it's visa renewal time, so today i went to the hospital to pick up my health report. there have been some changes since i did this last year. due to the fact i've been in taiwan for over 3 years i didn't have to do the drug tests, which means no urine sample. but i still have to do the blood tests which i hate as i'm a big scaredy cat and not very fond of needles. i did all that last week, and now the school is applying for my new visa and work permit. if nothing unexpected happens(like last year when they messed up my application) i should have a new arc(alien resident card) in a few weeks and be all set for another year.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
recently they've added lcd monitors on a lot of the busses in order to inflict commercials on paying customers. to say i'm unhappy about this would be an understatement. then today i was on a brand new bus(it even had that new bus smell), and they had monitors showing the news. i'm not sure what is more of a torture the news or bad commercials. but the fun doesn't stop there, as right by the driver is a small monitor so the bus driver can watch while he drives!
Posted by robot action boy at 10:33 PM
Monday, March 29, 2004
Sunday, March 28, 2004
i've read about the internet archive before, but a recent post on the exoticalist reminded me about it again. the archive features books, movies, and live music all available for download legally and for free. they also house the prelinger archive which contains lots of old training and propaganda films. they even have this film called are you popular?, which i'm pretty certain was sampled and used as background in the film whatever happened to susan jane?
Posted by robot action boy at 1:30 PM
Saturday, March 27, 2004
photoblogs.org has a whole section devoted to photomemes. one that has caught my attention recently is the 800 X 600 project. from their guidelines:
The Project is open to all! Collages in this project are made up of 64 pictures total. All 64 pictures must be original photographs, taken by the collage's creator. Each individual picture in the collage is 100 pixels wide by 75 pixels high, oriented horizontally. Pictures should be arranged in an eight picture by eight picture grid, forming the final 800 pixel wide by 600 pixel high collage.
i may give this a try myself. some of the entries really explore a single object or theme well, whereas a few feel more like random shots just put together. i've just noticed that there hasn't been any new entries posted since 2003, i wonder if that means this meme is dead?
Posted by robot action boy at 11:26 AM
Friday, March 26, 2004
Thursday, March 25, 2004
life of brian has some interesting things to say about the presidential election here, and there's also good information that someone posted in his comments here(for some reason they posted the comments in a post about gay marriage, but they are about the election).
yesterday one of my students asked me what i thought of the election. i told her that i thought the kmt were immature and childish, and if i was taiwanese i'd be embarrassed by their behaviour. we were on the way out when she asked this, so i'm not sure what she thought of my thoughts. this is the first class i've been asked about this, and in general i try to avoid discussing politics in the classroom. but sometimes it can't help but come up.
Posted by robot action boy at 1:49 PM
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
there's a thread on metafilter about lars von trier's dogville. funny, i never considered it anti-american, nor would i consider lars a terrible filmaker. something i did learn from this thread, that maybe i'd have been better off not knowing, is that the kingdom has been steven kingified for american audiences.
Posted by robot action boy at 10:30 PM
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Monday, March 22, 2004
Sunday, March 21, 2004
about a week or so ago i blogged about this documentary on french music from the sixties called bardot a-go-go, and now thanks to fwak! i've discovered there's a moog documentary. this looks really cool, in the trailer you can download there's part of a cool interview with robert moog, and even a shot of him playing the theremin. if you are in san francisco there's a live moog event going on. if i lived in san francisco i'd be there for sure.
Posted by robot action boy at 1:55 PM
as a follow up to yesterday's post, the dpp narrowly won the election. i haven't heard or seen if the kmt supporters are crying in the streets and protesting like last year, but they(as well as their canidates) do seem unable to accept the results.
(note: i've since seen the tv news, and the kmt/pfp supporters are acting just as immature, if not more so, as they did last time. if they want to dispute the results then at least follow the legal procedure to do so, trying to run over riot police with their vehicles sure isn't going to help their cause any.)
Posted by robot action boy at 1:08 PM
Saturday, March 20, 2004
today is election day here in taiwan. they are deciding who will be president for the next four years.
yesterday the president and vice-president were shot, but luckily only injured. there are lots of rumours as to who may be responsible, but i doubt we'll ever know. i think it's probably not the kmt(opposition party), though their cronies are largely considered responsible for the first lady being in a wheel chair(the result of a hit and run auto "accident" years before she was first lady). one of my colleagues was certain the president did it himself, but i'm starting to think she's a foreigner shy of a full load.
either way, the election continues. during the last election when the kmt lost, their supporters protested and cried in the streets for weeks. ever since then i've seen them as the cry baby party. if they lose again, it'll be intersting to see if their supporters have matured at all since then. if the kmt wins, china will be happy as the kmt tends to be much more pro-china(to put it mildly).
Posted by robot action boy at 11:26 AM
Friday, March 19, 2004
as if seeing wil smith's name above the title for the film version of i,robot with no mention of isaac asimov isn't bad enough, seeing the trailer reveals that the film is full of one liners! is hollywood incapable of making a good sci-fi film without reducing it to a comedy? via quiddity.
in other bad hollywood ideas, someone actually thinks it's a good thing to remake hairspray? i suspect this has to do with the success of the musical. i haven't seen the stage version. judging from what i have heard of the soundtrack i'm probably not missing much. via fwak!
Posted by robot action boy at 12:05 PM
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
computer programs used on vinyl records:
One strategy that major record companies have been employing lately to deter downloading is adding bonus computer content to new CD releases. I recently discovered that this technique is not unique to CD's, but had in fact been practiced in the vinyl era as well. That's right: there were a handful of records released in the late 70's and early 80's that contained computer programs as part of the audio. This is totally insane, and totally great.
i had no idea some records came with sounds that could be played into a computer and reveal a computer game. i had the pete shelley record they mention, but i don't think i ever realized there was a useable computer program in it. of course, i didn't have a computer at that time so it would have hardly mattered. via scrubbles.
Posted by robot action boy at 11:19 AM
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
the jandek story:
Compared to "real" pop music, Jandek's songs are terrifyingly ugly; in the context of his decades of persistence, the range and mass of his work, they become intensely beautiful and meaningful. They are absolute, pure self-expression, an unfocused, unlit snapshot of his entire adult life. As he told the Texas Monthly reporter who asked him whether he wanted people to "get" what he was doing, "There's nothing to get."
it looks like a great deal of jandek's albums have been re-issued on cd, and you can find more information on the guide to jandek site. and there's even a documentary about him. the trailer makes me really want to see the film and hear more.
a jandek track is also featured on the excellent songs in the keys of z cd companion to the book of the same name.
Posted by robot action boy at 12:17 PM
Monday, March 15, 2004
some more details about the trip to taichung. taichung seems to be in worse economic shape than other cities in taiwan. we saw a lot of closed shops, one of which looked like it closed without paying its employees judging by the graffitti left on its windows. i'm not sure if it was our unfamiliarity with the city, but it was hard to find a decent place to eat dinner at(aside from vendor food of course) and there didn't seem to be a whole lot to do. we did see some interesting cafes, one of which was called marihuana(spelt that way with an h) and featured a big pot leaf on its sign.
waiting to be seated
the first place we went to upon arriving was this restaurant(pictured above) that is made to look like an old taiwanese town(we knew about this place because of this book i got in hsinchu). it's filled with old movie posters and other relics from the past. unfortunately you have to eat to see any of the exhibits. we had fried noodles that were a bit too sweet(they have different menus depending on the time of day, we were there for lunch).
the exhibits were interesting. there were some old posters, one telling people to walk a step behind their elders, and one telling people about birth control. unfortunately, my photos of those came out blurry. there were other interesting things too though:
old taiwanese opera records
old matchbooks and film advertisements.
of course, after seeing all this, i really wanted to buy a book with nice photos of everything, but they had none. they did have tin toys. this is where i bought the toy i posted yesterday.
one of the biggest surprises in taichung was running across this giant bob ross advertisement on the side of a building. i knew he was known here, as i'd seen him on tv, but still it's a bit surprising to seem him hanging on the side of a building like this.
we also went to the confucius temple. students often come here to pray. peter commented that every confucius temple looks the same. sometimes we'll see a distant relative of confucius on tv here. it must be odd to use your ancestor's fame like that. maybe he is famous for some other reason, but i doubt it.
on the bus ride back to taipei they were showing two different movies simultaneously. the monitors on the left side of the bus were showing notting hill, and the monitors on the right were showing fraility. i'm not sure if our seats gave volume for both films though, or if you were stuck with what side of the bus you sat on. i spent the ride back listening to goodbye tower volume one and two on my headphones while drifting from one film to the other.
Posted by robot action boy at 1:49 PM
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Friday, March 12, 2004
what does your musical taste say about your personality? an online quiz that tries to tell you about yourself based on your ratings of genres of music.
apparently i really enjoy complex and reflective music, but don't care much for upbeat and energetic music. you can see the rest of my results here. some of the genres that you rate are a bit vague, i mean when they say punk do they mean the sex pistols or linkin park? and there's no section for easy listening either. via j-walk.
Posted by robot action boy at 11:13 PM
Thursday, March 11, 2004
yesterday i went to the taipei fine arts museum. they had a few interesting shows. in the basement was a show of australian photography. some of these were interesting. however, i think some photoblogs out there have as good if not better work. i'm thinking in particular of .mused, chromgenic, chromasia, and daily dose of imagery. though those blogs tend to border on proffessional photography(some of them may even be proffessional, sometimes it's hard to tell with a blog).
by far my favourite thing at the museum was this show callled reflections of the seventies - taiwan explores its own reality(if you click the picture in that link you can see selections from the show). the great thing about this show was that they had some outsider art. one of the pieces is pictured above. it really lacks the details you can see in the real painting though. from a pamphlet about the show:
untutored artists of the 1970s taiwan found their support mainly from literary and art critics of the day, who discovered and endorsed self-taught artists as representative figures of the nativist style - and in so doing criticized the prevalent modernism.
the funny thing about this is i always associate naieve and outsider art with modern art movements as it's been such a big influence on many contemporary artists. but i guess in taiwan in the 70s it wasn't seen that way.
Posted by robot action boy at 12:17 PM
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
this is a shot of part of the exterior of chiang kai-shek memorial hall. i've been working on some more shots of chiang kai-shek memorial hall over on photo action boy, but we're having server problems so some of the photos aren't showing up unfortunately.
Posted by robot action boy at 9:36 AM
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Monday, March 08, 2004
yesterday i watched the hk film sex for sale. this is a shaw brothers production from 1974. the film is often compared to midnight cowboy. it's been a long time since i've seen midnight cowboy, but i don't think the comparison is quite accurate(midnight cowboy meets valley of the dolls might be a better comparison).
sex for sale deals with a young man that can't really wear a mask(the chinese title of the film is mask) to hide his true feelings. he ends up answering a modelling ad which leads to him sleeping with various people in order to get jobs or have somewhere to stay. an interesting thing about this film is that most of the positions of power are held by women. and it is the women that go after the man not the other way around. there is lots of sex in the film, and i was quite surprised to see that they actually showed women's breasts(no mosaic, which is the norm here). how did hk films go from this to the prudish films of today? maybe this was just an exception?
another surprising thing was that there was a self-hating gay character in the film. and not a minor character used simply for a joke, but one that gets considerable screen time. towards the end of the film there's a funny scene where the main character asks of the gay man "why do i love women? why can't i love men like you do? can't you show me how?!" or something along those lines. eventhough the gay character is a bit of a stereotype, it was interesting that in the end the main character realized he was his only true friend. i wonder if audiences in 1974 were shocked by such a character?
since the film was made in 1974, there are scenes of various apartments which are not without their charms, but even better than the apartments is the music. certain scenes had this groovy hippie freakout music. i had no idea music like this existed in old hk movies. i'd really like to know if this music was written for the film or lifted from other sources. there are songs sung in some of the club scenes, but they seem to have more to do with ballads than freaky rock music.
i'm curious if the other shaw brothers' movies have great music too. i already have my eye on a few more of their dvds that i want to pick up, so i guess i'll soon find out.
you can find a review of the film here along with some stills from the film.
Posted by robot action boy at 1:30 PM
Sunday, March 07, 2004
an interesting article on blogs:
"What we're finding is that the important people on the Web are not necessarily the people with the most explicit links (back to their sites), but the people who cause epidemics in blog networks," said researcher Eytan Adar.
These infectious people can be hard to find because they do not always receive attribution for being the first to point to an interesting idea or news item.
Indeed, the team at HP Labs found that when an idea infected at least 10 blogs, 70 percent of the blogs did not provide links back to another blog that had previously mentioned the idea.
this is something i've noticed quite a bit, people not giving credit to where they found a link or article, or even cases of people stealing images from a web page and making it look like the idea originated with them. the article goes on to talk about a program they have developed to decipher a blog rank. of course when i put in my blog, i get no results found. hmm. i guess i'm really under the radar then. via j-walk.
Posted by robot action boy at 12:45 PM
Saturday, March 06, 2004
beta-lactam records have put up a concert from 1986 by edward ka-spel for download(you have to scroll down a bit). there are even a few legendary pink dots songs performed as well. the 80s is my favourite period for ka-spel and legendary pink dots releases, so i'm very happy about this.
there are some drawbacks though. the mp3 is one long file(but it is at a high bit rate), and the artwork they provide requires that you use this program called stuff it to open the file. i hate it when i have to download a program just to open something(especially when i have no real interest in the program itself). i'm not very happy with this program as it decided to change all the zip file associations on my computer without asking to do so. another drawback is it doesn't seem to come with any information on uninstalling. it's only a trial version, but i'd still like a simple way to uninstall it. if i'd been interested in buying it, this would cement the fact that i wouldn't do so. via the cloud-zero list.
Posted by robot action boy at 10:26 PM
Friday, March 05, 2004
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
it's no secret that i'm a sucker for these record cover galleries, and here's yet another one: cover heaven. the only problem with the site is the pictures are kind of small(you can see them bigger by hitting the detail button but still...) and for me at least, the page loaded a bit slow when you'd go to the next page. via the exoticalist.
Posted by robot action boy at 1:11 PM