Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My 1000th Post: An Earned Look Back


Here I am in Hong Kong, doing my 1,000th blog post.

(Well, that's not entirely true as I deleted a few posts this year. One or two early political posts bit the dust. Additionally, I deleted all those posts from last spring where I was attempting to sell off my Shaw Brothers DVD collection. And, just last week I deleted all of my old Anthony Bourdain posts, the ones that were simply regurgitations of marketing copy from The Travel Channel's PR firm. So, technically, I've already done more than 1,000 posts!)

Admittedly, it took me a while to find my blogging voice and move beyond simply copying the bloggers that inspired me in the first place.

I'm not a great writer but I know my voice and I feel comfortable blogging about certain things.

For example...

MUSIC

Yes, I've being doing a lot of music posts lately.

This all started when I asked for, and received, some album I wanted to hear but couldn't find in America. I just wanted a copy and figured that reviewing it would give me a chance to get it. It certainly proved easier than ordering the CD from Amazon.co.uk (it wasn't on US iTunes, and I don't do illegal downloads for various reasons, namely because I want to know I've got the real thing when I load it to my iTunes).

My whole little hobby of reviewing albums started that way.


Then, through some weird chain of events I can't even recall now, I got some MP3s to give away from Gwenno of The Pipettes.

That post helped me to get my hands on the marvelous debut album from ex-Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall. Not only did I get it for free, without having to order it from England, I got it early. My review of the record convinced me that I could begin to write about music on my formerly film-centric blog.

(It's also worth mentioning that I'm happy to have an album as a download. Having sold off my CD collection in 2008 -- after spending 2 weeks loading the stuff to iTunes and a portable hard drive -- I am now comfortable having an enormous digital collection with no more CDs to schlep around.)

In 2010 - 2011, I managed to get for free nearly all the big releases I wanted to hear including Sophie Ellis Bextor's Make A Scene, as well as the Beady Eye record, and the Noel Gallagher album.


In case anyone was wondering, I decided more than a year ago to only write about music that I enjoy.

I now get stuff sent to me via e-mail and there are plenty of things that I don't bother to listen to, and certainly don't want to write about.

I just feel like my limited talents can be better utilized by championing the things I enjoy. That's something I can do pretty easily.

Me being critical about all the hipster bands that I hate is something best left to conversations with my friends offline.

MOVIES

Yeah, despite being in Hong Kong now as a result of my love of Chinese cinema, I'm sort of sick of modern Chinese stuff now.

This city is so exciting and fun that it seems even more of a tragedy that local cinema is so awful now.

The rare gems -- see below -- are outweighed by dozens and dozens of truly atrocious, inept, and amateurish productions.


I really admire the stamina of The Gang of Film because -- let's be honest here -- the glory days of local cinema are over.

It's work sitting through some of this crap.

Too many films are co-productions with the Mainland and, thus, targeted at Mainland audiences, and not local Hong Kong ones.

There are still some interesting titles but they seem more of a rarity now.

Luckily, I'm now here near Lunar New Year which means that some (hopefully) fun and silly titles will be coming out in the next few weeks.

Additionally, these movies might feel more local than some of the other titles I've seen here lately.

It's a sad era indeed when the presence of the perky Charlene Choi is something to look forward to. But even she can't save some of this recent crap. Case in point...

So I've been watching more old stuff -- Chinese and Western -- lately. And I feel like I provided some sort of public service by reviewing more than 125 Shaw Brothers DVDs -- check out those links at the top of the home page.

And, thanks to some prodding by friends, I began to branch out and review other stuff.



By doing this, I sort of reminded myself of how much I used to enjoy stuff like the horror films of England's Hammer studios.

And I went back to some of the old Godzilla titles that I watched in horrible dubbed and edited versions when I was a kid.


Those films gave me just as much pleasure as an adult as they did when I was a kid and I used my nostalgia for my monster movie-infused youth to try to capture in words the joy of watching something fun.

Hopefully, my enthusiasm has come through in those posts.

I've barely scratched the surface of the non-Chinese stuff I love. I grew up on movies and there are so many titles that I'd love to write about in the future.

COMIC BOOKS

I can't afford to keep up with comics the way I did in the past. Besides, where would I get those trade paperbacks over here?

No, now there are a few things I can read online and all the comic book-inspired films to keep up with.

Still, don't be surprised if you find me posting about Jack Kirby or George Perez again.


TRAVELS (AND PERSONAL STUFF)

I haven't traveled much in my life but, prior to 2012, I had been to Hong Kong 5 times for a total of 77 days.

Now I live here.

As I look for a job here, I've been doing some justified and necessary soul-searching.

I'm going to keep the navel-gazing to a minimum here, but I just want to say that it's now apparent that so much of who I was was wrapped up in my reactions to things I hated at home that it's odd to be free of those things now.

I'm glad that I'm not that guy anymore. I don't miss being that guy who was always complaining about his commute, or griping about the annoyances of his job and the people he worked with.

I escaped. That was a start.

Now it's time to plot my future.

And while I have been a bit too honest in some posts in the past, I don't regret it; it's liberating to write about yourself and not care if anyone will ever read the posts, or care what they will think when/if they do.

Believe me, I've got loads of stories that I'd never post on this blog.

But it's all about the future now.

Despite feeling a bit dejected at the moment, on the whole I'm optimistic.

I shed the things that were depressing me back in the States and, hopefully, with a little luck, I'll be able to have a new life here.

A life closer to the one I've wanted for such a long time.

Here's looking forward to the next thousand posts.

The first sign of a blue sky here in almost 6 days...