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April 30, 2004

rent parties

spaces and places for lindy hop - a useful reference.

The American Library of Congress have a site called 'American Memory - Historical Collections for the National Digital Library'. A quick search for 'lindy' and 'hop' gives you the option of scanned images of the original typed written pages discussing rent parties in Harlem in New York.

This article is really worth reading if you have any history in lindy hop, or in afro-american urban communities of the time. This rent parties article provides a nice complement to my brief history of lindy hop as an afro-american vernacular dance.

"rent parties" was posted by dogpossum on April 30, 2004 7:18 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

April 23, 2004

oh, art


two things, really.
first, they've got this interesting exhibition on at the tate modern in london - that picture is taken inside the turbine hall, where "The Weather Project", by olafur eliasson has proved extra popular with londoners.
basically, they set up that huge space to look like a room with the sun in it. seems brits went nuts over it - just get crazy for the big warm looking ness of it...

the other thing - one of the guys working in the gallery kept a diary in the Guardian, where he talks about the exhibition.
it's interesting stuff.

i've cut-and-pasted the entries into this entry so it doesn't get lost. but make sure you go to the site - i'm sure i've contravened copyright doing this. it's best to go to the site, really - nicer to read.

i loved the the tate mod. it's facinating. i love old factories that have been made into public spaces - the power house in bris (look here for a truly horrible website that almost gives you an idea of the thing. goddamn hack IT designer people. or here for a photo by john linkins from the site) is another fave. i was utterly stunned by the tate mod in london - it's so BIG.

and it sounds like this 'weather' exhibition is making interesting use of all that space. and of the brits' weirdo weather obsession... which can be understood. they don't see the sun in england, in winter. well, they do a bit, but it's pale and far away. and not really sunny.

Secret diary of an art gallery attendant

They came in Santa outfits, with picnics - even a canoe. On the eve of its removal, Adrian Hardwicke recalls how people reacted to The Weather Project

Thursday March 18, 2004
The Guardian

Unearthly: Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project at Tate Modern. Photo: Dan Chung

October 9 2003

One week left until the opening of the next installation in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project seems to be going well, although it's not without its hiccups: suspending a mirrored ceiling more than 100ft above the floor is proving tricky. I've been involved in blacking out the Turbine Hall's huge windows. We did various trials; in one, tape and vinyl were applied directly to the glass. Next morning, I arrived at the gallery - and found the tape was already peeling off. A bit of a panic ensued before the decision was made to use vinyl and paint. It's amazing how if even the tiniest bit of window is missed, it has a profound effect inside the Turbine Hall. I feel like an air-raid warden in the Blitz looking for chinks of light.

October 13

Eliasson wants his project to remain absolutely secret, and so fencing has been installed to prevent anybody seeing into the area. Of course, this just encourages the intrepid visitor to try to find a way in, to see what's going on. I even saw someone getting a lift on another person's shoulders and holding up their camera. The fencing that has been used is fairly basic and I can't quite believe that I have allowed the place to be turned into such a building site. First-time visitors must be bewildered by what is going on.

October 16

Yesterday's opening party was very successful, if bizarre. A few hundred people, enveloped in a theatrical haze, stood sipping cocktails, eating canapes and staring at a giant artificial sun and at themselves in the mirrored ceiling. The light was drained from their features, making it hard to recognise them. A strange experience.

October 20

The commission has attracted a massive amount of media interest, and, as a result, thousands of people are flocking to Tate Modern. The most extraordinary things are happening, things I'm sure no one, least of all the artist, ever envisaged. Visitors are making their way to the end of the Turbine Hall and lying on the floor, using their bodies to make shapes and form words - some predictably obscene - which they can then see in the mirror above them. They are even spelling out website addresses. It has resulted in the most extraordinary social interaction taking place between complete strangers.

October 24

I can't quite believe the droves and droves of people that are coming into the Turbine Hall. It is very unusual for this level of interest to be sustained beyond the initial publicity drive. The work is having all sorts of effects on people - not least a disgruntled member of staff, who decided to write to the newspapers saying that the theatrical haze included a hallucinogenic drug and that we were poisoning everyone. This sort of thing is mildly irritating, to say the least. In fact, the haze is made of just sugar and water, but inevitably there will be people who believe the allegations and Dennis Ahern, the Tate's safety and security manager, has had to go into overdrive to counter that.

November 20

President Bush is due to arrive in the UK for a whirlwind visit. I got a call to go down to the Turbine Hall as we had a number of anti-Bush protesters in. There were about 30 or 40 people, accompanied by a couple of photographers, who wanted to spell out "GO HOME BUSH". At first I thought they were going to manage only "GO HO BU", which wouldn't have been quite as powerful. But eventually enough people joined in. Wild applause broke out for a few minutes and then the protesters went on to their next venue.

November 28

Just when you think you've seen everything . . . A couple are intimately engaged beyond what I would normally expect in a public space. There are passionate moments, and then there are passionate moments. I point them out to my colleague Adrian Jackson and we decide we have got to do something. We flip a coin. He loses and I have great fun watching him tap the gentleman on the shoulder and asking them to break it up. They get up and go off, rather sheepish behind their brazen smiles.

December 15

I arrive at work to be told by a colleague that he has had to cope with a delegation of 50 people dressed as Santa Claus, all descending into the Turbine Hall, ringing bells and making merry. I am convinced he is exaggerating - until I see a photograph on the local community website.

The great thing about this installation is the way in which it seems to make everybody happy. It cuts across all boundaries; young and old alike lie on the floor and gaze at their reflections in the ceiling mirror. At busy times - particularly at the weekend - it is fun to see people try to spot themselves. It seems that families have cottoned on to the fact that it makes a fabulous children's playground. Kids tear around the room having fun - and no doubt get home completely exhausted.

What's also amazing is how much litter people leave. Cleaners are forever having to sweep up discarded cans, sweet wrappers and leaflets. A visitor called me over today to show me that someone had kindly left us an apple. Was this supposed to have some meaning?

January 5 2004

The number of people who got digital cameras for Christmas must be astronomical; flashes are going off every second as people contort themselves into weird and wonderful positions to get the best possible photo. If the person being photographed stands in the right place with their arms aloft, it looks as if they are holding up the sun. That's my favourite shot.

January 12

On Friday night I was surprised to see a couple picnicking. They weren't just having a sandwich but had brought in all the essential ingredients - including a rug, a large picnic hamper, champagne and what looked like a wonderful home-baked pie. I was very tempted to ask if I could join them.

January 20

The strangest moment yet - a visitor brought in his blow-up canoe and sat there surrounded by strangers pretending to paddle towards the sun. He seemed quite an ordinary man, middle-aged and reasonably well dressed. He packed up and moved on after 15 minutes.

February 14

I was convinced people would get together and form a heart for Valentine's Day, but it wasn't to be. How disappointing.

February 23

Over two million visitors have been to Tate Modern since October 22 - the installation has resulted in the busiest November, December, January and February since the gallery opened. The sun acts as an amazing draw: people sit facing it as though it were emanating warmth on these cold winter days. The Saturday and Sunday of half-term week saw over 25,000 people visit on each day. The Turbine Hall looked like Brighton beach on a bank holiday. I'm certain we could have sold everybody ice-creams and sunblock, despite the freezing temperatures.

March 5

I'm called down to the Turbine Hall at about 7.30pm to witness a dance group who have decided to hold their class at Tate Modern. What I see is 20 people indulging in what seems to me a very strange performance. A member of staff tells me that this activity apparently originated in America and is a mixture of spirituality, exercise and dance. They are certainly enjoying themselves - and entertaining the other visitors. All their activity is improvised and they start as a group before splitting into pairs. The great thing is that they remain silent and don't spoil the experience for anybody else, so I let them carry on.

March 7

Victor Ferreiro, one of the gallery assistants, calls on the radio and asks me to meet a visitor who wants to play his didgeridoo in the gallery. I pop down to explain that although he may be very good, the noise is likely to interfere with everybody else's enjoyment so I have to refuse his request.

March 12

The installation is drawing to a close and we've decided to mark the event by keeping the Turbine Hall open until 1am on the final weekend. An opportunity to see the midnight sun. It should be a fascinating end to what has been an extraordinary work of art. In many ways I will be sad to see it go, although there is a sense in which it will be nice to have daylight flooding back into the space. I miss the wonderful way shadows fall through the lancet windows on to the Turbine Hall floor.

Each of the artists in the Unilever Series has had their own particular approach. I wonder what Bruce Nauman is planning for his October installation? Apparently he is going to use sound in some way.

· Adrian Hardwicke is the front of house manager at Tate Modern. The Weather Project is at Tate Modern, London SE1, until Sunday; on Friday and Saturday it closes at 1am. Details: 020-7887 8000.

"oh, art" was posted by dogpossum on April 23, 2004 5:53 PM in the category clicky

April 22, 2004

shop-a-docket haircuts - just desserts

I’ve just remembered this excellent story.

When I was living in the share house in Enoggera in Brisbane (with Paul and Jase), Jase was really really poor (living on Austudy at $120 a week, I’ve noted in another entry). He also had really big hair. But he was too poor to be able to afford a reasonable hair cut, and he certainly carry on with all that big hair. He was overjoyed when he found a hairdresser shop-a-docket deal after shopping one week. He went off and got his hair cut, came home and asked, somewhat mournfully, if I could help him fix it up.

Seems the hairdresser had taken one look at his shop-a-docket, entitling him to a $5 hair cut and given him exactly five dollars worth of grooming. Took her about 10 minutes, all up. And it was a work of inestimable beauty. Sort of uneven, with big chunks cut out here and there. So I tidied it up and he looked a damn site better.
And Paul yelled (because he always yelled everything, and sounded a bit like Seinfeld), “ah, you dickhead!” and then laughed his “ah-HA” highpitched laugh.

Moral of this story?
It’s better to get a household member to cut your hair than to take a punt on a $5 shop-a-docket hair cut.

"shop-a-docket haircuts - just desserts" was posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2004 5:39 PM in the category domesticity

The Squeeze is sick

he started off in bed with his lappy, with a strict one-hour limit from me, but wandered in here where i'm 'working' a little while ago, looking decidedly the worse for wear. he's been asleep now for about an hour and half, after a big 10 hour sleep last night. he's not well at all, and took the day off to rest. he's got a nasty temperature, sore throat, achey head, goobers. just like a bunch of swingers and at least one of his workmates.
i have preliminary goobs in my sinuses, but i'm pretending they're just allergies, or left-overs from pushing myself dancing last night (those whole 5 or so songs).
i will be strong.

"The Squeeze is sick" was posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2004 3:41 PM in the category domesticity

still worrying...

...about that paper. should just get over it and bloody do the thing, right?
pft. yeah, like that'll happen any time soon...

"still worrying..." was posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2004 3:38 PM in the category conferences

I’m 100% sick of stupid swinger-run events

Last night we were on our (reluctant) way to Ballyhoo to hand over some presents for people in Perth (Hullabaloo is on, so everyone’s flying over for that. Except us. :( ), and ended up ditching the swing gig for a fun band.

I rode to The Squeeze’s work in record time (20 mins - I flew) then mosied east to Brunswick Street, where we had dinner at The Standard hotel on Fitzroy Street. It reminded me of how wonderful Melbourne pubs are. We don’t have a decent local in West Brunswick (we’re not struck on the Cornish Arms - it’s got a weirdo vibe, or the Perseverence, or even the Brunswick), so we don’t pub locally very much. I adore the Town Hall in North Melbourne (my old local), and I like the Napier in Collingwood (mostly for their food), but I don’t pub it regularly much any more. So it was a pleasant reminder of Good Melbourne Stuff last night. I was totally disappointed by my steak - super tough, which was crappy for the price ($22!), but The Squeeze had a good fish and chips.

Then we rode a bit further north to park our bikes at the Retro café on Brunswick Street (where Ballyhoo is held), and then wandered down the street to buy a little present for Cheryl in Perth. We totally scored in the bookshop, and then wandered back up to Retro.
As we were wandering north, we heard jazz from somewhere. I figured it might be the Planet Café so I dragged The Squeeze over and we investigated. Upstairs we discovered The Sweet Lowdowns, a local swinging jazz 4piece who play there every Wednesday FOR FREE! The Squeeze immediately declared a pit stop for beer and cake, and I was sent over the road to deliver the Perth goods.

We spent the next few hours listening to fun jazz, eating cake and having a jolly old time. We did send an SMS to the swingers to let them know (it’s only fair), and my letting slip that we were dancers got the manager all excited (note to self: circumspection when chatting to barkeeps). He was dead keen to have swingers come in regularly to dance, even when I mentioned (as seemed only fair) that swingers are a poor crowd for making money at the bar - they don’t drink.

At any rate, the otherwise tiny crowd (maybe 10 or so of the bands’ mates) when crazy for the dancing. We were shy getting up at first (mostly because The Squeeze felt ill, but largely because it’s not really that excellent to have a crowd of people watching you dance when you’re just up for a nice bit of a toddle round the floor, full of cake and beer), but it got cooler, especially when a couple of other dancers turned up and we weren’t the only ones.

Over all, it was a fun night. I liked the band a lot - I love dixie, and there was a fair slab of it, as well as more swingingly lindy stuff. I’d like to go back regularly. I’m 100% sick of stupid swinger-run events. Too great a focus on dancing, and not enough on proper social interaction. Plus I prefer band doos that aren’t staked out as a particular swing group’s territory.

Only problem is that I’ve just teed up a tango class for Wednesday nights damn! Oh well, I’ll see what I can do

"I’m 100% sick of stupid swinger-run events" was posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2004 3:33 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

April 20, 2004

having a quiet moment of worry about the paper i have to give in three weeks time

so chapter 5 is so done. well, the first draft of chapter5 is so done. it needs work, it's 16 000 words long (despite that big 5000 cull the other week), but it's damn sexy. and off to the Supes, who assures me we will Meet Soon to discuss it. Right On!

meanwhile, i'm pissing about thinking about sewing, avoiding reading some more Jenkins, Hills or Hines, and having a quiet moment of worry about the paper i have to give in three weeks time.

the paper is for the pgrad seminar series, on the 13th of May. i'm sure it'll be fine. 3000 (half an hour) is nothing. i'm aiming for half an hour. an hour is far too long and boring. this way we have half and hour of me being clever and then half an hour of other people being clever and me answering questions (which i quite like - at least i like it more than the paper giving bit). and then we all go to the pub. instead of one hour of me-me-me and then the etcetera.

i think i might write it on djing in swing communities. seeing as how that's what the chapter is about. i'm considering wacking a copy of the draft up here for people to read (all 3 of my loyal fans). but then, i figure why not just publish some bits of the fukker in journals? that'd be cool. then even less than 3 people will read it. if i'm lucky.

oh, hark at the miseryguts. dang, aren't low-girls a drag?

at any rate, i'll whip up this paper, pop it off to the Supes for a proof-read, then deliver it to the 5 or so people (max) who come to our pgrad seminars. wack-bloody-o. as jon would say.

meanwhile, i discovered today that my grants application has once again been held up and not arrived at the faculty office. i emailed the program head, and he said it's delayed at the school level. it goes from me, to the Supes, to the head of program, to the head of school, to the grants people in the faculty. don't you just love buerocracy? and spelling?
this is why i always email to be sure my documents have actually arrived at their destination. which reminds me - i need to check on my ethics application. joy.

on a slightly different tack, i ordered two useful books for work - 'stomping the blues' and something about women, afro american feminism and jazz/blues musicians in america. the first is quoted and referred to by swingers a whole lot (well, the 5 of them, worldwide, who actually read books, that is. mean? sure was. and wonderfully so), so i figure it's time i read it. i checked the author (albert murray) in the library catalogue,and he's published some interesting looking stuff. refs to afro american cultural history and music/dance as political as well as cultural expression. timely for the next chapter (which will probably be the dance one). the feminism one is purely self-indulgence. well, it's gonna be useful too (i'm scenting some neglect of women and gender politics in all this afro-american vernacular cultural stuff). in fact, now i think about it, it's actually a top buy - i have had a Feeling about gender politics and power in jazz and blues. especially when you compare it with country and folk song from america in the 30s/40s. we definitely prefer the sassier jazz/blues to whiney country.

so i'm looking forward to those two books. they may take three months to get here, but they'll be worth it. esp as all up, including postage from the States they only cost $A30-odd. kewl.

"having a quiet moment of worry about the paper i have to give in three weeks time" was posted by dogpossum on April 20, 2004 3:12 PM in the category thesis

April 15, 2004

Purple and green bloggage*


firstly, this picture is from this page. go look there for interesting online art.


i'm really interested in the issue of accessibility and how it relates to online media.

First off, I think we need to make it clear that the internet is not something the whole world uses. First, it's something only a relatively elite group can use - it requires time, knowledge money and inclination simply to get online, let alone actually contribute to online discourse. So right there, we've excluded a whole bunch of people.
But let's just set aside the exclusivity of the intynet (pffft. Yeah) and move on to contributing to online discourse. Specifically in terms of website design (in all its forms).

When I was first starting this blog, I came across this website, where the author goes through a range of strategies for making websites more accessible. They range from simple things like making sure hypertext links are in a distinct colour, underlined and bolded, to laying out your templates properly so that your html code presents your content first.

These are two points that have stuck with me. Sometimes it sucks, but I think about being useful. And I like to think that even blogging can be a political act. Or something useful, at the very least.

Why these two points?

Well, the second one is important for all the reasons listed on that website I’ve referenced, but it’s also important to me, as it makes me think about how I set out ‘code’ (please remember that I really know very little about computery stuff - I will and do make errors in my use of jargon. Please be patient), as well as how I actually go about using code. I want to build good habits into my online work/learning right from the beginning.

Why the first point? This one is particularly relevant to me, as The Squeeze is partially colour blind. Or as I like to think about it, he sees colours in different ways. He’s privy to a whole new world of colour (realm of the senses?) that I’m not. That most of us are not. When we go shopping for fabric to make him pants, I have to get him to look carefully at the fabric. Even though something looks blue to me, it’s quite likely to look hot pink to him. In fact, I can almost reliably expect slate blue to look hot blue to The Squeeze. Which is a bummer as blue is one of his ‘safe colours’ - he wears a lot of blue simply because it’s one colour he can reliably distinguish. Except when it’s hot pink.

But back to the website thing. Because The Squeeze sees colours in different ways to me (and a lot of other people), I had to make some decisions about my website colour scheme. While I didn’t try to choose only colours that looked ‘good’ to him (then it’d be all blues, and I don’t much care for blue), I did try to make sure he could distinguish hypertext from normal text.
So while I’m not particularly keen on the look of underlined links, I know that he can recognise them as links. Tough luck trying to discern visited from unvisited links, though - all those pinks, purples and oranges look like the same colour to him. Incidentally, The Squeeze recognises purple (a colour I’m quite fond of) as ‘the bluest blue’, or a ‘disturbing shade of blue’. And not a blue he particularly likes.

Today I was wandering around the internet, trying to get myself waked up enough to do some chapter editing (you need to be more alert to edit than to write, for obvious reasons), when I came across this site, which is - incidentally - from A List Apart. It’s discussing web accessibility and UK law (this page outlines the Australian legislation). This legislation aims to make it a legal requirement for sites which provide a public service (whether private or public - business or govt) to be ‘accessible’.
It’s interesting not only as an example of affirmative action policy, but also as an attempt to regulate the ‘internet’.

‘Affirmative action’ (in the sense of legislation and public policy), fascinates me as it can be read as an attempt to introduce particular ideological concerns into particular spheres through formal, institutionalised, powerful media. This is, of course, nothing new - take a look at Bush’s latest wonderful contribution to sexual politics - but affirmative action is interesting as it’s an attempt to codify resistant ideology. To introduce the ideology of the left (or thereabouts) into the formal institutions. And this interests me as much of the cultural literature I’ve read over my last ten years in universities situates institutions as suspect and innately oppressive. The point this raises to me, is ‘can institutions be good’? Sounds kind of dumb, I know. But I’m writing about institutions in the swinguverse at the moment in the thesis, and I’m thinking about different types of institutions. I obviously need to read up on this stuff, and if anyone can think of any particularly excellent references

Another thing I’m interested in is the way the internet is seen as this massive, anarchic collection of crap, and so must be either a) regulated, or b) defended from regulation. I personally think that the internet is hardly anarchic - it’s bounded and defined by all sorts of things, ranging from the limits of actual programming languages and technology, to social and cultural conventions (you can, for example, quite often discern an American from an Australian blog by content alone, let alone distinguishing on the basis of language). This dichotomy, focussing on the premise that the internet is ‘wild and free’ obscures the greater inequities and broader systems and structures of power and advantage at work in this intensely social space. And of course, I’m not alone in this sort of observation. There are a whole bunch of other feminists and researchers concerned with notions of identity and liberty who’ve been-there-done-that before.

Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto is the most obvious. ItÂ’s also a good place to start for a discussion of power and communications technology. I also quite like this reference from the University of IowaÂ’s Department of Communication Studies, which provides a few articles on the topic of gender and cyberspace. I should point out that IÂ’m a communications person. Communications people are also often media studies people, or/and cultural studies people, and in my case that also includes being a feminist/gender studies person. I think that communication, media and culture are bound up with systems of power and identity - so feminist approaches make the most sense to me. That doesnÂ’t necessarily mean starting with gender, though thatÂ’s the place I usually start, mostly because my experiences with culture are informe d in a major way by my sex. IÂ’ve noticed that men and women experience culture in different ways, and that power and privilege are quite often organised along gender lines. For me, feminist analysis involves attending to power and identity as they manifest in factors other than just gender - sexuality, class, ethnicity, age, etc. For me, being a feminist means asking questions about identity in all sorts of ways, beyond just looking at genitalia (literally, and figuratively).

And how does all this relate to website design? Well, after youÂ’ve had a look at the two references IÂ’ve provided above, perhaps youÂ’ll understand.

*purple and green?

"Purple and green bloggage*" was posted by dogpossum on April 15, 2004 1:17 PM in the category

April 14, 2004

Princess Shittypants

Tonight The Squeeze and I had a fight on the way home from the cinema. So I had to get all Princess Shittypants. I had to.

I’d ridden in to meet him at the Nova to see ‘Love’s Brother’ (which was rubbish by the way. Utter B-grade Aussie flick rubbish. Skip it), and we were having a great time laughing and teasing each other like irritating school kids in the cinema.
So we see this crappy film, which is ok-ish, but still crappy. And we’re loading up our bikes outside the cinema, and I decide that I don’t want to ride home with him.

Every time we ride anywhere together one of us a) gets hurt, b) gets the shits or c) pushes themselves too hard and gets really sore knees. Usually it’s me. Mostly because he's far better at being stalwart, and is generally infuriatingly even-tempered. I, however, am not.

I get shitty because he rides faster than I do. I ride really slowly (it’s stamina, I’m sure; I’m saving myself) and I really enjoy looking at things and talking while I ride. The Squeeze rides really fast and likes to make his heart pound so hard he thinks he’ll bust an artery.

So when we ride together, he has to ride really slowly. He either rides ahead and gradually picks up the pace so I start to puff and strain and get really shitty and yell at him; rides around and around me in figure eights til I get really shitty and yell at him; or hugs my tail real close, hiding in my wind shadow (no, durh, that’s not a euphemism for flatulence) and making me feel rushed, so I get really shitty and yell at him.

One of the first times we ever rode anywhere together, he was riding the Pub Bike and was still riding his motorbike, so he was a bit confused, balance-wise. Or so he said. One day we were riding home from the city and he’d had a bad stack just a few minutes ago, ripped his big pants and hurt himself. In fact, that whole ride he’d either ridden into things or fallen off his bike. Crossing the train tracks I hear this ‘scrunchy skrrunch, crash!’ and he’s ridden off the bike path and onto the tracks. Then I hear this ‘rumbley CLANG’ and he’s ridden into the metal fence around the track crossing. Later, there’s a ‘skreee boomph’ and he’s ridden into the warehouse on one side of the bike path.
At any rate, at the end of this big long Ride of Accidents, we’re on the home stretch, riding down the road, just about to turn left into my street. I’m riding straight. He decides to turn left. Into me. Much clashing of bicycles and we’re both down on the ground, gravel rash all over us, me all teary and my bike basket bent, him even more injured than before. I was so angry I wanted to blow him up. But I rode him in frosty silence, telling him he should have ‘BEEN MORE CAREFUL!’ in a crazy-girl voice before going off for a restorative hot shower. Later, I’m over it and I can’t figure out what he thought he was doing. Seemed he was turning into ‘my’ street one turn too early. I don’t know why he decided that if he just turned, I’d turn too. Some crazy swing lead bullshit mentality I guess. Strong body lead. That’ll fix her. His explanation was that he was just riding the Pub Bike like he’d ride his motorbike. Yeah. Right.*

Ok, so with this in mind, I’m not really all that keen to ruin a perfectly good movie date with a dangerous bike ride and a case of the Princess Shittypants. I say ‘why don’t you ride ahead so we don’t fight?’ He gives me a cranky face and says ‘no’. I explain my reasoning, and as I do, I get a case of the major guilts. This is a Shitty Thing to ask. I am a Shitty Girlfriend. I keep asking. He keeps saying no. I ride off. He tails me. I’m feeling so guilty my only recourse is, of course, a fierce case of the shittypants. In between moments of silence where we pass other cyclists or pedders, I explain my reasoning. I want to avoid a fight.

And then he plays the ultimate Guilt Card - ‘soon we won’t be doing anything together’.

I know that’s it, there’s nowhere we can go from here. there’s no topping this guilt card. But of course, Princess Shittypants can’t back out gracefully. Can’t apologise. No sir-ee-Bob.
So I don’t.
I take the only possible option: The Sulk.
And I sulk all the way home.

And it’s a damn shame, as it’s the perfect cycling night - warm, dry, a gentle breeze that’s always a tailwind. It's far too crap to waste with a Sulk. I try not to notice that he’s patiently tailing me home at just the right distance.
And then we get home and he makes a delicious dinner and I know that I am a shitty girlfriend. And even WORSE, he shakes off his case of the minor shits in moments of returning home, gives me a friendly pat and a squeeze as he potters off to the kitchen.

Goddamn it.

It is SO goddamn HARD to maintain righteous fury with this sort of counter-activity.

*It’s worth mentioning that a week or so after this major stack, he crashes his motorbike on the highway outside of Ballarat. Hit a kangaroo no, meatloafed a kangaroo, smangled up his hands, worried all his Primary Females half to death and was laid up for a couple of weeks. Just goes to show. Better a minor stack on a tredly than a smangle on a motorbike.

"Princess Shittypants" was posted by dogpossum on April 14, 2004 1:44 AM in the category bikes

April 13, 2004


i adore alt country and bluegrass and have been quietly feeding this passion. there are a few decent bands in town that i'd like to see, but i've no buddy to go with. i've tried tempting The Squeeze with potential photo ops (it's country, man, so it's bound to be good for photos, right?) but he's not buying it. it's just not cool with the young people to dig country. philistines (i know that's not really how it's spelt - i can't be arsed chasing the dictionary, ok?).

anyway, i've come across this site -, which, while pop-up laden, is worth a peek. that link there is to a search for 'dawg'. absolute excellence. who said the internet was useless?
otherwise, i'm totally into po'girl, the be good tanyas, bonny 'prince' billy and dolly. eeeexcellent.

"country" was posted by dogpossum on April 13, 2004 6:25 PM in the category

we are all about The Squeeze, rather than all about jesus

easter was just here. eggday coincided with The Squeeze's birthday (again), so we were all about him rather than all about jesus. also meant that i forgot to do the chocolate thing for his family, who we saw over the weekend. they gave us many chocolatey things, and i later discovered a great many teeny chocolatey eggs hidden all through our house. which made the whole thing even more chagrin-laden (i know that's not a real word-combo. ease up, hey?). i also forgot to send off my package of presents to the p's in tas, despite having bought the presents well ahead of time. and i still haven't posted it. i will post the package tomorrow. on dad's actual birthday day. goddamn slack me. oh well.

"we are all about The Squeeze, rather than all about jesus" was posted by dogpossum on April 13, 2004 6:16 PM in the category

work update

right, chapter 5 is now done. all i have to do is the intro and a dumb conclusion and then i'm sending it off to the supes for her to read through. i am SO sick of it. i've also done a fair old slab of lotr work lately, which i hate. i really hate lotr.
but it made me wonder. i hate lotr, but everyone else seems to love it. so what are we researchers missing when with this 'i loove lotr' bullshit? i think i'm the useful person on the team - i'm putting my loathing to good use.

"work update" was posted by dogpossum on April 13, 2004 6:07 PM in the category

April 6, 2004

all spinning all the time

finally. a reasonable draft of the dj paper is done. it's 5000 words and i want 3500, but heck. it's done. we also have title and abstract:

Swing DJs: not all-girls and not all-spinning, all the time

The Melbourne swing dancing community is centred on music and the dance act, and the DJ plays an increasingly important role in social dancing. The swing DJ performs an example of an elite performance of swing fandom, with status and meaning developed by online swing media discourse. Various institutions within the swing community, producing online media which ranges from email newsletters to websites and electronic discussion boards, not only regulate practical DJing opportunities for DJs, but also manage the meaning and value of their ‘work’ within the community. The swing DJ identity is defined not only by the music they play and the fan knowledge they possess, but also by familiar markers of gender and identity. Melbourne swingers - as a fan community - reproduce traditional notions of gender and work and professionalism in much the same way as the wider community. This paper explores the swing DJ identity, and ends with a brief examination of the possibilities for re sistance within swing DJ discourse.

of course the only things i write about in this blog are swing, my thesis, my partner and sewing and gardening. what else is there?

"all spinning all the time" was posted by dogpossum on April 6, 2004 3:45 PM in the category

April 3, 2004

lindy hop history

i'm going to start posting some of the things i've written about swing dancing, lindy hop, swing culture, etc, here on this site.
hang tight - some are long, some are complex. they are of course copyright ME. if you want to reproduce bits make sureyou credit MEMEME.

"lindy hop history" was posted by dogpossum on April 3, 2004 7:00 PM in the category

iron chef

iron chef
he loves it. so we have to watch it.

we have to watch it now. even though they only cook eels. even though we've never seen eels in the shops here. even though i don't particularly care for it. even though The Squeeze is only new to cooking.

he loves it. so we have to watch it.

i reckon iron chef is the next logical step in cooking shows. it does away with premise of stupid programs like jamie oliver's, which like us to collude with them in this fantasy we too can cook whatever it is they're cooking (look - it's easy!), because jamie and nigella et al are real people, just like us. you can tell they're just like us because they wear groovy young people clothes, have luscious big boobies and kissy lips or use the vernacular. not our vernacular. but vernacular none the less.

but iron chef does away with all that bullshit.
we know we can never create the iron chef's recipes (mostly because of the whole eel availability thing), that we shouldn't even try, because - as everyone knows - iron stadium separates the boys from the iron chefs (should that be 'chevs'? i feel that it should). all challengers suffer humiliating defeats at the hands of chin kenichi, hiroyuki sakai, kobe masahiko and morimoto masaharu (iron chefs chinese, french, italian and japanese, respectively).

so we watch it. and iron chef brunswick brooks no disagreement.

"iron chef" was posted by dogpossum on April 3, 2004 6:52 PM in the category

big brother

saw an ad for the next season of big brother...

can we call it a season? yes, i think we can.
so, the next season of big brother is coming up.
woo-hoo. i have oscillated in my affections for the show. i got keen the last couple of episodes of the first season. i like it when the number of housemates gets low. i can't remember how many seasons there've been, or how i felt about them all. but i did like the last one, mostly for the real-time stuff late at night. i just liked coming home from dancing and joining the housemates for a little sitting about or latenight shenanigans. i love the nothingness of it - they do ordinary stuff. i could see the dumb jokes developing.

it was just like when i was an undergrad hanging out with my housemates when we were all under- or unemployed. too much time, too little to do. lots of excellently stupid jokes. like the time paul said he'd pay jase (who was living on austudy for the grand sum of $120 a week. truly. thankyou howard - you are mr generosity) $20 to run up the street naked. just cause. we were all bored, jase was poor. it sounded cool. and you know, i can't even remember if jase did it. he probably did. he didn't have terribly strong nudity taboos going on. i often wonder if the wilsons ever miss his public displays of flesh.

yeah, right. just like that. sheesh. talk about buying into the whole big brother telly bullshit thing.

but anyway - big brother.
so i'm looking forward to the latenight stuff. i quite liked the adults-only show in season... um... 1?
but The Squeeze is Not Happy. he feels that almost all reality television (except iron chef) is amoral. a badnaughtywrong. i'm not allowed to watch any reality tv when he's about - he'll leave the room. he's not happy with popstar, survivor or those ones about whingey brits coming to australia. not that i particularly want to watch any of these things (especially not the temptation island ones - they offend even me). but if i was to watch them, i'd like to watch them with company. it's not the same on your own.

browsing the bigbrotheraustralia site, i noticed an interesting thing. check out that ad for the ybblue thing. so big brother sponsors are directly sponsoring research into depression. kind of ironic (or perhaps cause-and-effect-y) considering the stories about ex-survivors/housemates having post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, anxiety, etc etc etc.
maybe we'll discover a few decades from now that pop culture's obsession with reality tv has led to widespread mental illness. perhaps it'll be useful in developing treatments and understandings of the causes...
ah fukk. maybe The Squeeze is right, and iron chef is the only acceptable form of reality television.

"big brother" was posted by dogpossum on April 3, 2004 6:42 PM in the category

April 2, 2004

bikes on trains. bikes on bikepaths

we rode to ann's house for the first time on the 8th march. it was ok.

we took the train up to pascoe vale and then rode across. it wasn't so far. last weekend i rode the whole way. took me an hour, riding into the wind, uphill. it was really overcast and then it started to rain after i arrived. but luckily ann had homemade vegan chocolate cake (not made from vegans, she assured me) and homemade ginger biscuits, so i was ok.

i feel quite strongly about the upfield bike path (look here - it's along the edge of the train line). i like it. i like it a whole lot. it goes along the side of the train tracks, from sydney rd right up to... well, maybe batman station? there are some gaps, and it ends pretty much at the second victoria street, just before bell street (not the first victoria street below albion street), but it links up with about a million other bike paths - the cross-town route to moonee ponds, the merri creek route, the route to CERES, the capitol cities trail, the path along the side of royal park. it's so ace. but it's not very well lit, which can be scary at night. but i love it.

the other night i was riding home up the path and two trains passed me at once and blew their horns at each other. it was just all sound and light and i could feel the trains shaking my guts and the bones in my chest. then i was past them, and they were past me, the tracks hissed and hummed, and then it was back to that wonderful dark, quiet rushing up the bike path.

the trains are so much huger than trams when you're down at wheel level, and faster. you know you'd get totally squished if one flew off the tracks and onto the bike path. but you don't think those sorts of thoughts.

if you're lucky, you get a train coming along behind you as you ride down the path to the city (or the gym, or the pub, or spotlight). all the traffic has to stop and you can fly across the roads at the crossings, getting a free run as you race the train between stations. it's most excellent.

it's my favourite thing to ride up and down that path by myself - i feel like i'm going a million miles an hour, even though i know i'm slower than every other bmx bandit i know. but when i'm on my own i feel like i'm flying. or i can mosey slowly, try not to think about my sore knee as i lug home a ton of shopping when i stop off at the supermarket on the way home. i love the panniers - i can carry a million groceries. two big bottles of juice, 2 litres of milk, 12 rolls of toilet paper under the clippy thing, and cheese, ham, sliced bread, bread rolls, yoghurt sweeties, tuna, eggs, emergency garlic, sports socks (2 pr) canneloni - all the non-greengrocer stuff. makes me sweat, makes me grumble, but it also makes me about the toughest person in the whole world.

who'd drive a car in brunswick when they could ride a bike?

"bikes on trains. bikes on bikepaths" was posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2004 7:17 PM in the category

oh, this thesis is too big.

should i keep the group social dancing responses bit in the chapter? i have more than enough stuff on DJing to make the whole chapter just about DJing. should i ditch the other stuff on music? i like the bits about strolls, etc. i really do. but i think they might just work nicely in the chapter on the dance act.
oh, this thesis is too big. i have too much to say.

"oh, this thesis is too big." was posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2004 6:17 PM in the category

i love my thesis

i've gotta give a paper in may (on music stuff i guess), i'm getting the lotr stuff done today so i can write the report (go look here for a project description, you can even do the survey if you like), and i'm trying to edit my ridiculously long chapter on music and djing. which is why, of course, i'm doing bloggage.

but i love it. i love my thesis so much. it's really interesting stuff. i wish, though, that i could be a bit cleverer with the theory stuff. i just know i'm not reading enough hardcore lit. but i sure am wanking on a fair bit about swingers' use of music. djing as professional identity... i'm getting a feeling about the development of professional roles in subcultures... is it a sign of a complicating of the community? is it a sign of community development?
only if you figure go-capitalism is a marker of community growth. maybe it'd be less distressing to see it as a marker of corruption. degeneration... nah.
but it's certainly a marker for patterns of power and status.
maybe i should should wack some of my work up on here? not like anyone would read it, though, i guess.

"i love my thesis" was posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2004 12:35 PM in the category

it's not a crazy stalker thing. she's just there all the time.

Red Singlet Girl was at the gym on tuesday when i was.
i think i've got a crush. she's so cool. she was doing this thing where she was lifting her whole body up from two parallel bars (like the gymnastic ones), she was just hanging there, going up and down, up and down, her legs together, toes pointed, muscles rippling. it was so cool. so i made sure i did the very best fitball squats ever. because i reckon i could be that cool. and i'm sure even exercises with the name 'fitball squats' could be as cool as lifting your own body weight up and down, up and down, suspended between two parallel bars.

"it's not a crazy stalker thing. she's just there all the time." was posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2004 12:29 PM in the category

April 1, 2004

i just want to be clear

i was considering making my own togs.

i was going to make a swimming costume. obviously ill-fitting trousers and weirdo stripey shirts weren't enough. i was seriously thinking about full-scale public humiliation.

oh goddess, help me to restrain myself.

"i just want to be clear" was posted by dogpossum on April 1, 2004 8:16 PM in the category

surely it wouldn't be that hard to make bathers?

i had planned to write more regularly. but i got all caught up in some postgraduate angst and couldn't face the computer. so i went to the gym. i'm now very obsessed with yoga, avoiding aerobics and have bought a new pair of bathers.

the bathers thing is a big deal. a) because we say 'togs' in brisbane because 'bathers' is a wanky melbourne thing, and b) because it suggests i'll be wearing them sometime soon.

of course, as soon as i bought the things the sun disappeared. that's crappy for a couple of reasons - The Squeeze is taking some time off so he can recover from the work overload of previous weeks, and wanted to spend a fair bit of time toddling about town taking photos. he can only take photos in the afternoon (it's a light thing). and it's been rainy and overcast all week, so he's not been out to take photos once. it's been nice having him home, but i really want him to go take photos of things other than me on the couch.

the other reason it's crappy? well, i'm less keen to go swimming now. oh well. guess it's like the raincoat thig - buy one and you can be assured of endless months of sunshine. maybe i should go buy a raincoat.

but the rain is good for the garden. work has begun on the uberherb garden. one garden bed has been weeded. by The Squeeze. we have a bunch of artichoke seedlings, i've plans for lemongrass, and there's a bunch of chamomile up. we need to get organised.

but back to the bathers.
thing is, i love to swim. i love it so much. i love it more than anything. comes from growing up in fiji i guess. but i bought some proper bathers for the first time in about 10 years. just a plain black one-piece with a zip up the back (so it has really sensible no-fall-off straps). the zip is tricky. i spent about 5 minutes huffing over it, trying to get the goddamn thing up in the changing room. then i tried the next size up and it was a fair bit easier. but still not actually possible on my own. oh well - will make many new friends at the baths i guess.

i am not sure i like the whole bathers thing. it's been a long time since my cellulite saw sunlight. and even though i'm steadily toning up, i do still jiggle distractingly. and the thing is not so good for the whole generous-bust look. it's a swimming costume intended for speed, rather than posing. kewl.

going in to buy it was scary. i went to a sportswear shop, looked at the rack for a few minutes (kind of empty this time of year) and decided that a) $80 was too much and b) surely it wouldn't be that hard to make bathers? but then i rethought. home-made bathers? perhaps too much even for me. ... perhaps.
so i went and found an absurdly fit and tanned young blonde creature and asked for help: "show me the cheapest, most practical togs you have". and she did. we discussed fabric, straps and how high cut they should be. i'm voting for full-body lycra, but they only come in sizes 2 - 5. i debated over a swimshirt (i worry about cancer - justifiably), but figured $40 was enough. i reassured myself with a quick check of the refund policy, then went and tried them on.

oh my.

it was a bit confronting. mostly because i was wearing my 'full brief' nanna undies under the togs (you have to keep your knickers on for hygiene reasons), and that's not the most practical of looks. the zip thing got me all hot and flushed and sweaty, and i almost gave up then. but i persevered. i thought about the range of body shapes and personalities at the brunswick pool. i reminded myself about all the pregnant women (i've never seen so many pregnant women in such a short space of time before), all the real nannas, all the mums, all the muslim girls in their real full body bathers, all the other academics trying to get in shape.

and i was strong.

i went to find the next size up. the blonde creature helped. surely my body's not that long? but it seems that width demands length in bathers - the fabric sort of redistributes itself from the ends to the sides.


and all done in less than 20 minutes, one shop.

now all i have to do is wear the goddamn thing.

"surely it wouldn't be that hard to make bathers?" was posted by dogpossum on April 1, 2004 3:24 PM in the category


ok, so i've found that broken thing again. if you go to the 'march' entries, and try to look at the comments... you can't. i've broken something. woops. will try to fix soon.

"urrr" was posted by dogpossum on April 1, 2004 3:08 PM in the category