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You’ll Want To Take Better Care of Your Body After Watching This Anime

Did you know? 

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our body, working relentlessly throughout their life cycle (about 120 days), after which they are replaced with new cells. 
  • White blood cells protect our body against diseases and foreign invaders. There are several subtypes, including macrophages, which destroy bacteria, as well as T-cells that destroy infected cells. 
  • I learned all this from an anime. 

Okay, so that’s not 100% true. I learned it in biology class. But that was 15 years ago, and I’ve long since forgotten everything but the most basic facts about the human body. So watching Cells at Work: Code Black was a fun (albeit dark) refresher. 

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Seriously, if we had shows like this back in the day instead of boring ol’ textbooks, everyone would have aced their biology exams. It has everything that a good anime should have: beautiful art, interesting characters, a great plot, awesome action. But most of all, it’s educational, and it carries an important message beyond just entertainment: Take. Better. Care. Of. Our. Bodies. 

Based on a popular manga series, the first anime season of Cells at Work! details how a body functions through the eyes of anthropomorphised cells, ie a red blood cell and a white blood cell. I haven’t watched the original, but I’ve heard it’s light and fun, with a focus on comedy. Code Black, however, is much darker – and shines the spotlight on what happens to an unhealthy body caused by bad lifestyle habits and stress. 

Synopsis 

The series opens with our ‘hero’ AA2153, a rookie red blood cell. Somewhat naive in character, he starts off enthusiastic and pumped (ha!) for work, but soon discovers that there are plenty of problems with his work environment, from angry, overworked cells to pathways clogged with cholesterol and plaque, hindering oxygen deliveries — a reflection of the body’s unhealthy state. The environment is also hostile: AA2153 often gets verbally abused by other cells, as they are all stretched to their limit and often have to prioritise certain functions over others.

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During a delivery run, our protagonist is saved by white blood cell U1196 from an invading Pneumonia Coccus, and a friendship blossoms despite their different roles. The two characters will continue running into each other throughout the course of the series, as they both try to fulfil their duties to keep the body running. 

AA2153 does his best under terrible working conditions and tries to keep his optimism up. In the first episode, he witnesses a terrible scene: his co-workers turning into zombies (carboxyhemoglobin) after coming into contact with carbon monoxide (from smoking). Although initially terrified, he hardens his resolve to deliver oxygen after his senpai sacrifices himself by running through the gas, so that AA2153 could deliver oxygen through a safer route. However, this is just the beginning of the body’s troubles. 

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Throughout the course of the anime, our characters will have to overcome various situations, some of which are self-inflicted by the body, from heavy drinking and a bad diet to consumption of caffeine and energy drinks, which in turn cause the body to weaken further, making it prone to disease. After battling conditions such as hair loss, kidney stones, gout, erectile dysfunction, gonococci and pulmonary embolism, AA2153 starts to lose hope that the hellish environment will change… 

Verdict 

I absolutely love this anime. Pretty art style aside, I think it’s brilliant how the writers have managed to turn somewhat complicated concepts into easy-to-digest (pun intended) stories— and they’ve also done an excellent job depicting the anthropomorphised cells and the various organs creatively. 

The kidney, for example, is shown as a traditional bathhouse, and the glomeruli (the filtering unit) as bath girls who help clean up the red blood cells. When bacteria invades one kidney, threatening to destroy it, AA2153 urges the girls to evacuate – but they are prevented from doing so by the matriarch Glomeruli, who tells them that the kidney is a ‘silent organ’ — always working, never complaining. This hit me hard because I know that kidney failure is often called a silent killer, and it isn’t until they are failing that we realise something is very wrong. The kidney is eventually saved after the body ingests antibiotics, which help the white blood cells defeat the invading bacteria. 

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Another good example of the anime’s creativity is the liver, represented as a red light district with hostess clubs, where the red blood cells go to ‘unwind’ and detoxify, especially after alcohol consumption. But as the body continues drinking excessively, the once bright and colourful district becomes a dark and gloomy place, with exhausted and sickly hostesses (hepatocytes). I think it’s just great how they used real-life scenarios and applied them to the anime in such a way that is easy to understand. 

But more than just spitting facts, the anime manages to depict the emotions of the anthropomorphised cells and the seemingly hopeless state they are living in. The characters aren’t just there to tell you about how the body works: they have their own hopes and dreams and feelings. The main character is your typical anime hero: bright, cheerful and enthusiastic, always trying to inspire others — and while it’s nothing original as far as animes go (think Naruto, or Luffy), AA2153 is endearing in his own way.

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AA2153 and AC1677

The side characters are equally well developed. In episode 7, our hero’s best friend, a fellow red blood cell designated as AC1677, becomes jealous of AA2153’s achievements, having always been overshadowed by the former’s achievements.  He also feels somewhat guilty at AA2153’s persistence and dedication, as he doesn’t have the same zeal. AC1677 turns to the high that caffeine produces in order to try and outshine his friend. The body suffers a nosebleed, and AA2153 almost loses his best friend as red blood cells are sucked out and AC1677 loses his strength after crashing from a caffeine high — but he manages to save him, and eventually returns to his former self and works harder. (AC1677 is my favourite character by the way!) 

It’s episodes like these that make me feel a twinge of guilt — of course, I too have made my own body suffer from bad decisions (lack of sleep, for example, eating unhealthy food, and stressing myself out lol) and watching Code Black somehow drives the point home that I’m letting it down. I’m killing these cells in my body even though they’re working so hard for me — always working, never resting — so that I can enjoy a good quality life for as long as possible without suffering and pain. 

Since the pandemic began, I’ve made some changes to my lifestyle, including more exercise and a better diet (because I haven’t been able to eat out lol). I’ve lost about 12 kg, and I’m feeling much better compared to the days I used to gorge on fried foods coz of work stress. I couldn’t even climb stairs without feeling winded. My body must have been screaming. 

I’d like to think I’m providing a better ‘working’ environment for the cells living in me these days. So that’s a good thing. 

Rating: 8.5/10 

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P.Ramlee Memorial, Kuala Lumpur – A Tribute to Malay Cinema’s “Golden Boy”

Hollywood’s Golden Age had figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, James Dean and Clark Gable.

Early Malay cinema had Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

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CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh on the island of Penang, Malaysia (then the Federated States of Malaya) in 1929, P. Ramlee was a man of many hats. Beginning the late 1940s, he acted in, produced and directed numerous films (some of which are still considered beloved classics till this day), and also performed and wrote hundreds of songs. At the height of his career, his fame reached as far as Brunei, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan – cementing his name in the annals of classic Malay music and cinema. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 44.

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My dad is a big fan of P. Ramlee’s black and white films, and as a kid, I often joined him to watch movies like Bujang Lapok, Nasib Do Re Mi and Tiga Abdul, which were usually shown on weekend afternoons on national TV (or during the patriotic month). Being young, my comprehension was limited – but I still enjoyed the acting and stories, which often had a moral behind them.  Now as an adult, I can fully appreciate the simple and heartfelt artistry that went into the characters and the film, something which I think is missing in many modern films, despite the big budget CGI, better equipment and techniques, and whatnot. Old films had soul. 

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If you’re keen on finding out more about our national icon, there are a few places dedicated to remembering his contributions, such as the P.Ramlee Memorial House in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur. Tucked within a housing estate, the building is one of Ramlee’s old homes, and was converted into a mini museum in 1986. The space is small, but there are a couple of interesting exhibits. I suggest pairing a visit with nearby attractions such as the Visual Arts Gallery and the National Library.

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PS: Filming is not allowed within, but you can take photos.

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The exhibition space is neatly divided according to themes. There are sections dedicated to his childhood growing up in Penang to Achehnese parents, his directorial debut, and his love story with another iconic Malay actor, Saloma. Ramlee was married twice, but it seems third time was the charm for these two lovebirds. In fact, Saloma was so overwhelmed with grief at the death of her husband, she suffered from depression and various illnesses, and passed away at the still young age of 48, 10 years after Ramlee’s death.

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There is a small AV room within where visitors can watch old P.Ramlee films.

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Ramlee’s impressive filmography. My favourite is Tiga Abdul, which draws inspiration from old Malay folktales. Set in a fictional Middle Eastern Country, the movie tells the story of three brothers, who are tricked by the cunning businessman Sadiq Segaraga, who uses his three daughters to force the brothers into parting with their wealth. The story is lighthearted, humorous and dramatic all at once, but with a moral lesson behind it about greed and honesty. Another must-watch is Anak-ku Sazali, where Ramlee shows off his acting chops playing dual roles as both the father and son characters.

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Films were not the only thing Ramlee was known for – he often sang and wrote/composed the soundtracks for them as well. In total, he wrote about 400 songs throughout his career.

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He was also apparently quite a tall man, judging from these clothes!

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Ramlee’s old piano.

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Although he is celebrated today as an icon of Malay cinema, it was said that Ramlee’s final years were mired in financial trouble and setbacks, with his once celebrated movies flopping, as the entertainment scene moved on to better, shinier things.  Some even saw him as a ‘has-been’, and Ramlee died a broken man, ridiculed by the public and the industry he loved so much. Recognition might have come too late and he might have died poor, but he left behind a rich legacy – one that will hopefully inspire and entertain new generations for years to come.

“Karya seni adalah satu daripada kerja Tuhan. Oleh itu, buatlah sungguh-sungguh dengan penuh kejujuran.” (Art is god’s work. Do it with diligence and honesty.) – Allahyarham Tan Sri P.Ramlee

P.RAMLEE MEMORIAL HOUSE 

22, Jalan Dedap, Taman P Ramlee, 53000 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 10AM – 5PM (Tuesdays – Sundays, closed Mondays). On Fridays, they open from 10AM – 12PM and 3PM – 5PM to allow for Muslim prayer break.

Admission: FREE

*There are no designated parking spots, since it is a residential area – so you can park by the side of the road. Do be mindful of where you park the vehicle though as you don’t want to block someone’s front gate! 

 

**PS: I am now on Patreon!  You can subscribe here. You can also follow me on other social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Your support would mean the world to me! 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Group “Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ini” Entertains Malaysians With Cooking Fails During the MCO

Hey guys! It’s currently day 40 of the Movement Control Order here in Malaysia. Until the quarantine started, I had no idea I had this many Masterchefs in my friends’ list – judging from all the delicious-looking homemade food they’ve been posting or pictures of 3-ingredient cakes and Dalgona coffee lol.

What most people don’t post, however, are the fails they had to go through to perfect their recipes – unless, of course, if you’re in the Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ni (Official) Facebook group. The group, which was started by Norlaila Dollah Ahmed, was initially started to document her own fails – but quickly became a source of entertainment for Malaysians during the quarantine. After being name-dropped by our Prime Minister on TV,  it now has over 1.6 million followers and plenty of hilarious content.  Just check out some of the postings:

Apparently ice cream

Playing with food, literally

A fat pretzel

Common sense is not common.. or maybe she just wanted them fresh

“Churros”

 

I can’t claim to be a very good cook, and I’m fairly certain that if I were to try some Internet recipes, the dishes would come out looking worse than some of those posted lmao. But I think it’s good to not take ourselves so seriously sometimes. Hope you’ve been entertained! For more posts, look up Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ni on FB. 😉

 

 

 

 

We Dined While Dangling 150 Feet In The Air @ Lounge In The Sky Kuala Lumpur

Food with a view is always good, especially if it’s the Kuala Lumpur skyline (one of the prettiest in Southeast Asia, IMO). But forget rooftop bars. How would you like to be seated on a platform raised 150 feet into the air by a crane, with nothing but a couple of straps to keep you from falling? If that appeals to your inner adrenaline junkie, then Lounge In The Sky should be right up your alley.

Following the success of Dinner In The Sky , Lounge In The Sky was launched several months ago at TREC KL, offering a different experience for diners. I went for DITS several years ago (blog post here) and it was both fun and scary due to my acrophobia. Still, I was pretty excited to go on something similar again.

That being said, LITS is notably different from DITS in that you get a) smaller, more intimate tables of four, rather than DITS’ large table configuration where everyone is seated facing the chefs in the middle of the platform; and b) live entertainment where a performer will serenade you with tunes as you try not to look below lol.

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CEO of 2Spicy Entertainment Arvin Randhawa speaking to the media before we were hoisted up for our session

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There was a slight drizzle, but we were finally okayed for lift off. Crew members were on hand to make sure that everyone was properly secured into the seats. The straps felt like the ones you get on roller coaster rides, which kind of limit your movements, but it’s a necessary safety measure. We were allowed to bring our phones and cameras up, but larger bags had to be stowed in storage lockers below.

As the platform was raised, I sneaked a glance down (it’s hard not to) and felt a little weak in the knees to see how fast the ground was receding from view. It also didn’t help that the platform was rotating, so one minute I was facing one side and the next I was looking at the Twin Towers in the distance.

FYI 150 feet is equivalent to about 12 to 15 storeys high!

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Twin towers shrouded in a light mist in the distance; KL traffic below. The position of my seat made it difficult to get a good overall shot of the skyline, but the view was awesome.

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The platform had four ‘catwalks’ so that staff could serve us dishes. We started off with a caviar-topped appetiser and a cocktail.

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LITS offers several different packages, including standard, business and first class. On the menu of our standard session (RM199) was prawn ceviche with yuzu cream, bonito flakes and fried oba leaf; mushroom fricasse with chive cream and fried shallots; and for dessert, lemon meringue tart with rose cream and chocolate pearls. Everything was excellent, but being a fan of mushroom, I especially liked the mushroom fricasse and its savoury, crumbly pastry shell.

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The highlight of the night for me was when the lights were dimmed to a deep blue, and our performer for the night serenaded us with sultry tunes. The slight drizzle and the view of Kuala Lumpur in the evening created a romantic, magical atmosphere – something that no rooftop bar can emulate.

Each LITS session lasts about 40 minutes – and even though I enjoyed it, I was glad to have two feet on solid ground again!

For bookings and menus, visit elements.my/skylounge.

 

 

*PS: I am so proud of N, who decided to tag along despite his overwhelming fear of heights (it’s so extreme he does not even walk near the barriers at shopping malls). I told him multiple times before we went up that it was absolutely okay if he didn’t want to go, but he went anyway. I could see how frightened he was from the way he gripped the table as we ascended. He was stiff and made minimal movements throughout the entire 40 minutes we were up in the air, but he got through it nonetheless. ❤ Well done bibi.

BONUS: 

I’ve never been to TREC, so N and I wandered around in search of food. The dishes served on LITS were tasty but we weren’t expecting just canapes so we came on an empty stomach. We ended up getting instant noodles afterwards (lol) but not before getting some great shots of TREC. #mood

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Last Month To Experience Singapore’s Largest Carnival – The Prudential Marina Bay Carnival

Remember the good ol’ days when a trip to the amusement park meant cotton candy, the smell of popcorn and peanuts, trying to win a plushie at the carnival games and screaming our heads off to thrilling rides?

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

You can relive the nostalgia at the Prudential Marina Bay Carnival – dubbed Singapore’s largest carnival – but better hurry, coz March is the final month to experience the fun before it ends on April 1st.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Open since December 2017 at the iconic Marina Bay Singapore, the carnival covers an impressive 25,000 sq meters of space. That’s equivalent to 3.5 football fields!

There’s plenty to see and do in this giant wonderland, whether it’s exciting rides, carnival games or delicious cuisine. There are over 40 rides and games, some brought in exclusively from European countries for the very first time.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Hop aboard the Star Flyer, a towering ride that offers visitors  an uninhibited 360˚ view of the Singapore skyline from a height of 35-metres while experience the sensation of flying. Then there’s the Booster Maxx, an adrenaline-pumping ride which stands at a whopping 55 metres above ground rotating at a speed that can reach 96km/hour under eight seconds.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Families can also enjoy timeless classics such as the Log Flume, which has gentle turns beforing heading down to a big splash at the end, the Das Fun Schiff pirate ship that takes riders on a voyage as the vessel soars high above while swinging back and forth, and the Apple Coaster where the little ones can buckle up and get their first taste of a rollercoaster ride.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

No carnival would be complete without skill games and plush toys as prizes, and there are over 30 carnival game stalls to choose from, featuring classics such as the Ring Toss, Bottle Stand, Basketball hoops, and more. Personally for this writer, there’s nothing more romantic than to go on a date with your s/o and have him win a plushie for you. 😛

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Visitors can also look forward to a rich and varied line-up of programmes, from an eclectic collective of youth bands and DJ performances to ventriloquism acts and carolling groups. Go indie and immerse in the adrenaline and energy from homegrown musicians such as pop punk artiste Falling Feathers, petite powerhouse Kexin Tay, hip-hop rapper TheLionCityBoy, and rising star Jasmine Sokko as they reel in the crowd with their blistering sets and repertoire.

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Singapore Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 2018

Last but not least, an awesome carnival demands awesome food, the likes of fairground favourites such as curly fries, sizzling sausages, warm melted raclette, churros and freshly-popped buttery popcorn.

Intrepid gourmands will be spoilt for choice, as there will be everything from Michelin-starred offerings and gourmet burgers and hotdogs, to a delicious array of Japanese treats. For local foodies, expect items like Cendol Soft Serve and Lemongrass Chicken Rice Bowls.

The Prudential Marina Bay Carnival opens daily from 4pm to 11pm. Admission is free, while credits for rides and games can be purchased on-site or online at marinabaycarnival.sg.

**Photos courtesy of Prudential Marina Bay Carnival 

Weekend Wanders: Revisiting SkyAvenue @ Genting Highlands

Even though Genting Highlands is a short one hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, part of the reason why I don’t go up often is because the roads are windy and I get terrible headaches, especially with my dad driving LOL. But it sure doesn’t stop the millions of visitors who throng the mountain top entertainment hub each year to enjoy the cooling weather.

While the name Genting used to be associated with casinos and gambling, they’ve done a pretty good job at branding themselves in recent years as a more family-centric destination, with shopping, exclusive F&B brands and the upcoming FOX theme park (scheduled to open in 2018).

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It’s already been a year since I last visited Sky Avenue, GH’s lifestyle mall, when I went up for a media review of their restaurants, Burger & Lobster, Motorino and Cafes Richard. It was pretty empty back then; the concourse area wasn’t even open.

Since then, the mall has welcomed a over 70+ tenants, from F&B outlets to clothing and luxury goods, as well as entertainment outlets, gaming centres, members club, casino, and more.

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The concourse area is where the mall stages an impressive light show every hour, featuring balls of light that bob up and down in rhythmic patterns, accompanied by music. It’s called the Sky Symphony. Video below:

Bubble lights

A post shared by erisgoesto (@erisgoesto) on

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Wandered around the mall and came across a family entertainment centre. There was a playground for the kids complete with animatronic dinos, train rides, vending machines, and a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum.

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The parents can probably enjoy a nice relaxing massage / fish spa while the kids have fun.

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Then Pops and the Bro went to play slot machines, while the Moomikins and I went shopping at Padini. My worries about the place having higher prices was unfounded; prices are standard, and they have a nice selection of clothes too.

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Cute outfit. Too bad I’m broke af atm.

Tbh, there wasn’t much to do apart from shopping since I don’t gamble and the theme park isn’t open yet. It didn’t feel much different from a mall down in KL, since you only get to feel the fog and cold weather when you step outside. We thought lunch at the food court-esque Malaysian Food Street would be cheaper, but the Roti Canai costs RM14!?????? Probably targeted at the foreign tourists, but come on… seven times the price is too much. I’d rather pay that amount for a meal at a nice Japanese restaurant.

There also seems to be a lack of seats. They probably want you to walk around or pop into a cafe so that you’ll spend more money.. Moomikins and I ended up sitting on the floor (we weren’t the only ones) while waiting for my dad and bro to finish their casino session. (they won seven bucks. still not enough to buy that roti canai).

Welp. Just a quick update on a weekend trip up to Genting! I’m actually looking forward to the theme park opening. Til then.

 

 

 

 

In The End – RIP Chester Bennington

Woke up this morning and as usual, scrolled through my Facebook feed over breakfast.

My heart skipped a beat when I read the news. Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of my long-time favourite band Linkin Park, was found hanged in his home in Beverley Hills from an apparent suicide. He was only 41.

image via cnn.com

I don’t usually feel anything when I read news of celebrity deaths. I mean, sure, it’s sad that someone died, but isn’t that how life is?

This, though.

LP was a big part of my teenage years (some would call them the ‘formative’ years). I remember my first LP song, Papercut, which I heard on a TV segment (back when MTV was still a thing) and fell haplessly in love with. It was unlike any music I had listened to before – raw feelings personified into melody. It spoke to the part of me that was lost and angry, as many of us would have felt as teens: misunderstood, feeling abandoned, unable to fit in, seeking acceptance and purpose. I was a huge fan of their early music. I saved what pocket money I got from school to buy a Walkman and my first Hybrid Theory casette, which I listened to constantly. I also had their Re-Animation and Meteora albums.

It wasn’t until much later, when I was old enough to actually research on his life, that I realised that all that angry/depressing music came from a very dark place. Chester was sexually abused as a child, physically bullied in school, and turned to drugs after his parents divorced. Even after gaining fame, he continued to struggle with alcohol and drugs, maybe even more so because of how the entertainment industry is.

Chester’s death has affected many among my generation, who grew up with LP’s music. My timeline was flooded with RIPs, and posts shared on how Chester and his unique voice has touched their lives.
Perhaps even saved some.

His death has also brought up discussion on mental health and how society reacts to it. There have been really ugly comments on how he is a ‘coward’ for leaving behind is wife and six children. Keyboard warriors, sitting behind the safety of a computer, calling a man who was depressed enough to take his own life a coward. Whatever his reasons may have been, one should not speak ill of the dead. It is disgusting to see the lack of empathy among some members of society. It just reinforces why some people with depression don’t want to speak up at all for fear of being judged.

But, as Chester puts it, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. He is, hopefully, in a better place now, beyond mockery, ridicule and unkind insults.

RIP, Chester Bennington. And thank you.

 

 

 

Mundane Mondays – Playlist

Hello, fellow mundys !

Work is piling up, but I’m procrastinating. I know I can get it done early, but I just choose to leave it to the last minute. I think I’m a masochist, willingly putting myself through torture. 😀

So while I try to get into the mood (for work),  let me share some great gems that have been on my playlist of late:

Hippie Sabotage – Options 

“My idle hands lead to evil thoughts, That’s what I was told

I see a devil tryna creep on up, Ain’t gon get inside my soul” 

Remy Zero – Save Me 

“Somebody save me
Let your warm hands break right through it
Somebody save me
I don’t care how you do it, just stay, stay
C’mon, I’ve been waiting for you” 

Most peeps my generation will remember this tune from Smallville. Used to be obsessed with the song, but it somehow slipped my mind over the years until one of my friends picked it to sing at a karaoke recently. Good memories.

Tyler Burkhart – What’s This Trouble 

“Well I’m just trying to get by; spark my lazy, idle mind
Staring at the walls again, chopped in half by ceiling fans
There’s no letters in the mail; all the bread is going stale
What’s this trouble all about? Guess I’ll have to wait it out” 

Phony Ppl – Why iii Love the Moon 

“Real Love’s so hard to find, just when you think you’ve found it 

The illusions in your eyes, it blinds us all 

So be Careful where you look for love” 

One of those songs for cruising around at night. Hm.

James Bay – Let It Go 

“From throwing clothes across the floor
To teeth and claws and slamming doors at you
If this is all we’re living for
Why are we doing it, doing it, doing it anymore?”

Heard this on the radio a couple of times, but only looked it up recently and got completely hooked. It has been on repeat constantly since last week. One of those songs that reminds one of regrets and loneliness.

 

Have you ever wondered where your life is headed? Right now everything is so uncertain.. but I guess the old Chinese adage goes that the ship will right itself when it arrives at the harbour. On a happier note, lots of travelling in December – Manila and Sabah, and then Taiwan in February.

xoxo