepting

As I mentioned before, Usagi is not really a competitive person. This is probably a part of her whole attitude of taking it easy. For most of the story, we tend to see this trait as something that makes her simply easygoing and likeable, even a bit careless since it can lead to bad marks and being late for school.

But the final battle portrays her ability to accept things as they are to be of immense power. In my opinion, this attitude reflects a deep spiritual outlook of the world. The bad comes with the good, and you will always have to deal with them, no matter how hard they are, and at one point you might lose everything, only to make way for the future. And, as Mamoru says, Usagi is the type of person who can accept that.

3. Giving a hand

Clumsy as she is, Usagi is ready and willing to help others in need, be them her best friend, Naru, the other sailor guardians or Mamoru. A black cat wants the band-aids removed from her forehead? Usagi to the rescue! (OK, she ended up being late to school, but…poor kitty! Right?)

At times, she jumps in without much preparation and ends up regretting her decision, but that spontaneous impulse to help is most admirable. Now, won’t the world be a better place if we help each other? 

The Final Battle

All these traits are portrayed much more profoundly in the final scenes in Sailor Moon, where Usagi faces the bitter Galaxia and Chaos, her wings destroyed, and many of her loved ones have seemingly perished. 

Finally, when all is almost lost, she realizes the nature of the situation and her enemies and why is it that there seems to be a constant war surrounding her. They did, after all, come from the same source and beneath their animosity, they actually want to be united with her. Usagi then decides to embrace her enemies, embrace destiny, and jumps into the cauldron, where stars are born, to save her friends, not heeding her own fate and safety.

Aside from Mamoru, it is her ultimate enemy, Sailor Galaxia, who realizes this amazing ability to accept the losses along with the gains, and the good along with the bad, yes, even the really, really bad. 

Manga panel from Missdream.org. Sailor Galaxia wonders if Sailor Moon is the soldier who embraces all.

A crybaby she is, but Usagi is no zero waiting to be a hero.  

Rara Djonggrang Interpretation

Roro Djonggrang

Made as part of the website design for Tiger Stone, a novel by Deryn Mansell. 
A short description of the book taken from the website:
“It’s a mystery adventure set in 14th century Java. The story follows the exploits of Kancil, a girl who takes refuge in a remote inland village after she and her mother are hounded from their coastal home by an angry mob. The villagers, however, have their own prejudices and Kancil must pretend to be mute to hide her coastal origins. “

Roro Djonggrang, or Rara Jonggrang, is a character in a Javanese folk tale. 

The tale, as told in Wikipedia: 

“The legend tells the story about two ancient and neighbouring kingdoms in Java, Pengging and Boko.

Pengging was prosperous, and wisely ruled by its king Prabu Damar Moyo who had a son named Bandung Bondowoso. By contrast, Boko was ruled by a cruel man-eating giant named Prabu Boko, supported by another giant Patih Gupolo. Despite his unpleasant nature, Prabu Boko had a beautiful daughter named Rara Jonggrang.

The story relates that Prabu Boko desired to expand his kingdom, and so began training an army and raising taxes for an invasion of Pengging. His forces launch a surprise attack on Pengging, and the ensuring war causes devastation and famine on both sides. In order to defeat the invader, Prabu Damar Moyo sends his son Bandung Bondowoso to fight Prabu Boko. After a furious battle, Prabu Boko is killed by the prince’s supernatural powers. His assistant, the giant Patih Gupolo, leads his armies away from the battlefield in defeat.

Returning to Boko Palace, Patih Gupolo tells princess Rara Jonggrang of the death of her father. The princess is heartbroken, but before she can recover from her grief the Pengging army besieges and captures the palace. Prince Bandung Bondowoso is mesmerized by the beauty of the mourning princess and propose marriage, but his offer is swiftly rejected. Bandung Bondowoso insists on the union, and finally Rara Jonggrang agrees on two impossible conditions: first the prince must build a well named Jalatunda, and second, he must construct a thousand temples in only one night.

The lovestruck prince agrees, and immediately starts work on the well. Using his supernatural powers once again, the prince swiftly finishes construction and proudly displays his work for the princess. As a trick, she urges him to enter the well and when he does so, Patih Gupolo piles stones into it and buries him alive. With great effort Bandung Bondowoso escapes, but his love for the princess is so strong that he forgives her the attempt on his life.

To fulfill the second condition, the prince enters into meditation and conjures up a multitude of demon spirits from the earth. With their help he builds the first 999 temples and starts work on the final one. To thwart his efforts the princess and her maids light a fire in the east and begin pounding rice, a traditional dawn activity. Fooled into thinking the sun is about to rise, the spirits flee back into the earth leaving the last temple unfinished.

The prince is furious when he learns of this deception, and places a curse on Rara Jonggrang which turns her into a stone statue. In this way she herself becomes a feature of the final temple, completing its construction and fulfilling the conditions for their marriage.”

Now, Rara Jonggrang is supposed to play a part in Tiger Stone as well, although I am not quite sure in what form or how…

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