Monday, November 07, 2005

Music thoughts & other reviews...

Have had the opportunity to listen to a bunch of stuff that's new to me (but most of it's been out for a little while already, I think):

First impressions:

1. Bloodhound Gang - Hefty Fine

Good for a laugh; seems like their recorded sound is much closer to what they do live.

2. Franz Ferdinand - you could have it better

(or whatever the title is)...

A follow-up that has a few real stand-out songs which are excellent. The rest? Well, doesn't do it for me. Their first album was more consistent all the way through, but the songs didn't quite have the high points like they do here.

3. Hard-Fi - Stars of CCTV

The big winner of this week's aquisitions; solid all the way through; kind of like an updated more disco-ey Clash sound.

4. Arcade Fire - Funeral

Some really brilliant stuff on this one, cool orchestrations, fantastic drumming, rocking out, cool male & female vocals; can't complain on this.

5. Kaiser Chiefs -

Solid too.

6. Louis XIV

Seems like they really really really wish they were the White Stripes, and remind me of the Strokes as well.

But, alright anyway; some of the perverted lyrics are pretty funny, and they work their songs around a lot of handclap-enhanced/catchy drum beats.

7. Stubby Little Fingers

Totally ahead of their time (late 70's??!?); they rock pretty hard and are also pretty positive (I felt uplifted listening through). I think MXPX and nearly all of the late 90's early & mid 00's bands owe them some kind of debt.

8. Rammstein - the new one

I've listened to this the least; but I was struck how quiet the first two songs were. But cool in its own way; I'll give this a bit more time later on

9. The prodigy - greatest hits or whatever it's called

I obtained the special edition of this, thinking it would be better; but I think the "bonus" disc might just be a bunch of crap.

Other stuff -

Battlestar Galactica - the newer version.

The DVD set I snagged of seasons 1 & 2 has been pretty good so far; I had been feeling guilty about considering this before...

(even marsha seemed to get into the pilot).

Books -

I'm still working on "Watership Down"; thought it would be worth re-reading - and it totally is.

The author worked in a lot of clever details and descriptions in it; I really admire his style, choice of subject matter, and how he makes it all work (and how he's created a world of rabbit culture and mythology).

Well, I should sleep's late.

Mirroring what's on the website:

It's been while...

I have been maintaining a journal; just haven't been updating the website ( accordingly.

But - without further adeiu, here are some of the gaps in my life, in chronilogical order (from last post, that is)...

Journal - October 26
Business trip.

Chinese airports - still boring, but I realize that is probably true in most airports the world over.
I also realize that previously I've always been using the worse half of the Shenzhen terminal; that probably gave a very bad impression.

Guilty pleasure :
I've said it before & now I'm saying it again - I love Hamasaki Ayumi's music.
She is basically the Britney Spears of j-pop, her music is formulaic, she's totally a product - but I really like her music anyway. It probably helps that I don't understand the lyrics - I sincerely doubt there's anything profound in there. She has some great producers - her techno-y dance songs usually feature more loud guitars than other Asian pop artists - maybe that's why I like her music.

I don't listen to much other j-pop, however, mostly since what I've heard before is super predictable. (not so different than anywhere else) And real cds in japan cost $30. stupid government-propped /inflated recording industry! The pirated selection in China is limited, at best - perhaps that is partly due to it being so chic to hate on japanese at the moment here.
(while I can't condone the Japanese gov'ts ass-backward stance on war attrocities in textbooks, widespread bigotry/racism like in China now seems wrong).

Regardless, people here still seem to love their Sony stuff& their hondas.

Other recent music (at least to me) -

Franz Ferdinand - You could have it.....
Seems good to me.

My chemical Romance-
haven't i heard this before -oh, for the past 5 years???
are so cal pop-punk bands the new boy bands? (seems sc, but the other replacement would be annoying american-idol style "artists" - these people can sing, but where/what is the art?)
I used to seriously like this sound, but how many songs about teenage love can one really be into?

The Used - The Used
Seems okay for what it is. Better than papa roach, but same idea.
If i had paid for this, I'd be disappointed.

Journal Oct 28

Interesting note-
in Wenzhou (RuiAn), the taxi drivers have colluded to keep prices constant.
This is in response to increased oil prices; they'll lose money if they were to use the meter.
However, by law they're restricted to using the meter and using the official gov't mandated pricing scheme.

So now, no one uses the meter - there's no record at all of what has been paid. Prices are agreed upon per what district in town you're going to.
it's strange at first not knowing what is going on, but it makes sense if you understand it. it's a great example of how people in China create workarounds to otherwise unchanging, backwards law.

Journal October 29
Marsha and I are going to Hong Kong now. It's my birthday!

Had a great time last night, home with Marsha (I came back from a business trip around midnight), talking, drinking whiskey, playing with our cats.
Am on the train now towards Kowloon. Major birthday celebration is delayed for a week; I'd prefer a more laid-back weekend.
Reading "Last ofthe Mohecians".

This passage struck me as very funny (in an immature way, fitting for my 26th birthday).

" she artlessly suffered the morning air to blow aside the green veil which descended low from her beaver."

I'm sure there's an explanation for what "beaver" is referring to in this historical context.

I'm also sure i'm not the first reader in years.recent to find that (unintentionally) funny as hell.

Journal November 1
My band had a show; featuring a Nihlistic dancer clad in black for our last song. I think without this dancer's sweet moves, the 8-minute, 2-chord dirge that closes our set(?!?) would have bored the crowd to tears.

Hopefully my band's website should have pictures and maybe a video clip of this memorable performance relatively soon.

A new friend from Italy recorded our entire show and is making a DVD of it (for prosterity, or something).

Journal for November 4

Such a beautiful day, it makes you almost cry.

Perfect sky, gentle breeze, warm sun. Shame to be indoors.

On another note, something has been bothering me for the past week everytime I pass it on the way to work; I just never bother commenting on it until much later - I Can't believe that they opened another barber shop in the same place where one had failed miserably after 2 long years near my apartment.

The new owners seem like nice people; I don't want to see them fail, but I'm just floored that they didn't bother to learn who the past tennant was & why their business failed and that they ignored the 10 other barbershops (of which at least 50% must be legit and not brothels) within a 5 minute walk of the apartment complex.

November 5

Crazy night yesterday. Now I'm slowly recovering from what isn't quite a hangover, as well as a burning ass from sichuan food that was yesterday's dinner.

That's probably more information than the kind souls who read my meandering posts here will care to stand for...

November 6

Not much else to say immediately.

It's a warm day of rest & recovery from last night's festivities - big BBQ party at our office villa for mutual friends; around 30-some people in total. I feel sorry for our Ayi (maid) who will have to clean this tomorrow (but not that sorry, she gets a bonus for it).

Party seemed to go really well; we had lots of food for everyone, it cooked well, apparently no one got food poisoning (or bird flu) so all in all I can't complain.

Since it was a week from my birthday, some people were even nice enough to bring me a few presents!

Not a bad time.

Today is rest and relax day, however - I'm writing this at Starbucks and am meeting up with a friend to hang out with later on.

Marsha is in a serious "rest at home mood".

I felt that it was more important to go out and check on new computer games that may have been released since last week as well as check what new movies are out in the USA (by checking what the bootleggers have to offer...arr matey!!!!!!!)

No good explanation for why I was up so early this morning...but Eigi & Blackie were upset - they had knocked our laundry bag into their litter box and then suddenly were upset that they didn't have a place to releave they tried very hard (and successfully) to get our attention at 7:30 am.

Marsha was up really early too, maybe since I brought some McDonalds breakfast, which totally hit the spot after a hard day's drinking.

November 7

Exciting news - A friend who has a band will be playing in the Rock-it festival in Hong Kong this year...and this friend's regular guitarist is unfortunately, guess who gets to fill in?

Should be fun!

I am practicing a bit in order to prepare.

Here's a press release featuring the artist I will be playing in support of at the upcoming event:

Anyway - that's the deal for now.



Friday, October 28, 2005

it's been a week since my last post

Well, one thing's for certain - I seem to be only able to access and make posts to this blog from my computer at home; via most other ISP's in China this site is just blocked.


Anyway, this really confirms that this isn't really a viable blog location for me; I assume that most of the people reading it (if anyone) are stateside so they have no problems, but it's an issue for me in that I'm only able to post a small part of the time.

Will be working on this slowly.

It's my birthday today! Marsha and I will be visiting Hong Kong for a little while. May not exactly be a relaxing day, but it should be fun.

I look forward to getting at least one real western-style meal.

On a completely unrelated note, I found this article in Slashdot to be really interesting:

While the article referred to in the thread is a bit sensationalistic, it was fun to think about...what if Microsoft were to stop selling in South Korea? What a boost that would be to its competitors...(so I really hope they do it...but realistically speaking, they probably won't).

Monday, October 24, 2005

The stupid "Net Nanny" / Great Firewall of China always blocks good stuff...

The BBC, Time magazine's website, certain fetish sites...

And now, China Telecom won't co-operate with the Blogger...

However, with my other service provider (at home, rather than work)? - no problems.

But, if I suddenly stop posting - that's probably why...

(guess I'd just have to move this thing from off here and host it on my own website).

It's been a year with Eigi!

Today marks the day that we adopted Eigi one year ago!

Time has flown. But, we're very attached to this cat now (can't call him 'little' anymore), in spite of (and also because of) all his eccentricities.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we went out and got him a special bag of halibut + shrimp - flavored wet cat food. He seemed to enjoy it.

That's about all for now; it's time for me to go back to wrapping up my work - sometimes if I'm meeting with my co-workers a lot during the day, I can't get much email ready for the client until I have some time now, at 19:30...

I'm at home now, so doing this stuff is a little like doing homework. I thought I had moved past that!

Anyway, enough procrastination; back to the inbox I go..

Just giving this a try

Well, I never thought that I'd enter the "blogosphere", as I thought it was called, but here I am; doing as much now.

Seems that this may be an even easier way to post updates / journals and whatnot.

I plan to set up something so that this will be directly on my website, but in the meantime, this will do.

In the "how to blog" guides that I've come across on Google, they recommend that you have a theme to your blog.

I'm a bit undecided at the moment - guess I should keep something about living in China, something *maybe about doing business in China, and then maybe something about being a total noob in the world of open-source software.

At the moment, I'll just let it run together as a journal.

Peace -