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May 31, 2004

workin', workin'

ok, so i leave on the 26th of june. and i'm still wading through bureaucratic bullshit. you wouldn't beleive the work involved in actually getting this grant thing sorted. i had a run in with the insurance people (arseholes), met about half a dozen very useful people in grants, the finance office and the faculty office, spent at least two hours in a travel agent trying to get my itinerary sorted, and sent a jillion emails.

it's insane.

but finally, the flights are booked and i'm going. i've had to ditch the french bit of my trip, unfortunately, so i can't go to the sea, sun and swing camp in la grande motte. that utterly sucks, as it was the one bit i was really looking forward to.
otherwise, i'm going to a wedding in wales, i'm (hopefully) going to see some of the countryside there, i'm doodelly dooing around england, i'm spending time in london, doing dance and other stuff, i'm going to Herrang in sweden for the camps (for a week and a bit), i'm going to a savoy camp in england after that, and then i'm stopping off in bangkok on the way home, where i'll arrive on the 8th august.
i really liked bangkok the other times i've been, but unfortunately, i will once more be limited by time and $$ to only a few days. oh well.

so i've a busy trip ahead of me. i've mixed feelings about herrang - it should be fun, but i've never been all that keen to go there for my own sake. too much crazy cult action. and while there'll be some arseholes from australia there, i'm sure i can avoid them. it'll be a chance to catch up with dancers from all over the world, and to meet lots of new, excellent people as well.
and from a research a perspective, it will be facinating. i'm trying to sort out some interviews as well... i will be buuuusy.

major jobs left to do:
- contact family in england and wales to secure accomodation and lifts to the wedding
- sort out some rail passes for the uk
- plan the london bit more thoroughly
- confirm bangkok
- actually pay for ticket - hurry up finance dept!

there are also about a million other things to do as well. my to-do list is huuuge.

so of course, i've responded with some compulsive sewing. under the pretense that i'll need lots of dance wear, so i have to whip up some things. but really, probably more an opportunity to Indulge.

meanwhile, i'm coughing up goobs, blowing out goobs and sneezing out goobs. tres sexy.

"workin', workin'" was posted by dogpossum on May 31, 2004 1:24 PM in the category

it's that crazy disco dancing. it's led me astray.

i am about as boring as boring gets at the moment. i'm full of goob, and trying not to panic about getting well in time to travel...

i'm flying out on the 26th (straight through to the uk... aw yeah, that'll be excellent fun), so i've about 26 days to get the tubes in my head clear so i won't explode in the plane. speaking of eustachian tubes. guess i shouldn't have jinxed myself.

things weren't helped by my dancing like a nut on two seperate occasions over the past week - a wednesday night at a pub, dancing like an idiot for too long, followed by talking and dancing with germ-ridden blues dancers til 6:30 in the morning; and a friday night at a bar (dancing like a complete fool, and without inhibition for about an hour).

it seems i have not only lost the few inhibitions i once had about dancing in public, but also any good sense about caring for ill bodies. it's that crazy disco dancing. it's led me astray.
i just don't seem to care at all any more about what people think about me when i'm dancing. and while i've always loved disco dancing, i've not always been as prone to spasticity on the dance floor.
the next day i cringe at the memories... it seems there's no dance move i won't do, no limit on the amount of dance floor i'll coopt for my own use, no unsuspecting peer i'll not rope into dancing with me.

the perfect antidote to swing, i think.

"it's that crazy disco dancing. it's led me astray." was posted by dogpossum on May 31, 2004 1:12 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

May 26, 2004


am i illiterate? i think so. must be this early morning bullshit. apologies for previous, unintelligible crapposts.

"???" was posted by dogpossum on May 26, 2004 11:55 AM in the category

dancey pics

The Squeeze did stills photos for a friend's film project on the weekend, and took some utterly awesome photos. when i have time i'll ravage his collection and post as many as i can on this site before he gets shitty with me. some are utterly fabulous. some made me laugh so much i thought i was going to die. this sequence is great, though the joke is probably lost on non-dancers. at the very least non-dancers'd be thinking 'ok, i see the joke, but i ain't laughin'. but i nearly wee'd my pants when i first saw them.

"dancey pics" was posted by dogpossum on May 26, 2004 11:53 AM in the category

blahblah mental notes

ok, things are really getting complicated. i've got about a month until i leave, and i've yet to book my ticket (can't do that til i get the $. which i can't do til friday, so i'll probably not book the ticket til a week from friday, unless i book it and pay for it all later...
i have yet to ring and sort out insurance with the uni, get the head of school to give me 'permission' to go overseas with a brief letter, and get him to send similar letter to the insurance people.

and it turns out that abbie and co are moving to australia at the beginning of july. great. so i'll miss her by a whisker.

i've yet to sort out london, but i can't say i'm fussing that much. i should get onto the british dancers via the intynet...


meanwhile, The Squeeze is making a wonderful website for my surveys...

"blahblah mental notes" was posted by dogpossum on May 26, 2004 11:50 AM in the category

May 25, 2004

a Thing

i'm currently nursing a Thing for gillian welch, who i'd heard before, but finally chased up this weekend, after hearing her name on twang.
and it's not helped that i've just seen that she'll be in europe when i am. luckily (?) i'll be in herrang, then, so there'll be no conflict.
sheesh. swing over good goddamn music? am i on crack?

i'm listening to all her 4 albums back to back. i can't really decide which one i like most, but i think it's time (the revelator), or perhaps hell among the yearlings.
it's the only thing to have kicked natalie merchant out of the cd player.

now i'll chase two soundtracks - the o brother where art thou one (which i've lusted after for a while) and the songcatcher one (loved the music, kind of got bored in the film).

"a Thing" was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2004 11:07 PM in the category music


is such a strange word. i keep thinking i'm spelling it incorrectly.

"itinerary" was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2004 11:00 PM in the category


well, i've finally received the official Werd from the grants people. i've been given a wad of cash to go dance all over europe. kewl.
and today i spent another fat lot of hours figuring out the logistics of four countries in one month, with different dance camps in three of them. then there's the wedding, visiting a friend's new baby, catching up with assorted relatives and making time for expat friends. phew.
PLUS i'd also like to get to hay-on-wye for the first time ever. it is, of course, the home of a jillion book shops. and half way between wales and england (two key points on my itinerary)... in fact, i'd really like to go... might see if i can collar a likely cousin into taking me, as it's not exactly the most convenient place on earth. and i'd like to go to the brecon beacons which really blew me away last time i was there...
maybe i'll do some hostel-hopping in the uk... sidestep london (and the swingers there) for some loveliness...

"werd" was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2004 9:27 PM in the category

May 20, 2004

this is me


aren't i cool?
this is me when i'm between 4 and 7 years old. probably at the 4 end. we lived in fiji during that time, and we were hippies. well, sort of. that van covered in hindi advertising was our family car. it was eventually painted red, and was notoriously unreliable. it was small and had brown seats. i'd like one now.
note my blonde hair. i haven't been blonde since puberty hit.

we were in fiji because dad took a contract at USP, and we left england to go there for three years. mum was a social worker, but there weren't jobs for her in suva. so she was a housewife til she went nuts with boredom and started running playgroups, teaching people to ride horsies and so on.
i have quite clear memories of fiji, aided by photos like this one. my uncle ziggy was in fiji, visiting from england for a while when this one was taken.
that fence in the foreground was built by my dad to keep my brother in the garden. he was 3 when we left fiji, and for the first 3 years of his life he was an escape artist.
he had to be caged in because he'd escape, go wandering all over the neighbourhood by himself. not so safe. increasingly unsafe for a white kid between 1980 and 82.

Here we are together, on a beach in fiji, a bit older. i remember that day - we were on a little island with The Mother and a photographer/graphic design friend of the family. just a day trip for a bit of beach time. i loved those green togs.
this last photo is of us in brisbane. i was somewhere between 11 and 13. probably at the 11 end of things. he was between 7 and 9. it was a school photo day - why else would we be wearing our uniforms?
that's all i've got to say - just showing some photos...

"this is me" was posted by dogpossum on May 20, 2004 6:43 PM in the category

i've got this thing about soap

i love it. but i'm very particular. i love only 100% all natural soap. no artificial colours or perfumes. only the very best essential oils. no ti tree, or other melalucas (allergies, man).
i love this stuff more than anything. i like it that the perfumes are only strong enough to surround you in the shower and then to linger only for a moment once you're dried off.
i love good soap so much.
i always only used perfect potion for a great many years. then i experimented with sorbolene soap, and some local hippy stuff when i moved away from brisvegas and perfect potion. but now The Mother ships it to me by the tonne. she sends local, hippy soap from tasmania to me in the mail. she secretes it about her person when she comes to visit. she stocks the downstairs bathroom with it for my bathing pleasure. oh, remember the cinnamon one? do i. i loved it so much i stole it. i took it home to melbourne with me. i really did.

i love good soap. i really do.

"i've got this thing about soap" was posted by dogpossum on May 20, 2004 6:18 PM in the category

yer what?

it was only recently that i discovered that the bit in your ear that gets blocked up is not 'yer station tube' but the 'Eustachian tube'.
i'm only mildly disappointed that there are no trains involved.

nearly 30 years of ear infections from swimming too much and living in tropical climates and suddenly things change. it was truly a revelation. thanks, dr flowers, thanks.

you might also care to know that my father and his mother (the nanna) refer to their ears (or anyone's ears, really), as 'yers'. i don't know if it's a Welsh thing, or a trying-to-be-a-toff thing, or just a weirdo family thing. but i know i'll be surveying welshies when i'm there for the wedding in july. my readers need to know.

"yer what?" was posted by dogpossum on May 20, 2004 5:54 PM in the category

Faculty grant. complete scam .NOT.

I’ve decided that a trip to Europe to spend some time at a lindy hop dance camp hanging out with swingers is essential to my thesis. Admittedly, I went into this thinking a university funded trip to Herrang would be a total scam. Complete rort.
But the whole application for funding and ethics process has changed my tune.

Firstly, taking this amount of time off is a big deal. Going to Europe for a month will take me away from my work (and The Squeeze and everything else), and that's a bit of a big thing. Can I justify it? Will it take time away from my work, therefore putting me behind in the writing? It’s also going to cost a lot. Will I be able to get enough money? Do I have enough money to cover the other costs I’ll no doubt find while I’m away?

Ok, so I figure yes, I can cope with all that.

Next thing.
The application process.

The ethics application:
To actually go out into the world and do research on real, live people, you need to have clearance from the ethics committee in your faculty (or uni, depending. I modified my research so I could go with the faculty – less stress, shorter delays, etc). So you need to fill in an ethics application form. Here’s the guideline for the form. That’s 39 pages of instructions. And here ’s the actual form. That’s 23 pages right there. And with that you have to provide copies of all the questions you want to ask people, the ads you’ll put up to get people to fill in surveys, how you found people to interview, why you want to interview, them, etc etc etc. It’s a big, long process, and you have to know exactly what you want to do, and why. You have to be clear in the topic and focus of your thesis, as well as the fieldworky bit.
Once you’re done (and have the thing signed by about 10 different people), you submit it, then sit on your date til you hear back. Then they send it back and ask you to clarify things. “why Sweden?” what a stupid question. Sheesh. Then you send it back to them (having secured the relevant signatures, copies of things, etc). Then they send it back to you, just because. So you fix it again. Yes, Sweden. I know it’s an American dance, but Sweden really is important. And you send it back again. And finally you get the tick.

Once you get clearance, you have to check out this form about insurance.

Then you start planning your trip – the mechanics of it all. Plane tickets, accommodation – the ordinary minutia of overseas travel (goddess bless my dual citizenship). And you have to fuss about planning your research – contact the interviewees. Get that video camera. Find out how to use the laptop. Etc etc etc.

The Grant Application:
And of course, to be able to actually go do this research, you have to have some money. So you apply for a faculty grant (and a Federation of Australian University Women grant, and whatever other grants you can find).
See the above list of shitjobs? The forms are shorter – less than ten pages – but the questions are harder. Budgets. How much will it cost to stay in Herrang? How much is a bus from Arlanda airport to Herrang? Go research skills, go.
And they send things back to you with queries: “why Sweden?” Aw, for fukk’s sake. Doesn’t matter how many times you explain, or draw diagrams, or write it down. No one can accept that a tiny town in rural Sweden is the centre of the lindy hop world for many swingers.

Eventually, you get the unofficial approval (ie, someone rings your supervisor, then they ring you). And then you wait for the official letter. And you wait. And you wait. And you wait. Meanwhile, the departure date creeps closer (30th June, thankyou very much), the airfares get more expensive, and you’ve got tasks that rely on the formal approval before you can complete them. Can’t book a flight without a confirmed amount of spending money. Can’t email for permission to do research in Herrang until you’re sure you’re actually going. Can’t confirm your accommodation in Herrang without being sure you can afford to pay for it. Can’t sort out a dress for the cousin’s wedding in Wales before you know for sure you’re going to Europe.

Any how, eventually you go off on your trip. Laden down with recorders and cameras and laptops and dance shoes and a backpack and a million tshirts for dancing. You go, you dance a very great lot, you work a lot. You get ill. You recover. You get broke, you email home for dosh. You take notes. You watch. You listen. You interview. And then you come home.

And you fill out the research grant report form . And you start writing the bugger up.

So it’s not much of a rort. You really have to work for the money. And hope it’s enough.

"Faculty grant. complete scam .NOT." was posted by dogpossum on May 20, 2004 2:42 PM in the category academia

What’s a PhD?

The short answer? A PhD is a big long essay. More like a book than an essay. An academic book. An academic book that has do fulfil a whole truckload of requirements, the biggest of which are a) contributing new knowledge to the field and b) demonstrating a clear and excellent understanding of the literature (stuff that's already been written) in the field of research.

The long answer?...

How big?
PhD theses are about 80 000 words long, down from 100 000, in the days when universities were adequately funded. Now we’re down 20 000 words (the length of an MA, pretty much), completion rates are WAY down in PhDs in arts. So they keep reducing the word length, instead of increasing the funding and resources to assist PhDs in their research, so they can produce longer, more useful and comprehensive research. Arseholes.
80 000 words is not enough. I think it’s actually 60 000 for people in our school but I don’t want to think about that.

How long?
It takes (on average) four years to complete a PhD thesis. The government will fund PhDs for only three and a half years. That’s three years official enrolment, plus a six month extension. The Department/Uni you’re in receives this funding only after you complete. So they’re taking a punt on accepting you into their programs. Most PhDs are on a scholarship of some type (as I am – a Latrobe Uni Postgraduate research award), or they have a partner/parents supporting them.

Ah, the life of a student...
Doing a PhD is a full time job. Overworking is common in research postgrads – you put in far more than eight hours a day in a five day working week. I would spend about five days in front of the computer a day, and it’s best to aim for about three or four good hours writing. I have no trouble writing – I can write far more. But I need to edit a lot. You spend a lot of time reading as a PhD – that accounts for more hours. You also spend time chasing stuff in the library and online, dealing with dumb administrative things (grant applications, fixing your enrolment, etc) and fussing over your bibliography.

Pgrad work makes you nuts.
Depression and anxiety are rife in pgrad communities – I’ve yet to meet a PhD or MA research pgrad who’s not had troubles with either during their candidacy. A large proportion of the pgrads that I’ve known (in three universities) have gone through periods of serious depression where they’ve been taking medication, been in counselling, taken to their beds or neglected themselves. Needless to say, this isn’t so good for your research. This depression and anxiety is, I think, the natural consequence of working for a very long time on a single project with inadequate professional and personal support networks.

And what makes it so hard?
We work alone, for the most part, and don’t get a whole lot of feedback from our peers on our work. supervisors are very important, but there are many supervisors who simply don’t provide the support necessary for pgrads. And let me make it clear: when you go into a PhD or MA, you don’t actually know how to do this stuff. You have never attempted a project like this before, you have only – comparatively – rudimentary research and writing skills. You need to learn how to read and write and research and network and plan and just plain do the thing as you go. Often on your own. So you make quite a few mistakes. See how important supervisors are?

What exactly do you do?
Being a PhD candidate (as I am) means that you write this huge thesis over the three years, you also give at least one paper a year at conferences, etc, you publish a couple of papers in journals, and you try not to die. Most PhDs also tutor, maybe give a guest lecture, do some research assistant work. This fills out your resume and serves as excellent distraction from the thesis. It also skills you up, professionally, and helps you learn the trade – being an academic in a university. I have taught a couple of courses (at La Trobe and Uni Melb), and am an RA for the supervisor on the lord of the rings project. I’ve given a paper, plan to write one for publishing this year, and might do some more teaching (for the money!).

Where do i stand in the scheme of university things?
I’ve done an MA (at UQ), where I also did my Bachelor of Arts and did received a first class Honours degree. I am collecting letters to put after my name.
I’ve been working on this PhD for about a year and four months, now. I’m right on target, which is unusual, for me or any other PhD. I’m fairly certain I’ll finish on time. So long as I don’t get ill, get pregnant, have a death in the family, get injured, have my computer blow up, break up with my partner, move too many times, get badly depressed, be abducted by aliens or have to work for more money.
Oh, right. So basically, as long as I put my life on hold while i'm doing my PhD I’ll be fine. Right. Ok.

The up-side.
All that negativity aside, it’s still a totally excellent opportunity. PhDs really weed out those who aren’t actually interested in being academics. You have to really want to do this, to really like what you’re doing. I’ve heard PhDs described as the only opportunity you ever have, as an academic, to work on a giant project, uninterrupted, for so long. And that’s how I think of it – I love what I do, I love reading and writing and thinking and talking. Having taken hiatus from the work before, I know I couldn’t not do it. Possibly because I’m an obsessive compulsive (though what pgrad isn’t?).
Now, so long as I can survive the next two years .

"What’s a PhD?" was posted by dogpossum on May 20, 2004 2:05 PM in the category academia

What exactly am I doing in my PhD?

Well, firstly, I’m doing my PhD thesis on swing dancers. Mostly Melbourne ones. I’m framing them as a fan community (a la Henry Jenkins, Matt Hills, Camille Bacon Smith, etc), and am most interested in their media uses. This media use is centred on the internet and online technology – I’m interested in talking about how swingers use online media in their face to face fan activities. I also talk about swingers as performing their fandom. That’s an idea I’m borrowing from stuff Matt Hills suggested, which dove tails nicely with Judith Butler’s work, and I think there’s one guy – Kurt Lancaster – who’s into this, that I should follow up.

Where I introduce my theoretical position, methods, the community I’m studying, etc. Shorter than the other chapters.

Chapter 1 – lit review/theory
Where I outline my key arguments, do my lit review etc. I see this as the point where I’m developing my theoretical argument for swingers as a fan community, for ‘doing fan things’ as performances of fandom. I’m into the performances of fandom thing at the mo, as it’s a nice alternative to consumption/production models, which seems to be the most popular approach to media fandoms.
I’ve done a rough version of this chapter, but it needs a lot more work. It’s the hardest one to write.

Chapter 2 – dance act
Here I’ll develop the notion of Afro-American vernacular dance, which is useful as it sets up swing dancing as a site of resistance and active engagement with ideology. I’m trying to argue that swing is – as dance, and dance tradition – particularly amenable to cultural resistance, transgression, etc. So it’s a nice place for a feminist to work.
I was reading a 'conversation’ between Hills and Jenkins yesterday where they question the usefulness of the moral/political arguments about resistance coming out of de Certeau’s work. I like the idea of resistance, but I’m taking Hills’ and Jenkins’ points into account by saying that the dance (as with all dance and art and media) has the potential for resistance and transgression – it’s historically built into the dance. The interesting bit is how – or whether – this potential is taken up. How different groups within the swing community respond to/manage/use/ignore/dismantle this potential. So I see dance as a site for ideological negotiation.
And I’m making this point in reference to this particular dance.
All this in reference to swingers as performing fandom – so how is transgression/resistance, etc built into swingers’ fandom? Jenkins’ notion of textual poaching is quite useful here, as he positions their media use in terms of resistance, poaching, etc.

Chapter 2a – dance act II
This chapter is where I actually look at dance floor behaviour – what swingers do on the dance floor. I’ll talk about gender performance, imitation, impersonation, emulation, masquerade etc. Dancing, for swingers, is about the negotiation of identity – performing identity. It’s also about performing fandom: how well you dance performs your fan status or determines it.

Chapter 3 – fashion and costumes
This is where I talk about swingers’ use of clothing and costume. It’s a chapter I could drop, but I like it because it takes up gender in nice ways. Knowledge about costume and fashion, especially vintage costume and fashion is a powerful performance of fan knowledge. While it’s generally held by women, men in swing are encouraged to develop knowledge about costuming and fashion. It’d also be interested to talk about non-vintage fashion and costume in swing – what swingers where to do everyday social dancing. This will provide a nice point of parallel with the rave culture stuff. I might also make use of Angela McRobbie’s work, and the stuff on zoot suiters here.

Chapter 4 – video and film clips (and photography?)
This is a topic I’m particularly interested in at the moment – how swingers use film and video clips. I want to talk about the particular aesthetics of swing videos (in terms of editing, etc), the use of clips – exchange, pirating, dissemination, etc – and so on. It’s a good chapter to talk about media use in, and the importance of online technology.

Chapter 5 – DJing
This chapter looks at the rise of DJing in swing as a professionalised role/ID, where uses of music – in terms of textual poaching – are managed by the institutionalisation of the DJ identity. I look at how swingers use online media in DJing, the online discourse surrounding DJing, and bring up gender stuff.
At the moment this chapter is really long, and will need to be redone. Of course.
I’ve also done a paper in the department seminar series on this topic. It too was too long, but I’ve edited and it’s now up on this site.

Chapter 6 – camps and exchanges.
This is a topic that interests me a fair bit. I want to talk about labour and organisations in event management in swing here. Camps and exchanges are also good points at which to talk about local/global themes in swing.
I could ditch this chapter, but I’m not sure

Where I sum up my argument, make what I was trying to say clear, etc.

"What exactly am I doing in my PhD?" was posted by dogpossum on May 20, 2004 2:01 PM in the category thesis

i want

to make a page that's static - it's time for me to learn how to do websites properly... and of course, this in no way coincides with the need to start the next chapter, or to plan the research trip fully

"i want" was posted by dogpossum on May 20, 2004 1:04 PM in the category

i am so tired i'm asleep at the keyboard.

yesterday was surprisingly productive (after all that belly-aching), but i'm not sure about today. a trip to the gym might be in order (it makes me feel stretchier and tougher and pleasantly tired).
i think it's the allergies... i'm so full of goob. in a kind of not-going-anywhere way. or maybe i slept too hot? well, i certainly had odd dreams. i was in england, and i was swimming in a big, very clear lake just outside the side door of a house i was staying in, which was actually a house on brunswick street in new farm, just near where the thai restaurant and the video shop were, before you get to the merthyr road intersection. anyhoo, i was swimming in this lake because i had to sake a gangly adolescent german shepherd dog who was drowning. seems his owners (who were two gay men) had decided they didn't like him anymore, so they were doing away with him.

i'm never talking about dogs, watching ads for that new 2 dads tv show or planning the research trip before bed ever again. i end up being far too busy at night.

"i am so tired i'm asleep at the keyboard." was posted by dogpossum on May 20, 2004 12:40 PM in the category

May 19, 2004

my djing paper

a revised version of the djing paper. Down load it here.

i'm going to keep editing it til it's in a more deliverable form - like 3000 rather than 4500 words. i could cut out the djing bit altogether and make it a paper about swing culture generally. or i could edit out the djing bit and start again. oh well, i've given it another bash, and i'll leave it for now...

"my djing paper" was posted by dogpossum on May 19, 2004 4:04 PM in the category academia

I’m sure I had something clever to say

I’m between work jobs.

The paper is done, the ethics application is granted, the grants application has been unofficially granted (but not officially granted, so I can’t begin the official gloating – or trip planning - yet), the blue form for requesting the loan of a digital video camera has just arrived, but I need to plan my approach, I need to borrow the dig cam and play with it before I begin trying to get the faculty to lend me one for my entire Europe trip (ambitious, I know), I’m between chapters and not sure where I want to start (though I think I might go with the chapter on video use)

The house is squeaky clean, though (thanks to the new vacuum cleaner, and a sudden rush of enthusiasm on my part), and the real estate agent (who is quite lovely – truly a shocking experience to have a good real estate agent now if only the landlord wasn’t such an arsehole ) was very happy.

I could go sand and redo the chairs (another coat of varnish, thankyou), but I can’t be arsed and it’s technically a work day, so no sewing and no fiddling about in the shed. Also, no trips to the gym, and no excursions to far more interesting places outside the house. No dancing tonight, and no dicking about in town.

It’s all business. But I’m really not feeling very businesslike. More dazed. And tired. In a mellow way.

This blog has really gone down hill – far too much personal blabbering, right broos? I need to get that southern gothic thing back shyeah, right.

But the blue form is waiting. And I’m quite looking forward to trotting about town videoing swingers, swinging now I need some nice editing software I shall put The Squeeze on the task immediately.

"I’m sure I had something clever to say" was posted by dogpossum on May 19, 2004 12:18 PM in the category academia

May 15, 2004

ikea is its own punishment

so we went to ikea. even though we hate going there, we hate victoria gardens and we were both sleep deprived.

but we finally managed to buy a couple of chairs to let us seat 6 round the dining table. at $28.50 each, the only ones who luck out are those chinese kiddies who sacrificed their eyesight for our bullshit entertaining priorities.

we also purchased...

a lamp (The Squeeze loves lamps, and i must say i encourage this love: i am obsessed with Light since i started fussing with the cameras that litter our house);
a desk for me (mine is too high and causing shoulder ache), which will need to be exchanged tomorrow as it lacks a keyboard drawer - 100% essential, i feel;
a cheap-arse mat for our loungeroom floor;
a huge pine coffee table - not the chic 50s inspired (or preferably 50s original) i had envisioned, but bought, goddamn it. The Squeeze is wondering how he could have lived without a coffee table prior, and has moved everything he owns to the loungeroom, where we are camped for The Duration;
4 super-large glasses;
a new cutting board to replace the skank-ridden one i'd carted through four sharehouses since i moved to melbourne;
some fancy halogen light bulbs (more Light);
and The Mother bought some useless crap, in keeping with her role as crap-magnet.

we have to go back tomorrow to exchange the desk. it will no doubt be another awful experience.

we also bought a vacuum cleaner. from godfrey's, not ikea. and from a very nice man who was sorely disappointed by our complete lack of interest in Features or Heads. we only wanted a reasonable Suck, though we quibbled over cloth v paper bags (The Squeeze, in his charming ignorance, felt that no bag at all, or even a cloth bag would be best. prior experience encouraged me to push for the option of paper or cloth). now our house will be cleaner, though using a vacuum cleaner will not by any means involve saving labour - everyone knows that white goods (and their lesser, greyer brethren) are designed to prolong domestic tasks, and so reduce the amount of hours spent Sewing or Working or Looking at the Intynet.

our trip to victoria gardens was as hellish as ever - a mass of fukked up transport issues, bullshit service, confusion, frustration, physical exhaustion and sensory overload from all the bright colours, the horrid acoustics in the foodcourt and the abba overdose.

we were further enshitted by:
- the ikea lady stopping us taking photos of The Mother in her red shirt in various chairs, or of each other (oh, ikea is lovely for Colour);
- by squeezing all this shit into a hatchback;
- by having to leave the carpark to get to the ikea pick-up, and then returning to the carpark to go buy some lunch.

at one point i had to get out of the car (i was driving), lower my head and use all the dirtiest swears i know as my sleep-deprivation, sensory overload and over consumption caught up with me, making it impossible for me to untangle my seatbelt from the flatpackages which had The Squeeze pinned in the backseat.

we felt we had to stop off at Filou's on lygon st for amazing french pastries and berry pie. so we did. there was no other way of salvaging the afternoon. Goddess bless Filou's, Goddess bless.

when we got home The Squeeze went into a construction frenzy, assembling chairs, table, lamp et al, and the house now smells of plantation beech/pine. i've varnished the chairs and arranged our new purchases attractively throughout our home.

can i just state, for the record, that victoria gardens sucks, and that ikea sucks. majorly.
despite it's helpful little community service display pushing the trams in the foyer (as you leave the damn place), the arsholes won't let you take trollies outside their little cordoned off area. nor are there any taxi ranks at vic gardens that we've yet found. so good luck getting your humourously named, flat packed, plantation whatever back to brunswick on the tram, kiddies. it's really only feasible to go buy shit at this place if you have a car. a car with a large, clear space in it.

so the display in the foyer is no doubt designed to install a little warming glow in departing middle class tossers (and dinky young groovers) who are left feeling that it's terribly nice that the tram is so handy, and isn't ikea wonderful for encouraging us to use it? all this as they toddle on out to their saabs or vw golfs.

the lack of bags nearly brought The Squeeze to fisticuffs, when, faced with 2 chairs, a table, another table, a lamp and a whole slew of little bits of crap, the check out chick refused to give him a free bag to pack all said little shit in, despite the ridiculous amount of dosh he'd just handed over. if i'd been there, i'd have suggested the check out chick get her arse out there to help him carry all that crap out to the car (sans environment-destroying, yet handily revenue-generating plastic bag, of course) one by bloody one. but i was fukking around with the car. and the bullshit pay-parking system.

while i am all for reducing (recylcing, reusing et al) and am infuriating compulsive about keeping and reusing plastic bags, jars, boxes, etc, avoiding buying stuff that needs lots of packaging, and SCOFFING at the little plastic bags in the fruit shop, while i lug my backpack of veggies to my bike (and panniers), there are times when i feel selfrighteously smug swedes totally need a big fat kick up their socialist arses.
especially after they've taken pains to stifle The Squeeze's creative instincts not only with the camera thing, but also with pointed comments about his interpretive dance response to abba in the shelving section.
arsholes. fukking arseholes.

i am not buying all this lefty good will. all these low prices are not (despite the friendly little signs everywhere explaining that the lack of useful staff to carry fukkinheavy flatpacked shit is part of Keeping Costs Down) a result of carefully managed labour and packaging decisions in-store, but are actually the direct result of assembly and production operations in countries that do not have child labour legislation.

and i have to add: don't think you can make it round that goddamn rat-maze without going to the toilet at least once. and don't think there's a shortcut through all that shit to the toilets. there's not.
nor should you be foolish enough to believe there is a way to circumvent all this consumer frenzy encouraging store layout - all instructions from smiling swedes will be useless, all helpful signs will be wrong.

ikea sucks.
but god, there's no way a dink couple like us will escape without buying something in a primary colour, or a plantation wood.

"ikea is its own punishment" was posted by dogpossum on May 15, 2004 7:04 PM in the category domesticity

some updates

i feel that i should extend my fashion palete from only red, pink and purple, to include blue and green. with the help of my lovely assistants ikea and spotlight.

work: delivered the paper last thursday and it went swimmingly. minor problems:
1)too long. thought so, but supes said it was ok. will now follow instincts in this matter
2)lack of dvd player was a poo. hard to talk about dancing when people don't have a clue what it looks like
3)lack of purpose-specific footage was irritating

craftiness/expressions of obessive-compulsiveness:
bought some primary colour cotton fabric to make small, quilted seat cushions. mmm-mm. also bought some green and blue wool (not acrylic, for once!) to make sexy crocheted things using the book of stitches The Mother bought me yesterday. also considered beginning embroidery sampler at 11pm, but vetoed in favour of 100% attention for Kill Bill.

the p's are here and this too is going swimmingly. suprising, really, when you consider the fact that our two bedroom house is now sleeping four, none of whom will sleep with any of the others because of Snoring. NB - i am the only non-snorer. my loss, obviously.
we have been out to dinner a few times (including Growlers last night, where i saw People i know and had a nice dinner), been to ikea (which is shameful, but the p's had hired a car), so we could buy some crap.

"some updates" was posted by dogpossum on May 15, 2004 6:48 PM in the category domesticity

May 13, 2004

my djing paper

i'm giving a paper on djing in the department today/tomorrow, and i need a copy i can print out at work. so i've emailed it to myself and i'm uploading it here. ah, the ultimate public private...
Download file

"my djing paper" was posted by dogpossum on May 13, 2004 1:07 AM in the category conferences

May 12, 2004


The Mother and i went to the aquarium yesterday, and wandered around quite happily for a couple of hours. i surprised myself with some utterly amazing photos. i'm really getting into this whole digital camera thing - instant gratification = go.

the best bit, photo-wise, were the jellies - just some nice, square tanks lit from above, with black walls. this one is my favourite (click on these for larger versions... sorry about this shitty layout... i'm working on it!):

i'm really quite proud of this photo: excellent framing, perfect light, wonderful details. note the four different jellies from three different angles.

this one is also pretty good, but not quite as good as the first one.

i really like those first two pictures - they remind me of a description of aliens in an sf book (whose name i can't remember) - like angels. these fellas are about half the length of your forearm (the bigger ones).

and here's one more:

those ones were inverse, or upside-down jellies (i forget which). they remind me of fractal art.

they were hard to photograph as they were moving about. the smaller they were, the faster the water was moving in their tank.

here are a couple of examples of how things went wrong:
some scary colour and a quick-moving subject:

and some well-lit, but again quick-moving jellies

there were also lots of little bits in the water, to make things even trickier... there were also tanks of teenyweeny jellies (little bubbas) where they looked exactly the same as the larger ones, just smaller.

this one is the one The Mother liked the most - she has decided that the dig is AOK and that mucking about taking stupid photos is even better. this photo is interesting, because we've not used a flash. the tank (which i'm standing in front of) was lit from within. when we used a flash, we looked like we were standing in front of a big poster. mmm-mmm.

just to brag: i've not actually cropped or changed anything about any of these photos except the size (by half or so), and the very first is just a bit of the first nice one cut out to introduce this stuff.
i am feeling most smug.
and also reminding you not to reproduce without permission. :)

"jellies" was posted by dogpossum on May 12, 2004 6:36 PM in the category

May 11, 2004

i went to the swingpatrol ball last friday


it was crowded, cultish and a bit scary. but i had lots of nice dances, listened to a good band, met some nice people. and took a few photos. note the discrepencies in lighting - i am still learning. but i like the blurs. that's how it always seems - blurry - when you're dancing.

here's a pic of cam and emily.


and the big group charleston.


and the performance by some geelong dancers.


too many performances make dogpossum a very bored girl. sp are all about marketing, all about heirarchy, all about encouraging their students to pay up so that they can 'improve' and join the illustrious ranks of the overrated. cynical? of course. this ball was very Young Cult. lots of group hysteria in action. but there were reassuring moments: seeing that the majority of people in the hall were as uncomfortable with the grandstanding as i was, and watching a sp teacher i respect skipping out of the love-fest introductions. over all, it's interesting stuff for the thesis, but concerning and frustrating stuff for the freeswinger.

"i went to the swingpatrol ball last friday" was posted by dogpossum on May 11, 2004 1:24 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances

i don't know why

i don't know why i don't just pop her site over there on the side so all (3) of you can go look at her site yourselves. i just can't stop reading that horrid wench's blog. it's just so painful. and while there was Secret Glee in the misfortune of others in my prior readings, now it's just plain scary. i just don't understand this chick.

god, i wish she didn't post so often. then i'd not be tempted to read. urk.

"i don't know why" was posted by dogpossum on May 11, 2004 1:02 AM in the category clicky

May 10, 2004


And once again I’ve written too many words.
The paper has grown to 5820 words. For a paper I’d intended to be 30 mins long max. oh well.
I am editing. It’s pretty much my main job. I can write a million words, really quickly, but I need to edit and edit and edit to make the thing worth reading

"5820" was posted by dogpossum on May 10, 2004 11:54 PM in the category

May 6, 2004

wish i was sewi


oh, lovely mess.

clever viewers will have noticed this
lovely silver tea set on a lovely tiny bookshelf in the background. both provided by the lovely maria and broos.
finally - i've cleaned the silver, m! and WHY didn't i do it sooner (it's been how many years)? it's just so lovely!

"wish i was sewi" was posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2004 3:14 PM in the category

about the hat

it's made of fleece and is very warm.
part of being cool is not caring about whether you're cool or not. that's what makes you cool.

as soon as you start fussing about whether or not you're cool, or you start hassling other people about not being cool, you compromise your own coolness.

same goes for masculinity. only those with deep-seated anxieties about their own masculinity hassle other blokes about theirs. blokes who're comfortable with their own masculinity feel no need to wave their tool about in other people's faces, either actually or metaphorically.

unless it's for the sake of a particularly Witty and Clever practical joke. then it's a different matter.

"about the hat" was posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2004 1:49 PM in the category

am i on crack?

i'm just obsessed.
i keep looking at that horrid girl's blog. i don't know why. i just can't understand my own masochism. maybe it's because i know her and she posts a lot, so i get to read a lot of bits of crap about her daily life. i mean, it's not like she writes particularly well (although she's readable), or does anything particularly interesting. in fact, she does one lame thing after another, has one stupid thought after another.

i just can't understand that type of melbourne uni pgrad. god, are they all this stupid? seems there's a pattern: pgrads who've done all their prior degrees at unimelb, are very young (under 25 is pretty damn young) and haven't really been living out of home long, all of them are utterly clueless when it comes to recognising their own privileged status. all spoilt brats. all tosser middleclass kiddies with no clue, who can't understand why working mother students should be at uni,let alone need flexible class timetables. all absolute fukks (in the unimelb english department, anyway) who're contributing to cultural studies' rep as depoliticised and ultimately contributing to Evil.

but i can't stop reading this horrid thing. this is not sympathy i feel, nor pity. just a deep, cringing embarassment.

"am i on crack?" was posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2004 1:42 PM in the category



here's a photo of django reinhardt. i'm nuts for the guy. go here to hear some bits of songs from the album i have and loooove.
note django's left hand - he was badly burnt in a fire in 1928 (a caravan fire, fyi), and lost the use of his two littlest fingers on that hand. but he taught himself a new fingering technique to get around it.
he's dah man.

this photo, by the way, is from library of congress william p. gottlieb jazz photo collection. that's really worth a look.

"django" was posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2004 12:53 PM in the category

May 3, 2004

Rent parties

I realise I’ve not actually given much useful information in my previous entry on rent parties.

Simply put:
In the 30s (and in the prior and later years), people living in Harlem in New York were often short of money. When rent time loomed, people who were short of money might hold a party in their house, invite lots of people, and have them pay to attend. They’d put on music (a band or records), and people would dance.

That’s the short story.
Some more details? Sure.

What went on at a rent party?
Eating, drinking, dancing, music playing, talking, love-making, fighting, arguing, kissing party stuff.

Who were these people holding the rent parties?
For the most part, the majority of the stories I’ve found about rent parties placed them firmly in the Afro-American community. In the first 30 years of the 20th century - between 1919 and 1926, many freed slaves moved north from the southern states to northern cities like New York, Washington and Chicago. They followed the promise of work, fleeing lynching, poverty and scary-arse southern politics for the more tolerant north. Not that tolerant, but at least you weren’t being lynched.
The 1920s and 30s are referred to as an Afro-American renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance is of greatest interest to swingers (as it is the birthplace of lindy hop).

Harlem in the 30s was a predominantly Afro-American community. Conditions were crowded, there were more people arriving every day, and not enough work to go around. It was also a time of great creative and artistic endeavour (see the links to sites discussing the Harlem Renaissance below), human rights activism and social change.

Rent party hosts were usually ordinary Harlem people trying to raise their rent money. The rent party convention was later appropriated by more enterprising individuals, and often served as a front for brothels or illegal casinos.

Why did people hold rent parties?
During the 20s and 30s an estimated 200 000 people were living in this one neighbourhood in New York. The sudden influx of residents pushed rents higher than most families could accord. Families opened their homes to lodgers and often shared apartments with other families. Despite these measures, the rent was often due before the residents could find the money.

Residents would hold ‘parties’ in their homes, charging for entry or food, and ‘guests’ would come to dance and socialise, often all night. Advertisement was done surreptitiously, so as to avoid the wrong sort of guests, as well as the law, in this era of prohibition. The ‘rent party’ often served as a pseudonym for brothels.

On this site a woman explains why she held rent parties. This page provides a more detailed explanation of rent parties (with links to the site I referenced in my other post).

What did rent parties mean to swing dance?
For swingers, it’s an important time as these conditions saw the rise of the lindy hop, in tandem with the development of jazz. While the night clubs, cabarets, theatres and dance halls were pivotal public places in the development of lindy hop, the rent parties are important as they were private places made public, in a city where crowding and intensely interpersonal social and kin networks dominated. Rent parties fostered dancing and music, not only as fund raisers, but also as a site for individual self expression and the formation of community identity.

The following quote comes from this site.
“The dancers organize little impromptu contests among themselves and this competition is often responsible for the birth of many new and original dance-steps. The house-rent party takes credit for the innovation of the Lindy-Hop that was subsequently improved upon at the Savoy Ballroom. For years, it has been a great favorite with the regular rug-cutting crowd. Nothing has been able to supplant it, not ever the Boogie-Woogie that has recently enjoyed a great wave of popularity in Uptown New York.”

This link provides an interesting section of the book ‘12 million black voices’, written and illustrated by Richard Wright and Edwin Rosskam respectively. The site ‘America in the 1930s’ provides some archival and historical material from the States during this period.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture provides an interesting overview of the Harlem Renaissance period.
Harlem Renaissance has a useful range of Afro-American authors, artists and their works.

"Rent parties" was posted by dogpossum on May 3, 2004 9:26 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

it's gotten cold


and while The Squeeze isn't quite ready to start wearing jumpers (it has to be snowing for him to wear a jumper with sleeves), he made a concession with this hat. it's one i made when i was in the uk. and it's just lovely. my nanna thought it was horrid. i love it. pink fleece with crocheted flowers. and it suits The Squeeze just fine.

for reference, that day i was wearing, a tshirt, a long sleeved zip-up tshirt, a wooly jumper, thick socks and tracksuit pants. not winter yet, but definitely autumnish.

"it's gotten cold" was posted by dogpossum on May 3, 2004 5:58 PM in the category


in the spirit of chantal akerman 's films, i'd like to present a little Squeezy goodness.




Chantal Akerman's film Jeanne Dielman is over 3 hours long, and meticulously films the household duties of a wife and mother. it is characterised by its long shots and refusal to close-up.

i have taken liberties with my mid-shots. i have a 30 second filmic interpretation, which i am endeavouring to upload. stay tuned.

"domesticity" was posted by dogpossum on May 3, 2004 5:47 PM in the category

May 2, 2004


sure, we had tomatoes.

heeeaps of them. that photo's from the 10th march. it was a jungle. we still have jillions of cherry tomatoes on one bush, and a few romas on the little, stunted bush. but the so-called smaller, patio tomatoes were huuuuuge. they took over the veggie patch. finally i dug them up so The Squeeze had somewhere to play on the weekends (he loses interest in the veggies as soon as they produce, and wants to rip them out to plant new things). i get orange arms from reaching into the tomato plants. i'm a bit sick of tomatoes, esp since i gave myself a sore tongue from eating too many acidic cherry tomatoes.
but the other tomatoes have been replaced with a lovely layer of fresh mulch and some little seedling bubbs.
meanwhile, the zuchini plants (two - producing just enough fruit for us two) are going nuts, spreading across the concrete under the clothesline.
we've got a real brunswick back yard - half concrete, half veggie patch - and the laundry gets all tangled in the veggie stakes. but it's lovely when it trails in the herbs and leaves the smell of mint in the air...

"tomatoes?" was posted by dogpossum on May 2, 2004 6:54 PM in the category

jase dries, sarah washes


we went to dinner at jase, sarah and ricki's house on the 16th of march (yeah, i know it's a while ago. i'm slack. what can i say?).
this is another of my excellently blurry pictures of people doing things in their kitchens. like pictures of people in their homes doing ordinary things. and i like pictures like this, rather than posed shots, as they remind me of what it was really like to be there for dinner. they really were fussing in the kitchen, while we rambled about, shouting our ends of the conversation.


"jase dries, sarah washes" was posted by dogpossum on May 2, 2004 6:40 PM in the category

May 1, 2004

6ft under

when six feet under was on, i only caught the odd episode. it was on at an awkward time, on a difficult day. i really liked what i saw, though, and read good things about it. so i decided to imbibe the other day when i saw the first series in the vid shop.

we could only get it on three day loan, and that seemed cool. til we got the dvds out and realised that's 4 dvds, with 13 episodes. 13 hours of 6ft under. we managed to watch the first two and a bit discs.
then we took it back.
then we got it out again.
we were watching obsessively. we couldn't help it. The Squeeze was making me stay up til ridiculous hours watching it. we loved it. we laughed, we cried, we cringed.

i really really love it. gay characters who stick around, full frontal nudity, dry, black humour, red heads, top soundtrack. it had it all. it's a bit dark though. felt a bit wrist-slashy coming out the other side of our 6 nights of viewing.

but goddamn it's a good series. check out the website. i've only seen a couple of the second season's episodes, so i'm not going to explore the spoilers just yet. i'm looking forward to being depressed in bingetime when the dvd comes out.

The Squeeze has never seen Twin Peaks. i think it's time we got into that mammoth viewing adventure. though he's not struck on lynch's films...
i, however, adore the man. love him. love the way he uses sound. love the whole surrealist thing he's got going on.

right now i'm balancing all that darkness with some fluff - hoo-rah for notting hill.

"6ft under" was posted by dogpossum on May 1, 2004 8:09 PM in the category