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Broadening my Horizons


About a year ago, I joined emusic.com, a fabulous site which, for US$9,99 a month allows me to download 40 songs. That’s 25c a song. At first, I just downloaded a few of the artists I already knew and enjoyed, but soon I found that there were no more artists I knew and liked available. Most of the downloads of the majors are restricted to the US, Canada and UK.

This forced me to come to a decision: give up because it doesn’t have any music I want to hear or force myself to start listening to artists I’d never heard of. Fortunately for me, I chose the latter option and during my emusic journey, I’ve expanded my selection to include various artists I’d never even heard of.

I honestly feel the richer for the experience.

Here are some of the more notable artists I heard for the first time on emusic and have had repeatedly my playlists over the last year:

  • Badly Drawn Boy
  • Cat Power
  • Damien Rice
  • Elbow
  • Elliott Smith
  • Gogol Bordello
  • iLIKETRAINS
  • The Mountain Goats
  • Sarah Nixey  
  • Sia
  • Spoon
  • Susu
  • The Vanden Plas

The problem with the Internet and the supposed “freedom of information” is that we are given “ultimate choice”, we ultimately choose nothing. We just end up pumping ourselves up with what we already know and want; with what’s comfortable. So I asked myself, what’s the point of having a choice if we never use it?

It was as if hearing this music was a catalyst. I’ve started exploring the Internet wider and further afield, reading news and blogs outside of my usual narrow field of interest: computers, specifically Apple/Mac.

One of the more difficult decisions to make, when one has only a few hours per week available to one’s self is the choice of entertainment. I have forced myself to start reading and listening to novels again and am really enjoying it after a hiatus of nearly 10 years! 

Another was to change the area of films I’m watching and try to watch one film a week rather than spend another two hours on the internet.

Instead of going to the video shop and ending up renting another Sci-fi flick, I’ve spent a few of my lunchtimes at work over the last few weeks creating shortlists of films in different categories I want to rent and see and perhaps buy if I enjoy them.

I only had a few criteria:

Avoid the following genres:

  • Scifi (ala Matrix)
  • Techy/Geeky (ala Swordfish) 
  • Fantasy (ala Lord of the Rings)
  • Action (Ala Bourne Identity)  
  • Political/Police Thriller (ala 16 Blocks)
  • Horror (ala Ring) 
  • Documentary (ala An inconvenient truth – it’s just a form of news)

The above categories account for over 90% of the films in my collection! For a while, I thought… Christ, what’s left? Comedy? But actually, there’s a lot more out there than just plain comedy.

  • Historical – for example Period dramas
  • Biographical – stories about famous people, perhaps.
  • Human Drama – Overocming tragedy etc.
  • World Cinema – a condescending title for stuff not in English.
  • Gay & Lesbian – A kind of pigeonholing of a broad range of films.

Oh yes, 

  • Comedy – Funny stuff. I added this because I realised that besides Jim Carey, I have virtually no comedy at all in my library!

 

I’ve been interested in Asian Cimena, especially cross-cultural films for some time but never seem to have the chance to watch any films by myself, for myself. So, I decided to delve into the deep end and mix a few of these themes together.

I found some killer websites which detailed films based on various genres, but after a few days, one clear winner emerged for me. By far the most active, exciting, vibrant and colourful selection of movies was under Gay and Lesbian films. They have such a great community built about them, discussing, comparing, recommending, reading into and extrapolating them. It was a no brainer.

Even more surprising was the fact that Asian gay and lesbian films were extremely prominent. And, so as to start myself with a reasonable selection, I chose this genre and have drawn up a shortlist of about 15 films.

A couple, The Butterfy and saving Face, both from 2004, I watched last week and the week before and will talk about in another post. The rest, I’m awaiting a few hours to watch with eager anticipation!

I’m glad to have taken the plunge and tried to escape the self imposed restrictions that ultimate freedom of choice incurs!!!

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