The children romp around the backyard merrily. Those hopscotch-jumping, hula-twirling kids radiate a kind of bliss; the pure joy of everyday life, just through their echoing laughters from all corners, as I see and hear and feel the atmosphere.
I found an empty swing a few feet ahead, a boy ran away from the swings toward his friend who’s calling out to him from her basement: under the slide.
He got up, didn’t take too long to get himself together from all that swingin’, or probably just mesmerized by the girl’s sweet sound calling out his name – “Sean, dear! C’mere.” The heartthrob immediately steal his attention away from the moving clouds (he saw many sheeps!) he was staring at on that big, blue sky.
He ran toward her. Somewhere along the way, he tripped. He looked down on his bleeding knee – the red was running fast. Those little prickles of rocks hit him real hard. He blew away the pain hurriedly, holding back his tears. And the girl under the slide is no longer interested in the boy, for he is weak.
I stood for a while on the sandy ground beneath this swing, waiting for a moment until I’m ready to sit on it. All four corners of this old backyard surrounding me, now a void of people, makes no sense of that blissful haven each used to stand itself for.
I sat on the seat and start swinging really lightly, for fear that I might fall again.
I grew up watching Spice Girls on MTV. I sing to Britney Spears and dance to Backstreet Boys too. I also love munching lollipops and blow bubblegums – until hip hop changes the American music industry into a whole new kind of pop.
Now I play my podcast episodes and let my favorite DJs take center stage. When tracks take a mid-song break, I’m practically entranced. When the bass rises up to a climax, I feel the rush comes again. In fact, I dream of making and mixing my own sequence with those ultra-uplifting synthesizers. Which is now coming true upon my purchasing algoriddim on iTunes. Who knows, other listeners would jiggle along with my music. Or pop. And fidget. And move and shake to the beats per minute, and they would, too, turn completely hypnotized.
Next morning you wake up you brush your teeth while singin’ woo oh oh oh oh ’till the world ends (real soon).
When America is into the beats, Europe used to be electronic.
Since when does the bangin’ bass beats dominate the pop music scene? Teenybopper gumdrops have transformed into edgy dubsteps post-’90s era. By then, electronic dance music (EDM) have streamed into the popular culture and the landscape of music industries worldwide. Aside from that, tunes seem to sound similar to one another, and mashups become instant classics of this new age. (Ya’ll listen to Norwegian Recycling?)
“I’m Blue” – Daft Punk
House music has never went this commercial since it was first born in the chilly Chicago during the 1980s. As a 1990-born, I only first started to see Jamiroquai and Daft Punk repeatedly on MTV during the late century since I came to life.
Alain Macklovitch, house music DJ and turntablish from Montreal, better known as A-Trak, cited the rising popularity of French house duo Daft Punk for popularizing the genre, pointing out that their Alive 2007 tour around America was responsible for “educating a whole generation of kids about electronic dance music (EDM).” Soon after Macklovitch went on experimenting different genres into dance music on Fool’s Gold (his record label), mainstream pop became just that – “the exact intersection between hip hop and dance music,” he tells The Huffington Post.
Following the Internet boom in the last decade comes social media tools on which producers monopolize their musical influence. Artists post official videos on YouTube everyday, making it possible for any viewer to share videos instantly, and the next thing you know, Robert Miles became the next best thing after that dancing baby video, even beating your favorite clip with the cutest cat in the world everyone’s talking about.
“Because of the Internet and things like Myspace, the global community is getting bigger and stronger,” tells Paavo Siljamäki from trance trio Above & Beyond to Beatportal. Trance music, one of the plethora of genres streamlined from EDM, has become a global phenomena, mainly because top DJs in the history of dance music regularly plays trance. DJMag’s annual world’s no. 1 DJ poll awarded trance mixers such as Paul Oakenfold, Tiësto, Paul van Dyk, and recently first-placed Armin van Buuren, who stayed on top four-year running since 2007.
Since its mainstream popularity, trance symphonies have progressively embedded itself in my head. Once a law student, Dutch DJ and producer van Buuren has taken over EDM to earn the current god-like status in festivals such as his solo performance at Armin Only, in the Netherlands, with over 100,000 rave-goers coming together from all over the world.
Armin Only. Los Angeles, 2008.
“It’s an international language,” said van Buuren on music, the concept behind his Universal Religion compilations. “Music is no longer territorially restricted, which has made it possible for the dance music sound to spread fast.” His most recent album, Mirage, features notable popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s low-tempo vocal on “Not Giving Up On Love”, a great team-up that instantly gained popularity among trance and non-trance listeners alike.
With an estimated 15 million listeners worldwide, A State of Trance (ASOT), his weekly radio show (also crunched down into half-hour podcast episodes available on iTunes) has an estimated 15 million listeners worldwide, which keeps on growing today after its epic 400th episode birthday of partying held in Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands.
Three full days in three big places; so much to do, yet so little time. It’s no wonder he decided to put his successful career on hold, following the recent birth of his child. In other news, our current age of globalization also includes some great podcasts I would recommend for you to subscribe:
One particular favorite DJ of mine is the trance duo Myon & Shane 54, the dudes behind International Departures and best known for their incredible mashup tunes. This one’s a recent favorite, “Violet’s Miracle” – Dinka vs Fragma, played on Episode 084:
Taking aside EDM, mainstream pop and classic one-hit wonders alike are tuning into a similar pitch, as if this universal language is following repetitive patterns in dance beats. With almost no new introduction to an artist’s “creativity”, or improvisations to chord arrangements, we can literally mash up the chart-topping hits that have come on and off the music board in recent years. I welcome you to watch this satirical interpretation of the contemporary songwriter’s creativity performed by Australian comedy group, the Axis of Awesome.
Like, seriously. It will be interesting to see what kind of innovations the future holds for the music industry. What can emerging artists bring to the table? Will pop music actually induce as strong emotions as trance-like states that take us above and beyond? Do musicians care when some dude or group of dudes mashes up all the smashing hits in the last century into one bite-sized podcast episode? Probably not a good idea.
So long, cheesy lyrics (Oops! I did it again). Say hello to the beats (and repetitive chords).
In pop we trust. And that’s all we know for sure at the moment.
The parlor is all about beauty from the inside-out. Come sift beyond skin deep with me
through the perpetual refinement for looking and feeling your best.
Let me tell you something that might bore you to death. It’s what you’ve already heard a thousand times coming from your mom: Take good care of your health.
We’ve all heard the saying your body is a temple. If you don’t guard it well, you won’t be getting anywhere in life. At least, that’s what my mom keeps saying to me.
“Without your health, you won’t be able to do anything,” she tells me. If you don’t look after yourself before everything else, you will never get ahead (like, literally).
Personally, I’m not as high maintenance when it comes to taking good care for my own body. I think it’s a hassle to have tons of beauty products on my dresser.
However, I have a very healthy mom who’s getting younger by the year. It’s not everyday that I get to wake up and see her walking around the house – I can only see her every time I come back to Jakarta for my holidays away from school. Every time I see her, she looks slimmer, younger, and happier. And her beauty secrets are all passed down to me, the only girl (and the youngest child) in the family.
My mom may not be the only role model I stumble upon in my life, but she’s my mentor when it comes to beauty and wellbeing. However, I don’t necessarily take the best care of myself as she does to herself, because I care too much about other things. And then when I get sick, or I have problems with my hair, skin, nails and such, she would always look after me.
Indeed, every girl deserves a fairy godmother.
And then I would get a nagging voice in the back of my head, reminding me what she’s always been saying about my ugly toenails, or my lack of sleep, or months when I don’t get my menstrual discharge and showing PMS symptoms regularly instead. That’s what Asian moms do: They keep telling you and telling you and telling you until the things they say becomes a permanent part in your brain.
No wonder she suffers from stress, like any other aging mother would. Behind those burdens is an anti-wrinkling mom, though, enjoying the sun and the sea and the skies (with UV protection, of course):
By the by, she’s 47 this year. I bet she’ll kill me if she finds out I tell you her age. So shush.
I think a picture is worth a thousand words. So let’s get on to the meat of things here. i hope I can share her information to you readers so that you too can benefit from improving your own health and consequently, leading a happier life.
Contrary to Western medicine, Eastern practices heal your ailments through a more natural approach to remedies. Think popping pills or energy shots – aren’t they the conventional method to ease your pains?
However, Oriental medicine, namely herbal and dietary therapies, now comes in supplements for the last centuries, though modern practitioners are still taking in the natural stuff.
To maintain my vitality, regulate my menstrual cycle, and even out my complexion, there are three supplements I take on a day-to-day basis. I never used to trust my mother’s words, because I hold a personal bias on Eastern medicine that they generally lack scientific proof as to whether they work or they don’t.
After popping these pills for some time, I do feel a difference. Other than my mother’s trust, I know I might need to readjust my opinions on the medical knowledge (and wisdom) passed down from my lineage (strictly speaking, my Asian heritage).
Here are the three pills I pop into my system everyday:
The cordyceps are rare parasitic fungi best known to boost immunity and vitality, originating from traditional Tibetan medicine. It boosts energy and athletic endurance, nourishing the lungs and fortifying the kidneys, and improving the many functions of the liver. It is also considered as an aphrodisiac, stimulating sexual functions and the endocrine system of the body. With so many health benefits, it’s no wonder that this metabolism-regulating supplement became a huge contribution to modern preventive care, as numerous scientific studies have shown.
In 1993. three female Olympic track runners in China largely claimed the cordyceps responsible for them breaking their world records. Ever since then, the Dong Cong Xia Cao gained wide attention across Western medicine.
To read more about its anti-cancer properties, refer to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s comprehensive summary of cordyceps over here.
Black-Bone Chicken and White-Phoenix pills 乌鸡白凤丸 (Wu Ji Bai Feng Yuan)
This is a tonic supplement to increase fertility and maintain women’s health. Pill-takers are usually prescribed by doctors to regulate menstruation and arresting leukorrhea, an abnormal vaginal discharge caused by hormonal imbalance in the body. Other uses include emaciation and general feebleness, aching, weakness and limpness of legs, postpartum bleeding and fatigue, lassitude, poor appetite, and irregular body weight. Currently, there are no known side effects in the scientific literature, making it a long-lasting medicine since it was first recorded in 1406 A.D. on “Pu Ji Fang” (Prescriptions for Universal Relief), a compendium written by medical expert Zhu Su.
For more background information on Wu Ji Bai Feng Yuan, check out the institute for Traditional Medicine’s wrap-up for the remedy here.
Pearl powder 珍珠粉 (Zhen Zhu Fen)
It’s an anti-inflammatory herbal medicine made of minerals and amino acids that relaxes the mind and beautifies the skin. The chief ingredient of a powdered pearl, calcium carbonate, mainly functions to ease bowel movements and maintains the acid/alkaline balance in the stomach.
While it works internally through oral intake, the pearl powder is also a powerful exfoliant when applied topically. This speeds up the removal of dead cells on the skin, acting as an antimicrobial agent that evens out the skin’s complexion. Because it is in crystalline form, our body can easily absorb these trace elements throughout the bloodstream, lowering blood pressure, relieving stress, thus harmonizing our mind and spirit as we benefit from its soothing effects. For more than 2,000 years, the pearl powder has been widely used to promote youthful appearance, reducing redness, blemishes, and other ailments of the skin.
To learn more about the magic of Zhen Zhu, see Acupuncture Today’s pearl review here.
For starters, you can pop some of these pills and notice how your body responds. Stick to the regimen for at least 4 weeks, and you’ll notice the difference.
In due time, I will be sharing more tips and information about the Asian way (and other alternative ways uncommon to Western medicine) my mom secretly shares with her 21-year-old daughter to maintain a healthy, happy you – and that’s what I call ageless, timeless beauty.
I’m sipping my last drop of warm, Jasmine green tea before I run off to my hour-long massage therapy. I’ll be drizzling on lavender oil to prepare myself a good night’s sleep tonight. My mother, on the other hand, is catching her acupuncture therapist in about half an hour from now. So, until next time, my beautiful reader.
Keep an eye on me – but don’t forget to look after yourself.
And taking care of herself is, by no means, an act of love, almost a prerequisite for living a meaningful life.
For a couple of months now, her heart has been enticed by another. “Your happiness is my happiness,” Reed whispered so softly the other night, her ears tingling in delight. “I’m happy if I can make you happy.”
The question everyone keep asking is, what is happiness anyway?