Blogger Press Release


Three important things happened today.
  1. I purchased a domain: http://hning.asia/ . I'm still in the moving process, hopefully by next month you can go immediately to that link and find me. Why .asia, you might ask?
    • Because Hning.com is already taken.
    • Because I'm understatedly proud of my Asian roots, and most of this blog's resources and references come from there. Yeah, Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, India, Japan, and Indonesia are all in Asia, folks.
    • Because Hning.org was kind of obvious. That's why if you get confused and go from that address, you'd still be redirected to http://hning.asia/

  2. This blog has been rewarded with acknowledgement and a prize. Jonathan Mead from Illuminated Mind sent me his eBook, Reclaim Your Dreams because I got to reach 1000-visit traffic mark this month, for the first time ever!

  3. I'll review the book as soon as I'm done reading it. Promise.
  4. The Timekeeper told me that I'm genetically and genealogically doomed, since I descended from a strong line of witches and tyrants. Crap!

Trying to balance between the two uppity feelings and the serious downer from the Timekeeper at the end of the day kinda took a toll on my linguistic fluency; I'm spent.

But I just had to come here to give you those updates and tell you how very, very thankful I am to have your presence and support here all this time, throughout my ramblings, swings and vicious remarks. This blog wouldn't have meant much without you coming here, and I wish I could say it to every single time that you visit.

Seriously. Thank YOU.
About the comic strip:
Adil, my other brother, took so much of his sweet time in getting that café of his finished. Gentole once commented here that middle children are often the ignored ones. The strip answers that claim. That's why! Ha!

And since I mentioned it, Cast N Crew Café is opening May 1st, 2009, in Najmat al Rawdah, Rawdah St., Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Check it out; from the look of it, it's worth the wait.

What the Elders Pray For

Photo credit, clockwise: Ian Cumming, Reza Webistan, David Sanger, P. Langworth.

"Aren't you ever afraid of dying?" I wept.
His feet, in my hands and anointed with oil; were black and blue from nightly vigils.

[Prayer takes a universal cost, whatever religion or place you may come from. The most sincere come from the elders; the most draining for the sake of the most ungrateful and unaware.]

If I were afraid, he said, I'd spend my life in fear and die. If I weren't, I'd be more relaxed, but the end result still won't change. Makes no difference.

But your feet…why bother doing this to yourself?

Because it's a nice thing to do. And the world lacks none of them.

Prayer?

No, young folks who are willing to massage their elder's feet.
Other posts on massage:
  • Massage for Beginners: Instructional Guide.
  • Massage.

  • Other posts on elders:
  • On Superstitions.
  • Lessons from the Inauguration.
  • Darah: Hers.
  • Massage for Beginners

    "On our honeymoon, we had quite a few Balinese massages in Bali. We felt very special. Sadly enough, my wife says that my hands are too hard. Got a remedy for that?" ~ Frogman
    ___
    Massage tend to make people feel special because it's not just time-and-chocolate-and-flowers kind of attention; it's wholesome attention minus the conditional satisfaction. It's automatic reciprocation: You gain as much as you give. That's why it's so much better than psychotherapy in improving the quality of life for both giver and recipient of the massage.

    About the Missus' complaints; it's probably not your hands to blame; It's never about sizes either, it's always about the way you do it. By all means, I could have the smallest and most callous hands on a masseuse, yet effective nonetheless.

    Lubricant:
    • For maximum health effect, natural oils like sesame and olive are great. Unfortunately, using only those will make both of you smelling like lettuce in a salad bowl. So, mix some sweet-smelling baby oil into your lubricant for aromatherapeutic kicks.

    • Heck, put some Vicks Vaporub for all-in-one benefits. Then watch where your hands go. NOT on your face!

    • Apply just the right amount of lubricants on your hands; not too much that it becomes slippery, not too little that you end up with scathed skin.

    • Before you touch anyone's skin rub your hands together to warm them up. You know how doctors warm their stethoscopes in their hands before tuning in to your your chest? Same idea here.

    • Wash your hands before and after a massage. Shamans believe that, as the massage giver, you are going to take in some of the recipient's illness through your hands. Washing your hands breaks the cycle.

    Technique:
    1. Massage givers, say your graces. Starting with Bismillah, Ohm, or anything that ends with Amen is A. Good. Thing.

    2. Both recipient and giver should not be too full or too hungry when massaging.

    3. Start any massage with caress. Massage is basically a step further from caress. Be compassionate to the person you are massaging. Don't massage when you're mad at the recipient. Keep your fingers open, but more importantly, your heart and senses.



    4. Go along the lines. Look at any muscular anatomy picture, and you'll get what I'm talking about. You don't need to know the details, just the major ones. While you're at it, avoid glandular areas and bones.

    5. Press with the base and side of your palm, using your body weight, not brawns. This saves the giver's energy, and lessens the stress on you hands.

    6. Unless you're sure about what you're doing, don't apply pressure with the tips of your fingers, elbow, knees, tailbone or feet (Yes, some of us have to!). At least not until you know your wife's pain threshold just from the sound of her breath.

    7. For muscular aches: Start stroking from the base of that aching muscle, to the end of it. For example: Bicep area, start from the shoulder to the elbows. Stroke downwards three times, then go the other way once. Repeat.

    8. For quick calm-me down: Get into a normal hugging position, then do this: Open your hands, and begin strokes from the base of the neck, towards the shoulders, from the base of the neck, to the small of her back, etc.
    9. For quick giddy-me-up: Scalp massage: Place your thumbs on both temples, the rest of your fingers on top of your head, then pull back so that your palms meet at the back in Namaste position. Increase pressure and add circular movements as you get better at it (see how base and sides of your hands can be so useful?).

    10. If those don't work, try here.

  • Oh, and practice on BabyFroggy too. Physical touch does wonders on kids.


  • Other posts on massage:
  • What Elders Pray For.
  • Massage.

  • Happy loving, and enjoy giving your massage.

    Usable Superstition

    "You have to believe in God before you can say there are things that man was not meant to know. I don’t think there’s anything man wasn’t meant to know. There are just some stupid things that people shouldn’t do." -David Cronenberg

    When I told the Timekeeper that Lulin was passing by our planet, he looked up the Javanese calendar with alarm.

    "It's coming on Rebo Wekasan," he said with relief, "on the last Wednesday of disaster season."

    Mockingly, "So does it cancel out the solar eclipse's effects on the Chinese New Year?"

    "No, but it lessens the impact from that."

    "With all due respect, sir, this..."
    […is coming from someone who has been highly educated in keeping detailed knowledge of astronomical movements. This is the Timekeeper; someone who knows the Qibla's position half-a-globe away just by sniffing the air, as well as the times for prayer just by looking at the shades. But to add astrology as part of his resume…]
    "…is just downright crazy!"

    "There are seasons for rice plantation, seasons for marriage, seasons for school, and even seasons for disasters. The Javanese calendar is congruent with Islamic calendar, which probably explains why disaster seasons in Javanese calendar concurs with Ash'hur Al-Haram. You remember that the Lord and His Prophet called off battles on these particular months? Basically these are the months where nature, including all the planets, go on periodic reshuffling. "

    All this were in the books? How am I supposed to believe this superstitious load?

    "You've seen enough supernatural beings in the last year to know the answer to that. You believe in what you cannot logically grasp the same way that you believe that every healthy compass in the world points North: A bit of faith to start with and a handful of rational testing to help along the way."

    If losing all credibility isn't the top of my worries, how do we make use of this, this, ah, baloney?

    "Like how you've always used your compasses: in preparation for your own death and destiny, in every prayer, in the benefit of mankind: A conscious act of worship."

    Aha. Totally explains everything, doesn't it?



    Similar Post Bordering on Deranged:

    Massage


    "Do you know how to give a massage?"

    He shook his head shyly, unfitting with their nakedness. The storm had passed, and now pain was setting in. Outside, if eyes were cast on them, shimmering in afterglow and satiety, they looked like children in after play. Innocent and unaware.

    "Your hands, like your mouth and eyes, can speak for your heart," She took him by the wrist, pressing a thumb into his palm; embedding her words deeper in his body than his mind. "Where, do you think, are the gates to your heart from your hands?"

    He told her.

    That's where you can inflict the least harm, and the most affection, she told him.

    She laid down on her stomach, her naked back to him. Press with them, she said, imagine that you can only speak to me through your hands. Synchronize your breath with mine. The deeper you breathe, the deeper you press. Make a wish that I get better with every time you press, and imagine your wish spreading under my skin, soothing my pain.

    Does it really work like that?

    Try it.


    Other posts on massage:
  • What Elders Pray For.
  • Massage for Beginners: Instructional Guide.
  • Let's Not Be Friends: 9 Reasons Why I Wouldn't Want to See You Anymore


    Imagine planning an intimate brunch with the people you adore. On top of the guest list is your BFF, your emergency contact, your uncle, your idols. They are the people you can really let your hair down with, which is why beer and pizza can be the only items on the menu; because sobriety and class aren't required in their presence.

    This list is about the people who did not make it to the invitation shortlist, much less should they ever see you with your hair down. Anymore, at least. See if you recognize anyone you know.

    Conflict of Interest
    • We hate each other's guts.
    • This is self-explanatory. Where does the idea of being friends fit if all we do is scheme for each other's miserable deaths?

    • We love each other too much.
    • So much that it's unhealthy. Maybe we just got out of a passionate relationship and we need to reassess our lives, a serious task that cannot be done if I can't hear my thoughts with you howling mournfully at the moon in the background.

    • We've broken up and your new lover is psychotic.
    • We keep nice and sparsely stay in touch because we have mutual friends and common interests. I'm sure you love your new companion, and the fact that she's psychotic says volumes about me and my taste in men, so I won't dwell on that. Yet, if on the rare occasions that I'm forced to contact you is going to cut me a customized voodoo doll, either you guys work it out or I vote for my kidneys and liver and stay out of your ways.

    Cease Fire Area
    • We work together.
    • Truth be told, Ally McBeal had to press involuntary vomiting every time she had to sit with her colleagues after work. Professionalism doesn't seem to sit right with Friendliness, or even Nice. Even if we're of equal levels. We might be friends outside the work environment, but within the office campus? I'll see you later. Post-retirement kinda later.

    • We live together.
    • In order for any house to remain standing, it has to have its bills paid, occupants cleaned, voices muffled, and odd smells subdued. It's easier if we come from the same living standards, but if one of us is an elf and the other is an anal junk-collector, we need to talk. Either that we straighten up and draw imaginary lines, or that one of us goes back to the kennel.

    • We feed off each other's bad habits.
    • When was the last time we were sober together? We have each other's drug dealers on speed dial. Hanging out with me triggers your smoking habit. Sure, Jack (Daniels) loves company, but new habits need new friends. I'd very much like not to OD again this week, hence, we'll stay off each other's backs for a while, until further moments of relapse and withdrawal occur. Maybe.

    Hot Zone
    • We're too different.
    • The proverb said: "Opposites attract, oddballs don't". You're a hardcore capitalist, whereas I'm a grassroot community hugger: You speaketh not my language. You enjoyeth not my food. You liketh not my place. You brought your onenightstand and did it in my room?! OUT!

    • We're too alike.
    • It's like being in a "Friends" episode rerun every time we meet; fun for the first couple of times, but mind-numbing after too many repeats. We dress alike, read the same books, love the same men, fight over the same last roll of weed. Most of the time we spend together is filled with arguments about what's mine and what's yours, and who owes the booker how much.

    • We're related.
    • Ha! This is one day going to backfire at you a bit, whichever way you do it. Which is exactly why they're never invited for brunch. You know the relatives (or in-laws) who make you cringe every time you're about to see them? The fact that they're your relatives is the only explanation why it's so hard for them to get off your case and not judge. Nobody's supposed to be better than other if they share the same genes, right? Kinda like my thing for my brother's success, but without the dark humor and insight.

    With that cleared up, we can all be friends again. So let's get this brunch going, shall we?

    Dealing with Envy: Second Cup

    The second cup of a two-courses article. Click here for the first cup.

    It isn't Greener on the Other Side

    We have this old espresso machine; single serving and makes great coffee when enough gallons of milk and sugar are added into it. As I prepared his Excellency's coffee, I heard the neighbors' voices, and the it's thought about them drove my envy awry.

    My neighbors next door consists of four households sharing a 200 meter-square house amongst twelve of its members. The adults are all unemployed, and live off the Timekeeper's charity. Their children can barely make it through high-school, much less even think about going to college.

    My neighbors might hear the sounds that our beat espresso machine makes every morning. They might hear us talk about how strong or bitter was our coffee. They might even be able to smell the distinct and rurally-rare scent of a cup of Java, frothing with cream and love.

    But they might never know how it actually tastes. Imagine their envy.

    Let's say that one day I felt nice from too much white guilt, and decided to share my coffee with the folks living next door. On that day, I'd either spend my entire coffee stock on them, or pay a very expensive electric bill by the end of the month. Either I share the coffee and forget about ever having it again (until I restock from Aceh and Jakarta), or that I mesmerize its essence a little longer, be grateful for yet another morning starting with that kind of excellence, say cheers and sip.

    Epiphany in Every Cup

    The conflict between keeping and giving my coffee to the tribe next door suddenly made my envy in Anggi seem trivial. Generosity and resources have their limits, and people do take each other for granted or might not even enjoy coffee like the Timekeeper and I. So even if I stretched all my resources thin, I really shouldn't be walking on the street offering coffee to the entire village, or sanatorium.

    By having my coffee today doesn't necessarily mean that I'm stingy or insensitive to the neighbors (I'm not flaunting about it elsewhere, aright?), it's just what I'm able to afford for the time being. Maybe tomorrow Anggi's going to have it instead of me. Who knows?

    [Besides, his success is causing the kind of euphoria that only Acehnese ganja can give; which is not a bad thing on its own, but in the formation of his future challenges. Anggi can kiss every single one of his small and simpler life-goals goodbye, because from now on, he's got to climb higher achievement mountains. Like lengthy feature films, or campaigning for the legalization of cinema in Saudi. Or signing contracts. Scary, man.]

    Heck I'm a severe underachiever to think that my brother's career is a fuss compared to my own barely robust blogging life. I get ecstatic over menial things like blog traffics and readership. If you are one of the thirty readers who come here every time I post, then consider yourself the best readers in the world from eyes of this blogger.

    If Anggi's goal next year is to have million movie viewers, then that's the only right goal for him. It won't make much sense if he expects 30 readers to come to his blog, not only because he doesn't have one, but also because that's just not his cup of coffee.

    Disparity of Luck, Brings Disparity of Wealth, Resulting in Disparity of Goals.
    When it comes to the dispersion of wealth and luck, it's a waste of time and energy trying to equate the amount received by all, rather than spend it in making the personal effort to tempt abundance by being grateful for what we already have. And we do have plenty. A simple life. A steady routine. Absence of judgmental relatives.

    As far as I'm concerned, I'm the one enjoying early morning routines with a cup of well-made coffee, in the company of someone who has proven himself consistently loyal and loving. Yes, to me.

    With whom I shared these thoughts with, by the way, and responded perfectly to be placed here, as this article's conclusion, "You look upwards only in matters that enrich your soul and mind, look downwards in matters that satiate your body. The body is meant only to be a vessel, not the destination, for which the mind should reach and the soul should transcend."

    Hence, instead of the tired Not-said-by-Antoinette proverb, I'd say,


    Cheers, mates.

    Dealing with Envy: First Cup

    The first cup of a two-courses article.

    I used to think that when my brother Adil was born, mama's love was halved. Then Anggi followed Adil, and I found out that I was wrong. Mama's love can't be measured or divided. It's wholesomely, completely for Anggi. So it's no surprise that all the while Anggi was in Dubai, I wanted to write him off my will; hell, no he ain't gonna get my swanky-macho diamond studded ring. That ring's going to OmArie, who's going to wear it on his nose.

    The Birth of Envy: A Sibling
    Let's start over. First, Anggi was born on 08-08-'88, which is standardized "very lucky" birth date by both Western and Eastern Superstitious Committees. If superstition is too hard to swallow, consider the birthday wishes and presents coming for years to come, since it's harder to forget a birthday when it's just single digit (8) repeated four times. Not to mention that he was born a guy, giving him another prenatal boost of social security and indulgence.

    Next, he's the youngest child. So when our parents were strict with me and badgering with Adil, they loved Anggi without inhibition. My mother never left out a word of endearment that isn't spent on Anggi, EVERY TIME she sees him, and they live together in the same house.

    [It's not so hard to recite mama's elaborate endearments for Anggi not skipping a beat, especially because it's NOT addressed to Adil and me: "Anggi is mama's hero, teddy bear, security blanket, knight in shining armor, most wonderful baby boy, most loving to his mama, most handsome little prince". ]

    After that, with so much love and acceptance to initiate his life, he goes on fantastic venture of being one of the first Saudi movie makers, and be rewarded heftily for it too.

    How to Be Estranged with Your Family: Covet


    Compare Anggi's life with mine. I was jinxed from the beginning. Being the firstborn, all of my parents' disappointments and stress and unfulfilled expectations in each other were vented on me.

    Besides, the effort was as futile as waiting for snow in the desert. Nothing could increase my chances for parental approval, despite acrobatic yoga postures, or languages perfected, or blogs maintained, or Aceh and Amman explored ever since our parents' attention was forever cemented in Anggi's ability to cry and suckle boobs from the tender age of 12 minutes old.

    Honestly? I'm deepest shades of green with envy when it comes to Anggi's privileges. And can I help it? Life is not fair.

    Why Is Envy Even A Sin?
    I use to wonder why the Bible counts envy as a deadly sin when it seems like an natural emotion, considering the diversity of luck that the Lord dispatched on earth. Then again, the Qur'an mentions witchcraft before envy, because casting voodoo spells seems like a natural thing to do after experiencing envy [HQ 113:4-5].

    Now, don't get me wrong. I'm happy for my little brother. We all are. I just didn't enjoy the initial feeling when a picture of his life was placed beside mine. I mean, don't YOU go through thoughts like that, when someone you consider equal jumps milestones infront of you? I think that's the other reason why envy is sinful: That it eats up on your soul, just like jealousy, but in the absence of a third person.

    See? Mentally, I knew I was envious, and I knew it wasn't right. I just didn't know how to get rid of the feeling; facing the emotional risk of being an underachiever when overachieved by her pip-squeek little brother. At least until I had breakfast with the Timekeeper on the next day. And remembered the impossibility in equal disparity of luck and success, and that life's too short for it.


    How short? Short enough to have my back starting to hurt. I'm sure both you and I need a break by now. Next time, I'll be telling you about how the coffee erased the envy, how it's not greener on the other side, how the balance is maintained by not offering Java around a Javanese village.
    I'll see you soon.



    Update: The Second Cup can be found here.

    Anggi Makki's Interview on روتانا الخليجية

    So, this just happened today. If the energy in Anggi's answers weren't expressive enough to give a scenic picture of where he's taking the Saudi Movie Industry to, you gotta give him credit for just being 21 years old, and that this has been his very first TV interview (Yay!).

    I'm honestly short on descriptive words about this. Being his sister, I know that everything coming out of me is going to be absolutely subjective and rambling-ish. Nevertheless, in sharing this with you, I hope that we share the pride in him as Saudis and Khalijis, Indonesians and multi-cultured, artists and bloggers and everything else that keeps us on common grounds.

    [Scroll down for translations. The translation weren't done by a sworn translator, so irresponsible, dialectic misdemeanor can be expected.] 

     Interviewer: What's the idea behind "Badri?"?

    Anggi(Min 0:34):

    The message behind "Badri?" is audacity. Audacity can be expressed in swimming in open seas, or to show up on TV. The film "Badri?" expresses that audacity in a love story, about a guy – named Basem -  who has feelings for his friend – Maria – who is about to leave the country in the following day.

     

    Interviewer: Where's the audacity in that?

    Anggi: That Basem eventually musters the audacity to express his feelings for Maria.

     

    Interviewer: Was there audacity in the production itself? You shot in Jeddah, right? Isn't it considered audacious to shoot a love story in a Saudi society?

    Anggi: It's not common to have a movie shot in Saudi, much less a romantic movie. When I wrote the story, I wanted it to be different from the love stories in common Saudi societies, as well as general Arab Soap. So, yeah, the movie and the idea were quiet novel in Saudi.

     

    Interviewer: I love the idea behind "Badri?". I'd like to know, though, why did you call it "Badri?"

    Anggi: It's a word used by one of the characters in the movie when Basem told him that he's got feelings for Maria.

    [Hning's Note: When word "badri" literally means: too soon. And is usually said in sarcasm when something is done (nearly) too late.]

     

    Interviewer: Have you ever had any other experience in movie making, particularly in the romance genre?

    Anggi: I made a drama-action movie called "Stick With It", which was about four young men, each one of them had their ambitions. The movie's length was 30 minutes, and it was screened in the American International School in Jeddah. And before that, I had already made five to six other movies that weren't publicly screened, because I didn't think that those had the quality for that kind of viewing.

     

    Interviewer: And they were all short films? Aren't you considering to make feature films?

    Anggi: We don't have cinemas Saudi. In order to make a feature film, you are supposed to have movie theatres so that the money you invest in them returns. The only way a movie can make returns is by screening it in the movie theatre, which is not available in Saudi.

     

    Interviewer: Where lays the problem here, really?

    Anggi:  (Rolls his eyes) That I don't have the audacity to promise returns to any investor when there aren't any movies theatres to start with.

     

    Interviewer, switches to the other movie maker, whose name turns out to be Muhammad Sindi:  Do you agree with him?

    Muhammad Sindi: Blablablabla…(can't be bothered to translate that right now, sorry, M.Sindi).

     

    Interviewer: Currently, we see a lot of interest in the Saudi movie industry. Do you think you're going to be more involved in these events?

    Anggi: Inshallah. Movie making is my passion, and my goal is to make a living based on this passion, so yeah, you'll be seeing a lot of me in the future.

     Interviewers wrap up about how happy they were to have the guys with them.


    Comments or words of encouragement else directed to Anggi Makki can be sent to his email If you want to join his fandom and receive updates on his theatrical performance, check out his production house's group on Facebook: Jeddah Movie Makers.

     

    10 Facts About Indonesian Elections



    It's Legislative Election Day here in Indonesia!

    You know that there are two parties, right? The Democrats and the Republicans. Here in good old Indonesia, there are more than 30 parties, categorized by trees, paddies, bulls, religion and occupation. We have the businessman's party, the laborer's party, the patriotic people's party (infamous for its hooligan-ish cadres and members), democratic, socialist, people's conscience, people's movement, people's awareness, people's faith and whatnot's parties.

    I don't know if having 30+ parties is better than having just one party to choose from: the ruling president's party, like back in the times of Soeharto's dictatorial regime.

    The Facts:
    1. Voting can cast a person his life. .

    2. The voting sheet is usually bigger than the voting booth.

    3. The voting sheets prepared are less than the number of citizens of voting age.

    4. Having less voting sheets than citizens isn't that bad since there are more non-voters than voters in the entire country.

    5. Since it's Easter tomorrow, you probably want to cross out all Christian ballots (nearly ten percent of the population).

    6. The biggest revenue from the elections goes to the press and campaign material printing companies.

    7. You can sell your vote to the highest bidder.

    8. You can be underage, fictitious, dead or otherwise ineligible to cast ballots.

    9. Indonesia is a good example to a country that is not ready for absolute democracy.

    10. The Public Opinion states: "Whatever results this election is going to come out with, whether or not you've voted, you're screwed either ways. It's not like anything is going to change for your behalf anyways".

    Still want absolute democracy?

    UPDATE ON RESULTS: Indonesia President's Party Leads Vote, Eyes Coalition

    Technorati Profile

    5 Social Indicators (and Your Blog's)


    Isn't it just nice that every time you wonder, a compass would give you the exact and correct answer that you need?

    It's not so easy with social interaction, isn't it? Human psyche, as complicated enough as it is on individual level, gets even more confusing as couples, group or a society. 

    Bloggingly speaking, if living with people isn't hard enough, imagine having to put your mind's child, your craft and creative work in their views to assess. 

    On one hand, you NEED to put your work out there because you need the feedback or sense of closure or whatever else that keeps you doing it; without those, you're stuck in your own world. 

    While on the other hand, the way others would react can be discouraging, the amount of self-doubt can be paralyzing, and - even when everything is fine and peachy - you wonder if you should repeat the process all over again just because the muse has arrived.

    Social Directions
    I have this list looked up every time I am doubtful about complex social behaviorS. It works for me because;
    • It creates a distance between me and the subject of consideration or stimulant; which makes it easier for me to resurface and float,
    • It keeps me hopeful and consistent,
    • Shortens the duration of decision making processes (a huge thing for people with ADD like me).
    See what works for you.

    1. Your Reactions Indicates Your Positions
    How you react to the world a provides good indicators to your place in it as an individual; whether geographically, mentally, habitually, etc.

    Take fashion and eating habits for example. The dress code in Saudi is different from Haiti. The mealtimes are different from those who observe Easter and Ramadhan. My mother's reaction to the discover of my father's affair was an epitome of gracefulness: She threw him out, and never confronted the other woman who was "beneath her".

    Bloggingly Speaking:
    A blogger who reacts ungracefully to silly comments is just as silly as the commenter. As a rule, trolls aren't worth the times or respect to be valued in a blog, unless the blogger is at that same level of mentality.

    2. The Way Others React Reflects on Yourself.
    A quality mirror reflects well. The world is just a mirror. The kind of people you hangout with, the books/blogs you read, the TV shows you watch, the arguments you engage in, are all mirrors. 

    How you see the world reflects on how you see yourself. What kind of relationship you have with that, will give you a sign on where you're heading with your own life.

    Bloggingly Speaking:
    If a post sits there gathering cobwebs in its comment box, it could be because it's too self-centered, or is aimed at the wrong audience. Ain't a nice feeling, really. A silent comment box disrupts the balance: The writer can either step up and learn something, or just keep gathering cobwebs.

    On the other hand, a healthy comment box indicates a healthy post; because that is how much we can relate with the subject written. By the way, Troll comments don't count.

    On Mirrors:
    • The bigger the mirror, the less focus you'll have.

    • Clarity in reflections can be indicated in the intensity of emotions with objects of reflection: Your family, your taste in lovers, your choice of friends, your bucket of enemies.

    • Your enemies are actually your best critics. So treat them right.
    3. The Quality of Your Work Defines Your Results
    What you cook will tell you about the food you will eat, about the kind of body you'll walk with when you get old. Similarly, if you work on based on hate, then you'll be a hateful person, with a lot of hateful people around you. Whatever you socially practice most in life, is going to tell you whom you're going to be surrounded by as you die.

    So, be careful with what you spend your time repeating. Habits are not to be taken for granted. Careful with what you say/think/feel about your work, about your world, about the people you hate/love; because every bit of those, is going to help in the shaping of your destiny.

    Didn't you know? You can move entire mountains simply by moving pebbles.

    Bloggingly Speaking:
    I'm reluctant about this blog: I don't want to be stuck talking about sexuality, nor do I want to splurge on spirituality; because both are too intimate an experience for every individual. Then I discovered that my reluctance eased if I put my heart into each and every one of these posts.

    Maybe hat's why posting everyday didn't work with me.

    4. What You Have Equals The Amount of What You Give.
    If you are insecure of your possessions, it will show in how little you give/share with others. If you are insecure about your relationships, you probably don't much of a bargaining power in it. If you are insecure about you position in a group, you probably talk the most and the loudest. Get the idea?

    Bloggingly Speaking:
    The plus points to blogging are so obvious that it's saturated.

    I'm a selfish blogger, I know. I'll keep writing, whether or not you're reading. I just can't live without the creative process that has kept my bipolarity and ADD in control, and my development in check. As long that I am blessed with the freedom to keep working like this, I'm taking it for awful granted.

    5. The Only Perfection is in Nothingness
    Imagine you life is a notebook where every page represents a day in your life. How full you're going to fill a page, is up to you. What kind of book do you want to look back to?

    Bloggingly Speaking:
    The "Publish" button is not the point of balance. It's actually that empty sheet of paper, that page after the "create" button. We disrupt the balance with our writings, and regain it again as soon as the minute turns into an hour.

    Which direction does your compass point?
    This article parades in ThatsBlog Carnival

    Jeddah Cultural and Social Scenes: Unofficial Update

    I don't always understand why a lot of the blogs in the Saudi Blogosphere (this and this, for example) are loaded with bitterness about the social and cultural scenes there.

    When in fact, and in matter of daily practice, is not so bad, really. When was the last time you went out in Jeddah? Sure, Jeddah isn't exactly London or Lebanon, but it's not Lhokseumawe or Kabul either.

    Maybe I hang out with the deviant and elite crowd too much, but allow me a minute to explain what's so ordinary about being in Jeddah, compared to being in Jakarta or Johannesburg.

    The Coffee Shop Scene

    The last time I was in Jeddah, Ramadhan 1429H/2008AD, felt like I never got into the Saudi borders. Most of the people I hung out with – either at home or somewhere in Hamra or Khalidiyyah – weren't acting like my old school friends from tahfeez elementary school.

    Let's break up my definition of a group into individuals. In a randomly chosen photo taken from one these hangout events, you'll see guys sitting beside girls who are sitting beside older women who are sitting with their toddlers. The only Saudi-ish thing about this scene is that all the girls are wearing the same dress-colour, since Abayas aren't yet accepted in any other color than black.

    In another memory snap, a non-Saudi guy sits beside his not-very-Saudi girlfriend, trying to steal kisses from our international (American, Lebanese, Saudi, Indonesian, Jordanian) rolling eyes. We hold back a gag reflex, but we don't yell at them to get a room or anything, after all, we're still in Saudi, right?

    [A guy can't bring a girl to his hotel bedroom without marriage certificates. So, not hooting at them actually discourages from theft and fraud. Not the sex. And that's very Saudi, by the way. But that's beside the point.]

    In a third frame, three uncovered Saudi girls: One with a very-Ghamdi nose looking at an Asian, who is looking at a genetic confusion of a Chinese-Arab-Indian, who had an ear to ear grin; pantomiming a gesture of an indecent thought. Did I mention that it didn't feel very Saudi in Jeddah anymore?

    I think this is what's so cool about Jeddah, being it the gate to the cities of pilgrimage: People are less, much, much less xenophobic than in, say, Riyadh. At least compared to the social scenes written by bloggers from Riyadh. You know who you are.

    The Gulf Film Festival Scene

    Just off the borders of Saudi Arabia, in an even more laid back town called Dubai, we find an international film festival with participants and viewers from the Arab Region.

    Unlike the femininely-barren scene of Saudi professional sports, the Saudi Movie Industry flourishes the Gulf Film Festival (GFF) red carpet with a whopping number of 27 movies. Which is considered a huge number considering the fact that photographs, music and acting were all considered haram in my tahfeez school days.

    Not to mention the mixing of opposite sexes during movie production. Not to mention dating or having a bunch of guys giving a farewell-party for a departing girl. Which is the setting in my brother's movie, by the way.

    The Scenes from "Badri?"

    All indoor scenes were shot in my mother's basement, who must've smiled and waved at every boy and girl passing by her study/TV room, while half-heartedly worried about the religious police noticing the traffic.

    The movie's cast and crew were recruited based on blood relationship, availability from college exams, or coincidentally being in Jeddah due to iqama renewals (the lead actress is currently in South Africa, the lead singer is in Pakistan).

    Behind the scene and during post-production stage, Anggi discovered that he had shot too many takes for every single scene, which was reasonable during production stage because his lead actors had to live their normal lives off and abroad of Saudi Arabia. But it also resulted in a lot of film garbage piling up and months of reorganizing and classes to skip and exams to flunk; to eventually come out with the simple, symbolically responsible story that made the soul of "Badri?" as beautiful as it is.

    Which resulted in my phone getting occasionally hailed with messages of frustrated garble; similar to the swings that artists would have to go through in redemption for their genius.

    Which is why the movie is so fun to watch.


    The Closing Scene
    I don't really know what it's like in other Saudi towns, but looking at how Jeddah's youthful energy have molded its current scenes, I dare say that we've gone a long way; culturally, socially and – yeah – clerically.

    Maybe because time has changed since 9/11. Maybe the King is more reasonable these days. Maybe the voices heard on the Saudi blogosphere, nagging for improvements really have finally been heard.

    Maybe.

    I won't bet on finding women driving so fast around here, nor even getting respect for showing up on TV, but I dare put all my chips on the belief that – one way to another – the folks in Saudi, and especially in Jeddah, are heading in the right way.

    I hope to see you there soon.


    "Badri?" will hit the big screen in Gulf Film Festival on Sunday, April 12 at 15:30, and Wednesday, April 15 at 14:15. Be there for me. Yes, you too.

    X-rated: For the boys

    HNING'S DISCLAIMER NOTE:
    I didn't write this, I swear. A guy friend of mine wrote it for me and we thought that you might enjoy reading from a male intellect's perspective. [Why is it the stuff between the legs that gets these men going?!]

    The article is both crude and wickedly funny, while being disproportionately, chauvinistically HONEST.
    Which is exactly why people like me write about female orgasms before having a guy crashing his honest input.

    Which is why both men and women should be considerate with their bodies in terms of sexuality, and everything else. Ain't nobody's gonna take care of it if you don't.

    Have fun, play safe.




    Responding to the 25 tips written earlier, the following is a sex rant written by a caveman for all cavemen everywhere. All you Politically Correct maggots can stop reading now. Girls can peek but I doubt that anything will come out of it (pun intended).

    As a note:
    “You” in this writing means a guy. I’m not even gonna bother to address gay issues (Go write your own rant!)
    ==========================

    CRITICISM ON THE ORIGINAL 25 TIPS:
    We (Indonesians, I presume) are NOT “generally sexually uptight”. Repressed? Yes, but uptight? No. We just don’t talk/write much about sex. We just “do” it. It wasn’t always like this (as centuries-old local erotica like Serat Centhini proved) but the condition evolves alongside modernism.

    Everyone’s turning prudish early 20th century in order to either be more like the REALLY uptight Dutch colonial masters (Yet, look at them now!) or be more like the puritans (various early ulama and missionaries).

    Thank God for TV and the porn industry!
    ==========================

    GENERAL RULES:
    In order for a guy to reach orgasm:
    • Guys must feel safe.

    • Secure is better.

    • Don't expect too many fireworks when the girl talks too much about long-term commitments, family, kids and other attached turn-offs (REAL one-night-stands are most welcome). That’s the main reason (some) guys prefer pros. Safety and certainty in professional behavior and all that.

    • Oh, also, always wear condoms! Married or not.

    • Love is a bonus. Despite what girls like to promote, empirical evidence proved that (time and again) lack of love CAN be substituted with the presence of lots of money.

    • Contentedness depends on whether the love (or money) given is worth it.

    • Gentleness is a girl thing. Frankly, too much foreplay tickles a guy (literally). Men tend to think in military terms. Hence, only one mood is expected: surrender.

    • If she loves you, she'll let you do whatever that pleases you.

    • No man is man enough (in the eyes of other men) if he’s too hung up on making his girl happy.

    • Quickies always work, and they're NOT overrated.

    • Clear from clutter, at least an hour later.

    • Cleanliness is nice and all, but if girls expect men to hurry up in dabbing tissues without enough time to savor the post-orgasmic feelings (usually by a bit of sleep), then she can clean it herself.
    ==========================

    25 QUICKIES TO CONSIDER:
    In the order of the original 25 tips:
    1. Size DOES matter. Some girls’ equipment are too cavernous due to overuse (or genetic). If there are extra gaps to fill, don’t hesitate to either use technology or simply swap with younger girls.

    2. Avoid her mouth and hands. It may lead to unintended intimacy, which (as most guys should know) is akin to making most-likely-will-be-unfulfilled-long-term-promises. You WILL live to regret it.

    3. Repeat this always: Guys DO NOT make mistakes in bed, honest or not. Everything guys do are intentional. (So what if she complained that you plugged the wrong hole?)

    4. Speaking of which:
      • a) Talking helps HER so let her yak while you keep peacefully quiet pretending to listen.

      • b) Honesty is the best policy, especially if you’re looking for an exit strategy. Just tell her she sucks in bed and you’re home clean and guilt-free.

      • c) The best conversations may occur after an orgasm, but often silence is preferable for guys. If you wanted serious talk, stick to lunch, dinners or CNN.

    5. Be vague. "Ooh, like that" or “Yeah baby” are favourites. They don’t require you to think in the middle of an emotionally charged event.

    6. Don't ask for it. Demand it. Always. Often. Remember: if you nag, eventually, you’ll get it.

    7. Reading helps, but porn videos are better.

    8. Immediate application after reading (or watching) is highly recommended. So do it together.

    9. Letting out noises are okay but only to a certain decibels. Shrieking and screaming are not okay, especially if they have the potential to draw attention from the authorities (or worse, can be used as testimonial evidence for legal cases).

    10. Listen to the girl carefully. "Ouch" means you need more lubricant.

    11. Keep “faking it” out of your ego and equations. Who cares if she’s faking as long as you’re not.

    12. Insist that girl(s) masturbates in front of you. It saves you a lot of your own energy.

    13. Always consult a physician before using any chemicals (oils, jell-o, veggies, etc).

    14. Be prepared to have an open mind: Experiment but at your own time. During showtime, guys only want to see results.

    15. Equipments can be costly but often necessary. Use cheap everyday items whenever possible (i.e. ice cubes, cucumbers, pingpong bat).

    16. Don't stop before you reach your target.

    17. Kiss and caress every part of her skin. You might stumble onto her highly sensitive area. It’s worth the egg hunt.

    18. Tighten your buttocks; because it strengthens your penile muscles.

    19. Keep a good grip on her hips. It’s curved (and called handles) for a reason.

    20. Be clean. You don’t want to walk around in stained shirt or pants afterwards.

    21. Monogamy and consistent partnership are possessive female propaganda, who often confuses sex with relationships. Sexual experience quality is conditioned to the frequency of exposure. Monogamy (literally putting all your eggs in one basket), by definition, curbs exposure. If you have a monogamous relationship, then your partner should not complain about quality, especially if you’re not getting it much throughout the relationship.

    22. Marriage may give less restraint, but so do professionals (with the right amount of compensation, of course). Legality has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Hint: Think of marriages as tax havens.

    23. Keep trying. Sex is quantitatively good for your health regardless of quality.

    24. Orgasms are the climax of sexual intercourse but it’s just a little part of the benefits of a relationship so don’t expect too much out of it.

    25. Like it or not, frequency of orgasms is an important measure of a relationship. If you got it with a girl but not with another, you can bet on which one will make you happier in the future.

    How do you know how good an orgasm she's had?
    Clue: WHO CARES? A woman’s body is her own business. You just take care of your own. In the end, sex is just another transaction you made in life.