Saturday, May 31, 2003

an interesting article on taste tribes(via scrubbles). the way people often interact with other people not because of who they are but because of what they like.

it's a nice article, but when i think of most of the people i know in taiwan, i wouldn't say i was friends with them because we like the same things. though i know in the past i would often become friends with people because we liked the same things(usually music), but overtime our tastes might diverge yet that wouldn't change our friendship.

the problem with taste tribes(or on line communities) is often they are too narrow for me. three of the mailing lists i'm on are the exoticalist, the pizzicato five mailing list, and cloud-zero(legendary pink dots mailing list). if the pizzicato five mailing list was to limit itself purely to talking about p-5 i'd be horribly bored, but as it is, posts often go off on weird tangents to thai pop music, brasillian music, etc. though recently what is discussed on that list i find less and less interesting. the cloud-zero list tends to be limited in discussion to lpd related material, and bands in a similiar vein(current 93, nww, etc.). but rarely does it go off into larger discussions in music. sometimes i think the people on that list have a rather narrow view of music, but that may just be a surface appearance. the exoticalist is by far the most wide ranging list. i know that at one time there was a very narrow subject matter discussed there. but these days everything from les baxter and martin denny to throbbing gristle and german new wave music will get discussed. the connection between these are not so far apart, yet it's interesting how throbbing gristle may come up on cloud-zero, but martin denny would not. but on exotica these tangents happen quite a bit. but maybe that is because a large number of people on the list came to exotica/spaceage pop through listening to a lot of post punk bands, whereas people on cloud-zero may still only be listening to those post-punk bands and their followers.

but to come back to the article, it also brought up blogs, and why do we link back to other blogs? i tend to link to blogs i read. but i also link back to sites where i found certain pages or links(ie the link to scrubbles above). it seems only right to let people know who clued you onto some site. i know there are blogs out there that don't have a list of blogs they read, nor tell you who clued them into certain pages they link to. sometimes i find blogs with no links like that to be lacking something, or it feels like they don't want to have anything take away from them. well, a blog is after all rather self-indulgent in itself, but i like the idea of being able to discover new blogs via the place someone has found certain links. a blog that doesn't reveal where they discovered things often feel like a dead end.

Friday, May 30, 2003

the tv toy memories site. lots of fun stuff here, most of which appears to be for sale. their main page says:

It is our feeling that the Baby Boomers should be able to experience their childhoods a second time.

so the rest of us shouldn't be able to? besides the last time i checked donny and marie were not part of the baby boomers childhood. but still lots of nice stuff here. via quiddity.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

before i had blogged about trying to find contemporary food packaging that had a visual style similiar to the style found in the kids' krazy food book. well, a few days ago i bought this candy(apologies if you can't see the picture, still having some server problems). it appears to be a lollipop that you can dip in pop rocks. i haven't opened it yet, so i'm not sure if that is what it really is.

yesterday at fnac i saw some japanese book on brands and characters used to advertise different products(the book is japanese, but the brands are not only japanese). most of what i saw in there was from the last 10 or 15 years and for the most part rather sterile and uninteresting to me. so what sets apart the drawings from the 50s and 60s from today? i have a hard time pin pointing what it is exactly i like about these older drawings. i don't believe it is only nostalgia, i think there is something else that seperates them, a sense of fun, or wackiness, which i don't seem to find in most of the newer illustrations. but does that sense of fun have to do more with me, or is it something inherent in the drawings themselves?

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

every once in awhile one of my students will ask me about what kind of music i like. usually because i mention that i don't like music that is too commercial. i've rarely got a pat answer for them. when i was younger it was easier to answer such a question. i could just say alternative or underground music. but now that alternative is used to describe things like green day and linkin park it hardly suits what i listen to. also my musical taste has expanded much beyond the indie/goth/industrial stuff i used to listen to to include jazz, easy listening, spaceage pop, exotica and so on.

if i mention i like bossa nova at least a few of my students will understand as this music has become very popular to be played in cafes. but most students knowledge of music tends to be restricted to the terms jazz, techno, pop, heavy metal, and classical. most of the things i listen to don't really fall into these categories.

once i had a student surprise me and tell me he liked noise bands. i reccomended he give throbbing gristle and nurse with wound a listen. i'm not sure if he did or not though.

sometimes i may mention i like nakashi and i'll be met with either laughter or tears or complete horror. nakashi is similiar to japanese enka music(but more interesting to me than enka).

is it better that i don't know what to say when students ask me this question or would it be better to have a simple answer? maybe i should just describe my taste in music like my friend eric would describe it, off the deep end.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

the fractal portrait project. inside of me many fragmental parts of those artists exist. of course, even your fractal is mixed with me. and my fractal exists with you.

Monday, May 26, 2003

today one of my students fed me rice. what she called "oil rice", it's very sticky, not unlike zongzi. the reason for this treat was that someone in the office had a baby, and when it's a month old, the tradition is to feed people this special kind of rice. traditionally you give people this rice if it's a boy, and a cake if it's a girl. but now either is fine. i think it has more to do with which the parents prefer.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

apparently some people have gotten in trouble for taking pictures inside a starbucks. i can't say i'm surprised as i think most stores have such a policy now. but that doesn't make it right. i'd like to hear the legal grounds for forbidding photography in certain places.

years ago i had a photography teacher who said that you were legally allowed to take pictures in the mall, as it was considered photojournalism. but i'm not sure of the reasons why, i think he said a mall is considered a public place. which makes me wonder what is considered public and what is considered private? a park is public but a store is not? and what are the rules internationally?

there's a pdf file available here about a photographer's rights, but it still is pretty general, and of course is written about rights in the states, but what about canada, japan, gemany? i'd be curious to know about the rules outside the u.s..

Saturday, May 24, 2003

the eyeball loves the world. i wonder if this person likes the residents? i saw a small display of their work at fnac, so i will probably go back and see if there are any little books of the art that are cheap enough for me to afford.

Friday, May 23, 2003

last night i watched the mad monster party dvd. this is by the same team of rankin/bass that made those wonderful chirstmas specials like the year without a santa claus. i'd read bits about this for years, but wasn't sure if i had ever seen it as a child. now i can confirm that i had never seen it as a child, if i had i probably would of liked it a little more than i did. i did like it, how could i not love something that has phyllis diller and boris karloff in it together? but some of the humour didn't do much for me, and some of the story meandered needlessly. the dvd comes with a nice booklet detailing the history of this film as well as a set of postcards. in the booklet they mention that some of the scenes were added to make the film longer, and that arthur rankin was not happy with those scenes. i agree, those were my least favourite scenes in the film, and they definately slow it down. also the film doesn't seem to have the emotional depth that the christmas specials do.

yesterday i blogged about my paper work being all done and so i needed to go get my new alien resident card. well, apparently, they aren't just trying to make a quick buck off me with that needless extension. since i paid for that, i didn't have to pay for the renewed alien resident card. so now i'm all set and legal for another year.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

yesterday was a day of surprises. first i went to ait(american institute in taiwan - the fake u.s. consulate here since the u.s. doesn't have official ties to taiwan) to pick up my tax forms. despite there being a sign saying they had forms, when i got to the front of the line they were out. i wasn't happy. but i managed to download the forms on line which was a hassle in itself. the irs sure doesn't make anything simple. it's bad enough i have to file two forms just to prove i don't have to pay anything.

after ait i taught my classes. before my first class i get a call and they tell me my visa is ready! oh happy day! now the odd thing about all this is the government made me get an extension on my visa because they said there wasn't enough time to process all the paperwork for the new one. well, now it is ready, and my original visa has not yet expired. was the extension just so they could make a little extra cash off me? well, i'm just happy i've got it. so today the plan is to get my new alien resident card. then i'll be all set.

when i got home even more good news awaited me. my dvds had arrived! pretty quick too. so last night while everyone was busy with other things i commandeered the tv and watched a few episodes of captain scarlet.

(there seems to be some problems with pictures disappearing on my blog, the problem should be resolved in a few months, but until then they'll probably be off and on).

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

yesterday i got my first single from the dark beloved cloud singles club. the best thing about this singles club is its free:

We here at Dark Beloved Cloud really like singles: little recordings focused on one great song that's not part of an album, with extra stuff that complements that great song somehow. And, as much as we love selling records and CDs, we also really like giving people music in exchange for something other than money. Hence, the Dark Beloved Cloud Singles Club.

Every month or two, you'll get a 3-inch (small!) CD (like the current Singing Catalogue--yes, they play in virtually any CD player). They're songs exclusive to these singles, and they're by some pretty amazing bands. Small, simple, cute, great.

And how do you get them? You can get a six-disc subscription to the dbc singles club by sending us your name, your address, and six hand-decorated 3" x 3" cards. They will, in turn, become the "cover artwork" for six other subscribers' singles.

so awhile back i sent in some art work(or in my case pictures i had taken) and so yesterday i got my first disc. unfortunately, the person who did the art work for this disc thought it would be a good idea to use oil pastel, and to draw on both sides of the card they sent in, thus getting pastel on the cd itself. the disc wouldn't play when i first got it, but i was able to get enough of the pastel off for it to play.

the band featured on this single is cordelia's dad. the first song is acoustic/folky. closer to current 93 than peter paul and mary. it wasn't too bad, with a female singer. the next two songs have a male singer and crossed that folkiness with a more 70s rock thing that just wasn't my thing. there's a certain kind of rock guitar solo that i just can't get into, and this had it. the male singer, just didn't do anything for me as well. for some reason i kept thinking of almost famous while listening to this, but i like the music in that film better.

hopefully the next single that arrives will be more to my tastes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

the art of jim flora. i'd never heard of him before, but i recognize the style. i'm sure i've owned some of the records he designed illustrations for, and maybe even some of his books. via cockeyed absurdist.

Monday, May 19, 2003

i don't know why i find this so interesting, but discovering that dj food has contributed something to otis fodder's 365 days project struck me as such. i guess it's nice to imagine him looking for those odd gems in thrift stores like those wonderful freaks on the exoticalist, actually it makes me wonder if he is on the exoticalist.

recently i noticed a link from the severed heads page to 365 days, i guess it shows the connection between that old industrial and electronic music from the 80s to exotica/space age pop. the connection isn't so odd especially if you consider the influence such music had on throbbing gristle and has on nurse with wound. but i still run into people who can't see the connection or just can't understand why anyone would willingly listen to such things. i think i'm more surprised that people don't understand that then the likes of severed heads having a link, if anything seeing that link to 365 days on the severed heads page gave me more respect for them.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

decaying apartments in taipei.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

tonight peter, me and the rest of our roomates went to see the matrix reloaded. we went to see it in hsiminting as the theaters there tend to be a bit better than the ones near our house. hsiminting is usually crawling with teenagers, but tonight it was pretty empty. the sars scare of course, as it's not too far from hoping hospital. the theater wasn't crowded at all, about 30 people. peter kept commenting that there were lots of gay couples there, but i'm not sure if that was for real or just wishful thinking on his part.

i wasn't that impressed with the movie. i don't know what i was expecting, but i guess it was a little more than this. the fight sequences were ok, but too many. and if neo can fly, why does he hang around fighting when it's not neccesary, and why take so long to kill some of the bad guys?(i know it's just a sci-fi flick but still...) morpheus' speech in the temple seemed, i dunno, silly. as did the dance and the sex scene.

just when the film felt like it was getting somewhere it ended.did it really have to take this long to set up the third film? i think i have a problem with a film that feels it neccesary to show scenes for the next film in it's ending. it's not that i hated the movie, i just felt like it meandered a lot without really going anywhere. on the other hand, peter liked it a lot. said he liked it better than xmen 2 and maybe even more than the first matrix movie.

how greedy can the u.s. government be? first they give a tax cut to the rich, and now they want to tax those of us living abroad, which means we would have to pay taxes twice. how could anyone even begin to think making someone pay taxes twice is a good thing? when i hear about things like this and things like the abuses of the patriot act it makes me never want to return to the u.s. at least all the news isn't bad news, looks like there are people fighting to remove the portion of the patriot act that says the u.s. government has the right to snoop into what you are reading without you knowing about it. but still, i'd feel much better if the patriot act was repealed altogether.

Friday, May 16, 2003

the krazy kids' food book has made me wonder, is my interest in this only nostalgia or is it the design and illustraions on the packaging? i think it's probably a little of both, but it made me wonder is there food packaging like this out there now that is as interesting? so the other night at the convenience store i took a look around to see if i could find anything that compared to some of the images in the book. i saw a few things that were leaning in that direction, among them was this box of korean animal crackers.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

a few days ago i got a call from the eslite bookstore telling me the copy of krazy kids' food i'd special ordered had arrived. i ordered this book almost as soon as i discovered its existence. i've only thumbed through the pages, not read the introductory essay, but something i didn't realize is that the book is put together by the same people responsible for the wonderful tick tock toys archive. the book has me craving some kool pops, chocolate milk. and kool-aid but not all at the same time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

yesterday i went to the taipei fine arts museum. they are having an exhibit of archigram, a group of forward thinking architects from the 1960s. the show was really great, while looking at the different models and displays it struct me how similiar some of the work was to various toys i played with as a child, does that mean those toys i thought were just fun were also educational? i'd never heard of archigram, it seems odd that i hadn't come across them before. it makes me wonder what other wonderful surprises are out there just waiting to be discovered or rediscovered?

also at the museum i checked out a show by lu hsien-ming who just won the second liao chi-chun oil painting award. some of his work reminded me of robert longo. the images on their web page don't really do justice to what the images look like in real life though.

on a side note, before entering the museum, they required everyone to have their temperature taken, and then to wear masks while in the museum. ugh. looking around a museum in a hot mask is not very fun. this is one of the few places requiring you to wear a mask while in the building though. i guess they are thinking there will be large crowds there, but it was pretty empty yesterday.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

signs in the mrt(subway) station. the one on the left says:

effective 11 may, 2003, passengers without wearing mask cannot take mrt. sorry for incovenience to you.

and the sign on the right says:

metro stations have been thoroughly disinfected to ensure passenger safety.

trtc cares for you!

at some of the stations i've even heard them announcing this message over the loudspeakers, even in english. i've heard there is a big fine if you don't wear a mask, but i have yet to see any information on that posted in any of the stations. the first day i rode the mrt after they started this policy, the man across from me had his mask on around his neck, but not across his mouth or nose, and at one point even took it completely off. i've not seen anyone do that since though.

Monday, May 12, 2003

guy maddin is working on a new film starring isabella rosellini. apparently she's legless in this film, and it's a musical to boot! why does it seem completely natural for guy maddin to be doing a musical? sadly i'll probably have to wait till the film is released on dvd to see it, as i doubt it'll play here unless it makes an appearance at some film festival. a few years ago i saw a bunch of his films at a festival here, i sat in the back of the theater looking around at the audience wondering to myself who are these freaks? and why aren't they my friends? via

today i went to the foreign affairs police station to get my visa extended, and luckily it went without a hitch. so now i'm good until june 24. but before then i should hopefully have my new visa and be set for another year.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

space age pop a go-go, 100 pages of exotica and space age pop record covers. whenever i come across a site like this it makes me want to collect records again. one nice thing about this site is that the scans are quite large and of a higher quality than you get on some pages like this. plus the site includes tracklists from the records as well as excerpts from the liner notes. via j-walk.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

a really impressive site of the art of elizabeth mcgrath. i especially like her taxidermy toys and she even has some monkeys. i'd love to have one of her pieces or even a book on the work, but i'm sure it's out of my price range. via badbadak.

Friday, May 09, 2003

tonight i got this terrible phone call from the school i work for telling me that my application for my new visa has been rejected. apparently there isn't enough time to process it. this is the school's fault because the person in charge of applying has never done it before, and has caused quite a few delays by not having all the paper work prepared in time. needless to say i am very unhappy about it all. so on monday we have to go to the foreign affairs police station to see if we can get an extension on my current visa so that i can apply for the renewal. if i'm unable to get this extension i think i'll have to leave taiwan and go on a visa run. normally such a visa run would be to hk, but now that is not possible because of sars. so i'm thinking it will probably be to japan. if all else fails i'll be forced to return to the states which i really don't want to do.

a nice little site here about strange fruit, the billie holiday song. i never knew it was based on a poem by a radical school teacher.

last night i taught at a company, after class i was in the elevator and one of my students pointed out a sign that tells people not to speak in the elevator(becaues of sars), but of course no one follows it. is this just paranoia? it's the first time i'd heard of such a thing.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

last night peter gave me this mask and insisted that i wear it when i ride the mrt(subway). i told him i'd do it, though i'm still not convinced a mask does much good against sars.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

at one time my friend paul had a blog. but he grew tired of it and gave up on blogging. well, apparently, he couldn't stay away. he's back with a new blog, the cheshire cat correspondence.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

monkey art! well, actually this site has much more to offer than paintings of monkeys. i'd love to see a show of craig larotonda and kim maria or even take a look at a book of their work. somehow i doubt i'll see their work showing up here in taipei. via iconomy.

Monday, May 05, 2003

today i usually teach several classes in an insurance company. when i got to the building, they were checking everyone's temperature and making everyone wear a mask. i of course had no mask, but they let me in this time but told me to get one. the whole mask thing is sort of ridiculous, because people would wear them as they entered take an escalator up to the elevators and take them off. so why wear them at all? my students told me they thought the whole thing was rather silly.

when i got to the office of the insurance company, i was told one of my classes was cancelled and that one of the students in that class has been quarantined. my first question was do i need to be quarantined? but apparently i do not as her co-workers don't need to be. basically it's a case of someone this student's mother knows, so unless my student gets sick it won't be neccesary for me to be quarantined. i knew it was only a matter of time until one of my students was quarantined, but still its a bit surprising.

from reading j-walk i learned that the major labels think messing up your computer for downloading songs is a good thing. when i read things like that it just makes me want to see them hacked into oblivion. i know quite a few people just plainly aren't buying music from the major labels at all. i'm not quite to that point, but i'm getting there. there's been a big buzz about apple's new download service, but why would someone pay a buck a song? that's much too expensive in my book, and apparently some people agree. suspiciously in all the articles i've read about this none have mentioned emusic. i'm thinking about giving their service a try, they seem by far the best even if their selection may not have as many new releases, but at least it isn't some stupid pay per song system.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

awhile back i blogged that i was planning to order some dvds. today i got an email from deep discount dvd telling me my order had shipped. i'm getting:

  • the fantastic planet
  • mad monster party
  • mesa of lost women
  • captain scarlet
  • pink flamingoes/female trouble

i ordered teenagers from outer space as well, but it doesn't look like it shipped with this order. i'm having trouble logging in(it keeps saying i have the wrong user name) so i can't see if that was cancelled or will ship later or what. i wanted to get the violent years as well, but it wasn't avaiable from this on line shop. i may order it at a later date from somewhere else.

originally i was going to order some of these dvds from dvdsoon, however when i went to order and had filled out most of their required information, i discovered taiwan was not in their list of shipping destinations nor was hk for that matter. but no where on the site did it say that they didn't ship to these countries. i had to email them to find out. if they had a simple list of countries they do ship to, i wouldn't of had to gone through all that hassle. needless to say when i do searches on dvd price search i have now excluded them from sites searched.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

across the street from the school i was teaching at today reporters were all camped out. apparently, a student at the best all boys high school in taipei decided it'd be ok to break quarantine to attend classes at his cram school(not the school i work at though). needless to say everyone in his class is now quarantined. for a student smart enough to get into the best high school here, he seems to be pretty stupid. i haven't been able to find any reports on this in english though(found one here). then when i got home my roomates were telling me they'd heard that if you get sars they will kill your pets as a precaution. i haven't been able to find any news reports on this yet, so i'm not sure if it's true or just a rumour. i have heard of similiar things happening in beijing though.

a collection of esp/astrological/mind control records, and they are even for sale! seeing sites like these, makes me miss my days of collecting vinyl and thrifting. via dublog.

Friday, May 02, 2003

i was nearly late to work this afternoon due to watching all the great stuff on retromedia. they have loads of video clips of openings from tv shows, tv movie adverts, as well as commercials. i was especially happy to see hello larry included in here. this is the tv show that taught me the term tie a can to it! as a way to say shut up. it was also an offshoot of diff'rent strokes and starred the ever lovely kim richards. still i think i preferred her in the witch mountain movies. other clips here i was especially happy to see were for the openings of zoom and the electric company. when i go back and watch clips like these, i see where my interest in bands like the free design come from. via scrubbles.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

today is labor day in taiwan. the school i work for isn't closed today, but since my only class for today is at a company and they were off today i got it off too. since both peter and i had today off we decided to go to see x-men two, which opened here yesterday. the theater was pretty empty, but then it's a rainy day and the theater we went to is in the same area as one of the quarantined hospitals. i enjoyed the movie, though there didn't seem to be as much character development as in the first film, and some of the characters didn't seem to have a lot to do. before we went into the theater they checked our temperatures but we didn't have to wear masks, which i heard some theaters were making people do.

before the film started they showed the trailer for matrix reloaded which looks pretty good, and the trailer for hulk, which looks, well, bad. hulk looks too much like a cartoon and too big, and too strong. i'm not familiar with the comic, so maybe that is the way he is portrayed in the comic, but i much prefer the way they had hulk in the old tv series. plus here the actor playing bruce banner looks too strong even before he turns into the hulk. i may still end up seeing it at the cheap theater out of curiousity, but i doubt i'll be paying full price for it.

the world as a blog. i really like this idea, it's a map of the world that shows where blogs are being updated around the world as it happens. you need geo tags, an rss feed and to ping for it to work. i understand geo tags ok, but rss feeds confuse me, i'm not exactly sure how they work(and up until now i didn't understand why you would want them) - is it just a simple tag, or more than that? time to do some more thorough research...via idle type.

the sars blog. this was actually much more interesting than i expected. though it doesn't seem to contain much up to date information on taiwan, still nice to have lots of information on the spread of the disease in one place.via brushstroke tv.