May 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.

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.

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.

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..

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.

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).

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.

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