July 2003


my latest order from cdbaby has arrived. a few reasons i like to shop at cdbaby:

We only sell CDs that come directly from the musicians. No distributors. Musicians send us CDs. We warehouse them, sell them to you, and pay the musicians directly.

Cool thing: in a regular record deal or distribution deal, musicians only make $1-$2 per CD, if they ever get paid by their label. When selling through CD Baby, musicians make $6-$12 per CD, and get paid weekly.

this time around i bought:

magical moods of the theremin – project: pimento

prozak for lovers

the amazing spider-band – volume

tiki moon – kenny sasaki & the tiki boys

project:pimento is great. i’d put it up there with pink martini or don tiki for modern day exotica bands. who knew that the theme to star trek had lyrics? prozak for lovers is ez versions of classic songs like love will tear us apart, london calling, rebel rebel, … well, you get the picture. quite nice too. it makes me want to hear the originals even more. the amazing spider-band i picked up on a whim. it’s re-recordings of the music from the old spiderman cartoon. i like the theme alot, but i’m not sure if i’m loving the complete soundtrack quite as much. kenny sasaki i’m still a bit undecided on. initially i thought the first track on the album was the stand out, and the rest didn’t seem to live up to the promise of that track. but i’m finding the more i listen to it, the more i like it. my initial impressions to things are often wrong so we’ll see.

since i was a returning customer to cdbaby, they sent me this comp called soundtrack for world travel. it’s not as bad as i thought it would be. and i quite liked keme bourema by fula flute on first listen. i may have to investigate them some more.

i don’t know what’s scarier about this. the fact that the fbi is investigating what people read, or that someone felt it was important enough to report what was being read to the fbi. articles like this continue to make me wary of returning to the states even for a visit(via consumptive).

it all reminds me of william s. burroughs:

thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind his own business.

thanks for a nation of finks.

a nation of finks indeed.

a new cd by martin denny has been issued called baked alaska, a live concert recorded in alaska. i believe this is the first time this has been released. i stopped by eslite a few days ago to see if they could special order this as well as dorothy ashby’s afro-harping. but they said it would be very difficult and they probably couldn’t get them(couldn’t special order verve?? how difficult could that possibly be?). so i’m going to have to mail order them. i just hope someone gets in the martin denny aside from collector’s choice, as i’m not willing to pay $11.50 in postage for a single cd. how can a single cd possibly be that much to send? are they packaging it with a boulder attached? sheesh.

block the riaa! the people at techfocus are tired of the riaa quoting them out of context, so now have devised a way to block their ip addresses from accessing their sites. they reccomend others do the same as well. there are some interesting things written in the comments too, especially about how the riaa doesn’t do its research before harassing innocent people. via everlasting blort.

the other night, the public television station here showed tsai ming-liang‘s the river. no english subtitles of course, but since there isn’t that much dialogue, and i’ve seen it before it, it wasn’t too much of a problem. i only caught the last part of the film, but the odd thing i noticed was that when the film was over, all the credits were in english. there were no chinese characters at all. peter said that was because it was made for foreigners, not for taiwanese to see. he’s fond of saying that taiwanese art house films are made for westerner’s or just for money because if they win an award overseas the government here will pay them some sort of cash reward as well. i disagree of course. i don’t think it’s a given that anyone can win awards overseas at film festivals and the such. and to bank on such money would be rather foolish.

taiwanese films tend to be a bit more personal and less commercial. and so the audience here would for the most part reject them just because of that. taiwanese tend to like things that are commercial or succesful in other countries. it’s almost like they need the validation of someone else saying its good for them to admit they like it. i’ve been told by some of my students that some people have this condition where they think anything foreign or western is better than what they can produce themselves. i think this can be extended to local cinema as well.

when peter and i went to pick up that record we’d bought for george, the man told us that most of the people who’d bought things were from outside of taiwan, that taiwanese aren’t interested in those old things. he asked why we’d picked it up, or why we like these old singers, and peter said that they’re more interesting, that the new singers all sound like western or japanese bands but not nearly as good.

there’s a weird attitude that some people here have about music. a taiwanese friend of mine told me that in the west it is common to trade live recordings of various bands among the fans. but here in taiwan, if there is a live recording someone did of a show in taiwan, they might trade that show with people in the west, but they wouldn’t trade it with other taiwanese here. i’m not exactly sure why. does it make it more special if you have something your neighbors don’t have? there is a singer that was popular about 20 years ago that peter really likes. her music hasn’t been re-issued, nor has it been bootlegged. but you’ll see people selling her cd for 100 or 200 u.s. dollars. i think if this was the same case in the west, someone would of bootlegged it or you’d be able to find it for download on some ftp or p2p network. but here no such thing. i don’t really understand this attitude, i like to be exposed to new music, and i like to share new music with my friends. when i discover some new band, often the first thing i want to do is share it with other people. not horde it to myself so others can’t hear it.

the queerness of harry potter. the author seems to go a bit overboard on his reading of harry in terms of gay culture, but i suspect that he’s dead on that the celebration of not being normal is what makes some people hate these books so much. that, and racial themes in the books(pureblood or mixedblood) which really doesn’t seem to get much play in the press. most reports seem to be on how kids and adults adore the books, or conservative christians up in arms about it teaching kids witchcraft, but not much in depth analysis of the themes presented in the books.

speaking of harry, i broke down this last weekend and bought harry potter and the order of the phoenix(interestingly enough that link has a different cover than the one i have, maybe because mine is the uk version?). almost 200 pages until we even get to hogwarts. but i’m enjoying it so far. the new defense against the dark arts teacher reminds me of some of the more moronic teachers i’ve had in the past.

it looks like the u.s. is trying to strongarm the taiwan government into doing what it wants on the isssue of intellectual property rights again. at the same time the person in charge of ipr in taiwan doesn’t seem that concerned, conisdering that the statistics on what taiwan is doing come from last year, and the copyright law here has since been changed some. but once again an article states statistics that i would like to know how they got:

Since 1997, the nation’s music industry has seen its income drop by two thirds. Last year, 16.6 million legal CDs were sold, compared with 41.5 million in 1997, IFPI figures show. Almost one in every two music discs bought in the country is a fake.

how do they know one in every two discs are fake? what if a disc is independantly produced and not part of the ipr? would they still be considered in these statistics? they may suspect one in every two discs are fake, but i don’t see how they can say a blanket statement like that and have anyone with half a brain believe it.

surprisingly, there are voices of reason out there:

Instead of pointing the finger at the government, one IPR expert said, the music industry needs to start paying attention to its customers.

“This is a wake-up call for the music industry to start selling music in the format that people want,” said John Eastwood, a lawyer at Winkler Partners and co-chairman of the Intellectual Property Committee of the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei.

Consumers are tired of paying NT$400 to NT$600 for one good song on a 12-track disc, he said.

cd prices here have increased, and you are getting less and less for that money. instead of treating their customers like criminals, the labels should work on ways to make their releases more special. finally re-issuing a lot of what is in their vaults at a decent price would be a step in the right direction.

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