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June 30, 2006

i can't tame wild women...

In response to scott's comment here, on the Whedon EqualityNow speech.

I was quite struck by Whedon's comment about not only writing strong women characters but also writing male characters who thought they were the fushizzle. One the one hand - yay! - but on the other, I was reminded of some thoughts I'd had previously about the way some men/male characters are attracted to strong women/characters. They may love and adore them, but some are also attracted to the idea of controlling or weakening them (which reminds me of a Hot Club of Cowtown lyric: "I can't tame wild women, but I can make tame women wild"). This seems to apply to people like Spike.
In the most recent Angel I've watched (Guise will be Guise) the fake swami makes a comment about how Angel needed to find a small blonde woman and trash her as a way of dealing with his anger/distress about being trashed by Darla when she found out he had a soul. Angel's response was non-verbal, but he was obviously thinking 'hm, he might be right'. That could just have been Angel piling on a little more guilt (he is guilt-meister), but it mightn't...
Of course, the blonde in question was Buffy - and Angel made an effort to trash her in the last Angel episode where we saw her in L.A. (I Will Remember you). He might remember that visit fondly, as the one chance he had to be human with her, but she left only remembering his totally trashing her. He knows this, he's packing guilt for it (as per usual), but... don't mean he didn't get some passive-aggressive payback pleasure re Darla/Buffy moving on with Reilly-ace-of-spies.

But of course - Angel has issues. That's his job.

"i can't tame wild women..." was posted by dogpossum on June 30, 2006 12:12 PM in the category buffy and angel

June 29, 2006

so why do you write these strong women characters...?

If there was any reason why you wouldn't marry Joss Whedon, his Equalitynow speech will do away with it.

"so why do you write these strong women characters...?" was posted by dogpossum on June 29, 2006 2:08 PM in the category buffy and angel

June 27, 2006

so like, you know


So I've watched the OC about 4 or maybe even 5 weeks in a row now.
I think I'm hooked.
It's so completely ridiculous - the 'teenagers' speak like world-weary script writers, everyone's either really rich or 'living in a caravan' and really rich. Even the 'poorest' characters wear clothes that are about 10 million times more expensive than mine. They all live by the sea, drive expensive cars and are ridiculously skinny.

I was a bit of a Dawson's Creek fan, in that I wouldn't turn it off it was on, but I wouldn't tape it or seek it out. I was delighted in the last episode of Buffy that I watched (Out of my Mind to see Spike declare that Pacey was being an idiot because 'she' didn't love him.

Poor old Pacey. I was sure he was a special needs character from the ads. But he ...wasn't?

Yeah, so I'm watching the OC. I forget about it as soon as the program finishes, though the ads kind of catch my interest.
It is so ridiculous. I have no idea what's going on. But I have Opinions about the characters:
Marissa (the teeny sex queen one who's on all the ads for shampoo and stuff):
Is a skinny dog who really annoys me. She needs to pin her hair back.
I'm not convinced that she's actually an alcaholic.

Seth (the dark haired young fullah):
is obviously the one I'm supposed to dig because he likes manga and arty stuff and reading.
His minor lispy thing is meant to be hot.
I like him but he kind of annoys me. I can't bring myself to be really impressed or to actually care.

Look, I've lost interest in this silly list.

Why are all the characters so young? Even the mums and dads are young, or trying desperately to look young. Yucky.

The only thing I really care about is that these kids seem to go to Buffy's high school in Beverly Hills/Sunnydale. The same school that the film Loser was set in.

"so like, you know" was posted by dogpossum on June 27, 2006 9:56 PM in the category buffy and angel

melbourne is obsessed

The adult population of Brunswick is somewhat subdued today. Last night's finals match between Australia and Italy offered everyone in this part of Melbourne a team to barack for, whether you're born in Australia, Italy, Greece or some other part of the soccer-playing universe.
In one of the most Italian cafes in Brunswick the owner wasn't in, but there was a vigorous play-by-play discussion of the match carried on by the Irish and Scotts staff.
At Nino and Joes, there were only two butchers working, neither of whom was moving very quickly. There was no bantering.
And the mediterannean supermarket was deserted except for a few skips wandering vaguely up and down the isles, fondling all sorts of things but really only coming home with a dozen cans of diced tomatoes.

It's the second week of the school holidays here, and the parks and streets and front yards in my neighbourhood are full of unsupervised gangs of kids playing complex variations on the regulation soccer match, adapted for concrete pitches and passing cars. It's only 8 degrees, the wind is bitingly cold, but it seems appropriate.

I haven't seen any of the soccer, but it's everywhere. Melbourne is obsessed. And Brunswick is particularly so. Perhaps my favourite story is from the bus ride home the other day. The Italian bus driver (the one who steps down to welcome people onto the bus, or stops the bus to chat with passing friends) was busily engaged in a complicated discussion of the matches to date with a young skip alternakid and a tall and elegant African lady. After the tentative "who did you go for?" and "Australia of course" responses, they assessed the socceroos all the way to my stop.

"melbourne is obsessed" was posted by dogpossum on June 27, 2006 5:03 PM in the category brunswick

look, we're on the internet!

It's odd to see bits of my world on the internet. If you go here you can see a building that I pass every week as I ride into town to go dancing. And that's about the time of day I ride past (with allowances for seasonal variation of course).
The bit that's strange though, is that I don't often see the building from that angle - mostly as I'm barelling past trying not to die on the roundabout of death.

"look, we're on the internet!" was posted by dogpossum on June 27, 2006 12:54 PM in the category melbourne

June 26, 2006

look at this

Cartoon doods without their guts on. here.

"look at this" was posted by dogpossum on June 26, 2006 2:52 PM in the category clicky

where's the good goddamn chocolate? WHERE?

I take time out to focus my eyes.

I'm having trouble staying focussed on these nasty chapter rewrites. I certainly can't divide the text up into individual words any more - it's just one blob of known-by-heart text now, and I can no longer (if I ever could) tell what's crap and what's not. I am relying entirely on the Supes' scribbledy comments, praying she knows what she's doing. The bits where she says 'rewrite this' or 'need to make this clearer' almost make me cry. Creative work is kind of beyond me right now. I'm not even sure I know what the thesis is about any more, let alone what each chapter is about.

I am definitely No Good at introductions. Each one has been so scribbled over it looks like a nest of black jellyfish squabbling over fountain pen. I just suck at this part. I'm still not entirely sure about what I should actually be doing. Because I'm just following directions now (it seemed the best idea, especially after I was instructed to edit the same section at least 3 times, crossing back and forth over the same lines, editing, reverting, editing and reverting again), I'm not actually learning anything. I do feel a bit like a real dummy.
But it's not a sad thing - it's kind of nice to just stop thinking (critically or otherwise) and just be told what to do. I think I want one of those menial jobs where you do repetitive tasks over and over again. Maybe I should work at McDonalds, or do a *deleted* dance class.

I'm not sure if I should be making things shorter and crisper, or longer and artier. I'm pretty sure some parts were to be longer and artier, but some parts which I had made artier are now to be reverted to crisper forms. Sigh.
And why is it that I only seem to know about 20 words, now? Surely there are more words out there in the english language?

Look, I'll just go back to Doing As I'm Told for now, then when I've finished each individual chapter's overall edit, I'll go on and actually write (for about the zillionth time) The Introduction again (formerly Chapter One the literature review and The Introduction. And formerly-to-that Capter one: the Introduction). Can you feel my pain?

Frankly, I have no idea, at all, whatsoever, about what I'm doing, what I should do, and what counts as 'good stuff' or not.

Double sigh.

Where's the good goddamn chocolate? WHERE? I'm not normally the sort of barbie who fusses over things like chocolate - you know the type. They have posters or tshirts that say things like 'i love chocolate'. I like the stuff, but heck, there are other, more important things in my (gastronomic) life.

But right now, I just feel that it would be appropriate.

"where's the good goddamn chocolate? WHERE?" was posted by dogpossum on June 26, 2006 2:32 PM in the category thesis

June 24, 2006


the first disc of season 2 Angel is missing from the video shop. What will we do?

"tragedy" was posted by dogpossum on June 24, 2006 10:31 PM in the category television

recent reading

Ok, so I haven't read that article, yet, but I have read most of this:

It's one of the most recent contriubtions to dance studies work on African American vernacular dance history, edited by Tommy DeFrantz, who does some interesting work on queer black masculinity in dance. While there's a little more emphasis on concert dance than I'm really interested in, there are also some neat articles, especially one on ring shouts which is really worth reading for a discussion of African slaves' experiences with christianity, as represented in dance.

"recent reading" was posted by dogpossum on June 24, 2006 10:18 PM in the category academia and lindy hop and other dances

June 22, 2006

man, i have to lie down

hellooooo HECs debt. Smaller than I thought, larger than I'd like, and with nasty added on bits they call 'indexation' but that I call CRAP.

Hello 189 pages of thesis for editing. Oh yes - it's back, and the supes is off, out of the country tonight so I can't get her back for all the annoying editing jobs she's give me. It's not her fault, though I don't think I could cope with any more it's-my-fault guilt.
Yeah, so anyway, she thinks it rocks, and this is the penultimate draft (penultimate draft #5 or so). Basically, I'm going to ditch the intro she got me to write a couple of weeks ago, revert to the earlier version of chapter one (pre-reccommended changes), fix up my crap intros and conclusions on each chapter, and sort out the gross conclusion to the whole thing. I'm obviously terrible at beginnings and endings. Despite all that, there are dozens of pages without any scribbles on them at all.
Basically, I'm looking at about 3 weeks of work (as predicted), then the 'final' copy will go back to her.
Thankfully, I'm a quick writer, and I'm now kicking arse at producing new stuff that's decent quickly.

We each know every word off by heart now, and are heartily sick of the whole thing. Every now and then we remind ourselves that I rock, and so we're not wasting our time. I say we, because neither of us could continue without the other to bolster our flagging spirits. Even calling each other a cocksucker didn't help.

Meanwhile, MLX6 planning continues (drupal sucks dogs' balls btw - avoid that piece of shit. we are exploring other options (including a wiki and plone), so any suggestions for easy-to-use document management/threadable discussiony type things would be appreciated).

It's cold as fuck, I haven't slept enough lately, owing to mild thesis anxiety, and I need a nap.

I'm also waiting for a cd to arrive from amazon. I can't remember what it's called, but it's a 2 or 3 cd set of remastered ellington stuf. I'm quite excited. Not that I've listened to ANY music AT ALL in at least a week. I simply haven't had time. What with all that Buffy to be watched.

On other fronts, I've lined up some tutoring for next semester, which is neat, as the scholarship ends in August, but also means a bit of work coming my way. Right when I'm ready to just Stop. But I'm very happy to be keeping in the game.

I'm also DJing Friday night, which is nice, as there's been very little of it about lately. Seems a bunch of new young guns have cottoned on to the caper. Sigh. Best be getting on with pimping myself about before I lose all of the few skills I've gained this last few months. It's kind of annoying, as I've not had a chance to test out my new headphones situation. And I'm not sure I will for a while. Oh well.

Man, I have to lie down. Even Lionel Hampton isn't keeping me alert.

"man, i have to lie down" was posted by dogpossum on June 22, 2006 2:43 PM in the category academia

June 20, 2006

yes please

In the spirit of mildly euphoric post-thesis-completion blogging... and too much Buffy.
Found here.

"yes please" was posted by dogpossum on June 20, 2006 6:18 PM in the category television

that big fat bottomless pit of uncritical critical theory (wherein Buffy, ibooks and a horde of cyberdykes take on The Man)

I think this series of entries is really me logging in my reading process, as I go through an article in a journal. Tedious stuff if you're looking for a coherent, sensible argument. Interesting stuff if you're into active readership... dang. Did I give away the punch line?*

If you've already read my last entry (who am I kidding?), you might be interested in reading this - it's the McKee text I quoted. Interestingly, McKee notes that

I'm trying to encourage people to break out of their normal habits, to think about the culture they consume. I'm thinking that maybe we shouldn't just do the same thing, every day week in, week out.
....a global campaign encouraging people to boycott books for one week and to challenge you to explore new ways of passing time.

You could try talking to friends, or dancing to some music. You could even watch some television!'

Do you like the way McKee lists some of my most favourite things there? And how, for me, these are the cultural practices in the forefront of my mind? Will I dance? Will I stay home and watch telly? Will I talk with friends while watching telly? Will I read? Oh, dilemma, dilemma.

I still feel, even though I love telly and understand all those arguments about high/low culture, loving mass culture for its own goodness, that perhaps encouraging people to 'turn off their telly' for a week is not a bad thing. And not just because it saves power.**

Look, I'm getting off-track now, and I still haven't read that article, but really, why am I so bothered by McKee's comments? Surely it's not just because it seems to have toppled into that big fat bottomless pit of uncritical critical theory which seems to dogg me at every conference***?

Geez. I wonder if all this confusion and brow-furrowing on my part is really just a result of watching too much Buffy and Angel, where there seems to be an eternal tension between 'old knowledge' and 'new knowledge', namely in the persons of Willow (read: Witch/feminist/lesbian/macslut****/hawt young thing with irritating approach to slang English) and Giles/Wesley (read: Watchers' council/patriarchy/booknerds)?***** Probably.

and CRAP, where is the INTERNET in all this book v telly crap? I mean, geez, hasn't anyone read that thing about media convergence yet?****** Or is that as totally uncool as globalisation/global media now?*******

*this was meant to be a joke where I linked to a post by a local Aussie acblog, but I can't find the link now. Sorry. It was funny and clever. Was.

**this is where I link to what I'm thinking of as the 'sequel' to the save water campaign in Melbourne. I'm kind of interested in the ramifications of this power campaign. I like the whole 'you have the power' plug (so to speak) - it makes me laugh to think of how this switching off unnecessary power soures is kind of functioning as an incitement to quit consuming... vig gov goes socialist? I wonder how origin feels about all this?

*** Hell if I'll name names - these doods seem to be so online I'll totally get busted. But you know who I'm talking about. Don't you? They tend to be a bit slow to engage in any satisfying way with issues of race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, etc, beyond glib book titles and throw away lines. And they love that new media.
Though, frankly, who doesn't love that new media?

****Go on, tell me you didn't find Willow's steady progression to the world of macdom just a little bit signficant to her appeal as thinking-woman's-hero/hawt-young-dyke/Wicced-kewl young thing? Go on, admit it - you just love to see a slightly-undernourished-young-academic-sexually-ambigious-mildly-androgenous-gingah sporting those sexy safety-corner apple products. you bet your i-life you do! know that we've been sitting here on the couch the past few months quietly noting her progression from ugly, clunky pc desktops in Ms Calender's class to her clunky oldskool macbook, and now are waiting (somewhat breathlessly) for her ibook to appear. But be assured - I will blog it as soon as it appears.

*****off-the-top-of-my-head reference: Blind Date in Angel season one, where Cordy scoffs at Wesley's slooow old school bookteck, while kicking his arse in the research stakes with her computer, and yet also spending 1 hour and 40 minutes on the phone to Willow who has also been decrypting files all day (ref for the Buffy parallel eps where that goes down - the Yoko Factor and Primeval). Though, really, if I was Cordy at that moment, and considering Willow's recent Outing at that point in season 4 of Buff, there's plenty to talk about - at least 1 hour and 40 minutes' worth.

******Wait til you read my thesis. It's right there in Chapter 5:DJing as the convergence of media forms and practices in embodied dance discourse

*******Chapters 2 through 6.

Post Script

You might be interested in this issue of the CSAA newsletter, three articles down, where Greg Noble writes about "A cultural studies anti-canon?" Speaking as someone who did an MA on newspapers (how uncool! how ...analogue of me!), this caught my attention...

NB the whole mac thing - you know that I'm making a joke about how mac has so totally scored with its marketing towards my demographic with the whole white/safety corners/block colour thing, right? Right?

"that big fat bottomless pit of uncritical critical theory (wherein Buffy, ibooks and a horde of cyberdykes take on The Man)" was posted by dogpossum on June 20, 2006 5:10 PM in the category academia and books and clicky and lindy hop and other dances and television

go read this, too!

Yesterday my latest copies of Continuum came yesterday. They're part of my CSAA (or is it ANZCA?) membership deal. I tend to be slack keeping up with latest journals, but this whole posting-of-journals to me has meant I'm a little bit more up to date than I usually would be.
Last night I was reading through the tables of contents, and came across the article Social Capital Theory, Television, and Participation by Steven Maras. Now I've only skimmed the abstract and first couple of pages (and I must go back to it), but my attention was caught by this text quoted in the article:

Viewing and reading are themselves uncorrelated - some people do lots of both, some do little of either - but 'pure readers' (that is, people who watch less TV than average and read more newspapers than average) belong to 76 percent more civic organizations than 'pure watchers' (controlling for education, as always). Precisely the same pattern applies to other indicators of civic engagement, including social trust and voting turnout. 'Pure readers,' for example, are 55 percent more trusting than 'pure viewers'.

In other words, each hour spent viewing television is associated with less social trust and less group membership, while each hour reading a newspaper is associated with more. (Putnam, 1996)

Provocative, no? Now, before you fly off and rumble out a counter/supporting argument, keep in mind the fact that Maras' article actually begins with a bit of talk about Alan McKee and his reponse to 'turn off a TV week':

But why only television, and not books? When I first heard about the campaign to 'turn off TV', I tried to work out the logic behind it - but any reason you come up with for encouraging people to turn off TV works just as well for books, or many other parts of our everyday cultural lives. (McKee, 2002)

Now, I actually have more problems with McKee's points than Putnam's. Firstly, I think that the idea of 'turning off the TV' for a week is not so much an argument (in my mind, as I'd use it) for literally saying 'no!' to telly or to a particular cultural practice, but an argument for encouraging us to think more creatively about the things we a) do for fun, and b) do, cultural practice-wise.

There are many arguments which support this sort of reading of the phrase, from 'get some exercise' to 'read a book' or 'quit consuming, stooge!'. I agree, turning off the TV isn't such a great end in itself (I'm all for telly and its social and cultural uses), particularly when I think of all the dancers I know who spend their time either in front of a screen (watching telly or playing on the computer) or on the dance floor. In my opinion, neither is particularly conducive to excellent interpersonal skills in immediate, embodied social interaction. Nor are either in themselves bad. I think my point is that we need to get diversity up us.

But Putnam's comment is kind of problematic as well. 'Reading' is kind of a blanket term, as is 'viewer', let alone pure (in either case). No one is a 'pure' reader or viewer - we are totally into diversity in our media consumption. Again, I think Putnam's point (working just from this initial quote) should perhaps be countered with a bunch of questions about 'what sorts of newspapers did they read?' and 'did they read them online, or are you just talking paper?' (to be fair - his article does predate the internet thingy) and 'what sorts of telly do they watch?' and 'do they watch alone - what is the context for their viewing?'. The latter is particularly imporant, especially when you keep in mind people like Galaxy, who is both a prodigous reader and viewer.

But I'm running on ahead of myself. I haven't read the article yet, nor do I proof-read my blog entries or work on them for ages before publishing. I'm just pointing out the article, noting the bits in the first 2 pages (literally) that caught my eye. I will, however, be reading this very soon. After (my increasingly late) lunch, perhaps.

But this article caught my eye because I'd just been thinking about doing television studies as an academic. Frankly, I'd be crap at it, simply because I don't watch enough telly. My previous post on my media consumption kind of points that out - that I'm writing about my sudden increase in telly -viewing points that out (I think I was also trying to say something about cross-media ideology and patterns of consumption in reference to the ABC, but I didn't quite manage to articulate it). Mostly because I spend a lot of time doing other stuff.

But then, this argument also applies to dance. If I spent more time practicing and working on dancing, I'm sure I'd be much 'better'. I'd certainly be fitter, which helps. But, you know, there are these other things to do. Television to be watched and all. I wonder if, to be truly good at something, you need to totally submerge yourself in it?

And then, of course, there comes the issue of whether or not an obsessive interest in a particular cultural practice is conducive to community-mindedness. Well, yes, it's possible (esp in the case of dancing), though your notion of 'community' might be quite specific. And when I watch a lot of telly (esp the ABC), hell I get some politics up me, what with actually knowing what's going on in the world.

So it's an interesting idea. Perhaps, rather than saying 'don't watch telly' (which is how McKee seemed to have interpreted 'turn off the TV week', rather than as 'hey, try some new stuff this week'), we should say 'don't turn off your brain'. Which of course brings us back to one of the oldest stories in the cultural studies book. Can you say encoding/decoding or Stuart Hall? We aren't passive consumers of media. I like to think of us as media users and I definitely like the phrase 'cultural practice', because it suggests that we do stuff with media, rather than just stooging it up.
Which I guess is McKee's point, ultimately.

So, with these initial (and obviously circular and somewhat misinformed) comments, where am I going with this? Heck, I think it's time to read the article.

"go read this, too!" was posted by dogpossum on June 20, 2006 3:03 PM in the category academia

go there, read that

I think I want to post about this again. Check out this comment (which I linked to in my last post) from Dorothy (btw, hi Dorothy, and nice to meet you(r blog)!):

“I played a supporting, subordinate role in this race, and I had a great time doing it. Isn’t it fun to make sacrifices for other riders? It’s not really me that matters, after all, it’s the team. Winning isn't everything.” It’s not often a woman gets to sit around and listen to a group of men talk this way.

And they're talking about bike riding competitions. I have a friend who's seriously into bike competitions, and I must admit, I'm put off by the competitiveness of it all. Especially since it's endurance stuff they're into. The thought of all that aggressively competitive testosterone - I'm tougher! No, I'm tougher! Dang, boys - try labour for 12 hours and see who's got endurance!*

I don't know if we're talking teams there, or how that might work in that context, but the thought of team cycling events facinates me. It also emphasises the way these sorts of races are about tactics rather than just 'go! GO!' I was struck by this during the recent Commonwealth Games when watching that-team-cycling-event-where-they-work-in-teams-on-the-steep-round-track, where the use of team-tactics is so much clearer. There's lots of stalking** and so on there.

So go read that post. It's interesting.

*I speak as someone who does actually posess a baby-space, rather than as one who has actually made babies (or pushed one out). This is perhaps too obvious a feminist/woman joke to make about endurance, but really. Could you blame me?

**Don't you love the expression stalking horse? I'll talk about that somewhere else, though.

"go there, read that" was posted by dogpossum on June 20, 2006 2:53 PM in the category clicky

literary and cycling inadequacy

...who would have thought?
I've come across a couple of interesting blogs lately - Hobgoblin and books and bikes (whose name I don't know). I'm especially interested in the last one for that post (which is all I've read so far, but you know, blogging, no rush, no 'finishing' issues).

Both of these are blogs by people who love books and love bikes. In fact, the latter has this tagline:

"Reading, almost as much as breathing, is our essential function." Alberto Manguel
Which makes her alright by me. Because I love books a lot, and I also love bikes (bikes of course being eminently conducive to the breathing Manguel mentions). I also enjoy these blogs (so far - they're just new to me), and I really like their approaches to the life of the mind and the life of the body - being in the body and in the mind.
But they've made me think about a couple of things that I've had going on for a while in the back of my brain.

Having pointed you to some interesting blogs, perhaps I should discuss my own feelings of literary and cycling inadequacy. And perhaps get all defensive about it.

1. I am a slow bike rider. Nor do I ride very far, or enter any races. I am quite happy riding for 30 - 45 minutes on regular commutes every day. I go for the odd pleasure ride (though not often). I do not train, I do not compete (what would be the point when you're as slow/unfit/lacking competitive nature as I am?). I like to sing as I ride (everyone has a bike song - it's just that not all of them make it to the outside of us). I like to stare at stuff as I ride along, swivelling my head like a magpie watching school kids in spring. And I'm quite happy to stop and chat with strangers. I also follow the rules and wear the daggiest safety gear imaginable*.

2. I read, almost exclusively, science fiction and fantasy. I can't remember the last time I read anything else. No, wait, I can - I've read pretty much every Alexander McCall Smith book. But that hardly wins me any literary cred. I only read well-written and well-informed sf. I don't like books which think they're pulling out some new trick but are really trotting out the same old post-apocalyptic axe-weilding tribe shtick, or irritating lone-warrior-with-magic-sword-in-fantastic-realm blabber. I will, however, tolerate these sorts of stories if they're pulling a bit of a variation on a theme. Exercising some sort of self-reflexivity comment-on-genre stunt. So I guess I'm saying that I like sf where the author is not only well-read in the genre themselves, but also clever enough to avoid being too uncritically derivative. I also prefer female authors.

Or are these feelings of inadequacy?

I do actually love this stuff - I really enjoy reading sf. I read a lot of other, far more impenetrable stuff for work. This is fun stuff. I mean, I read all day every day when I'm working. So I like to change gears for fun reading. I really enjoy the way sf takes ordinary people (ie people we can relate to, no matter their physical appearance or abilities) and experiments with extraordinary places and situations. At the end of the day, though, the stuff that keeps me with a book to the very last pages are an excellent grasp of interpersonal and international or intergalactic (or interwhatever) politics and relationships, coupled with a neat plot and great writing.

On the bike front, I am as equally committed to riding for pleasure. I definitely have nothing to prove. And I really, really like the feeling of accomplishment and self-worth I get from achieving my small goals - riding in to dance and then home again each week. Not using public transport or a car unless I have to (thus opting out of environmental and economic stoogesville). Getting out and interacting with the people and places around me rather than getting into a bubble and wafting through the world to wherever I'm going.

I mean, I only have these inadequacy issues when I read about or speak to other people who ride faster/harder/further or reader longer/harder/smarter books than I do. Mostly I'm just happy toodling along on my bike (ain't no race here, thanks), and I simply couldn't imagine not reading at least 2 or 3 hours every day just for fun - that means books that are 'easy' to read (though I do insist on 'well-written', not only to facilitate the ease, but also up the pleasure).

I guess I don't really have anything to say that a bunch of cultural studies doods haven't said already re everday life and everyday (pop) culture, or that a bunch of feminists haven't said re economic and social and physical independence, but still. Inside me, there's still a worry that I'm not clever enough (and reading Serious Books will help that) or fit/fast/strong enough (and riding Seriously will help that). I guess that's nothing new - most of us have these vaguely self-esteem related issues going on whenever we get involved in things and then compare ourselves to others. Maybe that's why I enjoy yoga so much - comparing yourself to others is completely and utterly fruitless, let alone a deviation from the whole point of the thing.

*I do so love being in my 30s. I couldn't give a sweet good goddamn any more about stuff that seemed to saturate my 20s: I stare as much as I can at everyone and everything that catches my interest, I couldn't care less about whether or not people find me attractive (sexually or otherwise), I've completely lost interest in popular fashion - mainstream or otherwise (and it's interesting that making my own clothes prompted this - once you stop pounding away on the consumption-of-goods train, it seems you're a little free-er of consumption-of-other-ideologies thing as well).
It just feels so good. Except for when I'm reminded of this stuff by other people who are caring about whether they have the coolest clothes or are hanging with the coolest people or whether people are staring at them.**

...though I guess you could say that I've substituted a whole other bunch of anxieties, right?

**it's probably me staring at them. Unashamedly. And if we make eye contact, I will smile and probably say hello.

"literary and cycling inadequacy" was posted by dogpossum on June 20, 2006 11:25 AM in the category bikes and books

June 19, 2006

media watch

It's been quite a few years since I watched television regularly - share housing and going out late most nights made it impossible. But the thesis has demanded I take early nights in the last few weeks. So I've been watching some telly.
First. The O.C.. On some commercial channel, at some time. I have no clue.
Why, why, why am I interested in this? What is going on? It's crap! But not good crap - pretentious crap. But I can't watching it.

Second. Jericho. ABC. Some time, some night. I love it. I love mysteries, and I love crime drama without all the bullshit sciencey crap. It's just straight detecting. And I love it.

Third. Spicks and Specks ABC. Some night, some time. I love it SO MUCH. I think I need to marry Myf. It's great telly, really great telly. I love the way everyone on it has a great time and really enjoys themselves. I like the singing and the silliness.

Four. Absolute Power. ABC. I think it's after Spicks and Specks on the ABC. Wonderful. Oh man, I love Stephen Fry. And I love PR/media satires. For obvious reasons.

Five. The news. ABC and SBS. Because.

Look, I don't know what's going on here. I mean, we have a digital set top box (go get one - it cost us $49 from JB) so we get not one, but TWO ABC channels. And two SBS channels. So we watch a lot of aunty. It's great.
I'm also getting into the ABC online. I've gotten into podcasts. But nothing cool - Radio National, News Radio, and that John Safran show (but I can't listen to much of it because he's a bit annoying). It's great. Now I know stuff.

And, in addition, we're up to season Five of Buffy. Don't you just love that last episode of season 4 with the Last Slayer? And I think the producers are right - it was the most disjointed season, but it had some of the very best episodes. My favourites would be:
Living Conditions, where "Buffy becomes convinced that her annoying roommate is evil, but her friends think she is mad."
Beer Bad, where "Buffy drowns her sorrows in beer with some upperclassmen; Xander grows concerned when they start to get in touch with their primordial roots."
Pangs where "Angel secretly arrives in Sunnydale to protect Buffy, who is attempting a perfect Thanksgiving." (I loved this one for the whole postcolonial metanarrative thingy)
Something Blue where "A spell by Willow goes awry, blinding Giles and causing Buffy and Spike to fall in love and get engaged."
Hush Where "After the residents of Sunnydale lose their voice, Buffy fights the deadly assailants alongside an incredulous Riley." Scariest episode ever.
This Year's Girl and Who are You?, the Faith-wakes-up episodes (!!)

...hell, I'm just listing them all. Basically, I love them all except the boring Initiative ones. I especially love the ones with Tara and Oz in (I think Willow and I have the same tastes in partners...).

We're also watching Angel Season One, which i also love, even it if it's not quite as good as it will get.

SO we're just drowning in telly right now.
Needless to say, my dancing is nonexistant. I am still yoga queen (1 or 2 times a week, depending), but this indoors stuff. YEAH.

It doesn't help that it's very cold and dark. 3pm is late afternoon, So why would we want to spend our nights out?

...remind me to write about Stick It, will you? It was great.

"media watch" was posted by dogpossum on June 19, 2006 9:17 PM in the category television

June 18, 2006

last cab off the rank...

...because I always seem to come the best memes long after they're cool.

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

These are all the countries I've visited (with the exception of some places in Europe when I was a small child which I can't remember.
Please note all those tiny red dots down there in the South Pacific.
...well, you will note them when I make this increasingly-irritatingly small column wider.

"last cab off the rank..." was posted by dogpossum on June 18, 2006 5:35 PM in the category travel

June 16, 2006

remind me

to write about female role models for lindy hoppers, will you?
Thinking about Frida has made me think about expanding a bit of one of my chapters (ch3 I think) where I wrote about gendered resistance and transgression in dance in contemporary swing dance culture.

In that chapter I looked at how women (and men, but I'm mostly interested in women) do resistant stuff while actually dancing. I write about:
- resistance within the lead-follow partnership, as follows (I think that's where I talk about the swivel and African American v Anglo American styling and gender performance therein - and how women dancers in the 2000s can borrow from these 1930s examples to do active stuff. All via archival film, of course, and then (even more interestingly) via networks of shared clips).
- resistance within the lead-follow partnership, where women lead
- solo dancing for women on the social dance floor (with a reference to flappers and charleston as a radical departure from partner dancing (and the heteronormativity) in the 20s... and in the 2000s. Interesting point: the 30s and 40s were SO conservative compared to the 20s!)

I want to have a think and a write about this stuff in a more comprehensive way. Possibly something for an article for a feministy/gender studies journal? Maybe a feminist media studies journal?

"remind me" was posted by dogpossum on June 16, 2006 3:26 PM in the category article ideas and lindy hop and other dances

go look, here:


MAN, this chick sounds like FUN. I totally have to steal all her ideas for MLX6. No one loves silly physical games more than a lindy hopper. And a couple hundred lindy hoppers hyped on adrenaline and sugar at 2am... Well. Let's just say... can you spell FUN?

"go look, here:" was posted by dogpossum on June 16, 2006 3:22 PM in the category digging

weekly round-up

Today is a kind of day out of time for me. The thesis is with the Supes, to be looked at later on (and to be talked about next Thursday). Next week I'm going to get into all the annoying administrative bits of submitting a thesis - cover sheets, descriptions, forms, etc. But this week (ie the last 2 or 3 days, incuding today) I've given myself leave to do whatever I like. That means:

  • obsessing about the MLX6 site. I have some neat stuff from our Arty Team (ie Kylee and Scotti - designer and scribbler respectively), and a good plan for the site. But this week was all about designy stuff - trying to make the logo work with the practical functions of the site. Or, in other words, laying it all out on the page in a pretty and yet usable way. Eek.
  • finishing off some sewing jobs that really needed doing (PJs for The Squeeze - bad wobot, altering my lovely plum stretch needle cord trousers so they're not mega bags, finishing off a neat black (with white arm-stripes, red wrist-cuffs and big red cross on the front) fleece jumper - fleece is neat. I promise to post some sort of pictures at some point. This last jumper was black, white and red in an attempt to be Serious and Grown Up (esp after my pink and red fleece hello-kitty lined hood fleecy cardigan thing), but ended up looking like something Dennis teh Menace would wear:

    I like to imagine that I am, in fact, a comic book hero when I'm burning down Sydney Rd, dodging cars and yelling "BAM!" under my breath* like Frida: Frida.jpgShe does actually yell "BAM!" and she's probably shouting "YEAH!" in a loud, Swedish-American accent in that photo.

  • discovering last-minute thesis jobs and FREAKING out about them
  • actually submitting my Intention to Submit form (yes, I know - it's madness. But you have to give them 3 months to find you 3 markers or else you delay the return of your thesis post-marking), with abstract, thesis title (what? you mean I have to name this thing before it's even finished gestating? what?!). I can't remember what that was. No, wait, I've found it:

    Hepfidelity: Swing dance and the role of digital media in embodied practice


  • And... what else have I done? Oh, I went to see Dave Chappelle's Block Party, where there were 4 of us in the cinema - me and 3 teenage/first year boys. I laughed at the Huxtable jokes, they laughed at the hip hop references. Cultural capital for all.

So it's been an ok week. I feel a bit lost, but still. I've also been looking for work. Yeah, right. Let's not talk about THAT.

Anyhoo** here are two interesting things to read:

  • this blog called avant game, which is a far more interesting games studies blog than any I've ever read before
  • and B's entries on meditation, starting here which are quite a lovely read.

I especially like this bit:
Upon returning to Alice Springs, I kept up my practice, and found other people to meditate with from time to time. One group that met on Sunday afternoons was a small Sangha group. It was held in the artist’s workshop out back of the house of one of the members. Although I was not really studying Buddhism, they were always welcoming, and it was a pleasure to sit with them for a half hour in that quiet room, and feel their energy.
I really like this idea of being part of a group while meditating. Meditationg, martial arts and other inwards-looking practices like yoga or Thi Chi can often be seriously inward-looking, or in-the-body. To such an extent that they can affect your outward-looking interactions with others***. I am really interested in the idea of being-in-the-body and inward-focussed, and yet to still be aware of and part of a group or partnership. It's an idea I'd like to explore a little more. Particularly when you keep in mind that African American vernacular dance - vernacular dance is about being part of a group, about social context, and about call-and-response between dance partners, between dancers on the floor, between musicians and dancers, and between dancers and audiences. Being seriously inwards-looking is kind of not so great in a social dance situation where the dance is all about conversations with others...

* I'm brave, but not that brave.
**that was for you, Galaxy - I'm crazily aware of it now. But I think of a friend called Dave who says it a lot. He's probably referencing the Simpsons, but I'm referencing an insanely good dancer who's also a Thai Chi master country boy.
***it's not uncommon for hardcore martial arts people or yogis to be quite terrible partner dancers because they're so focussed internally, they are so good at responding with their bodies, they're not so good at responding with their bodies in relation to others, as a partnership.

"weekly round-up" was posted by dogpossum on June 16, 2006 2:39 PM in the category academia and lindy hop and other dances and people i know and yoga

June 12, 2006

alignment - ok or not ok?

The Squeeze's favourite part of this blog is the neatly aligned list of categories over there on the left. He likes the little circles. And the aligning. So I haven't the heart to change it, even if it kind of irks me.

But I love him. And mostly because yesterday while inspecting The Matriarch's position on the swiss ball he asked "can we have an alignment check?"

"alignment - ok or not ok?" was posted by dogpossum on June 12, 2006 4:01 PM in the category dogpossum

because you may or may not be interested...

Since I started DJing (way back there in February - CRAP, how time flys!), I've noticed that my hearing has kind of gone downhill. This upsets me, because I previously had amazing hearing - really the aural equivalent to 20-20 vision. But not so much any more.
I'm considering getting some proper ear plugs. But they cost a lot.
It's a bit of a dilemma...

"because you may or may not be interested..." was posted by dogpossum on June 12, 2006 3:50 PM in the category djing

i do actually rock

Man. What a relief.
I've produced a full, next-to-final draft of the thesis (a week ahead of schedule, mind you), and will be sending it off to the Supes this week. Then we meet next week to discuss any final changes. It should be fine, though, as we're really only looking at writing style and typos and stuff now. Though I'm having trouble writing the conclusion. I just can't seem to do it. Frankly, I'm looking forward to a big long break from the thing.

After we meet, the Supes is away for a few weeks, so I'll do dumb stuff like the bibliography (which is annoying as I'm dealing with so many online/digital references. Books are so much easier to deal with), layout, etc. Which always sounds like easy stuff, but always takes far longer than you'd ever expect.

Then, once she's back, I guess I give it back to her, she does the final read-through, then it's off to be printed and to get its temporary binding. Yay!

Then I sit around and wait. Well, actually, then I tutor my arse off in second semester, desperately trying to get enough money to live on while I also:
a) write articles and get them published
b) do my share of planning for MLX6 in November
c) fuss.

Then I get it all back from marking, and submit it for permanent binding. Because it will be perfect and require no further editing.*
I don't doubt that this will coincide with the MLX. Because that is the way my life runs - it never rains but it pours.

Ok, I'm barely literate now. I think I'll go do something entirely low-brain, like sewing or dancing or walking or something...

*for those of you not In The Trade, this is a joke - I've not heard or more than maybe 2 people who've not had to do any edits or corrections. Most people get only minor corrections. If you get major ones...well. Either your Supes sucks or you didn't listen to your Supes.

"i do actually rock" was posted by dogpossum on June 12, 2006 3:21 PM in the category thesis

June 9, 2006

crossing my legs and letting the plumber get on with it

The plummer has been here since 9am (which was rough after my late night), all the water is off and my bladder is screaming. But I daren't interrupt him - he's replacing all the taps in my bathroom and kitchen (which is exciting, especially if you know our taps).
It's not too bad, really - I learnt a lot about our landlord. Apparently he's a hairdresser who owns lots of houses and a factory and a shop(s ?). He's also a tightarse.

All this is kind of upsetting, seeing as how it took months and months for him to do little, inconsquential things like:
- fix the leak in the roof that steadily trickled water down our wall and ceiling and left a very pretty water stain
- fix the wiring in the bathroom so that we actually had a light in there. And an extraction fan that wouldn't set the house on fire
- fix the toilet that leaked from the outflow pipe. Yes. Imagine that wonderfulness
It's a little bit shitty that someone with so many assets fucks his tenants around. But as the (Italian) plumber said, "people who have money chase it."

There are other things that need fixing around our house, but we don't think about them unless we have to. For instance, the wiring in our house is a bit of a home job. Our first night in the house a plug point caught on fire. The electrician was afraid to work on it, and when he came to install a trip switch (the safety switch that clicks the power off automaticaly when something blows - it stops a gajillion vaults flowing through you when you do something silly) he said he couldn't as the wiring was so crap. In fact, it's illegal wiring.
We blessed our landlord when our power failed a summer or two ago and we had no power for 24 hours in two periods. Just long enough for all our frozen food in the fridge to defrost, and for us to die in the heat.

Yeah, renting rocks, but heck. We can leave any day. Not that we want to - our house is actually quite great for the price, and in the best location. And I've been renting for over 10 years now, and never lived in any house as long as this - 2 or 3 years now. So I'm just crossing my legs and letting the plumber get on with it.

"crossing my legs and letting the plumber get on with it" was posted by dogpossum on June 9, 2006 12:54 PM in the category domesticity

yes, i was on drugs

I'm not sure if you all know this, but I ride to the city every Thursday night. I pack my lappy up in my crumpler backpack (red of course), slip on my lovely day-glo cycling jacket and pedal into town, somewhere between 6 and 8, depending on whether I'm DJing, and which shift I'm doing. In summer, this is one sweet trip. In winter... well, it's dark, it's cold, you can see the pollution (which is disturbing) and I have to wear gloves. I usually have to stop just as I get to Royal Parade so I can take off a layer.
But I like it. I can sing really loudly on the way home (at around midnight), I like the way the fog makes everything kind of soft and quiet. I see lots of interesting things (usually roadworks, but last night it was a pile of vomit halfway between the pub and the colleges at the university, but then a bat flew past at helmet height, so it was ok). And I'm safer than I am when I catch the tram (I hate waiting at the fairly-isolated stop in the city).

So it's all good. Even though I'm usually pretty tired and sweaty after dancing for hours. But so long as I don't let my heart rate drop too low between dancing and riding home, I'm ok.

Last night, as I rode home at about 11.30 (earlier than usual), dodging vomit and bats, trying not to wipe too much snot on my gloves and singing loudly (something about banana splits I think. I blame Louis Prima and a momentary lapse of judgement while DJing), I thought 'this is great. I'm lucky. I love my bike.' When I got home, though, I'd stiffened up in the cold and post-yoga, post-dancing aftermath and could barely get off my bike to open the garage. Then I could barely get the keys into the lock because my fingers were so cold. It was 6degrees, but it gets colder with windchill on the bike. When I got into the shower it felt like I was scalding myself with luke-warm water, I was so cold. But only on my cheeks, ears, the front of my thighs, my forearms and my shins.

But I was still cheery - all that dancing and pedalling and wind chill had exorcised my grumpiness of the earlier evening - and the endorphines. Well, yes. I guess I was on drugs, albeit natural ones.

"yes, i was on drugs" was posted by dogpossum on June 9, 2006 12:39 PM in the category bikes

June 8, 2006

bleus round-up

I think it's worth me running through DJing at the Blues night last Sunday, seeing as how I took the trouble to blog about it.
Much of this I've copied from my post on Swing Talk, so feel free to skim-read/skip. But I have added some additional comments, so you might just miss out if you do.

To start with, here's my set list (Sunday 4th June 2006, first set (9.30-10.30pm)).

Name Artist Album Year BPM
Willow Weep For Me Louis Armstrong Ella And Louis Again [MFSL] 1957 90
My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More Alberta Hunter Amtrak Blues 1978 76
Reckless Blues Velma Middleton with Louis Armstrong and the All Stars The Complete Decca Studio Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (disc 06)   89
I Ain No Iceman Cow Cow Davenport History of the Blues - disc2   89
Save It, Pretty Mama Sidney Bechet The Blue Note Years 1945 91
I Left My Baby Kansas City Band Kansas City: A Robert Altman Film 1995 83
Stormy Blues Billie Holiday The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes (disc 2) 2005 62
I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl - Nina Simone Nina Simone Sings the Blues 2006 66
I Never Loved A Man Aretha Franklin Greatest Hits - Disc 1 90
Please Please Please James Brown Sex Machine 1991 74
Amtrak Blues Alberta Hunter Amtrak Blues 1978 95
Back Water Blues Dinah Washington with Belford Hendricks' Orchestra Ultimate Dinah Washington 1957 71
Baby, Get Lost Billie Holiday The Lady Of The Blues 70
Rocks In My Bed Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Day Dream: Best Of The Duke Ellington Songbook 1956 68
Hamp's Salty Blues Lionel Hampton and His Quartet Lionel Hampton Story 3: Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop 1946 86
Long John Blues Dinah Washington 22 Original Classics 96

There are some incomplete details there - missing dates etc. This is partly the result of slack cataloguing on my part, a complete disinterest in cataloguing on The Squeeze's part (he's responsible for the Aretha and JB stuff) and general all-round pftness.

This was my first time DJing to a blues crowd at anything other than a party. It was a bit weird, for a few reasons:

  • technical issues. there are always technical issues. but there were only two pissy speakers, no bass to speak of and a very crowded room. so i had to really fiddle with the knobs. mostly to no effect. but this screwed with some of my song choices. i learnt a lot about playing under these conditions.
  • it's really dark. so you can't see what people are doing. this makes it tricky to judge the mood of the crowd.
  • blues dancing is kind of samey. so you can't really judge the mood or energy levels of the room by what people are doing on the dance floor
  • i felt like they would have danced to anything - this isn't like playing for experienced dancers or picky lindy hoppers.

Blues dancing has a different wave than lindy. You work in longer sessions and with longer-term goals. I found I rely on tempo to change the mood in a room when I DJ for lindy, but this wouldn't work with blues. I found I could play any old tempo, really, so long as I was very careful with mood. I found I was DJing according to mood and musical style rather than tempo. This could have been a major mistake, and I need some feedback from dancers to see how this worked out. I could be full of crap on that part. But the floor is always full at blues, so you can't use that as a gauge.

Song choices:

  • The Kansas City song I Left My Baby, while it sounds great on my home stereo, at CBD and at funpit, kind of sucked on this system. It just ended up sounding like a slurry of sound with no depth or variation. If you know those albums, though, they're a good indication of the mood of the room tonight: like a loud, raucous bar with people laughing and talking and having a good time.
    It got quieter when I played mellower music, but seeing as how I mostly played dirty nanna blues, the mood stayed pretty dirty nanna - loud, boisterous, rowdy, laughing fun. Which is what I want from a blues night.
  • I was heavy on the vocals, mostly because the instrumental stuff just sounded rank on the sound system. And I guess that was kind of an archetypal beginner DJ set - heavy on the vocals. But I was also going for high-energy, sassy but kind of tongue in cheek sauciness.
  • That last Dinah Washington song was an emergency song as Josh and I were playing the DJing equivalent of doctors and nurses, trying to figure out what went in which hole. In retrospect, Long John is kind of not appropriate for a noob blues crowd, as it's really quite explicit.
    It is, however, one of my favourite songs.
  • Back Water Blues is my most favourite song ever. EVER. I love it so much - that's blues dancing music to me. Saucy, kind of miserable, but really relishing the misery, not getting maudlin, but really stomping the blues with some sauce.
    I love Dinah Washington to bits. More than any other woman blues singer. I like the way she sings about sex and men and violence with a sense of humour and couldn't give a shit about what people think.
  • Note the Aretha Franklin and James Brown. Perfect rhythm n blues moment that went down a treat with the crowd. A bit too serious for my liking, but a nice contrast to the rest of the stuff. It was nice to play 'unswing' as well, as it really worked for blues dancing, but was totally wrong for lindy hop.
  • During James Brown I had a request for Tom Waits, and I was sorely tempted as I've been digging Heartattack and Vine (thanks to a tip from Russell), but I wanted to bring the energy up, and that song is really hardcore and dirty.
    I really like playing 'unswing' for blues dancers, but sticking with the 'vibe' of blues music. I wouldn't do this for lindy though, as it feels wrong. But it feels just right to have Aretha singing about dirty low down men or James begging his woman while you're camping it in blues dancing. I'd have liked to follow up with 'Root Man Blues' by Buddy Johnson, from 'Walk 'Em', but it was too strident and brassy for the sound system. But it would have been perfect, with it's 50s sound and kind of queer lyrics. Really would have set off James' dramatics perfectly.
  • The old scratchies went down a treat, not that I played many. But I was pleased when people appreciated the sauciness and humour of Cow Cow Davenport.
  • This blues dancing crowd is much more tolerant and interested in a wider range of music than the lindy hoppers I usually DJ for. Blessed be.

There was no after party that night, which is a shame, as that's a chance for people to get all serious with their blues dancing. And I would have liked a chance to really try DJing hardcore for a crowd of blues dancers. But I had a nice time otherwise. Only danced for half an hour (or even less), but I really like Vibe as a venue - high ceilings, bar, wooden floor, olden dayes feeling. And I really like the mood of the blues nights.
...why do I keep typing bleus?

"bleus round-up" was posted by dogpossum on June 8, 2006 5:08 PM in the category djing

June 5, 2006

useful music and DJing resources

Music References
A music resource site with one of the most comprehensive (but by no means complete) guides to jazz and other music.
Red Hot Jazz Archive
Red Hot Jazz
Guides to jazz music.
Brian's list
A local DJ's list of great songs for dancers.

Radio Shows
Yehoodi radio show
The Yehoodi Radio shows are perhaps the most swing dancer-relevant radio programs available, produced by swing dancers for swing dancers. The focus is primarily on lindy hop, but not exclusively. The guest DJs are from all over the world and often post their set lists on SwingDJs or are otherwise regular posters on that board. The shows cover every type of swing dancing music, and the schedule is as follows:

* Stormy Mondays
Contemporary swing and jazz from artists, like Oscar Peterson, Barbara Morrison, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ernestine Anderson, and more!

* Toe Tapping Tuesdays
Swing with the big boys of big band and classic jazz, including Count Basie, Duke Elllington, Harry James and Buddy Johnson. Add a few contemporary artists, like George Gee, Bill Elliott and Dave Berger, and you're in big band heaven!

* Jumpin' Wednesdays
"It Rocks! It Rolls! It Swings! It Jumps! It puts you in the groove!" - The Treniers said it best. We've got a brand new format for hump-day. Tune into Yehoodi Radio on Wednesdays for the finest in jump blues, boogie woogie and early rhythm & blues. Catch the Kansas City flavah!

* Guest DJ Thursdays
Entire broadcasts of favorite tracks hand-picked by the local swing DJs you know and love. It's like having your own personal DJ-ed event right on your desktop!

* Producer's Picks:
Radio show producer, Jesse Miner, brings you a cool mix of his favorite tunes.

* Mixed Up Weekends
A weekend blend of everything.

Hey Mr Jesse!
Hey Mr Jesse is a talk show devoted to swing dancing music hosted by popular (and stunningly knowledgeable) American DJ Jesse Miner and Spuds (Manu Smith). The show discusses all types of swing dancing music, features interviews with big-name musicians and bands and an ‘8-count’ list of 8 top dancing songs. Show notes for each of the monthly shows are also available. Jesse and Manu are enthusiastic about audience-responses and welcome emails from listeners

Discussion Boards
An American-based (but internationally focussed) discussion board for swing dance DJs. Covers a wide range of musical styles (from old school scratchies, through groove, hi-fi and so on…) and is effectively moderated to keep threads on track. Posters are friendly and helpful, and the board encourages members to use their real names. An excellent resource for DJing technique, but also for swing dance music.

A discussion board related to blues dancing and music. Perhaps not as comprehensive as SwingDJs for music, but one of the few boards which is exclusively devoted to blues music and dancing. The posters are friendly and good contacts for plugging into blues dancing culture.

Swing Talk Threads
There are many useful and interesting discussions here on Swing Talk about DJing for swing dancers and about swing music. The best place to start is in the Big Beat a Rockin’ forum. Here are some that seem to have the most useful and on-track discussions:

Cheap CDs
Swing Talk thread listing the cheapest sources for CDs (for swing dance music).

DJ Bubs
Swing Talk thread where new (and experienced) DJs can ask questions about DJing – music, technique, theory, networking, etc

Online Requests box
Swing Talk thread where dancers can request songs they’d like to hear on the dance floor.

Swing Talk thread discussing blues music.

Previewing Music Online
Useful sites not only for buying music, but also for listening to clips from albums.

Buying music online
JB online
Cheap Australian online ordering.
Jazz by mail
Barnes and Nobles
Gemm Records

Record Labels
Stomp off Records
JSP Records
Proper Records

"useful music and DJing resources" was posted by dogpossum on June 5, 2006 9:27 PM in the category clicky and djing and music

June 3, 2006

separation anxiety and long-term projects

My ongoing (and steadily increasing) thesis anxiety has had a number of clear effects:

  • Muscle tension, tension headaches and a sore right hip.

  • Irrational and yet themed snack-craving: layered wafer biscuits. Potato crisps. Indian sweets (thankyou, Brunswick Street @ 11.45pm).

  • Strange dreams about house-hunting.

  • Ob-con Buffy and Angel viewing. I think I like the structure. I know it'll go on and on and on for ages, and I know what's going to happen. No surprises. No completion or submission... hm. Maybe I should be watching The Simpsons or Neighbours instead?

  • A strange new interest in soccer (anything but editing I guess).

  • Napping. Excessive napping. 4 hours last weekend, 2 today. Between 11 and 1 today I was face-down in the matress, breathing through two nostrils worth of seasonal rhinitis. The Squeeze chose to assume The Position (prone, that is) on the couch between 4 and 6 this evening. If we could synchronise our naps our relationship would reach new heights. Or depths.

  • Cleaning. Yes, our house is clean. And there are no baskets of laundry waiting my attention in the loungeroom. The toilet is safe.

If you're interested, I've actually got very little left to do on the thesis. So I'll be done within the allocated time (4 years at my uni, but 3.5 years worth of funding from The Man. I'll be done in 3.5). I know this makes me a freak. But it's my fourth thesis (hons, MA, aborted PhD) so I should be pretty good at it by now. The Supes reckons I could be done in a fortnight. This pronouncement obviously prompted today's Nap.

I have to write an introduction, rewrite Chapter One (formerly "Chapter One: Introduction" now "Chapter One: the Ill-defined But Probably a 'literature review' But Under Another Name", rewrite the introductions to each chapter and redo my conclusion. Actually all very possible in two weeks for Thesis Demon. But I'm not really sure how I feel about this. I finally understand how I'm supposed to redo the introductions, so that will go quickly. But conclusion? I actually feel like I have no idea how it's supposed to look. So I'll try and we'll see.

While I spent a delightful hour perusing the CAE (Centre for Adult Education) booklet today, planning language courses, pattern making courses, etc (yes, I am a big fat learning sponge), giddy with the thought of newly-won academic liberty, I'm also thinking about travelling. Goddess knows there's very little actual work out there, beyond sessional teaching and exploitative short-term contracts. Hell, I might as well take up DJing full-time if I want exploitation. With a side order of industrial deafness.

I am suffering from separation anxiety already. Which is probably why I'm wondering what it would be like to have a baby. If there's one thing three theses (and thirteen years at uni) has taught me, it's how to handle long-term creative projects.

"separation anxiety and long-term projects" was posted by dogpossum on June 3, 2006 10:39 PM in the category thesis

DJing hubris, heirarchy and hokum

And so I return to the issue of how a DJ should regard their role, prompted in part by this discussion on SwingDJs.

Before I start in, I suggest you take a peak at that thread, not only for the content, but to see how posters use photos and their real names on this discussion board. That's kind of unusual for discussion boards, though less so for swing dancers, who ultimately realise that being 'honest' or not using aliases online is relevent to a community which is ultimately embodied. Membership of this community is also heavily dependent on reputation and regard for etiquette (both online and embodied).
This is stuff that I write about in my thesis in great detail - the uses of online media by an embodied community, and the ways this online participation is informed by embodied practice and relationships.

But to be on-topic, and address the issue of DJs and their role...
Firstly, I should point out (again, in thesis mode) that I'm fascinated by the tension between 'communitas' or community responsibility and the DJ as 'artist'. The two positions often seem at odds, though they are occasionally combined in the notion that a DJ should be in some way an educator (a role of great status in a such a pedagogically centred community), 'exposing' dancers to new and 'historically accurate' music.
As you might expect, these sorts of arguments are tied up with conflicting notions of aesthetics or cultural 'appropriateness', the relationships between music and dance, the power and status of a DJ in a particular local community, the way these DJs participating in a globalised community of interest (SwingDJs itself) bring concepts of 'DJ' and 'DJing' to their local discourses, etc etc etc. It's all very complicated and interesting, which is why I wrote a chapter on it. But more on that later. Let's look at the specific arguments raised on SwingDJs.

Here's an interesting comment from one of the posters in that thread:

As a DJ, isn't our responsibility to the dancers, not to an aesthetic about artistic expressively? In my role as an event producer -or as a DJ for an hour- I am indeed being trusted to "choose for everyone". ... I'm not saying that I'm even 1% of the artist whose music I'm playing, but I am the one who gets to decide what song, when it's played and in some cases, how it's played. My job is to watch the room and please the dancers ...
(Greg Avakian Posted: Fri May 26, 2006 07:51)

And in response:

...As a DJ, isn't our responsibility to the dancers...

...My job is to watch the room and please the dancers...

This is pretty much my approach, at least to the extent I'm running the event. I consider it a specific kind of party, rather than just a time for swing dancing. I work very hard to play music that people enjoy, and to play it in a way that helps them achieve an emotional- and social freedom that encourages them to dance. That's my focus. To that end, I sometimes edit songs, or change the pitch/tempo, and I do it with the dancers - not the musicians - in mind.

(Matthew, quoting Greg Avakian, Posted: Fri May 26, 2006 15:16)

These discussions fascinate me. We have much the same talk going on on Swing Talk, the Australian discussion board, but on SwingTalk the participants are DJs and dancers, rather than DJs (who are also dancers), as on SwingDJs. The discussion on SwingDJs is also informed by a wider national swing dance discourse which is older, more complex, and far more sercurely focussed on social dancing than in Australia, particularly Melbourne. Here, we are continually working to 'convince' people that social dancing is essential to 'good dancing' and far more important than classes or competitions, let alone that DJing is actually a fairly demanding craft, requiring specific skills and resources.

...I should note here that I'm well aware of the fact that the latter argument is in fact self-serving, as well as contributing to the development of heirarchies of knowledge and cultural practice (very much as Matt Hills describes heirarchies of knowledge in fan communities...). And this of course begs the question, do DJs have delusions of grandeur?

Matthew's point that he considers a DJed dance as a 'special kind of party' rather than 'just a time for swing dancing' echoes this.

How does all this fit in with how I regard my own role as a DJ in that community, and as a dancer?
I'd like to address that second point, as I'm fascinated by the way my attitude to dancing has changed since I started DJing, but I doubt I'll have time for it here.

So how do I regard my role as a DJ in this community, considering the fact that I'm also reading criticallly, as a feminist with decidely Red interests?

Status and power
First, I'm well aware of the way being a DJ accrues status. It's not a financially driven status (though I appreciate the $30/$25 deals, they're certainly not enough to live on...though it does fund my yoga and (comparatively) modest cd purchasing). But it is certainly a social status which is quite interesting.

In Melbourne, status in the swing dance scene is largely determined by one's standing within the largest dance school (things used to be different, but this school now dominates all embodied dance and online discourse, so...). If one is the school's principal, one has highest status. Then come visiting teachers. Then come local teachers, then teaching cadets. Within the general body of the school (ie not within the rarified circles of teachers), being a member of the elite troop is the next level of cred, followed by being a member of the lower level troop. Now, if one does not have institutional affiliation, one's staus is kind of amorphous. Because the school does not teach or endorse alternative dance styles (why promote another company's product?), many students simply don't recognise other lindy styles as lindy. Which is ironic, considering the oldest old school styles are in this 'unrecognisable' basket.

So if you want some status, outside this formal heirarchy, but through your dance ability, you have to be able to contribute to this embodied discourse in the appropriate 'language' (and now I'm thinking of Nancy Fraser and women's participation in the 'official' public sphere). In other words you gotta dance 'right'.

DJing, status and power
So where does DJing fit into all this? There are other roles which accrue status - being an MLX organiser is one (though probably not the way I do it - I need to cultivate an air of inaccessability, as per the school's relativley inaccessible heirarhcy. Not sweat all over people, demanding a dance and throwing myself down stairs). But DJing is another.
Why? Well, for a start, and perhaps most imporantly, you're 'in' with those who organise the events - teachers. So you got institutional affiliation. Secondly, you got distance - you're up there on the DJ podium and relatively physically inacessible, but certainly socially distant (you're literally not on the same level as the dancers).
Beyond that, you certainly gain status if you're a 'good' DJ. Being a good DJ, however, is a matter of opinion and observance of fashion. Again, you have to speak the right 'language'. One of the most fascinating things about learning to DJ has been figuring out how to affect linguistic drift on the local musical accent. In other words, convincing dancers that music other than hi-fi, groovey, funky late era jazz and soul is actually 'good' for dancing.
The most effective way of achieving this is to sneak alternative music song types into my play lists. Paving the way with hi-fi but 'classic sounding' recordings of new bands (thankyou Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra, Kansas City Band, late Count Basie and Mora's Modern Rhythmists), you can prepare a crowd of dancers for earlier (and in my opinion, frequently superior) versions of these now-familiar songs.

Why DJ at all?
Can you hear the whole 'educating dancers' theme in there? I know I can. And it makes me uncomfortable. So why do it?

  • I like the music

  • I want more people to play that stuff so I can dance to it, so I need to contribute to a market demand for it (hey, go capitalism, go)

  • I really do feel that lindy hop works 'betterer' with this stuff from the 30s and 40s which prompted its development in the first place

  • there's some bloody amazing stuff in those older recordings which people do like. Once they give it a go

  • diversity = good
So how do my goals as a DJ work in with the whole DJ status thing?
  • I gotta get the dancers recognising 'my' music as 'good' if I want to be able to play it. If they don't like it, they won't dance. If no one dances, I don't get gigs

  • If I have a reputation as a 'good' DJ, then people are more likely to accept my choices in music
All this, as I've said, makes me uncomfortable. I do, really, want to make the dancers happy.
It's like a drug - a room full of dancers totally going nuts on endorphines and adrenaline - you breathe it in from the DJ stand. And while it SUCKS to have have to stand there and watch, rather getting in amongst it, it's still wonderful. I always have a moment of 'I guess this is what it's like to be in a cult' when I'm DJing well and the room is really pumping. Talk about group emotional experiences and so on. There's no more powerful a drug than a room full of people all feeling the same thing at the same time. And music is a wonderful tool for achieving that state.

So when I do a good job as a DJ, I not only get off on the vibe, but I also really enjoy seeing people having a great time.

How do I balance this 'me' stuff with my feminist politics... or how does a feminist swing dance DJ do 'communitas' in this environment?
Argh. That's hard. But there are things that I try to do:

  • encourage women DJs or women interested in DJing. Heck, encourage anyone interested in DJing

  • share. Share knowledge, share resources, share networks. I don't share copies of music, but I certainly share names of artists and songs. Not only because I'm a born tutor, but also because I want to share the love. And what could be wrong with hundreds of other people loving Benny Goodman as much as I do? And there's certainly nothing wrong with giving names to other DJs so that they can thenplay the songs so I can dance to them!!. What a total score!

  • question inequity in the DJing culture. Not that there's much I can do about it - it's naturally an exclusive space (what with the money, technological and time resources it demands) - but I can try. And I can think about ways to improve things

  • be accessible to dancers I don't know or who feel intimidated when I'm DJing. Be receptive to feedback, requests and comments. Juggling this with the demands of actually DJing on the night can be hard, but... It feels the same as seeking out new dancers to dance with, or always saying yes to new dancers who ask me. If you give now, you get. It's a win-win situation, and you're contibuting to a more inclusive, friendly, healthy community. Perhaps undoing some of that heirarchy bullshit

  • encourage people asking about song names to buy the whole album
This last point is becoming more and more important to me. Because it's so easy to download songs (though I challenge most people to find half - or even a tenth - of the music we play on torrents or other illegal sources), people tend not to look for the whole album to buy. This sucks because:
  • you're fucking over a whole bunch of artists and technicians in the music industry. Even if an artist is dead, their family isn't. And the American jazz industry has a long, long, long history of fucking over black artists. Don't be a part of that.

  • you're not learning. When you buy a whole album, you're learning about an artist and band and period in history that helps you understand who that one song fits in. It helps you find new songs. And because of the cross-pollitationy nature of jazz in the 30s and 40s, you'll find new artists you love. And you'll learn new stuff about the relationship between music and dance in that historical moment, your dancing will improve, and your DJing will improve!

  • I had to buy it, and I'm poor. So why should I subsidise your music collection? I'm giving the song to you free when I DJ.

  • when you download or copy or 'steal' a song from my collection, you're screwing me over. Particularly when you DJ it at a gig later or (even worse), then trade it with your mates or sell it to your mates or students! Bad, naughty, wrong!

  • you can't be a good DJ if you don't love the music. If you love an artist or band or song, you seek out more of it. I believe that the best DJs are those with a passion for their music, and a thorough knowledge of an artist's career, or a style or genre. And what could be wrong with learning shit?
I know that a lot of these arguments also justify not sharing playlists or song titles or artists. I imagine that as I get more experience and develop a larger (and more esoteric) collection, I may become more reluctant to share knowledge. But it'll be interesting to see...

DJing as art
And while I feel uncomfortable with the idea of a DJ as art (is this some sort of Australian tall poppy cultural cringe hangover from high school thing - should I be over feeling self conscious about wanting to be artistic and creative in a public context?), sometimes it feels like art. Or at least creativity. It feels like the natural partner to dancing. As a dancer, you feel the way the music affects mood in the room. The longer you've been dancing, the greater your dancing stamina, the more you learn about musical structures, the more susceptible to this you, and also the more aware of it you are. But as a DJ, as I've said elsewhere, you have to step outside a little, to understand with your conscious brain, how it all works.
Ironically, the incontrovertible rule is that you cannot be a decent DJ if you are not also a dancer. And you cannot, possibly, ever, do a decent DJing job if you don't also have 'one foot on the dance floor', keeping an eye (and your emotions?) on the mood of the dancers.

I also wonder if you can be a half-decent DJ if you don't have empathy going on. I'm beginning to wonder if being a good DJ is like being a good dancer - you gotta have good social skills. You've gotta be a good observer, to be know how to make people feel good about themselves, and to find pleasure in making people happy.
Can you be a crap person and a good DJ?

Or is that just another example of DJ hubris - implying that all (good) DJs are good people?

"DJing hubris, heirarchy and hokum" was posted by dogpossum on June 3, 2006 6:01 PM in the category djing

June 2, 2006

nutella bad? no!

I've just stumbled across choice, the mag produced by the consumer affairs association. I'm not sure how I feel about it, beyond the fact that it's perfectly suited to generating low level anxiety about rather inconsequential things.*

Perhaps the most upsetting thing I read in this mag was that nutella has so much trans fat it'd be banned in Denmark.
This distresses me because nutella is the one sweety we buy at the supermarket and keep in the house. All other lovely sweeties are bought spontaneously and randomly.

And what is trans fat? Bad. And it's in manufactured foods. Here, read:

Trans fat is found mainly in deep-fried fast foods and processed foods made with margarine or shortening. It’s created by a process called hydrogenation that’s used by food manufacturers to improve the stability of vegetable oils and to convert liquid oils into the solid fats needed to get the right consistency in foods such as cakes and pastries. Trans fat is also created naturally by micro-organisms in the rumen (or forestomach) of cows and sheep — so beef, lamb and dairy foods also contain small amounts of trans fat, depending on the overall fat content.Trans fat is bad for your heart. Weight for weight, it’s probably worse for you than the saturated fat that we all know to avoid. Trans fat increases the level of bad LDL cholesterol in much the same way as saturated fat. And worse, it seems to also lower the concentration of good HDL cholesterol that’s protective against heart disease.
(from this page)

I guess the bottom line is, eat organic fruit and veggies, if you're going to eat cakes and biscuits, make your own (using butter or olive oil) and don't eat shitful takeaway food. Not really big news, is it?

*no, don't be silly. of course i'm not implying that the consumer affairs people are carp. i's just being picky.

"nutella bad? no!" was posted by dogpossum on June 2, 2006 11:21 PM in the category clicky and fewd

yoga fc

It's world cup time in Melbourne, and even I'm getting a little bit excited. SBS is the world cup channel, with stacks of neat little films on the soccer theme, games, and novelty shows like the one about the socceroos theme song, and of course, Nerds FC. Tonight was the final show (though you can catch it repeated every night at 8pm on SBS from Thursday on), and it was so exciting!

But perhaps my favourite soccer story is actually another yoga story.
My Wednesday morning class is really fun - I'm the youngest yogi there by about 30 years, and usually the least rowdy. We're not just talking silly jokes and heckling. We're talking people physically jumping on each other and doing physical comedy (isn't yoga wonderful?).
One of my favourite people is Rosa, who's pretty much representative of half the nannas in Brunswick - short, Italian, pushy, friendly and fun. Our teacher Frank is Italian as well, and excellently wicked. Rosa is just a noob yogi, but as per Frank's general approach to yoga (whether you're the 10 year old daughter or the 90 year old nanna) is 'have a go'. It's nice because he's careful to work with you if you're a little bit fragile or scared or cranky.
Last time I was in the class Frank took care to tease Rosa. With one leg up on a table, Frank exclaims "Rosa! You're not swearing at me in Italian are you?" and she wasn't - but Frank can lip read.
Then, as we did the kneeling thing (which I don't like at all), she exclaims "Ah! I don't even kneel down in church!" and we laughed and Frank responded "bit stiff there, Rosa? Too much world movies" and she swore at him again.
This week, once he had her balanced upside down on a pair of chairs in a headstand (truly amazing - Rosa isn't young, and she's pretty round - we were all suitably admiring and she was justifiably proud), Frank declared "now she's up there, she's going to make us all spaghetti" and we laughed, because none of us doubted she could.
And later again, doing the kneeling thing again,
"There Rosa, now you'll be able to stay up later watching World Movies"
and Rosa said "if I can't sleep tonight because it hurts..."
"ah, no, Rosa, we're getting you into practice for when the World Cup starts - it doesn't start til 1am you know."

And more laughing.

I love that yoga class, because it's not all quiet meditation and seriousness. It's fun and friendly and with lots of laughing. So we all feel comfortable and brave enough to do stuff that scared us.
There are quiet times for being in our bodies, but there are also silly, laughing bits. And lots of partner work and hands-on stuff from Frank. There's also only a small number of poses, but we make sure to do them properly and then hold them for ages.

... the only thing better than my yoga classes would be going to the kids yoga classes. Can you imagine?

and i'm not the only one who likes silly yoga jokes - so do the patriarchy and fussy

"yoga fc" was posted by dogpossum on June 2, 2006 8:57 PM in the category television and yoga


I'm really trying to think of the last thing I cooked...
oh yeah, right. Corned beef. I'd only had this a few times, in central Queensland, where a sandwhich with 'corned beef' in it at a country pub or cafe has nothing to do with cans, but more to do with hours in a pot of simmering water. It's a country thing, I guess. Anyhoo, I came to corned beef as an adult, and decided I liked it. Not every week or even every month, but every now. And as Sylvie said, it's a good way to feed hungry farm hands when you live in a beef-farming area.
I've made it a few times, because The Squeeze likes it, and I try to source one made by a local butcher (because they're better, and our local butchers rock), and I use the Stephanie Alexander eggy saucey thing (look, I can't remember what it's called, ok? I just know it involves boiled egg yolks, capers, taragon, parsley, chives, virgin olive oil, is wonderful with cold meats and basically rocks). This time I used a supermarket one, neither The Squeeze or nor I was impressed (which is difficult to achieve, seeing as how I love to eat and The Squeeze loves corned beef more than anything) and we didn't even bother with sandwiches the next day (which is, of course, the point of it all).

Other than that, I had dinner at Singapore Chom Chom last night with The Squeeze and Woobs, which was good (cheap, tasty 'Sinagaporean' food - which is like saying 'Australian' food - kind of general. In this case, it's a combination of Indonesian, Singaporean, 'Chinese' and Indian dishes. About perfect for my tastes. And with many noodles). I had prawn noodle soup, Woobs had BBQ pork noodles, Squeeze had that silken tofu/pork mince dish with rice and beans and an extra fried egg. At $7 a dish you can't really go wrong, can you? We try not to spend more than $10 each on dinner on these pre-dancing meals, so we seem to spend a lot of time in Asian greasy spoons (or should that be greasy chopsticks?). Which pleases me. Though I have to say I've had enough of dodgy Japanese. Woob's obsession with Japanese food and The Squeeze's endorsement of said obsession has left me in Minority Seat, but still...
We tend to compromise on Malaysian as The Squeeze loves laksa, I like Nasi Lemak (even if it is breakfast food) and Woobs eats whatever. Though eating Malaysian or Singaporean is like meat and three veg for a skip, as Woobs' family is from Singapore.
We need a compromise cuisine. Or a sponsor, so we can go to decent Japanese.

Food this week, otherwise: take away Wednesday. Something stir-fried Tuesday. Beef Monday. A chicken salad at Nandos on Sunday, nothing, but a hamburger at 1am on Saturday for me, and ...something on Friday that I've forgotten.

Oh, the shame. It's been a bad week, really - business plus for us here in the 'wick. I promise to do better next week.

"gastropodry" was posted by dogpossum on June 2, 2006 3:17 PM in the category gastropod

bubs blues dj. down around the river

I'm doing my first 'public' blues set* at the blues pit this Sunday, and've been going through my music to sort out stuff I might play. I  got to thinking about how I may handle it, as a DJ. My feeling is that the deal will work much as with lindy hoppers - combine tempos, careful transitions, manipulate energy levels.

But I've noticed a few things that make it a bit different to DJing for lindy hoppers:
- the tempo range is far smaller. While I've been reading that varying tempos is actually more important in blues dancing in the States than one might expect, the range is actually fairly limited. With lindy, I tend to think that I'm working between 115 and 250bpm (pretty much - give or take). With blues, I'm looking at a range between about 45 and 115bpm.
I know that there are other DJs who may vary the tempo range a little more for blues (but I can't really talk more about that), but from my experiences at the Blues Pit, I reckon this is the safe range.


- the energy levels are more important as a result. Working with such a small tempo range, I think you have to be a bit more aware of how the music makes you feel.
I've seen blues DJs get up and play a series of songs seemingly at random - it feels like they're just playing 'their favourite songs', one after another. Just being 'slow' isn't really enough to make songs work together. The problem with blues is that the tempos are so low, the vibe in the room can be so mellow, that it's all too easy for the crowd to sit down, start chatting, and not get up again. So I really do think you need to work the energy levels and mood of the room. Just as with lindy, I guess.

- there's a greater tolerance for a wider range of musical styles in blues dancers than lindy hoppers (in Melbourne atm, anyway). I know there are purists who won't tolerate 'non-swing' or 'non-jazz' or even 'non-blues' in blues dancing, but I'm tending to lean towards the camp who feel that 'blues dancing' is such a wide and flexible notion, that we can really borrow 'blues music' from a wide range of blues styles: 20s blues, slow drags, 12bar blues structures and the 'blues key', rhythm n blues from the 50s (60s, 70s, etc), etc, but even move into stuff like funk and soul. Not to mention the more 'arty' piano- and small combo- driven instrumental stuff (like Junior Mance, Oscar Peterson, Jay McShann, etc).
My personal feeling as a dancer is that 'music for blues dancing' feels best if it has a solid beat. By solid beat I don't mean insistent beat, but that kind of deep, solid and low-down bass that makes you move your hips. So I'm happy with a kind of hip hop beat as well.

Having said that, it makes complete sense to me to play mostly from the jazz and blues genres, not just because it suits blues' positioning within a swing dance community which favours lindy and other jazz dances, but because that stuff is simply often so much more musically interesting and challenging than some of the newer or non-jazz stuff.
I also feel that you can't really do, say 20s charleston without doing slow blues or drags - it just feels like you're leaving out half of the musical and emotional story.

- the lyrics seem more important with 12 bar blues (in that traditional form) than they do to lindy. So I think that playing more songs with vocals is perhaps more workable than lindy. I really like this style of blues music, mostly because I like the combination of humour, sadness, longing, desire and irony. In his book 'stomping the blues', Arthur Murray talks about how 'singing the blues' isn't just about singing sad songs. it's also about singing (and dancing) to drive out the blues. So you get these interesting contrasts between sad, sad lyrics and upbeat, energetic melodies and rhythms. Or you get seriously slow, saucy rhythms and melodies with funny, sarcastic or ironic or just plain funny lyrics. All this hung on a relatively simple musical structure (A, A, B or whatever it is).
So it feels like the lyrics are especially important, and encourage us as dancers to move in these layers of meanings - not just sexy all the time. Not just super-slow.
Having said that, I think it'd be a bit dull if we left out other musical styles, such as slow drags, which have all those other wonderful musical and social meanings.

-> I think that all of these points are a result of the fact that (or contribute to) blues dancing is less 'structured' than lindy (well, not when you do lindy the way I do: "structure? What, you can do lessons in this shit?"), so people feel free to experiment and innovate.

In addition, blues is so slow, you really have time to work on expressing all these feelings and contrasting emotions. So you can do technically difficult steps which aren't possible at higher tempos, and you can really milk every musical iota out of the songs. Because you've got the time. So it really helps if the music is more interesting.

Other things I'm thinking about as a DJ:
- the set is an after-class set, and most of the dancers will be new to blues dancing (as regular blues dancing nights are relatively new to melbourne), but most of them will be familiar with swinging jazz or blues music (from their lindy).

- I've only got 45 minutes, which is tricky, as blues dancing takes a while to warm up to, good blues nights last late into the night, it feels right to take longer with each partner (more than the 2 song rule for lindy, definitely right for loooong songs), and it takes longer to work through moods - the curve or wave is kind of longer.

- the room is seriously crowded - it's small, there's far, far, FAR less room for each couple than in lindy rooms. And I'm standing at floor level to DJ, so my view of the dance floor will be limited.

As per usual, I'm set on avoiding the 'teach dancers about music' thing or 'expand their minds' thing, or 'be historically accurate' thing, even though it'd be nice to really get into some old scratchy blues, eg. As with lindy, if I go in there with a mission, I will almost certainly stuff up. It's always best to work with the vibe the room is giving off.

It's going to be really interesting: I'm wondering if these ideas I have about the similarities between DJing for lindy hoppers and blues dancers will hold up in practice.

I'd be interested in any feedback from people who've DJed for bot ...

*ie not a private party

...yes, you have read this post before. but not here. here

"bubs blues dj. down around the river" was posted by dogpossum on June 2, 2006 2:51 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

June 1, 2006


look at this:

pretty, huh?

and i lifted this: . god i suck. it's not like i think angel's hot or anything - in fact, he infuriates me. i find buffy herself utterly irritating - all that 'meee, i hate being the slayer. it's so haaard being a slayer. meeee' whinging. but i'm obsessed by angel's terrible, terrible posture. so when i see him with his shirt off (flaunting this tat), i can't help but be fascinated. how could his trainer possibly let him get so hunched? didn't anyone ever say "dood - you need yoga"?

it's even messing with the line of his jacket in that last one.

you know why he looks out from under those low brows? because he's so hunched, his face looks doooown, naturally, so he has to look up from under those brows.
there's no way he'd be able to kick arse in fights with that sort of terrible posture.
that's some serious upper body tension.
looks like half the leads in melbourne.

look, i have to stop. i don't want this to end up being one of those weirdo-fan unicorn sites.

"enough" was posted by dogpossum on June 1, 2006 7:15 PM in the category television

heartattack and vine

talk about spitting into the microphone... but I like it. Of course. Reminds me of Morphine, who I'm sure no one but me remembers.

"heartattack and vine" was posted by dogpossum on June 1, 2006 7:12 PM in the category digging and music

Buffy and Angel

Season 4 Buffy, Season 1 Angel. You cannot watch them as independant series.

look at this interesting thing:

Manga 'Angel Buffy'. The site is defunct, though... :(

"Buffy and Angel" was posted by dogpossum on June 1, 2006 7:07 PM in the category digging and television

simple pleasures

The best part of looking at site stats today was finding my site was a hit for a search for "how nanna would make pumpkin soup".
That pleases me.

I wish I had more to offer in the gastropod way of things. But I don't. Buggered if I can remember what I've eaten this week. I've been so busy with the thesis, and I DJed three nights straight over the weekend (Thu, Fri, Sat), including my first after party. Which I was happy with, though I guess it's hard to stuff up a 45 minute set, isn't it?
My DJing issues are continuing with a search for a media player to which I can drag songs from itunes (using itunes as my library), but which also produces useful play lists. I mostly want to be able to preview songs on headphones before I play them, and for this you need two media players as macs can't understand why you'd want to have two versions of one application open at any one time. Sometimes this rocks, but sometimes it sucks. This is one of those times. I think I'll settle for a combination of DJ1800 (about $AU70) for previewing (no sensible playlist option), the usb headphones (plugged into the imic I need to buy from Brian, or into the usb directly) for listening to the DJ1800 songs, and itunes for actually playing to the sound system, searching, creating playlists, etc.

But if you're looking for gastropod action, I have a little tub of nice bocconcini in our fridge atm, and some nice hydro tomatos on the window sill (I was in bed when the potato man came this week - 8am is TOO early!) and some sweet rocket in the garden. Make of that what you will. I choose to make nice salad.

I am also going nuts with mandarins and apples at the moment. It's that time of year. We have a bowl full on the coffee table, and I push segments down The Squeeze's neck every evening while we watch Buffy and Angel. Soon he will have strange Buffy-citrus dreams.
Meanwhile, I had a dream where I was stabbed by a platypus with its poison spur. It was also a dream about the house I lived in in Brisbane, and also about houses generally. I know that if I'm having house dreams, it's anxiety season. And of course, the source of this anxiety would be the thesis. And the fact that my supervisor goes away 2 weeks from now, for 3 weeks. Arriving back one week before I'd planned to submit. Yes. Isn't that nice?

"simple pleasures" was posted by dogpossum on June 1, 2006 6:55 PM in the category digging and djing and gastropod and thesis