Sunday, November 1, 2015

Makeup and Skincare: On Expiration Date

In the wake of my mom’s complaining on how all of Hada Labo alpha-gokujyun products sold in Bintaro Xchange were nearing their expiration date, I checked all of my skincare products for their expiration date. I was disappointed to find that all of the Hada Labo products I was using, including one night cream which I intended to use after I run out of my current night cream, were nearing their expiration date as well. The night cream will be expired in three months! I immediately switched my night cream so that I can use it for at least 2.5 months. Meanwhile, most of the skincare products I have will not be expired before late 2016 or 2017. That should be relieving for now, though that also means I have to actively use them as effectively as possible before they are expired.

I am very concerned about expiration dates that I cringed when I read how someone, a beauty blogger, kept a really good liquid eyeliner for 2 years after being opened for a few times. I mean, I know it is really good… I like that eyeliner too… but keeping it for years while their average lifespan is about 6 months… *cringes again*. Everybody, please do not do that, especially if you suppose to be a role model for some make-up enthusiasts and younger girls learning makeup out there.

Since not every product mention their expiration date explicitly, and sometimes the expiration date is covered by some sticker containing translated product ingredients and the product’s exporter name and address (YES I am talking about you, The Body Shop Indonesia!), here is the compiled information on the average lifespan of some kinds of makeup:
  • Foundation: 1-2 years
  • Mascara: 3 months
  • Liquid Eyeliner: 6 months
  • Lipstick: 18 months - 2 years
  • Pencil Eye/Lip liner: 1-3 years
  • Eyeshadow: 18 months - 3 years
  • Powder: 18 months - 2 years
  • Blush on: 18 months
Please replace them A.S.A.P once they begin to smell weird and or show some texture changes, even if their expiration date is still a while away. I know that can be difficult to accept because we love our make up so much we do not want to part with them. What a trial of our life. Reality bites, and nothing is eternal. Anyway, I also put little sticky labels containing information on expiration date on almost every makeup and skincare products that will expire a few months after being opened.

After the recent finding I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I learned that I must not keep too many spare skincare products in my stash. I will only keep one per kind of product, e.g. one spare serum; one spare emulsion; one spare night cream; etc. I also learned that I have to be constantly reminded to check the expiration or manufacture year when buying any makeup and skincare products. I have to make sure that their expiration date is at least 2 years after buying.

Since I became aware of the risks of using expired makeup and skincare products, I abandoned the thought that I should save the best products for special occasions instead of using them up almost daily. For me, having them expired without being used often is more wasteful than using them up. The difficult part is that nowadays I want to buy a new lipstick every so often. There is just so much temptations, so many brands to try, and the trending lipsticks look so interesting (despite that I am not really into matte lipsticks that are trending nowadays - they look so dry! I thought glowy and moist look was trending a short while ago). It may be true that one cannot get enough lipstick, but sometimes we gotta rationalize our acts for good and fight back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Light Novel Review: June

Title ジュン (June)
Author/Circle ekakun
Genre slice of life, supernatural
Length 49
Self-published (approx.) 2014

I am not sure when did I start to buy more light novels than original manga or doujinshi in doujin market events such as Comifuro, Cocoon Festival, AFAID's Creator's Hub, or artists' booths at cultural conventions such as Popcon Asia or Hello Fest. Despite not being among the most common product in those market events, they usually take most of my expense there, followed by some original art prints (traditional art prints, especially ones done in watercolours, are my weakness) and a few fanart keychains. June must be one of the first light novels I bought there, besides a couple of light novels by Arief Rachman.

The theme of this light novel is interactions between the living and the dead. It is opened with a rather chaotic but peaceful morning of two neighbouring families, both with one child that seem to be close to each other despite their arguing every now and then. The girl, Junelia Alexandra, June, is a cheerful and energetic Francophile. The boy, Jun Miruzamu, is an anime otaku who conveniently lived under a Japanese name inspired by his dad's friend and a Japan-esque house. Lived, mind you. Turns out that Jun has been dead for a few months, but somehow remains a wandering ghost among his family and June. Somehow it is only his family and June that can see him. Why June though? Does she have any special meaning to Jun, or simply have a special ability to see ghost? One more mystery rose near the end of the light novel, when a little girl made him visible when she holds his hand. Oh, and how that train ticket seller be able to see Jun? Is that a part of the mystery that suppose to happen here, or just one of a few inconsistencies detected in this light novel?

Unfortunately, this light novel has yet to answer the "why"s and "how"s. It seems to be the first of a few planned volumes. After a bit less than a year, I have not seen the continuation so far, though. I kind of hope that I will be able to read the continuation someday, when I have not completely forgotten about the first one at least *LOL*.

I also hope that the writing will be improved by then. As how I mentioned earlier, there is a few minor inconsistencies found in this light novel. First, of course, is the train ticket seller's ability to see Jun due to his special ability or just to make it convenient for the comical scene to work? Second, if June takes commuter trains every so often, why does she have to buy individual ticket instead of just getting the prepaid train pass? Last, at the beginning of the novel where Jun and June's family's peaceful morning is described, their fathers were portrayed to enjoy contrasting kind of coffee. Oh, wait, contrasting? Did cappuccino suppose to be the opposite of Arabica Coffee? LOL.

Despite the questions that remain unanswered and unpleasant experience of finding inconsistencies, I fairly enjoyed reading this light novel. I managed to finish reading it from start to end in about less than two hours. The author may have a quite long way to go, but I would say that this light novel is a good start.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Manga Review: The Scarlet Chair (Hiiro no Isu)

Title: The Scarlet Chair (Hiiro no Isu)
Author: Yuki Midorikawa
Genre: Shoujo, Drama
ISBN# 978-602-02-2320-9 (Volume 1)
Elex Media Komputindo 2013

I have to admit that I was confused the whole time I was reading this manga. First of all, I had a trouble on telling which characters are male and which characters are female. I had the same problem on Natsume Yuujinchou (and Mushishi actually, but that is out of topic). Maybe the mangaka does have an issue on that, or maybe the mangaka intended to imply a message that most personality traits are independent to gender – or something like that.

Second, I was confused with the whole conspiracy that is going on this manga. The story follows Setsu, a girl who seeks to meet Luca, the newly crowned kind who happens to be Setsu’s childhood friend in the countryside. Luca’s mother, the former king’s concubine, was exiled due to her being accused as a rebel. Turned out that Luca is the only child of the deceased king, thus he was summoned by one of the retainers to be crowned as the new king. However, the newly crowned king Setsu met in the capital city is not the Luca that she knew. Who is that king? What happened to the real Luca? What did actually happen to Luca’s mother, that she had to be exiled? Will Setsu be able to see Luca again?

Third, back to the difficulty of telling who is what, I also had a trouble telling who is who in some panels. Many characters look similar to each other, so I had to pay a close attention to their distinguishable characteristic. The king, especially, was difficult to tell apart from Setsu when they were together in a panel without having Setsu has her ponytail on. Sometimes the mangaka wouls show hints of gold on his hair color, but the other times he just look like a blonde, just like Setsu.

I have known Midorikawa Yuki through her strange heartwarming and bittersweet stories such as Natsume Yuujinchou and Hotarubi no Mori Ie. To be honest, I also expected this manga to be heartwarming or bittersweet. Maybe it is intended to be like that, considering the complicated nature of the relationship between the characters. Though, the confusion rose from reading this manga ruined the expected mood.

On the good side, I am happy to see many strong female characters in this manga. Seems that prominent female figures in the military are not uncommon in this manga’s realm. Besides the tomboyish Setsu who made a living from duels, there was Luca’s mother and her best friend. I like how the manga focuses more on the emotional bond between the characters, especially on friendship, rather than pointing out gender differences (role-wise). I also like how the relationships in this manga are more on friendship than romance. In addition, despite the difficulty to tell some of them apart, I like the complex characterization of each one in the manga. Almost each character, if not all, has their own story. This manga could be longer to explore each of them even more and make the whole story clearer, but overall I do not mind this story to be wrapped out in just three volumes either.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Book Review: Tiada Ojek di Paris by Seno Gumira Ajidarma

Title: Tiada Ojek di Paris (No Motor-Taxi in Paris)
Author: Seno Gumira Ajidarma
Length: 207 pages
ISBN# 978-979-433-846-9
Penerbit Mizan 2015

Seno Gumira Ajidarma (SGA) has been my favorite author since I was in junior high school. I enjoyed reading his works that ranged from literary journalism, magical realism, essays on sociopolitics and urban lifestyle, to adaptations of classic epochs such as Kitab Omong Kosong (Ramayana) and Nagabumi. He has been working on the latter, which usually resulted with super thick books that will keep us occupied for days to weeks.

Tiada Ojek Di Paris is the collection of his essays on urban lifestyle in Jakarta (not Paris, actually). Most of the essays were originally published in Djakarta! magazine, a lifestyle magazine that is usually provided for free at coffee shops in Jakarta, for the exchange of tons of ads. OOT speaking, the magazine used to be sold. It was when the magazine had much more interesting articles that we do not usually get in average lifestyle magazine. Ayu Utami, Nova Riyanti Yusuf, and Wimar Witoelar also used to contribute in the magazine. But the era keeps changing, I guess. Anyway. SGA’s essay is always the reason why I keep looking forward to pick up and read Djakarta! at fancy coffee shops in the city. Unfortunately, I do not hang out in the city every so often since I got a job just 15 minutes away from my home. I missed so many essays of him, and always looking forward to this kind of book where he put his essays altogether.

This book contains 44 essays that are mostly 3-4 pages long. In some essays, he provided some insights behind the urban social phenomena, analyze them using some theories on sociology; postmodern and cultural studies, or simply provided some social commentaries. In his other essays, he wrote about some prominent figures such as Pramoedya Ananta Toer and interpret some literary works related to Jakarta. He usually refer the people who reside in Jakarta as Homo jakartensis. I find a lot of his essays about the behavior of Homo jakartensis interesting, as how writings about urban life often have their charms for some poeple. However, there are also some essays that require us to read in cultural studies mind-frame, of which may not really easily “digested” by some readers. Having not read much about cultural studies for a long time, I found myself having to read some paragraphs a few times before getting the gist of them. There are also essays that sound pure grumpy (nyinyir, as how many Indonesian social media activists would put it), such as the one about how Homo jakartensis tend to spend their weekends and how we often ask people on where they came from in terms of area of origin/birthplace. In my opinion, those phenomena are not only happened in Jakarta.

Anyway, I like how SGA expressed his concern on how Homo jakartensis are so fixated with morning news and celebrity gossips (which are often packed in those so-called “infotainment” shows). For many Homo jakartensis, morning news is one vital part of their dailies. Heck, let alone morning news, many of them still believe that it is vital to know every single thing that were portrayed as “important issues” by the mass media. In the last essay, he also warned us that we should not fully trust the mass media. Their increasingly commercial framework has sacrificed the readers’ rights to access actual news by magnifying the less-important news that can be more engaging, while neglecting the actually important news. For example, we can see that there is an increasing number of news covering the so-called celebrities’ private life and sensational scenes from social media such as Twitter; Facebook and Path. What do we gain from from following and paying attention to those trashy news? Well apparently, reading online news sites such as news can raise your prestige as a well-informed one. I find myself relating to this concern in this front, as I find this phenomena constantly occurring in my social circle. I also shared his concern with the notion of car ownership as the symbol of success in Indonesia. 

There are some citations inserted to credit the source of theories SGA used for his analysis. Unfortunately, there is no bibliography/daftar pustaka page that would be useful if we want to look up further to the sources. SGA most likely had inserted the bibliography at the end of each corresponding essay on its initial publishing at Djakarta!, but the published seemed to had cut and overlooked it. Which is quite a shame for Mizan, as the publisher; and risky for SGA, as an intellectual who should have been familiar with the ethics on quoting and citing. Should this book gets any reprint, I hope Mizan and SGA will consider to address this error. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review: The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

Title: The Magic of Reality (Sihir Realitas)
Author: Richard Dawkins
Illustration by Dave McKean
Length: 269
ISBN# 978-979-91-0852-4
Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia 2015

It has been ages since I bought a non-fiction, let alone a scientific non-fiction (I had my days when I read heaps of books on socialism). I have my regret that I did not bought those Selidik National Geographic series that tell about history of different ancient civilizations, now that some (if not most) of them have been sold out. When I saw this amazing book by Richard Dawkins, loaded with interesting illustrations by Dave McKean, I knew I could not miss this book.

If I am not mistaken, this is the second book by Richard Dawkins that have been translated to Bahasa Indonesia. Maybe third, considering that I have seen the Indonesian version of The Selfish Gene by another publisher ages ago. Though I guess that it was just a summary, because it is so thin in pocket size. Anyway, I kind of doubt that all of his books will be translated in Bahasa Indonesia, considering the advocacy of atheism he implicitly inserted in his books. Apparently even some parts in the Indonesian version of River Out of Eden were censored, although I am not really sure on that. Just something my old friend guessed long time ago.

Dawkins opened this book by the two subjects on the title, reality and magic. He elaborated reality and how to tell reality from imagination, myth and assumptions using scientific methods. Then he elaborated magic, and stressed on the poetic magic of reality. In the next chapters, he presented some myths and folk stories that tried to answer some fundamental questions that became the title of each chapter. then he elaborated some scientific theories that explain the answer to those questions and sometimes counter the myths. As a former science and biology student in high school and college, I am familiar with many of the theories explained in this book. However, I am amazed by Dawkins’ explanation on sleep paralysis and false memory syndrome to encounter the myth on alien abduction and ghosts like incubus, succubus, old hag, or the “ketindihan” phenomena in my country.

What I like the most about this book - besides the interesting illustrated format - is Dawkins’ storytelling style to elaborate the theories he presented. I always had problem on understanding how atom works when I learned it at school. Dawkins’ answer made it so much more understandable. Now if only it can be presented in much less words, it would be great for pre-teens and teens who are struggling to understand it at school. This book would already great for them who are keen to read more, though. As a member of a society that is not commonly trained to read on regular basis, I can find myself too lazy to read even this nicely illustrated book.

  • The transitional paragraph between page 21 and 22 seems to be cut.
  • The transitional paragraph between page 126 and page 128 also seems to be cut (page 127 is fully in illustration).
  • Page 254. “Mengganggu bila memang b terjadi” may suppose to be “Mengganggu bila memang benar terjadi”, since there was no b variable given and described earlier. 
  • Translation issue:
    Page 256, “kesaksian gadis-gadis ini menyebabkan nyaris dua puluh orang digantung”.
    The use of the word “nyaris” made me almost thing that the Salem Witch Trial’s accused witches were just almost executed rather than actually were executed, if only I did not look up the reference about it. The words’ arrangement still makes sense, though. It is just rather confusing. Maybe the use of the word “hampir” would be less confusing. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Anime Review: Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku, Oregairu Zoku in short, may be one of the most awaited sequels in anime world. I began to watch this sequel that has been long awaited with a hope that I would see more of Hikigaya Hachiman’s epic wisdom as an outcast. I had been waiting for quite a long time that I forgot where it had left off. Thankfully, this sequel began by refreshing our memory on how the prequel left off. Some unpleasant talk with Hayama, I see. Not something too noticeable not to forget, I see. So the sequel began.

It began with the Service Club having its usual rhythm: Yuigahama enthusiastically talking about her day, Yukinoshita calmly listening, and Hachiman sitting from a significant distance to where his club partners usually sit. Then a request would come, and they would be discussing on whether they should take the request or not. If they agree to take the request, they would immediately set a preliminary discussion on how they would solve the problem.

Unlike the episodic nature of the prequel, this series consists of three main arcs, two of them ended with love confession attempts. Maybe three. I am not really sure about the last arc though. Does that make romance more prominent than the other elements such as comedy and friendship drama? At least I did not see it that way, and this series remained to be more about high school life as a whole rather than one specific theme or two.

Anyway, all of the arcs drove me quite mad. Not because the confession results or whether any ship becomes canon or not, but more because of the majority of the characters inside. Some of the characters are openly plain annoying, some are bloody indecisive and change their mind every few days to hours, some are simply pretentious, and the usually calm and collected Yukinoshita was acting like she expects everyone (Hachiman especially) to read her mind. In the first season, I had an impression that Yuigahama was among the less likable characters because she seemed flat (character-wise... *coughs*) and just went along with the flow. However, she is among the characters I truly respect now. She always try her best in her role as a bridge between the characters, and between the groups.

I guess that is indeed relevant to the central theme of this series, though. And it is completely realistic, I assume. At least I remember encountering similar treats during my junior high school to college days. In some cases, I found some of those traits in my past self. In some other cases, I found some in my peers, making me an annoyed or possible troubled outcast like Hachiman.

I wished for Totsuka and the chuunibyou guy (he was not shown much that I keep forget his name!) to show more. But now I realize that their appearance may would not contribute much to the story since on the contrary, they seem not to have much issue about themselves and their peers. They are doing fine with their quirks and how people perceive them. They have nothing to pretend.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this series. As how I mentioned earlier, I got annoyed by many of the characters. In addition, I feel quite clueless about the open ending. My reaction when I saw the last seconds of this series was pure "????? is that it? what". Will this series continue so that I can see how they will go through such communication problem? Or should we read the light novel that has no official English or Bahasa Indonesia translation yet? Personally, I would rather read the printed copy if there is any that I can read.

Despite being annoyed many times with this series, I like how its speaks for many audiences, whether through Hachiman or through other characters such as Hayama or Yuigahama or anyone else. It speaks for different types of outcasts (cynical type, too-perfect-to-be-true type, chuunibyou type..). It speaks for popular guys who can get tired from living up people’s expectations. It speaks for the clique of averages who want to maintain the status quo of their group friendship. This is why this series is so much celebrated among its viewers.

According to my attitude towards selfies and group-fies, I have to say that I am more like Hachiman. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Review: Maya by Ayu Utami

Title: Maya
Author: Ayu Utami
Length: 232 pages
ISBN# 978-979-91-0626-1
Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia 2013

Maya is the third book of the Bilangan Fu series by Ayu Utami. This book is also linked to the Saman dwilogy that were published in early 2000s. During the read of this book, I tried to answer the question on whether we should read the previous books or it can be read as a standalone or without chronological order. Apparently it is the second and third option, but I felt the need to refresh my memory on the previous books’ plot as I began reading it. Later I found out that its position is as the transition between the Saman dwilogy to the Bilangan Fu series. But anyway, worry not, the beginning of this book would tell you the gist of what happened earlier.

This book is divided to three sections: Kini (present), Dulu (past), and Kelak (future). Kini was opened in a melancholic mood of Yasmin Moningka. In 1998, when The Reformation Era was just about to begin in Indonesia, she received three mails from Saman. Saman is a former priest who abandoned his faith after he got involved in some social resistance movements in South Sumatera. Saman was among the activists that were considered missing in the last years of The New Order Era. His story can be read in the first book of the Saman dwilogy, of which title uses his own name. The three mails Yasmin received contained three letters in Javanese and one gemstone which apparently shows the image of two Semars.

Yasmin met Maya, a midget albino dancer from the Saduki Clan that performed Ramayana shadow dance after hew meeting with Suhubudi. Suhubudi is a mysticism expert with whom Yasmin consulted about the three letters and gemstone she received from Saman. Some parts of this book portrays Maya’s view of the world as a midget albino. While the Ramayana shadow dance liberated her from her (apparently) hideous figure to the servant of beauty, the introduction of the world outside the Suhubudi compound brought her a shocking change of her paradigm. It was like how Adam and Eve was shocked by the exposure of knowledge after they tasted The Forbidden Fruit. This shows how different individuals would perceive the taste of new knowledge differently. Some will reach with enthusiasm and excitement, longing to know more. Some others will react with shock and terror. There are also some others who react with doubt or apathy. In Maya’s case, she was terrified. She was terrified by people’s unsympathetic reaction to her unusual figure. She was terrified to find that Ramayana is not originally from Java, that the purification of Sita was considered taboo among the Javanese in the ancient time. Furthermore, she was terrified that Semar, whom she idolizes, was not celebrated in the outside world as how the Saduki Clan and her celebrate him.

Dulu features more about Saman, Parang Jati, and their relationship. It was when the AMD (ABRI Masuk Desa - ABRI in the village) program was implemented and the farmers were required to plant the IRRI rice seeds to support the Swasembada Pangan (food self-sufficiency) program. We were shown the dark side of those development programs that a lot of ahistorical Indonesians long to return today, as well as the mysticism behind The New Order’s legitimacy. I am not sure whether the mysticism behind The New Order part is true though. It also presents some moments between Saman and Yasmin, and a bit about Larung Lanang, the character that becomes the title of the Saman dwilogy’s sequel.

Kelak emphasized how Maya was conflicted and terrified after the exposure of knowledge happened in Kini. Meanwhile, the Reformation movement started to emerge. Parang Jati decided to take a part in the student’s movement to end Soeharto’s regime, despite that he is still on duty to guard Yasmin and her daughter from something that is after the gemstone Yasmin carried. It was the first time Parang Jati acted without Suhubudi’s approval. Unfortunately, that was also the first time an incident happened under his responsibility. What will happened to Yasmin and her daughter? Why is the gemstone targeted? How will Maya overcome her internal conflict after she tasted The Forbidden Fruit? And most importantly, how is Saman doing now? Did he survive as a missing person?

Compared to Ayu’s other books, Maya is remarkably rich in melancholy. There are Yasmin’s search of Saman’s trace, Maya’s struggle to overcome her physical limitations and deal with the shocking exposure of knowledge, Saman’s spiritual struggle, and Parang Jati’s guilt. Meanwhile, as how her other books are, this book is also rich with historical reference and Ayu’s interpretation to those references. In this case, she interpreted Ramayana and the role of Semar as the Saduki Clan’s patron.

I always like the mystic atmosphere Ayu created in her texts. Sometimes it would cause your heart to beat faster and tremble. Sometimes it would grasp your heart, crush your feeling. The part when Bandowo lost his right hand broke my heart and made me want to stop reading for a few minutes to dive in the sadness. There are also some new-to-me facts presented, including how the Javanese used towritelikethis in the past. It reminds me of an old friend that likes to write in that manner on blogs and social media. Could it be related to that fact?

At the end of this book, Ayu provided some credits on the source materials she used during the research for this book. As usual, the book made me want to explore the ancient epochs from India that were adapted to create the Javanese feel. I would recommend this book to the historical fiction enthusiasts, especially if you have read the Saman dwilogy. Anyway, it is interesting that I finally this book with a bit about the myth of the Semar gemstone just when the gemstone fever is happening in Indonesia!

This review is an entry for 100 Hari Membaca Sastra Indonesia by lustandcoffee.